[Canniseur: Manafort’s sentence turns the stomach for those of us who try to believe in democracy. Such flagrant abuse of power stinks to high hell.]
Repeatedly defraud financial institutions and the government? Get 47 months in prison.
Illegally possess marijuana in a prohibition state? That’s a 12-year sentence, pal.
A lot of people, including U.S. senators, are picking up on this ludicrous sentencing disparity on full display in a case involving Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The former lobbyist was convicted of over a dozen financial fraud charges. While prosecutors recommended that he serve roughly 20 years, a judge decided on Thursday that was too harsh a sentence.
The decision immediately inspired a slew of tweets, with many giving examples of cases where non-violent cannabis offenses have put people in prison for much longer. One post, about the aforementioned 12-year sentence for simple possession, already has more than 10,000 retweets.
Warren tweeted about Fate Winslow, who is facing a life sentence for distributing $20 worth of marijuana.
Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, commits bank and tax fraud and gets 47 months. A homeless man, Fate Winslow, helped sell $20 of pot and got life in prison. The words above the Supreme Court say “Equal Justice Under Law”—when will we start acting like it?
“We’re going to be flooded with stories in the next 24 hours about people with relatively minor offenses, selling an ounce of marijuana or stealing quarters from a laundry room with equivalent or greater sentences,” King told CNN on Friday.
There was no shortage of outrage over the apparent judicial disconnect between sentences for white collar crimes and what King described as “street crimes” such as marijuana distribution. Comedian and director Zack Bornstein joked that even his 4-year-old recognized the injustice.
OMG my 4-year-old just put down her Legos and said, “There are people serving longer sentences for marijuana possession than Manafort for helping dictators set up torture programs and committing high treason against the United States”
Oh I see, Manafort can commit massive tax fraud, launder Ukrainian oligarch money, violate a plea deal & give polling data to the Russians for cash, and do 47 months. But if I sold a few ounces of marijuana in Florida I get 5 years. Got it. #equaljustice#nojustice#Whitecollar
Lucky thing Manafort wasn’t found with a marijuana cigarette, been born black, or didn’t live “a blameless life” of representing dictators and the worst dregs of society. Otherwise he would have died in prison rather than taking a few years off in minimum security.
As Manafort is sentenced to just 4 years in prison, a reminder that a black man in Mississippi was sentenced to 8 years in prison for possession of marijuana purchased legally in another state. https://t.co/2YwkQG5mki via @aclu
I got grounded for 47 months for talking-back to my mom once. + I got a chancla thrown at me, which I dodged, so it grazed my ear. My mom’s tougher than that lame Judge Ellis. Man, if Manafort was black or brown and was caught selling an ounce of pot, he’d be in jail for life.
[Editor’s Note: I’ve never read Alex Jones in an interview before. However, I would really like to know what Mr. Jones is ingesting. I wondered why he gets any play in the media at all. Then I remembered; The entertainment (and ratings) value of crazies. The story is too crazy.]
Joe Rogan got conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his podcast this week and, among other things, the pair talked about psychedelics and aliens. Buckle up, folks.
According to Jones, there’s a deep state government program based in San Francisco through which rogue intelligence agents take massive doses of psychedelics like DMT and ayahuasca in order to engage in intergalactic diplomacy.
The InfoWars host claims to have spoken to hundreds of people in the military and Central Intelligence Agency about the clandestine operation.
Of course, Jones has also peddled a number of verifiably false claims like that crisis actors were behind the Sandy Hook school shooting and that high-profile Democrats participated in an underage sex trafficking operation run out of the basement of a pizzeria.
So keep that in mind as you read on…
Nonetheless, Jones claims “real research” and the testimony of his unnamed sources back up his claims about psychedelics and aliens.
In San Francisco, the “breakaway, rogue intelligence agencies” have an “alien base” where they are “literally communicating [with intergalactic beings] and they’ve got like astronaut-level people taking super hardcore levels of drugs and going into meetings with these things and making intergalactic deals,” Jones said.
“I’ve known about this a long time and I just don’t think people are ready for it.”
