Drug Policy Alliance: The Real Way to Address Violence Related to Marijuana is through Legalizing and Regulating It
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton this week gave a press conference about the rising number of shootings in NYC. Incredibly, Bratton went on to
“Commissioner Bratton’s claims today about marijuana are straight out of the tired old drug war handbook and frankly, are ridiculous," said gabriel sayegh, managing director of policy and campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "What evidence is Bratton relying on in making these statements? Hasn’t he heard that correlation does not equal causation?
"Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance in the U.S. and in New York and, therefore, is far more likely to be found on New Yorkers than any other drug," sayegh said. "It appears that finding marijuana on the scene of a violent crime is enough for Bratton to assert a causal link.
"Using that rationale, we can make other causal links to violence – for instance, if police find a cell phone at the scene of a violent crime, then certainly the cell phone must cause that crime," sayegh said.
By Steve Elliott
In a very rare move, a Missouri legislator has proposed a bill to free one man from prison. That happened this week when Rep. Shamed Dogan filed House Bill 978, which would allow a parole board to release any prisoner serving a life sentence for nonviolent marijuana charges.
There's only one man in the state who fits that description, of course: Jeff Mizanskey, 61, a grandfather who has spent more than 20 years behind bars because of Missouri's horrific three-strike law for drug crimes, reports Danny Wicentowski at Riverfront Times.
H.B. 978 doesn't mention Mizanskey by name, but freshman lawmaker Dogan made his intentions clear in a press release in which he called Mizanskey's sentence "a miscarriage of justice."
"It is unconscionable to me that this man, who is no danger to society, will spend the rest of his life in prison at taxpayer expense," Dogan said. "Many of my legislative colleagues have come together to implore the governor to commute Mr. Mizanskey's life sentence, but to date the governor has done nothing more than promise to review Jeff's case before he leaves office."
U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) on Friday introduced two bills that together would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.
Representative Blumenauer’s legislation, H.R. 1014, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015, creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows. Representative Polis’s legislation, H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors.”
More than 213 million people live in a state or jurisdiction that allows some form of legal use of marijuana. Twenty-three states currently allow for medical marijuana, while four states -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska--and the District of Columbia recently legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. Eleven additional states have passed laws allowing the use of low-THC forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.
Colorado: MPP Calls For Boycott of Holiday Inn After Hotel Operator Files Federal Lawsuit To Shut Down Marijuana LegalizationSubmitted by steveelliott on Fri, 02/20/2015 - 21:40
Suit filed Thursday by New Vision Hotels Two, LLC claims its Frisco Holiday Inn location — which sells alcohol, a more harmful substance than marijuana — would lose business if a state-licensed marijuana retail store opens across the street
If you enjoy legal cannabis, you may want to avoid giving your business to Holiday Inn.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Friday called for a nationwide boycott of Holiday Inn after a hotel operator in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit intended to shut down the state’s marijuana regulatory system.
New Vision Hotels Two, LLC is the primary plaintiff in a suit filed Thursday that claims its Frisco Holiday Inn location would lose business if a state-licensed marijuana retail store opens nearby. The operators of the hotel, which sells alcohol — a more harmful substance than marijuana — on its premises, say the presence of a marijuana business will hurt the hotel’s image and deter visitors.
In messages to its approximately 200,000 email subscribers and 414,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter, MPP urged supporters of legalizing and regulating marijuana to stop staying at Holiday Inn hotels until the lawsuit is dropped. It also launched a Change.org petition targeting New Vision Hotels and Holiday Inn’s parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group.
The petition is online at http://chn.ge/1w4Fqls.
By Monica Pupo,
Hemp News Correspondent
A tragedy took over the Spanish air last week, when a helicopter full of Moroccan hashish crashed after hitting a power pole. According to a report released by Hightimes magazine's website, the pilot and co-pilot died instantly.
The aircraft crashed near the mountain town of Cortes de la Frontera, in Malaga, apparently after performing some evasive maneuvers to escape another helicopter of the Spanish Civil Guard, which had started the chase.
