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CN ON: Column: Is Mulcair Blowing Smoke On Grass?

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 07:00
NOW Magazine, 27 Aug 2015 - When asked about doobies during his VanCity whistle stop, the NDP leader didn't bring up legalization, but Toronto candidates assure that it's party policy Thomas Mulcair has promised to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana "the minute we form government." He made the announcement during a campaign stop in Vancouver on August 20.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US CA: No Fix

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 07:00
SF Weekly, 27 Aug 2015 - The Drug Trade Is Entrenched in the Tenderloin, the Only Place in S.F. Where Drug Users Have Some Political Power They're outside on the corner when John Lorenz leaves his girlfriend's Tenderloin apartment in the morning; they're there when he returns. Sometimes he catches them on a shift change - like union workers clocking out after their eight hours, they're punctual. "Regular as clockwork," he told me recently.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NM: Column: Justice System Crisis Is in the Plea Bargains

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Fri, 08/21/2015 - 07:00
Albuquerque Journal, 21 Aug 2015 - Prosecutors Get Too Much Power As They Stack Charges and Threaten Long Terms The new consensus that something is wrong with American criminal justice is welcome. The amazing number of people in prison - a measure on which, adjusting for population, no other nation comes close - is indeed a sign that the U.S. system is broken.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NM: OPED: Alternatives Offer Drug Offenders Better Future

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 07:00
The New Mexican, 16 Aug 2015 - The City Different is in a unique position, at just the right time in history, to have a small but powerful impact on how low-level drug offenders are treated, and, ultimately, on whether or not they are offered a chance at recovery. With increasing awareness of the social, economic and political effects of mass incarceration, it is more important than ever to begin thinking outside the box about the war on drugs.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NY: Column: Mass Incarceration Is Not Worst Problem of U.S.

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 07:00
Buffalo News, 16 Aug 2015 - MASS INCARCERATION IS NOT WORST PROBLEM OF U.S. SYSTEM The new consensus that something is wrong with American criminal justice is welcome. The amazing number of people in prison a measure on which, adjusting for population, no other nation comes close is indeed a sign that the U.S. system is broken.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Unlikely Allies

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sun, 08/16/2015 - 07:00
Washington Post, 16 Aug 2015 - A Bipartisan Push for Sentencing Reform Unites President Obama and the Koch Brothers, but Many Are Still Waiting Behind Bars The gleaming black granite tower where conservative billionaire Charles Koch oversees an empire of multinational corporations is 1,500 miles and worlds away from the California prison cell of Weldon Angelos.
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CN AB: Medical Marijuana Bust

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sun, 07/26/2015 - 07:00
Edmonton Sun, 25 Jul 2015 - Three charged after dispensary raided by city police ALERT squad More than 1,000 patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer or epilepsy are without their medicine of choice after police shut down an Edmonton medical marijuana dispensary.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NM: Column: It's Time to Turn American 'Injustice' System

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 07:00
Albuquerque Journal, 23 Jul 2015 - The United States does not have a justice system. If we define a justice system as a system designed for the production of justice, then it seems obvious that term cannot reasonably be applied to a system that countenances the mass incarceration by race and class of hundreds of thousands of nonviolent offenders.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: The Case of the Dead ND Student Snitch, Brit Police Force De Facto Decriminalizes, More (7/21/15)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 21:29

There will be an open container law for weed in Washington state, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) files a bill to expunge some federal marijuana offense records, cops in one British county effectively decriminalize small-time marijuana offenses, there's a mystery surrounding a dead North Dakota student informant, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Congressman Introduces Federal Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) today introduced a bill designed to expunge federal marijuana offenses that are no longer illegal in a number of states. The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015 would clear the records of those federally charged with state-legal marijuana activity and those federally charged with possession of less than an ounce. It's not yet up on the congressional web site. Activists said its effects would be mainly symbolic.

Marijuana Legalization Money Being Raised in Maine. There are two competing legalization campaigns in the state, and both are fundraising. The Marijuana Policy Project-affiliated Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has raised $104,166 so far this year, with $50,000 coming from MPP in June, while Legalize Maine has raised $55,575.

Washington State Has Open Container Law for Marijuana. Effective September 26, drivers will be required to store their weed in the trunks of their vehicles in an unopened container, or in a part of the passenger compartment "not normally occupied or directly accessible by" the driver or passengers. That's a provision of House Bill 1276, which Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed into law on June 30. Medical Marijuana 

Michigan Panel Defers Decision on Medical Marijuana for Autism. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Review Panel postponed action on recommending whether or not autism should be a qualifying condition for medical marijuana. The panel said it wanted more time to review the evidence.


Federal Prosecutors Really Want Their Mandatory Minimums. Although only a tiny fraction of federal drug crimes involve violence, federal prosecutors are demanding that their mandatory minimum sentences be left unchanged. National Association of Assistant US Attorneys head Steve Cook warns that it would be "a huge mistake" to change federal sentencing laws. "The federal criminal justice system is not broken," he added, claiming that "drug trafficking is inherently violent." Oddly enough, only 142 of more than 20,000 federal drug offenses prosecuted last year involved violence or threats of violence. Cook also wants more prisons, calling them "a good investment."

