Prohibition

MPP Releases Presidential Candidate Report Card

July 2nd, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox

Last Friday, MPP released the 2016 Presidential Candidates Report Card, which grades the various major candidates based on their support for marijuana policy reform or the willingness to allow it to move forward. Since then, a wide variety of news outlets have written about it, including the New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Times, and others. In particular, there was quite a bit of interest in Republican Sen. Rand Paul receiving the highest grade of any candidate: A-.

Washington Times reports:

Mr. Paul, received a grade of “A-” from the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said his grade was based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, support for reducing marijuana-related penalties and support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use.

Mr. Christie and Mr. Santorum, meanwhile, two other GOP contenders, both received a grade of “F” “because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal,” the group said.

“Some of these guys who tout states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people’s private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the group. “They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing.”

Not surprisingly, Sen. Paul has gotten a lot of attention this week by being the first presidential candidate to actively court the marijuana industry for campaign donations.

report card

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Marijuana Officially Legal for Adults in Oregon Today

July 1st, 2015 No Comments Robert Capecchi

Last November, 56% of Oregon voters approved Measure 91 — choosing to regulate marijuana like alcohol and allowing adults to use, possess, and cultivate it. Today, legal protections for adult possession, use, and cultivation official take effect!

As of 12:01 a.m., individuals 21 or older may possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and grow up to four plants in their household.10995393_10152839035666816_1877561359108028132_n Adults may also gift up to an ounce of marijuana to other adults. The state is setting up regulations that will govern the production and sale of marijuana, so access is currently limited to home cultivation. However, the state is considering legislation that will allow medical dispensaries to sell limited quantities of marijuana to any adult 21 and older starting this October.

Measure 91 resembles ballot measures that have removed penalties for adults’ possession and use of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Colorado and Washington have implemented effective public health and safety regulatory structures governing the production and sale of marijuana, and Alaska and Oregon are in the process of doing the same. In the meantime, ask your state representative and senator to support legislation that will more quickly take the marijuana market from criminal actors.

None of this would be possible without the good and hard work of the New Approach Oregon campaign, their volunteers, and, of course, the voters of Oregon. For more information about Measure 91, please see our summary.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Louisiana Gov. Signs Two Improvements to Marijuana Laws

July 1st, 2015 No Comments Brendan Valentine

Earlier this week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed two positive marijuana-related bills into law — a penalty reduction bill and a flawed medical marijuana program.

The first, HB 149, significantly reduces penalties for marijuana possession! Although penalties will still be harsh for possessing a substance safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it shaves months, and in some cases years, off of cannabis consumers’ sentences. This law is effective immediately.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal

While first offense marijuana possession remains a misdemeanor, the penalty for possessing 14 grams or less is now far less severe than it was. The maximum jail sentence is reduced from six months to 15 days while the maximum fine is reduced from $500 to $300. HB 149 also significantly reduces the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges.

Gov. Jindal also signed into law a bill that could, in the future, support a compassionate medical marijuana program for Louisianans, although it will not allow patients to use the medicine in smokable form.

SB 143 allows Louisiana physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in accordance with FDA and DEA guidelines. Since these federal guidelines don’t exist, this law is not currently operable. Physicians risk losing their prescription license if they use it to prescribe marijuana. But hope remains for future regulatory improvement. Overall, both new laws signed by Gov. Jindal represent improvements for Louisiana’s marijuana policies.

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Prohibition

Delaware Becomes 20th State to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

June 25th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Last week, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed HB 39 into law, making it the 20th state to decriminalize — or in four cases, legalize — possession of personal use amounts of marijuana. The Senate approved the bill less than an hour earlier in a 12-9 vote.

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Gov. Jack Markell

Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 will make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. HB 39 goes into effect six months after enactment.

Please thank the governor for his leadership! You can call him at (302) 744-4101 or send him a message on social media or by webmail here.

In other Delaware news, the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state will finally be open and providing medicine to patients on Friday, June 26.

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Prohibition

Delaware Decriminalization Bill Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

June 18th, 2015 5 Comments Morgan Fox

Wednesday evening, the Delaware Senate Judiciary Committeedel flag voted 4-2 to approve legislation that would stop the state’s ineffective and cruel practice of jailing individuals for possessing a small amount of marijuana — a substance that is safer than alcohol. The bill can now be voted on as early as tomorrow. Since the House has already approved the bill, a positive Senate vote will send it to the governor for final approval.

If you are a Delaware resident, please email your state senator today and encourage her or him to support this sensible proposal tomorrow.

Introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley, HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. More than two-thirds of Delaware voters support this policy.

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

Medical Marijuana Activist Who Had Son Taken From Her Now Faces Prison Time

June 18th, 2015 No Comments Morgan Fox
Shona Banda
Shona Banda

It was bad enough when she lost custody of her son two months ago, but now Kansas resident Shona Banda is facing up to 30 years in prison for five marijuana-related felonies.

Banda’s troubles began when her 11-year-old son questioned the authenticity of the information being taught to his fellow fifth graders at a “drug education” program at his public school:

As Shona’s son listened to the misinformation given by authorities to his class during the drug education presentation, he courageously spoke up and informed them that the information they were relating was incorrect in regards to cannabis.  He was pulled from class and sent to the office for questioning by authorities without his mother present.

