News aggregator

Chronicle AM: House OKs Housing Loans for Vets in Pot Industry, HI Governor Vetoes Hemp Bill, More... (7/11/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 07/11/2019 - 19:49

Hawaii's governor wields the veto pen, the House votes to allow home loans for vets working in the marijuana industry, and more.

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

House Votes To Allow Home Loans For Veterans Working In Marijuana Industry. The House voted on Wednesday to approve an amendment to the Veterans Affairs appropriations bill that would end a current VA policy that denies home loan applications to vets who work in the marijuana industry. Authored by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), the amendment was approved on a voice vote as part of a package including 33 other amendments.

Medical Marijuana

Hawaii Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Inter-Island Transport of Medical Marijuana. Gov. David Ige (D) has vetoed HB 290, which would have allowed patients to transport their medicine between islands within the state. In his veto message, Ige said air travel was under federal jurisdiction and patients could be exposed to federal prosecution.

Hemp

Hawaii Governor Vetoes Hemp Bill. Gov. David Ige (D) has vetoed SB 1353, which would have licensed industrial hemp production in the state. In his veto message, he said "there are concerns that this bill creates a licensing structure that cannot be enforced, will not meet USDA requirements for an approved industrial hemp program, and creates practical problems in the enforcement of existing medical cannabis."

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Senators Grassley and Wyden Expand Their Opioid Investigation to Tax-Exempt Organizations. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and ranking Democratic member Max Baucus (D-MT) have sent letters to 10 tax exempt organizations associated with pain asking for information about their financial relationships with opioid manufacturers and other medical organizations. The letters seek detailed information about financial relationships between the groups and opioid manufacturers The targets of the letter are the American Chronic Pain Association, American Pain Society, American Society for Pain Management Nursing, American Society of Pain Educators, Center for Practical Bioethics, Federation of State Medical Boards, The Joint Commission, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Alliance for Patient Access, and International Association for the Study of Pain.

Categories: Latest News

Philippine Drug War Killings Reach Level of Crime Against Humanity, Amnesty International Says [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:52

Three years into the administration of Philippines strongman President Rodrigo Duterte and despite rising international condemnation, Duterte's bloody war on poor drug users continues unabated, with a pattern of unlawful executions under the guise of police sting operations, the human rights group Amnesty International said in a report released Monday.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]The report, "'They Just Kill:' Ongoing Extrajudicial Executions and Other Violations in the Philippines' 'War on Drugs,' comes as the United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to vote on a resolution later this week calling for an investigation into the Philippines killings. Amnesty is calling on the council to approve that resolution.

"Three years on, President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price," said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia. "It is time for the United Nations, starting with its Human Rights Council, to act decisively to hold President Duterte and his government accountable."

Philippines police accept responsibility for more than 6,000 killings, saying they came in raids in which armed suspects fought back against police, but the actual number of killings, many conducted by shadowy vigilante groups suspected of links to the police may be twice or three times that figure. Opposition legislators said in February 2018 the death toll had reached 20,000.

Amnesty said the true number may never be known because "deliberate obfuscation and misinformation" from authorities makes it impossible to get an accurate tally of the killings, which targeted poor and marginalized communities that lack the means to challenge police misconduct and abuses.

It's not just the number of killings that is in doubt, but the circumstances surrounding them. While police typically claimed self-defense, witness and other information developed by Amnesty suggests a pattern of "extrajudicial executions," a polite way of saying murders by police. The claim that police were only defending themselves "doesn’t meet the feeblest standards of credibility," Amnesty concluded.

A Filipino forensic expert interviewed by Amnesty said that police reports of "buy-bust" operations she had examined did not meet the minimum standards of plausibility: "It’s so consistent, it’s a script. In fact, when you see the report, it looks like a template," she said.

As Amnesty reported:

In an all-too-typical case, police claimed Jovan Magtanong, a 30-year-old father of three, fired at them, and that they recovered a .38 caliber pistol and baggies of illegal drugs from the scene of the incident. Witnesses said he was sleeping alongside his children when officers knocked on his house door asking for another man. Jovan’s family said he did not own a gun and had not used drugs for over a year.

"They killed him like an animal," a family member told Amnesty.

Amnesty's latest report builds on an January 2017 investigation showing police had systematically targeted mostly poor and defenseless people across the country, planting "evidence," recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill, and fabricating official reports. That report centered on metro Manila, then the epicenter of the killings, but the new report follows the pattern of killings to Bulacan province in Luzon, the new hotbed of drug war atrocities.

Amnesty examined 27 killings there during 20 incidents, 18 of which were official police operations. Based on witness accounts and other information, it concluded that half were extrajudicial executions. Amnesty said it couldn't develop enough information to qualify the other deaths, but said they pointed broadly to previous patterns of executions.

