www.pot.com
www.pot.com

Potlight

Twitter Parodies, Abuse Of Power, And The Future Of Free Speech

Twitter Parodies, Abuse Of Power, And The Future Of Free Speech

PoliceShutterstock

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Police raided a home last week in Peoria, IL, over a fake Twitter account that mocked the city’s mayor.

Jon Daniel, 28, and his housemates were accused of impersonating Mayor Jim Ardis via the parody Twitter account, @peoriamayor. The seldom-used account, which used the mayor’s likeness and email, had a few dozen followers with just as many tweets, many referencing sex and drugs. Twitter shut down the account, but Ardis still had police descend on Daniel’s house with a broad warrant to search for drugs and paraphernalia along with any electronic devices that could have been used to operate the account. No one was charged with “impersonating a public official” — the sole basis for the raid — but police seized computers and arrested one roommate for marijuana possession.

The raid sparked national outrage for abusing police and government power for what was clearly a joke. Ardis defended his actions on Tuesday, saying, “As a person, I felt a victim of sexual doggerel and filth. It was filth. It was absolute filth.”

Yet in the Peoria case, “there was no underlying crime — parody is protected by free speech under the First Amendment,” David Greene, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco told ThinkProgress. The problem arises, however, when police think using social media itself is the crime, Greene said.

Under current law, what users publicly post online is akin to having a conversation in a public park — anyone, including the police can use and interpret it, Greene said, but “whether it reveals anything is another issue.” Police often struggle to differentiate crimes that happen in real life from online speech.

“There’s a strong potential that overreaction from government officials in prosecuting online commentators will chill political speech,” Emma Llansó, director for the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., told ThinkProgress. While some comments aren’t protected under free speech, “in general, the First Amendment provides broad protection, even for hateful or offensive comments,” Llansó said. “Overzealous attempts to unmask anonymous or pseudonymous online commentators run directly into the First Amendment right to anonymous speech.”

Speech is rarely criminalized, but when it is, it’s usually for true threats, which are tricky to prove. Threats have to meet a very narrow definition in which the target must feel severe emotional distress or believe he or she could be harmed before they break the law. But when those threats are made over social media, law enforcement seldom investigate further.

Alleged crimes on social media such as slander, stalking, harassment and death threats typically aren’t pursued as aggressively as they would be in person. When it comes to what’s said online, the problem of discerning real crimes from enthusiastic expression is confounded by relatively new, murky laws that haven’t kept pace with new technologies.

There are three federal laws that can be used to prosecute threatening online speech, including the recently reauthorized Violence Against Women Act, which made cyberstalking a federal crime. There are also state laws against cyberstalking or, cyberbullying, also called cyberharassing, in every state.

Nearly all of those laws simply tack on Internet use as a means to stalk, threaten and harass, to existing laws. And how far those laws go — whether they include all electronic communication or just email — varies state to state, often leaving a lot of room for law enforcement discretion when it comes to deciding what cases they pursue.

Because social media outlets like Twitter are rife with negative and threatening comments, law enforcement agencies typically do not treat threatening language online as a serious danger. Still, about 12 percent of people say they have been harassed online, according to a Pew Research survey. And women tend to bear the brunt of it, regularly receiving rape and death threats far more often than men on social media. When such online threats are reported to the police, they’re often treated as empty threats or pranks. That’s what happened when writer Amanda Hess reported a man, who claimed to live in her state, threatened to kill her to local police. The officer didn’t file a report, saying, “Why would anyone bother to do something like that?…This guy could be sitting in a basement in Nebraska for all we know,” she wrote in Pacific Standard magazine.

Even when police have enough evidence showing a pattern of threatening behavior, very few of the offenders are ever convicted. Only 15 percent of people charged with cyberstalking are convicted, largely because the charges are dropped or the defendants plead to lower offenses, according to 2009 data collected on North Carolina cyberstalking convictions. For police to take action, Greene said, the online threat has to incite a sense of imminent physical danger. Most online threats only colloquially constitute harassment, that is they’re more of an annoyance rather than potentially harmful, he said. Those online threats, however, can translate into real-life dangers: Four percent of online users say that they’ve had incidents online put them in physical harm, Pew found.

