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Drug legalization ‘worst thing that could happen’ to organized crime, say advocates

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In light of the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the BBC interviewed two advocates of further reforms, both in the U.S. and world-wide.

The BBC sat down with Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the N.Y.C.-based Drug Policy Alliance, and Richard Branson, chair of Virgin Group. His son produced the documentary “Breaking the Taboo,” which critiques the costs and strategies of enforcing current drug laws.

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“Countries that are oppressive about drugs are suffering, and the people in particular are suffering. Countries like Portugal or spain, which are treating the drug as a health issue, rather than a criminal issue, are getting on top of the problem,” said Branson.

“This is a lot like what happened with the repeal of alcohol prohibition in America in the late twenties and early thirties,” said Nadelmann, “where more and more state governments began to repeal their own state alcohol prohibition laws, and eventually the national government followed suit.”

When asked if legalization could increase drug use, he replied, “Is there a risk of more people using marijuana? There is a risk. But I don’t think it’s a risk of a dramatic increase. And meanwhile, no longer arresting 750,000 Americans a year, no longer spending tens of billions of dollars to enforce these unenforceable prohibitions, taking the money out of the hands of the gangsters, allowing police to focus on real crime, those are the arguments that are compelling for most Americans.”

When asked if legalization could make “drug gangs” more powerful, Branson referred to Portugal. The country itself began providing heroin to heroin addicts, “pulling the rug” under drug kingpins while reducing the number of people using heroin, all while combating HIV by providing clean needles.

“The worst thing that could happen to the gangsters and organized crime is for marijuana or other drugs to be legalized,” Nadelmann said. “Because quite frankly they would no longer play a role in the market. Their competitive advantage is in the employment of violence and intimidation, not in marketing, not in dealing with government regulations.”

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Branson expressed his desire that in a few years, “I hope that nobody in the world will be sent to prison for taking drugs ever again. I hope that anybody that has a drug problem will be helped. I hope that some countries will experiment with deregulation of drugs like marijuana. And I hope that the money that the state gets from deregulation will go towards education, health, and helping people who actually have drug problems or alcohol problems.”

Watch the video, via the BBC, below.


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2020 Election

CNN panel lights up Trump over ‘the greatest hypocrisy’ of his presidency

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President Donald Trump received harsh criticism on Saturday for golfing while continuing to push conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, which Trump lost to President-elect Joe Biden.

"In Wisconsin, President-elect Joe Biden has just picked up more votes in the state's recount. Remember, this is a recount that was requested by President Trump's campaign in its failing attempt to overturn the election results," CNN's Boris Sanchez reported. "The final count gave Biden a more than 180,000 vote edge over his rival in Milwaukee County and certified his victory."

"By the way, the recount cost millions of dollars, so the Trump team spent millions to lose even harder," he added.

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CNN legal analyst laughs off Trump’s desire to get before the Supreme Court after a series of ‘humiliating’ court losses

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On CNN Saturday, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig assessed the mounting failures in President Donald Trump's legal efforts to challenge the result of the 2020 election.

"I'm laughing because they keep trying, and the results this week somehow went from horrible to somehow even worse," said Honig. "The big case now is ... Rudy Giuliani's effort to overturn Pennsylvania. Last week, a federal district court judge firmly rejected the case. He said there's zero evidence. He called the case, a quote, 'Frankenstein's monster haphazardly stitched together' and that's gotta sting, and yesterday a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals decisively and harshly rejected the case as well. And the thing is, President Trump's lawyers tried to attack the first judge, saying, well, he's an Obama nominee. Well, guess what? The three judges yesterday who unanimously rejected it were appointed by President George W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald J. Trump."

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2020 Election

Judges are ‘fed up’ with Trump’s voter fraud claims as his lawyers get ‘themselves into hot water’: Ex-prosecutor

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On CNN Saturday, following Donald Trump's Pennsylvania election suit being dismissed in a scathing opinion by a federal judge he had appointed, former federal prosecutor Shan Wu broke down the significance of the latest developments.

"I think this judge was just the latest in a series of judges fed up with the Trump team's weak arguments," said Wu. "I said in a piece back on November 8th on CNN that it was time for the Trump legal team to put up or shut up, and they haven't done either. I mean, judge after judge has rebuked them for not having any actual evidence. Even their claims are inconsistent. You hear the president publicly, Rudy Giuliani, the so-called mastermind, talking about fraud, and yet also Giuliani publicly has said this is not a fraud case. So they're all over the board."

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