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Senate Republicans who held federal judge positions open throughout the Obama Administration are relaxing rules about prior marijuana use to help fill those seats on the bench. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have no issue with seating judicial nominees who may have smoked pot after they passed the bar but complain that Republicans on the committee are only changing the rules now that they control the government and have this opportunity to pack the federal courts with conservatives. Prior to the rule change, any admission of marijuana use after taking the bar exam by a nominee would disqualify a nominee. Marijuana use by judicial nominees first made headlines during the Reagan Administration when Judge Douglas Ginsburg was forced to withdraw after his admission of past pot smoking.
Costa Mesa, California, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has filed a bill to facilitate housing discrimination against recovering drug addicts. The Restoring Community Oversight of Sober Living Homes Act of 2018 would amend the Fair Housing Act to specify that nothing in federal law “prohibits any state or local government from implementing laws, regulations or ordinances that apply specifically to recovery facilities located in residentially zoned areas.” [ROHRABACHER CLIP: “This infusion of drug addicts and alcoholics into residential communities has had a deleterious impact on the quality of life of local families.”] Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley, however, dismissed the bill as “dead on arrival” and said it “violates federal U.S. Supreme Court case law.”
The Congressional Black Caucus has introduced an omnibus bill that includes the descheduling of marijuana as one means of achieving racial justice. Also included in the bill is a reinvestment fund to rebuild communities decimated by the drug war, the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and the federal death penalty, and prohibition on racial profiling. The 1,300-page bill also raises minimum wage to $15, increases Pell Grant funding and access, and creates a federal holiday for federal elections. The bill has little chance of success in the Republican-controlled Congress but does signal a shift in legislative priorities for Democrats.
While several Republicans have recently “evolved” on the issue of marijuana legalization, don’t count Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker among them. Speaking to WISN ABC 12, Walker explained that he opposes legalization because of the opioid overdose crisis. [WALKER CLIP: “Dealing with the crisis that we deal with, opioids and drugs, whether it’s heroin, meth, or others out there, I hear it all the time, they say, ‘do not legalize marijuana; it is a gateway drug.”] Studies recently published by the American Medical Association refuted Walker’s opinion by showing clearly that legal access to marijuana reduces opioid prescriptions, hospitalization, and overdose deaths. Moreover, the Institute of Medicine in 1999 debunked the myth of marijuana being a so-called “gateway drug,” showing that past alcohol and tobacco use are a greater predictor of future drug use.
In Utah, attorneys for the Utah Patients Coalition have filed a notice of intention to sue the DEA and others who are fighting the medical marijuana initiative already certified for the ballot. Drug Safe Utah, Utah Eagle Forum, Utah Medical Association, and DEA’s Salt Lake City Metro Narcotics Task Force are accused of “undertaking a calculated and concerted campaign to defraud electors.” The groups are accused of sending out canvassers to the Utah precincts with the lowest signature totals and telling lies to persons who signed the initiative petition, with the goal of removing enough signatures to take the measure off the ballot. In DEA’s case, they are accused of misusing federal funds through in-kind support to contravene a state election in violation of the law. All those accused are warned of their duty to protect all records as evidence for the pending trial.
CBS This Morning Co-Host Gayle King opened up to Ellen DeGeneres about her experience with marijuana. [DEGENERES CLIP: “So, Amy Schumer now is, like, set on smoking pot with you.”] DeGeneres was talking about a party of Schumer’s where marijuana was being smoked openly. [KING CLIP: “So, we had a conversation later about marijuana and I said, ‘I’ve never smoked a marijuana cigarette. I never have.’ (laughter) Maybe that’s part of the problem. ‘Cigarette.’ I see you laughing at me.”] But apparently that’s not the case for King’s billionaire best friend. [KING CLIP: “I said I would do it with Amy… Oprah has also smoked a little marijuana, too. I don’t mind saying that. I’m not telling tales out of school.”]