For most, there is little doubt that the War on Drugs is an indisputable failure. It has taken an excessive amount of money, manpower, and lives with little to show for it besides one of the worst drug epidemics in the history of the country. Time has proven these policies to be ineffective and costly, so where do we go from here?
Perspective in our nation changes and the stigma attached to addiction is now being to be confronted. Along with it all comes waves of new proposals on how America’s drug policies can evolve. Which is the right way is still unclear.
Right now, while many are confused if Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration will be actively cracking down on marijuana in states with legalization laws, there are others on the federal level that are actively pushing in the opposite direction. Part of a new bill currently in the House is trying to do even more to end the War on Drugs, by directly pushing pro-pot politics.
The Marijuana Justice Act
Last August, Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey introduced the “Marijuana Justice Act of 2017”. He was joined by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee from California in bringing the reform legislation to both chambers of Congress. Historically, this was the first time a companion legislation was introduced in both chambers to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). According to early reports, as a companion to Booker’s S. 1689 is the companion bill HR 4815. These efforts are to:
- Remove marijuana from CSA
- Incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests
- Expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession
- Allow individuals currently in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition for resentencing
- Create community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the War on Drugs
Currently, marijuana is in the same federal category as drugs like:
Even those who do not advocate for marijuana legalization at least see the fault in its scheduling. Trey Growdy, the Republican Representative from South Carolina has repeatedly questioned why marijuana is considered a schedule 1 drug. This schedule actually puts it above Cocaine and methamphetamines.
One of the big pieces of the bill is also that bit about expunging convictions. Justin Strekal, political director for NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) notes that this is “the first piece of legislation that addresses expungement issues,” to clean up former criminal records for cannabis use.
Now, a new version of the bill has been introduced to the House just last week. The goal is described as a campaign against the current federal drug policy and the failed War on Drugs.
Speaking with Sponsors of Bill
Last year, after introducing his version of the bill, Senator Cory Booker stated,
“Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed.”
“They don’t make our communities any safer—instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
Booker also believes getting rid of old pot-policies of the War on Drugs would help to bolster the economy. He states,
“It’s estimated that legal cannabis in the U.S. would create $40 billion in revenue and nearly a million jobs.”
“But it’s about more than that $40 billion —it’s about equality, and getting rid of the legal past that is stifling individuals’ opportunity and their future.”
One co-sponsor for the bill is Representative Ro Khanna. He says that revenue from taxes on marijuana would then be allocated to funding the programs to reinvest in communities that were harmed by the anti-pot policies of the War on Drugs.
Representative Barbara Lee says,
“This legislation will end this destructive War on Drugs.”
This new bill to attack the War on Drugs also has the support of the Drug Policy Alliance. Kassandra Frederique, the New York States Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, states,
“This bill makes clear to state and local elected officials that they cannot move forward beyond prohibition without taking a serious look at the historical and ongoing impacts of drug war policies.”
Supporters of the bill continue to emphasize that this isn’t just about ending pot prohibition. They say it is also about putting forth resources to help communities recover.
Why are We Talking About This?
As a provider of innovative holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, we pay attention to the way drug policy changes because we know how it impacts communities around the country. In order to provide help to those who need it, we have to be talking about these changes. If drug policies shift, we must talk about how they can affect those who struggle with substance use disorder.
It does not matter if a drug is an illicit black-market substance, or a popular legalized product, substance abuse and addiction are still possible. If marijuana reform is going to continue to grow, it is also our responsibility to bring attention to the possible risks and side effects for some who use marijuana.
If pro-pot politics are going to put marijuana in the mainstream, there should also be an effort to promote substance abuse treatment options. Looking back, if the War on Drugs taught us anything, it is that there should be a strong focus on providing treatment, not punishment. If we want to make things better, we have to offer every opportunity to help those who need it most.
Marijuana abuse can have a noticeable impact on some people’s lives, and often times it is accompanied by another form of substance abuse. Acknowledging the influence of drugs in your life and knowing when to get help can make the recovery process a life-changing journey. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
A pharmaceutical company that manufactures a form of the painkiller fentanyl made a $500,000 contribution towards an anti-pot legalization campaign. Pro-marijuana reform advocates believe the company may be trying to “kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets.”
It would be hard to imagine a more controversial donor than Insys Therapeutics Inc. The company, based in Chandler, Arizona, makes a fentanyl sublingual spray called Subsys. Many argue that drug companies like Insys Therapeutics Inc., are eager to keep cannabis illegal to dominate the market with their often dangerous and addictive drugs. The donation from Insys Therapeutics Inc. makes up more than a third of all the funds raised by the group. Advocates for marijuana legalization criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.
