felony

Alabama: Man Serving Life In Prison For Marijuana

RichardBoldenLifeForPot[DothanEagle].jpg

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

While the cannabis industry proceeds merrily along its profit-strewn path to the mainstream, a man in Alabama last year got sentenced to life in prison for selling the stuff.

It makes a big difference, you see, if you are a minority male in the Deep South selling marijuana, or if you are a monied entrepreneur in, say, Washington state or Colorado doing the same thing. If you were of the latter class and geography, you'd get a license from the state allowing you to carry on your business; if you were of the former, you'd get thrown in a cage until you die.

Houston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Conaway in February 2015 sentenced 39-year-old Richard Bolden of Dothan, Alabama, to life in prison for "trafficking marijuana." He gave Bolden an additional eight years for a felony first-degree bail jumping charge, to be served consecutively (not concurrently) with the life sentence, reports Matt Elofson at the Dothan Eagle.

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.

Washington: Seattle City Attorney Promises Crackdown On Black Market Marijuana

PeteHolmesSeattleCityAttorney[ElaineThompson-MyNorthwest.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana legalization gets rid of the black market, and makes it obsolete, right? Wrong, if your legalization law is written as badly as Washington state's.

I-502, the clunky cannabis legalization measure, was made even worse by SB 5052; last year, that execrable piece of legislation assisted the original measure in completing a coup de grace on medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets in the state.

The onerous taxation scheme and miles of red tape forced upon marijuana retailers by state rules -- along with a healthy dose of old fashioned greed -- mean that, ironically enough, cannabis costs more in legal marijuana stores than on the black market, thus ensuring that the illegal market continues to flourish, even as the state desperately tries to prop up its anointed retailers by arresting their competition.

That's right: in the eyes of recreational marijuana retailers, not just black market dealers, but medical marijuana dispensaries and farmers markets represent unwelcome competition. You can really see their point when you realize that I-502 store prices average roughly twice the going rate in dispensaries and three times that in farmers markets.

Most patients are on limited incomes as they struggle with chronic illness, and the I-502 store prices, along with the 37 percent tax, makes medicine just about unaffordable.

U.S.: It's A Felony! Feds Warn Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can't Be Mailed

NewspaperAdsMarijuana[420medicated.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it's a felony offense to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.

The recent federal advisory was forwarded to about 100 members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association this week, reports Noelle Crombie at The Oregonian. The association "strongly discourages" Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. Postal Service for delivery from accepting "any type of marijuana advertising," according to Laurie Hieb, the group's executive director.

"It's against the law," Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. "Unfortunately, the ONPA cannot do anything about this."

A postal official hand-delivered the warning on Monday to the Chinook Observer, a newspaper in Long Beach, Washington. It's not clear what prompted it; the newspaper and the Daily Astorian distribute a weekly supplement called Coast Weekend, which runs advertisments from a dispensary in Long Beach and others on the Oregon coast.

The Long Beach paper reaches about 4,400 people; about 2,560 subscribers receive the paper through the U.S. mail, according to Steve Forrester, president of EO Media Group, which publishes 11 newspapers, including those in Long View and Astoria. Forrester is also editor/publisher of the Daily Astorian.

North Carolina: 94-Year-Old Man Arrested On Felony Marijuana Charges

DouglasFloydPonischilArrestRecordNC[MecklenbergCountySheriffsOffice]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

From time to time, a particular arrest serves to highlight the absurd nature of cannabis prohibition.

Such an arrest took place on Monday in North Carolina, where a 94-year-old man was charged with felony possession of marijuana, reports Elisabeth Arriero at The Charlotte Observer.

Douglas Floyd Ponischil, 94, was arrested at 6:36 a.m. on Monday by the Mecklenberg County Sheriff's Office, according to arrest records.

Ponischil -- a World War II veteran, according to Hempyreum -- doesn't appear to have much of a criminal history in the state; a background check revealed only minor traffic violations.

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