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The For-Profit Prison Economy, with its racist basis

surely has an impact upon employment opportunities, beyond the basics of economic life, such as access to opportunities by who you know, the history of wealth accumulation among a very few, to the exclusion of everyone else, and laws that have worked to undo advances previously made in this nation to actually have a govt. that serves the people of this nation, not just the rich people of this nation.

From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people. Today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners.

From The Sentencing Project's "Prison Privatization and the Use of Incarceration" (2004) - the War on Drugs became the spur to create private prisons because of overcrowding in prisons from the laws enacted (Mandatory Minimums, Three Strikes, Stop and Frisk, sentencing disparities based upon race.)

The current for-profit prison system, begun in the 1980s, has made the U.S. more of a penal colony than China - that's the gift from conservatives that keeps on giving, year after year, with cumulative effects on earning power over a lifetimes, as well as effects on employment options.


-African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
-African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
-Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population.
-5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
-African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months).

This isn't the first time various states have used prison to deny rights to African-Americans. During Reconstruction, whites could arrest blacks (mostly men) and put them on work gangs - and this was never challenged because of the racism that undergirded the practice among the powerful.

Another function of the for-profit prison system is to increase population numbers in rural, predominantly white areas of states, which gives more voting power to those who are elected from those areas - and this, as well, becomes a self-reinforcing form of racism because it is in the vested interests of politicians and certain members of the population to create economies built on imprisoning other members of society.

Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, noted that the war on drugs is really a war on African-Americans and Hispanics, since they are disproportionately singled out for arrest and because, when other avenues to create revenue are blocked, illegal activity is the way for someone to make money outside of the system in place for those who are either part of the elite or the few who get "elevated" to the elite to serve as a sop to everyone else of a particular race or gender so they can ignore the systemic dysfunction that comes from the racism and sexism that is part of the foundation of the history of property.

African-Americans were hard hit by the 2008 bank bail out

Both African-American men and women have been harder hit than white females.

In the cases of both race and gender, the legacy of slavery continues to impact people, whether the slavery was based upon race or gender.

The commonality between all African-Americans and all women is that both groups, in American society, were not simply considered second-class citizens, they were considered property.


From the May 13th analog version of The New Yorker. (Critic at Large: Paint Bombs, by Kelefa Sanneh)

David Graeber, former prof. at Yale, now at Goldsmith's College in London is the author of the recent title "Debt: The First 5000 Years." Graeber, a left anarchist, was involved in the Occupy movement. Anyway, the article had this great quote from Graeber that I thought was worth sharing. (fwiw, what makes him a "left" anarchist is his support for and belief in collectives as self-organizing entities rather than right-wing "private capital" as the self-organizing principle...akin to Chomsky's anarcho-socialism, vs. Randomite libertarians.)

"What reformers have to understand is that they're never going to get anywhere without radicals and revolutionaries to betray. I've never understood why 'progressives' don't understand this. The mainstream right understands it, that's why they go crazy when it looks like someone might be cracking down on far-right militia groups, and so forth. they know it's totally to their political advantage to have people even further to the right than they so they can seem moderate. If only the mainstream left acted the same way."

If we want to change the conversation from responding to the latest right wing demand, he's just indicated how you do it.

Overwhelming majority think marijuana should be decriminalized

That's the conclusion from a poll by Reason-Rupe concerning public opinion about the way cannabis users should be treated by our justice and law enforcement system.


When asked which approach they thought the government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana, only 6% responded that they should be sent to jail. 35% of respondents said that these individuals shouldn’t be punished at all, 32% responded they should pay a fine, and 20% said they should have to attended substance abuse courses.

From the available options, the greatest number of poll participants thought there should be no punishment at all, while the second greatest number thought people should pay a fine (which is the way marijuana is treated when decriminalized.)

The good news is that only 6% of the American population is totally fucking stupid and thinks cannabis should result in jail time.

Happy Friday, all!

First Hemp Crop in 60 Years


Springfield farmer Ryan Loflin is now watching over one of Colorado's first industrial hemp crops in almost 60 years.

According to the Denver Post , Loflin began planting 60 acres on acreage previously used to grow alfalfa on Monday. He and business partner Chris Thompson also are installing a seed press to produce hemp oil.


Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) has a few words to say to the AG

First Pharmaceutical Treatment for PTSD Within Reach


May 14, 2013 — In a first-of-its-kind effort to illuminate the biochemical impact of trauma, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered a connection between the quantity of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, known as CB1 receptors, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the chronic, disabling condition that can plague trauma victims with flashbacks, nightmares and emotional instability.

Their findings, which appear online today in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, will also be presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry in San Francisco.

CB1 receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, a diffuse network of chemicals and signaling pathways in the body that plays a role in memory formation, appetite, pain tolerance and mood. Animal studies have shown that psychoactive chemicals such as cannabis, along with certain neurotransmitters produced naturally in the body, can impair memory and reduce anxiety when they activate CB1 receptors in the brain. Lead author Alexander Neumeister, MD, director of the molecular imaging program in the Departments of Psychiatry and Radiology at NYU School of Medicine, and colleagues are the first to demonstrate through brain imaging that people with PTSD have markedly lower concentrations of at least one of these neurotransmitters -- an endocannabinoid known as anandamide -- than people without PTSD. Their study, which was supported by three grants from the National Institutes of Health, illuminates an important biological fingerprint of PTSD that could help improve the accuracy of PTSD diagnoses, and points the way to medications designed specifically to treat trauma.

