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Categories: Mandatory Minimums

CN BC: OPED: The Folly Of Mandatory Minimum Sentence Laws

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 07:00
The Daily Courier, 20 Apr 2015 - What is the minimum punishment for a person, with no previous criminal record, who is convicted of growing six marijuana plants in their basement? What about for an otherwise responsible gun owner who stores her unloaded firearm safely with ammunition nearby, but who makes a mistake as to where it can be stored? Over the past few years, the federal government has been amending the Criminal Code so as to create an ever growing list of offences for which there is a mandatory minimum sentence.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US CA: Column: SFPD's Ferguson Problem

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 07:00
SF Weekly, 09 Apr 2015 - The San Francisco Police Department worked hard to arrest Cassie Roberts. San Francisco cops along with Drug Enforcement Administration agents staked out Roberts and several dozen other Tenderloin denizens for weeks, recording and observing video of them from rooftops and parked cars. After a hand-to-hand-drug sale between Roberts and a confidential informant wearing a hidden body camera was caught on camera, a U.S. attorney went to a grand jury with Roberts' name. An indictment was issued, an arrest warrant was signed by a federal judge, and later, Roberts was apprehended and charged in federal court.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NV: Drug Treatment Industry a Failed Therapeutic Enterprise

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 07:00
Tahoe Daily Tribune, 08 Apr 2015 - The seeds of a health care revolution in drug and alcohol treatment are just starting to germinate. The outcome is far from certain, but, with billions on the table, an epic battle is percolating. Let's start with the convoluted back story. A hundred-plus years ago, drug and alcohol problems were generally viewed as moral weakness and/or personality defect confined to working class Caucasians or ethnic minorities. Alcohol and drug use was legal in America.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US TX: Drug Policy Creates Local Outcry

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 07:00
Amarillo Globe-News, 30 Mar 2015 - Three men arrested in recent weeks could get life in prison after being caught with small amounts of edible marijuana products, a fact that has sparked an outcry from some Amarillo residents. Potter County sheriff's deputies arrested Eli McCarthy Manna, 30, and Andrew Bruce George, 27, after stopping them for an unspecified traffic violation March 16.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US DC: Obama Commutes Sentences Of 22 Drug Offenders

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 07:00
Washington Post, 01 Apr 2015 - Prison Terms Were Set Under Guidelines Now Deemed Too Harsh President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 22 drug offenders, the largest batch of prisoners to be granted early release under his administration as it steps up an overhaul of the nation's criminal justice system.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: DEA "Cold Consent" Searches, NYC Calls for Pot Legalization, KY Heroin Bills Collide, More (3/20/15)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 22:41

An Ohio legalization initiative heads for signature-gathering, the NYC city council calls for decrim and legalization, the DEA's "cold consent" searches get critiqued, Kentucky pols can't agree on how to deal with heroin, and more.

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

Louisiana Legalization Bill Pre-Filed. State Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) has pre-filed a marijuana legalization bill. He submitted House Bill 117 yesterday. To go into effect, it would have to both pass the legislature and be approved by the electorate in the November 2016 election. Louisiana has some of the country's harshest marijuana laws.

Ohio Ballot Board Clears ResponsibleOhio Legalization Initiative. Backers of the ResponsibleOhio legalization initiative have cleared the final hurdle before beginning signature-gathering. The state Ballot Board agreed that the proposal amounts to a single constitutional amendment, so it's good to go. Backers will now need to gather more than 300,000 signatures by July to qualify for the ballot. The amendment would allow only 10 growing sites already promised to investors.

NYC City Council Calls for Decriminalizing and Legalizing Marijuana. This week, the New York City Council called for the state to pass legislation to both decriminalize and to tax and regulate marijuana. As part of the Council's State Budget and Legislative Agenda for the 2015-2016 legislative session, the council urged the state legislature to pass two marijuana policy reforms -- the Fairness and Equity Act and the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA). The Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito had previously announced her support for marijuana legalization in November, but this marks the first time that decriminalization and legalization have been part of the Council's official legislative agenda.

Medical Marijuana

Georgia Medical Marijuana Bill Wins Senate Committee Vote. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved House Bill 1 yesterday. The measure has passed the House and now heads for a Senate floor vote.

Methamphetamine

New York Senate Approves Bill to Increase Meth Penalties. The Senate has passed Senate Bill 1150, which would increase penalties for meth possession and sale. Meth would be treated similarly to heroin and cocaine under the bill. The bill is now in the Assembly Codes Committee as Assembly Bill 5577.

