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Election Night 2017: Marijuana Races to Watch

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 17:46

It is once again election night in America. While 2017 doesn’t feature any statewide marijuana initiatives, there are still a number of races to watch tonight that will impact marijuana law reform efforts across the nation.

Virginia Governor

Lt. Governor Ralph Northam (D): Democratic candidate, and current Lt. Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam has been outspoken in his support for ending criminal penalties for marijuana. Earlier this year, Northam published a letter calling for decriminalization and an expanded medical marijuana program.

Northam wrote: “We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana. African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement?—?money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.

As a doctor, I’m becoming increasingly convinced by the data showing potential health benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief, drug-resistant epilepsy, and treatment for PTSD. By decriminalizing it, our researchers can better study the plant so doctors can more effectively prescribe drugs made from it.”

Ed Gillespie (R): Republican candidate, and former Republican National Committee Chair, Ed Gillespie has stated he does not support the legalization or outright decriminalization of marijuana believing it “sends the wrong signal” to children.

Gillespie does support a very limited change to Virginia’s marijuana laws, that would move possession to a three strike system – dropping the possibility of jail time for an individual’s first two marijuana possession arrests, but retaining it for the third.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK YOUR VA VOTER REGISTRATION AND FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE

 

New Jersey Governor

Phil Murphy (D): Democratic candidate Phil Murphy has made marijuana legalization a priority issue in his campaign. In addition to publicly campaigning in support of ending marijuana prohibition in the state, in his primary election victory speech Murphy said he wants a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana in the Garden State on his desk within the first 100 days of taking office.

“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” Phil Murphy said the night he won the Democratic primary. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno (R): Republican candidate, and current Lt. Governor, Kim Guadagno has stated that she is “wholly opposed to legalizing marijuana” citing inaccurate information in regards to marijuana’s impact on driving.

“I have personal experience about what exactly happens to somebody who drives while they’re high, which is why I would oppose legalization of marijuana,” Guadagno said during a debate during the Republican primary.

During the general election, she further stated her opposition, saying she believed legalization would “put a whole generation of children at risk.”

“I don’t want our children, I don’t want our people to walk down the street and buy a pack of cigarettes and be drug dealers.”

Despite her opposition to legalization, Guadagno has stated she would support decriminalization of possession and limited expansion of the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK YOUR NJ VOTER REGISTRATION AND FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE

 

Athens, OH: Athens Cannabis Ordinance

Residents of Athens, Ohio will have the ability to vote on the “Athens Cannabis Ordinance” which would significantly reform many of the penalties around marijuana possession and cultivation in the city. The ordinance would drop the fine for the following offenses to $0, effectively removing any criminal or civil punishment:

  • Possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana and up to 10 grams of hash
  • Cultivation of up to 200 grams of marijuana
  • Gifts of up to 20 grams of marijuana
  • Possession and sale of paraphernalia

CLICK HERE TO CHECK YOUR ATHENS, OH VOTER REGISTRATION AND FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE

 

Atlanta Mayor (Note: If none of the candidates in tonight’s election receive more than 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off election this winter between the top two vote getters. Atlanta’s mayoral race is also non-partisan.)

During the debate surrounding the now approved decriminalization bill in Atlanta, news outlet the AtlantaLoop got a majority of the mayoral candidates on record in regards to their views on marijuana penalties. The incoming mayor will oversee the implementation of this ordinance so it is important to have a supportive incoming mayor in power in 2018.

Peter Aman, former Atlanta COO: “I support the deprioritization of marijuana enforcement and will work with the courts and the police department and community to examine a procedure focused on fines, rather than jail time. Criminal justice reform is not just a buzzword. It is a thoughtful approach to finding ways to ensure citizens do not carry a lifelong burden for instances that do not cause harm to the public. Equally important, deprioritization is a cost-saving measure on the courts and the public safety budget. It allows our officers to focus on crime fighting and keeping our communities safe.

Also, I firmly believe, and research shows, marijuana use has clear impacts on the brain development of children and young adults. In addition to, or in lieu of other penalties, I will ask the courts to examine requiring individuals below a certain age to attend an educational course on the cognitive impacts of marijuana and to help them make informed choices in how, when, and where they use such a substance – as we do in case of abuse of alcohol use.”

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves: “It is high time that Atlanta City Council members and Mayor Kasim Reed stop talking, and start doing something on the issue of decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. Generally, that means these offenses are treated like a minor traffic violation: no arrest, prison time, or criminal record for a first-time possession.

