Marijuana (STDW)

Chronicle AM: CO Hits $1 Billion in Cannabis Taxes, Pompeo Doubles Down on Colombia Crop Spraying, More... (6/13/18)

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 20:36

Colorado has raked in a billion dollars in cannabis tax revenues, Cincinnati decriminalizes, Bonaroo harm reduction protest, Pompeo pushes Colombia coca crop spraying, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Colorado Hits $1 Billion in Marijuana Tax Revenues. The state Department of Revenue reported this week that tax revenues from marijuana sales since legalization in 2014 have now topped the one-billion-dollar mark. The department reported tax, license, and fee revenues of $1.02 billion on sales of $6.5 billion. It also reported that the state now has 2,900 licensed marijuana businesses employing 41,000 people.

Nevada Becomes First State to Bar Employers from Refusing to Hire Marijuana Users. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) last week signed into law AB 132, which bans employers from refusing to hire people who test positive for marijuana on a drug test, making Nevada the first state to do so. "It is unlawful for any employer in this State to fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana," the law says. There are exceptions for some public safety-related positions. The law goes into effect on January 1.

Cincinnati Decriminalizes. The Cincinnati city council voted 5-3 Wednesday to decriminalize the possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana -- as long as it is not being used in public. There will be no fines, either.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Idaho Governor Signs Executive Order on Opioids and Substance Abuse. Gov. Brad Little (R) on Thursday signed into law an executive order aimed at combatting opioid and substance misuse in the state. The order creates an advisory group to study diversion policies for first-time drug offenders, prescription monitoring programs, treatment options, educating the medical community, and a public awareness campaign around opioids.

Asset Forfeiture

Alabama Governor Signs Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has signed into law SB 191, which does not end civil asset forfeiture in the state but requires that law enforcement report on its asset forfeiture activities.

Foreign Policy

Secretary of State Pompeo Doubles Down on Backing Aerial Coca Spraying in Colombia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Tuesday that the US still strongly supports the resumption of the aerial spraying of the pesticide glyphosate on coca fields in Colombia. He neither acknowledged global criticism of the use of glyphosate -- the Colombian constitutional court banned it in 2015 -- nor any other strategy for reducing coca cultivation. Instead, he said spraying is "an important tool they need" to reduce coca production.

Harm Reduction

Harm Reductionists Protest at Bonaroo Over Harassment of Drug Checking Kit Providers. Tennessee's Bonaroo music festival has been plagued by drug overdoses in recent years even though authorities had allowed harm reduction groups such as DanceSafe and the Bunk Police to hand out drug checking kits. But for the past couple of years, police have forced the groups out of the festival, so the Bunk Police have organized a protest Thursday and Friday afternoons to raise awareness of the issue. "We're trying to bring attention to the issue and have them join us and showing that there's a problem and that Bonnaroo could, you know, take action and allow this harm reduction effort, which could allow for a safe environment for the patrons," the Bunk Police said.

Transportation Policy

Trucking Group Demands Purge of 300,000 Truck Drivers as "Illicit Drug Users." Addressing Congress on Thursday, a trucking group composed of some of the industry's largest carriers said it had data indicating as many as 300,000 truck drivers are "manipulating" urine drug testing protocols and should be removed from the nation's highways. The Trucking Alliance told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that "thousands of commercial truck drivers are illicit drug users" and that they have the drug testing data to back up their claims. They based their data on the number of drivers who passed urine drug tests but either failed or refused to undergo hair drug tests, which can detect the presence of substances for months -- long after they would have any influence on drivers. There is a chronic shortage of drivers in the industry, which other groups testifying attributed in part to the spread of marijuana legalization.

Categories: Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Update

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 20:15

There's going to be more medical marijuana available in New Mexico, patient cards will cost less in Arizona, and more.

[image:1 align:right]Alabama

Alabama Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Study Bill. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill creating a commission to study medical marijuana. The commission must report back with recommendations for future legislation by December. The bill, SB 236, allows also allows the University of Alabama Birmingham to continue its research on the use of CBD cannabis oil as a treatment for debilitating epileptic conditions.

Arizona

Arizona Governor Signs Bill Lowering Patient Card Costs. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) last Friday signed into law Senate Bill 1494, which will cut the cost of a medical marijuana patient card in half by making patients pay the $150 fee once every two years instead of once a year. The bill also requires medical marijuana facilities to test their products.

Louisiana

Louisiana House Approves Allowing Patients to Inhale, But Not Smoke. The House voted unanimously to approve HB 358, which would allow patients to inhale -- but not smoke -- their medicine. The bill had stalled in the Senate, but was revived after legislators included a "metered-dose inhaler" in the definition of acceptable devices. The measure now goes to the governor's desk.

New Mexico

New Mexico to Expand Medical Marijuana Production. The state Health Department on Tuesday proposed new rules for marijuana production that would increase a 450-plant limit per grower to 1,750 mature plants per grower. The move is designed to ensure adequate supplies of medical marijuana without flooding the market.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Drug ODs May Have Peaked, New Gallup Marijuana Poll, More... (6/12/19)

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 20:08

New data from the CDC suggests the overdose epidemic may have peaked, a new Gallup poll shows support for marijuana legalization remains strong, Oregon passes an interstate marijuana commerce bill, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Gallup Poll Has Support for Marijuana Legalization at 64% Nationwide. A Gallup poll released Wednesday has support for marijuana legalization at 64%, down two points from the last Gallup poll in October. The poll also asked why people opposed or supported legalization. The top reason for opposition was concern about impaired driving, while the top reason for support was because of its medical value to patients.

California Appeals Court Rules Prisoners Can Possess -- But Not Use -- Marijuana. The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned the convictions of five state prisoners for marijuana possession, ruling that Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana in the state, made possession of under an ounce of marijuana legal -- even in prison. But smoking or ingesting marijuana in prison is still a felony.

Oregon Legislature Approves Bill for Interstate Marijuana Commerce. The House on Tuesday approved SB 582, which would allow the governor to enter into agreements with other states for the import and export of marijuana. The Senate has already approved the bill, so it now heads to the desk of Gov. Elaine Brown (D), who is expected to sign it. The bill moved in the House after a Republican representative from a prime marijuana-growing area urged its passage.

House Foe of DC Legalization Doesn't Bother to File Amendment Messing with City's Ability to Make Marijuana Policy. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) didn't bother to even propose his amendment to the DC appropriations bill on Tuesday, recognizing that it would go nowhere in the Democratically controlled House. For years, Harris has filed an amendment blocking the city from using its funds to implement marijuana commerce and taxation.