Police have free range to use what’s posted online as evidence that a crime has or will occur, such as a Facebook post boasting about a planned robbery or a picture of the stolen goods. Some have even started to use Twitter to predict crime, and communicate with the public and journalists in a crisis. But when it comes to online speech, “It’s important for government officials to understand the broader context of a comment — context can make all the difference between seeing something as a threat and understanding a comment to be a joke or parody,” Llansó said.

The post Twitter Parodies, Abuse Of Power, And The Future Of Free Speech appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Continue Reading

Put It To Bed

Put It To Bed

New Records Reveal IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

Our conservative friends can have a hard time letting go of homemade controversies that have been proven to be unsubstantiated and untrue (see: Benghazi). So we’d like to do our part in helping them put to bed another of these: the belief that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status.

That is not to say that the IRS didn’t act improperly: the government body did target some groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny if they contained certain key words. The IRS has acknowledged that this was a failure, and President Obama and Congressional Democrats agree.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee couldn’t stop there. They have continued to assert that the IRS singled out Tea Party groups, including in the committee’s latest report entitled “Debunking the Myth that the IRS Targeted Progressives.”

To clear the air, ThinkProgress issued a request for IRS documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is what they found:

A series of IRS documents, provided to ThinkProgress under the Freedom of Information Act, appears to contradict the claims by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that only Tea Party organizations applying for tax-exempt status “received systematic scrutiny because of their political beliefs.” The 22 “Be On the Look Out” keywords lists, distributed to staff reviewing applications between August 12, 2010 and April 19, 2013, included more explicit references to progressive groups, ACORN successors, and medical marijuana organizations than to Tea Party entities.

twittercards_Redskins_timeline

The scandal has certainly provided plenty of fodder for Fox News (President Obama even called them out on it in a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly). But it has been costly to the IRS and soaked up countless hours of research, hearings, and reporting.

BOTTOM LINE: New information that the IRS actually targeted progressive groups more than the Tea Party should put this issue to rest once and for all. It’s time conservatives put aside petty, wasteful, and misleading political battles and help solve our country’s many challenges.

Note: The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) has been recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(4) organization. ThinkProgress is a project of CAPAF. CAPAF does not endorse candidates, nor does it fund “independent expenditures” or any other kind of candidate-related advertising.

The post Put It To Bed appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Continue Reading

New Records: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

New Records: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

Elijah Cummings, Darrell Issa

CREDIT: AP

A series of IRS documents, provided to ThinkProgress under the Freedom of Information Act, appears to contradict the claims by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that only Tea Party organizations applying for tax-exempt status “received systematic scrutiny because of their political beliefs.” The 22 “Be On the Look Out” keywords lists, distributed to staff reviewing applications between August 12, 2010 and April 19, 2013, included more explicit references to progressive groups, ACORN successors, and medical marijuana organizations than to Tea Party entities.

IRS_FOIA_Data

The IRS provided the heavily-redacted lists to ThinkProgress, after nearly a year-long search. From the earliest lists through 2012, the “historical” section of the lists encouraged reviewers to watch out for “progressive” groups with names like “blue,” as their requests for 501(c)(3) charitable status might be inappropriate. Their inclusion in this section suggests that the concern predates the initial 2010 list.

Explicit references to “Tea Party,” included in the “emerging issues” section of the lists, also began in August 2010 — but stopped appearing after the May 10, 2011 list. From that point on, the lists instructed agents to flag all political advocacy groups of any stripe. The documents instructed the agents to forward any “organization involved with political, lobbying, or advocacy” applying for 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) status be forwarded to “group 7822″ for additional review. Groups under both categories are limited in the amount of of lobbying and political activity each can undertake.

Other types of groups received explicit scrutiny for longer than “progressive” or “Tea Party” organizations. These included applicants involved with “medical marijuana” but not “exclusively education” (19 appearances in the “watch list” section of the lists), which were to be forwarded to a “group 7888″ and groups believed to be possible successor-groups to ACORN, the now-shuttered Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (12 appearances on the “watch list” section). Those applications were also to be elevated to managers for further review. All 22 documents also flagged applicants with Puerto Rico addresses and certain types of “Testamentary Trusts.”

Last year, the IRS acknowledged that it had improperly flagged groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny if they contained common Tea Party keywords in their applications. Rather than addressing the very real problem of political committees masquerading as 501(c)(4) groups to evade public disclosure laws, this approach instead delayed the process for several groups purely on the basis of their names. President Obama and members of both parties in Congress all agree that the IRS acted improperly in singling-out certain groups for more scrutiny than others.

