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Federal Law Currently Allows Trump to Execute Drug Dealers

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Federal Law Currently Allows Trump to Execute Drug Dealers

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The President of the United States wishes the country was receptive to his desire to execute drug dealers.

But Trump doesn’t need the country or the Congress to fulfill his wish.

Donald Trump’s dreams of issuing a death penalty for drug trafficking, summed up in Tom Angell’s excellent Forbes piece, are only a shocking revelation if you haven’t been paying attention to Trump’s comments on drugs since entering the Oval Office.

Listen for yourself as to what he said today about an optimal strategy for dealing with the issue of illegal drugs:

…Drugs are a similar but different problem in the sense that we have pushers and we have drug dealers that don’t… I mean, they kill hundreds and hundreds of people, and most of them don’t even go to jail. You know, if you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These people can kill two thousand, three thousand people, and nothing happens to them.

And we need strength with respect to the pushers and to the drug dealers. And if we don’t do that, you’re never going to solve the problem.

If you want to be weak and you want to talk about just blue-ribbon committees, that’s not the answer.

The answer is that you have to have strength and you have to have toughness. The drug dealers, the drug pushers, are… they’re really doing damage. They’re really doing damage.

Some countries have a very, very tough penalty – the ultimate penalty. And by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do. So we’re going to have to be very strong on penalties…

These comments echo reports from Axios that quote five sources as saying the president goes into a long tirade about killing drug dealers as a method to stop drug problems.

“You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem,” Trump reportedly says. “They just kill them.

Prior to the Axios report, Trump made comments praising Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous drug war and how countries like the Philippines that are “harsh” on drugs have “much less difficulty.”

And now (as reported by Radley Balko), Trump’s appointing to the US Sentencing Commission the last dinosaur in public policy who believes we need more of the harsh sentencing that made us the mass incarceration champion of all time.

By the way, Trump’s call for executing drug dealers isn’t something he needs Congress’ help with, because it is already the law now.

You didn’t know the US already has a death penalty for drug trafficking? According to NORML:

The sentence of death can be carried out on a defendant who has been found guilty of manufacturing, importing or distributing a controlled substance if the act was committed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise – but only if the defendant is (1) the principal administrator, organizer, or leader of the enterprise or is one of several such principal administrators, organizers, or leaders, and (2) the quantity of the controlled substance is 60,000 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, or 60,000 or more marijuana plants, or the if the enterprise received more than $20 million in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence.

That law is 18 U.S.C. § 3591(b)(1) and I can think of many state-legal cannabis cultivation firms that would easily be clearing $20 million and/or produced more than 60,000 cannabis plants.

The law is probably not constitutional, though.

A 2008 Supreme Court case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, decided that Louisiana’s imposition of the death penalty for the rape of a child (fun fact: Sen. Ted Cruz filed an amicus brief supporting Louisiana in that case) was an unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment” under the 8th Amendment.

Justice Kennedy (no relation) wrote for the majority:

The court concludes that there is a distinction between intentional first–degree murder, on the one hand, and non–homicide crimes against individuals, even including child rape, on the other. The latter crimes may be devastating in their harm, as here, but in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, they cannot compare to murder in their severity and irrevocability.

That decision essentially set the bar for capital punishment as constitutional for only those crimes that result in homicide. Thus, this death penalty for drug trafficking section, as well as the next section imposing a death penalty for ordering an unsuccessful hit against a witness or juror in a RICO case, is likely unconstitutional.

Unless you could convince the court that your manufacture and trafficking of illegal Schedule I drugs was essentially thousands of murders. “You know, if you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These people can kill two thousand, three thousand people, and nothing happens to them.”

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5 Comments

And yet, Trump has still not uttered the word, “marijuana” since the campaign, when he said medical marijuana was okay, and recreational should be left up to the states.

So, we have not shred of an indication he has changed this position. He has had no such difficulty pronouncing opioids over and over. The only one in the administration who has ranted about marijuana is Jeff Sessions, and Trump clearly hates “Mr. Magoo.”

Trump may want to be dictator, but that’s not likely to happen. Unless that were miraculously to happen, even Trump knows the significance of more than 90 percent of Americans supporting, at least, medical marijuana.

We hit on the right path in the 1990’s by switching from the federal level to the states. – We have been winning ever since, and passed the tipping point when California implemented legal, recreational market. There’s no stopping us and, with enough states ending marijuana prohibition, we will achieve the critical mass that will soon cause the crumbling, federal prohibition to collapse under its own dead weight.

