racial disparity

D.C.: Council Expected To Permanenty Ban Marijuana Clubs

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Council Chairman Mendelson Wants Council to Disregard Its Own Task Force Convened to Recommend Way Forward on Marijuana Clubs

DPA: Arrest Numbers Show DC Needs Regulated Marijuana Clubs, Not A Ban

The Council of the District of Columbia has scheduled a Tuesday vote on legislation that restricts adult marijuana use in the District, prohibiting marijuana consumption everywhere but the home.

The legislation is opposed by a majority of District residents and a growing number of council members who oppose limiting consumption of marijuana to private residences, favoring instead the creation of regulated places where adults can legally consume marijuana. Since 2014, nearly 82 percent of all arrests for public consumption in the District have been of black residents. Advocates have voiced concerns over these disparities, and also warn the Council not to cede more control of local marijuana policy to Congress.

Virginia: Marijuana Arrests On The Rise; Blacks Arrested 3 Times More Than Whites

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Virginia has sharply rising arrest totals for marijuana possession, and a disproportionate number of black people have been arrested in the Commonwealth, according to a new study based on data reported to the FBI.

Marijuana arrests dropped nationally by 6.5 percent between 2003 and 2014, but possession arrests in Virginia rose by 76 percent during that period, according to research by the Drug Policy Alliance in New York, reports Tom Jackman at The Washington Post.

Arrests of black people for marijuana in Virginia increased by 106 percent from 2003 to 2013, accounting for 47 percent of the state's arrests, even though the state's population is only 20 percent black.

The stats were compiled by public policy professor Jon Gettman of Shenandoah University in Winchester Va., and follow his national marijuana arrest analysis for the ACLU in 2013. That study showed that black people were 3.7 times more likely than whites nationwide to be arrested for marijuana, and that 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession.

The disparity in the District of Columbia, where blacks are eight times more likely to be arrested for simple possession than whites, led the D.C. Council to decriminalize cannabis in 2013, followed by voters legalizing it in 2014.

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

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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.”

Ohio: 3 Cleveland City Council Members Endorse ResponsibleOhio Legalization Plan

ClevelandForbesAndJohnsons[Cleveland.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A trio of Cleveland City Council members, along with civil rights leader George Forbes, on Friday endorsed ResponsibleOhio, sponsors of Issue 3, an amendment to legalize marijuana on the November ballot which would legalize marijuana.

Forbes and council members Ken Johnson, Jeff Johnson and Mamie Mitchell said they want to help reshape the criminal justice system under which racial disparities exist between arrest rates of blacks who use marijuana compared to whites, reports Mark Naymik at the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

"We should take (marijuana) out of the darkness and begin to regulate it," said Jeff Johnson at a news conference organized by ResponsibleOhio. "It will relieve a pathway to prison that too many of our young African Americans have gone to."

The council members said police resources should be used to fight against more powerful drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.

Cleveland activist Basheer Jones and Cleveland Rev. Jeff Jemison also joined the politicians. Jemison said he'd been trying to sell his colleagues on a related issue known as the Fresh Start Act that would allow Ohioans convicted of pot offenses since legalized by ResponsibleOhio's constitutional amendment to have those records expunged or destroyed.

U.S.: Controlled By Prison Lobby? Hillary Clinton Unlikely To End War On Drugs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More and more Americans have come to realize that the War On Drugs is a colossal failure -- but presidential contender Hillary Clinton doesn't seem to be one of those. Hillary seems unlikely to end that futile war and the mass incarceration which results from it, due to her ties to the prison lobby.

The pattern of mass incarceration triggered by the Drug War has resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans, and has unfairly targeted the economically disadvantaged and people of color, reports Romain Bonilla at Marijuana Politics.

Clinton has stayed mostly silent on the failures of current drug policies during her presidential campaign. She has historically been opposed to marijuana decrim, and despite voters confronting her on multiple occasions, has failed to clarify her current stance on cannabis policy.

The the 1990s, Hillary favored harshly punitive sentences to deter people from violating drug laws, including "Three Strikes" measures which proved both disastrous and unconstitutional.

Texas: Police Search Woman's Vagina For Marijuana - In Parking Lot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Texas woman says sheriff's deputies violated constitutional protections by conducting a body cavity search in the parking lot of a gas station during a routine traffic stop last June.

