Tag Archives: decriminalization

Schumer to introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

cannabis-sativa-plant-1404978607akl

By Sophie Tatum and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN)   Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to propose legislation decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level.

While Schumer, who was elected to the Senate two decades ago, has been supportive of medicinal marijuana, he has now “evolved” his thinking on recreational marijuana.

“The time has come to decriminalize marijuana,” the New York Democrat said in a statement Friday announcing his plans to introduce a new bill in the Senate.

“My thinking — as well as the general population’s views — on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do,” he said.

    Schumer announced the proposed legislation Thursday in an interview with “Vice News Tonight.”

    The senator told Vice News he had “seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long.”

    Trump promises GOP lawmaker to protect states’ marijuana rights

    Schumer further explained his decision in a Medium post Friday.

    “A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime,” Schumer wrote. “Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. This is not only misguided, but it undermines the basic principles of fairness and equal opportunity that are foundational to the American way of life.”

    According to Schumer’s office, under the new bill, marijuana would be removed from the list of substances classified under the Controlled Substances Act.

    Schumer’s legislation would leave in place decisions by states on how to regulate marijuana, the authority of federal law enforcement to penalize trafficking from states that have legalized the drug to those that have not, and federal regulation of marijuana advertising so children aren’t targeted.

    The bill also seeks to allocate funds for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses and public health research regarding the effects of THC, the main active chemical in marijuana.

    CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.

    CONTINUE READING AND TO VIEW VIDEO…

    Advertisements

    “…Either you want your freedoms restored, or you don’t.”

    Image may contain: text

    Kevin James

    Yesterday at 10:59am ·

    I want to thank the non informed for the Cannabis Act… you’re insistence that legal is best is the gift earned.

    I spoke for years about repeal vs legal…

    — now I’m done & another wayseer abandons the masses due to tiredness

    Either you want your freedoms restored, or you don’t. Most people “say” they want their freedoms restored, even as they deliberately stab themselves–and everyone else–in the back by begging for more statutory enslavement, and REFUSING to end the problem, somehow “believing” that not ending the problem, and always making it worse, is somehow going to end the problem.

    So let’s look at the BULLSHIT NON-OPTIONS that people “believe” means they get their freedoms back, as opposed to the REPEAL of the statutes, which actually WOULD end the persecution once and for all:

    1) “Decriminalization” is NOT repeal. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    2) “Legalization” is what we already have. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    3) “Re-legalization” is two letters prepended to what we already have. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    4) “Tax and regulate” will create more statutes, more regulations, more licenses, more fees, and create more problems and more “criminal charges.” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    5) “Regulate like _____” is just a different way to say “tax and regulate.” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    6) “Hemp ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    7) “Medical ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    8.) “Government control ONLY!” It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    9) “Corporate control ONLY!” is financial in nature, and is ENTIRELY motivated by profiteering. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    10) “Government/corporate partnership control ONLY!” is actually OVERT FASCISM. It is NOT freedom. But some of you still fight for this, instead of to end prohibition.

    There are several other “NOT REPEAL” options that people keep sucking up as “the ONLY solution”, even as they continue to “say” they want their freedom restored.

    How can you ever hope to restore your own freedoms while you REFUSE to remove the statutes that took them away, and keep pushing for MORE STATUTES to further control your life in more intrusive ways?

    How long are you going to keep paying for more of *your* own enslavement?

    Are people EVER going to just wake up and see the truth that’s been staring them in the face for DECADES already?!?

    CONTINUE READING…

    RELATED:

    “Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations.” HOW THE UNITED NATIONS IS STEALING OUR “UNALIENABLE RIGHTS” TO GROW FOOD AND MEDICINE THROUGH THE U.N. CONVENTION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS AND AGENDA 21.  LINK

    https://www.facebook.com/iammkjm/posts/10214522031938895

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214422174322517&set=a.4142741601196.166072.1063400382&type=3&theater

    https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/10/26/rights-and-freedoms-may-in-no-case-be-exercised-contrary-to-purposes-and-principles-of-the-united-nations-how-the-united-nations-is-stealing-our-unalienable-rights-to-grow/

    Why the Marijuana Justice Act legalizes marijuana the right way

    MJA CB

    By Jim Patterson, Opinion Contributor – 08/16/17 02:10 PM EDT

    Earlier this month, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. To some, this bill may look like another liberal attempt to push for widespread legalization of marijuana across the country. But for those of us who work in this industry and understand the complexities and inequities of current marijuana policies, the bill is a bold step forward in transforming the industry as we know it.

