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Washington Lawmakers Send Marijuana Reform Bill to Governor

OLYMPIA, WA — Lawmakers in Washington state have sent a comprehensive marijuana reform bill to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee (D), making several changes to the state’s cannabis regulation policies.

The bi-partisan Senate Bill 5131 was sponsored by Sens. Anna Rivers [R] Steven Conway [D], and received overwhelming support in both chambers of the legislature.

Among the notable changes made by SB 5131 is a provision that makes it legal for adults 21 or older to share up marijuana…

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Just Say “No” to Taxpayer Funded Medical Marijuana Raids

Since 2014, the Department of Justice has been prohibited from using taxpayers’ funds to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that regulate its medical use.

But that could all change this week as Congress decides how to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. 

At issue is a provision known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which maintains that federal funds can not be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state…

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Vermont Moves Closer to Legalizing Recreational Marijuana for Adults

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont Senate approved a bill on Friday that would regulate the production and sale of marijuana and eliminate penalties for personal possession and cultivation by adults 21 and older.

The Senate amended H. 167, an unrelated House-approved bill, to replace it with a revised version of a marijuana regulation bill that passed last year in the Senate and failed in the House.

The Senate also amended H. 167 to include the same home cultivation…

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CBS Poll Finds Support for Legalizing Marijuana at Record High

More than six in ten Americans believe that the social use of marijuana should be legal for adults, according to nationwide polling data provided by CBS News.

The percentage marks a significant increase since 2013, when only 45 percent of respondents endorsed legalization, and it is among the highest levels of public support ever reported in a national poll. Only a majority of those respondents over the age of 65 did not support legalization.

Source: CBS…

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Canada Lawmakers Introduce Marijuana Regulation Measures

OTTAWA, ON — Liberal Party members introduced legislation late last week to legalize and regulate the possession, use, and sale of cannabis by those age 18 and older.

The legislation follows through on a 2015 campaign pledge by the Party, which has promised to regulate the marijuana market by mid-2018.

The proposed measures establish a legal framework for the commercial production and retail sale of herbal cannabis, germinating seeds, immature plants, and cannabis-infused…

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Tennessee Governor Signs Law Repealing Citywide Decriminalization Statutes

NASHVILLE, TN — Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation last week repealing municipal statutes in Memphis and Nashville that reduced local penalties for marijuana possession offenders.

House Bill 173 nullifies both cities’ decriminalization ordinances and preempts any other city from enacting similar reforms.

City council members in Nashville and Memphis both passed ordinances last fall providing local law enforcement the discretion to cite and fine minor marijuana…

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Tom Marino, Trump’s Reported Drug Czar Pick, is Drug War Extremist; Linked to Scandal

Republican Congressman Tom Marino, Pennsylvania 10th (Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON, DC — President Trump is expected to soon nominate Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA/10th) to be Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (colloquially referred to as the “drug czar”). Marino, a former prosecutor with no background in health or treatment, supports a punitive, 1980’s style approach to drugs, including mass incarceration and coerced treatment, even for medical and…

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Uruguay Retail Cannabis Sales to Begin This July

MONTEVIDEO — Pharmacies will begin selling cannabis in July to those age 18 or older, according to public statements made last week by government officials.

Sixteen pharmacies are already registered to participate in the forthcoming program, which will dispense cannabis provided by state-licensed producers.

Retailers will sell cannabis to customers in five-gram increments. The initial price per gram will be fixed at $1.30 per gram.

Customers must be enrolled in a government…

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South Africa Court Ruling Upholds Private Use Of Marijuana

Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Wikimedia/Kay-Africa)

JOHANNESBURG Federal provisions criminalizing the possession and use of cannabis in private have been determined to be unconstitutional in South Africa.

The High Court decision determined that outlawing the private use of cannabis by adults is an unjustifiable infringement upon citizens’ right to privacy and dignity.

The public use of cannabis, as well as any commercial activities related to the plant’s purchase or sale,…

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Illinois Marijuana Legalization Hearings Coming to Chicago Next Week

(Flickr/Kristen Wall)

CHICAGO, IL — Sponsors of a proposal to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use in Illinois announced Wednesday that lawmakers will hold the first hearing on the bill next week in Chicago.

