At a Maryland State Senate hearing to discuss decriminalizing marijuana Tuesday, a high-ranking law enforcement official betrayed his total ignorance about marijuana when he claimed that decriminalization would cause a slew of overdoses throughout the state.
From the Capital Gazette:
“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” [Annapolis Police Chief Michael] Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”
That information is straight from the Daily Currant, a well-known satirical news site, which claimed that Colorado hospitals were overwhelmed with emergency cases caused by marijuana use.
Chief Michael Pristoop
Apparently Chief Pristoop didn’t know that marijuana was already being used widely in Colorado, just like in every other state, and that it is impossible to die from a marijuana overdose.
Maybe Pristoop was truly ignorant of these facts, in which case he probably shouldn’t be testifying in support of continuing Maryland’s failed marijuana prohibition. Or maybe, like law enforcement bosses in Minnesota and around the country, he’s just worried about his budget.
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.
The Detroit Free Press published a story Monday reporting that two key medical marijuana bills, HB 4271 and HB 5104, may be stalled in the Senate. Senate Government Operations Committee Chair, Randy Richardville, indicated he intends to “sit on them for a while” in his committee. Please politely and respectfully let Sen. Richardville know that Michigan’s patients need safe, reliable access to their medicine now.
If you are a Michigan resident, please take a moment to call or send an email to Senator Richardville today and voice your concern. If you have time to write a handwritten letter, it will have the most impact. You can write Sen. Richardville at: P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536.
HB 4271 would ensure patients have safe and regular access to medical marijuana by clearly protecting medical marijuana provisioning centers (dispensaries) in communities that allow and regulate them. HB 5104 would extend the protections currently in place for smoked forms of marijuana to marijuana extracts, a key ingredient in topical applications, tinctures, and other medical marijuana products. As both Senate majority leader and chair of government operations, Sen. Richardville’s support is critical.
If you are a patient in Michigan or know a patient or a medical professional who would like to know more about this issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more on how to get involved.
Just days after the first legal marijuana sales took place in Colorado, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) announced that he would support legislation to make marijuana legal and regulated in his own state.
“I favor the legalization and taxation of marijuana, with restrictions,” Miller said, adding that he thinks his position will only grow in popularity in coming years. “I know where people are going to be a generation or two from now.”
MPP will continue to build support for bills like this in the Senate and House, where Del. Heather Mizeur and Del. Curtis Anderson are pushing for marijuana policy reform legislation in the coming session.
According to Talking Points Memo, Sen. John McCain made some comments Thursday that some may find surprising:
McCain’s comments could not have been better timed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Justice Department’s new policy allowing states to move forward with taxing and regulating marijuana. Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, is a member of that committee. Sen. Flake will have the opportunity to question Justice Department officials and help shape the future of federal policy on marijuana.