Skip to main content

tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  May 12, 2014 4:16am-6:01am EDT

4:16 am
your android or blackberry. >> decriminalizing marijuana was the topic of the congressional hearing on friday. that acting police and chief of police, spoke about decriminalizing marijuana possession. d.c.'s mirror has signed a bill this portiont -- of the hearing is one hour and a half. >> i would like to welcome everyone with a call to order.
4:17 am
we are looking at what using across the country in relation to the laws affect the marijuana. of businesses will start with some opening statements of myself and other members that wish to be recognized. finish with that, we have two panels this morning. we have the delicate from the district. them first. from then we have a panel of four witnesses that we will hear from wethe second panel will stop
4:18 am
gather today, and i will start out by saying i read the opening and in fulfilling an important responsibility of the investigativee and oversight role of the committee. by the peoplere not only to legislate on some manners but also to investigate the oversight to roll in the house of representatives. to be the senior member, having served longer than anyone else on the committee. it fulfills an important role in keeping government accountable and responsive.
4:19 am
today's hearing relates to the district of columbia. i know there have been some public pronouncements of what is this committee doing looking at the district law. let me start off by saying, first of all, the district of columbia is not a state, it is not a territory, it is not a possession. federal district. it is provided for under the constitution in a specific statute. law we arethat the talking about will impact and that the district has passed, will impact not only the people of the district but the people of the united states and we have millions and millions of people visiting us each year. it is a law that is in context
4:20 am
with some federal laws and i think we have the responsibility to review its implications. the district out of columbia for examination of the impact absolutely not we have held to previous hearings in which we specifically looked has gonedo which beyond the statute in the district. we are looking at other states, changedn 20 states has the legal framework of marijuana for medical use and so this is, part of our responsibility under the anstitution and law particularly unique responsibility of the congress for the district.
4:21 am
in response to its responsibility over the district of columbia. on march 4, we did a hearing with a colorado attorney and we had found that actually, on that day, and i think that is the day the d.c. council voted to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, the impact is significant. 20% -- can we put that little slide appear? of d.c. is federal land and it is unclear as to how the d.c. criminalization will affect marijuana decriminalization on places like the mall.
4:22 am
i am colorblind but they tell me that the green is federal land. staff, the question of what if i am standing on the mall which joins independence avenue with one foot on it each there, whatroadway the impact of enforcement would be and no one could tell me. those are the questions which have been raised by the districts of adoption of a bill that reduces the penalty for marijuana position from a -- a criminalse offense punishable by jail time to an offense punishable by a $25 fine. it is in conflict with some of the federal statutes. orm --
4:23 am
we have a great deal in the district of columbia. that is one of the reasons we some peopleain, including our witness question our authority will stop let me just review the authority under the constitution of the united states. one, it is very evident to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over the district. our authority in this regard stems from the constitution, as you know the district was created by an act of congress in 1790 and subsequently we have a up, -- the put that
4:24 am
act of 1973 says the congress reserves the right at any time, and this is one of those times, to exercise its constitutional authority as legislature for the district. so we do have very clear authority in that regard. here in the house oversight reform committee which date back to the early 1800s, congress authorizer'sly the to conduct oversight and the appropriators, those who created agencies for the district of the lumbee, but also who appropriated and wanted them to conduct oversight, they wanted a third-party will stop the house of representatives happened to be that authority. law points out that
4:25 am
this is our responsibility. we will fulfill our constitutional and statutory responsibility and conduct this hearing. i am not here to debate the of criminalmerits law, we are here to examine its impact and to examine the enforcement questions. we are here to examine a host of questions. this is not the last hearing. we started out with the deputy director of the white house policy on drugs, and he testified to a number of items in conflict with statements we ever heard from the president. in fact, even the president of
4:26 am
the united states about the impact of the current marijuana that we see in the marketplace. , also itscal impact and inon the performance intelligence of the individuals. tableduals sat at this and told us some reasons why they should not let us -- penalties and again we should look at what is being done around the united states. some agencies of the administration who are now in turmoil trying to figure out how they'llply with changes be at the district of columbia, colorado, were some of the states laws that have been passed. in fact, with many local and
4:27 am
federal law enforcement agencies, i would ask the staff and the district of columbia, where we have this pretty extensive list of enforcement district,n the starting with the secret service, the supreme court police, the united states park police, even the smithsonian police, we have a whole host here of agencies that are charged with enforcing the law within the district of columbia and to also have different sets of penalties they must and force the to maybe in conflict with the law that has been proposed by the district for the district. that relates not only to the district, but to
4:28 am
multiple agencies that the district of columbia -- and that has a legitimate law enforcement role in the district will stop so, and gannon, we are here to , to at some of these issues of thisthe implications new law's impact on the district will stop millions of people who will visit here. we hope to do so in a responsible manner. anyher or not we will make further recommendations i am not going to prejudge. i have not heard all of the testimony. invited the district to also send a representative from the district council and i think
4:29 am
they chose not to do so. i am disappointed they are not dissenting someone who actually , but we dothe policy want to provide an opportunity for the representative of the district, ms. norton that, to testify. are there further members who seek recognition? >> i want to thank you for holding this hearing. i think that these statements in the drugous hearings, czars and the daa, spoke for themselves. they need for the president to replace those people and have people in the positions who reflect the values of america in 2014, the values obama has espoused, the values the people
4:30 am
have espoused. in this particular case, one of the things i really like about the states adopting the state could try things the others could learn and see what is good in that. this is a separate jurisdiction. it can be a laboratory of democracy. no better laboratory of democracy right here with the members are situated where they can see and be around the next. hall this law affects the populace.
