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Oregon: Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Law Including Sentencing Reform

OregonGovernorKateBrownSignsBill[NWNewsNetwork]

Oregon Rewrites Marijuana Criminal Code to Reduce Most Felonies to Misdemeanors and to Make Prior Convictions Eligible to be Cleared

Law Goes Beyond Other Legalization States to Reduce Harsh Marijuana Sentences and Allow for 78,319 Prior Marijuana Convictions to Potentially be Cleared

Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday signed H.B. 3400, an omnibus bill to implement Measure 91, the marijuana legalization initiative adopted by voters last November. The bill was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives this week.

Measure 91 legalized possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older and regulated commercial production, manufacturing, and retail sales of marijuana. Legalization for personal use took effect July 1, 2015.

As of that date adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home and up to 1 ounce of marijuana outside the home. They may also grow up to four plants at home, as long as they are out of public view. The regulatory structure for commercial retail sales will not be up and running until next year.

In addition to addressing the implementation of Measure 91, H.B. 3400 contains broad sentencing reform provisions that extend well beyond the elimination of criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana and cultivation of up to four plants. The new law reduces most marijuana felonies to misdemeanors or lesser felonies with significantly reduced sentences.

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.

Oregon: Possession, Home Cultivation of Marijuana Become Legal For Adults July 1

OregonLegalCannabisIn[MedicalJane]

Oregon to End Wasteful and Racially Disproportionate Marijuana Possession Arrests; State Expects Significant Fiscal Benefits

Beginning July 1, adults 21 and older in Oregon will be able to legally possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana in their home and up to 1 ounce of marijuana outside their home. Adults may also grow up to four plants as long as they are out of public view. The regulatory structure allowing for commercial retail sales is still in the works and will not be implemented until next year.

Oregon voters passed Measure 91 last November with 56 percent support. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two U.S. states – and the first two jurisdictions in the world – to approve ending marijuana prohibition and legally regulating marijuana production, distribution and sales. In the 2014 election, Alaska and Oregon followed suit, while Washington D.C. passed a more limited measure that legalized possession and home cultivation of marijuana but did not address its taxation and sale due to D.C. law.

Alaska’s law started to take effect earlier than Oregon’s, with Alaska officially ending the criminalization of marijuana possession and cultivation in February. Thus Oregon is now the 4th U.S. state to begin implementing its marijuana legalization law.

Delaware: Legislature Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession; Governor Expected To Sign

DelawareSmallWonderMarijuanaRoadSign[MarijuanaStocks.com]

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

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

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

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

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

U.S.: Drug Policy Alliance Releases Footage Featuring Everyday People Using Marijuana

DPA-B-RollFootage2015

New Open-License Footage Shatters Stereotypes and Captures the Responsible, Modern-Day Marijuana Consumer

B-Roll Project Follows DPA Stock Photo Series Depicting Regular People Using Marijuana

To combat the predominant, stereotypic images of people who use marijuana, and to encourage news outlets to use images that accurately reflect modern-day marijuana consumers, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is releasing free, open-license B-roll footage for editorial use.

The footage was shot in Portland, Oregon, and features a diverse group in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, doing a variety of activities, such as playing a board game, socializing at home, or purchasing marijuana at a licensed dispensary. The footage shows people consuming marijuana from joints, bubblers, vaporizers, pens and tinctures.

“We’ve all seen it before, a serious news story about marijuana policy that cuts away to footage of a young guy covered in tie-dye and marijuana leaves who looks more or less like a cannabis cartoon,” said Sharda Sekaran, managing director of communications for the DPA. “It’s goofy, awkward, distracting and doesn’t reflect the average marijuana consumer, who more than likely looks like a normal person you might see at a bank, supermarket or office. We’re hoping media will use this free video footage, or at the very least think twice about running stereotypical stoner images for their marijuana stories.”

Delaware: House Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

StateLegislaturesTakingOnMarijuanaPolicyIn2015[MPP]

Senate will now consider HB 39, which would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of a small amount of marijuana by adults

The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill 24-14 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill, which was amended on the floor to apply only to adults, will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re grateful the Delaware House agrees and hopeful that the Senate will join them in supporting this commonsense legislation.

"Delaware cannot afford to continue arresting people, jailing them, and giving them criminal records just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Capecchi said.

Louisiana: Senate Approves Bill To Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

LouisianaCannabis

New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Bill Now Heads to the House

Louisiana’s Senate on Monday took an important step toward reforming their state’s harsh marijuana possession law when they approved bill SB 241 by a vote of 27-12. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's. One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Louisiana: Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Reforming Marijuana Possession Law

LouisianaMapMarijuanaLeaf

Measure Would Allow Second Chance for First-Time Offenders and Save Millions of Dollars

Bill Heads to Full Senate

Lawmakers in Louisiana on Wednesday took a major step forward when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reform the state’s harsh marijuana possession law. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

“This is a long-sought opportunity to take a more compassionate and commonsense approach to marijuana,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step."

