P3 update delivered to state lawmakers at Kentucky Horse Park


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For Immediate Release

October 20, 2016

P3 update delivered to state lawmakers at Kentucky Horse Park

LEXINGTON—Three attorneys from different state government agencies gave lawmakers a look today at how Kentucky’s new public-private partnership law will be put to use.

The attorneys—one from the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, one from the Finance and Administration Cabinet and one from the Transportation Cabinet—explained that long-term partnerships allowed under 2016 House Bill 309 will combine private investment and public resources to meet state and local government needs. Other states have used P3s to improve schools, water systems, bridges, state parks and more.

The testimony was offered today at the Kentucky Horse Park during a meeting of the General Assembly’s Labor and Industry Committee, the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and the Special Committee on Tourism Development.

With over $100-plus million in maintenance needs at Kentucky’s state parks, public-private partnerships, known as P3s, are expected to help reduce the parks’ deferred maintenance while employing a strict system of check and balances built into HB 309, said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet General Counsel Leigh Powers.

“We’re not selling off state parks. We’re finding ways to make them better,” said Powers. The framework for P3s proposals, both solicited by agencies and unsolicited, will ensure that “the Commonwealth gets what it bargained for,” she told lawmakers.

A handout provided by all three attorneys explained when P3s should be used and what considerations should be taken into account before approval for a P3 is given. Some of those considerations include benefits gained or not gained, timeliness and risk. McLain explained additional considerations for transportation P3s includes, but is not limited to, compliance with federal requirements and investment-grade credit ratings.

The attorneys also explained that approved P3s must be part of competitive negotiation—meaning the contract will be awarded to a “responsible and responsive” party, per the handout. The handling of unsolicited proposals—P3 proposals that are not sought by the state or local government agency and instead independently generated, for example—will also include a 30-day waiting period for the proposal and 90 days of public notice before further action can be taken, with procedures differing slightly for transportation projects.

Neither Powers or Finance and Administration Cabinet General Counsel Gwen Pinson shared details on P3s that may be pending in their respective agencies, although both said proposals have been received. Assistant General Counsel Megan McLain also did not offer info on any specific proposals. 

Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, who cosponsored HB 309 with House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly, D-Paris, said the framework the new law provides is considered “the most transparent in the country.” She said HB 309 makes Kentucky one of around only seven states with such comprehensive P3 legislation that can be used for a wide range of public needs, said Combs.

“I do believe that as we said earlier, this is an opportunity for us to acquire infrastructure services across the Commonwealth. This is a new vehicle, a new financing tool,” she said.

The joint meeting of the committees also included an overview of what’s happening at the Kentucky Horse Park from park director Laura Prewitt and an update from AT&T Kentucky on infrastructure and investments made following the passage of 2015 HB 152. That was the telephone deregulation measure sponsored by House budget chairman Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, which AT&T says has spurred telecom modernization in the state.

Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, who had proposed telephone deregulation legislation in prior sessions, said HB 152 has accomplished much of what it was designed to do. Hornback said the legislation is designed to move Kentucky forward by “making sure we didn’t have outdated regulations in place.”






This Week In Louisville History: The city battles the 1918 Flu Pandemic


By John King

On Oct. 18, 1918, an emergency meeting was held at the Seelbach Hotel concerning the rapid spread of the influenza virus in Louisville. The outbreak, known later as the 1918 Flu Pandemic, would infect nearly 500 million people worldwide and spread quickly around the world aided by the movement of troops involved in WWI. Military installations tended to be hit hardest, and Louisville happened to house the largest World War I Army training camp in North America, Camp Zachary Taylor. Camp Taylor housed over 45,000 enlistees and officers in 1,530 buildings over 3,376 acres.

On Sept. 24, the Louisville Times had reported over 100 soldiers at the camp had caught the flu. By the next day, that number more than doubled, and within a week it had infected 2,100 soldiers. Officers at Camp Taylor enacted measures to protect the city — soldiers were prohibited from entering movie theaters, restaurants and other establishments in Louisville. To enforce this, military police were stationed in strategic locations in town to stop soldiers from having contact with the public, but it was too late. On Oct. 12, the health department reported 2,300 cases in the general population.

