Neill Franklin

U.S.: Officials Ask Court To Reconsider Life Sentence of Silk Road Website Operator

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Retired Federal Judge, Law Enforcement, and Leading Drug Reform Organization Ask Court to Reconsider Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht’s Harsh Prison Sentence

Ulbricht Given Life Without Parole Sentence but Silk Road Copycat Sites Keep Emerging

The Drug Policy Alliance on Wednesday filed an amicus brief urging the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reduce the harsh life without parole sentence imposed on Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted of operating the Silk Road website.

“We have learned from 40 plus years of the failed war on drugs that incarceration does not prevent drug use or sales,” said Nancy Gertner, retired federal judge and senior lecturer at Harvard Law. “Even if it did, there is absolutely no evidence that a life sentence, including life without parole, is any more effective at deterring crime than a shorter sentence would be.”

The brief was filed on behalf of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), JustLeadershipUSA, and Judge Gertner (Ret.). It highlights the growing bipartisan consensus that life sentences do not make sense for drug convictions; that such sentences are disproportionate to what most people receive for drug trafficking offenses; and, given the failure of the War On Drugs, harsh sentences do nothing to deter others from committing similar crimes or to reduce drug sales or use.

U.S.: DOJ Suspends Asset Forfeiture Equitable Sharing; Police Take More Than Thieves

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Federal Sharing Linked to Circumvention of State Reforms

The Department of Justice on Monday released a memorandum addressed to local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies to announce that the equitable sharing program for asset forfeiture funds has been temporarily suspended due to financial considerations.

This means that state and local law enforcement can no longer expect to receive a share of federal funds confiscated through the process of civil asset forfeiture, a method by which law enforcement can seize property and money from individuals without charging them with a crime.

Until now, the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program allowed departments to keep up to 80 percent of assets seized in joint operations, a practice scholars have shown allows local agencies to circumvent reforms in their own states. At least one estimate puts the amount of assets confiscated by law enforcement agencies in 2014 above the total amount of robberies, suggesting, according to Reason Magazine, that “Your local police or sheriff's department is more likely to take your stuff than a robber.”

California: 6 Board Members of ReformCA Endorse Adult Use of Marijuana Act

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In the wake of a majority of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) agreeing to vote to withdraw its own measure (known as “ReformCA”), six members of the CCPR Board on Tuesday immediately announced their endorsement of the recently-amended statewide ballot measure known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) to control, regulate and tax marijuana.

Those endorsing AUMA include:

· David Bronner, CEO of North America’s top-selling brand of natural soaps
· Nate Bradley, executive director, California Cannabis Industry Association
· Stacia Cosner, deputy director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
· Neill Franklin, executive director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
· Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Latino Voters League and the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles AND
· Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University in Oakland

In addition, Dr. Larry Bedard, former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, has agreed to withdraw as an official co-proponent of the ReformCA measure and instead support AUMA.

Over the weekend, a majority of the CCPR Board formally agreed to vote to withdraw the ReformCA measure from the ballot qualification process.

U.S.: 34-Year Police Veteran Neill Franklin To Receive Award At Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginiaa. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, promoting alternatives to the Drug War, and is cosponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

Major Neill Franklin will be presented with the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement. Franklin is being honored for his influential work changing hearts and minds both inside and outside the law enforcement community.

Over the course of his 34-year law enforcement career, Franklin watched hardworking and dedicated fellow police die in the line of fire enforcing policies that don’t do any good. He spent 23 years with the Maryland State Police, including as an undercover agent and as the department’s head trainer, before being recruited by the Baltimore Police Department to reorganize its education and training division.

U.S.: Leading Drug Policy Reformers To Be Honored At International Conference

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Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Winners Include Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding, DPA Board President and Former ACLU Head Ira Glasser, Key Grassroots Ally VOCAL-NY, and LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginia. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization promoting alternatives to the Drug
War, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

"Every political movement for freedom and justice has its heroes, yet only a select few ever win the recognition they deserve," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "These awards honor those who have made extraordinary commitments, both publicly and behind the scenes, to advancing more sensible and humane ways of dealing with drugs in our society."

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

Ira Glasser is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to Drug War extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.