Charnesia Corley, 21, was driving in Harris County about 10:30 p.m. on June 21 when a male deputy pulled her over, allegedly for running a stop sign, reports Dylan Baddour at the Houston Chronicle. He claimed he smelled marijuana, handcuffed Corley, put her in the back of his cruiser and searched her vehicle for almost an hour.

The officer found no marijuana, said Corley's attorney, Sam Cammack.

Returning to his cruiser, the deputy again claimed he smelled marijuana, and called in a female deputy to conduct a body cavity search. When the female deputy arrived, she ordered Corley, who is African American, to pull her pants down, but Corley protested, saying she was handcuffed and had no panties on.

The deputy ordered Corley to bend over, then pulled down her pants and began to insert her fingers into Corley's vagina. "She tells me to pull my pants down," Corley said. "I said, 'Ma'am, I don't have any underwear on. She says, 'Well, that doesn't matter. Pull your pants down," Corley said.

"I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me. I tell her, 'Ma'am, No. You cannot do this,'" Corley said.

U.S.: Neuroscientist Says THC Level In Sandra Bland's System Was Negligible

DrCarlHart(ColumbiaUniversity)

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The amount of THC in Sandra Bland's system was negligible, and equal to placebo, according to neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart, who has spent nearly 20 years researching the neurophysiological, psychological and behavioral effects of marijuana.

"Of course, the scientific evidence almost never supports these fantastic distractions," Dr. Hart said. "Yet, the 'drug-crazed black person' myth continues to be revitalized decade after decade by racists masquerading as public servants."

"I find this line of reasoning insulting and offensive," Dr. Hart said. "It seeks to misuse the science of behavioral pharmacology to excuse reprehensible acts perpetrated by the state or state proxies."

"As part of my research, I have given thousands of doses of marijuana to people and carefully studied their immediate and delayed responses," Dr. Hart said. "And I have never observed a marijuana-induced violent and self-destructive attack or anything remotely similar to the summer reefer madness put forth by desperate public officials."

"Bland's levels were well below the THC levels that I have found necessary to induce intoxication," Dr. Hart said.

"It was Encinia who behaved irrationally and escalated the situation, not Bland," Dr. Hart said. "There is no indication that she was under the influence of marijuana or that it caused her to behave foolishly.

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs Marijuana Sentencing Reform Law

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

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Tuesday signed legislation to reform the state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. The law is expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at Drug Policy Action, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It's a relief to see that smart policymakers are starting to recognize this political reality.”

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.

New York: City and County of Albany To Reduce Low Level Arrests, Racial Disparities

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Broad Array of Community Stakeholders Sign Memorandum of Understanding To Collaborate on Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – LEAD

Working Group Includes Albany Police Department, District Attorney, Albany Mayor’s Office, County Executive and Departments, Business and Community Leaders, and Health Organizations

Officials and community leaders on Thursday announced that the City and County of Albany, New York, will be developing an innovative program to reduce recidivism while advancing public safety and public health. The program is known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD.

Under LEAD, police officers may exercise their discretion and divert individuals for certain low-level criminal offenses like drug possession; instead of being arrested and going through the regular criminal justice process, the individual is referred to a case manager, who then facilitates access to a comprehensive network of social services.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion was launched in 2011 in Seattle. LEAD emerged from a growing consensus that the war on drugs has failed, its associated racial disparities are unacceptable, and there is a need for innovative, effective approaches to reduce the number of people unnecessarily entering the criminal justice system.

Santa Fe became the second jurisdiction to implement the program in 2014. Albany is the first East Coast city and the third city in the nation to begin developing LEAD.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

U.S.: Leading Neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart Challenges Lawmakers About Drugs And Addiction

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Award-Winning Author of High Price Has Pivotal TED Talk Released on 90th Anniversary of Malcolm X’s Birth

Ebony.com Covers Hart’s Special Telephone Town Hall About Drugs, Families, and What We Really Need to Do to Ensure Community Safety

Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, whose work has redefined how people are discussing addiction, on Tuesday released two more groundbreaking and deeply compelling talks, one before a TEDMED audience in Northern California; and another a special Telephone Town Hall attended by hundreds of advocates, policymakers, faith leaders and medical professionals, and covered by Ebony.com, the African American news and lifestyle site.

