In a Sunday interview, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called for the global legalization of marijuana, but said his country could not be the one to lead the way. Santos also called for a tougher, smarter approach to international drug trafficking and hard drug use. "The world needs to discuss new approaches," Santos said. "We are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years."
When asked by his interviewer whether marijuana legalization could be a means of further reducing the violence, Santos said he would support legalization, but only if it were a global move. "Yes, that could be an answer, provided everyone does it at the same time," he said. Colombia would not undertake such a move itself because of national security reasons, Santos said. "For Colombia, this is a matter of national security," he explained. "Drug trafficking is what finances the violence and the irregular groups in our country. I would be crucified if I took the first step.
We need to insist on more multinational actions on drug trafficking and innovate the ways we are dealing with it," he said. "In other countries [Europe and the US] this is mainly a health and crime issue," Santos continued. "We need to look at all components, one of them being targeting the assets in this business. But we need to do so on a global level. We must discuss a new approach, looking at all the components: The profit and the crime that follows drug trafficking, the fight against money laundering, trade with arms and so on. These are all effects of drugs."
USA: Patient Advocates Sue Obama Administration Over Medical Marijuana Crackdown
San Francisco, CA -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization, filed suit in federal court today challenging the Obama Administration's attempt to subvert local and state medical marijuana laws in California. ASA argues in its lawsuit that the Obama Justice Department (DOJ) has "instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the State of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries."
The DOJ policy has involved aggressive SWAT-style raids, criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients and providers and threats to local officials for merely implementing state law. "Although the Obama Administration is entitled to enforce federal marijuana laws, the Tenth Amendment forbids it from using coercive tactics to commandeer the law-making functions of the State," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the lawsuit today in San Francisco's federal District Court.
"This case is aimed at restoring California's sovereign and constitutional right to establish its own public health laws based on this country's federalist principles." The ASA lawsuit, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, was filed on behalf of its 20,000 members in California who are directly and adversely affected by the DOJ actions.
USA: Obama Met With San Francisco Medical Marijuana Protest
Hundreds of angry medical marijuana patients and supporters gathered in San Francisco's South of Market Tuesday to greet President Obama as he appeared at a $5,000 a head fundraiser at the W Hotel. They were joined by hundreds of other protestors, mainly Occupy San Francisco members and environmentalists upset with the Keystone pipeline. The president never saw the demonstrators -- he entered the building through a back entrance a block away from where protestors had gathered -- but boisterous chants of "DEA, Go Away!" and "Whose State? Our State! Whose Medicine? Our medicine!" echoed through the streets as police watched impassively.
It was the second straight day of medical marijuana protests aimed at the president. He got similar treatment Monday in Los Angeles. The California medical marijuana community is upset with the president over what it sees as a multi-pronged attack on medical marijuana production and distribution by agencies of the federal government (sometimes in cahoots with recalcitrant local officials). Despite Obama's campaign pledges and the Department of Justice's October 2009 memo directing federal prosecutors to back off from medical marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law, the pace of DEA raids has only accelerated since he took office in January 2009.
USA: Chicago to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession?
Chicago could be about to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Alderman Daniel Solis will introduce a proposal at next week's city council meeting to make possession of up to 10 grams a $200 ticket, with up to 10 hours of community service.
Solis and other supportive aldermen joined Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey at a Wednesday press conference to drum up support for their proposal. County commissioners have already decriminalized small-time pot possession in unincorporated areas of the county. Marijuana possession is currently a Class B misdemeanor in the city, with punishments ranging up to six months in jail and a $1500 fine.
Chicago police arrest about 23,000 people a year for simple possession. "It is not time to act tough on crime, it is time to be smart on crime. We need our resources spent somewhere else," Fritchey said, adding that the arrests and prosecutions eat up valuable law enforcement time and money.
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