Medical Marijuana

New Mexico to Expand Medical Marijuana Production. The state Health Department on Tuesday proposed new rules for marijuana production that would increase a 450-plant limit per grower to 1,750 mature plants per grower. The move is designed to ensure adequate supplies of medical marijuana without flooding the market.

Hemp

Texas Governor Signs Hemp Bill. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has signed into law HB 1325, which will create a state-regulated hemp industry. The law will allow hemp products, including CBD, to be sold as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Federal Data Suggests Overdose Epidemic Has Peaked. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Tuesday shows that the age-adjusted overdose mortality rate declined in the twelve months ending in the second quarter of 2018. The rate was 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 and increased steadily over the past two decades to 21.7 per 100,000 in 2017. Now, it has declined to 20.8 per 100,000. This isn't a final figure, but it is an encouraging sign.

International

Canadian Commons Committee Urges Government to Study Portuguese Model. The House of Commons Health Committee has called on the federal government to study Portugal's drug decriminalization and see how the model could be "positively applied in Canada." The recommendation came in a committee report produced after members held hearings across the country on drug use and abuse. "Witnesses recommended that the federal government examine the implementation of the Portuguese model of decriminalization of the possession of illicit substances, which included a scaling-up of treatment programs and the creation of diversion programs for offenders who commit crimes related to their substance-use disorders," the report says.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: NJ Lawmakers Pass Pot Expungement Bill, Psychedelic Research Proposal Advances, More... (6/11/19)

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 20:15

Nevada is going to pilot a digital banking program for cannabusinesses, Alabama's governor signs a medical marijuana study bill, chain pharmacies make recommendations on opioids, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Nevada to Test Limited Marijuana Banking System. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has signed into law a bill that creates a three-year pilot program where marijuana businesses can use an online system to send and receive digital currency. State Treasurer Zach Conine said he hopes to have the system up and running by July 2020.

New Jersey Legislature Approves Expungement Bill. Most state residents convicted of marijuana possession offenses would be able to get their records expunged under a bill approved Monday by both the House and Senate. If signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), the bill would open even more marijuana offenses up for expungement, including possession of up to five pounds.

Medical Marijuana

Alabama Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Study Bill. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill creating a commission to study medical marijuana. The commission must report back with recommendations for future legislation by December. The bill, SB 236, also allows the University of Alabama Birmingham to continue its research on the use of CBD cannabis oil as a treatment for debilitating epileptic conditions.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

National Chain Pharmacies Issue Recommendations to Fight Opioid Abuse. The National Association of Chain Drugstores (NACSD) has issued four policy recommendations for opioid abuse prevention. They include increased access to naloxone, working toward a national prescription drug monitoring program, pursuing non-opioid remedies for chronic pain management, and requiring coverage of pain management services.

Psychedelics

Congressional Committee Advances Schedule I Amendment. The House Rules Committee voted Tuesday to approve an amendment by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would remove a longstanding rider on an appropriations bill that bars federal agencies from using tax dollars for "any activity that promotes the legalization of any drugs or substance in Schedule I" of the Controlled Substances Act. Ocasio-Cortez successfully argued that the provision impedes research into substances that have therapeutic potential, such as psilocybin or MDMA. or marijuana. The amendment and the larger appropriations bill now head for a House floor vote.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: MJ Banking Headed for House Vote, UN Experts Call for Philippines Probe, More... (6/10/19)

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 20:51

The full House could soon get its first chance to vote on a marijuana banking bill, New Yorkers still want to legalize marijuana, a group of UN human rights experts calls for a probe into the Philippine drug war, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Bipartisan Marijuana Banking Bill Quietly Advances in House as Floor Vote Approaches. The SAFE Banking Act, HR 1595, now has an open path to a House floor vote after the House Financial Services Committee, which earlier approved the bill, issued a formal report on the legislation last week. The bill was then set to go before the House Judiciary Committee, but that panel opted to advance it last week without a report, in order to clear the path to a House floor vote.

New York Poll Has Strong Support for Marijuana Legalization. With the clock ticking down on lawmakers in Albany, a new Sienna poll could give some added momentum to the push to legalize marijuana this session. The poll had support at 55%, with 40% opposed, mirroring myriad other recent polls.

Medical Marijuana

Arizona Governor Signs Bill Lowering Patient Card Costs. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) last Friday signed into law Senate Bill 1494, which will cut the cost of a medical marijuana patient card in half by making patients pay the $150 fee once every two years instead of once a year. The bill also requires medical marijuana facilities to test their products.

International

Colombian Constitutional Court Throws Out President's Ban on Public Pot Smoking, Drinking. The Constitutional Court has overruled a ban on public alcohol and marijuana consumption favored by President Ivan Duque as part of his hardline anti-drug policies. Under the ruling, police can no longer confiscate drugs considered to be for personal consumption, and people are again allowed to smoke pot and drink beer in public. But Duque appears to be ready to disobey the court, saying police would continue to confiscate drugs and impose penalties on people carrying or using drugs in public spaces. This isn't over.

UN Experts Call for Human Rights Probe of Philippines Drug War. A group of 11 United Nations human rights experts called Friday for the UN's Human Rights Council to start an independent probe into rights violations in the Philippines, including illegal killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody crackdown on drugs. "We have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders," they said in a statement. "We are extremely concerned over the high number of killings which are being carried out across the country in an apparent climate of official, institutional impunity," they added. To actually get the inquiry going would require a resolution supported by a majority of the council's 47 members.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: DE Legalization Bill Advances, Opioid Maker InSys Pays Out Big Time, More... (6/6/19)

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 20:48

Delaware could be the next state to legalize marijuana if it hurries, Brazil's rightist president approves regressive new drug laws, Colombia's disarmed FARC rebels are starting to pick up their guns again, an opioid manufacturer pays out bigtime for bribing doctors to prescribe its fentanyl product, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Delaware Marijuana Legalization Bill Heads for House Floor Vote.The House Revenue and Finance Committee has approved a marijuana legalization bill, HB 110, on Wednesday. The measure now heads for a House floor vote. The bill would establish a state-licensed industry but would bar home cultivation. The bill calls for the state to collect a 15% tax on retail sales price of marijuana, as well as licensing fees. The legislative session ends June 30.

