Tag: Activism

GA: Atlanta City Council to Consider Marijuana Decriminalization

Downtown Atlanta (Wikimedia Commons)

ATLANTA, GA — On Monday, May 15, 2017, the City Council of Atlanta, Georgia will vote on an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana within Atlanta’s City Limits.

Under Georgia law, the possession of one ounce or less is an arrestable offense that could result in up to a $1000 fine and 12 months in jail.

This ordinance would allow for the issuance of a citation which carries a $75.00 fine. The ordinance would only apply to the Atlanta Police Department. Other agencies operating within the City, such as the State Patrol and Fulton County Sheriff, would still be able to arrest for the offense.

While it may not seem like much protection, the passage of this ordinance would be a giant step in Georgia. The small town of Clarkston passed a similar ordinance in July 2016. While that stirred up some news, the Capital of Georgia passing it would have a major ripple effect.

One mayoral candidate, Vincent Fort, who is a current member of Georgia’s Senate, has made decriminalization the major plank in his campaign platform. It is a hot topic in Georgia.

Peachtree NORML, in association with Georgia C.A.R.E. Project, has begun a City-by- City campaign which is beginning to have some success. By providing fact-based data to municipal governments wishing to consider such measures, we hope to begin reducing the harm caused by an arrest for small amounts of marijuana in Georgia.

If approved by Council, Atlanta will join a growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. Kansas City, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Milwaukee, Monona, Toledo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several others have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Sharon Ravert, the Founder of Peachtree NORML is fond of saying, “When we are talking, we are winning.” Hopefully the City of Atlanta will prove her right next Monday.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Michigan NORML Joins Fight to Legalize Marijuana in 2018

(image: MILegalize)

Marijuana activists across Michigan are gearing up for a renewed effort to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and up. Last week the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol took the first steps to qualify their new proposal for the 2018 ballot by formally submitting language to the State of Michigan for review.

If passed by voters, adults 21 and up will be able to legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their residence. For retail sales, a 10 percent tax will be applied. Tax revenues are expected to be used for schools, roads, enforcement costs and a unique study that will examine the use of medical marijuana to prevent veteran suicides.

If you’ve been following legalization efforts in Michigan, you’re probably aware that advocates pushed for a similar initiative in 2016. However after collecting more than 350,000 signatures – more than enough to qualify for the ballot – Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that disqualified the measure from the ballot, a decision the state appellate courts let stand.

This changed everything. Organizers of the effort quickly went from having more than enough signatures to needing over 100,000 to make the ballot. However, refusing to accept defeat, many involved in the campaign quickly regrouped and shifted their focus to the 2018 ballot.

With the backing of Michigan NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, MI legalize, Drug Policy Alliance, the National Patients Rights Association, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition and several others, campaign organizers and volunteers are confident they now have the resources and support needed to be successful.

“Michigan NORML is pleased to have been included in negotiations over the language filed in Michigan by the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The  initiative includes best practices from around the country,” said Matthew Able, executive director of Michigan NORML. “We expect to collect the necessary 253,000 signatures over the next six months, and look forward to approval by the Board of Canvassers so that we may begin the petitioning process.”

If approved, Michigan will become the ninth state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and up following Colorado, Alaska, California, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Texas Advocates Make Last Minute Push for Medical Marijuana Fix

AUSTIN, TX — A group of patients, caregivers, and advocates will gather at the Texas State Capitol today for an eleventh-hour push to keep critical medical marijuana legislation alive.

The group, led by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, will be urging members of the House Calendars Committee to schedule a vote on House Bill 2107, which would likely pass now that 77 of 150 House members have signed on as co-authors.

A rally and news conference is scheduled for 10:30 am on the south steps of the capitol, after which advocates will proceed inside to lobby committee members.

The House Committee on Public Health approved HB 2107 by a vote of 7-2 on Friday.

The legislation, which would fix the state’s currently unworkable medical marijuana program and make it more inclusive, gained significant traction after the committee heard hours of testimony from supporters last Tuesday.

The number of representatives signed on as either joint or co-authors jumped from five to more than 70 the following day.

“In this time of divisive politics, we have found bipartisan agreement that the well-being of our loved ones suffering from life-threatening or debilitating conditions should rise above the fray of Left and Right,” said Reps. Eddie Lucio III and Jason Isaac in a letter sent to members of the House on Friday following the committee vote.

“We’ve known for quite some time that a majority of Texans support legal access to medical cannabis,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “We now know that most House members support it, too. With more than half of them signed on as co-authors, this bill is sure to pass if the Calendars Committee allows a vote on it.”

