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Legislative Shenanigans – Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill

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Sitting in committee is a bill that would reform the current civil asset forfeiture policy in Oklahoma. Currently, your property and cash may be seized by law enforcement and kept even if you are never charged with a crime. You may fight to have your property and cash returned but it will cost you. Basically, your property is guilty until proven innocent but even then you will have to pay to get it back. This is obviously a very flawed policy so why would those in charge of protecting our rights refuse to support it?

Per Mark Morris: “Cops in Oklahoma are seizing and spending money taken from US citizens, often with no charges every being brought, to the tune of $18k per day over the past 15 years! It’s getting worse. What am I talking about? People traveling through our state with cash are being robbed at gun point by our police, who are then using it to pay off student loans and live rent free. That’s right.”

Anthony Sykes, the committee chairman, is refusing to hear the bill.  Why would he do that? How can a legislator unilaterally refuse to hear a bill? (Also a flawed policy)

Oklahoma asset forfeiture reform faces stiff opposition


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – An Oklahoma legislator who wants to restrict when police can seize cash and other assets from people they suspect of drug-trade involvement – even without a conviction – fears his colleagues won’t have a chance to take up his idea this session.

The bill by Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Loveless says efforts to reach chairman Sen. Anthony Sykes have gone unanswered. He’s turned to his constituents to help plead his case, asking them to call the Senate leadership to request that his bill be heard.

Sykes did not return requests for comment Thursday or Friday.

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Institute for Justice fellow: Oklahoma has chance to lead with forfeiture bill


[When civil forfeiture pays the bills, police and prosecutors have an incentive to take as much property as possible. Since 2000, law enforcement agencies have collected almost $99 million in forfeiture proceeds. That incentive warps law enforcement priorities, diverting resources toward fat financial targets and away from pursuing justice. For that reason, a recent report from the Institute for Justice, “Policing for Profit,” assigned Oklahoma’s civil forfeiture laws a D-minus grade.]

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Committee Contacts – Reference: SB 1189


Chairman Anthony Sykes
405-521-5569
lewis@oksenate.gov

Vice Chairman Brian Crain
405-521-5620
crain@oksenate.gov

Corey Brooks
405-521-5522
brooks@oksenate.gov

Kay Floyd
405-521-5610
Floyd@oksenate.gov

AJ Griffin
405-521-5628
griffin@oksenate.gov

David Holt
405-521-5636
holt@oksenate.gov

John Sparks
405-521-5553
sparks@oksenate.gov

Rob Standridge
405-521-5535
standridge@oksenate.gov

Greg Treat
405-521-5632
treat@oksenate.gov

Roger Thompson
405-521-5588
Thompson@oksenate.gov

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The REAL Elephant in the Room

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I would like to address Fallin’s first point, “Oklahoma’s drug possession sentences haven’t deterred substance abuse”. Most people thrown in cages for using drugs are not necessarily “substance abusers”. This says people who are charged with a drug “crime” are abusers which is a fallacy. Substance users (or abusers) do not belong in prison. Substance use (or abuse) is not an issue for politicians much like someone with an alcohol or prescription narcotic addiction wouldn’t be. According to this statement Jaqie Angel Warrior and Austin’s Answer are criminals and substance abusers.

Her next statement, “These sentences tend to send some non-violent offenders into prison”. Incarcerating a person for a drug offense alone is a non-violent “offense”. There may be other, perhaps violent, crimes that this person may have committed, but the charge for drug use or even distribution is non-violent.

Her last statement, “live alongside violent offenders whose bad influences can make non-violent offenders worse”. This is almost a nonsensical statement. Incarcerating non violent “offenders” is a crime. Many people locked up for drug offenses aren’t merely “non-violent” they are peaceful people who are now subjected to violations by not only other inmates but the agents of the state charged to “care” for them.

While sentencing reforms are absolutely necessary the real elephant in the room is Oklahoma’s horrible Drug Policy. People are dehumanized for their personal choices and most often the only violence arriving from their choices is from the state via incarceration, guns pointed at them, homes invaded, children removed from loving homes and traumatized by doing so.

