Louisiana Man Gets 13-Year Prison Sentence For Two Marijuana Joints
Category: News | Posted on Fri, April, 18th 2014 by THCFinder
NEW ORLEANS—The Drug Policy Alliance filed an amicus brief today urging the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the egregious prison sentence of Bernard Noble, a 48-year old man who was sentenced to 13.3 years of hard labor in prison without the opportunity for parole for possessing the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes.
Noble’s original sentencing judge considered the 13 and a third-year sentence egregious and imposed a sentence of five years of hard labor. But the Orleans Parish District Attorney wasn’t satisfied with this punishment and appealed the sentence. Ultimately, the district attorney sought and obtained a prison term of close to triple the sentence imposed by the original sentencing judge.
“Thirteen years in prison for two joints is obscene,” said Daniel Abrahamson, director of the Office of Legal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance and a lead author of the brief. “The punishment is so far out of proportion to the conduct that we really can’t call it ‘punishment’ – it is more like torture.”
While Noble has two prior low-level nonviolent drug offenses that occurred 8 and 20 years respectively before his arrest in this case, he has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of drugs for personal use. Because of these prior, albeit dated drug offenses Mr. Noble fell within Louisiana’s Habitual Offender Statute, which brings his sentence for his marijuana possession offense to thirteen and one-third years and deprived him of the opportunity for earlier release on parole.
The Drug Policy Alliance filed the amicus brief on behalf of DPA, the Micah Project, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Reason Foundation, and the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana. It highlights how Louisiana’s sentencing scheme for marijuana possession offenses is grossly disproportionate to the average sentence of marijuana offenders based on national standards and comparative state laws. In stark contrast to Louisiana, many states have decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use, with the offense being punishable by a fine and with no threat of jail time. And two states have outright legalized, taxed and regulated the cultivation, sale, possession and use of marijuana by and for adults.
“The sentence inflicted by Louisiana in this case for simple, low-level marijuana possession, on a gainfully employed father with absolutely no history any serious or violent crime, cannot be justified by any measure,” said Abrahamson. “It does not enhance public safety. It will destroy Mr. Noble and his family. And it flies in the face of what Louisianans believe. “
Indeed, Noble’s sentence also runs counter to public opinion. Independent public opinion polling undertaken in July and August 2013 by Public Policy Polling (“PPP”) underscores that Louisiana voters, by strong majorities, oppose lengthy prison terms for simple marijuana possession, including persons caught possessing marijuana on multiple occasions.
Further, there is gross racial disparity in the rates of arrest for marijuana possession. African Americans are 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites in Louisiana, and 61 percent of marijuana arrests are of African Americans while only 32 percent of Louisiana’s population is African American.
“Finally, Mr. Noble’s prison sentence for possessing two joints will cost Louisiana taxpayers nearly one-quarter of a million dollars and will add to the majority of nonviolent offenders who currently fill Louisiana’s prisons,” Abrahamson said. “In fact, only 17 percent of the state’s prison inmates have committed violent crimes, whereas fully one quarter of the state’s prison population is there for drug crimes.”
Lawmakers to debate roadside saliva tests for marijuana use
Category: News | Posted on Fri, April, 18th 2014 by THCFinder
(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Some advocates of medical marijuana say they'll attend a hearing Thursday in Lansing to oppose bills that would let police use roadside saliva testing if a driver is suspected of being under the influence of marijuana.
But the legislator who sponsored the proposal said opponents missed the point of his bills, whose primary aim is to get repeat intoxicated drivers off the road through better communication among police.
Saliva testing is "not critical to this legislation" although Michigan's police officers deserve to have it available, said State Rep. Dan Lauwers, a Republican from Brockway Township near Port Huron.
"We need to look to the future. This kind of testing has been approved in California," Lauwers said.
The saliva tests have not been approved throughout California but are being used in field trials by Los Angeles police to see if results can qualify as court-admissible evidence, said Don Targowski, a Santa Monica defense attorney who is active in marijuana cases. Targowski has offices in both suburban Los Angeles and Grand Rapids.
