law enforcement against prohibition

Illinois: Lawmakers Push To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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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

Arizona: Former DEA Agents Rally In Support Of Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A pair of retired agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration stopped by Arizona State University Wednesday to campaign on behalf of Proposition 205, the state’s initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana.

They encouraged some of ASU’s 80,000 college students to vote “yes” on Prop. 205. Their appearance was organized by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and timed to coincide with the beginning of early voting in the state.

Finn Selander and Michael Capasso, former special agents, were on hand to speak to students and explain why they support an initiative that runs counter to their former careers as drug warriors.

“It was a huge success,” Capasso told The Huffington Post. “They were interested, and they liked my perspective — coming from the DEA. Most of the people I spoke to were thumbs-up on Prop. 205.”

Capasso said he supports legalizing marijuana because it doesn’t have the “collateral damage” that other drugs do, like addiction and overdose. Because of that, he thinks it’s practical to regulate marijuana like alcohol and use the tax revenue to fund state programs.

“I think it makes sense, I really do,” he said. “And I think it’s going to happen. It’s about time.”

California: Marijuana and Athletics Converge at Santa Monica Pier Saturday

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A new demographic and category in sports has emerged. Created to de-stigmatize cannabis and the people who use it, The 420 Games brings a message of fitness, wellness and health.

This Saturday, March 26, this new paradigm of athletics and medical cannabis use will be celebrated by more than 1,000 participants at The Santa Monica Pier. Having kept their cannabis use a secret for fear of judgement or persecution, athletes are now stepping out, inspired by this newly found 'CannaAthletics' movement.

Activists will walk, run, bicycle or skateboard to “Go the Extra Mile for Cannabis” in this 4.20 mile race; wheelchairs are welcome! Out in the water stand-up paddle boarders will follow course along the beach.

"In 2014, I stepped out and created this new genre of athletics and cannabis use in order to inspire the rest of the world to step out with me," said Jim McAlpine, founder of the 420 Games. "The 420 Games is humbled and honored to be credited with the creation of 'CannaAthletics'.

"The 420 Games' purpose is to emphasize that highly functional people, even professional athletes, use cannabis and are hardly the lazy stoners the world has portrayed," McAlpine said. "Fostering a new, positive mindset about those who use cannabis is going to be absolutely critical for the national legalization of marijuana.”

California: 420 Games Invade L.A. As Activism, Fitness Converge At Santa Monica Pier

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The 420 Games’ first event of 2016 takes place March 26 at the Santa Monica Pier. For the first time ever, according to organizers, this southern California landmark will host an organized cannabis-related event, one that is expected to gather more than 1,000 participants.

Created to de-stigmatize cannabis and the people who use it, The 420 Games brings a message of wellness, fitness and health. Activists will walk, run, bicycle or skateboard to “Go the Extra Mile for Cannabis” in this 4.20 mile race. Out in the water, stand-up paddle boarders will follow course along the beach!

"The 420 Games were created to emphasize that highly functional people, even professional athletes, use cannabis and are hardly the lazy stoners the world has portrayed," said creator and producer Jim McAlpine, founder of SnowBomb, a source for ski and snowboard lifestyle and culture. "Fostering a new, positive mindset about those who use cannabis is going to be absolutely critical for the legalization of marijuana.”

Special guest speakers will include LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) member and former Redondo Beach Police Officer Dianne Goldstein; as well as national cannabis thought leader and author of The Cannabis Manifesto Steve DeAngelo. Look for special appearances by UFC fighter Kyle Kingsbury, NFL Pro-Bowler Kyle Turley and former NFL players from the Gridiron Coalition who will have their own team of other ex NFL players in attendance.

U.S.: New Report Shows DEA Failed To Process Drug Evidence Properly

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz on Thursday released a new report on the federal Drug Enforcement Administration which exposes the DEA's failure to comply with rules for tracking, recording, and processing seized drug evidence.

"Unknown quantities of drugs are being left vulnerable to theft because, among other issues, evidence is not being processed in a timely manner, or in some cases, at all," media relations associate Mikayla Hellwich of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) told Hemp News Friday afternoon.

Nearly 70 percent of drug seizures examined by the Inspector General were placed in "temporary storage" for more than the maximum allowed three days, according to the IG's office, reports Eric Katz at Government Executive. During that period, the drug "exhibits" aren't entered into the tracking system.

Additionally, according to the IG's report, the DEA isn't properly tracking the third-party shipping vendors when they are required to send seized drugs for laboratory testing.