Maine Regulators Adopt Provisional Rules, Send Them to Legislature. Nearly three years after residents voted to legalize marijuana, the state Office of Marijuana Policy has released draft rules, which are now up for review by the legislature. This is the third attempt to get rules adopted to allow the state to get its marijuana industry going. The first two were vetoed by then Gov. Paul LePage (R).

Medical Marijuana

Louisiana House Approves Allowing Patients to Inhale, But Not Smoke. The House voted unanimously to approve HB 358, which would allow patients to inhale -- but not smoke -- their medicine. The bill had stalled in the Senate, but was revived after legislators included a "metered-dose inhaler" in the definition of acceptable devices. The measure now goes to the governor's desk.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

InSys Therapeutics to Pay $225 Million for Bribing Docs to Prescribe Its Fentanyl Product. Opioid manufacturer Insys Therapeutics has agreed to pay $225 million to end civil and criminal investigations into charges it used bribery to get doctors to illegally prescribe its highly addictive fentanyl spray, Subsys. The company also agreed to plead guilty to five counts of mail fraud and admitted that its speaker program "to increase brand awareness" was actually "a vehicle to pay bribes and kickbacks to targeted practitioners."

Harm Reduction

Philadelphia Study Finds Community Support for Safe Injection Site. A Drexel University study published Thursday finds that a majority of residents and business owners in the city's Kensington neighborhood support opening a safe injection site there. The Philadelphia-based nonprofit Safehouse is working toward getting one open in the neighborhood. "We're vindicated that the people who are most affected believe that it’s needed," said Ronda Goldfein, Safehouse vice president and secretary and executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. "We recognize that we need multiple sites, but let's be realistic that we need to put our first site where the need is greatest."

International

Brazil's Bolsonaro Approves Regressive Drug Policy Changes. Brazil's ultra-rightist President Jair Bolsonaro has approved drug legislation passed earlier this year that toughens penalties for drug traffickers and requires drug users to undergo drug treatment at private or religious centers.

Colombia's Disarmed FARC Rebels Are Picking Up Their Guns Again. As many as a third of fighters in the FARC, which disbanded following a 2016 peace agreement, have taken up arms again, according to a military intelligence report. More than 2,000 of the FARC's 6,000 fighters have joined dissident FARC groups, many of which are operating in coca-growing regions. That's up a dramatic 30% since December. Disarmed FARC rebels were supposed to have been reintegrated into society, but that has been stymied by violence and discrimination. At least 139 former FARC members have been killed since disarming. "It doesn't help the government's case for reinsertion that many of the productive projects are failing to take off, their former comrades continue to be stigmatized by the ruling party, and a record number of killings of former FARC members remains uninvestigated and unpunished," Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis said.

Categories: Marijuana

Illinois Poised to Legalize Marijuana [FEATURE]

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 20:22

Illinois is poised to become the 11th state to legalize marijuana, as soon as Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signs into law a legalization bill passed with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate last week. Pritzker pushed for the bill's passage.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]When he signs, Illinois will become the first state to get a legalization bill all the way through the legislative process this year, and the first ever to create a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce through the legislative process rather than through a voter initiative. (Vermont's legislature legalized possession and cultivation but not sales in early 2018.)

The Senate approved the bill last Wednesday and the House concurred on Friday, the last day of the legislative session.

"The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation," Pritzker said in a statement upon passage of the bill. "This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance."

Once the law goes into effect on January 1, Illinois residents 21 and over will be able to legally possess 30 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of concentrate, or 500 milligrams of THC in a marijuana-infused product. Out-of-staters will only be able to possess up to 15 grams of marijuana.

The right to grow one's own plants, however, was sacrificed in a bid to assuage critics and get the bill over the hump. The bill originally allowed for the home cultivation of up to five plants, but the loud opposition of law enforcement, who worried that it would make it more difficult to find illegal growers, along with Republican lawmakers and other interests, got that taken out.

Washington is the only other legal adult-use marijuana state that does not allow home cultivation.

It also took weakening of the expungement provision in the bill to bring some needed Republicans on board. When the bill was rolled out in the first week of May, it included language that would have created automatic expungement of criminal records for marijuana offenses that will no longer be a crime, but Republicans objected. Instead, bill sponsors agreed to language that removed automatic expungement and replaced it with language allowing the governor to pardon past offenses "with permission to expunge," but that will then require the filing of a petition to get it done, making it likely that many people with past marijuana convictions will not get their records expunged.

Excluding home grows and scaling back expungement was enough to get Republicans such as Rep. David Welter (R-Morris) on board, and that handful of GOP votes ensured passage of the bill.

"I'm a father of three from a rural district, and I'm standing before you supporting this bill because I do not believe the current policy that we have out there right now is working," Welter said during House debate. "Prohibition doesn't work, and we see that. Putting safeguards in place, taxing, regulating it, I believe provides a better market and a safer market."

The new law creates a system of licensed commercial cultivation operations and retail shops, while also setting up a social equity program to help minority businesses enter the emerging industry. That program will deploy grants and loans to such businesses, as well as establishing a grant fund to aid the communities most disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Legal marijuana is expected to generate some $87 million in tax revenues for the coming budget year, with $30 million going for a marijuana business development fund and $57 million headed for general revenues. That money will first pay for regulatory expenses and costs related to expungement. After that, the pot dollars will be divided among the general fund (35 percent), community grants (25 percent), mental health and substance abuse programs (20 percent, paying down the state's budget deficit (10 percent), supporting law enforcement (8 percent), and public education (2 percent).

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx cheered the passage of the bill even though the expungement provisions were weakened, and vowed to fight

"I applaud the Illinois General Assembly for passing legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis and provides conviction relief to hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans with low-level charges of cannabis possession," she said in a statement. As prosecutors who implemented these convictions, we must own our role in the harm they have caused and we should play a role in reversing them. The failed war on drugs has disproportionately impacted communities of color, and my office will continue to explore ways to provide the broadest relief possible, beyond that provided by this legislation."

This year has been something of a disappointment for marijuana reformers, with much-touted legalization efforts in states such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York stalling out. Illinois was considered something of a dark horse, but now it has beat everyone else across the finish line.

And the Drug Policy Alliance, which has been working hard to get that New York bill passed, has taken notice.

"Illinois state representatives had the courage to pass comprehensive marijuana justice -- and made it their priority before the close of their legislative session," said DPA New York deputy director Melissa Moore. "As we enter the final three weeks of New York's session, our elected officials have a tremendous opportunity to show bold leadership and pass responsible regulation that will serve all New Yorkers and address the harms of marijuana prohibition. The time to act is now and the game plan is clear: Pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act immediately."