Oregon: Legal Marijuana Sales Begin Thursday, Oct. 1

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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Given Head Start Before Other Stores

Oregon Becomes First State to Expunge Prior Nonviolent Marijuana Records

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon, which legalized marijuana in 2014 with Measure 91, is beginning sales Thursday, October 1. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to get a head start on sales before other, non-medical stores, which are expected to open in Autumn 2016.

This will ensure existing medical marijuana retailers have an opportunity to fairly compete in the new market as it emerges in the next several years. About 200 of the 345 medical shops have registered to expand their sales to all adults and expect a significant increase in profit margins.

Oregon voters passed Measure 91 in November 2014 with 56 percent support. Similar to initiatives in both Washington and Colorado, Measure 91 called for a slow and thoughtful roll-out of legalization.

In Washington and Colorado, possession of marijuana became legal over a year before retail sales began. This approach left adults with no lawful means of purchasing marijuana. This, too, was the path in Oregon until lawmakers passed new legislation this summer.

Possession became legal on July 1, 2015, yet the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the state agency responsible for taxing, licensing, and regulating commercial recreational marijuana, will not begin accepting applications until early next year and retail stores are not expected to open until late 2016.

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization Law Takes Effect July 1

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Adult Possession, Home Cultivation Permitted Immediately

Cultivation, Retail Businesses Expected to Open Fall 2016

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Measure 91, a voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana in Oregon passed with 56 percent approval, takes effect July 1 and will immediately allow for adult possession and home cultivation. The law permits adults 21 and older to grow four plants (as long as they are out of public view) and keep eight ounces at home, and possess one ounce in public. Public consumption and sales will remain illegal.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in the state, will begin to accept applications for cultivation, processing, testing, and retail business licenses starting January 4, 2016, and businesses are expected to be operational later the same year. More time was allotted to create specific regulations for concentrates to ensure the best possible public safety outcome, so these products will likely not be available immediately when stores open.

U.S.: 600 Churches Call For End To Drug War

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Conference Uses Christian Ideals to Argue for New System

The New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, on Saturday voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.

The resolution begins:

“In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of a genuinely new system for the care and restoration of victims, offenders, criminal justice officials, and the community as a whole. Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community. When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right.”

It goes on to detail how the Drug War has failed to achieve its intended goal of reducing drug abuse and has resulted in numerous unintended consequences such as the creation of violent and dangerous underground markets, countless lost lives from gang violence and unregulated products, increased dangers posed to law enforcement, prison overcrowding, the rapid spread of needle-borne illnesses due to a lack of sterile syringes, and the disparate impact that these laws have had on poor communities of color.

U.S.: Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch For Attorney General

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon confirmed the nomination of Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General in a 56-43 vote. The results of the vote have been highly anticipated, as significant partisan bickering had stalled her appointment for months.

Lynch is the first African-American woman to hold the office of Attorney General, the nation’s top law enforcement position and head of the Department of Justice. Her statements made in the Senatorial confirmation hearing indicate she intends to follow Holder’s legacy of prioritizing civil rights.

Criminal justice experts hope this means she will continue and expand the drug policy reforms enacted by her predecessor.

“Loretta Lynch will hopefully continue the more positive aspects of Eric Holder’s legacy,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group opposed to the Drug War. “We hope she continues to restore sanity and dignity to the profession of policing by de-escalating the War On Drugs and allowing states to proceed with marijuana legalization.”

Maryland: House Committee Hearing Set For Tuesday On Bill To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

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House Judiciary Committee to consider bill at 1 p.m. that would make marijuana legal for adults, establish regulations for cultivation and sale

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in the General Assembly on Tuesday, February 24, to consider a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Supporters of the bill, including representatives of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, are expected to testify.

The hearing will take place in Room 101 of the House Office Building at 1 p.m. ET.

HB 911, the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015, sponsored by Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

The bill requires the Maryland Comptroller to establish rules and regulations for the operation of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, retailers, and safety compliance labs. It also creates an oversight commission to monitor marijuana businesses and advise the comptroller on regulatory issues.

