Monthly Archives: February 2018

Racial Disparities Persist Among NYC Marijuana Possession Arrestees

Cannabis PenaltiesNew York City police are continuing to disproportionately arrest African Americans and Latinos for minor marijuana possession violations, despite ongoing pledges from Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt the practice.

In 2017, city police made an estimated 17,500 arrests for marijuana possession in the 5th degree — a class B misdemeanor. Consistent with past years, 86 percent percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic.

Since the de Blasio administration took office in 2014, city police have made over 75,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests; 86 percent of arrestees were either Black or Latino.

Under state law, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is a non-arrestable offense, except instances where the police contend that the substance was either being burned or was in public view.

During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio said that the city’s elevated marijuana arrest totals “demonstrate clear racial bias” and promised to “direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions.”

Despite consuming cannabis at rates comparable to whites, recent analyses of marijuana arrest data from multiple states find that African Americans are consistently arrested for marijuana possession offenses at at least three times the rate of Caucasians.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/02/28/racial-disparities-persist-among-nyc-marijuana-possession-arrestees/…

Racial Disparities Persist Among NYC Marijuana Possession Arrestees

Cannabis PenaltiesNew York City police are continuing to disproportionately arrest African Americans and Latinos for minor marijuana possession violations, despite ongoing pledges from Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt the practice.

In 2017, city police made an estimated 17,500 arrests for marijuana possession in the 5th degree — a class B misdemeanor. Consistent with past years, 86 percent percent of those arrested were either Black or Hispanic.

Since the de Blasio administration took office in 2014, city police have made over 75,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests; 86 percent of arrestees were either Black or Latino.

Under state law, the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is a non-arrestable offense, except instances where the police contend that the substance was either being burned or was in public view.

During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio said that the city’s elevated marijuana arrest totals “demonstrate clear racial bias” and promised to “direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions.”

Despite consuming cannabis at rates comparable to whites, recent analyses of marijuana arrest data from multiple states find that African Americans are consistently arrested for marijuana possession offenses at at least three times the rate of Caucasians.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/02/28/racial-disparities-persist-among-nyc-marijuana-possession-arrestees/…

2018 States of States Report: Frequently Asked Questions

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This week Americans for Safe Access released Medical Marijuana Access in the United States: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws.” The report examines the status of states that have passed some form of medical marijuana laws and grades them on a 500 point scale based on how well their current law and regulations accommodate patient needs. The report reviews existing laws and regulations and laws passed in between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, giving states letter grades from “A” to “F.”  Unlike previous versions of this report, states are urged to begin to use medical cannabis as a tool to fight the opioid crisis in the areas of improvement section.

Source: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/_2018_states_of_states_report_scores_and_frequently_asked_questions…

State of the States’ Medical Cannabis Programs

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WASHINGTON, DC — February 28, 2018  Today the medical cannabis advocacy organization, Americans for Safe Access, released its annual report entitled “Medical Marijuana Access in the United States: A Patient-Focused Analysis of the Patchwork of State Laws.” The report examines the status of states that have passed medical marijuana laws and grades them on a 500 point scale. Forty-six states and three territories have some form of medical cannabis program, meaning approximately 95% of the American population lives in a state with some form of medical cannabis law.

Source: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/state_of_the_states_medical_cannabis_programs…

Missouri: Medical Marijuana Initiative Effort Reaches Signature Milestone

Proponents of a Missouri voter initiative effort to legalize and regulate the therapeutic use and distribution of cannabis statewide have surpassed over 200,000 signatures. Advocates must collect a total of 160,000 qualified signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts by May 6, 2018 in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

The initiative permits patients, at the discretion of a physician, to cultivate limited quantities of marijuana or to obtain cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed facilities.

The group behind the effort, New Approach Missouri, includes members of both national NORML as well as its state and local affiliates.

For more information about this initiative campaign or to become involved, click here.

Proponents sought to place a similar effort on the 2016 ballot. That effort failed after the courts upheld the decision of St. Louis-area election authorities to reject some 2,000 signatures in the state’s second Congressional district.

Missouri is one of several states where voters this year are anticipated to decide on cannabis-related ballot measures. In November, members of Michigan NORML and other coalition members turned in 360,000 signatures in an effort to qualify the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act for the November ballot. (Just over 252,000 valid signatures from registered voters are necessary.) Also in November, grassroots activists in South Dakota turned in over 15,000 signatures in an effort to place the South Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative on the ballot. (Over …

Maine: Lawmakers Push To Rewrite 2016 Voter-Approved Marijuana Law

Gov LePage (R-Maine)

State lawmakers are moving forward with a legislative proposal to significantly amend various provisions of the state’s 2016 voter-approved cannabis law: The Marijuana Legalization Act.