Whether New York or any other state can still get it done this year or not, the fabric of marijuana prohibition grows increasingly frayed. Thoroughly shredded on the West Coast and tattered in the Northeast, it now has a big hole in the heart of the Midwest with Illinois joining Michigan as a legal weed state.

And there's always next year, where voters in initiative states will have an opportunity to get it done themselves -- without having to deal with cumbersome legislative processes where a single committee chairman can kill a bill, or with recalcitrant lawmakers still stuck in the last century.

(Disclosure: Drug Policy Alliance is a financial supporter of Drug War Chronicle.)

Categories: Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Update

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 21:15

On the medical marijuana front, the Garden State is where it's at this week.

[image:1 align:right]New Jersey

New Jersey Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. The Senate on Thursday passed a medical marijuana expansion bill that increases the number of cultivators, sets up a regulatory commission, and gets rid of taxes on medicinal marijuana by 2025. Although the bill has already passed the House, it was amended in the Senate, so the House will have to approve those changes.

New Jersey Announces Massive Dispensary Expansion. The state Department of Health announced Monday plans to dramatically increase the number of dispensaries in the state -- from the currently existing six to more than a hundred! The move comes as the legislature is nearing passage of its own measure to expand the medical marijuana system.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Oakland Decriminalizes Magic Mushrooms, San Francisco Forced Drug Treatment Plan, More... (6/5/19)

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 20:55

Two big stories from the San Francisco Bay area, governors call for federal marijuana reform, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Bipartisan Governors Team Up to Demand Federal Marijuana Reform. Twelve state governors from both parties have signed onto a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass bipartisan legislation to let states set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal interference. They called for passage of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, H.R. 2093. "The STATES Act is a logical step for Congress because it honors state action by codifying protection at the federal level for those businesses and consumers operating in accordance with state law," they wrote. "The STATES Act is not about whether marijuana should be legal or illegal; it is about respecting the authority of states to act, lead and respond to the evolving needs and attitudes of their citizens."

Oregon Legislature Approves Expungement Bill. The House has approved a bill, SB 420, easing bureaucratic hurdles for people wanting to expunge old marijuana convictions. The Senate had already approved the measure, so it now heads to the governor's desk. Once the bill is signed, those seeking expungement will no longer have to pay a fee nor will they have to provide fingerprints or undergo a background check.

Delaware Legalization Bill Gets Initial Committee Hearing. The House Revenue and Finance Committee is taking up a marijuana legalization bill, HB 110, today. The bill would establish a state-licensed industry but would bar home cultivation. The bill calls for the state to collect a 15% tax on retail sales price of marijuana, as well as licensing fees.

Hemp

Ohio Hemp, CBD Bill Heading for House Floor Vote. A bill that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp and stores to sell CBD products passed the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Tuesday. SB 57 has already passed the Senate and now heads for a final House floor vote. The bill distinguishes hemp from marijuana and specified that CBD from hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.

Psychedelics

Oakland Decriminalizes Magic Mushrooms, Other Natural Psychedelics. The city council voted Tuesday to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other plant-based psychedelics. The ordinance approved makes arresting people for possessing or using such substances the lowest law enforcement priority. Oakland now joins Denver in having made such a move.

Drug Treatment

San Francisco to Try Forced Drug Treatment for Problematic Mentally Ill Drug Users. The city Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to force some people with serious mental illness and addiction issues into drug treatment. Mayor London Breed (D) and other supporters said the move was necessary to help such people, who are a danger to themselves, they said. "Allowing people to continue to suffer on our streets is not acceptable or humane, and I am glad the Board of Supervisors supported our approach to finally make a change," Breed said in a statement after the vote. The measure would apply to a handful of people, the city's department of public health estimated, although the number would grow under legislation pending at the state level.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: New York Weed Wars, Huge NJ Dispensary Expansion, More... (6/4/19)

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 20:31

Tensions over the fate of marijuana legalization in New York are heating up as the legislative clock ticks down, Nevada becomes the latest state to enact an expungement law, a Vermont bid to decriminalize buprenorphine gets sidetracked, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Nevada Governor Signs Measure Sealing Past Marijuana Convictions. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has signed into law a bill helping those with past marijuana convictions get their records sealed. Assembly Bill 192 permits those convicted of marijuana-specific activities which have since been decriminalized or legalized to submit a written request to the court to have those records sealed. Petitioners may not be charged a fee for submitting such a request, and any objections to the request must be filed within ten judicial days. The new law takes effect on July 1.

New York Governor Says Marijuana Legalization Unlikely This Year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Monday he doesn't think there is sufficient support in the state Senate to pass a pending marijuana legalization bill. But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said legislators are still working to find a compromise. While there is broad support for legalization, there is disagreement over regulatory details and expunging past low-level marijuana convictions. The session ends June 19.

New York Reform Groups Say Governor Failing to Deliver on Marijuana Legalization. In a joint statement released Monday, organizations including the Drug Policy Alliance, Citizen Action and New York Communities for Change blamed Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for blocking proposals that he claims to support, such as legalizing marijuana. "Governor Cuomo, we demand that you cease your reckless efforts to block and water down these issues," the groups wrote in their statement. Other organizations signing on to the statement included VOCAL-NY, the Alliance for Quality Education, the Long Island Progressive Coalition and Make the Road New York. "Move. Act. Lead," suggested Kassandra Frederique, New York state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Do what we as the voters asked you to do."

Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Announces Massive Dispensary Expansion. The state Department of Health announced Monday plans to dramatically increase the number of dispensaries in the state -- from the currently existing six to more than a hundred! The move comes as the legislature is nearing passage of its own measure to expand the medical marijuana system.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Vermont Bid to Decriminalize Buprenorphine Stalled. A bill that would have decriminalized the possession of the opioid treatment drug buprenorphine, HB 162, has stalled in the statehouse. While proponents argued that it would save lives by making the medication more available to users and deter them from using deadlier substances, the bill was opposed by Gov. Phil Scott (R) and US Attorney Christina Nolan. It passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, but the chair of the House Human Services Committee, Rep. Ann Pugh (D-Burlington) refused to move it, so it sits there until next year.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: USDA Says States Can't Block Hemp Transport, Congressional Pot Banking Bill, More... (6/3/19)

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 19:52

A Treasury department appropriations bill includes language to protect banks doing marijuana business and allow DC to tax and regulate its legal marijuana, the USDA warns states against blocking hemp shipments, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Congressional Funding Bill Protects Cannabis Banking and Lets DC Legalize Marijuana Sales. Congressional Democratic leaders released on Sunday an annual Treasury spending bill to block federal officials from targeting banks for working with marijuana businesses. It would only impact Treasury enforcement; the Justice Department is covered in a separate spending bill. The bill would also remove a rider that blocks the city of Washington, DC, from using its own funds to tax and regulate marijuana sales. The bill is set for a committee hearing Monday.