By the time members of the state Board of Health, the U. S. Public Health Service, military authorities and Kentucky health officers met at the Seelbach Hotel, the city was in a desperate situation. The Louisville Board of Health reported citizens falling over in the streets across the city. The state Board of Health ordered, effective the next day, all saloons, soda stands and malt shops must close between 6:30 p.m. and 6:30 am. An order closing all churches, schools and places of amusement was also in effect.

The Louisville Times reported that Louisville citizens banded together, volunteering their services. The Women’s Service League and the Louisville Automobile Club worked together in organizing a motor pool to help nurses carry out home visits. Women in particular aided in the effort, donating their automobiles and services to help nurses make an astounding 2,589 house calls by the end of the month. Nurses were working seven days a week trying to stop the epidemic. The Louisville Board of Health reported having to force nurses and volunteers to take breaks and rest as they were pushing themselves too far in trying to keep up with so many infected.


How The ‘Cannabis Catch-22’ Keeps Marijuana Classified As A Harmful Drug


Marijuana grows in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore.

America has a long and storied history with marijuana. Once grown by American colonists to make hemp rope, by 1970, it was classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Possession of it was — and is — a federal crime, despite the fact that in recent years 25 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

Author John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, traces the history of America’s laws and attitudes toward cannabis in his new book, Marijuana: A Short History. He tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies that the recent shift in public policy is, in part, a recognition of the drug’s medicinal value, which became apparent in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

“People were saying, ‘If I smoke this and I get the munchies, maybe it will help people dying of AIDS who are so nauseated that they can’t eat and they’re dealing with clinical anorexia as a result of that,’ ” Hudak explains.

The grass-roots movement turned political, and in 1996, California became the first state to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative. Other states followed, though the impetus for the movement grew beyond the medicinal.

“One significant argument in favor of adult use marijuana that not many people talk about is a simple one, and that is some people just like to get high,” Hudak says. “I think in this policy debate, oftentimes seeing marijuana as a recreational product, it is frowned upon to discuss it, but it’s a reality. People enjoy it like people enjoy wine or people enjoy a good steak.”

Interview Highlights

On Harry Anslinger, who played a pivotal role in the effort to criminalize marijuana

Harry Anslinger was the nation’s first real drug czar. He came from the Bureau of Prohibition and was put in charge of a variety of federal government agencies that changed names over the course of time, but were effectively the precursors for the Drug Enforcement [Administration].

He was essentially the J. Edgar Hoover of drugs in the United States. He had the same types of tactics that Hoover had — that was being very aggressive with Congress, going into the media to try to advance his political and policy interests. He had, by all accounts, details and histories of members of Congress and senators that they did not want to become public, and he was a one-man force in expanding drug prohibition in the United States. He did this for a variety of drugs, but he had a special place in his heart for marijuana.

On how marijuana use was made into a racial issue

Anslinger brought to it this real racialized aspect. I mean, he was an absolute avowed racist, and when you look at the letters he wrote to different civic organizations or op-eds that he published, or even congressional testimony, it is riddled with racist language and racist claims about the use of marijuana really being only in Mexican communities in the Southwest, and then eventually it transitioned to be a product that was used by the individuals who were around jazz music, which of course was code language for the African-American community.

And so proceeded this racialized history, and [Anslinger] … claimed that marijuana would turn people into psychopaths, murderers, rapists — it would make women promiscuous, particularly promiscuous around men of color, and this was seen as something that was brought into communities by people of color in order to make the most vulnerable in society behave in ways that would appall society.

On government efforts to suppress studies that showed that marijuana was not as addictive or dangerous as had been claimed

In the 1970s President Nixon commissioned the former governor of Pennsylvania, Ray Shafer, who was a good friend, a fellow Republican, a good friend of Nixon’s, to commission this report about this evil drug infecting society, and Shafer came up, again, with the same answers — it wasn’t as addicting, that there were reasons to try to think about this drug in different ways than the federal government was thinking about it, that it wasn’t causing violent crime.

Shafer was actually called into the Oval Office and read off by the president for this draft report, and [Nixon] said to Shafer, “You cannot publish this.” And Shafer stood his ground. He said, “I’m publishing it.” And Nixon trashed that.

It was just this extended period of president after president asking for answers, not getting the answers that he liked, and then throwing the report away.

