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MPP and Regulate Rhode Island Release New Legalization Report

MPP Blog - Thu, 03/08/2018 - 14:42

Three out of five Rhode Islanders agree that it’s time to legalize marijuana for adult use. The conversation that should be taking place among state policymakers is not if Rhode Island should legalize and regulate marijuana. They should be discussing how it will be done.

Yesterday, we published a comprehensive new report addressing the best way for Rhode Island to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. We are sharing this document with lawmakers in an effort to accelerate the process and move us closer to enacting real policy.

Although three New England states have already ended marijuana prohibition, Rhode Island’s state legislature continues to delay serious consideration of legalization. Unfortunately, lawmakers are now thinking about extending the legalization study commission established last year, which will only delay progress. However, another bill has been introduced which would put the issue to the voters.

We need the General Assembly to stop dragging its feet and take action. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please contact your state senator and representative and urge them to take action this year on marijuana policy reform.

The post MPP and Regulate Rhode Island Release New Legalization Report appeared first on MPP Blog.

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The changing political realities of drug policy

DrugWarRant - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 16:59

At my talk on Saturday, I mentioned the local political dust-up I got caught in back in 2004 (some of the regulars here may remember this – Link).

There was a Congressional representative in my area in Illinois with a particularly nasty record in drug policy, and he was being opposed by a candidate who had indicated possible support for medical marijuana and decriminalization (not legalization). At the time, that was a pretty good change, and so I endorsed the challenger on Drug WarRant. Thought nothing of it.

The incumbent used my endorsement in attack ads, claiming that the challenger was endorsed by a drug legalization “group” and had values completely out of touch with Illinois. The challenger returned my small personal donation to his campaign and said the endorsement was similar to when the Ku Klux Klan endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980!

Now flash ahead 14 years…

Tom Angell reports: The New Politics Of Marijuana Are Emerging In Illinois

Marijuana was once seen as a third-rail issue of politics: You touch it, you die. Not that many years ago, many candidates for public office ran as far and as fast as they could from cannabis issues out of fear they would be attacked as soft on drugs or soft on crime. […]

Contenders in the March 20 primary got into a testy Twitter exchange on the issue over the weekend, with JB Pritzker, widely seen as the front-runner in the race, accusing opponent Chris Kennedy of merely pretending to back legalization, and Kennedy telling his supporters not to believe the other campaign’s claims.

As Tom notes, part of the sudden desire for politicians to suddenly get on top of legalization could have a little bit to do with polling numbers.

New Illinois poll results released yesterday:

The poll found that 66 percent of Illinois voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol while 32 percent are opposed. There were 3 percent of voters who were unsure.

Back in 2004, when I ran into those problems, the national Gallup poll numbers (don’t have them for Illinois at the time) were 64% opposed, 34% in favor.

A different time.

It’s really interesting to see some of the campaigns this year in Illinois. For example, we’re finally losing Lisa Madigan and Attorney General (long overdue – she’s the one who spearheaded the execrable Illinois v. Caballes case where the Supreme Court ruled that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply as long as the police get permission… from their dog.)

So the race is crowded (6 on the Democratic side) and they’re all pretty much an improvement. This one, for example is a real breath of fresh air in an Attorney General race – it’s Aaron Goldstein, a former Public Defender!

For far too long our criminal justice system has not been just to people accused of crimes, to the victims of crime and to the public. I will accomplish real criminal justice reform that ends mass incarceration, eliminate the unjust and unfair drug war, and reform the cash bail process that discriminates against people with limited means. I will accomplish real, long overdue, police reform to ensure that police represent (rather than intimidate) the good citizens of our state.

Mass incarceration benefits no one. Many of the people who are in prison are serving their sentence for a non-violent, typically drug-related offense. We must treat the root causes of these crimes like drug addiction, mental health, income inequality, a lack of opportunity and education funding.. Someone who is incarcerated for a non-violent offense comes out of prison not rehabilitated, but with a record and even more likely to fall back into criminal behavior than before. Meanwhile, taxpayers have spent millions of dollars to house inmates while feeling no safer than they were before. We must reduce the prison population by focusing on deferment programs, rehabilitation, and mental health and addiction treatment.

