Marijuana Policy

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Riverside County Bans Medical Marijuana Centers

Location: 
CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
San Jose Mercury News
URL: 
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/15619242.htm

Guilty Plea in Pot Snacks Case

Location: 
Oakland, CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
Tri-Valley Herald
URL: 
http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_4400045

Marijuana: Arkansas Town Joins List of Locales With Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Initiatives This November

Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is the latest community to join the ranks of those voting on initiatives that would make marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. Similar efforts have been victorious in Seattle and Oakland and the college town of Columbia, Missouri; and this year, Missoula, Montana, and three California cities -- Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica -- already have lowest priority initiatives qualified for the ballot.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/oregonbust.jpg
marijuana bust
Thanks to the efforts of nearby University of Arkansas NORML, who put on the signature gathering effort, the Carroll County Election Commission approved the measure for the ballot Monday. The measure would make the arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession cases involving less than an ounce the lowest law enforcement priority.

“We believe this is going to free up other police resources to deal with more serious crimes,” local NORML chapter president Ryan Denham told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt was not enthused, though he did sound a bit confused. He errantly told the Democrat-Gazette the measure would contradict state and federal law, but it would only direct police to set a policy regarding law enforcement priorities. “Whether it passes or not, if it’s in contradiction with state or federal law, it doesn’t count,” Hyatt said.

NORML's Denham told the local newspaper the campus group had originally set out to mount campaigns in Fayetteville, where the university is, but aborted those efforts after realizing they would fall short. Instead, they aimed at the smaller Eureka Springs, where only 144 valid signatures -- 15% of those voting in the last mayoral election -- were required. The group handed in 156.

No Kidding: DEA Says MJ Legalization Initiative Could Result in MJ Legalization

Reformers may have jumped the gun in condemning DEA’s opposition to Colorado's marijuana legalization initiative. If they're gonna keep saying stuff like this, I say we hear ‘em out.

From CBS 4 in Denver:

"There aren't enough federal resources on the entire planet to handle ounce size marijuana possession," Jeffrey Sweetin, a DEA agent said. "Your viewers should understand if this passes, we're really legitimately legalizing an ounce of marijuana. They're not going to be prosecuted."

That’s the point, silly. If the citizens of Colorado decide to stop arresting each other for marijuana, you’re not supposed to show up and ruin everything. Thank goodness there aren’t enough federal resources to do it, but that’s beside the point.

His observation is helpful though, because it illustrates the impracticality of enforcing federal laws that conflict with state-level reforms. It’s an argument for our side, and I can’t imagine why he’s using it.

Give ‘em enough rope…

Location: 
United States

Pot Politics

It's going to be a lot of pot politics in the Drug War Chronicle this week. With the November elections now little more than a month away, there are developments in both Colorado and Nevada, the two states where measures that would free the weed are on the ballot. In Colorado, SAFER Colorado campaign director Mason Tvert is debating Colorado Attorney General John Suthers today.

In Nevada, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana reported late last week that its internal polling shows its initiative leading by a margin of 49% to 43%. I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this will be the breakthrough year where we actually win a legalize marijuana campaign. But now, organized opposition is starting to rear its ugly head in both states. This week, I'll be reporting on both states, and I'll be trying to talk to some of these opponents and some neutral observers as well as the usual suspects.

Pot Politics: Marijuana and the Costs of Prohibition is also the title of a new book edited by SUNY-Albany psychology professor Mitch Earleywine. It includes chapters by a number of folks who should be familiar to readers of the Chronicle, including Marijuana Policy Project communications director Bruce Mirken, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative's Charles Thomas, and marijuana economist Jeffrey Miron. My review copy just arrived, but I intend to suck it down in the next couple of days and have a review ready for this pot-heavy issue.

My boss, Dave Borden, will grumble. We are the Drug Reform Coordination Network, not the Marijuana Reform Coordination Network, he will point out. He will want some balance, something about harm reduction or sentencing or treatment. Well, we'll get some of that this week, but it'll just be in the news briefs. This is a marijuana week.