Unlike my opponents who have sat on their hands while our young people suffer, I have a track record of actually doing something about issues like this one. For example, as Fulton County Chairman, I pushed through the first-ever expungement program, to give people a second chance after arrests for minor offenses— including those never prosecuted. I also championed the successful Fulton County diversion program that has seen our jail population decrease and our recidivism rate drop dramatically.

As a long-standing criminal justice, youth diversion and expungement advocate, my main concern is that for small amounts of marijuana possession, a person can have a criminal record that follows them for the rest of their life. While we must be for law and order, we also must be fair. That means using best practices based on other local government experiences. For example, the Clarkston City Council, voted unanimously last year to reduce the fine from up to $1,000 to $75 for possessing less than an ounce, and eliminating the possibility of jail time. In the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C., voters approved decriminalization for people over the age of 21.

For a city as diverse as Atlanta, a decriminalization ordinance in this direction makes sense.

As Atlanta’s next mayor, I will continue to make juvenile justice a top priority and will work to provide laws that are fair to everyone, no matter their zip code.”

State Sen. Vincent Fort: “I’m talking about a ticket, a citation, I’m talking about no mugshot, no arrest. A citation, go on your way, pay.  Anywhere from $25, $50 to $75.

Two, I am very concerned that there’s this confusion, quote-unquote confusion issue.  I’ve heard some city council members and some candidates for mayor talk about how people from the outside of the city would come in and think that they could smoke dope and there’d be no consequences.  That is a red herring.  Then there are some other people who have said, ‘Oh I’m not going to have quote-unquote blood on my hands,’ by virtue of the fact that they say, ‘Well there’s a kid who thinks he can smoke dope anywhere, any way he wants and he gets arrested because the officer has discretion … and they’ll resist arrest and thus you know blood’ll be on the hands of anyone who supports this.’ That’s just crazy, it’s absolutely crazy. It’s unfortunate that elected officials would engage in such mendacity, intentionally trying to create confusion on the issues.

… [I]f there are all these cities all over the country including in the South, that can decriminalize marijuana, if tiny Clarkston can do it, the city of Atlanta can do it. The fact of the matter is, the city council and the mayor have been in power, in place, as well as the Fulton County Commission has been in place for years and young African American males … have been pushed into the entryway for mass incarceration and they [officials] have done nothing. And now that they have the chance to do it, they’re abdicating their responsibility.”

Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall: “It is a high priority for my administration to be able to roll out an effective and well-communicated marijuana declassification, so [people are not] not excessively penalized for possession of less than an ounce.”

Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood: “I want a dialog with the police department as to the impact of changing the city’s ordinance and what does to offenders and whether or not … the state law would then apply.  What we need is an understanding from the police department as to the steps that occur now and the steps that would occur for their police officers on the street with offenders with the changes.”

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell: “When I was a child being raised in this city, the last thing my father wanted to do as a police officer was to destroy the lives of young people.

The time and effort spent apprehending and sending people to jail for this minor offense would be of better use to law enforcement in their pursuit of dangerous criminals. When police officers spend time on these offenses, jail cells end up filled with non-violent offenders, while repeat and violent offenders often go free.

Atlantans deserve to have a city that encourages kids to reach their potential, not one that embraces punishment for every misstep.

While usage rates are roughly the same across different races, statistics show that African-Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. For many Atlanta kids, it is a gateway to prison. We need to do everything we can to end a process that hurts our kids by serving as a fast track to incarceration”

Two candidates, Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard and Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, did not respond to AtlantaLoop’s request for comment. However, it is worth noting that both serve on the Atlanta City Council, which unanimously approved teh decriminalization measure earlier this year. You can view their full article here.

 

CLICK HERE TO CHECK YOUR ATLANTA, GA VOTER REGISTRATION AND FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE

 

Stay tuned…

NORML will be covering the results of these elections throughout the evening on our blog and social media channels. Stay tuned for results and reactions later tonight.

New Mexico Board Recommends Cannabis For Opioid Use Disorder, Again

Weed News - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 21:00
Opioid use is a big problem in America right now, with tens of thousands of people now dying from opioids every year. Opioid abuse is a problem for every state in America, and New Mexico is no...

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Record high support for cannabis reform

The Leaf Online - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 20:26

Even amid the hard press of prohibitionists since Trump took office last year, public support for cannabis reform continues to grow. A new Gallup poll released October 25 shows solid majority support for making marijuana legal, with nearly two out of three persons polled calling for legalization of the world’s most valuable agricultural crop. Support […]

The post Record high support for cannabis reform appeared first on The Leaf Online.