On what led to policy change for use of marijuana

This really began in the Castro District of San Francisco in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The AIDS epidemic was … ravaging this community, and it was one that individuals, I think, looked at this product that was largely being used recreationally and understood that it helped with pain relief.

So you had a few individuals — Dennis Peron is one; a woman named Brownie Mary who was an orderly at a hospital in San Francisco who would bake brownies laced with marijuana and deliver them to AIDS patients each day. This community popped up around delivering medical cannabis for those who are dying.

And it wasn’t only people dying of AIDS, it was people who had a variety of ailments — and that grass-roots, underground, even though it was pretty much in the daylight for some time, movement transitioned into a political one, and in 1996 California became the first state to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative.

On arguments in favor of legalization

We have 750,000 arrests in a year that have to do with marijuana. And so in communities of color that criminal justice argument is a tremendous one. For libertarians you talk about personal liberty and privacy and property rights, and that is an important issue for them. For conservatives or liberals who are interested in balancing the budget, talking about all of the law enforcement dollars that are spent on the prosecution and investigation of marijuana crimes in a year, that’s budget savings, as well as revenue in the door on the tax side.

For others, it is about product safety, understanding that a regulatory system is going to be able to test the product and you’ll know exactly as a consumer what you’re getting, whereas on the black market you don’t know that.

On the federal government’s decision this past summer to continue the Schedule 1 classification of marijuana

One of the reasons for the maintenance of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance was that the medical community is not convinced of its medical value. There are plenty of doctors who believe that there is medical value to marijuana, they’re willing to recommend it to patients, but the threshold required to demonstrate medical value for the medical community as a whole is much higher than it is for the reform community.

There is this cannabis Catch-22 and it is, as a Schedule 1 drug, it is very difficult to do research on the plant. There are only certain researchers who will get the certification and licensure necessary to handle the drug. Then, of course, you need the funding to study it. You need approval from university institutional review boards, and the burdens that exist to do the type of research on a Schedule 1 drug are tremendous. But that research is what will inform the medical community as to its medical use, and so what you need and what you can do are entirely prevented by this federal government policy.


"Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems…"

(The following is an excerpt from a blog that I ran across on WordPress that I believe is certainly worth noticing, SK)


“Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems of the old patterns of behavior and the old attitudes.  Because most of these supports are the face to face confirmation of present behavior and attitudes, which are provided to those with whom close emotional ties exist, it is therefore essential to eradicate those emotional bonds.  This can be done either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about or by proving to him, the prisoner, that those whom he respects are not worthy of it and indeed should be actively distrusted.”  -Dr. Edgar Schein, Sept. 18, 1962

Dr. Schein then presented to the assembled group a literary of suggestions and tactics designed to attain “behavioral modifications” desirable by prison officials to control the thinking patterns of its incarcerated populace and to curtail or reduce an appetite for cultural or political aspirations.  These 24 accumulous and widely implemented tactics & maneuvers are set out below:

1.  the physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.
2.  identify and segregate all natural leaders.
3.  use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.
4.  prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.
5.  spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.
6.  manipulating prisoners into making written statements which are then shown to others.
7.  exploitation of opportunist and informers.
8.  convincing prisoners that they can trust no other prisoner.
9.  treating those who are willing to cooperate in a far more lenient way than those who are not.
10.  punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.
11.  systematic withholding of mail and other correspondence.
12.  preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic  to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.
13.  disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.
14.  building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by, and totally isolated from their social order.
15.  undermining all emotional support.
16.  preventing prisoners from communicating with family and supporters regarding the conditions of their confinement,
17.  making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to, or supportive of the desired new attitude.
18.  placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards and rules and policies are deliberately kept unclear and then putting pressure on the prisoner to conform to what is desired in order to win favor and a reprieve from the pressure.
19.  placing the prisoner whose will power has been severely weakened or eroded into a soft living environment with others who are further advanced in their brainwashing reform who’s job is to influence the teetering prisoner to give up and assimilate into the desired behavior.
20.  using techniques of character invalidation, i.e., humiliations, revilements, shouting, isolation; to promote sensory deprivation, to induce feelings of guilt, fear, and suggestibility.
21.  meeting all insincere attempts to conform with the desired thought patterns with renewed hostility.
22.  repeatedly pointing out to the prisoner that those prisoners whom he respects as a leader and example of strength is not living up to the values and militant principles that he espouses.  supplanting the thought that all other prisoners are hypocrites and liars.
23.  rewards for submission and subservient attitudes which embrace the brainwashing objectives by providing praise and emotional support to those who embrace the desired behavior(brainwashing) which reinforces the new attitudes.
24.  making sure that if a once militant prisoner is ever revealed as being a snitch or a homosexual, that all prisoners learn of his disgrace in order to create doubt and misgivings in the environment.  Creating false rumor, character assassination on a militant prisoner.


