Chronicle AM -- June 19, 2014

We can watch the marijuana policy landscape shift before our eyes, with legalization initiatives and decrim measures popping up around the country and even Oklahoma Republicans arguing over legalization. There is also action on the opiate front, the Senate will vote on defunding the DEA's war on medical marijuana in states where it is legal, and more. Let's get to it:

US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) cosponsors an amendment to cut DEA medical marijuana funding. (senate.gov)
Marijuana Policy

House Fails to Add Rider to Block DC Decriminalization Law. The House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee approved a familiar series of social policy riders on the District of Columbia budget, but did not include one that would seek to undo the city's recent adoption of marijuana decriminalization. It's not a done deal yet, however; such a rider could still be added during the legislative process. The subcommittee did approve riders barring the District from funding needle exchanges or medical marijuana programs.

Delaware Decriminalization Bill Heads for House Floor Vote. A bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and levy a maximum $250 fine passed the House Public Safety Committee today. House Bill 371 now heads for a House floor vote.

Marijuana Policy in the Oklahoma GOP Governor's Race. In next week's GOP primary, sitting Gov. Mary Fallin is up against two longshot opponents who both favor marijuana legalization. Both Chad Moody, also known as "The Drug Lawyer," and Dax Ewbank, a libertarian-leaning Republican, have come out in favor of freeing the weed. But Fallin says that's not on her to-do list: "I just don't see that it provides a substantial benefit to the people of Oklahoma," Fallin said.

Milwaukee Legalization Initiative Signature-Gathering Drive Underway. A coalition of Milwaukee groups have begun a petition drive to place a municipal legalization ordinance on the November ballot. The measure would legalize the possession of up to an ounce. The groups have until July 29 to come up with 30,000 valid voter signatures. People interested in helping out can get more information here.

Philadelphia City Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana. The city council today approved a decriminalization measure introduce last month by Councilman Jim Kenney. Up to 30 grams is decriminalized, with a maximum $25 fine. Four years ago this month, the city began treatment small-time possession as a summary offense, with a maximum $200 fine and three-hour class on drug abuse.

Activists Gather Twice the Signatures Needed for York, Maine, Legalization Initiative. Activists supported by the Marijuana Policy Project needed 100 valid voter signatures to present a marijuana legalization petition to the York Board of Selectmen. They handed in 200. Similar petition drives are going on in Lewiston and South Portland, and Portland voters approved a legalization referendum last year. The local efforts are laying the groundwork for a statewide legalization initiative in 2016.

Medical Marijuana

Sens. Rand Paul, Cory Booker Cosponsor DEA Defunding Amendment in Senate; Vote Could Come as Soon as Tonight. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have cosponsored an amendment to the Justice Department funding bill that would shield medical marijuana patients and providers from the attention of the DEA in states where it is legal. The vote could come as soon as tonight or tomorrow. The House passed such an amendment at the end of last month.

New York Governor, Legislature in Tentative Deal as Session Draws to End. With the legislative ticking down its final hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders today announced a deal that would allow passage of a medical marijuana pilot program, but would not allow patients to smoke their medicine.

North Carolina Limited CBD Medical Marijuana Bill Wins House Committee Votes. A bill that would allow some patients to use a high-CBD cannabis oil was approved by the House Health Committee Wednesday and the House Finance Committee today.

Drug Policy

Drug Policy in the Colorado GOP Senatorial Race. Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is running for the state's GOP senatorial nomination, is being attacked as a drug legalizer in a radio ad created by a committee supporting former Sen. Mike Copp. While Tancredo supports marijuana legalization and has in the past spoken of the need to consider drug legalization, he says he is not ready to legalize hard drugs and is demanding that the ads be pulled.

Opiates

Vermont Governor Signs Package of Bills Aimed at Opiate Use. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) Tuesday signed into law a package of bills and executive orders that will ramp up treatment for opiate addiction, but also increase penalties for bringing more than one gram of heroin into the state. The centerpiece of the legislative package is Senate Bill 295, which will fund pretrial screening and drug treatment for suspects before they are arraigned.

New York Assembly Set to Approve Package of Heroin Bills. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and key lawmakers announced Tuesday night that they had a deal on a package of heroin bills that would raise awareness of the issue and increase insurance coverage of heroin treatment. What isn't clear is whether they agreement also includes a series of Rockefeller drug law-style measure passed by the Republican-dominated Senate that would increase criminal penalties for some heroin offenses.

Harm Reduction

DC Police Chief Orders No Arrests for Overdose Victims. In a recent memorandum, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier has instructed her police force to observe protections from arrest and charge granted under a DC law designed to encourage residents to seek immediate medical assistance for a person experiencing an overdose. The Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Amendment Act of 2012 (#A19-564), which was passed by the D.C. Council in 2012 and took effect on March 19, 2013, provides limited legal protection from arrest, charge and prosecution for those who witness or experience a drug overdose and summon medical assistance.

Sentencing

Federal Fair Sentencing Act Picks Up Another Sponsor. And then there were 39. Rep. William Envart (D-IL) has signed on as a cosponsor to the Federal Fair Sentencing Act. That makes 25 Democrats, along with 14 Republicans. It would reduce the use of mandatory minimum sentences and impose retroactivity for crack cocaine sentences handed down before 2010.