Black painted to not be recognized during the night, the helicopter was carrying something around 800 kg of hashish.
One of the dead pilot was identified as Feka Sokol, a former major in the Albanian Army. Media reports in Albania say he used to work as an instructor at the air base in the Balkan country.
Exports of Moroccan hashish are growing in Spain, considered the main warehouse to European markets. Since June 2013, the Spanish authorities seized more than 100 tons of hash in various operations.
To read Monica Pupos blog, please visit http://maryjuana.com.br
To read Mike Bifari's blog in Spanish, please visit: Noticias Canamo
Central Virginia Clergy and Community Advocates to Convene for Annual Legislative Day to Highlight Issues of Social Injustice on February 5
As part of its 2015 Virginia General Assembly Legislative Day, Baptist Minister's Conference of Richmond & Vicinity (BMCRV), Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration and its partners the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference and the Drug Policy Alliance will spend Thursday in dialog with Virginia Senators, House of Delegates members, top McAuliffe Administration officials and others on the myriad of social justice issues affecting Virginians.
Ministers and advocates will share stories on the many ways Virginians are impacted by the ongoing failure of Virginia Legislators to seriously consider the needs of all Virginians – in particular, the needs of the poor and the marginalized.
BMCRV is comprised of over 80 Baptist churches located in Central Virginia representing about 50,000 members, family and friends.
What: Press Conference
Where: The first floor Press Room of the General Assembly building
Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Rev. Dr. Marlon Haskell, President, Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Richmond and Vicinity
Jesse Frierson, Executive Director, Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration
Rev. Dr. Marcus Small, Board Member, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, JD, Policy Manager, National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
By Steve Elliott
An informal study by has shown Florida is the worst state in the Union for marijuana smokers.
Reporter Evan Anderson became curious about cannabis citations around the United States after reading a MuckRock piece by Beryl Anderson on citation data from California marijuana arrests after decriminalization. Copying the language used by MuckRock user Dave Maass to get California's numbers, Anderson requested the same data from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, Vermont and Washington. Data from Washington and Colorado, both of which have legalized pot, were unavailable at the time of the requests, and the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice never acknowledged his request.
The number of marijuana citations given in Florida "blows the rest of the states out or the water," Anderson reports in MuckRock.
Part of that is due to the unfortunate fact that possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida is a felony with a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
By Steve Elliott
You might think that criminal record of yours limits your opportunities. But now there's a $1,000 law school scholarship available where applicants must prove they've already been in trouble with the law.
The Appelman Law Firm, LLC, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says the idea is designed to reward those who've made better choices after a conviction -- "those who have managed to turn their lives around and intend to pursue a career in criminal defense."
"There's a real need for passionate attorneys in criminal defense," said Avery Appelman, the firm's founder. "Nothing instills a great passion for justice quite like having suffered through the process yourself."
That's where the Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Scholarship comes in, and Appelman isn't alone in thinking a criminal record shouldn't be a barrier to making a better life.
"There are just too many ways to run afoul of the law for anyoen to think they are immune," Appelman said. "A mistake can easily lead to an arrest or jail."
Attempts to determine just how many criminal statutes exist have failed, because there are so many. An estimate from the government in the 1980s put it at about 3,000 in the federal system alone. Shortly afterward, another study from the American Bar Association said that was too low a figure, but couldn't come up with a better number.
Adding in state crimes only makes the situation worse. For many, avoiding a criminal record has become more a matter of luck than of being a good citizen.
By Steve Elliott
Public perceptions of marijuana have certainly shifted. According to a recent study, more Americans now favor banning unpasteurized milk than favor banning marijuana.
About 59 percent of Americans support a ban on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, while just 47 percent support a ban on the sale of marijuana, according to Oklahoma State University's Food Demand Survey, reports Sam Frizell at Time Magazine.
A patchwork of different laws regulate raw milk in the U.S., much like marijuana. States like New York and Iowa ban the retail sale of raw milk, while California and Idaho allow it.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have, to a greater or lesser degree, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis; four (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) have legalized recreational use. According to NORML, 18 states have removed criminal penalties for marijuana, known as decriminalization, reducing simple possession roughly to the equivalent of a parking ticket.