These are great talking points but let’s see some action. Lawmakers seem to be more concerned with frivolous things rather than addressing a real human rights violation that is Oklahoma Drug Policy.

The Drug War is good business for the state. It won’t loosen its grip easily or willingly. The CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO (formerly Wackenhut) have both engaged in state initiatives to increase sentences and create new crimes. The CCA sent a letter to 48 states offering to buy public prisons in exchange for a promise to keep them at 90% occupancy for 20 years. The prisons are for profit, yet still use tax dollars for funding and lease out captive labor to big business. With the private-public prison industry there is a contractual agreement to keep prisons at a certain capacity which of course is incentive to incarcerate people even for non-violent drug offenses.

The problem is not solved by enacting more laws, it is solved by protecting rights. Locking people up for non-violent drug offenses does not support liberty or freedom, it instead feeds the state, victimizes peaceful people in the form of taxation and incarceration, it keeps people out of the work force, and makes it much for difficult for them to attain a quality of life once released. Change will only occur with push back from those that are violated by these laws and that includes all of us. – Lisa Bowman

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“Oklahoma’s State of the State is now in the history books and we can see what is important to us. Mary Fallin acknowledged that our drug laws and penalties are not working and that the resulting prison load is hard on the budget. Not that this has inspired fresh thinking about individual liberty and personal responsibility, but she is looking for some changes in the sentencing structure. She would give more discretion to prosecutors to reduce charges away from a felony and reduce the sentencing requirements for those convicted. This requires us to accept that 15 years is an improvement over life without parole and think it is a good thing. First and second time offenders could get off without doing prison time but I wouldn’t hold my breath thinking it is going to happen very often.” Clinton Wiles

Katie and Cayman’s Law and Oklahomans for Health Initiative

Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a bill allowing a medical pilot program for cannabis oil.

The bill, known as “Katie and Cayman’s Law,” would allow medically supervised use of cannabis oil. Parents say that it is effective in treating children with epileptic seizures.

We are happy to see some progress in this area however, this bill will help only few and still leave many Oklahoma families living as medical marijuana refugees in Colorado.

It is wise to consider safety when using any kind of medication or treatment for ailments. However with so many other states effectively using medical marijuana to treat a vast array of diseases and disorders, limiting clinical trial studies to a very small handful of children here in Oklahoma is slowing much needed progress. While politicians believe they should be regulating medical treatments, people are suffering needlessly because their right to choose their own treatment is being denied.

Oklahomans for Health is preparing for the next initiative petition effort for medical marijuana by encouraging people to register to vote so that they may sign the petition as well as vote for the measure if it makes it to the ballot. They are also holding fundraisers throughout Oklahoma to support their efforts.

While Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma supports full legalization we are watching this initiative closely and will reserve commentary until we have had the opportunity to review the language. This initiative though will allow the opportunity for all patients to access medical marijuana and this is one more step towards drug peace.

Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma is dedicated to educating Oklahomans on the failure of the drug war, spreading awareness about the benefits of currently illegal drugs and supporting other initiative efforts.

If you would like to help us in our efforts to bring about Drug Peace and end the Drug War, please consider making a donation to our organization. With a $20 donation you will receive one of our T Shirts that will help spread awareness and the message that it’s time to end the war on drugs which is a war on our personal freedoms.

Click on photo to navigate to our donation page.

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Victim of War on Drugs – Darrell Hayden: Life Sentence for Marijuana

A horrible human rights tragedy has been occurring in the “land of the free”. It is difficult to know what to do or how to alleviate the pain and suffering of the victims. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that this human rights violation is perpetuated by the very institution that was supposedly created to protect personal liberty. The guilty party is the US Federal Government followed by each state government that participates in such immoral acts. Ultimately, the actions fall on each individual who blindly follows orders and aggresses upon peaceful people and the person who has imagined he has a higher claim to another person’s life.

