Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The title of this post is the title of this new post by Jordan Cunnings at the blog crImmigration.com. The full post is worth a read, and here is how it starts:
In a recent New Yorker interview, President Obama described marijuana use as a “bad habit and a vice, not very different from. . . cigarettes,” and not more dangerous than drinking. The President expressed concern with the disproportionate rates of criminal punishment for marijuana use in poor and minority communities, and spoke favorably of recent efforts to legalize small amounts of the drug in the states of Colorado and Washington.
While Obama’s comments may be a good sign for marijuana legalization advocates, his personal viewpoint is glaringly inconsistent with his administration’s consistently harsh enforcement efforts in the area of marijuana use and immigration. While marijuana use is legal in one form or another in twenty states and the District of Columbia, and banks now have the green light from the Treasury Department to finance legally operating marijuana dispensaries, noncitizens remain at risk for incredibly harsh and disproportionate immigration consequences when using small amounts of marijuana. Low-level marijuana charges often funnel noncitizens into the immigration law system, prevent otherwise-eligible noncitizens from obtaining lawful immigration status, and subject lawfully present noncitizens to deportation. Worse yet, marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced in poor and minority communities—as Obama himself noted, “[m]iddle class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do”—meaning that marijuana citations and arrests may disproportionately impact the people of color who make up the bulk of today’s immigrant groups.
Though recent prosecutorial discretion memos by the former head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency John Morton purport to refocus enforcement priorities away from individuals who have only minor criminal histories, immigration law enforcement statistics from the past two years show that this policy is not being followed. Marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced in poor and minority communities – as Obama himself noted, “[m]iddle class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do” — meaning that marijuana citations and arrests often serve as entry point into the criminal justice system and then the deportation system. A Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) review of ICE documents from fiscal years 2012 and 2013 found that marijuana possession was one of the top five most common offenses for which ICE issued immigration detainers against individuals. This means that thousands of noncitizens are funneled into ICE custody after being charged with low-level marijuana possession offenses.
March 4, 2014 in Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, International Marijuana Laws and Policies | Permalink | Comments (1)
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Especially because I tend to be under-informed about immigration laws and policies, I am very excited that the student-selected topic for discussion this week in my Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform seminar is the impact of marijuana laws on immigration and extradition issues. Here are the readings assembled by the students as background:
Congress House Resolution 499 Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 (Introduced 02/05/2013)
Moncrieffe SCOTUS ruling summary from NY Times
Nancy Morawetz, Rethinking Drug Inadmissibility, 50 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 163 (2008) (accessed through Hein Online)
Moncrieffe v. Holder - recent SCOTUS decision holding small amounts of marijuana is not an aggravated felony under the INA
DOJ resource in immigration law fundamentals (focus on only page 25 and top of page 26 discussing controlled substances within the INA)
Article "Reefer Madness" by Eric Schlosser from The Atlantic discussing the history of marijuana and marijuana prohibition in the U.S.
UPDATE: My students also have suggested that these issues merit consideration of "whether or not legalizing marijuana in the United States will thwart the drug cartels in Mexico [and how this impacts] the massive amount of Mexican asylum cases the US is currently receiving (and denying)."
Here are additional readings on this topic:
And some conflicting views on whether or not marijuana legalization would stop Mexican cartels:
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Especially because I tend to be pretty under-informed about to international/comparative drug laws, I am very excited that the student-selected topic for discussion this week in my Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform seminar is the global regime regarding marijuana and its impact on legalization efforts in the US. Here are the readings assembled by the students as background:
I. International Law
International Regulation of Drugs
- Controlled Substances casebook, pp. 801-804 (International Framework);
- pp. 813-820 (Impact of United State Policy on Mexico);
- pp. 836-845 (International Control of Illegal Drugs, "Preventing or Causing Human Rights Violations");
- pp. 916-921 (US using trade policy to enforce drug laws under the 1986 Narcotics Act)
UN and the power to stop legalization of Marijuana
II. Comparative Law
- Dutch cannabis coffeeshop system (Controlled Substances casebook, pp.922-930)
- Sweden's drug policy experience (Controlled Substances casebook pp. 946-955)
- North Korea's tolerance of marijuana
Further Comparative law reading:
3. North Korea's meth addiction: Grau, Cutting off the Building Blocks to Methamphetamine Production, 30 Hous. J. Int’l L. 157 (2007);
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Uruguay's drug tsar says the country plans to sell legal marijuana for $1 a gram to combat drug-trafficking, according to a local newspaper.
The plan to create a government-run legal marijuana industry has passed the lower house of Congress, and Uruguay's president, José Mujica, expects to push it through the Senate soon as part of his effort to explore alternatives in the war on drugs....Marijuana sales should start in the second half of 2014 at a price of about $1 a gram, drug chief Julio Calzada told Uruguay's El País, on Sunday – an eighth or less of what it costs at legal medical dispensaries in some US states. Calzada said one gram would be enough "for one marijuana cigarette or two or three slimmer cigarettes".
He said the idea was not to make money but to fight petty crime and wrench the market away from illegal dealers. "The illegal market is very risky and of poor quality," he said. The state was going to offer "a safe place to buy a quality product and on top of that, it's going to sell it at the same price".... Sales would be restricted to locals, who would be able to buy up to 40g a month.