Medical Marijuana

Louisiana Senate Kills Bill to Let Patients Inhale Their Medicine. The Senate voted Saturday to kill HB 358, which would have allowed medical marijuana patients to use an inhaler to take their medicine. Republican senators complained the language in the bill wasn't tight enough, even though it had won overwhelming approval in the House.

Hemp

USDA Says States Can't Block Hemp Transports. The US Department of Agriculture released a memo last week saying states cannot block interstate shipments of hemp, because hemp was legalized under the 2018 farm bill. The memo comes after officers in Oklahoma and Idaho seized hemp shipments because they contained trace amounts of THC. Idaho, however, says it won't follow those guidelines.

Louisiana Senate Approves Hemp Bill. The Senate on Saturday voted to approve a heavily-amended bill to allow the production of industrial hemp, HB 491. The bill had already passed the House, but because the Senate added 16 amendments, it must now go back to the House for a concurrence vote on Monday.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: IL Set to Legalize Marijuana, Honduran President Targeted in US Drug Probe, More... (5/31/19)

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 21:01

Illinois is set to be the next legal marijuana state, a federal appeal court has ordered the DEA to move promptly on marijuana rescheduling, the Honduran president is the target of a federal drug and money laundering probe, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Federal Court Orders DEA to 'Promptly' Consider Marijuana Rescheduling. The US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has overruled a district court that threw out a case brought by medical marijuana patients and drug reformers seeking to overturn marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug. While the appeals court agreed with the lower court that plaintiffs had not exhausted all administrative remedies, it held that the circumstances of the case were unique. "[W]e are troubled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)'s history of dilatory proceedings," US Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi wrote for the majority. "Accordingly, while we concur with the District Court's ruling, we do not dismiss the case, but rather hold it in abeyance and retain jurisdiction in this panel to take whatever action might become appropriate if the DEA does not act with adequate dispatch."

Illinois Will Be the Next State to Legalize Marijuana. The House today approved the legalization bill, Amendment 2 to HB 1438, Friday afternoon. The Senate approved it on Wednesday. Gov. JB Pritzker pushed the bill and said he will sign it into law. "The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation," he said in a Twitter post. "This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance."

Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. The Senate on Thursday passed a medical marijuana expansion bill that increases the number of cultivators, sets up a regulatory commission, and gets rid of taxes on medicinal marijuana by 2025. Although the bill has already passed the House, it was amended in the Senate, so the House will have to approve those changes.

Asset Forfeiture

Alabama Legislature Passes Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. With a final vote in the House on Thursday, the legislature has approved SB 191, which would impose mandatory reporting requirements on civil asset forfeitures in the state. The measure now goes to the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey (R).

Drug Testing

Louisiana Traffic Wreck Drug Testing Law Advances. The House on Thursday approved HB 138, which would allow police officers to seek drug tests in crashes involving serious bodily injury. Current law only allows drug testing in wrecks that result in fatalities. The bill now heads to the Senate for final approval.

Law Enforcement

Honduran President Targeted by US Prosecutors in Drug Trafficking Probe. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have targeted Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez in an investigation into large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering, according to court documents. The president's brother, Juan Antonio Hernandez, has been charged in the case, and the court documents show prosecutors won email search warrants against the president and several people close to him.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: IL Senate Votes to Legalize Marijuana, Oakland Mushroom Decrim Moving, More... (5/30/19)

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 19:17

Colorado could soon see pot cafes and tasting rooms, Illinois is a House vote or two away from freeing the weed, Oakland has almost decriminalized magic mushrooms, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Colorado Governor Signs Bill Allowing Pot Cafes, Other Social Use Areas.Gov. Jared Polis (D) has signed into law HB 19-1230, which will allow for marijuana cafes, lounges, dispensary tasting rooms, and other social-use enterprises. "Colorado has many tourists and residents who choose to participate [in legal cannabis use]. Up until this bill, there's been no way to have safe public consumption," Polis said before signing the bill Wednesday. "I've smelled it walking my dog. For many of us with kids, we want to make sure we don't have that in our neighborhoods." Local governments will have to opt in to the new law, and can ban social-use establishments just as they can ban dispensaries.

Illinois Senate Votes to Legalize Marijuana. The state Senate on Wednesday voted to approve Senate Amendment 2 to HB 1438, which would legalize marijuana and create a system of taxed and regulated commerce. The vote came after lawmakers removed a provision allowing for personal cultivation and weakened a provision regarding expungement. The House has two days to pass the bill before the session ends.

Cops Shut Down Wisconsin's First Pot Shop. With assistance from Madison police, the Dane County Narcotics Task Force sent 30 heavily armed officers to shut down Lion of Judah House of Rastafari, which has been selling marijuana products since March, even though neither medical nor recreational marijuana is legal in the state. The two owners of the shop were arrested on marijuana trafficking charges. The shop filed a federal religious freedom lawsuit against the city in April after an earlier police visit where the cops took all their stock.

Psychedelics

Oakland Magic Mushroom Decriminalization Ordinance Advances. An Oakland City Council committee voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other such plant-based drugs on Tuesday night. The ordinance now goes to the full City Council, which could vote on it as early as next week. If approved, Oakland would become the second city in America, after Denver, to free the 'shrooms.

Categories: Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Update

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 19:52

As Missouri moves ahead with implementing its voter-approved medical marijuana law, neighboring Iowa sees a bill vetoed by a GOP governor, and more.

Alabama

[image:1 align:right]Alabama Medical Marijuana Patients Push for Bill Approval. With the House set to vote on a medical marijuana bill today, patients rallied at the state capitol to urge its passage. The bill, SB 236, allows medical marijuana use for specified conditions if other treatments are not working. At least two physicians must sign off on the recommendation, and patients must submit to random drug testing. Republicans were threatening Tuesday to change the bill to create a commission to study the issue for the next session.