"We believe that the longer a shipment is in transit or missing, the higher the likelihood that theft or tampering of the drug exhibit can occur," the report reads.

Vermont: Former Attorney General Throws Support Behind Marijuana Legalization

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Former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney, a Republican, will throw his support behind the effort to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and appear in online ads set to launch Tuesday that highlight the benefits of regulating marijuana.

The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana (VCRM) will hold a news conference Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET in the Cedar Creek Room of the Vermont State House to formally announce Cheney’s endorsement, display one of the ads, and express support for the vision Gov. Peter Shumlin laid out last week during his state of the state address.

On Thursday, Gov. Shumlin said Vermont “[has] the capacity to take this next step and get marijuana legalization done right” in 2016, and he promised state lawmakers he will work with them to “craft the right bill that thoughtfully and carefully eliminates the era of prohibition that is currently failing us so miserably.”

The coalition’s first ads of the session feature Cheney and highlight the benefits of replacing prohibition with a system in which marijuana is legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol. Cheney served as Vermont attorney general from 1973 to 1975. Previously, he served as an assistant attorney general and was elected Washington County states attorney. He has held a variety of other civic positions and is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

U.S.: DOJ Suspends Asset Forfeiture Equitable Sharing; Police Take More Than Thieves

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Federal Sharing Linked to Circumvention of State Reforms

The Department of Justice on Monday released a memorandum addressed to local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies to announce that the equitable sharing program for asset forfeiture funds has been temporarily suspended due to financial considerations.

This means that state and local law enforcement can no longer expect to receive a share of federal funds confiscated through the process of civil asset forfeiture, a method by which law enforcement can seize property and money from individuals without charging them with a crime.

Until now, the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program allowed departments to keep up to 80 percent of assets seized in joint operations, a practice scholars have shown allows local agencies to circumvent reforms in their own states. At least one estimate puts the amount of assets confiscated by law enforcement agencies in 2014 above the total amount of robberies, suggesting, according to Reason Magazine, that “Your local police or sheriff's department is more likely to take your stuff than a robber.”

Texas: Local Marijuana Reform Advocates To Gather Saturday For Advocacy Training

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform advocates -- including an active-duty Dallas police officer -- will gather Saturday for an advocacy training event at the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce in Tyler.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the fourth in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Houston on December 12, Amarillo on January 9, and Lubbock on January 10.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be Nick Novello, an officer with the Dallas Police Department and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Members of the media are invited to listen to his presentation at 3:30 p.m. CT, and he will be available for interviews immediately after.

“I work toward marijuana legalization because, as an active police officer, I have an obligation to improve public safety and protect my community,” Officer Novello said. “Regulation and education will focus police resources on more important crimes and make the drug more difficult for children to get. By every measure, marijuana prohibition has failed. Safer communities are within reach.”

U.S.: 34-Year Police Veteran Neill Franklin To Receive Award At Drug Policy Reform Conference

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

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, Virginiaa. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, promoting alternatives to the Drug War, and is cosponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

Major Neill Franklin will be presented with the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement. Franklin is being honored for his influential work changing hearts and minds both inside and outside the law enforcement community.

Over the course of his 34-year law enforcement career, Franklin watched hardworking and dedicated fellow police die in the line of fire enforcing policies that don’t do any good. He spent 23 years with the Maryland State Police, including as an undercover agent and as the department’s head trainer, before being recruited by the Baltimore Police Department to reorganize its education and training division.

Oregon: Legal Marijuana Sales Begin Thursday, Oct. 1

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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Given Head Start Before Other Stores

Oregon Becomes First State to Expunge Prior Nonviolent Marijuana Records

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Oregon, which legalized marijuana in 2014 with Measure 91, is beginning sales Thursday, October 1. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to get a head start on sales before other, non-medical stores, which are expected to open in Autumn 2016.

This will ensure existing medical marijuana retailers have an opportunity to fairly compete in the new market as it emerges in the next several years. About 200 of the 345 medical shops have registered to expand their sales to all adults and expect a significant increase in profit margins.

Oregon voters passed Measure 91 in November 2014 with 56 percent support. Similar to initiatives in both Washington and Colorado, Measure 91 called for a slow and thoughtful roll-out of legalization.

In Washington and Colorado, possession of marijuana became legal over a year before retail sales began. This approach left adults with no lawful means of purchasing marijuana. This, too, was the path in Oregon until lawmakers passed new legislation this summer.

