Alabama Lawmakers Considering Unscientific Marijuana DUID Bill

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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.

MPP and Allies Launch Texas TV Ad Campaign

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.

Louisiana Lawmakers to Consider Marijuana Penalty Reductions

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.

Pennsylvania Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

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PA Senate Chambers

For the second time in a year, the Pennsylvania Senate has overwhelmingly voted to allow seriously ill patients to use and safely access medical cannabis. Gov. Tom Wolf has said he’d sign medical marijuana legislation, so only one piece of the puzzle remains: the House of Representatives.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, please call your state representative right now to ask him or her to support a compassionate, comprehensive medical marijuana bill.

It will take just a minute of your time to make a call, but it will make a huge impact. Legislators often mistakenly believe that supporting humane marijuana policies is politically risky. This couldn’t be further from the truth — voters overwhelmingly support medical marijuana protections.

SB 3 would allow registered patients to use medical cannabis and to safely access it from regulated dispensaries. To qualify, patients must have an approved medical condition, such as cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, or chronic pain. The Senate approved adding vaporization to the bill, but only for cancer, seizures, and PTSD.

The bill is more limited than we would like in some areas, but it is a dramatic improvement over the status quo.

Rhode Island Billboard Urges Lawmakers Considering New Stadium to Make Marijuana Legal

Earlier this week, Regulate Rhode Island unveiled a billboard aimed at encouraging legislators to pass a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana in the state.

The “Field of Dreams”-themed ad features stadium lights shining on two young professionals standing among a small field of marijuana plants, and it reads, “If we build it, they will come… It’s time to establish a regulated marijuana market in Rhode Island.” You can view the image here: http://bit.ly/1ztvnI0

Legislators are currently considering S 510/H 5777, the “Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act,” which would end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. They are also considering using taxpayer funds to build a new stadium, also in the hopes of bringing jobs and other financial benefits to the area.

Marijuana Policy Project