chris lindsey

Illinois: Senate Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Illinois Senate voted Tuesday 40 to 14 in favor of a bill that would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana, replacing a punishment of jail time with a small fine.

“We need to replace Illinois’s current patchwork of marijuana possession laws with a consistent standard that will be applied fairly across the state,” Senator Heather Steans, the bill’s primary sponsor, told HIGH TIMES in an e-mailed statement. “People should not be sent to jail for an offense that would have been punishable by a small fine if it had occurred a few miles down the road. It’s irrational, it’s unpredictable, and it’s unjust.”

Senate Bill 2228 introduces legislation that will impose a fine of $100-$200 on anyone caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less.Currently, any person caught with 10 grams of pot can be arrested and charged with a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

In addition, the bill comes with a provision that eliminates the state's zero-tolerance policy for stoned driving. Under current law, a person is at risk of getting a DUI for any amount of THC in the blood, even if it is residual from use days before.

The new bill establishes a legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms of THC in saliva.

Illinois: First Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Open

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Illinois’ first medical marijuana dispensaries have opened across the state, with five opening on Monday, including locations in Addison, Canton, Marion, Mundelein, and Quincy.

So far, a total of eight shops are approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health with seven more dispensaries expected to open later this month, bringing the total number of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Illinois to 15. In order to be protected under state law, Illinois patients must obtain their medical marijuana from one of these licensed dispensaries.

“This is a great day for suffering patients who have been waiting to have access to this medicine,” said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We are grateful they will no longer have to put themselves at risk by purchasing it in an underground market.” Under the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP), patients must register and select one designated dispensary as their source of medicine. According to the Department of Public Health, 3,300 patients have registered for the medical cannabis identification cards.

“The dispensary openings mark the most significant milestone since the pilot program began nearly two and half years ago,” said Lindsey. “A limited number of patients with certain conditions will now be able to legally access medical marijuana. We hope the state can see that a program like this works and we can finally relieve the suffering of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.”

Illinois: Governor's Amendatory Veto Sends Pot Decrim Bill Back To Assembly For Final Approval

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday issued an amendatory veto of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amount of marijuana, sending it back to the General Assembly for final approval.

The General Assembly has 15 days from the next session date to approve the amended version of HB 218, which needs to receive a simple majority vote in the House and then the Senate to officially become law. The original version, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), was approved in the Senate (37-19) on May 21 and in the House (62-53) on April 23.

Gov. Rauner’s amended version of HB 218 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a fine of up to $200 with no possibility of jail time, and the civil offense would be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record. The original version applied to possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana and set the amount of the fine at up to $125.

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500, and possession of more than 2.5 grams and up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 localities in Illinois have adopted measures that reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

U.S.: Senator John Walsh Offers Protections for Medical Marijuana Patient Gun Rights

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Amendment to Senate Appropriations Bill would deny funds to the ATF for enforcing ban on gun rights for medical marijuana patients

Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) has offered an amendment to Senate appropriations bill S. 2347, which would prevent the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from targeting state-legal medical marijuana patients for possessing firearms.

“Montanans take their Second Amendment rights very seriously and hunting is an important part of our heritage and culture,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Whether firearms are used for sport or to help sustain a family by putting food on the table, the federal government should not prevent Montanans from owning firearms simply because a hunter benefits from access to medical marijuana."

In 2011, the ATF issued a letter entitled “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” which told licensees that according to Title 18, Section 922 of the United States Code, licensees are not allowed under to sell ammunition or firearms to individuals who use marijuana, even if the person uses it in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

“We are pleased Sen. Walsh is sending a strong message to the federal government on behalf of Montanans: Stay away from the gun rights of our law-abiding citizens,” said Lindsey. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs, yet the federal government seems to have a persistent case of reefer madness.

Illinois: Poll Shows More Than 60% Support Removing Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

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Supporters call on members of the House of Representatives to pass bills approved last week by the House Restorative Justice Committee that would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois with a non-criminal fine

Panel discussion on collateral sanctions of marijuana arrests to take place Friday at Roosevelt University

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois on Thursday released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 63 percent of Illinois voters support making possession of an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. Only 27 percent oppose the proposal.

The poll found majority support across all reported genders, races, and political party affiliations. The survey, which polled 769 Illinois voters from March 28-30, is available at http://www.mpp.org/ILpoll.

Illinois: Marijuana Decrim Bill Advocates To Release Poll Showing Strong Support

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Group Will Also Release New Report Detailing Collateral Consequences of Being Arrested for Marijuana in Illinois

Central Illinois man who was denied public housing assistance 13 years after being arrested for possessing 2.5 grams of marijuana will join Illinois religious leader and others at a news conference Thursday at 11 a.m. CT in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois will on Thursday release the results of a statewide poll that show strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, will also be released. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University. For details, visit http://bit.ly/1jlWPe8.

