Home » Drug Policy » Recent Articles:

Readers Favor Automatic Expungement of Marijuana Convictions Once Legalized

June 5, 2019 Crime, Drug Policy, Featured, Metro East Comments Off on Readers Favor Automatic Expungement of Marijuana Convictions Once Legalized
Most of the recreational marijuana stores we visited in Colorado in 2014 had a separate section for medical marijuana.

Marijuana became illegal largely because Henry Anslinger needed to keep his government job during the Great Depression. Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, just 3 years before the end of Prohibition on alcohol.

“From the moment he took charge of the bureau, Harry was aware of the weakness of his new position. A war on narcotics alone — cocaine and heroin, outlawed in 1914 — wasn’t enough,” author Johann Hari wrote in his book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.” “They were used only by a tiny minority, and you couldn’t keep an entire department alive on such small crumbs. He needed more.” 

Consequently, Anslinger made it his mission to rid the U.S. of all drugs — including cannabis. His influence played a major role in the introduction and passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which outlawed possessing or selling pot.

Fueled by a handful of 1920s newspaper stories about crazed or violent episodes after marijuana use, Anslinger first claimed that the drug could cause psychosis and eventually insanity. In a radio address, he stated young people are “slaves to this narcotic, continuing addiction until they deteriorate mentally, become insane, turn to violent crime and murder.” 

In particular, he latched on to the story of a young man named Victor Licata, who had hacked his family to death with an ax, supposedly while high on cannabis. It was discovered many years later, however, that Licata had a history of mental illness in his family, and there was no proof he ever used the drug.

The problem was, there was little scientific evidence that supported Anslinger’s claims. He contacted 30 scientists, according to Hari, and 29 told him cannabis was not a dangerous drug. But it was the theory of the single expert who agreed with him that he presented to the public — cannabis was an evil that should be banned — and the press ran with this sensationalized version. (CBS News)

Race was used to get public support behind a new ban:

To understand how we ended up here, it is important to go back to what was happening in the United States in the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution. At this time we saw an influx of immigration from Mexico into states like Texas and Louisiana. Not surprising, these new Americans brought with them their native language, culture and customs. One of these customs was the use of cannabis as a medicine and relaxant.

Mexican immigrants referred to this plant as “marihuana”. While Americans were very familiar with “cannabis” because it was present in almost all tinctures and medicines available at the time, the word “marihuana” was a foreign term. So, when the media began to play on the fears that the public had about these new citizens by falsely spreading claims about the “disruptive Mexicans” with their dangerous native behaviors including marihuana use, the rest of the nation did not know that this “marihuana” was a plant they already had in their medicine cabinets.

The demonization of the cannabis plant was an extension of the demonization of the Mexican immigrants. In an effort to control and keep tabs on these new citizens, El Paso, TX borrowed a play from San Francisco’s playbook, which had outlawed opium decades earlier in an effort to control Chinese immigrants. The idea was to have an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants.

That excuse became marijuana.

This method of controlling people by controlling their customs was quite successful, so much so that it became a national strategy for keeping certain populations under the watch and control of the government.

During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.

While the Act was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a place holder while then President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation. (drug policy.org)

OK, the origins were racist — but they still broke the law. They must suffer the consequences of their actions, right? No, there are people who were caught with weed, served their time, but now find it difficult to get a job, housing. We can’t continue to write these people off.

According to The Heritage Foundation, manifest in convicted felons not being able to vote, difficulty getting a job or certification, problems with housing and many more. There are over 46,000 collateral consequences that a person can face at the federal or state level after they are convicted of a crime, leading to problems nearly 70 percent of the time for these people trying to get jobs.

Justice reform advocates say that these problems increase the recidivism of former criminals and encourage a life of crime when they have no options left.

“These extra problems for a person can extraordinarily make their life more difficult in the long term,” Holcombe said. “It’s such a long process that many people don’t know about and don’t have the resources to fix on their own.”

Other advocates point to the fact that taxpayers are having to pay for the over 600,000 people being arrested every year for marijuana crimes and footing a nearly $44 billion dollar bill over more than 30 years. The Drug Policy Alliance also points out that $47 billion dollars are spent a year on the War on Drugs and that nearly 50 percent of those in jail for drug-related crimes are people of color. (Wikileaf)

It’s in society’s interests to erase their records for something now legalized. This will allow them to find work, housing, etc. They might even work in the legal weed business at some level — much better than committing a different crime because all legal options were closed to them.

Most who participated in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll think records should automatically be expunged.

Q: Agree or disagree: Those who were convicted of marijuana possession should not have their record automatically expunged.

  • Strongly agree: 3 [11.11%]
  • Agree: 3 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [3.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 6 [22.22%]
  • Strongly disagree: 14 [51.85%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Automatic expungement is better than making people file to receive expungement.  I’m very glad Illinois will be doing the right thing.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Prior Marijuana Possession Convictions Be Expunged When A State Approves Recreational Use?