    I recommend that anyone who questions why marijuana should no longer be illegal under federal law, take the time to watch Sen. Booker’s three-minute video explaining his legislation. It will shine a light on how marijuana policies have negatively impacted targeted communities, specifically low-income communities of color. This bill seeks to undo some of the damage that Booker aptly describes as, “the unjust application of the law and economic bias.” For example, the bill would expunge convictions for those with marijuana use and/or possession charges at the federal level which, in turn, will allow for greater access to education and economic opportunities.

    As CEO of a company which works in the legal marijuana industry, it is a priority for me that this industry gives everyone a fair and equal playing field. On a daily basis, I meet and speak with entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in becoming a part of the marijuana industry because of its huge growth potential and opportunity.

    However, with opportunity come risks, and in this industry we take financial, legal and professional risks. That said, there is a large segment of the population that is not at the table for these types of discussions because they were previously targeted during the war on drugs and now cannot fully participate in the state legal boom of this business.

    For them, the risks are still too high under marijuana’s current federal classification as a Schedule I drug. The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to change this by taking steps to fix the system so that marijuana is not just legal, but that the industry as a whole can move forward in a direction that we can be proud of.

    Additionally, this legislation is important because it would also address a number of challenges marijuana businesses face such as lack of access to ordinary banking services. It would also move towards regulating the marijuana market as a whole and by regulating legal access, it would discourage and replace illicit drug activity.

    I applaud Booker for introducing thoughtful legislation that would legalize the industry in the “right” way and that truly has the ability to move the ball forward on some of the historically negative aspects of this industry. Now is the time for the federal government to acknowledge that marijuana should be legal and removed from the list of controlled substances.

    A recent CBS News poll showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and use in states that have legalized it, and 61 percent of Americans want marijuana legal across the country. Additionally, in the first six months of this new Congress, over a dozen bi-partisan bills have been introduced aimed at moving marijuana policies and regulations forward. Like Booker’s legislation, these bills acknowledge that updated marijuana laws and policies will bring a plethora of economic and social benefits to our country through increased job opportunities and tax revenues.

    Congress must acknowledge the position of the majority of the American public and respond accordingly. I call on lawmakers to support this legislation and will be doing my part to raise this bill as a priority in the technology, transportation, policy and marijuana business communities eaze is a part of.

    Jim Patterson is the CEO of eaze, a cannabis technology that connects people to doctors and dispensaries for on-demand consultations and deliveries.


    The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Marijuana reforms flood state legislatures

    By Reid Wilson – 01/13/17

    Marijuana reforms flood state legislatures

    Legislators in more than a dozen states have introduced measures to loosen laws restricting access to or criminalizing marijuana, a rush of legislative activity that supporters hope reflects a newfound willingness by public officials to embrace a trend toward legalization.

    The gamut covered by measures introduced in the early days of legislative sessions underscores the patchwork approach to marijuana by states across the country — and the possibility that the different ways states treat marijuana could come to a head at the federal Justice Department, where President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general is a staunch opponent of legal pot.

    Some states are taking early steps toward decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. In his State of the State address this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he will push legislation to remove criminal penalties for non-violent offenders caught with marijuana. 

    “The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” Cuomo’s office wrote to legislators. “The unnecessary arrest of these individuals can have devastating economic and social effects on their lives.”

    New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said during his campaign he would support decriminalizing marijuana. Legislation has passed the Republican-led state House in recent years, though it died when Sununu’s predecessor, now-Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), said she did not support the move.

    Several states are considering allowing marijuana for medical use. Twenty-eight states already have widespread medical marijuana schemes, and this year legislators in Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah have introduced bills to create their own versions. Republicans in control of state legislatures in most of those states are behind the push.

    Legislators in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, New Mexico and New Jersey will consider recently introduced measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use. 

    There is little consensus on just how to approach legalization: Three different bills have been introduced in Connecticut’s legislature. Two have been introduced in New Mexico, and three measures to allow medical pot have been filed in Missouri.

    In 2016, voters in four states — Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California — joined Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado in passing ballot measures legalizing pot for recreational purposes. Those efforts, marijuana reform advocates say, have lifted the stigma legislators might have felt.