Photo: The Weed Blog
Approximately three out of four voters think seriously ill people should have legal access to medical marijuana; more voters support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol than oppose it
A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday.
Three out of five (60 percent) of respondents support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and designating it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. Under current Virginia law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
The Virginia Senate is expected to consider a proposal this year that would replace criminal penalties for personal possession of marijuana with a civil fine of $100.
“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”
President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a statement saying that the eight individuals "were sentenced under outdated and unfair laws," and "their punishments did not fit their crime."
Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment, reports NPR.
The step could lead to a vast expansion of presidential clemency during Obama's last two years in office, reports Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press.
The eight new commutations include Barbara Scrivner, who was sentenced to 30 years in 1995, when she was 27 years old, for a minor rule in her husband's methamphetamine ring. The President ordered Scrivner's sentence to expire on June 12, while the others will expire April 15.
The President commuted the sentences of at least four people who were serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, reports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
By Steve Elliott
The former top drug prosecutor in Maine -- who fled out of state after he was convicted of child pornography charges -- is going to federal prison for almost 16 years.
James Cameron, convicted in 2010 of 13 counts of child porn, had posted bail and was released pending an appeal, reports Catherine Pegram at WABI TV.
He took off out of state in November 2012, and was caught in New Mexico a month later.
Cameron's lawyer was pushing for a 6-1/2 year sentence.
Cameron was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Bangor to 15 years and 9 months in prison.
Photo: WABI TV
By Steve Elliott
If you've ever doubted the existence of police privilege, it may be time to reassess. A police officer in California who was caught redhanded with marijuana in his home earlier this year -- more than 4 pounds of it -- "probably" won't be charged with a crime due to "lack of evidence."
K-9 Officer Joe Avila has been on paid leave since September, pending results of an internal investigation, according to the Richmond Police Department, reports Rick Hurd at the Contra Costa Times.
The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office has been "investigating" but "is not inclined to file charges," said Robin Lipetzky, the county's chief public defender. That decision "likely" comes from "evidence not strong enough to produce a conviction," according to Lipetzky (remember, they caught this cop with between 4 and 5 pounds of weed in his house).
A search warrant obtained by the Contra Costa Times showed that Avila picked up a box containing 4 to 5 pounds of cannabis from a UPS store on November 25, 2013. He then radioed a dispatcher to say he'd file an incident report.
But Officer Avila never filed that report. Instead, he took the marijuana to his home in Oakley instead of placing it in a department evidence locker, which would have been policy.
Addiction Remains Criminalized Despite Medical, Law Enforcement Community Outcry
Concerned citizens and a coalition of organizations including representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will gather in cities nationwide on Wednesday, December 17, at noon on the steps of courthouses and other civic buildings. These demonstrations are in response to the 100-year anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and call for responsible drug policy reforms that put doctors back in charge of helping people overcome substance addiction.
The Harrison Narcotics Act is considered one of the first American prohibitionist policies. While on its face the law merely regulated opiate and cocaine products in medical settings by licensing those involved in the market, a portion of the bill was interpreted to mean that doctors no longer had the authority to prescribe narcotics as a maintenance treatment for patients already suffering from substance addictions.
By Steve Elliott
An an interesting case of role reversal, marijuana grown in the United States is increasingly being smuggled into Mexico, according to the DEA.
At one time, Mexico supplied the vast majority of cannabis found in the U.S., but that has changed due to more weed being cultivated north of the border. The high quality of American weed is catching the attention of Mexico drug cartels, reports RT.com.
American marijuana, typically with potency between 10 and 25 percent THC, is, on the average, noticeably stronger than Mexican weed, which averages 3 to 8 percent. American weed, meanwhile, typically sells for three to four times as much as Mexican product.
"I believe that now, because of the changes they're having to make because of marijuana legalization in the U.S., the cartel is pushing more cocaine, meth and heroin. They're diversifying," journalist Javier Valdez told NPR.
"It makes sense," said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne, reports National Public Radio. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"