Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Press Release: BIPARTISAN MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION INTRODUCED TO HOUSE

Contact: Darby Beck                                                 For Immediate Release:

darby.beck@leap.cc                                                  March 24, 2015

415.823.5496

BIPARTISAN MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO 

HOUSE

 Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Submit Companion Bill to 

CARERS Act to Allow States to Legalize Medical Marijuana 


Today a comprehensive bipartisan medical marijuana legalization bill was introduced to

the House of Representatives. The bill serves as a companion to the Compassionate

Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would allow

states to set their own medical marijuana policies without fear of federal prosecution.

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

originally introduced the CARERS Act to the Senate earlier this month. Senators Dean

Heller (R-NV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) co-sponsored the bill most recently. Reps.

Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced today’s companion bill, which

marks yet another significant leap of progress in bipartisan support for compassionate

medical marijuana legislation.

“Police have as much business telling patients whether they should use medical

marijuana as they do performing eye surgery - and with a similar rate of success,” said

Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a

criminal justice group opposed to the drug war. “When you treat a health problem like a

matter for law enforcement, you only endanger the patient, who has no assurance of the

quality or purity of what he's consuming and must enter the illegal market to obtain it,

and undermine respect for and effectiveness of law enforcement in our society.”

The CARERS Act would foremost allow states to decide their own regulatory policies. It

would also reschedule marijuana from the federal scheduling category I to II, which

unlike schedule I, recognizes medical efficacy and allows more extensive research for

drugs within that schedule, though it is still very restrictive. If passed, the bill would also

permit interstate commerce of CBD (cannabidiol) products. CBD is a non-psychoactive

seizure suppressant found in marijuana that has shown to be effective in reducing the

severity and intensity of seizures, particularly in pediatric epileptic patients.

The bill would also allow banks to work with the legal marijuana industry without fear of

prosecution. Currently, state-legal marijuana businesses and any banks that work with

them might be charged with violating federal marijuana prohibition laws, and could be

accused of laundering money for a criminal organization. The CARERS Act would also

allow doctors within the Department of Veterans Affairs network to recommend

marijuana to their patients, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

(PTSD), which many believe can be alleviated by marijuana. Finally, the bill would also

expand permissions for marijuana to be researched more thoroughly. What little research

has been conducted domestically - and significant anecdotal evidence - both clearly

support the efficacy of marijuana as a medicine, but obstacles to research have remained

a problem for scientists to accurately measure marijuana’s effectiveness in treating

specific conditions in controlled settings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is the

only institution presently permitted to research marijuana.

“No one should ever have to be considered a criminal to get medicine they need,” said

Major Franklin. “There are many patients who need medicine who are foregoing their

preferred treatment for fear of arrest. This is a public health problem that affects people

from across the political spectrum. Prioritizing proper health care for the sick and

disabled is not a partisan issue; it’s a question of basic human rights.”

Last year, President Obama signed into law the federal “Cromnibus” spending bill, which

includes a provision that prevents the Department of Justice from using its money to

create barriers for medical marijuana laws and legally operating dispensaries in those

states. Twenty three states and the District of Columbia all have some degree of medical

marijuana access, and many more state legislatures are considering such measures as

well.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is committed to ending decades of failed policy

that have fueled dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption

and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction. The drug war has

cost more than one trillion dollars and has distracted the penal system’s attention away

from far more important crimes.

###

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Press Release: Comprehensive, Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced to Congress

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                      For Immediate Release:
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                     March 10, 2015
415.823.5496


COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION BILL INTRODUCED TO CONGRESS

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Introduce Bipartisan CARERS Act

Today, a comprehensive bipartisan medical marijuana legalization bill was introduced to Congress that would prevent federal law enforcement agencies from interfering in state medical marijuana laws. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act would recognize marijuana’s medical validity by rescheduling it from Schedule I (no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse) into Schedule II (some medical value and high potential for abuse). This would allow banks greater freedom to provide financial services to state-legal medical dispensaries, improve transportability of the drug, and open doors for scientific research. Currently, medical marijuana patients, dispensary owners and cultivators are still in violation of federal law, and could be subject to federal prosecution. This has remained an obstacle for many other states that would otherwise be considering similar policies.