The Senate and House Appropriations committees will hold a joint hearing on SB 316 and HB 2353 on Wednesday, April 19, in the Michael A. Bilandic Building, according to Senate Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy…

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Senators’ False Claims Pave Way for Dangerous Drug Bill

Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Hearing on Dangerous Synthetic Drugs

The two octogenarian senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are up to one of their favorite pastimes again this year. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have reintroduced a perennial bill that would increase penalties for drug dealers who sell products designed to entice children.

If the bill were to become law, anyone who knew or “had reasonable cause to believe”…

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Poll: Support for Marijuana Legalization Climbing

CHICAGO, IL — The percentage of Americans who “think the use of marijuana should be legal” has increased dramatically over the past ten years and now stands at a record high, according to polling data compiled by the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey.

The survey has tracked adults’ opinions on legalizing marijuana since the early 1970s.

The survey reports that 57 percent of adults support legalization, up from 32 percent in 2006. That is the highest…

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Virginia: Marijuana Arrest No Longer Leads to Automatic Driver’s License Suspension

RICHMOND, VA — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed legislation into law amending the state’s mandatory driver’s suspension law.

Under existing law, defendants convicted of a marijuana violation lose their driving privileges for six months, even in instances where the offense was not driving related.

Under the new legislation, SB 1091, the mandatory suspension will no longer apply to adults convicted of simple marijuana possession offenses.

The new law takes…

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Bill to Repeal Federal Law Requiring States to Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Drug Offenses Introduced in Congress

The United States Capitol in Washington, DC (Wikimedia/David Maiolo)

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX-16) has introduced bipartisan legislation with Representatives Justin Amash (R-MI-3), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Mia Love (R-UT-4) that would repeal a 26-year-old federal law that mandates states to automatically suspend driver’s licenses for anyone convicted of a drug offense or risk losing…

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West Virginia House of Delegates Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

“Welcome to West Virginia” sign along westbound U.S. Route 48 and West Virginia Route 55 east of Wardensville in Hardy County, West Virginia (Wikimedia/Famartin)

CHARLESTON, WV — A bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it was approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 386 passed 76-24 on third reading after being revised on second reading, and now returns to…

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West Virginia Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

“Welcome to West Virginia” sign along westbound U.S. Route 48 and West Virginia Route 55 east of Wardensville in Hardy County, West Virginia (Wikimedia/Famartin)

CHARLESTON, WV — The state Senate approved legislation Wednesday evening (28-6) that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

SB 386, the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, is sponsored by Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan).

It would establish an independent 16-member West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission,…

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Joint Legislation: Federal Bills Would End Marijuana Prohibition in the United States

WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis have introduced legislation in the House and Senate — to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference.

In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matter concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales —…

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Pennsylvania: Harrisburg Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Takes Effect

Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania, as seen from City Island in the Susquehanna River. (Flickr/Don Shall)

HARRISBURG, PA — Minor marijuana possession offenders are no longer subject to arrest in the city of Harrisburg under a new local ordinance that took effect last week.

The municipal measure, approved by members of the City Council in July, reduces local marijuana possession penalties for first-time and second-time offenders from a criminal misdemeanor to a…

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Illinois Poll Finds Two-Thirds of Voters Support Legalizing Marijuana

CARBONDALE, IL — Sixty-six percent of voters believe that the adult use and sale of marijuana ought to be treated like alcohol, according to statewide polling data compiled by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Support for legalization is strongest among voters under 35 years of age (83 percent) and among Democrats (77 percent). However, majorities of respondents in every age demographic and of every political ideology endorse regulating…

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Canada: Trudeau Administration Looks to Legalize Marijuana By July 2018

OTTAWA, ON — Legislation is anticipated from the Trudeau administration in early April to regulate the use, production, and sale of marijuana.

In 2015, the Liberal Party pledged to “legalize and regulate” marijuana if Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister.