Amnesty also highlighted the role of "watch lists" of people in communities suspected of using or selling drugs. The "watch lists" are compiled by local officials under pressure to show results in the war on drugs by collecting the names of suspected drug users and sellers. "These lists effectively serve as guides for police of people to arrest or kill," Amnesty said. Amnesty "views these lists as unreliable, illegitimate, and unjustifiable," the group said.

"The Duterte administration has created a deadly numbers game where officials must manufacture lists and monitor them, regardless of whether the individuals on it actually use or sell drugs. This insatiable and vicious system rewards blind compliance and murder," said Nicholas Bequelin.

And the police act with impunity. Of all the killings acknowledged by the police, only one, the murder of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in August 2017, which generated global media attention, actually saw police officers punished. But the man in charge of the police there, Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna, suffered only a period of "administrative leave" and is now working the drug war in Bulacan.

"The transfer of senior police officials to regions where killings then surged is an alarming indicator of impunity," said Bequelin. "The Duterte administration’s continuing efforts to deny and deflect responsibility are nothing short of mendacious."

The achingly callous attitude of Philippines drug warriors toward their fellow citizens was made clear last week when Ronald Dela Rosa, now a senator but earlier the metro Manila police chief and lead conductor of Duterte's drug war, defended the killing of a three-year-old girl in a drug raid near Manila.

"Shit happens," he said as he accused the girl's father of using her as a human shield.

"It is not safe to be poor in President Duterte’s Philippines," said Bequelin. "All it takes to be murdered is an unproven accusation that someone uses, buys, or sells drugs. Everywhere we went to investigate drug-related killings ordinary people were terrified. Fear has now spread deep into the social fabric of society."

Duterte and his henchmen have already fended off the International Criminal Court (by leaving it) and attempts by domestic critics to investigate their drug war crimes. Now it's time for the UN Human Rights Council to step up.

Categories: Latest News

Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:43

New medical marijuana laws take effect in Georgia and Virginia, medical marijuana expansion is coming to New Jersey, a Florida appeals court throws out Rick Scott-era rules for producers, and more.

[image:1 align:right]Florida

Florida Governor Signs Bill Allowing CBD for Child Epilepsy Patients. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on June 28 signed into law HB 7107, which allows for the use of Epidiolex to treat seizures in children. Epidiolex, from GW Pharmaceutical, is "the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified substance derived from marijuana." The new law changes the drug's classification from Schedule I to Schedule IV.

Florida Appeals Court Finds Law Limiting Medical Marijuana Companies Unconstitutional. The state's 1st District Court of Appeal has ruled that Rick Scott-era rules are unconstitutional and violate Amendment 2, the ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The current vertically integrated system that requires companies to grow, process, package, and sell their own medical marijuana violates the amendment, the court ruled, and so does the system that caps licenses. The ruling upholds in part a 2018 Leon County Circuit Court decision that also ruled the system unconstitutional.

Georgia

Georgia CBD Access Law Now in Effect. Four years after the legislature approved the use of CBD for registered patients but failed to provide any means of access to the substance, a law that aims to do that is in effect as of July 1. HB 324 allows six private companies to grow medical marijuana to produce low-THC CBD cannabis oil and allows pharmacies to sell it to patients.

New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) last Tuesday signed into law signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (S 10). The bill greatly expands the state medical marijuana program by increasing the number of qualifying conditions, raising caps on the amount that may be purchased and possessed, and increasing the number of grower permits.

Virginia

Virginia Medical Marijuana Changes Now in Effect. Three new laws intended to expand patient access to medical marijuana went into effect July 1. SB1557 will allow medical marijuana providers to create products such as capsules, topicals, lozenges, and suppositories, as opposed to just oils. SB1719 adds "registered agents" for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers. HB1720 allows school healthcare providers to administer medical marijuana to registered student patients just as they would any other medication.

Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: Congressional Hearing on Marijuana, HI Governor Vetoes Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill, More... (7/10/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/10/2019 - 19:10

Congress heard testimony today challenging marijuana's criminalization, a Democratic House rising star and Senate presidential contender team up on a federal housing bill, Hawaii's governor vetoes a bill to end civil asset forfeiture, and more.

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

Congress Hears Testimony Challenging Marijuana Criminalization. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security is holding a hearing today on "Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform." Witnesses are discussing alternative policy options, including ending marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Appeals Court Finds Law Limiting Medical Marijuana Companies Unconstitutional. The state's 1st District Court of Appeal has ruled that Rick Scott-era rules are unconstitutional and violate Amendment 2, the ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The current vertically integrated system that requires companies to grow, process, package, and sell their own medical marijuana violates the amendment, the court ruled, and so does the system that caps licenses. The ruling upholds in part a 2018 Leon County Circuit Court decision that also ruled the system unconstitutional.

Asset Forfeiture

Hawaii Governor Vetoes Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. Gov. David Ige (D) on Tuesday vetoed HB 748, which would have ended asset forfeiture without a criminal conviction in the state. Ige acted at the behest of law enforcement agencies statewide, who strongly opposed the bill.  The law would "be too restrictive," Ige said.