In Issa’s committee’s recent report, “Debunking the Myth that the IRS Targeted Progressives,” the Republican majority staffers wrote that while the Be On the Lookout lists’ language was “changed to broader ‘political advocacy organizations,’ the IRS still intended to identify and single out Tea Party applications for scrutiny.” The report goes to great lengths to distinguish the different types of scrutiny provided to each of these types of flagged group. But the actual IRS records indicate that at least some additional scrutiny was required for groups of all types that had names that sounded political — and that the explicit heightened scrutiny for left-leaning groups was even longer-standing than for Tea Party groups.

IRS disclosure manager Bertrand Tzeng noted, in a letter, that these 22 released documents “constitute the set of criteria that were used by IRS employees and which were produced to the investigating congressional committees.” Tzeng added that while his office has been informed that “draft versions of some of these documents may also exist, we understand that such drafts would be exempt from disclosure under FOIA exemption” as simply part of the agency’s deliberative process.

Read the lists.

Note: ThinkProgress is a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), which has been recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(4) organization. CAPAF does not endorse candidates, nor does it fund “independent expenditures” or any other kind of candidate-related advertising.

The post New Records: IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Continue Reading

How Some Dispensaries Find a Way Around L.A.’s Pot Shop Ban

How Some Dispensaries Find a Way Around L.A.’s Pot Shop Ban

image
Amid a historic low number of registered marijuana dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles, a new weed shop recently opened up in Chatsworth. At this point in the game, storefronts aren’t really supposed to be opening.

See also: More Than Half of L.A.’s Weed Shops Have Closed

In fact all of the weed stores in the Los Angeles Police Department’s local Devonshire Division had been shut down with the help of local city Councilman Mitch Englander who, as a reserve police officer, went out on a raid in 2012 that shuttered the last collective in his district.

But police say the Chatsworth dispensary is the second in the area to launch this year – the other is on Reseda Boulevard south of Parthenia Street – and that these businesses could be finding new ways to exploit L.A.’s strict pot-shop rules:

When voters approved Prop.…

[ Read more ]

[ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

Continue Reading

State Plan to Treat Pot Shops Like Liquor Stores Passes Key Hurdle

State Plan to Treat Pot Shops Like Liquor Stores Passes Key Hurdle

image
There are two proposals in the state legislature that would establish new oversight for California’s marijuana dispensaries.

One, backed by the California Police Chiefs Association, would strictly limit what kind of doctors could prescribe cannabis, and in which situations they could do it. The cops’ bill would also outlaw “concentrates,” including, wax, dabs, honey oil and shatter.

See also: Law Would Ban Potent Marijuana ‘Concentrates’ in California

A seemingly less-draconian bill, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s AB 1894, passed a key hurdle today by getting approval from the Assembly Public Safety Committee:

The law would direct the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to police dispensaries, particularly in order to prevent the influence of organized crime and to ensure that minors aren’t getting their hands on weed, Ammiano’s office says.

It would also recognize the rights of local jurisdictions, like the city of Los Angeles, to ban cannabis retailers outright.

Doctors who wrongly recommend medical marijuana would be subject to discipline.…

[ Read more ]

[ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

Continue Reading

Weed Blogs

4th Grader Accused Of Selling Pot

4th Grader Accused Of Selling Pot

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — School officials in northern Colorado are asking parents to take care with their newly legal recreational marijuana, after fou…

Read more: Dumb Crime, Colorado Marijuana, Monfort Elementary School, Weird for Aol, John Gates, Weld County School District 6, 4th Grader Sells Pot, Gina Carbone, Jennifer Sheldon, Crime News

Continue Reading

Nobody Tell Chris Christie, But Colorado Might Have A Better ‘Quality Of Life’ Than New Jersey

Nobody Tell Chris Christie, But Colorado Might Have A Better ‘Quality Of Life’ Than New Jersey

On a recent radio program, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) slammed Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws, which was not a surprise — Christie has…

Read more: Chris Christie, Marijuana, Drug War, New Jersey Marijuana, 420, Colorado Quality of Life, Colorado Marijuana, Colorado, Legal Weed, New Jersey Quality of Life, Colorado vs New Jersey, New Jersey, War on Marijuana, Marijuana Legalization, Recreational Marijuana, Quality of Life, Politics News