Location: 
United States

Medical marijuana takes hit as Tories announce $1 billion in cuts

Location: 
Ottawa, ON
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Canada Press
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=0e5d5cf9-9394-44b4-9bf1-30a8fb183d06&k=33491

Chicago Medical Cannabis Working Group

The next meeting of the Medical Cannabis Working Group is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3rd at 7PM at the Unitarian Universalist Temple in Oak Park. The last meeting was very inspiring, let's try to spread the word even more to invite others who might also benefit. The UU Temple has told us that they are more than happy to accomodate our meetings when they are able. At this meeting, we will address how we plan to expand our services, and how we can give support to other groups that are trying to form in different parts of Chicago, and downstate as well. The UU Temple is located on the corner of Lake St. and Kenilworth in Oak Park, close to Metra and Green Line stops. The meeting will be held at 124 North Kenilworth in Oak Park - in the living room of the Gale House behind the temple. MCWG meetings are open to any and all patients and physicians who are interested in learning more about cannabis as treatment, so we welcome everyone who is receiving this to pass this note on to those who may like to attend. More Info at: www.illinoisnorml.org
Date: 
Tue, 10/03/2006 - 7:00pm - 10:30pm
Location: 
875 Lake Street
Oak Park, IL 60301-1341
United States

Riverside DA Takes Aim at Dispensaries With Sweeping Claim About California's Prop. 215

RIVERSIDE DA GROVER TRASK MAKES SWEEPING CLAIM THAT PROP 215 IS AGAINST FEDERAL LAW -- ADMITS STATE LAW PROTECTS PATIENTS AND COOPS, BUT NOT DISPENSARIES Riverside DA Grover Trask has joined with San DIego, San Bernardino and Mercced counties in opining that Prop 215 is unenforceable because marijuana is against federal law. His opinion may be found at http://www.canorml.org/temp/Trask_white_paper.pdf. Trask is off track in asserting that "no state has the power to grant its citizens the right to violate federal law." Prop. 215 does not pretend to override the federal law against medical marijuana; it simply provides that the state not enforce it. Legislation of this sort is entirely within the American constitutional tradition, dating back before the Civil War when states refused to enforce federal fugitive slave laws. On closer examination, it turns out that Trask's claims are less sweeping than to pretend that Prop. 215 is entirely non-enforceable. He admits that patients, caregivers and cooperatives are protected by Prop. 215, but makes the argument that storefront dispensaries are not. He notes, accurately, that the former are explicitly protected under state law by Prop. 215 and SB 420, while the latter are no:
"We believe that Gonzalez v Raich does affect California law. However, we also acknowledge that the California statues offer some legal protection to 'individuals within the legal scope of" the acts. The medical marijuana laws speak to patients, primary caregivers, and true collectives. These people are expressly mentioned in the statutes and, if their conduct comports to the law, may have some state legal protection for specified marijuana activity. Conversely, all medical marijuana establishments that fall outside the letter and spirit of the statutes are not legal: including dispensaries and store-front facilities. These establishments have no legal protection. The Attorney General's opinion does not present a contrary view."
Trask goes on to argue that dispensaries are a danger to the community, citing familiar police anecdotes about robberies, assaults, burglaries, murderers and other criminal incidents. He presents no evidence that these dangers are any higher for dispensaries than for other licensed businesses, nor does he discuss the positive experience of communities with successful dispensary licensing, such as Berkeley, West Hollywood or Oakland. Trask goes on to argue that the county risks federal liability for conspiracy if it permits licensed dispensaries: "With respect to issuing business licenses to medical marijuana store-front facilities a very real issue has arisen: counties and cities are arguably aiding and abetting criminal violations of federal law. Such actions clearly put the counties permitting these establishments in very precarious legal positions." The paper concludes:
"The Riverisde Co DA's Office believes that the cooperatives being considered are illegal and should not be permitted to exist within the County's borders. They are a clear violation of federal and state law, they invite more crime, and they compromise the health and welfare of the citizens of this County."
Trask's legal analysis is not off track with regards to the technical legality of dispensaries. If he wants to, the law gives him power to follow the example of San Diego and close them. But he is wrong to assert that dispensaries presents a criminal nuisance. Fundamentally, it is the failure of law enforcement to allow safe and lawful commerce in cannabis that creates the nuisance. Riverside residents should be asking why their DA wants patients to buy marijuana from criminals rather then legally licensed businesses. - D. Gieringer, Cal NORML Desert Sun article: Riverside County DA: Medical marijuana illegal, state law can't be enforced -- Opinion says no state has the power to allow citizens to violate federal law
Location: 
Riverside, CA
United States

Feature: Drug Arrests Hit Another Record High, More than 786,000 Marijuana Arrests Alone in 2005

The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report Monday, and it showed that despite nearly two decades of drug reform efforts, the drug war continues unabated, at least when measured by arrests. According to the report, overall drug arrests hit a record 1.8 million last year, accounting for 13.1% of all arrests in the country. Marijuana arrests totaled 786,545, another all-time high.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/bristoldrugbust.jpg
drug bust in Bristol, Virginia
More people were arrested for drug offenses last year than for any other offense. Some 1.6 million people were arrested for property crimes, 200,000 fewer than were arrested on drug charges. The number of people arrested on drug charges was more than three times greater than the 603,500 people arrested for violent crimes.

