possession

Mississippi: Former Blazers Forward Travis Outlaw Arrested For Felony Marijuana Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Travis Outlaw, formerly a player for the Portland Trailblazers, has been arrested in Starkville, Mississippi for a felony marijuana charge.

Local newspaper The Dispatch reports that Outlaw's indictment states that on July 15, he "did unlawfully, willfully, feloniously, knowingly and intentionally possess a controlled substance, marijuana, in an amount greater than 250 grams but less than 1 kilogram." the amount stated is the equivalent of less than two pounds.

He turned himself in to authorities, and was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

Outlaw played as small forward for the Portland Trailblazers from 2003 to 2010, when he was traded to the Clippers. Outlaw has been playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, but was released after posting his bond.

Oregon: Feds Dropping Charges Against Teenager Facing A Year In Prison For Cannabis Possession

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Federal prosecutors are going to drop charges against a Native American teenager who was facing a year in prison for possession of one gram of marijuana.

The agreement, filed in federal court today, says that the federal misdemeanor charges against Devontre Thomas, 19, will be dropped as long as he stays in school or keeps a job and obeys the law for 60 days.

"I think it's a fair resolution of the case," says Ruben Iniguez, Thomas' public defender. "I would sincerely hope that no one else, adult or minor, has to be faced with the same sort of dilemma — the heavy hand of the government."

The U.S. Attorney's Office has confirmed that it is abandoning the prosecution.

"Procedurally the case remains pending," says spokeswoman Gerri Badden, "however, the motion correctly states the terms of the diversion agreement. Assuming Mr. Thomas completes the agreement, the United States will move to dismiss the case on October 4, 2016."

Thomas found himself in trouble with the federal government in March 2015, after a search of another student's backpack at Salem's Chemawa Indian School turned up a gram of marijuana. The student told authorities later that he paid Thomas $20 for the gram.

Oregon: Teen Facing Federal Drug Charges Over One Gram Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A teenager in Oregon is facing federal drug charges and up to a year in prison for possession of one gram of marijuana, his lawyer said. Federal authorities have not prosecuted a marijuana case in Oregon since 2011.

Devontre Thomas, 19, is a recent graduate of Chemawa Indian School in Salem with plans to attend college this fall. But first he'll have to appear at the federal courthouse in Portland to fight the charge, the result of an incident in March 2015.

Recreational marijuana use by adults was legalized in 2014 in Oregon, but the substance remains illegal under federal law, where it is classified as a Schedule I drug. Heroin and LSD are considered Schedule I, drugs with no medical value but with an extreme potential for abuse. The Justice Department has officially backed off from interfering with state-level marijuana laws, since the issuance of a memo 1n 2013 by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole. But the memo states that U.S. attorneys should continue to prosecute cases involving "the distribution of marijuana to minors."

Many are saying that it's a case of the federal government going too far, considering the small amount of pot Thomas was found with, enough for a couple of joints.

New Jersey: Newark Marijuana Proposal Headed For Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Voters in Newark, New Jersey will have the opportunity in November to vote to eliminate penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Currently under state law, anyone caught with under 100 grams of marijuana or paraphernalia face a maximum fine of $150 and loss of driving privileges.

Under Newark's current law, however, possession of under 100 grams of marijuana is punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and up to 60 days in jail. Possession of marijuana paraphernalia is punishable by a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

The discrepancy between Newark’s law and state law for marijuana possession is part of the reason organizers sought to get the proposal on the ballot.

The new proposal would remove penalties for possessing less than 200 grams of marijuana in the city. Under the initiative, possessing less than 200 grams would constitute a minor misdemeanor, and no fines, incarceration, probation or “any other punitive or rehabilitative measure” would be imposed.

Board of Elections Director Gloria Carson said Tuesday that the Licking County Board of Elections validated 1,107 signatures supporting the measure, surpassing the 1,063 signatures that were needed to get on the ballot.

Organizers say the new proposal will allow law enforcement officers more opportunity to focus on serious problems in the community.

New Jersey: Police Sergeant Accused Of Selling Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Jersey cop has been charged with dealing marijuana; the officer's father is a captain in the same police department in the city of Linden.

Sgt. William Turbett III has been suspended from the police force due to an unrelated case involving Internal Affairs, but now the 30-year-old faces marijuana possession and distribution charges, according to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, reports Anthony Johnson at ABC 7.

There was police activity on Wednesday night at the South Amboy home of Sgt. Turbett, according to neighbors, with multiple agencies involved in the investigation.

Sayreville police and the Prosecutor's Office Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force executed a search warrant on Turbett's home and reportedly found a small amount of marijuana, according to prosecutors, reports CBS New York.

