Prohibition

Missouri Man Serving Life Sentence for Marijuana Released Today

September 1st, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

In August, a Missouri man serving a life sentence for a non-violent marijuana violation was pardoned after an outpouring of public pressure. Today, Jeff Mizanskey walked out of prison a free man after more than 20 years of incarceration.

KRCG reports:

Jeff Mizanskey walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center and into the arms of more than a dozen family, friends and supporters Tuesday morning. Mizanskey was granted parole on Aug. 10 after Gov. Jay Nixon commuted his sentence to life with the possibility of parole in May. The only person in Missouri serving a life-without-parole sentence for a marijuana offense, Mizanskey had been the focus of an intensive lobbying effort. When Mizanskey was arrested in 1993 after selling 6 pounds of marijuana to a dealer connected to Mexican drug cartels, life without parole was an option for repeat drug offenders. State lawmakers repealed that provision in 2014 as part of a broader overhaul of the state’s criminal code.

Mizanskey said he plans to continue to advocate for marijuana legalization and prison reform.

 

Read more



Prohibition

New Hope for Casualties of Georgia’s Failed Prohibition Policies

August 28th, 2015 No Comments Chris Lindsey

Georgia has begun releasing marijuana and other drug offenders who were sentenced under the state’s harsh sentencing laws. The new law allows those facing life sentences for illicit sales to be considered for parole. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to those facing sentences just for possession.

Following adoption of a misguided “get tough on crime” campaign in the 90’s, many Georgians found themselves in horrifically long prison terms for nonviolent offenses, including the sale of marijuana. Journalists with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that black people were an astonishing 26 times more likely to receive life sentences than were whites under these laws.

For many, the war on marijuana seems to be winding down. But for those who languish in prison under long sentences, the war could mean a life sentence.

082315_parole_ba01
Darion Barker (Photo: Bob Andres)

The first person to benefit from the new law was Darion Barker, sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for sale of marijuana and other drugs. Officials released him in July after serving 20 years.

But while the new law is a major step forward, there is more to do. Others just like Darion remain behind bars, many for lesser charges, including marijuana possession. If you are a Georgia resident, please ask your representative and senator to include those subject to long prison sentences for possession to be eligible for parole like Darion.

Read more



Prohibition

MPP’s Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers for 2015

August 26th, 2015 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

FB link preview.Top 50 MPP 2015-01

MPP is pleased to announce the release of our annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States!

President Barack Obama is at the top of the list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.

Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb. Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker. Read the rest of this entry »

Read more



Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Colorado Court Overturns Marijuana Conviction

August 20th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

In what hopefully becomes a trend in other states, a Colorado court has overturned a marijuana conviction275px-Colorado_Court_of_Appeals that occurred just after the passage of Amendment 64.

Huffington Post reports:

A state appeals court has overturned the marijuana conviction of a Colorado woman who was sentenced and convicted for marijuana possession just days after voters approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in the state almost three years ago — retroactively applying the law to her case. 

Citing a decision in a previous case, the appeals court ruled that convicted criminal defendants should receive “benefit of amendatory legislation which became effective at any time before the conviction became final on appeal,” the opinion, issued last week, reads.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read more



Prohibition

Illinois May Soon Be the Next State to Decriminalize Marijuana

August 14th, 2015 6 Comments Chris Lindsey
Rauner 2
Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken an important step on a bill that would help thousands of Illinoisans avoid arrest, jail, and harmful criminal convictions for the possession of a personal amount of marijuana. The governor has used his authority to amend several key provisions of HB 218 and is sending it back to the legislature for another vote.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take a moment to ask your state legislators to vote in support of the amended bill.

Time is incredibly short: The legislature has just a few weeks to vote on the amended bill and is only meeting on a few of those days. The amended bill is not perfect, but it would vastly improve current law. It would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, including arrest, jail, huge fines, and a damaged criminal record. The bill would impose a fine of up to $200 — instead of the thousands of dollars possible today. Finally, the bill makes critical improvements to current DUI laws, which today can lead to a conviction even when a person hasn’t consumed marijuana for weeks before driving.

If this bill is not approved by the legislature with the governor’s changes, Illinois’ marijuana consumers will continue to face arrest, jail time, and shockingly unequal enforcement of the law.

Read more



Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Denver Campaign for Limited Social Use Submits Signatures

August 10th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

The Denver Campaign for Limited Social Use submitted more than 10,000 signatures Monday in support of a city initiative that would allow the limited social use — but not sale — of marijuana at commercial establishments in areas restricted to adults 21 and older.

