“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use... Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce [28g] of marijuana.”
39th President of the United States
Welcome to this week’s WeCAN Weekly Email Update, friends, and Happy 420! Why, you might ask, is there a reference to a cannabis centered holiday in the opening paragraph of this week’s Weekly Email Update? Because this week we will expand on the failings of Cannabis/Marijuana Prohibition and how Cannabis Justice warriors are fighting for those unfairly affected by prohibition.
“420”, the cannabis-centric, worldwide holiday is celebrated each year on April 20th (you can read more about how the holiday came to be coined 420 here). To understand how we ended up in Prohibition, using cannabis as a reason to incarcerate, it is important to go back to what was happening in the United States in the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution. At this time we saw an influx of immigration from Mexico into states like Texas and Louisiana. These new Americans brought with them their native language, culture, and customs; one of these customs was the use of cannabis, or “marihuana”, as a medicine and relaxant.
While Americans were very familiar with “cannabis” because it was present in almost all tinctures and medicines available at the time, the word “marihuana” was a foreign term. So, when the media began to play on the fears that the public had about these new citizens by spreading propaganda about the “disruptive Mexicans” with their dangerous native behaviors, including marihuana use, the rest of the nation did not know that this “marihuana” was a plant they already had in their medicine cabinets.
During hearings on cannabis law in the 1930’s, claims were made about cannabis' ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.
When the Act was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their level of danger and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a place holder while then-President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation.
The Schafer Commission, as it was called, declared that cannabis should not be in Schedule I and even doubted its designation as an illicit substance. However, Nixon discounted the recommendations of the commission, and cannabis remains a Schedule I substance.
The enforcement of cannabis laws generates some of the justice system’s starkest racial disparities. “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” a landmark report from the ACLU, details the staggering racial bias and financial waste of our country’s counterproductive fight against a drug widely considered less harmful than alcohol. In the states with the worst disparities, Blacks were on average over six times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than whites. In the worst offending counties across the country, Blacks were over 10, 15, even 30 times more likely to be arrested than white residents in the same county. These glaring racial disparities in cannabis arrests are not a northern or southern phenomenon, nor a rural or urban phenomenon, but rather a national one. They exist regardless of whether Blacks make up 50% or 5% of a county’s overall population. In addition to its unfairness, the war on marijuana is a colossal waste of resources: States spent over $3.61billion combined enforcing cannabis possession laws in 2010.#
In the paper, “The Consequences and Costs of Marijuana Prohibition”, by Katherine Beckett and Steve Herbert of the University of Washington (Seattle), Professors Beckett and Herbert find that prohibition has unequivocally failed.
Take a look at a summery of some of the findings of each paper below: (Editor's note: the following section in red was omitted from the online posting and any subsequent printouts unintentionally. The editor extends sincere apologies.)
-Increasing cannabis related arrests does not achieve the stated goals of cannabis prohibition (to suppress the use of cannabis). Findings indicate that the intensification of law enforcement has not reduced cannabis consumption. Indeed, cannabis has become more available, affordable, and potent as the number of cannabis arrests has skyrocketed
-The collective costs of cannabis prohibition for the public are significant; the personal costs to individuals are also substantial, not adequately assessed by policymakers, and may negatively impact society as a whole
-Decriminalizing cannabis and de-prioritizing enforcement of cannabis laws leads to no significant increase in cannabis use
-There have been more than 15 million cannabis arrests in the United States since 1995, including an estimated 659,700 in 2017— significantly more than for all violent crimes combined. One person is arrested for cannabis every 48 seconds. More than 90% of cannabis arrests are for possession, not manufacture or distribution +
-Civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize the money and property of suspected cannabis offenders—charges need not even be filed. The claim is against the property, not the defendant. The owner must then prove that the property is “innocent.” Enforcement abuses stemming from forfeiture laws abound
-Of cannabis possession arrests in the District of Columbia, a staggering 91% were of Blacks. In Mississippi, 69% of all cannabis possession arrests were of Blacks. In Georgia and Louisiana, the numbers are 64% and 61%, respectively. These figures are further illuminated when taking into account the difference between Blacks’ percentage of cannabis arrests and Blacks’ percentage of state populations. In Illinois, for instance, Blacks make up 15% of the population, but account for 58% of the cannabis possession arrests. Similarly, in Alabama, 60% of the cannabis possession arrests are of Blacks, yet Blacks account for less than 25% of the population. In Kentucky and Minnesota, Blacks represent only 8% and 5% of the respective states, but 36% and 31% of the cannabis possession arrests. Whatever costs are associated with being arrested for cannabis are thus disproportionately borne by African Americans #
