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Campaign Ad Attacks Rand Paul as Soft on Drugs

Kentucky Democratic US Senate hopeful Jack Conway and his allies continue to attack Republican hopeful Rand Paul for his dissent from drug war orthodoxy. The latest salvo came in an attack ad by Common Sense Ten, an independent "super-PAC" that supports Democratic candidates by attacking Republican ones.

While Common Sense Ten is not directly tied to the Conway campaign, its attack on Paul for his perceived "softness" on drugs echoes themes used by Conway and his campaign. (See our recent feature article on drug policy in the Kentucky Senate campaign here.)

"Here's Rand Paul," the narrator of the Common Sense Ten ad intones, then goes to a voiceover of Paul saying, "Things that are nonviolent shouldn't be against the law," while the words "Libertarian Philosophy" appear on the screen.

"Like other libertarians, he says drug laws are too harsh, and Rand Paul says drugs are not a quote pressing issue here in Kentucky," the narrator continues. "Not pressing? Drugs, especially meth are an epidemic in Kentucky. Lives, families, and whole communities are destroyed every day."

The ad then repeats the Paul quote on nonviolent offenses while the words "Ron Paul -- Wrong for Kentucky" appear on the screen.

While the ad waxes hyperbolic ("whole communities are destroyed every day") and metaphoric (meth is "an epidemic in Kentucky"), the numbers don't back up those claims. According to a recent report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug use levels in Kentucky are in line with those in the rest of the country. The "epidemic," in other words, is a politically convenient figment of the collective imagination.

Democrat Jack Conway did not pay for the ad and his name does not appear on it. But it appears Conway and Common Sense Ten are all too happy to engage in regressive drug war politics if it will help them win the election. So far, though, it's not working: According to poll aggregator Real Clear Politics, Paul is leading Conway by an average of 46.0% to 41.7%.
 



(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
KY
United States

Opposing Marijuana Legalization Could Cost Jerry Brown the Governor's Race

Prop 19 gives California voters a choice between legalization and prohibition. The gubernatorial race, on the other hand, gives voters a choice between two cowards who pledge to continue waging war on their own constituents. Just watch Republican candidate Meg Whitman boasting about her drug war credentials:

What amazes me about this isn't that Meg Whitman is as much of a drug war idiot as she is. There's nothing surprising about that, but it's just tragic that her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown has chosen to join her in opposing Prop 19. By taking a stand against marijuana reform, Brown has offended an enormous cross-section of young liberal voters whose support he desperately needs in this close race.

If Brown genuinely has a problem with legalizing marijuana, that's one thing, but if he thinks he's scoring any political points with this position, he's out of his mind. As the above video shows, Whitman is accusing him of being "soft on crime" regardless of his anti-legalization stance. What more could she even say? Getting attacked by Whitman for supporting Prop 19 would actually help him. After all, marijuana legalization is doing better in the polls than either of these fools.

Update: On a related note, what's up with Meg Whitman claiming that "every single law enforcement official in this entire state is against Proposition 19"? If she's followed the debate at all, she should know that Prop 19 has received a mountain of endorsements from law enforcement. This has been widely reported in the press, so she's either lying or just not paying attention.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

California Democrats Bet on Bong War

Location: 
CA
United States
Seizing on new independent polling data, proponents of Proposition 19 — the Golden State ballot measure that would make possessing and growing marijuana legal — argue the measure is going to drive younger-voter turnout in such a way that it will benefit the Democrats statewide, from gubernatorial retread Jerry Brown to Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Publication/Source: 
Politico (VA)
URL: 
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43353.html

Democrats Look to Cultivate Marijuana Vote in 2012

Democratic strategists are studying California's marijuana legalization initiative to see if similar ballot measures could energize young, liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election. Some pollsters and party officials say Democratic candidates in California are benefiting from a surge in enthusiasm among young voters eager to back Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in certain quantities and permit local governments to regulate and tax it. Party strategists and marijuana legalization advocates are discussing whether to push for similar ballot questions in 2012 in Colorado and Nevada — both expected to be crucial to President Barack Obama's re-election — and Washington state, which will have races for governor and seats in both houses of Congress.
Publication/Source: 
The Wall Street Journal (NY)
URL: 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703298504575534321493828944.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLETopStories

Two Democratic Governor Candidates Say Decriminalize Marijuana

Two Democratic Party gubernatorial candidates in the Northeast are calling for marijuana decriminalization.  They are Vermont candidate Peter Shumlin and Connecticut candidate Dan Malloy.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/peter_shumlin.jpg
Peter Shumlin
While neither candidate is playing up the issue -- decriminalization doesn't appear on either candidates' issues page -- both have staked out clear positions in favor of decriminalization, and Shumlin has talked repeatedly about it during the campaign.

"We simply are penny wise and pound foolish to be using law enforcement dollars to be locking up criminals when they're dealing with small amounts of marijuana," Shumlin said during a televised candidates' forum before the primary election.

He kept on message this month, telling the Barre-Montepelier Times Argus: "I believe we should join California and Massachusetts in decriminalizing small amounts. It is important we have law enforcement focus on meth dealers, cocaine dealers, heroin and the really tough drug challenges we face as a state."

Shumlin, the current president pro tem of the Vermont House, has garnered support from the Marijuana Policy Project, which has so far contributed $14,000 to his campaign. MPP believes that with Shumlin as governor, a decriminalization bill can pass in Vermont next year.

In Connecticut, Democratic nominee Dan Malloy hasn't been as outspoken as Shumlin, but he has come out in favor of decriminalization. In response to a question at a September 6 meeting at the University of Connecticut, Malloy said he "absolutely supports" decriminalization.

According to the running average of polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, Malloy is leading Republican candidate Tom Foley by 6.5 percentage points. The Vermont race is much tighter, with Real Clear Politics calling it a "toss up," and Shumlin leading Republican candidate Brian Dubie by three points in the latest poll.

Times are indeed changing when gubernatorial candidates representing a mainstream political party are calling for decriminalization. Will it help them win in November? Could it hurt? Stay tuned.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

California Marijuana Initiative Could Help Propel Barbara Boxer to Re-election

Location: 
CA
United States
A ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California could help propel endangered incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to re-election in November, according to a respected polling expert.
Publication/Source: 
The Raw Story (DC)
URL: 
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/california-pot-initiative-propel-barbara-boxer-reelection/

Drug Policy Emerges as Issue: Challenger, Incumbent Differ on Legalization

Nicholas W. Payne, the Green Party candidate vying to unseat five-term incumbent Rep. Clark J. Chapin, R-New Milford, believes the state would save both dollars and lives by legalizing drugs. "This election's all about money, jobs and taxes," Payne said. "In New Milford you don't see violence on the streets ... It's the expense of (fighting illegal drugs) I'm going after."
Publication/Source: 
American-Republican (CT)
URL: 
http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2010/09/20/news/elections/508464.txt

Rockefeller Repeal Leader Wins NY Democratic AG Nomination

New York state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, author of last year's Rockefeller drug law reform legislation, won the Democratic Party nomination for state attorney general in last week's primary election. Scheiderman won 34% of the vote in a five-person race, besting Nassau County prosecutor Kathleen Rice, who came in second with 32%.

Eric Schneiderman
He will face Republican nominee Staten Island prosecutor Dan Donovan in the November 2 general election. In his victory speech, Scheiderman vowed to follow "the same aggressive, progressive approach" as current Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is favored to win the governor's race.

While all five Democratic attorney general candidates vowed to take a hard line on public corruption, help prevent another Wall Street crisis, and protect New Yorkers from terrorism, Schneiderman also played up his drug reform credentials.

On his issues page, Schneiderman touts his authorship of Rockefeller reform legislation, adding that the laws "were not only unfair and unsustainable, but an economic and moral threat to every New Yorker," and advertisements running during the campaign cited it as well. The New York Times also cited Schneiderman's championing of Rockefeller reform among its key reasons for endorsing him in the primary.