Opiates

Kentucky Legislators Still Can't Agree on Heroin Bills. House and Senate negotiators met yesterday to try to reach a compromise on competing bills that address heroin use in the state, but mainly agreed to disagree. There are differences over increasing penalties for heroin dealers, whether to allow needle exchanges, and on how to protect people who report overdoses. There is now a chance legislators could agree on a compromise that simply omits the sentencing and overdose reporting provisions.

Asset Forfeiture

Sen. Chuck Grassley Investigating Asset Forfeiture Abuses in US Marshals Service. The Iowa Republican sent a letter Wednesday to the agency demanding documents after he received whistleblower allegations that the service's Asset Forfeiture Division had used asset forfeiture monies "to purchase extravagant office decorations such as custom wall paper and window treatments." He is also looking into allegations of favoritism in hiring at the agency.

Law Enforcement

Justice Department Report Criticizes DEA's "Cold Consent" Searches. In a new report, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General details how the DEA's use of "cold consent" searches, where agents confront travelers at airports, bus, and rail stations and "ask" for consent to search them, may be racially profiling passengers and unjustly seizing their money. Click on the title link or read the report for lots more detail.

Reentry and Rehabilitation

Ex-Felon Federal Voting Rights Bills Filed. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) has filed S 772 to secure the federal voting rights of people who have served their time. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has filed a companion bill, HR 1459, in the House.

Sentencing

Smarter Sentencing Act Picks Up More Cosponsors. The Senate version, S 502, now has nine cosponsors, with the latest being Sen. John Isaakson (R-GA). The House version, HR 920, now has 22 cosponsors, with six signing on in the past week. The bills would retroactively apply provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act and would reduce mandatory minimum sentences.

International

Canada Supreme Court Takes Up Medical Marijuana Edibles. The high court is hearing a case where plaintiffs charge that Health Canada violated medical marijuana patients' constitutional rights to life, liberty, and safety by barring any form of marijuana except dried plants. The government has lost at every step of the legal process so far, but continues to argue the case.

Zambia Opposition Party Joins Green Call for Marijuana Legalization. Zambia's second largest opposition party, the United Party for National Development, has joined the Greens in calling for the legalization of marijuana cultivation. "There is nothing wrong with cannabis. Just like you and me 'dear reader' Cannabis Sativa, the plant, was also created by God," wrote party vice-president for political affairs Canisius Banda. "Cannabis is a resource. Cannabis must be decriminalized the world over. Nonetheless, regulation, albeit wise, just as it exists for many other things ought to remain. Just like Zambia boasts of Copper, California boasts of Cannabis, the biggest cash crop, responsible for US$14 billion a year in sales. Zambia would do well, under decriminalized but controlled conditions, to start growing Cannabis, and at least, for now until we are a bit more civilized, only for export to countries that have made it legal."

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: NH Decrim Bill Passes House, CO Legal Pot Sales Record, Coca-Chewing Day in Bolivia, More (3/12/15)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 22:45

Marijuana stories all over the place, medical marijuana, too; federal drug policy bills (good and bad) get filed, it's it's National Coca-Chewing Day in Bolivia, and more. 

[image:1 align:left]Marijuana Policy

Alaska Legislators Get Earful from Public Over Changes to Legalization Bill. The Senate Finance Committee overhauled Senate Bill 30, the bill that would implement the Measure 2 legalization initiative, by reversing language in the bill that would have removed marijuana from the state's controlled substance schedules and by creating new marijuana crimes. That didn't sit well with the public, who raked the committee over the coals during a hearing yesterday. It's holding another hearing today.

Arizona Legalization Initiative Drafters Grapple with Home Cultivation. A split has emerged between Safer Arizona and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) over including home cultivation language in a proposed legalization initiative. The latest draft of the initiative contains no language allowing for home cultivation, and Safer Arizona is accusing MPP of doing the bidding of dispensary operators, who it says want to corner the market. MPP says it supports home cultivation, but may be willing to sacrifice it if it thinks such a provision could delay ending pot prohibition in a given state. Stay tuned.

Colorado January Recreational Pot Sales Hit Record.  Sales in January were $36.4 million, according to the Department of Revenue, more than double the $14 million reported in January 2014. January recreational pot sales generated nearly $2.35 million in excise taxes designated for schools. Last year was when recreational marijuana sales began rolling out, so it is expected that 2015 is going to be even bigger than 2014, when more than $300 million in recreational sales occurred.