People arrested for drug dealing, manufacture, or cultivation accounted for only 18% of all drug arrests, meaning nearly 1.5 million people were subjected to the tender mercies of the criminal justice system merely because they possessed the wrong substance. When it comes to marijuana arrests, only 12% were for sale or cultivation, meaning some 696,000 people were busted for pot possession.

Marijuana arrests made up 42.6% of all drug arrests, suggesting that if the weed were legal, the drug war would shrink by roughly half. Heroin and cocaine accounted for another 30.2% of drug arrests, while synthetic and "other dangerous non-narcotic drugs" accounted for 27.2%

Marijuana arrests have more than doubled since 1993, when they sat at 380,000. By the beginning of the Bush administration in 2001, the number was 723,000. The figure declined to 697,000 in 2002, but has increased each year since then.

"These numbers belie the myth that police do not target and arrest minor marijuana offenders," said National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) executive director Allen St. Pierre, who noted that at current rates, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 40 seconds in America. "This effort is a tremendous waste of criminal justice resources that diverts law enforcement personnel away from focusing on serious and violent crime, including the war on terrorism," he argued.

"One marijuana arrest every 40 seconds," sighed Tom Angell, communications director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). "I think the numbers show that most people arrested for marijuana possession are young people, and presumably many of them are students. The more young people arrested for marijuana offenses, the more get convicted and lose their financial aid," he told Drug War Chronicle. "The consequences of a drug arrest don't end with handcuffs and jail cells; it's important to remember that when these numbers come out every year. Even if people aren't being sent to jail for long periods, they still suffer a great deal by losing access to public benefits and having criminal records that will haunt them for the rest of their lives."

"This is an interesting puzzle," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "We hear all the time that police aren't making marijuana a priority, and yet the numbers keep going up. One might begin to think that some of these law enforcement people making these claims may not be telling the truth," he told the Chronicle.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/fbichart.gif
drug arrest percentages, 1994-2003 (source: FBI)
The massive marijuana arrest figures somehow come in under the radar, Mirken said. "When I talk to reporters about these numbers, they are shocked. A lot of people don't seem to know that for three years running now, we've arrested more than three-quarters of a million people for marijuana, almost 90% of them for possession. I wish I could say it was a shock that the number has gone up again, but it just keeps increasing."

"Arresting hundreds of thousands of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly needlessly destroys the lives of otherwise law abiding citizens," St. Pierre said, adding that over 8 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges in the past decade. During this same time, arrests for cocaine and heroin have declined sharply, implying that increased enforcement of marijuana laws is being achieved at the expense of enforcing laws against the possession and trafficking of more dangerous drugs.

"Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers between $10 billion and $12 billion annually and has led to the arrest of nearly 18 million Americans," St. Pierre concluded. "Nevertheless, some 94 million Americans acknowledge having used marijuana during their lives. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals for their use of a substance that poses no greater -- and arguably far fewer -- health risks than alcohol or tobacco. A better and more sensible solution would be to tax and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco."

"These sorts of numbers show the challenges the drug reform movement continues to face," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, we're doing a good job of keeping people out of jail. Most people arrested on drug charges, at least for possession, probably get probation, and that's important," he told the Chronicle. "That said, the challenge for us is to deconstruct the institutions that support this. While most arrests are at the state and local level, the funding that the federal government provides to law enforcement is all tied to arrests, so state and local police forces have a very strong incentive to keep arresting drug offenders."

Children Handcuffed in Police Drug Raid; Dog Also Killed During Bust, 18-Year-Old Charged With Misdemeanors, Violation

Location: 
Schenectady, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
Albany Times-Union
URL: 
http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=518529&category=SCHENECTADY&BCCode=HOME&newsdate=9/20/2006

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