Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein recently introduced the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017. This act would create a “Schedule A” classification, banning importing new synthetic drugs deemed “substantially similar” to existing illegal drugs before testing their safety. If passed, the SITSA Act will be another step down the unfruitful path of prohibition.
Prohibiting a drug causes more problems than it solves. When a substance is banned, people can no longer rely on the government to enforce contracts for the sale and transport of the substance. This means that the only way to protect property and selling rights is through violence. Drugs don’t cause violent crime—prohibition does.
Read more at: The NY Observer
On May 31, Ross Ulbricht lost his appeal with the Second Circuit appellate court. He will serve out the remainder of his life sentence, a sentence passed down in part due to allegations that he commissioned multiple murders-for-hire. Whether or not Ulbricht ordered these hits, his case illustrates how, by criminalizing drugs, the United States government has created an institution that incentives violence.
Ulbricht did not begin with violent intentions. He was an Eagle Scout who founded The Silk Road as a beacon of freedom. He agonized over the idea of a hit: As Wired reports, “He had talked to Inigo [an employee] about how he just wishes the best for people, and loves them in the libertarian spirit—even Green [Ulbricht’s first alleged target], in flagrante delicto.” But for Ulbricht and others involved in the drug industry, violence was in his self interest…
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In most states, MDMA possession is a felony, even on first offense. In Texas, possession of less than one gram of this Schedule I drug could land someone two years in prison. In New York, possession of less than one gram—and up to five grams—could lead to five years of imprisonment. By definition, a Schedule I classification is reserved for drugs that have been deemed to have no accepted medical use.
Today, however, a growing number of medical trials are using MDMA to treat various mental health conditions. In 2016, the FDA approved a clinical trial for MDMA-based treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Organizations like Rick Doblin’s Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) have been early proponents of further exploring MDMA’s medical and therapeutic benefits. Many supporters tout MDMA as a possible treatment not just for combat veterans suffering PTSD but also those suffering depression. Underground, MDMA for years has been used by victims of sexual assault and those with anxiety; early adopters of MDMA-based psychotherapies have noted improvement. It’s doesn’t always bring about full healing, but it’s certainly helped people with diverse medical and emotional needs.
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Atlanta’s city council is contemplating making a smart move by decriminalizing marijuana possession (up to an ounce) within city limits. The current ludicrous threat of jail time would be replaced with a paltry $75 fine.
Many say Atlanta has a major policing problem along racial lines—more black residents are getting arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts, to an eery degree. Proponents of this new policy say decriminalization could partially ease those tensions.
Currently, punishments vary for first-time possession of up to an ounce. On the second offense, however, you can pay up to $1000 in fines and spend up to one year in jail. Possessing more than an ounce can result in one to ten years behind bars.
A $75 fine would be a welcome change and would show that Atlanta is yet another in a long list of cities attempting to restore sanity to drug sentencing.
Read more at FEE and Newsweek
Last month, President Donald Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the head of a task force aimed at curbing opioid use and abuse. On April 11, it was announced that Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino would likely step down from his current position to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as the “drug czar.” However, increased drug control is unlikely to prevent drug-related deaths. Before instituting harsher drug policies, Christie and Marino must acknowledge that drug regulation has already made the situation deadlier.
Throughout his political career, Christie vowed to further regulate various drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin. Despite his “get tough” attitude on narcotics, his state has seen opioid deaths climb by 214 percent since 2010. Yet Christie continues to make battling overdoses his top, and seemingly only, priority in his final year in office. He recently signed a bill into law that bars doctors from issuing a script of longer than five days for first-time painkiller prescriptions. It also requires that any prescription of a pain killer for acute pain is the “lowest effective dose.”
Similarly, in his time in Congress, Marino has focused a lot on drug issues. He introduced drug regulation bills in the house, including the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act which aims to stop drug trafficking across borders, and a bill that increases collaboration between the Drug Enforcement Agency and prescription pill companies.
Continue reading at FEE