By Steve Elliott
Oregon House lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill 52-4 setting up the state's legal marijuana market after voters approved legalization under Measure 91 last November. The bill, HB 3400, now heads to the Oregon Senate.
The bill creates regulations for both medical and recreational cannabis, including a compromise allowing local jurisdictions to "opt out" of legalization, reports Sheila Kumar at the Associated Press. Members of a House joint committee charged with implementing Measure 91 had previously been unable to agree on the issue of local control, stalling the measure for weeks.
Counties or cities that voted against Measure 91 can choose to ban cannabis sales if at least 55 percent of their residents opposed the ballot measure in last November's election. Other counties would have to put banning pot sales to a vote.
"I did not support Measure 91," said clueless Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). "I am voting for this bill because it allows local jurisdictions to prohibit the sale of this drug."
The bill also creates a marijuana tracking system, so bureaucrats can trace weed from seed to sale in order to keep it out of the black market. The Oregon Health Authority would be in charge of creating and maintaining a database tracking the path of marijuana to market.
The bill requires grow sites to register and submit information on how much cannabis is processed and transferred every month.
Conference Uses Christian Ideals to Argue for New System
The New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, on Saturday voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.
The resolution begins:
“In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of a genuinely new system for the care and restoration of victims, offenders, criminal justice officials, and the community as a whole. Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community. When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right.”
It goes on to detail how the Drug War has failed to achieve its intended goal of reducing drug abuse and has resulted in numerous unintended consequences such as the creation of violent and dangerous underground markets, countless lost lives from gang violence and unregulated products, increased dangers posed to law enforcement, prison overcrowding, the rapid spread of needle-borne illnesses due to a lack of sterile syringes, and the disparate impact that these laws have had on poor communities of color.
Maine state lawmakers on Monday decided they will not place a measure on the ballot to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. LD 1380, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), was defeated in the House 45-98 and in the Senate without a recorded vote.
State senators on Monday unanimously killed another pro-legalization bill, LD 1401, sponsored by another Portland Democrat, Rep. Mark Dion, reports Mario Moretto at the Bangor Daily News.
“The legislature’s failure to act should not be mistaken for waning public interest in marijuana policy reform," said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is in the process of placing a citizen initiative on the 2016 ballot that would end marijuana prohibition in Maine. "Elected officials have always followed the citizens’ lead on this issue.
"Maine voters will still have the final say, and we expect they will say it’s time to end marijuana prohibition," Boyer said.
“Marijuana prohibition is a counterproductive and antiquated policy," Boyer said. "Most people are just fed up with it at this point. It’s time to regulate marijuana, tax it, and start treating it similarly to alcohol.”
For more information on The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.
Graphic: The Smoking Bud
Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll finds 53% support making marijuana legal for adults; just 39% are opposed
An independent poll released on Wednesday shows a majority of Arizona residents support ending marijuana prohibition.
The Behavior Research Center’s latest Rocky Mountain Poll found 53 percent of Arizonans support making possession of a small amount of marijuana legal for personal use. Just 39 percent are opposed.
Support outpaced opposition in all three of the geographical areas that were surveyed: 53-38 in Maricopa County; 47-43 in Pima County; and 58-38 in Rural Arizona. The survey of 701 Arizonans was conducted from April 29-May 15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.
“Arizonans are fed up with the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is supporting a statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. “They do not think adults should be punished just for consuming a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.
"It’s time for a more sensible approach, and that’s what our initiative proposes,” Holyoak said.
The campaign has collected more than 15,000 signatures since launching its petition drive three weeks ago. It must gather more than 150,000 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2016 ballot.
Votes Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of DEA Head and Growing Public Pressure to End Drug War and Mass Incarceration
Legislators Tuesday night voted by a simple voice vote to end the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.
Representatives debated four amendments to prohibit the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws -- and those votes will happen on Wednesday.
“Congress dealt a major blow to the DEA by ending their invasive and offensive bulk data collection programs and by cutting their budget," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA ignores commonsense drug policy, the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”
Three amendments cutting the DEA’s budget passed by voice vote:
• Rep. Ted Liew's (D-CA) amendment shifted $9 million from the DEA’s failed Cannabis Reduction and Eradication program to the VAWA Consolidated Youth Oriented Program ($4 million), Victims of Child Abuse Act ($3 million), and deficit reduction ($2 million).
Members of the public now have unprecedented access to data about Washington state's legal cannabis industry through the Cannabis Transparency Project (CTP).