“Whether patients have safe access to medicine is a public health issue, not a criminal justice one,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a law enforcement group opposed to the war on drugs. “If this bill passes many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana will no longer have to forego treatment for fear of arrest, be considered criminals for obtaining necessary medication, or put themselves in danger by accessing a dangerous unregulated market. We would never put underground drug dealers in charge of selling chemotherapy drugs or antidepressants, and we shouldn’t be putting them in control of marijuana either.”

If passed, the CARERS Act would adjust banking regulations so that financial institutions could provide banking services to marijuana businesses operating in accordance with state law. This has been a major obstacle, forcing dispensaries to operate as cash-only businesses, creating serious logistical problems and opening them up to all sorts of security concerns.

The bill would also remove a requirement that the Department of Health and Human Services do a public health service review before approving studies and end the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s current monopoly on marijuana research by allowing for at least three more research licenses to be granted. Overwhelming anecdotal evidence - and what little domestic research that has been approved - clearly support the medical efficacy of marijuana, but because research is rarely permitted for Schedule I substances, the scientific community has been unable to fully and accurately assess its effectiveness for specific conditions in controlled settings. If passed, the bill would also permit VA doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients who often suffer from combat related depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The State of Colorado recently awarded $2 million dollars to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies for research into the effects of marijuana use on veterans with PTSD.

Finally, it would allow states to import CBD products, which contain a powerful compound found in marijuana that reduces the incidence and severity of seizures in epileptic patients. Twelve states currently have laws allowing for some form of access to CBD, though these laws are not generally considered full “medical marijuana laws” because CBD as an extracted substance has fewer applications than medications using the whole plant. They remain attractive to some policymakers, however, because they exclude THC, a psychoactive but medically useful cannabinoid.

Last year, President Obama signed into law the federal “Cromnibus” spending bill, which includes a provision that prevents the Department of Justice from using its money to create barriers for medical marijuana laws and legally operating dispensaries in those states where it is legal. In addition to the dozen states that allow CBD use, twenty three states and the District of Columbia allow some degree of medical marijuana access, and many more state legislatures are considering such measures as well.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have fueled dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction, all while spending more than a trillion dollars diverting the penal system's attention away from more important violent crimes.


###

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Press Release: LEAP Reacts to Sheriffs' Lawsuit Against Colorado Marijuana Law

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                          For Immediate Release:
 
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                         March 5, 2015

415.823.5496


LEAP REACTS TO SHERIFFS’ LAWSUIT AGAINST COLORADO 

MARIJUANA LAW

 Refute Claims of Increased Burden on Police, Cite Public Safety Improvements


Today, sheriffs from Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas filed a lawsuit against Colorado’s

marijuana legalization law, Amendment 64. The officers claim the law is

unconstitutional, and that there is increased burden on law enforcement in neighboring

states.

Legalization advocates, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, point to the

many positive benefits of legalization, including that it has reduced the burden on law

enforcement within the state, citing the fact that marijuana possession arrests have

dropped 84% in Colorado since 2010. Colorado is also experiencing significant benefits,

including a decreasing unemployment rate, more than $50 million in tax revenue in FY

2014-15, and reduced rates of burglary and homicide.

“Legalizing marijuana has allowed police to focus on real crimes but taken away their

excuse for otherwise unjustified searches and seizures,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.),

executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of criminal justice

professionals opposed to the drug war. “Of course some law enforcement officers are

going to be upset about that. But I would ask those officers to think about why they

joined the force in the first place, why they risk their lives every day just to do their jobs.

I doubt many would say it’s to go after low-level drug offenders, whose lives will largely

be destroyed in the process and whose communities have come to see police as the

enemy. They would say they went into this job because they wanted to protect people, to

be heroes, and it’s about time they recognize that that’s the opposite of what they’re

doing when they defend current drug policy.”

Public safety remains at the forefront of the marijuana legalization debate, with

proponents citing that marijuana is easier for children to obtain where it is illegal, that

arrest and conviction records harm users and that marijuana prohibition causes police

officers to focus disproportionately on drug crimes, leaving violent crimes often

unsolved. For instance, in 2013 there were an estimated 400,000 rape kits in the U.S. that

had yet to be tested because drug testing of imprisoned defendants get prioritized over

other examinations. The U.S. spends about $51 billion dollars per year on drug

enforcement efforts, yet none of the intended goals of drug prohibition have been

attained.

