Category Archives: Decriminalization

Austin Flesh presser Proposes Ban on The use of Govt Finances for THC Checking out

When Texas legalized hemp final 12 months, it threw the state’s marijuana policing into some roughly chaos. Unexpectedly, officials had been in large part left with out right kind checking out generation to decide if suspects’ leafy vegetables possessed a THC share above the prison cutoff of 0.three %. Consequently, legislation enforcement government around the state started to throw up their arms and throw out low-level ownership instances.

Within the state’s capital, that trending clear of marijuana ownership policing might quickly be became legitimate coverage. Austin Town Council member Greg Casar has filed a draft answer that will limit town police officers from the usage of govt cash to check for THC percentages. 

The plan would additionally instruct the police division to deprioritize hashish misdemeanor instances except there’s a protection risk concerned. 

“Frankly, we’re seeking to deal with what’s going down at this time, which is that [marijuana] citations are going nowhere,” Casar instructed the Texas Observer. “Why would we return to an international the place those citations move someplace?”

Along with the assets wanted for THC checking out procedures, town has lengthy struggled with the racially biased nature of its hashish policing. Just about part of all marijuana ownership citations issued by means of the Austin police in 2019 went to Latino citizens, who make up most effective 34.three % of town’s inhabitants in keeping with the latest Census numbers. 

Between the passage of the hemp legislation on June 10th of final 12 months and September, the Travis County lawyer’s administrative center declined to transport ahead on some 170 marijuana-related fees, a “cite and launch” coverage that echoes state-wide developments. 

The Austin Police Division reportedly does have one system this is in a position to checking out hashish THC ranges. However town politicians have already voiced considerations over further taxpayer greenbacks being spent on marijuana checking out and policing basically. 

Travis County magistrate Nicholas Chu instructed an area information web site final fall that he didn’t imagine that officials’ time was once absolute best spent pursuing marijuana offenders. 

“If you happen to take a look at the entire reason why at the back of the cite-and-release procedure initially … it was once created so legislation enforcement wouldn’t be losing their time on low-level nonviolent misdemeanor offenses,” he mentioned. “And likewise losing other people’s time with regards to being worried about those instances when legislation enforcement may also be involved in extra necessary, critical violent offenses.”

The Long term of Hashish in Texas

In all probability probably the most pertinent query is, why hasn’t Texas pulled the cause on marijuana legalization altogether?

Actually, even the state’s Republican Birthday party has had decriminalization in its platform since 2018, when delegates additionally overwhelmingly voted to enhance getting rid of hashish from a Agenda I designation on the federal point. 

However right through final 12 months’s push for Democrat Consultant Joe Moody’s decriminalization measure, policymakers had been uncovered to a couple very deceptive shows by means of cops. 

“No longer all marijuana people who smoke turn into drug addicts, however all drug addicts — particularly in Plano we have now a large number of drug addicts — have began with marijuana,” mentioned Plano Police Sergeant Terence Holway whilst attesting for the state’s Space Prison Jurisprudence Committee. Previously, the Texas Sheriffs’ Affiliation has printed papers suggesting that marijuana ends up in decrease IQs and higher probability of creating schizophrenia. (Hashish intake and schizophrenia were proven to be correlated, however there is not any established evidence that one reasons the opposite.)

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Florida Lawmaker Files Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana

Democratic state Rep. Shevrin Jones of Florida introduced a bill in the legislature on Monday that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the measure, House Bill 25 (HB 25), possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana or cannabis products containing up to 600 milligrams of THC would no longer be a criminal offense.

Currently, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is considered a first-degree misdemeanor subject to up to one year in jail or one year of probation and a $1,000 fine. Under Jones’ plan, such offenses would be a noncriminal violation subject to a fine of up to $500.

Legislator Hopes Bill Will ‘Restore Justice’

Jones, who represents a district including parts of Broward County, said in a tweet announcing the bill that HB 25 would end the injustice of overcriminalization and address the racial inequality prevalent in the enforcement of drug laws in the United States.

“We must restore justice to our broken criminal justice system,” Jones said. “For far too long, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana, and we must end this injustice once and for all.”

Jones noted that convictions for minor marijuana offenses carry significant collateral effects including the potential loss of a license to drive, disqualification from eligibility for government jobs, and other negative impacts.

“After being charged with possession, many Floridians feel the lasting impact as their student financial aid, employment opportunities, housing eligibility, or immigration status are adversely affected,” Jones said. “When we take away these foundational components of security, we’re capping people’s potential in life. That’s why I’m proud to introduce legislation to fix this problem. By tackling this issue, we can make our communities more equitable and safer.”

Also under Jones’ bill, juveniles caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana would be eligible for a civil citation or pre-arrest diversion for their first offense.

Jones filed HB 25 for the 2020 legislative session, which begins in January. If the bill passes it would go into effect on July 1, 2020, making Florida the 27th state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Will Legalization Be Next?

Florida voters legalized the medicinal use of cannabis with a constitutional amendment initiative passed in 2016. On Tuesday, Orlando personal injury attorney John Morgan, who bankrolled the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, said that he is now supporting efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Morgan had said previously he would not back the issue, opting instead to support a campaign to raise Florida’s minimum wage. But he said in a tweet on Tuesday that he was now getting behind the drive to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in the state.

