From Mass Incarceration to Plan Colombia: Biden’s Role in the Failed War on Drugs

In an increasingly angry and bad faith campaign, Donald Trump and his team are presenting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as an anti-police radical controlled by the far left. Last week, the Trump campaign sent a text message to supporters warning them that Antifa would raid their homes if Biden wins in November. “They’ll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door,” warned Florida congressman Matt Gaetz.

The reality, however, is that the 77-year-old former vice president has a long history of opposing progressive legislation and spearheading increasingly more draconian police, immigration, and criminal justice measures. Biden first shot to prominence in the 1970s, when, as a freshman senator, he became a leading voice against bussing, the practice of desegregating schools via public transport (something his now-running mate Kamala Harris grilled him on during the debates). He also maintained a close relationship with arch segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, who left the Democratic party and became a Republican due to his vehement opposition to the Civil Rights Act. He even read the eulogy at Thurmond’s funeral, around the time of which it came out that Thurmond had fathered a child with a 15-16-year-old black servant girl working for him.

“Hang People for Jaywalking”

But Biden’s problematic history with race goes much further; the Delawarian has been one of the chief architects of the racist prison system we live under today. For decades, he pushed for more cops, more jails, more arrests, and more convictions, even criticizing the notorious Ronald Reagan for not locking enough people up.

Throughout the 1980s, he and Thurmond worked on a number of bills that radically reshaped the criminal justice system, including the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act which limited parole and cut sentence reductions for good behavior. Biden continued to attack Republican George H.W. Bush from the right on crime, in 1989, condemning his draconian proposals as not going far enough. “In a nutshell, the President’s plan does not include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, enough prosecutors to convict them, enough judges to sentence them, or enough prison cells to put them away for a long time,” he said, later demanding to know why Bush hadn’t executed more drug dealers like he wanted.

Despite Bush pushing through substantial increases to the prison industrial system, Biden continually demanded more, publishing his own plans that included billions more in funding for increased numbers of police, FBI, and DEA agents.

This all culminated in what in 2007 he called his “greatest accomplishment” in politics: the controversial 1994 Crime Bill. Often labeled the “Biden Crime Bill” because of its author and chief promoter, the bill laid the basis for an ever-increasing prison population, introducing the death penalty for dozens of new offenses and spent billions on hundreds of thousands of extra police and prison cells. Just as Bill Clinton was making a point of returning to Arkansas to oversee the execution of a mentally handicapped black man, Biden was staking out his position as a new leader of the new, “tough on crime” Democrats, boasting that his bill meant that “we do everything but hang people for jaywalking.” As his biographer Branko Marcetic wrote, Biden makes Hillary Clinton look like [civil rights advocate] Michelle Alexander.

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Democrats Scuttle Marijuana Decriminalization Vote Over Fears of Not Being Deferential Enough to Cop Lobbyists

A planned House vote on a bill to decriminalize the possession of marijuana was canceled on Thursday under pressure from law enforcement lobbyists and other pro-prohibition special interests.

The expected floor vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would have been the biggest accomplishment yet for cannabis reformers, but the effort has been postponed until after Election Day, Politico reports. Democrats have gotten weak-kneed about a bill that they once saw as a major criminal justice reform.

Indeed, it would have been. The MORE Act, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–N.Y.), would remove cannabis from the schedules of the Controlled Substances Act and make that change retroactive, effectively expunging any federal marijuana offenses and convictions. The bill also orders federal courts to lift all sentences for people currently locked up due to a marijuana conviction.

As Reason‘s Jacob Sullum explained when the bill was introduced last year, the MORE Act was in many ways superior to other marijuana legislation, because it “completely deschedules marijuana rather than moving it to a lower schedule or making exceptions to the ban for state-legal conduct, and it seeks to lift the burdens that prohibition has imposed on people caught growing, distributing, or possessing cannabis, a vital project that too often has been treated as an afterthought.”

This year, the bill had collected more than 100 co-sponsorships in the House—it even had support from three Republicans—and appeared on track to pass the lower chamber. Even though the bill was expected to die in the Senate, that House vote would have been historic.

Unfortunately, cop lobbyists seem to have convinced House Democratic leaders that it would also be a liability. A coalition of law enforcement special interests and other proponents of the drug war sent a letter to congressional leaders last week warning about the potential dangers associated with legalizing and “commercializing” marijuana.

That, combined with vague fears about how Republicans might weaponize the legalization vote for negative ads in swing districts, was apparently enough to convince Democrats to scuttle the vote.

