Next year will mark 50 years since President Richard Nixon declared
drugs "public enemy number one," launching a new war on drugs that has
pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into law enforcement, led to
the incarceration of millions of people - disproportionately Black -
and has done nothing to prevent drug overdoses. In spite of the
widespread, growing opposition to this failed war, made clear yet
again on Election Day, punitive policies and responses to drug use and
possession persist. As President-elect Joe Biden and Vice
President-elect Kamala Harris prepare to take office, it is abundantly
clear that they have a mandate from the electorate to tackle this issue.
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All eyes were on Philadelphia this month, as the outcome of the
election rested in poll workers' hands. It's not surprising that the
citizens of Philly were ready for change - they've faced a
disproportionately heavy toll as a result of the current
administration's ineffective coronavirus policies. And that toll has
tragically included an increased rate of deadly opioid overdoses.
But Philly isn't alone - overdoses tragically have increased in
communities across the nation, from San Francisco to Burlington, Vt.
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One of America's greatest mistakes over the last century was the war
on drugs, so it's thrilling to see voters in red and blue states alike
moving to unwind it.
The most important step is coming in Oregon, where voters easily
passed a referendum that will decriminalize possession of even hard
drugs like cocaine and heroin, while helping users get treatment for
addiction. The idea is to address drug use as a public health crisis
more than as a criminal justice issue.
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Americans were still waiting for clarity on the presidential race
Wednesday morning. Perhaps lost in the frantic haze of election night
was the legalization of recreational marijuana in four states.
Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana all passed legislation
Tuesday permitting the possession of weed by adults, which means 15
states have legalized recreational weed or voted to legalize it.
South Dakota and Mississippi passed initiatives to allow medical
marijuana, which means 36 states permit the legal distribution of
medical weed, according to a tally by NORML, a nonprofit marijuana
public advocacy group.
Oregon became the first state in the nation to decriminalize the
possession of all illegal drugs and also legalize the use of
psilocybin-the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms-for
mental health treatment, after voters passed a pair of ballot measures
Both are the first of their kind in any U.S. state and represent the
next frontier in the relaxation of drug laws beyond marijuana.
With results from 76% of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning,
59% of Oregonians approved Measure 110, the drug decriminalization
referendum, and 56% voted for Measure 109 on psilocybin therapy,
according to the Associated Press.
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Oregon has an addiction problem. Pockets of rural poverty, chronic
homelessness and cities with lots of young people have given the state
one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation. It is also,
because there is so little money allocated to it, one of the toughest
places to get treatment.
A proposed solution on the ballot next week would be one of the most
radical drug-law overhauls in the nation's history, eliminating
criminal penalties entirely for personal use amounts of drugs such as
heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Tax revenues from drug sales
would be channeled toward drug treatment.
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Do you have the heart to safely smoke pot? Maybe not, a growing body
of medical reports suggests.
Currently, increased smoking of marijuana in public, even in cities
like New York where recreational use remains illegal (though no longer
prosecuted), has reinforced a popular belief that this practice is
safe, even health-promoting.
"Many people think that they have a free pass to smoke marijuana," Dr.
Salomeh Keyhani, professor of medicine at the University of
California, San Francisco, told me. "I even heard a suggestion on
public radio that tobacco companies should switch to marijuana because
then they'd be selling life instead of selling death."
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A victory for the Democratic Party in next month's presidential
election would be a game changer for the cannabis industry. Despite
their reputation for overexuberance, pot investors are reacting with
Since mid-August, the 10 largest North American pot stocks by market
value are up 20%, according to Viridian Capital Advisors. This is
relatively muted compared with the 83% rally seen in the three months
before the 2016 election.
Americans have been buying a lot of pot during the Covid-19 pandemic,
which may also explain why stocks are rising. Sales in seven large
states where cannabis is legal, tracked by research company Headset,
were up 51% from January through September compared with the same
period of 2019. Consumers have had more leisure time at home and
federal stimulus money to spend. Alcohol companies have enjoyed
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Re "Parents' Little Helpers" (Sunday Styles, Oct. 4):
To be a Black mother is to be in a constant state of alertness when it
comes to protecting your family from the government. As a Black woman,
mother and lawyer, I am no different in that regard.
Most Black mothers wouldn't publicly label themselves a "wine mom" or
admit to smoking pot. No one remotely aware of the government's racist
practice of separating Black families for such behavior through the
so-called child welfare system would.
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For two years, New Jersey lawmakers had failed to mobilize enough
support to pass a bill to fully legalize marijuana. Instead, they
agreed in December to put the question directly to voters: "Do you
approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of
marijuana called 'cannabis'?"
Then March roared in, and the world turned upside down.
The coronavirus took a firm hold in the United States and Black Lives
Matter protesters filled streets from coast to coast.