D.C.: Friday Marks One Year Anniversary of Marijuana Legalization In Nation's Capitol

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Marijuana Arrests Down 85% After First Year

Congress Continues to Prevent District from Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

This Friday marks the one year anniversary of the implementation of marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia. In the 2014 election, District voters overwhelmingly passed Ballot Initiative 71 with 70 percent support, legalizing the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allowing individuals to grow up to six plants in their home.

Overall, marijuana arrests decreased by 85 percent from 2014 to 2015. Marijuana possession arrests fell from 1,840 in 2014 to just 32 in 2015.

“The decrease in marijuana arrests is an enormous victory for District residents, who have resoundingly rejected the criminalization of marijuana,” said Bill Piper, senior director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Marijuana law enforcement has particularly damaged communities of color in the District, who have borne the brunt of prohibition.

"We hope that law enforcement continues to responsibly enforce the new law and completely eliminates any racial disparity in arrests,” Piper said.

Alabama: Bill Filed To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill filed by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) in the Alabama House would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Currently, that "offense" would get you a Class A misdemeanor in the Heart of Dixie, punishable by jail time and fines.

HB 257, sponsored by Rep. Todd, would make possession of an ounce or under simply a ticketable offense, reports Adam Powell at Alabama Today. "Possession charges for people clog up a lot of our court services," Todd said. "This would help eliminate some of that bottleneck."

The bill would lower penalties for recreational cannabis consumers, and would, Todd said, create much-needed revenue for the state, since offenders are forced to pay tickets.

"I believe it's safer than alcohol," Rep. Todd said. "If people could take their emotions out of it, I think most people would agree with me."

Todd said she'd spoken with law enforcement officials, and most are supportive, specifically because the measure would remove a lot of work processing and jailing nonviolent marijuana offenders. She does expect opposition, however, from district attorneys, she said.

Maine: Voters Oppose Punitive Drug Policies, Support Decriminalization

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Findings Come as Legislature Considers Bills Increasing Penalties for Drug Possession

Results Similar to Poll in New Hampshire Which Also Fund Majority Support for Drug Decriminalization

A substantial majority of Maine voters support decriminalizing drug possession, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Sixty-four percent of voters in Maine think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time. Seventy-one percent say substantially reducing incarceration is somewhat or very important to them.

The poll results come as the legislature considers legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

Maine: Considering Legislation Increasing Drug Penalties, Escalating Drug War

EndTheDrugWarNow[TheFreeThoughtProject]

Advocates Say Increasing Penalties Will Frighten People Away from Seeking Treatment, Increase Incarceration, and Exacerbate Racial Disparities and the “New Jim Crow”

The Maine Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday held a hearing on legislation backed by the Attorney General that could roll back groundbreaking reforms passed last session that reduced drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The proposed legislation (LD 1554) would make possession of 30 milligrams (often less than one single pill) or more of prescription opioids and any amount of certain other drugs into felony offenses, continuing the criminalization of drug users and wasting scarce resources on incarceration instead of treatment and prevention.

Under this proposed bill, users not engaged in any other type of illegal conduct would face mandatory felony prosecution for possessing even minuscule amounts of certain substances.

“Addiction should be treated by healthcare professionals rather than the criminal justice system and, as a taxpayer and citizen of Maine, I would prefer our tax dollars go to prevention, treatment, and recovery, rather than mounting costly felony prosecutions against the users actively facing addiction,” said Chris Poulos, a person in long term recovery who overcame addiction and federal incarceration to attend law school and work on criminal justice policy reform at the local, state, and federal levels.

New Hampshire: Primary Voters Strongly Support Decriminalizing Drug Possession

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Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents Oppose Arresting People for Simple Possession of Any Drug, Want Health Insurers to Provide Treatment and Support Eliminating Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Non-Violent Drug Offenders

With the nation’s attention shifting from Iowa to New Hampshire, a recent poll shows a substantial majority of presidential primary voters in the Granite State support decriminalizing drug possession outright.

Sixty-six percent of voters in the first-in-the-nation primary, including half of all Republicans and 68 percent of independents, think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time.

These findings come in the midst of escalating overdose deaths across the country and unprecedented focus by presidential candidates on alternatives to harsh, ineffective drug policies. Eighty percent of New Hampshire primary voters consider addressing prescription drug and other drug abuse and the recent surge in overdose deaths an important or urgent issue. Sixty-nine percent, including 56 percent of Republicans, say drug abuse should be treated primarily as a health problem rather than a criminal justice problem.

Washington: Adult Home Grow Bill Would Allow Up To 6 Plants

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new bill has been filed in the Washington Legislature would allow adults in the state to lawfully grow up to six marijuana plants. Washington is currently the only state with legal marijuana which doesn't allow any home cultivation; under the state's I-502 legalization law, all recreational cannabis must be grown by state-licensed commercial producers.