    “Now that voters in a growing number of states have proven that this is a mainstream issue, many more lawmakers feel emboldened to champion marijuana reform, whereas historically this issue was often looked at as a marginalized or third-rail issue,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority.

    Just because measures get introduced does not mean they will advance. In many cases, Angell said, it is governors — Democrats and Republicans alike — who stand in the way.

    Though Democrats control the Connecticut legislature, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) has made clear he is no supporter of legalized pot. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has not said he would veto a legalization bill, though he is far less friendly to the idea than his predecessor, Democrat Peter Shumlin.

    In New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) has called decriminalizing marijuana a “horrible, horrible idea.” Democratic legislators are considering a plan to put legal marijuana to voters, by proposing an amendment to the state constitution. If New Jersey legislators advance a legalization law, they would run into an almost certain veto from Gov. Chris Christie (R).

    While 14 state legislatures have legalized marijuana for medical use, no state legislature has passed a measure legalizing pot for recreational use.

    “Every year, we’ve seen legalizers throw everything at the wall to see what might stick,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “I’m not surprised by any means. I don’t think there’s much appetite to legalize through the legislature.”

    Sabet conceded that efforts to stop legalization movements in Vermont and Rhode Island may be difficult. He said decriminalization measures can be smart and effective, if they include provisions boosting funding for treatment and prevention, but he warned that decriminalization bills can be a first step toward looser rules.

    “The kind of decriminalization that legalization folks want is a stepping stone,” Sabet said. “Their prize is certainly full legalization. I don’t think they’re going to stop at decriminalization.”

    In Washington, the incoming Trump administration has sent signals that encourage, and worry, both supporters and opponents of looser pot rules. The Obama Justice Department issued a memorandum to U.S. attorneys downplaying the importance of prosecuting crimes relating to marijuana in states where it is legal.

    Trump’s nominee to head the next Justice Department, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), has been sharply critical of states that have legalized marijuana. In his confirmation hearings this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions said current guidelines, known as the Cole memo, are “truly valuable.”

    Marijuana industry advocates seized on those comments in hopes of locking Sessions into maintaining the status quo.

    “The current federal policy, as outlined by the Cole memo, has respected carefully designed state regulatory programs while maintaining the Justice Department’s commitment to pursuing criminals and prosecuting bad actors,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

    Congress in recent years has passed a rider to appropriations bills that has blocked the Justice Department from taking action against states where pot is legal. But that could change, now that Republicans control the House, Senate and White House.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Ian Bell: Let’s end the war on drugs by making them legal

    An Italian policeman holds a bag full of cocaine which was found in a car in the Scampia area of  Naples

    IT could be a pub quiz question. What do Armenia and Argentina have in common? The Czech Republic and Chile? Paraguay and Poland? The answer isn’t football. Each has decided, in some fashion, that if you just say no to drugs, you say nothing useful at all.

    Depending on the definitions used, there are between 25 and 30 such countries. Their laws, methods, aims and ambitions vary. Some have legalised drugs. Some have “re-legalised”. A few never got around to prohibition to begin with. Most have experimented – for personal use, you understand – with a gateway policy, decriminalisation.

    Last week the Republic of Ireland decided, in effect, that what’s good enough for Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Estonia, the Netherlands and others might help with its own liberation from the half-century of failure we still call, without irony, the war on drugs. With a leaked report suggesting that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is on the brink of advocating decriminalisation, Ireland joins a growing consensus.

    Britain doesn’t want to hear about that. Or rather, the Conservative Government doesn’t want to hear the accusation “soft on drugs” from its press sponsors. Amid a fragrant haze of hypocrisy, the line is that there will be no change, funding cuts aside, in UK drugs strategy. Meanwhile, police forces the length of these islands are improvising policies of their own.

    In Ireland, serious thinking has been going on. The result, if carried through, will be the decriminalisation of drugs in “personal use” quantities combined with the introduction of injection (“consumption”) rooms. Narcotics will remain illegal, but in future – or such is the hope – no-one will be treated as a criminal because of an addiction or a problematic habit. The Irish are making a fundamental distinction.

    Officially, Britain remains tough, tougher than tough, on drugs. Unofficially, an ad hoc pragmatism guides enforcement. A fall of close to a third in cannabis possession offences in England and Wales between 2011-12 and 2014-15 has not happened because dope has lost its allure. With budgets cut to ribbons, police forces have concluded they have better things to do than harass cannabis users.

