We have taken some tiny steps in the right direction, when it comes to Marijuana law reform, on a national level.
Today, August 12, 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he intends to change some of the laws and policies that have filled American prisons with law violators, over half of whom are in on non-violent drug charges, including Marijuana. The U.S. currently has about 25% of world’s incarcerated population. Holder spoke to the National BAR Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
Among Holder’s proposals: Seriously scale back the “Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” that has been in place since the 1980’s. This proposal would give judges more leeway in sentencing of Marijuana prisoners.
Holder did not address how the U.S. government will react to relegalization for personal use in Colorado and Washington states. He also said nothing as to whether the Justice Department would stop trying to shut down medical Marijuana dispensaries in the 20 states that have relegalized for medicine.
More on Holder’s statements can be found here.http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/holder-seeks-to-avert-mandatory-minimum-sentences-for-some-low-level-drug-offenders/2013/08/11/343850c2-012c-11e3-96a8-d3b921c0924a_story.html
Last night, August 11, 2013, medical Marijuana got something of a shot-in-the-arm from CN N medical specialist, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Gupta, previously strongly against medical Marijuana, has reversed his positions and now apparently supports medical. Gupta’s documentary, which can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-bYi-LkDTo, was a generally positive portrayal of the benefits of medical Marijuana, keying on one of the most sensitive areas: Medical Marijuana for children. The documentary did include a study done earlier this year in New Zealand that claims Marijuana use by children causes brain disruption and loss of intelligence. Many researchers are concerned the study has not been peer reviewed and replicated.
Gupta did not restate his position nor state his mea culpa on the program itself, but did say he was foursquare behind medical Marijuana in interviews prior to the August 11th airing of the documentary.
These are small steps in the right direction. Holder needs to rein in federal interference with states that have determined they are not interested in prohibition, and that wasn’t done in his pronouncements today. Nor did he address the unconstitutional seizure of private property without due process of law. But at least he says he intends on scaling back the wrong in mandatory minimum sentencing. Gupta may not have gotten everything right in his documentary, but he at least lent his credibility to idea. We could certainly use more actions like these, and soon.