Rogan played devil’s advocate for a bit, noting that “everyone who’s done a high dose of psychedelic drugs has had this experience” of meeting seemingly alien beings.
“You have some kind of communication with something else,” Rogan said. “The question is, is that something else insider your psyche or is there a chemical doorway inside the mind that opens up?”
Jones said the process of making an intergalactic connections goes “even deeper,” too. In other cases, for more advanced psychonauts, “they turn your heart off for five minutes and they pump oxygen in your blood and you’re in the meetings.”
“You’re in the meeting with freaking aliens,” he said.
But what do they talk about during these meetings? Jones said “you get killed for this stuff,” explaining why he couldn’t reveal those details.
Jones clarified he hasn’t personally used DMT or ayahuasca—”for obvious reasons”—but he does use cannabis. He smoked what Rogan very sarcastically described as “100 percent” tobacco later in the episode, which is likely the same blend of “very strong tobacco from Mexico” that the two smoked on an earlier episode.
That 2017 sesh ended up costing Jones, though, as his wife took him to court in a custody battle that he lost after her attorneys submitted the clip as evidence of illegal drug use. Jones claimed at the trial that he uses cannabis annually to test its potency, because, he believes, billionaire Democratic donor George Soros is behind a plot to increase THC concentrations in marijuana.
Jones made some outlandish claims on that 2017 episode, too—like that a former NASA official died under mysterious circumstances before he was able to disclose “the secret of NASA”—but Jones seemed especially high in the clouds during the new appearance.
[Editor’s Note: Somehow using money from cannabis taxes seems a bit greedy. The Governor and the Mayor haven’t seen one penny of revenue from cannabis and are already spending the money. Perhaps they should work on one thing…make it legal first and then expunge all the arrests and then spend the tax money.]
Tax revenue from legal marijuana sales would help fund efforts to improve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York under a plan announced on Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D).
As the state moves closer to legalizing cannabis, leading lawmakers are already seeing opportunities to use marijuana tax revenue for infrastructure projects. In this case, the governor and mayor agreed that some of those dollars should supplement revenue from a congestion pricing plan they’re proposing.
“Congestion pricing tolls would be supplemented with State and City revenue from a fixed amount of the new internet sales tax derived from sales in New York City, with a growth factor, and a percentage of the State and City revenue from the cannabis excise tax,” reads part of the plan.
Portions of state and city marijuana tax revenue “will be placed in a ‘lockbox’ to provide a funding source necessary to ensure the capital needs of the MTA can be met, with priority given to the subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements and further investments in expanding transit availability to areas in the outer boroughs that have limited mass transit options.”
It was unclear whether Cuomo would back earmarking marijuana funds for transit when the idea was floated in December. But its inclusion in his and de Blasio’s 10-point plan, which also calls for the consolidation of transportation entities and combating fare evasion, puts an end to that question.
A report from New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management noted that the state can expect to generate as much as $677 million in tax revenue from marijuana sales in the first year and concluded that legalizing cannabis “should be considered in designing any policies to improve the mass transit and commuter rail systems under the control of the MTA.”
Cannabis revenue should not be directed “to entities like the MTA, NYCHA and Health and Hospitals, which have consistently propagated harm and been complicit in the arrest crusade by targeting people who have used marijuana by calling the police or taking black and Latina mothers away from their children after nonconsensual maternal drug tests,” Melissa Moore, New York State deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance, wrote in an editorial.
The money should instead go toward “marginalized communities, and the people first in line need to be the people who have been ravaged by overpolicing and impacted by other insidious criminalization,” she wrote.
Cuomo included marijuana legalization language in the annual budget he proposed to lawmakers last month, but it is not clear whether the idea will end up making it into final enacted fiscal legislation or, if so, what form it will take.
[Editor’s Note: Terrific story about a new short animation on the history of cannabis. I love the visuals in this. That aside, told only as Spike Jonze can tell a story. It’s so in my normalization wheelhouse.]
Director Spike Jonze teamed up with actor Jesse Williams and the dispensary chain MedMen to create a short film highlighting the history of marijuana and celebrating its growing normalization.
