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An estimated 693,481 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. More than 87 percent of these arrests were for possession, which means one person was arrested for marijuana possession approximately every 51 seconds on average in the United States.
The same report last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.
“We’re pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Every year we see millions of violent crimes attributed to alcohol, and the evidence is clear that marijuana is not a significant contributing factor in such incidents. Yet our laws continue to steer adults toward drinking by threatening to punish them if they make the safer choice. These arrest numbers demonstrate that the threat is very real.”
An article on the front page of the New York Times outlines a plan by the de Blasio Administration to end low-level marijuana possession arrests in New York City. According to the article, those found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued a court summons and immediately released.
This would be a shift from the current arrest practice, wherein police charge people with a misdemeanor – the person is then handcuffed, taken to the precinct and held for hours, fingerprinted and photographed, and eventually released with a court date and a virtually permanent arrest record. Ending arrests for marijuana possession is a constructive step towards reform, yet many questions and concerns about the new proposal remain.
The new proposal comes on the heels of a recently released report by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, which analyzed marijuana arrest and income data. It shows that low-income and middle class communities of color face dramatically higher rates arrests for marijuana possession than do white communities of every class bracket.
“Yes, I do support the legalization of marijuana,” Mark-Viverito said at an unrelated news conference on Thursday, reports Mara Gay at The Wall Street Journal. “I think based on conversations that we’re seeing nationally, the way people feel about it, I think that it’s just something that is appropriate at this time.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week announced a new policy under which those stopped for low-level marijuana possession will be given tickets instead of being arrested. That change is a “step forward,” Mark-Viverito said.
“Because it is clear that a significant majority of voters in Multnomah County support the legalization of marijuana in certain amounts, this office will dismiss the pending charges related to conduct which will otherwise become legal July 1, 2015,” announced the office in a prepared statement, reports Kyle Iboshi at KGW.
Measure 91 allows anyone 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in a public place, and up to eight ounces at home.
When this reporter attended September’s Hempstalk Festival in Portland, I saw a well-organized, orderly event, where plenty of information about the cannabis hemp plant and its many uses was disseminated by activists and speakers, along with bands, vendors, and bounteous opportunities for people-watching. What I did not see — and I attended the entire two-day festival — was people smoking or selling weed inside the event.
Portland parks officials, who seemed to have attended an entirely different event, waited only a day after Oregon’s historic vote to legalize marijuana under Measure 91 to mail a letter to Hempstalk organizer Paul Stanford, reports Andrew Theen at The Oregonian. It wasn’t a nice congratulatory note, either — it was a firm denial of his request to hold next year’s Hempstalk Festival at Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, or any other public property, next year.
“The passage of ballot measure 91 makes no difference in the City’s decision,” reads a prissy statement from Parks Bureau customer service center manager Shawn Rogers. The denial “stems only from the inability of organizers to manage the event in accordance with the necessary conditions clearly outlined and revisited on multiple occasions.”
With the number of states where marijuana is now legal reaching four (plus the District of Columbia), the United States military is still trying to enforce 20th Century drug policies of zero tolerance towards cannabis, despite the shifting sands of public opinion.
With Alaska, Oregon and D.C. joining Colorado and Washington as legal havens for weed, the army has gone to great pains to remind troops that state law doesn’t help servicemen who smoke pot, reports RT.com.
The military is governed by federal laws, under which marijuana possession remains a criminal offense; use or possession of cannabis also remains a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and can result in court martial.
Julian continues to speak out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and promote its healing benefits. Kingsley Brand, LLC, licensor of Julian Marley’s likeness and trademark name, has exclusively partnered with Drop Leaf, LLC to promote the movement to decriminalize marijuana and promote its healing benefits with the launch of a new product line, Julian Marley JUJU Royal Premium Marijuana.
In the next few months Drop Leaf announced it will introduce to the market several signature strains of marijuana in addition to other products under the Julian Marley JUJU Royal Premium Marijuana brand name. They will be working with DNA Genetics, the industry’s leading developer of marijuana strains, to create high quality strains to serve medicinal and recreational users.