Under the Michigan proposal, motorists would not be arrested simply for failing the saliva test but only after being pulled over for "erratic driving." Then the saliva test would add confirming evidence, just as portable breath testers do in cases of drunken drivers to justify an arrest, Lauwers said.
"What we're really after is repeat offenders," he said. The spur for the bill was a double-fatal crash last year in St. Clair County in which a repeat offender drove under the influence of pain killers — not marijuana, he said. The testing proposal, House Bill 5385, and a companion bill together would get repeat drugged-driving violators off the road more quickly by setting up the same notification system for police across the state of pending cases that's already in effect for alcohol-impaired drivers, he said.
The two bills are set for a Thursday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. Those who represent the more than 100,000 state-registered users of medical marijuana said they plan to be there or will send others to speak against the bills.
"These tests are very flawed," said Adam Macdonald of Grosse Pointe Farms, chairman of the National Patients Rights Association, a nationwide advocacy group for medical-marijuana users.
"I've heard this will kick the ability to drive right out from under anyone who uses medical marijuana for up to 20 days" before the test, Macdonald said.
Saliva testing detects a subject's level of active THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, said Lapeer attorney Bernard Jocuns.
"Right now in Michigan, technically a medical marijuana patient is supposed to be immune from prosecution while driving, unless there's evidence of actual impairment of their driving," Jocuns said. But the test would ignore the evidence of actual impairment and merely show the result of a chemical reaction, he said.
NCAA Rules That Marijuana Is Not a Performance-Enhancing Substance
Category: News | Posted on Thu, April, 17th 2014 by THCFinder
The NCAA has decided not to punish student-athletes as harshly for the use of marijuana after determining that it is not a performance-enhancing substance.
The penalty for testing positive for street drugs, including marijuana, will be reduced to half a season from a full season. Street drugs are not performance-enhancing in nature, and this change will encourage schools to provide student-athletes the necessary rehabilitation.
While this is a huge change, it also doesn't change the law in many states. In the few states where the substance is actually legal—such as Colorado—the punishment may not appear to be as harsh.
As for any other state where it is not legal, running the risk of a suspension and arrest might be a little more harsh. USA Today also recently ran a study that shows casual use of marijuana can still affect brain cells:
Missouri Rep Tells Marijuana Patient To "Get A Job And Get Off Dope"
Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 9th 2014 by THCFinder
A Missouri State Representative named Bill Lant is a Republican who represents Missouri’s 159th District. It’s a small, rural district dominated, if you can call it that, by the little town of Anderson, population 1,998.
Aarden Gross is a 27-year-old constituent of Bill Lant’s, just 26 miles away in tinier unincorporated Rocky Comfort. Aarden is interested in having Missouri’s marijuana laws reformed and decided to email his state representative, Bill Lant, to express his feelings.
Aarden’s not a professional lobbyist or even an amateur activist. His writing skills aren’t the best and his emails are a bit long. But he is a citizen, a constituent of Bill Lant’s, and most important to this article, a patient suffering from a vascular disease for which medical marijuana would be helpful.
Aarden Gross and Bill Lant got into an email discussion where apparently Aarden told Rep. Lant about his medical need. ”I have reached out to you several times trying to get a conversation started,” Aarden wrote, “and the only words I have got from you out of half a dozen emails was ‘I will think about it’.” In that email, Aarden expressed how a CBD-only bill under consideration wouldn’t help most patients and wouldn’t help him. ”The only way to ensure all patients are getting the medicine they need,” Aarden continued, “is to completely legalize marijuana.” Aarden also asked Rep. Lant about his personal views on medical marijuana and what sources he uses to shape those views.
