ACLU

U.S.: Attorney General Jeff Sessions War On Cannabis Needs To End, Says ALCU

Attorney General Sessions, Prohibitionist

Our top law enforcement official is a criminal justice dinosaur who has a history of endorsing ineffective policies and racist political rhetoric, says American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Forty-six years ago, when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse to be “America’s public enemy number one”, decades of harmful and misguided rhetoric began. In an op-ed last Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions touted misleading statistics and called for tougher sentencing. The propaganda is AG Sessions latest effort to escalate the War on Drugs and undo medical and recreational cannabis laws.

United States: Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Escalating War On Cannabis

Jeff Sessions - War On Drugs

It's time for smart criminal justice reforms – not regressive, recycled policies

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is spouting reefer madness rhetoric and promoting policies that pragmatic Americans have been working hard to put in the past. With near-consensus that the War on Drugs was a failure on every level, the country is ready to move to smart and commonsense reforms to our criminal justice system.

From state legislatures to the ballot box, the American people want common-sense sentencing policy reform – and the policies AG Sessions has proposed are anything but sensible.

United States: Brooklyn District Attorney Tells Attorney General Jeff Sessions 'Brooklyn's Decriminalization Is A Success'

AG Sessions DA Gonzalez

While the Trump administration advocates for a draconian stance on drugs by pushing for harsh criminal penalties, Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez's declaration advocates for a pragmatic approach to the war on drugs.

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a return to federal drug policies of the 1980’s, policies which end in mass incarceration.

In an opinion piece published on Sunday for City and State New York, Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez as was critical of AG Jeff Sessions for his barbaric stance regarding the failed drug war.

Rhode Island: Judge Rules Company Discriminated Against Medical Cannabis Patient

Joint-Leafly

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Tuesday, Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Richard Licht ruled against Darlington Fabrics, a Rhode Island textile company accused of discriminating against a woman when she was denied an internship because she used medical marijuana. The initial complaint said Christine Callaghan, a former graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, negotiated a paid internship with Darlington Fabrics in 2014 but lost it after disclosing she held a medical marijuana card for migraine headaches.

Illinois: Lawmakers Push To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Illinois.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Illinois lawmakers say that legal recreational marijuana will be part of the state's future; it's a question of when, not if. That is the message sent this morning from lawmakers backing legislation to fully legalize and regulate cannabis, and the coalition of groups lining up to support the bills.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy and state Senator Heather Steans, both Democrats from Chicago, were joined by members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois this morning at the Thompson Center in the Loop. They gave reporters details on the General Assembly’s first hearing on Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353.

They say prohibition of marijuana has not worked and it's time to get gangs and drug cartels out of the market which creates violent crime.

Cassidy cited surveys that show that 66 percent of the Illinois population support cannabis legalization.

The lawmakers believe that adults should be allowed to possess, grow and purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana, and that legalization would create millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The lawmakers were joined by representatives of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The ACLU, NORML and other legal, medical and community groups also make up part of the coalition

California: Marijuana Enforcement Nearly 4 Times More Severe For Blacks

BlacksTargetedForMarijuanaArrests[ACLU].jpg

Black and Latino Boys and Young Men at Particular Risk, Despite Similar Marijuana Use Rates Across Racial Lines

California to Vote on Removing Criminal Penalties and Legal Regulation of Marijuana This November

New data analyses conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California find that racial disparities in marijuana policing have persisted, following the reduction of low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction in 2011.

Possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable in California by a base fine up to $100 (plus substantial fees).

Despite marijuana usage rates being similar across racial and ethnic lines, data provided by the Los Angeles and Fresno Police Departments show that black and Latino people in those cities were issued marijuana possession citations at higher rates than white people in the years immediately following the penalty change from misdemeanor to infraction.

The data also reveal that marijuana possession enforcement falls mostly on young people. In both cities, the majority of infractions were issued to persons 29 years of age and younger.

Rhode Island: House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Bill

RegulateRIRebeccasMcGoldrick.jpg

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which adults can purchase marijuana from licensed businesses, similarly to alcohol.

Shortly before the hearing, marijuana market researchers, business owners, and entrepreneurs joined Regulate Rhode Island for a news conference to discuss the legislation’s potential to foster new businesses and create thousands of jobs in Rhode Island.

“This bill would provide a tremendous economic boost for our state, which is one of several reasons why our state legislators should not delay voting on it,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “This proposal would create dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs across Rhode Island. Our state’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than our neighbors’, and this legislation will put many Rhode Islanders back to work.”

