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Chronicle AM: Obama Commutes More Drug Sentences, Majority for Legalization in New Poll, More... (6/6/16)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Mon, 06/06/2016 - 21:52

President Obama keeps chipping away at the federal drug prisoner population, Weldon Angelos finally goes free, yet another poll has a national majority for marijuana legalization, the new Filipino president encourages vigilante violence against drug dealers, and more.

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

Another National Poll Has Majority Support for Legalization, Near Unanimous Support for Medical Marijuana. A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday has support for marijuana legalization at 54%, with 41% opposed. That's in line with a bevy of polls in the past couple of years showing majority support for legalization. The new Quinnipiac poll also had support for medical marijuana at 89%, with only 9% opposed, and 87% support for allowed Veterans Administration doctors to recommend it to vets with PTSD.

Anti-Legalization Forces Seek Backing of Rightist Casino Billionaire. The anti-reform group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, led by Kevin Sabet, is seeking funding from Nevada casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who contributed millions of dollars to defeat a medical marijuana initiative in Florida in 2014. Adelson is also a major funder of Republican presidential candidates, having spent $15 million supporting Newt Gingrich in 2012.

Massachusetts Supreme Court to Hear Challenges to Legalization Initiative. The high court is set to hear two challenges Wednesday to the legalization initiative from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. One challenge alleges that organizers have misled voters about its ramifications and claims it would allow for the sale of GMO marijuana, while the other challenge says the words "marijuana legalization" in the initiative's title are misleading because it doesn't legalize it for people under 21.

Medical Marijuana

Montana Initiative Coming Up on Signature Deadline. Backers of Initiative 182, which seeks to restore the state's medical marijuana program demolished by the legislature in 2011, say they have some 30,000 raw signatures as a June 17 deadline draws near. They need 24,000 valid signatures to qualify. Initiative watchers generally assume as many as 30% of gathered signatures could be invalidated. If that were the case right now in Montana, the initiative would not make the ballot.

Drug Testing

Michigan Supreme Court to Hear Case of Mother Jailed for Refusing Drug Test in Son's Juvenile Case. The state's high court will hear the case of Kelly Michelle Dorsey, who was jailed for contempt of court in 2012 for refusing to take a drug test in a case involving her minor son, because the son was under the court's jurisdiction, not Dorsey. An appeals court held that forcing mothers to submit to drug tests in such cases was unconstitutional, but upheld a finding a contempt of court for her refusal. Now, the state Supreme Court is set to weigh in.

Sentencing

Obama Commutes Sentences for 42 More Drug Offenders, Including 20 Lifers. President Obama last Friday added another 42 names to the ever growing list of federal drug prisoners whose sentences he has commuted. That brings to 348 the number of commutations Obama has handed out, more than the last seven presidents combined. For a list of names of the newly commuted, go here.

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Poster Child Weldon Angelos Freed After 12 Years. The Salt Lake City rap and hip hop label owner and small-time pot dealer was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison because he carried a pistol strapped to his ankle during marijuana deals. Now he is a free man after prosecutors moved to cut his sentence.

New Hampshire GOP Senator Wants to Jack Up Mandatory Minimums for Fentanyl. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is planning to offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act this week that would vastly increase mandatory minimums for fentanyl. Currently, it takes 100 grams of a mixture containing fentanyl to garner a five-year mandatory minimum; under Ayotte's proposal, it would only take half a gram. The Drug Policy Alliance and Families Against Mandatory Minimums are among those opposing the move.

International

Israeli Security Minister Opposes Marijuana Decriminalization. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Sunday he opposes such a move because it could increase traffic accidents and police have no way of preventing drugged drivers from getting behind the wheel. He also said that policies were already lax and the decriminalization would amount to legalization. Opposition from Erdan and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has delayed a vote on a decriminalization bill that was supposed to take place Sunday.