Advocates for marijuana legalizations criticized the contribution, citing a variety of legal issues around the company Insys.
“[Our opponents] are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids—and maybe even the improper sale of opioids,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
“We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Proposition 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.”
In addition to selling Subsys, Insys Therapeutics Inc. has developed Syndros, a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The drug received approval from the FDA in July 2016 for the treatment of AIDS and cancer patients.
Still, while the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll found that 50% of Arizona voters favor
While the contribution is a victory for the opposition, the initiative itself remains a contest for either side to claim. A recent poll discovered 50 percent of registered Arizona voters favor legalization, 40 percent oppose the measure, and 10 percent are undecided
Insys said in a statement that its opposition to the legalization of cannabis was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”
Furthermore, there have been studies revealing some negative health effects of marijuana. Some of these studies link marijuana to a variety of side effects.
In a report from the American Medical Association, they stated:
“Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders.”
Many in opposition to marijuana legalization believe the drug can be addictive for some people. Also, some worry about the easy-access child may have to the drug if legalized.
Proposition 205: The Final Verdict
On November 8, 2016, Arizona residents will vote on the ballot regarding Proposition 205:
- A “yes” vote supports this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.
- A “no” vote opposes this measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.
Marijuana legalization will continue to be a hot topic across the country. Many believe marijuana legalization would put a strain on the recovery community. Still, when it comes to sobriety, it is up to the individual to commit to the lifestyle of recovery. If you are struggling with any form of addiction, legal or illegal, we can help. Call toll-free today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
If you watched the Democratic presidential debate, you saw five candidates tackle issues ranging from abortion, gun laws, climate control, and finally putting an end to the Hilary Clinton email debacle. Interestingly enough, recreational marijuana made its way into the discussion and Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton went head to head as they were the only two candidates who got an opportunity to weigh in on the subject.
Bernie Sanders’ Vote on Legalizing Marijuana
On Oct. 13, Bernie Sanders became the first presidential candidate from a major political party to say he would support the legalization of recreational marijuana if given the chance.
Bernie Sanders was asked hypothetically if he would vote to legalize marijuana if he were a citizen of Nevada. The question was prompted by Nevada’s upcoming ballot measure on legalizing recreational marijuana.
Berners replied, “I suspect I would vote yes.”
His answer resulted in a brief applause break before he continued on:
“And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country, too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.
I think we have to think through this war on drugs, which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, and we have a lot of work to do on that.”
Hillary Clinton on Legalizing Marijuana
When the question was passed to Hillary Clinton, she gave a far less concise answer.
When asked if she would support recreational marijuana, Clinton said, “No. “
She continued –
“I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today.
I do support the use of medical marijuana and I think even there, we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.”
To sum it up, Bernie Sanders supports marijuana because he feels that drugs are over criminalized and Hilary Clinton isn’t quite sure how she feels about marijuana being used recreationally but she is open to the idea of medical marijuana with more research to prove efficacy.
The tone of the responses shows how far the effort to legalize marijuana has come. Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said in an article how Sander’s comment was a major shift in direction for the way we view politics. He explained
“As a point of reference, in 2008 no major candidate even supported decriminalization when asked in a debate. […] Legalization is at the forefront of mainstream American politics, and politicians are starting to treat it as such.”
Many believe that Sanders won against Clinton on this portion of the debate on marijuana reform. The audience responded favorably to his opinion on marijuana legalization. However, this is not the first time Sanders has come out stating his opinion on the matter of decriminalizing marijuana. During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview earlier this year, Bernie Sanders stated he was open to the use of medical marijuana and would look to Colorado to see how recreational marijuana legalization would play out over the course of a few years. Either way, only time will show how marijuana reform will play into the election within the next few months.
Although marijuana is becoming legal both recreationally and medically, it is important to remember that everyone handles drugs differently and if you feel you are falling into an addictive cycle, it does not matter if the drug is legal or not. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
Author: Justin Mckibben
We have seen how there were serious political efforts going into removing the federal government’s claws in the fight against marijuana in the states, and about how the midterm elections this time last year have brought with them a wave of continuous change in weed policies around the country.
Several states are already gearing up to follow the trend this coming November by reforming their marijuana regulations and legalizing the use of weed for either medical or recreational use, and some are soon to allow both.
