Archive for the ‘federal’ category

Representative Cohen Introduces the Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act

February 13th, 2014

Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced federal legislation, House Resolution 4046, to remove legal restrictions prohibiting the Office of National Drug Control Policy from researching marijuana legalization. These restrictions also require the office to oppose any and all efforts to liberalize criminal laws associated with the plant.

“Not only is the ONDCP the only federal office required by law to oppose rescheduling marijuana even if it is proven to have medical benefits, but it is also prohibited from studying if that could be even be true,” said Congressman Cohen. “The ONDCP’s job should be to develop and recommend sane drug control policies, not be handcuffed or muzzled from telling the American people the truth. How can we trust what the Drug Czar says if the law already preordains its position? My bill would give the ONDCP the freedom to use science—not ideology—in its recommendations and give the American people a reason to trust what they are told.”

These restrictions were placed on the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the Reauthorization Act of 1998, which mandates the ODCP director “shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–

(A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
(B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;”

You can quickly and easily contact your representative by clicking here.

New York’s Gov. Cuomo To Announce Support for Medical Marijuana, But Measure Does Not Go Far Enough

January 7th, 2014

This Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce an executive action creating a medical marijuana program. While it’s encouraging that he has realized patients should not be punished for using their medicine, unlike the medical marijuana bill sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino, Gov. Cuomo’s proposal would not create an effective program. The “State of the State” address will be streaming live at 11:30am ET on Wednesday.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo

It appears the governor’s plan would only allow patients to access marijuana from a limited number of hospitals, which would dispense marijuana that was either obtained from a federally approved source or that is illegal to dispense under federal law. But the federal government has refused to provide marijuana even to some short-term FDA-approved studies, and there is no reason to think it will approve marijuana for longer-term patient access. Meanwhile, hospitals surely wouldn’t break federal law by distributing unapproved marijuana.

A similar medical marijuana law that passed in Maryland last year, by all accounts, just won’t work. If you live in New York State, let your legislators know the way to protect patients is by enacting a comprehensive medical marijuana bill.

New York patients who suffer from debilitating illnesses deserve protection from prosecution, and access to medical marijuana through a viable program — such as those that have passed in 20 other states, plus D.C. If you are a New York residentplease email your legislators today and urge them to support Assemblyman Gottfried and Senator Savino’s medical marijuana bill.

What the Michigan Local Ordinances Really Do

November 7th, 2013

While election day saw an overwhelming amount of media coverage surrounding marijuana issues, some of the details were confusing to people not living in those states, so here are the details for Michigan. Three cities in Michigan voted to remove criminal penalties associated with possession or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana.  The ordinances apply to those 21 and over on private property.  Ferndale and Jackson voters passed city ordinances by 69% and 61% respectively, while voters in the capital city, Lansing, passed an amendment to their city charter with 63% of the vote.  Ferndale, Jackson, and Lansing all join the ranks of other Michigan cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Kalamazoo, which had previously removed criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession or set marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority.Untitled

Law enforcement is still able to enforce state and federal laws against marijuana, but local cops have the option to follow these ordinances and not charge adults for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Activists will be playing close attention to whether or not they heed the will of the voters.

Banks Willing to Work With Marijuana Business, But Waiting for Federal Clarification

October 29th, 2013

Reported this week in the Daily Herald:

Community banks and credit unions are ready and willing to provide financial services to entrepreneurs in the state’s new legal pot industry. But they aren’t able to, at least not yet.

Marijuana businesses, even ones that will soon be legally licensed in this state, are considered criminal enterprises under federal law, which makes handling their money a crime in the eyes of the Department of Justice.

Until the agency changes its outlook or Congress changes the law — and efforts are under way to do both — those getting into the pot business can’t open a bank account, secure a line of credit or obtain a loan from a federally insured financial institution in their neighborhood.

Full Article

Fortunately, there is already a bill Congress could act upon to resolve this issue. Earlier this year, Representatives Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Denny Heck (WA – 10), along with a bipartisan group of 16 other Republicans and Democrats, introduced legislation that would reform federal banking laws relating to marijuana businesses. HR 2652: The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013 updates federal banking rules to resolve conflicts between federal and state laws and would allow marijuana businesses acting in compliance with state law to access banking services.

Under current federal banking laws, many legal, regulated legitimate marijuana businesses that follow state law are prevented from opening bank accounts and operating as any other businesses would, which could ultimately lead to crime such as robbery and tax evasion in addition to the already onerous burden of setting up a legitimate small business.

Please take a minute of your time today to utilize NORML’s Take Action Center to contact your elected officials and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so by clicking here.