The so-called “drug war” has been one of the worst domestic policies in the last 50 years. We have not reduced the use of drugs while creating a black market that funds street gangs so that they can purchase guns. Further, the drug war has been administered in a way that discriminates against African-Americans, Latinos and the poor. We must legalize marijuana and treat drug addiction as a mental health issue and not a criminal one.

And he repeats his commitment to marijuana legalization:

I believe marijuana should be legalized. One doesn’t have to be a user of marijuana to understand that the war on drugs—and the criminalization of marijuana in particular—has been an abysmal failure. Far too many of our citizens have been convicted and imprisoned for using marijuana, although little evidence exists to support our draconian drug laws.

Ironically, rather than helping our citizens, criminalization of marijuana has encouraged the development of a huge and chaotic black market, with its inevitable consequences of gang violence and harm to many innocent bystanders. For these reasons, and based on the experience of other states that have legalized marijuana, I believe it is time to legalize marijuana in Illinois. It should be regulated—based on clear scientific evidence—to ensure that legal pot does not create any significant health or public safety risks to the people of Illinois and that the marijuana industry is run fairly and lawfully.

As Attorney General, I will consult with attorneys general from states that have legalized marijuana to ensure that Illinois adopts best practices in the production, distribution and sales of marijuana, and that any tax revenue Illinois derives from the sale of marijuana is used for purposes that benefit all the people, not just the few who are politically connected.

What a breath of fresh air. I don’t know what his chances are, but the fact that people like him are running makes me feel just a touch more optimistic.

And no, just to be on the safe side, I’m not endorsing him.

Categories: Blog Feeds

California: Sonoma County District Attorney To Vacate Thousands Of Past Marijuana Convictions

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:02

The District Attorney’s Office for Sonoma County, California (population 502,000) is directing staff to review and vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions.

County officials estimate that an estimated 3,000 cases are eligible for either a sentencing reduction or expungement.

The Sonoma County D.A.’s actions follow those of district attorneys for Alameda County, San Diego County, and San Francisco — each of which have moved to pro-actively review and dismiss thousands of past marijuana-related convictions.

Provisions in the state’s 2016 voter-approved marijuana law allow those with past marijuana convictions to petition the court for expungement. Legislation is pending in the California Assembly, AB 1793, to make this process automatic for anyone with an eligible past cannabis conviction.

Last month, Seattle city officials publicly announced plans to similarly review and vacate past cannabis convictions. Days later, newly elected Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner announced that his office would cease prosecuting marijuana possession offense violations.

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MPP Publishes Voter Guide for Maryland Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

MPP Blog - Tue, 03/06/2018 - 14:31

MPP has just released our voter guide for the Maryland gubernatorial primary election. We hope that Maryland’s Democratic voters will find this guide useful as they prepare to vote in the state’s Democratic primary elections on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. There are big differences between the candidates, whose grades range from A+ to C based on their responses to our survey, public statements, and record in office. We plan to update our voter guide with information on the general election candidates after the primary.

This is an important election because, even if marijuana legalization appears on the ballot alongside the gubernatorial candidates (which we hope it does), the governor will have a lot of influence over the implementation of taxation and regulation of marijuana. The field is still wide open, as nearly half of Democratic voters remain undecided. The voter guide also provides contact information for all the candidates, and we encourage you to contact them to share your views on marijuana policy reform — and encourage them to discuss the issue.

If you want more information on how to register to vote, please visit the Board of Elections website.

The post MPP Publishes Voter Guide for Maryland Democratic Gubernatorial Primary appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Support Growing for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

MPP Blog - Tue, 03/06/2018 - 14:21

There has been a tremendous groundswell of support for medical cannabis in Kentucky this year, and the legislature is finally beginning to listen. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee began considering testimony in support of HB 166, a bill that would make Kentucky the 30th state to pass an effective medical cannabis law. A similar bill, SB 118, has already generated quite a bit of discussion in the Senate.

Patients who are struggling with serious medical conditions in Kentucky have already waited far too long for legal protections and safe, legal access to cannabis. The current legislative session is scheduled to end in mid-April, so it’s time for representatives and senators to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representatives and senators right now and urge them to support medical cannabis legislation in 2018.