Rep. Lant responded:
Aarden, my District survey shows 89% disapproval. We will not have an opportunity this session to vote on a proposal as bill filing has closed, but I will send out another poll before next session. Thanks, Bill
Disturbed that Rep. Lant deferred to a survey rather than offering his own opinions, Aarden responded to Rep. Lant angrily, upset that Rep. Lant wouldn’t answer any of his questions. ”You need to have a conversation about Marijuana,” wrote Aarden, “It is a serious subject and with your obvious lack of willingness to even discuss the current situation I doubt you will be my representative for long.”
Now maybe Aarden showed a lack of respect and decorum in some of his writing. Maybe after nine or ten long emails about the same subject, Rep. Bill Lant too hastily hit “Send” late after a long night of legislating. But this response from an elected state official shows a disturbing lack of maturity and respect for the people he represents:
Concentrated Marijuana Under Review In Colorado
Category: News | Posted on Wed, April, 9th 2014 by THCFinder
DENVER (AP) – When people buy marijuana from a store in Colorado, the ounce they can walk out the door with is fairly easy to measure. Not so when the pot is in concentrated form, perhaps baked into a cookie or brownie.
The state could soon address that issue with a bill pending in the House.
“An ounce of concentrate is a significant amount – it’s probably close to about 10 times the amount that you would have in an ounce of the flowers,” said Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer, who is co-sponsoring a bill that directs the state Department of Revenue to determine how much concentrated pot is equal to an ounce of leafy pot.
To put the difference between flower marijuana and concentrated pot in further context, Singer noted that “an ounce of concentrate would last most medical marijuana patients probably pretty close to a year.”
Colorado currently allows adults over 21 to possess an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, but the legalization amendment that voters approved in 2012 makes no distinction between leafy green pot flowers or highly concentrated hash oil used to make pot-infused edibles.
Washington state, the only other state with legal recreational pot, already has limits of less than an ounce for hash oil, 16 ounces of pot food, and 72 fluid ounces of weed drinks.
Colorado’s marijuana industry agrees there should be equivalency standards, and sent a letter a couple of weeks ago to the revenue department requesting as much. But Mike Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said it will be a complicated process and that it’s unclear right now what the equivalency standards should be.
Read more: http://denver.cbslocal.com
Retail marijuana sales in Washington face regulatory delays
Category: News | Posted on Tue, April, 8th 2014 by THCFinder
SEATTLE — Drive down virtually any thoroughfare in Seattle and you are likely to pass several medical marijuana dispensaries. On Rainier Avenue, in southeast Seattle, the Northwest Cannabis Market sits between a fish store and an Italian bakery. A mile or so down the road, another dispensary occupies an old drive-in burger stand. There are about half as many medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle — about 200 — as Starbucks locations.
But unlike in Colorado, where retail sales of marijuana for recreational uses began on New Year’s Day, a year after voters passed a ballot initiative legalizing the drug, Washington state regulators have taken months to craft new rules, and to comb through the thousands of applications for growing and retail licenses. More than 16 months after voters approved legalization, anyone hoping to score some dope in Seattle still has to have a medical prescription.
The state Liquor Control Board, tasked with overseeing marijuana sales, estimates the first of what will ultimately be 334 stores that receive licenses will be open by July.
The delay is a product of ambiguously-worded 15-year-old legislation and strict structures in which marijuana growers will have to operate; it has served to heighten pre-existing tensions between the state’s thriving medical marijuana industry and retail sellers eager to turn a profit. And the delay is costing businesses eager to begin selling, and the state hungry for tax revenue, millions of dollars.
“There’s people that are spending money and taking risk” to set up retail stores, said John Davis, CEO of the Northwest Patient Resource Center, a Seattle dispensary. “The Liquor Control Board being all over the place, this could very easily turn into a lawsuit.”
Part of the blame for the delay rests with the authors of a 1998 ballot initiative that legalized marijuana for medical use. That law allowed patients to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana, though what constituted a 60-day supply was never defined. The state legislature passed a bill that would have imposed regulations on the medical marijuana industry in 2011, but then-Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), worried that those regulations would put state officials at risk of arrest by federal agents, vetoed it.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com
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