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Louisiana Approves Reduction in Pot Penalties

Category: News | Posted on Sat, May, 23rd 2015 by THCFinder

Louisiana, which has become infamous for enforcing some of the toughest laws in the United States against marijuana offenders, could experience a significant level of reform this year in the way the state prosecutes those who get busted with the herb.

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee put their stamp of approval on a piece of legislation (House Bill 149) aimed at reducing the penalties inflicted on individuals with multiple convictions for pot possession. The full Senate will now deliberate the proposal.

The latest vote is an important step for marijuana reform in Louisiana. After all, a similar proposal, which was introduced in 2014 by Senator J.P. Morrell, never even made it out of committee alive. Some believe the change of heart in the state legislature has to do with the recent support by law enforcement groups, who have all agreed not to intervene with the progress of the bill.

If the proposal manages to go the distance, the majority of the state’s penalties for minor pot possession would be amended. For starters, a provision would be included that gives first-time offenders a second chance at salvation before being thrown to the wolves of the Department of Corrections. These individuals would simply need to refrain from receiving another charge for two years, and the offense would be expunged from their record.

Habitual offenders, however, would still face prison time, but the sentences would be greatly reduced. Right now, a person with a third offense for possession in Louisiana can get locked up for 20 years, as well as pay a fine of $5,000. Under HB 149, individuals convicted several times for possession would never spend more than eight years in prison.

Read More:http://www.hightimes.com/read/louisiana-approves-reduction-pot-penalties


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Man Serving Life Sentence Without Parole For Marijuana Is Now Eligible For Parole

Category: News | Posted on Sat, May, 23rd 2015 by THCFinder

jeff mizanskey marijuana billboard missouriIf you follow this blog enough, I’m sure you have noticed the sidebar banner for Jeff Mizanskey. Jeff Mizanskey has been serving a life sentence without the eligibility for parole for marijuana only offenses in Missouri. He has already served over two decades. Activists have been calling for his release for quite some time, especially activists involved with Show-Me Cannabis. I am happy to say that Missouri’s Governor announced today that he will grant Jeff Mizanskey the chance to be paroled. I am hopeful that the parole board overseeing the inevitable request from Jeff Mizanskey will make the easy decision and approve the request. After all, Jeff Mizanskey has served over two decades for a substance that is safer than alcohol. Below is the press release issued today by Missouri’s Governor:

Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that he has granted pardons to three men and two women convicted of non-violent offenses. Each of the individuals has completed his or her sentence and has become a law-abiding citizen. In addition, the Governor has commuted the sentence of Jeffrey Mizanskey to make him eligible for parole consideration. In 1996, Mizanskey was sentenced as a persistent drug offender to life without the possibility of parole.

“The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness,” Gov. Nixon said. “In each of the cases where I have granted a pardon, the individual has demonstrated the ability and willingness to turn his or her life around and become a contributing member of society.”

In addition to the pardons, Gov. Nixon today also commuted the sentence of Jeffrey Mizanskey, who was convicted on a charge stemming from Pettis County in 1996 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver/distribute. Because of Mizanskey’s prior drug-related convictions, he was sentenced as a persistent offender under the laws in effect at the time to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Governor’s commutation changes that sentence to include the possibility of parole, effective immediately.

“In the case of the commutation, my action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole,” Gov. Nixon said.

Read More:http://www.theweedblog.com/man-serving-life-sentence-marijuana-now-eligible-for-parole/


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Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Supports Marijuana Decriminalization, Possibly Legalization

Category: News | Posted on Thu, May, 21st 2015 by THCFinder

Those concerned that the next U.S. president won’t be as amenable to marijuana as the Obama administration might consider voting for Democratic nominee and current U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who voiced his outright support for decriminalization—and perhaps eventually backing full cannabis legalization—on Tuesday.

Sanders made his optimistic remarks during a Q&A session on Reddit, the social media website that enables registered users to directly participate in interviews with celebs and politicians.
One Reddit user who goes by the handle “ynmidk” referenced a 2014 Time interview in which Sanders opined that pot decriminalization is “not a major issue,” while adding that he would “look into it.” The user then asked  Sanders if he, “could... update us on your position regarding the war on drugs?”

Sanders responded that he supported his home state of Vermont's decision to decriminalize small amounts of personal pot. He added that when he served as mayor of Burlington, his administration ensured “very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana. Our police had more important things to do.”

Sanders then implicated he may well broaden his perspective.

“Colorado has led the effort towards legalizing marijuana and I’m going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done," he said. "I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months.”

Read More:http://www.hightimes.com/read/presidential-candidate-bernie-sanders-supports-marijuana-decriminalization-possibly


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Marijuana industry could grow fast with tax bill

Category: News | Posted on Thu, May, 21st 2015 by THCFinder

As marijuana businesses expand in Washington State, a bill being debated in Olympia could prompt the industry to grow even more.