Law Enforcement

Did a North Dakota Student Get Killed After Campus Cops Turned Him Into a Snitch? The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a lengthy piece on the case of Andew Sadek, who went missing two weeks before graduation last year. His body was later found in the Red River with a bullet wound to the head and a backpack full of rocks. He had been busted for small-time marijuana sales on campus and agreed to become an informant for campus police. No one has been charged in his death, and police aren't even certain if it was a homicide or a suicide. Read the whole thing.


British Police Force Quits Trying to Find Small Pot Grows. The police in County Durham and Darlington are giving up on proactively tracking down small marijuana grows in a de facto move toward decriminalization. Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said police there will also offer people caught with small amounts of weed to avoid criminal prosecution by entering a program aimed at ending low-level offending. "By and large we are saying it is not the top of our list to go out and try to pick up people smoking joints on street corners but if it's blatant or we get complaints, officers will act," Hogg said. "It's about keeping people out of the criminal justice system and reducing costs, it's about being more productive with the way we approach things. It's also about seeking to prevent future use by keeping people out of prison."

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Push To Reform Drug Laws Gaining Ground

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Mon, 07/20/2015 - 07:00
Los Angeles Times, 20 Jul 2015 - There Is Bipartisan Interest in Congress, but Advocates for Sentencing Changes May Be Disappointed. WASHINGTON - A bipartisan push to reduce the number of low-level drug offenders in prison is gaining momentum in Congress, but proposals may disappoint advocates hoping to slash the mandatory minimum sentences that are seen as chiefly responsible for overcrowding in the nation's detention facilities.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US DC: Column: Mr. President, You're Doing Clemency Wrong

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sun, 07/19/2015 - 07:00
Washington Post, 19 Jul 2015 - Commuting sentences isn't about the law. It's about mercy, writes reform advocate Dennis Cauchon. President Obama's historic visit to a federal prison on Thursday shows that his head and his heart are in the right place on criminal justice reform.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Caught With Cocaine. Her First Offence. Life in Jail...

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Fri, 07/17/2015 - 07:00
Independent, 17 Jul 2015 - Fort Worth, Texas - The Case of Sharanda Jones Is Not Unusual in a Country Where You Can't Be Too Tough on Drug Crime. Barack Obama Has Other Ideas, Though. Prisoner 33177-077 struggles to describe the moment in 1999 when a federal judge sentenced her to life in prison after her conviction on a single cocaine offence. She was a first-time, non-violent offender. "I was numb," says Sharanda Jones at the Carswell women's prison in Fort Worth, Texas. "I was thinking about my baby. I thought it can't be real life in prison."
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Canada: Lawyers Navigating Complex World Of New Marijuana Regulations

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 07/16/2015 - 07:00
Law Times, 13 Jul 2015 - Kirk Tousaw has always been a thorn in the side of authority when it comes to the laws surrounding marijuana. His interest in the legal position of the drug dates back a long time. As a 15-year-old, he was busted for possession in his home state of Michigan.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Obama Calls for Greater Criminal Justice Reforms [FEATURE]

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 22:53

In a 45-minute speech at the NAACP convention in Philadelphia Tuesday, President Obama laid out a far-reaching roadmap for criminal justice reform, including calls for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of solitary confinement, and eliminating barriers to reentry for former prisoners.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]The president has touched on many of the themes before, but the Philadelphia speech was the first time he tied them all together into a plan for action. The speech likely signals upcoming executive actions on criminal justice reform.

Obama recited the by now well-known statistics demonstrating American's over-reliance on incarceration: America is home to 5% of world's population but 25% of world's prisons; that African Americans and Latinos make up 30% of the U.S. population, but 60% of American inmates; that one out of three black men are now likely to serve time in prison, among others.

While the United States has 2 ½ million people behind bars, only about 200,000 of them are in the federal prison system that Obama has the ability to impact. Of those, 98,000 are doing time for drug offenses.

He used those stats to bolster his case for broad criminal justice reform, calling the criminal justice system an "injustice system."

"Any system that allows us to turn a blind-eye to hopelessness and despair, that's not a justice system, that's an injustice system," Obama said. "Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it's the presence of opportunity."

Washington has seen limited criminal justice reform during the Obama years, particularly with legislation partially undoing the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity and later actions making it retroactive. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder signaled to federal prosecutors that they should move away from mandatory minimums, and the Obama administration has asked federal drug prisoners to seek sentence commutations.

At the convention, Obama also touted initiatives including the Department of Justice's Smart on Crime program aimed at reducing the impact of our harsh laws, My Brother's Keeper, and the Clemency Project.

The president commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders on Monday, and applications from some 30,000 more are in the pipeline.

Obama said the time was ripe for further reforms, citing bipartisan interest in the issue, and even mentioning the Koch Brothers and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul as allies in the fight. They made "strange bedfellows" with Democrats and the NAACP, he said, but that's what sometimes happens in politics.