Letter from Sen. McConnell: (RE:) WRDA of 2016 (S. 2848) This legislation supports several projects in Kentucky



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Dear Ms. Krider;

Thank you for contacting me regarding America’s waterway infrastructure. I appreciate your taking the time to make me aware of your concerns, and I welcome the opportunity to respond. 

I have long been a tireless advocate for more than 15,000 inland waterways jobs in Kentucky and have used my position as a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee to advance Kentucky’s inland waterways projects, including the Olmsted Locks and Dam project and the Kentucky Lock and Dam project, among others. You may be interested to know that I was honored by the American Maritime Partnership by being awarded the Champion of Maritime Award in 2014.

As you may know, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) undertakes projects to maintain and restore the nation’s waterways, which are authorized by Congress in Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA). Additionally, WRDA provides for the conservation and development of water resources and authorizes various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors in the United States.

In your correspondence, you expressed your support for the WRDA of 2016 (S. 2848). This legislation supports several projects in Kentucky, including one that will transfer aging infrastructure along the Green and Barren Rivers in Kentucky over to state and local entities so they can determine the best use of this infrastructure, and one that will help the citizens of Paducah better protect themselves from flooding from the Ohio River by helping complete repairs to the city’s flood protection infrastructure.

This legislation also includes assistance for the families affected by lead poisoning, like those in Flint, Michigan, including $100 million for drinking water emergencies, $70 million to subsidize loans for water infrastructure projects, $50 million to help communities comply with drinking water standards, $30 million to reduce lead exposure among children, and $20 million to develop a national lead exposure registry.

Like you, I am very appreciative of the importance of our nation’s inland waterways and flood mitigation infrastructure to our nation, and to the Commonwealth. I am also aware of the importance of WRDA to workers and businesses that rely on our nation’s waterways. For this reason, I was proud to support the WRDA of 2016, which passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3 on September 15, 2016. You may be interested to know that the House of Representatives passed their version of WRDA (H.R. 5303) on September 28, 2016 by a vote of 399-25. Please know that as the House and Senate work towards resolving differences between the two versions, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind. 

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. If you would like to receive periodic updates from my office, please sign up for my eNewsletter at http://mcconnell.senate.gov/, become a fan of my page on Facebook by visiting http://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell or follow my office on Twitter @McConnellPress. In the meantime, I hope you will continue to keep me informed about issues important to you.




Dr. J. Thomas Ungerleider, a UCLA psychiatrist who was among the first researchers to prove the medical benefits of marijuana, has died.




By Soumya Karlamangla

Dr. J. Thomas Ungerleider, a UCLA psychiatrist who was among the first researchers to prove the medical benefits of marijuana, has died. He was 85.

Ungerleider died in his home in Encino on Sept. 19 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said his son, John Ungerleider. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ungerleider ran clinical trials that demonstrated  marijuana’s therapeutic effects for patients with glaucoma and chemotherapy. He also served on President Nixon’s National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, which recommended decriminalizing pot, and became an early champion of treating drug addiction as a public health problem instead of a criminal one.

“He was a real pioneer,” said Dr. David Smith, his close friend and colleague who founded the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic in San Francisco.

Ungerleider was born in 1931 in Cleveland to Constance Levison and Harold Ungerleider. He graduated from the University of Michigan and attended medical school and residency at Case Western Reserve University. He then became a U.S. Army captain who served as a base psychiatrist at Fort Ord, Calif.

A few years after Ungerleider started as an assistant professor at UCLA in 1962, people began showing up in the psychiatric ward with hallucinations and anxiety, saying they’d taken a drug no one knew much about: LSD.

Ungerleider was asked to investigate. 

He began surveying people who dropped acid at love-ins and at Timothy Leary’s ranch in Orange County. He became one of the first researchers to document the adverse effects of LSD, during a time when people like Leary were advocating for its beneficial effects, Smith said. 