4:31 am
i appreciate the opportunity to discuss this. thank you. >> thank you. i should have asked for unanimous consent to since you're not on the specific committee to participate. without objection we have granted you the ability to participate. i want to ask unanimous consent that he also be allowed to participate without objection. so. let me recognize further members of the subcommittee first. if you want to be heard. >> ok. then we will go to dr. fleming. you are recognized. >> thank you for allowing me to
4:32 am
sit in on this. i would like to speak for a moment not so much specifically about the law and levi's ability of relaxing laws on marijuana but just to speak as a physician as a father. a family physician who has been an alcohol and drug medical direct your twice, someone who -- the director twice, someone who wrote a book and what the impact of marijuana is today in america and changing attitudes. it was back about 20 years ago i believe that there was identified some theoretical value with the use of marijuana medicinally in the case of dying cancer patients.
4:33 am
they gave them some comfort. no one has any problem with attending to the needs of the dying patients, someone with a terminal illness. somehow this has morphed into claims that marijuana actually cures cancer, that it is necessary to treat nausea and many other claims that have been completely disputed by the medical community. there's nothing that marijuana treats today that cannot be divided by other medications that are much safer. with talk about the safety of marijuana. it is an addicting substance. there is a myth that it is not. the most common diagnoses for young will admitted to rehab centers today is for marijuana addiction. make note mistake about it -- no mistake about it. there's a discussion as marijuana as a gateway drug. drug addicts tell me every drug is a gateway to another drug.
4:34 am
marijuana is not excluded and i would include alcohol and perhaps tobacco. any exposure of an addicting substance also -- often needs to a worse addiction. what else do we know? we have many studies now that confirm this that the human brain does not fully mature until almost age 30. yet the average age of a child he has first exposure to alcohol or marijuana is around 11. these actually modify the rain and its chemical -- the brain and its biochemical pathways and the neurotransmitters and sets the stage for addiction later in life. children who are exposed to such addicting substances prior to age 15 had a five-time greater risk of future addiction than those who are not. there is no question that the rate of addiction goes up with
4:35 am
exposure in young people. two very recent studies have come out with an important impact. one is eating published in neuroscience. they did mri scans the people who use marijuana only once or twice a week. what they found was profound changes into aspects of the brain, areas that confirm what we believed all along. that is something call the motivational -- amotivational syndrome. also, the incidence of psychiatric diseases, particular schizophrenia is higher. heart disease. we are seeing a spike in heart disease among marijuana users as well. there is also a libertarian argument on this that why should government stand in the way of old utilizing a substance that they wish to do so?
4:36 am
theoretically that mixed anti-of sense. the problem is you never hear libertarians and make the claim that when i am unable to get and keep a job and i can no longer support my family that i will also tell the government not to take care of us through our going entitlement system. i would always challenge those who argue on a libertarian bases you cannot have it both ways. you can do whatever you want with your body, ride a motorcycle without a helmet or whatever, do not expect taxpayers to take care of you when you are suffering from those circumstances. again, i want to be sure we have the facts in front of us. we're getting reports in colorado were marijuana has recently been made -- been made legal. it is finding its way into food.
4:37 am
children have actually ingested emergency -- marijuana become quite ill. these are all important things i want to make sure we have on the table. i thank you for the opportunity to join everyone today. i yield back. >> to other members wish to make opening statements? >> with all due respect, i want to clarify the libertarian position. >> this should be the libertarian. i interact with people every day on the subject because of my stance on that. i would actually say that there is a faux libertarian group out there who make the claim on the basis you say but they never come with the second part. i agree with you. if you were to take a
4:38 am
libertarian stance, if i were to ride a motorcycle without a helmet or to use marijuana and tell the government to stay out of my life, and like you we should also demand that government not provide us the benefits to the charge of taxpayers to take care of us. we agree philosophically. there are many who make the claim under the umbrella of libertarianism. it is not libertarianism at all. >> i agree. >> can i ask you a question? >> mr. massey had time which to yield. >> i wonder what your argument should be. outlaw alcohol so we do not have to pay for the alcoholics he cannot do a job? should we get rid of alcohol?
4:39 am
>> great question. you know, alcohol has been an accepted part of our coulter and religious practices for centuries. we did try, even with an amendment to the constitution to prohibit the use of it. it was not culturally except did. it is problematic. i would also say on a medical bases that moderate amounts of ingestion of alcohol actually have positive health effects. that is not to diminish what it can do. it can damage the brain and many other organs. it is not realistic event the cultural acceptance of alcohol
4:40 am
to prohibit it the same that the strip tobacco. as recently as the 1950's, does recommended smoking at least on commercials for health. we found out of course a 1969 that it causes lung cancer and many other problems. we have done a lot of things to mitigate the damage of it. marijuana is different. the public has never excepted marijuana as part of our culture. that seems to be changing. i think we can change it. >> i yield back my time. >> i think the gentleman. as you can see, there is a lot of debate not only among various groups but among members of congress on both sides of the aisle and parties themselves. what is happening is raising
4:41 am
many questions across the united states. because of the change in the law and the district. it does have implications. i'm going to yield in just a sec him. i do want to provide that this link in the proceedings the penalties for marijuana possession starting for federal law section 844 has simple possession, they can provide for a fine of not less than a thousand dollars. the new law in new zealand is a $25 law. they can have a jail term of up to six months here at there are 26 agencies that are responsible for law enforcement. i have this joint here.
4:42 am
ok. do not get too excited. this is not a real one. it is a mock one. i am told by staff that this joint, that the penalty is, let's see, you have up to one ounce or less. one ounce is 28 grams. is that correct? eat joint has about one gram. over 20 joints you could be in possession of and the district of columbia. here is the list of penalties which i am submitting to the record. for the record, i will submit this. like did you roll that? >>, i had staff do it. they have more experience.
4:43 am
[laughter] all kidding aside, there are very serious implications to what the district has taken. we want an open and honest airing of what is going to happen. this is why we brought in other officials to discuss this in an open and honest manner. i welcome our delicate. >> i want to thank you very much. thank you for the opportunity to testify. under the policy, i think you're safe with that joint. the policy is not to enforce marijuana laws here in the district of columbia. even in the capital.
