Canada to Shake Up
UN Drug Forum
Forum takes place on
International 420 Day
From April 19 - 21, the long awaited and much anticipated UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Drugs will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York.
The genesis of this Special Session on drugs began back in April 2012 at the Summit of the Americas where drug policy reform was a major topic of debate for the first time in the Summit’s history. The following year in May 2013, the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a report, undertaken at the direction of a number of Central and South American leaders, supporting legalization as a viable alternative to the continued prohibition of drugs.
Thus began the process which eventually resulted in the upcoming 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs. This is unprecedented and has caught world-wide law enforcement off-guard - almost all of whom ravenously feed every year at the $100 billion+ pig trough of drug prohibition. Needless to say they are scrambling to regain an upper hand.
Drug law reformers, such as those who prevailed on OAS to bring this UN Special Session about, are looking to use this Special Session to develop a new direction using harm reduction protocols and doctors, nurses and social workers for dealing with drugs rather than the criminal justice system with their cops, attorneys and prison guards. This is in stark contrast to the last UNGASS meeting in 1998 where law enforcement was totally in control with self-serving calls for a “drug-free world” and concocted absurd and impractical goals to reduce drug production and use.
One of the major policy initiatives in the harm reduction direction was released on September 9, 2014, when the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) released their groundbreaking report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work. The report calls for decriminalization, incarceration alternatives, increased emphasis on public health approaches and for permitting the legal regulation of drugs by nations that want to enact such policies.
The Commission is the most distinguished group of high-level leaders to ever call for such sweeping changes and includes former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, former Colombian President César Gaviria, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, and Richard Branson, among others. It is the intention of drug law reforms to get the UNGASS meetierng to use the Global Commission’s report as a template for drug policy reform.
Now just one month before this earthquake of a UN conference begins, Canada has dropped a bombshell – one that apparently was welcomed with open arms.
At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna in March 2016, Hilary Geller, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, stated that the new Canadian Liberal Government headed by Justin Trudeau will be moving away from the American War on Drugs policies, open more safe-injection sites for drug users, promote harm reduction policies and legalize marijuana.
Rather than jaws dropping to the floor and stunned into silence, the National Post of Canada reported that attendees at the conference, made up of government and non-governmental organization officials from around the world, “erupted in applause” mid-way through the address and gave a prolonged ovation.
Jason Nickerson, a research scientist attending the conference from Ottawa’s Bruyère Research Institute, told Post reporters that Geller’s presentation was at odds with the policies of the former Canadian government of Stephen Harper whose policies closely followed those of the United States implementing mandatory-minimum jail sentences and beefing up police narcotics enforcement. Harper’s Conservative Party government also opposed harm reduction programs which focus on prevention rather than prosecution and refused to condemn the death penalty for drug offences, imposed by countries such as Iran and Indonesia.
At the conference Geller emphasized that her government opposes capital punishment “in all cases.”
Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, said that Geller’s stance is a “180-degree” turnabout and that “It was very moving for the Canadians in the room, people who have been working on this issue for 10 years in a context where Canada has been more aligned with China and Russia and Pakistan.”
As Nickerson, who supports more liberal policies, pointed out “There are some countries here that are coming out and saying important, progressive things, but it’s certainly not as explicit as what Canada is saying.”
Will this conference result in the repeal of Henry Anslinger’s pet UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs Treaty that has impaled humane and rational reform on the altar of Drug Prohibition? Probably not as the day before the conference where Ms. Geller made her presentation, a UN official had rebuked Canada for its moves to legalize marijuana, which it said violated the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
It is a start nevertheless and maybe, just maybe, there can be as much significant movement forward as there was at the recently concluded climate change conference in Paris. We can only hope that President Obama gets his mojo back on drug reform from when he was a U.S. Senator.
Obama needs to direct the U.S. Delegation to support the OAS and Canadian governments bid to end the criminalization of drug use by instituting harm reductions policies that can successfully reduce substance abuse while protecting civil rights, clipping the omnipotent wings of law enforcement, saving billions and billions of taxpayer dollars and bringing to an end the racist, inhumane and failed policies of the War on Drugs.
