decrim

New Hampshire: House Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

NewHampshireMarijuanaLeafStateSeal

The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday evening in a voice vote that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.

HB 1631 would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Under current state law, 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.

“This is commonsense marijuana policy reform,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It is irrational to brand people as criminals simply for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

Nearly three out of four New Hampshire residents (72 percent) think the legislature should decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll released earlier this month. The full results are available at http://bit.ly/1Xdt8j9.

“New Hampshire citizens want the legislature to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy,” Simon said. “House members have done their part, and we hope their colleagues in the Senate will join them in supporting this measure.”

Ohio: Toledo Marijuana Decrim Law Now In Effect

ToledoMarihuanaLaw[TheBlade]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The parts of Toledo, Ohio's new marijuana decriminalization law which abolish jail and fines for possessing pot is now being honored, even though the recently adopted "Sensible Marihuana Ordinance" remains in limbo in a legal contest between the city and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Twenty-one people have been charged with marijuana possession in Toledo Municipal Court since voters approved the ordinance on September 15, reports Tom Troy at The Blade.

Among those cases, only one defendant, 18-year-old Mariah Smith, has been convicted. She pleaded no contest and was "sentenced" to no fine and no jail time.

In the other cases, the defendants are still waiting for trail or authorities reduced the charge to disorderly conduct.

Atty. Gen. DeWine and others filed suit to block sections of the law that attempt to rewrite Ohio state felony law regarding marijuana.

By a 70 to 30 percent vote, Toledo residents in September approved the citizen initiative that wrote a new ordinance into the Toledo Municipal Code which decriminalizes marijuana and hashish possession. Fewer than 10 percent of registered city voters turned out for the election.

The new city ordinance reduces all the penalties, no matter the quantity, to zero dollars in fines and zero time in jail.

Delaware: Marijuana Decriminalization Law To Take Effect Friday

DelawareSmallWonderMarijuanaRoadSign[MarijuanaStocks.com]

Marijuana decriminalization legislation adopted earlier this year in Delaware will officially take effect on Friday, making it the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession. (A 20th state, Missouri, has a similar law on the books that goes into effect in 2017.)

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately they will not have to any longer.”

Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Once HB 39 takes effect, the possession or private use of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer trigger criminal penalties or create a criminal record for adults 21 years of age and older. Instead, it will be a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 20 will face the same $100 civil fine for their first offense, then an unclassified misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which they can have expunged from their records when they reach age 21. Marijuana possession by minors and public consumption by people of any age will remain misdemeanors.

U.S.: Controlled By Prison Lobby? Hillary Clinton Unlikely To End War On Drugs

HillaryClinton2015[TheFreeThoughtProject]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More and more Americans have come to realize that the War On Drugs is a colossal failure -- but presidential contender Hillary Clinton doesn't seem to be one of those. Hillary seems unlikely to end that futile war and the mass incarceration which results from it, due to her ties to the prison lobby.

The pattern of mass incarceration triggered by the Drug War has resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans, and has unfairly targeted the economically disadvantaged and people of color, reports Romain Bonilla at Marijuana Politics.

Clinton has stayed mostly silent on the failures of current drug policies during her presidential campaign. She has historically been opposed to marijuana decrim, and despite voters confronting her on multiple occasions, has failed to clarify her current stance on cannabis policy.

The the 1990s, Hillary favored harshly punitive sentences to deter people from violating drug laws, including "Three Strikes" measures which proved both disastrous and unconstitutional.

Delaware: Legislature Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession; Governor Expected To Sign

DelawareSmallWonderMarijuanaRoadSign[MarijuanaStocks.com]

The Delaware Senate on Thursday approved a bill 12-9 on Thursday that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana.

The measure, which was approved in the House earlier this month, will now be sent to Gov. Jack Markell (D), who is expected to sign it into law. In a March letter to the editor of The New York Times, Gov. Jack Markell said he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, would replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” Rep. Keeley said. “Delaware is taking an appropriate step to right size the penalty for small quantity possession.”

“Senate action on this bill is commonsense and will remove the potential implication a criminal record can have for a person seeking employment, housing, and education,” Sen. Henry said. “It is important to more appropriately penalize people in possession of marijuana for personal use.”