Smoking pot has long been legal in Uruguay, but growing, carrying, buying or selling it has been punishable by prison terms. About 120,000 Uruguayans consume marijuana at least once a year, according to the National Drug Council. Of these, 75,000 smoke it every week and 20,000 every day.
In the US, the states of Washington and Colorado have legalised marijuana and adopted rules governing its sale. Unlike Uruguay, they will tax marijuana, seeing it as a revenue source, when it goes on legal sale next year. In Washington, the state marijuana consultant has projected legal pot might cost $13-$17 a gram. Marijuana in the medical dispensaries typically ranges from $8-$14 a gram in Washington depending on quality.
Monday, September 30, 2013
The Conservative government is launching a $1.3-billion free market in medical marijuana this Tuesday, eventually providing an expected 450,000 Canadians with quality weed. Health Canada is phasing out an older system on Monday that mostly relied on small-scale, homegrown medical marijuana of varying quality, often diverted illegally to the black market.
In its place, large indoor marijuana farms certified by the RCMP and health inspectors will produce, package and distribute a range of standardized weed, all of it sold for whatever price the market will bear. The first sales are expected in the next few weeks, delivered directly by secure courier.
“We’re fairly confident that we’ll have a healthy commercial industry in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior official with the department, said in an interview. “It’s a whole other ball game.”
The sanctioned birth of large-scale, free-market marijuana production comes as the Conservatives pillory Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign to legalize recreational marijuana.
Health Canada is placing no limits on the number of these new capital-intensive facilities, which will have mandatory vaults and security systems. Private-dwelling production will be banned. Imports from places such as the Netherlands will be allowed. Already 156 firms have applied for lucrative producer and distributor status since June, with the first two receiving licences just last week.
The old system fostered only a cottage industry, with 4,200 growers licensed to produce for a maximum of two patients each. The Mounties have complained repeatedly these grow-ops were often a front for criminal organizations.
The next six months are a transition period, as Health Canada phases out the old system by March 31, 2014, while encouraging medical marijuana users to register under the replacement regime and to start buying from the new factory-farms.
There are currently 37,400 medical marijuana users recognized by the department, but officials project that number will swell more than 10-fold, to as many as 450,000 people, by 2024.
The profit potential is enormous. A gram of dried marijuana bud on the street sells for about $10 and Health Canada projects the legal stuff will average about $7.60 next year, as producers set prices without interference from government.
Pretty interesting, eh?
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Former President Vicente Fox grew up on a farm here in rural Guanajuato, one of Mexico's most conservative states. He is the kind of guy who wears big belt buckles, collects hand-tooled saddles and worships the free market. Ask him about his experience with the drug culture and the big man with the cowboy-movie mustache exhibits a kind of straight-laced pique: Never smoked pot, he says. Hardly knew anyone who did.
But Fox has always fancied himself a policy maverick. And these days, the former standard-bearer of Mexico's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, has emerged as one of Latin America's most outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization.
Fox, 71, came out for legalization a few years ago. But this summer he has significantly ramped up his efforts. In June, he declared that he would grow the plant if it were legalized — "I'm a farmer," he said — and added that he'd like to see marijuana sold in Mexican convenience stores.
Some see him as a visionary, others as a cynical promoter milking the issue for attention (and, perhaps, lucrative speaking fees). Many think he's simply nuts. In a poll published in the liberal Mexico City newspaper La Jornada, 43% of respondents agreed that the former president "had finally gone crazy," while 32% said he should be investigated for promoting criminality. Only 11% said he had the right idea.
It was an unsurprising response from the Mexican left, who have long considered Fox to be a rash bumpkin with an embarrassing history of speaking before thinking. But these days, it is arguably the right-wing Fox who has done the most to promote this pet cause of the left and finally force a serious debate in the Mexican mainstream.
Fox speaks like a true believer about legalization's potential to save his troubled country, at times lapsing into the giddy visionary jargon of online TED talks: It would be a "game-changer," he says, "a change of paradigm." A month after his pot-growing comments made international headlines, Fox built momentum for the cause with an attention-grabbing legalization symposium at his presidential library, the Centro Fox, here in the farming town where he grew up.
Since then, the national discussion has grown considerably. Mexican TV and newspapers are suddenly rife with articles debating the pros and cons. The mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, has reiterated his promise to debate legalization in the left-leaning capital. More recently, the liberal governor of Morelos state, Graco Ramirez, said he would push to ease marijuana restrictions in his state.
Though Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto opposes the idea, it now seems possible that the nation might follow the pattern of the United States, where residents of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, despite the continuing opposition of the federal government. The Mexican Congress decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2009.
Fox favors the eventual legalization and regulation of all drugs in Mexico. The idea is to rob the bloodthirsty drug cartels of their profits and power. Legal pot, he says, would be the first step. "This prohibition is the last frontier of prohibitions," Fox told The Times during a break in his July symposium. Revealing a marked libertarian streak, he argued that government efforts to regulate other personal behaviors had been found wanting: "The issue of abortion. The issue of same-sex marriage. The issue of gays. The issue of alcohol," he said. "These arbitrarily imposed prohibitions have ended. And they have ended because they don't work."