Decriminalization

New Jersey: Residents More Supportive Of Marijuana Decriminalization Than Ever Before

NewJerseyMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Support among New Jersey residents for decriminalizing marijuana is higher than ever before, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released on Tuesday.

An overwhelming majority, about 66 percent, of residents believe penalties for marijuana use should be reduced, according to the poll. That number is up from 58 percent in 2011 and 40 percent in 1972, reports Andrew George at NJ Biz. Sixty-five percent said penalties should be eliminated altogether.

Twenty-nine percent of residents said they oppose marijuana decrim.

Outright legalization of marijuana is supported by 49 percent, with 48 percent opposed.

Back in 1972, just 34 percent of adults wanted to get rid of penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana, while 56 percent did not, reports Matt Friedman at The Star-Ledger.

The poll comes about a month after state Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) introduced a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol in New Jersey.

Maryland: 2 In 1 Day - 21st State To Allow Medical Marijuana, 18th State To Decriminalize Possession

MarylandGovernorMartinO'Malley

Gov. Martin O’Malley signs SB 923/HB 881, which would allow patients with serious illnesses to access medical marijuana; he will also sign SB 364 Monday, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Monday making Maryland the 21st state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. He will also sign a bill Monday making Maryland the 18th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“We applaud Gov. O’Malley for signing these important bills into law,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The progress we’re seeing in Maryland is emblematic of what is taking place nationwide. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, are fed up with outdated marijuana prohibition policies and ready to start taking a more sensible approach.”

Senate Bill 923 and House Bill 881 are identical bills that allow state residents suffering from certain qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.

New Hampshire: Majority Of Granite State Adults Support Legalizing Marijuana, Regulating It Like Alcohol

NewHampshireMarijuanaLeafStateSeal

New Granite State Poll Shows Growing Majority of New Hampshire Adults Support Making Marijuana Legal and Regulating It Like Alcohol; Three Out of Five Support the Decriminalization Bill Currently Moving Through the State Legislature

UNH-WMUR survey finds 55% think marijuana possession should be legal — up from 53% in 2013 — and 61% support HB 1625, which would reduce the penalty for possession of limited amounts of marijuana to a $100 civil fine

The annual WMUR Granite State Poll released Wednesday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows a growing majority of New Hampshire adults support making marijuana legal and regulating it like alcohol.

The survey found 55 percent percent support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in New Hampshire — up from 53 percent in 2013 — and 67 percent approve of marijuana being sold in licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol if marijuana possession becomes legal.

"Marijuana prohibition has been an ineffective and wasteful policy," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Voters are increasingly becoming fed up with it, and they're ready to replace it with a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol."

Maryland: Governor Will Sign Bill Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

MarylandGovernorMartinO'Malley

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said on Monday that he will sign a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, report Fredrick Kunkle and John Wagner at The Washington Post.

The Maryland Senate gave final approval Monday afternoon (34-8) to a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. It will now be sent to Gov. O'Malley.

"As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety," Gov. O'Malley said in a statement. "I know that that is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police and the vast majority of our citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health."

The Maryland House voted 78-55 on Saturday to approve the same measure approved on Monday by the Senate. The bill narrowly survived efforts by House Judiciary Committee Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's County) and others to kill it in committee, by "appointing a task force to study the issue."

New York: Marijuana Most Prominent Issue Facing Legislature, Governor

NewYorkMedicalMarijuanaCuomoHoldsLeaf

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana has become the most prominent issue faced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers in the second half of the 2014 session, according to political observers, with advocates pushing to make the Empire State the 21st to legalize cannabis for medicinal uses.

Gov. Cuomo remains stubbornly opposed to a functional medical marijuana program, even as a growing number of legislators have lined up in support, reports Yancey Roy at Newsday.

Others, such as Bay Shore Republican Senator Phil Boyle, are pushing for a limited CBD-only bill which would legalize concentrated oils derived from marijuana, but would prohibit smokable cannabis flowers.

Cuomo is up for reelection and is reportedly considering a 2016 Presidential run. He slightly shifted his position this year, in the face of overwhelming support for medicinal cannabis, by proposing an extremely limited medical marijuana research program.

