Steve Cohen on Drugs
I will keep constant attention on reducing importation, sale, and manufacture of meth, cocaine and crack. I will support education and treatment as an equal partner in the effort to eliminate drug addiction and associated criminal behavior.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): The drug crisis facing the US remains a top national security threat. This bill represents a new partnership with Mexico and Central American countries to face the immediate security threat of drug gangs, and help these neighbors build the capacity of their law enforcement agencies.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHAEL McCAUL (R, TX-10): We need a strategy on this side of the border: a two-pronged Approach; a comprehensive strategy that deals not only with the Mexican side but with the US side. And for too long, our border sheriffs and our Border Patrol agents have been outmanned and outgunned. And if we are going to provide assistance to Mexico, it seems to me we ought to be providing assistance to our men and women on our side fighting this war every day.
Rep. TED POE (R, TX-2): I am concerned about drugs and violence on the border, but I am also concerned about corruption. In order to gain control of access corridors in the US, drug cartels are hiring hit men from an elite force in Mexico's military. This group is known as the "Zetas." Some of the Zetas are military deserters that may have been trained in the US. $1 billion in this bill would go to Mexico. And Mexico in its arrogance objects to any conditions we want to put on this money. The administration can offer us no assurance that our equipment and training won't be used against us and neither can Mexico.
A bill to target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. Biden: My bill will eliminate the current 100-to-1 disparity [between sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine] by increasing the 5-year mandatory minimum threshold quantity for crack cocaine to 500 grams, from 5 grams, and the 10-year threshold quantity to 5,000 grams, from 50 grams, while maintaining the current statutory mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine. It will also eliminate the current 5-year mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine, the only mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of a drug by a first time offender.
Drug use is a serious problem, and I have long supported strong antidrug legislation. But in addition to being tough, our drug laws should be rational and fair. My bill achieves the right balance. We have talked about the need to address this cocaine sentencing disparity for long enough. It is time to act.
This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the provisions prohibiting persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving student financial assistance.
Congressional Summary: Amends the federal criminal code to extend the pre-judgment probation and expungement procedures for simple possession of a controlled substance to individuals who are convicted of drug trafficking or of attempting or conspiring to commit a drug offense. Sets forth requirements for granting pre-judgment probation for drug trafficking or of attempting or conspiring to commit a drug offense, including that:
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.
The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.
Congressional Summary:The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act: The provisions of [federal law] related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.
Proponent's argument for bill: (PolicyMic.com): While the bill does not attempt to legalize the drug in individual states, it would immunize individuals in states taking measures to reform marijuana laws from federal prosecution. Currently, 18 states allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. Support for the bill arises from not just moral, but practical and financial grounds: The marijuana industry costs U.S. taxpayers roughly $42 billion annually in enforcement costs and lost tax revenues.
Opponent's argument against bill: (USA Today 8/29/13 and the Drug Free America Foundation dfaf.org): The Justice Department will not attempt to challenge state laws that allow for the medical and recreational use of marijuana as long as the drug sales do not conflict with eight new federal enforcement priorities. "We are very disappointed that Eric Holder's not doing his job,'' said the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. "It is his job to enforce our nation's laws. He has created what will become a tsunami that will most likely result in far too many young people becoming victims of chemical slavery."
Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Holder's action amounted to a violation of the law. "He's not just abandoning the law," Bensinger said, "he's breaking the law; he's putting the people of Washington and Colorado at risk. He's violating the treaty obligations of this country. He's telling the world we don't really follow the law here."
Congressional Summary:Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%.
Argument in favor (Sen. Ron Wyden):
Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation. The current ban on growing industrial hemp is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit. This bill will end this ridiculous regulation. Right now, the US is importing over $10 million in hemp products--a crop that US farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it. Now, even though hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, there are major differences between them. The Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, but no one is going to confuse them.
