The House endorsed a landmark retreat in the nation's decades-long war
on drugs Friday, voting to remove marijuana from the federal schedule
of controlled substances and provide for the regulation and taxation
of legal cannabis sales.
The vote was 228 to 164 and was the first time either chamber of
Congress has voted on the issue of federally decriminalizing cannabis.
The measure is not expected to pass into law, and, because of
political skittishness, it was voted on only after the November
election and more than a year after it emerged from committee. But the
House took a stand at a moment of increasing momentum, with voters
last month opting to liberalize marijuana laws in five states -
including three that President Trump won handily.
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It's disingenuous of Seamus R. Fallon ("Oregon Drug Law Change Can
Help Families," Letters, Nov. 24) to insist that two grams of cocaine
is one-third the amount a drug dealer would typically carry. What is
the source for such a statement? Based on my experience as a
high-school teacher, few of the drug users in their teen years are
"drug dealers." They are constant consumers, many on a daily basis, of
stimulants of any kind. Two grams of cocaine is easily quartered for
four classmates to afford a half-gram each, plenty to get amped up,
behind some brewskis, especially for diminutive teen girls. None of
the group is "a dealer" in the sense Mr. Fallon proffers his straw
man; they are end-users for the dealers.
Oregon's abandonment of its youth to the drug subculture, in looming
years of turmoil and despair, will show in time that: "As the twig is
bent, so is the tree is inclined." Can Oregon not see the forest for
J. Charles Sykes
Mr. Fallon's letter highlights one of the unappreciated strengths of
our federal republic when compared with most other countries:
Individual states can run innovative political experiments without
central government interference. When the success or failure of the
experiment is evaluated, other states can follow (or avoid) the
example as they wish. The trial by Oregon should be monitored and
compared with similar results with a placebo (e.g., Washington state).
Hard facts, not soft opinions, should guide the country as we deal
with drug and overdose problems.
In 2013, Joy Hollingsworth moved with her family from Seattle out to
the country with a plan to build a cannabis business.
Washington State had recently legalized recreational marijuana, and
Barack Obama had just been re-elected. For Ms. Hollingsworth, a former
basketball player, and her brother, Raft Hollingsworth III, a former
University of Washington student who had been growing medical
marijuana, it seemed like as good a time as any to buy a farm and turn
So began the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company, a Black-owned family
business in what has become a very white and increasingly
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In approaching Errol Morris's "My Psychedelic Love Story," it doesn't
hurt to have some familiarity with "Wormwood," the 2017 Netflix
docudrama miniseries. In it, the fabled documentarian told the story
of Frank Olson, a CIA employee who mysteriously fell to his death in
1953 nine days after being slipped LSD as part of an agency
experiment. Was he pushed or did he jump? Was hippie socialite Joanna
Harcourt-Smith being used as a CIA tool when her boyfriend, Timothy
Leary, became a government informant in the mid-'70s? And what in the
world is the connection?
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To induce dread in a paranoiac, one need only invoke two acronyms:
C.I.A. and LSD Along with a third and a fourth - U.F.O. and J.F.K. -
these were key ingredients in the alphabet soup of conspiracy theory
for more than half a century.
But. You don't have to be a paranoiac, because sometimes
dread-inducing combinations and schemes do yield horrific results. The
2017 Errol Morris-directed mini-series, "Wormwood," to which "My
Psychedelic Love Story" is a sequel of sorts, went into detail about
the C.I.A. and LSD. It showed that the cloak-and-dagger organization
and the hallucinogenic drug met up earlier than most might have guessed.
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Now that Oregon voters have agreed to end nearly all criminal
penalties for drug possession, state officials have just over two
months to set up a new recovery-focused system, a task that is
particularly complicated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Measure 110, which goes into effect Feb. 1, allows a maximum fine of
$100 for possession of drugs including heroin, cocaine and
methamphetamines along with a mandatory health assessment. The first
statewide law of its kind in the nation passed with support of 58% of
voters this month. It also mandates new recovery centers, paid for by
marijuana taxes and savings from less incarceration.
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Naomi Schaefer Riley and John Walters state that Oregon decriminalized
"small amounts of harder drugs, including cocaine, heroin and
methamphetamine" ("Legal Drugs Are Fashionable-and Treacherous for
Children," op-ed, Nov. 19) and that the passage of Measure 110 in
Oregon "lower[s] the risk and cost of doing business for drug
dealers." It's an erroneous claim. Measure 110 says that possession of
less than one gram of heroin, various low amounts of amphetamines and
less than two grams of cocaine is decriminalized. No drug dealer would
carry anything less than three times the amounts in the measure.
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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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The U.S. election didn't produce a blue wave or a red wave, but some
are celebrating a green wave as voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey
and South Dakota approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Meanwhile, Oregonians decriminalized the possession of small amounts
of harder drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.
"Drugs, once thought to be the scourge of a healthy society, are
getting public recognition as a part of American life," the New York
In reality, drugs are very much a scourge, particularly in the lives
of young children. In 2019 parental substance abuse was listed as a
cause for a child's removal to foster care 38% of the time, a share
that has risen steadily in the past decade. Experts suggest this is an
underestimate and the real number may be up to 80%.
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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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The drug war needs to end. If the AJC investigated, it would likely
find most of the violence is drug war-related. The police are doing
the job they were given. You may not like the way they do it, but do
not blame them for doing their highly dangerous job. Either make drugs
legal, or let the government compete with the drug lords by taking
confiscated drugs and giving them free to drug addicts in a special
recovery program. If drugs are free or legal, there is no reason for
drug lords to exist. They cannot compete with free. This is the way to
end most of the violence and social injustice. Not all of it, I am
sorry to say, but it would be a start.
L.O. COX, CONYERS
OAKLAND, Calif. - In the weeks leading up to November, Iashia Kilian
felt her anxiety deepen.
She knew her vote in the swing state of Michigan could help decide who
the next president would be. She had done everything she could to help
campaign for her candidate of choice. Now, all she could do was sit
back, wait and make sure she had her favorite marijuana edibles at
"The panic, the anxious feelings, it has all been too much. I knew I
was only going to get through it with some help," said Ms. Kilian, 43,
who lives in Center Line. "I used to be the kind of person who would
judge someone, especially a mother like me, taking edibles. But you
know what? Everything happening here in this country is just too much.
The people need some help."
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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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