Prohibition

National Crime Data Shows Marijuana Arrests Dropping, Still Happen More Than Once a Minute

September 28th, 2016 No Comments Morgan Fox

The FBI just released its annual Crime in the United States report, detailing national crime data for 2015. According to the report, marijuana arrests are at a two decade low. This is definitely a good sign, but even one marijuana arrest is too many, and more than one marijuana arrest occurs every minute.fbi

Huffington Post reports:

…authorities in the U.S. made 643,000 arrests for marijuana-related charges in 2015 ― or about one every 49 seconds. Charges related to the drug accounted for 5.9 percent of all arrests, and about 43.2 percent of all drug arrests. 

The number of marijuana arrests has been generally decreasing since peaking in 2007. That year, police made 872,720 total arrests related to the drug, including 775,137 for possession. Just about 574,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2015 involved possession, and arrests for the sale and manufacture of the drug reached a nearly 25-year low. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prohibition

Big Pharma Opiate Profiteer Throws Big Money Against Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana

September 27th, 2016 1 Comment Marijuana Policy Project

While there is a long history of opposition to sensible marijuana policy reform from some big pharmaceutical companies, September saw the biggest financial donation from such a company against a legalization ballot initiative to date, and their motives couldn’t be more blatant.

According to campaign finance reports, the committee formed to oppose Prop. 205, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, received a $500,000 contribution on August 31 from Insys Therapeutics, Inc. According to a CNBC investigative piece about the Chandler-based company — titled “The pain killer: A drug company putting profits above patients” — Insys Therapeutic’s revenue is “almost entirely derived from the highly addictive opiate fentanyl,” which experts call “the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market.” Insys’s aggressive marketing and other shady business practices have triggered multiple state and federal investigations, including one conducted by the Arizona Attorney General.

The front page of Insys’s website also touts its development of “pharmaceutical cannabinoids,” which are synthetic versions of natural chemical compounds found in marijuana.

A number of major media outlets reported on the clear intent to protect profits at the expense of public health and individual freedom, but neither Insys, nor the campaign dedicated to arresting adults for using something that is safer than alcohol, have shown any sign of remorse.

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Prohibition

Rhode Island Primary Voter Guide

September 9th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Next week on Tuesday, September 13, Rhode Island will hold its primary election across the state. You can see your sample ballot and look up your polling location by visiting the Secretary of State’s website

Regulate Rhode Islandrri recently partnered with Motif Magazine to conduct a marijuana policy survey of candidates running for a seat in the General Assembly. The candidates were then assigned a letter grade based on their responses and — in the case of incumbents — their record on marijuana policy bills.  

You can look up your district and see the results for your local candidates who responded here. The results are also included in the most recent print edition of Motif Magazine. 

It is crucial that supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform remain engaged in local politics. That is why it is important to not only vote, but also to contact your elected officials and educate them on the many reasons to support regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. 

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Prohibition

MPP and Institute for Justice Fight for Free Speech in Alabama

September 6th, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Recently when attempting to lobby for marijuana policy reform in Alabama, MPP legislative counsel Maggie Ellinger-Locke discovered that she would have to travel to the Yellowhammer State and take an ethics class before she could speak with any lawmakers on the subject. This is a clear violation of free speech, and Institute for Justice is helping us fight back.IJ logo

Alabama Today reports:

Virginia-based public interest law firm Institute for Justice filed a new federal lawsuit on behalf of Maggie Ellinger-Locke and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

At issue is an Alabama law requiring all registered lobbyists to attend an ethics class offered only four times a year and in only one place – Montgomery.

Part of Ellinger-Locke’s job, says IJ Senior Attorney Paul Sherman in a recent op-ed, is to talk with legislators and government officials in nearly a dozen states on ways to make marijuana policy “more just, sensible and humane.”

“Unfortunately for her,” Sherman writes, “all lobbyists in Alabama are required to take an in-person ethics class.” The problem is, Ellinger-Locke lives in Arlington, Virginia and works at the MPP headquarters in Washington DC.

Sherman also points out that mayors, city and county council members, as well as members of local boards of education, are each required to take similar training – a program that could easily be offered online.

Nevertheless, Sherman adds that such a requirement is not only bad public policy but also unconstitutional. That is why IJ filed a First Amendment challenge in federal court.

“If a person wants to talk to an elected official about a matter of public policy,” Sherman concludes, “they shouldn’t have to take a government-mandated class. Instead, the only thing they should need is an opinion.”

We will post updates as they happen.

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Prohibition

Top Legislative Victories of 2016

August 23rd, 2016 2 Comments Marijuana Policy Project

Now that most state legislative sessions are over for the year, MPP’s Rob Kampia has published a list of the biggest victories in what is already the biggest year on record for marijuana policy reformers!Rating_Badge_JO

On July 29, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill removing the threat of arrest for small amounts of marijuana, capping a record year of legislative and administrative marijuana policy reforms throughout the country.

Two states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, enacted effective medical marijuana laws via their legislatures, making them the 24th and 25th states to do so, respectively. As a result, more than half of the U.S. population now lives in states that have opted to legalize medical marijuana.