Connecticut Poll Has Solid Majority for Pot Legalization. A new Quinnipiac poll has support for marijuana legalization at 63%, up nine points from the same poll less than a year ago. The poll comes as the Judiciary Committee considers two bills that would legalize it, House Bill 6703 and House Bill 6473.

Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed. Rep. David Rogers (D-Belmont), Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), and 13 bipartisan cosponsors today introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce. If the legislature doesn't act on legalization, reform advocates are vowing to put an initiative before voters I n 2016.

Michigan Group Plans 2016 Legalization Initiative. A group calling itself the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee said today it is planning a 2016 legalization initiative petition drive. The committee's chairman, Jeffrey Hank, said "the time is right" to create "a responsible tax and regulation scheme for adult use age 21 and over, and permits the farming of hemp."

New Hampshire House Overwhelmingly Approves Decriminalization Bill. A veto-proof majority of the House voted yesterday to approve House Bill 618, which would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of pot, five grams of hash, and six pot plants. The House has passed similar measures before, only to see them die in the Senate. If it passes the Senate this year, it still faces a probable veto from Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).   

Medical Marijuana

Federal Judge Reject Prosecution Attempt to Jail Kettle Falls Five Defendants Before Sentencing. Just one week after three medical marijuana patients were acquitted by a federal jury of all but one charge stemming from the widely watched Kettle Falls Five trial, US District Court Judge Thomas Rice rejected attempts by the Justice Department (DOJ) to imprison the defendants pending sentencing on June 10th. Judge Rice's ruling comes just a day after defense attorneys filed their opposition to the government's pre-sentencing detention effort

Hawaii House Approves Dispensary Bill. The House Tuesday gave its approval to a bill that would allow for at least 26 dispensaries to open across the state. The measure is House Bill 321.

Iowa CBD Medical Marijuana Bill Moves. A bill that would expand medical marijuana access in the Hawkeye State won a subcommittee vote in the state Senate yesterday. The legislature last year approved a law allowing for the use of CBD cannabis oil for epilepsy, but didn't provide for the legal distribution of the oil. The current bill would do that, as well as expand the number of qualifying conditions.

Pennsylvania Poll Shows Growing Support for Medical Marijuana. A new Robert Morris University poll has support for medical marijuana at 67.5%, up more than 11 points from a similar Robert Morris poll last year. At least three medical marijuana bills are currently before the General Assembly.

Tennessee CBD Cannabis Oil Wins Committee Vote. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee has approved House Bill 197, which would allow people with seizures to use CBD cannabis oil with a doctor's recommendation. The bill now goes to the full House Criminal Committee.

Asset Forfeiture

Texas Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Filed. State Rep. David Simpson has introduced House Bill 3171 to repeal civil asset forfeiture. "No one should forfeit their property without being convicted of a crime," the Republican said. "Our current civil forfeiture provisions, though a well-intended tool for law enforcement, have eroded the constitutional rights of individuals. It is time we end the practice."

Rehabilitation and Reentry

Federal Bill to Seal or Expunge Records for Nonviolent Offenses Filed. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has filed Senate Bill 675, which provides for the sealing or expungement of records relating to federal nonviolent criminal offenses. It's been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sentencing

Connecticut Poll Finds Strong Support for Reducing Penalties for Drug Offenses. A new Quinnipiac poll finds two-third (67%) of voters support making simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony and 82% support eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for small-time drug possessions.

Harm Reduction

Federal Bill to Encourage Use of Opiate Overdose Drug Filed. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Edward Markey (D-MA) yesterday filed the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, which would  "protect first responders, health professionals and family members who are educated in administering an opioid overdose prevention drug, such as naloxone (also known as Narcan) in an emergency situation of overdose. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) plans to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks. The bill is not yet available on the congressional website. Similar legislation was filed last year.

Law Enforcement

Federal Bill Aimed at Candy-Coated Drugs Filed. Octogenarian Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) today filed the Candy-Flavored Drugs Act, under which ""criminals who manufacture, create, distribute, dispense or possess candy coated drugs with the intent to distribute them to a minor would get up to 10 years for the first offense and 20 years for the second offense." The bill is not yet available on the congressional website.