Continue Reading

Nicole Breedlove: Clear the Smoke, I’m Coming Through

Nicole Breedlove: Clear the Smoke, I’m Coming Through

Lately I’m beginning to feel like a minority in the lesbian community. As an African American lesbian it’s very rare to find a woman who likes to date…

Read more: Black Lesbians, Marijuana, Lesbian, Lesbian Dating, Lesbians, Gay Voices, Gay, Gay Issues, Lesbianas, Gay Voices News

Continue Reading

California County Tries To Ban Pot Farms As Medical Weed Business Thrives

California County Tries To Ban Pot Farms As Medical Weed Business Thrives

By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, Calif. April 23 (Reuters) – Citing marijuana fields springing up next to high schools and in abandoned…

Read more: Marijuana, 420, Reuters, Sacramento County, Medical Marijuana, Pot, Sacramento County Medical Marijuana, Roberta MacGlashan, Weed, Politics News

Continue Reading

Cops Planted Guns in South L.A. Marijuana Dispensary, D.A. Alleges

Cops Planted Guns in South L.A. Marijuana Dispensary, D.A. Alleges

image
Two cops planted guns inside a medical marijuana dispensary in South L.A. to justify an arrest, the L.A. County District Attorney alleged in an announcement made today.

Those two L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies are no longer with that department, but sheriff’s officials wouldn’t yet say precisely what happened to them. The incident happened Aug. 24, 2011, prosecutors said.

Dispensary security video of at least some of the action appears to be what authorities are using against the suspects:

The deputies were ID’d as Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32.…

[ Read more ]

[ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

Continue Reading

MMJ

US DC: ‘there Were Clues. But We Had No Clue’ Of Heroin Use

US DC: ‘there Were Clues. But We Had No Clue’ Of Heroin Use

Washington Post, 23 Apr 2014 – After Madison Walker quit heroin, he urged Connor Brennan to get clean, too. Brennan, 20, thought about Walker, who had grown up in the same Fairfax County subdivision and was sober, healthy, close with his parents again. Look how happy he is, Brennan thought. I want to be like that.

Continue Reading

Mardi Grass: Denver’s Near-Total Embrace of Marijuana and the Economy Behind It

Mardi Grass: Denver’s Near-Total Embrace of Marijuana and the Economy Behind It

“I don’t get it,” my cab driver says, facing the long line of cars on the freeway in front of us. We’re a few hours late and a few exits away from the “biggest ticketed marijuana event” in the world, the Denver High Times Cannabis Cup. And we are not alone. The stoner holiday, 4/20, is tomorrow, …

Continue Reading

CN ON: Pot Protest Hopes To Sway Policy Makers

CN ON: Pot Protest Hopes To Sway Policy Makers

The Record, 21 Apr 2014 – Few People Openly Smoke As Locals Take Part In Pro-marijuana Demonstration KITCHENER – They came, they listened to loud music, they played hacky-sack. A pro-marijuana rally in front of Kitchener’s City Hall marking 4/20, cannabis culture’s annual day of celebration, felt like more of an afternoon hang-out than a political demonstration Sunday.

Continue Reading

US CO: Lawmakers Set Limits On Pot Edibles Possession

US CO: Lawmakers Set Limits On Pot Edibles Possession

Washington Times, 22 Apr 2014 – Tighter Rules Come on the Heels of Two Deaths DENVER – The Mile High City was jammed with pot revelers Sunday for the annual 4/20 festival, but the mood was far from celebratory Monday as state legislators moved to tighten rules on marijuana products in the wake of two tragic deaths.

Continue Reading

UK: A Watched Pot: Police Patrols at Pro-Cannabis ‘Celebration’

UK: A Watched Pot: Police Patrols at Pro-Cannabis ‘Celebration’

The Herald, 21 Apr 2014 – Five Men Are Reported but No Disorder at Controversial Glasgow Rally Taxpayers’ money is being wasted enforcing the illegality of something that’s better than alcohol or tobacco. I want to see it legalised in my lifetime

Continue Reading

Activism

CN ON: Smoke Gets In Their Eyes

CN ON: Smoke Gets In Their Eyes

Toronto Sun, 21 Apr 2014 – Thousands Toke Up a Storm in Pro-Pot Rally at Yonge-Dundas Square Thousands of marijuana activists gave new meaning to “Easter grass” on Sunday. Yonge-Dundas Square was the smoky site for Toronto’s eighth annual 4/20 demonstration, a global event pushing for the legalization of pot.