What do you mean, “We”?
John, you’re an idiot still trying to put lipstick on your pet political pig. First of all, if Trump doesn’t want Sessions as A.G., he can dismiss him at anytime for any cause. Donald is famous for his bullying trademark: “You’re fired!” The jabs which Trump takes at Sessions are just part of the theater of cruelty and abuse which Trump has imposed in place of intelligent and thoughtful governing. At any time, if Trump were at all interested in supporting or even tolerating cannabis law reform, he could instruct DEA to re-schedule or de-schedule cannabis. If Trump were serious about reducing opiate and other narcotic addiction and overdose, he’d advocate at the minimum for greater availability of medicinal cannabis for pain treatment—but that is never mentioned, EXCEPT by non-administration spokespersons. Trump, who’s a sociopath, gets a charge out of talking about inflicting violence and humiliation, which he imagines proves how “tough” he is. What a creepy character you’ve attached yourself to. And if you’re a cannabis user, go turn yourself in. That stuff isn’t good for everyone.

Here’s the problem: With the new ultra-rightwing court, that 2008 decision is not going to be adhered to. This new court, a rubber-stamp for authoritarianism, would in all likelihood ratify death sentences now on a far more permissive standard. I know that a large number of cannabis growers, dealers, and consumers voted for Trump, and many trolls are still out there defending that orange maggot and perpetuating b.s. about how Trump really won’t interfere with state medical or adult use laws. If there were any justice (altho I know that’s a fantasy!) those marijuana-using Trump supporters ought to be the first ones arrested, and the first ones jammed with maximum sentences, and it would serve them right.

People that start off their comments with, “You’re an idiot.” reveal they are skill-less in debating, or even discussion. Catch a clue and clean up your act.

“The jabs which Trump takes at Sessions are just part of the theater of cruelty and abuse which Trump has imposed in place of intelligent and thoughtful governing.”

That’s just your view, of course. Trump has clearly been angry with Sessions for some time now, mostly because Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. – It’s clear there are constraints keeping Trump from doing what he would like to do and fire Sessions. – The biggest one is there is no guarantee a replacement would be as protective of Trump as Sessions is.

“At any time, if Trump were at all interested in supporting or even tolerating cannabis law reform, he could instruct DEA to re-schedule or de-schedule cannabis.”

So? — No other president has done it either. Politicians have considered marijuana reform a third rail. – Obama frustrated many by his not ending prohibition, but he was pretty crafty at opening the just the right doors for the states to do it. – That’s about the only good thing Obama did.

Again, the last thing we heard Trump say about marijuana was that medical is okay and recreational should be left up to the states. There is nothing to indicate that has changed.

“If Trump were serious about reducing opiate and other narcotic addiction and overdose, he’d advocate at the minimum for greater availability of medicinal cannabis for pain treatment”

It’s clear the only thing Trump cares about is himself. He has failed in his duty to serve the citizens in a thousand ways, at least. That he does so with the opioid problem has no special significance. – What would be surprising is if he effectively handled a serious problem.

“What a creepy character you’ve attached yourself to.”

lol – It’s clear you aren’t paying attention if you think I support Trump. — I would point out the fallacy any time someone puts words in others’ mouths – or ascribes thoughts and plans of surprise attacks to anyone with nothing to back it up. Even if it were my worst enemy. Trump’s pretty close. — But self deception or misleading others is counter-productive, even when it’s about someone you are against. – Knowledge of the real facts is far more empowering and productive.

“With the new ultra-rightwing court, that 2008 decision is not going to be adhered to.”

What decision are you talking about?

“This new court, a rubber-stamp for authoritarianism, would in all likelihood ratify death sentences now on a far more permissive standard.”

I doubt it. — The 2018 elections are close and it looks probable the Democrats will recapture congress. Marijuana legalization is the issue of the day and they will likely go ahead and end the sick witch-hunt, once and for all.

“I know… trolls are… perpetuating b.s. about how Trump really won’t interfere with state medical or adult use laws.”

All signs point to he won’t. Even Trump understands the significance of more than 90 percent of the public supporting, at least, medical marijuana. – Sessions might try, but that’s no surprise and very different from saying Trump would do so.

I could be wrong. He could be planning a sneak attack. But the we have NINE legal states and D.C. – The worst he could do is close down a few dispensaries and send threatening letters to the landlords of the rest. And the blow-back from such a misguided action would be massive and devastating to Trump and the Republicans.

In those nine states, the citizens will always be free to possess, consume, and grow (except Washington, until they correct their system) small amounts of marijuana. The Free States will serve as a bulwark to foster the continued success of legalization.

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