Alaska, Washington and Oregon have also legalized recreational marijuana sales. Alaska

and Oregon regulators are in the process of writing the rules for how new marijuana

businesses will operate there, and Washington has joined Colorado as the second state to

safely and successfully sell marijuana legally.

###

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Press Release: Law Enforcement Group Argues for UN Restoring National Sovereignty as INCB Releases Annual Report

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                               For Immediate Release:

darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                March 2, 2015

(+1) 415.823.5496


LAW ENFORCEMENT GROUP ARGUES FOR UN RESTORING NATIONAL 

SOVEREIGNTY AS INCB RELEASES ANNUAL REPORT


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Proposes Treaty Amendment to Allow 

National Sovereignty in Drug Policy, Co-Sponsors Side Event at UN Commission on 

Narcotic Drugs 


The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) will release its annual report on March

3rd, only days before the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meets in Vienna,

Austria. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a NGO in consultative status

with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)  led by police officers and other

criminal justice professionals opposed to the drug war, will attend the 58th Session of the

CND and promote a proposal of amendment to the three UN drug-control treaties that

serve as fountainhead for the failed global drug prohibition. LEAP argues that this model

has accelerated rather than reversed the “rising trend in the illicit production of, demand

for and traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances” (Preamble, par. 1, 1961

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs) the treaties were designed to address. The LEAP

Proposed Amendment would vest principal authority for drug control in the hands of

sovereign nations, cooperatively, rather than mandate national subservience to

international prohibition. Attending LEAP representatives will be available to comment

on the report and LEAP’s Treaty Amendment draft.

The data provided by the INCB and the UNODC reports will help serve as a guide for the

58th Session of the CND, which precede and serve as preparation for the Special Session

of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) in 2016. The

INCB and its President, Dr. Lochan Naidoo, have expressed great concern over the

widespread problems related to drug use and abuse, yet continue to cling to the failed

prohibition model that decades of policy have proven ineffective.

“Drug abuse affects nearly every aspect of culture and society, yet our existing policies to

address it have clearly failed,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of

LEAP. “We need to acknowledge that the current prohibition model of drug control has

failed and allow countries to find the solutions that work for them.”

One of the major issues to be discussed will likely be the Brownfield flexibility doctrine,

announced last year by William R. Brownfield, US Assistant Secretary of State for the

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). This doctrine

stated that existing conventions are flexible enough to embrace differing national drug

policies including developing world drug legalization. While this seems like a positive

development, since it allows room for American states and countries like Uruguay to

legalize cannabis, for instance, the doctrine fails to challenge the treaties themselves or

the flawed theory of prohibition underlying them. In a statement in early February,

International Narcotics Control Board President Dr. Lochan Naidoo denounced the idea

of flexibility.

Former Prosecutor Jim Gierach, board member and draftsman of the proposed treaty

amendment for LEAP, said: “Dr. Naidoo is right.  UN drug treaties are inflexible and

unmistakably prohibit and criminalize the production, supply and recreational use of all

drugs. The INCB must recognize the serious shortcomings of prohibition ‘drug control’

and lead the nations of the world away from the criminalization and incarceration model

to new and higher ground. To reach that higher ground, change in the structure and role

of international drug control bodies is essential, just as amendment of the three

conventions is essential. Treaty ‘flexible construction’ is no answer.”

LEAP and the Czech Republic will co-sponsor a unique side event in Vienna to discuss

“Treaty Amendment: A Choice for Drug Policy Reform,” to which all media are invited.

The side event will be presented Monday, March 9, at 2:20 pm CET at the Vienna

International Centre (VIC) in Room MOE79  and will offer an opportunity for more

informal discussion, networking and collaboration between delegations regarding the

proposed treaty amendment.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an organization of criminal justice

professionals who want to end the gang violence, skyrocketing incarceration, and

dangerous underground markets fueled by the war on drugs and return to a world in

which law enforcement officials are free to focus on serious crime.

