Louisiana Bill to Allow State Employees to Use Medical Cannabis Receives Unanimous Vote

House Bill 988 was passed through the Louisiana House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on May 19. If the bill becomes law, it would create protections for state employees who seek to use medical cannabis. While it would prevent employees from being fired, and prevent discrimination against those who seek to apply, it does not apply to public safety employees such as firefighters or law enforcement.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mandie Landry, strongly believes that her bill is a healthier choice for Louisianians. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to take opioids for their long-term PTSD and pain management because of the high possibility of addiction to opioids,” Landry said, according to the Louisiana Illuminator. “This has proved to be a better option than them.”

The Louisiana Board of Pharmacy estimated that there are 43,000 medical cannabis consumers in the state, and currently only nine pharmacies to serve them.

At the committee meeting, Louisiana Department of Administration Communications Director Jacques Berry noted that his own department already has regulations in place to prevent discrimination for medical cannabis consumption. In support, he shared his thoughts on unifying regulations across the board with an example about a workplace harassment bill that is operating similarly. “Every agency had a sexual harassment policy, but they were all over the place, and Dr. [and Rep. Barbara] Carpenter wanted stricter, more consistent standards,” Berry said. “She wrote a very good law, and it is working very well.”

Similarly, Rep. Ed Larvadain spoke about looking ahead. “We’re going to have to change how we deal with medical marijuana. But this is a first step.” He also requested that he be invited to work with Landry about finding a solution that would protect firefighters and law enforcement officers as well. “A lot of those men and women have chronic pains because over the years they’ve had to climb through windows and police officers have been abused,” Larvadain said.

Many advocates who spoke publicly in support of the bill at the meeting. Tony Landry, a council member of the Veterans Action Council, commented that neither law enforcement or firefighters are allowed to consume CBD, since “it can accumulate in your body over time and cause a positive test. I’m in favor of this bill, and I just think we need to leave no employee behind.”

Last summer, Louisiana decriminalized cannabis with Act 247, which imposed a fine of $100 (or a court summons) for possession of 14 grams or less. At the time, Peter Robins-Brown, policy & advocacy director at Louisiana Progress provided a statement about the news. “Marijuana decriminalization will truly make a difference in the lives of the people of our state,” Robins-Brown said. “It’s an important first step in modernizing marijuana policy in Louisiana, and it’s another milestone in the ongoing effort to address our incarceration crisis, which has trapped so many people in a cycle of poverty and prison. Now it’s time to make sure that everyone knows their rights under this new law, and that law enforcement officers understand how to properly implement it.”

However, earlier this year House Bill 700 was introduced to imprison minors who possessed small amounts of cannabis. On March 23, the Louisiana Progress Tweeted a response to the bill’s approach in keeping minors away from cannabis. “In #lalege Admin. of Crim. Justice, the cmte is hearing HB700 by @LarryBagleyLA, which would actually criminalize juveniles for possessing less than 14 grams of marijuana more harshly than adults, incl. potential jail time. Very very very very very very very bad idea. #lagov”. Currently, it is still waiting for discussion in the House.

The post Louisiana Bill to Allow State Employees to Use Medical Cannabis Receives Unanimous Vote appeared first on High Times.

Driving High is Illegal: But What is Driving High?

In April 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and a coterie of other state lawmakers and public-safety officials launched a firm yet nebulous public-safety campaign warning people that they shouldn’t be driving high. The initiative pulled off the neat trick of informing citizens that certain behavior is prohibited, without telling citizens exactly what that behavior is.

Called “Cannabis Conversations,” the campaign will be emphasized in an upcoming series of billboards, commercial sports and other public service announcements (PSAs) to complement similar warnings against drunk driving. But what, exactly, is “driving high?” Unlike drunk driving, that’s not something Hochul—nor anyone else in states where cannabis is legal—has been able to satisfactorily define.

Nevertheless, Hochul is the latest public official to highlight a curious situation that’s proven one of the more complex and nagging problems to arise during the marijuana legalization era.