Housing

Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez File Bill to Protect Rights in Federal Housing. House upstart Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) have teamed up to file the Fair Chance at Housing Act of 2020, which would make it harder to evict tenants for a single criminal offense and would prevent the eviction of family members who didn't know about a guilty person's criminal acts. The bill would also limit criminal record queries by housing authorities screening potential tenants. Under the bill, drug offenses resulting in a sentence of less than 10 years would no longer bar someone from seeking federal housing assistance. The bill is not yet available on the congressional website.

(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: Latest News

Chronicle AM: Marijuana Justice Coalition Speaks, Trump Administration Split on Fentanyl Analogues, More... (7/9/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 20:20

Hawaii decriminalizes up to three grams of pot as of today, the Marijuana Justice Coalition lays down some principles for reform, the Trump administration is split on what to do about fentanyl analogues, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Justice Coalition Asserts Statement of Principles on Federal Marijuana Reform. The Marijuana Justice Coalition consists of the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Watch, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, NORML, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. The coalition is calling for comprehensive federal marijuana law reform, including the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, expungement and resentencing provisions, eliminating barriers to access to public benefits, provisions eliminating discrimination against marijuana users, protection of immigrants' rights, community reinvestment, and minority involvement.

Arkansas Will See Two More Marijuana Initiatives Filed. The Arkansas Drug Policy Education Group will file two initiative petitions with the secretary of state on Wednesday. The Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults while allowing limited home cultivation, while the Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment would allow people convicted of possessing less than a pound of pot to petition for release from custody, reduction of sentence, expungement of conviction, and/or restoration of rights.

Hawaii Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession Without Governor's Signature. A bill passed by the legislature to decriminalize the possession of up to three grams of marijuana went into effect Tuesday without the signature of Gov. David Ige (D). While Ige didn't sign the bill, neither did he veto it, so it goes into effect without him.

New Mexico Legalization Push Begins This Week. A task force created by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and consisting of industry officials and policy experts will meet for the first time on Wednesday to begin crafting proposals to make marijuana legalization a reality in the Land of Enchantment. The task force should be able to give legalization a head start on the 2020 legislative session, which begins in January.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Trump Administration Split on How to Fight Fentanyl Analogues. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have "concerns" over a DEA plan to develop tighter rules for fentanyl analogues. The DEA plan is part of a bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) that would cut the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) out of the new drug review process by letting the DEA permanently classify fentanyl analogues as Schedule I drugs. But a NIDA expert has warned that the move not only put all analogues into Schedule I before anything is known about their medical benefits, but also would make researching them more difficult. And the clock is ticking: a DEA emergency order from 2018 placing all fentanyl analogues into Schedule I is set to expire in February.

Categories: Latest News

Drug Policy and Sustainable Development: Goals 4, 8 and 16 on Education, Work and Rule of Law

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 07/09/2019 - 01:52

[image:1 align:right]Drug Policy and Sustainable Development: Goals 4, 8 and 16 on Education, Work and Rule of Law


side event, UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
Church Center of the United Nations, 777 UN Plaza (1st Avenue & 44th Street), 10th Floor
Thursday July 11, 2019, 4:15‐6:30pm ET

RSVP to borden@drcnet.org (requested but not required)
Snacks will be Provided

Panel 1: Challenges people recovering from criminal justice involvement face

accessing work and education (4:15‐5:15pm) 
  • Darrell Bennett, former IMPACT Leadership Program Director, Exodus Transitional Community
  • Megan French‐Marcelin, Fair Hiring Project Coordinator, JustLeadershipUSA
  • David Sheridan, Director of Financial Aid, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs
Panel 2: International justice to counter disinformation and promote humanrights, in the Philippines and elsewhere (5:30‐6:30pm)
  • William Pace, Convener, Coalition for the International Criminal Court, 1995‐2019
  • video: Davey Alba for BuzzFeed, "How Duterte Used Facebook to Fuel the Philippine Drug War
  • video: Pamela Combinido, "Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines"
  • others speakers TBA

moderated by David Borden, Executive Director, StoptheDrugWar.org

PDF flyer here

[image:2 align:left]

Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: AR, MT 2020 Pot Initiatives Get Underway, Amnesty Int'l. on Philippines Drug War, More... (7/8/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 20:49

Marijuana legalization initiative campaigns are gearing up in Arkansas and Montana, a Missouri legislative committee will study asset forfeiture and racial profiling, Amnesty International calls the Philippines drug war a crime against humanity, and more.

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

Arkansas 2020 Legalization Initiative Campaign Getting Underway. The Arkansas True Grass Ballot Question Committee is gearing up to once again try to get a legalization initiative on the state ballot. The group came up short on signatures in 2016, but is back again with the Recreational Marijuana Amendment of 2020, which would legalize it for adults 21 and over, as well as expunge arrest records and free any currently serving marijuana prisoners. The initiative is currently being finalized and will shortly go to the secretary of state's office to be cleared for circulation.