His plan would revive an obscure 1980 law to begin a medical marijuana research program in which 20 New York hospitals could dispense medicinal cannabis under strict conditions. The program would use marijuana seized in drug busts, according to Cuomo.

"I'm not proposing a law, so it's not the Legislature telling me what I have to do," Gov. Cuomo said. "And that gives me great comfort because if it goes bad, we can correct or improve all within our own control."

U.S.: Attorney General Holder Expected to Answer Questions About Federal Marijuana Policy at Tuesday Hearing

EricHolderPointsFromBehindMicrophone

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to answer questions about federal marijuana policy during a Tuesday hearing of the House Judiciary Committee regarding Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice. Holder will be providing testimony regarding various Obama administration enforcement policies.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), will be available for comment immediately following the hearing.

In an August 2013 memo, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced that federal law enforcement organizations would refrain from interfering in the implementation of state laws regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medical or adult use, as long as states adopt and enforce adequate regulations that address specific federal priorities.

WHAT: House Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice, at which Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to answer questions about marijuana policy during his testimony regarding Obama administration enforcement policies

WHEN: Tuesday, April 8, 10 a.m. ET

WHERE: Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building, 45 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C.

WHO: House Judiciary Committee
Attorney General Eric Holder

Maryland: House of Delegates Passes Marijuana Decrim Bill; Headed To Governor's Desk

MarylandMarijuanaLeaf

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland's House of Delegates on Saturday night passed a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill, already approved by the Maryland Senate, is now headed for Governor Martin O'Malley's desk for his signature or veto.

If the Governor signs the bill, HB 1453, getting busted for 10 grams or less of cannabis won't mean going to jail, reports Alex DeMetrick at WJZ. Under current Maryland law, any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense.

"The key is there will be civil penalties instead of criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana," said Del. Kioeffer Mitchell Jr. (D-Baltimore). Possession of 10 grams or less would result in a citation and a possible fine, but no arrest and no criminal record. Seventeen other states have similar laws.

The House voted 78-55 to impose civil fines, rather than criminal penalties, for less than 10 grams of pot, reports Elizabeth LaForgia at Jurist. Those favoring the move pointed to racial disparities, with African Americans much more likely to both be arrested, and to receive a prison sentence for possession.

Illinois: Poll Shows More Than 60% Support Removing Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

IllinoisHeadlines

Supporters call on members of the House of Representatives to pass bills approved last week by the House Restorative Justice Committee that would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois with a non-criminal fine

Panel discussion on collateral sanctions of marijuana arrests to take place Friday at Roosevelt University

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois on Thursday released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 63 percent of Illinois voters support making possession of an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. Only 27 percent oppose the proposal.

The poll found majority support across all reported genders, races, and political party affiliations. The survey, which polled 769 Illinois voters from March 28-30, is available at http://www.mpp.org/ILpoll.

Illinois: Marijuana Decrim Bill Advocates To Release Poll Showing Strong Support

ILMedicalCannabis(HT)

Group Will Also Release New Report Detailing Collateral Consequences of Being Arrested for Marijuana in Illinois

Central Illinois man who was denied public housing assistance 13 years after being arrested for possessing 2.5 grams of marijuana will join Illinois religious leader and others at a news conference Thursday at 11 a.m. CT in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois will on Thursday release the results of a statewide poll that show strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, will also be released. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University. For details, visit http://bit.ly/1jlWPe8.

D.C.: Mayor Signs Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession In Nation's Capital

BusinessmanMarijuanaLeafLapel

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Washington D.C. Mayor Vince Gray on Monday signed a bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation's capital.

The D.C. City Council had approved the bill, which eliminates criminal offenses for an ounce of less of cannabis, and sent it to Mayor Gray's desk for his approval, reports Eyder Peralta at NPR.

Anyone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana will be charged with civil offense punishable by a $25 fine, repo0rts Martin Austermuhle at WAMU. Medical marijuana patients, of course, are exempt from this civil offense, since they are allowed to possess up to two ounces of dried cannabis.

