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Headlines: Senator Kamala Harris signs on to Marijuana Justice Act

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Headlines: Senator Kamala Harris signs on to Marijuana Justice Act

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Podcast available at https://www.patreon.com/posts/18751889.

California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris is the latest politician to officially lend her support to marijuana reform. [HARRIS CLIP: “I am proud to formally announce that I am signing on to the Marijuana Justice Act.”] The Act, introduced by New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker, would protect states that have reformed their marijuana laws from federal interference by removing cannabis from Schedule I. The proposed law goes further by punishing states that maintain racially-disproportionate marijuana enforcement through the withholding of federal funds. Marijuana offenses would be expunged under the Act as well. Harris and Booker are both thought to be Democratic presidential contenders for 2020. Two other contenders, New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders are also sponsoring the Act.

It could be a clean sweep for four state marijuana initiatives headed for the 2018 ballot. Marijuana legalization will appear on the Michigan ballot this November, unless the legislature enacts it first. A poll released Thursday showed that 61 percent of Michigan adults support the measure. In Utah, medical marijuana will appear on the fall ballot. The latest polling from March showed that 77 percent of Utah adults support the measure. Missouri has three medical marijuana initiatives likely to make the ballot and maybe also a legalization measure. Two of Missouri’s medical initiatives are constitutional amendments, one more liberal than the other, with the third medical initiative a statutory measure. There have been no recent polls on these specific proposals, but a July 2016 poll found that 62 percent of Missourians supported a previous medical marijuana measure. Finally, Oklahoma voters will decide on a medical marijuana measure in the June 26 primary. A January poll found 62 percent of Oklahomans favor the proposal.

While drinking a beer in a pub during an interview, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke about his opposition to cannabis legalization. [TURNBULL CLIP: “We have had enough experience of it to know that it is not something we want people to engage in, we want people to do, and I think it should remain illegal.”] Turnbull then admitted that he, the interviewer, and most Australians should remain criminals. [TURNBULL CLIP: “I’ve, I’ve tried it in the past, I’m sure you have, most people have.”] But Turnbull thinks today’s marijuana is not your father’s Woodstock weed. [TURNBULL CLIP: “Whatever people thought 30 or 40 years ago about marijuana – it is not a harmless drug. It is a very strong and dangerous drug.”] The danger, according to Turnbull, is marijuana’s effect on the brain. [TURNBULL CLIP: “The use of it causes a lot of mental illness, a lot of problems.”] According to the World Health Organization, Australia leads the world’s English-speaking countries in alcohol consumption, rated at 12.2 liters per year per capita. Australian government sources state that “the risk of having a mental illness is around four times higher for people who drink alcohol heavily.”

The Chief Justice of the highest court in the Philippines has been sacked following her opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s homicidal war on drugs. Maria Lourdes Sereno, the country’s first female chief justice, was ousted on an 8-6 vote by the court she presided over. Sereno has criticized Duterte’s crackdown on drugs that includes an admitted 4,200 police executions of alleged suspects, a figure human rights groups claim is triple that. Sereno is not the first opponent of Duterte’s to have been prosecuted. Senator Leila de Lima, writing from jail, said the vote, “ushers in another era of another dictatorship as the Court… puts an end to the last gasps of a dying constitutional democracy.” Last year, President Trump spoke with Duterte about the Philippine Drug War, saying, “I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem… what a great job you are doing…”

Los Angeles County officials have unveiled a new anti-drug campaign aimed at teens. The two rap videos feature three teenagers confronting other teens about their excuses for smoking marijuana. [VIDEO CLIP: “It ain’t legal for you yet, your brain still gotta grow. Focus on yourself, there’s so much more you need to know. ‘But everyone is sparking up and girls’ll think I’m fly.’ Girls won’t think you’re fly when your bank account is dry.”] We reached out to Rosie Perez and Jennifer Lopez, two former Fly Girls, to ask whether slang from the early 1990s still resonates with teenagers today but  did not hear back by air time.

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