Banda was rightfully worried when her son did not come home from school and called inquiring of his whereabouts. Unbeknownst to her, the police had detained her child at school and questioned him for over an hour without even informing Banda.

Authorities asked to search her house, but Banda did not consent. However, within hours they had obtained a search warrant and found marijuana and related manufacturing devices. She subsequently lost custody of her child and has since been charged with multiple felonies, including possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and endangering a child.

Banda, who uses medical marijuana to treat her Crohn’s disease, is emphatic that she is a responsible parent:

I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much,” she told the Post. “I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick. And now I’m a fantastic mother.

Kansas is not one of the 23 states that allow medical marijuana use. Banda now faces multiple years in prison for attempting to relieve her Crohn’s disease, a serious condition that marijuana has been shown to effectively treat. Had she lived in neighboring Colorado, her actions would have been perfectly legal.

She is proud of her son who had the courage to question the false propaganda that is unfortunately propagated to young children in schools across the country:

…she can’t fault her son for having the courage to question inaccurate statements about cannabis. “For him to have spoken up in class I can’t be upset about because he hears me daily on the phone talking with people, encouraging people to speak up and speak out,” she said. “We did have the talk about how it’s not OK to bring this up in Kansas, because it’s a different state [than Colorado]. It’s very confusing for a child.”

Not just for a child. It has always been outrageous to threaten people with jail or loss of their children based on peaceful behavior such as growing a plant. But with marijuana legal for medical use in nearly two dozen states, including four that also have legalized it for recreational use, the injustice is especially glaring.

Supporters from around the world have donated and signed a petition demanding that law enforcement drop charges against her and that her son be taken out of state protective custody and returned to his mother.

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Prohibition

Louisiana Senate Voting Today on Bill Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties

June 8th, 2015 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

The Louisiana Senate will debate HB 149 today, legislation approved by the House that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession. This bill is almost identical to a Senate bill that was approved 27-12 late last month. state_seal_color3Although penalties would still be staggering for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it could shave months, if not years, off of marijuana consumers’ sentences.

The bill will be voted on TODAY, so email your senator NOW and ask him or her to vote “yes” on HB 149.

While first offense marijuana possession would remain a misdemeanor, HB 149 greatly reduces the fine and potential jail time for possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana — the maximum jail sentence would be reduced from six months to 15 days while the fine would be reduced from up to $500 to up to $300. HB 149 also significantly reduces the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges.

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Prohibition

Connecticut Steadily Expunging Past Marijuana Convictions

June 1st, 2015 4 Comments Morgan Fox

ConnecticutFlag_of_Connecticut.svg has been removing prior marijuana convictions for the vast majority of people who apply since a recent state Supreme Court decision.

Associated Press reports:

Connecticut judges have granted more than 80 percent of requests to erase marijuana possession convictions since the state decriminalized small amounts of pot in 2011, state Judicial Branch records show.

Superior Court judges have approved 32 of 39 petitions to erase convictions for marijuana possession in the past four years, after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state lawmakers downgraded possession of less than a half-ounce of pot from a misdemeanor with potential jail time to a violation akin to a parking ticket, with fines ranging from $150 for a first offense to up to $500 for subsequent offenses.

Although the number of erasures is small compared with the thousands of arrests for marijuana possession in Connecticut over the years, defense lawyers expect many more people to apply as word spreads about a recent state Supreme Court decision. The court ruled in March that people have the right to get their convictions erased.

Similar efforts to remove past convictions are underway throughout the country, but little progress has been made so far.

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Prohibition

Wisconsin Could Remove Penalties for Simple Possession

June 1st, 2015 1 Comment Kate Zawidzki
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Rep. Mandela Barnes

Wisconsin will stop punishing possession of a modest amount of marijuana if state Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) and state Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) have anything to say about it. Along with 14 of their colleagues, they have introduced legislation that would remove all penalties for possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana.

If you are a Wisconsin residentplease email your lawmakers in Madison and ask them to support this modest reform today!

Possessing one ounce or less of marijuana in Wisconsin is currently classified as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000. A subsequent possession charge could result in a felony conviction for simply having a small amount of a substance that is safer than alcohol. AB 246/SB 167 would repeal these draconian penalties that carry with them a host of collateral consequences associated with having a criminal record.

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Prohibition

New Vermont Law Allows Expungement of Misdemeanor Marijuana Records

June 1st, 2015 No Comments Kate Zawidzki
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Sen. Joe Benning

In addition to Vermont‘s substantial progress on marijuana regulation this year, state legislators quietly passed a bill that will make a big difference in the lives of people who have been convicted of misdemeanors for marijuana possession. Sponsored by Senator Joe Benning (R-Lyndonville), S. 115 allows Vermonters who have been convicted of crimes for “conduct [that] is no longer prohibited by law or designated as a criminal offense” to have their records expunged after one year (in most cases).

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed S. 115 into law May 26. It took effect upon passage. As a result, individuals who were convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession before Vermont’s decriminalization law passed in 2013 may now petition the court to have their record expunged.

Please share this excellent news with your friends and family, or with anybody you know who has been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

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