Thursday, October 29, 2009

NH Medical Marijuana Bill is Vetoed

The NH Senate wouldn't budge on overriding Gov. Patrick Lynch's veto of the law which had passed both the House and Senate earlier this year. The 14-10 vote was in favor of the bill but didn't give the 2/3 majority needed for the override.

Matt Simon, executive director NH Compassion ran a fantastic campaign that brought medical marijuana legislation farther than it had ever been in the state. When Gov. Lynch said that he had 11 concerns with the bill that if left unaddressed, would leave him to veto the bill, NH Compassion compromised and addressed all of the points. Still, Lynch carried out this veto threat despite medical marijuana legalization having the support of 71% of NH residents.

SSDP chapters at Franklin Pierce University, Keene State College, UNH, Southern NH University, and Nashua High School South did all they could to draw attention to the need for legislation to help protect sick and dying NH residents who found marijuana helped to improve their quality of life.

For the past year, NH Compassion told the stories of numerous ill people in NH and the positive impact medical marijuana has had on their lives. Sadly, one of those NH residents, Scott Turner, passed away before the override vote had happened. Please read more about the patients that Gov. Lynch and NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte believe NH should waste tax dollars and law enforcement resources to put behind bars.

We'll be back to ensure that these people will not face arrest for trying to improve their lives.

A huge thank you from SSDP goes out to Matt Simon and all NH medical marijuana patients.

SSDP Testifies at CA Marijuana Legalization Hearing

Yesterday at the California State House in Sacramento, members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy attended the state's first hearing on the regulation and taxation of cannabis.

Alex Woon and Kraig Negrete of the San Jose State University chapter joined UC Berkeley chapter members Matt Kintz, Rishi Malhotra, and alumni Suzy Sim to witness the hearing and give a 30 second "elevator argument" on why they support taking marijuana out of the black market and putting it into a legal and regulated system. I'm so proud to work with such bright and motivated students who took the time out of their day make sure that their voices were heard.

After attending the committee hearing and giving public opinion, we grabbed a quick lunch with our colleagues from DPA, MPP, CA NORML and others before running around the state house to lobby CA Assembly members for their support of AB 390.

Both Alex Woon and Rishi Malhotra gained lobbying experience last year when they attended SSDP's International Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. If you're interested in learning more about lobbying, be sure to RSVP for SSDP's 2010 International Conference in San Francisco, March 12-14.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Powerful Photos For Advocates of Reform

This is a special guest blog by SSDP intern and UMD SSDP chapter member, Greg Hansch

The Boston Globe recently released a grisly series of photos that portray many of the the negative consequences associated with drugs. Some photos show drug addicts living in meager conditions or attempting to piece their lives back together. Others depict people who were murdered as a result of their involvement in the drug trade. A third variety contains images of law enforcement attempting to eradicate drugs.

For proponents of the drug war, these images reinforce their narrow understanding: Drugs are harmful. Therefore, our public policies need to combat this scourge with punitive laws. And in one respect, they are right: drug abuse is a devastating problem for people all around the world.

However, drug war supporters fail to recognize that prohibition exacerbates the negative impact of drugs. Most of the murder victims shown were drug dealers killed in turf struggles with rival cartels. These murders currently plague Mexico because prohibition has made drug trafficking a massively profitable illicit industry. Cartels (who count on marijuana for 60% of their profits) are willing to use lethal force in order to secure their smuggling routes and distribution territories.

Law enforcement agencies around the world are engaged in an endless struggle to rid the world of drugs. Despite their efforts, drugs are still available all over the world and murder is commonplace among drug traffickers.

These graphic images are disturbing but necessary for our movement. They clearly illustrate that decades of drug prohibition have led to uncontrollable violence in Mexico, addicts who are unable to find treatment, and fruitless attempts at stopping the drug trade. Every day, more and more people are starting to interpret these images as a product of drug prohibition rather than drugs themselves.

I recommend you look at these photos and consider, "what terrible consequences are we willing to tolerate in the name of our ill-fated War on Drugs?" Supporters of our current drug laws need to own the horrible unintended consequences their preferred policy creates, and the general public needs to be cognisant of the multi-faceted, international consequences of the Drug War.