advocacy

New York: Activists To Call For Drug Policy Reform June 23 At Brooklyn Detention Center

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‘Support. Don’t Punish’ Actions a Counter-Demonstration to United Nations ‘Anti-Drug Day’, Often Used by Governments to Tout Punitive Policies

NYC Action: Rally at Brooklyn House of Detention

Activists will gather at 8 pm on Thursday, June 23, in front of the Brooklyn House of Detention and hold a rally as The Illuminator projects images and videos of people from all walks of life who use or have used drugs – fathers, teachers, friends, nurses – as part of the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action.

This annual day of action is designed to tell a different story on the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Governments around the world often choose to use this day to celebrate their contributions to the global ‘War On Drugs’. In the past, some governments have even commemorated it by holding executions or public beatings of drug offenders.

For example, from 2009 to 2014, China unveiled executions and other harsh punishments in the lead-up to the International Day Against Drug Abuse and in 2008, Indonesia cited the day as it resumed executions after a four-year hiatus.

Ohio: Governor Kasich Signs Medical Marijuana Law

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Ohio Governor John Kasich on Wednesday signed House Bill 523 into law, making Ohio the 25th medical marijuana state.

Kasisch's communications team announced the signing without any comment, simply including in a list of other bills the governor also signed on Wednesday, reports Jackie Borchardt of Cleveland.com.

"This is a joyous day for the thousands of Ohioans who will finally be able to safely access much-needed medicine," said Ohioans for Medical Marijuana spokesman Aaron Marshall. "As we continue this movement to bring medical marijuana to all Buckeyes who need it, we will remember today as a huge step forward."

The new law goes into effect 90 days after the bill is officially filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, making medical marijuana legal sometime in early September. Patients will then have an "affirmative defense" against prosecution for marijuana possession charges if they have written authorization from their doctor to use marijuana in a form allowed under the law.

It could be a year or more until Ohioans can actually walk into a storefront dispensary and buy medical marijuana. The program must be operational within two years, according to the law, but lawmakers said it will probably be up and running sooner than that.

D.C.: DCMJ Says White House Meeting Was Good First Step

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Legalization Group Seeks Higher Level Sit Down

DCMJ, the cannabis legalization group that successfully worked to pass the Initiative 71 ballot measure legalizing marijuana in the District of Columbia, called their meeting with the White House “a move in the right direction” toward removing marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substance Act.

“This is a good first step, but we hope to continue the dialogue with the White House,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “We thanked the White House for extending the invitation, but it is clear that our work is far from finished.

"This is only the start," Eidinger said. "What we are requesting is a higher level meeting with senior administration officials, ultimately moving toward a cannabis policy reform summit with President Obama and key stakeholders such as patients, patient advocates, business owners, grassroots advocates, the disabled community, scientists, the medical community, veterans and others.”

D.C.: Marijuana Advocates Light Up In Public At Capitol's First Cannabis Fest

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

About 5,000 people attended the inaugural National Cannabis Festival on Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium fairgrounds on Saturday, with the goals of bringing together the District's newly legal marijuana industry and advocating for broader legalization.

"We're going to keep pushing until we get the laws that we want," said NCF organizer Caroline Phillips, reports Joshua Swain at Reason.com.

Revelers bought pipes and bongs, learned best indoor cultivation practices, and picnicked while enjoying an open-air concert at the festival.

NCF had officially banned marijuana use at the event, and public consumption of cannabis is illegal on federal land. But some attendees lit up anyway, and park security looked the other way.

D.C.: April 2 White House Rally Will Call For Rescheduling of Cannabis Now

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On Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m. in Washington, DC at Lafayette Square, located directly north of the White House, leaders, activists, advocacy groups and citizens will gather to demand that President Obama use his authority to reschedule cannabis—now.

Why on 4/2? "The Obama Administration has been a big zero on cannabis reform, so we are "rescheduling" from 420 to 4/2," according to organizers.

Who: Speakers from DCMJ, Drug Policy Alliance and other cannabis advocacy groups, along with industry activists, civil leaders and citizens.

What: Emergency Mobilization to Reschedule Cannabis Rally

When: Saturday, April 2 at 2 p.m.
**Note: At 4:20 p.m. there will be a mass public consumption of cannabis.

Where: Lafayette Square located directly north of the White House on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets, Washington, DC.

