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By Doug Porter
I attended Voice of San Diego’s Politifest on Saturday, held at Liberty Station. It was a gorgeous San Diego morning for what was dubbed a ‘civic festival.’ Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins were invited to strut their stuff.
Politifest is in the tradition of the days when grand public rallies were held to support candidates and causes–with a little bit of the 60’s teach-in thrown in for good measure. The main difference is that this annual event doesn’t have a cause beyond civic involvement.
There weren’t a whole lot of people there–once you accounted for all those participating in some fashion–but those that did attend were the kind of people who take their policy seriously. Alternately it could be called it Wonkfest; or Politicon (with craft beer! and food trucks!). The nerd in me was glad they do this.
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The nation has a split personality when it comes to pot.
By Don Hazen, April M. Short, Jan Frel, Steve Rosenfeld, and Tana Ganeva / AlterNet
In the robust efforts to legalize and decriminalize cannabis in the U.S., a slightly modified line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities applies: “These are the best of times, these are the worst of times.”
Despite huge success on many fronts, including legalization in two states with boffo success in Colorado (and two more states likely on the way), pot arrests remain astronomically high across the country. More than 750,000 were recorded in 2012, with pot arrests actually increasing in some states and the District of Columbia. The blue state of New York led the way with 125,000 arrests out of more than a million estimated users, or roughly 6% (the second highest percentage of pot smoker arrests next to Louisiana.)
It is ironic that in New York, progressive mayor Bill de Blasio was elected on a “Tale of Two Cities” theme, but police chief Bill Bratton’s NYPD continues to arrest pot users in high numbers. Those users are mostly black and Puerto Rican youth, which contributes to the massive inequality in the Big Apple that de Blasio says he wants to change. To illustrate the schizoid nature of our country’s relationship to pot, Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth Thompson has said he would not waste time and resources to prosecute everyday pot smokers, but Bratton says we are going to keep arresting them anyway.