What a week for liberty. If we continue at this pace, I wonder what America will even look like in four years.
First we have the Department of Homeland Security — an agency that should not even exist in the first place with over a decade of failures and scandals behind it and all at the cost of a mere $41 billion a year to taxpayers — receiving sweeping new gestapo powers to conduct widespread immigration raids in what our new president actually referred to as a “military operation” in America’s streets to kick out 11 million undocumented immigrants regardless of their personal circumstances.
As if this place wasn’t already a ‘papers please’ police state enough, now White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has announced that Trump’s Administration is about to ramp up the failed drug war against cannabis on the same day that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (referred to as a “drug war dinosaur” for his stance on marijuana) reversed the plan to phase out the human rights horrors that are private prisons… all on the same day.
So today is the day Jeff Sessions officially started running the Justice Dept. Marijuana legalization is out, private prisons are back in. https://t.co/qxCFNgR669
— Jerry David (@BostonJerry) February 23, 2017
The intent being that the feds are going to crack down on states which have legalized recreational use of marijuana… so they can fill up the private prisons with more people convicted of smoking a harmless plant?
So far, eight states have completely legalized marijuana, including the entire West Coast. Colorado and Washington have seen tax profits of over $200 million and $250 million respectively just last year alone. California stands to pull in $1 billion in its first year as a totally legal state.
Currently, 17 more states have introduced measures to do the same thing… which only makes sense, considering 59% of Americans support marijuana legalization and 71% say the federal government shouldn’t interfere with the states according to Drug Policy Alliance.
Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have already responded to Spicer’s announcement by vowing to defend their state’s recreational marijuana law, with Ferguson telling the Seattle Times, “I will resist any efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the will of the voters in Washington state.”
The jig is up but they’re still trying to dance. With eight fully legal states and another 17 headed that way, we’re long past the days of Refer Madness, aren’t we?
We should be long past the days of arresting people for the use of plant that isn’t just harmless, but found again and again in studies to have great medicinal value. If anyone in government was honest, the only reason we aren’t is because it hurts corporate bottom lines and the criminal justice prison-industrial economy built specifically around the drug war. The biggest lobbyists against marijuana legalization are alcohol producers and the pharmaceutical drug companies run by these guys who Trump met with at the White House a few weeks ago:
— President Trump (@POTUS) January 31, 2017
They know each time marijuana is legalized in a state, reliance on prescription pain medications and overdose deaths due to opioid misuse decrease substantially in that state.
Bad for business.
As I’ve written before, the DEA’s drug schedule appears to be arranged based on how much financial damage the drugs on it might do to Big Pharma and not how much physical harm they might do to the American public. It’s the only thing that even remotely begins to explain why marijuana is Schedule 1 while meth remains at Schedule 2. But I digress…
On the same day that the Trump Administration announced it was stepping up the ridiculous, losing war on pot, AG Jeff Sessions — a huge fan of the DEA and avid if not rabid supporter of the drug war — announced he was reversing a plan which began near the end of Obama’s last term to phase out private for-profit prisons in a move described to some as a nice little gift to President Trump’s financial donors.
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Private prison companies invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and today they got their reward. https://t.co/N10uuoGS2C
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 23, 2017
The reason the Justice Department announced they were doing away with private prisons is because a DOJ audit found they had many more safety and security issues than their federal counterparts. Turns out, for-profit prisons were found to be much more violent and much less humane than federal prisons, and dramatically so.
It’s also been noted that private prisons donated handsomely to the Trump campaign, including a $125,000 donation to a pro-Trump super PAC from a subsidiary of The Geo Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the country, prompting outcry from watchdog groups because government contractors are supposed to be barred from making such political donations.
That, and AG Sessions has been very pro private prisons for, oh, about 20 years now. He green-lighted them in his home state of Alabama when he was attorney general there, and even reportedly helped one outfit receive lucrative federal contracts to house undocumented immigrants.
Conflicts of interest and human rights abuses aside, as Death and Taxes sums up so eloquently, “The problem with the private prison industry is that corporations profit when they build more prisons, so the industry is incentivized to lock up as many people as possible.”
This point probably doesn’t even need to be made by now, but Senator Bernie Sanders went ahead and made it anyway:
Trump just opened the floodgates for private prisons to make huge profits by building more prisons and keeping even more Americans in jail.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 23, 2017
Exactly… but of course the people making these decisions already know that.
Guess it’s a good call for Sessions start all that private prison use back up, considering they are going to need a lot more jail cells to house all those awful plant users for non-violent crimes!
Because she stated it so well, please read my friend Lily Dane’s summary of Jeff Sessions and his stance on marijuana in particular so you can truly understand where (who) all of this is coming from:
One of the most controversial things Sessions has said was about the Ku Klux Klan. He said he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”
That comment was made years ago, but Sessions is still a very vocal opponent of legalizing cannabis – for both recreational and medicinal use.
I guess he’s an opponent of science too, because to date, there are over 22,000 published studies in the scientific literature that reference the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
So far, scientific study of cannabis has identified more than 80 unique, biologically active cannabinoids. A recent meta-analysis of these compounds shows well over a dozen therapeutic properties attributable to cannabinoids, including neuroprotective, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties. (source)
Not only is Sessions apparently anti-science and anti-health freedom, he totally digs one of the most dangerous and hated government agencies:
“I’m a big fan of the DEA”, he said during a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At that hearing, Sessions said of marijuana – and I am not making this up – “Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to it and it is not harmless.”
Right, because Lady Gaga’s opinion is far more credible than, oh, decades of scientific research.
In April of this year, the Senate held a drug hearing.
Sessions attended, and said a few more
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”
Right, because humans haven’t been using cannabis for, oh – decades – without government permission.
He spoke of the need to foster “knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about… and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
No, Mr. Sessions – you have that wrong. You see, “good people” do not tell other people what to do with their bodies. “Good people” do not deny people of their right to make their own decisions about what to do in the privacy of their own homes. “Good people” do not use the force of government to deprive people of their access to a plant that shows incredible promise in the treatment and management of chronic health problems and devastating diseases.
But apparently in Trump’s America, “bad people” who smoke marijuana get to go to for-profit prisons… even when it has already been made 100% legal for recreational use in their state and 16% of the country.