Campaign for Limited Social Use’s Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente

4,726 valid signatures of registered city voters are needed to qualify for the November 2015 ballot. The city clerk has 25 days to certify the petition.

Under the proposed measure, businesses that have a license to sell alcohol for onsite consumption would be able to decide whether to allow cannabis consumption on the premises. Businesses that choose to allow only cannabis consumption (without licensed alcohol consumption) would be subject to regulation by the city, including restrictions on location and hours of operation. All commercial establishments that allow adults to use marijuana would be required to comply with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which means (1) only non-smokable forms of marijuana would be allowed indoors, and (2) smoking marijuana would only be allowed in existing designated smoking areas that are not viewable to the public.

A strong majority (56%) of likely 2015 voters in Denver support the proposed initiative, according to a survey conducted in June by Public Policy Polling. Just 40% are opposed. The full results are available here.

Read more



Prohibition

Missouri Man Serving Life in Prison for Marijuana Granted Parole

August 10th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

Jeff Mizanskey, a Missouri man who was serving life in prison for non-violent marijuana offenses, was granted parole after public outcry and a Change.org campaign to reduce his sentence.

WDAF reports:

The only man in Missouri serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for non-violent marijuana related
offenses is now getting released from the maximum-security prison in Jefferson City, according to the man’s son.billboard Mizanskey

Jeff Mizanskey was told Monday morning that he has been granted parole, according to his son, Chris. Chris Mizanskey says his dad should be released within 10 to 25 days. He says his dad called him briefly Monday morning to share the news. They planned to talk again Monday night.

Jeff Mizanskey has already served more than 20 years in the prison for repeat marijuana offenses. He is now 62-years old.

 

Read more



Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

New York Times Publishes Another Editorial In Favor of Regulating Marijuana

August 10th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

On Saturday, The New York Times repeated its editorial support for ending marijuana prohibition, New-York-Times-Logothis time calling on Congress and President Obama to be less timid in their support for regulating marijuana.

Even as support for ending marijuana prohibition is building around the country, Congress and the Obama administration remain far too timid about the need for change.

Last year, residents in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia voted to join Colorado and Washington State in making recreational use of marijuana legal. Later this year, residents of Ohio are expected to vote on a ballot measure that would legalize it. Nevadans will vote on a legalization proposal next year. And Californians could vote on several similar measures next year.

Instead of standing by as change sweeps the country, federal lawmakers should be more actively debating and changing the nation’s absurd marijuana policies, policies that have ruined millions of lives and wasted billions of dollars.

You can read the full editorial here.

In July 2014, the paper of record published a series of editorials covering a variety of marijuana policy issues and supporting making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol.

 

Read more



Prohibition

National Conference of State Legislatures Urges Federal Government to Respect State Marijuana Laws

August 6th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Thursday urging the federal government to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

08.06.2015_NCSL_Renny Cushing w Karen O'Keefe - Matt Simon - Bob Capecchi
Rep. Renny Cushing (second from left) with MPP’s Karen O’Keefe, Matt Simon, and Robert Capecchi

The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Rep. Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”

The resolution states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures recognizes that its members have differing views on how to treat marijuana and hemp in their states and believes that states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.

The full resolution can be found here.

Read more



Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

DOJ Misled Congress to Influence Medical Marijuana Vote

August 5th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

In a Marijuana.com exclusive, Tom Angell reports that the Department of Justice intentionally misled Congress to discourage2000px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Department_of_Justice.svg passage of a budget restriction that would prevent them from spending funds to interfere with state implementation of medical marijuana programs.

 

Justice Department officials misinformed members of Congress about the effects of a medical marijuana amendment being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives, according to an internal memo obtained by Marijuana.com.

The amendment, which lawmakers approved in May 2014 by a vote of 219-189 despite the Obama administration’s objections, is aimed at preventing the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

But in the days leading up to the vote, department officials distributed “informal talking points” warning House members that the measure could “in effect, limit or possibly eliminate the Department’s ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well,” according to the document. [Emphasis added.]

The newly obtained memo, drafted by Patty Merkamp Stemler, chief of the Criminal Division’s Appellate Section, admits that the talking points were “intended to discourage passage of the rider” but do not “reflect our current thinking.”

Basically, the DOJ told Congress that a piece of legislation they did not like would have more impact than intended. Now that it has been enacted, despite their efforts, they are saying that it does less than intended!

Please take the time to read the full report.

We need laws based on facts. Congress should be able to count on law enforcement to give them accurate information, not propaganda to support their policy preferences.

If you would like to tell the DOJ what you think about these tactics, you can contact the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs at (202) 514-2141 or via email.

 

Read more