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015 (HB 911)

WHEN: Tuesday, February 24, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Maryland House Office Building, Room 101, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis

WHO: Sara Love, ACLU of Maryland
Eric Blitz, Libertarian Party
Tim Lynch, Cato Institute

U.S.: Recovering Alcoholic Confirmed As Drug Czar, Takes Top Spot At ONDCP

DrugCzarMichaelBotticelliIsARecoveringAlcoholic

President Obama’s nominee for director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), acting director Michael Botticelli, was confirmed by the Senate 92-0 on Monday, granting him one of the nation’s highest drug-control offices.

A recovering alcoholic with extensive career experience in public health, the new “drug czar,” as he is informally known, has potential to take more of a public health approach than did his predecessors, including former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, the most recent officeholder, who was confirmed as Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection last March.

Botticelli has recently stated that Congress shouldn’t interfere with the will of D.C. voters to legalize marijuana, despite the ONDCP’s official stance on legalization. Last week, he was quoted in a conference call saying that the ONDCP will bar federal funding from drug courts that prevent access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

U.S.: Federal Govt. To Block Funds For Drug Courts That Refuse Medication-Assisted Treatment

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New Policy Indicates Better Understanding of Addiction, Public Health Crisis

The acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, this week said the federal government will deny federal funding to drug courts across the country that refuse medication-assisted treatment for those suffering from opiate addictions.

The ONDCP will now withhold federal funding from drug courts that prevent people suffering from opiate addictions from having access to drugs such as methadone and Suboxone that can allow them to lead normal lives despite their addiction, reports Jason Cherkis at The Huffington Post.

“I rarely get a chance to applaud the ONDCP, so I’m enjoying this,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “People with addictions deserve access to treatment that works, and any policy that stands in the way of the recovery process is an affront to human rights.”

Because heroin is physically addictive, with users experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms such as depression, nausea and vomiting, those who abstain have a high rate of relapse. However after a period of abstinence, their tolerance drops and doses they could handle while a regular user become lethal. This is often when overdoses occur.

New Mexico: State Senator Introduces Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

JosephCervantes(NewMexicoStateSenator)

New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, on Friday introduced Senate Bill 383 to reduce penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. The proposed legislation reduces the penalty structure for possession of up to four ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to eight ounces.

Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over one ounce and up to eight ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to one year. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2013 with bipartisan support.

“I am troubled by the millions of taxpayer dollars that are spent every year on processing thousands of low level marijuana misdemeanor offenders — dollars that might be better spent by hard-pressed law enforcement agencies on more pressing public safety needs,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “If ever there was a bill that advanced the smart on crime agenda, this is it.”

Colorado: Police Chiefs Host Marijuana Summit, Discuss Impact of Legalization

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The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police is hosting a conference this week to discuss the impact of legal marijuana on law enforcement and public safety one year after recreational dispensaries opened in the state.

The conference offers recommendations for dealing with marijuana-related issues under a legal framework in which police are able to work with growers, distributors and others to ensure consumers are protected, that criminals do not profit from sales and that the drug is not available to children.

“This conference is the result of smart regulation,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Now that marijuana is sold in a visible, transparent market, enforcement and regulatory bodies can start making recommendations about how to further public safety surrounding the drug. Instead of arresting people for minor marijuana offenses, cops are now ensuring operations are running safely and legally.”

The event lasts three days, beginning Wednesday of this week, and is expected to draw a crowd of almost 500 law enforcement professionals, including representatives form Alaska, which recently voted to legalize marijuana. U.S. Attorney in Colorado John Walsh and the Drug Enforcement Administration's top officer in the state will also be in attendance.

U.S.: Harrison Narcotics Act Still Fostering Violence, Addiction 100 Years Later

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Addiction Remains Criminalized Despite Medical, Law Enforcement Community Outcry

Concerned citizens and a coalition of organizations including representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will gather in cities nationwide on Wednesday, December 17, at noon on the steps of courthouses and other civic buildings. These demonstrations are in response to the 100-year anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and call for responsible drug policy reforms that put doctors back in charge of helping people overcome substance addiction.

The Harrison Narcotics Act is considered one of the first American prohibitionist policies. While on its face the law merely regulated opiate and cocaine products in medical settings by licensing those involved in the market, a portion of the bill was interpreted to mean that doctors no longer had the authority to prescribe narcotics as a maintenance treatment for patients already suffering from substance addictions.