-Indeed, of the 10 states with the lowest disparities in Black-white arrest rates — Hawaii, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Maine, California, Texas, Arizona, and Rhode Island—seven are among the 15 states with the highest Latino populations, including the top four: New Mexico, California, Texas, and Arizona. In other words, in these states, a portion, if not a significant number, of cannabis possession arrests are of Latinos, but the FBI/UCR likely classifies them as “white” arrests, thereby reducing artificially the Black-white arrest disparities to the extent that Latinos are arrested at higher rates than whites. That is, if many of those “white” arrests are actually arrests of Latinos, and if the Latino arrest rate is greater than the white arrest rate, the actual Black-white arrest rates are much greater than the disparities contained in the present data. How much greater, unfortunately, cannot be ascertained from the present FBI/UCR data #
In response to celebrating the privileged joys of cannabis on 4/20, many are beginning to mirror their celebrations with a day of action and activism on 4/21 (April 21st). The group 421ForAll (https://www.421forall.com), for example, is an entity dedicated to promoting awareness of cannabis legalization issues related to criminal justice reform, social and economic empowerment, patient rights, environmental protectionism, and inclusion/diversity/access matters.^ They will have their first event this coming Sunday, 4/21, featuring a live-streamed fundraising event at New York City’s Chelsea Music Hall at 8pm benefiting some of the organizations leading the way for cannabis equality
For a comprehensive look into cannabis advocacy, social justice groups, and education, check out this list here, this article here, and these educational platforms here and here. We hope to see you during cannabis themed celebrations around the county this month and we hope, too, to hear about some of your cannabis advocacy on 4/21.
Send us a pic or a brief description of how you got involved to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature you work in an upcoming Email! Happy advocating!
"Health is the crown on the well person's head that only the ill person can see."
Robin Sharma, Canadian writer and leadership expert
Happy Sunday, WeCANners, and Happy World Health Day! In 1948, the World Health Organization held the First World Health Assembly and decided to designate April 7th of each year as World Health Day, beginning in 1950^. World Health Day is acknowledged by various governments and by non-governmental organizations with interests in public health issues. It is held to mark the World Health Organization's founding and seen as an opportunity by the organization to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year. The WHO organizes international, regional, and local events on the Day related to the particular theme that has been chosen for the year. This year’s theme is “Universal Health: Everyone Everywhere” and worldwide celebrations will concentrate on all people having access, without any kind of discrimination, to comprehensive quality services, wherever they need them, without facing financial difficulties. Making this a reality requires the definition and implementation of policies and actions with a multisectoral approach to address the social determinants of health and promote the commitment of the whole society to health and well-being. Universal health is not just about ensuring everyone is medically covered, but that everyone has access to care when they need it, wherever they are. As an expression of Health for All in the 21st century, universal health requires the involvement of all sectors of society in order to combat poverty, social injustice, educational gaps, and poor living conditions, among other factors that influence people’s health.
Everyone has a part to play, sparking conversations and contributing to dialogue on policies that can help your country achieve and maintain universal health. Take a look below to see how you can play a role in promoting Universal Healthcare this World Health Day.
Decision-Makers in Your Community Can:
-Engage in structured conversations with various community stakeholders who are both affected by and essential to ensuring universal health.
-Listen to the population’s demands, opinions, and expectations regarding universal health in order to improve policy responses.
-The population can be consulted through face-to-face dialogue, surveys, or a referendum, -among other methods.
-Collaborate with grassroots organizations and advocates for universal health to explore feasible solutions.
Health Professionals in Your Community Can:
-Discuss intersectional policies to ensure the availability, accessibility, relevance, and competence of human resources for universal health are available to ALL in the community.
-Discuss the needs of qualified, motivated inter-professional teams, which are essential to serve the health needs of the people wherever they may live.
-Raise their voices so that health workers can enjoy stable and decent employment, as this strengthens both the health system and the social and economic development of the country.
-Create movements that foster high-level agreements between the educational and health sectors, in order to achieve quality standards in the training of health workers, based on specific community needs.
-Advocate for the gender perspective to be incorporated into new organizational models and when hiring in the health services.
People and Entire Communities Can:
-Raise their voices in order to exercise their right to health and organize national movements toward universal health.
-Communicate their needs, opinions, and expectations to local policy-maker, politicians, ministers, and other public representatives.
-Make themselves heard through social media in order to ensure that community health needs—and other needs—are taken into account and prioritized at the local level.
-Invite civil society organizations to help raise their community needs with policy-makers.
-Share their stories, as affected communities and people, with the media.
-Organize activities such as discussion forums, policy debates, concerts, marches, and interviews to provide people with an opportunity to interact with their representatives on the topic of universal health via the mass media and social media.
