criminal justice

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New Hampshire: Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession To Get Public Hearing

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Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

A news conference with the bill sponsors will be held at 12:30 p.m. ET, immediately preceding the House committee hearing

The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday, February 13, on a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. A news conference featuring the bill's sponsors and other supporters will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. It will immediately precede the public hearing, which will be held in Rooms 202-204 of the Legislative Office Building.

HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven cosponsors including Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

Maine: State Lawmaker Taking Third Try At Legalizing Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Portland voters this month legalized adult possession of small amounts of marijuana, and now a Maine lawmaker is hoping that will provide momentum to support her third attempt to pass a bill allowing the sale and taxation of cannabis statewide.

Ironically, the group behind the new Portland ordinance, as well as many medical marijuana caregivers and dispensary owners, don't want to see Portland Democrat Rep. Diane Russell's bill move forward, reports Leslie Bridgers at the Portland Press Herald.

The Maine Legislative Council is scheduled to decide on Thursday if Russell's proposal should be taken up as an "emergency bill" in the next session, which starts in January.

"There's no sense we have an emergency on our hands," said Portland City Councilor David Marshall, a leader in the local Green Party, which pushed to legalize pot in the city.

Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a trade association of people who grow and provide medicinal cannabis, also opposes the bill. "Time is needed to develop a good law that generates revenue for the state and benefits as many Maine people as possible," reads a letter sent out by the group.

Russell's last two legalization attempts, one in 2011 and one last spring, were both voted down in the Maine Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

New Hampshire: Despite Public Support, House Refuses To Recommend Marijuana Legalization

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UNH WMUR Granite State Poll shows 60% of New Hampshire adults support HB 492, which would make marijuana legal and establish a regulated marijuana market for adults; just 36% are opposed

The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has voted 11-7 against recommending the passage of HB 492, a bill to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, despite a new poll showing strong public support for the measure.

According to a new WMUR Granite State Poll released October 25 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 60 percent of New Hampshire adults support HB 492. Just 36 percent said they are opposed.

The poll of 603 randomly selected New Hampshire adults was conducted October 1-7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The entire poll is available here.

"Marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a failure as alcohol prohibition," said Matt Simon, a New Hampshire-based legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "New Hampshire voters are clearly ready for a more sensible approach. It appears some legislators are still less evolved than their constituents on this issue."

U.S.: Attorney General Eric Holder Calls for Major Drug Sentencing Reform

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Bi-Partisan Support Grows In Congress for Overhauling U.S. Drug Laws

Drug Policy Alliance Urges Administration to Think Big and Leave a Lasting Legacy

In an interview with NPR that aired on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said there are too many people in prison and it is time for federal sentencing reform. He could announce major changes as early as next week.

In the NPR interview Holder said: “The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old. There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”

“Attorney General Holder is clearly right to condemn mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Both he and the president have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by securing substantial, long overdue drug policy reform.”

A team of lawyers at the Justice Department is reportedly working on proposals that Holder could present as early as a speech next week. Some of the proposals could include de-prioritizing low-level drug offense.

D.C.: Washington Lawyers' Committee To Release Report On Racial Disparities In Arrests In Nation's Capital

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs on Friday will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to announce the release of a groundbreaking report on racial disparities in arrests in the District of Columbia.

The press conference will be held at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s offices, 11 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036.

The report, Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia, 2009-2011: Implications for Civil Rights and Criminal Justice in the Nation’s Capital, includes a detailed analysis of more than 142,000 arrest records for the period 2009–2011. It proposes a number of key recommendations to address the identified racial disparities.

The Committee’s work on this study was greatly assisted by a Judicial Advisory Panel of Senior and Retired DC and Federal Judges and a team of lawyers at Covington & Burling LLP who served as the report’s principal authors.

The members of the Judicial Advisory Panel are: John M. Ferren, senior judge, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Rufus G. King III, senior judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia; James Robertson, retired judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; Ricardo M. Urbina, retired judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; and Patricia M. Wald, retired chief judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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