ONDCP

U.S.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Pushes Feds To Ease Restrictions On Marijuana Research

ElizabethWarren[AP-THCFinder]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to clear the roadblocks out of the way so that government-paid researchers can study marijuana -- and not just the negative side effects.

Warren is leading a group of eight Democratic senators who are urging federal officials to correct the "data shortfall" on potential health benefits of medicinal cannabis by making it easier to study the herb, reports Sarah Ferris at The Hill.

“It is important that we make a concerted effort to understand how this drug works and how it can best serve patients through appropriate methods of use and doses, like any other prescribed medicine,” wrote the Senators in a letter to government officials. The letter was sent to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy – all of which have some control over cannabis-related rules.

Since marijuana is still inexplicably classified as a Schedule I substance under federal law -- meaning it supposedly has no medical value and a high potential for abuse -- it remains difficult to study. Researchers are forced to go through multiple layers of approval to even test the stuff, and under current rules, it can only be grown at the University of Mississippi by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

U.S.: Ex Drug Czar Bennett's New Book 'Going To Pot' Rails Against Legalization

GoingToPot-WilliamBennettAndRobertWhite

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a sadly predictable development, the mortally wounded but still dangerous War On Cannabis has produced a new book from former drug czar William Bennett. Bennett's new nonsense-filled tome is called Going To Pot, and anyone who enjoys right wing moralizing, pseudo-scientific scare-mongering, and patent nonsense can certainly have a hell of a time with this piece of trash.

Bennett served as director of national drug control policy (drug czar) under President George H.W. Bush, and he's long been known for his obnoxious pronouncements and conservative backwardness, as well as tiresomely moralizing and practically unreadable volumes such as The Book of Virtues.

In Going To Pot, Bennett and coauthor Robert White, managing partner in an international law firm and former assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, examine current efforts to legalize pot. "Marijuana, once considered worthy of condemnation, has in recent years become a 'medicine' legalized fully in four states, with others expected to follow," they write.

Here's a handy rule of thumb, folks, and so far, it's reliably worked 100 percent of the time for me. Whenever you're reading something and they put "medicine" in quotes when speaking of cannabis, you're wasting your time; read something else, preferably something where the author isn't suffering from advanced cranial-rectal inversion.

U.S.: Senate Confirms Michael Botticelli As White House Drug Czar

MichaelBotticelliDrugCzarONDCP

Advocates Praise Botticelli for Taking Steps Toward Health-Based Approach to Drug Policy

The U.S. Senate on Monday evening confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Michael Botticelli to become the next Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a position informally known as “drug czar.”

Botticelli has served as acting director of the ONDCP since March 2014, following the resignation of former drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske. Botticelli previously served as ONDCP’s Deputy Director. Before joining ONDCP, Botticelli spent nearly two decades overseeing substance misuse programs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“Michael Botticelli represents, in many ways, a significant improvement on all his predecessors as drug czar,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It’s not just that he comes from a public health background but that he seems truly committed to advancing more science-based and compassionate drug policies where the politics allow.

"What he most needs to do now is shed the political blinders that impel him both to defend marijuana prohibition and close his eyes to highly successful harm reduction measures abroad,” Nadelmann said.

U.S.: Acting Drug Czar Agrees Congress Shouldn't Interfere In DC Marijuana Legalization

MichaelBotticelliDrugCzarONDCP

In response to a question from a Marijuana Policy Project staffer, Michael Botticelli — whom the U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Monday as the next director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) — said he supports the Administration’s current policy of allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult and/or medical use.

During an event hosted on Friday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, acting U.S. Drug Czar Botticelli said he agrees Congress should not interfere in the District of Columbia’s decision to make marijuana legal for adults.

In response to a question from MPP Federal Policies Director Dan Riffle, Botticelli said: “The President, as it relates to the District, I think was very clear that the District should stick to its home rule. As a resident of the District, I might not agree about legalization, but I do agree with our own ability to spend our own money the way that we want to do that.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Botticelli on Monday as the next director of the White House ONDCP. He received unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Also on Monday, the Council of the District of Columbia is scheduled to hold a joint committee hearing on a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol in the nation’s capital. It will begin at 10 a.m. ET in the John A. Wilson Building, Room 500 (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW).