Possession became legal on July 1, 2015, yet the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the state agency responsible for taxing, licensing, and regulating commercial recreational marijuana, will not begin accepting applications until early next year and retail stores are not expected to open until late 2016.

Oregon: Marijuana Legalization Law Takes Effect July 1

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Adult Possession, Home Cultivation Permitted Immediately

Cultivation, Retail Businesses Expected to Open Fall 2016

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Measure 91, a voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana in Oregon passed with 56 percent approval, takes effect July 1 and will immediately allow for adult possession and home cultivation. The law permits adults 21 and older to grow four plants (as long as they are out of public view) and keep eight ounces at home, and possess one ounce in public. Public consumption and sales will remain illegal.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in the state, will begin to accept applications for cultivation, processing, testing, and retail business licenses starting January 4, 2016, and businesses are expected to be operational later the same year. More time was allotted to create specific regulations for concentrates to ensure the best possible public safety outcome, so these products will likely not be available immediately when stores open.

U.S.: 600 Churches Call For End To Drug War

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Conference Uses Christian Ideals to Argue for New System

The New England Conference of United Methodist Churches, a group representing 600 congregations in six Northeastern states, on Saturday voted in favor of Resolution 15-203, which uses Christian principles to call for an end to the War on Drugs.

The resolution begins:

“In the love of Christ, who came to save those who are lost and vulnerable, we urge the creation of a genuinely new system for the care and restoration of victims, offenders, criminal justice officials, and the community as a whole. Restorative justice grows out of biblical authority, which emphasizes a right relationship with God, self and community. When such relationships are violated or broken through crime, opportunities are created to make things right.”

It goes on to detail how the Drug War has failed to achieve its intended goal of reducing drug abuse and has resulted in numerous unintended consequences such as the creation of violent and dangerous underground markets, countless lost lives from gang violence and unregulated products, increased dangers posed to law enforcement, prison overcrowding, the rapid spread of needle-borne illnesses due to a lack of sterile syringes, and the disparate impact that these laws have had on poor communities of color.

U.S.: Moms From Around Country Come Together to Share Experiences of Drug War Damage

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In Honor of Mother’s Day, Moms United to End the War on Drugs Representatives Request Signatures to Support Our “Mom’s Bill of Rights”

Mothers across the country are telling their personal stories of Drug War damage with stories, articles and interviews in honor of Mother’s Day. By sharing these powerful stories of losing loved ones to drug-prohibition-related violence, incarceration, overdose and addiction, they are bringing focus to a real need to reform our nation’s drug policies.

Many of the moms leading this campaign have been personally impacted by the War On Drugs, including having children who suffer from addiction and who have been repeatedly incarcerated, or have died from preventable drug overdoses and other drug related problems.

Moms were the driving force in repealing alcohol prohibition in the 30’s and now moms are playing a similar role in ending the war on drugs. Moms United to End the War on Drugs, is a project of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) along with other organizations and individuals from across the nation.

Together they are building a national movement to demand therapeutic, rather than punitive drug policies and an end to the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs.

New York: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition To Lead Cannabis Parade In NYC May 2

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Want to participate in a revolution?

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is leading the Cannabis Parade in NYC on this Saturday, May 2, reports Jack A. Cole of LEAP. "The first 60 people to signup to be part of the LEAP contingent for that parade will be given free LEAP T-shirts and badges," Cole announced on Facebook Tuesday.

"Send me an email at jackacole@leap.cc or text me at 617-792-3877, with your name, cell phone, email address, and T-shirt size to reserve a shirt," Cole said. "The LEAP contingent will walk behind our 'End the Drug War-Stop the Killing' Banner."

"The marchers in our contingent will be very visible and the back's of their T-shirts read, 'Cops Say Legalize Drugs, Ask Me Why,'" Cole said. "The participating LEAP speakers will also be wearing our T-shirts and a LEAP hat so they can be easily referred to reporters who want interviews."

According to Cole, there are supposed to be more than 40 organizations participating.

At 11:30 a.m. the LEAP contingent will assemble for the parade at the Martinique Café, located on the east side of Broadway just north of 32nd Street (across from Greeley Square Park). Participants will pick up your shirts there.

The parade starts at Broadway and 32nd Street and proceeds to 14th Street where there will be a rally at Union Square.

U.S.: Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch For Attorney General

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon confirmed the nomination of Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General in a 56-43 vote. The results of the vote have been highly anticipated, as significant partisan bickering had stalled her appointment for months.

