Archive for the ‘prohibition’ category

Poll Shows a Record 65 Percent of Washington, D.C. Voters Support Ballot Initiative 71

September 19th, 2014

The Huffington Post reported that voters seem ready to make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, according to a new poll that puts support for Initiative 71 at 65 percent.

On November 4, Washington, D.C. voters will make their decision on Initiative 71, which would legalize adult marijuana use, possession of up to two ounces, and home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for personal use. The sale of marijuana, however, would still remain illegal under D.C. law.

The NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll’s finding that district voters support legalization by almost a 2-1 margin “is the highest support ever for a marijuana legalization ballot initiative,” Adam Eidinger, chair of D.C. Cannabis Campaign, the group backing the legalization measure, said in a statement. “It vindicates the work of this campaign so far, but we still have more work to do turning out the vote come Election Day.”

Even so, the new poll suggests that D.C. will be a leader in combating the racial disparity in marijuana enforcement by making the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana legal for adult residents.

Dr. Malik Burnett

“Voters are relating to the message that legalization will end D.C.’s rampant discrimination when it comes to marijuana enforcement,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The D.C. City Council is considering a separate bill that would allow the regulation and taxation of marijuana. If and when that bill passes, the Marijuana Policy Project will be working with the D.C. Council and local advocates to develop a system of well-regulated retail sales.

Complaint Filed Seeking to Force York to Include Marijuana Ballot Question

September 18th, 2014

The Marijuana Policy Project filed a complaint Wednesday in the York County Superior Court calling for a temporary injunction that would require the York Board of Selectmen to place the query of recreational marijuana on the November ballot, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The board of selectman has twice refused to ask voters whether they want to allow the recreational use of marijuana, on the grounds that it is not lawful because the use of marijuana is still illegal under state law.

Regardless, supporters have collected close to 1,000 signatures on two separate petitions in their bid to put the question to town voters. However, the board voted 3-2 last week against sending the question to voters.

The right to petition your government is the bedrock of democracy. For the selectman to ignore the will of their constituents goes against what our country is all about and that is why I signed on to this case,” Sharon DaBiere of York, a plaintiff in the complaint, said in a statement issued by the Marijuana Policy Project.

David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, thinks selectmen clearly went out of their way to disenfranchise York’s voters.

David Boyer
David Boyer

“We cannot stand by and let elected officials try to silence the people of York who would like to see marijuana regulated like alcohol.”

In its court filing, an attorney working with Citizens for a Safer York asks that a hearing on the complaint be held by Friday.

Rally for Medical Marijuana Bill Held at Pennsylvania Capitol

September 17th, 2014

Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol from their summer recess Monday, while medical marijuana supporters rallied for Senate Bill 1182, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. This bill would allow doctors to recommend extracted oil, edible products, ointments, and other marijuana-based products to patients with debilitating medical conditions.

Sen. Daylin Leach

Senate Bill 1182 co-sponsors, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware), said their bill could be sent to the floor next week.

“We are so close. We are closer than we have ever been,” stated Senator Leach. “If this runs in the Senate, we get more than 40 votes, and we are promised it will run next week in the Senate. We have counted in the House. There are 203 members. We have counted about 160 yes votes,” he said.

However, although they have gathered enough votes in the House, there is still concern from the Senate that House leadership may block the bill before reaching the floor.

According to Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, “We know that there is overwhelming support amongst Pennsylvania voters for medical cannabis, and it’s time for their legislators to step up and really represent the will of the people.”

Sen. Folmer thanked the crowd on the Capitol steps for their grassroots efforts and reassured that they were very close, and that things were looking good.

Following the rally, the group that organized it, Campaign for Compassion, continued their educational efforts by handing out informational packets on medical marijuana and talking to their representatives.

“Hopefully, they will learn this is something Pennsylvania needs and they will stand up and do what is right and put the political horse trading to the side,” said Christine Brann, a Campaign for Compassion ambassador.

 

 

 

 

NFL Players Association Approves Terms of New Drug Policy, Although Still Oppressive

September 16th, 2014

According to The Denver Post, late Friday, the NFLPA unanimously approved the terms of a new drug policy that includes the implementation of testing for Human Growth Hormone — a performance enhancing drug — as well as an increase in the threshold for testing positive for marijuana.

The agreement with the NFL and NFLPA opens up the possibility for players suspended on drug policy violations to return to the field. Cleveland.com reported that Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns receiver, will have his suspension reduced from a season-long ban to 10 games once the new drug policy is finalized and formally approved.

