Missouri

Missouri: Kansas City's New Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved reducing penalties for marijuana possession on 4/4/17, and the new city law has already taken effect. Voters approved an initiative that reduces the maximum fine in city court from $500 to $25 and eliminates possible jail time as a penalty for possessing 35 grams or less of pot, about 1 1/4 ounce.

However, marijuana possession is still illegal, and a guilty plea would involve a drug conviction.

The law took effect the day after the election, on 4/5/17. It affects any Municipal Court case that was open or active at that time. It limits the maximum fine to $25 for a single count of simple pot possession, but court costs of $48.50 per count still apply.

Julita Lattimer is a board member of the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KC NORML), the organization that advocated and petitioned for this law. Latimer explained, “Our whole point was to keep people out of jail for a non-violent infraction. One of the best things that has come out of this , is its getting people to talk about cannabis. More people are wanting to hear about the benefits of cannabis. It will help as we work to bring medical cannabis to Missouri. ”

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.

Missouri: New Medical Marijuana Law Submitted

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill has been filed in Missouri to allow access to medical marijuana throughout the state. House Bill 437 was introduced yesterday by Republican Jim Neely. The initiative would add marijuana to a list of experimental drugs, products and devices that can be prescribed to eligible terminally ill patients under the “Right to Try Act.”

Missourians fighting for their lives don’t have time to wait for the FDA to approve investigational treatments that contain cannabis,” said Neely, a Republican Representative and physician who lost his daughter to stage four cancer in 2015.

Missouri attempted to get medical marijuana on the ballot in November 2016 with an initiative backed by New Approach Missouri. The initiative fell short of making it on the ballot by 23 signatures.

Missouri: Kansas City Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Draws Enough Signatures

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Kansas City Star reports that enough signatures were gathered in a petition initiative to allow voters to decide on decriminalizing marijuana possession during the city’s next election cycle in April.

The proposal intends to change current the law to treat 35 grams or less of marijuana as a city ordinance violation with a fine of $25. NORML KC spokeswoman Jamie Kacz said that this would be similar to decriminalization laws passed in St. Louis and Columbia.

The initiative, which was supported by the Kansas City chapter of NORML, gathered over 2,000 signatures of registered voters. The City Council must review and approve the measure before it goes up for a vote. All reviews must be made before January 19, leaving the City Council with less than their allowed 60 days for approval. This means it’s possible they won’t get through their review before the deadline.

Kacz said last week her group wants to work together with the Kansas City Law Department to craft a measure that can pass legal muster and be placed on a city ballot.

Montana: Initiative On Ballot To Improve Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Most states have relaxed restrictions on marijuana in recent years. Some have legalized it for recreational use; half the states have legalized some form of medical marijuana. But Montana has gone backward.

Although Montana adopted medical marijuana in 2004, a law was passed in 2011 that severely limited the reach of marijuana providers. The Supreme Court affirmed the law in February.

Today, marijuana advertising is banned, marijuana dispensaries cannot have more than three registered users and doctors who prescribe marijuana to more than 25 patients annually will be reviewed by the state. Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries closed when the restrictions took effect the end of August.

But supporters of medical marijuana are hoping to be back in business come November with Montana I-182, a ballot initiative that would repeal the law that effectively killed the medical marijuana industry. A "yes" vote would repeal the limit of three patients per dispensary, which estimates say cut off at least 12,000 medical marijuana users when it was put into effect — the vast majority of those were using marijuana as medication.

Arkansas: Medical Marijuana Measure Makes November Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Arkansas Secretary of State's office confirmed last week that the state's medical marijuana measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, had submitted enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The measure would allow for medical marijuana to be produced, tested, and distributed to patients diagnosed by a physician. One of over 50 qualifying conditions would allow patients to access a medical marijuana card. The measure would allow for 38 licensed nonprofit care centers. Patients that wish to grow their own pot must receive a 'hardship certificate' that states they do not live a reasonable distance from one of the care centers.

This will not be the first time Arkansans have voted for legalization.A similar measure was brought to the ballot in 2012, but lost, winning only 48 percent of the vote. Advocates say this time will be different, with polls in the area showing 84 percent support.

Arkansas adds its name to the list of eight (possibly nine) states voting on marijuana initiatives this fall. Florida and Missouri join Arkansas in voting for medical marijuana access. Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, Arizona, and California are all voting on adult recreational use. Michigan’s measure remains in litigation after the state dubbed their signatures “stale.”

Missouri: University Ignores Warnings, Censors Marijuana T-Shirts

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Despite repeated warnings that it is violating the First Amendment rights of its students, the University of Missouri (Mizzou) is continuing to refuse to allow a recognized student group to create t-shirts featuring a cannabis leaf and the university’s name.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has twice warned Mizzou that its treatment of the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MU NORML) violates the First Amendment.