The CTP is an open source web application for processing and visually representing information released by the state as part of the Washington State Marijuana Traceability System database via a public records request, the Cannabis and Social Policy Center, in conjunction with the Cannabis Commodities Exchange, announced on Friday.
"The idea is to encourage transparency and legitimate trade practices in the industry by providing a user-friendly interface so that anyone can navigate through and discuss this large amount of data," said project developer Will Farley, CTO of CCX.
Farley said he hopes other developers will contribute to the project, so that this open resource can become "a powerful tool to inform the public about cannabis."
"This amount and type of data regarding cannabis has never been available for comprehensive analysis before," said CASP Executive Director Dr. Dominic Corva. "For the first time, for example, we can examine evidence for potency clustering and differentiation across dozens of cultivars. There are many, many other questions that can be answered using this information."
After using the system for a few days, CASP Affiliate Researcher Dr. Jim MacRae emphatically said, "In one week with this tool, I've been able to generate more meaningful insight into the state of cannabis potency testing in Washington than I was able to in three weeks using the tools I traditionally use.
By Steve Elliott
Twenty-two years after being arrested for marijuana -- and 19 years after being sentenced to life in prison for it -- Jeff Mizanskey on Friday had his sentenced commuted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
Mizanskey, 62, was the only man in Missouri prisons serving life for pot, report Kevin S. Held and Anthony Kiekow at Fox 2 Now. He was arrested during an undercover drug operation in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1993, and was sentenced in 1996 under the state's Prior and Persistent Drug Offender Law, which is a three-strike, habitual offender system.
"The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness," Nixon said in a press release announcing the commutation of Mizanskey's sentence, reports Danny Wicentowski at Riverfront Times. Nixon also pardoned five other nonviolent offenders.
"It's wonderful," said Michael Mizanskey, Jeff's brother. "Thank Jay Nixon for doing that, for finally looking at his case and doing the right thing.
"I'm very emotional," Michael said. "I've overjoyed he has a chance. In almost 22 years he had two write-ups, one for putting mail in the wrong slot and one for a messy floor. No fights, no nothing. Tell me that's not a model prisoner."
A new Harris Poll finds that the growing acceptability of marijuana among state lawmakers reflects attitudinal shifts amongst the general American public since 2011. Support for the legalization of marijuana for both medical treatment and recreational use has increased by seven percentage points over the past four years.
Currently, four in five adults (81 percent) favor legalizing marijuana for medical use, up from 2011 when three quarters of Americans (74 percent) indicated the same. Meanwhile, according to Harris, half of Americans are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use (49 percent), up from the two fifths (42 percent) who felt that way in 2011.
• Nearly nine in ten Democrats and Independents are in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical treatment (87 percent & 86 percent, respectively) and over half support recreational use (58 percent & 55 percent, respectively)
• While a majority - albeit a slimmer one - of Republicans also support the legalization medical marijuana (69 percent support, 23 percent oppose), a similar majority opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational use (27 percent support, 65 percent oppose).
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,221 U.S. adults surveyed online between February 11 and 17, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.
Federal law or each state for itself?
The United Nations' high-level review of global drug polices that's getting underway in New York today has already yielded some exciting results.
Mark Golding, the Jamaican minister of justice, on Thursday morning spoke at the UN debate session and called for the establishment of a Committee of Experts to begin exploring how to revise international drug treaties that threaten to stand in the way of nations' marijuana reforms. (Jamaica recently enacted a law allowing marijuana cultivation and use.)
The proposal is very significant, and is one of the main requests of a group sign-on statement released earlier this week, according to Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, wrote in a sign-on letter released on Tuesday.
Others who spoke out Thursday morning against the ongoing War On Drugs included top officials from Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina, among others.
The Texas House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-1 that would end marijuana prohibition in the state.
HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.
Nearly three out of five Texas voters (58 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a statewide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2013.
Four states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Two of them, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. Alaska and Oregon are in the process of implementing similar systems.
“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State," said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree.
“State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action," Fazio said. "Like most Americans, most Texans are ready for a more sensible, fiscally sound marijuana policy.”
In Honor of Mother’s Day, Moms United to End the War on Drugs Representatives Request Signatures to Support Our “Mom’s Bill of Rights”
Mothers across the country are telling their personal stories of Drug War damage with stories, articles and interviews in honor of Mother’s Day. By sharing these powerful stories of losing loved ones to drug-prohibition-related violence, incarceration, overdose and addiction, they are bringing focus to a real need to reform our nation’s drug policies.
Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the War On Drugs, including having children who suffer from addiction and who have been repeatedly incarcerated, or have died from preventable drug overdoses and other drug related problems.
Moms were the driving force in repealing alcohol prohibition in the 30’s and now moms are playing a similar role in ending the war on drugs. Moms United to End the War on Drugs, is a project of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) along with other organizations and individuals from across the nation.
Together they are building a national movement to demand therapeutic, rather than punitive drug policies and an end to the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs.
Want to participate in a revolution?
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is leading the Cannabis Parade in NYC on this Saturday, May 2, reports Jack A. Cole of LEAP. "The first 60 people to signup to be part of the LEAP contingent for that parade will be given free LEAP T-shirts and badges," Cole announced on Facebook Tuesday.
"Send me an email at email@example.com or text me at 617-792-3877, with your name, cell phone, email address, and T-shirt size to reserve a shirt," Cole said. "The LEAP contingent will walk behind our 'End the Drug War-Stop the Killing' Banner."
"The marchers in our contingent will be very visible and the back's of their T-shirts read, 'Cops Say Legalize Drugs, Ask Me Why,'" Cole said. "The participating LEAP speakers will also be wearing our T-shirts and a LEAP hat so they can be easily referred to reporters who want interviews."
According to Cole, there are supposed to be more than 40 organizations participating.
At 11:30 a.m. the LEAP contingent will assemble for the parade at the Martinique Café, located on the east side of Broadway just north of 32nd Street (across from Greeley Square Park). Participants will pick up your shirts there.
The parade starts at Broadway and 32nd Street and proceeds to 14th Street where there will be a rally at Union Square.
By Steve Elliott
A number of U.S.-based and international criminal justice reform, human rights and public health groups on Tuesday are joining together to condemn the execution of nonviolent drug offenders by the Indonesian government that just took place.
“Wherever they occur, executions for nonviolent offenses violate human rights,” a sign-on letter from the groups says.
Despite repeated pleas for mercy from family members, citizens, human rights organizations, the United Nations, and governments around the world, Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, Nigerians Martin Anderson, Raheem Agbaje Salami, Okwuduli Oyatanze, and Silvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, and Indonesian Zainal Abidin faced a firing squad at just past midnight Indonesia-time. Serge Atlaoui from France has been given a temporary reprieve and Mary Jane Veloso from the Philippines was given a last-minute reprieve.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will celebrate its 20th anniversary Wednesday evening with a gala on Capitol Hill.
Members of Congress and the marijuana business community will be among those in attendance to recognize the gains that have been made by the organization, which is responsible for most major state-level marijuana policy reforms since 2000.
MPP executive director Rob Kampia, Chuck Thomas, and Mike Kirshner launched the organization out of their apartments in Washington, D.C. in 1995. It now has nearly 30 full-time staff members and an annual budget of more than $3 million. MPP monitors policy in all 50 states, lobbies in state legislatures and in Congress, coordinates state and local ballot initiatives, and carries out public education activities at the local and national levels.
“For 20 years, our focus has been on changing the debate, changing public attitudes, and changing the laws surrounding marijuana in the United States,” Kampia said. “MPP has evolved right alongside the issue. As support has increased and public dialogue has grown, the organization has expanded and played an increasingly larger role in the discussion.
“Ultimately, the facts speak for themselves; we just make sure people are listening,” Kampia said.
The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce (C4) on Monday joined in recognizing 4/20, the most iconic business day of the year for those involved in the marijuana industry.
“For the Chamber, along with the businesses, employers, and entrepreneurs we represent, 4/20 is about far more than the day’s festivities and community,” C4 President Tyler Henson said. “This year, 4/20 is really about reflecting on the end of modern day prohibition in Colorado.”
“We already learned in the 1920’s with alcohol that prohibition simply doesn’t work in America,” Henson pointed out. "Prohibition created an unsafe environment for individuals, children, and society as a whole, allowing for black market activity to thrive and bringing about violent ‘liquor wars’.
"Today, the C4 Chamber is working to end a culture of ‘Prohibition 2.0’ as it relates to marijuana," Henson said. "Colorado’s cannabis experiment is now becoming the standard for the rest of the nation to follow as legal, recreational use quickly grows increasing popular among the general public."
The latest polls in Colorado show record support for marijuana, where now 62 percent of voters say they would legalize recreational use again if given the chance. And medicinal marijuana now has a whopping 89 percent public approval rating.
“4/20 is a day for us to highlight the excitement of this new industry we share with fellow Coloradans and the great opportunity we know that lies ahead,” Henson said.