Drugs (War on and Addiction)

The Unintended Side Effects of Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse

Twinkle VanFleetBy Twinkle VanFleet

A workplace accident in 2001 changed my life forever. While working as a part-time grocery checker and cashier, I suffered an incident that led to the tendons being torn from the bones of my right foot. After an initial misdiagnosis, I ultimately discovered that I had a rare central nervous system disorder that subsequently altered my skin, blood vessels, muscles, bones, and caused atrophy and other issues to my body. Since my accident, pain has become an unbearable, unmanageable, and near-constant presence in my life.

Where Black Teens And White Middle-Agers Get Equally Busted For Drugs

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

In 1986, more than 8,000 black teenagers were arrested across Los Angeles County for drug offenses. After a steady, steep decline, that number fell to just 400 in 2013. Meanwhile, drug arrests of L.A.’s white middle-agers more than doubled. From the peak arrest year (1986) to the present, a huge shift in racial patterns has emerged:

Marijuana Legalizers Should Move Debate Forwards, Not Backwards

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

At a time when California's spectacular success in reducing marijuana arrests ranks second best in the entire country, supporters of legalizing marijuana can contribute to further progress by jettisoning obsolete arguments that create unwarranted fears of young people.

Brown Vetoed 'Wiser Choice' in Drug Possession Prosecution with SB 649

By Dan Aiello

California's drug laws will remain steeped with inconsistent consequences for those convicted of simple possession after Governor Jerry Brown's October veto of a bill to make unlawful possession of certain controlled substances, including opiates, punishable as either a felony or as a misdemeanor.

Current law mandates a felony charge for possession of any opiate-based narcotic, while allowing for other drugs like L.S.D. and Methamphetamine to be "wobblers," allowing local District Attorneys to prosecute as either felony or misdemeanor.

Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions

By Selena Teji

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

There are many collateral consequences to criminal convictions in California, such as barriers to employment, housing, and social services. An additional concern that criminal defense attorneys should consider when advising their clients is the possible immigration consequences of their conviction. Under current immigration laws, even legal permanent residents can face deportation and bars on reentry following a conviction for a low-level drug offense.

Industrial Hemp Bill On Its Way to Governor Brown

By Ali Bay

Legislation that allows California farmers to be prepared to grow industrial hemp upon federal approval has cleared both houses of the legislature. SB 566, authored by Senator Mark Leno, would permit growers in the Golden State to cultivate industrial hemp for the sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers and businesses that currently rely on international imports for raw hemp products. The bill, which is co-authored by Assemblymember Allan Monsoor, R-Costa Mesa, and has received strong bipartisan support in both houses, would go into effect once the federal government lifts its ban on hemp cultivation.

Shutting Down the School-To-Jailhouse Pipeline in California

Brian GoldsteinBy Brian Goldstein

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Six months later, this incident remains seared in the nation’s consciousness. The tragedy at Sandy Hook joined the unfortunate list of other school shootings, like those at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School.

As Americans struggled to make sense of the tragedy, advocacy groups and policymakers in all levels of government developed political solutions they thought necessary to prevent this from happening again.

Fixing California's Mass Incarceration Mess

By Dick Price

As California grapples with a prison system so broken that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated reductions in the number of prisoners it holds, the three-part "Smart Justice: Rethinking Public Safety in California" discussion begun this past week at the University of Southern California is examining both consequences and possible solutions to the state's mass incarceration mess.

Reform Cuts Marijuana Possession Arrests 86% in 2011, Upends California Drug Policing

By Mike Males

Just-released 2011 arrest statistics from the state Criminal Justice Statistics Center show that pioneering legislation downgrading simple marijuana possession from a criminal offense into an infraction - an effort to deter passage of Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana outright - has detonated a revolution in California drug-law enforcement.

California's new arrest figures read like something out of a drug policy reformer's dream - but with unexpected twists (see graphics). Arrests for marijuana possession plummeted by 86%, from 54,900 in 2010 to 7,800 in 2011, abruptly reversing a two-decade trend of increasing marijuana misdemeanor arrests and returning numbers to levels not seen since before the Summer of Love.

The Gateway Myth

By Randall G. Shelden
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Smoke a joint one day and next thing you know you are hooked on heroin or cocaine. I recall sitting in on a panel discussion on drugs at UNLV and a couple of the “experts” repeated the claim. One man in the audience who was apparently an ex-con told the audience something like “everyone I knew in prison who used heroin or cocaine also smoked pot.” My protests to the contrary fell upon deaf ears.

Part of this myth is the confusion of cause and effect. Most of the time those who argue in favor of the gateway myth look at all the people who have used heroin or cocaine and when they learn that most of them first used pot they assume therefore the use of pot led to the use of the other drugs. They forget that heroin and cocaine users are a very small group whereas pot users are a very large group (over half of all Americans have used pot compared to less than 5% who use the other two drugs). Most that use marijuana never use the other two drugs.