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Vermont’s Addison County will host two expungement events in October

October 10th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

State’s attorney’s office and legal experts will assist Vermonters with clearing misdemeanor marijuana conviction records on October 12 and 28.

Now that Vermont’s marijuana legalization law has taken effect, the state’s attorney (prosecutor) for Addison County has announced that two expungement clinics will be held to assist Vermonters with having their records cleared of misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Volunteers will assist people who have been convicted of marijuana possession in Addison County with filling out expungement petitions on Friday, October 12 and Sunday, October 28.

WHAT: Addison County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Probate Court Room, Addison County Court House, 7 Mahady Ct., Middlebury
WHEN: Friday, October 12, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

WHAT: Addison County Expungement Clinic
WHERE: Middlebury College Kirk Alumni Center, 217 Golf Course Rd., Middlebury
WHEN: Sunday, October 28, 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.

A fee may be required. Financial assistance may be available. Click here for more details on the process.

If you have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in another Vermont county, you may wish to call and ask what it would take to have your record expunged. You can find phone numbers for all of Vermont’s state’s attorneys’ offices here.

We are very grateful to the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office, Vermont Legal Aid, the Center for Justice Reform at Vermont Law School, and the Pennywise Foundation for sponsoring these clinics. Thanks also to drug policy reform advocate Dave Silberman for working to make this happen.

Please share this news with your family and friends!

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Pennsylvania committee approves partial decrim bill

October 10th, 2018 No Comments Kate Zawidzki

Although 59% of Pennsylvania voters think it should be legal for adults to use marijuana, state law lags far behind popular sentiment. Pennsylvanians found with cannabis can still be locked in a jail cell and branded criminals.

But that could change soon. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a decriminalization bill, H.B. 928. Unfortunately, however, it first amended the bill to exclude minors and people in vehicles from decriminalization.

If you live in Pennsylvania, ask your state representative to support and fix the decriminalization bill.

Currently, simple possession is a misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus a six-month or one-year driver’s license suspension.

Except in the case of minors, possession in cars, or possession on school property, H.B. 928 would downgrade first and second offense possession of under 30 grams to a summary offense carrying a fine of no more than $300. Subsequent convictions would be misdemeanors carrying up to a $1,000 fine, but with no jail time.

Please take a moment to ask your rep to support H.B. 928, but to work to amend the bill. Let them know: Minors should also not be incarcerated for cannabis, and criminalizing possession in cars will still senselessly ruin lives.

Then, spread the word to others, so that they, too, can raise their voices.

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Medical Marijuana Bill Advances to Senate in South Carolina

March 29th, 2018 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Senate’s version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act passed today in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. Lawmakers on the committee voted 8-6 in favor of sending the amended bill to the floor.

This is a tremendous step forward, but time is short for a vote by the full Senate. Lawmakers only have until April 10 to vote and send the bill to the House before time runs out this year.

The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, introduced last year by Sen. Tom Davis and Rep. Peter McCoy, would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it. The Department of Health and Environmental Control would regulate and license medical cannabis cultivation centers, processing facilities, dispensaries, and independent testing laboratories. The department would also issue registration cards to qualifying patients and their caregivers. Patients would not be able to smoke medical cannabis under the bill as amended by the committee. South Carolina would have one of the most carefully regulated programs in the country under this bill.

While it’s unlikely that the Senate will vote on S. 212 before the clock runs out, it’s crucial that senators hear from their constituents while the bill is on the floor. If the bill doesn’t pass this year, we can build momentum for next year.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please send an email to your senators asking them to support S. 212.

 

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Texas Primary Voter Guide

March 5th, 2018 No Comments Morgan Fox

Primary Election Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, March 6, and voters’ choices will have a huge impact on the future of cannabis policy in Texas. As sweeping change continues around the country, Texans should take a close look at whether candidates will stand for sensible marijuana policy reform.

We’ve done some of the work for you. If you haven’t voted already, please check out our Texas Voter Guide to see where the candidates appearing on your ballot stand on cannabis reform. For more information, including where you can cast your ballot, check out the state’s website here.

If we want to stop the criminalization of cannabis consumers in Texas and allow medical cannabis, it’s crucial that supporters of cannabis reform make their voices heard in Texas politics.

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Kentucky Legislature Considering Marijuana Policy Reform

January 18th, 2018 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

The Kentucky Legislature began its 2018 session last week, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. A medical cannabis bill, HB 166, has already been introduced in the House.

But that’s not all. Sen. Dan Seum, chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, held a press conference to announce that he is introducing a bill, SB 80, that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please send your representatives and senators a message and urge them to support reforming marijuana laws in 2018.

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Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced in Kansas

January 18th, 2018 6 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Kansas lawmakers began their 2018 legislative session last week with several marijuana bills before them, including SB 187 / HB 2348, the Kansas Safe Access Act. This bill would create an effective medical marijuana program in Kansas.