“I believe that #marijuana should be legal!!” Morgan wrote. “I think we have time and I think there is money to get it done. I already have the minimum wage signatures. Let’s do this maybe, forget Tallahassee!”

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Three Ounce Possession of Marijuana Decriminalized in Cincinnati

You will soon be able to walk the streets of Cincinnati, marijuana in hand. After careful debate, the city council passed an ordinance on Wednesday that will make possession of marijuana legal up to three ounces.  

Many council members saw the measure as a compromise, but the majority felt the issue was too important to get hung up on individual conditions. “If we don’t do something now, we’ll never do anything,” said council person Wendell Young.

System changes will take effect in 30 days.

Council member Greg Landsman also expressed a sense of urgency for getting a city ordinance decriminalizing small scale possession on the books. “It is well past time to decriminalize marijuana,” he said. “For far too long, we have put people away for something I think should be legal.”

“The distinct smell of compromise is in the air over the great pot debate of 2019,” said Cincinatti news channel WLWT5. It’s true that there was much debate over the plan on the council. In particular, questions regarding age limits on the decriminalization measures and quantity of marijuana that would be decriminalized were of interest to the policy makers. (They eventually opted out of an age restriction on marijuana possession.) Some lawmakers pushed for allowances for public use of cannabis, but those concerns were ultimately overridden.

Before the measure passed, vice mayor Chris Smitherman initially said in the event council members could not reach an agreement, he would spearhead an attempt to get a decriminalization measure on the ballot for November elections. This week, he wavered on that promise and said that the ballot measure would not likely be possible before the November 2020 elections.

Council member Tamaya Dennard was one of the “no” votes on the ordinance, and not because she doesn’t believe in the legalization of cannabis. Rather, Dennard was not on board for any plan that did not provide immediate expungement of past low level cannabis-related offenses.

That concern is well-founded, based on the vast racial discrepancies that were uncovered by a study conducted by the city’s law department. Between January 2004 and May 2019, 16,817 marijuana-related arrests were made. Of this number, 86.2 percent of those arrested were Black. According to the latest US Census, Black people make up only 42.85 percent of the city’s population.

“These are alarming numbers when we start talking about creating a permanent underclass, said Smitherman, referring to the difficulties that such offenses on an individual’s record can cause in terms of finding employment.

Ohio passed House Bill 523 in 2016, which legalized medical marijuana. But establishing the licensing process provided unexpected delays, and the first dispensaries did not start opening their doors until early 2019.

Recently, a committee run through the state medical board considered expanding the program by four new health conditions, eventually deciding to reject the inclusion of depression and insomnia as qualifying conditions and recommend the addition of anxiety and autism. Those recommendations will now be considered by the medical board.
In March, the range of products that could be legally available for purchase by medical marijuana users expanded past the previous restriction to flower to include edibles, oils, tinctures, and corporal creams.

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Joe Biden Supports Marijuana Decriminalization, Not Legalization

“Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” That’s what former US Vice President Joe Biden told voters in Nashua, New Hampshire on Tuesday. But Biden, one of more than 20 contenders for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said he does not support making cannabis legal. Instead, Biden favors decriminalization, not legalization. But the former VP and 2020 hopeful still thinks states should be able to make their own decisions when it comes to legalization, without federal interference. Biden also believes the federal government should support medical cannabis research and make it easier for people to expunge criminal records for some cannabis-related offenses.

As a Senator, Biden Helped Wage the War on Weed

On March 16, ahead of his officially announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Joe Biden said, “I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the nomination.”

But even a cursory look at Biden’s record reveals that’s not the case, especially when it comes to drug policy. As a Senator, Biden was a militant in the war on drugs. He helped passed bills that eliminated parole, authorized civil asset forfeiture and imposed harsh mandatory minimums for drug possession. He introduced the racist sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine, helped pass dozens of new death penalties and directed massive amounts of public resources to building new prisons and arresting people to fill them.

Indeed, during his decades in the Senate, Biden bragged constantly about his central role in drug and criminal legal policies that devastated black communities. And even setting that record aside, Biden today still isn’t anywhere near the most progressive candidate when it comes to marijuana policy.

Marijuana Legalization a Key Issue Among 2020 Democratic Contenders

The dividing line between decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing is splitting the field of 2020 Democratic candidates. And Joe Biden isn’t on the legalization side. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Cory Booker do support legalization, along with several other contenders. On the other side stands Biden, who along with Sen. Sherrod Brown and John Hickenlooper, favor support criminalization, not legalization.

In other words, among the Democratic field, legalization is winning out over decriminalization. But Biden isn’t hopping on board.

However, speaking before New Hampshire voters, Biden outlined what federal marijuana policy might look like under his administration. Biden “would allow states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization and would seek to make it easier to conduct research on marijuana’s positive and negative health impacts by rescheduling it as a schedule 2 drug,” Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates told CNN.