Members of the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee have voted 16 to 1 in favor of overhauling the law, which has yet to be fully implemented. Lawmakers had initially voted last year to delay the enactment of provisions regulating the retail production and sale of cannabis. Then in November, Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation that sought to license and regulate marijuana businesses and sales, stating: “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.” Lawmakers voted in favor of sustaining LePage’s veto.

Now lawmakers are pushing a plan to amend and repeal numerous provisions of the law, including provisions that have already taken effect. Specifically, language in the new proposal would limit the quantity of mature marijuana plants that an adult may legally grow in a private residence from six to three. Legislators are advocating for this change despite the fact that no regulated, commercial market yet exists for cannabis — leaving adults reliant exclusively upon home cultivation operations. Further, no data has been presented indicating that the state’s existing plant quotas are either being abused or that home-cultivated marijuana is being diverted into the …

Review: Maria McFarland’s ‘There Are No Dead Here’

Drug Policy Alliance executive director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, a veteran Latin America specialist with Human Rights Watch, tells a grim but also inspiring story in There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia (Nation Books). It details the efforts of three courageous Colombians to bring to light official complicity in the reign of paramilitary terror in the country over the past generation.

These three won a measure of success, but at the cost of relentless death threats and assassination attempts. One paid the proverbial ultimate price. Their interlocking tales paint a picture of Colombian officials’ staggering cynicism, especially during the 2002-2010 presidency of Álvaro Uribe, whose administration was thoroughly integrated with the ostensibly illegal right-wing paramilitary networks, even as he denied everything and portrayed himself as a centrist democrat.

Author and DPA head Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno

The book opens with the figure who became a martyr in the quest for truth—Jesús Maria Valle, an attorney and human-rights defender in the city of Medellín, who was among the first to raise the alarm about the mounting paramilitary violence in the 1990s. Uribe was then governor of the department of Antioquia, where Medellín is located. Valle initially tried to alert him about the violence in rural communities, before determining that the governor’s own anti-guerilla militia force was cooperating with the paras. In 1998, armed men invaded Valle’s office and assassinated him.

Antioquia proved to be a …

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Marijuana’s Schedule I Prohibited Status

Marijuana and the LawA federal district court judge in Manhattan today granted the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to challenge the constitutionality of cannabis’ prohibited status under federal law.

The 98-page complaint, filed in July 2017 by a legal team that includes New York attorney Michael Hiller, NORML Legal Committee member Joseph Bondy and Empire State NORML Director David Holland, contended that the federal government “does not believe, and upon information and belief never has believed” that cannabis meets the requirements for a Schedule I designation under the Controlled Substances Act. It further argued that current administrative mechanisms in place to allow for the reconsideration of cannabis Schedule I classification are “illusory.” Lawyers for the Justice Department argued for a dismissal of the suit, arguing: “There is no fundamental right to use marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise.”

Presiding Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein sided with the federal government, opining in a 20-page ruling: “No such fundamental right (to possess or use cannabis) exists. Every court to consider the specific, carefully framed right at issue here has held that there is no substantive due process right to use medical marijuana.” The judge further ruled that plaintiffs had not yet exhausted all of the potential administrative remedies available to them — such as filing an administrative petition to reschedule cannabis with the US Drug Enforcement Administration — and therefore, it was inappropriate for the court to intervene. “There can be …

Americans for Safe Access Announces Partnership with Releaf App Aimed at Creating a New Class of Patient-Focused Dispensaries

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Washington, D.C. – February 21, 2018 — Today, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a non-profit organization promoting safe and legal access to medical cannabis since  2002, and Releaf App, an experience tracking tool for cannabis patients, officially announced their partnership to empower medical cannabis patients and establish a new class of like-minded U.S. medical cannabis dispensaries.

Source: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/releaf_app_press…

Netanyahu Shuts Down Israel’s Cannabis Export Plan

Israel has halted its plan to export medical cannabis. Following a call from U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu ordered it to be frozen.

“I spoke with Trump and he told me about his general opposition to the legalization of cannabis,” Netanyahu explained on Feb. 8. “I’m not sure Israel should be the export pioneer.”

Israel’s Health and Finance ministries endorsed the export plan in 2017, with the goal of attaining revenues of more than $1 billion a year. The marijuana would be sold to European countries such as Germany, Canada, and perhaps the U.S. Canada is currently the only country in the world that has so far approved medical-marijuana exports.

RELATED: Israel, the Land of Medical Marijuana

Pro-Pot Congressman Received Campaign Donations from Manafort

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) may be a friend to marijuana legalization, but that’s where his liberal leanings stop. The Congressman is a major backer of Donald Trump and has been implicated in Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Though his name has not been mentioned so far in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the election, it’s now known that Rohrabacher attended a 2013 meeting with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who’s been indicted by the special counsel.