The post Support Growing for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Michigan: Voter Support Grows For Proposed Adult Use Initiative

NORML Blog - Tue, 03/06/2018 - 14:05

More than six in ten Michigan voters endorse a proposed statewide ballot initiative legalizing the adult use and sale of cannabis.

According to polling data compiled by the EPIC-MRA polling research firm and commissioned by Michigan NORML, 61 percent of voters say that they would vote yes on the measure “if the election were held today.” That percentage is up four percentage points from last year, and is an increase of 11 percent since 2014.

Commenting on the statewide polling, MINORML Board member Brad Forrester said: “I’m not surprised. These results are the product of Michigan NORML’s effective advocacy for the past several years.”

Michigan NORML is a member of The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is backing the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act. The initiative permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to the commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

In November, proponents turned in more than 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot. State officials must certify a total of 252,523 valid signatures from registered voters in order to place the initiative on the November 2018 ballot.

Marijuana law reform advocates are continuing to gather signatures for voter-initiated efforts in Missouri and Utah. Proponents of a medical marijuana initiative in South Dakota have turned in their signatures and are awaiting a review by the Secretary of State’s office.

In Oklahoma, voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Texas Primary Voter Guide

MPP Blog - Mon, 03/05/2018 - 14:11

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.

The post Texas Primary Voter Guide appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Study: Cannabis Effective At Treating Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia

NORML Blog - Mon, 03/05/2018 - 10:38

Cannabis therapy mitigates symptoms of the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia and is associated with a reduction in the use of other prescription drugs, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. An estimated 3 to 6 million Americans are afflicted by fibromyalgia, which is often poorly controlled by standard pain medications.

Israeli investigators assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in a cohort of 26 patients with fibromyalgia. They reported that medical cannabis treatment “was associated with significant favorable outcomes in every item evaluated,” such as reductions in pain and increases in energy.

Most patients also reduced their use of conventional prescription drugs, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, during the trial period. Nearly half of the participants (46 percent) reduced their prescription drug intake by more than 50 percent during the study. Several patients were also able to return to work following the initiation of cannabis therapy.

Researchers concluded, “Medical cannabis treatment had a significant favorable effect on patients with fibromyalgia, with few adverse effects.”

Prior trials evaluating the use of either whole-plant cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids have similarly shown efficacy in patients with the disease. A summary of these prior studies is available here.

The abstract of the study, “Medical cannabis for the treatment of fibromyalgia,” is online here.

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Thanks, Illinois Libertarians

DrugWarRant - Sat, 03/03/2018 - 12:38

Just finished a wonderful speech for the Illinois Libertarian Convention luncheon. Really attentive and engaged audience — particularly the three little children in the front row, who asked all sorts of very good questions (“Why do you need a tank in a small town?” “When the SWAT team comes, do they give you a chance to explain whether you have drugs or not first?” “If marijuana can be used for medical things, why did they say it was so bad?” “Did the police officer who shot that lady go to jail?”) and one of them gave me a drawing he made!

The title of the talk was “The Drug War’s Assault on Liberty.”

And I included a bunch of “Guitherisms,” which seemed to be well received, and lightened things up a bit.

Thanks couch-mates for your suggestions, and welcome any Illinois Libertarians who have arrived here based on my talk. If you have any questions from the talk that you didn’t get to ask, please feel free to ask them in comments.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Weekly Legislative Roundup 3/2/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 03/02/2018 - 12:15

Welcome to the March 2nd edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I want to bring your attention to the dedicated activists lobbying in conjunction with Arizona NORML! Activists in Arizona lobbied state lawmakers in the capital on Monday 2/26 in favor of a bill that would require testing for potency and health and safety as well as certifications for independent testing labs.

Also at the state level, Massachusetts regulators agreed to delay considering proposed rules allowing marijuana social use areas and delivery services until a later date after receiving intense pressure over those license categories from state officials. But they also decided that when the Cannabis Control Commission does authorize the services, initial licenses will only be available to people with past drug convictions or who live in neighborhoods with high drug arrest rates. The commission also agreed to place caps on marijuana farmers and determined a threshold for how much marijuana product they have to sell.

