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   PastimesYour opinion please Legalization of Street Drugs

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From: TimF8/29/2019 2:37:40 PM
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A Man Spent 82 Days in Jail on Meth Charges. The Meth Was Actually Honey.
Government incompetence made an innocent man spend months in jail and lose both of his jobs.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/25/2019 11:33:28 AM
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The cannabis banking bill isn’t just about banks

It’s also about repairing damage from the “war on drugs.”

09/25/2019 04:59 AM EDT

This week, Congress finally began to act on the nation’s first stand-alone cannabis reform legislation. The SAFE Banking Act, as it’s known, seeks to provide protections to financial institutions that work with state-licensed cannabis businesses, extending them the same protections afforded other businesses. The House is expected to vote this week and signs are growing that the Senate may soon consider it as well.

While the law—like most—is imperfect, it addresses a serious problem: A lack of access to banking by cannabis-related businesses means many operate in a cash-only environment, which has serious consequences including increased violent crime, higher costs and reduced access to financial data for law enforcement.

But there is a potentially more far-reaching aspect of this bill, one that may not be immediately obvious: The opportunity to ameliorate the effects of the “war on drugs” on communities of color. This is an important step, one that lawmakers shouldn’t underestimate.

The cannabis industry, like many others, is dominated by owners of a similar profile: white, male and wealthy. Many historical and economic reasons explain this, but in the cannabis industry, it is magnified. Because traditional avenues of capital for business development (i.e., small-business loans, home equity lines of credit, etc.) are cut off for cannabis entrepreneurs because of a lack of access to banking, individuals seeking to open a cannabis business must either raise funds among their own network of investors, fund the business with their own existing capital, or a combination of the two.

Women and racial minorities face well-documented barriers in accessing investment dollars, in part because the ability to fund one’s own business depends largely on preexisting wealth. Increasing access to traditional financial products increases opportunity for potential minority and women cannabis entrepreneurs to enter the space.

Another beneficiary of expanded opportunities are minority-depository institutions or MDIs — financial institutions recognized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as predominantly serving minority communities. America has 149 MDIs and many credit unions and community development financial institutions focused on underserved communities. MDIs arose from a combination of factors, including America’s history of institutional and economic racism and legal impediments against large commercial banking that lasted well into the 1990s. MDIs remain important sources of capital and banking access for minority communities.

MDIs are generally community-oriented banks, far smaller than large regional or national banks. Community banks have an important comparative economic advantage, understanding local communities, having relationships with local businesses, and providing services for people and industries that larger financial institutions do not serve. According to a recent report, the majority of small-business credit available to minorities flows throw MDIs. This is the good side of relationship banking — it can be a tool for the democratization of access to credit and a reminder that it has been previously used as a tool to concentrate and deny opportunities.

Some opposed to SAFE have argued that legislation is not needed given that banking involvement in cannabis-related business has grown steadily over the past five years. In 2019, 633 banking intuitions reported financial activities involving marijuana-related business activity, a near doubling since 2014. Yet, many financial institutions, especially large banks, are so concerned about risk and reputation that they frequently de-bank people or businesses with even tangential relationships to state licensed cannabis. Typically, the only banks providing services are community banks and credit unions, and that coverage is incomplete and inconsistent.

The passage of SAFE is not likely to cause large financial institutions to open their doors suddenly to cannabis-related businesses. The legislation does not change the federal status of cannabis nor does it directly reduce the major reporting requirements (such as Suspicious Activity Reports) that drive up costs and increase the potential for regulatory fines. Larger financial institutions will likely continue to shy away from serving cannabis businesses, although it will likely reduce those banks’ concerns about secondary providers who serve cannabis businesses (e.g. architects, landlords, accountants).

What is likely to happen from SAFE’s passage is more community banks and credit unions deciding to serve marijuana businesses. This should lower costs, increase security, make the cannabis black market even less appealing, and create new customers for community banks, credit unions and MDIs.

The legislation would also begin a broader conversation on how to increase opportunities within communities targeted by the drug war. Part of that conversation must involve a key source of funding for small-business financing: the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs, both of which account for a substantial portion of community banks’ small-business lending portfolios. SBA’s 7(a) program is a critical source of credit for small businesses that “cannot be obtained elsewhere,” and serves as a key credit resource for minority-owned businesses. While SAFE is a step toward unlocking the banking sector for the cannabis industry, legislative action or executive guidance that expands access to SBA programs will increase opportunities among a diverse group of cannabis businesses, especially minority-owned enterprises.

Another challenge involves institutionalized rules and norms that still undermine the ability of people of color and women to have access to financial products in the same way and at the same rate as others. The ability of financial institutions to cite risk in the cannabis industry when it conveniences them and ignore it when it does not, allows racism and gender bias to continue.

In an effort to address these challenges, SAFE requires banking regulators to issue an annual report to Congress on diversity and inclusion in cannabis banking services and instructs the Government Accountability Office to study “barriers to marketplace entry … and the access to financial services for potential and existing minority-owned and women-owned cannabis related legitimate businesses.” These reports empower regulators and Congress to continue the conversation about justice and inclusion for minorities and women and identify additional ways to address the biases that exist within the American economy and its banking system.

SAFE addresses real and growing problems, even if incrementally. Its passage will not entirely fix the challenges that cannabis businesses face accessing financial services. Nor will it fully reverse institutionalized racism in American finance and commerce.