The stories never cease: a toddler dismembered, accidental killing of an innocent person or dog, children and adults denied life saving medicine for fear of being caged. Peaceful people who were acting well within their rights are kidnapped, their property and lives stolen, alienated from their family, to live out the rest of their life behind bars.

Recently, another story has crossed my path. It is that of Darrell Hayden. He is currently serving two life sentences for growing a plant…marijuana. That is all. He has never harmed anyone. His daughter, Lisa, says he was a caring man who often helped those in his community. She said that he helped older people in the area by checking on them and doing small jobs.

“Mostly, I remember he was always giving to his friends,” she said.

Darrell is victim of the “three strikes” rule. He was convicted of growing marijuana twice. The first time he served 60 days, the second time he served 5 months. It went from that to two life sentences. While any time served is hardly justifiable, two life sentences is an absolute travesty.

Making a difficult situation worse is Darrell’s heart condition. He underwent bypass surgery in November and his family was not notified beforehand. A time when a man needs his family nearby he was denied that right. His “crime” does not justify living the rest of his life in a cell, being moved from state to state with little to no contact with his loved ones.

Darrell was born and raised in Loretto, Kentucky. He graduated from St. Francis High School, and in June of 1968, he enlisted in the Army. He served a tour in Vietnam. After returning home, he worked at the Ford Motor Company, did farm work, constructed small buildings and raised horses.

Darrell is currently in the 16th year of his sentence. He has four children and many grandchildren, some of whom have only known him being in prison.

Based on the guidelines of the Clemency Project (https://www.clemencyproject2014.org/), Lisa and her cousin created a petition (SIGN here) seeking clemency for Darrell. While the petition has already been submitted with over 40,000 signatures, they encourage anyone interested to still sign it. They have also created a Facebook group.

While there are so many victims of the War on the Drugs, this case is particularly disheartening and unjustifiable. I encourage you to share this story. It represents so many others whose basic rights have been violated, whose families are denied precious time with their loved ones. Growing cannabis is not a legitimate crime. Stealing a peaceful person’s life is.

Further reading:
Fighting for Another Chance
This Vietnam Veteran Has Spent 16 Years in Prison Because He Grew Weed

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CBD Hearing at Oklahoma State Capitol

The following account is submitted by Drug Policy Reform Network board member, Dax Ewbank, who attended the hearing at the capitol.

Here is my takeaway from the CBD Hearing held today at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

I was happy that the hearing was held, there were at least 7 or 8 legislators present, which is far more than I’ve ever seen show up to discuss this issue. Kudos should definitely go out to Jon Echols for putting a forum together that legislators took the time to show up for. He did a great job.

The testimony provided by the two neurologists in the room was compelling. The testimony of these two individuals alone should be plenty to realize that we must change our state’s policy with regard to Cannabis, particularly CBD.

Several families also presented and gave heart wrenching testimony of the struggles they face not only dealing with the deadly seizures of their child, but also with our state’s laws. They are all frightened of what might happen to them if they choose to come home with the medicine they have found to provide relief to their children. Two of the families that testified both gave stories of almost overnight and miraculous relief provided by whole plant cannabis oil extract. The importance higher concentrations of THC was also stressed, as each child responds differently to the oil and its concentrations.

The final presenter was the Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. I was glad that he felt compelled to present, however his presentation was not received well by me or many others in attendance. I don’t know if it was intentional, but his presentation came off as basically threatening the families there saying that if they pursue anything other than a low THC, CBD only policy then they would get nothing. I was not the only one in the room that took his presentation in this way. After the meeting, I asked him how it felt being the one pointing a gun at these families, and he of course denied doing any such thing. I told him that it is the fear of law enforcement alone that is oppressing these families to the point of either not providing medicine to their child, or living like a refugee to do so. I asked if he would allow these families to bring this medicine home, and he explicitly said no, because it is illegal (while still denying being the one holding the gun). I realize that his job is to uphold the law, but I hope that he finds himself in a moral dilemma with regard to this issue, being compelled by the law to act immorally against peaceful people.

