Thursday, August 30, 2012

Eric E. Sterling- Guest Blogger for The Agitator

CJPF President Eric E. Sterling is one of the guest bloggers for The Agitator, (Huffington Post's Radley Balko's blog), this week. Eric wrote about the sad news regarding the overdose death of DeAndre McCullough, as well as the millions of dollars that Texas is spending to keep prostitutes locked away in prisons. 

Join the discussion on these interesting topics, and check out more posts this week!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Examining the 2012 Campaigns to Legalize Cannabis: Washington

The following blog post was written by Patrick Wood, a student at SUNY-Geneseo in New York. Patrick was an intern for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation during the summer of 2012, and we thank him for his excellent work on this and other projects throughout the summer. This is the final of a three part series written by Patrick. Check out an analysis of the Colorado Initiative here, and an analysis of Oregon's here. 

The official campaigns of the initiatives to legalize cannabis in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington all make big claims about what the initiatives will do for their states if they are passed. How do these claims stand up to the facts?

This post examines Washington’s Initiative 502 as the final of a three part series regarding these cannabis 
legalization initiatives.

Washington’s I-502 campaign website says:

  • [The initiative will] Create a tightly regulated system that takes money away from criminal organizations and generates tax revenue for our state and local governments.
  • We are united in the belief that Washington should stop wasting law enforcement resources on adults who use marijuana

Supporting I-502 would save law enforcement resources:

“The savings in state and local government expenditure that would result from marijuana legalization consists of three main components: the reduction in police resources from elimination of marijuana arrests; the reduction in prosecutorial and judicial resources from elimination of marijuana prosecutions; and the reduction in correctional resources from elimination of marijuana incarcerations.” - Daniel Egan and Jeffrey A. Miron in The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in Mitch Earleywine’s Pot Politics

Washington expenditures attributable to marijuana prohibition total about $98,944,000. Of this approximately $41,169,000 is police expenditures - Miron & Waldock in The budgetary impact of drug prohibition


Supporting that legalizing marijuana would generate tax revenue:

An article in the Seattle Times by Jonathan Martin predicts huge Washington tax revenue from I-502, $560 million a year. Martin notes that is more than twice what the Initiative 502 campaign itself had originally predicted:

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Examining the 2012 Campaigns to Legalize Cannabis: Oregon. By Patrick Wood

The following blog post was written by Patrick Wood, a student at SUNY-Geneseo in New York. Patrick was an intern for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation during the summer of 2012, and we thank him for his excellent work on this and other projects throughout the summer. This is the second of a three part series written by Patrick. Click here to view an analysis of Colorado's Initiative.

The official campaigns of the initiatives to legalize cannabis in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington all make big claims about what the initiatives will do for their states if they are passed. How do these claims stand up to the facts?

Oregon Measure 80’s campaign website says the initiative will do five things:
  • Protect Oregon’s children by ensuring that, like liquor, cannabis is only sold to adults.
  • Regulate the growth and sale of cannabis, dramatically shrinking the black market.
  • Restore the agricultural hemp industry.  Hemp offers an alternative green fuel source, and its fibers can be used for clothing, food, and more.
  • Generate tax revenue for the state. Eliminate millions of dollars spent on corrections costs.
  • Create jobs both through the cannabis and hemp industries.
Supporting that cannabis will, like liquor, only be sold to adults:

474.125 of Measure 80 reads “Sale or provision to minors, penalties, exception. The sale of cannabis to minors shall be a Class B felony, and gratuitous provision of cannabis to minors shall be a Class A misdemeanor, except when to a minor over 18 years of age under the same conditions provided by ORS 471.030(1) for alcohol.”