U.S.: Voters Across Country Accelerate Momentum To Legalize Marijuana, End Drug War

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Oregon and D.C. – And Alaska? – Pass Marijuana Legalization, as California and New Jersey Pass Groundbreaking Criminal Justice Reforms

DPA: Election Solidifies Drug Policy Reform as Mainstream Political Issue, Boosts Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in California and Elsewhere in 2016

Voters across the country have accelerated the unprecedented momentum to legalize marijuana and end the wider Drug War, with marijuana legalization measures passing in Oregon and Washington, D.C., while groundbreaking criminal justice reforms passed in California and New Jersey.

“This Election Day was an extraordinary one for the marijuana and criminal justice reform movements,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Oregon proved that Colorado and Washington were no flukes.

"Washington, D.C. voters sent a powerful message to Congress that federal marijuana prohibition has no place in the nation’s capital," Nadelmann said. "Voters in Florida and Guam demonstrated that medical marijuana could win big even in fairly conservative jurisdictions. And California and New Jersey revealed an electorate eager to reduce prison populations and the power of the prison industrial complex.”

U.S.: GOP Congressman Introduces Bill To Block New D.C. Marijuana Decriminalization Law

CongressmanJohnFleming(R-LA)

In Congressional Hearing, Republican-Led Panel Criticizes New D.C. Law

D.C. Council Passed Decriminalization Law to Address Racial Disparities and Out-of-Control Arrests

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations held a Friday hearing on legislation recently passed by the District of Columbia that eliminates criminal penalties for marijuana possession. The panel, chaired by Rep. John Mica (R-FL), heard testimony describing severe racial disparities in the enforcement of D.C. marijuana laws and strong support among D.C. lawmakers and residents for eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

Speaking to a reporter with CQ Roll Call, Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) indicated he plans to introduce a Congressional resolution to overturn D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization law and Rep. Mica said that his views on whether Congress should intervene are “evolving.” In closing remarks during today’s hearing, Rep. Mica indicated he might soon hold an additional hearing on the D.C. measure.

“It’s outrageous that Congress is trying to sabotage D.C.’s success in ending marijuana arrests,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Congress should follow the lead of lawmakers in D.C. and reform federal marijuana laws.”

New Hampshire: Majority Of Granite State Adults Support Legalizing Marijuana, Regulating It Like Alcohol

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New Granite State Poll Shows Growing Majority of New Hampshire Adults Support Making Marijuana Legal and Regulating It Like Alcohol; Three Out of Five Support the Decriminalization Bill Currently Moving Through the State Legislature

UNH-WMUR survey finds 55% think marijuana possession should be legal — up from 53% in 2013 — and 61% support HB 1625, which would reduce the penalty for possession of limited amounts of marijuana to a $100 civil fine

The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.

The survey found 55 percent percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53 percent in 2013 — and 67 percent approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.

"Marijuana prohibition has been an ineffective and wasteful policy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Voters are increasingly becoming fed up with it, and they're ready to replace it with a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol."

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.

Louisiana: Bill Advances To Soften Marijuana Penalties

(Graphic: Disinfo.com)Cannabis Possession Can Get You 20 Years For Third Offense Under Current Louisiana Law

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After debating for for more than an hour on Wednesday, a Louisiana House committee advanced a bill that would soften the state's penalties for marijuana possession.

The sticking point in House Bill 103, reports Michelle Millhollow of The Advocate, was how to address habitual offenders and other already convicted marijuana offenders.

Current Louisiana law requires a third or subsequent marijuana possession conviction to be punished by up to 20 years in prison. The felony conviction can also be used to enhance the prison sentence when offenders have at least two other felony convictions.

Louisiana prosecutors sometimes use marijuana possession charges to send offenders to prison for life under the state's Three Strikes habitual offender law.

HB 103 sponsor Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) wants to allow those in jail for marijuana possession to be able to ask the court to reconsider their sentences. He also wants to stop prosecutors from sending marijuana possession offenders to prison for life as habitual offenders.

Michigan: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced With Bipartisan Support

(Illustration: The Daily Chronic)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would make the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a fine, rather than a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

"We know, and the people here in Michigan know, that marijuana prohibition is not working," Irwin said during a press conference at the Capitol, reports Jonathan Oosting at Mlive.com.

