Tag Archives: Department of Justice

Civil Rights and Drug Policy in Washington, DC

African-Americans in Washington, DC, do not embrace marijuana legalization as readily as whites in DC — by a difference of 18 percentage points. Judge Arthur Burnett, National Executive Director of the National African-American Drug Policy Coalition, observes that opposition among  blacks to legalization stems from experience.  African-American communities already suffer from a liquor store on every corner, and black voters know commercial marijuana would prey on their communities at a much higher rate.  “Do we really want to substitute mass incapacitation for mass incarceration?” Judge Burnett asks.   He spoke along with others opponents to legalization at a Press Conference in Washington sponsored by Two. Is. Enough. D.C. (TieDC).

Judge Arthur Burnett, Executive Director of the National African-American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc., former senior judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Judge Arthur Burnett, Executive Director of the National African-American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc., former senior judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Vanita Gupta is the nominee to head the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice. According to a recent article, Gupta, a former ACLU lawyer, endorses the complete legalization of marijuana in every state, with taxation and regulation.  No DC official is more popular in Washington than Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who contends the ACLU doesn’t understand the city (to be discussed in another article).   Washington residents should vote No on Ballot 71 to legalize marijuana and reject the posturing of outside groups.

Gupta has an impressive resume, but the 39-year old would not be where she is today if she lived by the drug policies she allegedly endorses. Had Gupta partaken in pot culture as a teen, she would not have been accepted into Yale University.  If she had spent young adulthood frequently using marijuana, she wouldn’t have become a successful attorney.

Does she understand the nature of addiction?  Does she understand why every minority group voted against marijuana legalization in California?  We cannot have a national discussion of policy without including a discussion of drug abuse and addiction.

Vanita Gupta
Vanita Gupta, nominated to head the Civil Rights Division in in Department of Justice

Our education about the nature of addiction and what drugs actually do—at all our schools, and at every level–should be top priority.  Here is evidence that was recently published in “Press the President,” which featured National Families in Action’s review of the science that underlies drug abuse and addiction.

Five Unavoidable Statistics

1. Availability drives use. The more available a given drug is, the more people use that drug. The most effective prevention strategy is to keep availability to a minimum.

2. 137 million Americans use alcohol regularly; 67 million use tobacco; 20 million use marijuana.

3. The alcohol industry spent $3.5 billion in 2011 to market and advertise its products; the tobacco industry spent $8.4 billion. A commercial marijuana industry will do the same.

4. Age limits don’t prevent underage use: five of ten new smokers every year are under age 18, eight of ten new drinkers are under age 21. Age limits won’t stop underage marijuana use in legalization states.

5. About half of Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries in 2011 were located in one city, Denver. That year, marijuana use among Denver’s middle-school students was double that of middle-school students in the rest of the state; marijuana use among Denver’s high school students was 25 percent higher.

Shocking Facts for Drug Policy-Makers

– It’s not your daddy’s weed. The marijuana of the 60s and 70s contained 2-3 percent THC. Today’s marijuana contains 15 percent THC on average. Marijuana extracts such as Butane Hash Oil contain from 75 to 100 percent THC.

– Colorado pot shops are selling candies, cookies, and soft drinks infused with marijuana. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are showing up at emergency rooms because they ate them and overdosed. Some have required intensive care to recover.

– Marijuana is not harmless. A just-published review of 20 years of marijuana research worldwide finds that marijuana can impair adolescents’ intellectual development and ability to perform in school. Use that begins before age 18 can result in an average IQ drop of 8 points, enough to place a person of average intelligence in the bottom third of the IQ scale.

– Using marijuana before driving doubles the risk of having a crash.

– One in six teenagers who use marijuana regularly will become addicted; so will one in ten adults.

– Marijuana use doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.

Another View — Judge Arthur Burnett

Vanita Gupta has said “The war on drugs has been a war on communities of color.”   There’s a lot she could learn from Judge Arthur Burnett. He spent 31 years as a judge in the District. He doesn’t think legalization would keep young black men out of jail, Marijuana would be more readily available, leading more young people to harder drugs.  Scratch the surface of most homicides and rape cases, and the perpetrators were high on drugs, including marijuana. Marijuana introduces people to a culture where they get drawn into other drugs, though it might not be a gateway for everyone who tries it.

Gupta’s passion for racial fairness is admirable, but she doesn’t seem to have drug culture experience.  Drug use brings pain and misery to the users and families of users.  Gupta needs to understand the limited hope for children who begin drug use at an early age. Being a racial minority it hard enough, but why add another strike against minority youth by advocating a program that would increase their drug usage?

Pot Industry Uses Deceptive Ads Without Protecting Kids

The medical marijuana industry doesn’t assure that expansion into more states will not include marketing marijuana products to children.

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment,  which passed in the House of Representatives last week, may be considered in the Senate.  The provision takes away the Department of Justice’s ability to prosecute medical marijuana distributors who endanger others.  If a similar amendment passes in the Senate, it could cripple the government’s ability to investigate in states with thriving medical marijuana industries.

Abuses by the medical pot industry have been rampant, particularly in western states.  Potent edibles come without warnings; businesses have located close to schools and day care centers, and pot has been diverted to other states.

The use of seductive names has promoted the allure of pot – making it a symbol of wellness, rather than coming with the typical warnings needed for tobacco, alcohol, other drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore, the marijuana industry and their public relations campaign have misled voters by suggesting that CBD, one treatment for children with epilepsy, is the same as the medical marijuana used for stimulating appetite in cancer or AIDs patients, or for generalized pain.
Let’s cast a healthy doubt on any products whose promoters believe it to be a “wonder drug” or “elixir of the gods.”   Medical marijuana has expanded exponentially since 2009.  It’s available in 22 states, up from 13 states at the end of 2009.   A current medical publication summarized the problems coming with rapid medical marijuana expansion.

Pharmaceutical products require rigorous testing and similar standards have not been in place for the marijuana drug industry.  Most people only want medical marijuana available in pharmacies rather than through upstart ganja-preneurs, or the tobacco industry, according to surveys.

Pressure from an industry group, Americans for Safe Access, has resulted in a deceptive campaign which suggests that innocent citizens go to jail and that opposition to medi-pot industry’s expansion represents a lack of compassion.

The Television Ads

The well-funded lobby effort, “Vote Medical Marijuana,” is running 30-second TV spots on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida, the homes of two of the members who voted “no” to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment— Republican Andy Harris and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Over the past two years, the marijuana lobby has consistently threatened politicians who don’t vote with them.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz, who represents Miami, Florida, is keenly aware of the determination of the illegal drug traders in that region.  A 30-second ad against her alleges that Wasserman Schultz wants medical marijuana users to go to federal prison, while 88 percent of Floridians support legalizing access. The same man’s voice asks whether Wasserman Schultz is “out of touch” with Florida, and an image flashes across the screen of an elderly man and his wife, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a fatal neurological disease.

(A  personal injury lawyer in Orlando, John Morgan, is funding a medical marijuana ballot vote in Florida, using $4 million of his own money to finance the initiative in November, 2014.)
We need to be aware that Americans for Safe Access is manipulating us and our children with deceptive suggestions.  The ad in Maryland claims that Rep. Harris’ vote on May 30th will result in sending Maryland’s patients to prison.  A voice says,  “Congressman Andy Harris thinks it’s OK for medical marijuana patients to go to federal prison, even though Maryland passed a medical marijuana bill in April. ” and then shows the image of a 4-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy and his mother.

Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America explains the problem and suggests a solution to assure that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment is not considered in the Senate.    There’s  a simple form to notify your Senator of opposition.