The production, released on Monday, features an 18th century George Washington cultivating hemp on his farm (“look it up, it was normal”) and freeze-frame scenes from the country’s ongoing drug war.
“But you know what isn’t normal? America’s 80 years of unjust prohibition, which hasn’t made us any safer” Williams narrates. “The point is, these punishments have been harsh—like 25-years-in-a-prison harsh. That’s madness.”
The 1936 anti-cannabis propaganda film Reefer Madness also gets a cameo. But instead of “madness,” Williams asks “how about wellness?”
“How about everyday good people are using it to calm their pain, their stress, their anxieties? And a product that drove people to the black market is now creating a new global market.”
“The same thing that inspired the creators, the makers and the disrupters—the symbol of counterculture—is at long last just culture. It’s normal again,” the narrator says. “Here’s to the new normal.”
The film was produced by MedMen, which was listed as a member of a New York-based medical cannabis industry association that lobbied against home cultivation in a document obtained by Marijuana Moment this month through a public records request. A MedMen spokesperson said in an email that the company supports the rights of individuals to grow their own cannabis but declined to respond to specific questions about its involvement with the drafting of a policy statement that the association submitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office late last year.
The New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association subsequently asked MedMen to leave the organization amid allegations that the company’s executives made racist and sexist comments. MedMen’s former chief financial officer filed a lawsuit against the company saying he was forced out after complaining about such behavior.
[Editor’s Note: This tremendously changes the scale and speed at which we are able to expunge cannabis convictions. This is wonderful news.]
A novel approach to marijuana expungements has helped San Francisco identify more than 8,100 cannabis convictions dating back to 1975 that will soon be automatically cleared, the district attorney’s office announced on Monday.
That would make San Francisco, which is both a city and county, the first county in the United States to complete an automatic marijuana expungement process. The office had previously expunged the records of 1,230 residents, so the sum total of sealed convictions will be over 9,600.
District Attorney George Gascón announced last year that his office would retroactively expunge prior cannabis convictions for individuals who qualify under the state’s cannabis legalization law that voters approved in 2016. That was significant because, as the law was written, the process to get records cleared is petition-based and burdensome.
With @codeforamerica, the @SFDAOffice becomes the first county in the country to finish the automated marijuana record clearance process. 8,132 marijuana-related convictions have automatically been cleared. This adds to the 1,230 convictions that have already been expunged.
To get the job done expeditiously, Gascón’s office teamed up with the non-profit organization Code for America, which developed an algorithm designed to identify eligible cases and streamline expungements.
“Prosecutors should act to address the inherent unfairness of penalizing people for activity that is no longer illegal,” Gascón said in a press release. “Using technology, we have been able to proactively bring greater racial equity and fairness to marijuana legalization in California. I am thrilled to see other counties and states following suit by offering similar relief in their communities. It’s the right thing to do.”
Fourteen counties across California have partnered with Code for America to utilize its Clear My Record technology, which takes the onus off individuals to submit petitions and requires minimal work from district attorneys offices that choose to adopt it.
“The Clear My Record technology can automatically and securely evaluate eligibility for convictions by reading and interpreting conviction data,” according to a press release from the group. “It can evaluate eligibility for thousands of convictions in just a few minutes.”
1/ 1 in 3 adults have a criminal record in the U.S. Having a criminal record has life-altering consequences, negatively impacting millions of people & the American economy.
In the months since Gascón announced that San Francisco would move to automatically expunge convictions for cannabis offenses made legal under state law, multiple municipalities across the country have followed its lead. Seattle, Oakland, Chicago, Denver, Baltimore and Washington State have all made similar commitments.
And marijuana policy reform advocates are increasingly demanding that expungement provisions be included in legalization legislation.
“Contact with the criminal justice system should not be a life sentence, so we’ve been working to reimagine the record clearance process,” Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive of Code for America, said in the press release. “Our work asks how we can make government work better for the people it serves, and we are honored to partner with DA Gascón’s office to deliver relief to thousands who have been blocked from access to jobs, housing and other opportunities for so long.”
“This new approach, which is both innovative and common sense, changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the country,” she said.