Supporting that legalization and regulation will shrink the black market:
“Regulating and taxing marijuana instead of prohibiting it--by undercutting the black market--can be expected to reduce crime and corruption, as occurred following the repeal of Prohibition.” - Jefferson  Leave Marijuana Regulation to the States” in Looking in the Cultural Mirror, featured in Psychology Today

Supporting the usefulness of hemp:  

“Because of their strength and durability, hemp fibers have been used for production of cordage and coarse textiles for centuries. In addition, hemp can provide raw material for pulp and paper manufacture, composite wood products such as particleboard and insulation board, and industrial products including geotextiles and nonwoven industrial fabrics.” Daryl T. Ehrensing Department of Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University in Feasibility of Industrial Hemp Production in the United States Pacific Northwest

“Most people know that industrial hemp has been a source of rope, cloth and paper since ancient times, but few recognize its incredible potential today. It represents an ecologically stable, renewable source of raw materials to make such diverse products as automobile fuel, plastics, building materials and food for animals and people.” - Jim Bauder and Linzy Carlson MSU Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in Hemp: Many possibilities as an alternative crop

Supporting that legalization would generate tax revenue and eliminate millions of dollars spent on corrections costs:

“Approximately $8.7 billion of [savings] would result from legalization of marijuana” nationwide (annually). - Miron & Waldock in The budgetary impact of drug prohibition

“…assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would result from legalization of marijuana” - Miron & Waldock 

^ That’s 8.7 billion in savings AND another 8.7 billion in revenue = 17.4 billion dollars. 

State marijuana tax revenue according to Miron + Waldock according to a population method and in 2008 dollars- 
Colorado: 47.29 million
Oregon: 36.28 million
Washington: 62.70 million

Oregon total police expenditures related to marijuana: $29,706,000
Oregon state-level expenditures related to marijuana prohibition: $61,318,000

For Oregon, this would mean 36.28 million in tax revenue AND another 61.318 million in savings =$97,598,000 every year.

Link to The Budgetary Impact of Drug Prohibition:

From 2003-2005, Oregon produced an average value of $473,972,000 worth of marijuana, making it the state’s largest cash crop. The other major cash crops did not come close to surpassing marijuana (Hay-  $346,751,000, Wheat - $195,018,000).  -Jon Gettman, Ph.D. page 14 of Marijuana Production in the United States


Supporting that Measure 80 will create jobs:

“…taxing and regulating cannabis and hemp will create thousands of local jobs, from agricultural jobs in 
Oregon’s hardest-hit rural counties to manufacturing, engineering and professional services jobs around the 

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eric E. Sterling Featured on Al Jazeera

Eric E. Sterling was featured on Al Jazeera International English last night to discuss how racism has played into the failed "war on drugs." Watch his interview here, and let us know what you think!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Examining the 2012 Campaigns to Legalize Cannabis: Colorado. By Patrick Wood

The following blog post was written by Patrick Wood, a student at SUNY- Geneseo in New York. Patrick was an intern for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation during the summer of 2012, and we thank him for his excellent work on this and other projects throughout the summer. This is the first of a three part series written by Patrick. 

The official campaigns of the initiatives to legalize cannabis in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington all make big claims about what the initiatives will do for their states if they are passed. How do these claims stand up to the facts?

This post examines Colorado’s Amendment 64 as the first of a three part series regarding these cannabis legalization initiatives.

Colorado’s Campaign for Amendment 64 says on its website that the initiative will do four things:

·                     Reduce teen marijuana use
·                     Minimize teen access to marijuana
·                     Reduce exposure to more dangerous drugs
·                     Take Sales Out of the Hands of Criminals

Evidence supporting that legalization would both reduce teen marijuana use and minimize teen access to marijuana:
”If the existing enforcement machinery were [left in place for minors], this smaller market (with older users drained off by the licit supply) might find it hard to function; marijuana from illicit sources might be less  available to kids than it is today”. - Mark A. R. Kleiman in Marijuana; Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control page 164

“Although legalization would make drugs cheaper and more readily available, sales to minors could be discouraged by harsh punishments and by restricting legal sales to designated shops. The present system has not been effective in discouraging drug experimentation by the young in part because suppliers are subject to punishments whether they sell to adults or children. “ Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker in It’s Time to Give Up the War on Drugs

Evidence supporting that legalization would reduce exposure to more dangerous drugs:

