Respite Open Thread: Trump {Hearts} the 80s

That low, dishonest decade. Back when his memory and his dick both worked without so much chemical assistance — or at least that’s how the old man remembers it, now…

This rally is, of course, being touted by the usual Horse Race media hacks as “the start of the 2020 campaign.” Because Donny Dollhands isn’t the only one who prefers cheap nostalgia to real work!

(Spoiler for the Youngs, or anyone else who doesn’t remember that far back: Reagan’s people didn’t care about “the drug problem”, either. It just gave them a handy distraction from things like their Iran-Contra criminality.)

To be fair, telling New Hampsters that all bad things come from Massachusetts is *always* a popular political go-to, because New Hampshire residents secretly resent their parasitic relationship with our Commonwealth…


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DACA Fix in the Works?

I hear Trump is snuffling publicly about the opioid crisis today. “Something-something let’s execute drug dealers like my state visit invitee Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who also hates Obama, and let’s put a pharma exec in charge of the new war on drugs because MAGA.” Or some such shit. In other news, there might be a DACA fix in the works:

It’ll likely come to naught, but perhaps it’s a promising sign that a) the White House is making proposals even though Trump has been meeping about the Democrats not crawling to him for a deal for a month or so, and b) if the above is an accurate description of the proposed deal, it doesn’t include any renewed attacks on LEGAL immigration.

We’ll see what happens. Open thread!

PS: The stock market is tanking for some reason, but not as badly as it tanked that last time.



Democrats Should Be Championing This

This is awesome:

On the same day a Philly.com op-ed was published in which Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (and Mayor Kenney) admitted the failure that was the “War on Drugs,” in the 1980s and ’90s, the DA’s office announced that it is suing 10 pharmaceutical companies in connection with the opioid epidemic and is dropping all outstanding marijuana possession charges.

In just a little over a month since taking office, Krasner has already built on the progress that began under former mayor Michael Nutter’s administration by further reforming the city’s drug policy to the point where getting busted with pot now no longer means a court date is in your future. Krasner says citations are issued approximately 90 percent of the time someone is caught with marijuana.

“What we’re talking about is the 10 percent or so that are being charged as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court,” Krasner said during a press conference Thursday. From now on, the DA will advise his staff not to pursue criminal charges against anyone arrested for marijuana possession in the city. Citations currently range from $25 for possession to $100 for those caught toking up in public.

“I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do,” Krasner said when asked of his motivation. “We could use those resources to solve homicides.”

Additionally, the DA’s office said that it had filed a lawsuit on February 2nd against Big Pharma under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Laws for their alleged role in creating the city’s opioid epidemic. The defendants are Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Allergan Finance, LLC; Cephalon, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Johnson & Johnson.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia:

West Virginia lawmakers rejected a proposal Thursday that would have required drug companies to report the number of prescription opioids manufactured and shipped to the state during the past decade.

By a 20-11 vote, state senators shot down a proposed amendment to legislation that aims to curb the proliferation of prescription painkillers across West Virginia.

Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, who offered the amendment, said the state has failed to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid epidemic. He called the manufacturers and distributors “one of the primary perpetrators” of the public health crisis that claims 880 lives a year and costs the state an estimated $8 billion.

“These are companies that profited tremendously when they sold us these opioids, and now they continue to profit by selling us medication-assisted-treatment drugs to get us off the opioids we’re addicted to,” Baldwin said. “They profited from our misery.”

Senate Republicans who voted against the amendment said the measure would likely impede federal lawsuits filed by cities and towns across the state against drug distributors and manufacturers. Those cases have been consolidated with lawsuits in other states and are being heard by a federal judge in Cleveland.

Protecting businesses from their actions is our state’s #1 priority.



Repub Venality Open Thread: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Still A Monster

While everyone was busy gawking at the noisier acts in Donny Dollhand’s Thirteen-Ring Circus, the Malevolent Leprechaun decided to cosplay Marcus Welby, M.D. The current uptick in white suburban narcotic deaths doesn’t change the party line for Sessions’ biggest fans: Addicts are weak-willed parasites, led down the wrong path by swarthy drug cartels and shuffling ghetto drug pushers!

