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Idaho Republican Lawmaker Introduces Medical Marijuana Bill

United States
Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, sponsored the Idaho Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act to establish a system for patients to legally obtain and use medical marijuana. "This legislation provides another option for medically challenged citizens and provides protections for our citizens as a whole," Trail said. "It gets down to a states rights issue: Should the use of medical marijuana be determined by the doctor-patient relationship, or by Congress and law enforcement?" The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.

Sen. Kohl-Welles' New Bill Firms Up Medical Marijuana Regs in Washington

United States
Joining with Rep. Jim Moeller, Sen. Kohl-Welles' introduced new legislation that tries to make crystal clear Washington’s existing medical marijuana laws. "Senate Bill 5073 and House Bill 1100 would establish a regulatory system for the sale and purchase of medical marijuana for qualifying patients," says Kohl. It contains a sales tax exemption for patients, but dispensaries would have to pay a B&O tax. "Other provisions include protecting parental rights of medical marijuana patients and protections against the workplace discrimination of patients," adds Kohl-Welles. "The current legal limits of up to 15 plants and up to 24 ounces of useable marijuana per patient and one patient per provider remain intact."
The SunBreak (WA)

Experts Bolster Calls for Jail Needle Exchange

A string of academics, health experts and former politicians have lent their names in support of a trial of a needle and syringe program in Australian correctional facilities.
ABC News Online (Australia)

Marijuana Activist Declares Bid to Lead B.C. NDP

Longtime marijuana activist Dana Larsen announced his bid for the leadership of the provincial party from the Vancouver office where he dispenses medical marijuana. The 39-year-old is the first candidate to publicly announce his intention to take over the party since Carole James resigned on Dec. 6. James has said she will remain at the helm until an interim leader is chosen in mid-January. Larson, the founding editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine from 1994 to 2004, says he has support from many members of the provincial NDP party, but admits he isn't in the "inner circle."
CTV Television Network (Canada)

80-Year-Old Virginia Republican Lawmaker Leads State's Marijuana Decriminalization Fight

United States
80-year-old Republican Delegate Harvey Morgan, also an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University, is leading the charge to decriminalize marijuana possession. Legislation proposed by Morgan, known as House Bill 1443, would replace the criminal fine for possession with a civil penalty and eliminate the 30-day jail sentence and criminal record that would follow conviction. "In 2007, nearly 18,000 people were arrested in Virginia for simple possession of marijuana...This places a tremendous burden on law enforcement, prisons and the judicial system. In these times of economic hardship, we need to closely examine how our tax dollars are spent," Morgan said.
The Raw Story (DC)

Poland: Unconsititutional and Costly Drugs Laws Infringe on Human Rights (Opinion)

"Criminalisation of drug possession does not help to decrease illicit drug consumption. Instead, it distracts the attention and energy of the police from the real originators of the problem: mass producers and major and minor drug dealers" – write the signatories of a letter of support for liberalizing drug policy in Poland. Among them are former President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski and a world-famous sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman. Other signatories include writers, artists and respected public figures.
PR Canna Zine (UK)

New Data: Pursuit of Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Costs Vermont Over $700K Annually, Rep. Lorber Calls for Decriminalization (Press Release)

CONTACT: Rep. Jason Lorber, 802-863-9429 or [email protected]

New Data: Pursuit of Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession

Costs Vermont Over $700K Annually

Rep. Lorber Calls for Decriminalization

Burlington, VT – Dec. 9, 2010 – New data unveiled today shows that Vermont state government spends over $700,000 annually to pursue Vermonters for possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

Based on the new findings, Rep. Jason Lorber (D-Burlington) today announced plans to introduce a bill that would decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

“We should stop wasting $700,000 a year on a failed policy,” said Rep. Lorber. “It’s time for a smarter approach.  That means decriminalization for an ounce or less of marijuana.”

“In a time of great fiscal strain, it is critical that we focus law enforcement resources on offenses that pose the greatest threats to public safety,” said Windsor County State’s Attorney, Robert Sand. “Possession of small amounts of marijuana does not fall into this category. Converting misdemeanor marijuana crimes into civil violations is an appropriate and laudatory legislative endeavor.”

Today’s announcement follows the release of a memo written for Rep. Lorber by the non-partisan Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office (JFO).  The report detailed costs totaling $716,021, broken into categories of Police ($45,257), State’s Attorneys ($10,429), Defender General ($19,768), Court Diversion ($169,500), Judiciary ($105,344), and Corrections ($365,725).  It involves 801 arrests, 76 Vermonters serving time behind bars, and 270 on field supervision.  JFO estimates that the true costs could be 20% more or less than the $716,021 figure.  The study focused on cases in which possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana was a stand-alone charge.

Strong Support for Decriminalization in Vermont and Nationally

Marijuana has been decriminalized in 13 states, including New York, Maine, and Massachusetts. A 2009 Mason-Dixon poll of registered voters in Vermont showed over 2-to-1 support for marijuana decriminalization, with 63% in support, 27% opposed, and 10% undecided

“Decriminalization is different from legalization,” Lorber was quick to point out. “I am crafting a bill that would keep it illegal to sell or use marijuana, and not change the penalty for driving under the influence. This would simply change the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a civil, rather than criminal offense. It would be a ticket, not jail time.”

This news follows an August 2010 panel discussion in which Rep. Lorber and then-gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin called for decriminalization of possession of under an ounce of marijuana.

Rep. Lorber has served in the Vermont House of Representatives since 2005.  He co-authored sweeping legislation called “Justice Reinvestment,” which reduces prison costs while improving safety by finding less costly and more effective alternatives to prison.  In 2005, he authored a 42-page report “53 Voices on Corrections in Vermont” chronicling the stresses placed on the Department of Corrections by overcrowding. 

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United States

U.S. House Expected to Pass Resolution Today Calling for New Marijuana Strategy (Press Release)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

DECEMBER 8, 2010

U.S. House Expected to Pass Resolution Today Calling for New Marijuana Strategy

Rep. Jared Polis, MPP Say It’s Time to End “Failed” Marijuana Prohibition, Regulate Marijuana Industry to Combat Drug Traffickers

CONTACT: Mike Meno, MPP director of communications: 202-905-2030, 443-927-6400 or [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass a resolution today declaring illegal marijuana cultivation on federal lands to be an “unacceptable threat to the safety of law enforcement and the public,” and calling upon the nation’s drug czar “to work in conjunction with Federal and State agencies to develop a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to permanently dismantle Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating on Federal lands.”

            Speaking on the House floor yesterday, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) agreed with the goals of H. Res. 1540, but said the only way to accomplish such objectives would be to eliminate “the failed policy of prohibition with regard to marijuana and replac[e] it with regulation.” 

            “I have no doubt that marijuana plantations, as the resolution states, pose a threat to the environmental health of Federal lands, that drug traffickers spray unregulated chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers, but I submit that the best way to address that is to incorporate this into a meaningful and enforceable agricultural policy for the country with regard to the regulatory structure for the production of marijuana,” said Polis, whose home state of Colorado has emerged as a national leader in the regulation of medical marijuana. “… As long as [marijuana] remains illegal and as long as there is a market demand, the production will be driven underground. No matter how much we throw at enforcement, it will continue to be a threat not only to our Federal lands, but to our border security and to our safety within our country.”

            Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, today joined Rep. Polis in endorsing the underlying rationale of the resolution and suggesting that accomplishing the goals detailed in legislation will require an entirely new strategy by the federal government.

            “Passage of this resolution will send a clear message to the drug czar and others that our current strategies for combating illegal marijuana production are not working and that a new direction is needed,” Fox said. “There are two choices here: continue the failed prohibitionist policies that encourage Mexican drug cartels to keep growing marijuana on federal lands, or embrace a new path that would acknowledge the reality that marijuana is not going away, but its production and sale can be sensibly regulated in order to reduce the harm caused by its illicit production on federal lands.” 

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.


N.J. Assembly to Consider Resolution to Force Change of Medical Marijuana Rules

United States
Proponents of a new law giving chronically ill patients access to medical marijuana say New Jersey's rules are too strict to comply with the intent of the law. An Assembly resolution to be considered today would force the Republican administration to rewrite the rules before they take effect in January.
The Star-Ledger (NJ)

Vicente Fox on California Legalizing Pot: "May God let it pass”

United States
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has thrown his full support behind Proposition 19. "How great it would be for California to set this example. May God let it pass...The other U.S. states will have to follow step," he said.
Foreign Policy (DC)

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