Texas’ legislative session ends on May 29.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Texas Medical Marijuana Supporters Push for Hearings on Critical Legislation

AUSTIN, TX — A group of patients, caregivers, and medical professionals will hold a rally and news conference on the north steps of the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. to urge lawmakers to allow hearings on critical medical marijuana legislation.

The group will call on House Public Health Committee Chairman Four Price and Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner to schedule hearings on HB 2107 and SB 269, respectively.

HB 2107 and SB 269 would fix the currently unworkable and unnecessarily restrictive Texas Compassionate Use Program and make it more inclusive.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

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 laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

In December, Congress re-authorized the amendment as part of a short term spending package through April 28, 2017, at which time the budget — and the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment — will expire.

With anti-cannabis zealot Jeff Sessions now heading the Department of Justice, we can’t leave patients across the country and those who supply their medicine vulnerable to a federal crackdown on medical marijuana.

Over 90% of all Americans support the legalization of medical marijuana, according to nationwide polling data published last week. Further, 73 percent of voters oppose federal interference in states that regulate its use.

Let’s ensure that these programs and the millions of patients who rely upon them are protected. 

Tell your member of Congress to get this right. Demand that they protect patients from Jeff Sessions and his Department of Justice. 

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Kansas City Municipal Decriminalization Measure Passes

Kansas City Municipal Decriminalization Measure Passes | NORML

KANSAS CITY, MO — Kansas City voters approved a municipal ballot measure on Tuesday decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses within the city’s limits. Nearly 75 percent of citywide voters decided ‘yes’ on Question 5, which reduces penalties for the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable […]

Kansas City Municipal Decriminalization Measure Passes | The Daily Chronic


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Voters in Kansas City, MO Decriminalize Marijuana in Blowout Victory

KANSAS CITY, MO — In a blowout victory for sensible criminal justice policy, the voters of Kansas City, Missouri have decided to approve Question 5 and decriminalize marijuana to direct their law enforcement officers to no longer target citizens for possession of the plant and would replace current criminal penalties with just a civil fine.

The measure will amend local laws regarding the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and older from a criminal misdemeanor, previously punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine — with no arrest made or criminal record imposed.

“We could not be more excited about the positive impact passing Question 5 will bring to the communities of Kansas City. We fought long and hard for this result and could not have done it without the support of our volunteers,” said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of KC NORML. “The era of reefer madness in Kansas City has come to an end and no longer will otherwise law abiding citizens be targeted or arrested for the mere possession of marijuana.”

This is yet another victory in the march to end the criminalization of marijuana in the United States.

“The passage of this initiative is not just a victory for the people of Kansas City, but for the democratic process,” said Erik Altieri National NORML’s Executive Director, “When concerned citizens stand up, stand together, and fight back against unjust laws, we will win. The overwhelming majority of Americans want to end our nation’s war on marijuana consumers and politicians across the country should take heed of the message voters sent in Missouri: if you don’t reform our marijuana laws through the legislature, we the people will do it for you.”

Nationally, more than 600,000 people a year are arrested for simple marijuana possession alone. These arrests are disproportionately targeted, the ACLU found that the racial disparity in marijuana charges were levied against people over color, by nearly 4 to 1.

“Kansas City now joins the ranks of dozens of cities and states throughout the country that have ended the practice of arresting marijuana consumers,” said Kevin Mahmalji, outreach coordinator for NORML. “We at NORML are incredibly proud of the efforts of Jamie Kacz and her team at KC NORML and thank the voters of Kansas City for bringing a new era of sanity their law enforcement priorities and the overarching movement to end the prohibition of marijuana.”

Kansas City now joins a growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Milwaukee, Monona, Toledo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several others have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Who Is ‘Potsquatch’?

SPRINGFIELD, MA — Seconds after I met Dave Mech, creator of the notorious Potsquatch, video-bomber of Massachusetts weather reports and viral online persona, he presented me with an opportunity for a little participatory journalism.

“I want to get some video of you wearing the suit,” he told me, unfolding what looked like the shorn outer skin of some swamp creature.

“I’d like you to sorta stick your head out of the front door and look around while I film you. I’m making a music video with a band outta Cleveland and need some shots to edit in.”

Why not. I had made the trip to Potco, Mech’s CBD dispensary, café, retail store, infusion and extraction center, to spend an afternoon in the habitat of the Potsquatch. I didn’t count on getting literally under the creature’s skin—but as a reporter you often just roll with the scene.