H 7752, known as the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older, and it would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

Arizona: Civil Forfeiture Reform Legislative Hearing Set For Thursday

PolicingForProfit[InstituteForJustice].jpg

Legislative Hearing on Civil Forfeiture Reform
Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 9:00 am
House Government and Higher Education Committee
House Hearing Room 1

An unprecedented array of public interest organizations — including ACLU of Arizona, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Arizona Citizens Defense League, Goldwater Institute, Institute for Justice, Los Abogados, NFIB, and Public Integrity Alliance — have banded together as the Coalition for Arizona Forfeiture Reform to support reform of Arizona’s civil forfeiture laws.

The Coalition will be testifying before the House Government and Higher Education Committee to inform legislators about civil forfeiture and the nationwide, bipartisan steps being taken to implement necessary reforms.

If law enforcement suspects that you committed a crime, they can arrest you and put you on trial. At trial, prosecutors must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But if law enforcement suspects your property is linked to a crime, they can seize it even if they don’t charge you—or anyone else—with a crime.

If you want your property back, you will have to prove your innocence. Exacerbating these problems, law enforcement gets to keep up to 100 percent of what they take, which can warp law enforcement priorities and lead to questionable or even illegal spending of public funds.

Welcome to the upside-down world of civil forfeiture.

U.S.: Nixon Aide Admits War On Drugs Was To Suppress Left Wing, Blacks

JohnEhrlichman[LikeSuccess].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Former Nixon Administration policy advisor and Watergate defendant John Ehrlichman admitted in a recently unearthed 1994 quote that the War On Drugs was invented to suppress the anti-war Left and African-Americans.

"At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition," Dan Baum writes at Harper's. "I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away.

"'You want to know what this was really all about?' he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect," Baum writes.

"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people," Ehrlichman told him. "You understand what I’m saying?

"We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

"I must have looked shocked," Baum writes. "Ehrlichman just shrugged. Then he looked at his watch, handed me a signed copy of his steamy spy novel, The Company, and led me to the door."

U.S.: Civil Rights, Health, Faith, Justice Groups Call On Obama To End Global Drug War

StopTheDrugWar.org(StopSign)

More than 225 civil rights, health, faith-based and other organizations sent a letter to President Obama Thursday calling on him to use an upcoming United Nations high-level session on global drug policies to push for a fundamental change in course away from criminalization.

The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, AIDS United, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and #cut50, say that the current US position for the session "takes a short-term approach, stopping short of the crucial reforms called for by UN agencies and US allies, while failing to address new realities."

They want bolder stances from the administration in areas like human rights, public health and development, and for the US to promote initial steps the UN can take toward reforming international drug conventions to reflect moves in the US and elsewhere toward marijuana legalization.

"We believe a stronger US stance on these issues would leave a legacy in global drug policy that is better aligned to the direction you've steered domestic policy," the groups wrote.

The letter was submitted as the UN prepares for its highest level session on drug policy since 1998 – the "UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem," or UNGASS, scheduled for April 19-21 at UN headquarters in New York. US diplomats and drug and crime officials have played a central role in negotiations over the UNGASS Outcome Document, an official product of the meeting that will impact policy.

Florida: Senate Unanimously Passes Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

CivilAssetForfeiture[FloridaPolitics].jpg

The Florida Senate on Friday voted unanimously to approve SB 1044, which reforms the state’s “Contraband Forfeiture Act.” Introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes, the bill now heads to Florida House of Representatives for a floor vote.

The House companion, HB 889, passed its final committee of reference last week. The two bills are identical as amended and if HB 889 passes, civil asset forfeiture reform will head to Gov. Scott to be signed into law.

Civil asset forfeiture reform is a core national policy priority of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and Florida is a state the group has specifically targeted for reform.

“This is a tremendous step towards reforming Florida’s outdated forfeiture laws," said Theshia Naidoo, senior staff attorney for the DPA. "The unanimity of the Senate vote speaks volumes to the necessity of these important reforms. The House needs to act quickly to pass this law when it meets next week.”

“The broad, bipartisan coalition that Sen. Jeff Brandes built in the Florida Senate is what made these reforms possible," said attorney Ron Book, who represents the DPA in the Florida Legislature. "This legislation heads to the House with consensus amongst both parties, law enforcement, and reform advocates. We hope the House will act with the same unanimity that the Senate just did.”

D.C.: Friday Marks One Year Anniversary of Marijuana Legalization In Nation's Capitol

DCLegalized(ThankYouDCVoters)

Marijuana Arrests Down 85% After First Year

Congress Continues to Prevent District from Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

This Friday marks the one year anniversary of the implementation of marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia. In the 2014 election, District voters overwhelmingly passed Ballot Initiative 71 with 70 percent support, legalizing the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allowing individuals to grow up to six plants in their home.

