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Sens. Paul, Booker, & Gillibrand Announce CARERS Act

March 10, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today stood with patients, their families and advocates to announce new bipartisan legislation that will allow the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug to recognize it has accepted medical use, and would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies. The bill would also permit VA doctors to prescribe veterans medical marijuana to treat serious injuries and chronic conditions. The legislation would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states, rather it would respect the states that set their own medical marijuana programs and prevents federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states. Currently, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana. ‘For far too long, the government has enforced unnecessary laws that have restricted the ability of the medical community to determine the medicinal value of marijuana and have prohibited Americans from receiving essential care that would alleviate their chronic pain and suffering. I am proud today to stand with Sens. Gillibrand and Booker to introduce a bill that will fundamentally change our nation’s drug policies and have a positive impact on the lives of our Veterans and children,’ said Senator Paul. ‘We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose-recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows,’ said Senator Booker. ‘Doctors and patients deserve federal laws that are fair and compassionate, and states should be able to set their own medical marijuana policies without federal interference. I am thankful to Senators Gillibrand and Paul as well as the Drug Policy Alliance for their hard work on this common-sense bill to make medical marijuana accessible to the millions of Americans who could benefit from it.’ ‘Current federal law turns its back on families in need of this medicine, which doctors want to prescribe to ease pain and suffering,’ said Senator Gillibrand. ‘Senators Booker, Paul and I agree that it’s time to modernize our laws and recognize the health benefits of medical marijuana. The CARERS Act will no longer put politicians between doctors …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren – March 6, 2015

March 10, 2015 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox and Friends with Eric Bolling – March 10, 2015

March 10, 2015 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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History in the Making: Three Prominent US Senators Roll Out Legislation to Legalize Marijuana

March 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, AlterNet

Sens. Cory Booker and Rand Paul are joined by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to end federal prohibition.

A bipartisan trio of senators will introduce historic legislation to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) are set to file the bill today. 

Booker and Paul have already made names for themselves as drug war reformers, but the addition of Gillibrand as a New York senator backing medical marijuana is welcome. 

The bill would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and allow patients, doctors, and providers in states with medical marijuana laws to go about their business without fear of federal prosecution. 

Although the Obama administration has, in recent years, largely taken a laissez-faire approach to medical marijuana in states that have approved it, that approach is both uneven and dependent on the whim of the administration in power. Just last week, federal prosecutors in Washington state took a family of five medical marijuana patients–the Kettle Falls Five–to trial, threatening them with lengthy, mandatory minimum prison sentences for growing medical marijuana legally under state law (in a state where even recreational marijuana is legal!).

Fortunately for the Kettle Falls Five, a federal jury acquitted them of most charges, including the most serious ones. But under the current state of federal marijuana prohibition, such prosecutions could continue.

Similarly, the Obama administration's recent restraint on medical marijuana is derived from Justice Department guidance to federal prosecutors about which cases raise the level of federal concern high enough to warrant prosecution. That guidance was crafted by a deputy attorney general answerable to Attorney General Holder and the president. Absent protections provided by this coming bill or similar legislation, a new administration could easily return to the bad old days of DEA raids and patients and providers being hauled off to federal prison.  

Details of the bill are not yet available, but will be revealed during a Washington, DC, press conference later today. Stay tuned. 

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Sens. Paul and Booker Re-introduce the REDEEM Act

March 10, 2015 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Building on the growing momentum and bipartisan coalitions rallying behind broad-based criminal justice reform, U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), today re-introduced S. 675, the REDEEM Act, sweeping legislation to reform the nation’s broken criminal justice system, which has grown increasingly costly over the past four decades. The REDEEM Act (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment) will give Americans convicted of non-violent crimes a second chance at the American Dream. The legislation will help prevent kids who get into trouble from slipping into a lifetime of crime and help adults who commit non-violent crimes become more self-reliant and less likely to commit future crimes. These steps would reduce the cost to taxpayers of our criminal justice system and increase public safety. ‘The War on Drugs has had a disproportional affect on minorities and our inner cities. Our current system is broken and has trapped tens of thousands of young men and women in a cycle of poverty and incarceration,’ Sen. Paul said. ‘It is my hope that the REDEEM Act will help many of these young people escape this trap by reforming our criminal justice system, expunging records after time served, and preventing non-violent crimes from becoming a permanent blot on one’s record.’ ‘Our broken criminal justice system is a shameful contradiction to our founding principles as a nation that declares liberty and justice for all,’ Sen. Booker said. ‘For over a year now, I have worked with people on both sides of the aisle to develop meaningful policy reform that truly restores justice to our justice system. The REDEEM Act is a part of the growing momentum from both the left and the right to enact common sense reforms that would save taxpayer money and make our communities safer.’ Specifically, the REDEEM Act:

Incentivizes states to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old: Currently 10 states have set the original jurisdiction of adult criminal courts below 18 years old. This sends countless kids into the unforgiving adult criminal system. The REDEEM Act incentivizes states to change that by offering preference to Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant applications for those that have set 18 or older as the age of original jurisdiction for adult criminal courts.