APRIL MAPP MEETINGS FEATURES
OUTSTANDING SPEAKERS &
April MAPP meetings feature outstanding presentations on marijuana in Desert Hot Springs, Drug Law Reform, Native Americans rescuing mmj and cops getting busted for eating candy at a marijuana dispensary.
Palm Springs/ Coachella Valley MAPP meeting - Saturday, April 2 at 12 noon
Positive Protection Public Policy is the template for Richard Gicomeng’s approach to drug policy reform where all laws in our society would be designed to protect the public rather than entrap innocent people and hold them accountable for ridiculous archaic restrictions that only weaken the American public. Richard points out that it was not the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that reduced drug abuse, it was the education servicemen received during WWII on how to use drugs the right way for the right medical purpose that turned the 1940s and 1950s into the two decades of the 20th century when narcotics use was at its lowest.
Meeting to be held at Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon, downtown Palm Springs 92262. Everyone is invited to also attend the Brownie Mary Democrats meeting preceding the MAPP meeting at 11:30 a.m.
Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree MAPP meeting - Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m.
Jason Elasser, one of the principle organizers of Yucca Valley’s Measure X initiative, has received one of the commercial cultivation licenses from Dessert Hot Springs for operating a large scale marijuana growing facility in their industrial warehouse district. He is currently working with the city of Desert Hot Springs to host a Town Hall meeting on April 20 to inform and educate the residents of Desert Hot Spring about the importance and positive impacts that marijuana will play in the transformation of that city. Jason will be speaking about what is happening in DHS, what he is specifically licensed for and will be doing as well providing information on the upcoming DHS Town Hall meeting that everyone, whether they live in DHS or not, are invited to attend.
Meeting to be held at the fabled Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
Riverside/Western IE MAPP meeting – Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Native-Americans providing mmj to patients and candy thieving cops in a mmj dispensary will be the focus of the presentation by Marla and David James. The activist couple have been working with a Native-American tribe to solve the distribution problems that have plagued medical marijuana patients. They were also caught up in a malicious raid on a mmj collective in Santa Ana where the cops were caught feasting on presumably mj edibles. The cops have now been indicted for stealing candy bars. Watch for the next newsletter where more information on their presentation, including a special speaker, will be presented.
The meeting takes place at THCF Patient Center, 647 Main St. Unit 4D, Riverside 92501. Everyone is invited to also attend the Brownie Mary Democratic Club meeting preceding the MAPP meeting at 6 p.m.
An assortment of delectable cookies and milk will be served at all 3 meetings.
Greedy Investors in MJ Stocks vs.
Savvy Investors in MJ Organizations
The Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP) is just a small local Inland Empire organization with the distinction of being the oldest active medical marijuana patient support group and marijuana law reform organization in the IE.
MAPP began in December 1999 with its first meeting at a small headshop called the The Hemp Store in Desert Hot Springs. We have always been local and have never had aspirations to grow beyond the IE. The IE is a big enough pond to deserve one organization devoted entirely to IE issues surrounding marijuana. I am proud that MAPP has been that organization for the last 16 years.
As for the closure of our bank account, it sure says a lot for the omnipotent power of banks when they can close an account, with what appears to be complete impunity, for no other reason than they do not approve of the organization’s goals. The denial of financial services can be the death knell of an organization such as groups like NORML which rely on contributions made from all over the U.S. (a substantial sum of NORML’s contributions comes from credit card charges via their website).
Fortunately MAPP has such a small financial footprint that the closure is more an affront to decency than it is to MAPP’s existence. Our finances are a trifling – less than $250 monthly - mainly costs associated with our phone, website, radio show and meetings. These costs are covered each month by donations made at the meetings, small donations made at our website and by members of our 420 Club.
Once in a while we undertake a larger project that costs a bit more – like sending a contingent of 12 – 15 medical marijuana patients to Sacramento to participate in Americans for Save Access’s Citizen’s Lobby Day. These costs are substantially covered by a very select group of donors who over the years have generously underwritten these special projects. If you would like to join this “select” group of donors, I look forward to hearing from you.
