The Influence

The real reason cocaine, heroin and marijuana are illegal has nothing to do with addiction

Looking out at the trail of devastation and death that the heroin epidemic has left in its wake, it’s hard to imagine that not long ago one could purchase the drug from a Sears catalogue.

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84% of Americans Oppose Civil Asset Forfeiture - But Only Once They're Told What It Is

In a boost to American public opinion’s beleaguered reputation, a new Cato Institute/YouGov survey indicates that 84 percent of us are against civil asset forfeiture—the process through which police departments can confiscate property, goods or cash merely suspected to have been involved in a drug crime, without a conviction being obtained—once it’s explained to us.

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We Need to Just Say No to Random Student Drug Testing

Trust between teenagers and adults is essential if students are to make optimal use of the educational and social opportunities before them. That’s one reason I am vehemently opposed to Random Student Drug Testing (RSDT) and zero-tolerance policies, both of which erode the confidence required for young people to meaningfully engage with the adults who can most help them.

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What a Scare This Week About a Bad Batch of Heroin Shows Us About Drug Laws and Safety

One morning earlier this week, my phone began ringing. People were calling about what was being described as a deadly batch of “heroin.” People I have known for years and participants at the syringe exchange in Greensboro, North Carolina where I live. They were panicking about whether they, too, had used what had sent at least one exchange participant—I’ll call him “John”—to the hospital.

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Voices From the Inside: Celebrate the Power of Prisoners' Writing

This article was originally published by The Influence, a news site that covers the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs. Follow The Influence on Facebook or Twitter.

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Four Ways Drug Policy Reformers Must Play It Smart Under the Trump Administration

I began working, advocating and lobbying for federal-level drug policy reform in Washington, DC in the last year of Bill Clinton’s presidency. I’ve continued to do so ever since: I was a loyal soldier in the war against the War on Drugs through eight years of George W. Bush and then eight years of Barack Obama. But now, with the election of Donald Trump, it feels like the work during those three presidencies was just basic training—the real challenge is just beginning.

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"Let Me Not Die Here" - For Drug-War Prisoners Like Nancy, Time Is Running Out to Receive Clemency From Obama

Editor’s note: President Obama has extended clemency to an unparalleled number of people convicted of nonviolent drug-law violations—a program unlikely to be prioritized by President-elect Trump.  The Influence and AlterNet have partnered on a series profiling people impacted by the program, as time runs out for inmates hoping to get their sentences commuted.

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The Big Implications of a Nasty Fight to Stop Marijuana Legalization in California

The presidential election campaign and its shock outcome revealed many of America’s ugly fractures around racism and how far we are from achieving social justice. Sadly, while working in drug policy for the past six years, I have seen the very same issues exposed within the ranks of those who supposedly support marijuana reform.

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Is a Leading Suicide Prevention Organization a Front for Big Pharma?

If you think you have been hearing a lot about suicide recently, it is not your imagination. The week of September 5-11 was declared National Suicide Prevention Week by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). According to its website, AFSP is the “leading national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide.” Yet due to its Pharma relationships and continued Pharma funding, it could be argued that it is dedicated to profiting from suicide.

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A GOP Congressman Wants to 'Ensure Lives Are Protected'--By Expanding the Death Penalty for Drugs.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) has introduced the Help Ensure Lives Are Protected Act of 2016, which would subject drug dealers who sell heroin laced with fentanyl to death or life imprisonment if “death or serious bodily injury results from the use of such substance.”

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