It's a chance for Washington to finally join the states where cannabis has been more fully legalized, because as any thinking person realizes, if you can't grow your own, it's not really legal yet.

HB 2629, filed by Rep. Brian Blake, a Democrat representing Washington's 19th Legislative District, would make the following amendments to current state marijuana laws:

• Authorizes individuals to lawfully engage in non-commercial (i.e., without an exchange of money) transfers of small amounts of cannabis and cannabis seeds;

• Authorizes adults to cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home and to possess up to 24 ounces of marijuana harvested from the home-grown plants;

• Makes the possession of up to the three times the current legal limit for cannabis products (i.e., useable cannabis, infused products, and concentrates) a civil infraction rather than a felony offense;

• Makes the possession of more than three times the legal limit for marijuana products, but not more than 12 times the limit, a misdemeanor offense;

• Makes the possession of more than 12 times the legal limit for cannabis products a felony offense;

U.S.: Congressman Blumenauer Writes Open Letter To President About Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Congressman Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday wrote an open letter advocating marijuana legalization to President Obama in advance of the President's State of the Union speech.

"As you begin your last year in office, I hope there is one more step you take to bring about fundamental change — ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and removing marijuana from the list of Controlled Substances," Rep. Blumenauer wrote to the President.

The language chosen by Rep. Blumenauer is very significant, politically speaking. "Removing marijuana from the list of Controlled Substances" is, of course, the only way forward that avoids cannabis being immediately co-opted and controlled by Big Pharma, which is assuredly what will happen if it is moved from Schedule I to Schedule II or III on the Uniformed Controlled Substances Act.

Following is Rep. Blumenauer's letter in its entirety.

An Open Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President:

A State of the Union speech is a unique opportunity to address Congress and the nation about priorities and accomplishments, as well as to highlight critical issues.

I remember another speech in May 2008 when you spoke to over 70,000 Portlanders. The overwhelming feeling of hope coming from the crowd was palpable.

Delaware: Marijuana Decriminalization Law To Take Effect Friday

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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.

Texas: Marijuana Possession Could Soon Get Tickets, Not Arrests, In Dallas

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said he has mixed feelings about allowing his officers to write tickets instead of arresting people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana. But he said the approach is "just so damn practical."

Police officers and city council members discussed the move at Tuesday's public safety committee meeting of the Dallas City Council, reports Melissa Repko at The Dallas Morning News. The "cite and release" pilot program would mean citations for marijuana possession, rather than arrests.

The public safety committee voted to refer the idea to the entire City Council without a recommendation.

A Texas state law passed in 2007 allows cops to issue citations instead of making arrests for some minor offenses, including possession of small amounts of cannabis. The approach is intended to save time and money by keeping minor offenders out of jail and allowing cops to remain on the streets; it doesn't change the official penalty for the crime.

Using cite and release is a "no brainer" that would help save time and lower 911 call response times, said council member Philip Kingston. He said it would allow cops to focus on public safety priorities.

Kingston said he'd legalized marijuana if he could, comparing marijuana possession to jay-walking in terms of seriousness.

New Jersey: Legislature To Hold First-Ever Hearing On Marijuana Legalization

NewJerseyToLegalize?[TheDailyChronic]

More Than 20,000 People Are Arrested for Marijuana Possession in New Jersey Every Year

Advocates Applaud Hearing and Call for Common-Sense and Popular Marijuana Reform

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, November 16 will hold the first-ever hearing on marijuana legalization in New Jersey.

The committee will hear invited testimony on how New Jersey could legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults and how this has worked in the other states that have legalized marijuana. Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the committee, has also introduced legislation to legalize marijuana.

“The Drug Policy Alliance supports taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol for adults and thanks the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking testimony on this issue," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director of Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The criminalization of marijuana is costly, unfair and compromises public safety.

"New Jersey wastes more than $125 million dollars a year arresting people for marijuana possession," Scotti said. "This absurd policy criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens and wastes law enforcement resources that would be better spent on serious public safety issues.”

New Jersey: Son of Musician Peter Tosh Launches Fundraising Campaign to Battle Marijuana Charges

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Charged In New Jersey For Posession With Intent To Distribute Marijuana, Peter Tosh's son Jawara McIntosh Faces 10-20 Years In Jail If Convicted

Jawara “Tosh1” McIntosh, son of the, legendary reggae artist Peter Tosh, is fighting what he believes is a grave injustice for the possession of marijuana. As a Rastafarian, McIntosh argues, “I was raised in the tradition of Rastafari, which is not simply a religion but a way of life. And in the Rastafarian tradition, herb, also known as cannabis, is a sacrament we use freely for spiritual purposes. Besides the fact that the use of this sacred plant should be protected by the Constitution, it is utterly ridiculous that a plant could ever be classified as a drug.”

