Friday, January 24, 2014

Press Release: Top Republican Presidential Hopefuls Declare Commitment to Drug Policy Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                  
January 24, 2014                                                 
CONTACT: Darby Beck – or (415) 823-5496


Rick Perry, Chris Christie Join Barack Obama, Kofi Annan and Juan Manuel Santos in Denouncing Current Drug Policy This Week
Politicians from Both Sides of Aisle Support Change
DAVOS, SWITZERLAND–Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas who ran for the presidency in 2012 and is widely expected to consider a run in 2016, repeatedly recognized state governments’ right to legalize marijuana and touted his implementation of “policies that start us toward a decriminalization” in a drug policy reform panel at the World Economic Forum Thursday.  

Perry joins New Jersey governor Chris Christie, another expected candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential primary, who also noted his commitment to drug policy reform this week, saying “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse” in his second inaugural address Tuesday.

“I’ve always said that ending the drug war is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue. It’s an issue of compassion, practicality and justice.” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. “Having two of the top contenders for the Republican presidential nod in 2016 touting their commitment to drug policy reform the same week Obama praised legalization in Washington and Colorado shows the discussion has shifted from bipartisanship and ‘Can national politicians support reform?’ to ‘Can national politicians afford not to?’”

The panel on which Perry appeared also featured Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who both support ending the war on drugs. This marks the first time drug policy discussions have taken prominence in the forum’s more than 40-year history.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Press Release: Obama: "It's Important for [Marijuana Legalization Laws in Colorado and Washington] To Move Forward"

January 20, 2014
Contact: Darby Beck: 415.823.5496


Decries Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

President Obama cited the fact that “middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor…it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished” as among the reasons why “it’s important for [Colorado and Washington’s laws legalizing marijuana] to go forward” in an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick just made available online.

 “I don’t know that Obama’s increasingly supportive stance toward legalization represents a sea change in his own personal philosophy – he’s an African-American former law professor who has to know prohibition is destructive to people of color and to the criminal justice system generally,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “But it does show the political calculus is changing and smart leaders are scrambling to be counted on the right side of history. Now he needs to back up those words by allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses and making other needed reforms to support legalization.” 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Press Release: New Hampshire House Passes Marijuana Legalization, Regulation Bill

January 15, 2014
Contact: Darby Beck: or 415.823.5496


Move Represents First Time Legalization Has Gone Through A State Legislature

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 170-162 today in favor of passing HB 492, a bill to legalize, regulate and control marijuana for adults over 21, becoming the first state legislature to approve such a bill. Two other states, Colorado and Washington, have already legalized marijuana, but in both cases those laws were implemented through voter initiative. From here the bill will be reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee then be reconsidered by the House and, if it passes again, move to the Senate for consideration.

“By passing this bill, the New Hampshire House has proven the legalization of marijuana is a politically viable, mainstream issue with the potential to improve public safety and benefit the community in numerous ways,” said Cheshire County Superintendent of Corrections Richard Van Wickler, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. “This state now has an opportunity to modernize its views and recalibrate its moral compass in a way that provides an example of leadership the rest of the country will soon follow.”

Van Wickler pointed to the amount of time police and courts waste pursuing marijuana offenses, the way profits from marijuana sales end up financing violent criminal gangs rather than state coffers, the racial disparities involved in marijuana arrests and the effect of arrest on those ensnared in the criminal justice system as among the reasons he wants to legalize marijuana.

"When after forty years of trying to eradicate its use more than 100 million Americans - including our last three presidents - admit to having used marijuana, it's time to recognize this is a problem that cannot be solved by law enforcement and change these laws which have already irreparably damaged too many citizens' lives. Criminal justice professionals are hired to improve public safety, but enforcing marijuana laws has the opposite effect," he continued.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) with four bipartisan co-sponsors and would put the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration in charge of licensing and regulating sales, production and testing of  the product and enact two taxes: a wholesale tax of $30 per ounce and a sales tax of 15% per ounce. Adults over 21 would be able to buy up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in a controlled environment for personal use.

Although Gov. Maggie Hassan has expressed opposition to signing the bill, supporters hope polls showing 60% of New Hampshire adults support the bill or the $17 million Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimated New Hampshire spends on the prohibition of marijuana will change her mind.

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