Allows for sealing and expungement of juvenile records: Provides for automatic expungement of records for kids who commit non-violent crimes before they …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Introduce Historic Medical Marijuana Legislation

March 10, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

First-Ever Bill in U.S. Senate to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use

Teleconference at 3pm EST with Patients and Advocates to discuss CARERS Act

Today, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced the introduction of legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States – CARERS – Act is the first-ever bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize marijuana for medical use and the most comprehensive medical marijuana bill ever introduced in Congress. The CARERS Act will do the following:

March 10, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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The Heartbreaking Tweets of Anthony Hill's Girlfriend: Another Unarmed Black Man Killed by Police

March 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

“They took the love of my life away.”

In Dekalb County, Georgia last night, police video shot just moments before Hill was killed. View it below:

 
 

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Case to Reclassify Grass

March 10, 2015 in Economics

By Jeffrey Miron

Jeffrey Miron

On March 10, Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a Senate bill to legalize medical marijuana under federal law. Most importantly, the bill requires the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.

This change to the United States’s contradictory and confusing marijuana laws is long overdue.

Federal law currently outlaws marijuana for all purposes. Many states, however, have legalized possession, production and use for medical or recreational purposes. The federal government maintains that federal law preempts state law, implying federal authorities can enforce federal prohibition everywhere, regardless of state law.

Yet federal authorities currently take a hands-off approach to marijuana purchase and sale when these acts do not violate state laws. Cross-border traffic between legalized and non-legalized states creates further ambiguity. This means that federal law applies differently across different states and that, more generally, the federal government is often choosing not to enforce a federal law.

This change to the United States’s contradictory and confusing marijuana laws is long overdue.”

The federal government has several options for addressing this incoherence. At one extreme, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal authorities could resume vigorous enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition throughout the country. At the other extreme, Congress could eliminate federal marijuana prohibition by removing marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances.

The first approach is ill-advised for many reasons. Such an approach would require substantial new expenditure and yet have limited impact on marijuana use, based on past experience. Re-escalation would drive the marijuana market back underground, with the attendant violence and corruption of black markets. It would also conflict with growing popular support for marijuana legalization.

The second option—repealing marijuana prohibition—is appealing and is the only approach that would eliminate the conflicts and contradictions in existing law. But federal legalization may not yet be politically feasible, so intermediate approaches merit consideration.

A reasonable compromise is for Congress to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), the federal law that currently governs federal marijuana prohibition.

The CSA puts known drugs into one of five schedules, with Schedule I being the most restrictive and Schedule V the least. The DEA defines Schedule I drugs as substances “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” They are “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Texas Frat Forbids Gays, Mexicans and Interracial Dating

March 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Michael Arria, AlterNet

The University of Texas fraternity is also being criticized for throwing a racist party.

The video of a University of Oklahoma frat singing a racist song might have connections to the University of Texas. According to a Washington Post story on the recent controversy, “[Someone] writing in a Reddit thread nearly one month ago, referenced a chant similar to the one on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon bus while discussing initiation at the University of Texas. 'For SAE context,' the person wrote, 'a few buddies of mine told me [this was] their favorite song.”

The similar chant is, allegedly, from Phi Gamma Delta (also known as FIJI and Phi Gam), a fraternity with over 120 chapters throughout the US and Canada. The aforementioned Redditor posted a poorly spelled flyer, allegedly from the frat, listing its “confidential” rules. These include, “no being a pussy,” “no interracial dating”, “NO FAGETRY”, and “no Mexicans.”

This isn't the first time Phi Gamma Delta has been condemned for racism. Last month, they threw a Border Patrol-themed party where students wore sombreros and construction outfits. Students filed at least nine complaints about the party. However, while the University of Oklahoma suspended SAE for its racist chant, the University of Texas hasn't done anything to discipline Phi Gamma Delta. When a student tweeted at the school's official Twitter page, asking if a statement on the party was to be released, the reply was, “While the behavior doesn’t mirror UT core values, it’s within students’ right to freedom of speech at private off campus event.”

The fraternity's controversies transcend Texas. Last year, the UC Irvine chapter came under fire for hosting a “Fiji Islander” party. That incident has a history: in 1987, members of the frat's University of Wisconsin chapter, “put on blackface and erected a cardboard caricature of a black Fiji islander, complete with bone-deviated septum and exaggerated lips, for a party….”

The SAE video has sparked a national discussion regarding the function of fraternities. It remains to be seen what impact these recent developments will have on that debate.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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47 GOP Senators and Members of Congress Violated the Logan Act

March 10, 2015 in Blogs

By Lestatdelc, Daily Kos

Why is no one calling them out?

This post first appeared on Daily Kos.

The letter by 47 Senators and members of Congress trying to undermine negotiations between Iran, the United States and the 5 + 1 group is a pretty clear violation of the Logan Act:

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Why isn't anyone asking about this and pushing for answers as to how this is not a violation of the law? 

 

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Source: ALTERNET