Phillip Smith

Oregon is on the cusp of a major drug reform: Decriminalizing everything

Come November 3, Oregon residents will have a chance to approve the most far-reaching drug reform measure ever to make a state ballot when they vote on Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. While the initiative indeed expands drug treatment, what makes it really revolutionary is that it would also decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of all drugs, from psychedelics to cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as heroin and other illicit opioids.

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Can marijuana win in a deep red state?

Marijuana is on the ballot in South Dakota in November this year. This is a state that has the dubious distinction of being the only one to twice defeat a medical marijuana initiative. And it has another dubious distinction: It’s the only state where people get prosecuted for having marijuana show up on a drug test.

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Is the time of the no-knock drug raid coming to an end?

In the mass protests over out-of-control and racially biased law enforcement ignited by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Floyd’s name isn’t the only one being chanted by the crowds. There’s also Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia jogger gunned down by white vigilantes. There’s Rayshard Brooks, the Atlanta man who was shot and killed by police after he fell asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-through lane and got into a tussle with the officers when they tried to arrest him.

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Democrats in Congress are taking on a police culture run amok

With mass protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin morphing into demands to grapple with racism and to confront a police culture where brutality is all too common, and with the anguished words of Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, echoing through the Capitol, congressional Democrats on June 8 rolled out their first effort to address the national uprising, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

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Progressives in Congress file resolution condemning police brutality, racial bias, war on drugs

As protests erupted across the country after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a dozen progressive Democratic House members filed a resolution May 29 condemning police brutality not only in the case of Floyd but also in the case of Breonna Taylor, the black 26-year-old Louisville EMT who was gunned down in her own home by cops on a misbegotten no-knock drug raid in March.

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COVID-19 is wreaking havoc with drug reform initiatives

The novel coronavirus pandemic is not just striking down Americans by the tens of thousands and jobs by the tens of millions; it is also wreaking havoc with marijuana and other drug-related voter initiative campaigns this year. It’s damnably hard to gather thousands of voter signatures when there aren’t any mass gatherings and the public is locked inside.

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Why big cities have given up prosecuting the drug war during the pandemic

Arresting and imprisoning people for drug offenses is a luxury America’s biggest cities are finding they can no longer afford as they struggle with the coronavirus pandemic. Now, citing the need for social distancing measures, several of them are leading the way in jettisoning the long-entrenched but totally discretionary policing and prosecutorial practice.

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As the global war on drugs fades away, only the drug traffickers benefit

America shows signs of emerging from the century-long shadow of drug prohibition, with marijuana leading the way and a psychedelic decriminalization movement rapidly gaining steam. It also seems as if the mass incarceration fever driven by the war on drugs has finally broken, although tens if not hundreds of thousands remain behind bars on drug charges.

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How these 8 GOP governors oppose just and sensible marijuana policy

The nation’s most venerable marijuana legalization group, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), has just issued its 2020 Gubernatorial Scorecard grading the nation’s governors on their level of support for ending marijuana prohibition. Thanks to NORML, we can now identify those chief executives whose stances on cannabis remain mired in the last century.

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Here are 11 states where you might be voting on major marijuana reforms

Last year wasn’t a great one for advancing marijuana legalization at the state level. Despite high hopes for New Jersey and New York, state legislatures in Trenton and Albany couldn’t quite get their acts together, and promising efforts petered out. Illinois was the only state to approve marijuana legalization in 2019.

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How marijuana reform advanced around the world last year

As we welcome the new year, it’s worth taking a look back at last year to ponder how far the world has come on marijuana law reform—and how far it has to go. The wall of marijuana prohibition continued to crumble in 2019, albeit at an achingly slow pace.

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How — and why — to legalize ecstasy

Every weekend, hundreds of thousands of young club- and concert-goers buy and consume black-market pills and powders they hope are MDMA, the methamphetamine relative with a psychedelic tinge known on the streets as ecstasy or molly. A tiny, tiny percentage of them—a few dozen each year in the United States or Britain—die. It doesn’t have to be that way.

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America’s Afghanistan anti-drug boondoggle nears the $9 Billion mark

The amount of money the U.S. government has spent trying to wipe out Afghan opium since it invaded the country in 2002 has now reached $8.94 billion, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) noted in his latest quarterly report to Congress on October 30.

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There’s a new toad in town for fans of psychedelics

We’ve long heard about “toad venom,” a secretion from the Sonoran Desert toad containing bufotenin, a psychoactive substance that’s a close chemical cousin to DMT. In fact, it is currently au courant among the Brooklyn hipster set, with the New York Post recently calling it “the hottest new psychedelic drug among trendy New Yorkers.”

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Where meth — not fentanyl — is the deadliest drug

According to a report released on October 25 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine continue to account for most fatal drug overdoses in the eastern U.S., it’s a very different story once you cross the Mississippi River. Throughout the western U.S., more people are dying from methamphetamines than those other three drugs.

