Decriminalization

Kansas: 16-Year-Old Running for Governor, Plans to Legalize

Jack Bergeson on Kimmel

Jack Bergeson, 16, a Wichita high school student, is running for Kansas governor

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Even though he won’t be able to legally cast a vote, Jack Bergeson, a 16-year-old from Wichita, is running for Governor of Kansas in 2018. His political platform includes legalizing marijuana for social use.

“Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” said Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office. “So there’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.”

Texas: Congressman Hosts Public Hearing on Reducing Penalties for Cannabis

Texas

HB 334, which was introduced in the special legislative session, would replace criminal penalties for low-level cannabis possession with a civil citation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Wednesday, Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Joe Moody held a public hearing to discuss reducing state cannabis possession penalties to support HB 334, which Rep. Moody introduced in the special legislative session in July.

Texas: Bill Introduced to Decriminalize Cannabis

Texas Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On July 27, Texas Representative Joe Moody introduced, HB 334, a bill calling for the decriminalization of cannabis possession. The proposed legislation would also create an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia in the Lone Star State.

Under the proposed law, possession of over one ounce of marijuana would still be punishable with a misdemeanor, while five pounds or more would still garner a felony charge.

New Hampshire: Governor Signs Cannabis Decriminalization Bill

Cannabis

HB 640 will take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation — and the last of the New England states — to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last week, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill into law that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in New Hampshire. It will officially take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation — and the last of the New England states — to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

Wisconsin: Bills to Decriminalize Possession of 10 Grams of Cannabis Introduced

Wisconsin

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On June 27, Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake), Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison), unveiled Assembly Bill 409, a bill that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of cannabis, but acknowledged the bill's potentially grim fate in a conservative controlled Wisconsin Legislature.

On June 23, Senate Bill 318, a similar cannabis decriminalization bill introduced into the Wisconsin Senate, was referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

Latin America: Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Mexico Cannabis 2017

Under the new law, cannabis cultivation for medical and scientific purposes are not punishable

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In 1920, Mexico banned the production, sale, and recreational use of cannabis. Yesterday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto published an official decree that makes medical marijuana legal in Mexico. The historic change in policy, which passed Mexico’s lower house in parliament with a 374-7 vote on April 28, opens the door for medicinal cannabis as an option to treat ailments.

Alabama: City of Mobile Cannabis Decriminalization Proposal Withdrawn by Mayor

Mobile, Alabama

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Mobile, Alabama Mayor Sandy Stimpson, the sponsor of a City Ordinance that would have decriminalized several minor cannabis offenses in the City of Mobile, withdrew his proposal yesterday. The ordinance, which would have lessened penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis by issuing a citation instead of an arrest, appears to have stalled in the City of Mobile.

Several cities across the country have passed similar ordinances to bypass the arrest process for cannabis including Detroit, Chicago, and Columbia, MO.

Global: Uruguay and Canada Moving Forward on Cannabis Legalization

International Cannabis

Canada and Uruguay currently honor the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Uruguay‘s Ambassador to Ottawa, Martin Vidal, is working with Canada on the implementation of global cannabis regulations. To do so, Canada and Uruguay must comply with three United Nations drug control treaties, since they honor those treaties.

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced legislation with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational cannabis by July 2018.

Europe: Czech Republic and France Have More Cannabis Users Than Anywhere Else in Europe, Study Suggests

Cannabis In Europe

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Most people think of Amsterdam’s coffee shops when it comes European cannabis, but new data from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) says Paris and Prague have higher rates of cannabis consumers with 11% of respondents in each country admitting to cannabis use in the past year.

Global: Uruguay Becomes First Country To Allow Open Cannabis Use

Uruguay Cannabis

Uruguay has never criminalized personal possession of drugs, and a 1974 law allowed judges to determine whether a given case of possession was personal or commercial

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

In August 2014, Uruguay legalized the formation of growing clubs, a state-controlled marijuana dispensary regime and created a cannabis regulatory institute. A new law makes the South American country the first in the world to sell the herb over the counter.

There was a gray area in the law where consumption was legal but cultivation was not, so every time a marijuana-grower was taken prisoner it was reinforcing the message that the only place to obtain access to a legal substance was on the illegal market.

Global: Chilean Pharmacies Start Offering Cannabis, A First In Latin America

Chile Cannabis

Cannabis has a long history in Chile, possibly the longest in the New World, as hemp production for fiber was introduced in the Quillota Valley as early as 1545

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Increasingly, Chileans are cultivating their own cannabis for medicine as the South American nation starts to loosen its prohibition on the once illegal herb. Chile began clinical trials on medical marijuana in 2014, and in 2015 a decriminalization bill successfully passed the lower house of the Chilean Congress. Later that year, following a wave of other Latin American nations allowing the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of cannabis, Chile legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Washington: New Law, SB 5131, Allows Sharing Of Cannabis, Creates Organic Standards, Prohibits Advertising To Youth

Seattle Hempfest 2015

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On May 16, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5131 into law. The new law, which goes into effect July 23, allows anyone 21 years or older to “deliver” to another adult up to one-half ounce of flowers, eight ounces of infused solid edible, 36 ounces of infused liquid, or three and one-half grams of concentrates, as long as they don’t charge money. Previously in Washington state, possession with the intent to pass the joint/bong/edible held a penalty of 5 years in jail and $10,000, and disqualification from federal programs.

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.

New Hampshire: Decriminalization Bill Passes In Senate, Moves Back To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The New Hampshire Senate has passed a marijuana decriminalization bill, but the measure must now go back before the House after the Senate amended the measure to drop the cannabis possession limits from 1 ounce to three-quarters of an ounce. The bill would eliminate jail time for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis and up to five grams of "hashish" and reduce the fine from $350 to $100 for adults 18-and-older.