###

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Press Release: DC MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT THURSDAY

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                           For Immediate Release:

Darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                    February 25, 2015

415.823.5496


DC MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT THURSDAY

Adult Possession, Home Cultivation Protected Under Initiative 71

DC Council Pushes for Retail Sales Despite Congress


Washington D.C. – A new marijuana legalization law will take effect in D.C. tomorrow

when adults 21 and older will be permitted to possess up to two ounces for personal use

and grow up to six plants (three of which can be mature). Public consumption, driving

under the influence, youth possession and any exchange of money for marijuana outside

of the existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the District, will still be prohibited.

“Legalization has come to Congress’s backyard,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.),

executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of

criminal justice professionals opposed to the drug war. “The only question now is will

they be the leaders their constituents voted for and allow the DC Council to tax and

regulate the product, or will they prop up the criminal market by keeping sales

underground?”

Initiative 71 passed overwhelmingly with more than 70% of the vote. Despite some

Congressional opposition to taxing and regulating recreational marijuana sales, the D.C.

Council is pushing forward a legalization bill that responsibly addresses the public safety

issues associated with marijuana regulation. The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

Act of 2015 has already been discussed in public hearings. A majority of the testimony

was in favor of the bill, and made a variety of arguments such as focusing law

enforcement on more important crimes, reducing the racially disparate impact of

marijuana enforcement, reducing youth access to marijuana, generating revenue for the

city, and creating new legal jobs for D.C. residents.

Under the law that takes effect tomorrow, possession or smoking on federal property

(which amounts to 26% of the land in D.C.) remains a federal crime. Caution should be

taken by those traveling with the permitted amount of marijuana to avoid federal

property. District residents are advised to review a map of federal land and some basic

rules in order to comply with the complex interplay of federal and District laws.

The spending bill passed by Congress in December for this fiscal year denies D.C. any

funding to enact marijuana legalization. But because D.C. attorneys have determined that

Initiative 71 requires no funding to implement, with the Congressional review period

required by the D.C. home rule law about to expire, the law is set to take effect at 12:01

a.m. Feb. 26.

LEAP is committed to ending the failed drug policies that have fueled dangerous

underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racially disparate law

enforcement, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction, diverting the penal

system's attention from more important violent crime, all while spending almost one

trillion dollars over the past 40 years.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Alaska Marijuana Legalization Takes Effect Tuesday

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                           For Immediate Release:

darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                     February 23, 2015

415.823.5496


ALASKA MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT 

TUESDAY 

Commercial Regulation Development Underway

Law Enforcement Anticipates Public Safety Improvements


Last November, Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2, a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for

adults, passed with 52% of the vote. When the measure takes effect on Tuesday this

week, people age 21 and older will legally be able to possess up to one ounce of

marijuana and cultivate no more than six plants at home, though commercial sales will

have to wait until regulations have been established – probably spring or summer of

2016. Colorado, Oregon and Washington have also legalized marijuana, and medical

marijuana is permitted in 23 states and Washington D.C.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals

opposed to the drug war, campaigned for Measure 2 by meeting with communities and

the media to discuss the public safety benefits of marijuana regulation.

“We anxiously await the same public safety improvements from Alaska that we have

already seen in Colorado and Washington,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive

director of LEAP. “Cops will spend more time going after dangerous criminals and

protecting communities, and parents can rest assured that their local marijuana retailer is

barred from selling to their children.”

Tuesday also marks the first day of drafting the manufacturing and sales regulations. The

timeline states that regulations should be completed by November 2015, business

applications should open in February 2016, and licenses should be issued by May of the

same year. Some regulators are concerned the timeline is too short, and advocate for a

later deadline to ensure the best possible regulatory model.

The state’s judiciary committee recently stalled SB 30, a bill that initially concerned

legalization advocates due to ambiguity surrounding its ability to supersede Measure 2.

The committee has ordered a replacement bill, which may provide clarity and ensure that

Measure 2 and the will of Alaska’s voters are respected. Other pending state legislation

relating to Measure 2 include SB 8, which would regulate the production of industrial

hemp.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have fueled dangerous

underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely

ignored the public health crisis of addiction, all while spending billions of dollars

diverting the penal system's attention away from more important violent crimes.

###
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