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Federal Proposal Would Expand Hair Testing of Job Applicants and Employees To Make Sure They Are Obeying Drug Prohibition

A rule recently proposed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revives the previously rejected idea of using hair tests in drug screening of federal employees and workers in federally regulated industries. The proposed rule, which was published last week, says “hair testing potentially offers several benefits when compared to urine,” including “a longer window of drug detection.”

If the aim of these tests is to identify workers whose job performance is affected by psychoactive substances, that “benefit” is actually a disadvantage. Metabolites do not show up in hair until after a drug’s effects have worn off and typically can be detected for up to three months. Depending on hair length and growth rate, the detection window can be as long as a year. In other words, hair testing does not detect impairment or even recent use. There is a similar problem with urine testing, but the detection period for urinalysis is much shorter—a few days after a single dose of marijuana, for example, or as long as a month for regular cannabis consumers.

Another widely recognized problem with hair tests is that their results are affected by hair color. SAMSHA acknowledges “scientific evidence that melanin pigments may influence the amount of drug incorporated into hair.” In one study cited by SAMSHA, for example, “codeine concentrations in black hair were seven-fold higher than those in brown hair and 14-15-fold higher than those in blond hair.” As the agency notes, such findings “have raised concerns that selective drug binding with the wide variation of color pigments distributed amongst the population may introduce bias in drug test results.”

The implication is that people with darker hair—blacks and Hispanics, for example—are more likely to lose their jobs or have their applications rejected as a result of a positive hair test. “It is mind-boggling that the federal government is revisiting this half-baked proposal now,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Given the heightened awareness surrounding the need for social and racial equity, the idea of proposing a testing procedure that will inherently deny more people of color opportunities than it would others who have engaged in exactly the same activities is beyond tone deaf and counterproductive.”

SAMSHA’s proposal, which would allow the use of hair samples in pre-employment screening and random testing by federal agencies, is also likely to be adopted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Transportation, which regulates industries such as trucking and railroads. SAMSHA projects that the rule would lead to 275,000 hair tests by federal agencies each year, plus 15,000 tests in the nuclear industry and 1.5 million in the transportation sector.

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Innocent 74yo Grandmother Strip Searched in Public After Cops Claimed to Smell Weed

A stop for an alleged traffic violation turned into a nightmare for a 74-year-old grandmother when the police officer conducting the stop claimed to have smelled a plant. Because the police state claims the authority to violate innocent grandmothers over plant smells, the officers involved will face no punishment and now the taxpayers will be held liable instead.

Phyllis Tucker, 74, is now suing the city of Jamestown and Fentress County, claiming the city police and county sheriff departments have illegal policies involving the use of strip searches, according to News Channel 5.

Tucker tells reporters that the incident which unfolded earlier this year has left her and her family traumatized, and rightfully so. According to the lawsuit, Tucker was forced to pull down her pants and remove her bra in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant as bystanders watched.

“If it wasn’t for my mother, I would never go back to Jamestown, never, and I wouldn’t advise anybody else to go through there either,” Tucker said.

Tucker was visiting her mother that night. She had her grandson, his girlfriend, and an infant in her car when a cop pulled them over and claimed to smell weed on her grandson’s girlfriend, Kira Smith, 19.

Instead of simply letting this family go, who had harmed absolutely no one, the cop escalated the situation to what amounts to a public roadside sexual assault — all to search for a plant.

According to the lawsuit, officers from the Jamestown police and the Fentress County Sheriff’s Department strip searched the two women in public view. According to the suit, Smith was ordered to “pull her pants down to her knees” and Tucker was told to remove “her blouse and bra” “exposing her breasts to the public.”

“I just started crying and was humiliated. I didn’t know if there was somebody who was going on the street that was seeing me with my top off,” Tucker said.

The lawsuit states the forcing both men and women to strip on the side of the road is a common practice by law enforcement in Frentress County.

“It is the custom of Frentress County to conduct these type of strip searches,” said attorney Wesley Clark who represents Tucker and Smith.

News Channel 5 reports that Clark also represents two other women who say there were pulled over in Fentress County in July, “stripped completely nude and searched” including being told to “squat” and “cough” while flashlights inspected their “genital areas,” according to the lawsuit.

In that case officers found no drugs and the women left with a ticket for an “improper tag.”

“To argue that it’s appropriate to strip women naked on the side of a public highway in search of marijuana is completely insane,” Clark said.

We agree. Nevertheless, it continues to happen all across the country in spite of marijuana being legal in some form in over half the states.

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