John Ungerleider said that when he was a teenager one of his father’s colleagues told him, “Your dad coined the term ‘bad trip’ for LSD.”

In the early 1970s, Nixon appointed Ungerleider to the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, often referred to as the Shafer Commission. The 13-member group traveled around the world for a year studying the effects of pot.

Surprising many, the commission concluded that marijuana wasn’t a particularly dangerous drug and that people shouldn’t be subject to criminal charges for possessing it, essentially making it legal for use in homes.

The idea that drug use is a public health problem, not a criminal one, was controversial at the time, Smith said, but it has become a blueprint for how we understand addiction today. 

Nixon ignored the commission’s recommendations and pushed forward with the war on drugs. 

John Ungerledier said his father had been a Republican, but because he so strongly opposed the government meddling in people’s private choices — in this case, regarding drug usage — he began sometimes voting for Democratic candidates.

“He really had a sense of that being wrong, even if he wasn’t somebody who liked to partake,” he said. 

Ungerleider went on to investigate the medical benefits of marijuana and learned that THC helped ease the negative side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, and could also help reduce the eye pressure that leads to glaucoma.

He wrote in a 1999 paper that marijuana had a “limited but definite role in medicine,” and whether it’s appropriate for patients should be physicians’ decisions, instead of a legal standard.

“We never seem able to grasp the fact that no drug is inherently good or evil,” he wrote.

Ungerleider also ran treatment programs throughout the L.A. area for people with substance abuse problems and helped care for homeless with mental health issues.

Therese Andrysiak Van Hoof, who worked with Ungerleider as a nurse for decades, said he did a lot of hands-on work because he wanted to improve the lives of real people.

“He wasn’t a scholar’s scholar,” she said. “He met you where you were.”

While speaking on a panel in Woodland Hills in 1967, Ungerleider urged parents to empathize with their kids who wanted to try drugs. He didn’t think they were safe — he didn’t support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, his son said — but he didn’t think they should be so taboo.

“Kids get frightened when we don’t tell them what to explore and help them do it. I’m against our ostrich policy, hiding our heads in the sand, refusing to discuss drugs with them, and even forbidding them to discuss the subject. That’s terrible,” Ungerleider said, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

A girl in the audience then asked for his advice for someone who plans to take drugs.

“God help you,” he replied.

In addition to his son, Ungerleider is survived by his wife, Dorothy, his daughter, Shoshana Margoliot, six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.


Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use…

Interview: Why the US Should Decriminalize Drug Use




Neal Scott may die in prison. A 49-year-old Black man from New Orleans, Neal had cycled in and out of prison for drug possession over a number of years. He said he was never offered treatment for his drug dependence; instead, the criminal justice system gave him time behind bars and felony convictions—most recently, five years for possessing a small amount of cocaine and a crack pipe. When Neal was arrested in May 2015, he was homeless and could not walk without pain, struggling with a rare autoimmune disease that required routine hospitalizations. Because he could not afford his $7,500 bond, Neal remained in jail for months, where he did not receive proper medication and his health declined drastically—one day he even passed out in the courtroom. Neal eventually pled guilty because he would face a minimum of 20 years in prison if he took his drug possession case to trial and lost. He told us that he cried the day he pled, because he knew he might not survive his sentence.[1]


Just short of her 30th birthday, Nicole Bishop spent three months in jail in Houston for heroin residue in an empty baggie and cocaine residue inside a plastic straw. Although the prosecutor could have charged misdemeanor paraphernalia, he sought felony drug possession charges instead. They would be her first felonies.

Nicole was separated from her three young children, including her breastfeeding newborn. When the baby visited Nicole in jail, she could not hear her mother’s voice or feel her touch because there was thick glass between them. Nicole finally accepted a deal from the prosecutor: she would do seven months in prison in exchange for a guilty plea for the 0.01 grams of heroin found in the baggie, and he would dismiss the straw charge. She would return to her children later that year, but as a “felon” and “drug offender.” As a result, Nicole said she would lose her student financial aid and have to give up pursuit of a degree in business administration. She would have trouble finding a job and would not be able to have her name on the lease for the home she shared with her husband. She would no longer qualify for the food stamps she had relied on to help feed her children. As she told us, she would end up punished for the rest of her life.