International

It's National Coca Chewing Day in Bolivia. Bolivian social movements are marching from the La Paz suburb of El Alto toward Villaroel Square in the capital to commemorate National Coca-Leaf Chewing Day. The event is part of a domestic and international campaign to restore the traditional uses of the coca leaf. 

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: UN Drug Session in Vienna, Bernard Noble Rally in New Orleans, AZ Welfare Drug Test Flop, More (3/9/15)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 22:12

The global drug prohibition bureaucracy meets in Vienna, researchers say banning psychedelics offends human rights, new synthetics increase in Europe, an Arizona welfare drug testing bill comes up short in results, and more. Let's get to it;

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

Washington House Approves Marijuana Deals With Tribes. The House last Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow the state's Indian tribes to participate in the state's legal marijuana industry. The bill is House Bill 2000, and it now goes to the state Senate.

First Government-Run Pot Shop Opens in Washington Town. The city of North Bonneville, Washington, has become the first government entity to open a marijuana retail store. The Cannabis Corner opened over the weekend after the city won approval from the state.

Psychedelics

Prohibition on Psychedelics An Offense Against Human Rights, Researchers Say. A pair of Norwegian researchers who, after studying population data from more than 135,000 people, including 19,000 users of psychedelics, reported no link between using psychedelics and mental health problems, have said that continuing to ban them has no justifiable public health basis and is "against human rights." Click on the link for more details.

Drug Testing

Arizona Welfare Drug Testing Law Didn't Produce Predicted Savings. When the state passed its welfare drug testing law in 2009, lawmakers said it would save about $1.7 million a year by removing drug users from welfare rolls. Not quite. In the more than five years since the law went into effect, only 42 people were flagged for drug tests. Of those, 23 didn't take the drug test and were denied benefits for one year. Nineteen other took the drug test; only three failed. The total savings are now estimated at $3,500 over the entire period, not $1.7 million a year.

Harm Reduction

Mississippi 911 Good Samaritan Bill Moving. A bill that would provide limited immunity from prosecution for people who report active drug overdoses in a bid to get medical assistance has passed the state Senate and a key House committee. Senate Bill 2780 now awaits a House floor vote.

Pregnancy

Oklahoma Bill Would Charge Pregnant Drug Users With Assaulting Fetus. A bill that would change the definition of assault to include illegal drug use by a pregnant woman has won a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee and awaits a Senate floor vote. Senate Bill 559 would still have to get through the House.

Sentencing

New Orleans Rally for Man Doing 13 Years for Two Joints. Supporters of Bernard Noble, who is doing 13 years in state prison for possessing two marijuana joints, rallied Saturday to support a campaign to gain clemency or a commutation for him. All appeals to state courts have failed, and now it's up to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) to act.

International

Morocco's Main Opposition Party Calls for Amnesty for Hash Growers. The Istiqlal Party, the largest opposition party, has called on the parliament to adopt a bill that would grant amnesty to hashish farmers. The party says that more than 300,000 people make a living in the hash fields.  The party's proposed bill would limit hash cultivation to specified regions of the country. The Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) has also called for the legalization of marijuana cultivation. Morocco is one of the world's leading cannabis producers.

More than A Hundred New Synthetic Drugs Appeared in Europe Last Year. The European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported today that 101 new substances were reported last year by the European Union's Early Warning System, up from 81 in 2013. That means more than 450 new synthetic drugs have been identified by the agency, more than half in the last three years alone. Click on the link for more details.

UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs Session Underway in Vienna.The 58th annual session got underway in Vienna today. It comes as the international drug prohibition consensus crumbles in the face of drug war failures and moves to liberalize drug laws, especially marijuana laws. This is also part of the lead-up to the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs. 

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: NH Decrim Bill Advances, Fallout from Florida SWAT Killing, Bolivia Top Narc Busted, More (3/6/15)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 21:45

Decrim is moving in New Hampshire, Georgia families rally for medical marijuana, Louisianans will rally for Bernard Noble (13 years for two joints), roommates of a Florida man killed in a SWAT pot raid cry "murder," and more. 

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

Northern California Counties Seek Unified Position on Pot Policy. As the state legislature again grapples with regulating medical marijuana, and with an almost certain legalization initiative in 2016 looming on the horizon, policymakers from Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Sonoma, and Trinity counties gathered in Santa Rosa (Sonoma County) Thursday to begin trying to reach a unified position on possible reforms. Click on the link for more detail.