It was a biting cold day in Springfield, and I can tell you this about the infamous suit. It is a tactical ghillie suit draped in plastic, handmade cannabis fan leaves, which cascade like a lion’s mane around a green hockey-mask face. It is not warm.

America, Meet the Potsquatch

Potsquatch became an instant hit after he was caught on a local news report tromping through the streets of Springfield, MA, during a blizzard. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)Potsquatch became an instant hit after he was caught on a local news report tromping through the streets of Springfield, MA, during a blizzard. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)

Mech and his alter-ego-slash-brand-mascot burst into global view on Feb. 9, 2017, during a nor’easter unleashing snowy hell all over Massachusetts. Jennifer Pagliei, a meteorologist from local news station 22 News, was doing a live report from Springfield, not far from Potco’s storefront. Mech, seeing an opportunity for a little free media, donned the suit and slogged his way through shin-deep snow toward Pagliei.

The rest is history.

It was a clip ripe for social media, and in a few hours it had gone viral.

In early March, a another live news crew got Potsquatch-ed while covering the raid and shutdown of nearby dispensary Mary Jane Makes Your Heart Sing. Word got out that the store allegedly was charging customers an entry fee, then gifting sample bags of marijuana. (In Massachusetts, where the state voted in November to legalize cannabis for adult use, emerging state regulations and local oversight have made for hazy operations as organizations keep up with what’s tolerable and what’s not.) Potsquatch soon won the support of many at the raid, and his leafy face again stole the show.

 

Squatch’s Alter Ego: Dave Mech

Potco, David Mech's grow-supply store, offers CBD-infused coffee, tea, and edibles. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)Potco, David Mech’s grow-supply store, offers CBD-infused coffee, tea, and edibles. (Jamie Cotten for Leafly)

When the phone rings in Potco, Dave Mech is the guy who answers. “We sell CBD,” he told one caller, “but you can bring your bud down to be pressed for products and manufacturing.” At the end he closed the conversation with a cheery goodbye. “Yup. My name’s Dave. I’m the Potsquatch.”

The man behind the mask has always had a gift for promotion. Prior to opening Potco, Dave Mech made an living as an entertainment lawyer in the music business. He once spent three days snowed in with the Wu Tang Clan, which he describes as “a very fun three days.”

“Often it helps more than the prescribed pills and antipsychotics they are on.”

His interest in CBD and cannabis caregiving grew out of his earlier law practice, representing maritime workers and fishermen who suffered injuries while working off the coast of Gloucester, MA, in the 1980s. His father was a Gloucester fisherman, and Mech’s experience representing injured fisherman put him on the front lines of the heroin epidemic that devoured Gloucester, fed by opioid painkillers.

Some years later, Mech developed Clinic in the Clouds, a program he hoped would be a model to demonstrate how to get medical marijuana and CBD patients the care they need. Its function was to improve coordination across primary care doctors and psychiatrists, and even among opioid treatment clinics.

“It’s a big reason why I got into the medical end of cannabis and CBD,” he says. “There was no coordination of care, and anything with marijuana was considered taboo between physical and psychiatric doctors. There was a wall between them, and they needed to accept that it works, and often it helps more than the prescribed pills and antipsychotics they are on.”

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When Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2012, Mech began working with a flood of patients who said they were telling their psychiatrists they preferred CBD. The vast majority seemed to be coming in to treat anxiety or depression-related symptoms. “One in 10 had full-blown PTSD, and before coming in they weren’t even seeking treatment,” Mech said.

In 2013, as he was working toward opening a shop of his own, his back suddenly went out, the end result of decades of herniated-disc pain. “I was fighting to get a dispensary up and I couldn’t even get out of bed,” he recalled. He was forced to put the plan on ice. That’s when he met Bill Downing.

Bill and Dave’s Excellent Adventures

(Jamie Cotten for Leafly)(Jamie Cotten for Leafly)

Downing was already a fixture in the underground caregiver and cannabis activist communities in Massachusetts. The two quickly hit it off.

“He seemed like a pretty smart guy and, when I met him, I walked into his basement and he had a full dispensary going,” Mech laughed. “He was different. He was going to do this no matter what.”

Mech and Downing began working in tandem, with Mech establishing Caregivers Connection and Downing servicing patients through his Yankee Caregivers platform. Downing was drawn to Mech’s sincerity, as well as the benefit of having a lawyer as a partner.

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After a month of working as a collective, they were serving more than 1,200 patients. “Bill even had a secret hideout somewhere above the hills of Worcester where he kept his medicine,” Mech said with a giggle. Downing had been processing and distributing more than 20 pounds of cannabis per week, as well as hashish, topicals, bubble baths, lip balms, and other products. “I often had three full-time employees there, just packing up orders,” Downing told me over the phone.