New Jersey lawmakers are set to begin holding hearings on marijuana legalization this month, with the first one scheduled for this Monday March 5th at noon by the Assembly Oversight Committee. On the other hand, several NJ lawmakers are still skeptical about legalization. A survey of lawmakers suggests that marijuana legalization legislation would be defeated if a vote were held now.

On a brighter note, Arkansas regulators announced the winners of medical cannabis cultivation licenses, and Alaska raked in its biggest monthly haul in marijuana taxes, with just over $1 million collected in January. Proponents of a Missouri ballot initiative effort to legalize and regulate medical cannabis statewide reached a milestone by surpassing over 200,000 signatures, although they only needed 160,000.

Several marijuana related legislation died this week after failing to be voted on before crossover deadlines. These include legalization and medical expansion measures in Arizona, Georgia, West Virginia, and Kansas.

At a more local level, Denver, CO approved its first social use marijuana license, allowing vaping and edibles in a Lincoln Park coffee shop. Additionally, The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution supporting a state Senate bill that seeks to create a state-chartered bank that could be used by the marijuana industry.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

New Hampshire

The Legislature is considering HB 656, which would legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana by those 21 and older.

The bill also allows the cultivation, possession, and use of hemp, and calls for retail sales and generation of state revenues through taxation, as well as authorizes the licensing of marijuana wholesale, retail, cultivation, and testing facilities.

Update: The House Ways and Means Committee may kill HB 656 even though it already passed the full chamber, and despite A February 2018 UNH Granite State poll finding that 56 percent of adults support the amended version of this bill. They’re having a full committee work session on 3/12 at 1pm.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of legalization

Maine

Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to amend a key provision of the state’s voter-initiated adult use marijuana law.

Under existing law, adults may legally cultivate as many as six mature marijuana plants on their property. Lawmakers are suggesting halving this amount. NORML opposes this law change.

To date, legislators have refused to enact provisions in the 2016 law permitting for the licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. As a result, adults may only obtain marijuana via home cultivation. Further, no data has been presented indicating that this provision is either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market.

Other changes recommended by lawmakers include: banning any social use establishments and significantly increasing the proposed excise tax on wholesale marijuana products.

ME resident? Click here to email your elected officials and tell them to oppose this effort and implement the will of the people

Tennessee

State Representative Jeremy Faison (R) and State Senator Steve Dickerson (R) have introduced legislation, SB 1710 and HB 1749 to establish a limited medical marijuana access program in Tennessee.

The measure permits qualified patients to possess marijuana-infused oil products, as well as other non-herbal forms of cannabis, from state-licensed dispensaries. Both patients and physicians would be required to participate in a state registry.

Update: Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee Dr. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro) signed on as co-sponsors to the Medical Cannabis Only Act on 2/26. The following day, the House Criminal Justice subcommittee voted 4-3 to approve HB 1749, with House Speaker Harwell casting the tie-breaking vote. HB 1749 is on the Criminal Justice Committee’s calendar for 3/7/18. SB 1710 is still posted in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical cannabis access

Georgia

House Bill 764 seeks to expand Georgia’s limited medical cannabidiol (CBD) law.

The measure would permit for the first time patients with post traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain the option to engage in CBD therapy.

Update: HB 764 passed the House by a 145-17 vote, and now awaits action in the Senate.

GA resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical CBD expansion

Idaho

HB 410 is pending to provide “for the lawful use and possession of Cannabidiol Oil (CBD), if prescribed by a (licensed) practitioner.” Similar legislation, HB 577 is also pending.

Update: HB 577  passed the House by a 59-11 vote on 2/28, and now awaits action in the Senate. HB 410 is still posted in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

ID resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of CBD access

Hawaii

HB 1893 is pending, to permit physicians to recommend cannabis therapy to those struggling with opioid abuse or dependence. HB 1893 was heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/15, and then approved with amendments, and passed on to the Judiciary Committee.

Update: HB 1893 was heard by the House Judiciary committee on Thursday, and then was approved unanimously 8 to zero.

HI resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of this effort

Indiana

House Bill 1214 is pending, further clarifying the legal status of CBD products in the state of Indiana for specific patients.