Support grew for the measure after a 2013 ACLU report found that D.C. leads the United States in the rate of marijuana arrests, and that African American residents are eight times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis possession.

"This is a victory for the District and a victory for justice," said Council member Tommy Wells, who introduced the decrim bill. "This bill is a tremendous stride to end the disproportionate sociological and economic impact of marijuana arrests on African Americans -- arrests that pull families apart and keep our residents from jobs, higher education and housing opportunities," Wells said.

Pennsylvania: Lawmaker Proposes Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

PennsylvaniaStateSenatorMikeStack

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack, a Philadelphia Democrat who's one of six candidates vying for his party's nomination for lieutenant governor, on Wednesday introduced measures to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Two bills introduced this week, SB 1307 and SB 1308, would reduce penalties for having up to an ounce of cannabis, and make it easier for people already convicted of marijuana charges to have their records cleared, reports Mary Wilson at WITF.

Under Stack's bills, the first two marijuana possession charges would be summary offenses, the least serious charges in Pennsylvania's criminal justice system. District attorneys would have more discretion in charging third offenses.

"It's just a no-brainer than too often our criminal justice system is being backlogged by this type of crime and we need to decriminalize it," Stack said. "It's going to save us billions of dollars in criminal justice expenses and prison costs."

Possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in prison and a $500 fine for the first offense under current Pennsylvania law.

New Hampshire: House Approves Bill to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

NewHampshireDecriminalization

Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

The New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill 215-92 on Wednesday that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The strong bipartisan support for the bill indicates the measure could withstand a veto from Gov. Maggie Hassan, who has expressed disapproval for such legislation despite broad public support. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it will be scheduled for a public hearing.

"This is a big step toward reducing the harms caused by marijuana prohibition," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill.

"New Hampshire residents are sick and tired of seeing their tax dollars used to criminalize people for using a substance that is safer than alcohol," Simon said. "The Senate and Gov. Hassan should join the House and the majority of state voters in supporting this sensible reform."

Maryland: Senate Committee Approves Bill to Impose a Civil Fine for Marijuana Possession

MarylandMarijuanaFlag

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday approved a bill 8-3 with bipartisan support that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of limited amounts of marijuana. The measure will now receive a full vote in the Senate, which approved a similar measure last year with bipartisan support.

SB 364, co-sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore) and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard), would replace criminal penalties for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana with a $100 fine, similar to a parking ticket. It would also make penalties for minors the same as those for underage possession of alcohol. Under current Maryland law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Maryland had the fourth highest arrest rate in the nation for marijuana possession, according to a report released in June by the American Civil Liberties Union. It also found that blacks accounted for 58 percent of marijuana possession arrests and were more than three times more likely to be arrested than whites despite using marijuana at comparable rates.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/MDpoll.

D.C.: U.S. Capital Decriminalizes Adult Marijuana Possession

DCMarijuanaLeafCapitolDome

Criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession will be replaced with a $25 civil fine, similar to a parking ticket; penalties in the nation’s capital will be among the lowest in the country

The District of Columbia Council approved a bill 10-1 Tuesday that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation’s capital. D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has voiced support for the bill and is expected to sign it promptly.

“This is a big step forward for our nation’s capital, as well as our nation as a whole,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which supported the bill. “Clearly, marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the United States.”

“For far too long, people of color have been disproportionately and unfairly arrested and marginalized for marijuana possession in the District of Columbia,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “D.C. Councilmembers took the first critical step today toward ending the selective enforcement of marijuana prohibition policies that have perpetuated racial disparities in the criminal justice system for decades.”

New Hampshire: House Committee Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

NewHampshireMarijuanaLeafStateSeal

Measure with bipartisan support would replace criminal penalties and potential jail time with a civil fine of up to $100 for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana

The New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday approved a bill 12-5 that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure is expected to pass in the House when it comes to a vote later this month.

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.

"There is no good reason to continue criminalizing people for possessing marijuana," said Matt Simon, the Goffstown-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which is supporting the bill. "Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. This should be the year New Hampshire brings its penalties into line with neighboring states."

Syndicate content