But it ain’t over until it’s over, and despite the growing popularity weed is still illegal under federal law. Now there is even more effort being put into putting a stop to any and all federal interference in the states individual initiatives to legalize marijuana.
Saying No to the DEA
In an act of bipartisan support that would probably surprise some, there are members of both political parties fighting to make this big change a reality. 2 congressmen have stepped into the fold in the past months intent on pushing the progress in weed policies further.
- Democrat Ted Lieu of California
- Republican Justin Amash of Michigan
These men have chosen to work together on new legislation that would block the DEA from using federal funding to aggressively cracking down on weed in the states.
As we were saying before, the House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment earlier this year that was designed to diminish the funding for the DEA’s marijuana eradication efforts by 50%. This was already a huge hit to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s budget for going after the state weed laws, and was largely due to the failed tactics used during the American ‘war on drugs’ that many speculate may have done more than a fair share of damage itself.
Now politicians are saying even that is not enough. Representative Ted Lieu of California authored the amendment, and is now trying to go a step further and eliminate all the funding for the DEA’s work against legal weed, confident that the voters will support it. In an interview Lieu stated:
“We had such strong support [in June], we figured why not just eliminate all funding. It’s a waste of federal resources and ends up driving up prices for Americans.”
All that makes perfect sense. With so many people stepping up to support the laws in their individual nation one way or another, it seems a waste of money for federal funding to be used to aggressively hunt and prosecute people involved in weed-related activity their state has already deemed illegal.
Who are you really protecting from these growers, businesses and users if their own community has approved their existence?
Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program
Through the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program the DEA has already done a lot, including:
- Spent $18 million in 2014
- Arrested 6,310 people
- Confiscated over a million marijuana plants
Not saying these are all bad things, but if we take a closer look at some of the circumstances, the program isn’t exactly the best thing out there.
Civil Asset Forfeiture
For one, the program is funded through the Department of Justice’s civil asset forfeiture fund, which has been highly controversial since this initiative allows the authorities to seize money and property from people who have been suspected of a crime… but not convicted.
Amash is against this element of the war on weed because he feels civil assets forfeiture allows-
“innocent people to have their property taken without sufficient due process.”
This subject has been debated time and time again, because of the maze of red tape and scandals of corruption that wraps around these situations.
Amash is believes this aggressive federal enforcement is a problem because he says enforcement is a state-level issue, so the federal government should not be expending resources on marijuana prohibition, especially with so many states eliminating weed prohibition. Why should the DEA be able to procure all the belonging of an individual because of weed when their state legally permits them to use it?
Marijuana activist groups from all over are supporting this cause this year, including:
- The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
- Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
Weed advocacy groups have praised the bill as a key concept in the fight towards blocking federal prohibition of weed in America. So while the individual states work to decide what’s best for them, still more are going to push for the federal government to stop spending money to contradict the states choices.
While marijuana can be harmful to recovering addicts, it is still important to understand 2 things (in this addicts opinion):
- That alcohol is legal and it too is dangerous for an addict. Being legalized does not make it safe for us. We still have to remember the hopelessness and devastating drugs deal to our lives.
- A lot of the money being used to persecute people in the states for using a drug their own elected officials have given them a right to use could be more effectively spent developing treatment for addiction and promoting programs to help educate the communities and prevent substance abuse.
Drugs and alcohol hurt people, no doubt about it. Legal or not legal they hurt people, and when recovering from addiction we must learn that. We should also continue as a society to work towards addressing addiction as the health issue it is. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
It’s about that time ladies and gentlemen. Once again we will be voting on a new leader of the free world. With the 2016 around the corner it is time for the presidential campaign season. We have at least 4 serious candidates for the next commander and chief, 3 of which are Republicans, and 1 Democrat that is sure to make waves if elected for various reasons. Each is developing a plan of action for various issues, so considering the state of the nation it only makes sense that one of those be the subject of drug addiction and substance abuse.
Let’s take a closer look at the 4 individuals now, and see what they have in mind for the future of America’s drug policies.
- Marco Rubio- Republican Senator from Florida
First let’s just get this one out of the way. If you are about positive advancement in drug reform, you won’t be wearing a button saying “Rubio for President” anytime soon.
Last year there was an article published that described Rubio as:
“casually clinging to the War on Drugs”
This scrutiny was not without substance, as the information was based on an October 2014 Washington Times op-ed, in which he wrote:
“While individuals from a variety of perspectives have made a compelling case that American law has been over-criminalized and over-federalized, reform must come from Congress, not the administration. Also, reform should not begin with careless weakening of drug laws that have done so much to help end the violence and mayhem that plagued American cities in prior decades.”