Continue Reading

CN ON: Potfest Friends Favour Legal Changes

CN ON: Potfest Friends Favour Legal Changes

Guelph Mercury, 21 Apr 2014 – GUELPH – The air over the University of Guelph’s Johnston Green park was thick with the pungent smell of marijuana on the weekend as students and visitors from the city and area rallied for decriminalization of the psychoactive weed. Compared to other years, the Sunday afternoon event was subdued, perhaps because it was Easter weekend and many students were cramming for final exams Monday, though a couple hundred people still came out and lit up.

Continue Reading

CN ON: London 4-20 Party A Buzz Kill

CN ON: London 4-20 Party A Buzz Kill

Metro, 22 Apr 2014 – Victoria Park: Councillor Defends Heavy Police Presence At Gathering On Parliament Hill in Ottawa Sunday, news reports described a crowd of about 2,000 people throwing Frisbees, listening to music and smoking pot.

Continue Reading

US MI: Macomb Leads State In Overdose Deaths

US MI: Macomb Leads State In Overdose Deaths

The Macomb Daily, 20 Apr 2014 – First in a two-part series. So many heroin abusers hop onto the No. 560 SMART bus to Detroit to buy drugs it’s been dubbed “the heroin express.” “It’s called the heroin express. There’s not much we can do about it,” said Roseville Police Chief James Berlin, whose city includes multiple popular Gratiot Avenue stops, after attempts to crack down on the practice.

Continue Reading

US NY: Getting Care In Colorado

US NY: Getting Care In Colorado

Oneida Daily Dispatch, 20 Apr 2014 – Kingston Baby With Rare Genetic Disorder Undergoes Medical Marijuana Treatment KINGSTON – There’s a dramatic change in 11-month-old Mabel Grace Tangney Decker, and her mother likes what she’s seeing.

Continue Reading

Law

CN ON: 4-20 Message: If You Can’t Beat It, Sell It

CN ON: 4-20 Message: If You Can’t Beat It, Sell It

Metro, 21 Apr 2014 – Weed Day. Annual Protest/Party Touts Medical Uses, Potential Tax Benefits Thousands of pro-marijuana activists lit up blunts and bongs at Parliament Hill on Sunday afternoon to promote pot legalization.

Continue Reading

New Zealand: Editorial: Popularity Of Legal Highs Has Shifted Drugs

New Zealand: Editorial: Popularity Of Legal Highs Has Shifted Drugs

Sunday Star-Times, 20 Apr 2014 – OPINION: Harmful legal products make mockery of drug laws More than one of our national addictions was laid bare last week. It turns out that not only are we a nation of royal obsessives, but we’re rather fond of our recreational drugs.

Continue Reading

US NY: Medical Pot Support Grows

US NY: Medical Pot Support Grows

Oneida Daily Dispatch, 20 Apr 2014 – ROSENDALE – Jen Pinto was in the prime of her life. She had a good job, a nice home and a positive outlook on her future. What happened to her at age 40 would change all that and severely diminish her quality of life.

Continue Reading

US: Tracking System Nabbing Drug Dealers – and Law-Abiding

US: Tracking System Nabbing Drug Dealers – and Law-Abiding

Sun-Sentinel, 18 Apr 2014 – LOS ANGELES – Ken Dobson, a retired police officer, said he received quite a welcome when he landed his single-engine Cessna in Detroit two days after leaving his home in Palm Desert, Calif. Five sheriff’s cars surrounded the plane and deputies got out with guns drawn. Then a helicopter arrived with four federal agents and a drug-sniffing dog.

Continue Reading

US CA: Funds Requested To Fight Drug Pangas Off Calif.

US CA: Funds Requested To Fight Drug Pangas Off Calif.

Lompoc Record, 19 Apr 2014 – SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) – The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office wants money to fight drug-smuggling pangas that have washed ashore the central coast in recent years. Sheriff Ian Parkinson plans to ask county supervisors Tuesday to spend nearly $500,000 in federal grants to buy a response boat and other equipment.

Continue Reading

Reviews

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Why We Celebrate Weed On 4/20

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Why We Celebrate Weed On 4/20

This article was originally published on April 20, 2009, and has been reposted each year since.