Burden of Proof, Body of Doubt

In one sense, driving while high is not unlike pornography: You know it when you see it—if “you” are a law-enforcement official who’s a drug-recognition expert, determining whether to write a ticket or make an arrest for a misdemeanor offense.

Under New York state law, drunk driving and driving high are outlawed under the same criminal statute. But unlike the first wave of states to legalize cannabis, there’s no strict “legal limit” for cannabis impairment in New York. This is because other states such as Colorado have ditched limits like the initial standard of five nanograms of cannabis metabolite per milliliter of blood—because, unlike alcohol, cannabis metabolites are detectable in the human body long after the effects have worn off. For that reason, New York state law has no “per se” standard for impairment.

So, while this standard may be workable while out on the road, where a law enforcement officer can use various metrics, i.e., erratic driving, to make a stop and other metrics to determine impairment—slurred speech, red eyes, the scent of cannabis—it’s unclear what will happen in court, where defense attorneys were winning too many “stoned driving” cases.

In an e-mail, Jason Gough, a spokesman for New York’s governor, reiterated what Hochul and other officials have said: It’s illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis, to consume cannabis while driving or to have your friends burn a blunt in the back when you’re driving them around.

“We’re undertaking a public education campaign to help make sure New Yorkers know that if they drive high or impaired, they could be charged or hurt others,” said Gough, who added that the state would devote “cannabis revenue funds” towards the police: to train more drug-recognition experts to suss out the above, and to develop “emerging tools” such as cannabis breathalyzers “that could be used to accurately detect whether a driver is impaired by cannabis.”

OK, but what’s impairment? Gough referred Cannabis Now back to his original statement—which acknowledged, indirectly at least, that there’s no cut-and-dry standard, and it will be up to individual law-enforcement officers to decide. But will their word be enough to stand up in court? And what can a responsible, safety-minded citizen do?

What is Driving While High?

For one, people should be honest with themselves. If you feel too stoned to drive—if you feel impaired—you probably are. But what if you’ve had your wake-and-bake, and followed that up with coffee and a relaxing morning—and you feel fine?

According to recent research, cannabis users can expect their driving abilities to return to normal about three-and-a-half hours after getting stoned—or, in a laboratory setting, using cannabis to achieve the satisfactory effect. There’s a brief period where users feel a false sense of security, at about the ninety-minute mark, and then abilities return at around the three-hour mark before baseline returns at hour four.

That doesn’t do much good for someone who microdoses—that is, never used cannabis “to satisfaction” like the lab-test subjects. Nor does it give you a clear and satisfactory answer to the initial problem.

Legal experts say that the determining factor may be a driver’s ability prior to the stop. That is, if they were driving like a high person, and then the drug-recognition expert determines they looked like a high person, then a judge and/or a jury may be more likely to decide that yes, they were, in fact, driving high.

“I think drug-recognition experts, in addition to other things, such as glassy or red eyes and slurred speech, are going to have to say, ‘We saw them swerving, or making illegal lane changes,’” said David C. Holland, a New York City-based criminal defense attorney and executive director of Empire State NORML.

That may change, of course, if the driver was involved in an accident. In that case, tacking on an impaired driving charge may become axiomatic—or at least an easier sell in court. Which highlights a convenient truth: If you don’t want to get busted for driving high, don’t do it. In the meantime, getting busted for driving high while you’re not, will remain a very unsatisfying and quite real possibility.

The post Driving High is Illegal: But What is Driving High? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

New Jersey AG Says Cops Can Legally Smoke Weed

A memo issued on Wednesday by acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin advises New Jersey law enforcement agencies that legislation passed to legalize cannabis last year allows adults, including police officers, to purchase and consume cannabis.

In his memo, Platkin wrote that law enforcement agencies in the state “may not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty.” The acting attorney general added that the right of police officers to use pot is consistent with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act passed by state lawmakers last year. He also noted that police officers may not use cannabis while working or be under the influence of cannabis while on the job.

“To be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer,” Platkin wrote in the memo obtained by the Asbury Park Press. “And there should be zero tolerance for unregulated marijuana consumption by officers at any time, on or off duty, while employed in this state. The safety of our communities and our officers demands no less.”