Montana 2020 Legalization Initiative Campaign Getting Underway, and Another Could Follow. A group calling itself MontanaCan has filed a legalization initiative, the Marijuana Regulation Act, or Ballot Issue No. 5, with the secretary of state's office. The measure is now being reviewed by the state's Legislative Services Division before being cleared for circulation. Meanwhile, another group, Coalition 406, is also working on a legalization initiative for 2020, but hasn't filed yet with the secretary of state's office.

Hemp

Ohio Hemp Bill Stalled. A bill to allow the cultivation and sale of hemp,  Senate Bill 57, is stalled in the House because of tussles over CBD. Under state law, CBD remains illegal and under the purview of the state Medical Marijuana Control Program. House leaders say it may be the fall before the bill moves again.

Asset Forfeiture

Missouri Legislative Committee to Hold Hearings on Asset Forfeiture, Racial Profiling. State Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Wildwood) announced Monday that his Special Committee on Criminal Justice will hold public hearings in July and August to thoroughly examine the issues of racial profiling and civil asset forfeiture. Dogan, who chairs the committee, said the committee will hold public hearings July 24 in St. Louis and August 1 in Kansas City. He said the hearings will focus on examining the 2018 Vehicle Stops Report, which showed the largest racial disparity yet in traffic stops, as well as rising civil asset forfeiture seizures.

International

Amnesty International Calls for Urgent Investigation into Philippines' Deadly War on Drugs. The wave of police killings triggered by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous anti-drugs campaign continues to rage on, destroying lives and devastating communities, a report by Amnesty International revealed Monday. The UN must immediately open an investigation into gross human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity committed as part of the "war on drugs," the human rights group said. "Three years on, President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price," said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia. "It is time for the United Nations, starting with its Human Rights Council, to act decisively to hold President Duterte and his government accountable."

Sri Lanka Supreme Court Stays Execution of Drug Defendants. The nation's Supreme Court last Friday stayed the death penalty for four persons convicted of drug offenses until at least October 30. If imposed, the death sentences would be the first carried out in the country in 43 years. President Maithripala Sirisena had signed the death warrants last month, ending a moratorium on capital punishment.

Categories: Latest News

US: Common Name For Cannabis Is Making An Industry Wince

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 07:00
New York Times, 08 Jul 2019 - Kush. Bud. Herb. Who knows what to call marijuana these days? Born of the need for secrecy, slang has long dominated pot culture. But as entrepreneurs seek to capitalize on new laws legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, they too are grappling with what to call it.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

Mexico: As Opium Prices Crater, Mexican Poppy Farmers Migrate To Earn

Mexico (MAP) - Mon, 07/08/2019 - 07:00
New York Times, 08 Jul 2019 - SAN MIGUEL AMOLTEPEC VIEJO, Mexico - For years, two young brothers, like many other farmers in their poor, mountainous region of southwest Mexico, found salvation in the opium poppy. They bled the milky latex from its pods and the profits made their hard lives a little easier. The fact that this substance was the raw material for most of the heroin consumed in the United States was of little concern to the family, if they even knew it at all. But then changes in that distant market for illegal drugs made the price of the dried opium latex plummet.
Categories: Mexico

Chronicle AM: Call for UN Query on Philippines Drug War Deaths, TX Hemp-Pot Conundrum, More... (7/5/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 07/05/2019 - 18:38

There's good news on two fronts in the drug war in South and Southeast Asia, a new Texas hemp law is screwing up marijuana possession prosecutions, and more.

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

Texas Hemp Legalization Screws with Marijuana Prosecutions. The legislature's passage of a law legalizing hemp this year is having unintended consequences. The new law changed the definition of marijuana, and prosecutors and crime labs don't have the resources to test if a substance is marijuana or legal hemp. That has led prosecutors across the state to drop hundreds of pot possession cases and to say they won't pursue new ones without further testing. "In order to follow the Law as now enacted by the Texas Legislature and the Office of the Governor, the jurisdictions… will not accept criminal charges for Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana (4 oz. and under) without a lab test result proving that the evidence seized has a THC concentration over .3%," wrote the district attorneys from Harris, Fort Bend, Bexar and Nueces counties in a new joint policy released Wednesday.

Drug Testing

Wisconsin Governor Cuts Funding for Welfare Drug Testing. What a difference a governor makes! Under Republican Scott Walker, the state instituted a food stamp drug testing program, but now, under Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, that program is seeing its funding cut. In budget moves this week, Evers not only slashed the drug testing funding, he also canceled plans for a new prison.

International

Two Dozen Countries Call for UN Investigation of Philippines Drug War Killings. More than two dozen countries formally called Thursday for a UN investigation into thousands of killings in the bloody war on drugs led by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. The government admits to some 6,000 deaths, but activists put the tool as high as 27,000. A draft resolution submitted by Iceland and supported mainly by West European countries urges the government to halt extrajudicial executions and calls on the UN Human Rights Council to address the crisis.