Warren Haynes, the Allman Brothers Band guitarist, …

Read more: 4/20, What Is 420, Video, Weed Day 420, 4/20 Meaning, Smoking Marijuana, Meaning Behind 420, Marijuana, Weed Day, 4/20 2014, Marijuana Legalization, Pot, April 20, Weed, Politics News

Continue Reading

Signs You’re Definitely Way Too High For This Party

Signs You’re Definitely Way Too High For This Party

“Why is everybody staring at me?”

Watch the latest “Commentary On” video from Above Average to see what one woman’s night looked like when she got …

Read more: Video, Commentary on Getting Too High, Marijuana, Funny Videos, Getting Too High, Too High at the Party, Above Average, Commentary On, Getting Too High Parody, Comedy News

Continue Reading

This Is The Marijuana Musical You’ve Been Waiting For

This Is The Marijuana Musical You’ve Been Waiting For

Marijuana legalization has been dominating headlines as of late, bringing tales of Colorado’s edibles and Washington’s dispensaries to nationwide news…

Read more: Musical, Somewhere Maine the Marijuana Musical, Marijuana, Jonathan Leavitt, Theater, Marijuana Musical, Marijuana Legalization, Port City Music Hall, Arts News

Continue Reading

New Ipsos MORI poll shows 53% of GB public want cannabis legalised or decriminalised

New Ipsos MORI poll shows 53% of GB public want cannabis legalised or decriminalised

News release
Embargoed until 00:01 Tuesday 19 February

Tel: 07980 213 943 or 07970 174 747
Web: www.tdpf.org.uk
Registered charity number: 1100518


New Ipsos MORI poll shows 53% of GB public want cannabis legalised or decriminalised, and 67% want a comprehensive review of our approach to drugs

A new poll by Ipsos MORI, commissioned by Transform Drug Policy Foundation, shows that over half of the public (53%) support cannabis legalisation (legal regulation of production and supply) or decriminalisation of possession of cannabis. Only 1 in 7 support heavier penalties and more being spent on enforcement for cannabis offences. In addition, the survey shows that around two thirds (67%) support a comprehensive independent review of all the possible policy options (from legal market regulation to tougher enforcement) for controlling drugs.

The findings indicate that 45% of mid-market newspaper readers (including Daily Mail and Express readers) support cannabis legalisation (legal regulation of production and supply) or decriminalisation of possession of cannabis, with less than one in five (17%) supporting heavier penalties and more being spent on enforcement for cannabis offences. For tabloid readers these figures are 47% and 20%. Around 65% of mid-market newspaper readers and 66% of tabloid readers support a full review of all drug policy options.

Additional survey findings include:

  • 53% of the public support legal regulation or decriminalisation of cannabis – 50% of Conservative supporters and 55% of Labour supporters also support these options, as do 46% of Daily Mail readers
  • Only 14% of the public (and 17% of Daily Mail readers) support tougher enforcement and heavier penalties for cannabis offences
  • 67% want a comprehensive review of all policy options. 70% of Conservative supporters and 69% of Labour supporters also feel this way, as do 61% of Daily Mail readers
  • When outcomes from Portugal were briefly described, almost 40% of the public support the Portuguese-style decriminalisation of small quantities of drugs for personal possession

A spokesperson for Transform said: “These results show just how far ahead of politicians the public are. Whilst Labour and Conservative politicians shy away from the debate on drugs, around half of their supporters want to see legal regulation of cannabis production and supply or decriminalisation of cannabis possession, and a significant majority want a comprehensive review of our approach to drugs – including consideration of legal regulation. The poll demonstrates that even amongst Daily Mail readers, almost half support less punitive approaches to cannabis, and a majority back an independent review of all options, which may come as a surprise to the paper’s editors.

“Politicians have repeated their ‘tough on drugs’ propaganda for so long that they assume the public are more fearful of change than they really are. In fact the world has changed, and the public are far more progressive than was thought, right across the political spectrum. At the very least the government should heed long standing and growing calls for a review of all policy options, including legal regulation. And as a matter of urgency the coalition should engage in experiments in the Portuguese style decriminalisation of possession of drugs for personal use. Now is the time for the heads of all parties to show the leadership citizens surely deserve.”