Rohrabacher, Manafort and former Rep. Vin Weber, a Minnesota Republican who’s now a lobbyist with Mercury, were at the meeting on Mar. 19, 2013, which was disclosed in retroactive filings with the Justice Department last year that detailed Manafort and Rick Gates’ work for the European Center for a Modern Ukraine. Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, pled guilty on Feb. 23 to felony charges of conspiracy and making false statements in a plea bargain with Mueller.

Gates lied about the 2013 meeting and his Ukraine-related work with Manafort. He’s charged with “admitting to take part in a conspiracy to hide tens of millions of dollars that he and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort obtained from their consulting work related to Ukraine.” Gates later helped Manafort prepare “a report that memorialized for Ukrainian leadership the pertinent Ukraine discussions that Manafort represented had taken place at the meeting.”

Weekly Legislative Roundup 2/23/18

Welcome to this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

First, I want to bring your attention to some of the state level lobbying efforts progressing around the country.

Activists gathered in Denver, CO on Wednesday to try and change the conversation on employee drug testing and partner with local business. Several Denver board members and activists attended, building relationships and trust with legislators and other interest groups and lobbyists. Additionally, NORML of Florida chapters, along with Sensible Florida, Inc (the organization behind the constitutional initiative “To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol”) supporters met in Tallahassee on Tuesday to host press conferences and lobby state lawmakers in support of marijuana law reforms.

Also at the state level, the New Mexico legislature has adjourned for this year, effectively killing a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, a decriminalization bill, and one to allow doctors to recommend cannabis in place of opioids. Three Arizona bills are also dead for this year, including one that would have put legalization on the ballot, a decriminalization bill, and one to obtain sanctuary state status for marijuana operators.

At a more local level, officials in various parts of the country are speaking out against the Trump administration’s crackdown on marijuana. The District Attorney for Alameda County in California has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. And newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer …

The Other Sessions Rants About Pot at Opioid Summit

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) took a page out of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ handbook when he made derisive comments about marijuana at an opioid summit at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Feb. 20. He focused on extreme cannabis potency and the debunked gateway theory, two common targets of drug warriors.

“I refer to marijuana as merchants, this is a merchants of addiction. They are making it more powerful and more powerful and more powerful,” Sessions stressed. “I graduated high school in 1973. Marijuana, on average, is 300 times more powerful [than it was then]. That becomes an addictive element for a child to then go to the next thing.”

He related a story about “a dear friend of mine, David Siegel, a wealthy man, one of the wealthiest men in America. He had an 18-year-old daughter who was in treatment, I believe for marijuana and maybe cocaine. She met a boy there and within three weeks after being out she was dead. She came back and did what she had been doing after being off it.”

Victoria Siegel died in 2015 from an overdose of methadone and sertraline; she reportedly used the drugs to control her seizures.

Meta-Analysis: Studies Refute Claims That Medical Cannabis Access Encourages Teen Use

The enactment of statewide laws regulating the use and distribution of cannabis for medical purposes is not associated with increased marijuana use among young people, according to a review of relevant studies published online ahead of print in the journal Addiction.

Investigators from Columbia University, the RAND Corporation, the University of California at Davis, and the Boston School of Public Health reviewed 11 studies developed from four ongoing national surveys. The studies were published between the years 1991 and 2014. None of the studies identified any significant changes in youth use patterns that could be attributable to changes in marijuana’s legal status.

Authors concluded: “[A]ll estimates of pre–post changes in past-month marijuana use within MML (medical marijuana law) states from these studies were non-significant. … In summary, current evidence does not support the hypothesis that MML passage is associated with increased marijuana use prevalence among adolescents in states that have passed such laws.”

One of the study’s senior authors, Dr. Deborah Hasin, further stated in an accompanying press release, “For now, there appears to be no basis for the argument that legalizing medical marijuana has increased teens’ use of the drug.”

The findings are consistent with those of numerous prior studies, including a federally funded 2015 study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry that assessed marijuana use patterns of over one-million adolescents in 48 states. That paper concluded, [C]oncerns that increased marijuana use is an unintended effect …

Exclusive Book Excerpt: ‘A Brief History of Edibles’

Our ancient ancestors had a far more intimate relationship with food as medicine than most of us do today. Many plants familiar to us—basil, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, mint, oregano, thyme, and cannabis—were intertwined in both kitchen and apothecary throughout history.

Our earliest written references to cannabis appear around the 15th century BCE in China, where it was consumed as a tea. However, scholars agree that surviving ancient medical texts speak of cannabis use in the past tense, giving the impression that it had been a common medical staple long before written texts confirmed the fact.