Nevada: Marijuana Legalization To Be On 2016 Ballot

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Nevada’s Secretary of State Ross Miller on Monday approved an official petition to add marijuana legalization to the 2016 November ballot.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol needed to file 102,000 signatures, but ultimately filed about 200,000.

If passed, the measure would establish marijuana cultivation and distribution businesses as well as legalize adult possession of up to an ounce.

“Nevada joins an ever-growing list of states with marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a law enforcement group opposed to the War On Drugs.

“Marijuana prohibition has put countless otherwise innocent people in jail and increased street violence just as alcohol prohibition did in the 1920s," Franklin said. "Nevada is ready to prioritize public safety and we look forward to seeing their state and others responsibly regulate marijuana so that law enforcement can focus on more pressing crimes.”

LEAP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit of law enforcement officers who want to end the war on drugs.

Graphic: The Daily Chronic

Texas: Houston Police Chief Says Marijuana Prohibition Has Failed

HoustonPoliceChiefCharlesMcClelland(HoustonStyleMagazine)

Chief Charles McClelland Says Feds Should Take the Lead; Interview with LEAP Speaker and Radio Show Host Dean Becker To Air This Friday

In an interview with "Cultural Baggage," a radio show hosted by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) speaker and former Air Force Security Policeman Dean Becker, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said marijuana prohibition is a failed public policy.

During the interview, Chief McClelland highlighted pilot programs within his department and others in the state to reduce marijuana possession penalties for first-time offenders. He also discussed the necessary role of the federal government in changing national drug laws.

Because many state-legal marijuana businesses cannot safely use banks and because illegal markets still exist in most states, those markets can still flourish by undercutting the dispensaries, according to the Chief. McClelland also acknowledged the racism inherent in drug enforcement practices which results in the incarceration of a disproportionate number of young black men.

The 30-minute interview covering a variety of law enforcement issues including the rights of protestors, the immense power of drug cartels and why so many Americans use substances will air this Friday, at 4:30 pm CT, on KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston and streaming online.

U.S.: Law Enforcement Officials Tour States To Lend A Hand To Drug Policy Reform Initiatives

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As the midterm election approaches, representatives of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) are hard at work educating voters about the need for drug policy reform in states with relevant initiatives on the ballot.

A pair of police chiefs, Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and sitting Police Chief Larry Kirk, are in Alaska, where voters are about to weigh in on an initiative to legalize, regulate and control marijuana (Measure 2). The two went to seven towns between them, from Anchorage to Kodiak, to educate voters on the public safety benefits of legalization.

In the meantime, a former prosecutor and a retired lieutenant sheriff are doing a similar tour of Oregon (Measure 91) and a former police officer and former Customs agent are speaking to Florida voters about medical marijuana (Amendment 2). These tours have included meetings with civic clubs, conversations with the media and debates with opponents.

U.S.: Obama To Nominate Pro-Legalization Candidate To Lead DOJ Civil Rights Division

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President Barack Obama intends to nominate Vanita Gupta, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director, to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Sari Horiwitz at The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. This news comes not long after Attorney General Eric Holder announced his imminent resignation, and indicates a continued initiative of positive federal drug policy changes.

Gupta has been outspoken on a number of issues, including racial sentencing disparities, federal incentives to state police that prioritize the investigation of drug arrests over violent crime, mandatory minimum sentences and related disparities, as well as marijuana legalization. She currently leads the ACLU’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration. Gupta has also garnered bipartisan support with conservatives Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and David Keene, former president of the NRA, both speaking highly of her.

Maryland: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill To Take Effect Wednesday

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Criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession will be replaced with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

Legislation adopted this year to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Maryland will go into effect on Wednesday, October 1.

Maryland joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession. In addition, Missouri passed a similar bill this year, which will make it the 19th state to do so when it goes into effect.

Senate Bill 364 makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

“Decriminalization will free up law enforcement officials’ time and allow them to focus on more pressing issues than marijuana possession," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police.

"It will address some inequalities in our justice system, but, until we fully legalize and regulate marijuana, sales will continue to be conducted by criminals in an underground market," Franklin said. "Until that happens, we are not going to see the public safety benefits that are possible in a post-prohibition world.”

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