Prohibition

New Hampshire Man Dies While In Jail for Marijuana Possession

Just days after the New Hampshire House approved a bill that would remove the threat of arrest for low-level marijuana possession, a man in jail on a possession charge died of unknown causes in his cell.

NHPR reports:

A homeless man jailed for marijuana possession and unable to come up with the $100 cash bail was found dead in his cell at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester Sunday.

[caption id="attachment_9681" align="alignright" width="225"]pendleton Jeffrey Pendleton (Photo: NH-ACLU)[/caption]

Jeffrey Pendleton, 26, was found unconscious in his cell during a routine head count. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

In a press release Monday, jail officials say there were no apparent signs of distress.

An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.

Pendleton had been in jail since Wednesday, a day after Nashua police arrested him on a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.

While the cause of death is currently unknown, this young man might still be alive if he hadn't been jailed for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol.

We need to make sure this never happens again in the Granite State. If you are a New Hampshire resident, please contact your senators and urge them to support decriminalizing marijuana possession.

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Prohibition

Louisiana Senate Voting Today on Bill Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties

Jun 08, 2015 Kate Zawidzki

decriminalization, HB 149, jail, LA, Louisiana

The Louisiana Senate will debate HB 149 today, legislation approved by the House that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession. This bill is almost identical to a Senate bill that was approved 27-12 late last month. state_seal_color3Although penalties would still be staggering for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol, HB 149 is an important step forward — it could shave months, if not years, off of marijuana consumers’ sentences.

The bill will be voted on TODAY, so email your senator NOW and ask him or her to vote “yes” on HB 149.

While first offense marijuana possession would remain a misdemeanor, HB 149 greatly reduces the fine and potential jail time for possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana — the maximum jail sentence would be reduced from six months to 15 days while the fine would be reduced from up to $500 to up to $300. HB 149 also significantly reduces the sentences for second and subsequent marijuana possession charges.

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Prohibition

Virginia to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

Dec 16, 2014 Kate Zawidzki

decriminalization, jail, possession, SB 686, Virginia

When the Virginia Legislature convenes in January, a bill to stop criminalizing those who simply possess marijuana will be awaiting consideration.

Today, an individual convicted of marijuana possession in Virginia20100115152653!Virginia_new_sign can be thrown in jail for up to thirty days, fined up to $500, or both! This overly punitive approach can destroy dreams — a criminal conviction makes it harder to get a job, housing, and education. Criminalizing marijuana possession also wastes vast amounts of resources. In 2012, there were more than 20,000 arrests made in Virginia for marijuana possession. It takes time for police to book marijuana users, prosecutors to try cases, and labs to test marijuana. Meanwhile, more than half of all reported rapes and 80% of all burglaries went unsolved.

SB 686 takes a more sensible and humane approach by replacing the criminal penalties with a civil penalty of up to $100. Punishing marijuana possession with a civil citation recognizes that no one should be denied housing or a job because they possessed a substance safer than alcohol. It also allows Virginia’s law enforcement to quickly issue a ticket and move on to police more serious matters.

If you are a Virginia resident, please email your state delegate and senator today and ask them to support this sensible and long overdue reform — SB 686.

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Prohibition

Missouri Becomes 19th State To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

May 16, 2014 Kate Zawidzki

Dan Viets, jail, Jay Nixon, Missouri, MO, possession, SB 491, Show Me Cannabis

[caption id="attachment_7641" align="alignright" width="150"]Gov.-Nixon-Arms1 Gov. Jay Nixon[/caption]

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon made Missouri history by allowing the state to join the ranks of 18 others that have eliminated the possibility of jail time for the possession of marijuana. The new law made several significant reforms to the state’s criminal laws, including protecting people caught with up to 10 grams from incarceration for choosing a substance that is safer than alcohol.

The governor decided not to sign SB 491, instead allowing it to become effective without his signature. In addition to “decriminalizing” simple possession of marijuana, this new law also reduces possible sentences related to the sale and cultivation of marijuana, including the current ban on probation or parole for those with 3rd felony offenses.

Unfortunately, the law is somewhat limited. It will not take effect until January 1, 2017, and the protections against jail time only apply to people without prior marijuana convictions. Also, a possession charge — even without the possibility of jail time — is still a crime and can mark a person for life, affecting housing, employment, and future employment opportunities.

Nonetheless, this represents several major improvements, and now statewide law is beginning to reflect those of both St. Louis and Columbia, which previously decriminalized possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis.

MPP wishes to thank Missouri attorney and activist Dan Viets and Show-Me Cannabis for their strong contributions to the new law!

 

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Prohibition

Drug Czar Says Something Stupid — Again

Apr 18, 2012 Kate Zawidzki

DEA, drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, jail, MPP, Obama, ONDCP, White House

Every White House drug czar who has reigned since the office was created in 1989 makes numerous incorrect and deceitful statements.

But, I only like to rebut the czars’ nonsense when it really catches my attention, like the following statement today from Director Gil Kerlikowske ...

“The people that are involved in hoping to legalize drugs are very well funded,” he said. “They’re very organized, they have offices, they’re well supported, and with the push of a button, they can get as many signatures as they want, and we see that with a number of other special interest groups, so it’s not surprising.”

The drug czar’s office is formally known as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Let’s do a quick comparison between MPP and ONDCP ...

Of course, MPP has allies whose annual budgets — combined — are about $15 million.

ONDCP has allies, such as the DEA, whose annual budget is $2 billion. And, unlike our team, the DEA has badges, guns, and jail cells to quash its political opponents.

I’d trade our resources for the DEA’s and ONDCP’s resources any day of the week. Deal?

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Prohibition

Woman Dies in Jail While Serving Two and a Half Weeks For Marijuana Possession

Jun 24, 2009 Kate Zawidzki

drug warriors, jail, law enforcement, victims

From time to time drug warriors tell us that no one goes to jail for marijuana possession. Tell that to Cynthia Prude, whose daughter Theresa died in a Houston, Texas jail over the weekend while serving a two and one-half week jail sentence for marijuana possession.

Thus far, officials aren't revealing the circumstances or the cause of death, but this isn't the first time someone has died serving a short jail sentence for marijuana possession. In September 2004, quadriplegic Jonathan Magbie -- who used marijuana to relieve the chronic pain lingering from the childhood accident that left him paralyzed -- died in the Washington, D.C., jail while serving a 10-day sentence for marijuana possession.

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