For the rebuttal, Julia Lurie at Mother Jones:

At a Heritage Foundation event celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday this week, Jeff Sessions made a familiar argument: Easy access to marijuana is helping fuel the opioid epidemic. The Drug Enforcement Agency says that the vast majority of heroin addiction starts with prescription painkillers, he acknowledged, but “We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs, too.”

Accordingly, last month, Sessions rescinded the Obama-era guidance to deprioritize prosecuting dispensaries in states that had legalized marijuana.

But a growing body of evidence suggests that legal access to medical marijuana could in fact help reduce overdose deaths. The latest study, published by the RAND Corporation this week, found that states that allowed liberal access to marijuana through legally protected dispensaries saw reduced deaths from opioid overdoses. States that legalized the drug but didn’t allow dispensaries didn’t see the same pattern.

Among states with dispensaries, those that legalized medical marijuana before 2010 saw larger reductions in opioid deaths than those that legalized it afterwards. The authors hypothesize that’s because the late adopters tend to have more stringent rules that make it harder to get marijuana, requiring patients to take additional steps such as registering with the state or repeatedly seeing a doctor to confirm a need for medical marijuana. (The researchers examined state-level data from 1999 to 2013, so weren’t able to gauge the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana altogether.) “The key feature of medical marijuana law that facilitates a reduction in overdose rates is a relatively liberal allowance for dispensaries,” the researchers concluded…



Interesting Read: “Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal?”

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wants marijuana to stay illegal, because petty drug convictions are a useful tool against all those people of color and young anarchists he hates (especially since many states forbid ‘felons’ from voting). Used to be that aging white Republicans were on Sessions’ side, because they had common enemies. Seems like the political calculations may have changed, per James Higdon, at Politico:

When Jeff Sessions announced Thursday morning he had removed the barrier that had held back federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana cases in states that had made pot legal, he delivered on something he had all but promised when he was nominated as attorney general. Most of the marijuana world saw it coming, but they freaked out anyway.

A fund of marijuana-based stocks dropped more than 9 percent in value and, as a sign of how mainstream marijuana has become, Sessions’ decision to repeal the Cole Memo, an Obama-era protection for states that have legalized marijuana, even affected the stock price of Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which dropped more than 5 percent. Business leaders in an industry that was worth $7.9 billion in 2017, called Sessions’ action revoking “outrageous” and “economically stupid.”

Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. It was Republican senators, too…

Thursday may well turn out to be a pivotal moment in the marijuana industry’s evolution as a political force. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe in some form of legalized marijuana, but does the nascent industry have the sway to rewrite nearly 50 years of federal drug policy? Or will it remain a splintered coalition of investors, libertarians, concerned parents of sick kids, cancer sufferers, and traumatized veterans, who have the numbers but not the concentrated lobbying effort necessary to once and for all remove marijuana from the crosshairs of federal drug enforcement?

“There’s a lot of [legislators] trying to have it both ways who are now going to have to make up their mind,” said Tick Segerblom, the Nevada state senator who is considered the father of the state’s legalization movement. “Are they going to go with what the voters of their state support, or are they going to join Sessions and crack down and try to re-instate prohibition?”

Right now, the answer seems to be the former. Sessions’ antipathy for a drug that has lost much of its stigma among a wide cross section of Americans has only galvanized disparate factions in Congress to protect an industry that is expected to generate $2.3 billion in state tax revenue by 2020…

The fact that marijuana has now risen to the height of top-tier budget negotiations is a sign that the pro-marijuana coalition is no longer merely a menagerie of loud-mouth hippies, stoners, and felons, as the pro-pot crowd has been characterized in the past. The community of Americans who now rely on legal medical marijuana, estimated to be 2.6 million people in 2016, includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, and parents of epileptic children. The American Legion, a conservative veterans organization by any measure, has voted twice in favor of resolutions to expand research and safe access for its members.

As of late Friday, POLITICO Magazine could not find a single member of Congress who had issued a statement in support of Sessions’ actions. In the end, this is a self-inflicted pot crisis that could prove to be a critical test of Trump’s ability to maintain his base.

“There’s a lot of old white men who are marijuana users, and the marijuana is keeping them alive,” Segerblom said from his cell phone while driving around Las Vegas. “Trump is going to have fewer to vote for him if he doesn’t keep marijuana legal.”