“This is a historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”

Although the threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous 15 ng/ml, the new marijuana threshold is a standard much lower than those used in most other sports. The threshold for a positive test for marijuana should have increased to the 150 ng/ml limit — used by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which conducts Olympic athlete testing — that was originally suggested.

Moreover, the new terms of the drug policy still prove draconian given the chronic pain endured by most NFL players and the fact that, by most measures, the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain is far less harmful than the prescription painkillers that players currently rely on.

As former player Nate Jackson recently stated in a New York Times op-ed, “Virtually every single player in the NFL has a certifiable need for medical marijuana.”

In this case, the fact that players are still not permitted to use medical marijuana is inexplicable — even when 15 teams are based in states where medical marijuana can be recommended legally and most, if not all, players have a very legitimate need for it.

Madison Police Chief Urges End To Marijuana Prohibition

September 15th, 2014
Mike Koval
Chief Mike Koval

In an interview last week, Madison, Wisconsin Police Chief Mike Koval called marijuana prohibition a failure and advocated regulating and taxing the substance in order to pay for treatment programs that focus on more dangerous drugs.

The comments came during an interview with the State Journal Wednesday about data showing African Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana offenses at about 12 times the rate of whites in the city.

Koval called efforts to enforce laws against marijuana an “abject failure” and said the same about the broader war on drugs. “We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now,” Koval said.

Referring to the states of Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the drug for recreational use and sale at state-regulated stores, he said it was time for Wisconsin to consider doing the same.

Under current Wisconsin law, possession of any amount of marijuana can earn you six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A subsequent offense is a felony punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and three and a half years in prison.

Chief Koval is just one example of a growing movement of law enforcement professionals who are breaking rank with many of their colleagues and calling for an end to the war on marijuana users.

Marijuana Policy Clear Winner In New Hampshire Primary Election

September 12th, 2014

Tuesday’s primary election in New Hampshire produced remarkably positive results for those of us who care about reforming the state’s marijuana laws.

The New Hampshire Senate has been the biggest roadblock facing reformers since the House first approved a decriminalization bill in 2008. This year, with four out of 24 senators retiring, the balance of power finally appears to be tipping in our favor. Here are a couple of examples:

– In Senate District 15, reform advocate Dan Feltes (D-Concord) won by a large margin Tuesday against a candidate who was wishy-washy on marijuana policy. Feltes is now very likely to replace a retiring senator who has been, at best, a fair-weather friend on medical marijuana.

– In Senate District 12, a reform advocate won a close race against a prohibitionist. Former Rep. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), who voted for ending marijuana prohibition in 2012, defeated a current representative who has voted against both medical marijuana and decriminalization. Avard will face incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), whose record has been inconsistent on marijuana policy, in November.

Finally, although Andrew Hemingway did not win the nomination for governor, he did receive a respectable 37%, despite being outspent by 10:1. In the final debate, Hemingway made a strong case for decriminalization, and eventual primary winner Walt Havenstein took an open-minded position, saying “I’m in favor of at least looking at that … I certainly would consider it.”

Many more races will be decided on November 4. We will post a general election voter guide soon.

Members of Community Groups Congratulate Philadelphia Mayor on Marijuana Bill

September 12th, 2014
Mayor Michael Nutter

According to The Philadelphia Tribune, members of the Institute for the Development of African American Youth (IDAAY), as well as other organizations, congratulated Mayor Michael Nutter for agreeing to sign a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Philadelphia.

Archye Lealock, IDAAY’s executive director, and others continued on with a rally Wednesday at City Hall even after the agreement earlier in the week between Nutter and the chief legislative sponsor of the bill, Councilman James Kenney.

“I am very pleased that we have reached this commonsense agreement that will improve opportunity for countless Philadelphians,” Kenney stated. “Under this new policy, police officers will be able to remain focused on more serious offenses, and many young people will be spared the life-altering consequences of a criminal record, such as limited job prospects, inability to obtain student loans or even join the armed services.”

However, using and possessing any amount of marijuana will not be legal in Philadelphia. The amended bill will decriminalize possession of the plant in small amounts. An offense involving 30 grams or less will result in a civil penalty — a citation and $25 fine — and not an arrest or criminal record.

Kenney, Lealock, and other stakeholders of the bill have long distressed the costs involved with prosecuting marijuana possession in small amounts. Annually, $3 million is spent, in addition to the 17,000 police hours dedicated to arresting citizens in possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“We want to ensure that the punishment for using or possessing a small amount of marijuana is commensurate with the severity of the crime while giving police officers the tools they need to protect the heath and well-being of all Philadelphians. Our agreement on this bill is an example of the legislative process working to bring people together, create discussion around an important issue and ultimately reach consensus,” the mayor said.