Legal fees and debt from the sizable bail are mounting. In response, Tosh1 and the Peter Tosh Estate have launched an Indiegogo Crowdfunding account to help McIntosh fight the charges. The account is now live at: www.indiego.com. The decriminalization of cannabis has become a hot topic in recent months, and will certainly be a campaign issue in the 2016 elections.

In fact, it is a widely held opinion among lawmakers that the criminal justice system should be reformed. Recently at the NAACP’s annual convention in Philadelphia, President Barack Obama cited the “long history of inequity in the criminal justice system in America,” and argued that the system was “particularly skewed by race and wealth.”

California: Secretary of State Clears Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016 For Collecting Signatures

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Grassroots Organization Mobilizes Volunteers and Fundraising Efforts to Collect Donations and Signatures

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla this week announced that the organizers of the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI) 2016 can begin collecting signatures to qualify the initiative for the November 8, 2016 California state election.

The grassroots organization has 180 days to circulate petitions and collect 365,880 registered voters' signatures, which must be submitted to county elections officials by April 25, 2016. The CCHI 2016 plan allows for the legalization of cannabis in the state of California by citizens 21 years or older.

To raise the funds for this effort, the CCHI 2016 is launching a pledge drive to solicit funding from businesses and individuals to help fund the Initiative that legalizes cannabis in the state of California. The campaign has set a goal of $900,000 in pledges that needs to be raised to fund professional petition gathers across the state. Every dollar raised will go to hire the professional petitioners.

Virginia: Big Increase In Marijuana Possession Arrests, Especially In Black Communities

HandcuffsCannabisArrest[TheDailyChronic]

Virginia Moving in Wrong Direction as U.S. States and Congress Reform Marijuana Laws

Black Virginians Arrested for Marijuana Possession at 3.3 Times the Rate of White Virginians, Despite Equal Rates of Marijuana Use

Report Released as Thousands Prepare to Gather Next Month in Arlington for World’s Largest Drug Policy Reform Conference

A new report has found that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, especially in black communities. The report was authored by Shenandoah University professor and researcher Jon Gettman and released on Wednesday by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

“As states around the country pass reforms to scale back the role of criminalization in marijuana policy, Virginia appears to be moving in the wrong direction,” said Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, policy manager with the DPA and former Virginia criminal defense attorney. “This troubling report should encourage Virginia lawmakers to fix the Commonwealth's broken marijuana policies.”

Using data compiled from the Uniform Crime (UCR) Program and the Virginia State Police, the report found that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia consistently increased from 2003 to 2013, as did the racial disparity in arrest rates. Federal government data consistently shows that black and white people use marijuana at similar rates.

U.S.: FBI Reports Marijuana Arrests Increased In 2014; First Increase Since 2009

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The annual number of arrests for marijuana offenses in the U.S. increased last year for the first time since 2009, according to the Uniform Crime Report released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There were 700,993 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2014, according to a new report from the FBI. That's one every 45 seconds.

Marijuana arrests comprised 44.9 percent of all drug arrests, and drug crimes are the largest category of offenses people were arrested for, according to the FBI. Fully 88.4 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession alone.

In comparison, there were 693,482 marijuana arrests in the U.S. in 2013. Data on marijuana arrests for years prior to 2013 is at http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Marijuana#Total.

"It's unacceptable that police still put this many people in handcuffs for something that a growing majority of Americans think should be legal," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "A record number of states are expected to vote on legalizing marijuana next year, so we hope and expect to see these numbers significantly dropping soon.

"There’s just no good reason that so much police time and taxpayer money is spent punishing people for marijuana when so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved," Angell said.

Chile: Lower Decrim Limits Proposed For Marijuana Plants, Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Parliamentarians from the Health Commission of the Chamber of Deputies in Chile met on Monday with Interior Minister Jorge Burgos to discuss details of the proposed decriminalization of marijuana.

The move would originally have amended the Health Code and Law 20.000 to allow the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants per person, the use of marijuana for therapeutic and recreational purposes, and the possession of up to 10 grams for private consumption, reports Paul Cádiz at T13.

The government's latest proposal would reduce the number of plants to four per household, and would also decrease the maximum possession limi to four grams of cannabis for private consumption.

Some lawmakers also raised the possibility of establishing cannabis clubs such as those in Uruguy, to help combat the problem of underage consumption.

"We must continue to explore positions," said Marco Antonio Nunez of the PPD. "We have not reached agreement, but we will continue to discuss."

"It took us a year and a half to get to this meeting; it is a big step forward," Nunez said.

According to Juan Luis Castro, the government presented deputies with six points which they believe are necessary:

1. A fine distinction between consumers and traffickers.

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