By Steve Elliott
Kentucky Baptists may have won a major legislative victory by helping to defeat a measure in the General Assembly that would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but they managed to give themselves a public relations black eye in the process, showing themselves to both be out of touch with modern medical research, and severely lacking in compassion, as well.
Almost as distressing as the fact that they were able to stop this compassionate legislation in its tracks is the fact that these heaven-dazed idiots were proud of themselves for doing it.
Legislators finished the 2015 session early Wednesday morning without passing a bill which would have made cannabis available for medical purposes.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood, who apparently was determined to flaunt his ignorance in front of large numbers of people, had called on lawmakers to reject the proposal, claiming Kentucky shouldn't follow the lead of other states that have done the same.
The KBC is Kentucky's largest religious organization, and as such has a powerful voice in the state, where 1 million of the state's 4.4 million residents self identify as Southern Baptists. Those demographics -- which correlate strongly with conservative political positions -- filter into the Legislature, where almost half the Senate and a third of the House identify themselves as Baptists.
By Steve Elliott
Two Texas men could be facing life in prison after a marijuana-infused brownies were discovered during a traffic stop Monday afternoon.
Potter County sheriff's deputies arrested Eli McCarthy Manna, 30, and Andrew Bruce George, 27, after pulling them over on a traffic violation on I-40 west of Amarillo, according to authorities, reports JC Cortez at Amarillo.com.
A deputy got suspicious during the stop and asked for permission to search the vehicle, which was denied, according to authorities. Deputies detained the men and asked for the help of a police dog from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The dog alerted them to the presence of "drugs" in the vehicle, the deputies claimed, giving them probable cause to search it.
The search revealed more than 650 grams of marijuana brownies in plastic bags, along with a small amount of raw marijuana, according to authorities.
Deputies booked the men into Potter County Jail, charging them with possession of a controlled substance, more than 400 grams. Under the idiotic practice of charging defendants for the weight of a carrier as well as the marijuana itself, they are being charged for the full weight of the brownies.
If convicted, the charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
By Steve Elliott
From time to time, a particular arrest serves to highlight the absurd nature of cannabis prohibition.
Such an arrest took place on Monday in North Carolina, where a 94-year-old man was charged with felony possession of marijuana, reports Elisabeth Arriero at The Charlotte Observer.
Douglas Floyd Ponischil, 94, was arrested at 6:36 a.m. on Monday by the Mecklenberg County Sheriff's Office, according to arrest records.
Ponischil -- a World War II veteran, according to Hempyreum -- doesn't appear to have much of a criminal history in the state; a background check revealed only minor traffic violations.
"Bay State Repeal, the ballot-initiative committee aiming to draft the least restrictive citizen initiative repealing marijuana prohibition in 2016, is pleased 15 legislators are seriously considering marijuana law reform," the organization announced in a Wednesday press release.
"We are also pleased the bill permits home cultivation in any amount as long as minors have no access to the cultivation site and there is no intent to sell," the statement reads. "For Bay State Repeal, the right to grow cannabis at home is a key provision of any meaningful reform, both as a matter of civil rights and protection from overzealous law enforcement and as a check on excessive prices.
"We are less pleased to see that the proposed law creates a 'Cannabis Commission' to regulate cultivation and commerce in marijuana for profit," the release reads. "A new bureaucracy is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a mandate for overregulation. A better solution is to assign any needed licensing authority to the Department of Revenue. In addition, the proposed tax on recreational cannabis is excessive and becomes more so over the first four years.
By Steve Elliott
When Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in New York City, one of his leading initiatives was responding to possession of small amounts of marijuana with summonses rather than arrests. At the news conference announcing the change -- which affected possession cases involving up to 25 grams of weed -- NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton stood beside the mayor, holding up a bag of oregano measuring 25 grams, as an educational prop for how much pot is allowable.
Last week, this time without the mayor, Commissioner Bratton turned his attention once again to marijuana, report J. David Goodman and Matt Flegenheimer at the New York Times. Bratton announced homicides were up to 54 through March 1, compared with 45 over the same period last year, as were shootings -- and he claimed marijuana was a factor in the violence.
"The seemingly innocent drug that's being legalized around the country -- in this city, people are killing each other over marijuana," Bratton dramatically announced.
But does the commissioner's sharp turn towards reefer madness territory indicate a schism in the de Blasio administration's approach to cannabis? The mayor said he supports the new policy regarding low-level marijuana possession, voicing concerns that arrests for small amounts of pot disproportionately affect the black and Hispanic communities.
Measure sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul, Corey Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand marks the first time in history that the Senate will consider a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law
A bill will be introduced on Tuesday in the United States Senate which would end the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana.
U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday will introduce the bill.
It will be the first time in history that the Senate considers a proposal to make medical marijuana legal under federal law.
“This is a significant step forward when it comes to reforming marijuana laws at the federal level," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The vast majority of Americans support laws that allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana.
"Several marijuana policy reform bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives," Riffle said. "The introduction of this legislation in the Senate demonstrates just how seriously this issue is being taken on Capitol Hill.
“The bipartisan nature of this proposal reflects the broad public support for resolving the tension between state and federal marijuana laws," Riffle said. "This is a proposal that Republicans and Democrats should both be able to get behind.
The General Social Survey — ‘widely regarded as the single best source of data on societal trends’ — finds 52% think marijuana should be made legal; only 42% think it should remain illegal
For the first time, the General Social Survey has reportedly found that a majority of Americans support making marijuana legal, reports the Washington Post
The survey, which is “widely regarded as the single best source of data on societal trends,” according to its website, found 52 percent think marijuana should be made legal and only 42 percent think it should remain illegal.
National polls released last fall by Gallup and the Pew Research Center found similar results.
“Americans are tired of laws that punish adults for using a substance that is undeniably safer than alcohol," said Morgan Fox, communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Hopefully their elected officials are paying attention and preparing for the inevitable. The failures of marijuana prohibition are too obvious to ignore forever, which is evidenced by the growing support for ending it.
“Marijuana has been a relatively prominent part of American culture for decades, and that’s never going to change," Fox said. "Either we continue to force it into the underground market or we start regulating it and treating it like other products that are legal for adults. Federal and state officials who are clinging to marijuana prohibition need to get over it and allow society to move forward.”
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.