4:44 am
before i summarize my testimony, i do have to say it is almost quaint to hear a jurisdiction that they referred to these as a federal district. not since the 1973 home rule act that says it was wrong to have a nation's capital where people could not govern themselves that referred to my district as a federal district. and recognize that the congress cap into itself a power. the citizens of this city have a right to govern themselves and make their own law the same way as the members of the panel and their local jurisdictions.
4:45 am
have those laws made. notwithstanding that ultimate power i do note with great pleasure that this full committee on which i serve has, in fact, respected home rule. this is the first time i can remember that there has been a hearing in congress on a purely local matter. notwithstanding the power of congress over the district of columbia. it simply has the good sense and fails to violate its own principles of local control by almost always not interceding into our local affairs. as to the 20% of the district columbia that is set on land,
4:46 am
six or seven states have most of their land to be federal land. yet we do not claim and this committee does not claim that presents any particular problem when it comes to the enforcement of local laws which may differ from federal laws. as to the location of the number of police forces, they will be enforcing federal law under the attorney general. that means they will not interfere with local law as it has been passed with respect to marijuana decriminalization. i appreciate the opportunity testify. i, as much in protests as in the usual sense of testimony. the sub committee has singled out the district of columbia on
4:47 am
its marijuana decriminalization law as it has not singled out any of the 18 restrictions i have similar laws. it is to observe these often cited in appearance to the 10th amendment. it is by not calling any local officials even when it looked at colorado in particular which along with washington has gone much further and has legalized marijuana still. no local official was called to washington to be cross examined. this is at the root of our constitution.
4:48 am
set for a few new rated exceptions. marijuana decomposers was not one of them. the first that decriminalized marijuana was alaska. since then red and blue states like have decriminalized
4:49 am
marijuana from california to new york to mississippi to nebraska. nothing was similar about the states. the district of columbia is the only jurisdiction that is gotten a full-fledged hearing on its local discrimination laws. the national government has to do but make the framers turnover in the gray. makes officials in their own jurisdiction. a local control of local affairs.
4:50 am
this hearing stands out. it flies in the days of what my republican colleagues often preach about devolving power at two local states and jurisdictions. they tried to snatch power by making the district of columbia vindicated local power. its local policy before the state legislature.
4:51 am
we will defend this cities decriminalization bill against any and every attempt to block or change it. there will be a city official here today. they have informed me that he objects to this hearing and he has refused to provide, as has the council, any official who has had anything to do or will have anything to do with the devising or carrying out of the marijuana decriminalization law in the district of columbia. i am also pleased to note that two majority members of this subcommittee carried out the principle of local control and local affairs. last week voting for the amendment to prohibit the allocation of funds being used
4:52 am
to implement the veterans health directive that for bids a provider from completing the recommendations or options regarding veterans participation in a state of marijuana programs. it took me 11 years to remove a medical marijuana amendment from the district appropriations. not 21 states have marijuana. i am here today to make what has really compelled the district to pass its own decriminalization law. even though blacks and whites in the united states use marijuana
4:53 am
at the same rate, recent studies show that african americans in our country are four times more likely to be arrested for the mere possession. it was interesting to note that in your own state of florida you had your number three in the nation from arizona -- for a marijuana arrests at a rate four times. even in the district of columbia were half of the population is why, we found an even worse record that african americans were eight times more likely to be arrested for a mere possession then whites in our city. 91% of all were african-americans.
4:54 am
the arrest rate are extremely troubling. across the country they have a lot of african americans, especially young african american men that start in life surrounded by a host of stereotypes, regardless of where they are and where they live just because they are black. a marijuana possession arrests, particularly for the gentleman from low income areas will almost surely wipe out the opportunity to find a legitimate job. that in turn can lead to the underground economy, even selling drugs. who is paying that price?
4:55 am
is it the black community itself? >> i would like you to conclude. we're almost in a half minutes over what we a lot. i would like to invite the gentlelady to join the panel. you will have time to ask questions and submit additional information for the record. >> i do want to say, particularly given the concern that a member has indicated about the use of marijuana
4:56 am
itself, that is a very legitimate concern. he can be assured that the district of olympia, a big city which has experienced a big real problem, they are very clear about the problem of people smoking marijuana. if gone out of the way to make sure that decriminalization does not lead to more. ironically, i think it is going to start up for the first time an understanding of the risks that may be associated with smoking marijuana. we must respect the liberty of americans to use such substances rather than opposing risk. asset they not be unfairly targeted in that members of this community give this the same respect for their local decisions as they would certainly demand for their own
4:57 am
constituents and jurisdictions. >> we appreciate her testimony. we can go ahead and have the second panel seated. if we can go ahead and do that. if you can join us here, we would've received if it. -- we will receive it. this relates to marijuana. the department of justice issued a memo saying the department of justice will not enforce marijuana laws and safe that have legalized it.
4:58 am
one of these eight areas are preventing marijuana possession. it is important under these policies it seems the district court would prosecute marijuana is ushered on federal land. this is contrary to what we just heard. that is one of the reasons. no one is here to negate the district law. 26 federal agencies are responsible for enforcing different penalties.
