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In the wake of Attorney General Jeff Session's attack against legal marijuana policies, the Napa County Green Party exchanges fire in Trump's war on drugs via a public town hall on Jan. 16 to discuss cannabis, at the Napa County Library, 580 Coombs St. 

Recreational marijuana is now legal for commercial use in California and this forum will illuminate the future of cannabis laws on the national, statewide, and county levels.

Californian and Napa County voters are clear. About 57 percent of Californians and 61 percent of Napa County voters, a higher percent than statewide voters, support Prop 64. Nationally, 61 percent of voters support marijuana legalization, with 74 percent of adults under the age of 40-50 supporting legalization, while those over 50 support legalization by 40 percent, according to a 2016 American National Election Studies reported by NBC.

Trump's re-declaration of war on drugs is resurrecting failed punitive drug policies from the '80s and '90s, which devastates communities of color, increases recidivism instead of recovery, and burdens taxpayers with the cost.

According to the ACLU, black people are four to five times more likely to be convicted for drug possession; white people use drugs at nearly the same rate as black people. Literal slavery continues, under America's New Jim Crow era, via a 13th amendment loophole which states that convicted citizens can be subjected to slavery as punishment. Consequently, in 2018 there are more people of color working slave labor in American prisons than there were Southern slaves during pre-Civil War times.

According to the Bureau of Justice, 77 percent of drug offenders are re-arrested by police within five years of being released; taxpayers are footed with the cost of recidivism, paying about $28,000 per inmate per year. And, this doesn't even factor in both the huge social and economic costs that are externalized on taxpayers because of police drug enforcement.

Targeting and arresting poor people disrupts family units, strapping struggling families with more financial hardship. Families are fragmented and taxpayers pay the cost of providing resources and services to people harmed by police trauma and the loss of breadwinners; it's important to provide and expand such services to people in need, so our community thrives.

James Hinton, former 2014 congressional candidate against Mike Thompson turned cannabis activist, will moderate the forum. Panelists will include Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML; Maurce Solis, local dispensary operator; and Ray Wood, Defense Attorney. Topics will include Session's rollback of the Cole memo, laws around marijuana and driving, civil rights information on marijuana and police interactions, challenges faced by local dispensary operators, and safe access. General information about marijuana consumption itself will also be provided for new patients and recreational users.

Join us prior to the forum, at 6 p.m., for coffee and tea with 2018 Green Party Congressional Candidate Jason Kisheneff. Informational tables about his campaign, the Green Party, and cannabis will be available. Kisheneff will also discuss federal cannabis legislation during the forum and juxtapose his Green progressive platform with Thompson's record.

It's not unfathomable that Trump's war on drugs could turn much bloodier, similar to what's happening in the Philippines. Under tyrannical president Duterte's reign, over 6,000 drug users have been slaughtered in the streets by right-wing vigilantes and state police. After talking with Duterte, Trump said he's "hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," stating that Duterte is "[doing] a great job." In 1996, Jeff Sessions, while Alabama's attorney general, supported state legislation to establish mandatory death penalties for community weed dealers.

Today's political landscape is very bleak and it's time for a political party to fight against America's expensive, racist war on drugs and defend the individual right for people to consume cananbis; the Green Party is that party.

Alex Shantz

Napa County Green Party

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