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Chronicle Stories: New Zealand "Spice" Ban, Chicago to Stop Jailing Marijuana Users?

Submitted by David Borden on

Phil has two new stories in the Chronicle since last update. The enlightened president of the Cook County (Chicago)  Board, Toni Preckwinckle, has raised the idea of not arresting people for marijuana possession. The county is facing a budget shortfall, and Ms. Preckwinckle thinks that putting people in jail who represent no danger to society is unnecessarily expensive. It's not her first foray into the issue, having spoken out against the drug war at Chicago's 40th anniversary of the drug war rally last June.

On the other side of the globe, the government of New Zealand, having a few months back decided to regulate rather than prohibit synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. "fake marijuana" known as K2 or spice), has reversed course. They are rushing to amend the country's drug law, which currently requires proof of harm from a drug before banning it, to instead require a drug's manufacturer to prove it safe. An "emergency ban" is expected to go into effect by the end of the week.

By the way, we haven't officially announced this yet, but we are nearing completion of the first version of a major legislative tracking section of our web site, highlighting and archiving bills and votes on the full range of drug policy issues, in Congress and the 50 state legislatures. One of the areas that has had a lot of activity recently -- and unfortunately -- is new prohibitions on substances like K2, Salvia Divinorum, and "bath salt" mephedrone products. We will be issuing a federal action alert on this topic shortly, but in the meanwhile you can get an idea of what's been going on with this legislatively in the New Prohibitions category on our legislative system -- federal this year, federal previous years, state this year and state from previous years. (I'm holding on linking the master page of the section pending some finishing touches on it.)

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