The harms of the Drug War are legion. Most importantly, too many lives have been lost and ruined while civil rights have eroded and tax dollars have been wasted. Nations have even been destabilized and the harmful consequences of the Drug War impact virtually all facets of our lives. Thanks to the work of dedicated advocates over many decades, we have been chipping away at this failed war, starting with legalizing cannabis across the United States, whether for medical reasons, or for personal use by adults.
Thanks to the cannabis community’s victories taking place city by city and state by state, we are now seeing momentum in the Halls of Congress. We have even seeing electoral success tackling other aspects of the Drug War, from reducing criminal penalties at the legislative level, to passing several local city measures, and even decriminalizing the personal possession of all drugs in the great state of Oregon. I was honored and humbled to serve as a chief petitioner of Measure 110, Oregon’s decriminalization measure, and the Measure 91 cannabis legalization initiative and I am so pleased to be joining a the Portland Psychedelic Society’s “A Compassionate Approach to Ending the War on Drugs” panel this Wednesday, December 16th, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. The event is free, just RSVP with Eventbrite.
I will be joining Diane Goldstein, Executive Board Chair of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)(formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition); Sanho Tree, the Project Director of the Drug Policy – Institute of Policy Studies; and Abhi Dewan, the Student and Federal Liaison for the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). We will be discussing the history and evolution of America’s drug laws towards certain psychoactive substances, the enforcement and impact on society due to the Drug War, and the important efforts being made to put an end to these harmful policies. This is an exciting time for drug policy reformers. Join us.
As the United States combats our history of systemic racism and police brutality, many of us are searching for the right answers. What police reforms are needed? Is reforming the police enough? Do we need to disband police and start with a new system of community protection services? Should we defund police? What does it mean to defund the police exactly? As we grapple with all of these questions, and more, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer has issued a federal action plan on reducing police violence that includes ending cannabis prohibition and decriminalizing drugs:
Only 5% of arrests in America have been for violent crimes. In 2018, the highest number of arrests were for drug offesnes. Over 40% of these drug arrests were for cannabis, with over 90% being just for possession of the drug. Black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis possession, even though they use cannabis at about the same rate. Reducing police interactions by using non-law enforcement to deal with minor crimes and activities, and repealing punitive drug laws could reduce the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color. We need to rethink the way police are used and encourage alternative policing models that address institutional racism as they are being created.
Promote Alternatives to Policing • Provide federal funding to support local innovation of non-law enforcement alternatives. • Increase funding for federal grant programs that support partnerships between law enforcement and mental health associations. • Repeal policies that incentivize over-policing of communities of color, including the prohibition of cannabis and the decriminalization of other drugs.
Representative Blumenauer has been a leader on cannabis policy since he was a young state legislator voting to make Oregon the first state to decriminalize cannabis in the early 1970s. As time has gone along, Rep. Blumenauer has become a stronger and stronger leader, helping found the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus and taking on the harms of the Drug War. It is common sense that cannabis prohibition and the greater War on Drugs has failed us, with harmful and racist consequences. Let’s keep of the momentum folks, because the times, they are a-changin’.