All posts by Morgan Fox

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.

Another Maine City Puts Marijuana Initiative On Ballot

Earlier this week, the City Council of Lewiston, Maine voted unanimously to send an initiative that would make possession of marijuana legal for adults to the voters.

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 1,250 signatures to get the measure in front of the council, which had the options of adopting it or placing it on the ballot. Just 859 valid signatures of registered city voters were required. A similar measure will appear on the November ballot in South Portland, and the group has submitted more than the number of signatures required to place one on the ballot in York.

The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public. The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.