Furthermore, Biden doesn’t think anyone should be behind bars for simply consuming or possessing marijuana—at least not anymore. But Biden did not specify whether decriminalization would apply to private growers or those who sell or distribute marijuana.

Candidate Biden also supports automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession. Automatic expungement means those with criminal records for marijuana don’t need to file a petition and/or pay for a lawyer to clear their conviction.

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Louisville, Kentucky Lawmakers Propose Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

Members of the Louisville, Kentucky city council introduced a proposed ordinance on Wednesday that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority for the city’s police department. The proposal was filed by four Democratic members of the Louisville Metro Council, including Councilman Brandon Coan, who represents Louisville’s District 8.

“The idea is pretty straightforward: You don’t want to punish somebody who makes a minor indiscretion … to prevent them from getting a job or advancing in their career or being prejudiced in any other normal way of life,” said Coan.

The ordinance would make “investigation, citations, and arrests” for possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, although it would not legalize cannabis possession or use. Marijuana possession cases related to “an act or threat of violence, or where public safety officials reasonably believe that the marijuana offense poses a substantial threat of serious physical harm to the public” would not be covered by the ordinance.

“We don’t want to have to send people downtown and through the court system for small infractions that are not serious problems,” Coan said. “We really need police to be on the street and available to respond to violent crime and other serious crimes.”

Police, Mayor Push Back

Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for the Louisville Metro Police said that officers have already stopped making arrests in most marijuana possession cases.

“Police are statutorily required to write citations for small amounts of marijuana possession already, unless there is some other circumstance related to public safety,” Halladay wrote. “Our department continues to focus on violent crime as a top priority.”

Halladay added that Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad has said previously that “he must follow the laws as written in Kentucky and marijuana remains illegal in this commonwealth.”

Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, wrote in a statement that the goal of the proposed ordinance is already in effect.

“First, marijuana is still illegal in Kentucky, and the mayor has a constitutional duty to uphold the law,” Porter wrote. “Second, LMPD already prioritizes violent crime, and state law has, since 2011, required police to issue citations instead of arresting individuals for possessing marijuana in low amounts.”

Earlier this year, an investigation revealed that Black people, who make up less than one-fourth of Louisville’s population, were the defendants in two-thirds of the cases where possession of marijuana was the most serious charge.

Coan, who was joined in proposing the ordinance by Councilwomen Jessica Green, Barbara Sexton Smith, and Cindi Fowler, said he believes the measure could be considered by city council committees as soon as May 29.

A measure similar to Louisville’s bid to relax the enforcement of marijuana laws was proposed by a member of the city council in Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday.

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Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries Reintroduce Bill to Federally Decriminalize Marijuana

Another year, another federal marijuana decriminalization bill proposal? It’s starting to seem that way for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has joined forces with New York representative Hakeem Jeffries on Schumer’s second decriminalization bill in two years.

“The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is a phenomenal step forward in terms of social, racial, and economic justice in the context of what many people view as the failed War on Drugs that has been with us for decades,” said Jeffries in a homey video that the men released on Friday as part of the bill’s announcement. They shot the clip in the neighborhood both men grew up in, at Brooklyn’s BRIC arts and culture center.

Central to the bill — which will be introduced in both houses by the dynamic duo — is the re-scheduling of cannabis so that the drug is no longer include on the federal list of controlled substances. That will allow states some wiggle room in crafting their own legislation around marijuana, and alleviate some of the worries of current cannabis providers and users that they could be subject to federal prosecution down the line for their connection to the plant.

It will also dictate a certain level of support for small entrepreneurs in any resulting legal industries. “Let’s not have some big fancy corporation, some big tobacco company make all the money,” says Schumer in the video. The bill will include coordination through the Small Business Administration to support new business owners who are women and/or people of color.

Given the wave of decriminalization measures that have recently passed across the country, timing makes sense for the introduction of the federal bill. Even in the South, certain states are making progress towards rejecting small time marijuana crime prosecution.

New Mexico’s governor passed decriminalization legislation last month. West Virginia voters will get a chance to vote on the issue, Alabama’s most populous county announced it would no longer prosecute marijuana misdemeanors, and up in New York state, prosecutors have dismissed possession warrants. In Texas, the House of Representatives approved a decriminalization bill last week, but the legislation was pronounced deceased when it reached the state’s Senate. (Dallas isn’t waiting around for state-level go-ahead, however; the city recently saw its own seismic shakeup in terms of misdemeanor prosecution.)

Though Senate Republicans, as ever, present a considerable obstacle to the passage of Jeffries and Schumer’s bill, it remains unclear that the president will be a problem in its passage. Trump — whose former aide just got going in the cannabis biz — signaled approval for Senator Cory Gardner’s cannabis legalization bill last year.

The pair of Brooklyn legislators remain hopeful that 2019 could be marijuana’s national decriminalization moment. Jeffries even sees the federal decriminalization bill as the natural next move after the First Step Act, another law that he co-sponsored and which was signed into effect by the president in April.

Of course, what the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act does not do is legalize cannabis, instead allowing those decisions happen in state capitols across the country. “What we’re saying is very simple; let each state do what it wants,” summed up Schumer.

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