Rep. Renny Cushing, a decriminalization proponent, said he was confident that the House would agree with the measure amended by the Senate, and so make its way to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu, who has indicated that he would sign it.

“I want to thank the legislature for passing common sense marijuana reform,” Sununu said following the Senate vote. “I look forward to signing House Bill 640 into law.”

Fines will increase to $300 for a third offense and a fourth offense would result in a Class B misdemeanor charge under the measure. Minors convicted of possession of less than the law allows would be subject to a delinquency petition.

The bill forbids law enforcement officers from making arrests for marijuana possession violations.

California: Study Shows Marijuana Decriminalization Associated With Improved Labor Market

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Data compiled by economists at the University of California shows that reducing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses is associated with greater overall employment and higher wages.

Researchers at the Economic Self-Sufficiency Research Policy Institute at the University of California at Irvine assessed the relationship between statewide marijuana decriminalization laws and labor outcomes.

The report says that decriminalization is associated with increased probability of employment, particularly for young males, and an average increase of 4.5 percent in weekly earnings. The greatest average wage increase was experienced by African-Americans.

"This data provides suggestive evidence that marijuana decriminalization laws improve extrinsic labor market outcomes," the authors concluded. "This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties."

Switzerland: Advocates Renew Push For Legal Adult-use Marijuana

Switzerland.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Swiss advocates are renewing their push to legalize marijuana consumption and cultivation for adults. Possession of marijuana was decriminalized in Switzerland in 2013, when laws were relaxed and criminal penalties for possessing 10 grams of cannabis or less were reduced to a fine of 100 francs (about USD$100).

An initiative to legalize marijuana failed in Switzerland in 2008. That initiative would have legalized marijuana cultivation and use for everyone, including minors, and didn’t provide for any government tax.

Nine Forrer of Legalize It, the group behind the campaign, argued that legalizing cannabis would help curtail the informal market.

“The ban on cannabis is wrong from a social perspective, wrong from a legal point of view and simply stupid from an economic point of view.” Forrer said in a report by Tages-Anzeiger, a Swiss German-language newspaper published in Zurich.

The Swiss government is presently considering a trial program that would allow state-controlled marijuana sales in cannabis clubs in four cities and another trial that would allow cannabis sales in selected pharmacies.

Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer Sends Out 4/20 E-mail

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer sent an e-mail out to many citizens on 4/20 to acknowledge the unofficial marijuana holiday and to encourage them to join the fight to stop federal crackdown on states with legalized marijuana.

In the e-mail, Blumenauer says that he has been fighting the battle for marijuana reform for over 40 years. While not such an outspoken advocate until recent years, he did first vote in the Oregon legislature to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana in 1973.

The subject of the e-mail was "Happy 4-20: Take this Joint Action!" and it reads:

Dear Friends,

One in five Americans live in a state where the voters have chosen to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. These regulations are keeping our communities safe from crime, and new jobs and industries are being created.

Unfortunately, a White House spokesperson recently announced a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana. If this happens states will lose billions in tax revenue.

As many of you know I've been fighting this battle for over 40 years. And recently, we have seen a lot of forward movement. Earlier this year, I cofounded the first congressional cannabis caucus to continue the momentum were we are seeing at the state level for cannabis reform. I'm glad to see other leaders stepping up on this issue.

Tennessee: Governor Signs Law Repealing Voter-backed Decriminalization For Marijuana Possession In Memphis And Nashville

Bill Haslam.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, has signed into law a bill that undoes recent marijuana decriminalization measures in the state’s two largest cities, the Tennessean reports.

Voters in Memphis and Nashville last year approved the decriminalization of marijuana, both of which gave police officers the option of issuing tickets for small-time marijuana possession in place of making arrests. However, Republican state lawmakers pushed a bill to the governor’s desk that says state law overrides local law in regards to Class B misdemeanors and above, under which marijuana possession falls.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors was Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown. He said of the decriminalization measures, “You can’t allow an officer at their whim to treat two different individuals who have potentially committed the same crime in drastically different ways depending on what that officer feels like at a given time.”

“You just can’t have cities creating their own criminal code, willy-nilly,” Lamberth said.

Despite their popularity among the cities’ voters, reports have indicated that police in Nashville and Memphis did not take much advantage of the change in local laws, which are now no longer valid.

Texas: Dallas Approves Cite And Release Program For Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Possession of marijuana in Dallas, Texas might not automatically land someone in jail anymore.

Dallas city council members voted 10-to-5 to approve a “cite and release” program for simple marijuana possession.

Although strongly supported, some people, like former officer Pete Schulte, think the program does not go far enough.

“In a perfect world, if people were cited, they were released and they showed up to court and took care of their case, perfect,” said Schulte, who’s now a defense lawyer. “Chances of that happening maybe 10 percent of the time are slim to none.”

Schulte thinks it would put more stress on the criminal justice system. He said if someone does not show up for their date in court, a warrant will be issued and served for their arrest, which he said would just tax law enforcement weeks or months later.

“I think it’s just pushing the ball down the court,” said Schulte. “It’s not going to help anything.”

Council member Philip Kingston, the man behind the initiative, strongly disagrees.

“That’s boneheaded,” said Kingston. “Our cops are smart.”

Kingston believes cite and release will help free up officers to focus on more serious crimes.

“I think what we’ve done at this point is made this crime such a hassle for police to mess with, that they’ll simply quit,” said Kingston.

Missouri: Kansas City Passes Measure To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters approved a measure on Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana possession within the city's limits.

Nearly 75 percent of voters decided 'yes' on Question 5 which reduces penalties for the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable by a $25 fine. The measure also eliminates penalties for the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia.

The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana," said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML.

The new ordinance takes effect when signed by the mayor or within five days.

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