Philippines Drug Warrior on Death of Child Killed by Police in Drug Raid: "Shit Happens." Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, a senator who once led the drug crackdown that has resulted in thousands of deaths, pooh-poohed the killing of a three-year-old girl by police during a drug sting, saying the world is not perfect, and "shit happens." Lawyers and activists rejected dela Rosa's stance: "This is not 'shit happens'. This happens when gov't dispenses justice from guns instead of courts," Jose Manuel Diokno, a lawyer who has mounted legal challenges to Duterte's crackdown, wrote on Twitter.

Sri Lanka Supreme Court Delays Executions of Drug Convicts. The Supreme Court has delayed the executions of four people set to be hung for drug offenses. They would have been the first death sentences carried out in the country since 1976. President Maithripala Sirasena ended a 43-year moratorium on the death penalty earlier this year when he signed the death sentences for the four. Now the killings are on indefinite hold, with a court hearing set for October.

Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: Arizona 2020 Initiative Gearing Up, Land Mines in the Coca Fields, More... (7/3/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 07/03/2019 - 20:04

Arizona marijuana legalization supporters prepare to try again, New Jersey is set for a big medical marijuana expansion, tension in Colombia's coca fields, and more.

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

Arizona 2020 Legalization Initiative Campaign Getting Underway. Marijuana legalization supporters are set to try once again to legalize weed via the popular vote after coming up short in 2016. Proponents argue the scenery has shifted enough since then that they can win next year. They will need some 237,000 valid voter signatures by next summer to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

Medical Marijuana

New Jersey Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Tuesday signed into law signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (S 10). The bill greatly expands the state medical marijuana program by increasing the number of qualifying conditions, raising caps on the amount that may be purchased and possessed, and increasing the number of grower permits.

Asset Forfeiture

Hawaii Governor Faces Pressure to Not Veto Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. After hinting last week that he might veto civil asset forfeiture reform legislation, Gov. David Ige (D) is facing rising pressure from lawmakers and others to change course. The measure, HB 748, which would end civil asset forfeiture, passed both houses of the legislature without a dissenting vote. But Ige called civil asset forfeiture "an effective and critical law enforcement tool that prevents the economic benefits of committing a crime from outweighing consequential criminal penalties and punishment." Lawmakers such as bill sponsor Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (D-Puna) countered that the bill is necessary to protect "innocent people whose property was seized because of legalized theft by the government." The practice amounts to "policing for profit," she added. The ACLU of Hawaii is also calling on Ige to not veto the bill.

International

Colombia Complains Armed Groups are Planting Land Mines to Protect Coca Crop. Colombia's High Commissioner for Peace Miguel Ceballos told the Organization of American States Tuesday that the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) and the rightist paramilitary force the Urabeños have both resumed planting land mines to protect coca crops from manual eradication efforts. Ceballos said the mining is increasing the isolation of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and undermining the peace process. "Planting landmines again stalls the adequate implementation of the peace accords, because it prevents populations from returning to their territories," he told journalists. Since 1990, more than 400 crop eradicators have been wounded by land mines and 46 killed.

Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: Senate Fight Over Fentanyl Analogues Bill, New Laws Now in Effect, More... (7/2/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Tue, 07/02/2019 - 19:37

A battle over fentanyl analogues is brewing on Capitol Hill, various new drug laws went into effect yesterday, North Dakota marijuana advocates plan another initiative, and more.

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

Delaware Lawmakers Ease Marijuana and Alcohol Laws. The legislature has passed a bill expanding marijuana decriminalization to include juveniles. Under current law, small time possession is decriminalized for adults, but people under 18 face a misdemeanor charge. The new bill makes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense in all cases for a first or second offense. A third or subsequent offense would subject anyone under 21 to a misdemeanor criminal charge. Lawmakers also approved a bill making consumption or possession of alcohol by a minor a civil offense for the first and second offenses. Both bills now head to the desk of Gov. John Carney (D) for his signature.

New Mexico Marijuana Decriminalization Now in Effect. As of July 1, the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense but is now a civil infraction punishable by a fine of no more than $50. Paraphernalia possession is also now decriminalized.

New Mexico Governor Forms Working Group on Marijuana Legalization. Gov. Michelle Luhan Grisham (D) announced last Friday that she will form a working group to study strategy for legalizing marijuana in the state next year. She "will place the matter of legalization on her call for the Second Session of the 54th Legislature, a 30-day session which will begin January 2020," her office said in a press release. In the meantime, she announced the formation of the Cannabis Legalization working group, comprised of lawmakers, stakeholders, and law enforcement officials. "This group will ensure we begin the next session with a credible, equitable and cohesive legalization proposal that will incorporate all public safety concerns, workplace regulations, labeling requirements that protect underage children and all manner of other issues," Lujan Grisham said. "There are open questions about how legalization can work best for New Mexico. This group will answer those questions, and we will arrive at the next session prepared."