Arizona

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Hash Is Medical Marijuana. The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that registered medical marijuana patients can use hashish without fear of legal consequence. The ruling comes in the case of a Phoenix man who was arrested with a tiny amount of hash and sentenced to two years in prison. An appeals court had ruled against him, but here's what the Supreme Court said: "We hold that the definition of marijuana in § 36-2801(8) includes resin, and by extension hashish, and that § 36-2811(B)(1) immunizes the use of such marijuana consistent with AMMA. We reverse the trial court's ruling denying Jones's motion to dismiss, vacate the court of appeals' opinion, and vacate Jones's convictions and sentences."

Iowa

Iowa Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) last Friday vetoed a medical marijuana expansion bill, HF 732. The bill would have removed the 3% cap on THC and replaced it with a 25-gram limit per patient every 90 days. Reynolds said she vetoed the proposal because the cap of 25 grams over 90 days would allow an individual to consume more THC per day even than a recreational marijuana user. "If approved, it would drastically expand Iowa's medical CBD program far beyond its original scope of CBD-based treatments and could open the door to significant unintended consequences to the health and safety of Iowans," Reynolds said in a statement.

Missouri

Missouri Medical Marijuana Rules Finalized. The state Department of Health and Human Services posted a list of 11 regulations for the medical marijuana industry on its website. The revised rules will be implemented starting next week. Under an initiative passed by voters last fall, the state is required to license 60 growing facilities, 86 manufacturers and 192 dispensaries, 24 for each of the state's eight congressional districts.

Texas

Texas Senate Unanimously Approves CBD Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. In a surprise move, the Senate voted to approve HB 3703 Wednesday. The bill would expand the states limited Compassionate Use program to allow CBD cannabis oil to be used for a number of new specified disorders, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and autism. The bill now goes back to the House, where it has already passed, for changes to be approved or ironed out in conference committee.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Illinois Legalization Bill Moving, Alabama Forfeiture Reform Bill Moving, More... (5/29/19)

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 19:45

The Alabama legislature is busy, an Illinois marijuana legalization bill could get a Senate floor vote today, Louisiana Republicans kill a legalization bill there, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Illinois Legalization Bill Could Get Senate Vote Today. The state Senate will recess for an Executive Committee hearing this afternoon to take up the marijuana legalization bill, Senate Amendment 2 to HB 1438. The Senate will then reconvene this evening to take the bill to a floor vote. The bill has picked up some Republican support by altering expungement language from automatic to giving the governor the ability to pardon "with permission to expunge."

Louisiana Legalization Bills Killed. Two marijuana legalization bills, HB 509 and HB 564, were killed Wednesday in the House Criminal Justice Committee on a party line vote with Democrats voting for and Republicans against. "The committee voted as we expected," Kevin Caldwell, founder and president of Commonsense NOLA, which supported the bill, said after the vote. "It is way too much to ask a Republican lawmaker to dare question the Sheriffs and District Attorneys, who financially benefit from prohibition, our state's current policy. Even though the recent LSU poll shows a majority of citizens approve of adult use of cannabis, we have not reached a point where elected officials can challenge the power of the criminal injustice industry in Louisiana."

North Dakota Lawmakers to Study Legalization. The legislature's Legislative Management Committee, which oversees lawmakers' work between sessions, agreed Tuesday to study the implications of legalizing marijuana, ahead of another expected initiative campaign. Voters in North Dakota rejected recreational marijuana last year, but two proposed ballot measures are being proposed for next year.

Medical Marijuana

Alabama Medical Marijuana Patients Push for Bill Approval. With the House set to vote on a medical marijuana bill today, medical marijuana patients rallied at the state capitol to urge its passage. The bill, SB 236, allows for medical marijuana use for specified conditions if other treatments are not working. At least two physicians must sign off on the recommendation, and patients must submit to random drug testing. Republicans were threatening Tuesday to change the bill to create a commission to study the issue for the next session.

Asset Forfeiture

Alabama Senate Votes to Require Civil Asset Forfeiture Tracking. The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday for a bill making it mandatory for law enforcement to report how often they use civil actions to seize a person's property when the person hasn't been convicted of a crime. The bill now goes to the House.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: AZ High Court Rules Hash is Marijuana (Doh!), IA Governor Vetos MMJ Bill, More... (5/28/19)

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 20:50

It's a busy drug policy week in Colorado, New York lawmakers try a last ditch bid to legalize marijuana this session, Arizona's high court rules that hash is a form of marijuana, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

New York Lawmakers File New Marijuana Legalization Bill. With only three weeks to go before the session ends, a group of senators last Friday unveiled SB 1527A, which would legalize marijuana. The bill merges the progressive Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA), which has been filed repeatedly since 2013, with legislation that is backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) but which failed to get passed as part of the budget.

Medical Marijuana

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Hash Is Medical Marijuana. The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that registered medical marijuana patients can use hashish without fear of legal consequence. The ruling comes in the case of a Phoenix man who was arrested with a tiny amount of hash and sentenced to two years in prison. An appeals court had ruled against him, but here's what the Supreme Court said: "We hold that the definition of marijuana in § 36-2801(8) includes resin, and by extension hashish, and that § 36-2811(B)(1) immunizes the use of such marijuana consistent with AMMA. We reverse the trial court's ruling denying Jones's motion to dismiss, vacate the court of appeals' opinion, and vacate Jones's convictions and sentences."

Iowa Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Bill. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) last Friday vetoed a medical marijuana expansion bill, HF 732. The bill would have removed the 3% cap on THC and replaced it with a 25-gram limit per patient every 90 days. Reynolds said she vetoed the proposal because the cap of 25 grams over 90 days would allow an individual to consume more THC per day even than a recreational marijuana user. "If approved, it would drastically expand Iowa's medical CBD program far beyond its original scope of CBD-based treatments and could open the door to significant unintended consequences to the health and safety of Iowans," Reynolds said in a statement.

Missouri Medical Marijuana Rules Finalized. The state Department of Health and Human Services posted a list of 11 regulations for the medical marijuana industry on its web site. The revised rules will be implemented starting next week. Under an initiative passed by voters last fall, the state is required to license 60 growing facilities, 86 manufacturers and 192 dispensaries, 24 for each of the state's eight congressional districts.

Collateral Consequences

West Virginia Ban on Food Stamps for Drug Felons Ends. A law that would exempt the state from federal law prohibiting people with felony drug convictions from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits has now gone into effect. Only people whose drug convictions resulted in injury or death to another will remain banned from the program. West Virginia becomes the 48th state to authorize an exemption from the federal law.

