Debriefer: July 25, 2018

All for Medicare for All? And pot crimes are down!


Last week, some 70 Democrats in the U.S. Congress, seemingly emboldened by surprise primary victories by the likes of progressive New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, announced the formation of the house Medicare for All caucus, which pledged to push for a single-payer healthcare bill. It’s a noble if pie-in-sky push given the current Republican makeup of Congress, but these things could change come the November mid-terms.

A scan of the newly formed caucus, which says it will embark on a teach-in to educate members on the benefits of a single-payer system, finds Jared Huffman as one of the California representatives who signed on. He was joined by, among others, outspoken Trump critic Maxine Waters.

Mike Thompson? Nope. The other North Bay Congressman is not on board with the Medicare for All Caucus.


California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has just released the annual state crime report from 2017—and wouldn’t you know it, legalizing cannabis has led to a big drop in the number of pot-related criminal charges around the state. The AG reports that 6,065 people were locked up on weed-related charges last year—a 56 percent drop from 2016, when 13,810 were imprisoned for possession or consumption of the dread plant.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) ran the numbers from Becerra’s report in a press release from last week and noted that the decline in felony dope charges was even greater between 2016 and 2017. Those arrests “fell by a whopping 74 percent,” as 2,086 citizens were pinched on felony charges in 2017, compared to 7,949 the year before.

But NORML also cited the ongoing and disproportionate numbers of African-American and Latino citizens arrested on pot charges in 2017. For example, even as misdemeanor drug arrests dropped from 5,861 to 3,979 between 2016 and 2017, Latinos “represented the highest percentage of arrestees,” at 46 percent.

Whites accounted for 24 percent of all felony arrests, NORML noted—while Latinos accounted for 40 percent and African Americans 21 percent. California’s population, according to the U.S. census, is about 38 percent Latino and 6.5 percent African-American.

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