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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Prohibition, Video

MPP and Allies Launch Texas TV Ad Campaign

May 14th, 2015 11 Comments Morgan Fox

This week, we began airing a TV ad in Texas featuring Russell Jones, a retired narcotics detective and Texas Hill Country resident. Jones says that people under the influence of marijuana are much less problematic than people under the influence of alcohol, and that “law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time.” Its primary purpose: to urge lawmakers to support HB 507, which would reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession in the Lone Star State.

The TV ad — online here — is airing on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel through Thursday at midnight, and received a lot of media attention, including from Huffington Post, International Business Times, San Antonio Current, and many others.

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show that more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

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Prohibition

Louisiana Lawmakers to Consider Marijuana Penalty Reductions

May 12th, 2015 2 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Tomorrow, the Louisiana House of Representatives will consider HB 149, a bill that would reduce the penalties for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges. Although penalties would still be staggering for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it could shave years off of marijuana consumers’ sentences.

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HB 149 sponsor Rep. Austin Badon

While first offense marijuana possession would remain a misdemeanor and subsequent possession charges would remain felonies, HB 149 would significantly reduce the amount of time a marijuana consumer could spend in prison for a second or subsequent marijuana possession conviction. For instance, HB 149 would reduce the maximum sentence for a second conviction from five years to two years. It would also reduce the possible fine.

Louisiana has some of the most draconian marijuana laws in the country, and HB 149 would be a positive step toward sensible reform.

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Texas Marijuana Bills Moving Forward

May 7th, 2015 8 Comments Morgan Fox

It has been a good week for marijuana policy reform in the Lone Star State.

On Monday, the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approved HB 507, a bill that removes the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of small amounts of marijuana — replacing them with a civil fine of up to $250. The measure will now advance to the Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote by the Texas House.Seal_of_Texas.svg

Last night, the same committee approved a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state by a vote of 5-2. HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.
Under current Texas law, individuals found with less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested, jailed for up to six months, and fined up to $2,000.
According to FBI data, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

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Prohibition

Another Michigan City Decriminalizes Marijuana

May 6th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Yesterday, 66% of East Lansing, Michigan, voters approved a local charter amendment to decriminalize marijuana possession and transfer by adults 21 and older of up to one ounce of marijuana. Under Michigan state law, possession of a small amount of marijuana — even a single gram — is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Unfortunately, East Lansing police could still choose to arrest under the harsh state law, despite the mandate from voters.

Please take a moment to ask your state legislators to bring East Lansing’s reform to all of Michigan!

This idea is hardly new. Nineteen states have already decriminalized or — in four cases — legalized marijuana. In neighboring Ohio, possession of up to 100 grams is punishable by a small fine, not by jail time. These laws save law enforcement resources that would otherwise be spent prosecuting and jailing non-violent marijuana users, allowing police and prosecutors to spend more time going after violent criminals.

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Prohibition

Indonesia Executes Man Convicted of Marijuana Charges

April 28th, 2015 2 Comments Morgan Fox

Last night, the Indonesian government executed a group of eight people convicted on drug charges with firing squads. One of the men was only convicted of marijuana charges, and claims he was innocent.

The New York Times reports:

Zainal Abidin was at his modest home in Palembang, in South Sumatra Province, in December 2000 when two friends knocked on his door asking for a place to stay for the night. They were carrying several large burlap sacks that Mr. Zainal, according to his lawyer, believed to contain rice.

Hours later, after the police raided his home in the middle of the night, his lawyer said, he found out that the sacks were stuffed with 129 pounds of marijuana.

The police had arrested one of the visitors, Aldo bin Hasan Umar, who had left the house after midnight and tried to sell a small quantity of the marijuana on the streets.

Mr. Umar was sentenced to 20 years in prison, and a third man convicted in connection with the case was given four years. Both were eventually granted parole and today are free…

[Abidin’s lawyer] also said the legal process against his client was flawed because the Supreme Court did not respond to Mr. Zainal’s 2005 request for a judicial review of his conviction and death sentence until this past January, 10 years after he filed it. The court turned down the review on Monday.

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Prohibition

Illinois House Approves Removing Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

April 23rd, 2015 3 Comments Morgan Fox
Kelly Cassidy
Rep. Kelly Cassidy

Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s bill to reduce penalties for possessing a personal amount of marijuana reached a critical milestone today when it passed the House of Representatives in a 62-53 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate.

If you are an Illinois resident, please help keep up the momentum and ask your senator to vote in support of HB 218 today. Let them know it’s time to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a reasonable fine, not life-altering criminal penalties and possible jail time.

Statements offered by nearly a dozen legislators on the floor spoke to the widespread support for the bill’s goals of bringing consistency and fairness to possession laws across Illinois — and in making sure law enforcement focuses on serious crime.

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Prohibition

Respect State Marijuana Laws Act Reintroduced in Congress

April 22nd, 2015 8 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Earlier today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has reintroduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This short, simple bill would resolve the tension between state and federal marijuana laws by making an exception to federal law for activity in compliance with state laws that regulate marijuana for medical or adult-use purposes.

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Dan Riffle, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Rob Kampia

Please take two minutes to urge your representatives to support this bill! 

 

Because of MPP’s success in changing public opinion and state laws, we expect numerous bills to be introduced this year to reform federal marijuana laws. We will support all of them, but Rep. Rohrabacher’s bill stands out. It’s the best policy — covering not just medical marijuana, but adult-use laws passed in four states and Washington, D.C. — and has the best chance of passing. Last year, we passed an amendment very similar to this bill, thanks to broad bipartisan support for respecting state laws, and this year the bill has twice as many Republicans on board than when it was introduced last year.

Republican co-sponsors include Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock, and Don Young (R-AK). Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).

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Prohibition

DEA Director Michele Leonhart Expected to Resign

April 21st, 2015 23 Comments Morgan Fox

Michele Leonhart is expected to resign from her position as head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a report from CBS News.

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Michele Leonhart (Photo: Reuters)

The Marijuana Policy Project called for Leonhart’s resignation last year in a Change.org petition which now has more than 46,000 signatures. Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana, Prohibition

President Obama to Restate Support for Medical Marijuana

April 16th, 2015 10 Comments Morgan Fox

This Sunday, President Obama is expected to voice his support for allowing medical marijuana and moving away from jailing people for drug abuse.

The Daily Caller reports: 

In a CNN special to be aired on Sunday, not only will President Barack Obama state his full support of medical marijuana, he’ll also advocate for alternative models of drug abuse treatment which don’t involve incarceration.

The television special, called “Weed 3,” features CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who came to support medical marijuana after reviewing the evidence. This time around, he’ll be delving into the politics of medical marijuana research and interviewing President Barack Obama, according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Obama has previously predicted that more states will follow the lead of Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana, and confirmed that although marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, the Department of Justice will look the other way.

You can read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s newest article on medical marijuana here.

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