The Weight of Thought

Texas Democrats believe that marijuana should be decriminalized — so strongly, in fact, that decriminalization made it onto their party platform this year.

Texas Democrats affirmed their commitment to sound drug policy while simultaneously denouncing the erroneously titled “War on Drugs,” which has led to high incarceration rates but very little in the way of reducing drug use. “Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only,” the platform says:

Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.

There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.

Responding to the Obama Administration’s latest national drug control strategy, leading drug policy reform advocates assailed the president for “prioritizing low-level drug arrests” over other policies that even the White House has acknowledged to be more effective in boosting public health and safety.

In an introductory statement (PDF) issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama wrote that his strategy outlines “A Drug Policy for the 21st Century“ that emphasizes addiction treatments over incarceration and life-saving outreach over harsh law enforcement. The White House website even brags about the effectiveness of harm-reduction strategies over mass incarcerations, saying the approach is “grounded in decades of research and scientific study.”

“There is overwhelming evidence that drug prevention and treatment programs achieve meaningful results with significant long-term cost savings,” the Office on National Drug Control Policy claims. “In fact, recent research has shown that each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.”

By implementing a drug control strategy that acknowledges the growing body of knowledge on how to mitigate the worst effects of substance abuse, “we will not only strengthen our economy but also sustain the national character and spirit that has made the United States a world leader,” Obama’s statement explains.

US Isolated at Summit of Americas

Alex Main: From Cuba to the war on drugs, only Canada supports US policy

A historic meeting of Latin America’s leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.

The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.

Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country’s military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: “The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated.”

Six organizations looking to reform U.S. drug laws urged President Barack Obama to halt raids on medical marijuana providers following the raid on Oaksterdam University in California.

“Our coalition represents the views of tens of millions of Americans who believe the war on medical marijuana patients and providers you are fighting is misguided and counterproductive,” Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Marijuana Policy Project, National Cannabis Industry Association, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) wrote in a letter to the President.

Oaksterdamn University, which trained people to work in the booming medical marijuana industry, was raided by federal agents on Monday.

New York City has the dubious — and well-earned — reputation as the world’s marijuana arrest capital, with more than 50,000 people being arrested for pot possession there last year alone at an estimated cost of $75 million. It also has a mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who has famously said he smoked marijuana and enjoyed it, yet who presides over a police force that has run roughshod over the state’s marijuana decriminalization law in order to make those arrests, almost all of which are of members of the city’s black and brown minority communities.

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said Saturday he will propose legalizing drugs in Central America in an upcoming meeting with the region’s leaders.

Perez Molina said in a radio interview that his proposal would include decriminalizing the transportation of drugs through the area.

“I want to bring this discussion to the table,” he said. “It wouldn’t be a crime to transport, to move drugs. It would all have to be regulated.”

Janusz Palikot, the leader of a new party which brought in Poland’s first trans-gender and openly gay MPs, launched a drive Friday to legalise marijuana by smoking pot in parliament.

“This is the weed,” he told reporters in his office in the lower house of parliament, lighting up a large incense joint containing what he said was a legal quantity of marijuana.

Palikot said his party had submitted a bill to legalise marijuana.

After 11 years, the Florida Hemp Fest is back with a new twist.

Dennis “Murli” Watkins, who served four months of jail time for orchestrating a “doobie toss” at the event in 1994, is bringing back what used to be an annual celebration of marijuana and a protest for its legalization. —Gainesville Sun

Murli just so happens to be a supporter of the “truth.” When we were contacted by him to set up a table and to give a talk on various topics such as the Federal Reserve, fluoride, and 9/11 we gladly accepted.

Watkins said this year’s edition will touch on other, even more controversial issues than legalizing pot. “Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years. Here it is almost 2012, and we’re still fighting this same stupid battle,” he said. “9/11 was an inside job and they’re worried about someone smoking a doobie. They’ve got to get their priorities in order.” Watkins said there will be a “9/11 truth booth” set up at the event, which will be held on the city’s Bo Diddley Community Plaza downtown.Gainesville Sun

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

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