-Advocate for governments to implement strategies to motivate health teams, using economic incentives, professional development, and quality of life measures to encourage them to stay in remote and neglected areas.
The Media in Your Community Can:
-Highlight initiatives and interventions that help improve access to quality services and financial protection for people and communities.
-Show what happens when people cannot obtain the services they need.
-Hold policy-makers and politicians accountable, e.g. through documentaries on the commitments they have made to universal health, focusing on strengths, weaknesses, and new challenges to be addressed (e.g. increase in noncommunicable diseases or population aging).
-Create platforms for dialogue between beneficiaries, communities, their political representatives, and policy-makers, e.g. through debates, interviews, and talk radio*.
"Transgender people frequently face bias in court and are assigned unsupportive public defenders, factors which lead to more extreme sentences and longer incarcerations...Transgender people, especially transgender women of color, face pervasive discrimination throughout life, including by those sworn to protect us...I want to make sure that people understand that, behind this national conversation around transgender rights, there are real people who hurt when they're mocked, who hurt when they're discriminated against, and who just want to be treated with dignity and respect."
Sarah McBride (b.1990)
American transgender rights activist, currently the National Press Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign
Happy Sunday WeCAN brothers and sisters! This week we’d like to shake off our Winter blues with a celebration of life and visibility. Today, March 31st, 2019, is Transgender Day of Visibility and we are here for it.
Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is a day to show your support for the trans community. In bringing attention to the accomplishments of trans people everywhere, this day-of-celebration aims to fight cis-sexism and transphobia by spreading understanding of trans people. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day to be empowered and give the recognition trans folks deserve! Visibility is not always about being seen as an individual: it’s working together (transgendered and ally) to transform society.
History of International Transgender Visibility Day
TDOV was founded by US-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall of Michigan in 2009 as a reaction to the lack of LGBTQIA holidays celebrating transgender people. Rachel expressed her frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered holiday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance which mourned the murders of transgender people, but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community. The first International Transgender Day of Visibility was held on March 31, 2009. It has since been spearheaded by the U.S.-based youth advocacy organization Trans Student Educational Resources. The Trans Student Educational Resource has education videos that detail stories about trans people and how they experience life as well as infographics and informational articles written with transgendered youth in mind. This day encourages people to talk about the issues facing transgender people and why it’s important to talk about those issues. International Transgender Day of Visibility is about giving transgendered individuals the spotlight and educating others about what it means to be transgender. With these actions, participants hope to remove transphobia from the conversation and create an open dialogue.
How You Can Celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility
1. Go to Local Transgender Day of Visibility Events
There are TDOV events all around the world! Attending one in your community not only shows your support but can inspire others to do the same! You can also join the Facebook event and use #TDOV, #DecolonizeGender, or #TransVisibility on social media if there isn't an event near you. In addition, you can take your cue from Vancouver, Canada and use their International Transgender Day of Visibility Guide to plan your own local event for next March. All you need to spark your creativity is located here. Take a look at a few ideas of positive messaging to place around your event from this excellent resource:
2. Learn About Trans History
Did you know that trans women of color were on the front lines of Stonewall? That a transgender man helped fund the New Age Movement? That a transgender woman exposed the U.S. government’s war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan? Our history is full of interesting facts and events. This research based e-book from the University of Massachusetts highlights individual stories from the extensive history of transgendered individuals in the United States starting in Jamestown in 1620 and does so with care and detail.*
3. Support Trans Led Organizations
Less than 10% of grants going to LGBTQ organizations go to trans ones. Many trans organizations run on donations from people like you! The following are five trans organizations run by and for trans people that you can donate to:
1. El/La Para TransLatinas
2. Sylvia Rivera Law Project
3. Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project
4. Trans Justice Funding Project
5. Trans Women of Color Collective
4. Don’t Out Your Trans Friends
It may be Transgender Day of Visibility but sometimes trans folks don’t want to be or aren’t safe being visible. Always ask first!
5. Know the Difference Between Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sex Assigned at Birth, Sexuality, and Emotional Attraction
Also know to ALWAYS refer to a trans person by their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth. Gender is also much more complicated than the sex/gender/sexuality distinction. To help you better understand, please enjoy this graphic of the Gender Unicorn--they break down these differences as only a Gender Unicorn can.^
6. Recognize the Intersections of Trans Identity and Other Identities
This includes race, sexuality, class, disability, citizenship, etc. Recognition does not just entail acknowledgment, it means action and centering trans women of color (for example).
7. Make Space Encompassing of All Trans Identities
If you have access to “traditionally gendered spaces” (office restrooms, for instance), make sure it is not exclusionary of all trans and non-binary identities. Also recognize that we need to do more than just inviting people of all identities to these spaces, we need to ensure that these spaces are accessible to all folx as well.