Philippines President Encourages People to Kill Drug Dealers. President Rodrigo Duterte used a televised speech Saturday night to encourage citizens to shoot and kill drug dealers who resist arrest. "Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun -- you have my support," adding, "Shoot him and I'll give you a medal." He also threatened to kill drug addicts. Duterte, the former mayor of Davao City, was reputed to have been involved with death squad killings. Apparently some Filipino voters wanted to hear that or didn't mind, since they just elected him president.

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Prince's OD Could Spur Action On Opioids

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sat, 06/04/2016 - 07:00
The Palm Beach Post, 04 Jun 2016 - Lawmakers Mostly Agree That Congress Needs to Take Steps. The official confirmation of Prince's death by opioid overdose is likely to reverberate in Washington, where lawmakers are still trying to hammer out a deal on legislation attempting to stem a national crisis in abuse of those drugs.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama Grants Clemency To 42 Federal Inmates

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sat, 06/04/2016 - 07:00
Washington Post, 04 Jun 2016 - President Obama granted clemency to 42 inmates Friday as part of an ongoing effort to release federal prisoners who are serving prison terms resulting from sentencing laws that the White House said were "outdated and unduly harsh." To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 348 federal inmates. The White House said in a statement that the president will continue commuting the sentences of inmates through his seven remaining months in office.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama Cuts Prison Sentences For 42 Drug Offenders

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Fri, 06/03/2016 - 07:00
Washington Post, 03 Jun 2016 - WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama shortened the sentences Friday of 42 people serving time for drug-related offenses, continuing a push for clemency that has ramped up in the final year of his administration. Roughly half of the 42 receiving commutations Friday were serving life sentences. Most are nonviolent offenders, although a few were also charged with firearms violations. The White House said many of them would have already finished their sentences if they had been sentenced under current, less onerous sentencing guidelines.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US TN: OPED: There's Something Missing From Our Drug Laws:

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 07:00
Commercial Appeal, 22 May 2016 - Congress and President Obama are under pressure to reschedule marijuana. While rescheduling makes sense, it doesn't solve the state/federal conflict over marijuana (descheduling would be better). But more important, it wouldn't fix the broken scheduling system. Ideally, marijuana reform should be part of a broader bill rewriting the Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act created a five-category scheduling system for most legal and illegal drugs (although alcohol and tobacco were notably omitted). Depending on what category a drug is in, the drug is either subject to varying degrees of regulation and control (Schedules II through V) - or prohibited, otherwise unregulated and left to criminals to manufacture and distribute (Schedule I). The scheduling of various drugs was decided largely by Congress and absent a scientific process - with some strange results.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US MA: A Drive To Rethink What Incarceration Is For

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sun, 05/15/2016 - 07:00
Boston Globe, 15 May 2016 - The tomato seedlings in the urban garden were sprouting. The basketball court was filled with men in blue, gray, and brown uniforms shooting hoops and doing pushups. Inside, at vocational classes, men learned the art of tailoring a suit while a group of women studied toward their GEDs. In many ways, the South Bay House of Correction has become a microcosm of the country's evolving attitudes toward drug abuse and drug-related crimes. The facility just off Interstate 93 in Boston is a different place compared with the early 1990s, when leaders in Washington passed a stringent crime bill that authorized stiff penalties for drug crimes and nearly doubled the country's prison population.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama Commutes Dozens Of Drug Sentences

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 07:00
New York Times, 06 May 2016 - WASHINGTON - President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 nonviolent drug offenders on Thursday, the latest in a series of efforts to address what he has called the overly long and harsh sentences of an earlier era. Most of the prisoners whose sentences will be cut short were serving decades behind bars for drug possession and distribution, the result of a crackdown on drug-related crimes in the 1980s and '90s that affected many African-Americans and other minorities.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: ME to Vote on Legalization, AK "Pot Cafes," AL Passes CBD MedMJ, More... (5/2/16)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 20:55

Lots of Maine news today, Alaska could see "pot cafes," a New Hampshire asset forfeiture bill gets gutted under police pressure, and more.