4:59 am
do we have all of our different witnesses? we have the assistant chief metropolitan police. well him. we have robert as the acting chief of the united states park service. we have mr. david o'neill as the acting general. we have our fourth witness, direct during in the american civil liberties union of a national capital. if you can remain standing, we do swear in all of our witnesses. if you would raise your right hand. do you solemnly affirm that this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
5:00 am
let the record reflect that all of the witnesses answered in the affirmative. least be seated. we we will be glad to request this to add to the record additional record. we'll start with peter newsom who is the assistant chief metropolitan police. your recognize. >> if you could turn that up here at i am a lowly congressman. >> good morning. other members of the committee, i am the assistant chief of the district of columbia and metropolitan police department. i am pleased to be here to discuss the recent legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. the marijuana possession decriminalization amendment act
5:01 am
of 2014 which is projected to become the flaw in approximately mid july amend the district of columbia's code to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. instead of facing a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail or thousand dollar fine or both, once it goes into effect, individuals will be subject to a $25 civil fine. the officers can seize any visible marijuana. the use of marijuana on public space will remain a critical -- a criminal penalty up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $500. the act defines public space as any street, alley, sidewalk, park, or parking area. a vehicle on any street, alley, sidewalk or parking area or any place to which the public is invited.
5:02 am
attitudes about marijuana use have changed significantly in recent years with many excepting it to be no more harmful or addictive than alcohol or tobacco. decriminalizing marijuana may help reduce the number of people with arrest records for possession of small amounts of marijuana which may enable them to more easily find gainful employment. the act maintains chemical penalty for selling marijuana and public usage which is important to combat drug dealing and to ensure the quality of life. even though the district of columbia will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, we will continue to send the message, especially to our young, of the danger and affects just as we do with alcohol and tobacco. due to the unique status, some federal law enforcement agencies such as the part police have concurrent jurisdiction in the district of columbia and can enforce federal law anywhere in the city.
5:03 am
although the officers one force the act, federal law enforcement agencies are not bound by the act so long as the possession or use of marijuana remains a federal criminal offense. i thank you for the opportunity. >> you are recognized. >> thank you. today to discuss the government response to the potential decriminalization of the district of columbia's marijuana possession laws. i'm the acting chief of the united states park police. i would like to submit the full statement for the record. >> without objection. the entire statement will be made part of the record. >> u.s. park police is one of
5:04 am
the oldest uniformed federal law enforcement agencies. the park police has enjoyed a long partnership with the citizens of the district of columbia and cooperation with the metropolitan police department. it is responsible for safety and crime prevention and all park lands administered by the service. the district of columbia, they have jurisdiction which compromises 22% of the district of columbia. including the national mall, it east and west potomac are, rock creek park, and mcpherson square. the park police is a unit for the national park service within the department of the interior. archers diction is usually set by congressional legislation. officers are about to make arrests for any offense against the united states committed in their presence within areas of
5:05 am
the national park system. two additional acts say they have the same powers and duties as a metro tollefson police -- metropolitan police [indiscernible] department. they are left it is left to the discretion of the officer on the ground. if an individual is arrested for civil possession of marijuana by one of our offices, the rest he can be criminally charged under d.c. code. under existing law, possession is a misdemeanor with a penalty of incarceration of up to six months and a fine of not more than $1000. if the violation occurs on federal park land, the rest he can be charged under the park service regulation at title 36 resulting in a misdemeanor with a possible plenty of incarceration for to six months and a fine of not more than $5,000. finally, it is a schedule one
5:06 am
controlled substance under the united states code. the possession of which is a misdemeanor. in the event of a conviction, it is determined by the court. between 2010-2012, 35% of the part police arrest for marijuana charges and the washington metropolitan area occurred on federal park land within the district of columbia. the majority of these arrests were for simple possession. we understand that the district of columbia decomposition amendment act of 2014 would only district law and would not alter the national park service regulation or federal law on marijuana. we understand that the d.c. act would still make it a misdemeanor to smoke marijuana in a public space or park. if it becomes law, then we will work closely with the united states attorney office, the district of columbia, to determine our options. especially if the person is on
5:07 am
federal park land. this concludes my statement. i will respond to any questions you may have. >> thank you. we appreciate your testimony. we will now turn to david o the acting assistant attorney general of the criminal division at the united states department of justice. welcome. you are recognized. >> thank you. i appreciate your invitation to testify at the u.s. department of justice. my testimony will focus on our marijuana enforcement programs nationwide and the guidance the department has issued regarding our program. as you know, the controlled substance act of 1970 makes it a federal crime to possess, grow and distribute marijuana. financial transactions including proceeds generated by a marijuana related conduct can also form the basis for federal prosecution under
5:08 am
money-laundering statutes and the bank secrecy act. starting with california in 1990, several states have authorized the cultivation and distribution and possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes under state law. in 2012, voters in colorado and washington approved initiatives legalizing marijuana use under state law and establishing state regulatory systems for marijuana use. in 2010, the council of the district of columbia operates use of marijuana for medical purposes and following congressional review of that legislation became law on the district of columbia.
5:09 am
demonstration would treat d.c. in the same manner as every other jurisdiction with respect to the enforcement of marijuana laws. and the district of columbia, the u.s. attorney's office will investigate drug offenses. for decades and across the administrations, federal law enforcement have targeted sophisticated drug traffickers and organizations while state and local authorities focus their enforcement efforts under their state laws and more localized drug activities. since medical marijuana laws and decriminalization laws have been enacted, the department of justice have continued to work with the state and local partners to target dangerous drug trafficking organizations. at this point, more than ever, we will maintain strong partnerships and coordination among federal and state and local enforcement. on august 29, 2013, the department issued a memoradnum to all attorneys directing our prosecutors to investigate and prosecute marijuana cases that implicate anyone of eight federal priorities.