The forthcoming legislation will likely be modeled after recommendations issued in 2016 by a federal task force. Members of the task force called on Parliament to permit those over 18 to possess and grow…

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Wisconsin City Removes Fines for Marijuana Possession and Consumption

Following a national trend, members of the Monona City Council passed an ordinance that removed all municipal fines for the private possession and consumption of marijuana.

Under the new ordinance, adults 21-years and older will no longer be subjected to a fine for possessing marijuana in public or in private spaces. Marijuana use in a private residence would also be exempt from a fine, but a $200 fine will still be given to those caught smoking in public.

This came…

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Legalizing Marijuana in Rhode Island Would Yield Nearly $50 Million in New Annual Revenue

PROVIDENCE, RI — Taxing and regulating the marijuana market in Rhode Island will generate nearly $50 million in new annual tax revenue, according to a report issued this week by the advocacy coalition Regulate Rhode Island.

According to the report, commercial sales of cannabis are estimated to reach $161 million by 2020.

Taxing this retail market at rates comparable to those in Colorado or Washington would yield $48.3 million per year.

Legislation (The Adult Use of Cannabis Act) is pending in the Rhode Island House and Senate to regulate…

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Illinois General Assembly to Consider Ending Marijuana Prohibition, Regulating and Taxing Marijuana for Adult Use

SPRINGFIELD, IL — State lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that would end marijuana prohibition in Illinois and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use.

The Senate bill, SB 316, is sponsored by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago), while the House version, HB 2353, was presented by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). Each would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow, and purchase…

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Federal Marijuana Sentences Plummet: Report

WASHINGTON, DC — The number of federal offenders sentenced for violating marijuana laws has fallen significantly since 2012, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Just over 3,000 federal defendants were sentenced for marijuana violations in 2016, according to the Commission. That total is roughly half of the number of federal defendants that were sentenced in 2012. The total has fallen year-to-year since that time.

The 2016 total…

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New Mexico Governor Vetoes Hemp Research Bills

SANTA FE, NM — New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has vetoed a pair of measures that sought to establish a hemp research program through the state’s Department of Agriculture.

The Governor gave no public explanation for the vetoes. The Governor has historically been an outspoken opponent of marijuana law reform efforts – receiving an ‘F’ grade on NORML’s 2016 Gubernatorial Scorecard.

The measures, House Bill 144 and Senate Bill 6, permitted the Department to…

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Marijuana Reform Groups Respond to Attorney General’s Comments

Jeff Sessions speaking at an event in Washington, DC. (Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore)

WASHINGTON DC — On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made several statements regarding marijuana, claiming that marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin and telling reporters that “medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much.”

In a prepared statement, Sessions also said:

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store.  And I…

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Jeff Sessions Claims Marijuana Only “Slightly Less Awful” Than Heroin

Jeff Sessions speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions once again displayed his ignorance about drugs Wednesday as he claimed that marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. In the same speech, he acknowledged rising heroin and prescription opioid overdose death levels, but failed to note that no one dies from overdosing on marijuana.

Heroin produces physical addiction and is linked to thousands of…

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Texas House to Hold Hearing on Reducing Marijuana Penalties Today

AUSTIN, TX — A bill that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas is scheduled to receive a hearing Monday afternoon in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

“I’m proud to present HB 81 to the committee and build on the bipartisan support it’s had from the very beginning,” said Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso). “This sort of reform crosses party lines because it’s a law enforcement issue, a business…

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Pennsylvania Auditor General Says State Lawmakers Should Regulate the Marijuana Market

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s auditor general on Monday publicly advocated for the legalization and taxation of retail marijuana sales, arguing that such a policy would bring new jobs and tax revenue to the state.

Speaking at a news conference at the state capitol, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said:

“The regulation and taxation of the marijuana train has rumbled out of the station, and it is time to add a stop in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I make this…

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Israeli Cabinet Endorses Marijuana Decriminalization Plan

JERUSALEM — Israeli lawmakers have signed off on legislation decriminalizing offenses involving the possession of personal use quantities of marijuana.

Under the new policy, first and second time possession offenders will face a fine, but no criminal penalties.