8. Learn Trans Terminology
9. Tell People When They Say Something Transphobic or Cis-sexist
10. Celebrate Trans Lives
Start a protest! Host a movie night! Organize a rally! Make the world a better place for transgender people. Read about these incredible young people making a difference in their communities and share their stories over social media or at your dinner table.+
^ http://www.transstudent.org/gender, http://transstudent.org/what-we-do/graphics
Additional Resources: https://www.hrc.org/resources/international-transgender-day-of-visibility
'I'm aware of ethics. That's the only thing connected to auctions I'm aware of. I feel it's a business that's been very low in ethics and somebody has got to start somewhere. I don't want to be the guardian angel, but those are my ethics.’’
Emma Bailey (1910-1999)
First female nationally recognized auctioneer from Brattleboro, VT, in reference to an auctioneer's practice of buying merchandise outright, pretending to sell it to a fictitious bidder if the price isn't high enough for an auctioneer's liking, and then re-auctioning the same piece at a later auction for a better price
Happy Sunday, WeCAN friends. This week is our last foray into Women's History in Vermont as part of Women's History Month and we'd like to close out the week with a pioneer in the field of Auctioneering. This week we feature Emma Bailey: a Western Avenue, Brattleboro resident and the first female auctioneer recognized by the National Auctioneers Association.
We Will Sell Anything—From a Plate to an Estate: Emma Bailey, First Woman Auctioneer
In 1945, Emma Bailey moved to Brattleboro, VT with her husband and two children. Since their new home was an old house in need of repair, and the family was having difficulty paying bills, Emma decided to start an auction business to supplement her husband's income. In April 1950, Bailey placed the following advertisement in the local newspaper:
“The Bailey Auction Barn on Black Mountain Road is prepared to handle auction sales. Courteous and efficient handling of all consignments, large or small. We will sell anything—from a plate to an estate, signed: Emma Bailey, Brattleboro's Woman Auctioneer.”
On May 12, 1950, Bailey sold her first item: a 50-year-old rocking chair for a price of $2.50. Her Saturday auctions soon became a regular local event, and her family helped out: Bailey's husband organized the sale items, and her daughters did the record-keeping and sold concessions. Bailey sold a wide range of items, including antiques, farm tools, books, and household furniture.
During her time as auctioneer, Bailey encountered some opposition based on her gender: in 1950 a male competitor sought to bar Mrs. Bailey from conducting her first auction, seizing on a zoning code regulation that he said made it illegal for her to conduct sales in the barn on her property. She overcame this obstacle and began regular auctions. Mrs. Bailey was one who also took firm exception to criticism of women auctioneers lacking stamina: “I have sold for eight solid hours without a break—a feat most men find difficult” she said.*
In 1952, after applying to the National Auctioneers Association, Bailey was accepted as the first female member of the Association. Later, when Bailey and a rival male auctioneer both expressed interest in the same sale, the man proposed that he should get the sale because "he had a family to support", whereas Bailey already had a working husband. Bailey lost the sale. ''This male auctioneer used sex in reverse to get that sale,'' she said to the Christian Science Monitor in 1982^. "He used it many times," she continued, "(but) I never used it. I didn't want the sex to be the tool. Men sell cars; women sell cars. There's no reason I can't sell antiques and understand them as well as a man.''
Despite her induction to the National Auctioneer's Association, Bailey was not always well supported by her peers. In 1960, when a reporter inquired about women auctioneers, the Association's response was that "although a woman had tried auctioneering in Vermont, she had found it too hard and quit". This was news to Mrs. Bailey as she was very active that year. In response, Mrs. Bailey had this to say: ''I took up auctioneering as a way to meet a specific need and not have to leave the house five days a week,'' she says. ''Oh, I could still auction if I wanted to, but I'd rather not. I keep turning them down. If I do it for one, I must do them for all.''^
She continued her auction sales for almost 20 years, before retiring "at the peak of her career" in the late 1960s. She wrote a book about her experiences, titled Sold to the Lady in the Green Hat (1962). For years after her retirement, Mrs. Bailey would still receive letters from fans and well-wishers: ''We still get letters from people, beginning in March and April, from way off in Oshkosh and such, saying: 'When I was a little girl, I used to come to your auctions, bring a picnic lunch, and sit under the trees during the sale. I'd like to come and bring my children. When are you having your next one?' I have to write back and say, 'I'm sorry but I'm retired now. It's like the old saying: Leave a party while you still want to dance.'' Mrs. Emma Bailey passed away in 1999 at the rumored age of 89.+