At this point I would like to segue for a moment to a fascinating article that I read last week with the headline:
Marijuana Investors Lost $23.3 Billion in Penny Stocks Last Year
Published online by Motherboard, a news service operated by the expanding and growing Bill Maher produced VICE media, the article was totally mind blowing reporting that in 2014 over $23.3 billion went up in smoke in essentially worthless marijuana stocks and no one even got a buzz.
This figure is amazing especially considering that the total of all legal sales of marijuana in the US, according to data released by the ArcView Group, an organization which specializes in tracking cannabis markets, was $2.7 billion in 2014 and $5.4 billion in 2015.
There is more money being spent in the U.S.A. on what are presumably legal marijuana stocks than is being spent on legal marijuana. Granted significantly more is spent on illegal marijuana – no really knows how much with estimates running from $10 billion to $120 billion – but still whoever would have thought that people would invest $23.3 billion on something that is federally illegal and legally problematic at best on the state level.
Here is what is going on according to the article:
Investors in small cannabis companies lost $23.3 billion in 2014 because shady stock promoters are capitalizing on the slow tide of legalization in the US by manipulating the penny stock market with “pump and dump” schemes.
Penny stocks are stocks in small companies that trade for less than five dollars apiece. They’re quoted and traded on dealer networks like OTC Markets because they don’t meet the requirements to be traded on more formal exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange. They’re also extremely volatile. Shady stock promoters capitalize on this volatility by convincing others to buy stock in worthless companies to increase their value temporarily—the “pump”—before selling them—the “dump”—leaving naive investors holding the bag…
To read the full article CLICK HERE
I wonder how many of these people who invested in and lost $23.3 billion in penny marijuana stocks ever gave a dime to an marijuana organization. If that $23.3 billion had been given to organizations like NORML MPP and DPA, marijuana would now be legal across the nation and those stocks might actually have been worth something.
Now to seamlessly segue back to MAPP, I received an email about this article in which the correspondent wrote “this sort of craven greed creates an opportunity for public interest organizations to promote their form of advocacy instead - e.g. our method of progress might be slow but at least we won't defraud you."
MAPP is slow but steady and doesn’t need a billion dollar investment to continue its mission in the IE, but would you be willing to risk an investment of 14 cent a day in MAPP by joining our 420 Club and donating $4.20 a month. I would point out that all donations to MAPP keeps your money local - all contributions are used locally for local projects – supporting MAPP supports your local community and you.
The 420 Club donations are made through PayPal which has not closed our account. All funds will remain safely in our PayPal account until as such time as a new bank account is opened. I guarantee a new account will be opened even if we have to change the acronym for MAPP from Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project to Mothers Against Philandering Politicians (if you have suggestions for a new acronym for MAPP without the “scare” word marijuana, please send them to me).
As an added incentive to start investing 14 cents a day in MAPP, we will use a rational portion of these funds that you most generously contribute to celebrate the opening a new bank account and re-entry into the financial services world with a party - cannabis friendly of course.
14 cents a day – that’s all it takes to Join Our 420 Club and to show your support and confidence that MAPP will continue on in spite of the dastardly actions of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. Plus it’s gonna be a really swell party.
To join the 420 Club, CLICK HERE. Your contributions are greatly and sincerely appreciated.
Chase Bank Closes MAPP
Account Because It
Supports MJ Legalization
Last Wednesday I went to the MAPP account on Chase.com website to pay our monthly phone bill. Only when I got to the webpage the MAPP account was no longer there. My own personal account and the account of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside Co. was there as was my Chase VISA charge card, but MAPP had vanished.
I immediately called Chase Customer Service and was informed that Chase had closed the MAPP account. We have had this account for over 12 years and have never had any problem with it before - not that some tellers weren’t curious about just what the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project was – they certainly were and they all thought it was really cool.
When the Customer Service representative could not provide me with any information on why the account was closed, I asked to speak with someone who could. After about five minutes of poor quality telephone music I was connected to a Joey Pestano who identified himself as a Supervisor, but didn’t explain just what he was supervising.
He was not exactly the friendliest person I have spoken with on a company’s customer service line as he tried to justify Chase refusing to inform me as to why they closed the account by saying:
"We have the right to not give out the information on why we are closing your account. We have conducted a review of each and every account and have found that somehow we find risk and it is our right not to tell you what that risk is. The decision made by entire Chase Company. I did not make the decision. We cannot tell you who in Chase made the decision to close your account."