How Do Virginia Election Candidates Feel About Cannabis Policy?

Weed News - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 20:24
Tomorrow is Election Day in Virginia. Below is a voter guide that was sent out today that I am passing along for Weed News readers that live in Virginia: Virginia will elect its next governor...

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California Initiative Would Legalize Magic Mushrooms

The Joint Blog - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 19:44
Proponents of a California initiative to legalize psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms have been cleared by Secretary of State Alex Padilla to begin collecting signatures.

Psilocybin mushrooms.

Advocates of the California Psilocybin Legalization Initiative (Initiative 17-0024) are aiming to place the initiative on the 2018 general election. To do so, they must collect signatures from 365,880 registered California voters by the end of April.

If placed on the ballot and passed into law by voters, the initiative – introduced by Marina mayoral candidate Kevin Saunders – would eliminate all criminal penalties associated with magic mushrooms for those 21 and older. This includes removing penalties for “possessioin, sale, transport and cultivation of psilocybin”. If approved, California would become the first state in the U.S. to legalize magic mushrooms.

Under current law, those caught possessing magic mushrooms – even a small amount for personal use – can be charged with a misdemeanor and imprisoned for up to a year.

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Study: Those Who Use Psychedelics Less Likely to Commit Crimes

The Joint Blog - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 19:33
Consumers of psychedelics drugs such as magic mushrooms are less likely to commit various crimes, according to a new study published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms.

“Some evidence suggests classic psychedelics may inhibit criminal behavior, but the extent of these effects has not been comprehensively explored”, states the study’s abstract. “In this study, we tested the relationships of classic psychedelic use and psilocybin use per se with criminal behavior among over 480,000 United States adult respondents pooled from the last 13 available years of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2002 through 2014) while controlling for numerous covariates.”

Lifetime classic psychedelic use “was associated with a reduced odds of past year larceny/theft, past year assault, past year arrest for a property crime , and past year arrest for a violent crime.” In contrast, “lifetime illicit use of other drugs was, by and large, associated with an increased odds of these outcomes. Lifetime classic psychedelic use, like lifetime illicit use of almost all other substances, was associated with an increased odds of past year drug distribution.”

According to researchers; “Results were consistent with a protective effect of psilocybin for antisocial criminal behavior.”

The study concludes by stating that; “These findings contribute to a compelling rationale for the initiation of clinical research with classic psychedelics, including psilocybin, in forensic settings.”

The full study can be found by clicking here.

 

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Tomorrow, New Jersey elects a new governor. What do candidates say about recreational legalization?

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 19:30
Four of the candidates to replace New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have made a statement on legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana in the state.

Op-ed: Veterans using medical marijuana in defiance of backward federal policy

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 19:15
Washington Post op-ed: Veterans' compelling stories about how medical cannabis helped them differ starkly from VA's federally imposed silence and lack of guidance.

California's new cannabis market will bring sticker shock to consumers

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 18:50
California's legal marijuana marketplace is coming with new taxes and fees that will influence where it's grown, and the price tag on just about everything.

Massachusetts proposes option to expunge marijuana possession records

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 18:03
Massachusetts legislation announced Monday would for the first time ever allow certain past crimes, including marijuana possession, to be expunged.

Maine lawmakers meet to deal with gov's marijuana law veto

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:50
Maine lawmakers are returning to Augusta on Monday following Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana.

Missouri lawmaker seeks support for legalizing medical marijuana in state

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:06
Columbus, Missouri Ward Councilman Michael Trapp is asking colleagues to pass a resolution encouraging the state legislature to make medical marijuana legal.

Here's how Colorado is combating the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 15:39
The nation’s drug epidemic kills someone in Colorado about every 9 hours and 36 minutes — in 2016, 912 deaths — a fact that rings like a siren for state leaders who are combating the leading driver: prescription and illicit opioids.

Happy Cannabis Legalization Anniversary To Colorado And Washington

Weed News - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 15:17
Tuesday November 6, 2012 is a day that will always be remembered by cannabis activists nationwide. It’s the day that Washington State and Colorado voters voted to legalize cannabis. I will...

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Public banks offer hope for cannabis industry

Cannabist - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:46
The formation of public banks to serve the cannabis industry is gaining acceptance among marijuana entrepreneurs and a growing number of cities and states.