Every 25 seconds in the United States, someone is arrested for the simple act of possessing drugs for their personal use, just as Neal and Nicole were. Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime. More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year. And despite officials’ claims that drug laws are meant to curb drug sales, four times as many people are arrested for possessing drugs as are arrested for selling them.

As a result of these arrests, on any given day at least 137,000 men and women are behind bars in the United States for drug possession, some 48,000 of them in state prisons and 89,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention. Each day, tens of thousands more are convicted, cycle through jails and prisons, and spend extended periods on probation and parole, often burdened with crippling debt from court-imposed fines and fees. Their criminal records lock them out of jobs, housing, education, welfare assistance, voting, and much more, and subject them to discrimination and stigma. The cost to them and to their families and communities, as well as to the taxpayer, is devastating. Those impacted are disproportionately communities of color and the poor.

This report lays bare the human costs of criminalizing personal drug use and possession in the US, focusing on four states: Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and New York. Drawing from over 365 interviews with people arrested and prosecuted for their drug use, attorneys, officials, activists, and family members, and extensive new analysis of national and state data, the report shows how criminalizing drug possession has caused dramatic and unnecessary harms in these states and around the country, both for individuals and for communities that are subject to discriminatory enforcement.

There are injustices and corresponding harms at every stage of the criminal process, harms that are all the more apparent when, as often happens, police, prosecutors, or judges respond to drug use as aggressively as the law allows. This report covers each stage of that process, beginning with searches, seizures, and the ways that drug possession arrests shape interactions with and perceptions of the police—including for the family members and friends of individuals who are arrested. We examine the aggressive tactics of many prosecutors, including charging people with felonies for tiny, sometimes even “trace” amounts of drugs, and detail how pretrial detention and long sentences combine to coerce the overwhelming majority of drug possession defendants to plead guilty, including, in some cases, individuals who later prove to be innocent.

The report also shows how probation and criminal justice debt often hang over people’s heads long after their conviction, sometimes making it impossible for them to move on or make ends meet. Finally, through many stories, we recount how harmful the long-term consequences of incarceration and a criminal record that follow a conviction for drug possession can be—separating parents from young children and excluding individuals and sometimes families from welfare assistance, public housing, voting, employment opportunities, and much more.

Families, friends, and neighbors understandably want government to take actions to prevent the potential harms of drug use and drug dependence. Yet the current model of criminalization does little to help people whose drug use has become problematic. Treatment for those who need and want it is often unavailable, and criminalization tends to drive people who use drugs underground, making it less likely that they will access care and more likely that they will engage in unsafe practices that make them vulnerable to disease and overdose.

While governments have a legitimate interest in preventing problematic drug use, the criminal law is not the solution. Criminalizing drug use simply has not worked as a matter of practice. Rates of drug use fluctuate, but they have not declined significantly since the “war on drugs” was declared more than four decades ago. The criminalization of drug use and possession is also inherently problematic because it represents a restriction on individual rights that is neither necessary nor proportionate to the goals it seeks to accomplish. It punishes an activity that does not directly harm others.

Instead, governments should expand public education programs that accurately describe the risks and potential harms of drug use, including the potential to cause drug dependence, and should increase access to voluntary, affordable, and evidence-based treatment for drug dependence and other medical and social services outside the court and prison system.

After decades of “tough on crime” policies, there is growing recognition in the US that governments need to undertake meaningful criminal justice reform and that the “war on drugs” has failed. This report shows that although taking on parts of the problem—such as police abuse, long sentences, and marijuana reclassification—is critical, it is not enough: Criminalization is simply the wrong response to drug use and needs to be rethought altogether.

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on all states and the federal government to decriminalize the use and possession for personal use of all drugs and to focus instead on prevention and harm reduction. Until decriminalization has been achieved, we urge officials to take strong measures to minimize and mitigate the harmful consequences of existing laws and policies. The costs of the status quo, as this report shows, are too great to bear.





"If some of you are here thinking I’m going to elaborate on the presidential election, let me disabuse you of that notion,"


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Associated Press

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks July 19 on the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

WASHINGTON — Republicans nervously eyeing the White House race are learning a lesson with Donald Trump that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell painfully learned in 2010 and 2012.