International

Britain's Looming Khat Ban Could Create Black Market. A ban on khat is about to go into effect in England, and this report suggests that it could create political tensions in East Africa, as well as creating a black market for the substance in England itself.

Albanian Siege of Marijuana-Producing Village Continues. A police assault on the village of Lazarat that began Monday is still underway as clashes continued between police and armed villagers. Some 800 police are involved in the operation, and they say they have seized or destroyed more than 10 tons of marijuana so far. But that's only a fraction of the 900 tons the village is estimated to produce annually. The town's $6 billion pot crop is equivalent to about half Albania's GDP.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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TREASON!

Senator Savino is a traitor and a coward because she would not allow for smoking in the bill. I am a New York resident who has hypertension who can benefit from medical marijuana. Like so often I am the sacrificial lamb who is thrown under the train so that a bill could be passed. There is no genuine medical legalization In New York and there will be no genuine legalization until all conditions for which marijuana can provide relief are qualifying conditions (just like California) and all methods of ingestion are allowed. Requiring that we vaporize instead of smoke marijuana is an act of class warfare against the poor (include me in that category) since vaporizers are expensive and difficult to use. I would loose the vapor before I could ingest it. Vaporization is favored  by a bunch of one percent snobs who like getting high but want to look "cool" by becoming part of a cultural inquisition against smoking. Marijuana smoking is not harmful. Since I proudly smoke tobacco I will not engage in the obligatory denouncements of tobacco smoking. This is not just a medical question but a civil liberties question. Banning smoking violates my civil liberties. Heck, we even see the rich snob attitude in Colorado where to show that you are rich you vaporize high THC oil. Please lets get back to concentrates that are the old fashioned hashish that is dry (not bubble), broken apart and mixed with drum loose tobacco in a joint with a hollow cardbord filter. Finish it off with a nice filter. If the so called regulation bill makes it impossible for patients to get medical marijuana the only places I will be able to be qualified to get my medicine will be Colorado and Washington. It seems that since they will not include my condition in New York and I refuse to have my civil liberties violated and forced only to vaporize my medicine my only choice is to move to Colorado, Washington or Amsterdam. I will not be celebrating this so called "victory". I just hope that the traitor Savino is punished for her betrayal of patients by being thrown out in the next election by someone more progressive on the cannabis legalization issue. As for New York the only sensible thing activists can do is to try to get retail nonmedical cannabis legalized for all adults over 21 and include the freedom to smoke in that bill. As Russ Bellville might say "another step backwards in the box canyon".    

Recreational marijuana in New York

I would also like to add that the passage of this so called "medical marijuana bill" will harm efforts to pass legislation in the future for recreational cannabis. By definition recreational cannabis bills have to allow smoking. Since this bill does not allow for smoking there is no way that the medical system in New York can be transformed into a recreational system in a manner similar to Colorado. My great fear is that the anti-smoking tobacco haters will try to force any bill for recreational legalization to also be a vaporization only bill. This again would be a violation of civil liberties on an even more gigantic scale than this obscentity falsely called a "medical marijuana bill" that was just passed. Demand your right to smoke! down with all who would want to force people to only vaporize cannabis. People deserve the right to determine themselves whether they wish to smoke or vaporize. A government that will not allow the people the right to make this choice a tyrany.

Clarification

Two more notes are given here. First then regulation bill I refer to above is in California. This bill is Senate Bill 1262 authored by Sen. Lou Correa. If a bad version of this bill passes it will be difficult if not impossible for patients to be qualified for medical cannabis for any reason. A bad version of 1262 will be an elimination not regulation bill. Thus the possible need for me to move to Colorado, Washington or Amsterdam. Even Amsterdam is problematic since the judge said that municipalities can ban foreigners who are not residents from going to coffee shops. While such bans have not yet taken place they remain a future possibility. Also  wrangling with foreign residency laws is itself a hassle. I am a US citizen and it is only just that I can get my medicine in my own country without having to become a refugee. Secondly, about that joint. After that tobacco hash joint with the hollow cardboard filter (made from the cover of a matchbook) is finished why not follow it with a nice Turkish cigarette. To hell with Cuomo and his ant-tobacco anti-smoking mania

Second Clarification

I would also add that a real medical marijuana bill should include home growing and no limits on THC in the cannabis.

Freedom Up in Smoke

Welcome to the Machine.
     Yes, it IS tyranny! It's all about exploitation, and perpetration of a criminal usurpation of an individual's right to ingest what he or she wants, while at the same time trying to look like some sort of Hero, Saviour, Protector, etc.  In the US, tyranny is made to look like something else, because the perpetrators want everybody to 'like' them. They want to be SEEN as 'fair', and 'democratic'. They just don't want to have to ACT fair or democratic. The abuse of people trying to gather signatures by police in Oklahoma recently is a case in point.

  These legislators are creating a terrible karma for themselves, and needlessly subjecting millions of people to their fear-based Prohibition. They are, themselves, terrorists, as they are willing to advocate the use of armed force and imprisonment to subject people to their dubious world-view and make them bend the knee. Some day, their karma will catch up to them.
     But, don't forget: You can have all the booze you want...

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