U.S.: Federal Court To Hear Evidence On Whether Marijuana Is Misclassified As Dangerous Drug

MarijuanaGavelCourt

Meanwhile, federal Drug Enforcement Administration carries out latest raid on Los Angeles area medical marijuana dispensaries

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California will hold rare formal hearings beginning Monday, October 27, to determine whether an indictment against Brian Justin Pickard and others for conspiracy to grow more than 1,000 marijuana plants violates the U.S. Constitution, and whether marijuana is misclassified by the federal government as a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical value.

What: Evidentiary hearing with several expert witnesses to review the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance

When: Starting Monday, October 27, 9 am and continuing to Wednesday, October 29

Where: Sacramento Federal Court, 501 I Street, Sacramento, Californbia

U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller will preside over the three-day hearing, which includes expert testimony from Drs. Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, Greg Carter, medical director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington, retired physician Phillip Denny, as well as author, consultant, and expert witness Chris Conrad.

U.S.: 25th Anniversary of President Bush's Infamous Speech Escalating War On Drugs

GeorgeHWBushCrackSpeech

Bush Held Up Bag of Crack Said to be Bought in Front of White House, Turned Out Drug Seller Was Set Up for the Speech

Bush’s Crack Speech Defined America’s Punitive Drug War Approach of 1980s & 90s

25 Years Later Voters and Elected Officials in Both Parties Rolling Back Punitive Drug Policies

On September 5, 1989, President George H.W. Bush gave a speech from the Oval Office that defined a generation. Declaring an escalation of the War On Drugs, Bush held up a bag of crack cocaine that he said undercover agents bought in the park across the street from the White House.

It later turned out that federal agents lured someone to the park to sell crack just so the President could say it was bought from in front of the White House (the crack seller did not even know where the White House was and had to ask for directions).

U.S.: Share of Arrests For Marijuana Possession Tripled Since 1991

NegativeEffectsOfMarijuanaUse

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With thousands of incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders symbolizing the futility of the "War On Drugs," even some of the most ardent supporters of the punitive approach are starting to view the issue of marijuana use through a public health perspective, rather than from a criminal justice point of view.

That shift is evident at the infamous White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the dreaded ONDCP, which for decades has been the command center of the federal War On Drugs, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. The ONDCP now uses words like "balance" as key components of federal drug control strategy.

"Drug addiction is not a moral failing but rather a disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated," the ONDCP website reads. "Drug policy is a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue."

But unfortunately, law enforcement agencies haven't gotten the message. While the number of arrests for all offenses has declined nationwide since 1991, the share of those arrests related to simple cannabis possession has more than tripled over the same period.

U.S.: White House Releases 2014 Drug Control Strategy: Kinder, Gentler Drug War?

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Strategy Addresses Important Health Issues, Such as Rising Overdose Deaths, HIV/AIDS, and Stigma, But Support for Drug Courts and Criminalization Belies Claims to Treat Substance Misuse as a Health Issue

Drug Policy Alliance: Stop Arresting People for Simple Drug Possession

Marijuana Policy Project: Administration 'Tone Deaf When It Comes To Marijuana Policy'

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (more commonly known as the Drug Czar’s office; ONDCP) on Wednesday released its 2014 National Drug Control Strategy. The strategy has shifted some from previous years in that it more clearly focuses on reducing the harms associated with substance misuse, such as overdose and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases, while also reducing the harms associated with punitive drug policies, such as reducing the use of mandatory minimum sentencing.

The plan demonstrates the Obama Administration's position that adults should continue to be punished for using marijuana, despite the President's acknowledgement earlier this year that it is a safer substance than alcohol, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. In an interview published in January by the New Yorker, Obama said marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."

U.S.: Marijuana Use Changes The Brain, New Study Says

MarijuanaLeafBrain

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Young adults who smoke marijuana occasionally show changes in two key areas of their brains related to emotion, motivation and decision making, with the degree of changes related to the amount of cannabis used per week, according to a new study by researchers in Boston. Other scientists quickly pointed out that the research was partially sponsored by the federal agency charged with keeping marijuana illegal.

The study is believed to be the first which indicates such changes in the the brains of young, casual marijuana users, reports Kay Lazar at The Boston Globe.

The scientists did not study whether the brain changes were related to any declines in brain function. Any speculation by the scientists themselves, therefore, or especially by journalists who sensationalize the findings, about declines in cognition or functionality is therefore completely unsupported by any evidence.

But the scientists, unfortunately including lead author Jodi Gilman, did exactly that.

