Last Thursday a group of leaders from the Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma (DPRN) went to the state capitol to discuss the essential oversight with many House & Senate members.
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.
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.]
Committee Contacts – Reference: SB 1189
Chairman Anthony Sykes
Vice Chairman Brian Crain
There are people who feed, house, and clothe their families by the income generated off laws that target a segment of the population for possessing a plant that, like so many other plants (maybe some in your garden right now), has medicinal properties.
Some people may use this plant NOT to combat symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS), Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Intractable Epilepsy, PTSD, or Chronic Pain, but rather, just like some people enjoy a beer at the end of the day, for relaxation.
But is that a valid justification for some to, by using government as the weapon, target partakers of a particular plant in order to fund their lifestyle? Or is that immoral? Should not these people who enrich themselves via unjust laws at the expense of the wealth of the public and the liberty of the convicted find useful work that is supported by the free market?
Small government pro-free-market people understand that ending the drug war is the solution.
The War on Drugs is Immoral. Help end it and declare peace.
Did you know the war on drugs is founded on racist principles? Prof. Stephen Davies shows the historical thought process behind banning drugs. One of the main reasons drugs were banned initially is because people were concerned drug use would lead to interracial relationships. Can you imagine someone making that argument today? Yet it was a principle reason for some of the laws banning drugs that we still have. Other reasons for banning drugs included fear of conspiracies and the misguided notion that the government somehow has a right to the productivity of its citizens. All three of these reasons are truly absurd, but all three were historically used as arguments that contributed to the war on drugs. If these are the arguments on which the drug war is founded, can we be sure it’s a war worth fighting for?
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.
Oregon and Alaska became the third and fourth states to legalize marijuana.
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.
Changing drug policy and abolishing unjust drug laws is more than a drug issue. It is a human rights issue.
I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the Metro Tulsa Civitan Club’s weekly meeting today. Joanna Francisco, secretary of Drug Policy Reform Network, accompanied me. I spoke about cannabis legalization. I briefly discussed the war on drugs, how cannabis is medicine, and who the true victims of prohibition are. Someone even brought brownies so this was a fun crowd! Everyone at the meeting was genuinely interested in the issue. They asked excellent questions and I hope that they share what they learned with their family and friends.
During my talk, I mentioned the story of two Oklahoma girls, Jaqie Angel Warrior and Avagrace Spencer. Jaqie Angel and her family traveled to Colorado this weekend and Jaqie received her first dose of CBD oil. Here is an update from her mom, Brittany:
“Jaqie received her 1st dose of medicine yesterday afternoon…Yay! Its been a journey to say the least and right now we are just trying to get settled in and rest. The medical marijuana oil is already working! Yes, I said already. Just with 2 doses I’ve already noticed more alertness. She can see my face better and is more full of life. I know we made the right decision to do this for her.
I spoke to Mary Fallin’s director yesterday, Mr. Cody. He laughed at me as I cried to him on the phone telling him we wanted to return home with Jaqie. It burnt me up inside. The phone call was recorded and will be released by the week’s end. All of our friends and supporters feel free to call Fallin’s office and ask for her public response in regards to my letter to her about baby Jaqie.
Our family is blessed and happy to be here giving Jaqie the medicine she needs! BUT, at the same time this is very lonely for us. We have no one here. The kids have been crying because they miss their friends and school and they just want to go back to their home. This is so heartbreaking for me as a mom. But at least Jaqie Angel has access and is receiving the medical marijuana oil she needs. This is the most important factor in all this and I know things in Oklahoma will change soon. It’s my personal mission in life to see to it.”
Meanwhile, Avagrace is still waiting. She cannot travel to Colorado unless her mother and father legally separate as he is in the military.
Why does a family need to separate, uproot and leave behind their home, support network, and jobs to receive life saving medicine for their children that is available across an arbitrary line? Why are they pleading to exercise their very basic rights? Who is accountable for this gross infringement upon their rights? If a parent was withholding life saving medicine to their child, how would they be treated? How about when the government does it? Should government dictate what treatments people are allowed to use or should that be a decision made by the individual and their health care provider?