Anyone Ever Wonder Just How Marijuana Became Illegal In The US?

AL did a great job covering the political fallout from AG Sessions crusade against the demon weed, but what I almost never see discussed in all of the coverage is just how marijuana was deemed to be dangerous and became illegal in the US. It all comes down to one appointed official trying to protect his department’s budget

If you look for the roots of America’s ban on cannabis, you’ll find nearly all roads lead to a man named Harry Anslinger. He was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which laid the ground work for the modern-day DEA, and the first architect of the war on drugs.

Anslinger was appointed in 1930, just as the prohibition of alcohol was beginning to crumble (it was finally repealed in 1933), and remained in power for 32 years. Early on, he was on record essentially saying cannabis use was no big deal. He called the idea that it made people mad or violent an “absurd fallacy.”

But when Anslinger was put in charge of the FBN, he changed his position entirely.

“From the moment he took charge of the bureau, Harry was aware of the weakness of his new position. A war on narcotics alone — cocaine and heroin, outlawed in 1914 — wasn’t enough,” author Johann Hari wrote in his book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.” “They were used only by a tiny minority, and you couldn’t keep an entire department alive on such small crumbs. He needed more.

Consequently, Anslinger made it his mission to rid the U.S. of all drugs — including cannabis. His influence played a major role in the introduction and passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which outlawed possessing or selling pot.

Fueled by a handful of 1920s newspaper stories about crazed or violent episodes after marijuana use, Anslinger first claimed that the drug could cause psychosis and eventually insanity. In a radio address, he stated young people are “slaves to this narcotic, continuing addiction until they deteriorate mentally, become insane, turn to violent crime and murder.”

In particular, he latched on to the story of a young man named Victor Licata, who had hacked his family to death with an ax, supposedly while high on cannabis. It was discovered many years later, however, that Licata had a history of mental illness in his family, and there was no proof he ever used the drug.

The problem was, there was little scientific evidence that supported Anslinger’s claims. He contacted 30 scientists, according to Hari, and 29 told him cannabis was not a dangerous drug. But it was the theory of the single expert who agreed with him that he presented to the public — cannabis was an evil that should be banned — and the press ran with this sensationalized version.

Ansliger then combined his pursuit of a dedicated funding stream for his bureau with a healthy amount of all American racism and bigotry.

Harry told the public that “the increase [in drug addiction] is practically 100 percent among Negro people,” which he stressed was terrifying because already “the Negro population . . . accounts for 10 percent of the total population, but 60 percent of the addicts.” He could wage the drug war—he could do what he did—only because he was responding to a fear in the American people. You can be a great surfer, but you still need a great wave. Harry’s wave came in the form of a race panic.

Ansliger even promoted the term marijuana over cannabis because of its ethnic and racial connotations.

The word “marijuana” itself was part of this approach. What was commonly known as  cannabis until the early 1900s was instead called marihuana, a Spanish word more likely to be associated with Mexicans.

“He was able to do this because he was tapping into very deep anxieties in the culture that were not to do with drugs — and attaching them to this drug,” Hari said. Essentially, in 1930s America, it wasn’t hard to use racist rhetoric to associate the supposed harms of cannabis with minorities and immigrants.

So as the nationwide attitude towards cannabis began to fall in line with Anslinger’s, he testified before Congress in hearings for the Marijuana Tax Act. His testimony centered around the ideas he had been pushing all along — including a provocative letter from a local newspaper editor in Colorado, saying “I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents.”

One appointed official’s pursuit of relevance and power combined with his racism and bigotry spawned an almost 100 year war on drugs in the US. An effort that has spent billions of dollars, but done very little to curb Americans’ appetite for drugs. All while perpetuating and furthering systemic racism and its horrific effects on Americans of color.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” — Kohelet 1:9



Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s Anti-Marijuana Mandate Unites All Parties

Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent — all agree: Sessions’ motives are the worst. And apart from all the (poor, powerless, mostly not-white) people he’s going to hurt, the Republican “brand” will suffer because of his regressive obsession with “the demon weed”.

I’m proud that so many Democratic legislators are stepping up…


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