Cannabis News NORML - It's Time for a Change!
  Weed Watch
Posted by CN Staff on February 23, 2006 at 07:58:29 PT
By Jordan Smith 
Source: Austin Chronicle 

cannabis Texas -- According to a new study in the Harm Reduction Journal, the war on drugs has increasingly focused on arrests for low-level marijuana offenses. Marijuana arrests account for 82% of the increase in drug arrests from 1990 to 2002; in 2002 alone, 88% of the nearly 700,000 marijuana arrests nationwide were for simple possession. Indeed, researchers with the Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., report that marijuana arrests increased by 113% over the 12-year period, while arrests related to all other drug offenses increased by just 10%.

In total, the report concludes that taxpayers spend nearly $4 billion per year arresting pot smokers. "The results of this study suggest that law enforcement resources are not being effectively allocated to offenses which are most costly to society," conclude the authors.

To read an earlier version of the report, go to: http://www.sentencingproject.org/pdfs/waronmarijuana.pdf

In other pot news, the group responsible for "equalizing" penalties associated with pot and alcohol use at the University of Colorado and with bringing a successful pot decriminalization measure to Denver voters in November has come to Texas to do a little equalizing at UT. The nonprofit group Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation has spawned a Texas branch (Texas SAFER) and is now taking on UT policy that proscribes far harsher penalties – among them suspension – for students caught smoking pot than for students caught using alcohol. Last week Texas SAFER announced that a referendum initiative seeking to equalize pot and alcohol penalties will appear on the upcoming student elections ballot. On Feb. 28 and March 1, students will be asked whether "university-imposed penalties for the use and possession of marijuana [should] be no greater than the penalties currently imposed … for the use and possession of alcohol on campus."

The SAFER movement – which began in the wake of two alcohol-related deaths at the University of Colorado, and began at UT in response to the December alcohol overdose death of freshman Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath – is an educational campaign designed to highlight the relative risks associated with drugs and alcohol – by far, the group argues, alcohol is more harmful. No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose, they point out, while alcohol is associated not only with overdose deaths but also with a wide variety of crime, including domestic abuse and sexual assault. "If our elected officials in Texas want to impose harsh penalties for the use of marijuana, that is their decision," says Judie Niskala, SAFER Texas' UT coordinator. "But the university does not have to pile on."

For more on SAFER, go to: http://www.saferchoice.org

And, finally, a new documentary on the legalization of medical marijuana is coming to the downtown Alamo Drafthouse theatre for two screenings the next two Wednesdays, March 1 at 7pm, and March 8 at 9:45pm. Filmmaker Jed Riffe's Waiting to Inhale paints a picture of the struggle to legalize medi-pot – a world where, too often, seriously ill patients become criminals solely because they use pot – most often on a doctor's recommendation – to control and alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with their illness. Riffe offers viewers a comprehensive look into the world of pot clubs, government sanctioned pot growers, and the future of the medi-pot movement.

For more information on the movie, see: http://www.jedriffefilms.com/waiting.htm

Source: Austin Chronicle (TX)
Author: Jordan Smith
Published: February 24, 2006
Copyright: 2006 Austin Chronicle Corp.
Contact: louis@auschron.com
Website: http://www.auschron.com/

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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on February 23, 2006 at 22:15:24 PT
SAFER Legalization Campaign Goes National
“We are thrilled to see students around the country embracing the SAFER campaign and using it to raise awareness on their campuses,” said Steve Fox, executive director of SAFER. “Adults, whether they are students or non-students, should not be punished for choosing to use marijuana over the more harmful substance, alcohol.”

“Our nation’s leaders have been playing a game for nearly 70 years,” Fox continued. “They have demonized marijuana and marijuana users, pushing people toward alcohol instead. Students and voters are finally standing up and saying, ‘The game is over.’” --SAFER Legalization Campaign Goes National by SAFER Press Release (23 Feb, 2006) http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/4668.html

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Comment #4 posted by runderwo on February 23, 2006 at 21:37:51 PT
Max
I'm skeptical that there would have been a 113% increase anyway. They say one thing and do another, it's pretty easy to see.

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Comment #3 posted by Max Flowers on February 23, 2006 at 18:06:59 PT
runderwo
I take your point, but seeing as how the prohibitionists always interpret statistics to their own advantage (not to mention fabricating things completely), I see no problem in doing the same on this one.

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Comment #2 posted by runderwo on February 23, 2006 at 15:28:00 PT
Max
Well, you know, maybe marijuana users increased by 113% percent over that period... but they didn't give us those numbers. Hard to interpret this.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #1 posted by Max Flowers on February 23, 2006 at 08:13:35 PT
Prohibitionists lie, but statistics don't
This one says it all:

Indeed, researchers with the Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., report that marijuana arrests increased by 113% over the 12-year period, while arrests related to all other drug offenses increased by just 10%.

So, over TEN times the resources went into chasing cannabis users than into chasing hard drug users. That makes liars out of every one of the drug "czars" and others who were always claiming that they don't focus on cannabis users.

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