Jared Polis on Drugs
Strengthen penalties for drug dealers peddling fentanyl
As Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Data and common sense tell us that preventing a crime does more to keep people safe than solving a crime after it was committed. We also know that there are times when
the swift arm of justice is the best solution, which is why I look forward to legislation to strengthen penalties for drug dealers peddling fentanyl in our communities. Coloradans are sick and tired of seeing this drug ruin lives and kill loved ones.
Source: 2022 State of the State Address to the Colorado legislature
, Jan 13, 2022
Signed law allowing mass pardon for minor marijuana offenses
A new law will go into effect giving Colorado's governor the ability to mass-pardon those convicted in the state of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana. When he signed the bill Governor Jared Polis confirmed that he would be using his new
power. "We hope that this measure will be the first step toward new opportunities for thousands of Coloradans who should not be living with a cloud over their heads simply because they were a little ahead of their time," he said at the signing ceremony.
Source: Denver Westword on 2022 Colorado gubernatorial race
, Sep 25, 2020
Treat marijuana like alcohol; end Drug War on states
Q: Keep marijuana legalization?
Jared Polis (D): Yes. The only candidate who supported legalization in 2012. Treat it like alcohol. Opposes Justice Department's war against states with legalization.
Walker Stapleton (R): Unknown. But is concerned about unintended consequences of legalization, including mental health issues.
Source: 2018 CampusElect.org Issue Guide on Colorado Governor race
, Oct 9, 2018
Expunge records for first drug offenders after probation.
Polis co-sponsored Federal First Offender Improvement Act
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:
Provides for a period of such probation of up to two years. Eliminates the requirement that an offender seeking expungement of a record of a disposition be less than 21 years old at the time of the offense.
Source: H.R.2567 11-H2567 on Jul 15, 2011
- the offender did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon while committing the offense;
- the offense did not result in death or serious injury to any person;
- the offender was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise; and
- the offender has not been previously convicted of a crime of violence or other offense punishable by a prison term of more than one year.
Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana.
Polis co-sponsored Industrial Hemp Farming Act
- Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana."
- Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
- Deems Cannabis sativa L. to meet that concentration limit if a person grows or processes it for purposes of making industrial hemp in accordance with state law.
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.
Source: HR1831/S3501/HR525(2013) 12-S3501 on Aug 2, 2012
Sponsored no federal enforcement against legal state marijuana.
Polis co-sponsored Respect State Marijuana Laws Act
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."
Source: H.R.1523 13-H1523 on Apr 12, 2013
Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws.
Polis signed Industrial Hemp Farming Act
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):
The DEA regulatory opposition to industrial hemp production is based upon:
- The difficulty in distinguishing legitimate hemp with low narcotic concentration from illicit cannabis, and
- the perception that industrial hemp advocates have a hidden agenda of favoring legalization of marijuana.
Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):
Source: S.359/H.R.525 14_H0525 on Feb 14, 2013
- The DEA ban on THC in hemp food products, though characterized as a drug war issue, is, in fact, a food safety issue. No state or country has scientifically established the safety of food products made from hemp.
- Smoking hemp/marijuana with a low THC level of 0.25 percent could result in psychological effects on inexperienced users (children, for example).
- Supporting industrial hemp/marijuana sends an ambivalent and harmful message to youth and others regarding marijuana.
Rated A+ by NORML, indicating a pro-drug-reform stance.
Polis scores A+ by the NORML on drug reform
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2016 NORML scores as follows:
About NORML (from their website, www.norml.org):
- C-/D/F: "hard-on-drugs" stance (approx. 243 members)
- C: mixed record on drug reform (approx. 45 members)
- A/B: pro-drug-reform stance (approx. 293 members)
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.
NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 30 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.
NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession
& responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. 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.
Source: NORML website 16_NORML on Nov 8, 2016
Immunity for banks offering services to marijuana businesses.
Polis signed immunity for banks offering services to marijuana businesses
Congressional Summary:This bill provides a safe harbor for depository institutions providing financial services to a marijuana-related legitimate business insofar as it prohibits a federal banking regulator from:
Immunity from federal criminal prosecution or investigation is granted, subject to certain conditions, to a depository institution that provides financial services to a marijuana-related legitimate business in a state or one of its political subdivisions that allows the cultivation, production, manufacture, sale, transportation, display, dispensing, distribution, or purchase of marijuana.
- terminating or limiting the deposit or share insurance of a depository institution solely because it provides financial services to a marijuana-related legitimate business; or
- prohibiting, penalizing, or otherwise discouraging a depository institution from offering such services.
Argument in Favor:
[Cato Institute, March 31, 2016]: Marijuana is now legal under the laws of [several] states, but not under federal law. And this creates huge headaches for marijuana businesses:
Source: H.R.2076 & S.1726 16-HR2076 on Apr 28, 2015
- Two years after Colorado fully legalized the sale of marijuana, most banks here still don't offer services to the businesses involved.
- Financial institutions are caught between state law that has legalized marijuana and federal law that bans it. Banks' federal regulators don't fully recognize such businesses and impose onerous reporting requirements on banks that deal with them.
- Without bank accounts, the burgeoning pot sector can't accept credit or debit cards from customers.
Voted NO on additional Drug War funding for synthetic drugs.
Polis voted NAY Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act
GovTrack.us Summary: (SITSA): There are more than 400 known types of synthetic--or "artificial"--drugs, which mimic the effects of substances including cocaine and ecstasy. They've largely begun to flood the market in recent years. The bill outlaws 13 different synthetic drugs of the most pernicious varieties. There are more than 400 known types of synthetic--or "artificial"--drugs, which mimic the effects of substances including cocaine and ecstasy. They've largely begun to flood the market in recent years.
GovTrack Pro/Con: Supporters argue the legislation will tackle a growing scourge in a far more timely and immediate manner than what the lagging DEA is usually able to accomplish. Opponents argue the bill would too greatly expand Attorney General Jeff Sessions' ability to criminalize drugs and impose unnecessarily punitive mandatory sentences, according to a letter signed by dozens of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch, and NAACP.Opponent's argument to vote NO Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): The bill would explicitly impose mandatory minimum terms of supervised release which undermines the discretion of judges who are in the best position to make such determinations based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Legislative outcome: House Bill Passed 239-142-46, Roll Number 268 on June 15, 2018
Source: Congressional vote 18-HR2851 on Jun 8, 2017
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