In addition to Illinois, a number of other states enacted laws to reduce marijuana possession penalties. Kansas lowered the maximum jail sentence for first-time possession and reduced second offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Louisiana and Maryland removed criminal penalties for possession of paraphernalia, with the Maryland Legislature overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. Oklahoma cut the penalties for second marijuana possession offenses in half, and Tennessee reduced a third possession offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, making the maximum penalty less than a year in jail. At the local level, New Orleans and a number of Florida counties passed ordinances that give police the option to issue summons or citations instead of arresting people for low-level possession.

You can read the full article in the Huffington Post.

 

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona Qualifies for November Ballot as Prop. 205

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Michael Wilcox

On Thursday, state officials informed the supporters of The Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona that the initiative has qualified for this November’s ballot as Proposition 205. In less than three months, the people of Arizona will determine whether to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.13925181_550967435082980_8533437240301629316_n

Eighty-three years ago, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to repeal the failed policy of alcohol prohibition,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Yes on 205 campaign. “This November, we will have the opportunity to end the equally disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition. Prop 205 would establish a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Prop 205 would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and education programs. The Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated the initiative would generate more than $123 million in annual tax revenue and license fees by 2020, including more than $55 million per year for K-12 education and full-day kindergarten programs.

For more information, visit http://RegulateMarijuanaAZ.org.

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Prohibition

MPP’s Rob Kampia Weighs in on DEA Scheduling

August 23rd, 2016 No Comments Marijuana Policy Project

In response to the recent decision by the DEA not to move marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, MPP’s Rob Kampia offered the following analysis of the situation, and what the best course of action would be:

In the wake of the DEA’s decision against rescheduling marijuana, the super-majority of the American people who support legalizing medical marijuana might properly wonder, “How bad is this news?”

As the leader of the largest marijuana-policy-reform organization in the nation, my answer might surprise you: It barely mattered which way the DEA ruled.

Back in 1970, Congress and President Nixon placed marijuana in Schedule I, along with LSD and heroin, defining these drugs as having no therapeutic value and a high potential for abuse. Simultaneously, drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine were placed in Schedule II, which are defined as having therapeutic value.

This “Flat Earth Society” view of marijuana has been challenged numerous times since 1970, but the DEA and federal courts have rejected all such attempts, including the Washington and Rhode Island governors’ 2011 petition that the DEA just rejected.

To be sure, moving marijuana to Schedule II would have had symbolic value, showing that prohibitionists were wrong to stubbornly claim for decades that sick people were merely imagining or lying about the medicinal benefits they experienced. However, there are federal criminal penalties for marijuana possession that are imposed regardless of its schedule. Even if the DEA had moved marijuana to Schedule II, growing 100 marijuana seedlings would still land you in federal prison for a minimum of five years…

You can read the entire article at Huffington Post.

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Prohibition

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

July 29th, 2016 5 Comments Chris Lindsey

Illinois Gov. Rauner just signed SB 2228, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana everywhere in Land of Lincoln. The change in the law is effective immediately.

Illinoisans or visitors found in possession of marijuana are no longer subject to arrest or jail time.IL_decrim The change also removes the possibility of a harmful criminal record for cannabis possession, which can last a lifetime. Instead, those found in possession would face a simple fine of between $100 and $200.

Previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 Illinois communities had already removed local criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.

This change comes from MPP’s multi-year effort to help bring fairness to the state’s possession law. Even though many cities and towns had already lowered penalties, but individuals could still be arrested and charged for possession under state law. This change moves the state away from its former patchwork system.

Illinois is now the 21st state in the nation, in addition to the District of Columbia, to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

We wish to thank bill sponsors Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for their strong advocacy for a better system. Their tireless effort on behalf of fairness made this law a reality.

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General, Prohibition, Research

Marijuana Rescheduling No-Decision Met With Challenge From Congress

July 1st, 2016 7 Comments Rory McPeak

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Earlier this year, the DEA had announced that they hope to have a decision regarding the rescheduling of marijuana within the first half of 2016. That time has now come and gone with the DEA failing to deliver.

A bipartisan coalition of Senators and Representatives has signed a letter to head of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, urging the federal agency to remove marijuana and THC from Schedule I, its current status under the Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I is the most restrictive drug classification that, according to the DEA, is reserved for substances that have a high potential for abuse and no known medical benefits.

“We ask that you clarify this policy immediately, and issue a public statement informing the research community that the DEA, in compliance with international obligations, will accept new applications to bulk manufacture cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, to be approved on merit-based criteria,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter, drafted by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also calls for the DEA to loosen restrictions surrounding medical marijuana research and to grant more licenses for the production of research-grade marijuana.  Currently, the only federally approved source of marijuana is the University of Mississippi, whose supply is notoriously difficult for researchers to obtain and frequently alleged to be of sub-research grade quality.

The letter was signed by Sen. Gillibrand as well as Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Read here for more information.

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General, Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

DNC Calls for Reform of Marijuana Laws

June 27th, 2016 6 Comments Rory McPeak

Over the weekend, the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Drafting Committee established a party platform calling for states’ rights to decide their ownjzH0I1Ka marijuana laws, allowing for greater research on the medical properties of cannabis, and protecting the rights of legally established marijuana businesses:

“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”

An earlier proposed measure called for the total removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but that measure did not make it to the draft that was unanimously approved by the drafting committee.

Click here for more information on the DNC’s new marijuana plank.

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