Brian Vicente, founding partner of cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, said that Platkin’s memo is consistent with the legal standard of equal protection for all.

“Law enforcement officials should enjoy the same rights and legal protections as other New Jersey adults,” Vicente wrote in an email to High Times. “Those who choose to consume cannabis responsibly while off duty should be treated the same as those who choose to consume alcohol while off duty.”

New Jersey’s cannabis legalization law includes provisions that allow employers to maintain a drug-free workplace for their employees. The legislation also establishes procedures for employers to follow if an employee is suspected of using cannabis while at work or being under the influence at the workplace. Platkin reminded law enforcement officials that police have the same rights as others under the statute.

“Should there be reasonable suspicion of an officer’s use of cannabis while engaged in the performance of their duties, or upon finding any observable signs of intoxication related to cannabis use (including following a work-related accident subject to investigation by the agency), that officer may be required to undergo a drug test,” he wrote.

However, the drug test must also include a physical examination to confirm intoxication because THC metabolites can be detected weeks after someone has consumed cannabis, making a positive drug test an unreliable indicator of impairment.

Critics Fear Cops Will Be High While On Patrol

But critics have already come out to oppose the idea of cops using weed, even off the job. State Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer said that she is concerned that the policy will lead to police officers working while they are impaired by cannabis.

“Anyone who wants to work in public safety must be held to higher standards,” Sawyer told the New Jersey Monitor. “Our men and women in law enforcement have the responsibility to make life-altering decisions on a daily basis, for themselves, their partners, for the public. I want to trust that they are at their best when doing so.”

Governor Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law in February 2021. The legislation legalized the possession of up to six ounces of cannabis for adults, although legal sales of adult-use cannabis have been delayed more than once while regulators create the rules for legal production and sales of recreational pot.

On Thursday, Murphy announced on social media that recreational pot sales will begin at some existing medical cannabis dispensaries next week, only one day after the infamous 4/20 weed holiday.

“This is a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission said it would post a list of the medical dispensaries that will begin selling adult-use cannabis on April 21 once the retailers have shared their plans with the agency.

“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said executive director Jeff Brown. “We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start.”

The post New Jersey AG Says Cops Can Legally Smoke Weed appeared first on High Times.

New Jersey AG Says Cops Can Legally Smoke Weed

A memo issued on Wednesday by acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin advises New Jersey law enforcement agencies that legislation passed to legalize cannabis last year allows adults, including police officers, to purchase and consume cannabis.

In his memo, Platkin wrote that law enforcement agencies in the state “may not take any adverse action against any officers because they do or do not use cannabis off duty.” The acting attorney general added that the right of police officers to use pot is consistent with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act passed by state lawmakers last year. He also noted that police officers may not use cannabis while working or be under the influence of cannabis while on the job.

“To be clear, there should be zero tolerance for cannabis use, possession or intoxication while performing the duties of a law enforcement officer,” Platkin wrote in the memo obtained by the Asbury Park Press. “And there should be zero tolerance for unregulated marijuana consumption by officers at any time, on or off duty, while employed in this state. The safety of our communities and our officers demands no less.”

Brian Vicente, founding partner of cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg, said that Platkin’s memo is consistent with the legal standard of equal protection for all.

“Law enforcement officials should enjoy the same rights and legal protections as other New Jersey adults,” Sederberg wrote in an email to High Times. “Those who choose to consume cannabis responsibly while off duty should be treated the same as those who choose to consume alcohol while off duty.”

New Jersey’s cannabis legalization law includes provisions that allow employers to maintain a drug-free workplace for their employees. The legislation also establishes procedures for employers to follow if an employee is suspected of using cannabis while at work or being under the influence at the workplace. Platkin reminded law enforcement officials that police have the same rights as others under the statute.

“Should there be reasonable suspicion of an officer’s use of cannabis while engaged in the performance of their duties, or upon finding any observable signs of intoxication related to cannabis use (including following a work-related accident subject to investigation by the agency), that officer may be required to undergo a drug test,” he wrote.