5:10 am
this memorandum applies to all of our federal prosecutors and guides the exercise of discretion against individuals and organizations that violate any of our interest no matter where they live or what the laws are in their state permit. using our prosecutorial, attorney offices have devoted resources to cases involving these eight priorities and will continue to do so in the future. for example, with targeted enforcement actions against marijuana businesses and residential growth near schools. we also actively investigate and prosecute cases including international smuggling of marijuana, marijuana grows were firearms and violence are concerned, on public lands, and cases with potential organized crime involved. in addition, in february 2014, the department issued guidance
5:11 am
to all federal prosecutors about marijuana related financial crimes. that guidance seeks to mitigate the public's safety concerns by cash based businesses without access to banking and financial system while at the same time ensuring the organization, gangs and cartels do not have access to financial systems to launder terminal proceeds. the guidance states clearly that the provisions of the money-laundering statutes, and the bank secrecy act remain in effect with respect to marijuana related to conduct. the guidance advises prosecutors to assess marijuana's financial crimes under the priorities laid out. the department expects financial institutions to continue to apply appropriate risk-based the anti-money-laundering policies and procedures and controls sufficient to the risk and clues conducting due diligence with
5:12 am
any guidance issues. the department of justice is committed to a forcing of a controlled substance act in all states and the district of colombia and we are grateful for the dedicated work of our drug enforcement administration and agents, our friend -- our federal prosecutors, and state and local prosecutors and protecting our communities from illegal drug trafficking. our goal is to ensure the action that we are effectively focus on the eight priorities outlined an august 2013 and february 2014 guidance from the department. ultimately, achievement of that goal requires cooperation among law enforcement agencies at every level. i look forward to taking your questions. >> thank you and appreciate your testimony. we will go to ms. sadanandan, the program director at the american civil liberties union.
5:13 am
welcome, ma'am and you are recognized. >> chairman mica and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to address the overwhelmingly opulent decision to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. my name is ms. sadanandan and i am the program director of the aclu. we were to protect civil liberties and civil rights in washington, d.c. about public education, advocacy, and the litigation. in 2013, the aclu publish a nationwide study of the racial disparities in marijuana arrests from 2001-2010. the report documents marijuana arrest by race in all 50 states and the district of columbia. the aclu at the nation capital soon there after published a report behind the d.c. numbers. focusing on racial disparity in arrests in the district. while the study found black
5:14 am
people to be 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, in the district of columbia, black people were a staggering eight times more likely despite equal usage rates among black and white populations. these reports catalog several months of high-profile, public debate about police informant -- enforcement practices. there emerged a consensus that in the aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession did not make our community any safer. in the face of increasing public pressure, in march 2014, members of the d.c. council passed by a margin a 10-1 marijuana decriminalization amendment act of 2014. prior to the passage of the act, it was a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail or
5:15 am
up to $1000 fine. the act of decriminalize marijuana makes marijuana possession of one ounce of less a civil matter subject to $25 fine. in passing this act, the district joined 11 other states which had already instituted similar legislation. in 2010, as you can see, the graph here, black and white populations in the district were nearly equal, yet 91% of all arrests of marijuana offenses were of black people. in 2010 alone, 5393 for arrests were marijuana related. 3/4 were for marijuana possession. in 2010, law enforcement officers in the district of columbia were making approximately 15 arrests per
5:16 am
day. usage rates do not explain this glaring racial disparity in the enforcement of the district's marijuana laws particularly where time and time again studies have shown that black and white populations use marijuana at remarkably similar rates. this is a 2010 nationwide survey by the national survey on drug abuse and health. we have the 2001 and 2010 survey here which show that based on self-reported usage rates between black and white populations, you have equal rates. in addition, studies consistently indicated that drug markets reflect our nation's boundaries. for example, university students tended to sell to one another.
5:17 am
here we have a map of all of the marijuana arrests and the district of columbia. the yellow indicates the arrest of black individuals and the blue points indicate arrest of white people. it does not demonstrate that the vast majority of the arrest in the district of columbia, east of 16th street, and anyone who lives here in the district who knows that if these are the neighborhoods where the overwhelmingly majority of black residents left. -- live. and far from the 4 universities. when faced with a question of what to do with these disparities among the council considered several key factors in support of marijuana reform. the district spends more cap to all marijuana enforcement than any other 50 states. by conservative estimate, d.c. in 2010 spent approximately $26 million on marijuana enforcement.
5:18 am
focusing valuable police time and resources on marijuana enforcement produces police ability to respond to and resolve more stimulus -- more serious issues. and battling thousands of primarily black men in the district for marijuana with a negative congress is -- consequently did not serve interests, except it had a corrosive relationship between police and the community. that council overwhelmingly decided to remove criminal penalties under d.c. law for marijuana possession. before i close, i will enter as federal versus local. 93% of marijuana arrest in 2010 were made by the metropolitan police department. less than three percent of all of the rest and the district of
5:19 am
columbia -- arrests in the district of columbia were made on federal land. approximately 99% of all arrests were made under the d.c. code. we do not predict significant tension between federal and local marijuana enforcement and the wake of reform. we urge this committee to respect this local and widely supported measure to erase disparity enforcement in the district of columbia. thank you. >> thank you to all of our witnesses for their testimony and participation. i failed to say after the opening thank you again. we had to change the scheduling of this here at least twice in reference to our departed
5:20 am
member, mr. jim oshur and other members and i were at his funeral. that is the reason and i appreciate your compliance. let me start with some quick questions. all right. i cited in fact mr. o'neil that are 26 law-enforcement agencies. you cited the 2013 memo that the u.s. attorneys would not be going after some of the laws in these states. as far as federal prosecution. you did site 8 exceptions. the eighth one i had at which i put in the record was preventing marijuana possession or use of
5:21 am
federal property. is that correct? is that part of what was issued? >> chairman, i would characterize the memo slightly different. it was not an indication would not prosecute federal marijuana laws. except for those exceptions or with those areas that are indicated. what i would say is the memo indicated those are the areas will focus our priorities. we have instructed federal prosecutions to focus. >> one would be prevented marijuana possession or use of federal property? >> that is correct. >> and that is correct? some comments have been made about what the department of justice has said and what they would do. we also have also looked at and recalled from colorado, it is one of two states that we have
5:22 am
20 states for the medical marijuana, but they have the penalties they simply eliminated for possession in colorado and washington. we are not picking on the district. we are looking at the implications for federal prosecutors. mr. maclean, you cite you will be enforcing federal law? >> as far as possession -- >> which will you enforce? on federal property? if i have this little joint here in possession, what are you going to do? and i federal property, park service and you told me, all the area you cover -- what law are you going to enforce if this goes into effect in a few more weeks here?