Contact

Danny Kushlick, Head of External Affairs: 07970 174 747 danny@tdpf.org.uk

Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst: 07980 213 943 steve@tdpf.org.uk




Notes

1. The full poll data is available here: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/Ipsos_MORI_TPDF_poll.pdf

Technical Details

Ipsos MORI carried out the survey, on behalf of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, between 25th January and 5th February 2013. A sample of 946 British adults aged 18+ completed a face-to-face survey via the Ipsos MORI omnibus. The data has been weighted by gender, social grade, age, region, working status, housing tenure and ethnicity to reflect the known local population profile.

Questions / Definitions

  • Given the subject matter, questions were presented to respondents on showcards with options reversed for some respondents. Respondents read out a letter to indicate their response.
  • Q1 was a split sample question: half sample were asked Q1A half sample were asked Q1B.

Q1A. Possession of illegal drugs is currently a criminal offence in the UK. Some other countries have ‘decriminalised’ possession of small quantities of illegal drugs for personal use. This means that possession of a small quantity for personal use is usually punished with fines (like a speeding fine), or attendance at a drug treatment or education programme, rather than arrest. Under ‘decriminalisation’, drugs are still confiscated. Production and supply to others remain criminal offences that may result in punishments carrying a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service.

With this in mind, which of the following comes closest to your view of the law in the UK?

  1. The law in the UK should stay as it currently is, so that possession of illegal drugs remains a criminal offence.
  2. The law in the UK should be changed, so that the possession of small quantities of illegal drugs is ‘decriminalised’, as described.
  3. An experimental trial of ‘decriminalisation’ should take place for a limited time period in some parts of the UK, to allow its effectiveness to be evaluated.
  4. Other

Q1B. Possession of illegal drugs is currently a criminal offence in the UK. Some other countries have ‘decriminalised’ possession of small quantities of illegal drugs for personal use. This means that possession of a small quantity for personal use is usually punished with fines (like a speeding fine), or attendance at a drug treatment or education programme, rather than arrest. Under ‘decriminalisation’, drugs are still confiscated. Production and supply to others remain criminal offences that may result in punishments carrying a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service.

Since this was introduced in Portugal in 2001, and resources were instead spent on healthcare, overall use of drugs rose at a similar rate to neighbouring countries. However, there were higher numbers accessing drug treatment, the justice system spent less time and resources on drug-related crime, and there were falls in problematic drug use, and drug use amongst school age children also fell.

With this in mind, which of the following comes closest to your view of the law in the UK?

  1. The law in the UK should stay as it currently is, so that possession of illegal drugs remains a criminal offence.
  2. The law in the UK should be changed, so that the possession of small quantities of illegal drugs is ‘decriminalised’, as described.
  3. An experimental trial of ‘decriminalisation’ should take place for a limited time period in some parts of the UK, to allow its effectiveness to be evaluated.
  4. Other

Q2. Would you support the government commissioning a full independent review of drug policy, that compared our current system of criminalisation with alternatives, including: increasing the criminal penalties for production, sale and use of drugs; decriminalising drug possession as described; and the legalisation and state regulation of production and supply for some currently illegal drugs?

  1. Yes, I would support a review
  2. No, I would not support a review
  3. Other

Q3. Here are a number of different options for regulating the production, supply and use of cannabis (also sometimes called marijuana, pot, hash, grass, skunk, weed, spliff or joints). Please read through this card and then read out the letter next to the option which you think best matches how you think cannabis should be regulated.



Scenario A. Legal – minimal control


Legal to produce and sell cannabis with minimal control and regulation.

Similar to tea and coffee, there is unrestricted advertising and availability. Only basic trading standards and quality controls apply, with prices, location and number of outlets decided by the market.



Scenario B. Legal – moderate control

Legal production and availability of cannabis with moderate government control and regulation

Similar to the current system for tobacco and alcohol, but cannabis is only available from licensed shops or premises. The number and location of outlets is decided by the government, which also influences prices through taxes or setting minimum prices. Packaging carries health warnings, and advertising and age restrictions apply.

If you are underage and in possession of cannabis, it may be confiscated. Licensed premises selling the drug to anyone underage will be fined, and may lose their license. All unlicensed sales are illegal and may result in punishments that carry a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service.



Scenario C. Legal – strict control

Legal production and availability of cannabis with strict government control and regulation

Like controlled medicines, cannabis is only available either with a doctor’s prescription for medical uses, and/or bought over the counter from a licensed retailer similar to a pharmacist, trained to give health information and advice. The government decides prices, maximum quantities sold, and the number and location of outlets. Users may be registered, age restrictions apply. Packaging carries health warnings, and branding and advertising are banned.