New Hampshire Decriminalization Bill Moves. The legislature's Committee on Criminal Justice voted overwhelmingly yesterday to approve a bill that would decriminalize the possession of a half-ounce of pot or less. The measure is House Bill 0618. Although recent polling shows 71% of Granite Staters want either decriminalization or full legalization, the bill still faces opposition as it heads for House and Senate floor votes.

Medical Marijuana

Georgia Families Swarm State Capitol in Support of Strong Medical Marijuana Bill. Dozens of Georgia families streamed into the state capitol in Atlanta yesterday to crank up the pressure on the Senate to pass a medical marijuana bill. House Bill 1has already passed the House, but the Senate is now considering an alternate bill, Senate Bill 185, which would only set up a limited trial program for children with epilepsy. The families want House Bill 1.

Sentencing

Rally Saturday in New Orleans for Bernard Noble, Doing 13 Years for Two Joints. Supporters of Bernard Noble, who is serving 13 years without parole in state prison, are holding a rally in New Orleans Saturday to call for clemency for the non-violent offender and family man. Click on the link for event details and more information.

Law Enforcement

Roommates of Unarmed Florida Man Killed By SWAT Team in Pot Raid Call it Murder. Roommates of Derek Cruice, the 26-year-old Deltona man shot in the face and killed by a Volusia County deputy during a drug raid, described his killing as "murder" and strongly challenged the police version of events. See them describe what happened here. Supporters of Cruice held a rally this morning to decry his killing. A memorial event for Cruice is set for tomorrow morning at a local park. Click the title link for event details.  

International

Bolivia's Former Top Narc Arrested for Drug Links. General Oscar Nina, head of the national police in 2010 and 2011, has been arrested by Bolivian authorities on suspicion of illegal enrichment and links to drug trafficking. His wife, daughter, and son were also arrested on similar charges. Another former Bolivian top narc, General Rene Sanabria, is doing a 15-year sentence in the US for drug trafficking. President Evo Morales has vowed to wipe out "the cancer of corruption," but it seems to be a perpetual problem. 

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US CA: Column: Federal 'Loin

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 08:00
SF Weekly, 05 Mar 2015 - FEDERAL 'LOIN Ivan Speed is not a model citizen. Since growing up in the Alemany housing projects, Speed has spent his adulthood running the streets in San Francisco, racking up the kind of record -- assault, theft, drugs, guns -- that would earn even a fallen choir boy the title of "career criminal."
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US CT: Initiative Seeks To End 'Mass Incarceration'

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 08:00
New Haven Register, 04 Mar 2015 - John S. Santa has been successful in the fuel oil and energy business, but his real passion is trying to reduce the population of nonviolent offenders in the state's correctional system and to help those who are released into a society that turns its back on ex-offenders. Santa and the Rev. Marilyn B. Kendrix, associate pastor of Church of the Redeemer, United Church of Christ, met with the New Haven Register's editorial board Tuesday as members of the Malta Justice Initiative, which is, among other things, supporting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's "Second Chance Society" proposals to reduce the human and financial costs of the state's criminal justice system.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US WA: A Stunning Overreach From the DEA Is Playing Out in

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 08:00
The Stranger, 04 Mar 2015 - In Federal Court, There's No Such Thing as Medical Marijuana-So a Rural Family of Medical Marijuana Patients Is Being Treated Like Drug Traffickers Before Rhonda Firestack-Harvey was part of a nationally watched court case that could change the course of the federal drug war, she lived quietly with her husband in their modest double-wide mobile home two hours northwest of Spokane.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US CA: OPED: A War Against Painkillers

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 04 Mar 2015 - In the United States , where doctors write more than 250 million prescriptions for painkillers a year, the frequency of abuse and overdose represents a public health crisis. More than 15,000 Americans died from an overdose of prescription opioids in 2013.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US DC: OPED: A Justice System That's Fair To All

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 08:00
Washington Post, 01 Mar 2015 - Today, a rare consensus has emerged in favor of reforming our federal drug sentencing laws. This presents a historic opportunity to improve the fairness of our criminal justice system. But unless we act quickly, we risk letting the moment pass. The Justice Department has sought to be an early innovator on this front. A year and a half ago, I launched the Smart on Crime initiative- a comprehensive effort to reorient the federal government's approach to criminal justice. It focused on reducing the use of draconian mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses and deepening our investment in rehabilitation and reentry programs that can reduce the likelihood of recidivism.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums
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