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last 20 years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the War On Drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

Texas: Provocative Marijuana TV Ad To Begin Airing As Lawmakers Consider Reducing Penalties

Texas360,000+ArrestsForMarijuanaPossessionFrom2009-2013

A provocative television ad in support of legislation to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession in Texas began airing Tuesday in the state’s four largest media markets.

The ad is scheduled to air on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin through Thursday at midnight, the deadline by which the House must approve HB 507 in order for it to advance to the Senate.

You can watch the ad below, or online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83Uv4VtpsE.

In the ad, Russell Jones, a Texas Hill Country resident who served 10 years as a police officer and narcotics detective in California, highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and says limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on arresting and jailing people for using the less harmful substance.

“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” Jones says. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic.

"Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession," Jones says in the ad. "They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

Texas: Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Texas-RepDavidSimpsonQuotePeopleShouldMakeTheirOwnHealthDecisions[TexansForResponsibleMarijuanaPolicy]

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The hearing is scheduled to take place in the Texas State Capitol Extension E2.030 upon adjournment of the House.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will be one of several marijuana-related bills considered by the committee on Wednesday. It is the only proposal that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of $100.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“When I was a prosecutor, I saw firsthand how scarce our criminal justice resources are and how disproportionately harsh drug convictions can be on nonviolent offenders, especially young people,” said Rep. Moody. “As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we’re spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly. That’s what HB 507 is about.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97 percent of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90 percent of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88 percent of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

New Hampshire: House Approves Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

NewHampshirePotLeaf

Bill with bipartisan support would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana

The New Hampshire House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill 297-67 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now be considered in the Senate.

“We’re pleased to see such strong legislative support for this important legislation,” said Matt Simon, Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We hope the Senate will agree with their colleagues in the House and the vast majority of state voters that it’s time to stop criminalizing people for simple marijuana possession.”

HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) 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 or 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.

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

Delaware: Lawmakers To Consider Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

DelawareMarijuanaRoadSign

Delaware State Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) on Thursday introduced a bill that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket.

HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue in Delaware,” Rep. Keeley said. “People should not face jail time and other serious consequences of a criminal conviction just for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

"The punishment should fit the crime, not cause more harm than the crime,” Keeley said.

In Delaware, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession despite using marijuana at similar rates, according to a 2013 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Our current marijuana possession law is unfair, and it is being unfairly applied,” Rep. Keeley said. “The vast majority of Delaware voters think it’s time for a more sensible policy. I hope my colleagues will agree.”

Maine: Lewiston City Council Places Marijuana Legalization Measure On Ballot

MaineTheWayLifeShouldBe

The Lewiston City Council on Tuesday night voted to place a measure on the November ballot that would make private marijuana possession legal for adults within city limits.

Citizens for a Safer Maine submitted more than 1,250 signatures to get the measure in front of the council, which had the options of adopting it or placing it on the ballot. Just 859 valid signatures of registered city voters were required.

A similar measure will appear on the November ballot in South Portland, and the group has submitted more than the number of signatures required to place one on the ballot in York.

The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would remain illegal to consume or display marijuana in public.

The measure also includes a statement in support of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the state level.

“Voters will have the opportunity to move Lewiston forward toward a more sensible marijuana policy,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “While collecting signatures we encountered a lot of interest in exploring alternatives to prohibition. People are sick of hearing about adults getting punished for using a less harmful substance than alcohol.

Maryland: Senate Committee Approves Bill to Impose a Civil Fine for Marijuana Possession

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The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday approved a bill 8-3 with bipartisan support that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of limited amounts of marijuana. The measure will now receive a full vote in the Senate, which approved a similar measure last year with bipartisan support.

SB 364, co-sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore) and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard), would replace criminal penalties for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana with a $100 fine, similar to a parking ticket. It would also make penalties for minors the same as those for underage possession of alcohol. Under current Maryland law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Maryland had the fourth highest arrest rate in the nation for marijuana possession, according to a report released in June by the American Civil Liberties Union. It also found that blacks accounted for 58 percent of marijuana possession arrests and were more than three times more likely to be arrested than whites despite using marijuana at comparable rates.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/MDpoll.

New Hampshire: House Committee Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

NewHampshireMarijuanaLeafStateSeal

Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved a bill 12-5 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure is expected to pass in the House when it comes to a vote later this month.

HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven cosponsors including Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.

"There is no good reason to continue criminalizing people for possessing marijuana," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill. "Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. This should be the year New Hampshire brings its penalties into line with neighboring states."