When will this injustice upon the people of Oklahoma end?
Lisa Bowman – President Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma
If you would like us to speak to your group please contact us. 918-609-3095 DrugPolicyOK@gmail.com
Your baby suffers from life threatening seizures 100 times or more a day. Conventional medicine is ineffective, causes dangerous or undesirable side effects, and there is not much more doctors can do. However, there is a safe, effective treatment that other children are using. Their seizures have decreased dramatically and they are doing things they were unable to do before. They are off their dangerous pharmaceutical medications. It truly is almost a miracle.
A veteran lives with PTSD. He is prescribed anti-psychotic medications, anti-depressants, or a cocktail of psychotropic pharmaceuticals. In many cases they do not help and also have some serious dangerous side effects. However, there is a safe, effective treatment that others are using and they no longer need pharmaceuticals.
A cancer patient who has opted for highly toxic chemotherapy and radiation is experiencing severe nausea, loss of appetite and pain. She is prescribed very strong anti-pain meds, anti-nausea meds, and a slew of others to offset the effects. However, there is a safer alternative that would alleviate pain, nausea, and increase appetite therefore reducing or eliminating the pharmaceuticals. This treatment has also been shown to cure some cancers.
The treatment referenced is plant based and has curative and preventative qualities. It could benefit many people in many ways, so it must be available to all, right? Wrong. It is only legally accessible to a few. It is cannabis a.k.a. marijuana. Here in Oklahoma if you possess this plant or any of its derivatives you are criminalized and if caught, your life could change in a heartbeat in a very negative way.
Is withholding potentially lifesaving medicine an act of aggression? Are those doing so accountable for the deaths of others who have been denied access based on absurd drug policy? What is the proper role of government in this issue? Is the role of government to protect individual rights? If that is true, their actions are not supporting this.
Some believe the cannabis issue should not be a priority right now and there are more pressing issues on which we should focus. We do not agree. The Drug War in general is the single most pressing issue in our society for numerous reasons. People, including innocent children, are suffering and dying or are being locked in cages for exercising their natural rights. This is a human rights issue and an extreme abuse of power by the government. It must be addressed immediately.
The real crime is preventing peaceful people from exercising their rights and locking them up for possessing a plant that has never caused one fatality and contains many curative and preventative health benefits. If legislators are not willing to have a conversation or stand up and protect personal freedom then they are failing in their job. Perhaps the problem is that their very job title requires a stream of arbitrary laws to validate their existence. Unfortunately, individuals have little recourse for reprimanding representatives. The cannabis issue is not going to dissipate and quietly disappear. It is expanding, growing louder, and gaining momentum. It would be wise for the politicians to start listening to the citizens of Oklahoma and stop harming the most vulnerable among us. The government violence must cease and we will not stop speaking out, exposing politicians, and educating the public until it does.
This story is getting a lot of attention as it should. This is a peaceful couple. A man treating his glaucoma with plants that he grew in his basement. He wasn’t selling it, they weren’t bothering anyone yet his property was stolen right before his eyes while all he could do was sit quietly and watch it happen.
His pharmacist says it all:
The couple’s pharmacist in the nearby town of Drexel, Mo., thinks the whole thing is ridiculous.
“They are good people and he found a treatment that works for him,” said Mark Finke at Drexel Pharmacy. “I fully support them. He has tried things I have here, but nothing works for glaucoma like marijuana and you would be hard-pressed to find a doctor to say otherwise.
“He wasn’t hurting anyone. I have drugs in here like OxyContin that are legal and they kill someone every day.”
DPRNOK board members, Lisa Bowman, Joanna Francisco, Dax Ewbank and Jeff Pickens were guests on Tulsa based Liberty Talk Radio where they talked about legalization and answered questions from viewers.
Here is the archive labeled “Zombies and Marijuana Legislation”