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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Prohibition

Congressional Amendment Could Curtail Federal Marijuana Prohibition

June 1st, 2015 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki
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Rep. Tom McClintock

Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) are introducing an amendment to a Department of Justice spending bill intended to prevent the federal government from enforcing federal marijuana laws against individuals and companies who are operating in compliance with the state laws regulating marijuana.

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Rep. Jared Polis

Ask your Representative to support the McClintock-Polis Amendment today.

This amendment will not only protect critically ill medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution but, unlike previous versions, will also apply to adult use of marijuana in states where it is legal, like Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon.

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Prohibition

New Hampshire Senate Expected to Vote on Decriminalization Next Thursday

May 27th, 2015 5 Comments Kate Zawidzki

On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to recommend against passage of HB 618, Rep. Adam Schroadter’s sensible bill that would decriminalize possession of one-half ounce or less of marijuana.

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Rep. Adam Schroadter

This isn’t good news, but there is still hope for HB 618. In fact, one senator who voted “no” is already working to negotiate a compromise amendment that will be able to earn majority support when the bill is considered on the Senate floor. The full Senate is expected to vote on HB 618 next Thursday, June 5.

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Prohibition

Maryland Governor Vetoes Paraphernalia Decriminalization Bill

May 27th, 2015 3 Comments Morgan Fox
Larry Hogan
Gov. Larry Hogan (PHOTO: Washington Post)

Late Friday afternoon, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed SB 517 — a common-sense bill that would decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia. His veto is deeply disappointing. If we can garner votes from three-fifths of the House and three-fifths of the Senate, his veto will be overridden and the measure will become law.

If you are a Maryland resident, please email your state delegate(s) and senator today and urge them to override Gov. Hogan’s veto.

The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 517 to fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but leaves possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, and Maryland would continue to divert valuable law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.

An override is within reach, but won’t be easy. It is crucial lawmakers hear their constituents want them to vote “yes” on an override!

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Prohibition

Illinois Senate Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

May 21st, 2015 18 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s bill, which would replace criminal penalties for the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana with a civil fine, passed the Illinois Senate today on a vote of 37-19. The bill will soon be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for his signature. While he has not signaled any opposition to the measure, it is critical that he hear from Illinoisans in support of this historic bill.

If you are an Illinois resident, please contact the governor’s office today and ask him to sign HB 218 into law.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner

The bill does several important things. First, it removes the possibility of arrest and jail for those in possession of a small amount of marijuana. It also prevents harming a person’s criminal record, which could limit future job prospects as well as housing and educational options. And because many communities have already removed criminal penalties for possession while others have not, the bill helps ensure that all residents in Illinois will be treated similarly under the law, regardless of where they live.

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Prohibition

Maryland Governor Could Sign Bill to Fix Decriminalization Law Soon

May 20th, 2015 3 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Last month, the Maryland Legislature sent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) a bill to remove the criminal penalty for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The time for Gov. Hogan to act on this bill is running out, so please email him today and encourage him to sign this reform into law.

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Gov. Larry Hogan

By removing the criminal penalty for possessing marijuana paraphernalia, SB 517 will fix the current legal absurdity that makes possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil citation (like a traffic violation), but makes possessing the container that marijuana is in a criminal violation. Without this fix, the door is left open to selective, biased enforcement, which wastes law enforcement time and effort that would be better spent protecting our communities from violent crime.

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Prohibition, Research

Alabama Lawmakers Considering Unscientific Marijuana DUID Bill

May 15th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox
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Sen. Arthur Orr (Photo: John Godbey/Decatur Daily)

In April, SB 162, introduced by Sen. Arthur Orr, passed the Alabama Senate. It now awaits action in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. This bill would declare anyone with five nanograms of THC per milliliter in their blood guilty of driving under the influence — regardless of whether the person was actually impaired!

Although intoxicated driving should not be tolerated, knee jerk ideas like per se limits for THC are unethical, unscientific, and unnecessary. Alabama already criminalizes impaired driving. This bill would unfairly target medical marijuana patients who could have higher levels of THC in their blood without being impaired.

Recent peer-reviewed studies have concluded that low levels of active THC can remain in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects of THC have worn off — sometimes for several days. THC levels can even increase in a person’s bloodstream days after consuming marijuana, but without the person being impaired. SB 162 would therefore result in individuals who are not impaired to be found guilty of DUI-D.

If you are an Alabama resident, please email your representative and ask him or her to oppose this bill.

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