North Dakota Legalizers Roll Out New Ballot Proposal. Legalize ND, the folks behind the failed 2018 marijuana legalization initiative, are back with a new ballot proposal for 2020. Unlike the 2018 initiative, which was very wide open, this new draft sets limits on marijuana possession, bans personal cultivation, and establishes a 10% excise tax on sales. The group will spend the next two weeks reviewing the proposal before presenting it to state officials to begin the official initiative process. Another group is already planning a 2020 constitutional amendment to end marijuana prohibition.

Medical Marijuana

Florida Governor Signs Bill Allowing CBD for Child Epilepsy Patients. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last Friday signed into law HB 7107, which allows for the use of Epidiolex to treat seizures in children. Epidiolex, from GW Pharmaceutical, is "the first FDA-approved drug that contains a purified substance derived from marijuana." The new law changes the drug's classification from Schedule I to Schedule IV.

Georgia CBD Access Law Now in Effect. Four years after the legislature approved the use of CBD for registered patients but failed to provide any means of access to the substance, a law that aims to do that is now in effect. HB 324 allows six private companies to grow medical marijuana to produce low-THC CBD cannabis oil and allows pharmacies to sell it to patients.

Virginia Medical Marijuana Changes Now in Effect. Three new laws intended to expand patient access to medical marijuana went into effect July 1. SB1557 will allow medical marijuana providers to create products such as capsules, topicals, lozenges, and suppositories, as opposed to just oils. SB1719 adds "registered agents" for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities, and those who rely on home healthcare providers. HB1720 allows school healthcare providers to administer medical marijuana to registered student patients just as they would any other medication.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Fight Brewing Over Bill to Keep Fentanyl Analogue Plan in Place. Justice Department officials are squaring off against some Democrats and criminal justice and drug policy reformers over a bill that would keep fentanyl analogues in the same category as heroin, making it easier for the government to prosecute traffickers. An emergency ban on the substances is set to expire in February. The Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act (S 1622), sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has caused some Democrats to worry whether the blanket rescheduling of fentanyl-related substances could create barriers for researchers. Meanwhile, groups including the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU are opposing the bill, arguing that it would create harsher sentencing and more targeting of communities of color without reducing overdoses.

International

British Home Office Backs Move to Let Hard Drug Users Test Their Stashes. The Home Office has announced that it will license a series of laboratories where users of Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine can test their drugs for purity and quality without fear of arrest. Under the plan, drug users could take dose-sized quantities of their drugs to be tested, and then would have a 20-minute consultation about drug use and paths to treatment.

Philippines Medical Marijuana Bill Reintroduced. A bill to legalize medical marijuana was filed in the House on Monday. Similar bills have been filed each year since 2014. Last year, the bill passed the lower house but failed to get out of the Senate.

Peruvian Rebel Remnants Kill Three Soldiers in Key Coca Zone. Remnants of the 1980s guerrilla group the Shining Path killed three soldiers in ambushes in the Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro (VRAEM) region of central Peru late last month. The VRAEM is Peru's largest coca growing area, and the military has vowed "total pacification" there, but the Shining Path remnants, who mainly subsist off the coca and cocaine trade, apparently beg to differ.

Categories: Latest News

US CO: Colorado's Marijuana Experiment, After 5 Years

Cannabis - Medicinal (MAP) - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 07:00
New York Times, 01 Jul 2019 - DENVER - Serenity Christensen, 14, is too young to set foot in one of Colorado's many marijuana shops, but she was able to spot a business opportunity in legal weed. She is a Girl Scout, and this year, she and her mother decided to sell their cookies outside a dispensary. "Good business," Serenity said. But on the other side of Denver, legalization has turned another high school student, David Perez, against the warehouselike marijuana cultivations now clustered around his neighborhood. He said their skunky aroma often smacks him in the face when he walks out his front door.
Categories: Medical Marijuana

US CO: Colorado's Marijuana Experiment, After 5 Years

Ballot Initiatives (MAP) - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 07:00
New York Times, 01 Jul 2019 - DENVER - Serenity Christensen, 14, is too young to set foot in one of Colorado's many marijuana shops, but she was able to spot a business opportunity in legal weed. She is a Girl Scout, and this year, she and her mother decided to sell their cookies outside a dispensary. "Good business," Serenity said. But on the other side of Denver, legalization has turned another high school student, David Perez, against the warehouselike marijuana cultivations now clustered around his neighborhood. He said their skunky aroma often smacks him in the face when he walks out his front door.
Categories: Ballot Initiatives

Chronicle AM: Malaysia Moves Toward Drug Decriminalization, Cocaine Production at Record High, More... (6/28/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 06/28/2019 - 19:05

In a dramatic change of course, Malaysia is moving toward drug decriminalization; the UN says cocaine production hit an all-time high in 2017, Cory Booker files a bill to protect immigrants with marijuana convictions, and more.