“The Cabinet approval is an important step on the way to implementing the new policy that will put emphasis on explaining and treating rather than on criminal enforcement,” explained Israeli Public Security…

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New Hampshire House Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

CONCORD, NH — The state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve House Bill 640, bringing New Hampshire one step closer to becoming the final state in New England to decriminalize marijuana possession.

The bill, which was approved by a vote of 318-36 by the House, will now be considered by the Senate.

HB 640, sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) and a bipartisan group of 10 co-sponsors, would reduce the penalty for possession of one…

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Israeli Cabinet Approves Proposal to Decriminalize Marijuana

On Sunday, Israel took a big step toward decriminalizing adult marijuana use. The Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal that would replace criminal penalties with fines for people who are caught using marijuana in public. The proposal from the Ministries of Justice and Public Security has received support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but still requires approval of the Israeli Parliament before becoming law.

Some Israeli marijuana reform advocates worry that the plan…

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Five Reasons Trump Needs to Think Twice Before Waging War on Weed

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Ottumwa, Iowa in January, 2016. (Flickr/Evan Guest)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer‘s comment last week that we “will see greater enforcement” of federal marijuana prohibition has set off tremors in the pot industry, but it should be setting off warning bells at the White House itself.

Any move against marijuana would be politically fraught, economically foolish, and counter to some of the Trump administration’s other…

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Nevada Lawmakers Moving Forward With Expedited Plan For Adult Use Marijuana Sales

CARSON CITY, NV — State officials in Nevada are holding firm on an expedited plan to begin adult use marijuana sales in July, despite comments from the Trump administration indicating a forthcoming crackdown in states that regulate its commercial production and sale.

Nevada Department of Taxation spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein told the Associated Press that the agency is “moving forward” with plans to permit retail cannabis sales by this summer.

Fifty-five percent of…

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New York: Advocates Push Crucial Legislation to Seal Past Marijuana Possession Convictions

ALBANY, NY — Advocates and lawmakers came together for a press conference in Albany on Tuesday to demand reprieve for the harm that has been caused by arrests for low-level marijuana possession and mobilize for legislative solutions to keep New York families together.

New York’s marijuana arrest crusade began more than 20 years ago. Since then, police departments across the state have arrested more than 800,000 New Yorkers for low-level marijuana possession offenses….

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Poll Finds Voters Support Marijuana Law Reform By Record Numbers

WASHINGTON, DC — Record numbers of voters support regulating the marijuana market and oppose federal efforts to interfere or undermine state laws permitting the plant’s use or sale, according to nationwide polling data released this week by Quinnipiac University.

Ninety-three percent of voters — including 96 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Republicans — support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes,” the highest total ever reported in a…

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Houston District Attorney to Expand Policy Shielding Minor Marijuana Offenders From Jail, Criminal Records

HOUSTON, TX — Houston County District Attorney Kim Ogg has announced plans to expand a countywide program shielding marijuana possession offenders from criminal records. The county is the third largest in the nation.

Under current policy, first-time offenders found in the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana may participate in a pre-trial diversion program. Those who complete the program do not have criminal charges filed against them and do not receive a…

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NORML Responds to Possible Federal Crack Down on Legal Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested this week that the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana.

“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, and added that the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”

The Department of Justice is lead by Jeff Sessions, a renowned ardent marijuana prohibitionist.

“If the Trump administration goes through with a…

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Guam Health Officials to Begin Licensing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

MANGILAO, GUAM —  Health Department officials in Guam are accepting applications from those seeking to become licensed medical cannabis cultivators or providers.

Voters in the US territory decided in the 2014 general election to establish regulations governing the licensed production and distribution of medicinal cannabis to qualified patients.

Lawmakers codified those regulations last December.

Under the law, known as the Joaquin “KC” Concepcion II…

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New York State Assembly Passes Landmark Bill to Seal Past Marijuana Possession Convictions

ALBANY, NY — The New York State Assembly voted this week in support of a bill that will seal the criminal records of people who have been unjustly and unconstitutionally arrested for simple possession of marijuana in public view.

The vote on Assembly Bill 2142 was 95 in favor and 38 opposed.

