Congress Approves Creation of Commission Designed to Examine Alternatives to the Drug War

Legislation to establish a Drug Policy Commission to examine alternative approaches to the failed drug war has passed Congress.

warThe Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act (H.R. 1812), introduced by Representative Eliot L. Engel (D- NY), was included as part of the Department of State Authorities Act (S. 1635), which passed the Senate on Friday. It now heads to President Obama’s desk for final consideration; he’s expected to sign it into law.

“I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for joining me in sending the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission to President Obama’s desk”, says Representative Engel. “Over the last few decades, we’ve spent billions and billions of taxpayer dollars on counternarcotics programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission will force us to take a fresh look at our drug policy and make sure we have the best strategy moving forward.”

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Obama Commutes 214 Drug Sentences, Most in Nation’s History

Pobama commutes sentencesresident Obama has commuted the sentences of 214 people serving federal prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, the largest single-day grant of commutations in American history. All 214 inmates – 67 of which were serving life sentences – will walk out of prison as free people on December 1st.

President Obama has now commuted the sentences of 562 people, which is more than the past nine presidents combined. Of the 562 people whose sentences were commuted, 197 were serving life in prison, meaning they would have died behind bars if not set free by the president.

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Hawaii Bill to Study Drug Decriminalization Unanimously Approved by Senate Committee

hawaiiA month after being approved 37 to 7 by the full Hawaii House of Representatives, a bill to establish a study on the decriminalization of all drugs has been approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HCR 127 directs the state’s Legislative Research Bureau to “conduct a study on the feasibility and advisability of decriminalizing the illegal possession of drugs for personal use in Hawaii” so that it would “constitute an administrative or civil violation rather than a criminal offense.” Researchers will examine Portugal’s model of drug decriminalization, with the study to be finished and presented to the legislature by the end of the year.

Read moreHawaii Bill to Study Drug Decriminalization Unanimously Approved by Senate Committee

State Department Official Gives Green Light for Countries to Decriminalize Drugs

By Samuel Oakford, Vice.com – Republished with Special Permission

drugwarWashington’s top international narcotics official gave a qualified go-ahead for countries to decriminalize drugs on Tuesday — the latest sign that the US is walking back decades of hardline rhetoric ahead of a pivotal special session of the United Nations General Assembly on global drug policy in April.

Speaking to reporters at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York, William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said American officials were attempting to “find areas of pragmatic reform” with other member states over drug policy. A consensus outcome document currently under negotiation at the Committee on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna is expected to be finalized by the middle of next week, he said, and will be presented at the UN special session (UNGASS).

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President Obama Commutes Sentences of Nearly a Hundred Federal Drug Prisoners

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

President Obama today commuted the federal prison sentences of 95 men and women, all but two of them drug offenders serving draconian sentences. He also issued pardons for tw150713171952-obama-commutes-46-drug-sentences-acosta-dnt-lead-00000000-large-169o people who have already served their sentences.

Many had been imprisoned since the 1990s. Some were doing life sentences for drug offenses. Most were cocaine offenders, but the commutations also included people doing time for marijuana, meth, and heroin.

Read morePresident Obama Commutes Sentences of Nearly a Hundred Federal Drug Prisoners

Presidential Candidate Ben Carson Would “Intensify” War on Drugs

ben carsonIf elected president of the United States, neurosurgeon Ben Carson would not only continue the nation’s war on drugs, he would “intensify” it.

In a recent interview with Glenn Beck on his radio show, Carson – who is leading second place Donald Trump by 9% in the first voting state of Iowa according to a recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll – was asked, if elected president; “Do you continue the war on drugs?”

“Absolutely”, said Carson. Beck responded by asking; “You do?”, which led Carson to say “I intensify it”.

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10 Reasons to Legalize All Drugs

drugwarThe war on drugs has been an unequivocal failure. Although many people are hesitant when it comes to the idea of legalizing all drugs – which is understandable given the extreme dangers of certain substances – it’s truly the only solution to ending the pain, death and social regression that comes with the drug war.

Below are what we here at TheJointBlog believe to be ten of the most important reasons for why we should legalize all illegal substances, not just cannabis.

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Presidential Candidate Chris Christie Says Drug War Is A ‘Failure’

By Matt Ferner, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 09:  New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers remarks and answers questions at the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan, public policy think tank, July 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. Christie, whose name has been mentioned among possible GOP vice presidential choices, talked about his self-described "New Jersey Comback," and a fiscal record "...including three balanced budgets, a two-percent hard cap on property taxes and landmark pension and health benefits reform."  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said on Monday that the war on drugs has been a “failure” — even though he has vowed to enact a federal crackdown on marijuana, a substance that has been a primary target of the drug war for decades.

“This is a disease and the war on drugs has been a failure — well-intentioned, but a failure,” Christie said at a presidential forum in New Hampshire on Monday. He went on to say that the country should “embrace” people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, offering them a chance at rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

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China Sentences 13 to Death for Drug Charges in Public Rally

chinaChina sentenced 13 people to death on Friday for drug-related charges at a public rally attended by thousands.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency. the prisoners were among 38 convicts to receive sentences before a crowd of over 10,000 people in the city of Lufeng, which is located in the southern province of Guangdong. Eight of the prisoners were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, while others were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

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600 Christian Churches Call for an End to the Drug War

By Darby Beck, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

drugwarMANCHESTER, NH – Last Saturday, the New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.

The resolution begins:

Read more600 Christian Churches Call for an End to the Drug War