Mech believed then that if done right, the caregiver model could replace the dispensary mess at the time, characterized in the current market by a slow slog of bureaucratic oversight. “That’s what people were doing, what people do in the community. It’s about caregiving first,” he said. Years later, patients around Massachusetts are still frustrated by obstacles to access, especially those far from the state’s few dozen dispensaries.

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Then Mech and Downing’s joint caregiving project began to crash. Massachusetts authorities cracked down on local caregivers, filing civil enforcement actions against various groups. Downing’s dispensary was raided. Frustrated, Downing responded in 2014 by suing the Department of Health on grounds that the agency was attempting to eliminate the caregiver provision of the state’s medical marijuana law.

Mech ultimately broke off from his conjoined business partnership with Downing—though he’s still on good terms with the longtime advocate.

“Dave gave me legal advice, and moral support too,” Downing laughed over the phone. “He’s a believer in the cause. When you’re taking a lot of chances, it’s hard to find people to stand up with you,” he said. “Many times I remember just calling up and asking for [legal] advice. I never had to pay him for it. He just kind of helps.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

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 am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.  Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

The comments made by the former Senator from Alabama quickly prompted a response from several pro-marijuana advocacy groups.

Erik Altieri, Executive Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, issued a succinct statement:

“With over 600,000 arrests a year, the only thing life-wrecking about marijuana is its prohibition.”

Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, issued the following statement:

More than 85% of the U.S. population live in states with medical cannabis laws, and over 2 million Americans are benefiting from its use. These laws address the healthcare needs of patients who benefit from cannabis-based treatments, often where conventional medications have failed.

Patient populations include people living with or treating cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, severe childhood epilepsy disorders such as Dravet Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and a myriad of other conditions.

Statements like these from the Attorney General are factually inaccurate – in January, the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering released a report that reviewed over 10,000 research articles, which states there is conclusive, moderate, and substantial evidence for benefits of cannabis in several conditions.

Sessions needs to stop spreading unfounded, unscientific theories about medical marijuana and take the time to actually meet the millions of Americans that are benefitting from its use before making comments about it being over-hyped.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

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. In 2016, more than 22,000 New Yorkers were arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana – 80% of whom were black or Latino. What’s worse, many of these arrests were the product of an unconstitutional stop. Once convicted, a permanent record can follow these mostly young people of color for the rest of their lives – a record easily found by banks, schools, employers, landlords, and licensing boards. Today, thousands of New Yorkers are still being burdened by these arrests even after the Governor and law enforcement officials admitted they were wrong.

Recently, the New York State Assembly passed a landmark piece of legislation to provide some reprieve for those who have been most criminalized in our state. The responsibility for pushing this bill forward now falls to the Senate and the Governor, who have an opportunity to right a wrong by sealing these arrests.

“I introduced the marijuana sealing bill because drug laws have created a permanent underclass of people unable to find jobs after a conviction,” said Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “One of the most damaging issues derived from the war on drugs is that the policies are inherently racist. Communities of color have been devastated by bad drug policies and hyper-criminalization for the last 40 years. It is an approach that has never worked and has caused significantly more harm than good to our communities and to our families. If today’s moment of increased attention to heroin encourages us to center public health in our drug policy, then we need to ensure that we are making amends to communities of color by alleviating the burden bad policies have had on their lives. Sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions is the first step to reintegrating thousands of New Yorkers who are inhibited daily from accessing employment, housing and an education all due to a conviction on their record for simple possession of marijuana.”

This sealing legislation has also taken on increased importance amid the Trump Administration’s rhetoric and actions targeting immigrant communities. Simple marijuana possession is the fourth most common cause of deportation at the national level, and sealing records will provide a measure of protection for noncitizens by making it difficult or impossible for immigration authorities to meet their legal burden of proof for a judge to find a lawful permanent resident deportable.

“A marijuana conviction can lead to devastating consequences for immigrants, including detention and deportation,” said Alisa Wellek, Executive Director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “This bill will provide some important protections for green card holders and undocumented New Yorkers targeted by Trump’s aggressive deportation agenda.”

New York State first decriminalized personal marijuana possession in 1977, recognizing the harmful impact an arrest could have on young people. Although New York officials, including Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, have previously recognized these arrests as ineffective, unjust, and racially discriminatory, they still continue across the state because of a loophole in the law. In 2016 more than 22,000 New Yorkers were arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana – 80% of whom were black or Latino. Governor Cuomo proposed closing this loophole as part of his State of the State 2017, citing the damaging collateral consequences. As policymakers acknowledge that these arrests are unjust and should not take place in the future, they must simultaneously focus on repairing the harm for people burdened by a criminal record from such an arrest.