5:23 am
>> the current law over national park's and district columbia is titled 37. >> you will enforce the federal law in conflict to the -- in deference to what the district has passed, right? >> that is correct. >> and you would prosecute, the agency would either be -- the district has a different law. it would end up under federal laws, is that right? >> the u.s. attorneys has authority in the district for prosecuting cases or offenses under the d.c. code. and so to the extent that an arrest was made under d.c. code, it will be superior code. if it was brought in violation of federal, it would be in
5:24 am
federal district court. >> mr. maclean just testified that 55% of your, give us, i do not want to change the word, that marijuana possession was 55% of offenses. what was that number? >> of the specific year, 55% of arrests made by parks occurred -- >> on parks? we could have an increased number given the disparity. i am not here to negate the district law, we are here to review whether the district and there have been presidents -- precedents for that we have at least 2 states and with had at least one hearing to see how this would be administered and executed under the law.
5:25 am
so, again, and i have already put this in the record, federal prosecution it would be at a higher -- we still have the issue brought up. chief newsham, this been a schedule one narcotic even though the district reduced the penalty and you have a jurisdiction under all of the nonfederal lands. you will prosecute under the new statute. is that correct? >> yes, that is correct. >> again, it is a local matter particularly given the relationship between the district of columbia and again, it is unique status in the
5:26 am
scheme of political and enforcement jurisdictions. there is no question there is disparity in the prosecution when it comes to black. our prisons, i do not know the current number, probably have the population of the prison, state local jails are filled with african-americans. the number of people in jail for various penalties, there's probably a larger population of african-americans in jail and prosecuted for a whole host of crimes. and that is wrong. and in many cases, it is wrong that today find themselves in that situation in the beginning. i am not certain that again, changing the penalty in the district of columbia is going to
5:27 am
benefit of that population that much. unfortunately, marijuana becomes a gateway and archiving and that is what -- narcotic and that is what we have said under the president of the united states who brought up some of this topic by comparing the use of marijuana equivalent to alcohol. again, it is not a question or response to some of your questions. there are in equities that need to be resolved. i appreciate each of you coming. we are trying to sort through the implications. i didn't know what to the administration will do of the categories -- i do not know what that demonstration will do on the categories. >> in terms of scheduling marijuana? no, there's a process of considering that will be
5:28 am
referred to the apartment of health and human services for a study and recommendation. >> we plan to bring in people from the scientific area to see what is out there and again, review that whole process and right now with the law changing as you testify to and we all see across the land, we need to see where we are going. both of you are law enforcement officers and the job you're doing. and i hope you see problems that we are trying to sort through. ms. norton? i will try to stick to the five. we do have five votes scheduled. >> thank you. just to clarify, park lands and federal property, nothing i said was meant that i heard nothing that federal land would be
5:29 am
different on federal property. federal park services, federal buildings, i joked about how you will be arrested. this is federal property. you may be in jeopardy up here, mr. chairman. but, what i was pointing out is the park land and federal property is to be treated the same way here as in other parts of the united states. isn't that true? >> that is correct. >> yes, ma'am. >> i mentioned when 20% of the land was federal property there were any number of states -- you had gave me some of the nevada, alaska where the entire state virtually is owned by the federal government. does that create any particular difficulties with respect, for
5:30 am
example in alaska where they have decriminalized marijuana, has the fact that much of the alaskan federal land creating particular difficulties and enforcing federal law on federal land? mr. o'neill? >> i am not aware of any particular difficulty arising from the percentage of federal land in a state like alaska. as you pointed out, we are going to approach marijuana enforcement in the district of columbia just as we do in states like colorado, washington, other jurisdictions that have chosen to amend their laws and this away. >> i want to note for the record that the federal government owns
5:31 am
81% in nevada. mr. newsham, does the district's deal change d.c. law around the sale and distribution of marijuana or intent to distribute marijuana? >> that would be an arrestable offense. >> what about notification of parents and guardians if you find marijuana in the hands of a youth? >> the youth would be issued a notice of violation and again, with regard to distribution, it would be an arrestable offense and parents would be notified. >> ms. sadanandan, you noted that where there are great many young people, this a college town, east of 16th street,
5:32 am
almost no arrests west of 16th street. in the map, and showed high numbers in many areas where african-americans live. why do you think? how come there are so many arrests? how do they come about? >> the study we did was a descriptive study so we look purely at the arrests based on anecdotal evidence, there are a number of different reasons that have to do with the way in which marijuana enforcement is prioritized by various agencies. i think if you can look at even with the number of various law enforcement agencies here in the district, you see more than 92% of the arrests are happening through the metropolitan police department. >> are these youngsters or people, whatever age, do you think because of the smell or
5:33 am
odor of marijuana? >> according to reports from young people in the district, it was under the alleged smell of marijuana that they were being singled out and stopped. what we found in our data is the majority of people who were actually arrested were not young people at all. juveniles made up less than 4% of arrest. >> i do not mean juveniles. i mean young people. >> yeah, absolutely. the pretense of odor was being used. >> what is the reason for the low fine? >> the reason for the low fine is the majority of the area of the district where people were being arrested are areas with high rates of low income individuals and to the application for a $25 fine is very different for a personal who is living at or below the
5:34 am
poverty line than a person who is middle-class or upper middle class. the $25 fine is more likely based on the arrest pattern you see now to be levied against somebody of low income. we wanted a finding that was a deterrent for engaging in possession, but was also manageable and realistic and did not saddle someone with an additional burden which would be all released it for them to pay. >> thank you and thank you mr. chairman. >> mr. massey. >> i find the racial disparity aspect of the enforcement prosecution of these laws very disturbing. the answer might not be just to ignore the law when we find a problem like this. ms. sadanandan, did you find