Banks have been notorious for making it impossible for marijuana dispensaries, whether it is for medical or adult recreational use, to utilize the normal banking services that a business needs to provide safe, efficient and above-board service to their clients. Hiding behind the rube that some federal banking agency would shut them down if they dared to provide any kind of bank services to a distributor of marijuana, they have endangered the lives of a dispensary’s employees and clientele by forcing them to deal with cash.
Chase, BofA, Wells Fargo and so on all run around like chickens with their heads cut off proclaiming that they would lose their banking license or whatever it is the feds give them if they dared to allow a marijuana business to use their banking services. What incredible bullshit and I am amazed that no one in the media has called them on it.
The federal government did everything it possibly could do to keep these banks open when the 2008 meltdown sent the country into the brink of a depression thanks in large part to the sub-prime and other predatory lending schemes that banks had concocted to rob the American public.
When it blew up in their collective faces and they were threatened with bankruptcy and closure, the feds pumped hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into them to keep them from closing. Does anyone really think for one second that the federal government, after spending hundreds of billions to keep them open, would then close down Wells Fargo, Chase, BofA or any of the other banks that was on the verge of collapse if they provided banking services to marijuana businesses that were legal under state law?
Whatever the reason was, it was NOT because the banks would get closed down for providing services to marijuana dispensaries. What’s the actual reason? Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, says it is reefer madness. Maybe, but I believe pressure is being applied to these banks to purposefully and willfully undermine the ability of dispensaries to operate and provide marijuana. I have suspicions of who it is (DEA? ONDCP?) and they are now rearing their medusa head again. This time not just against businesses that provide marijuana under state law, but now to organizations whose purpose is to end marijuana prohibition – which, if legalization nationwide came about, would considerably diminish their ability to arrest, prosecute and imprison people. thereby lessening their power and congressional appropriations.
CALL MR. ROBERSON OF CHASE
AND TELL HIM HOW
UNRIGHT THIS IS
I received a call on Friday, March 11 from a Mr. Reginal Roberson. Mr. Robertson is an Executive Specialist with the Office of the CEO of Chase. He informed me that the bank will not re-consider its decision to close the account and will continue to refuse to provide any reason for the closure.
I would strongly encourage you to call Mr. Roberson at 877-658-5560 ext. 1299033 and tell him to let the CEO of Chase know that it is wrong to close the account of a totally legal organization because Chase opposes marijuana legalization. It wouldn’t hurt to add that you will not do business with Chase, will encourage others not to do business with Chase and if you have a bank account with Chase, your have decided to close your account and move it to another bank.
If you do call, I would appreciate it if you would send me an email with his response to your call. I am maintaining a detailed account of everything that is happening and I would like to include the response to your phone call in this account.
The week before Chase closed the MAPP bank account, NORML had its credit card processing services canceled. See the article at the end of this blog for information on what happened to NORML.
Like NORML, MAPP does not sell, distribute or in any was deal with marijuana itself. MAPP is a medical marijuana patient support group and law reform organization that works within the legal and political system to end marijuana prohibition.
Chase Bank seems to believe they have the right to deny financial services to a person or organization because they disagree with their political position on a legal issue. I wonder if a federally chartered bank can deny financial services for that reason. They could not do it for race, ethnicity or religion. Is it a free speech violation of the first amendment for a federally chartered bank to deny its services to legal applicants if it doesn’t approve of their message?
The question is why are so many financial institutions doing this as neither NORML and MAPP are doing anything illegal. Is this their own decision to undermine us or is some backroom power (DEA? ONDCP?) putting pressure on them to pull the financial rug out from under the marijuana law reform movement?
I want to find out and to that end I have contacted Congressman Raul Ruiz's office, Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Feinstein's office. At the suggestion of Steven Nagy of Senator Boxer’s office, I have filed complaints with Office of the Controller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In hopes of bringing some public attention to this despicable display of power to undermine our movement, I have sent out press releases to over a hundred reporters and media outlets.