Any licensed retailers selling cannabis to anyone underage will be fined and may lose their license. All unlicensed sales are illegal and may result in punishments that carry a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service.



Scenario D. Illegal – decriminalise possession

Illegal to produce and supply, but possession of cannabis does not lead to a criminal record

Supply of cannabis is only through the illegal market where manufacture, distribution and sale are unregulated. Those found in possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use would not be given a criminal record. But the drug may be confiscated, and the user given a fine (similar to a speeding fine), or a requirement to attend a drug treatment or education programme.

Production and supply of cannabis to others remain criminal offences that may result in punishments carrying a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service.



Scenario E. Illegal – current laws apply

Illegal to produce, supply and be in possession of cannabis all lead to a criminal record

Supply of cannabis is only through the illegal market where manufacture, distribution and sale are unregulated. Production, supply and possession for personal use, or to supply others, can result in punishments that carry a criminal record, for example a prison sentence, fines or community service.



Scenario F. Illegal – much heavier penalties apply

Illegal to produce, supply and be in possession of cannabis all carry a prison sentence

Supply of cannabis is only through the illegal market where manufacture, distribution and sale are unregulated. Possession for personal use is always punished with a prison sentence, or a young offenders’ institution for under 18s. Production and supply to others is punished with an automatic life prison sentence. Substantially more money would be spent on enforcement against suppliers and users.

ENDS



Continue Reading

New Zealand: Column: Legalising Dope On Back-Burner

New Zealand: Column: Legalising Dope On Back-Burner

The Dominion Post, 06 Jan 2014 – IT’S BEEN great staying at home in Wellington this summer. The combination of awful television and dreadful weather has enabled me to catch up on heaps of reading. But tucked in between the dreary viewing of inane reports on New Year celebrations around the world and heart-breaking road tragedies was an entertaining story about America’s first legal marijuana stores.

Continue Reading

Other Recent Posts

US CA: Sheriff to Ask Supervisors for Money to Deal With

US CA: Sheriff to Ask Supervisors for Money to Deal With

| April 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Tribune, 18 Apr 2014 – New Defender Class Response Boat Would Be Used to Take Confiscated Panga Boats to Morro Bay for Disposal During the past two years the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has recovered 12 drug-smuggling panga boats that have landed along the North Coast, yet it does not have a way to safely and quickly remove the boats from the beach.

Continue Reading

US MO: Edu: 4/20, America’s Stoner Holiday, Explained

US MO: Edu: 4/20, America’s Stoner Holiday, Explained

| April 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Vox Magazine, 19 Apr 2014 – While most Americans are observing Easter and Passover this weekend, thousands are hitting the streets of Denver and other American cities to celebrate a less traditional holiday: 4/20. The holiday is cherished by marijuana enthusiasts around the world, and this year is no different. The rallies in Denver and other Colorado cities are poised to be the biggest yet, in large part due to the legalization of marijuana in the state.

Continue Reading

US MO: Barry County Connections Coalition To Host Town Hall

US MO: Barry County Connections Coalition To Host Town Hall

| April 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Monett Times, 19 Apr 2014 – The Barry County Connections Coalition will host a town hall meeting, Think Again, this month in Monett. The Wednesday, April 30 discussion will center around facts and myths about underage alcohol and drug abuse. The event will feature food, prizes and games, including an impaired driving simulator.

Continue Reading

US CA: Marijuana Plays Role In Easter Messages

US CA: Marijuana Plays Role In Easter Messages

| April 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 19 Apr 2014 – Some Churches See “420″ As A Means To Spread The Gospel LOS ANGELES – Social media has been buzzing for weeks with jokes about how Easter shares the calendar this year with the pot lover’s highest holiday: April 20, or 420 in stoner lingo. Pot smokers have long celebrated on the date by lighting up for reasons not quite clear.

Continue Reading

US FL: Sheriff Cautions Against Medical Pot

US FL: Sheriff Cautions Against Medical Pot

| April 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Ledger, 18 Apr 2014 – SEMINOLE – Sheriff Bob Gualtieri helped Pinellas County struggle through the dark days of prescription drug “pill mills,” when shady clinics doled out lethal opiates just for the asking. State and local authorities finally cracked down, but Gualtieri fears that legalizing medical marijuana would reopen those floodgates with a new drug of choice.

Continue Reading