However, the drug test must also include a physical examination to confirm intoxication because THC metabolites can be detected weeks after someone has consumed cannabis, making a positive drug test an unreliable indicator of impairment.

Critics Fear Cops Will Be High While On Patrol

But critics have already come out to oppose the idea of cops using weed, even off the job. State Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer said that she is concerned that the policy will lead to police officers working while they are impaired by cannabis.

“Anyone who wants to work in public safety must be held to higher standards,” Sawyer told the New Jersey Monitor. “Our men and women in law enforcement have the responsibility to make life-altering decisions on a daily basis, for themselves, their partners, for the public. I want to trust that they are at their best when doing so.”

Governor Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law in February 2021. The legislation legalized the possession of up to six ounces of cannabis for adults, although legal sales of adult-use cannabis have been delayed more than once while regulators create the rules for legal production and sales of recreational pot.

On Thursday, Murphy announced on social media that recreational pot sales will begin at some existing medical cannabis dispensaries next week, only one day after the infamous 4/20 weed holiday.

“This is a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission said it would post a list of the medical dispensaries that will begin selling adult-use cannabis on April 21 once the retailers have shared their plans with the agency.

“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said executive director Jeff Brown. “We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start.”

The post New Jersey AG Says Cops Can Legally Smoke Weed appeared first on High Times.

Will Cannabis Breathalyzers Really Work? Probably Not. Here’s Why:

Cannabis breathalyzers are being made right now, but will they really work? Probably not, but let’s take a look at them. Cannabis breathalyzers work much like their alcohol counterparts. Hound Labs, one of the companies trying to commercialize this new tech, is developing a simple-to-use breathalyzer device. A person blows into a small tube, and […]

The post Will Cannabis Breathalyzers Really Work? Probably Not. Here’s Why: appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Oregon Allots $25M To Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows

Lawmakers in Oregon have passed legislation to address the state’s burgeoning illicit cannabis cultivation industry, allotting $25 million to help law enforcement and community organizations fight illegal cannabis growing operations.

Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana and authorized regulated cannabis production and sales in 2014. Since then, illegal cultivation operations have popped up in droves, particularly in Klamath, Jackson, and Josephine Counties in the southern portion of the state. State Sen. Jeff Golden, who worked to get the bill added to the agenda for a one-day legislative special session last week, said that some rural areas of Oregon are “military-weapons zones, like the ones we usually associate with failed states.”

Golden said that many of the illegal cultivation operations are run by criminal cartels that are guilty of human trafficking, labor abuses, intimidation of local residents and theft of water during a persistent drought.

“Illegal cannabis operations in southern Oregon have been using our limited water supply, abusing local workers, threatening neighbors and negatively impacting businesses run by legal marijuana growers,” Golden added.

The measure, Senate Bill 893, was passed by Oregon state lawmakers on December 13 and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown the following day. The new law establishes a $25 million “Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Grant Program” to assist local police, sheriff’s departments and other organizations address the illegal cannabis cultivation in their communities, including $5 million earmarked for the enforcement of water rights. Local law enforcement agencies that receive grants from the program will be required to work with community-based groups to address labor trafficking. 

Earlier this year, Golden and state Reps. Pam Marsh and Lily Morgan wrote to a letter to the governor calling for help to fight illegal cannabis cultivation in Oregon’s Rogue Valley.

“The damaging impacts, including human trafficking of a labor force in conditions approaching slavery, severe aggravation of the drought through massive and systematic water theft, long-term damage to agricultural lands from various polluting practices, and the financial ruin of licensed growers whose compliance obligations make competition impossible are hard to overstate,” they wrote.

Is It Hemp or Cannabis?

Much of the illicit cannabis cultivation is occurring on farms that are ostensibly growing hemp, which was legalized at the federal level with the 2018 Farm Bill and is subject to far less stringent regulations than cannabis. The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission recently reported that nearly half of the registered hemp farms inspected by the state are actually growing cannabis. About 25 percent of the hemp operations refused entry to inspectors, according to state agencies.

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler told lawmakers the cartels “have a business model: Put up more cannabis illegal grows than law enforcement can ever get. They know we’re going to get some, but they know we can’t get it all.”

