Hawaii Senate to Hear Testimony on Marijuana Decriminalization

Category: News | Posted on Sun, February, 24th 2013 by THCFinder
HONOLULU, HI — Lawmakers in the Hawaii Senate will hear testimony on a bill to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses Tuesday.
Members of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee will hear testimony on Senate Bill 472,  which would reduce minor marijuana possession offenses to a non-criminal, $100 fine-only offense.
The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 am HST on Tuesday, Febrauary 26.
Currently,  the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for non-medical purposes is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Bill to vacate Washington misdemeanor marijuana convictions draws objections

Category: News | Posted on Thu, February, 21st 2013 by THCFinder
SEATTLE -- A bill that would allow people to have their Washington state misdemeanor marijuana convictions vacated drew some interesting objections Wednesday at a hearing in Olympia.
Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien told the House Public Safety Committee that after Initiative 502 passed, allowing adults over 21 to have up to an ounce of marijuana under state law, he started thinking about the thousands of people who have criminal records for activity that is now legal -- criminal records that can keep people from getting jobs, housing or loans.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Fitzgibbon's bill would allow them to petition to have their convictions quickly vacated, rather than waiting the three years after completing their sentence that people typically have to wait before making such a request, he said. Since 2008, he said, 1,828 people in Washington have faced misdemeanor convictions where marijuana possession was their only offense.
"This is a bill about giving them a second chance," Fitzgibbon said.


U.S. drug czar: We will enforce federal marijuana laws

Category: News | Posted on Wed, February, 20th 2013 by THCFinder
President Obama’s drug czar told a Canadian magazine recently that the federal government would still go after Marijuana growers and distributors, despite the recent ballot initiatives that decriminalized marijuana usage in those states.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he opposed state-based efforts to legalize marijuana.
“I think a patchwork of policies would create real difficulties,” he said in an interview with Maclean’s. “I don’t see the legalization of drugs and making them widely available as a good thing.”
Proponents of marijuana legalization argued that Colorado and Washington are doing everything they can to respect federal law while still asserting their right to treat marijuana similarly to alcohol.
“The question is whether federal officials want these states to regulate marijuana sales and bring them above board, or keep them in the underground market where they are controlled by the cartels,” wrote Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are hopeful [federal officials] will see the benefits of regulating marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, and we are pleased to see the progress these two states are making toward doing just that.”
Even the president knows that policing recreational marijuana use is a waste of time and money, said Tvert.


Stoned Drivers Hit Test Course In Washington To Evaluate Marijuana DUI Limits

Category: News | Posted on Tue, February, 19th 2013 by THCFinder
As legislators in Colorado and Washington wrestle with a haze of questions regarding the regulation of legal marijuana, one issue often stands paramount: how high is too high to drive?
Given the lack of precedent, Washington TV station KIRO opted to elevate action over words. In a February 13 segment, the station assembled a group of volunteers, had them smoke pot (appropriately, the strain was called "blueberry train wreck"), and set them loose on a driving test course.
A handful of police officers stood nearby, keen to pick up on any telltale signs of stoned driving. To minimize dangers posed to bystanders, a driving school instructor, in the passenger's seat, sat ready to take the wheel or stomp the brake pedal at a moment's notice.
The results, while entertaining, unfortunately don't add much clarity to the question at hand. A regular smoker of marijuana tested above the legal limit to begin with, yet drove without much of a problem (at least initially). Two casual smokers also navigated the course without incident. (Spoiler alert: after smoking more marijuana, things devolve quickly).
In 2012, Colorado legislators declined to pass a law that would have limited drivers to 5 nanograms of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, per milliliter of blood.
"This is a bit of unprecedented territory, so trying to find the right approach has proven difficult and cumbersome," explained Rep. Dan Pabon, a lawmaker on Colorado's marijuana-legalizing task force, to CBS News in 2012.
Washington lawmakers, meanwhile, passed a law in 2012 setting the threshold for legal impairment at 5 nanograms of THC, reports NPR.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to common sense. Explains Bob Calkins, a Washington State Patrol spokesman, to The Oregonian, "We don't just pull people over and draw blood... If you're driving OK, we're not going pull you over. But driving impaired is still driving impaired."


Cville Attorney: Nix Jail Time for Marijuana Possession

Category: News | Posted on Tue, February, 19th 2013 by THCFinder
A Charlottesville attorney is trying to take away jail time as a consequence for possessing marijuana.
Attorney Jeff Fogel says it's inappropriate, and some Charlottesville city councilors agree. Tuesday night, the touchy issue will get tackled at a City Council meeting.
The argument centers on prevention versus punishment, and developing a local ordinance that goes against the grain.  Fogel said, "It is a very simple and modest proposal, simply: let's keep jail time out of this."
Fogel says going to jail for possession of pot is an expensive waste of time and resources.
"It's not an appropriate response. It doesn't serve anybody's interests, it doesn't stop people from smoking marijuana, it costs the rest of us money to keep them in jail and it's simply not appropriate," he said.
Currently, state law says anyone caught with marijuana faces up to 30 days behind bars for the first offense, and up to a year in jail for any subsequent offense. The proposed ordinance set to go before City Council would provide an option for law enforcement and city attorneys to take away the jail sentence for first offenders. Fogel says they should do away with jail sentences all together, and plans to present his own proposal to City Council Tuesday.
Fogel explains that if a proposed ordinance was adopted, whether to charge under the municipal ordinance or the state statute is a decision made by police in the first instance. The prosecutor can then also alter the charge either from or to the ordinance or the statute. He says it would be an expectation that law enforcement and city attorneys follow the city's policy.
Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos agrees jail time is extreme.


Marijuana, Both Legal And Illegal, Triggers License Confusion For Doctors, Cops

Category: News | Posted on Tue, February, 19th 2013 by THCFinder
BOSTON — Tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents could be at risk of losing their jobs if they use marijuana for medical relief, as government agencies work to balance the new state medical marijuana law with federal law, which says the drug is illegal under all circumstances.
Marijuana starts on a shelf during the opening of a Seattle medical marijuana market on Feb. 13 (Elaine Thompson/AP)
One potential scenario: A doctor who becomes a medical marijuana patient would be at “significant risk” of violating his or her license to practice medicine, according to Bill Ryder, legislative and regulatory counsel for the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Ryder says the main problem for doctors is a question on the state license application that asks, “Do you use an illegal drug?” The state Board of Registration in Medicine, which reviews physician licenses and applications, may still be bound to interpret “illegal drug” according to federal law.
“So the board could require you to report that and then judge you on the basis of the fact that you may have violated federal law,” Ryder explains.
Even if the board makes an exception for medical marijuana, and a physician has a certificate from his or her doctor, Ryder says the physician who is a patient may still put his or her license at risk.
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