NFL May Finally Change its Outdated Drug Policy

September 9th, 2014

It appears as though the NFL is finally progressing towards changing its controversial drug policy. According to a NBC Sports story, the NFLPA plans to vote tonight on proposed changes to the NFL’s existing drug policy. The changes, if ratified, may include an increased threshold for which players are allowed to test positive for marijuana. However, the NFLPA first needs to get a proposal from the league itself. According to the NBC Sports posting, that has not happened yet.

“The players are prepared to vote on a proposal from NFL tonight but they will need something to review well in advance of that vote,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told PFT by phone. “As of right now, there’s nothing yet. Players have been informed of the status of the league’s proposal on an ongoing basis. [On Monday], [NFLPA president] Eric Winston and [NFLPA executive committee member] Brian Waters reiterated the importance of a fair due process for hGH testing, a line in the sand with respect to player discipline before a fair due process on DUIs, and also other issues that were important to them.”

Josh Gordon

The “other issues” include the manner in which players are processed through the substance abuse policy, amid much criticism and media attention regarding the use of marijuana and the Cleveland Browns wide receiver, Josh Gordon’s, suspension.

According to Nate Jackson, a New York Times op-ed contributor and former tight end that medicated with marijuana for most of his career, “Gordon has marijuana in his system. He broke the rules. I understand that. But this is a rule that absurdly equates marijuana with opiates, opioids, and PCP. The NFL’s threshold for disciplinary action for marijuana is 10 times higher than the one used by the International Olympic Committee.”

The NFL rethinking their approach to marijuana is long overdue. Their current policy reflects outdated stances onmarijuana and pain management, penalizes players who seek an alternative to painkillers, keeps them in a perpetual state of injury and injury management, and risks creating new addicts.

In the end, as stated by MPP’s Morgan Fox, “The NFL’s harsh marijuana penalties do nothing to promote the health and safety of the players.” [MPP emphasis added]

Philly Mayor Agrees to Compromise, Will Sign Decriminalization Bill

September 9th, 2014
Jim kenney
Councilman Jim Kenney

Yesterday, Mayor Michael Nutter announced that he had agreed to sign a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Philadelphia, with one small tweak. The bill was first introduced by Councilman Jim Kenney. In June, the City Council voted 13-3 to replace the current penalties of a $200 fine and an arrest record for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, with a civil fine of $25. Mayor Nutter’s compromise deal would still make smoking in public punishable by a $100 fine.

A 2013 report by the ACLU found that, although marijuana use is nearly identical across all races, African Americans in Pennsylvania are 5.2 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white neighbors. Councilman Kenney estimates this measure could save the Philadelphia Police Department up to $4 million annually. Some reports estimate that the City of Brotherly Love would become the largest American city to adopt this sensible measure.

The Legal Use of Marijuana Versus Drug-Free Workplace Policies

September 9th, 2014

According to a New York Times story, even as 23 states (and the District of Columbia) allow the use of medical or recreational marijuana, many businesses continue to strictly enforce their drug-free policies, creating a cultural schism between a society that increasingly accepts marijuana and companies that will fire employees who use it.

Brandon Coats

Brandon Coats, for example, was fired for violating Dish Network’s drug-free workplace rules, despite having a medical marijuana card. Coats was paralyzed in a car accident when he was 16 and has been using medical marijuana since 2009 to relieve painful spasms that jolt his body. However, he medicated mostly at night and said marijuana had never affected his performance at work. In spite of this, Mr. Coats andother patients are discovering that marijuana’s recent strides toward the legal and cultural mainstream are clashing with office policies and, ultimately, derailing careers.

Employers and business groups say drug screenings identify drug-abusing workers, create a safer working environment, lower their insurance costs, and, in some cases, are required by the law. Marijuana advocates, on the other hand, counter that such policies amount to discrimination, either against those using marijuana to treat a medical condition or against those who use it because they have the legal right to do so, off the clock and outside of the workplace.

There are a lot of people out there who need jobs, can do a good job, but in order for them to live their lives, they have to have this,” said Mr. Coats, who is 35. “A person can drink all night long, be totally hung over the next day and go to work and there’s no problem with it.”

Generally speaking, most companies do not fire employees for drinking a couple of beers or having a glass of wine — which is objectively more harmful than marijuana — after working hours. It simply does not make sense for law-abiding citizens to lose their jobs over a substance that is far safer than alcohol.