"Despite the fact that we're spending a minimum of $325 million a year on arresting, trying and incarcerating marijuana users in this state, we know marijuana has never been more available," Irwin said. "We know that law enforcement has not been successful at keeping marijuana out of the hands of anyone in the state."

Irwin has at least two Republican cosponsors for the bill; joining him at a press conference were Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon), Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville).

"This is the right time to have this debate in Michigan," Rep. Shirkey said. "We're using a lot of money, energy and resources in Michigan and across the nation to accomplish something we've failed at.

North Carolina: Bill Introduced to Downgrade Penalties for Marijuana Possession

There is a truth that must be heard!HB 637 would replace criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill introduced by State Rep. Kelly Alexander, Jr. (D-Mecklenburg) to downgrade the penalty for simple possession of marijuana in North Carolina, passed first reading on Wednesday and was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

HB 637 is being co-sponsored by Rep. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Rep. Beverly Earle (D-Mecklenburg), Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe), Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-Brunswick, New Hanover), Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Rep. Rodney Moore (D- Mecklenburg), and Rep. Bobbie Richardson (D-Franklin).

The bill would replace criminal penalties for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana with a civil infraction similar to a traffic ticket. Simple marijuana possession is currently classified as a Class 3 criminal misdemeanor and is punishable by a suspended sentence and a $200 fine.

A majority (56 percent) of North Carolina voters believe the penalty for marijuana possession should entail only a fine, according to a Public Policy Polling survey of 611 voters released in March.

"We applaud Rep. Alexander and his House colleagues for championing a more sensible marijuana policy for the Tar Heel State," said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Maryland: Hearing Thursday On Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

(Illustration: The Weed Blog)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana and replace them with a civil citation and fine. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST in Room 101 of the House Office Building.

S.B. 297 would reduce the penalty for possession of less than 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce) of marijuana to a civil citation with no possibility of jail time and a fine of up to $100. Currently, it is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The decriminalization bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Carroll & Howard), was approved in the Senate last week by a vote of 30-16.

"Every year, Maryland wastes millions of dollars prosecuting tens of thousands of adults simply for choosing to use a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol," said Dan Riffle, a former prosecutor now serving as deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana would allow police and prosecutors to focus on violent criminals and real threats to public safety."

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on S.B. 297, a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana

New Hampshire: House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New Hampshire House on Thursday, for the fourth time in five years, passed a bill which would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. But Governor Maggie Hassan has said she's not in favor of decriminalization, and the New Hampshire Senate has shot down all three of the recent attempts by the House to pass such a law.

Bill supporters said that marijuana prohibition doesn't have public support and is a financial and regulatory burden on the state, reports Morgan True at The Associated Press. Supporters noted that both alcohol and tobacco have worse health and societal impacts than does cannabis.

"A criminal offense and a criminal record can do much more harm than a small amount of marijuana," said Rep. Joel Winters (D-Nashua) during debate on the House floor.

The House voted 214-115 to pass the decrim bill after Rep. Linda Harriott-Gathright (D-Nashua) lost a floor fight over the issue, reports Dan Tuohy at NashuaPatch. Harriott-Gathright brought the bill to the House on behalf of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which recommended the House kill the bill.

Hawaii: House Judiciary Committee Approves Marijuana Decrim Bill

Photo: Care2By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana continues to advance through the Hawaii House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the bill, SB 472 SD1 HD1 over predictable objections from law enforcement officials who claimed the proposal would "undermine their work," reports Anita Hofschneider of The Associated Press.

The Senate version of SB 472 SD 1 decriminalized up to one ounce of cannabis. It passed on the floor of the Hawaii Senate last week by a unanimous 25-0 vote. At that point, it already had been amended from the bill's original form, with higher fines (raised from $100 to $1,000) intended to make the bill "more acceptable" to the House, reports Thomas H. Clarke at The Daily Chronic.

The House version of the bill, approved by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, lowered the fine back to $100, similar to fines in other decriminalized states. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Kari Rhoads amended the measure to decrease the amount to seven-tenths of one ounce, or 20 grams.

Rhoads also added language making clear that marijuana possession by minors is still criminal, and emphasizing the supposed "negative effects" of pot on young people.

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