Scheiderman goes into greater detail in his Agenda for the Office of New York Attorney General. In addition to touting his role in Rockefeller law reform and in cosponsoring the law that forbids law enforcement agencies from keeping files on innocent people who have been stopped and frisked, Schneiderman vows to monitor and report on stop and frisk searches and to examine the criminal justice system for system-wide biases. He also promises to ease rehabilitation and reentry for ex-convicts and to promote a color-blind criminal justice system.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

NY
United States

Washington Prosecutor Candidate Makes Drug Reform a Key Issue [FEATURE]

Snohomish County, Washington, stretches from the Seattle suburbs in the south to the city of Everett in the north. It encompasses the Pacific Coast and the Cascade Range, and come November, its 700,000 citizens will be electing a new prosecutor. One of the candidates is staking out a very progressive position on drug policy.

Jim Kenny with firefighters (jimkenny.org)
The campaign pits incumbent prosecutor Mark Roe against challenger Jim Kenny. Both are long-time prosecutors, Roe in Snohomish County and Kenny in Seattle, and both are Democrats. But only one supported I-1068, this year's failed marijuana legalization initiative, and only one is trying to make drug policy reform a winning issue. That would be Jim Kenny.

Under Washington election law, the top two vote-getters in the primary go to the general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Roe won the primary with 67% of the vote, while Kenny came in second with 31%.

"You could say I'm the underdog," Kenny told the Chronicle this week. "But we do have a plan to turn those numbers around and win in the general election. We think we can double the turnout over the primary election," he said.

With both candidates running as Democrats and experienced prosecutors, the challenger is looking for issues to differentiate himself from the incumbent, and for Kenny, drug policy is one of those issues. Reformist stances are drug policy positions are prominently displayed on his campaign web site's issues page. Roe does not even have an issues page.

Kenny supported I-1068 because "it was the right thing to do," he said. "I supported 1068 for a variety of reasons," said the veteran prosecutor. "I think it was the right thing to do to end 40 years of the war on drugs and marijuana prohibition. It could have had financial benefits for the state through a redirection of law enforcement resources or potentially even a reduction in the need for those resources."

Kenny pointed out that there were 12,000 marijuana prosecutions in Washington in 2008. "Those prosecutions cost the state more than $18 million," he said. "If you legalize marijuana, you would reduce the need for all those arrests, prosecutions, and incarcerations. You can save those resources, or redirect them to fight real crime."

"You could also tax marijuana, and those tax dollars would be a real financial benefit to the state," he said.

"Another reason 1068 made a lot of sense," Kenny continued, "is that it started allowing our community in the state of Washington to look at drugs within a public health model instead of a criminal justice model. We spent 40 years prosecuting people for drugs, but now the Obama administration has come out with a new drug control strategy that walks away from war on drugs rhetoric and talks about dealing with drugs as a public health issue. It didn't involve any changing of programs or funding, but I think it's significant for the federal government to disavow the term 'war on drugs.' That provides the opportunity for people at the local level, for prosecutors, to run with it. I'm afraid the federal government may not take more significant steps in that direction, but it is something local governments can run with."

Kenny also sought to draw a sharp line between himself and Roe on medical marijuana. "My opponent is prosecuting some sick and injured people as felons for marijuana distribution, and I think that's the wrong thing to do," Kenny said. "People with medical marijuana authorizations should be treated as patients, not criminals."

Talking drug policy reform could be a winning issue, or at least not a losing one in Western Washington, said Seattle attorney Rachel Kurtz. "I feel like we're pretty advanced here," she said. "[Drug reformer and state representative] Roger Goodman runs for office, and in his last election he was attacked for not doing enough on drug reform. In this financial climate, drug policy reform is seen as a way to save money and taxes. I don't think Kenny is going to lose because of his drug policy stances. The electorate is becoming smarter and you can use those old tactics anymore," she said.

Kenny isn't just talking about pot. He is also advocating innovative criminal justice measures to reduce incarceration levels and promising to bring transparency to police-involved shootings. It's all part of what he calls "smart on crime" policies, as opposed to "tough on crime."