A southern Oregon farmer told the Associated Press that a creek he used to irrigate his crops has run dry due because illegal cannabis grows have stolen the water. He believes that the state does not have enough inspectors to ensure that farms are actually growing hemp and not cannabis. He also blames landowners who sell or lease property to shady operators.

“If somebody walks onto your property with a suitcase with $100,000 in $20 bills, you kind of know they’re not on the up and up,” the unidentified farmer said. “And if you take that money and allow them to do something on your land, you should probably anticipate that they’re there to break the law.”

Local Official Declare State of Emergency

In October, Jackson County officials declared a state of emergency over the illegal cannabis cultivation operations, calling on Brown, state Senate President Peter Courtney, and Oregon House of Representatives Speaker Tina Kotek for help.

“Jackson County strongly requests your assistance to address this emergency,” members of the county Board of Commissioners wrote in a letter to state leaders.

The commissioners called for funding, manpower and state National Guard troops to help deal with the problem of illegal marijuana cultivation in the county. Members of the board said that law enforcement, local code compliance officers, and state cannabis regulators have been overburdened by the illicit activity and warned of an “imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county.”

Passed by the legislature as an emergency measure, Senate Bill 893 goes into effect immediately. Morgan told reporters bills planned for the 2022 legislative session will further address the issue.

Residents and law enforcement officers welcomed the funding provided by the legislation, but predicted that $25 million will not be enough to control the problem of illicit cannabis production in Oregon.

“It will help,” said Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel. “But the issue is metastasizing statewide.”

The post Oregon Allots $25M To Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows appeared first on High Times.

Vancouver’s Decriminalization Plan From A Legal Perspective

Vancouver has made a big step forward in the possible decriminalization of drugs. Last week, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced the cities intention to seek leave from the federal government to approve a plan to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs within city limits.  Stewart described these types of offenses as a health issue, rather than […]

The post Vancouver’s Decriminalization Plan From A Legal Perspective appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Federal prosecutors investigate California marijuana companies in wide-ranging probe (Market Watch)

// Maine’s recreational marijuana launch delayed until June (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Hawaii Senate Approves Drug Defelonization Bill (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Green Worx Consults, a company specializing in project management, workflow mapping and design, and Lean & 6 Sigma process. If you could use help making your business better at business, get in touch with Green Worx Consults.


// Chart: California lags other adult-use markets in per-capita marijuana sales (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Expected delay in vote on WHO cannabis scheduling recommendations spurs US official to express ‘regret’ over decision (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Why is New York’s medical marijuana program insanely expensive? (Leafly)

// Missouri Has 35,000 Registered Medical Marijuana Patients and Zero Dispensaries (Merry Jane)

// Marijuana retailers near Illinois borders benefit from out-of-state customers, offer warnings on crossing boundaries with MJ (Marijuana Business Daily)

// DC Psychedelics Activists, Citing Coronavirus Concerns, Want Online Petition Gathering Option (Marijuana Moment)

// An 8-Year-Old Won $200 Worth of Pot Products at a Kids’ Hockey Game (Merry Jane)


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Calls to Defund the Police Lead to Cannabis Decriminalization Measures

At protest demonstrations from coast to coast, “Defund the police!” has become the rallying cry of activists mobilized in outrage over the death of George Floyd. His killing by Minneapolis police officers on May 25 crystalized long-building anger over institutionalized racism in the United States.

Amid what has now become a national uprising, ideas that were verboten in American politics just weeks ago are bursting into the mainstream. As CNN puts it: “There’s a growing group of dissenters who believe Americans can survive without law enforcement as we know it. And Americans, those dissenters believe, may even be better off without it.”

And some are going beyond calls to merely defund. Mariame Kaba, director of Project NIA, a grassroots group that works to end youth incarceration, wrote a June 12 op-ed in The New York Times bluntly entitled: “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.” In the article, Kaba writes, “Enough. We can’t reform the police. The only way to diminish police violence is to reduce contact between the public and the police.”