California Company Becomes First to Offer Commercial Insurance to Marijuana Businesses

The Joint Blog - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:35
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has announced that for the first time legal marijuana businesses in the state now have an insurance company willing to offer them commercial insurance.

According to Jones, legal marijuana businesses are now able to purchase commercial insurance from Golden Bear Insurance Company, the first company willing to offer such services to the marijuana industry. The insurer was given approval last week to began providing commercial insurance to marijuana businesses that are explicitly following state law.

“Consumers who visit cannabis businesses, workers who work there, businesses who sell products to or rent property to cannabis businesses, and the investors, owners and operators of cannabis businesses all should have insurance coverage available to help them recover when something goes wrong just as any other legalized business does,” said commissioner Jones in a statement.

Although Golden Bear Insurance Company isn’t the first company in the state to provide insurance for the marijuana industry (there are currently 25 carriers that provide riskier forms of insurance), but they are the first to offer commercial insurance.

When asked about the potential risk of insurers working with the marijuana industry due to the Trump campaign, Jones says: “We believe the risk of federal intervention with an insurer is low. The fact that 25 surplus lines carriers are writing insurance currently demonstrates this.”

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CN ON: Expo Sheds Light On Pot Industry

MAP - Hemp - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:00
Winnipeg Free Press, 06 Nov 2017 - Vendors hope to inform and educate THOUSANDS of people streamed into Winnipeg's first-ever HempFest Cannabis Expo this weekend to listen to presentations by industry leaders and check out exhibits set up by cannabis and hemp businesses from around the country.

CN ON: Is The Fix In?

MAP - Cannabis - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:00
Toronto 24hours, 06 Nov 2017 - Lone province pot pusher is the Ont. gov't! The fix is in and it's only a matter of time until the city's marijuana dispensaries are forced out of business by the new pusher in town - the Ontario government.

CN ON: Expo Sheds Light On Pot Industry

MAP - Cannabis - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 08:00
Winnipeg Free Press, 06 Nov 2017 - Vendors hope to inform and educate THOUSANDS of people streamed into Winnipeg's first-ever HempFest Cannabis Expo this weekend to listen to presentations by industry leaders and check out exhibits set up by cannabis and hemp businesses from around the country.

Walgreens Stocking Overdose Reversal Drug in Stores Nationwide, No Prescription Needed

The Joint Blog - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 00:38
As part of its “comprehensive national plan to combat drug abuse”, Walgreens is now stocking Narcan (Nalaxone), an FDA-approved nasal spray that helps reverse opioid overdoses, in all of its more than 8,000 pharmacies nationwide. 

“By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed,” Rick Gates, Walgreens group vice president of pharmacy, said in a press release. “As a pharmacy we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”

In addition, Walgreens is adopting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations by educating patients about Narcan when they are dispensed a controlled substance greater than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) and may be at risk of accidental overdose.

“This action is an important milestone and we applaud Walgreens initiatives to improve access to Narcan Nasal Spray in communities across the U.S.,” said Seamus Mulligan, Chief Executive Officer of Adapt Pharma, the manufacturer of Narcan Nasal Spray. “This effort, combined with the opportunity for patients and caregivers to obtain Narcan Nasal Spray without an individual prescription in 45 states, is critical in combating this crisis.”

In an effort to educate the public on use of naloxone, pharmaceutical wholesaler AmerisourceBergen has distributed Narcan demo devices at no cost to Walgreens pharmacists for use in instructing patients on how to administer the medication. Additional instructions include calling 911, as Narcan is not a substitute for medical care. Anyone who is administered the medication should seek immediate medical attention.

“At AmerisourceBergen, we strive to provide our customers the highest quality care and support so they can ultimately enhance the lives of patients in their communities,” said Robert Mauch, Executive Vice President & Group President, Pharmaceutical Distribution & Strategic Global Sourcing for AmerisourceBergen. “We recognize the important role we play in addressing the opioid epidemic, and our collaboration with Walgreens is another key milestone to supply our customers with access to lifesaving initiatives and emergency medications that can help keep individuals safe across the country.”

Last year Walgreens announced an effort to make naloxone available without requiring a prescription in states where regulations allow. The company now offers naloxone without requiring a prescription in 45 states and is eager and willing to work with the remaining states to make naloxone easier to obtain.

Walgreens has also collected more than 155 tons of unwanted medications through its safe medication disposal kiosks in 600 pharmacies across 45 states and Washington D.C. The kiosks allow individuals to safely and conveniently dispose of unwanted prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications, year-round at no cost.

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