Like Citizens United, it is fundamentally inconceivable and a threat to democracy that banks should be allowed to be the
gatekeepers of which ideas will have the
ability to be promulgated to the American public.
Want to do something about it?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760-799-2055 to help.
Lanny Swerdlow, RN LNC
Here’s a report on NORML's banking problems from the Extract website by Emily Gray Brosious.
Is “prejudice against marijuana” to blame
for NORML’s financial services termination?
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), one of the oldest and largest nonprofit, pro-marijuana legalization public interest lobbies in the United States, has lost its donation processing services — and NORML founder Keith Stroup says marijuana prejudice is to blame.
According to Stroup, NORML “abruptly” lost its ability to accept credit and debit card donations last week after the company that processes its donations, TransFirst, discovered NORML’s pro-legalization advocacy work.
As a nonprofit that largely depends on donations made through its website, this “glitch presents a serious threat to the organization,” Stroup wrote in a blog entry the previous Monday.
TransFirst said it ceased processing NORML’s web donations because the group is part of the “marijuana industry,” according to Stroup. He counters that NORML is a public interest lobby with no financial stake in the marijuana industry.
Stroup believes NORML is being denied business services “simply because we have a website that promotes the legalization of marijuana. I am angry that some mid-level executive at TransFirst was able and willing to disrupt our work at NORML based on the content of the advocacy on our website. That represents a totally unnecessary act – there is no theory under federal law that would penalize a company for providing financial services to NORML – and one that smacks of anti-marijuana prejudice that is reminiscent of the days of “reefer madness. We are being penalized for our political views.”
Stroup says NORML is now looking for a new financial services provider “that will not be frightened by our political views.”
TransFirst did not immediately return Extract’s requests for comment.
Commenting on the despicable action, Dale Gieringer of CaNORML stated:
“This is by no means the first time that reformers have been denied financial services for marijuana advocacy. Cal NORML was similarly ostracized by PayPal, and a well-known MMJ advocacy group was inexplicably turned down by a succession of banks.
Not just financial services are at issue when it comes to anti-MJ bigotry. NORML's website is inaccessible at many institutions that patronizingly block "drug-related" internet content, including hospitals, libraries and even news services.”
Being Wrong Can Sometimes
Be Better Than Being Right
Sometimes it is really good to be wrong and my take on what would happen at the Temecula City Council meeting last week couldn’t have been further off the mark. I am thrilled to have been so misinformed.
I wrote that Temecula Mayor Michael Naggar “is staunchly opposed to medical marijuana and is quite capable of browbeating the other council members to his way of thinking.”
At the meeting however, Mayor Naggar recounted personal stories of people he knows who benefited from medical marijuana use and came out fully in favor of its use and for patients to at least be able to grow their own. No browbeating was necessary for the council to vote to adopt the Riverside Co. ordinance as the cultivation ordinance for the city of Temecula.
Marijuana Can Help Autistic Children Lead
Normal Lives If Their Parents Knew About It
One IE Man is Letting Them Know About It & More
Meet him at January MAPP meetings
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that appears within the first 3 years of life most commonly affecting communication and social skills. The cause of the disorder is not known but is linked to abnormal brain chemistry.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 over one million children in the U.S. were diagnosed with autism. Although some children are able to function well with a variety of treatments, others suffer from disabling speech difficulties and actions that can harm themselves and/or others.Read more
These IE People Made A Difference This Week
Here’s How and Where
If you don’t know them, then you should know what they did. In my last newsletter, I wrote about the stampede underway by cities and counties to enact delivery service and cultivation bans ahead of the California State Legislatures presumed March 1 drop dead deadline which would, theoretically, put them under state control if local bans or ordinances were not adopted.
(I say “presumed” because it was always debatable if that is what the legislature really meant and it turns out they didn’t. Assemblyman Jim Woods, one of the authors of these new convoluted medical marijuana distribution laws, has stated it was a mistake to include the March 1 deadline in the legislation and he will be introducing a bill to remove the March 1 deadline as soon as the legislature returns in January. So if city councils continue to try and justify these rushed meetings and hearings with little or no notice to constituents, it’s not because of any kind of deadline they have to meet. )Read more