What you can do:
• Click "Going" and invite your friends on DCMJ Facebook event page
• Tweet with the hashtag #Reschedule420
• Call national cannabis advocacy organizations to endorse #Reschedule420
• Volunteer with DCMJ on 4/2 to help things run smoothly

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The White House March 8, 2016
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama,

New York: NYC Marijuana Possession Arrests Drop Under 17K; First Time Since '96

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67% Drop from 51,000 Arrests in 2011

Still A Tale of Two Cities: Young Black and Latino People Arrested at Higher Rates, Despite Young White People Using Marijuana at Higher Rates

According to data just released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, New York City marijuana arrests in 2015 dropped to under 17,000 for the first time since 1996. The 16,590 arrests for low-level marijuana possession in 2015 is a 42 percent decline from the 26,386 in 2014 and a 67 percent drop from the nearly 51,000 arrests in 2011.

“New York is finally starting to shed its embarrassing distinction of being the marijuana arrest capital of the world,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York state director at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Over the last twenty years, more than 700,000 lives were irrevocably harmed by our draconian marijuana arrest policies. We must repair the harms of marijuana prohibition and end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers.”

In 2015, with the continuous advocacy of community members, advocates, and elected officials – the New York Police Department made 16,590 arrests for low level marijuana possession, down from a high of 26,386 in 2014. This continues a four year trend of declining marijuana possession arrest by the NYPD.

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.

Maryland: More Cultivation Licenses Could Avoid Medical Marijuana Shortage

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A cannabis consumer advocacy and watchdog organization with offices in Maryland has issued a report ahead of the state's anticipated summer rollout of their medical marijuana program, asking policymakers to increase the amount of cultivation licenses.

After reviewing and analyzing consumption data in states with legal marijuana programs, and comparing that data to the potential number of patients, the Cannabis Consumers Coalition (CCC) calculated a potential shortage of 41,066 pounds, even if plants are grown under ideal conditions.

Maryland expects 125,000 patients to register, about 15,000 more than are registered in Colorado, which has hundreds of cultivation facilities. Maryland has a higher population than Colorado, and allows for more medical conditions to qualify for medical marijuana authorizations. In addition, Maryland accepts out-of-state patients.

These factors could result in several thousand more people registering as medicinal cannabis patients. "In comparison to Colorado, which has about 600,000 less people than Maryland, 15 cultivation centers seems very low," according to the CCC.

The report assumes that the currently allowed 15 cultivation licenses will be for substantially sized cannabis grows that are consistently high-yielding. Maryland hasn't issued licenses, so there's no way of knowing the square footage of proposed cultivation centers.

Texas: Local Marijuana Reform Advocates To Gather In Amarillo, Lubbock For Training

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Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform advocates will gather Saturday (in Amarillo) and Sunday (in Lubbock) for advocacy training events.

The Amarillo event, on Saturday, January 9, will be held at 12:30 p.m., at the Amarillo Southwest Library, 6801 SW 44th Ave. Details of the event are available at http://texasmarijuanapolicy.org/marijuana-law-advocacy-training-amarillo/.

The Lubbock event, on Sunday, January 10, will be held at 12:30 p.m., at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites South, 6506 I-27 South. Details of the event are available at http://texasmarijuanapolicy.org/marijuana-law-advocacy-training-lubbock/.

The events, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, are the sixth and seventh in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a miserable failure, and we want to give concerned Texans the tools to help enact sensible marijuana policy reform,” said Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “Our communities should not be using their limited law enforcement resources to criminalize adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Texas: Local Marijuana Reform Advocates To Gather Saturday For Advocacy Training

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Local marijuana policy reform advocates, including a former police officer and the head of the Texas Young Republicans, will gather Saturday for an advocacy training event at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center in Houston.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the fifth in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled in Amarillo on January 9 and Lubbock on January 10.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be David Clark, a former police officer from South Carolina and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

"If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to reduce the harms to society caused by drugs, then prohibition should be illegal, not marijuana," said Clark. "It should be illegal to waste so many law enforcement resources arresting and charging nonviolent adults for using marijuana. It should be illegal to divert the focus of our police away from violent and property crimes, which should always take priority."

Joining David Clark will be John Baucum, political director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition and recently elected chairman of the Texas Young Republicans.

Details of the event are available at http://texasmarijuanapolicy.org/training-houston/.