Faulty outsider candidates blew several perfectly winnable Senate elections those years. Since then, the crafty Kentuckian has tried to make all the right moves. McConnell, the top fundraiser and field general for the Senate Republicans, helped orchestrate the 2014 midterm romp that delivered the Senate back to his party. McConnell and national Republicans aggressively swung behind incumbents and favored candidates while crushing the chances of tea partyers and far-right hopefuls unlikely to prevail in the general election.

McConnell-backed candidates swept this year’s primary cycle. He helped convince Sen. Marco Rubio to run for re-election after the Floridian’s failed presidential bid, boosting the GOP chances of holding the seat. Just two weeks ago, the GOP was cautiously optimistic that the party would retain control of the Senate despite defending 24 of the 34 seats up for grabs this year.

It all may prove futile.

Trump was already sinking in opinion polls after his poor performance in his first debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton last month. His crude, predatory comments about women in a 2005 videotape that leaked on Friday threatened to scuttle his campaign altogether and take the GOP’s Senate majority with it.

McConnell is a disciplined politician, and when it comes to Trump, the senator has kept as quiet as possible after a brief statement in May signaling his support for the presidential nominee. On Monday, as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., stoked controversy by vowing never to campaign for Trump, McConnell simply kept his own counsel.

“If some of you are here thinking I’m going to elaborate on the presidential election, let me disabuse you of that notion,” McConnell said in an address to the Danville, Kentucky, Chamber of Commerce. “If you are interested in the presidential election you might as well go ahead and leave because I don’t have any observations to make about it.”

For Republicans, Trump is reminiscent of Senate candidates like Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri, who defeated establishment favorites in GOP primaries in 2012 only to make politically stupid remarks about rape and lose by wide margins in states swept by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. In 2010, bad tea party candidates lost in Nevada, Delaware and Colorado, enabling Democrats to hold those seats in spite of that year’s Republican wave.

“The biggest lesson that the Senate side had learned that perhaps the rest of the party has lagged on is that in order to win general elections you need to win primary elections with candidates who have a broad mainstream appeal,” said GOP consultant Josh Holmes, a McConnell confidante and former campaign manager. “What manifested itself in Senate elections in ’10 and ’12, that was subsequently corrected in ’14 and ’16 and has for the first time hit the national stage.”


The DEA is withdrawing a proposal to ban another plant after the Internet got really mad

By Christopher Ingraham October 12 at 10:42 AM

The Drug Enforcement Administration is reversing a widely criticized decision that would have banned the use of kratom, a plant that researchers say could help mitigate the effects of the opioid epidemic.

Citing the public outcry and a need to obtain more research, the DEA is withdrawing its notice of intent to ban the drug, according to a preliminary document that will be posted to the Federal Register Thursday.

The move is “shocking,” according to John Hudak, who studies drug policy at the Brookings Institution. “The DEA is not one to second-guess itself, no matter what the facts are.”

The DEA had announced in August that it planned to place kratom in schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive regulatory category, as soon as Sept. 30. But since announcing their intent to ban kratom, the “DEA has received numerous comments from members of the public challenging the scheduling action,” acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg wrote in the notice, “and requesting that the agency consider those comments and accompanying information before taking further action.”

A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

[What it’s like to be high on kratom, according to the people who use it]

Kratom is a plant from southeast Asia that’s related to coffee. It contains a number of chemical compounds that produce effects similar to opiates when ingested.

People who take it have have said kratom helped them overcome addiction to opiates or alcohol and treat otherwise intractable pain. Researchers say that their work with kratom could eventually lead to the development of nonaddictive alternatives to powerful opiate painkillers. Placing kratom in schedule 1 would cripple researchers ability to study the drug, they say.

U.S. lawmakers were among the groups expressing their displeasure with the DEA’s intent to ban kratom. A group of 51 U.S. representatives wrote to the DEA saying that the DEA’s move “threatens the transparency of the scheduling process and its responsiveness to the input of both citizens and the scientific community.”

Another group of nine senators said the DEA’s “use of this emergency authority for a natural substance is unprecedented,” and urged the administration to reconsider.

The DEA will now open up a period for public comment until Dec. 1 of this year. It is also asking the FDA to expedite a “scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation” for the active chemical compounds in kratom.