Overall, marijuana arrests decreased by 85 percent from 2014 to 2015. Marijuana possession arrests fell from 1,840 in 2014 to just 32 in 2015.

“The decrease in marijuana arrests is an enormous victory for District residents, who have resoundingly rejected the criminalization of marijuana,” said Bill Piper, senior director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Marijuana law enforcement has particularly damaged communities of color in the District, who have borne the brunt of prohibition.

"We hope that law enforcement continues to responsibly enforce the new law and completely eliminates any racial disparity in arrests,” Piper said.

Arizona: ACLU Releases Mobile App To Help Hold Law Enforcement Accountable

MobileJusticeVideoSentToTheACLU[DailyKOS]

Mobile Justice AZ available free starting today through Apple and Google

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona on Friday launched Mobile Justice AZ, a free smartphone app that allows Arizonans to record video of law enforcement activity and automatically submit those videos to their local ACLU for review if it appears someone’s rights may have been violated.

The same app is also being launched today in nine other jurisdictions: Minnesota, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The Mobile Justice App is already in use in Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina and Oregon.

New York has the ACLU’s original app to record police, known as the Stop and Frisk app. In all, residents of 18 states and D.C. now have access to an ACLU mobile app for recording police interactions with the public.

Mobile Justice AZ is available for use on Android and iOS phones and can be downloaded free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It enables users to record, witness and report interactions with law enforcement and offers educational information on individual rights.

Videos captured on the Mobile Justice AZ app will be transmitted to the ACLU of Arizona and preserved even if the user’s phone is later seized or destroyed.

U.S.: Ira Glasser To Receive Top Award At International Drug Policy Reform Conference

IraGlasser[TheNovemberCoalition]

Glasser Has Shown Leadership in Drug Policy Reform for Nearly 50 Years

Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

The Richard J Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform will be awarded to Ira Glasser at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on November 21, in Arlington, Virginia.

Ira Glasser will be honored for being a leader in drug policy reform for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1967 when he joined the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). He directed that organization from 1970 to 1978, when he became the executive director of the ACLU, retiring in 2001. Ira joined the board of the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) in the early 1990s, becoming its chairman some years later, and played a key role in the merger of DPF and The Lindesmith Center in 2000 to create the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

He has served as chairman of DPA’s board ever since, providing wise counsel and leadership, mentoring staff at all levels, and educating and inspiring countless activists with his unique capacity to place the drug policy reform movement in the historical context of other great political struggles for personal freedom and social justice. His sustained and pivotal contributions to drug policy reform in the United States are both exceptional and unparalleled.

U.S.: Leading Drug Policy Reformers To Be Honored At International Conference

IraGlasser[TheNovemberCoalition]

Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Winners Include Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding, DPA Board President and Former ACLU Head Ira Glasser, Key Grassroots Ally VOCAL-NY, and LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginia. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization promoting alternatives to the Drug
War, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

"Every political movement for freedom and justice has its heroes, yet only a select few ever win the recognition they deserve," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "These awards honor those who have made extraordinary commitments, both publicly and behind the scenes, to advancing more sensible and humane ways of dealing with drugs in our society."

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

Ira Glasser is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to Drug War extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.

California: Bipartisan Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Dies On Assembly Floor

CivilAssetForfeitureCartoon[FreedomWorks]

Senator Holly Mitchell’s Bill, SB 443, Would Have Required Conviction Before Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture reform legislation authored by state Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and David Hadley (R-Torrance) failed to pass the California Assembly floor on Thursday after extraordinary efforts by law enforcement to defeat it, including personal calls to legislators’ cell phones and other scare tactics.

Despite bipartisan support and nearly unanimous votes at every previous juncture, SB 443 could not survive the Assembly floor vote on Thursday. However, the bill was granted reconsideration, meaning it can be taken up for another floor vote tomorrow, the final day of session, if the authors so choose.

SB 443, which was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU and the Institute for Justice would have required a conviction in either state or federal court before property could be permanently forfeited to local law enforcement coffers.

“We are deeply disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of courage shown by members of the Assembly today,” said Lynne Lyman, California state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "Apparently many of our elected representatives do not want to uphold the due process protections guaranteed to us in the constitution. Instead, they voted to continue allowing local law enforcement to circumvent the heightened protections of state law in favor of a corrupt arrangement with the federal government.”

U.S.: At Least 67 People Are Serving Life Sentences For Marijuana

LifeForPot[KCTV5]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At least 67 people are serving life sentences in prison right now for marijuana in the United States.