Illinois: Lawmakers To Hold Public Hearing On Allowing Medical Marijuana For People With Seizure Disorders

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State Lawmakers to Hold Public Hearing Tuesday On Proposal to Allow Access to Medical Marijuana for People With Seizure Disorders, Including Minors

The president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, a family physician, and parents of children with seizure disorders will testify in support of SB 2636

The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT on a bill that would allow access to medical marijuana for people suffering from seizure disorders, including minors. The hearing will be held in Room 409 of the Illinois State Capitol.

The president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Kurt W. Florian, Jr.; a Moline-based family practitioner, Dr. Margy Millar; and parents of two children suffering from seizure disorders are scheduled to testify in support of the measure.

SB 2636, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez, would add seizure disorders to the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act that was approved last year by the Illinois State Legislature.

"Medical marijuana has been found to produce significant benefits for patients suffering from frequent and severe seizures," said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "These patients deserve the same right to relief as those suffering from other conditions that qualify under Illinois's medical marijuana law. We hope the committee members will agree this is a commonsense proposal."

Michigan: Medical Marijuana Regulatory Agency Approves Adding PTSD As Qualifying Condition

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Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs agrees with panel recommendation to make Michigan the eighth state to provide relief for those suffering from the effects of traumatic events

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has decided to accept the recommendation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel and add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for the state medical marijuana program. This is the first time a qualifying condition has been added in Michigan.

Residents in Michigan suffering from PTSD will now be allowed to treat their symptoms with medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it, starting immediately. The statement from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs can be read by clicking here.

"Individuals who are exposed to traumatic events can suffer from PTSD, including veterans and victims of domestic violence," said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It can lead to severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, anger, or other symptoms.

"In many respects, it can kick a person when he or she is already down," Lindsey said. "Thousands of victims across the country have turned to medical marijuana for help, and several studies support marijuana’s effectiveness as a treatment option.

Michigan: Medical Marijuana Review Panel Recommends PTSD as Qualifying Condition

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Finding by panel of physicians, professors, and medical marijuana advocates would make Michigan the eighth state to provide relief for those suffering from the effects of traumatic events

Residents in Michigan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may soon be allowed to treat their symptoms with medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Review Panel appointed by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has decided to recommend that the department add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

It is now up to Steve Arwood, director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, to accept or reject the recommendation.

"There is mounting evidence demonstrating the benefits of medical marijuana for individuals suffering from PTSD," said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "The panel should be commended for recommending that veterans and those who have experienced traumatic events, such as domestic abuse, be allowed to use medical marijuana to alleviate their PTSD and live healthy and productive lives. They deserve our compassion and support.

Texas: Gov. Rick Perry Says States Should Be Allowed To Legalize Marijuana

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Possibly positioning himself for another attempt at the White House, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that he believes states should be allowed to legalize marijuana and that, as governor, he has helped move Texas in the direction of decriminalizing marijuana.

"I am a staunch promoter of the 10th Amendment," Perry said, reports US News and World Report. "States should be able to set their own policies on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, then people will decide where they want to live.'"

"On marijuana legalization," Perry said twice, "States should be allowed to make those decisions."

According to a report by the Austin American-Statesman, Perry said:

"[A]fter 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past," Perry said, reports the Austin American-Statesman. "What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade."

"We applaud Gov. Perry for standing up in support of states' rights to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use," said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Our marijuana prohibition policies have failed, and it is time to adopt a more sensible policy.

Illinois: Medical Marijuana Law To Go Into Effect January 1

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State agencies will begin establishing system of regulated medical marijuana cultivation and distribution to individuals with serious illnesses; patients will NOT be protected from arrest until registry is established by Dept. of Public Health

Legislation adopted this year to establish a state-regulated medical marijuana program in Illinois will go into effect Wednesday. Licensed medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facilities are expected to begin producing medical marijuana and providing it to patients in late 2014.

Patients with qualifying medical conditions will NOT be protected from arrest until the Department of Public Health has established the patient registry and approved their individual applications to the program.

"We hope state officials will work swiftly to ensure seriously ill patients no longer face legal penalties for using medical marijuana," said Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Illinois patients and their families have already waited long enough."

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program (MCPP) will require coordination by three state agencies. The Department of Public Health will oversee the creation and management of the state's medical marijuana patient registry; the Department of Agriculture will regulate medical marijuana cultivation facilities; and the Department of Financial and Professional Responsibilities will regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

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