"We're at a moment when some good people in both parties, Republicans and Democrats, and folks all across the country are coming together around ideas to make the system work smarter. To make it work better and I'm determined to do my part, wherever I can," Obama said a day earlier in announcing the sentence commutations.

On Thursday, Obama will continue his criminal justice-themed week with a visit to the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma -- the first visit ever to a federal prison by a sitting president. He is expected to meet with inmates there, and he told the NAACP crowd he met with four former prisoners -- one white, one Latino, and two black -- before taking to the podium there.

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: Obama Calls for More Criminal Justice Reforms, Israeli Knesset Pot Brouhaha, More (7/15/15)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Wed, 07/15/2015 - 21:05

The president gives a major speech calling for greater criminal justice reform, there's a revised version of a California marijuana legalization initiative, North Carolina is moving to ban new synthetic drugs, the Israeli Knesset squabbles over marijuana policy, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Second Version of California Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Revenue Act Filed. The folks behind the initiative have revised and updated it. This is one of four legalization initiatives already filed. Everyone is still waiting for one from the California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform to drop. To read the latest version of the Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Revenue Act, click on the title link.

New Synthetic Drugs

North Carolina Set to Ban N-Bomb, Other New Synthetics. A bill that would make the synthetic drug NBOMe (N-Bomb) and other designer drugs illegal is one vote away from passage. House Bill 341 would add 12 known variants of NBOMe to the state's Schedule I list. It would also add methoxetamine, a synthetic form of ketamine often marketed as Special K, and acetyl fentanyl, a synthetic form of the opioid fentanyl. Variants of methylphenidate (Ritalin) would also be banned, and some recent synthetic cannabinoids, too. The bill has passed the House and now awaits a final Senate floor vote.

Criminal Justice

President Obama Calls for Greater Criminal Justice Reform. In a speech before the NAACP Tuesday, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, reconsidering solitary confinement, increased reentry programs for people leaving prison, and an end to asking about criminal histories on job applications. He also called on Congress to pass sentencing reform legislation by year's end. Click on the link for much more.

Drug Testing

Wisconsin Challenges Federal Ban on Food Stamp Drug Testing. The state attorney general Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking to clarify whether federal law would allow the state to drug test food stamp recipients. Gov. Scott Walker (R) earlier this week signed a measure to do so into law. The US Agriculture Department says that drug testing food stamp recipients is not allowed, but Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) said that policy is contrary to federal law that allows states to test them.


Israeli Knesset Members Boycott Marijuana Policy Meeting to Protest "Pro-Legalization" Views of Panel Head. Most members of the Knesset Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse failed to show up for a committee meeting on "progressive cannabis policies" Tuesday, saying they were protesting the pro-legalization stance of committee chair Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz Party. Conservative MPs accused Zandberg of "turning [the committee] into the caucus to promote cannabis... instead of the goal for which the committee was formed: to fight drug abuse and drug-related crimes, rehabilitation of users, and public campaigns to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in general and especially among youth." Zandberg was unbowed. "I support legalization and I have never hidden it, and I plan to lead the committee with up-to-date and relevant discussions based on data," she added. "The committee will seriously deal with a long line of topics, including medical marijuana, dealing with alcoholism, and trying to change the policy of criminalizing cannabis." She accused the protesting members of being a "nature reserve of moralizers."

(This article was prepared by's lobbying arm, Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama Cuts Sentences Of 46 Inmates

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Tue, 07/14/2015 - 07:00
Washington Post, 14 Jul 2015 - Drug Offenders' Terms Reduced As Part of Effort to Amend Justice System President Obama on Monday commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders, more than double the number of commutations he granted earlier this year, as part of his effort to reform the criminal justice system.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama Commutes 46 Drug Sentences

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Tue, 07/14/2015 - 07:00
Baltimore Sun, 14 Jul 2015 - Move Is Part of Drive to Reform Criminal Justice WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders Monday, doubling the total number of clemencies he has granted as the administration seeks to correct what many see as the wrongs inflicted by mandatory-minimum prison sentences.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama Commutes The Sentences Of 46 Drug Offenders

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Tue, 07/14/2015 - 07:00
Los Angeles Times, 14 Jul 2015 - WASHINGTON - President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders Monday, doubling the number of clemencies he has granted as the administration seeks to correct what many see as the wrongs inflicted by mandatory minimum prison sentences. The latest clemencies brought Obama's total commutations to 89, the largest number since President Johnson's 226.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US PA: The Missing Men

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Mon, 07/13/2015 - 07:00
Philadelphia Daily News, 13 Jul 2015 - Young African-Americans Lost in Cycle of Poverty, Violence and Drugs THE NUMBERS that drive Philadelphia prison-reform advocate Patricia Vickers on her mission aren't the big abstract ones. Not 36,000, the shocking recent estimate of young black men in Philadelphia either behind bars or dead before their time.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums
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