Despite the passage last year of limited language permitting certain patients to possess CBD, law enforcement has continued to take punitive action against those providing CBD products, and some officials have continued to questioned their legality. Passage of these measures will eliminate this legal confusion and greatly expand CBD access.

Update: HB 1214 was approved by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee after it was heard on 2/27.

IN resident? Click here to email your elected officials in favor of greater CBD access

Maryland

House Bill 698 seeks to expand the state’s nascent industrial hemp pilot program.

The bill would “authorize and facilitate the research of industrial hemp and any aspect of growing, cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transporting, marketing, or selling industrial hemp for agricultural, industrial, or commercial purposes.”

Update: HB 698 was approved by the House Environment and Transportation Committee with amendments on 2/26. The amendments were adopted and it passed the third reading by a 136-1 vote on 3/1.

MD resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of industrial hemp

 

Additional Actions to Take

New Hampshire

House Bill 1476 is pending,  to permit qualifying patients to cultivate small quantities of cannabis for their own therapeutic use.

Under the state’s existing medical marijuana program, patients are mandated to obtain cannabis from only a limited number of state-licensed dispensaries. Those who cultivate for themselves may be guilty of a felony offense.

Update: The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee approved HB 1476 by a 13-8 vote on 2/23.

NH resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of home cultivation

Virginia

SB 726 and HB 1251, both introduced by Republican lawmakers, would permit doctors to recommend CBD and THC-A oils to any patient they believe would benefit.

Under present law, only a neurologist may recommend cannabis oils, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.

Update: HB 1251 is already on Governor Northam’s desk awaiting his signature. SB 726 passed the House 96-0 on 2/28.

VA resident? Click here to email Gov. Northam urging him to sign these bills into law

Alaska

House Bill 376 was recently introduced, to establish a state bank that will help assist in financial matters related to marijuana businesses. It’s currently pending in the Labor and Commerce Committee.

Activities of the bank would include helping “marijuana-related businesses make deposits and to help other financial institutions receive deposits from marijuana-related businesses.”

AK resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of banking options for cannabis businesses

Check back next Friday for more legislative updates!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Cannabis Access Consistently Linked With Lower Opioid Use: Studies

NORML Blog - Thu, 03/01/2018 - 12:26

Patients routinely reduce or eliminate their use of prescription opiates following the use of medical cannabis; two recently published studies reaffirm this relationship.

In the first study, published by the Minnesota Department of Health, investigators assessed the prescription drug use patterns of 2,245 intractable pain patients participating in the state’s medical cannabis access program. Among those patients known to be taking opiates for pain upon enrollment in the program, 63 percent “were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after six months.” The findings are similar to those of registered patients in other states’ medical cannabis programs, including Illinois, Michigan, and New Mexico, among others.

In the second study, Israeli researchers assessed the safety and efficacy of cannabis in a cohort of over 1,200 cancer patients over a period of six months. Ninety-six percent of patients “reported an improvement in their condition.” Nearly half of respondents reported either decreasing or eliminating their use of opioids during the treatment period.

A third recently published clinical trial provides insight into explaining this relationship. Investigators from the United States and Australia and assessed the efficacy of inhaled cannabis and sub-therapeutic doses of oxycodone on experimentally-induced pain in a double-blind, placebo-controlled model. Researchers assessed subjects’ pain tolerance after receiving both substances separately or in concert with one another. While neither the administration of cannabis nor oxycodone alone significantly mitigated subjects’ pain, the combined administration of both drugs did so effectively.

Authors determined, “Both active cannabis and a low dose of oxycodone (2.5 mg) were sub-therapeutic, failing to elicit analgesia on their own; however, when administered together, pain responses … were significantly reduced, pointing to the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis.” They concluded, “Smoked cannabis combined with an ineffective analgesic dose of oxycodone produced analgesia comparable to an effective opioid analgesic dose without significantly increasing cannabis’s abuse liability.”

The new studies add to the growing body of research finding that cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, opioid-related drug treatment admissions, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Additional information regarding the association between cannabis and opioids is available from NORML’s fact-sheet here.

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Neil Woods on the ‘American’ drug policy

DrugWarRant - Thu, 03/01/2018 - 11:19

There’s a nice video, published by Business Insider UK of former undercover police officer Neil Woods (chairman of LEAP UK) talking about drug policy. Can’t embed the video, but here it is on Facebook.