    There are worse principles a government could apply. In a speech at the London School of Economics last Monday, Aodhain O’ Riordain, the Irish minister responsible for drugs strategy, maintained that a “cultural shift” is required. Addiction should be regarded as a health issue, he argued, both for the sake of individuals and for the benefit of law enforcement. Time and money spent hunting addicts could be better used against a criminal trade.

    O’Riordain advocates decriminalisation, not legalisation. He is not alone in that, though at the LSE he failed to explain the logic. Portugal’s experience over the last 14 years is the Irish minister’s inspiration, as it is for many reluctant conscripts in the war on drugs, but a conspicuous Iberian success remains half an answer to a complicated question.

    With Europe’s highest HIV infection rate among injecting drugs users, Portugal faced an undoubted crisis at the turn of the century. Desperate, it decided that drug use or possession should remain offences, but not criminal offences. The money spent on treatment and prevention was doubled. The police meanwhile began to ignore mere marijuana use. And the HIV rate started to fall.

    It has not been plain sailing since. According to some studies, hard drug use has increased. More people have sought treatment, perhaps as a result, but the number of drug-related deaths has declined. Pressure on courts has eased, meanwhile, and the street price of drugs has fallen. Adolescent use seems to be waning, but with the police still seizing several tonnes of cocaine each year, the effect of reform on organised crime has been hard to measure.

    That, though, is an aspect of decriminalisation too often overlooked. On its own, without a wider health policy or O’Riordain’s “person-centred” strategy, it does not “solve” a narcotics problem. Chiefly, it spares individuals the brutal effects – prison, stigma, unemployment, existence without treatment or medical care – that are legacies of the unending war. But decriminalisation alone is not enough.

    It counts as a start, nevertheless, and that is more than Britain has managed. Last October, the Home Office caused strife within the coalition by publishing a report, Drugs: International Comparators, that looked at the experience of Portugal and a dozen other countries. To the dismay of Tories, the survey said there was “no apparent correlation” between tough laws and the level of drug use. While decriminalisation would not curb use, there were “indications that decriminalisation can reduce the burden on criminal justice systems”.

    Who’d have thought? In the ensuing battle, the LibDem Norman Lamb resigned as a Home Office minister while policy – “this government has absolutely no intention of decriminalising drugs” – was reaffirmed. Faced with a problem, Britain had not got beyond failing to put two and two together.

    Why decriminalise? For an Irish recreational user, far less an addict, the question is superfluous. Nevertheless, O’Riordain, like his peers around the world, has taken a first step and refused the second. As the Home Office report suggested, decriminalisation has little effect on use. People go on buying their blood-stained substances and enriching some of the nastiest people on the planet. A few more police go to work hunting traffickers. Users are no longer persecuted. The mafias remain.

    In 2006, the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano published Gomorrah, an expose, in the proper sense, of the Neapolitan Camorra. He has been forced to live since under armed guard in secret locations. Nevertheless, this summer he published Zero Zero Zero, a title derived from a traffickers’ joke name for pure cocaine. The book is horrifying, but not just for the routine, fantastical violence. In Saviano’s account, the cartels’ trade has corrupted the world.

    UNODC will mention “vast sums” that “compromise” economies, buy politicians and rig elections. Saviano will tell you that drugs money courses through the world’s financial systems, that it touches all of us, and that it alone kept banking afloat in parts of the Americas during the great crash. He calls it narco-capitalism.

    The journalist has dedicated his life to opposing the mafias. Nevertheless, in the last pages of Zero Zero Zero he writes: “As terrible as it may seem, total legalisation may be the only answer. A horrendous response, horrible perhaps, agonising. But the only one that can stop everything.”

    That strikes me as true. By one calculation, the United States alone had spent $150 billion on the drugs war by 2010. Any victories? Or just the news that Barack Obama has been commuting sentences on dozens of hapless souls locked away for life because of recreational use? According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as of September 26, 48.4 per cent of the entire US inmate population, 93,821 individuals, had been locked up for drug offences. Some war; some victory.

    So legalise the lot. Those who want to use drugs will go on using drugs. In a country with common sense, like Ireland, they might get the help they need. But Saviano is right. Only one thing will put the traffickers out of business and end this hopeless war.

    CONTINUE READING…