These bills were introduced in 2017 (the legislative session carries over from 2017 to 2018), yet never even received a hearing. And, Kansas is one of only two states in the entire U.S. that does not even have a limited low-THC medical cannabis law. Seriously ill Kansans deserve better.

If you are a Kansas resident, please ask your representatives to show compassion and allow patients access to treatments that can help alleviate the suffering associated with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Medical marijuana can also help reduce patients’ use of dangerous opiates.

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Illinois Governor Announces Opposition to Sensible Marijuana Policy

November 30th, 2017 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

In an interview with WSIL-TV in Marion yesterday, Gov. Bruce Rauner officially announced his opposition to ending the harmful policy of cannabis prohibition in Illinois. The governor wrongly claimed we don’t yet know the effects of legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use, despite significant data available from states like Washington and Colorado, which both ended prohibition five years ago.

By announcing his stance, the governor is saying no to new jobs and to hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) in much-needed revenue for the state, and saying yes to allowing criminal enterprises to continue their control of a thriving and unregulated market. An estimated 750,000 Illinoisans consume marijuana monthly despite its prohibition — consumers who will likely continue to make illicit purchases whether it’s regulated or not. That money should go to our state and not into the pockets of drug cartels.

Chicago is one of the U.S. cities most closely associated with the failure of prohibition policies, and today, violence and harm continue on its streets. Instead of perpetuating a system that contributes to crime, revenue from taxing marijuana could be used to help prevent it.

Please make sure everyone in your network knows about Gov. Rauner’s misguided position. If you are an Illinois resident, please send a message to your lawmakers in support of legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana for adults.

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American Legion Backs Medical Marijuana; Poll Shows Overwhelming Veteran Support

November 2nd, 2017 4 Comments Morgan Fox

A poll commissioned by the American Legion in October showed record support among veterans for medical marijuana.

The Cannabist reports:

With polling showing Americans’ support for marijuana legalization has hit new highs, a new survey by the American Legion shows strong support within the military veteran community for medical marijuana research and legalization.

The “robo-call” survey commissioned by America’s largest veterans service organization polled vets and their non-professional caregivers in early October. It found that 81 percent of veterans and 83 percent of caregivers support the federal legalization of cannabis to treat a physical or mental condition.

“We already know that greater than 80% of the American public supports research into the efficacy of medical cannabis,” Joe Plenzler, spokesman for the American Legion, said in a statement to The Cannabist. “What this survey shows is that America’s veterans feel even more strongly about the need to study cannabis and its potential in treating, PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments veterans face every day.”

You can find a full video of the American Legion press conference releasing the poll results below, and read about some veterans’ stories here.

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Vermont Senate Approves Legalization Compromise Bill

June 21st, 2017 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

For the third time this year, the Vermont Senate has passed a marijuana legalization bill. This time, the bill has been revised to address Gov. Phil Scott’s concerns, and we have good reason to expect that he will sign it when it reaches his desk.

Unfortunately, it is not clear at all when the amended bill, H. 511, might receive a vote in the House. The House voted to pass a similar bill earlier this year, so there is little question that H. 511 will pass when it is brought to a vote. However, since the current veto session is scheduled to end tomorrow, the bill will not be considered unless three-quarters of House members vote to suspend the rules and allow consideration.

Republican House Leader Don Turner has said that his caucus will likely block the bill from being considered until 2018. Vermonters should not tolerate this attempt to obstruct a reform that has earned the support of the Senate, House, and governor.

“There is no good reason for the House to delay passage of this modest and sensible legislation,” MPP’s Matt Simon said in a press release. “Now that Gov. Scott has agreed with the House and Senate that marijuana should be legal for adult use, House Republicans should follow the governor’s lead and vote to advance this compromise. Failing to waive the rules will only mean the marijuana regulatory commission has less time to do its important work.”

If you are a Vermont resident, please call your representatives right now, and urge them to push for an up or down vote on H. 511.

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Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition

May 4th, 2017 2 Comments Heather Fazio

A television ad in support of a bill to reduce marijuana penalties in Texas will begin airing Friday, just days before the state House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure. It can be viewed here.

The 30-second spot features Nick Novello, an active duty police officer and 23-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and Heather Jackson of Houston, an ovarian cancer survivor who was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in El Paso in 2007.

“Arresting people for marijuana possession does not make our communities any safer,” Novello says in the ad. “It’s a terrible waste of police resources.”

Jackson notes that she was found with less than one gram of marijuana and spent a total of four days in jail. She was initially jailed for two days. She was forced to spend an additional two days in jail because she violated the terms of her probation by traveling from El Paso to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“It has affected so many different things in my life,” Jackson says in the ad. She now has a criminal record that has prevented her from getting a teaching job.

The ad concludes by urging viewers to tell their legislators to support HB 81, a bipartisan bill that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. A fourth offense would result in a misdemeanor punishable by only a fine. The measure passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last month and is expected to receive a full vote in the House next week.

The ad is scheduled to air through Monday in Austin and through the weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.

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