So what’s wrong with this statement? 2 things.
- The first sentence seems to say “it’s not my job to fix this”
- The second sentence to say “drug policy doesn’t need reforming anyway.”
He has been an unwavering opponent of marijuana legalization, yet he has been evasive about questions regarding his own drug use. He was once quoted:
“You know why I never answer that question? I’ll tell you why I never answer that question. If I tell you that I haven’t, you won’t believe me. And if I tell you that I did, then kids will look up to me and say, ‘Well, I can smoke marijuana, ‘cause look how he made it. He did all right, so I guess I can do it, too.’”
So instead of being transparent and openly answering the question, he seems to deflect it. So if you are so firm on the idea that drug use (including marijuana) is wrong, why not share your experience on the subject?
- Rand Paul- Republican Senator from Kentucky
Rand Paul’s positions on these issues might surprise you, considering he’s undeniably conservative. Then again Rand Paul’s father Ron Paul was a former presidential candidate who was in favor of outright legalization of drugs. However Rand fell a little farther from the tree in the sense that he is not in favor of legalizing all drugs.
Rand Paul does however oppose strict prison sentences for drug crimes. Last year, he sponsored a bill called Reclassification to Ensure Smarter and Equal Treatment (RESET) designed to:
- Reduced some drug felonies to misdemeanors
- Eliminate the difference in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine (see #4 Hillary Clinton)
Rand Paul currently cosponsors the REDEEM Act with Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey which if passed would:
- Raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18
- Restrict the use of solitary confinement of minors
- Restore food stamp eligibility for nonviolent drug felons
- Create a possible mechanism for sealing criminal records
Some say these stances won’t please the Republican base during the primaries, and at the same time won’t be enough to win over many Democrats. Still though, REDEEM seems like it has the right idea when it comes to addressing the drug offenders without crippling their future.
- Ted Cruz- Republican Senator from Texas
Ted Cruz is another republican with an apparently refreshing view on drug policy reform. Along with Paul Cruz cosponsors the Smarter Sentencing Act. This legislation hopes to roll back mandatory minimum sentences.
Now at one point Cruz criticized President Obama for not enforcing federal marijuana laws when the Obama administration said it would not challenge laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington State as long as those states maintain strict rules involving the sale and distribution of the drug. In a 2014 interview Cruz said,
“Now, that may or may not be a good policy, but I would suggest that should concern anyone—it should even concern libertarians who support that policy outcome—because the idea that the president simply says criminal laws that are on the books, we’re going to ignore [them]. That is a very dangerous precedent.”
But with the current campaign it appears Cruz has had a change of heart in regards to marijuana legalization. Cruz now says legal marijuana is states’ rights issue, and back in February, he told Sean Hannity,
“Look, I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the ‘laboratories of democracy.’ If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”
So while he has flipped the script on us, if this is how he really feels than he has become open to the idea that states have the right to make the call themselves and not worrying about heat from the federal level coming down on them.
- Hillary Clinton- Democratic Former Senator for New York and Former Secretary of State
Now the Democrat who is already a household name as a former First Lady, former Senator of New York, and former Secretary of State… Hillary Clinton. Clinton has already made a point to show voters she is listening to their concerns about mental health and addiction, and says it is a huge part of her campaign.
Firstly, some have pointed out that the Clintons’ drug policies in the 1990s have made a vast contribution to the current incarceration rate. That being said, Hillary has spoken out against a criminal justice system she calls “out of balance”, and she currently advocates for treatment instead of prison, much like her last run for office in 2007 when Clinton pushed alternatives to incarceration.
During this time there was also on the federal level a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Meaning 5 grams of crack cocaine would trigger the same 5-year mandatory minimum sentence as 500 grams of powder cocaine. In 2007 Clinton cosponsored a bill in an effort to eliminate that sentencing disparity. While that legislation didn’t pass, thanks to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 there is an 18-to-1 sentencing disparity today.
In terms of marijuana legalization Clinton had opposed decriminalization in 2007, has continued expressing interest in further research. That being said she seems to take the same stance as Rand Paul when supporting marijuana legalization at the state level.
General elections are still over a year away, so don’t be surprised when more names pop up on the campaign trail. Either way we can remain hopeful that the subject will stay on how to improve our culture and thus our communities with drug reforms and rehabilitation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135