Missouri Marijuana Legalization Bill Gets Hearing In House Of Reps
Category: Legalization | Posted on Wed, March, 12th 2014 by THCFinder
On March 10, the House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety held a hearing on H.B. 1659, which would legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Kelly (D – Columbia), introduced the bill and explained how he came to support legalization during his time as a judge. He explained that when handled all the domestic violence cases in Boone County, he would often find that officers were not available to respond to those calls because they were dealing cannabis offenses. He said that in all his time as a judge, he handed down thousands of sentences for cannabis offenses but doubted that he deterred a single person from smoking a single joint.
Show-Me Cannabis Regulation Board Chair Dan Viets was up next, and he pointed out the hundreds of millions of dollars in law enforcement savings and new tax revenue that the state could realize if it passed this legislation and pointed out that use rates have not increased in states that have decreased penalties on cannabis possession.
Then, Brandy Johnson and Heidi Rayl grabbed everyone’s attention with their emotional testimony on the need for medical cannabis. Brandy and Heidi are both mothers of boys — Tres and Zayden, respectively — who suffer from extreme forms of epilepsy and experience dozens or even hundreds of seizures every day. Tres and Zayden are both prescribed to numerous, powerful pharmaceuticals to control their seizures, but a high-CBD strain of medical cannabis could likely treat those seizures far more effectively and with far fewer side effects. Unfortunately, it is illegal in Missouri.
Many other witnesses testified in favor of different aspects of the bill. Police chief Larry Kirk spoke on how prohibition wastes law enforcement resources; Dr. Gil Mobley explained to the committee that the science showing cannabis is medically efficacious is sound and that it is less dangerous than alcohol; Show-Me Cannabis Regulation board member Amber Langston told the committee about the benefits of industrial hemp; Daryl Bertrand described how medical cannabis saved his life, until a SWAT raid left him and his wife felons; Bonnie Green discussed the need for expungement and the disproportionate impact of arrests and incarceration on the African American community, which police sergeant Gary Wiegert reiterated; and Ken Wells concluded by discussing how he uses cannabis to help treat his seizures.
All told, there were ten witnesses in favor of the bill and five opposed, three of whom came from law enforcement. Despite the overwhelming show of support for the bill, many members of the committee indicated that they opposed full legalization.
However, even many conservative representatives endorsed the idea of medical cannabis in some form — an idea that the legislature would not even grant a hearing last year. I think the ground shifted on cannabis policy in the Missouri state legislature last night, and medical marijuana became the new middle ground.
Philadelphia Council Committee Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession
Category: Legalization | Posted on Tue, March, 11th 2014 by THCFinder
Philadelphia’s City Council Law and Government Committee gave unanimous approval today to a proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis (one ounce), reducing the charge from an arrestable misdemeanor, to a simple ticket.
There are 4,200 arrests each year in Philadelphia for cannabis possession, something which takes up over 17,000 police hours, according to Councilmember James F. Kenney, the primary sponsor of the measure.
“To me, it makes no sense”, he says.
“The trend has been toward legalization,” Kenney says, indicating he sees this move as a step towards broader cannabis law reform. “We just got to be sensible about how we enforce the law and treat our people.”
Kenney’s bill is expected to be voted on by the full council later this month.
Washington DC City Council Passes Marijuana Decriminalization
Category: Legalization | Posted on Wed, March, 5th 2014 by THCFinder
Washington, DC, is set to become the next entity to decriminalize small-time marijuana possession after the city council Tuesday gave final approval to a decriminalization bill. The bill must still be approved by Mayor Vincent Gray, who has signaled support for decriminalization.
But even after the mayor signs off, the measure will not become law until Congress has completed a required legislative review. That process could last into the summer.
The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014″ (Council Bill 20-409) removes the threat of arrests for the possession of less than an ounce and replaces it with a $25 fine, the lowest fine in any state that has decriminalized. In setting the fine so low, council members cited homelessness in the District and high poverty rates in areas of the city that have seen the highest numbers of arrests.
Police still can, however, seize your marijuana and whatever you used to smoke it. And public use of marijuana remains a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
“This is a big step forward for our nation’s capital, as well as our nation as a whole. Clearly, marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the United States,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which supported the bill. “We should not be saddling people with criminal records simply for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” Riffle said. “Law enforcement resources should be used to address serious crimes, not to arrest and prosecute adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Neither the District nor any of the states can afford to continue criminalizing adults for marijuana possession.”
“For far too long, people of color have been disproportionately and unfairly arrested and marginalized for marijuana possession in the District of Columbia. DC council members took the first critical step today toward ending the selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition policies that have perpetuated racial disparities in the criminal justice system for decades,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance, which also supported the bill.
Poll: 77% In Texas Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana
Category: Legalization | Posted on Thu, February, 27th 2014 by THCFinder
A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll has found that 77% of those in Texas support the legalization of medical cannabis. The poll also found strong support for legalizing recreational cannabis, with 49% in support to just 23% opposed.
“It’s not a surprise that Texas was not on the front line of [legalization], given that most of the opposition here is among conservatives and Republicans,” says Jim Henson, Director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas and co-director of the poll. “But you can look at this and see where the movement is going to come from.”
Of the 49% who support recreational legalization, 32% favor legalizing small amounts, while 17% support legalizing “any amount” of cannabis.
Last month Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his support for cannabis decriminalization; lawmakers in the state continue to discuss efforts to both reduce penalties for cannabis possession, and to legalize medical cannabis.
More Than 40 Maine Lawmakers Sign Memo Urging Marijuana Legalization
Category: Legalization | Posted on Tue, February, 25th 2014 by THCFinder
On Friday, more than 40 state lawmakers in Maine co-signed a memo authored by State Representative Diane Russell that was delivered to the Appropriations & Financial Affairs Committee. The memo encouraged the committee to keep all options on the table in their upcoming financial deliberations, including potential tax revenue derived from an adult, non-medical market for marijuana.
“All options should be on the table,” Rep. Russell stated in the memo, “In this spirit, we propose committee members give serious consideration to the revenue options associated with legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis for responsible adult use.”
The memo was signed by prominent elected officials in the state including Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham), Minority Whip Alex Willette (R-Mapleton), House Chair of Criminal Justice and Public Safety and former County Sheriff Rep. Mark Dion (D-Portland), and House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Richard Farnsworth (D-Portland).
In 2013, the Maine House of Representatives fell just four votes short of approving a measure introduced by Rep. Russell which would have placed the issue of marijuana legalization before voters during the fall elections.
Citizens Initiative Underway To Legalize Cannabis In The European Union
Category: Legalization | Posted on Thu, February, 20th 2014 by THCFinder
A citizens initiative to legalize cannabis in the European Union is underway, with advocates needing to collect 1 million signatures from 7 member states within a 12 month period.
Advocates of the initiative – which was approved by the government in November – officially began their signature gathering campaign this week. If advocates are successful in gathering enough signatures, the measure would be put to a vote next year.
According to the group behind the initiative (Weed Like to Talk), it “aims at making the EU [European Union] adopt a common policy on the control and regulation of cannabis production, use and sale.”
In addition to legalizing cannabis possession, the proposal would legalize cannabis cultivation, as well as cannabis retail outlets.
The effort marks one of the most far-reaching attempts at cannabis law reform in European history.
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