5:35 am
racial disparity in distribution, crimes as well as possession or have you looked at that? >> our report did not look specifically at the distribution. what i can say is this, based on just a survey, a general survey of number of distribution crimes in any area like a district seven of the metropolitan police department which is largely african-american section of the district versus district 2, we did find in district seven there were 270 arrests for distribution. in district two, there were approximately between 20 and -- it was much higher in district 2 than 7. >> do you anticipate, there will still be arrest for intended to distribute, that does not change
5:36 am
in the d.c. law? do you anticipate a racial disparity in continuing in the enforcer of this law? >> we anticipate there will be less arrests, but yes, the disparity will continue, but not on the scale that we are seeing now. >> mr. newsham, 2 of the witnesses have testified that there is a racial disparity in application of this law. why are blacks arrested at a higher rate than whites? what are you doing about it? what can you do and what have you done to address that disparity? >> i do not know if i heard folks say it was the enforcement of the law that was causing the disparity. i think, would you take a look
5:37 am
at something like this if you're looking at the race for particular crime, other factors have to be considered before you draw any conclusion of what causes it. one of the things we looked at the department because we are very sensitive to the allegations that laws are being biased.. if you look at the study where they talked about two separate areas of the city, we call patrol service areas of the wall is in the second district the way the southern district. this one the things we saw that in psa 204, which is predominately white, there were 12 drug calls that we had 12 marijuana arrests. in psa 602, which is predominately black neighborhood, we had 18 service calls, and over 200 marijuana
5:38 am
arrests. the community calls the police to come and take enforcement action. i guess why i say all of that is i do not want anybody to leave with the impression that the metropolitan police department or any law enforcement in the city, its taxes is causing. we need to take a closer look at the causes. >> mr. o'neil, who determines the prosecution priorities after the department of justice -- at the department of justice? >> ultimately, the attorney general and the deputy attorney general. >> ultimately, eric holder? >> yes, in any particular district. in discretion about how to enforce based on the particular circumstances.
5:39 am
>> have you had any directives, i heard you say earlier that you enforce the laws in d.c. of federal land as you would in colorado or washington. are you going to be any more or less diligent about prosecuting arrests on federal property in states that have more lenient marijuana laws than in other states? >> no, we are going to approach it -- that was the point of the guidance. this is the enforcement priorities of the department across the entire country regardless. >> no deference to state law? >> i think our enforcement of marijuana laws on federal property will be the same regardless of whether the applicable state law is. >> recognize mr. jordan. >> mr. o'neil, we will mark one
5:40 am
year since lois lerner disclosed that the internal revenue service was targeting conservative groups and four days later the attorney general announced that this activity was outrageous and unacceptable. that we asked fbi director mueller three questions. who is the lead? how many agents have you hired? his response was "i do not know." what he also said was i will get back to you and find we should know some of the basic information. i would like to know a couple of things. we know ms. boxerman is involved. she has interviewed many of the witnesses. she is in the civil rights division.
5:41 am
the attorney general has told us the public integrity is involved. is that accurate? >> the civil rights and career agents at the federal bureau of investigation and treasury inspector general. >> can you tell me some the basic information about the questions i asked mr. mueller, who is the lead agent on this? >> i am sure we can provide information to you. >> we have asked you seven times. we have sent seven inquiries to the department of justice and each time they cannot tell us. mueller did not say that, he said he would get back to us. mr. o'neil, you are acting assistant, and mentioned the integrity? >> yes. >> are you involved in the investigation? >> i would disagree with characterization.
5:42 am
>> are you involved? >> i oversee public integrity. >> mr. kuhne, we have heard he is involved. >> i am not familiar with the name. >> who is leading the investigation? >> i will say -- >> you oversee the criminal investigation involved, i want to know -- you did not know, this one the biggest cases and you didn't know who is leading? >> there are leading -- numerous prosecutors -- >> can you tell me how many? i've a tried to get this for 11 months.
5:43 am
>> i cannot tell you that. >> is this an important case finding out how first amendment rights were violated and conservative groups were targeted by the irs? >> i would disagree with the characterization. it is an important case. >> you do not know how many agents are involved? >> agents would involve from the federal bureau of investigation. >> how many attorneys from your -- >> i cannot give you a precise number. >> earlier this week in a bipartisan majority, 26 and democrats joined republicans and said we should have a special counsel take over this investigation. 26 democrats joined with us saying this "the actions of the irs and department of justice in connection with the matter have served to undermine the investigation."
5:44 am
that was part of the resolution. 26 democrats agreed. do you think we need a special counsel to take over this investigation was mark -- investigation? nobody seems to know how many agents are involved and who is leading. even the people involved, do you think we need a council? >> i see the attorney general and others in the department have answered that question and i think the answer is, no. >> you will not recommend a special counsel? >> no. >> you do not think the attorney general will consider that? even though 26 democrats have said this is not the kind of investigation we want. >> again, that suggestion has been made -- >> it was not a suggestion but a vote by the u.s. house of
5:45 am
representatives with 26 democrats joined republicans saying what is going on in the justice department is not a real investigation. when the person leading gave money to the president's campaign. even 26 democrats agreed somebody else should be in charge. congressman, i think the prosecution is being led and managed by career prosecutors in the criminal division and civil rights with assistance from career agents in the fbi and inspector general -- >> i hope the attorney general will listen to what 26 fellow democrats in the united states house of representatives had to say earlier this week when they voted. >> here is what is going to happen. we have less than a minute now remaining and a vote. i will recess the hearing until 12:15 p.m.
5:46 am
we will try to conclude by 12:30. we have at least a few more questions to be asked. the subcommittee will stand to recess until 12:15. the demographics of the population. benefits for active military personnel. we will take your calls. washington journal is live on c-span.