Neil Woods: In the UK we used to lead the world in drug policy. It was called the British system, and it was a fairly simple premise – if someone has a problem with drugs, they get medical help.

That British system was destroyed by American moral imperialism. American foreign policy insisted that everyone follow their lead in how to deal with drugs, and that meant criminalising people.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Texas coach doesn’t want Colorado athletes

DrugWarRant - Thu, 03/01/2018 - 08:22

Even as we progress, there are always some of these neanderthal throwbacks who show up:

Texas college baseball coach: Stay home, Colorado high school potheads

Actual email written from Texas Wesleyan baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat to a prospective student:

“Thanks for the interest in our program. Unfortunately, we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on Student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of Luck wherever you decide to play.”

The university has disassociated itself with his comments.

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VIDEO: Our Protest at the Philippine Embassy Today

Stop The Drug War - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 15:52

We protested today at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, calling for the release of Sen

read more

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Medical Marijuana On the Move in South Carolina

MPP Blog - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 13:58

MPP, our allies, and supportive lawmakers have made tremendous strides this year gaining support for a sensible and compassionate medical marijuana program in South Carolina. However, while the vast majority of South Carolinians support allowing medical marijuana, and despite strong support in the House, it’s not clear if Speaker of the House Jay Lucas will attempt to prevent a floor vote.

H3521 was assigned to committee last year, and that group of lawmakers is now ready to advance the bill to the House floor for a key vote. But insiders tell us that Speaker Lucas might delay passage by sending the bill to another committee. If that happens, it is extremely unlikely the bill will advance further before time runs out.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please urge your representative to call for a floor vote on H3521 when it is returned to the full House, and to support passage.

The post Medical Marijuana On the Move in South Carolina appeared first on MPP Blog.

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W. Va. House Passes Limited Bill to Improve Medical Cannabis Law

MPP Blog - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 13:44

Today, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill making limited improvements to the medical cannabis program. HB 4345 would increase the number of licenses available for growers and dispensaries, and it would allow patients to pre-register for the program. Unfortunately, the bill would also add onerous restrictions on physicians that would discourage them from certifying patients. You can read a summary of the bill here.

If you are a resident of West Virginia, please call your state senators today and urge them to amend and pass HB 4345.

The post W. Va. House Passes Limited Bill to Improve Medical Cannabis Law appeared first on MPP Blog.

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N.Y. Lawmakers Consider Expanding Medical Marijuana Program

MPP Blog - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 13:19

New York has recently been making significant progress on expanding its overly restrictive medical marijuana program, but many patients are still left out due to the state’s limited list of qualifying conditions. Please ask your state lawmakers to support bills that would address this problem. These bills are:

A08904 / S07755 — eliminates the list of qualifying conditions and instead allows a medical professional to recommend medical cannabis for any “severe debilitating or life-threatening condition, or symptom or complication or its treatment”

A09016 / S07564 — adds opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition

A00582 — adds dysmenorrhea (pain related to menstrual cramps) as a qualifying condition

A09869 — adds autism as a qualifying condition

While adding qualifying conditions is certainly helpful (which is why MPP led an effort last year that resulted in the addition of PTSD), eliminating the list and allowing medical professionals to recommend cannabis for any serious condition is even better. If you are a New York resident, please ask your lawmakers to respect the practitioner/patient relationship.

The post N.Y. Lawmakers Consider Expanding Medical Marijuana Program appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Racial Disparities Persist Among NYC Marijuana Possession Arrestees

NORML Blog - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 12:20

New York City police are continuing to disproportionately arrest African Americans and Latinos for minor marijuana possession violations, despite ongoing pledges from Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt the practice.

In 2017, city police made an estimated 17,500 arrests for marijuana possession in the 5th degree — a class B misdemeanor. Consistent with past years, 86 percent percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic.

Since the de Blasio administration took office in 2014, city police have made over 75,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests; 86 percent of arrestees were either Black or Latino.

Under state law, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is a non-arrestable offense, except instances where the police contend that the substance was either being burned or was in public view.

During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio said that the city’s elevated marijuana arrest totals “demonstrate clear racial bias” and promised to “direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions.”