Over the last 20 years, more than 800,000 New Yorkers have been arrested for simple possession of marijuana. Those convicted face significant barriers to accessing education,…

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NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

DENVER, CO — The fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing.

With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the…

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Donald Trump Vows ‘Ruthless’ War on Drugs and Crime

(Flickr/Oregon Department of Transportation)

In a sharp break with the Obama administration, which distanced itself from harsh anti-drug rhetoric and emphasized treatment for drug users over punishment, President Donald Trump last week reverted to tough drug war oratory and backed it up with a series of executive orders he said were “designed to restore safety in America.”

“We’re going to stop the drugs from pouring in,” Trump told law enforcement professionals of the…

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The Challenge of Marijuana Legalization in the Trump Era

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in February 2016. (Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore)

Senator Sessions is now the US Attorney General. Activists against Prohibition wait nervously to see what the new Administration will do….

There have been uncertain signals over the past few months from President Trump and a number of his advisers — everything from harsh rhetoric to States’ Rights Libertarianism.

Specific policies may come soon.

As we wait, those of us in…

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New York City Marijuana Possession Arrests Spike in 2016

NEW YORK, NY — Criminal arrests for marijuana possession increased ten percent in 2016 despite former promises from Mayor Bill de Blasio to reduce the city’s total number of cannabis-related prosecutions.

New York City police made over 17,600 arrests last year for which the top charge was marijuana possession in the 5th degree – a class B misdemeanor. Of those charged, 85 percent were either Black or Hispanic. Ninety-six percent were arrested specifically for…

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Senate Votes to Confirm Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) listens to a question during confirmation hearings on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Senate voted 52 to 47 Wednesday to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as Attorney General. Most Republicans voted for him; most Democrats voted against him.

The vote comes after two months of organized opposition as hundreds of organizations expressed concerns about Sessions’s record and racially-charged statements he has made in the…

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Over 50 Vermont Attorneys Urge Legislature to End Marijuana Prohibition

MONTPELIER, VT — More than 50 Vermont attorneys have signed a letter urging the Legislature to “reform our state’s outdated and unjust policies towards cannabis by passing a bill to legalize and regulate its cultivation and sale for adult use in 2017.”

The letter will be presented to lawmakers at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on H. 170, which is scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. ET in Room 30 of the Vermont State House.

Hose Bill 170 is a bipartisan…

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New Mexico Marijuana Legalization Bill Slowly Advancing

SANTA FE, NM — A proposal to legalize marijuana for adult use has advanced through the first of three committees it needs to clear before advancing to a floor vote.

House Bill 89, the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act, is sponsored by Reps.  Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces) and Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque).

The bill was approved in January by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, and is currently awaiting review by the House Business and Industry Committee.  It would…

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Oregon Agency Rejects Adoption of Per Se Traffic Safety Laws for Cannabis

SALEM, OR — Lawmakers should not amend the state’s traffic safety laws or institute per se thresholds for cannabinoids, according to the recommendations of a new report issued by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which had been tasked with reviewing the state’s driving laws following the passage of legislation in 2015.

Authors concluded that intoxication due to alcohol, not marijuana, remains by far the greatest contributor to motor vehicle accidents and found…

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Tennessee Could Reduce Some Marijuana Possession Penalties

(Flickr/Phillip Dodds)

NASHVILLE, TN — Penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Tennessee could soon be reduced to a low-level misdemeanor, punishable by only a fine without the possibility of jail time.

Two lawmakers from Nashville, both Democrats, have filed joint legislation to reduce marijuana penalties statewide in direct response to a Republican lawmaker’s attempt to nullify their city’s recently passed ordinance that gives police officers the option to…

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Vermont Bill Filed to Legalize Adult Possession, Cultivation of Marijuana

MONTPELIER, VT — Lawmakers in Vermont have filed a bill that would legalize marijuana possession for adults 21 or older.

House Bill 170, sponsored by Reps. Maxine Grad (D), Charles Conquest (D), and Thomas Burditt (R).

If passed, the bill would eliminate all civil and criminal penalties for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and up to ten grams of concentrates by adults.

Adults would be allowed to grow up to two mature and seven immature cannabis plants in a…

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