June 2, 2019 Drug Policy, Featured, Metro East, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Prior Marijuana Possession Convictions Be Expunged When A State Approves Recreational Use?
Please vote below

On Friday the Illinois House passed a

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/illinois-poised-be-11th-state-legalize-recreational-marijuana-use-n1012721

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/illinois-poised-be-11th-state-legalize-recreational-marijuana-use-n1012721

recreational marijuana bill, it was approved by the Senate earlier in the week. When signed by Gov Preitzker Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana — the first to do so through the legislative process instead of at the ballot.

One provision is the basis for today’s poll:

The governor will pardon past convictions for possession of up to 30 grams, with the attorney general going to court to expunge or delete public records of a conviction or arrest. For possession of 30 to 500 grams, an individual or a state’s attorney may petition the court to vacate and expunge the conviction, but prosecutors may object, with a judge to make the decision. [Chicago Tribune]

To save you doing the conversion:

  • 30 grams is 1.06 ounces
  • 500 grams is 17.6 ounces.

Ok, here’s today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.  I’ll share my thoughts on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

Thoughts on the Midterm Election

November 12, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Thoughts on the Midterm Election
Most of the recreational marijuana stores we visited in Colorado in 2014 had a separate section for medical marijuana.

Among the biggest midterm election news is that deep red Missouri overwhelmingly approved the most liberal (Proposition 2) of three medical marijuana propositions, the other two failed (Prop 3 & Prop C). All 3 were described in a Sunday Poll in late September. In 2019 we’ll see rules for growers & dispensaries.  A year from now we should see storefronts fill up as dispensaries occupy them.

Missouri voters also approved a new redistricting plan with campaign limits (Proposition 1). The state’s minimum wage will now increase gradually to $12/hour by 2023.  A gradual fuel tax increase failed (Prop D).

St. Louis County voters approved all propositions:

  • 1 (donation limits to candidates for county executive or council)
  • 2 (County council can hire their own attorney separate from the county counselor, who is appointed by the county executive)
  • B (County council more budgetary power)
  • C (Require specific County financial information be placed online)
  • D (Establishing a commission to examine revising county charter)
  • F (A casino-backed smoking change)
  • Z (one-eighth of 1 percent sales tax for the Zoo)

St. Charles County passed their first smoke-free law, with exemptions.

Claire McCaskill lost her bid for a 3rd term in the US Senate. Though I voted blue, I know she wouldn’t have won a 2nd term in 2012 had Todd Aikn not mentioned “legitimate rape.”  This was a gift she didn’t receive this year.  As I watched her ads about being right in the middle I hated that I had to fill in bubble next to her name.

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?

When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding. Perhaps there is some way to look at this–a view from the middle–that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow. The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring. (Time)

If Democrats want to win in Missouri they need to stop trying to be GOP Lite.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How Will You Vote On Missouri’s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures?

September 30, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Sunday Poll: How Will You Vote On Missouri’s 3 Medical Marijuana Measures?
Please vote below

In just over five weeks Missouri voters will decide if the state joins the majority of states that have already legalized marijuana for medical use.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, sales of recreational-use marijuana in California kicked off on Jan. 1. In Massachusetts, retail sales of cannabis are expected to start later this year in July. Voters in Maine similarly approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana in 2016. The state, however, has not yet adopted rules for licensed marijuana growers or retailers, nor has it begun accepting licenses. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have established a legal framework for sales of the drug.

The vast majority of states allow for limited use of medical marijuana under certain circumstances. Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, with types of medical conditions that allow for treatment varying from state to state. Louisiana, West Virginia and a few other states allow only for cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills. Other states have passed narrow laws allowing residents to possess cannabis only if they suffer from select rare medical illnesses. (Governing)

Our neighbor to the East, Illinois, has had a test medical marijuana program for a couple of years. Arkansas, to the South, approved it in 2016 and the program should begin in 2019. For Missouri voters it isn’t a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote:

Missouri voters will find not one but three different proposals aiming to legalize marijuana for medical purposes when they pick up ballots Nov. 6. 

Some language is similar across all three proposals, but they are not identical. Here are some common questions and answers that explain how each would function.

What’s on the ballot?

Two constitutional amendments and one change to state law regarding medical marijuana have been proposed:

  • Amendment 2, supported by a group called New Approach Missouri
  • Amendment 3, supported by Springfield physician-attorney Brad Bradshaw
  • Proposition C, supported by a group called Missourians for Patient Care

All three would legalize growing, manufacturing, selling and consuming marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal use at the state level. (Proposition C touts an additional requirement that local community support would be required before and after its local licensing authority approves medical marijuana use.)

