As more and more Americans support ending marijuana prohibition and an increasing number of states consider marijuana policy reform legislation, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are still a lot of people in prison for marijuana-related violations. As shocking as it may seem, some are slated to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for something that millions of Americans do every day and that people in Colorado and Washington do legally.
One such person is Jeff Mizanskey. He is currently serving life without parole after his third non-violent, marijuana-only offense due to Missouri mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Please sign this Change.org petition asking Gov. Jay Nixon to grant clemency to Mr. Mizanskey.
If you would like to know more about prisoners serving insanely long sentences for marijuana, please visit Life For Pot and share these stories with anyone who will listen. No on deserves to be arrested for a substance that is safer than alcohol, but putting people in cages indefinitely for it is inexcusable.
Gov. Martin O’Malley
Gov. Martin O’Malley has stated repeatedly that he opposes decriminalizing marijuana, a sensible measure already adopted by 16 other states, including red states like Nebraska and Mississippi. Gov. O’Malley does not support measures being considered in the legislature that would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. One such bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote last year, but the House never took it up.
Gov. O’Malley needs to hear that caging people, entangling them in the justice system, and burdening them with criminal records for life, simply because of a few joints, is a waste of law enforcement resources. The ACLU of Maryland estimates that $106 million is wasted annually on enforcing marijuana possession laws. Criminalizing marijuana has destroyed lives, making it difficult for people to find a job or even get housing. These anti-marijuana laws also disproportionately target African Americans.
Shortly after the Florida Supreme Court cleared the way for the medical marijuana ballot initiative to appear on the November ballot, lawmakers in Tallahassee took note and introduced a flurry of legislation to sensibly reform the Sunshine State’s marijuana laws. A bill to allow patients with devastating seizure disorders to use high CBD marijuana was the first to be filed. While this bill is an improvement on the status quo, it will also leave many patients without access to effective medicine.
Thankfully, Sen. Jeff Clemens and Rep. Joe Saunders realize this flaw and have introduced comprehensive medical marijuana legislation that would finally bring Florida in line with the growing list of compassionate states that treat, rather than jail, patients.
Rep. Randolph Bracy
Finally, legislation was introduced yesterday by Rep. Randolph Bracy to end Florida’s prohibition of marijuana, replacing it with a system that regulates and taxes adult sales, similarly to our alcohol laws. This proposal will finally allow Florida to control who is selling marijuana, where, and to whom. It will also allow the state to collect tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue on adult sales, while striking an economic blow to the criminal organizations that currently monopolize the marijuana market.
Earlier this week, lawmakers in Des Moines once again introduced the Medical Cannabis Act for consideration. Unfortunately, the legislation will die for the year if it is not reported out of the Senate Human Resources Committee by the end of the week. If you live in Iowa, please email the committee members today and ask them to hold a hearing on this bill.
If passed, the Medical Cannabis Act will protect Iowans with serious and debilitating medical conditions from arrest or prosecution for using medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The legislation also requires the department of public health to develop rules governing the distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Twenty states and Washington, D.C. have compassionate laws on the books; it’s about time Iowa does the same.
It’s time both Republicans and Democrats in Iowa stand up for those less fortunate and allow trained medical professionals to recommend medical marijuana when they think its use is appropriate.
Late last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to advance a proposal that would put an initiative on November’s ballot asking if marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. The vote means the proposal made it past the first committee deadline. The bill now goes to the Senate Rules Committee. If you are an Oregon resident, please email your lawmakers today and ask them to support this sensible idea.
The bill, SB 1556, would ask voters in November if adults 21 and older should be allowed to legally use, possess, and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. It would also task the Oregon Legislature with deciding how best to regulate commercial production and retail sales of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Even lawmakers who oppose the idea of treating marijuana like alcohol can support the idea of giving their constituents the ability to vote on the proposal themselves, so please ask your lawmakers to vote “yes” on SB 1556 today.
If Governor Kitzhaber can hear the “drumbeats [of inevitable marijuana policy reform] from Washington and Colorado,” so can Oregon lawmakers.