Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NFL Pro Bowler Flexes Rights During Police Encounter and Wins

One of my favorite things I've been able to do through SSDP is present information on how to handle yourself in a police encounter. A question commonly asked during this sessions is, "what's the of point denying consent to a search? If a cop wants to search your car, they'll search it anyway." Well, NFL Defensive Tackle and former Florida State University student Darnell Dockett successfully asserted his rights yesterday during a police encounter Monday. Darnell even provided play-by-play live Tweets of the police stop!

The Tweets are understandably abrasive in tone (and profanely hilarious), but tell the story Dockett maintaining his cool and display his willingness to wait out the officers who had no grounds for a search. Because Dockett asserted his rights, he came out a winner.

To further address the question posed earlier in the post, yes, it is true the police may decide to violate your rights and search without your consent. BUT... by denying consent to all police searches, you have a much better chance winning in court. The consequences for failing to deny consent to a search may range from destruction of your property (if the police break your stuff during a search you consented to, good luck getting compensation) to conviction and jail time for a crime you may not have even committed. Be respectful and courteous, but be sure to deny consent.

For more information on how to handle police encounters like a pro, check out our friends, Flex Your Rights, and their outstanding rights training movie, 10 Rules for Dealing with the Police.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Update from the Green Room at NBC News in Washington, D.C.

I shot this video blog clip with my cell phone from inside the green room at NBC News on Capitol Hill right before I appeared on CNBC. I thought you may be interested to see what it looks like inside. Keep checking back here for video blog updates during this week of events highlighting the 40th anniversary of President Nixon declaring the "War on Drugs."

You can watch the full clip of my appearance on CNBC here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mexico City Students Invite All to 40th Anniversary Vigil

17 June 2011

Where: Kiosco de Coyoacan, Coyoacan Centro

When: 19:00 distribution of candles; 20:00 lighting of candles

Please click on the image to view the invitation.

Russia's Draconian Tactics Aimed at Drug Users

"A total war on drugs" was just announced by the Speaker of the Russian Duma, Boris Gryzlov. The Guardian reports that Gryzlov, a close ally of Prime Minister Putin, wants drug dealers "treated like serial killers."

The hard-line, criminal justice approach flies in the face of recent suggestions to treat drug use as a public health issue. The Russian Government immediately dismissed the suggestion last week of the Global Commission on Drugs calling the report "propaganda" for drugs.

Gryzlov said abuse was soaring, and that it "threatened the gene pool." His proposed measures include special punishments for dealers, such as forced labor camps. For users, he calls for "prison or forced treatment."

Drug policy reformers immediately pointed to Russia's poor record of dealing with HIV infection among drug using populations. In many countries, the HIV infection rate among intravenous drug users hovers around 1 to 2 percent. In Russia overall, 16 percent of intravenous drug users are infected with HIV, and in St. Petersburg, that figure rises to around 60 per cent.

Will the initiative pass the Duma? The Guardian reports that Gryzlov has the support of United Russia, the ruling party, which also exerts power over the Parliament.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Action Alert: Help prevent overdose deaths in NY!

Here in New York, we've been hard at work trying to pass an Good Samaritan (or Medical Amnesty) bill that would protect individuals from criminal prosecution when calling 911 in an alcohol or other drug related medical emergency. This life-saving overdose prevention bill passed through the State Assembly last week and now we only have a few days left of the legislative year to get it through the Senate.

It is crucial that we flood Senator Skelos's office with calls urging his support in the next 24 hours to make sure this life-saving bill becomes a live-saving law next week!

Call Senator Dean Skelos, the New York Senate Majority Leader, at (518) 455-3171 and urge him to consider the following:
- S4454A has been carefully crafted to save lives while not allowing drug dealers to "walk free"
- The Assembly version of this bill will save lives and should pass without amendments
- Senators on both sides of the aisle have already expressed their support for the bill as currently written and no amendments are necessary for it's passage

Your supportive calls last week on this issue caused Senate Majority Leader Skelos to take notice! It's looking likely that this bill will pass, but now some are calling for amendments to weaken the bill and we need to make our voices heard.