D.C.: Nation's Capital Takes Major Step Toward Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

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Panel of Councilmembers Approves Legislation that Would Establish Licensing and Regulation of Marijuana in Washington, D.C.

Council Acts Just Weeks After Nearly 70% of D.C. Voters Approved Ballot Measure Legalizing Marijuana

D.C. lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of legislation that would legally regulate and license the production, distribution and sale of marijuana in the District of Columbia during a meeting of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which is chaired by D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large).

Tuesday's action by D.C. lawmakers on a tax and regulate bill comes just three weeks after nearly 70 percent of voters in the District of Columbia approved Initiative 71, a ballot initiative that legalizes possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. However, due to D.C. law, the initiative was not allowed to address the taxation and regulation of marijuana sales.

The panel of Councilmembers voted to approve sections six through eight of the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” (Council Bill #20-466), which was introduced in 2013 by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large). Tuesday's vote followed a hearing on Council Bill 20-466 that was jointly held by the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

D.C.: Council Holds Hearing On Marijuana Legalization In Nation's Capital

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Policy Experts and Advocates Testify in Favor of Directing Proceeds from Taxation to Communities Harmed by War on Drugs

Hearing Occurs Just Days Before Voters Decide on Marijuana Legalization at Ballot Box

D.C. Councilmembers Vincent Orange (D-At Large) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 3) on Thursday are holding a joint public hearing on legislation introduced in 2013 by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that would establish a system which legalizes, taxes and regulates marijuana in the nation’s capital. Councilmember Orange chairs the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs and Councilmember Evans chairs the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

The hearing specifically examined sections six through nine of the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2013” (Council Bill #20-466), and took place Thursday at 11 a.m. in Room 500 of the D.C. Council Chambers located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. Advocates provided testimony in support of using the proceeds from legalization towards rebuilding the communities harmed by the war on drugs.

D.C.: Leaders, Advocates To Discuss Impact of Marijuana Laws on African Americans

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Shiloh Baptist Church and The Washington Informer to host a community forum to inform and educate

WHAT: On Monday, October 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the Social Justice and Community Outreach Ministry of Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, in partnership with The Washington Informer, will host a community forum on the impact of Ballot Initiative 71 and D.C. marijuana laws on African Americans.

Nationally acclaimed economist and author Dr. Julianne Malveaux will moderate the event held at Shiloh Baptist Church located at 9th and P Streets, NW. Panelists will include representatives from law enforcement, academia, community advocates, members of the business community, and members of the clergy.

Washington D.C. leads the country in per capita marijuana arrests, doubling that of any U.S. state. Ninety-one percent of all marijuana arrests are of black people.

Between 2001 and 2010, while the number of white people arrested for marijuana has stayed about the same, the number of black people arrested increased to 4,908 from 3,228. Young black men are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white ones, even though whites are more likely to both use and sell marijuana.

This community forum will gather nearly 500 District residents to raise awareness of this important topic and bring to the forefront the importance of voting on November 4.

WHO: Pastor Wallace Charles Smith, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church

D.C.: Leaders, Advocates Meeting To Discuss Impact of Marijuana Laws on Black Community

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Shiloh Baptist Church and The Washington Informer to host a community forum to inform and educate

On Monday, October 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the Social Justice and Community Outreach Ministry of Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, in partnership with The Washington Informer, will host a community forum on the impact of Ballot Initiative 71 and D.C. marijuana laws on African Americans.

Nationally acclaimed economist and author Dr. Julianne Malveaux will moderate the event, held at Shiloh Baptist Church located at 9th and P Streets, NW. Panelists will include representatives from law enforcement, academia, community advocates, members of the business community, and members of the clergy.

Washington D.C. leads the country in per capita marijuana arrests, doubling that of any other U.S. state. Ninety-one percent of all marijuana arrests are of black people.

Between 2001 and 2010, while the number of white people arrested for marijuana has stayed about the same, while the number of black people arrested increased to 4,908 from 3,228. Young black men are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white ones, even though whites are more likely to both use and sell marijuana.

This community forum will gather nearly 500 District residents to raise awareness of this important topic and bring to the forefront the importance of voting on November 4.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Mayor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Into Law

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Measure replaces criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Wednesday signed a bill into law that replaces criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana with a civil fine, similar to a traffic ticket.