The plight of marijuana lifers has received new attention since the release last week of Jeff Mizanskey, who had been one of them, reports Tony Dokoupil at MSNBC.

"Man, I feel great," Mizanskey, now a great-grandfather after serving more than 20 years in prison, said as he looked at his first weekend as a free man in two decades. His sentence was commuted in May from life without parole to simple life, and last week he walked out of a maximum security prison in Missouri.

Mizanskey was sentenced in 1996 for trying to distribute six pounds of Mexican weed. There was no violence involved, but he had two previous convictions for the possession and sale of marijuana totaling 10 ounces.

That meant, under Missouri law at the time, that he was a "persistent" drug offender, subject to any punishment short of the death penalty. That law is no longer in effect, but similar policies continue to fill American prisons.

More than 20 states have now legalized cannabis for one purpose or another, and with $22 billion in legal sales expected by 2020, marijuana is becoming another consumer product. But these new laws don't help people with past marijuana convictions, including some with sentences harsher than those for rape or murder.

California: Legislature Takes A Look At Medical Marijuana Ahead Of Recreational Legalization Vote

RealCaliforniaCannabis

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The likelihood of a 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in California is prompting lawmakers in the Golden State to take a serious go at "regulating" the state's large medical marijuana industry, which has existed for 19 years.

Two bills in the California Legislature would create the first statewide regulations for medical cannabis growers, manufacturers of infused products, dispensaries, and delivery services, reports Lisa Leff at the Associated Press.

California voters approved medical marijuana with a 1996 ballot measure allowing doctors to authorize patients to use cannabis for any ailment, deliberately leaving out specifics to allow wider latitude. With advocates now working to qualify recreational adult use initiatives for the November 2016 ballot, the state's medical marijuana industry may soon be losing some of the latitude it has enjoyed for almost two decades.

Last month the Assembly approved a licensing scheme on an overwhelming 62-8 vote. a compromise measure to create a Governor's Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation, AB 266, is endorsed by both the California Cannabis Industry Association and the California Police Chiefs Association, which, as you might imagine, don't often find themselves agreeing.

Arizona: ACLU Challenges Asset Forfeiture Laws

IWantYourMoneyJewelryCarBoatAndHouseUncleSam

Under Unconstitutional System, Sheriff and County Attorney Take People’s Property and Use Profits for Salaries, Overtime, Retirement Funds, More

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, and the law firm Perkins Coie on Wednesday filed suit against the sheriff and county attorney of Pinal County, Arizona, for their enforcement of the state's civil asset forfeiture laws.

Law enforcement used this scheme against Rhonda Cox, a county resident, to seize and keep her truck, violating her constitutional rights. After Cox, an innocent owner, filed a claim to get her truck back, the county attorney’s office informed her that if she pursued her claim and lost, not only would she lose her truck, but the state’s forfeiture laws would require her to pay the county’s attorneys’ fees and investigation costs, an amount that would exceed the value of her truck.

Since she couldn’t risk so much financial loss, Cox was forced to abandon her efforts to retrieve her truck.

“Arizona’s civil asset forfeiture laws gave Pinal County license to steal from Rhonda Cox,” said Emma Andersson, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “That would be bad enough, but those laws also made it impossible for her to have a fair shot at challenging that theft in court.

"The county robbed Rhonda twice: first they took her truck, then they took her day in court,” Andersson said.

Oregon: Advocates Say July 1 Marijuana Legalization Is Just The First Step

OregonMadeOutOfMarijuana[KikiWinters-WillametteWeek]

Oct. 1 early start bill passes in Oregon Senate; Oregon police to stop arresting people for some marijuana crimes

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The day before adult use of marijuana becomes legal in Oregon, leaders of the state’s drug reform movement said they plan to expand their work to change how Oregon approaches drug policy.

“Thanks to Oregon voters, we have made history and become national leaders in drug reform,” said Anthony Johnson, chief petitioner of the Yes on 91 campaign to legalize marijuana. “But there’s still a lot to do, and this is just the beginning.”

Johnson has been advocating for an earlier start to regulated sales for marijuana, and the Oregon Senate today passed a bill, 23-6, that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling marijuana to adults 21 and older on Oct. 1. Another bill that reduces marijuana-related criminal penalties is making its way to the governor’s desk.

Johnson said marijuana should no longer be classified as a drug as dangerous as heroin, that more money should be devoted to marijuana-related research, and that “we should focus more on helping people and less on incarcerating them.”

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a strong advocate for changes to federal drug laws and a leader of the Oregon campaign to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, discussed his efforts to reform outdated marijuana policy at the federal level.

Syndicate content