Category Archives: Prohibition

prohibition

D.C. Council Approves Sealing Court Records for Nonviolent Marijuana Offenses

According to the Washington Post, residents of the nation’s capital who have been convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses could apply to have those criminal records sealed under a bill granted initial approval by the D.C. City Council yesterday.

David Grosso

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced the record-sealing bill. He believes it is a matter of fairness to give prior offenders some ability to rid their records of nonviolent offenses now that marijuana possession has been decriminalized in the District and both voters and City Council are considering making marijuana legal for adults.

“People who have had these issues in the past, it never leaves them,” Grosso said. “They have to check the box [indicating a prior conviction]. They can’t get a job. They can’t get public housing. They can’t get financial aid for college.”

Under the terms of the bill, D.C. residents could file a motion to seal their records in the D.C. Superior Court. The motion should be granted unless prosecutors demonstrate that the offense in question remains a crime. If the motion is granted, prosecutors and courts would have to remove public records related to the resident’s arrest, charge, trial, or conviction.

The measure passed 12 to 0 and is up for a second vote set for later this month. According to Grosso and data compiled by the Drug Policy Alliance, it is among the broadest efforts to allow marijuana records to be sealed within the country.

College Students Join Campaign to Make Marijuana Legal in Lewiston, ME

The Portland Press Herald reported that advocates of making marijuana legal kicked off a campaign yesterday in support of upcoming votes on the issue in Lewiston and South Portland.

The advocates, led by the Marijuana Policy Project, held a rally at Kennedy Park for those in favor of Lewiston’s Question 2, which would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

“Every day more and more people support making marijuana legal,” said David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “They see it makes more sense to have marijuana regulated instead of keeping it legal.”

Boyer also said the campaign in Lewiston is hoping to mobilize young voters, especially Bates College students, to the cause.

“Younger folks see that marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked. It’s done nothing to stop the flow of marijuana into our communities. They see the effects of marijuana and alcohol firsthand and they realize that marijuana is safer than alcohol,” Boyer stated.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Alexandra Gwillim, a Bates College freshman, joined Boyer at the campaign yesterday.

[S]he said she supports the campaign because, “I think the prohibition of marijuana perpetuates the binge-drinking culture of college. Legalizing marijuana is a good way to end that.”

The campaign intends to increase its presence in Lewiston during the next month as part of an ongoing effort to educate voters about the advantages of ending marijuana prohibition.

Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia Next to Decide Marijuana Ballot Measures

According to a New York Times editorial, this November, voters in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia will decide whether to make recreational marijuana legal and regulated — effectively disregarding the misguided federal ban on a substance that is far less dangerous than alcohol.

Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 would make the use and purchase of marijuana legal for those 21 and older, create a marijuana control board and tax the drug at $50 per ounce wholesale. It is already legal for Alaskans to possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes, and surveys indicate that 18 percent of Alaskans smoke marijuana. Ballot Measure 2 would mean that Alaskans could buy it from a store instead of resorting to the black market.

This is not the first time the newspaper of record has supported sensible marijuana policy reform, and it is indicative of increasing national support for ending marijuana prohibition.

Number of Marijuana-Related Arrests in Chicago Still Too High

According to DNAinfo Chicago, the percentage of people fined for the possession of marijuana in Chicago has greatly increased over the past year. However, an activist group is questioning why more than 60 percent of those found in possession of marijuana are still arrested.

Charlene Carruthers

The national coordinator for Black Youth Project 100, Charlene Carruthers, says that Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy “has said over and over again we should be ticketing, not arresting, but it still happens.”

Yesterday at Chicago City Hall, Carruthers cited figures demonstrating that the city spends $80 million a year processing marijuana arrests, despite the fact that both McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proclaimed reforms intended to replace marijuana arrests with revenue-producing ticket citations.

Additionally, building on reports published in the Chicago Reader, Roosevelt University issued a study earlier this year demonstrating that arrest rates were too high and that Chicago was among the areas not making sufficient use of the reform legislation.

Carruthers stated that those arrested rather than ticketed were “primarily black Chicagoans,” adding, “It’s absolutely an unjust and racially biased policy…and it doesn’t keep us safer.”

The racial disparity demonstrated in marijuana arrest rates drove Carruthers to push for a meeting with McCarthy. McCarthy has yet to respond.

Houston District Attorney Candidates Move to Reduce Threat of Arrest for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, a move to replace criminal penalties with civil penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana surfaced Wednesday as a major issue in the contentious race for Houston’s Harris County District Attorney, with both candidates claiming ownership of the idea.

However, the details, purposes, and primary goal of the plan, claimed by both candidates, are fundamentally different.

Republican incumbent candidate, Devon Anderson, said that starting Monday, non-violent first offenders in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana will be able to avoid prosecution by performing eight hours of community service or by participating in a drug awareness class.

Devon Anderson

“We are targeting the people we believe are self-correcting and will be ‘scared straight’ by being handcuffed and transported. Our goal is to keep these individuals from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system,” stated Anderson.

Anderson’s recent announcement, a month away from November’s election, sparked political discourse from his challenger, Democrat Kim Ogg, who in August announced her own idea for handling misdemeanor marijuana possession. Her plan, if elected, is to have police officers fine misdemeanor marijuana suspects, even repeat offenders, and require them to spend two days cleaning up around Houston’s bayous. Her program is said to save an average of $10 million a year in jail, court, and prosecution costs by diverting around 12,000 offenders annually.