New England Methodists Challenge the War on Drugs

rforan8 Guest Pieces, Protestant Perspectives

Increasingly, Protestants denominations are responding to the War on Drugs, which over the past 44 years has failed to reduce drug use, damaged countless lives, and contributed to the mass incarceration that shames our country.

On June 20, 2015 the New England Conference of United Methodists, comprised of over 600 congregations, passed Resolution 15-203: TO END THE WAR ON DRUGS. It is expected that the resolution will be reviewed in June 2016 by the Methodist General Conference, which meets every four years to consider changes in the Methodist Book of Discipline.

We are grateful to Rev. Eric Dupee, Pastor of Crawford Memorial Church in Winchester, MA, for describing the steps he took in introducing the resolution. We applaud his leadership.

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A Significant Milestone

rforan8 Medical Marijuana

By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp

In spring 2013, shortly before medical marijuana legislation passed in Illinois, I called a suburban police chief who was a formidable opponent of the bill. He had become a national hero in the Reagan years for his service to our country. We had a good conversation. But as I started to push for his support, he muttered, with guttural defiance, “Marijuana is not medicine. It’s just a weed.”

The chief cannot say this anymore. If he does, he will now be taking on the American Medical Association. The June 23 issue of the AMA Journal contains two major articles that survey much of the existing research on the effectiveness of cannabis as medicine. The lead piece concludes, “There was moderate evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity.” (p 2474) Cautious perhaps, but for the AMA, this is akin to Justice Scalia supporting Obamacare.

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Clemency for Ilinois

Update on Tax and Regulate in Rhode Island

rforan8 RI, Tax and Regulate

By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp

Over the past six months, I have made two trips to Rhode Island to help it become the fifth state to regulate and tax marijuana. I’ve even bet $20 that we will succeed this year.

If so, it will be the first time this has been accomplished through legislative action rather than the ballot initiatives in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska.

Neither the Speaker of the House nor the President of the Senate has yet called the bill – HB 5777 and SB 0510 – and time is running out. They are both aware that the bill would most likely pass, and that public support is close to 60% in favor. They have given no reason for their failure to act.

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Ending the Drug War is a Jewish Moral Imperative

rforan8 Guest Pieces, Jewish Perspectives

Today’s guest blogger is Roy Kaufmann, a public relations professional. He and his wife Claire Grusin Kaufmann, a sales and marketing consultant to the cannabis industry, are the co-founders of Le’Or, a start-up Jewish nonprofit focused on engaging the Jewish community to help end the Drug War and repair our broken criminal-justice system. Follow them on Twitter at @highmindedJews and visit online at

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Diversion: The Quiet Revolution

rforan8 Diversion

By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp

There is a quiet but growing revolution in how we respond to drug addiction in this country.And it is starting in some places – would you believe it – with elected law enforcement officials and the police.

Diversion” is the technical word. The idea is to keep people out of the criminal justice system whenever possible. It makes no sense to recycle low-level, non-violent drug users off the streets, into jail, and back to the streets again, at huge public cost. This is foolish. When the user has serious mental health issues, it is downright immoral.

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