public consumption

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Colorado: Denver Police Issue 18 Citations For Public Marijuana Consumption At Pot Rally

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Denver Police on Saturday issued 18 citations for public marijuana consumption at the rescheduled 420 Rally in Civic Center Park downtown, according to police spokesman Doug Schepman.

While that's bad enough, at least it's noticeably less than the 60 citations handed out on April 20, when thousands gathered in Civic Center to celebrate Cannabis Day.

Recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Colorado when voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, but smoking weed in public remains illegal, reports Katy Canada at The Denver Post.

Last year's rally -- which lasted for two days -- resulted in more than 150 police citations.

On Saturday, police also issued three citations for driving with a suspended license, and two for flying drones in a public park.

The rally ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and brought thousands of cannabis advocates to downtown Denver. Organizers had been forced to postpone the original event, scheduled for April 1t6, because of snow.

Maryland: Legislature Overrides Veto Of Bill To Fix Marijuana Decrim Law

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53% of Maryland voters support regulating marijuana like alcohol, according to new Gonzales Research poll

The Maryland House and Senate voted 86-55 and 29-17, respectively, on Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill intended to fix the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The measure also imposes a new civil fine of up to $500 on public cannabis consumption.

Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill in May 2015, after it was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates.

Maryland adopted a law in 2014 that was intended to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia.

A new poll released on Thursday shows that the majority of Maryland voters support broader cannabis policy reform. A statewide survey of 818 registered voters conducted by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies found 53 percent favor a change in Maryland law to allow marijuana to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. Only 43 percent were opposed.

The poll was conducted Jan. 11-16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. The full results are available at www.mpp.org/Md2016poll.

Washington: Marijuana Legalization 'Largely A Technicality'; Laws Still Target Poor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Washington state since 2012, but just how legal is it? To all appearances, legalization, as implemented in the state, has benefited mostly the wealthy, from those who've been able to afford the expensive licensing process for the recreational pot shops to the well-to-do weed consumers who don't have to worry about being busted anymore.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of ways for every-day pot smokers like me and you to run afoul of the law. For the masses, "legalization" in Washington feels like "more of a theoretical freedom," with cannabis governed under the same laws that prohibit public consumption of alcohol, reports Michael Thomsen at Slate.

"If you're smoking in plain public view, you're subject to a ticket," Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said back in 2012, just as legalization measure I-502 was going into effect.

In Washington state -- as in the rest of America, even "legalized" places -- publicly sharing a marijuana high with friends can land you a court summons, and possibly even a night in jail.

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.

D.C.: Council Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana, End Marijuana Possession Arrests

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Bill Would Reduce Enormous Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System

Last-Minute Amendments Weaken Bill; Advocates Warn That “Public Consumption” Provision Will Perpetuate Unfair and Costly Arrests

The D.C. Council on Tuesday took a major step to decriminalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital by voting 11-1 in favor of a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession as a civil offense.

The Council takes a final vote on the bill in early March; it is expected to pass and to be signed into law by the mayor. It is viewed by both council members and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

“This is a major victory for advancing the cause of racial justice in D.C.,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The war on marijuana is largely a war on people of color and the D.C. Council is saying enough is enough.”

The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (Council Bill 20-409)” would eliminate the threat of arrest for possessing marijuana and ensure that people are no longer saddled with life-long convictions that make it difficult to obtain employment and housing. Instead of arresting people the bill would impose a $25 civil fine for possession as well as forfeiture of the marijuana and any paraphernalia used to consume or carry it.

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