Banks Willing to Work With Marijuana Business, But Waiting for Federal Clarification

October 29th, 2013

Reported this week in the Daily Herald:

Community banks and credit unions are ready and willing to provide financial services to entrepreneurs in the state’s new legal pot industry. But they aren’t able to, at least not yet.

Marijuana businesses, even ones that will soon be legally licensed in this state, are considered criminal enterprises under federal law, which makes handling their money a crime in the eyes of the Department of Justice.

Until the agency changes its outlook or Congress changes the law — and efforts are under way to do both — those getting into the pot business can’t open a bank account, secure a line of credit or obtain a loan from a federally insured financial institution in their neighborhood.

Full Article

Fortunately, there is already a bill Congress could act upon to resolve this issue. Earlier this year, Representatives Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Denny Heck (WA – 10), along with a bipartisan group of 16 other Republicans and Democrats, introduced legislation that would reform federal banking laws relating to marijuana businesses. HR 2652: The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013 updates federal banking rules to resolve conflicts between federal and state laws and would allow marijuana businesses acting in compliance with state law to access banking services.

Under current federal banking laws, many legal, regulated legitimate marijuana businesses that follow state law are prevented from opening bank accounts and operating as any other businesses would, which could ultimately lead to crime such as robbery and tax evasion in addition to the already onerous burden of setting up a legitimate small business.

Please take a minute of your time today to utilize NORML’s Take Action Center to contact your elected officials and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so by clicking here.

MPP’s Mason Tvert On Federal Marijuana Position

October 1st, 2013

Last week, MPP’s Mason Tvert spoke with Andrew Sullivan at The Dish about several aspects of marijuana policy and where it is headed. In this segment, he discusses where the federal government stands on the implementation of marijuana regulations in Colorado and Washington, and how they will deal with marijuana businesses:

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on ‘Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws’

September 10th, 2013

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday regarding “Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.” The Justice Department announced on August 29 that it will not seek to stop Colorado and Washington from moving forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales.

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Sheriff John Urquhart

The truly amazing part was that the majority of those called to testify were in support of the DOJ policy. This included King County Sheriff John Urquhart of Washington and Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. The only people who seemed to disagree with the DOJ not getting in the way of these states enacting the will of their voters were Sen. Chuck Grassley and Kevin Sabet, one of the founders of the disingenuous Project SAM.

You can view the full hearing on C-SPAN.

John McCain Ready for Legalization?!?

September 6th, 2013

According to Talking Points Memo, Sen. John McCain made some comments Thursday that some may find surprising:

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McCain’s comments could not have been better timed. Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Justice Department’s new policy allowing states to move forward with taxing and regulating marijuana. Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, is a member of that committee. Sen. Flake will have the opportunity to question Justice Department officials and help shape the future of federal policy on marijuana.

National Lawyers Guild Calls for Better Marijuana Policies

June 27th, 2013

The National Lawyers Guild, a public interest and human rights bar organization, released a report on June 25 highlighting the failures of marijuana prohibition and suggesting strategies for legalizationPastedGraphic-1 initiatives.

The report, “High Crimes: Strategies to Further Marijuana Legalization Initiatives,” recommends both alternative policies for the U.S. government to pursue and strategies for drug-reform advocates to employ. The key recommendations are: reframe drug use as a social and public health issue; revisit international drug treaties; reclassify marijuana from its status as a Schedule I substance; support the right of states to legalize marijuana for adult use without federal interference; end civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement; and connect legalization efforts to the abolition of the for-profit prison industry.

“Marijuana legalization will create new jobs, generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crimes,” said Brian Vicente, an NLG member and one of the primary authors of Colorado’s legalization amendment. “It would be a travesty if the Obama administration used its power to impose marijuana prohibition upon a state whose people have declared, through the democratic process, that they want it to end.”

U.S. Mayors Approve Marijuana Resolution: End the Federal Government Crackdown

June 25th, 2013

The U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution on Monday, June 24 criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and demanding that the federal government respect states’ and cities’ marijuana laws.

The resolution, “In Support of States Setting Their Own Marijuana Policies Without Federal Interference,” calls for the Obama administration to allow states and localities to “set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.” The resolution was introduced by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and co-sponsored by eight mayors representing cities ranging from Seattle, WA to Binghamton, NY.

“In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana,” Republican Mayor Steve Hogan of Aurora, CO said in a statement after the vote. “The bipartisan resolution we passed today simply asks the federal government to give us time to implement these new policies properly and without interference.”

The resolution cited a recent Gallup poll’s finding that 64% of Americans believe states should be able to reform their marijuana policies without federal interference.

This is not the first time that the mayors’ conference has taken a stance on federal drug policy. In 2007, the conference declared the War on Drugs a failure and called for a health-centered reorientation of drug policy.