“Mizzou flatly told MU NORML that it was censoring the group’s T-shirt artwork because of the message it could appear to express,” said FIRE Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley. "That’s viewpoint discrimination, and it’s prohibited by the First Amendment."

Take Action

In the fall 2015 semester, MU NORML sought to sell promotional T-shirts with a design featuring a marijuana leaf in the form of an animal paw, a stylized depiction of the Mizzou campus skyline and a marijuana leaf, and the group’s name. Because the design also included the name “University of Missouri – Columbia,” MU NORML President Benton Berigan applied for official approval on September 5 in accordance with university policy.

Missouri: Survey Shows Decline In Adolescent Pot Problems And Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A survey of over 216,000 adolescents from all 50 states shows the number of teens with marijuana-related problems is declining. Despite the fact that more U.S. states are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use and the number of adults using the drug has increased, rates of marijuana use by young people are falling.

Data on drug use was collected by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis over a 12-year span from young people ages 12 to 17. They found that the number of adolescents with marijuana-related problems declined by 24 percent from 2002 to 2013.

When kids were asked if they had used pot in the last 12 months the rate reported fell 10 percent over the same period.

Reduction in behavioral problems, such as fighting, property crimes, and selling drugs accompanied the drops reported.

The study's first author, Richard A. Grucza, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry, said that those problems are often signs of childhood psychiatric disorders.

Missouri: House Rejects Medical Marijuana Plan A Second Time

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Missouri House shot down a proposal to legalize medical marijuana on Wednesday, making it the second time this year lawmakers voted it down.

The legislation would have allowed doctors to recommend marijuana for patients with debilitating illnesses such as AIDS or epilepsy. The proposal would have also created a system for licensing commercial marijuana growers and retailers.

The proposal was defeated in an 85-71 vote. House lawmakers voted down a similar measure in April that would have on;y covered hospice patients.

The bill would have still needed Senate approval if it had passed the House.

“We are not in this to create tax revenue. We are not in this to let people get high. We are in this to help really, really sick people,” said Rep. Jack Bondon, a Belton Republican who supported the proposal.

On Sunday, a group supporting a medical marijuana initiative said it submitted nearly 275,000 petition signatures to the secretary of state’s office in hopes to get the measure on the November ballot. The office has until August to determine whether it qualified.

Missouri: Brother, Sister Get 15 Years Each For Growing 20 Marijuana Plants

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A brother and sister who were caught with 12 marijuana plants and eight seedlings inside their home have been sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison.

Natlie DePriest and David DePriest each received 15 years, the harshest possible sentence which can be given for cannabis cultivation in Missouri, reports Daniel Miller at the Daily Mail. The maximum punishment for manslaughter in Missouri is also 15 years.

A maintenance man entered the DePriests' home in the city of Farmington, Missouri, in 2001, in order to "fit a fire extinguisher" while they were out, and photographed what he thought was a "pipe bomb" on the counter.

He informed the police, showing them the pictures, and they conducted a search, considering the photos probable cause. They found the marijuana plants inside a bedroom closet, along with three pounds of dried cannabis, a rifle which was a quarter-inch shorter then the legal limit, two legal pistols and two bulletproof vests.

They also found ledgers they claimed contain sales record totaling up to $8,000 a month. The "pipe bomb," basis of the entire search, turned out to be no such thing, and harmless.

Missouri: Group Says Legalizing Marijuana Is A Bad Idea For Children And Poor Communities

A group in Missouri is trying to stop marijuana legalization, saying it's bad for the kids and the poor.

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Opponents of marijuana legalization say that crime will increase, drug dependency will grow, and teens and impoverished communities across Missouri will be adversely affected if pot is made legal.

A group called Keeping Missouri Kids Safe is pitching its message across the state, saying that legalizing marijuana would be a huge mistake and cause long-term negative effects. Members of the group are from civic groups, law enforcement, drug prevention, and other organizations.

“We have a community health crisis on our doorsteps, and our children’s lives and health depend upon the decisions that we make as a community, as a state and as Missourians,” Joy Sweeney, executive director of the Council for Drug-Free Youth, said Thursday in Kansas City.

Several measures have been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly to legalize marijuana, and many people want to amend the state constitution to legalize medical marijuana.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. Four of those states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — and the District of Columbia have gone beyond that and allow the recreational use of marijuana.