U.S.: Bill Would Repeal Law Prohibiting Drug Czar From Studying And Supporting Marijuana Legalization

OfficeofNationalDrugControlPolicy(ONDCP)

'Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act' Introduced in Congress Tuesday Would Repeal Law Prohibiting the Drug Czar From Studying Marijuana Legalization and Requiring Opposition to Marijuana Legalization Efforts

Rep. Steve Cohen's bill comes one week after congressional members slam ONDCP for failing to acknowledge facts about marijuana and relying on marijuana propaganda

Did you know the Drug Czar is prohibited by law from supporting, or even studying marijuana legalization? U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would change federal law so that the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), commonly known as the “Drug Czar,” is no longer prohibited from studying the legalization of marijuana and no longer required to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana for medical or broader adult use.

“We applaud Rep. Cohen for challenging these absurd and antiquated rules,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Prohibiting the drug czar’s office from studying marijuana legalization is like prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from exploring new ways to reduce pollution.”

“A majority of Americans think marijuana should be made legal for adults,” Riffle said. “The federal government’s top drug policy official should not be required to blindly oppose them. Our nation’s marijuana policy should be guided by science, not politics.”

U.S.: Oregon Congressman Blasts Drug Official For Marijuana Cluelessness

RepEarlBlumenauerPointsFinger

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Oregon Congressman on Tuesday blasted the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy after failing to get a straight answer to his question about the supposed dangers of marijuana.

When Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), a friend to the cannabis community for more than 40 years, asked chief deputy drug czar Michael Botticelli for the number of fatal cannabis overdoses for the past five years, Botticelli replied, "To my knowledge, I don't know if there have been instances of specific overdose-related deaths."

Rep. Blumenauer continued pressing Botticelli in the House Oversight Committee hearing, asking him whether marijuana is more dangerous and addictive than cocaine or methamphetamine, reports Travis Gettys at The Raw Story.

"I don't think that anyone would dispute the fact that there's relative toxicity related to those drugs," Botticelli said in a classical political non-answer. Understandably, Rep. Blumenauer -- who voted to make Oregon the first state to decriminalize marijuana, back in 1973, when he was a state representative in Salem -- wasn't satisfied.

MPP Challenges Drug Czar To Explain Marijuana/Alcohol Contradiction

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Organization Challenges Drug Czar to Explain the Self-Contradiction He Included In An Invitation to TODAY’s First-Ever White House Drug Policy Reform Conference

The Marijuana Policy Project is challenging U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske to explain the self-contradicting statement he included in an invitation to the first-ever White House Drug Policy Reform Conference, which will be held Monday from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. It can be viewed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.

The email invitation distributed Friday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) included a graphic with the following quote from Kerlikowske: “Drug policy reform should be rooted in NEUROSCIENCE—NOT POLITICAL SCIENCE.”

“Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it poses far less harm to the brain than alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and coauthor of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink? “The ONDCP has long championed laws that steer adults toward using alcohol and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana. If the drug czar is truly committed to prioritizing neuroscience over political science, he should support efforts to make marijuana a legal alternative to alcohol for adults.”

U.S.: Federal Government Report Shows Marijuana Prohibition Has Failed

MarijuanaProhibition

Usage rates remain relatively unchanged despite hundreds of thousands of arrests and billions of dollars spent to reduce marijuana supply and demand

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released on Wednesday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), show marijuana prohibition has failed to accomplish its goals.

According to the results, usage rates have remained relatively constant despite hundreds of thousands of arrests for marijuana-related offenses and billions of dollars spent to reduce marijuana supply and demand in the United States.

The survey found that overall past-month marijuana use increased by less than half of 1 percent from 2011 to 2012, and use by individuals aged 12-17 decreased by less than three-quarters of 1 percent

“Today's survey reveals nothing new," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Billions of dollars are being spent to enforce marijuana prohibition laws, yet they have utterly failed to reduce supply and demand.

"By keeping marijuana illegal, our government is simply handing over control of a lucrative market to violent drug cartels instead of legitimate taxpaying businesses," Riffle said.

U.S.: DEA Phone Call Surveillance Database Bigger Than NSA's

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Did Anybody Ever Really Believe They'd Only Spy On Terrorists?

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The United States federal government has access to a massive database containing 25 years of AT&T phone call data, as part of a secret program in which telephone company employees work beside federal and local law enforcement agents to track the phone calls of "suspected drug dealers."

