Mothers, Protect Your Families By Making Marijuana Legal In California
Huffpost 10/31/2016 Gretchen Burns Bergman
This is a call to action to mothers across California to use your moral authority to speak out to end a broken system of marijuana prohibition that has been tearing our families apart for far too many decades.
It may seem counter-intuitive that responsible mothers are promoting marijuana legalization, but it is, indeed, for the sake of our children and future generations.
Proposition 64 will put an end to a criminal justice response to cannabis that has led to mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders. Every year there are over 8,800 felony marijuana arrests in California. The war on drugs has not only failed, but it is decimating families across all social and cultural spectrums.
I’m not pro marijuana, but I am against a system that criminalizes young people, thus disrupting and destroying lives and saddling them with the lifelong exclusionary consequences of a felony drug conviction.
Currently marijuana is widely accessible to our kids in all neighborhoods. And, our drug laws are disproportionately harming black and Hispanic communities. Proposition 64 will prevent the destruction of thousands of California families.
Mothers, please don’t be swayed by the scare tactics of the criminal justice system, which has a financial stake in keeping people behind bars. Unfortunately, when in doubt, parents often remain silent, but we can’t afford to accept the status quo any longer. Our children’s futures are at stake.
By voting in favor of legalization and regulation you are in good company with a broad ranged coalition of supporters including many law enforcement officers, more than 50 physicians and the California Medical Association.
Prop 64 is called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act because it allows adults over 21 to use marijuana responsibly while providing strong safeguards to protect our youth. It also protects children under 18 from arrest for marijuana violations, so that a youthful mistake doesn’t become a pipeline to prison.
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A New PATH endorses this life-saving legislation for Assembly member
Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) has introduced AB 1535 in 2014 to permit pharmacists to furnish naloxone to people at risk of an opioid overdose or who may be present when one occurs. The bill is co-sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance and the California Pharmacists Association
PASSED INTO LAW IN 2014
You can read the text of the bill here.
A New PATH endorsed this measure, which was passed in November 2012 to amend California’s 3 Strikes law. It will save millions of dollars while improving public safety and easing prison overcrowding that has skyrocketed because we are locking up low-risk offenders. Nearly 2/3rds of second or third strikers have been incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. The measure will amend the current Three Strikes law in the following ways:
Eliminates life sentences for most minor, non-violent, non-serious crimes, such as petty theft and simple drug possession.
Provides that repeat offenders who commit a new non-violent, non-serious crime receive double the ordinary sentence instead of a life term
Prisoners currently serving life sentences for non-serious, non-violent crimes can apply for a sentence reduction. A Judge can reduce the life sentence to a term of years no less than double an ordinary sentence if the judge determines that the sentence reduction would not cause “an unreasonable risk to public safety.”
Exception: Any defendant who has ever been convicted of an extremely violent crime, such as rape, murder or child molestation, will receive a life sentence no matter how minor their third strike crime.
An estimated 3,000 inmates will be eligible for a new sentence under this initiative.
This measure will end the death penalty in California. PATH endorses this proposition and supports ending this inhumane policy.
Amendment 64 in Colorado
PATH supports this initiative that would end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.
Gov. Jerry Brown Signs 911 Good Samaritan Law to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths
Law Encourages People to Call 911 During An Overdose by Providing Limited Immunity for Low- Level Drug Law Violations
California Becomes Largest State in U.S. to Enact Legislation Aimed at Curbing National Overdose Crisis
DPA Press release 9/17/12 – Sacramento
Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation seeking to reduce the number of preventable deaths resulting from accidental drug overdoses. The passage of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 472, the “911 Good Samaritan bill,” received bipartisan support and makes California the tenth state in the country to take action to reduce accidental overdose fatalities by removing barriers to accessing emergency health services.
Other states with similar laws include New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. The bill was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, California ACLU and the Health Officers Association of California. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013.
“This is a great victory for parents. None of us want our kids overdosing on drugs, but as I told the legislature, I’d rather have my kid around to yell at than attend a funeral,” said Ammiano. “The young friends of those who overdose shouldn’t hesitate to seek help because they fear arrest. With the Governor’s signature, they won’t have to.”
Hundreds of advocates worked to champion versions of the bill for many years. Today, they cheered the news of the passage of law. “This is an incredibly special day for the thousands of California family members who worked so hard and for so long to pass this life-saving bill,” said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is just a small first step in reducing the number of fatal overdoses in California, but it’s a deeply important one.”
California is among the many states where drug overdose fatalities are the number one cause of accidental injury-related death, surpassing even motor vehicle deaths. Although studies indicate that most people overdose in the presence of others, many people either delay or do not call for emergency services. Numerous studies have shown that the number one reason that people hesitate or fail to call 911 in an overdose situation is fear of arrest for drug possession. To encourage people to seek emergency health services in the event of an accidental overdose, California’s 911 Good Samaritan law provides limited protections from charge and prosecution for low-level drug law violations, including possession of small amounts of drugs. Those who sell drugs are not protected under the new law.
“I never go a day without thinking of my son Jeff and I never will,” said Denise Cullen, co-founder of GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing). “Losing a child to a drug overdose is a tragedy in ways I can’t explain, but fighting so hard for him and for all the parents just like me, to get this law passed is really the best possible way I can honor him.”
With the enactment of this law, California's elected officials send a strong message that accidental drug overdose is a health issue, and that fear of criminal justice involvement should not be a barrier to calling 911 in the event of an overdose.
“After forty years of the war on drugs, California is finally righting its priorities by putting saving lives ahead of making petty arrests. The message is loud and clear: call for help in case of an overdose. This is an important step toward better drug and public health policies and it will save lives,” said Margaret Dooley- Sammuli, senior policy advocate for the ACLU of California.
“The physician Health Officers who provide leadership for public health programs in every county are grateful to Governor Brown for partnering with us on this common sense, no-cost approach to saving lives,” said Bruce Pomer, executive director of Health Officers Association of California. "It's urgently needed."
A New PATH and other overdose prevention advocates will join dozens of organizations throughout 2013 in helping to get the word out and raise awareness of the new law.