All posts by Morgan Fox

Overwhelming Majority of Delaware Voters Support Making Marijuana Legal

A new poll conducted by the University of Delaware finds 56% support for legalizing marijuana, with just 39% opposed. Earlier this year, Rep. Helene Keeley, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry sponsored legislation to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana from a criminal charge to a civil fine. This is a strong step in the right direction.

Under current Delaware law, possessing even a small amount of marijuana is a criminal offense, carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150. And the effects of a conviction don’t stop there. A criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have replaced the threat of jail for possession of marijuana with a fine. If you are a Delaware resident, ask your state representative and senator to make the same modest reform, and then ask your fellow Delawareans to call for this long overdue reform, too.

Maryland Decriminalization Bill Takes Effect Tomorrow

Legislation adopted this year to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Maryland will go into effect on Wednesday. Maryland joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession.

Senate Bill 364 makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

Help End Marijuana Prohibition In Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s next legislative session begins in January, so it’s important that we continue to build support for taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. If you are a Rhode IslandRegulate_RI_Release_Logo resident, please join us at these upcoming events to learn how you can help end marijuana prohibition in 2015.

Cannabis Caucus, 8 p.m., Thursday, September 18: Regulate Rhode Island hosts an evening of music, activism, and conversation this Thursday at Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence 02903. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Regulate RI coalition strategy meeting, 1 p.m., Saturday, September 27: Our coalition meets regularly to coordinate efforts and discuss collaborative projects. Please join us at 143 Prairie Avenue, Providence, 02905 at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Public forum on marijuana policy, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18: Save the date! We’re organizing a public forum on regulating marijuana like alcohol with experts from around the state and country at Brown University on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Volunteering opportunities, September – October: Leaders at the State House need to know their constituents support ending the failed policy of prohibition by responsibly regulating marijuana. Help us collect signatures from supporters in key legislative districts in September and October by emailing Jared Moffat at jmoffat@mpp.org to get involved.

Madison Police Chief Urges End To Marijuana Prohibition

Mike Koval
Chief Mike Koval

In an interview last week, Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval called marijuana prohibition a failure and advocated regulating and taxing the substance in order to pay for treatment programs that focus on more dangerous drugs.

The comments came during an interview with the State Journal Wednesday about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana offenses at about 12 times the rate of whites in the city.

Koval called efforts to enforce laws against marijuana an “abject failure” and said the same about the broader war on drugs. “We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now,” Koval said.

Referring to the states of Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the drug for recreational use and sale at state-regulated stores, he said it was time for Wisconsin to consider doing the same.

Under current Wisconsin law, possession of any amount of marijuana can earn you six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A subsequent offense is a felony punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and three and a half years in prison.

Chief Koval is just one example of a growing movement of law enforcement professionals who are breaking rank with many of their colleagues and calling for an end to the war on marijuana users.

Philly Mayor Agrees to Compromise, Will Sign Decriminalization Bill

Jim kenney
Councilman Jim Kenney

Yesterday, Mayor Michael Nutter announced that he had agreed to sign a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Philadelphia, with one small tweak. The bill was first introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney. In June, the City Council voted 13-3 to replace the current penalties of a $200 fine and an arrest record for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, with a civil fine of $25. Mayor Nutter’s compromise deal would still make smoking in public punishable by a $100 fine.

A 2013 report by the ACLU found that, although marijuana use is nearly identical across all races, African Americans in Pennsylvania are 5.2 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white neighbors. Councilman Kenney estimates this measure could save the Philadelphia Police Department up to $4 million annually. Some reports estimate that the City of Brotherly Love would become the largest American city to adopt this sensible measure.