The revelations completely confirm the biggest fears of civil libertarians and drug policy reformers in the United States: that the government uses large-scale surveillance programs for drug law enforcement, rather than for national security (which, of course, was the original excuse for the wholesale, warrantless spying on American citizens).

As first reported by Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan of The New York Times, the operation, known as the Hemisphere Project, has been ongoing for at least six years. It has access to every single call coming through any AT&T switchboard since 1987, reports Richard Esposito at NBC News.

The vast database grows by billions of calls every day, and is even larger than the controversial database maintained by the National Security Administration (NSA), which only goes back five years.

U.S.: Drug Czar Claims Marijuana Is Drug Most Often Linked To Crime

DrugCzarGilKerlkowske

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Sure, he's required by law to oppose marijuana legalization. And of course, being put in such an untenable and nonsensical position requires one to lie one's ass off on a regular basis. But still didn't make it sound one whit less ridiculous when Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on Thursday claimed that marijuana is the drug most often linked to crime in the United States.

Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), dismissed calls for cannabis legalization as a "bumper-sticker approach" that should be avoided, reports Rob Hotakainen at the McClatchy Washington Bureau. He claimed a study by his office -- which, again, is required by law to oppose pot legalization -- showed a "strong link" between marijuana use and crime.

Eighty percent of the adult males arrested in Sacramento, California last year tested positive for at least one illegal drug, Kerlikowske said. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug, found in 54 percent of those arrested.

There were reportedly similar results in New York, Denver, Atlanta and Chicago. The study included examinations of 1,736 urine samples and 1,938 interviews with men who were arrested.

U.S.: Drug Czar's Marijuana Rhetoric Still Rings of Reefer Madness

(Photo of Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske: Patients for Medical Cannabis)2013 National Drug Strategy Released – Health Rhetoric Doesn’t Match “Lock ‘Em Up” Reality

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (more commonly known as the Drug Czar’s office; ONDCP) on Wednesday released its 2013 National Drug Control Strategy. The strategy has shifted a little from previous national drug strategies, and is being called a “21st Century Approach.”

The Drug Czar’s rhetoric has evolved over the last couple of years – reflecting the fact that three-quarters of Americans consider the drug war a failure – emphasizing the need to treat drug misuse as a health issue and stop relying on the criminal justice system to deal with the problem.

The strategy, however, calls for the expansion of drug courts, which continue to treat drug users in the criminal justice system, where punishment is often the response to addiction-related behaviors such as positive urine screens or missed appointments.

U.S.: Obama's Drug Czar Condemns Marijuana Legalization

(Photo of Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske by LIFE Magazine)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Surprise, surprise -- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske really hates marijuana legalization.

Kerlikowske, President Obama's drug czar, spoke out this week against recently passed state laws in Colorado and Washington which legalized the possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older. As director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Kerlikowske is required by law to oppose cannabis legalization.

The Drug Czar said the Obama Administration doesn't plan on honoring the new state laws that allow adults in Colorado and Washington to legally use pot, reports RT.com. Last year, voters in both states passed separate laws allowing residents and visitors over 21 to legally have up to an ounce of marijuana.

But despite those laws, both of which overwhelmingly passed with about 55 percent of the vote, Kerlikowske said the Administration will continue to enforce the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act, under which marijuana is listed as a Schedule I narcotic along with heroin and PCP. Even methamphetamine and cocaine are considered safer drugs than cannabis under the UCSA; both of those substances are classified as Schedule II, by definition safer than marijuana.

U.S.: Obama Continues To Fund Punishment Over Treatment In Drug Budget

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Despite the rhetoric from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) about a "21st Century Drug Policy" and their use of the hashtag #DrugPolicyReform on Twitter, President Barack Obama's budget continues to emphasize punishment and interdiction (supply reduction) programs over treatment and prevention (demand reduction) programs, to the tune of 58 percent to 42 percent.

It's a classic case of throwing good money after bad, of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Forty-two years after President Richard Nixon declared a "War On Drugs," the chief casualties are civil liberties and individual privacy rights, with drugs being more easily available than when the "War" (which is really on people, not on drugs) was declared.

The portion of federal drug control spending going to domestic law enforcement in the fiscal year 2014 budget increases slightly from 2012's 38.5 percent ($9.4 billion) and 2013's 38.1 percent ($9.3 billion) to 2014's 37.7 percent ($9.5 billion), an overall increase of 1.3 percent in two years.

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