But the cannabis industry is growing rapidly and facing substantial problems working with the banking and financial sectors. Congressional action that reduces the risks associated with an un-banked industry is progress that can take a first step toward facilitating opportunities for a diverse group of prospective entrepreneurs, including those targeted by the decadeslong war on drugs.

This incremental progress is something that both parties should support. Rejecting the SAFE Banking Act because it does not solve the entire problem will only make problems worse in the short and long terms.

Makada Henry-Nickie is a David M. Rubenstein fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. John Hudak is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. Aaron Klein is a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution.

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From: TimF9/30/2019 5:07:18 PM
2 Recommendations   of 2227

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From: TimF10/29/2019 10:56:10 PM
1 Recommendation   of 2227
Canada Hobbles 'Legal' Marijuana With Burdensome Rules
Once again, underground suppliers step in when over-regulated markets can’t satisfy customers.

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From: TimF11/1/2019 12:53:31 PM
1 Recommendation   of 2227

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To: TimF who wrote (2209)11/2/2019 10:09:05 AM
From: gg cox
1 Recommendation   of 2227
Much the same in California.

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From: TimF11/27/2019 11:14:39 AM
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Michael Bloomberg on Marijuana: Legalizing 'Another Addictive Narcotic' Is Perhaps 'Stupidest Thing Anybody Has Ever Done'

Not as stupid as his trying to make big gulps illegal, or even his opposition to marijuana legalization.

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From: TimF12/31/2019 6:28:08 PM
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Illinois’ governor granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Tuesday, describing the step as a first wave of thousands of such expungements anticipated under the state’s new marijuana legalization law.

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From: TimF2/4/2020 8:59:23 AM
   of 2227
A false positive drug test prompted the authorities to take an Alabama mom's newborn, just four hours after she gave birth. The hospital "declined to comment on why [Rebecca Hernandez] was drug tested in the first place," says NBC. But "in many parts of the state, hospitals test mothers without their consent, and tests are often done on a case-by-case basis" that winds up biased against poor women.

A 2015 investigation from ProPublica found that Alabama's rules—aimed at stopping drug use by pregnant women and new mothers—are some of the most strict in the country.

Hernandez has since been reunited with her new son, but the experience was a "nightmare," she told WAFF last week.

Her doctor, Yashica Robinson, said the false positive probably came from Hernandez eating a poppy seed muffin the day before she went into labor. Robinson criticized same-day drugs tests that trigger the takeaway of newborn children and said hospitals should wait on lab-confirmed results, which in this case cleared Hernandez.


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From: TimF2/4/2020 1:30:31 PM
   of 2227
Judge Finds That the Houston Narcotics Officer Whose Lies Killed a Couple in 2019 Framed Another Suspect in 2008
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg says it's reasonable to presume that Gerald Goines also lied in other drug cases.
Jacob Sullum | 2.3.2020

When Houston narcotics officer Gerald Goines arrested Otis Mallet in 2008, he described a crack cocaine purchase in which Mallet retrieved the drug from a can inside a truck and handed it to his brother, Steven, whom Goines had paid $200. Thanks to Goines' testimony, Mallet was sentenced to eight years in prison. But today, the Houston Chronicle reports, Harris County prosecutors joined Mallet's lawyers in urging a judge to declare him "actually innocent" because Goines "repeatedly lied about nearly every aspect" of the case. The judge agreed.

The handling of Mallet's case seems to be in character for Goines, who wrote the fraudulent search warrant affidavit for the January 2019 drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, in their home on Harding Street. To justify the Harding Street raid, which resulted in state murder charges and federal civil rights charges against Goines, the officer invented a heroin purchase by a nonexistent confidential informant. His story about Mallet's involvement in the 2008 crack deal appears to have been equally fictitious.

"Now we know [Goines] was lying and using the district attorney's office as a tool to convict people wrongfully as early as 2008," said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, whose office is reviewing some 14,000 cases involving Goines and other members of the Houston Police Department's Narcotics Division. "Anybody who was convicted as a result of Gerald Goines' testimony, or involvement in a case that is significant or relevant, will now be given a presumption when they file their writ that Goines' testimony or evidence in their case was false."

Mallet, who served two years in prison before he was released on parole, has always maintained that Goines framed him. "Goines gave conflicting testimony about why he didn't use marked bills," the Chronicle reports. "Mallet's neighbors disputed seeing him engage in a drug deal or carrying the blue can Goines said he'd handled." And while Goines claimed in an expense report that he paid $200 to a confidential informant who helped incriminate the Mallet brothers, he testified that he gave that money directly to Steven Mallet.

Goines declined to testify during Otis Mallet's hearing, citing the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination. Ogg said Goines' silence about Mallet's case is "compelling evidence that the entire alleged narcotics transaction was a fraud." Judge Ramona Franklin's recommendation that Mallet be declared innocent will be reviewed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Ogg said the Mallet case "raises questions about how buy money was being issued by the Houston Police Department's narcotics division and used by narcotics officers like Gerald Goines, and how drug payouts were being supervised—and audited." Goines was employed by the department for 34 years before he retired in the wake of the raid that killed Tuttle and Nicholas. If he routinely lied to incriminate people that he arrested during that long career, the fault for such fraud and the resulting injustices cannot be his alone.

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