I propose that the moral dilemma that the Director finds himself in can only be resolved by his joining our fight to decriminalize marijuana and help us through his office to provide safe access to Cannabis to those who need and want it.

The good news is that this was a step in the right direction, the hearing was well attended, and even the OBN is willing to make accommodations (although very limited ones) to help see some form of treatment available to these families is a very positive sign. There is still a great amount of work to do, and many obstacles to overcome. This may be a blessing in disguise, since the truth is on our side. If the activists can remain engaged and press this issue, even through all of these hurdles, the end result will be a nearly bulletproof presentation of the truth that we already know. So the bullheadedness of our activist community butting up against the reluctance of our legislator will only prove to meet out the truth in a way that ultimately cannot be refuted. It will take too long, and some children will die in the process, but at the end of the day, when Oklahoma finally comes to the realization of the ridiculousness of marijuana prohibition it will do so completely.

The CBD only law will still result in most of the families in the room today to have to live as refugees because of the THC limitations. Even the doctors who are wanting to do the research are afraid, acknowledging that they can’t even recommend a schedule 1 substance (marijuana) as a treatment without facing legal repercussions.

All in all, we have the wrong people in charge deciding the who, what, when, where, and why of the scientific and medical decisions that need to be made with regard to Cannabis. Instead of politicians, doctors and patients and people in general should be free to seek this out on their own without having to fear being arrested or having their children taken from them. Politicians should focus their laws not on the banning of plants and substances, but instead on how the law responds to those who choose to defraud or harm others. To me the impossibly complicated nuances of drug policy illuminate this truth all the more, I hope others begin to see it as well.

Dax Ewbank

Dax Ewbank

Victories and Next Steps

Oregon and Alaska became the third and fourth states to legalize marijuana.

http://touch.capitalgazette.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81873295/

In Oklahoma, Fallin has won the gubernatorial election. She is very much opposed to supporting and protecting one of our most basic rights to use cannabis. Meanwhile, medical cannabis refugees from Oklahoma are still stuck in Colorado, separated from their families and support network. The cannabis freedom battle continues on in this state. Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma will be busy working with legislators, educating people, and supporting other initiatives in the coming months and years. Oklahomans For Health has regrouped and will be working on another medical cannabis initiative. It will take much of our time and resources to accomplish this.

A membership with Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma, a non profit organization, is only $10/annually. As a member, you can attend meetings, join in the discussion and become eligible for election onto our board. We also accept donations to support our efforts to change drug policy in Oklahoma that supports and protects the rights of the individual. We are a small group of volunteers and all donations and fees go directly to the operation of the organization and costs incurred with our activism.

Membership

Donate

Changing drug policy and abolishing unjust drug laws is more than a drug issue. It is a human rights issue.

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Re: Governor Fallin’s Press Release – Support of Medicinal Use of CBD

Governor Fallin’s press release today announcing her support of medicinal use of CBD oil is a mere breadcrumb. While this low THC oil could benefit a very small demographic of children, it limits life saving, life improving medicine to others and continues to victimize a large group of people who suffer from cancer, cancer treatment side effects, veterans with PTSD, multiple sclerosis patients, chronic pain sufferers, and children who require higher doses of THC to control seizures.

Twenty three states with legal medical marijuana have already proven the effectiveness and benefits of medicinal cannabis for a number of ailments. For Oklahoma legislators to propose such strict, limited trials on CBD only use is a step backward. There have been numerous studies and ongoing research across the country beyond CBD only oil and Oklahoma families who have become medical marijuana refugees to Colorado have given personal testimony which was presented at the state capitol along with doctors and researchers. Governor Fallin and all but two representatives were missing in action during those presentations. The Governor should be protecting the rights and liberty of the people of Oklahoma. Instead she is dictating who can and cannot exercise their right to health freedom and medical treatment. To regulate and enforce such a limited bill would be a nightmare and resource hog.