More than 16,000 New Jersey residents have since died from the virus.
Unemployment has soared. Ballots for November's election, which is
being conducted almost entirely by mail, have already begun to arrive
at voters' homes.
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7:51 p.m.: It's exactly 125 days tomorrow. I am pretg drink.
7:52 p.m.: Drunk.
7:52 p.m. I can tell. :-)
I have a years-long WhatsApp message group with a handful of fellow
mothers of small children from across the United States and Canada.
Since the pandemic began, what I refer to as "mom chats after dark"
start at around 7:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. That's when the
children are asleep, and a wave of inebriation begins on the shores of
the Atlantic and crashes across the continent. The above message was
from July, when we hit 125 days of lockdown.
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Johns Creek officials disagreed on decriminalization of marijuana
during a Monday meeting. City Council members opposed to a reduced
penalty for simple possession said they were concerned that marijuana
is a gateway to more dangerous drugs.
Council members Chris Coughlin, Erin Elwood and Stephanie Endres
proposed that a person in possession of less than one ounce of
cannabis face no jail time and a fine of not more than $75.
The current fine for simple possession is up to one year in prison and
a $1,000 fine.
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Harry J. Anslinger's pioneering work as head of the Federal Bureau of
Narcotics has largely been unsung, though experts see him as the
founding father of America's war on drugs.
In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration raised his profile with a
symposium that focused on the decades he spent creating national drug policy,
starting in the 1930s. Following that, in 2015, the agency's museum opened an
exhibition: "A Life of Service: Harry Jacob Anslinger, 1892-1975."
When that closed in 2017, the D.E.A. Museum & Visitors Center created
a virtual version, which is displayed on its website.
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WASHINGTON - Lazelle Maxwell, 48, is nearly 12 years into a 30-year
sentence for a nonviolent crack cocaine charge, a penalty exacerbated
by previous run-ins with law enforcement that led to his designation
as a career offender.
Three years into remission after a diagnosis of prostate cancer, Mr.
Maxwell has no major disciplinary infractions on his prison record. He
spends most of his days behind bars caring for an elderly, partly
paralyzed inmate at a low-security federal penitentiary in Butner,
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PHOENIX - Foes of legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana in
Arizona are trying to keep the issue from going to voters in November.
Legal papers filed in Maricopa County Superior Court contend the
legally required 100-word description misled people into signing the
petition to put the issue on the ballot. Issues range from the
definition of "marijuana" to how the law would affect driving while
The lawsuit comes as a new survey Tuesday finds widespread support for
the proposal a=80" with more than 6 out of every 10 likely voters saying
they will support it if it is on the ballot. Pollster Mike Noble of OH
Predictive Insights said the query of 600 likely voters found that
just 32% say they're definitely opposed.
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As state law enforcement played whack-a-mole with illegal marijuana
fields, local communities protested the "invading army."
Driving through Humboldt County last winter, I heard radio ads for
help harvesting and selling cannabis crops, as well as for products
geared toward commercial cultivation. But less than 40 years ago, the
same area was one of the main battlefields of California's war on pot
By the late 1960s, the three counties of the Emerald Triangle had
developed a reputation for growing a high-quality product. Demand grew
rapidly, and prices skyrocketed, fueling greater production. In 1983,
after several unsuccessful attempts to cut down production, the state
started the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP.
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SACRAMENTO - Alarmed that unlicensed cannabis sellers continue to
dominate California's pot market, state lawmakers are moving toward
imposing steep new fines on businesses that provide building space,
advertising platforms and other aid to illicit operations.
Those who provide assistance to illegal pot sellers would face civil
fines of up to $30,000 per day under legislation approved unanimously
by the state Assembly that is now pending in the Senate. A final vote
on the proposal is expected sometime after lawmakers return to
Sacramento this month.
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Ben Emerson had never tried cannabis edibles before his birthday in
April. He was raised in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which he
left five years ago, and marijuana was "this thing that I had never
really even thought that I was allowed to do," he said.
"And then I'm like, 'Wait, I can actually make up my own mind about
For his first foray, Mr. Emerson, 38, chose strawberry-flavored
gummies, which he ordered online and picked up curbside at a
dispensary near his home in Portland, Ore. "I'm not super-interested
in smoking anything," he said. "But as soon as I decided I wanted to
try cannabis, I wanted to try something edible."
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Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard psychiatry professor who became a
leading proponent of legalizing marijuana after his research found it
was less toxic or addictive than alcohol or tobacco, died on June 25
at his home in Newton, Mass. He was 92.
His son David confirmed the death.
Dr. Grinspoon was an unlikely crusader for marijuana. At first, he
believed that it was a dangerous drug. When the astronomer Carl Sagan,
a friend who was also teaching at Harvard, offered him a joint in the
late 1960s, Dr. Grinspoon warned him against continuing to smoke it.
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