Posts Tagged ‘marijuana’

Rethinking the War on Drugs

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Mandatory sentencing for drug crimes and the decriminalization of marijuana have been hot topics recently. Earlier this month U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the American Bar Association he wants to “fundamentally rethink” mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. According to the Associated Press, Holder “instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences.”

Some of these sentencing guidelines have been on the books since the 1980s as a cornerstone to the war on drugs. Now many, including Holder, blame these rules for what they say is the needless incarceration of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in a severe strain on criminal justice budgets and significant overcrowding in federal prisons.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report that called for states to legalize marijuana, license and regulate its production and distribution, and tax sales. The organization says enforcement of marijuana possession laws wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

Even Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has jumped into the debate. He joined Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy in March to introduce legislation to give federal judges more discretion in sentencing criminals where mandatory minimums may be unnecessary. One commentator says this is the second time Paul has outflanked the Obama Administration on the left.

These developments framed the discussion on Monday’s edition of Kentucky Tonight. Our guests were Cherie Dawson-Edwards, Associate Professor in the University of Louisville Department of Justice Administration and past president of the ACLU of Kentucky; Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson; Kentucky Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown; and Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Leveridge, who serves Russell and Wayne Counties.

Kentucky Tonight will be pre-empted next week. Instead we’ll air the special On Deadline: American Newspapers in the Digital Age, hosted by veteran journalist Marvin Kalb. If you care about the future of journalism and your morning paper, be sure to tune in Monday at 8 p.m.

Have a safe Labor Day weekend.

Quiz Answers and Hemp vs. the Heat

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

For all of you who participated in the first-ever Robert Stivers Groundhog Day Trivia Contest, the answers are below. If you didn’t get to take the quiz, there’s still time—just be sure you don’t cheat by reading the answers first. The contest ran over the weekend, just a couple of Bill’s Eye blog posts ago.

1)Robert’s hometown is London in Laurel County. You might hear him talk a lot about Manchester in Clay County because that’s where he lives now is and part of the senate district he represents. But, make no mistake, he was “raised up” in London.

2)The president of the Kentucky State Senate has a two-year degree from Sue Bennett College. Sue Bennett was a private school in London that was founded in 1897, but closed in 1997. Robert graduated from U.K. and has a law degree from the University of Louisville.

3)Robert’s mother had a degree from Harvard. She was a Massachusetts girl who graduated from Simmons College and then earned a master’s degree from Harvard before she came to Kentucky to work in Appalachia.

4)Robert was born on Christmas Eve, 1961.

5)Stivers was a Little Leaguer with KET commentator, columnist, author, and Louisville lawyer John David Dyche.

Well, there you have it. If you got all five correct, pat yourself on the back and tell the president of the senate you took the Robert Stivers Groundhog Day quiz and passed with flying colors.

Monday’s “Kentucky Tonight” show might have been billed as “Hemp versus Heat” as Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former state treasurer Jonathan Miller sat down with Ky. State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer and Operation UNITE vice-president Dan Smoot to discuss legalizing industrial hemp. It might have been the first time both sides of this very controversial issue have been side-by-side to trade blows over the hemp issue. They haven’t made a lot of joint (excuse me) appearances to debate the subject.

Here’s an exchange from the program over the distinctions between growing industrial hemp and marijuana in Kentucky:

Watch the entire program at www.ket.org .

Finally, if Tom Loftus’s recent Courier-Journal interview with Mary Lassiter (secretary of the governor’s  cabinet)  was a preview of what we’ll hear Wednesday night in Beshear’s  State of the Commonwealth address, it could be a short speech.

Lassiter was quoted as saying, “there’s no money for anything.”

The governor might consider Tweeting his speech in; I’ll bet he could do it in 140 characters.

Regardless, KET will be there with the speech, interviews, and analysis. Kenny Colston, from Kentucky Public Radio will join Renee Shaw and I starting at 7/6 C on KET and online.


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