Short of her vision of police abolition, Kaba puts forth a minimum demand: “Cut the number of police in half and cut their budget in half. Fewer police officers equal fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people. The idea is gaining traction in Minneapolis, Dallas, Los Angeles and other cities.”

In New York, on June 23, activists under the slogan #DefundNYPD established an encampment outside City Hall, where budget negotiations are now underway. 

Newsday reports that the protesters say they will not leave until at least $1 billion is cut from the police department’s $6 billion budget.

As many localities across the nation weigh in on the conversation about where to start cutting the police leviathan down to size, some have come up with an obvious answer: cannabis enforcement.

America’s Heartland Cities Are Taking Measures

The idea of cannabis decriminalization is being pushed most prominently by the mayor of Missouri’s Kansas City. Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, has announced a plan to completely remove all offenses related to cannabis possession from the city code. He charges that such offenses are used as excuses for stopping residents and contribute to over policing of the city’s Black community.

“We need to just stop harassing people,” he told National Public Radio on June 19. “Blacks are disproportionately, in Kansas City, stopped, arrested, charged and incarcerated in connection with marijuana offenses. And I’d like to see that change.”

Lucas emphasized how his imperative was shaped by his experience growing up as a Black man in Kansas City. “When I saw the George Floyd video, I actually had to stop watching it. To be Black in America is to know that any minor offense, any minor transgression, mouthing off to a cop or anyone, can mean termination from a job or frankly, termination of your life.” 

As recently as last November, the city council of Kansas City rejected a decriminalization measure. When asked by NPR what changed the council’s mind, Lucas replied: “I will say very candidly — our protest movement, this moment in our country.”

As the Kansas City Star reports, Lucas has already launched a pardon program for cannabis offenses. And in 2017, voters decided overwhelmingly to reduce penalties for possession of personal quantities to a $25 fine. So, for all intents and purposes, the city has already decriminalized. Lucas’s proposal to eliminate all penalties for possession is technically what the drug policy enforcers call “depenalization.” 

Lucas is realistic about the limits of municipal decriminalization. “State and federal law remain clear with marijuana,” he told local KMBC News. “The city doesn’t need to be in that business; instead, we remain focused on how we can help open doors to new opportunities and empower people to make a decent living.” 

In testimony before the committee, Lucas’s policy director AJ Herrmann stated that in 2017 and 2018, African Americans comprised over 60% of the cannabis arrests in Kansas City — while making up less than 30% of the city’s population. He said that in the fiscal year that ended April 30, there were 821 cannabis cases filed in KC’s municipal courts, with 326 convictions.  

“It’s our belief that removing marijuana from the code entirely would keep low-level possession cases out of court and off the criminal records of casual users,” Herrmann said, according to local public radio affiliate KCUR. “Marijuana enforcement can distract us from larger priorities. City law enforcement and court resources can be better focused on violent crimes and offenses.”

In his testimony, Lucas also stressed racial disparity.

“We see in studies that Black Americans, although having a similar percentage usage of marijuana as whites, are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses,” he stated. “At a time when we are trying to have fewer adverse encounters between community and police, this could be a situation where we could actually remove those.”

One state to the north, Iowa’s capital is also considering municipal-level cannabis decriminalization. The Des Moines City Council voted unanimously on June 22 to create a task force to study such a proposal. Once again, state and federal law would not be impacted — but the city police force would be instructed to make enforcement of cannabis possession its lowest priority.

The resolution was part of an ordinance that also included a measure to prohibit racial profiling, according to the Des Moines Register. The resolution states that the six-person volunteer task force will study the question and turn in recommendations by Oct. 1.

A decrim measure in Des Moines would arguably be even more critical than in Kansas City, as Iowa, unlike Missouri, has not decriminalized at the state level. 

Justice Coming to Georgia?

Similar action at the state level appears to be in the offing in Georgia. Just ahead of the restart of the new legislative session in Atlanta on June 15, the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus unveiled a package of bills aimed at reforming police practices as well as addressing hate crimes and related issues. These have now all been folded into a proposed Georgia Justice Act.