Despite consuming cannabis at rates comparable to whites, recent analyses of marijuana arrest data from multiple states find that African Americans are consistently arrested for marijuana possession offenses at at least three times the rate of Caucasians.

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Missouri: Medical Marijuana Initiative Effort Reaches Signature Milestone

NORML Blog - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 15:22

Proponents of a Missouri voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

The initiative permits patients, at the discretion of a physician, to cultivate limited quantities of marijuana or to obtain cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed facilities.

The group behind the effort, New Approach Missouri, includes members of both national NORML as well as its state and local affiliates.

For more information about this initiative campaign or to become involved, click here.

Proponents sought to place a similar effort on the 2016 ballot. That effort failed after the courts upheld the decision of St. Louis-area election authorities to reject some 2,000 signatures in the state’s second Congressional district.

Missouri is one of several states where voters this year are anticipated to decide on cannabis-related ballot measures. In November, members of Michigan NORML and other coalition members turned in 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act for the November ballot. (Just over 252,000 valid signatures from registered voters are necessary.) Also in November, grassroots activists in South Dakota turned in over 15,000 signatures in an effort to place the South Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative on the ballot. (Over 13,800 valid signatures are necessary.) In Utah, advocates are well on their way to gathering the necessary quantity of signatures necessary to place The Utah Medical Cannabis Act on the 2018 ballot. In Oklahoma, voters will decide on June 26 whether or not to approve State Question 788 — a broad-based initiative that permits physicians to recommend medical cannabis to patients at their sole discretion. NORML endorsed State Question 788 in January.

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Maine: Lawmakers Push To Rewrite 2016 Voter-Approved Marijuana Law

NORML Blog - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 11:53

Gov LePage (R-Maine)

State lawmakers are moving forward with a legislative proposal to significantly amend various provisions of the state’s 2016 voter-approved cannabis law: The Marijuana Legalization Act.

Members of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee have voted 16 to 1 in favor of overhauling the law, which has yet to be fully implemented. Lawmakers had initially voted last year to delay the enactment of provisions regulating the retail production and sale of cannabis. Then in November, Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation that sought to license and regulate marijuana businesses and sales, stating: “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.” Lawmakers voted in favor of sustaining LePage’s veto.

Now lawmakers are pushing a plan to amend and repeal numerous provisions of the law, including provisions that have already taken effect. Specifically, language in the new proposal would limit the quantity of mature marijuana plants that an adult may legally grow in a private residence from six to three. Legislators are advocating for this change despite the fact that no regulated, commercial market yet exists for cannabis — leaving adults reliant exclusively upon home cultivation operations. Further, no data has been presented indicating that the state’s existing plant quotas are either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the criminal market. NORML opposes this proposed amendment.

“A majority of Maine voters decided in favor of legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana by adults,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said. “It is time for lawmakers to implement the will of the people, not undermine it.”

Other language in the new proposal would repeal language permitting for the operation of state-licensed social use facilities, and would eliminate provisions redirecting portions of marijuana-related tax revenue to localities that explicitly permit such operations. Separate language in the bill seeks to impose a new 21.5 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana transactions. The bill also makes it easier for communities that wish to ban adult use operations to do so.

If you reside in Maine, you can use NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ to contact your lawmakers here.

A finalized version of the bill is anticipated to go before lawmakers in the House and Senate in late March. Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, the Implementation Committee’s House chairman, said that the so-called “compromises” in the plan are necessary because of the close nature of the 2016 vote and because the Governor has remained steadfastly opposed to the issue. Yet, even despite the proposed amendments, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette predicts that LePage will likely veto this committee bill too.

In Massachusetts, where voters approved a similar 2016 initiative regulating the adult use and retail sale of cannabis, regulators this week also announced delays and changes to the voter-approved law. On Monday, following pressure from the Governor and other lawmakers, members of the Cannabis Control Commission voted for a limited rollout of retail marijuana sales in July — postponing licenses for home delivery services, marijuana lounges, and other distribution channels until early next year. Commercial marijuana production and sales were initially slated to begin on January 1, 2018, but lawmakers last year passed emergency legislation postponing the enactment of those regulatory provisions until this summer.

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