Search and Seizure

Colorado Supreme Court Rules Drug Dog Sniffs are a Search. The state Supreme Court ruled last week that a sniff of a car by a police drug dog constitutes a search. The case was originally about whether a drug dog trained to recognize marijuana alerting on a car would constitute grounds for a search, but the court went beyond that question, ruling that any drug dog sniff is a search, meaning police would have to have probable cause to even do the drug sniff. "The dog's sniff arguably intrudes on a person's reasonable expectation of privacy in lawful activity," Justice William Hood wrote in the majority's ruling. "If so, that intrusion must be justified by some degree of particularized suspicion of criminal activity."

Pill Testing

Colorado Governor Signs Bill Saying Pill-Testing Kits are Not Drug Paraphernalia. As part of a package of bills aimed at easing the opioid crisis, Gov Jared Polis (D) has signed into law SB19-227, which amends state law to exclude testing kits used to identify controlled substances from being considered drug paraphernalia.

Sentencing Policy

Colorado Governor Signs Bill Making Most Drug Possession Felonies Misdemeanors. Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a major drug policy reform bill into law Tuesday aimed at prioritizing treatment over incarceration and alleviating overcrowding in state prisons. HB19-1263 lowers the penalty for most low-level drug possession offenses from a felony to a misdemeanor beginning in March 2020, and it dedicates funds to substance abuse treatment services and diversion programs. Currently, possession of any amount of a schedule I or II drug is classified as a level 4 drug felony, which is punishable by six to 12 months in prison. After HB19-1263 takes effect, possession of up to four grams of a schedule I or II drug will be classified as a level 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to two years of probation. The punishment increases to up to 364 days in jail for a third offense, and a fourth or subsequent offense would be a level 4 drug felony. The legislation applies the same penalty reductions to possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana or more than three ounces of marijuana concentrate. It does not make any changes related to drug distribution offenses.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Colombia & Luxembourg Move on Marijuana Legalization, Oakland Cuts Marijuana Taxes, More... (5/23/19)

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 20:58

Oakland slashes pot taxes for small businesses, Colombia congressmembers plot a marijuana legalization bill, Luxembourg ministers outline their plans for marijuana legalization, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Oakland City Council Votes to Cut Marijuana Taxes for Small Businesses. In a bid to protect small marijuana businesses in the city, the City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to lower the gross receipts tax on marijuana businesses that make $500,000 or less a year. The current rate is 10%, one of the highest in the state; the new rate will by 0.12%, a dramatic reduction. Whether bigger pot businesses will get a tax cut, too, will be taken up by the Council next month.

Medical Marijuana

Texas Senate Unanimously Approves CBD Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. In a surprise move, the Senate voted to approve HB 3703 Wednesday. The bill would expand the states limited Compassionate Use program to allow CBD cannabis oil to be used for a number of new specified disorders, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and autism. The bill now goes back to the House, where it has already passed, for changes to be approved or ironed out in conference committee.

International

Luxembourg Ministers Outline Proposals for Marijuana Legalization Bill. Justice Minister Feliz Braz and Health Minister Etienne Schneider have elaborated on the government's plans to legalize marijuana, which were announced in November. They said they plan to allow people 18 and older to possess up to 30 grams in public, while teens possessing less than five grams would not face charges. They also envision a strictly regulated marijuana market, with THC content limited. (THe limit is not set yet.) Also, only Luxembourg residents will be allowed to purchase marijuana there. They said they planned to present a preliminary bill to parliament by August.

Colombian Congress Preparing Marijuana Legalization Bill. Lawmakers from a wide range of parties have begun working on new legislation that would legalize the production and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes. The initiative to legalize weed is led by opposition Senator Gustavo Bolivar (Humane Colombia) and would be coauthored by the opposition, the Liberal Party and lawmakers from center-right parties like Radical Change and the U Party. The 12 lawmakers working on the legislation plan to present the bill on July 20, the first day after summer recess.

Categories: Marijuana

Medical Marijuana Update

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:07

The National Football League is taking a second look at its marijuana policies, no medical marijuana for Nebraska this year, New Jersey is moving to expand its medical marijuana system, and more.

[image:1 align:right]National

NFL, Players to Study Marijuana as Pain Management Tool. With collective bargaining talks between the NFL and the players' union, the NFLPA, getting underway, marijuana is on the agenda. The league and the NFLPA have agreed to form two new joint medical committees, partly to study marijuana as a pain management tool. The move could result in a revision of the NFL's current drug policy, which bars marijuana and punishes players for using it.

Nebraska

Nebraska Legislature Kills Medical Marijuana Bill. Rather than voting on a medical marijuana bill, , after hours of debate, the unicameral legislature voted to table the bill, effectively killing it. The move came even after the bill's sponsor agreed to suggested amendments limiting available products and delivery methods.

New Jersey

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill Advances. As the push for legalization falters in Trenton, a bill that would greatly expand the state's medical marijuana system is now moving. The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, S 10, was advanced by committees in both the Senate and the Assembly on Monday and could head for floor votes as early as Thursday. The bill increases the amount of medicine patients can buy each month from two to three ounces, and legalizes edible forms of medical marijuana.

Texas

Texas Senate Committee Expands CBD Medical Marijuana Bill to Include More Patients. The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services last Friday voted to advance HB 3703, which would expand the state's CBD-only Compassionate Use Act. The bill originally expanded the list of qualifying conditions to include multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and spasticity, but the committee amended the bill to add even more conditions: ALS, terminal cancer, and autism. The bill now heads for a Senate floor vote.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit MedicalMarijuana.ProCon.org.]

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: Marijuana Descheduling Bill Filed, Model West African Drug Law Presented, More... (5/22/19)

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:01

A federal marijuana descheduling bill picks up some cosponsors who want to be president, the California Senate approves a bill to allow special banks to deal with state-legal pot businesses, the drug czar announces a new initiative, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Four Democratic Presidential Contenders Sign on to Federal Descheduling Bill. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) are all cosponsors of companion marijuana rescheduling bills filed Monday by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The bills would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and use some funds from marijuana taxes to help socially disenfranchised individuals find a role in the legal industry.

California Senate Approves Special Banks for Marijuana Retailers. The state Senate voted 35-1 Tuesday to approve a bill that would allow people to start banks and credit unions that could accept cash from state-legal marijuana businesses. SB 51 would allow those banks to issue special checks to retailers that could only be used for certain purposes, such as paying state taxes and state-based vendors. The bill now goes to the Assembly.