Argument in opposition (Drug Enforcement Agency):
Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):
Scoring system for 2014: Ranges from 0% (opposes all forms of marijuana decriminalization) to 75% (supports marijuana decriminalization and legalization).
About NORML (from their website, www.norml.org):
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty. This model is called "decriminalization."
NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."
NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.
NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.
Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.
To permit the use of Federal funds for syringe exchange programs for purposes of reducing the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, including HIV and viral hepatitis.
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Newly-elected Democrats taking office Jan.2015:
AZ-7: Rep.-Elect Ruben Gallego
CA-11:Rep.-Elect Mark DeSaulnier
CA-31:Rep.-Elect Pete Aguilar(R⇒D)
CA-33:Rep.-Elect Ted Lieu
CA-35:Rep.-Elect Norma Torres
FL-2: Rep.-Elect Gwen Graham(R⇒D)
HI-1: Rep.-Elect Mark Takai
MA-6: Rep.-Elect Seth Moulton
MI-12:Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell
MI-14:Rep.-Elect Brenda Lawrence
NE-2: Rep.-Elect Brad Ashford(R⇒D)
NJ-12:Rep.-Elect Bonnie Coleman
NY-4: Rep.-Elect Kathleen Rice
PA-13:Rep.-Elect Brendan Boyle
VA-8: Rep.-Elect Donald Beyer
Seated in special elections 2013-2014:
AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
NJ-1: Donald Norcross(D)
SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
VA-7: Dave Brat(R)
Newly-elected Republicans taking office Jan.2015:
AR-2: Rep.-Elect French Hill
AR-4: Rep.-Elect Bruce Westerman
AL-6: Rep.-Elect Gary Palmer
CA-25:Rep.-Elect Steve Knight
CA-45:Rep.-Elect Mimi Walters
CO-4: Rep.-Elect Ken Buck
FL-26:Rep.-Elect Carlos Curbelo(D⇒R)
GA-1: Rep.-Elect Buddy Carter
GA-10:Rep.-Elect Jody Hice
GA-11:Rep.-Elect Barry Loudermilk
GA-12:Rep.-Elect Rick Allen(D⇒R)
IA-1: Rep.-Elect Rod Blum(D⇒R)
IA-3: Rep.-Elect David Young
IL-10:Rep.-Elect Robert Dold(D⇒R)
IL-12:Rep.-Elect Mike Bost(D⇒R)
More newly-elected Republicans taking office Jan.2015:
LA-5: Rep.-Elect Ralph Abraham
LA-6: Rep.-Elect Garret Graves
ME-2: Rep.-Elect Bruce Poliquin(D⇒R)
MI-4: Rep.-Elect John Moolenaar
MI-8: Rep.-Elect Mike Bishop
MI-11:Rep.-Elect Dave Trott
MN-6: Rep.-Elect Tom Emmer
MT-0: Rep.-Elect Ryan Zinke
NC-6: Rep.-Elect Mark Walker
NC-7: Rep.-Elect David Rouzer(D⇒R)
NH-1: Rep.-Elect Frank Guinta(D⇒R)
NJ-3: Rep.-Elect Tom MacArthur
NV-4: Rep.-Elect Cresent Hardy(D⇒R)
NY-1: Rep.-Elect Lee Zeldin(D⇒R)
NY-21:Rep.-Elect Elise Stefanik(D⇒R)
NY-24:Rep.-Elect John Katko
OK-5: Rep.-Elect Steve Russell
PA-6: Rep.-Elect Ryan Costello
TX-4: Rep.-Elect John Ratcliffe
TX-23:Rep.-Elect Will Hurd
TX-36:Rep.-Elect Brian Babin
UT-4: Rep.-Elect Mia Love(D⇒R)
VA-10:Rep.-Elect Barbara Comstock
WA-4: Rep.-Elect Dan Newhouse
WI-6: Rep.-Elect Glenn Grothman
WV-2: Rep.-Elect Alex Mooney
WV-3: Rep.-Elect Evan Jenkins(D⇒R)
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