Maine: Portland Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization With Landslide Vote

DavidBoyerMPPPortlandLegalization

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Portland, Maine on Tuesday became the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana, with voters overwhelmingly approving ballot Question 1, an ordinance removing all penalties for adult possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Unofficial totals showed the proposal passing with 67 percent of the vote, 9,921 to 4,823, reports Randy Billings at the Portland Press Herald.

The city ordinance allows people 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and is seen by many activists as a foot in the door to statewide legalization. The immediate effects, however, are unclear.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck has already said that regardless of the vote, officers will continue enforcing Maine state law, under which possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis can result in fines of $350 to $1,000, along with a civil summons. Selling or providing pot to others can result in criminal charges.

The city should respect the voters and not arrest or fine adults for marijuana possession, according to David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We call on city officials to stop the bleeding," Boyer said. "It's time for the state of Maine to follow Portland."

New York City Comptroller Releases Report Detailing Costs of Marijuana Prohibition

NYPDMarijuanaArrest

Report Calls for the Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana for Adults

Advocates Demand a Comprehensive Overhaul of New York’s Racially Biased and Broken Marijuana Policies

New York City Comptroller John Liu on Tuesday announced the release of a report calling for a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adult recreational use. The report, to be released Wednesday (August 14), comes two days after Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin condemned the city’s police department’s use of stop and frisk – which has resulted in 600,000 unlawful arrests for marijuana possession since 1997 – as racially-biased.

That same day, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for Americans to rethink the “unintended consequences” of the War On Drugs. Comptroller Liu’s report details the problems associated with marijuana arrests in New York City -- including racial disparities and the impact of saddling young people with a permanent criminal arrest record -- and the overall financial costs of marijuana prohibition.

The report comes at a time when the federal government and states around the country are engaged in a significant review of drug policies generally and marijuana policies in particular. On Monday, Attorney General Holder noted that the war on drugs has resulted in “the decimation of certain communities, in particular of communities of color” and directed federal prosecutors to develop guidelines for some drug sentencing issues to be handled on the state or local level.

Maine: Portland Residents To Vote On Legalizing Marijuana Possession

ILeafPortland

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The voters in Portland, Maine, will decide in November whether to legalize the possession of marijuana in the city.

The Portland City Council on Monday voted to allow residents to vote November 5 on a referendum which would make it legal for adults 21 and older to have up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, reports The Associated Press. It would still be illegal to consume marijuana in public.

Supporters turned in more than 2,500 signatures to Portland city officials back in May. The City Council on Monday decided to send it to voters, rather than simply adopting the ordinance.

The ordinance, if passed, would conflict with both U.S. federal law, which prohibits marijuana for any purpose, and with Maine state law, which allows cannabis, but only for patients who have a doctor's authorization for medicinal purposes.

Possession of less than 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana is a civil violation in Maine, punishable by a fine of $200 to $400, reports Nick DeLuca at BostInno.

(Graphic: Citizens for a Safer Portland: Marijuana Legalization in 2013)

Missouri: Marijuana Penalties Reduced In St. Louis

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

The Board of Aldermen on Monday voted 22-3 to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city of St. Louis, to that of a traffic ticket.

The bill, introduced earlier this year by Alderman Shane Cohn, also enables police to give a break to patients who have "valid legal prescriptions for medical marijuana," reports Nicholas Pistor at St. Louis Today. Missouri state law does not recognize medical marijuana.

Police will have the ability to send some marijuana cases to municipal court, in effect making a criminal infraction a municipal offense. Violators will typically be given a summons for municipal court instead of being arrested, handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser.

St. Louis Police had until now charged marijuana offenders under more harsh state laws, because no local law was on the books.

First offenders who are caught with one gram to 35 grams of marijuana are charged with a misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Second offense possession of more than 35 pounds is considered a felony.

The penalty for violating the new city ordinance on marijuana possession is a fine of between $100 and $500, and up to 90 days in jail.

New York: Minority Caucus Joins Community Groups Calling For Fix To Broken Marijuana Possession Law

New York: Minority Caucus Joins Community Groups Calling For Fix To Broken Marijuana Possession LawBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus on Tuesday will gather to urge an end to the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession.

They will be joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state to urge passage of Governor Andrew Cuomo's marijuana decriminalization proposal. The proposal, outlined in his 2013 State of the State Address, would decriminalize possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis in public view, but smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor.

Fixing the law would help end the practice of arresting tens of thousands of young people every year for possessing marijuana in public view -- after police have misleadingly demanded they "empty their pockets" during a stop-and-frisk encounter.

The reform proposal outlined by Gov. Cuomo is supported by dozens of community organizations throughout the state, state legislators, the NYC Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Additionally, the reforms are supported by law enforcement leaders from across the state, including NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley, all five NYC district attorneys (Democrat and Republican), district attorneys from Long Island, Buffalo and Albany, and police leaders like the Albany sheriff and Rochester police chief.

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