Missouri: Study Shows Decrease In Problematic Cannabis Use

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Researchers at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis say that the prevalence of problematic cannabis use is decreasing. Despite an estimated 19 percent reported increase in cannabis use by adults between 2002 and 2013, investigators concluded that cannabis problems actually declined.

The results of the study were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. "It's not surprising that marijuana use is on the rise—several states have legalized it for either medicinal or recreational use—but our data suggest that the use rate hasn't come close to doubling," said first author Richard A. Grucza, PhD, a professor of psychiatry. "That doesn't mean there are no problems. The two studies agree that close to 1 in 10 adults uses the drug. The difference is that we believe the 2002 survey for the other study underestimated the percentage of adults using the drug."

"We're certainly seeing some increases in marijuana use," the lead researcher of the study said. "But our survey didn't notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling."

Separate evaluations of cannabis use by young people have determined that high school student's use is significantly lower today than 15 years ago.

Missouri: Medical Marijuana Petition Approved For Signatures

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander on Tuesday announced an initiative petition to legalize marijuana for medical purposes meets state standards and may be circulated for signatures.

The initiative would amend the state constitution to allow cannabis for medicinal purposes. The petition needs signatures "equal to eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor's election from six of the state's eight congressional districts, reports The Missouri Times.

This means roughly 200,000 valid signatures would be required to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. The signatures must be submitted to the secretary of state's office by 5 p.m. on May 8, 2016.

The official ballot title for initiative petition 2016-128 reads:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
• allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and create regulations and licensing procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities;
• impose a 75 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana, and a 10 percent tax on the wholesale sale of marijuana to licensed facilities; and
• use funds from these taxes to establish and fund a state research institute to conduct research with the purpose of developing cures and treatments for cancer and other incurable diseases or medical conditions?

Missouri: Two Marijuana Proposals Competing For 2016 Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Two competing marijuana proposals are vying for the November 2016 ballot in Missouri, with advocates and some lawmakers pointing to the growing bipartisan support for medical marijuana.

The two proposals for constitutional amendments in Missouri are counting on the high level of support for medicinal cannabis, repors Jack Howland at the Missourian/. Rather than repeat the so-far unsuccessful attempts to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in Missouri, a push for medical marijuana is see as a more achievable goal.

The Missouri Legislature passed a CBD-only "medical marijuana law" in 2014, but it is restricted to cannabidiol and only for intractable epilepsy.

Under state law, a ballot initiative must gather at least 157,000 signatures by May from six of Missouri's eight Congressional districts.

New Approach Missouri

One of the efforts comes from a coalition called New Approach Missouri, which has the support of Show-Me Cannabis. The organization has filed two initiatives with the Missouri Secretary of State, both to allow state-licensed physicians to authorize marijuana for patients with serious illnesses. Revenue from the 4 percent pot tax, above state and local taxes, would go to veterans' services.

Missouri: New Medical Marijuana Petition Would Amend State Constitution

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A pro-marijuana coalition called New Approach Missouri filed an initiative petition last week to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot to legalize cannabis for medicinal use.

The new proposed initiative would replace a broader initiative proposal, already approved by the secretary of state for signature collection, that would have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes as well, reports Jo Mannies at St. Louis Public Radio.

Show-Me Cannabis is ending its broader legalization proposal because polling showed it would be challenging to to voter approval for recreational legalization, according to executive director John Payne. But Missouri voters are likely to overwhelmingly support medical marijuana, according to coalition consultant Jack Cardetti, who's running the campaign.

"It's what's good for patients in the state of Missouri, to be able to access medicine that's helpful to them without being treated like criminals," said Payne of the New Approach Missouri coalition's message.

The proposal would allow patients or caregivers to grow a limited number of their own plants, as long as they register their gardens with the Missouri Department of Health.

U.S.: At Least 67 People Are Serving Life Sentences For Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

At least 67 people are serving life sentences in prison right now for marijuana in the United States.

The plight of marijuana lifers has received new attention since the release last week of Jeff Mizanskey, who had been one of them, reports Tony Dokoupil at MSNBC.

"Man, I feel great," Mizanskey, now a great-grandfather after serving more than 20 years in prison, said as he looked at his first weekend as a free man in two decades. His sentence was commuted in May from life without parole to simple life, and last week he walked out of a maximum security prison in Missouri.

Mizanskey was sentenced in 1996 for trying to distribute six pounds of Mexican weed. There was no violence involved, but he had two previous convictions for the possession and sale of marijuana totaling 10 ounces.

That meant, under Missouri law at the time, that he was a "persistent" drug offender, subject to any punishment short of the death penalty. That law is no longer in effect, but similar policies continue to fill American prisons.