"There's not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD," says Dr. Neumeister. "That's a problem. There's a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressant simple do not work. In fact, we know very well that people with PTSD who use marijuana -- a potent cannabinoid -- often experience more relief from their symptoms than they do from antidepressants and other psychiatric medications. Clearly, there's a very urgent need to develop novel evidence-based treatments for PTSD."

This research is hard to do. Not because the research itself is difficult, but because the National Institute on Drug Abuse controls who gets cannabis for research. They have consistently denied the FDA access in order to fund studies that may ameliorate one of the most debilitating forms of psychological trauma.


Why It's So Hard For Scientists To Study Medical Marijuana

Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians have called for more research into the therapeutic uses of marijuana and for the U.S. government to reconsider its classification as a Schedule I substance.
The University of Mississippi grows and harvests cannabis for studies funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, yet because NIDA's congressionally mandated mission is to research the harmful effects of controlled substances and stop drug abuse, the institute isn't interested in helping establish marijuana as a medicine.

"If you’re going to run a trial to show this is going to have positive effects, they’re essentially not going to allow it," Lyle Craker, a professor and horticulturist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, says.

The federal government's position on marijuana, according to a January 2011 document featured prominently on the DEA's homepage, is that:

The clear weight of the currently available evidence supports [Schedule I] classification, including evidence that smoked marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medicinal value in treatment in the United States, and evidence that there is a general lack of accepted safety for its use even under medical supervision… Specifically, smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science–it is not medicine, and it is not safe.

Burge tells a different story. "The United States government has gone to great lengths to prevent [medical] research on whole-plant marijuana," he says, though research into isolated components of the plant has gone on.

Study: Frequent marijuana use tied to reduced bladder cancer risk

Although presented at a reputable medical association's conference, the study has not yet undergone peer review or been published in a journal. However, the study was composed of 83,000 men and took place over 11 years.


In findings presented last week at the American Urological Association’s annual conference, researchers announced that the conclusion of an 11-year study has found a strong association between frequent marijuana use and a significantly reduced bladder cancer risk, USA Today reported Saturday.

They found that men who smoke cigarettes multiply their risk of bladder cancer, while men who smoke only marijuana actually lower their risk. Men who smoke both still had an elevated risk of bladder cancer, but it was lower than those who just smoked tobacco.

“Cannabis use only was associated with a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer incidence, and tobacco use only was associated with a 52 percent increase in bladder cancer,” study author Dr. Anil A. Thomas told the paper.

More amazing still: study participants who used marijuana more than 500 times a year saw even lower bladder cancer risks than those who only used marijuana occasionally. A total of 41 percent of the men studied said they smoked marijuana, while 57 percent smoked tobacco and 27 percent smoked both.

This study's results follow previous studies (published in peer-reviewed, reputable journals) that indicated anti-cancer properties related to cannabis and lung cancer, breast cancer, and brain tumors. You can read about those in the DU Drug Policy Forum.

Colorado: Legislature finalizes historic marijuana legalization


The Colorado legislature made history Wednesday, becoming the first in the country to pass laws regulating recreational marijuana sales and use.

If Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the four major bills on marijuana that the legislature passed this year — and he has indicated he will — this is what the future will hold:

• Marijuana will be sold in specially licensed stores that can also sell pot-related items such as pipes. Only Colorado residents can own or invest in the stores, and only current medical-marijuana dispensary owners can apply to open recreational pot shops for the first nine months. The first stores will open around Jan. 1.

• Colorado residents will be able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana — the maximum it is legal for non-medical-marijuana patients to possess — at the stores. Out-of-staters can buy only a quarter-ounce at a time. Pot must be sold in child-resistant packages with labels that specify potency. Edible marijuana products will have serving-size limits.

• Voters will have the option of imposing heavy taxes on pot sales. A ballot measure set for November will ask voters to approve a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent sales tax on marijuana. The excise tax will fund school construction. The sales tax will pay for regulation of marijuana stores.

(more at link)

Congrats to Colorado voters and to the Democratic Party of Colorado that brought this legislation to pass! The Colorado Democratic Party (as well as many other Democratic Party platforms in states across the country), moved to include marijuana legalization as part of their party platforms.

However, Democrats, Independents and libertarian-minded Republicans voted to approve this historic legislation for the state. This is, truly, a bipartisan issue that reflects the will of the American people regarding outmoded and racist laws that should be erased from the books in the U.S.

A last minute effort to recriminalize marijuana failed in the state legislature before this historic vote.


Vermont Senate Votes to Decriminalize Possession of 1oz of mj


The Senate voted 24-6 Tuesday to approve a bill that decriminalizes one ounce of marijuana.

H.200 makes it a civil penalty rather than a criminal offense to possess an ounce or less of marijuana. Under current law it is a misdemeanor to possess two ounces or less of marijuana, punishable by up to six months in jail. Supporters say the change will relieve violators of the disproportionate collateral consequences that often accompany a possession charge.

The Senate modified the bill, as recommended by its Judiciary Committee, which means the House has to approve the changes in order for it reach the governor’s desk. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he supports decriminalization.

In the Senate version of the bill, the third offense for marijuana possession is still a crime; the House version made it a civil penalty, regardless of the number of offenses. Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, told the Senate that “you really have to work at it” to rack up a third offense, since people can clear their records by completing diversion.
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