“There is no control on the quality of the cannabis sold on the black market. Cannabis may be cut with other, more harmful substances, and its THC content may vary in unpredictable ways. Minors are also able to purchase cannabis in the absence of any age restrictions, and the retail cannabis black market is not separated from that for cocaine and heroin. Individuals seeking to buy cannabis may therefore be introduced to other illicit substances they otherwise would not know how to obtain.” – Wayne Hall “A Cautious Case for Cannabis Depenalization” in Mitch Earleywhine’s Pot Politics  

Evidence supporting that legalization would take sales out of the hands of criminals:

“If, as we have argued, federal marijuana enforcement influences the extent of marijuana consumption only negligibly, while worsening the effects on users of the remaining consumption and increasing the wealth and power of criminal organizations and their use of violence and corruption, then federal marijuana enforcement ought to be cut back.” - Mark A. R. Kleiman in Marijuana; Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control page 163                            

“One is that legalization would save the law-enforcement and social costs of arresting hundreds of thousands of adults each year. (Most proposals would keep marijuana illegal for those under 21.) Another is that pot's underground economy—estimated at $15 billion to $30 billion annually—would be largely wiped out if marijuana were legalized throughout the country.” - Beau Kilmer in “The Marijuana Exception” published in The Wall Street Journal

“A rational [black market marijuana] trafficker ought to fear legalization above all things…” Mark A. R. Kleiman in Marijuana; Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control page 177 


“The high prices due to the [drug] war have provided huge profits for cartels and others who evade detection and punishment. Estimates place the world market value of illegal drugs at several hundred billions of dollars--in the same league as the markets for cigarettes and alcohol.” - Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker

Further information supporting that the Colorado initiative would have numerous benefits is available at:

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Martin Lee: Medical marijuana raids to appease "Fast and Furious" critics

According to the excerpt from acclaimed drug historian Martin Lee's latest book, Smoke Signals, published in TruthOut, he argues that the 2011-2012 campaign against California medical marijuana dispensaries was designed to deflect partisan political criticism of Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice for the blunders of the "Fast and Furious" BATF undercover operation. "Fast and Furious" was intended to discover how the Mexican drug cartels were acquiring high-powered American firearms. But the guns "walked" (BATF lost track of a couple thousand of them), the weapons ended up in the hands of the criminals and a several were used to shoot or kill U.S. law enforcement agents.

The GOP-controlled House Government Reform Committee, having an opportunity to be outraged at BATF, a unit of the Justice Department, demanded to know what Holder knew about the raids. He stonewalled. Some Members of Congress have sought his resignation, and the House of Representatives has voted him to be in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the Committee's subpoena. It is a big political embarrassment for the Administration.

But Lee's “explanation” does not hold water. It is an interesting hypothesis unsupported by any facts or analysis of the context and history.

Aside from the complete lack of evidence in Lee's explanation, the ostensible political rationale does not make any sense. There is no evidence that the Representatives “gunning” for Holder and Obama regarding Fast and Furious were especially outspoken critics of medical marijuana to the degree that their ire with law enforcement incompetence in the Fast and Furious case might be mollified by a concerted enforcement effort against medical marijuana.

The premise is flawed. Anyone who has followed the 40-year history of the hatred of the NRA, and its congressional allies, for the BATF knows that nothing is going to substitute for an attack on BATF. I was in the middle of this hatred starting in March 1981 when President Reagan was shot, until I left Capitol Hill in 1989. I set up at least a dozen hearings on some aspect of gun control in that time. I handled the House consideration of the NRA's "wet dream" (the Firearms Owners Protection of Act of 1986), the "cop killer bullet" legislation, the undetectable plastic handgun imbroglio, and development of the "Brady Bill" that we got out of the Judiciary Committee in 1988. (Speaker Tom Foley kept the bill from going to the House floor). For comparison, the loathing for BATF on the part of scores of Members of Congress is probably greater than the loathing of the Pentagon felt by many liberals during the depths of the Vietnam War.