More than 20 states have now legalized cannabis for one purpose or another, and with $22 billion in legal sales expected by 2020, marijuana is becoming another consumer product. But these new laws don't help people with past marijuana convictions, including some with sentences harsher than those for rape or murder.

Missouri: Jeff Mizanskey Walks Free After Serving Two Decades In Prison For Marijuana

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Jeff Mizanskey walked out of prison Tuesday morning a free man after spending 21 years behind bars because of a minor, nonviolent marijuana offense. Mizanskey walked into the arms of more than a dozen family, friends and supporters, including his son, who had fought for years for his dad's release from prison.

"I'm one of the lucky ones," Mizanskey said. "Now it's time to free the other victims of the war on drugs."

The 61-year-old became a symbol of the failed War On Drugs. His campaign for clemency attracted 391,254 Change.org petition signatures, a plea from the prosecutor who put him away, a bill proposed by Missouri Rep. Shamed Dogan, a letter for clemency from 126 Missouri lawmakers, billboards in prominent locations, including the state capitol of Jefferson City, a documentary about his plight, a commuted sentence from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and a successful review from the parole board.

“He saw rapists, murderers and child molesters get out of prison while he was sentenced to die behind bars for something that should not be a crime to begin with,” said his lawyer, Dan Viets. "Jeff's case is an example of the extremely harsh drug laws which have failed to reduce marijuana use but have wasted vast amounts of public money in the effort to enforce marijuana prohibition, disrupting the lives of good people who do not deserve to be treated like criminals."

New Study: Marijuana Doesn't Cause Alterations In Brain Structure

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana use doesn't cause alterations in brain structure, according to a new study which fails to support past claims about cannabis and brain health.

The clinical data were published this week in JAMA Psychiatry, reports Paul Armentano at NORML.

Scientists looked at the effect of marijuana exposure on brain volume in the hippocampus, the amygdala, the ventral striatum, and the orbitofrontal cortex in groups of exposed and unexposed pairs of siblings. Researchers reported that all the volumetric differences identified "were within the range of normal variation," and that they were attributable to "shared genetic factors," not marijuana use.

"We found no evidence for the causal influence of cannabis exposure on amygdala volume," the authors concluded.

"We found that while cannabis users had lower amygdala volumes than nonusers, that difference appears to be linked to other predisposing factors," said senior author Arpana Agrawal, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, reports Dennis Thompson at HealthDay

Missouri: Man Serving Life In Prison For Marijuana Granted Parole

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a case of justice long delayed, a Missouri man serving life without parole for marijuana will be released from a maximum security prison, according to the man's son.

Jeff Mizanskey was told Monday morning that he has been granted parole, according to his son, Chris Mizanskey, report Michelle Pekarsky and Shannon O'Brien at Fox4KC.com. Chris said his dad should be released within 10 to 25 days.

According to Chris, his sad called him briefly Monday morning to share the good news. They planned to talk again Monday night.

Jeff Mizanskey has already been behind bars for more than two decades for marijuana offenses. He is now 62 years old.

"My father ... has been in prison since he was 41," reads part of a Change.org petition for Mizanskey's release. "His parents -- my grandparents -- have since passed. While my dad has been trapped behind bars, generations of kids and grandkids have been born into our family who have never even met the man.

"The State of Missouri spends roughly $22,000/year to keep him locked up," the petition reads. "Meanwhile all my dad wants to do is be a productive part of society, work and pay taxes, be with his family. And I want my dad back."

Missiouri Gov. Jay Nixon in May commuted Mizankey's sentence, allowing him to be considered for parole. The hearing was held last week.

Missouri: Man Given Life Sentence For Marijuana Has Sentence Commuted

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Twenty-two years after being arrested for marijuana -- and 19 years after being sentenced to life in prison for it -- Jeff Mizanskey on Friday had his sentenced commuted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

Mizanskey, 62, was the only man in Missouri prisons serving life for pot, report Kevin S. Held and Anthony Kiekow at Fox 2 Now. He was arrested during an undercover drug operation in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1993, and was sentenced in 1996 under the state's Prior and Persistent Drug Offender Law, which is a three-strike, habitual offender system.

"The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness," Nixon said in a press release announcing the commutation of Mizanskey's sentence, reports Danny Wicentowski at Riverfront Times. Nixon also pardoned five other nonviolent offenders.

"It's wonderful," said Michael Mizanskey, Jeff's brother. "Thank Jay Nixon for doing that, for finally looking at his case and doing the right thing.

"I'm very emotional," Michael said. "I've overjoyed he has a chance. In almost 22 years he had two write-ups, one for putting mail in the wrong slot and one for a messy floor. No fights, no nothing. Tell me that's not a model prisoner."

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