The discriminatory practices are statewide. For example, in the city of Buffalo in Erie County, African Americans represent 70% of the marijuana arrests – despite only being 38.6% of the population, and using marijuana at similar rates as other groups.

Once convicted, a permanent record can follow these mostly young people of color for the rest of their lives – a record easily found by banks, schools, employers, landlords, and licensing boards.

“New York must repair the harms of our racially biased marijuana laws and sealing low-level marijuana convictions is a step in the right direction. Thank you to the New York State Assembly for recognizing that a permanent criminal record is an out-sized burden for low-level marijuana possession and that allowing sealing for these convictions will allow New Yorkers to avoid job loss, eviction, and a host of unnecessary collateral consequences.” Alyssa Aguilera, Co-Executive Director, VOCAL-NY

Increasingly, jurisdictions and legislators across the country are realizing that marijuana prohibition has been ineffective, unjust, and racially discriminatory, and are working to implement regulatory systems that are fair and effective. In New York, Assembly members recognize that, at a minimum, people should not be saddled with a permanent criminal record simply for possession of small amount of marijuana.

Advocates now look to the Senate to quickly pass the Senate companion bill (S.3809) sponsored by Senator Jamaal Bailey before the session ends on June 21, and to begin to repair the harm done by marijuana prohibition to communities across the state. Governor Cuomo also has a unique opportunity to address the harms that these arrests have caused by enacting sealing for marijuana possession arrests as part of his decriminalization proposal in the state budget legislation. Such a move would show his commitment to communities that have borne the harshest brunt of racial profiling and those currently most vulnerable under Trump’s executive orders.

“In New York State 22,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2016. The misdemeanor charge for public view of marijuana possession gives those people convicted a criminal record that will follow them throughout their lives, potentially limiting their access to education, affecting their ability to obtain employment, leading to a potential inability to provide for  their families,” said Senator Jamaal Bailey.

“Furthermore, and even more problematic, there exist significant racial disparities in the manner that marijuana possession policy is enforced. Blacks and Latinos are arrested at higher rates despite the fact that white people use marijuana at higher rates than people of color. Responsible and fair policy is what we need here and this bill will do just that. I am proud to sponsor this legislation with Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes and commend her for taking initiative on this issue. We must act now, with proactive legislation, for the future of many young men and women of our State are at stake here.”

Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “Any one of the more than 22,000 arrests made in our state last year over misdemeanor marijuana possession could snowball into the nightmare of losing one’s job, losing a license used to make a living – to be a nurse, a home health aide, or a security guard – or for immigrants, losing the ability to remain in our country. All that stands alongside stigma and other consequences. This legislation is an important part of tackling that current, overly punitive approach. Steps like this one move us toward the wiser, more humane approach New Yorkers deserve.”

Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda stated, “I find the current hypocritical situation in regard to possession of minor amounts of marijuana both wasteful and shameful. Wasteful because the cases only take police away from more important law enforcement and clog our court system, with most cases either thrown out or reduced. Shameful that too many young people, the overwhelming majority of them black and Hispanic arrested for the first time, find themselves branded with criminal records that can affect their ability to get a student loan, a job, or an apartment.

It has become increasingly evident, as a number of states across the nation legalize the possession of minor amounts of marijuana, that New York, supposedly one of the more enlightened states in the nation, remains the marijuana arrest capital of the world, despite decriminalization of private marijuana possession, with many of the arrests the result of illegal searches and false charges. It is time to end this farce, beginning with sealing the court records of thousands of individuals caught up in this hypocritical, racially biased situation. Let us apply some common sense here.”

“Criminal records based on unequally enforced statutes are a part of an unjust justice system,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “Senator Bailey’s bill is an important part of increasing fairness in the justice system, along with my Fairness and Equity Act, which would also decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and better track bias in the law. Thank you to Senator Bailey, Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes, the Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL-NY, Immigration Defense Project, advocates, and the community.”

Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance said, “Sealing past illegitimate marijuana convictions is not only right, it is most urgent as the country moves toward legalization and immigrant families are put at risk under our new federal administration. Comprehensive drug law reform must include legislative and programmatic measures that account for our wrongheaded policies and invest in building healthier and safer communities, from the Bronx to Buffalo, Muslim and Christian, US-born and green card-holding.”

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.