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Here's the truth behind the vaping crisis — and the government's bizarre reaction to it

According to the October 24 update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1,604 cases of severe lung injury associated with the use of vaping products have now been reported since cases first started appearing this summer. They’ve been reported in 49 states and the District of Columbia. And 34 people have died.

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Meet a Mexican cartel’s killer clowns — the Frankenstein’s monster of drug prohibition

Move over, Joker. Step aside, Pennywise. Get back behind the curtain, Giuliani. There are some real-life killer clowns patrolling the streets down Mexico way, and they’ve got video to prove it.

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Why South Dakota has the worst drug laws in America

With endless miles of farmland shading into ever higher and drier terrain as one moves west, crossing the Missouri River and then on to the Badlands and the Black Hills, South Dakota has a certain austere beauty. Not so in its approach to drugs. When it comes to drug policy, it is one of the ugliest places in the country.

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Why Oregon could be the first state to decriminalize all drugs

The groundwork is being laid now for a possible effort to decriminalize the possession of drugs in Oregon. Last month, a trio of drug reform advocates quietly filed a decriminalization initiative, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, with state officials.

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Fentanyl is here to stay. So what can we do about it?

In the most thorough review yet of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, a new study from the RAND Corporation warns that its arrival heralds a new dynamic in illicit drug markets—and that is going to require new approaches in dealing with it.

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How hemp legalization has made it much harder to prosecute people for marijuana

After passage of the 2018 federal farm bill legalized hemp production, states scrambled to pass their own laws legalizing hemp and CBD. But in doing so, they may have inadvertently signed a death warrant for the enforcement of marijuana prohibition.

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Here are the top 10 most marijuana-friendly colleges and universities

The Princeton Review has released its annual compendium of rankings and ratings of institutions of higher learning across the land, The Best 385 Colleges 2020 Edition, and buried deep inside are student survey results that helped the Review determine which colleges and universities are the most (and least) marijuana-friendly.

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New Jersey might actually legalize marijuana this year

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he wanted marijuana legalization. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said he wanted it, too, and Assembly Leader Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) was also on board. But the state’s most powerful politicians couldn’t get their act together enough to actually get marijuana legalization passed earlier this year, and despite all the initial excitement, it seemed like New Jersey was doomed to endure another year of pot prohibition.

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Here are 7 notorious Peyote and Mescaline aficionados who used these drugs to open new doors in human perception and understanding

With the publication of Aldous Huxley’s mescaline-induced musings in The Doors of Perception in 1954, the spiritual and mystical groundwork for the psychedelic revolution of the following decade was laid. But while Huxley’s popularization of drug-induced altered states was to have an enormous impact not just in the 1960s but in the decades since, the drug that started it all has all but vanished.

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Marijuana still has momentum in 2019

At the beginning of 2019, hopes were high that as many as four or five states would legalize marijuana through the legislative process this year. That didn’t happen, and the failure of both New Jersey and New York to get it done was especially dispiriting, given that governors and legislative leaders alike said they supported it.

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Oregon’s pot supply: Great for consumers — not so much for producers

Drivers heading north on I-5 in southern Oregon not only enjoy the region’s towering mountains and evergreen forests, but they are also treated to the occasional enticement. At various points along the way, giant billboards appear, shouting out messages like “NEED WEED? Exit Here” and the succinct “MARIJUANA! This exit.”

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The White House drug czar is wrong: Most heroin addicts didn’t start with prescribed pain pills

As part of its campaign to stem opioid addiction and overdoses, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP — the drug czar’s office) has launched an education campaign called The Truth About Opioids, but some of the material it is presenting has more than a whiff of spin to it — and could imperil the ability of pain patients to get the relief they need.

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Trump's drug czar is pushing deceptive and misleading information about the opioid crisis

As part of its campaign to stem opioid addiction and overdoses, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP—the drug czar’s office) has launched an education campaign called The Truth About Opioids, but some of the material it is presenting has more than a whiff of spin to it—and could imperil the ability of pain patients to get the relief they need.

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In historic move, House votes to protect legal marijuana states from federal interference

In a history-making vote last Thursday, the House voted 267-165 to approve a bipartisan measure aimed at protecting state marijuana policies from federal interference.

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It’s official: Illinois legalizes marijuana

Illinois has just become the 11th state to legalize marijuana. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed into law a legalization bill passed with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate late last month.

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A man was freed from prison after getting swept up in the war on drugs — now he could go back due to a quibble over 10 grams

Back in 1994, in the depths of the war on drugs, Sonny Mikell picked up a third federal drug conviction in Florida and was handed a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. No guns, no violence, but the 22-year-old black man was still looking at spending the rest of his life behind bars.

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