Prohibition

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U.S.: Study Says Florida Is Worst State For Marijuana Smokers

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An informal study by has shown Florida is the worst state in the Union for marijuana smokers.

Reporter Evan Anderson became curious about cannabis citations around the United States after reading a MuckRock piece by Beryl Anderson on citation data from California marijuana arrests after decriminalization. Copying the language used by MuckRock user Dave Maass to get California's numbers, Anderson requested the same data from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, Vermont and Washington. Data from Washington and Colorado, both of which have legalized pot, were unavailable at the time of the requests, and the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice never acknowledged his request.

The number of marijuana citations given in Florida "blows the rest of the states out or the water," Anderson reports in MuckRock.

Part of that is due to the unfortunate fact that possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida is a felony with a maximum punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

U.S.: Marijuana Conviction On Your Record? Criminals Wanted For Scholarship

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You might think that criminal record of yours limits your opportunities. But now there's a $1,000 law school scholarship available where applicants must prove they've already been in trouble with the law.

The Appelman Law Firm, LLC, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, says the idea is designed to reward those who've made better choices after a conviction -- "those who have managed to turn their lives around and intend to pursue a career in criminal defense."

"There's a real need for passionate attorneys in criminal defense," said Avery Appelman, the firm's founder. "Nothing instills a great passion for justice quite like having suffered through the process yourself."

That's where the Appelman Law Firm Criminal Defense Scholarship comes in, and Appelman isn't alone in thinking a criminal record shouldn't be a barrier to making a better life.

"There are just too many ways to run afoul of the law for anyoen to think they are immune," Appelman said. "A mistake can easily lead to an arrest or jail."

Attempts to determine just how many criminal statutes exist have failed, because there are so many. An estimate from the government in the 1980s put it at about 3,000 in the federal system alone. Shortly afterward, another study from the American Bar Association said that was too low a figure, but couldn't come up with a better number.

Adding in state crimes only makes the situation worse. For many, avoiding a criminal record has become more a matter of luck than of being a good citizen.

U.S.: Safer Than Milk? More Americans Want To Ban Raw Milk Than Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Public perceptions of marijuana have certainly shifted. According to a recent study, more Americans now favor banning unpasteurized milk than favor banning marijuana.

About 59 percent of Americans support a ban on the sale of raw, unpasteurized milk, while just 47 percent support a ban on the sale of marijuana, according to Oklahoma State University's Food Demand Survey, reports Sam Frizell at Time Magazine.

A patchwork of different laws regulate raw milk in the U.S., much like marijuana. States like New York and Iowa ban the retail sale of raw milk, while California and Idaho allow it.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have, to a greater or lesser degree, legalized the medicinal use of cannabis; four (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) have legalized recreational use. According to NORML, 18 states have removed criminal penalties for marijuana, known as decriminalization, reducing simple possession roughly to the equivalent of a parking ticket.

Photo: The Weed Blog

Virginia: New Poll Shows Voters Strongly Support Marijuana Law Reform

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Approximately three out of four voters think seriously ill people should have legal access to medical marijuana; more voters support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol than oppose it

A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday.

Three out of five (60 percent) of respondents support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and designating it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. Under current Virginia law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Senate is expected to consider a proposal this year that would replace criminal penalties for personal possession of marijuana with a civil fine of $100.

“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”

U.S.: President Obama To Commute Sentences For 8 In Drug Cases

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President Obama on Wednesday commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Deputy Attorney General James Cole released a statement saying that the eight individuals "were sentenced under outdated and unfair laws," and "their punishments did not fit their crime."

Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment, reports NPR.

The step could lead to a vast expansion of presidential clemency during Obama's last two years in office, reports Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press.

The eight new commutations include Barbara Scrivner, who was sentenced to 30 years in 1995, when she was 27 years old, for a minor rule in her husband's methamphetamine ring. The President ordered Scrivner's sentence to expire on June 12, while the others will expire April 15.

The President commuted the sentences of at least four people who were serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, reports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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