Drug Policy Action
Senator Bernie Sanders Introduces Historic Legislation to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition
Second Major Marijuana Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate This Year
Support for Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Continues to Grow
Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation in the Senate that would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, end federal marijuana prohibition, and let states set their own policies without federal interference. The bill is similar to a 2011 bill introduced in the U.S. House by Democrat Barney Frank and Republican Ron Paul known then as the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. It is the first bill ever introduced in the U.S. Senate to end the failed war on marijuana.
“Clearly Bernie Sanders has looked at the polls showing voter support for marijuana legalization,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana reform was already moving forward in Congress but we expect this bill to give reform efforts a big boost.”
Earlier this year sweeping legislation known as the CARERS Act was introduced by Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker, and Kristen Gillibrand that would legalize marijuana for medical use. Several spending amendments allowing states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference have already passed the U.S. House and/or the Senate Appropriations Committee this year.
Senate Republicans included several marijuana reforms in their recent "minibus" spending package, including prohibiting the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws, requiring the Veterans Administration to allow veterans to use medical marijuana, and prohibiting the Treasury Department from blocking banks from providing checking accounts to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries.
According to a new Gallup poll, a majority of Americans continue to say marijuana use should be legal in the United States, with 58% in support, tying the high point in Gallup's 46 years of polling on the subject. These results are consistent with other state and national polls, both public and private, in recent months. Polls have consistently shown public support for medical marijuana ranging from 70 to 90 percent over the past two decades.
Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have legalized medical marijuana. In November of 2012, residents of Colorado and Washington took the historic step of deciding to permit the legal regulation of marijuana cultivation and sales for adults 21 and older. Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. voted to legalize marijuana in 2014, and other states are likely to follow suit in the coming years.
“As more states legalize marijuana for medical or non-medical use the pressure to change federal law will continue to grow,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs at Drug Policy Action said. “There is a clear bi-partisan majority in Congress for letting states set their own marijuana policies.”
Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill Ending The Federal Ban On Marijuana
By Mollie Reilly
OLCC Approves Temporary Rules on Recreational Marijuana
News Release PDF
Portland, Oregon – The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has approved temporary rules for regulating the recreational marijuana industry. “Today marks another milestone in Oregon’s effort to establish a robust, safe, and well-regulated recreational marijuana industry,” said Rob Patridge, OLCC Chair.
Commissioners approved 78 pages of temporary Oregon Administrative Rules that will provide a regulatory framework for the recreational marijuana industry covering every segment of the industry supply chain from growers to retailers.
“It’s been an inclusive process, we’ve had 38 separate meetings, plus public hearings in front of the Commission,” said Patridge.
The temporary rules were developed with input from more than 100 representatives from industry, law enforcement, local government and community stakeholders who served on the Rules Advisory Committee and technical subcommittees.
“We had to put these temporary rules in place immediately so that we can start taking applications January 4 so that we can get retail marijuana up and running in the state,” said Patridge.
The temporary rules take effect January 1, 2016 and will remain in place until June 28, 2016 or until the OLCC adopts permanent rules.
“We’ve done a lot of groundwork and I think we have a very solid set of rules to move our process forward,” said Patridge. “We will continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders and legislators as we move forward.”
A copy of the adopted temporary rules can be found the OLCC website.
DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384
June 29, 2015 Tamar Todd 510-593-4908
July 1: Possession and Home Cultivation of Marijuana Becomes Legal in Oregon for Adults
Oregon Joins Washington, Alaska, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. in Ending Marijuana Prohibition
Oregon to End Wasteful and Racially Disproportionate Marijuana Possession Arrests; State Expects Significant Fiscal Benefits
Beginning July 1st, adults 21 and older will be able to legally possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana in their home and up to 1 ounce of marijuana outside their home. Adults may also grow up to four plants as long as they are out of public view. The regulatory structure allowing for commercial retail sales is still in the works and will not be implemented until next year.
Oregon voters passed Measure 91 last November with 56% support. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two U.S. states – and the first two jurisdictions in the world – to approve ending marijuana prohibition and legally regulating marijuana production, distribution and sales. In the 2014 election, Alaska and Oregon followed suit, while Washington D.C. passed a more limited measure that legalized possession and home cultivation of marijuana but did not address its taxation and sale due to D.C. law. Alaska’s law started to take effect earlier than Oregon’s, with Alaska officially ending the criminalization of marijuana possession and cultivation in February. Thus Oregon is now the 4th U.S. state to begin implementing its marijuana legalization law.
Early reports from Colorado and Washington indicate that implementation efforts to tax and regulate marijuana have been largely successful. Tax revenues, economic output, and funds for youth education and prevention have significantly increased. Meanwhile, violent crime rates and statewide traffic fatalities have fallen. While it is far too early to make definitive declarations about social trends, these are encouraging signs that have quelled the concerns of legalization opponents.
In 2012, more than 12,000 people were cited or arrested for the possession of marijuana in Oregon. In Oregon, black people are more than twice as likely to be arrested as white people, even though they use marijuana at similar rates.
“Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure—to individuals, to communities, and to the state,” says Tamar Todd, Director of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Oregon is taking a smarter, more responsible approach to marijuana that ends the wasteful and racially disproportionate practice of arresting and citing people simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana.”
While possession and home cultivation will soon be legal in the state, commercial retail sales will not begin until next year. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the state agency responsible for taxing, licensing, and regulating commercial recreational marijuana, will begin accepting applications next year and retail stores are not expected to open until late 2016. This is similar to the roll-out in both Washington and Colorado, where possession of marijuana became legal over a year before retail sales began. In the first year, court filings of marijuana charges dropped significantly in both Colorado and Washington. In Washington, there were 5,531 court filings for marijuana offenses in 2012, and that number dropped to 120 in 2013.
“The dramatic reduction in arrests in Washington and Colorado and associated savings for police and prosecutors will now be a reality in Oregon,” added Todd.
DPA was the single largest donor to Oregon’s Measure 91 campaign and was deeply involved in the measure’s drafting and on-the-ground campaign. Voters in several states, including California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Ohio, Nevada and Maine, are expected to consider marijuana legalization initiatives at the ballot in 2015 and 2016.
As support for marijuana reform increases and attitudes shift, the Drug Policy Alliance is encouraging news outlets to use images that accurately reflect modern-day marijuana consumers and has released free, open-license stock photos and B-roll footage for editorial use.
Link to the release: http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2015/06/july-1-possession-and-home-cultivation-marijuana-becomes-legal-oregon-adults
Marijuana advocates portray Portland pot smokers at their most wholesome
June 11, 2015
ORLEANS PUBLIC DEFENDERS
For Immediate Release: Contact: Lindsey Hortenstine: 504-827-8169/404-520-3087
March 6, 2015 Tony Papa: 646-420-7290
Saturday in New Orleans: Rally Calls for Clemency for Bernard Noble
Father of Seven Serving 13 Years for Simple Marijuana Posession
New Orleans- Criminal justice stakeholders, New Orleans city Council members, sentencing reform advocates, community activists, concerned citizens, friends and family will gather Saturday to rally support for clemency for Bernard Noble, currently serving 13.3 years 2.8 grams for marijuana.
Noble, a 48-year old father of seven, was arrested while riding his bike when officers discovered 2.8 grams of marijuana- the equivalent of two marijuana cigarettes. Characterizing Noble as “exceptional,” two Orleans Parish Criminal District Court judges departed from the mandatory minimal sentene stating “Mr. Noble’s inevitable incarceration will be a greater punishment for his children than for himself,” and Noble’s “particular circumstance is the rare exceptional situation and does not represent the type of individual contemplated by the legislature when assigning sentences.”
Using simple possession convictions from 1991 and 2003, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office charged Noble under the habitual offender law and sought the mandatory minimum sentence despite the trail judges’ disappoval and diagreement with the length of punishment. Trial judges twice departed from sentencing Noble to the state requested mandatory minimum of 13 years and four months and sentenced him to 5 years.
Noble’s reduction in sentence was appealed twice by the Orleans Parish District Attorney and overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Noble is currently serving the full, mandatory 13 years and four month sentence at hard labor with no opportunity for parole, 4.5 hours from his home and family.
The rally is the beginning of a campaign to return Mr. Noble back to his family. Having exhausted all possible avenues of appeal with the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Orleans Public Defenders will seek clemency from Governor Bobby Jindal.
WHAT: Rally to Free Bernard Noble
WHEN: Saturday March 7, 2:00p.m.
WHERE: Napolean and Clairborne Avenue, Neutral Ground
More information can be found at www.benoblefreenoble.com and a petition has started on change.org.
AlterNet: 13 Years in the Slammer ... for Two Joints?
Bernard Noble's case raises hard questions about race, justice, and profit-taking. Now, there's an effort to commute his sentence.
Philip Smith March 4, 2015
Victory: Voters in Nation’s Capital Legalize Marijuana!
D.C. Council Expected to Follow Voters’ Lead
and Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
Congressional Interference Will Prove Politically Difficult
According to NPR and USA Today, voters in the District of Columbia have approved Initiative 71, a ballot initiative that legalizes possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home. D.C. laws prevented the ballot initiative from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, but the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill that would tax, regulate and strictly control the sale of marijuana to adults.
New Year, New World:
Legal Marijuana Sales Begin in Colorado
- January 1, 2014
At eight o’clock this morning, Iraq War Veteran Sean Azzariti stepped up to the counter at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver and made the first ever legal marijuana purchase in the United States. He didn’t have to show a medical marijuana program card, proving he paid a fee and consulted a doctor, he simply flashed his driver’s license to confirm he was over 21 and bought his cannabis products. This is a first for Sean, who uses cannabis to treat his PTSD, as his ailment was not an authorized qualifying condition for the Colorado medical marijuana program.
The first purchase? 3.5 grams of Bubba Kush and a marijuana infused truffle. Total cost? 58.74 with tax included ($40 plus tax for the Kush and $9.28 plus tax for the truffle. You can view his receipt he tweeted out here.)
