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(Toke Signals)Citing high numbers of arrests, billions of dollars wasted, disproportionate effects on black Americans and the relative safety of marijuana, a group of 18 Congress members on Wednesday, February 12, called on President Obama to “delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II.”Particularly encouraging, even mildly surprising, was the fact that the word “delist” appeared in the letter. Any sane approach to cannabis — that is, any approach based on actual science rather than reefer madness scare-mongering and conservative knee-jerk politics — demands that the herb be taken off the list of controlled substances entirely and regulated roughly like cabbage.
The move comes in light of Obama’s recent comments to The New Yorker that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol and that it was important to allow legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington to proceed.
(Toke Signals)It’s rather revealing when it literally takes an act of Congress to allow the Drug Czar to tell the truth, wouldn’t you say? Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Wednesday, February 12, introduced the Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014 (H.R. 4046).
The bill would repeal a little-known provision of federal law that requires the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), informally known as the U.S. Drug Czar, to “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use” of marijuana or any Schedule I drug for medical or non-medical use. The provision prohibits ONDCP from even studying legalization.
Because of the ban, the Drug Czar and his staff are unfairly prevented from stating their true positions on marijuana policy and are not even allowed to study the legalization of medical marijuana in 20 states and the District of Columbia or the legalization of marijuana like alcohol in Colorado and Washington.
Two bills were introduced in Mexico City on Thursday that would reform drug policies in North America’s largest city and on a national level. The first bill seeks to decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use, removes incarceration as the first response for the possession of other illicit substances, and creates a limited mechanism for the sale of marijuana if certain requirements are met.
Possession of less than 5 grams of marijuana would not lead to any form of prosecution or jail time. Additionally, the bill establishes threshold quantities for cocaine, heroin and other illicit substances, under which people who use drugs can be referred to a “Dissuasion Committee” -– based on principles of collaboration and human rights -– that offers information and support to minimize the risks and harms of drug use.
The bill also creates a mechanism for establishing spaces for the safe production and distribution of marijuana, aimed at removing people who use marijuana from the violence of the illicit market. These spaces are not permitted to sell other substances, including alcohol and tobacco; cannot sell adulterated marijuana; cannot sell to minors or be near schools; and must grant access to government health officials to educate consumers about the effects of cannabis, harm reduction, prevention and treatment. If these and other criteria are met, the government’s Institute for the Attention and Prevention of Addictions will permit them to supply marijuana.
Italy’s constitutional court on Wednesday struck down the country’s marijuana law which tripled sentences for selling, growing or possessing cannabis. The law has been blamed for prison overcrowding in the country.
The court ruled that the law, passed in 2006 by Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government, was “illegitimate,” without going into details, reports Steve Scherer at MSN News. Some estimates suggest 10,000 people could be released from Italian jails, which are the most overcrowded in the European Union.
The prison rights group Antigone says the harsh drug law was the biggest reason for Italy’s prison overcrowding problem. According to the group, 40 percent of all inmates in Italian prisons are serving sentences for drug crimes.
Rhode Island Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Josh Miller and House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Edith Ajello announced Wednesday that they will introduce a bill to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
“Marijuana prohibition has been a long-term failure,” Sen. Miller said. “Forcing marijuana into the underground market ensures authorities have no control of the product. Regulating marijuana would allow the product to be sold safely and responsibly by legitimate businesses in appropriate locations.”
The measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to two marijuana plants (only one may be mature) in an enclosed, locked space. It would also establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities, and enact an excise tax of up to $50 per ounce on the wholesale sale of marijuana flowers applied at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store (a special 10 percent sales tax would also be applied at the point of retail sales).
The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Thursday, February 13, on a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. A news conference featuring the bill’s sponsors and other supporters will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. It will immediately precede the public hearing, which will be held in Rooms 202-204 of the Legislative Office Building.
HB 1625, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket) and a bipartisan group of seven cosponsors including Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of up to $100. It would also make cultivation of up to six plants a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that treats simple marijuana possession as a criminal offense with the potential for jail time.
The January death of a 58-year-old Kansas woman in jail after being arrested for marijuana she’d legally purchased in Colorado is being investigated by local authorities as family members continue to look for answers. Her sister alleges that jail guards stood by, ignoring her pleas for help.
Brenda Sewell and her sister Joy Biggs had been pulled over January 20 in Goodland by the Kansas Highway Patrol for speeding, reports Glenn E. Rice at The Kansas City Star. A trooper arrested them after finding a small amount of marijuana, according to relatives.
Family members want to know why Sewell started foaming at the mouth, and why jailers took so long to help as her sister and another cellmate tried to revive the woman.
Washington state’s absurdly low cap on recreational marijuana cultivation could create a number of consequences for the state’s nascent legal cannabis industry, almost none of them good. Among the possible, even likely effects of the too-low production cap include high prices, inventory shortages, and concentration of cultivation licenses in just a few wealthy hands.
Last year, the Washington State Liquor Control Board established — OK, pulled out of their asses — a 2-million-square foot “canopy cap” on the area used for recreational marijuana cultivation in the state under legalization measure Initiative 502, reports the Marijuana Business Daily. It turns out that 2 million square feet of canopy space — a rather arcane way of measurement, on the face of it — equals about 46 acres of growing weed. Regulators opted for the canopy measurement rather than plant counts.
If the Liquor Control Board’s number crunchers are in the neighborhood of accuracy (and there is, of course, no guarantee they are, since their actions and pronouncements haven’t been particularly confidence-inspiring, so far), 2 million square feet of canopy space can product about 40 metric tons of usable marijuana, and 40 metric tons of production for cannabis concentrates.
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