After you call his office, we'd love to hear how it went, so let us know here. If you don't live or go to school in New York, than please pass this around to friends! We've got to act now and we can't do it without your help.

The Power of Student Activism

Check out our very own David Haseltine, president of the University of Connecticut SSDP chapter, on Huffington Post talking about how SSDP helped pass Connecticut's new marijuana decriminalization law. Go David!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Make your voice heard at the UN

From our friends at Avaaz.

To Ban Ki-moon and all Heads of State: We call on you to end the war on drugs and the prohibition regime, and move towards a system based on decriminalisation, regulation, public health and education. This 50 year old policy has failed, fuels violent organised crime, devastates lives and is costing billions. It is time for a humane and effective approach.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

(Moving) Office Space, SSDP-Style (VIDEO)

After about a decade in our national headquarters on Connecticut Avenue, this is our last day here. While we're sad to say goodbye, we're excited about our new office space in downtown Washington, D.C. We'll tell you more about our new space soon and include some video. But for now, remember that part from the movie, Office Space, where employees took a baseball bat to the hated printer?

Please enjoy this video of our Associate Director, Stacia Cosner, totally destroying trashed office furniture with a baseball bat so that it can be transported to the dump. Dedicated readers may recall that Stacia represents SSDP on the Capitol Hemp One-Hitters, a team in the Congressional Softball League made up of drug policy reform activists, so it shouldn't be any surprise that she's got a mean swing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's just a softball game ...vs. the Drug Czar's team

SSDP is the official sponsoring organization for The One Hitters, a co-ed recreational softball team in the Congressional League in Washington DC, established in 2002 our team is comprised of individuals who work for or support marijuana and other drug law reform. This year, we're officially 2-1 so far, but if I do say so myself, we're not too shabby.

Being in the Congressional League, we play some interesting teams, such as those who work for various Congressional offices, government institutions, advocacy groups, law firms, and others. Perhaps the most unlikely match up for a league softball game would be The One Hitters vs. The Czardinals, which is the Office of National Drug Control Policy's team. We were thrilled earlier this season when our respective coaches scheduled a game between the two teams! But then for some reason, The Czardinals cancelled on us ...again.

The One Hitters is a co-ed softball team established in 2002
in the Congressional League in Washington, DC comprised of individuals
who work for or support marijuana and other drug law reform.

contact: OneHittersSoftball@gmail.com


One Hitters Burned Again By Timid Czardinals

Office of National Drug Control Policy Backs Out of Softball Game with Drug Policy Reformers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Once again, the softball team representing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has backed out of playing a Congressional Softball League game against the One Hitters, a team consisting of members of several drug policy reform organizations and others who support ending the “war on drugs.” A game between the two teams had been scheduled for May 25, but the ONCDP Czardinals pulled out shortly after scheduling the game, with ONDCP public liaison coordinator Quinn Staudt citing an “accidental double-booking.”

This is not the first time the Czardinals have refused to play the One Hitters. In 6 years, the team found one reason or another to avoid taking the field against this team of individuals dedicated to reforming the out-of-date and ineffectual policies promoted by the ONDCP.

This behavior is being mimicked on the national stage by the ONDCP as well. While drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has stated that he will no longer use the rhetoric of a “war on drugs” and President Obama said that he wants to move to treat drug abuse as a health problem rather than a criminal justice problem, little has been seen in the way of action in that direction. The President has also said that he does not support the legalization of any drug, even marijuana, despite the inarguable damage marijuana prohibition does to society, individual users, medical patients that benefit from marijuana treatments, governmental budgets, and respect for the rule of law.

"It is really disappointing that the ONDCP not only refuses to have an honest debate with drug policy reformers about the absolute failure of drug prohibition, but also keeps ducking out of softball games with us,” said One Hitters team captain Jacob Berg. “We think it would be a great opportunity to advance the discussion between drug law reformers and the people ostensibly in charge of drug policy in this country. I wonder if they are afraid to have that conversation. The drug czar said ‘legalization’ isn't in his vocabulary, but it's just a friendly softball game!"

The One Hitters hope the Czardinals will put aside ideological differences and accept their invitation to play a softball game this summer on the National Mall in Washington, DC.