So far, the 34 stores that were open for business today are reporting massive lines, but no real problems. The sky has yet to fall, drivers aren’t crashing continuously into buildings, violence has not erupted in the streets. Maybe it is possible, after decades of scare mongering, that regulation just might be the better alternative after all? The program is still in it’s beginning stages, and will naturally need fine tuning along the way, but so far it is already looking like a widely better solution than prohibition ever was. Judging by the lines that extended far outside the door and around the building at all of the retail locations, Coloradans seem to be very eager to give regulation a chance. Let’s work together to ensure this program works and that it sets the shining example for all other states to follow in the coming years nationwide.
Congratulations to Colorado and all those who worked so hard to get us to this point. It is truly a historic day.
Chris Williams was a medical marijuana provider in Montana. Medical marijuana growers are legal in Montana, but he was arrested under federal law, therefore he was not allowed to use the state law as a defense. He was arrested, charged, and convicted of violating eight federal drug laws. Williams turned down all plea bargain offers feeling that he had the law on his side. He was wrong. Mandatory minimum sentencing means he will do no less than 80 years in prison. Williams’ arrest was part of federal program targeting medical marijuana growers.
The White House will have to respond to the Chris Williams case. A petition requesting a full pardon has reached the 25,000 signatures required to receive an official response from the Office of Public Engagement.
Media Awareness Project Drug News
- US OR: Former DEA Agent Joins Pot Investors
Seattle Times, 23 Dec 2013 - A Portland agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has left his position to join a Seattle firm that invests in the marijuana industry. Ten-year DEA veteran Patrick Moen made the jump to Privateer Holdings last month, The Oregonian reported.
- US OR: OPED: Law Enforcement's Pot Claims Inaccurate
Corvallis Gazette-Times, 15 Dec 2013 - We'd like to thank Mr. Odegard and Mr. Hall for their outstanding article in the Dec. 1 edition of the Democrat-Herald and Gazette-Times. While not affiliated, we do wish the gentlemen they referenced in Corvallis the best of luck with their dispensary project.
- US OR: Editorial: Legislature Could Clarify Debate Over Pot
Corvallis Gazette-Times, 09 Dec 2013 - Because the legislative session that starts in February is a relatively short one, it's not the best time to bring up contentious issues - but legislators nevertheless may need to wade into the state's looming controversies on marijuana on a couple of fronts. First, it may well be that the law regarding dispensaries for medical marijuana will need clarification.
- US OR: Editorial: Hemp Not Worth The Risk For Farmers
Capital Press, 06 Dec 2013 - The more we find out about hemp the less we like it as an option for western farmers. The more we learn about hemp, the less enthusiastic we are about it as an option for western farmers. It is illegal under federal law, the market for it is minuscule and it requires a lot of water, which is a precious commodity nearly everywhere in the region.
- US OR: PUB LTE: Prohibition Is Deadly
Albany Democrat-Herald, 06 Dec 2013 - In response to the Dec. 1 letter by Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny et al.: It's true that anyone in California who wants a medical marijuana recommendation can get one. So-called medical marijuana abuses are not to be feared. As long as there is a demand for marijuana, there will be a supply. The medical recommendation allows consumers to purchase locally grown marijuana of known quality and safety from dispensaries that generate tax revenue. Is it somehow preferable that consumers purchase untaxed, unregulated and potentially unsafe marijuana from criminals?
- US OR: PUB LTE: Interesting Choice
Albany Democrat-Herald, 05 Dec 2013 - It's interesting that Venice Beach, perhaps the most bizarre place in California, was chosen ("Law enforcement: Don't let Oregon turn into California," op-ed page, Dec. 2) to demonstrate an excuse to prolong discrimination against people who choose to use cannabis (marijuana), sick or otherwise. While California's laws regulating the plant for sick citizens might not be the best in the nation, perhaps their upcoming laws to completely relegalizing cannabis will be the best. What will Oregon law enforcement agencies and their unions do when Oregon also completely relegalizes the relatively safe, God-given plant?
- US OR: OPED: Dedicate Marijuana Taxes To Oregon Schools
The Hillsboro Argus, 03 Dec 2013 - In 1969 a Gallup poll revealed that 12 percent of adult Americans favored the legalization of marijuana. Now the figure is drastically higher with 58 percent favoring the legalization, including a jump of 10 percentage points just this past year. Washington state and Colorado have now legalized marijuana statewide. It seems the tipping point has been reached and it is a safe bet that marijuana will soon be legalized in Oregon. It is a safer bet that it will be taxed.
- US OR: OPED: Law Enforcement: Don't Let Oregon Turn into
Albany Democrat-Herald, 01 Dec 2013 - If you were to take a walk with your family past storefronts in Venice Beach, California, you would likely pass by a number of "medical" marijuana dispensaries. You would be solicited by a dispensary employee asking, "Are you feeling well today? Would you like to feel better?"
- US OR: State Officials Consider Potential Implications Of Legalizing
The Mail Tribune, 01 Dec 2013 - Ballot initiatives seeking to legalize marijuana in 2014 could put the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in the driver's seat when it comes to regulation and taxes. "It has an integral role, for sure, under any scenario," said Rob Patridge, a Medford lawyer who is chairman of the OLCC and also serves as district attorney in Klamath County.