5:47 am
on thursday, the veterans themr come many had meeting about the department of veterans affairs. aboutant to see e-mails the waiting list at the phoenix the a health care system. keptret wedding list was in an effort to hide the systems backlog. saskia were on leave last week. this is about 10 minutes. good morning.
5:48 am
i would like to take care of one item of business this morning. subpoena motion of the for the department of veterans affairs to produce e-mails and written correspondence to the investigation of the phoenix the a medical center. we have to come to this decision. somed not do this without substantial justification. few weeks have been a model of v.a. stonewalling which precipitated the need for the subpoena. our staff was briefed and informed on the existence of an alternate waitlist and how that list was destroyed. we made a follow-up phone calls beginning on the 28th asking for additional information about the list. we did not get a response back. we called back on the 29th and
5:49 am
got no response. on april 30 and spoke directly to the assistant secretary. we got no response. this failure to provide information led to my first letter stating that the committee would pursue a subpoena if we were not provided with the information that we requested. yesterday i received a response fully answer the very simple questions that i asked. the time for request is over. we will vote to issue a subpoena. this is a historic vote. we have voted once before to issue a subpoena. and didd with the v.a. not deliver that subpoena but we
5:50 am
got the information that we were asking for. i trust that the v.a. will have the good sense not to further ignore the request of this committee. will cover e-mails and written correspondence since the ninth of april of 2014 at from the under , the general counsel or any other representative of the office of general counsel, the assistant secretary for directoronal affairs, of the congressional liaison or the, the officer, congressional relations officer. subpoena willhe encompass all e-mails and other
5:51 am
written correspondence where these parties discussed the destruction of an alternate waitlist regardless of what name it was given and the form in which it was kept. we have a motion before us that is at the desk. i will ask that the clerk will read the motion. the committee authorized the theance of a subpoena to secretary of the u.s. department of veterans affairs to produce all e-mails and written correspondence between april 9 and may 8. this addresses the destruction of an alternate waitlist with
5:52 am
regard to the veterans affairs medical center in phoenix, arizona. these are parties referenced in such e-mails and written correspondence. you have heard the motion. do i hear a second? for thepen the floor ranking member to make a theement and would ask that statements be very brief. we
5:53 am
have a very tight schedule this morning. the ranking member is recognized. agree thatwe can all quality, safe, accessible health care has been a priority of this committee. that has not changed today. asked the v.a. for information that has not been forthcoming. frustrations remain high among committee members. the chairman sent a letter on may 1. to twoested the answers questions. the response we received was insufficient. the subpoena we will authorize today is limited in scope. it is narrowly constructed in order to not interfere with the ongoing ig investigation. we are waiting for the results
5:54 am
of the investigation. we want them provided to us so we can be in a position to take problems not the only in phoenix but across the v.a. system. i was pleased to hear that the veterans health administration will complete a nationwide access review to ensure that employees have a full understanding of v.a. policy and that they will conduct a national face-to-face audit at all the clinics. understand that the ranking committee of the subcommittee on oversight and investigation recently sent a letter calling for the v.a. to undertake a similar action in light of the numerous problems that are throughout the system. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you for your cooperation. does any other member have a statement they would like to
5:55 am
make? very well. all those in favor of the motion to issue the subpoena? all those opposed? the motion carries. i am now going to sign the subpoena for the production of e-mails and written direct itsnce and issuance forth with. this concludes our business for today. this meeting is adjourned.
5:56 am
>> veterans affairs secretary eric will be on capitol hill this week. sanders has announced a hearing on thursday on the state of v.a. health care. the secretary will be among the witnesses and how to improve care for veterans. the hearing is live on thursday at 10:00 on c-span. next, q&a. 7:00, your calls and comments on washington journal. i have a general philosophy. it starts with the basic ms that economic freedom is my guiding principle.
5:57 am
does the commission have authority to act on a particular issue? one authority has congress give us? is there harm to consumers? should the solution be tailored to the particular problem's we are addressing question mark do the benefits of regulation outweigh the cost? that is how i am approaching each individual individually. you can take each issue as they come. sec -- f c c director tonight on the communicators. >> a collection of interviews and some of the top storytellers. was built onry people who came to immigrate to this country. some were illegal in some
5:58 am
illegal. i came in with no documentation and no ability to get a job or an education. when i crossed the border, i ended up coming into the san joaquin valley to work as a migrant farm worker. there were not a lot of thousands of people trying to get the jobs. i was pulling the weeds. of 41 unique voices from 25 years of our book notes and the q&a conversations. this is published by public affairs books and available at your -- favorite bookseller. ♪ >> this week on "q&a," our guest is journalist and author evan
5:59 am
osnos, who discusses his new book, "age of ambition: chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the new china." >> evan osnos, in your new book, under the acknowledgments you start off by saying, "none of my grandparents lived to see this book but they are responsible for its inception." >> my grandparents on my father's side came from poland. they were polish jews. they left at the beginning of world war ii. on my mother's side, my mother's father was an american diplomat sent to hungary who was kicked out. he was accused of being a spy which he wasn't. in some ways, these stories, the experience of being ejected from poland or hungary, formed a backdrop in our family's story about life under authoritarianism. i think it always -- i was always interested in what it felt like to live in a country
6:00 am
where there were fundamental constraints on how you live and what you could care about and what your values were. when there was a moment in my life where i could go to a place to dig into that, china was the place that fascinated me. that family story is very present in my interpretation. >> when you first went there in 1996, could you speak chinese? >> i was learning chinese. i started the previous year. if anybody told you how hard chinese was going to be, you would never undertake the process. i ended up taking about four years of college chinese before i moved to china. i was just starting when i went for the first time. >> i am going to ask you a question in english and i want you to answer in chinese. what is this book about? >> [speaking chinese] you would say in chinese --

38 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on