Producers, processors and retail shop owners are closely watching HB 2136, which would rework some of the current regulations and change the tax structure. Some marijuana businesses say it's nearly impossible to make any money under the current tax structure.

"We've learned a lot since I-502 passed," says Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), the bill's primary sponsor. "This is an update, and a modernization of the current initiative."

Right now, marijuana laws apply a 25 percent excise tax on each level of the system: producer to a processor, processor to a retailer, and retailer to the customer. In addition, B&O taxes on the production and local retail sales taxes apply.

For those who operate as a producer and a processor, a common business model, they're hit with three taxes.

HB 2136 would collapse the tax burden, into one, 37 percent excise tax.

Large scale producer/processors, like OMG Sykes in Snohomish County, say simplifying the tax structure will allow businesses to more easily operate, and make money.

"With where the prices are in the market, it's very tough to compete," said John Knutsen, co-owner of OMG Sykes, one of the largest operations in the state.

Read More:http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2015/05/20/marijuana-industry-grow-tax-whittenberg-king-5/27638353/


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New DEA Chief Claims He Will Focus Less On Marijuana

Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 20th 2015 by THCFinder
 
chuck rosenberg dea

(via The Cannabist)

The Obama Administration has been a mixed bag when it comes to marijuana policy. On one hand, the Obama Administration has dropped the ball on reclassifying/declassifying marijuana, punting the issue to Congress every chance the administration gets despite the fact that the administration could initiative the process unilaterally. The administration hasn’t done a good job when it comes to marijuana banking, but has stated that it will allow Native American tribes to cultivate and sell recreational marijuana if they choose to do so. The Obama administration has stepped up to try to prevent federal intervention in states that have progressive marijuana policies on the books combined with clear regulations, although, the former head of the DEA didn’t seem to get the memo on that one.

Michele Leonhart ‘resigned’ last month after she was basically forced out of the DEA amid quite a bit of controversy. Obama then picked Chuck Rosenberg to head the DEA. Marijuana activists and supporters have been holding their breath, waiting to see what kind of leader Mr. Rosenberg will be. This week Mr. Rosenberg made some comments that are encouraging. Per Marijuana Business Daily:

The incoming head of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly will focus less on marijuana and instead put more resources toward harder drugs such as heroin, which could relieve some pressure on cannabis businesses in states without strong regulations on the industry.

Chuck Rosenberg – who served as chief of staff to the director of the FBI – was named to the DEA’s top spot on an interim basis by newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Rosenberg is expected to remain in the position while President Barack Obama is in office, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The new DEA chief will likely improve procedures on how to classify, declassify or reclassify marijuana, and he’ll also place less emphasis on cannabis in general, the Times reported.

These comments need to be taken with a grain of salt of course. The truth is, no one knows how Chuck Rosenberg will handle his new role at the DEA. Only time will tell. He can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk? Will he respect the fact that most Americans want marijuana prohibition to end, both for recreational purposes and medical purposes? Or will he try to inject his own views into the DEA, and continue to go after people that use and sell a substance that is safer than alcohol?

Source:http://www.theweedblog.com/new-dea-chief-claims-he-will-focus-less-on-marijuana/


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Arrests disrupt medical pot convention in Las Vegas

Category: News | Posted on Wed, May, 20th 2015 by THCFinder

Las Vegas police and federal agents arrested 10 people and seized drugs over the weekend at Hempcon, a marijuana education convention at the Cashman Center.

People who were there described seeing police dogs around the event, as well as officers on the roof of the building, apparently looking for people smoking marijuana.

The arrests outraged event organizers, and some attendees said they left patients frightened as Nevada’s first legal dispensaries prepare to open.

“It’s disheartening for our whole community,” said Jennifer Solis, who’s with Wellness Education Cannabis Advocates of Nevada, or WECAN, and was at the event.

From Friday to Sunday, officers shut down five booths, arrested 10 people and cited three others on charges including drug possession, possession with intent to sell and transporting a controlled substance, said officer Laura Meltzer, a Metro spokeswoman. She said officers seized marijuana, hashish, marijuana seeds, edible products containing THC and psilocybin mushrooms.

Meltzer said Metro narcotics detectives and Hempcon organizers had spoken before the event, and organizers told attendees they had to follow the law.

Nevada allows medical use of marijuana by patients with state-issued cards. But it’s illegal to sell the drug without a state dispensary license, and it’s illegal for anyone to use it in public.

Asked about the criticism of the arrests, Meltzer said, “It is incumbent upon the people who are attending this and who are conducting this to be aware of Nevada state law.”

Mark Saint, an activist who was at the convention Friday, said the police stance was hypocritical since officers have looked the other way at similar events while people used marijuana.

The arrests were made by a task force called Southern Nevada Cannabis Operation and Regional Enforcement, which includes Metro, Henderson police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA spokeswoman Sarah Pullen said a federal agent is on the task force, but that Las Vegas police led the operation.

Read More:http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/las-vegas/arrests-disrupt-medical-pot-convention-las-vegas


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