As Law.com reports, the Georgia Justice Act would ban rubber bullets, chokeholds and no-knock warrants. It would prohibit police chases except in extreme circumstances, such as from the scene of a violent crime. It would lift qualified immunity protections for officers accused of wrongdoing. It would restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons upon completion of their sentences. And it would make the possession of less than two ounces of cannabis a misdemeanor. 

Many of these measures have been previously introduced in the statehouse in recent years and failed to pass. But, again, lawmakers perceive that a turning point has been reached.

Sen. Gloria Butler, Democratic Caucus Chairwoman, stated the following in a June 11 press release: “For years, we have been introducing legislation aimed at curtailing police violence and offering tools that would increase awareness and training efforts. However, the vast majority of Democratic legislation has been sidelined and has not received a committee hearing. Too many of our citizens have died or been injured, while politics are at play. That time is over.” 

Georgia has been moving to expand its medical marijuana program in recent years, but still has among the harshest cannabis laws in the country— with simple possession punishable by up to a year in jail. 

America’s Moment of Truth

History may be knocking at the door, but it is far from certain that the country will answer the call — even now.

NPR asked Kansas City’s Mayor Lucas if he feels hopeful that the United States might be in a different place a year from now.

Lucas’s response is sobering.

“Honestly, no…I have grave concerns,” said Lucas who was just a kid during the Rodney King beating, and then the subsequent LA riots when the officers were acquitted.

Nearly three decades later, Lucas says he’s dealing with the very same injustices. “I’m going to try my level best to make sure things change in Kansas City,” he said. “But no, I’m not hopeful. America has broken my heart too many times.” 

TELL US, do you think this movement will push cannabis decriminalization forward?

The post Calls to Defund the Police Lead to Cannabis Decriminalization Measures appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Thousands of Constituents Urge Governors To Deprioritize Marijuana Enforcement Amid Coronavirus

The marijuana reform group NORML is leading an effort to encourage states to deprioritize the enforcement of cannabis criminalization amid the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, more than 4,000 constituents across the country have participated in the organization’s action campaign launched on Wednesday by sending messages to their governors, urging them to take steps to minimize the spread of the virus by avoiding unnecessary marijuana arrests.

NORML created customized email blasts to supporters in all 39 states that have yet to legalize marijuana for adult use. Each one contains a link to a suggested prewritten letter asking the governor to abide by the group’s public health recommendations during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Beyond deprioritizing marijuana enforcement, the organization said states should also drop existing charges for nonviolent cannabis violations “in order to reduce non-essential interactions,” review and release those currently incarcerated for marijuana convictions and waive pending probation requirements for cannabis-related cases.

“Enforcing marijuana prohibition is in itself unfair and unnecessary. Enforcing marijuana prohibition during a global public health crisis, even more so,” Carly Wolf, state policies coordinator at NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “At a time when stress, anxiety, and uncertainty is at an all time high, no one should have the added fear of arrest or expensive fines as a result of low-level possession of a plant during a time when many are experiencing extreme economic hardship.”

“Law enforcement and other correctional personnel are being forced to make physical contact with members of the public solely to enforce an ineffective policy, requiring them to violate social distancing guidelines and in turn detrimentally affect the health and wellbeing of many vulnerable communities. Instead, more common sense, evidence based policies should be put in place to protect the health of everyone, not just some. It’s absolutely essential that state officials deprioritize marijuana enforcement, release those currently serving time for minor possession, and waive and withdraw all pending charges and probation requirements for those solely convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses.”

A memo that the group put out in late March made similar points, and it also made recommendations for legal states on how cannabis businesses can safely operate. It also stressed the need to provide the industry with access to federal coronavirus relief funds and banking services. That memo came after NORML issued advice to consumers about best practices amid the pandemic.

In terms of deprioritization, so far no states where cannabis remains illegal or where only medical cannabis is allowed have taken the measure of formally instructing law enforcement to avoid pursuing marijuana offenses.

“I strongly encourage governors and other state officials to work alongside law enforcement agencies to ensure that these emergency actions are taken immediately to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Wolf said.

NORML’s online action page has links to the state-based opportunities to contact governors about reduced cannabis enforcement.

Featured image from


This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.

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