By 1000 BCE, cannabis (or bhang) was being cultivated in India, where the Vedas, collections of Hindu religious texts, considered it one of five sacred plants. Bhang is also the name of what is arguably the world’s oldest marijuana recipe, an ancient cannabis-laced drink that remains popular in India today.

During the Middle Ages, soldiers customarily consumed bhang for fortification before going into battle. Even though cannabis is technically illegal in India today, bhang is still sold, especially during the Hindu Holi festival. It’s such an essential, traditional part of the celebration that the government has found it easier to turn a blind eye than fight it.

Exclusive Book Excerpt: ‘A Brief History of Edibles’

Our ancient ancestors had a far more intimate relationship with food as medicine than most of us do today. Many plants familiar to us—basil, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, mint, oregano, thyme, and cannabis—were intertwined in both kitchen and apothecary throughout history.

Our earliest written references to cannabis appear around the 15th century BCE in China, where it was consumed as a tea. However, scholars agree that surviving ancient medical texts speak of cannabis use in the past tense, giving the impression that it had been a common medical staple long before written texts confirmed the fact.

By 1000 BCE, cannabis (or bhang) was being cultivated in India, where the Vedas, collections of Hindu religious texts, considered it one of five sacred plants. Bhang is also the name of what is arguably the world’s oldest marijuana recipe, an ancient cannabis-laced drink that remains popular in India today.

During the Middle Ages, soldiers customarily consumed bhang for fortification before going into battle. Even though cannabis is technically illegal in India today, bhang is still sold, especially during the Hindu Holi festival. It’s such an essential, traditional part of the celebration that the government has found it easier to turn a blind eye than fight it.

Emerald Conference Showcases Research, Innovation in Cannabis

Last week, the 4th annual Emerald Conference brought attendees from around the world to San Diego for two days of education, networking and collaboration. Leading experts from across the industry shared some of the latest research in sessions and posters with over 600 attendees. The foremost companies in cannabis testing, research and extraction brought their teams to exhibit and share cutting edge technology solutions.

KenSnoke
Ken Snoke, president of Emerald Scientific, delivers the opening remarks

The diversity in research topics was immense. Speakers touched on all of the latest research trends, including tissue culture as a micropropagation technique, phenotype hunting, pharmaceutical product formulation, chromatography methods and manufacturing standards, to name a few.

On the first day of the event, Ken Snoke, president of Emerald Scientific, gave his opening remarks, highlighting the importance of data-driven decisions in our industry, and how those decisions provide the framework and foundation for sound progress. “But data also fuels discovery,” says Snoke, discussing his remarks from the event. “I told a story of my own experience in San Diego almost 30 years ago while working in biotech, and how data analysis in a relatively mundane and routine screening program led to discovery. And how we (the folks at Emerald) believe that when we get our attendees together, that the networking and science/data that comes from this conference will not only support data-driven decisions for the foundation of the industry, but it will also lead to …

York Regional Police Issue Clarification After Officer Tells Students Smoking Pot Increases Men’s Breast Size

‘We’re no health experts, but we’re pretty sure getting high does not cause enhanced mammary growth in men,’ York police wrote in a perplexing tweet Tuesday afternoon. York Regional Police tweeted on Tuesday that marijuana doesn’t increase the growth of breasts in men after one of its officers told high school students at a panel last week that “doobies make boobies.” “We’re no health experts, but we’re pretty sure getting high does not cause enhanced…

Source: https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2018/02/21/york-regional-police-issue-clarification-officer-tells-students-smoking-pot-increases-mens-breast-size…

California: Alameda County District Attorney To Vacate Thousands Of Past Marijuana Convictions

The District Attorney for Alameda County has announced her intent to automatically vacate thousands of past marijuana convictions. Alameda County, which includes Oakland, is the 7th-most populous county in California.

According to the DA’s office, there are an estimated 6,000 marijuana convictions eligible for either a sentence reduction or a dismissal.

“California is offering a second chance to people convicted of cannabis crimes, from felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Mally said in a press statement. “We … intend to reverse decades of cannabis convictions that can be a barrier for people to gain meaningful employment.”

The policy change comes weeks after the San Francisco District Attorney’s office announced that it will review, dismiss, and seal an estimated 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions dating back to 1975.

Seattle officials have also announced a similar plan to dismiss past convictions, opining, “[T]his action is a necessary first step in righting the wrongs of the past and putting our progressive values into action.” Last week, newly elected Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner also announced that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offense violations.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/02/20/california-alameda-county-district-attorney-to-vacate-thousands-of-past-marijuana-convictions/…