Texas: Local Marijuana Reform Advocates To Gather Saturday For Advocacy Training

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform advocates -- including an active-duty Dallas police officer -- will gather Saturday for an advocacy training event at the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce in Tyler.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the fourth in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Houston on December 12, Amarillo on January 9, and Lubbock on January 10.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be Nick Novello, an officer with the Dallas Police Department and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Members of the media are invited to listen to his presentation at 3:30 p.m. CT, and he will be available for interviews immediately after.

“I work toward marijuana legalization because, as an active police officer, I have an obligation to improve public safety and protect my community,” Officer Novello said. “Regulation and education will focus police resources on more important crimes and make the drug more difficult for children to get. By every measure, marijuana prohibition has failed. Safer communities are within reach.”

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Patients Deliver Petition Demanding DEA Head's Firing

ChuckRosenbergDEA[KamenkoPajic-UPI]

100,000+ Petition Signers Outraged That Obama Administration Official Called Medical Cannabis a "Joke"

A group of medical marijuana patients and their supporters on Friday delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures demanding the resignation or firing of the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after he called the medical use of cannabis a "joke."

The petition -- http://change.org/nojoke -- has more than double the amount of signatures garnered by an earlier petition that helped lead to the ouster of the previous DEA head, who also opposed medical marijuana. The current petition was started just two weeks ago.

“There is no doubt in my mind that my son Jagger is still alive today because of medical cannabis," said Sebastien Cotte, who participated in the petition delivery. "Cannabis has tremendously decreased the pain and seizures caused by his mitochondrial disease, while improving his quality of life. For our family, that’s no joke.”

Numerous scientific studies show that marijuana is beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of serious conditions like cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and many others.

"My mom uses medical marijuana to deal with the severe pain caused by multiple sclerosis,” said Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, the organization that started the petition. “This issue is not a laughing matter for her and millions of other people who have seen the benefits of cannabis for themselves."

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

NewJerseyToLegalize?[TheDailyChronic]

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.”

New York: Medical Marijuana Advocates Launch Billboard Campaign For Veterans, Other PTSD Patients

PTSDIsNotCoveredLiftTheLimitsNY[DrugPolicyAlliance]

Billboards to Run In Syracuse, Rochester, Albany and Other Media Markets Across the State

Patient Advocates Ask Cuomo Administration to Grant Veterans Suffering from PTSD Access to Medical Marijuana

Compassionate Care NY and the Drug Policy Alliance on Tuesday launched a billboard campaign to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) added to the list of conditions covered by New York’s medical marijuana law.

The first billboard was put up in Syracuse on Route 690 East, with others to follow in Rochester, Albany, and other media markets across the state. The billboard directs people to a petition encouraging Governor Cuomo and Health Commissioner Zucker to add PTSD as one of the medical conditions for which patients can receive medical marijuana in New York.

"There are several other states that include PTSD under their medical marijuana programs,” said Donna Romano, a Vietnam Era veteran of the US Navy from Syracuse, New York. “Why isn't PTSD included in New York? I am a veteran myself, and I believe that the people who serve this country should have access to treatments that actually work when they come home.

"The science is real, and the research is strong," Romano said. "Cannabis helps treat PTSD, and veterans who call New York home should have this option. As it stands now, New York’s medical marijuana program is quite limited, and it leaves out thousands of people struggling with PTSD. That is unacceptable. PTSD should be added to the list of covered conditions immediately."

U.S.: 34-Year Police Veteran Neill Franklin To Receive Award At Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginiaa. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, promoting alternatives to the Drug War, and is cosponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

Major Neill Franklin will be presented with the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement. Franklin is being honored for his influential work changing hearts and minds both inside and outside the law enforcement community.

Over the course of his 34-year law enforcement career, Franklin watched hardworking and dedicated fellow police die in the line of fire enforcing policies that don’t do any good. He spent 23 years with the Maryland State Police, including as an undercover agent and as the department’s head trainer, before being recruited by the Baltimore Police Department to reorganize its education and training division.

New York: Day Before Deadline, Marijuana Patients and Families Rally At Governor's Office

AndrewCuomo[MikeGroll-AP]

Patients, Families Demand Gov. Cuomo Sign Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana Bill

Bill That Would Provide Faster Relief to Suffering Patients Passed NYS Legislature with Overwhelming Bipartisan Support But Needs Cuomo’s Signature to Become Law

One day before the deadline for Governor Cuomo to sign or veto a bill that would create emergency access to medical marijuana, patients and advocates rallied outside his office to demand action. Since the medical marijuana law passed a year ago, not one patient in New York has been able to access medical marijuana and at least four children, who could have likely benefited from it, have tragically died while waiting to obtain this much-needed medicine.