New Jersey Decriminalization, Expungement Bills Held Up. A last-minute move to pass decriminalization and expungement bills after legalization was stifled in the legislature is itself now stalled. A vote that was set for Thursday has been canceled after Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) said he was not in favor of the legislation.

Hemp

Louisiana Hemp Bill Advances, But Is Encumbered by Regulations. A bill to legalize hemp farming in the state, HB 491, has passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee, but only after committee chair Sen. Francis Thompson (R), an avowed hemp skeptic, tacked a series of amendments on the measure that imposes a "tremendous amount" of regulation, according to Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, who supports the bill. The measure has already passed the House and now goes to the full Senate. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has said he will sign it if it makes it to his desk.

Drug Policy

ONDCP Director Carroll to Convene Emerging Threats Committee. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) Director Jim Carroll announced Tuesday the formation of an Emerging Threats Committee to identify and respond to evolving and emerging drug threats in the United States. "The drug threats facing the United States are constantly changing and more complex than ever before. It is critical we not only meet the challenges of today, but also prepare to address the threats of tomorrow. By bringing together those people on the front lines of this fight, we can position ourselves to proactively respond to these threats, and preserve the safety and security of American citizens," Carroll said. The committee consists of 14 representatives from National Drug Control Program agencies, state, local and tribal governments, and non-governmental agencies.

Foreign Policy

House Committee Votes to Increase Colombia Anti-Drug Aid. The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $40 million increase in development and counternarcotics assistance to Colombia. That would make next year's package worth $457 million, far more than the $344 million the Trump administration requested in its budget. "The committee is inclined to continue its partnership with Colombia and to build on the progress of recent years made possible by the adoption of the peace accord. The agreement, combined with a renewed initiative to fight illegal crop cultivation and drug trafficking, offers great hope for the social, economic and political future of the country," the committee said in a statement. $189 million of the funds would go to anti-drug efforts.

International

Model Drug Law for West Africa Presented to Health Ministers on Sidelines of 72nd Session of the World Health Assembly. The West Africa Commission on Drugs, UNAIDS and the Global Commission on Drug Policy presented the Model Drug Law for West Africa to ministers of health of the Economic Community of West African States on Wednesday. The model drug law provides concrete templates that countries can adapt to reform their drug laws -- legal provisions and how they relate to international legal obligations -- as well as useful commentary that explains different options and reasons for choosing the proposed legal solutions. The model drug law offers a measured way for decriminalizing drug use and possession for personal use by introducing thresholds, thereby allowing people who use drugs to access health services and seek support. The model drug law acknowledges that barriers must also be removed so that the millions of people in need of health services, including people living with cancer or with HIV, can access the treatment and care they need.

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Categories: Marijuana

The Five States with the Most Drug Arrests Per Capita (and the Five with the Fewest) [FEATURE]

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 17:54

Thanks to a new report on state-by-state drug issues, courtesy of WalletHub, we now have a good idea which are the most perilous for people who use drugs, whether its marijuana, mushrooms, or methamphetamines. (The report doesn't break down which drugs people were arrested for.)

The Five States with the Highest Rates of Drug Arrests

  1. South Dakota (tie)
  2. Wyoming (tie)
  3. South Carolina (tie)
  4. North Dakota
  5. Mississippi

We have a three-way tie for worst place and, notably, a clear regional pattern. Three of the top drug arrest states are neighbors in the thinly populated region where the northern plains eventually run into the Rocky Mountains. All are deep red states. The other two are in the heart of Dixie, and are also deep red.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]None of these states has legalized or even decriminalized marijuana (North Dakota just decriminalized this month, but it's not in effect yet), which accounts for roughly half of all drug arrests. So there's that, too.

An oft-heard lament of bikers attending the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota's Black Hills is that "you come for a stroll, but leave on parole" (or, in a more optimistic variant, "you come on vacation, but leave on probation"). One reason for that and for the state's number one ranking here is South Dakota"s unlawful ingestion or "internal possession" law, a uniquely regressive andst repressive addition to the drug war armory.

Under that law, anyone who tests positive for drugs is subject to a criminal penalty -- a misdemeanor in the case of marijuana, a felony for other illicit drugs. And state law enforcement routinely seeks drug tests from arrestees. If they refuse to consent, state judges routinely rubber stamp search warrant requests, and law enforcement threatens to forcibly catheterize uncooperative arrestees. Something to keep in mind on your way to Mt. Rushmore this summer.

The law applies even if the drug were ingested elsewhere. Consider that. Someone who lawfully used medical marijuana in neighboring Montana, North Dakota, or Minnesota could come to South Dakota, get hit by a car crossing the street, get drug tested in the hospital, and be arrested for unlawful ingestion under state law. Likewise, someone who smoked marijuana in neighboring Nebraska, where it is decriminalized, could face a stiffer punishment for having pot in his urine in South Dakota than if he had been caught with actual marijuana in Nebraska, where he would just pay a fine.

A bill that would remove unlawful ingestion charges for marijuana died in the legislature earlier this year. A bill to study the unlawful ingestion law, SB 167 has been signed into law this year, but only after it was amended to remove any specific mention of unlawful ingestion. Instead, it sets up a commission to study alternatives to imprisonment for drug offenses.

The Five States with the Lowest Rates of Drug Arrests

  1. Alaska
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Washington
  4. Vermont
  5. Rhode Island

Again, a clear regional pattern emerges. Three of these states are in New England, while the other two are in the Pacific Northwest (stretching it a bit for Alaska). All of them except Alaska are deep blue states.

And all of them except Rhode Island are legal marijuana states. Rhode Island is a decriminalization state. No wonder these states have the lowest drug arrest rates; half of all drug arrests go up in smoke with legalization, or even decrim.

Two of these states -- Massachusetts and Washington -- have Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs, which shunt potential drug arrestees into the public health and drug treatment systems instead of the criminal justice system. That shrinks drug arrest numbers, too.

And it shrinks arrest numbers not only by detouring drug offenders into treatment or social services instead of the courts, but also by producing a much lower future arrest rate among people who have been diverted. In Seattle, where LEAD was first introduced, people in the program were 58% less likely to be rearrested.

So… if you're headed for Mt. Rushmore or Ft. Sumter, you've been warned. Maybe visiting Plymouth Rock or Mt. Denali might be a safer choice.

Categories: Marijuana