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

Cory Booker Files Bill to Protect Immigrants from Being Deported for Marijuana. Democratic presidential contender and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker filed a bill Thursday that would bar the US from deporting immigrants and denying citizenship to people convicted of marijuana offenses. More than 34,000 people were deported for marijuana offenses between 2012 and 2017, according to Human Rights Watch. The bill is the Remove Marijuana from Deportable Offenses Act. It is not yet available on the congressional web site.

Congressional Bill Would Allow Marijuana Imports and Exports Between Legal States. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on Thursday filed a bill to allow states to legally export and import marijuana. The bill would allow states that have legalized marijuana to enter into mutual agreements to engage in interstate pot commerce. "As more and more states legalize cannabis, the gap between state and federal laws will only grow more confusing for both legal businesses and consumers," Wyden said in a press release.
The solution is clear: the federal government needs to end its senseless and out of touch prohibition. As we fight for that ultimate goal, however, Congress can and should immediately act to protect the will of Oregonians and voters in other states from federal interference -- and that should include interstate cannabis commerce," he said. Read the text of the bill here.

California Legislature Approves Bill Extending Provisional Permits. The Assembly voted 57-11 Thursday to approve Assembly Bill 97, which will extend the lifespan of provisional business licenses for marijuana operations until 2022. Since the measure passed the Senate on Monday, the bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who is expected to sign it. The measure is a bid to bolster the state's flagging legal marijuana industry.

Harm Reduction

New Jersey to Allow Paramedics to Initiate Buprenorphine. State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal signed an executive order this week that will allow paramedics to administer buprenorphine, an opioid addiction medication. The aim is to encourage people who have been administered naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose to go right to buprenorphine in the wake of the overdose recovery. Buprenorphine is considered the gold standard for opioid treatment drugs.

International

UN Says Cocaine Production at Record Levels in 2017. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported Thursday that cocaine production jumped 13% in 2017 to 1,275 tons, the largest quantity ever reported. Although Colombia accounts for about 70% of total production, output was also increasing in both Bolivia and Peru. Colombian cocaine manufacture has quadrupled between 2013 and 2017.

Malaysia Moving Toward Drug Decriminalization. Malaysia plans to drop criminal penalties for the use and possession of small amounts of drugs, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Thursday. The country currently has some of the world's toughest penalties for drug possession and more than 1,200 prisoners on death row, most for drug offenses. Less than half a pound of marijuana can merit a death sentence under current law. Ahmad said drug addiction is a complex, relapsing medical condition and throwing an addict into jail will not cure him. "Drug decriminalization will indeed be a critical next step toward achieving a rational drug policy that puts science and public health before punishment and incarceration," Dzulkefly said. "An addict shall be treated as a patient, not as a criminal, whose addiction is a disease we would like to cure."

(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: Latest News

Chronicle AM: Afghan Opium Down, Colombian Coca Leveling Off, More... (6/29/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Thu, 06/27/2019 - 19:27

The UN says Afghan opium production is down, the US says Colombian coca production has leveled off but is still at high levels, Louisville passes a lowest law enforcement priority ordinance for marijuana, and more.

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

Hawaii Governor Won't Veto Decriminalization Bill. Gov. David Ige (D) said this week that he will not veto HB 1383, which decriminalizes the possession of up to three grams of marijuana. Under current law, possession is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Once the bill is signed, it will become a non-criminal violation punishable by a $130 fine.

Louisville Passes Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Ordinance. The Louisville Metro Council has passed an ordinance making "investigation, citations, and arrests" relating to adult possession of a "small amount of marijuana" the lowest law enforcement priority. The ordinance defines adults as 21 or older and says "personal use" could be a half ounce or less of marijuana.

Asset Forfeiture

Alabama Senate Approves Bill Mandating Law Enforcement Reporting on Seizures. The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill making it mandatory for law enforcement to report on how often it resorted to civil asset forfeiture to seize property from people not convicted of a crime. The bill now goes to the House.

Harm Reduction

Florida Authorizes Expansion of Syringe Access Statewide. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) Wednesday signed into law a bill that will allow legally authorized needle exchange programs across the state. The Infectious Disease Elimination Act (SB 366) was approved by the legislature in May after the Drug Policy Alliance worked with local stakeholders to get it through. Florida now becomes just the 22nd jurisdiction in the country to legally authorize syringe exchange programs. Many still operate underground and face daily risk of closure, further fueling the spread of blood-borne diseases and overdose rates.

International

UN Says Afghan Opium Harvest Declines, Thanks to Drought. Opium production fell last year in Afghanistan, by far the world's leading opium producer, because of severe drought, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported Wednesday. UNODC said the drop was about 25%, leaving output at just under 8,000 tons of raw opium.

US Says Colombian Cocaine Production Leveling Off. According to a 2018 estimate released Wednesday by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia remains high but is leveling off. The estimate states cultivation in Colombia saw a minor decrease in 2018 to 208,000 hectares from 209,000 hectares in 2017. Similarly, potential pure cocaine production also saw a minor decrease in 2018 to 887 pure metric tons from 900 pure metric tons in 2017. Although coca cultivation in Colombia remained at historically high levels in 2018, it was the first year the crop did not increase since 2012.