At the close of the comment period, a number of things could happen. The DEA could decide to permanently place the plant in a schedule of the Controlled Substances Act, which would require an additional period for lawmakers and the public to weigh in. It could also decide to temporarily schedule kratom, which would not require any additional comment.

It could also decide to leave kratom unregulated.

[Police arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes — combined]

Advocates for kratom use, who say the plant has helped them treat pain and stop taking more powerful and deadly opiate painkillers said they are elated.

“I am in tears,” Susan Ash of the American Kratom Association said in an email. “Our voices are being heard, but we still have a long road ahead of us.

Lawmakers who criticized the initial announcement to ban kratom are also pleased. “Concerned citizens across the country have made it clear, they want the DEA to listen to the science when it comes to the potentially life-saving properties of kratom,” said Mark Pocan (D.-Wis.) in an email.

Researchers are welcoming the move, but they point out that the future of their work with the plant is an uncertain one.

“It’s certainly a positive development,” said Andrew Kruegel of Columbia University in an email. Kruegel is one of the researchers working to develop next-generation painkillers based on compounds contained in kratom.

Kruegel says that the FDA’s evaluation of the drug will carry a lot of weight in the DEA’s decision. But the kind of rigorous, controlled trials that the FDA typically refers to in situations like this simply don’t exist for kratom.

“Unfortunately, in the United States I don’t think we have a good regulatory framework for handling this situation or taking perhaps more reasonable middle paths” between banning the drug outright or keeping it unregulated, Kruegel says.

Still, he says, “the FDA is a scientific agency rather than a law enforcement agency, so I am encouraged that they will now be having more serious input on this important policy decision.”

Marc Swogger, a clinical psychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has published research on kratom use and earlier called the decision to ban the plant “insane,” said in an email that “I’m happy to see this. It is a step in the right direction and a credit to people who have spoken out against scheduling this plant.”


New Study Confirms Marijuana Use Up Drastically in Workforce

Cully Stimson / @cullystimson / October 12, 2016 / comments

This November, there are a record number of ballot initiatives in at least nine states regarding so-called medical marijuana or outright legalization of the Schedule I drug. The pot pushers, both small businesses and large, want more people smoking, eating, and consuming more pot because it is good for their bottom line.

Before voting yes, voters—and, in particular, employers—should take a look at more disturbing data that was released two weeks ago at a national conference.

At the annual Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association conference, Quest Diagnostics—one of the nation’s largest drug-testing companies—unveiled the results of its Drug Testing Index. The index examines illicit drug use by workers in America each year.

In 2015, Quest examined more than 9.5 million urine, 900,000 oral fluid, and 200,000 hair drug samples. Following years of decline in overall illegal drug usage, the results showed that the percentage of employees testing positive for illicit drugs has steadily increased over the last three years to a 10-year high.

The Drug Testing Index is an analysis of test results from three categories of workers—including federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers, the general workforce, and the combined U.S. workforce

Oral fluid drug testing results—best at detecting recent drug usage—showed an overall positivity rate increase of 47 percent over the last three years in the general workforce to 9.1 percent in 2015 from 6.7 percent in 2013.

According to Quest, the increase was “largely driven by double-digit increases in marijuana positivity.” In fact, according to the report, in 2015 there was a “25 percent relative increase in marijuana detection as compared to 2014.” The report also showed a significant increase in heroin positivity in urine tests for federally mandated safety-sensitive employees.

Another disturbing trend is the rising positivity rate for post-accident urine drug testing in both the general U.S. and the federal mandated, safety-sensitive workforces. According to the index, post-accident positivity increased 6.2 percent in 2015, compared to 2014, and increased a whopping 30 percent since 2011.

To those of us who have warned about the growing liberalization of the use of marijuana, from so-called “medical marijuana” to recreational abuse of the Schedule I drug, the results of the index are all too predictable.

It is also not surprising that none of the major organizations that push for pot legalization and decriminalization of marijuana have written major stories about the Quest Diagnostics report.

The more people use marijuana, the more likely it is that those who work and are subject to testing will pop positive for marijuana, even in safety-sensitive jobs. Think about that next time you hop on an airplane, ride Amtrak, or go about your daily life thinking everyone is focused on their job and your safety.


We are ANTI-PROHIBITIONISTS! We are "Constitutionalists"! We are "Overgrowing the Government"

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