After stalling for much of the summer, the mayor agreed to sign a compromise bill approved on September 18 by the Philadelphia City Council. The new ordinance will take effect on October 20.

The initial version of the bill approved by the council on June 19 makes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. Following negotiations between Mayor Nutter and members of the council, the bill was amended to include a $100 fine for public consumption.

Current Philadelphia law requires police officers to make custodial arrests when they encounter people in possession of any amount of marijuana, and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $200 fine, and compulsory participation in a drug treatment program. Under current Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

D.C.: New Poll Shows Support For Marijuana Legalization At 65% In Nation's Capital

DCCannabisCampaignLegalize.YesOn71

Highest Support Ever for a Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative

Campaign to Legalize Marijuana in Racial Justice Context Resonating With D.C. Voters

A new Washington Post/NBC News/Marist poll released on Thursday shows support for Initiative 71, which would legalize marijuana, at 65 percent among likely D.C. voters.

Initiative 71 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of marijuana on their person at any time, and allows for the cultivation of up to six marijuana plants at home.

District law prevents the ballot initiative from addressing the sale of marijuana. However, the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill which will tax and regulate marijuana within the District.

“D.C. voters want to take marijuana completely out the criminal justice system and refocus police priorities,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes marijuana enforcement.”

D.C. has decriminalized marijuana, replacing criminal penalties with a $25 fine. However, data from the Metropolitan Police Department shows that 77 percent of all tickets have been issued in communities of color.

Wisconsin: Madison Police Chief Says Legalize Marijuana, Use Tax To Fund Drug Treatment

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated, and the tax revenues should fund treatment programs for harder drugs, the police chief in Madison, Wisconsin, said on Wednesday.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval endorsed marijuana legalization during an interview with the State Journal about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana at about 12 times the rate for whites in the city.

Efforts to enforce the marijuana laws are an "abject failure," Chief Koval said, adding the same is true of the broader War On Drugs. "We've done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it's time to reorder and triage the necessities of what's more important now," he said.

Koval said it's time for Wisconsin to consider doing as Colorado and Washington did in legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis.

The police chief said he would like to see Wisconsin "acknowledge the failure" of marijuana prohibition and focus instead on the "infinite amount of challenges" posed by harder drugs such as heroin. Taxes from marijuana sales, Koval said, would create revenue for the state which could be used to fund drug treatment programs and expand the capacity of drug courts which divert users from the criminal justice system.

D.C.: What You Need To Know About The New Marijuana Decrim Law

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A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law took effect on Thursday in the District of Columbia that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. However, advocates emphasize that there is still more work to be done in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers.

The Drug Policy Alliance has published an online resource that explains what the public needs to know about D.C.’s new marijuana decriminalization law.

Here are a few highlighted facts from our new overview of D.C.’s new decriminalization law:

• Under the new law, a person found in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is issued a notice of violation that imposes a $25 fine for marijuana possession as well as forfeiture of any visible marijuana and any paraphernalia.

• Police officers are prohibited from using the smell of marijuana as rationale for conducting criminal searches. D.C.’s decriminalization law is the first in the country to provide this protection in statute.

• The possession of marijuana remains unlawful in D.C., and possession of marijuana weighing more than one ounce is still a crime in the District.

• Smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana in a public space is still a crime.

New York: Rally Supports Brooklyn DA's Proposal To Stop Prosecuting Low-Level Marijuana Possession

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Historic Step Will Reduce Both Racial Disparities and the Number of Brooklynites Unfairly Saddled with Lifelong Arrest Records

Advocates, Community Groups Applaud DA Thompson for His Leadership and Demand Action by City Hall and Albany

Brooklyn elected officials, community groups, and advocates on Friday rallied on the steps of Borough Hall to support District Attorney Ken Thompson’s proposal to stop prosecuting people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

A memo outlining DA Thompson’s proposal, shared with the press, states that when the police make a low-level marijuana arrest and the defendant has no criminal record or a minimal criminal record, “there will be a presumption that such case will be immediately dismissed.” With this bold and smart initiative, DA Thompson is using his discretionary authority as the top law enforcement officer in Brooklyn to refocus limited law enforcement resources on serious public safety issues, address and reduce unwarranted racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and ensure that Brooklyn residents are no longer saddled with lifelong arrest records for simple possession of marijuana.

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