The Drug Policy Alliance is a funder of StoptheDrugWar.org.

Categories: Latest News

Medical Marijuana Update

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 06/26/2019 - 21:07

A federal amendment to ease veterans' access to medical marijuana gets bumped, an Idaho medical marijuana initiative campaign gets underway, and more.

[image:1 align:left]National

Amendment to Ease Vets' Access to Medical Marijuana Shelved. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), sponsor of an amendment to an annual spending bill for Veteran Affairs that would have widened access to medical marijuana for veterans, pulled the amendment in the face of opposition from the VA. On the House floor, Blumenauer explained that the VA "has not been as helpful as it should be" in easing access for vets. "All of a sudden the VA has decided, well, they would be putting their doctors at risk," he said. "I hope that we'll be able to work together to fix this little quirk to make sure that VA doctors can do what doctors everywhere do in states where medical cannabis is legal and be able to work with their patients."

Delaware

Delaware Sees Two Last-Minute Medical Marijuana Bills. With five days left in the legislative session, two last-minute medical marijuana bills await consideration. SB 170 would allow patients with anxiety to treat their conditions with CBD-rich products, while HB 243, would allow certain approved users to grow a limited amount of their own medical marijuana. The assigned committee has not yet issued a report for this bill, keeping it from a full vote in the house.

Idaho

Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Gets Underway. The Idaho Cannabis Coalition announced Tuesday that it delivered signatures to the secretary of state's office to start the process for getting a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2020. The initiative seeks to provide Idahoans with "safe access to whole plant cannabis and other medical cannabis products through a system of secure dispensaries tightly regulated by the state." Patients with demonstrated physical or financial hardship would qualify to grow their own medicine.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Will Allow Physician Assistants to Recommend Medical Marijuana. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has signed into law a bill expanding the list of providers who may recommend medical marijuana. A bill that allows medical marijuana users to grow their own plants awaits his signature.

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

Categories: Latest News

Chronicle AM: MD Task Force Studying Legalization, ID MedMJ Init Underway, More... (6/26/19)

Drug War Chronicle - Wed, 06/26/2019 - 21:03

Maryland legislators begin studying the path to marijuana legalization, New York legalization advocates look to next year, an Idaho medical marijuana initiative campaign gets underway, and more.

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

Maryland Legislative Task Force Begins Work on Marijuana Legalization. A General Assembly task force began its work on studying possible marijuana legalization on Tuesday. The body will form subcommittees to study the impact on criminal justice and health, while also considering best approaches to taxation, licensing, and ensuring minority participation. The task force should finish its work by the end of the year, but what members will recommend remains to be seen.

New York Marijuana Advocates Now Aiming to Legalize It Next Year. Marijuana legalization advocates say they plan to spend the next six months lobbying lawmakers to pass a marijuana legalization bill next year. This after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders failed to get it done this year, passing a decriminalization bill as a last-minute sop. Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance pointed the finger at Assembly and Senate leaders, but particularly Gov. Cuomo.

Medical Marijuana

Delaware Sees Two Last-Minute Medical Marijuana Bills. With five days left in the legislative session, two last-minute medical marijuana bills await consideration. SB 170 would allow patients with anxiety to treat their conditions with CBD-rich products, while HB 243, would allow certain approved users to grow a limited amount of their own medical marijuana. The assigned committee has not yet issued a report for this bill, keeping it from a full vote in the house.

Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Gets Underway. The Idaho Cannabis Coalition announced Tuesday that it delivered signatures to the secretary of state's office to start the process for getting a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2020. The initiative seeks to provide Idahoans with "safe access to whole plant cannabis and other medical cannabis products through a system of secure dispensaries tightly regulated by the state." Patients with demonstrated physical or financial hardship would qualify to grow their own medicine.

Categories: Latest News

US IL: Countdown Begins To Jan. 1 After Pritzker Signs Bill Making

Marijuana (MAP) - Wed, 06/26/2019 - 07:00
Chicago Tribune, 26 Jun 2019 - A landmark battle in the war on drugs ended Tuesday, and a new approach to address racial inequities began, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker acted to legalize marijuana in Illinois effective Jan. 1, 2020. Sponsors called the change "historic" as Pritzker signed into law a bill that will allow Illinois residents 21 and over to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC infused in edibles and other products. Out-of-state visitors may have up to half those amounts.
Categories: Marijuana

US IL: Answers To Other Burning Questions About Recreational Weed

Marijuana (MAP) - Wed, 06/26/2019 - 07:00
Chicago Tribune, 26 Jun 2019 - Marking a historic moment in an expanding national movement, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation that makes recreational marijuana legal in Illinois. After debate in Springfield earlier this year - during which one lawmaker even cracked eggs into a frying pan to depict the "brain on drugs" - the bill allowing possession and sales to begin on Jan. 1 was approved by the House and Senate.
Categories: Marijuana
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