Proposition C would tax marijuana sales at 2 percent; proceeds would be split four ways to fund veterans health care, public safety, drug treatment programs and early childhood development initiatives.

Amendment 2 would tax marijuana sales at 4 percent, with the resulting proceeds going to fund veterans health care programs. This is the only proposition that would allow for home-growing of marijuana.

Amendment 3 would tax sales by growers to dispensaries at $9.25 per ounce for marijuana flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves and would tax sales by dispensaries to patients at 15 percent. The proceeds — projected to be by far the most of the three measures — would go toward setting up a research institute and efforts to cure currently incurable diseases, with money set aside to acquire land for the institute’s campus and to fund transportation infrastructure, medical care, public pensions and income tax refunds.

Under all three proposals, prospective patients and primary caregivers would apply to the state for identification signifying their ability to receive and prescribe medical marijuana, respectively. Those hoping to cultivate, manufacture or sell marijuana products would apply for separate licenses. (Springfield News-Leader)

Today’s poll seeks to find out how you plan to vote on the three medical marijuana measures on the ballot.

This poll will automatically close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll discuss my thoughts on each of the three, what happens if all three are approved, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Opinion: St. Louis Should Legalize Marijuana

November 1, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Crime, Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: St. Louis Should Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana never should have been classified as am illegal drug to begin with. So why was it? A top bureaucrat didn’t want to be out of a job!

In 1929, a man called Harry Anslinger was put in charge of the Department of Prohibition in Washington, D.C. But alcohol prohibition had been a disaster. Gangsters had taken over whole neighborhoods. Alcohol — controlled by criminals — had become even more poisonous.

So alcohol prohibition finally ended — and Harry Anslinger was afraid. He found himself in charge of a huge government department, with nothing for it to do. Up until then, he had said that cannabis was not a problem. It doesn’t harm people, he explained, and “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the idea it makes people violent.

But then — suddenly, when his department needed a new purpose — he announced he had changed his mind. (Huffington Post)

He sold the public on the idea smoking weed caused “reefer madness.”

See the full propaganda film here. The madness has been decades of prohibition on a plant with remarkable medicinal qualities.

Poster for the 1930s propaganda film ‘Reefer Madness’

From Board Bill 180 introduced last week:

WHEREAS, in 2013, Board of Aldermen addressed marijuana possession in the City of St. Louis by passing Ordinance 69429, as codified in Part IV, Chapter 11.60, Title 11 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis;

WHEREAS, at least five cities, including Breckenridge, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Maine; South Portland, Maine; Washington, D.C., and eight states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada have legalized and regulated marijuana under state and local laws;

WHEREAS, cities and states have not seen significant increases in crime since legalization and regulation of marijuana, and many have seen slight decreases in crime;

WHEREAS, the Drug Enforcement Agency found that, overall, research does not support a direct causal relationship between regular marijuana use and other illicit drug use;

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Police Department has contended that it is understaffed by over 110 officers;

WHEREAS, federal law prohibition makes enforcement of state laws on marijuana by the City of St. Louis, including by the Metropolitan Police Department, redundant and wasteful of city resources;

WHEREAS, arresting, citing, and prosecuting marijuana offenders diverts police time away from crimes with victims. Nationally, 87% of all motor vehicle thefts and over 70% of robberies go unsolved, while law enforcement pursues over half a million arrests for marijuana possession. Regulating marijuana would free up law enforcement time and resources to focus on real crime;

WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of the City of Saint Louis that City resources only be devoted to issues of priority in ensuring public safety and protecting the quality of life for its residents;

WHEREAS, eliminating marijuana enforcement by local police may separate the market for marijuana from the market for more harmful substances, reducing the likelihood that marijuana consumers will be exposed to opiates or other dangerous drugs when they purchase marijuana;

WHEREAS, studies have found that a 48% reduction in patients’ opioid use after three months of medical marijuana treatment, 39% reduction in their opioid dosage, and 39% stopped using opioids altogether;

WHEREAS, researchers at Columbia University’s School of Public Health found that, in states that passed medical marijuana laws, fewer drivers killed in car crashes tested positive for opioids after the laws went into effect

Yes, this should be addressed at state & federal levels, but it’s not. We can’t afford to just sit around waiting for the pushes of old myths to admit they were wrong.

This bill is sponsored by Megan E. Green (15) and co-spomsored by the following:

I urge you to thank each of these six aldermen and for you to contact the other 22 to get BB180 passed.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll I used the word “pot” because it’s an old term generally used only by those who oppose legalization.

Q: Agree or disagree: Pot is a dangerous drug, St. Louis Police should continue enforcing state & federal pot laws!

  • Strongly agree 8 [17.02%]
  • Agree 4 [8.51%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [2.13%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.13%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [2.13%]
  • Disagree 7 [14.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 23 [48.94%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.26%]

Clearly, many of those who responded still believe the propaganda.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe