State & Local Legislatures

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GOP wants aid cut for students caught selling drugs

Location: 
WI
United States
Publication/Source: 
River Falls Journal (WI)
URL: 
http://www.riverfallsjournal.com/articles/index.cfm?id=23519&section=Wisconsin%20News&property_id=9

Sick people need pot

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Chicago Sun-Times
URL: 
http://www.suntimes.com/news/anderson/331917,CST-EDT-MONROE08.article

Lawmaker seeks restrictions on baking soda to fight drugs

Location: 
St. Louis, MO
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)
URL: 
http://www.columbiatribune.com/2007/Apr/20070406News013.asp

Editorial: Things Are Gradually Moving in the Right Direction

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
Earlier this week I learned from some colleagues who are doing work in Maryland that a bill to restore parole for second-time drug offenders had been passed by a committee in the state's House of Delegates but was facing an uncertain fate in the Senate. A number of senators on the committee had committed to voting for it, but one more was needed to get the bill to go through and have its chance in the full Assembly. The bulletin listed five senators who were still undecided.

I decided that, even though in absolute terms the number of people on our list identified as being from those five districts would likely be small, it was important to take some action. Mandatory minimum sentencing is one of the great evils of our time. According to a report by the Justice Policy Institute, in 2005 Maryland had 4,900 people incarcerated whose worst offense was a drug offense (though it's not known how many are serving mandatory minimums due to limitations in the available datasets), and Maryland spends the greater part of its correctional budget on incarcerating drug offenders.

Things have gotten a little better recently -- the state is one of only 11 that have fewer prisoners now than four years ago -- but the state's incarceration situation is still a travesty. One or two phone calls could well make the difference for a legislator at the state level. One of our members wrote back to let me know the staffer in his senator's office said that his was the only call they had received about the bill at all. One is better than zero -- we made some impact. How much? No way to really tell.

Going into our political database and checking off the names of those five undecided senators, looking to see who we had in their districts, had the effect of making me think. It made me wonder why anyone would not want to restore parole to these people. After all, it's not even legalization or decriminalization. I fervently want for more people to understand the deleterious consequences of prohibition so we can end it, but that's not on the table this year. These are nonviolent offenders. In parole, the Board considers a person's conduct while incarcerated and a range of other factors before deciding whether to give him or her a second chance. I don't expect everyone to think the way I do on everything to do with drugs and criminal justice. But this one seems so straightforward at this late date when mandatory minimums have been so heavily criticized for so long. No one said this job would be easy. But I had to stop and wonder why the clearest acts of conscience can seem so unclear to so many.

Thursday brought good news on the issue, the bill had passed the committee and the margin was comfortable -- one Republican even supported it. A fight is expected on the floor of the House and the Senate. But in getting this far the bill has gone further than any other mandatory minimum repeal bill in Maryland to date.

Things are gradually getting better -- starting to, anyway.

Look for more alerts from us on this issue, at the federal level, over the coming months.

New Mexico Bars Drug Charge When Overdose Is Reported

Location: 
NM
United States
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/05/us/05drugs.html

Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Becomes Twelfth State to Approve It

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) Monday signed into law a bill making the state the 12th to approve the medicinal use of marijuana. Richardson is a candidate for the Democratic Party 2008 presidential nomination. In signing the bill, he becomes the only major contender in either party to publicly endorse the medicinal use of marijuana.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/billrichardson.jpg
Gov. Bill Richardson signing a bill into law
The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, named after patients Lynn Pierson and Erin Armstrong, allows people who live with certain serious, chronic conditions to use and possess marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. But in a departure from the normal practice in other states, where patients or designated caregivers are allowed to grow their own medicine, the New Mexico law stipulates that only producers licensed by the state Health Department may grow medical marijuana.

The bill came only after being denied House floor votes in two previous sessions and after apparently being defeated this session. But thanks to strong lobbying by Richardson and groups like the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico office, it passed on a second, last-minute vote.

"This law will provide much-needed relief for New Mexicans suffering from debilitating diseases," said Gov.Richardson in a signing statement. "It is the right thing to do. I'm proud to sign legislation that makes patient care an important priority in this state," Richardson said. "It is time for Congress and the federal government to follow our lead and help those forced to endure painful, chronic diseases."

"By signing this bill, Gov. Richardson is showing his compassion for seriously ill people, and he is also reflecting the will of the majority of New Mexicans and the American people," said Reena Szczepanski, director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico in a Monday statement. "I hope that other elected officials take note: Americans will stand behind those that believe in compassion and mercy for our most vulnerable, our sick and dying patients struggling for relief."

New Mexico now joins Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as states that have approved medical marijuana.

Harm Reduction: New Mexico Governor Signs Overdose Death Reduction Measure

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) Wednesday signed innovative legislation that would protect friends or family members who seek medical attention for drug overdose victims. The law is the first of its kind in the country.

Too often, the companions of drug overdose victims fail to seek medical attention for them for fear of being arrested and prosecuted themselves. The 911 Good Samaritan Act (SB 200) seeks to encourage people to get help by providing limited immunity from drug possession charges when an overdose victim or friend seeks emergency medical services.

With nearly an overdose death a day, New Mexico has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. Six years ago, the state passed legislation removing criminal liability from people who prescribe the opiate reversal agent naloxone. That move is credited with saving hundreds of lives. This new law should save even more.

The measure was pushed by the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico affiliate. "By signing this legislation, the Governor is sending a clear message to New Mexicans: don't be afraid to seek medical help. This is definitely the next step in reducing the overwhelming number of preventable overdose deaths in New Mexico," said Reena Szczepanski, the group's New Mexico director in a Wednesday statement.

Drug Czar: Supporting MMJ is Politically Wise, But Don't Do It

New Mexico has officially become the 12th medical marijuana state, prompting reckless viciousness and incredulity from the Drug Czar. From AP:

"This is a triumph of politics over science," [Drug Czar John Walters] said, suggesting [New Mexico Governor Bill] Richardson sought "to curry the favor of wealthy donors who are marijuana legalization advocates."

That's rich. Considering overwhelming public support for medical marijuana, a more accurate political interpretation would assume that Richardson is attempting to "curry the favor" of almost everybody.

As I've said before, there are really only like six people on the "con" side of the medical marijuana debate. Our opposition otherwise consists of confused parents and arrogant moralists who would be panicking about something else if they hadn’t been tricked by these six people (it used to be seven).

If John Walters wants to bark about the political viability of marijuana policy reform, let's buy him a bullhorn.

(This blog post 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.)

 

Location: 
United States

Editorial: Weed for medicine: regulate the crop

Location: 
WA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Seattle Times
URL: 
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/2003644139_reefered02.html

NH: Medical marijuana measure rejected

Location: 
NH
United States
Publication/Source: 
Concord Monitor (NH)
URL: 
http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070329/REPOSITORY/703290366

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