Simply consider how a political/enforcement shell game, such as the one Lee suggests motivated the medical marijuana policy change from the 2009 Ogden memorandum, would be executed. There is no evidence, for example, that Administration critics were given private briefings immediately in advance or after medical marijuana raids or enforcement initiatives, such as sending forfeiture-threatening letters to landlords or notices to banks. In the kind of campaign Lee imagines, this would be a prototypical step to give the critics politically useful opportunity to make a timely or newsworthy condemnation of the “evil” of medical marijuana. That is the kind of special political consideration that would be used to curry favor on Capitol Hill that Lee imagines. In addition, there is no evidence that the raids were targeted in the districts of Holder’s critics to especially appease them.

In fact, given that the critics were pro-gun, the BATF letter to all Federal firearms licensees stating, if licensed gun sellers have knowledge that a prospective gun buyer is a legal state medical marijuana patient they are in violation of the Gun Control Act prohibition on sales of guns to known illegal drug users, made no sense. It created political outrage in the Mountain West where almost everyone owns a firearm. That letter could not have been part of an effort to use medical marijuana enforcement to mollify Administration critics of BATF as Lee asserts.

Fundamentally, the medical marijuana raids themselves were not as Lee says, “an all-out vendetta.” They were, to a shocking degree, so ad hoc, unfocused, uncoordinated and poorly announced to the press and public that it is inconceivable that anyone in the Administration believed these raids could be held up as an exemplar of DoJ law enforcement competence and vigor. If anything, the discombobulated character of the DoJ attack on medical marijuana operations invited further attack upon the Obama administration by its enemies as further evidence of law enforcement incompetence.

While the attacks have shuttered hundreds of dispensaries, including numerous first class operations, and have devastated many friends of drug policy reform, objectively, as a concerted law enforcement initiative – especially one designed for a political purpose -- it has been a shockingly incoherent mess. A better analogy of how DoJ has gone after medical marijuana is that of unconnected guerrilla operations, with units striking here and there with the hope of disheartening a much stronger enemy, but not substantially changing the political reality or the balance of power.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Absolut Tampax

Here is a splendid blog post by Michael Durfee from Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society about moral panics.

Durfee analyzes the reporting of a Phoenix TV station about the "shocking" "new" and "dangerous" phenomenon of teenage girls soaking tampons in alcohol and inserting them in their vaginas in order to get drunk. Durfee looks into the phenomenon -- in a way that so-called journalists do not -- to reveal the kind of media behavior that was behind the crack frenzy, the designer drug frenzy, the Salvia frenzy, and more recently, the synthetic marijuana frenzy and the bath salts frenzy.

On my home turf, we had a mini-panic in Spring 2012 when a police commander repeatedly hyped as the latest rage the phenomenon of "pharm parties" at a local anti-drug program about the crisis of overdoses due to heroin and prescription opiates. A member of the county council in the audience was completely distracted by this, and said at a hearing a few days later that he had told 200 persons about pharm parties. No one questioned why a drug user would put a $50 Oxycontin pill in a bowl along with Excedrin(R) or aspirin and hope that plucking a pill from the bowl would produce a nice high. The premise is absurd.

I asked the police captain who was liaison to the advisory committee on alcohol and drug abuse if this phenomenon was at all recent. He told me he believed it happened back during the ecstasy epidemic. He was not aware of any cases in the past two years, he told me. At his next presentation at a county-wide drugs and alcohol prevention program at the Board of Education meeting room in May, he mocked me by name for telling him I thought the phenomenon was an "urban myth" and that I had cited -- smirk, smirk -- Wikipedia's articles about pharming parties which link to Jack Shafer's excellent reporting in 2006 and 2008 which labeled them a "media invention." When it comes to anti-drug hysteria, even the best police hate to give up a good scare.

A tip of the hat to Michael Durfee, a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at SUNY Buffalo. Michael Durfee works under the advisement of Points Contributor Dr. David Herzberg. His prior education includes an M.A. in history from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in education from Lewis and Clark College. He is currently at work researching his dissertation which analyzes the dynamics of Crack Era reform from 1986 to 1992, loosely constructed.

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Thursday, August 02, 2012

July 2012 Newsletter

The July 2012 CJPF newsletter is out! It's been a busy two months, check out our recent activities!

To subscribe to the CJPF bi-monthly newsletter, click here.

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