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

Alaska Marijuana Draft Regulations Include Pot Cafes. Alaska could become the first legalization state to actually allow social marijuana smoking in designated businesses. The state's Marijuana Control Board has crafted draft regs that would allow users to toke up inside retail stores. The draft regs are now awaiting public comment. While "public" marijuana use is banned, the regs create an exemption for retail stores to seek an "onsite consumption endorsement" to their licenses. Stores with that endorsement could then set aside an area for people to consume marijuana.

California GOP Opposes AUMA Legalization Initiative. The state Republican Party voted at its convention over the weekend to oppose the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) marijuana legalization initiative. "We must not turn this plague loose on our children and the people of California," said Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber, who also called marijuana an "entry-level" drug that leads to addiction. California Democrats have endorsed the initiative.

It's Official: Maine Will Vote on Legalization in November The final obstacle to a popular vote was removed last Friday, when state legislators punted on their chance to act on the citizen legalization initiative, opting instead to send the question to the voters instead. Earlier, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which organized the state's legalization initiative had to go to the courts to force recalcitrant state officials to properly count all the signatures, and they did so.

Vermont House Takes Up Marijuana Legalization Today. The House is considering legalization today, albeit in a roundabout fashion. One House committee rejected the legalization measure, Senate Bill 241, while another amended it to legalize possession and personal cultivation, but not regulated, legal marijuana commerce. The Senate responded by pasting SB 241 into another bill, House Bill 858, which the House is considering today. Stay tuned!

Medical Marijuana

Alabama Passes CBD Medical Marijuana Bill. Both houses of the legislature have now approved "Leni's Law," which would allow people with seizure disorders or other debilitating medical conditions to use CBD cannabis oil to treat their ailments. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is expected to sign the bill into law.

Connecticut Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill Passes Legislature. A bill that would allow children with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana has passed out of the legislature after a final Senate vote last Friday. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is expected to sign House Bill 5450 into law.

New Hampshire's First Dispensary Opens. The Sanctuary Alternative Treatment Center opened in Plymouth last Saturday. It's the first dispensary in the state to open for business. It only took nearly three years after the state's medical marijuana law was approved for this to happen.

Asset Forfeiture

New Hampshire Asset Forfeiture Bill Scaled Back Under Police Pressure. The state Senate last Thursday stripped a provision from an asset forfeiture reform bill that would have directed funds seized by police to the state's general fund rather than to the agency that seized them. The move came after police chiefs said not letting them keep the goodies would "handcuff" them.

Oklahoma Governor Signs Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) last Thursday signed into law a bill that will allow people whose property is subject to asset forfeiture to recover attorney fees when they challenge the seizures. The new law goes into effect November 1.

Drug Policy

Maine Decriminalizes Drug Possession, Moves to Adopt Pre-Arrest Diversion Program. Last Thursday, a bill that would make simple drug possession a misdemeanor instead of a felony passed into law without the signature of Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage. The bill, LD 1554, decriminalizes the possession of up to 200 milligrams of heroin. Earlier this month, the legislature also approved a bill that would fund Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs, which have proven successful in Seattle and other cities.

Harm Reduction

Maine Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto of Overdose Reversal Drug Bill. The legislature voted last Friday to override gubernatorial vetoes of LD 1457 and LD 1552, which would allow access to naloxone without a prescription and provide public funding for needle exchange, respectively. Gov. Paul Le Page had claimed "naloxone does not save lives, it merely extends them until the next overdose" and complained that the $70 cost would not be repaid.

International

Canada Supreme Court Throws Out Mandatory Minimums for Drug Traffickers. In a decision last Friday, the high court ruled mandatory minimums for repeat drug offenders are unconstitutional. The case is R. v. Lloyd.

Categories: Mandatory Minimums
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