Oklahomans for Health has created a petition initiative that supports medicinal marijuana access for everyone who needs it which will result in fewer people being locked up for exercising a fundamental right.

Fallin’s statement is disingenuous and does not support the people of Oklahoma. She flip flops on issues based on the potential votes she could gain. If she, and legislators, performed in accordance with their proper roles, marijuana prohibition would have been repealed a long time ago.

She has repeatedly denied a conference with a very outspoken mother whose two year old daughter, Jaqie Angel Warrior, has become a medical marijuana refugee in Colorado. Fallin has not proven herself a servant of the people but rather a government expanding, liberty encroaching, politician.

Her timing of this statement is also curious considering Oklahomans for Health is wrapping up signature gathering this week and will be submitting signatures on Friday.

While we are encouraged to see legislators ready to have a conversation on this topic, they are lagging behind as the people of Oklahoma have taken steps forward and become proactive on this issue despite the obstacles and hurdles they have had to overcome. Whether the required number of signatures is met or not, the people have made a clear statement that it is time to change Oklahoma’s drug policy.

To support a truly compassionate and reasonable policy, please sign the petition. There are only two days left to do so. You can find petition sites on their website: Oklahomans for Health

Please contact Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma if you have any further questions or comments at DrugPolicyOK@gmail.com.

Fundraiser and Petition

On Sunday, July 13, a fundraiser for Jaqie Angel Warrior was held at LaFortune Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jaqie is a 24 month old baby who is receiving CBD oil out of Colorado to treat her seizures related to epilepsy. The family must travel back and forth to Colorado as they have a home, family, job, and support network in Oklahoma. They are like so many other medical cannabis refugees who must live temporarily in Colorado which often creates an even greater hardship on the family.

This is the second fundraiser that has been held for Jaqie Angel. The event included a raffle, BBQ, and guest speakers. Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma brought in the speakers which included Chip Paul – Chairman of Oklahomans for Health, Jay Ramey – Tulsa Attorney, and DPRNOK board member and former gubernatorial candidate, Dax Ewbank.

Mr. Paul gave an update on the current medical marijuana initiative which now has just 30 days to collect the necessary signatures needed to be on the ballot in November. The most recent count was 75,000 signatures collected but that does not include the uncounted petitions yet to be turned in. 156,000 valid signatures are required. In order to ensure that number is met, they need to collect 250,000-300,000.

Tulsa attorney, Jay Ramey is very outspoken about police abuse of power and speaks frequently on knowing our rights regarding police encounters. He presented a condensed version of his ‘Know Your Rights’ speech and distributed his ‘Know Your Rights’ business cards.

Dax Ewbank recently campaigned in the gubernatorial primary and is a Drug Policy Reform Network board member. He presented a talk that encompassed the injustices committed in the name of the war on drugs, the insensibility of current drug policy, and philosophical points regarding marijuana use and the fundamental right to use it without fear of being incarcerated, having children removed from their homes, and lives torn apart.

Oklahomans for Health volunteers were present and a petition was available to sign. If anyone is interested in volunteering or needs petition locations please visit Oklahomans For Health website.

The documentary film crew attended and recorded footage and conducted interviews. Local media, KJRH Channel 2 Tulsa aired a report on the event which you can view here.

We are grateful to have been part of this event as we continue to work on educating the public and changing the drug policy of Oklahoma to support personal choice, personal responsibility, health freedom, and individual rights.

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Two Oklahoma Initiative Campaigns seek to nullify federal marijuana laws

US News reports that two initiative campaigns are underway in Oklahoma to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational uses. If either passes, it will add to the swelling movement to nullify unconstitutional federal laws prohibiting marijuana.

The federal government currently bans marijuana for any use. But constitutionally, the feds lack any authority enforce a prohibition on marijuana. No delegated power to regulate marijuana within a state exists. That role rightly remains with the state and the people.

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