Lynch is the first African-American woman to hold the office of Attorney General, the nation’s top law enforcement position and head of the Department of Justice. Her statements made in the Senatorial confirmation hearing indicate she intends to follow Holder’s legacy of prioritizing civil rights.

Criminal justice experts hope this means she will continue and expand the drug policy reforms enacted by her predecessor.

“Loretta Lynch will hopefully continue the more positive aspects of Eric Holder’s legacy,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group opposed to the Drug War. “We hope she continues to restore sanity and dignity to the profession of policing by de-escalating the War On Drugs and allowing states to proceed with marijuana legalization.”

U.S.: Livestream of Major Neill Franklin Explaining Benefits of Marijuana Legalization April 15

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Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Executive Director to Address 2015 Cannabis Symposium at University of Colorado Boulder

University of Colorado-Boulder is hosting the 2015 Cannabis Symposium to educate students and raise awareness about successful marijuana legalization policies, and to set a new standard for drug and policy education around the country.

The closing plenary speaker is Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals opposed to the Drug War. Maj. Franklin has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, and can attest to the failures of drug prohibition.

He will explain why legalizing marijuana has had a positive impact on reducing violence caused by the Drug War, and improving public safety overall. His speech will be live streamed to campuses throughout the country.

You can watch it here: http://www.colorado.edu/law/live .

What: 2015 Cannabis Symposium: A Teach-In on Ancient Medicinal Plant and Current Drug Policy

Who: Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Other LEAP speakers presenting at this event include former corrections officer Carrie Roberts, and former judge and practicing attorney, Leonard Frieling.

New Hampshire: Former Narcotics Officer To Testify In Support Of Marijuana Decrim Bill

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A former narcotics officer will testify at a New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday in support of a bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

At 9 a.m. ET, immediately prior to the hearing, Maj. Neill Franklin, a 34-year law enforcement veteran and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), will join Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project at a news conference in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9: 40 a.m. ET in Room 100 of the State House.

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Schroadter and a bipartisan group of seven co-sponsors, would make possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and up to $500 for third and subsequent offenses. 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.

The House of Representatives approved the measure 297-67 on March 11.

“New Hampshire is the only state in New England that still doles out criminal records and jail time for simple marijuana possession,” said Simon, a Goffstown resident and New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “People’s lives should not be turned upside down just for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.

U.S.: Recovering Alcoholic Confirmed As Drug Czar, Takes Top Spot At ONDCP

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President Obama’s nominee for director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), acting director Michael Botticelli, was confirmed by the Senate 92-0 on Monday, granting him one of the nation’s highest drug-control offices.

A recovering alcoholic with extensive career experience in public health, the new “drug czar,” as he is informally known, has potential to take more of a public health approach than did his predecessors, including former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, the most recent officeholder, who was confirmed as Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection last March.

Botticelli has recently stated that Congress shouldn’t interfere with the will of D.C. voters to legalize marijuana, despite the ONDCP’s official stance on legalization. Last week, he was quoted in a conference call saying that the ONDCP will bar federal funding from drug courts that prevent access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

U.S.: Federal Govt. To Block Funds For Drug Courts That Refuse Medication-Assisted Treatment

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New Policy Indicates Better Understanding of Addiction, Public Health Crisis

The acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, this week said the federal government will deny federal funding to drug courts across the country that refuse medication-assisted treatment for those suffering from opiate addictions.

The ONDCP will now withhold federal funding from drug courts that prevent people suffering from opiate addictions from having access to drugs such as methadone and Suboxone that can allow them to lead normal lives despite their addiction, reports Jason Cherkis at The Huffington Post.

“I rarely get a chance to applaud the ONDCP, so I’m enjoying this,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “People with addictions deserve access to treatment that works, and any policy that stands in the way of the recovery process is an affront to human rights.”

Because heroin is physically addictive, with users experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms such as depression, nausea and vomiting, those who abstain have a high rate of relapse. However after a period of abstinence, their tolerance drops and doses they could handle while a regular user become lethal. This is often when overdoses occur.

New Mexico: State Senator Introduces Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, on Friday introduced Senate Bill 383 to reduce penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. The proposed legislation reduces the penalty structure for possession of up to four ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to eight ounces.

Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over one ounce and up to eight ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to one year. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in 2013 with bipartisan support.

“I am troubled by the millions of taxpayer dollars that are spent every year on processing thousands of low level marijuana misdemeanor offenders — dollars that might be better spent by hard-pressed law enforcement agencies on more pressing public safety needs,” said Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico state director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “If ever there was a bill that advanced the smart on crime agenda, this is it.”

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