"We need to continue to incarcerate serious and violent offenders, but for low- and mid-level offenders we can do more," Kenny said. "In other cities across the country, they are using some innovative ideas to help people help themselves by addressing root causes, such as mental health and drug and alcohol problems," he said, pointing to problem-solving courts, such as drug court, mental health court, and veterans' court.

Snohomish County, with a large naval base and veteran population, should have a veterans' court, Kenny argued. "It's a specialized court with a redirection of resources where you might take in all the vets' cases," he said. "It's really about asking these defendants what's going on with them, why are they doing this, looking at their criminal histories and asking how we can change this. Ideally, it involves additional resources, particularly getting people into alcohol and drug treatment. It's about slowing down the process and asking why, and that makes a real difference."

The county does have a drug court, Kenny noted, but needs more problem-solving courts. "Those programs have been expanded in places in the country and the state, and we need to bring them to Snohomish County."

He also favors alternative sentencing arrangements. "Work crews, electronic monitoring, community service -- all of those keep people out of jail and allow us to not have to build a second jail any time in the near future. If we can use these tools to reduce recidivism, especially without putting people in jail, that would be a good thing," he said. "My conservative opponents don't like to focus on the fact that jail can be a school for criminals."

Kenny is also taking a strong stand on accountability for police-involved killings. In the past 18 months, Snohomish police have shot six people to death and Tasered one to death. Those killings need a light shone on them, he said.

"That's a real concern. I want to establish mandatory inquests," he said. "Inquests are not a criminal case, but a fact-finding investigation to find out what happened and whether it was justified. We need some transparency for these incidents where police use lethal force in the name of the community. There is currently no inquest, so unless the decedent files a lawsuit, we may never hear what happened in that particular case. And even then, civil cases are settled out of court all the time. Bad things could be happening and we never learn the details of why."

Mandatory inquests would be "good for the community and good for the police," Kenny said. "It gives police the opportunity to take the stand and explain why they used lethal force. They should explain to the community why. It costs some money, but it will provide transparency, and the community can rely on the fact that the police are doing the right thing."

When, running on a drug reform platform, New York prosecutor David Soares defeated the incumbent in the Albany County district attorney race in 2004, it was a shock. It is a measure of how far we have come that if Kenny manages to pull off a long-shot victory in November, it will be no shock at all, just a pleasant surprise.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Everett, WA
United States

Kentucky Republican Governor Candidate Supports Legal Hemp

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett has come out in support of legalizing industrial hemp production. That makes him the second gubernatorial candidate in the state to embrace the idea. Perennial independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith has called for its legalization for years.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/philmoffett.jpg
Phil Moffett
Moffett is one of at least three Republicans contending for the party's nod to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Steven Beshear. The gubernatorial election is set for 2011.

Moffett, who along with US Senate candidate Rand Paul is part of the tea party insurgency within the Bluegrass State's Republican Party, came out on the issue in response to a question during a meeting with libertarian voters last Thursday and reaffirmed his support in an interview with the Associated Press last Friday.

He is ready to "go to the carpet" to legalize hemp production, he told the AP. "We're going to have to challenge the federal authority to keep us from growing a legitimate crop," he said. "Industrial hemp is not a drug, so it shouldn't be regulated by the DEA or any other federal authority."

Moffett said he supported hemp production both for economic reasons and as a means of reducing the power of the federal government. "It's a farm product that can be used in a number of different ways to create jobs, but it's also a way to get the federal government farther off our back," Moffett said Friday. "Right now, the Drug Enforcement Agency does not allow hemp to be grown, and it would be a great test case for us to fight against the federal government to be able grow a completely legitimate crop that the federal government has decided they don't believe is worthy of planting."

Moffett doesn't favor marijuana legalization and he opposes medical marijuana "on an official level," he said. "But on a personal level, if someone were dying of cancer and marijuana was the only way they could find comfort, I'm not going to get in the way," he said. "There's a humanitarian aspect to this."

While industrial hemp may be imported for use in this country, American farmers are barred from growing it by the federal government. Nine states -- Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia -- have passed legislation removing barriers to its production or research, according to the industry group Vote Hemp.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

KY
United States

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