The emergency access bill was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by the New York State legislature last June and delivered to Governor Cuomo on October 30th. He has ten days to sign or veto the bill, making the deadline for action November 11th.

Compassionate Care NY held a press conference urging Governor Cuomo to sign the emergency access bill.

Since last July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for patients who may not survive the eighteen months or longer that the Governor has said he needs to get the full medical marijuana program up and running. After the Governor’s Office failed to take action, advocates turned to the Legislature.

Texas: Former Corrections Officer To Join Marijuana Policy Reformers For Advocacy Training Event

MichaelGilbertPhD[UTSA]

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform activists, including a former Texas corrections officer, will gather Saturday for an advocacy training event at the Janet F. Harte Library in Corpus Christi.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the third in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for East Texas on December 5 and Houston on December 12. Last month, activists held trainings in Dallas and San Antonio.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be Michael Gilbert, Ph.D., a University of Texas San Antonio criminal justice professor and former Texas corrections officer. He will join representatives of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy for media availability at 12:00 p.m. CT, and members of the media are invited to listen to his presentation at 1:15 p.m. CT.

“During nearly 16 years working as a corrections professional with military and state corrections, it became clear to me that marijuana prohibition is causing more harm than good," Dr. Gilbert said. "These laws have been counterproductive and fail to meet any of their policy objectives.

Texas: Marijuana Activists To Gather In Dallas Saturday For Advocacy Training Event

TexansForResponsibleMarijuanaPolicy(logo)

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is mobilizing activists throughout Texas in an effort to inject marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races

Local marijuana policy reform activists, including a former Dallas police official, will gather Saturday, Oct. 31, for an advocacy training event at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in Dallas.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the second in a series of events being held around the state as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Corpus Christi on November 7, East Texas on December 5, and Houston on December 12. The first event was held earlier this month in San Antonio.

The featured speaker at Saturday’s event will be Joe Morris, a retired senior police corporal who enforced marijuana laws in uniform and undercover during his tenure at the Dallas Police Department. He will join representatives of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy for media availability at 9:30 a.m. CT, and members of the media are invited to listen to his presentation at 10:15 a.m. CT.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a public policy failure and a public safety nightmare,” said Morris, who participated in hundreds of marijuana-related undercover stings during his career, oftentimes involving buying marijuana from or selling it to high school students.

Texas: Marijuana Activists Mobilizing Statewide; 3 Out Of 4 Voters Support Reform

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Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy to Mobilize Activists Statewide in Effort to Inject Marijuana Policy Debate Into 2016 State Legislative Races; New Texas Lyceum Poll Finds Three Out of Four Voters Support Reform

First of several regional advocacy training events will be held Saturday in San Antonio; UTSA criminal justice professor and former corrections officer Michel Gilbert will be a guest speaker

Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy will hold an advocacy training event Saturday, October 3, in San Antonio that will mark the beginning of a statewide effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Dallas on October 31, Corpus Christi on November 7, East Texas on December 5, and Houston on December 12.

“Comprehensive marijuana reform saw tremendous progress this legislative session largely because families and regular Texans shared their stories with lawmakers,” said State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio). “The movement to change our antiquated and dangerous prohibition laws are gaining traction. However, that momentum will be lost unless citizens stay engaged with their lawmakers during the interim and campaign season.

“That's why these advocacy training events are so important because citizens will be the catalyst for change,” Sen. Menéndez said. “I'm excited the inaugural training session is taking place in San Antonio. Poll after poll shows Texans are ready for comprehensive marijuana reform.”

U.S.: National Cannabis Patients Wall Passes 18,000 Members

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The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to change the perception of medical cannabis and its legislation, and humanize the perception of its patients, on Tuesday announced that it has exceeded 18,000 members.

"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages while raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," said founding Executive Director Dana Arvidson of The Wall. "One of our primary goals is to assist patients in every state to reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, and to end the needless suffering, before more people die.

"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.

According to Arvidson, The Walls' patient support group welcomes patient questions and offers loving support during times of trial and celebration. "We provide patients with a place to gather with others that feel the same way," Arvidson said. "It truly helps when a Patient knows they are not alone in their struggle.

"We also share patient's stories of healing or their search for healing, and many times their struggle for legalization in states denying them legal access," Arvidson said. "We also do our best to connect them with appropriate doctors and dispensaries in their area."

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