Tag: Pending Legislation

Vermont Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances; New Poll Shows Strong Public Support

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont House Judiciary Committee approved a bill 8-3 Wednesday that would make personal possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older.

“Today’s vote shows just how far this issue has advanced in just this past year,” said Matt Simon, New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Most Vermonters agree it makes no sense to continue punishing adults for consuming a less harmful substance than alcohol — especially now that it is legal for adults in Massachusetts and Maine. Vermonters are ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition.”

H. 170, sponsored by Committee Chair Maxine Grad (D-Moretown), Vice Chair Charles Conquest (D-Wells River), and ranking Republican Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), would eliminate Vermont’s civil penalty for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, and it would eliminate penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. Penalties for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana would also be reduced.

The bill is expected to receive a full vote in the House of Representatives soon. If it passes, it will be considered by the Senate, which approved a measure to regulate marijuana for adult use in 2016.

A new statewide poll released this week finds a substantial majority of Vermont voters are in favor of the policy change proposed in H. 170. Fifty-seven percent said they support allowing adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Only 39% are opposed. The Public Policy Polling survey of 755 Vermont voters was conducted March 20-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6%.

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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.

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 limited amounts of marijuana. The state would license and regulate businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults, and it would create and enforce strict health and safety regulations, such as testing and labeling requirements and restrictions on marketing.

“Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents,” Cassidy said. “Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for Illinois to develop its own exit strategy. Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.”

The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce at the wholesale level, and retail sales would be subject to the state’s standard 6.25% sales tax. Based on current usage rates and the market price of marijuana being sold for adults’ use in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project estimates regulated marijuana sales could generate between $349 million and $699 million per year in new revenue for Illinois.

“Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” Steans said. “In a regulated system, the money would go into the cash registers of licensed, taxpaying businesses. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state. Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it.”

Eight states have enacted laws regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use. A February Quinnipiac University poll found 59% of U.S. voters think marijuana should be made legal. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and Gallup last October found support at 57% and 60%, respectively.

“People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The time is right for the Illinois General Assembly to re-examine marijuana prohibition and consider the potential benefits of a thoughtfully crafted regulatory system. The sky has not fallen in the eight states that have made marijuana legal for adults. It’s time for Illinois to move past prohibition and stop missing out on the jobs and revenue other states are already getting.”

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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 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 license the cultivation of industrial hemp for research and development purposes. The bills’ language complied with federal provisions (Section 7606) of the 2014 Farm Act which explicitly permit states to license hemp cultivation as part of a state-sponsored research program.

Over 30 states have enacted legislation similarly permitting such programs or redefining hemp as an agricultural product.

Despite super-majority support for the bills in both the state House and Senate, it is not known whether lawmakers will seek to try and override the Governor’s veto. Presently, a third hemp research bill, House Bill 530, is pending in the Senate. Members of the House previously approved it by a vote of 65 to 1.

Separate statewide marijuana law reform legislation, Senate Bill 258, which decriminalizes possession penalties for up to one-half ounce of cannabis, has passed the Senate and is making its way through the House.

Martinez vetoed similar legislation in 2015.

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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 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 issue, a social justice issue, and a taxpayer issue we can be a lot smarter on. It’s time for Texas to take a nationwide lead on marijuana policy.”

House Bill 81, authored by Moody and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 35 co-authors, would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

There were 61,749 marijuana possession arrests in Texas in 2015, and there were more than 418,000 from 2010-2015, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. These arrests and subsequent prosecution have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

“Passing HB 81 would free up police resources and relieve jails, courts, and taxpayers of substantial expense and time demands,” said retired Texas District Court Judge John Delaney. “Each marijuana arrest uses about 2.5 hours of police time. With 60,000-70,000 people arrested in Texas annually, this is a significant amount of police time that could be devoted to patrolling residential neighborhoods and business locations and responding to emergency calls.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report in 2015, declaring it “strongly supports the decriminalization of marijuana use” and encouraging pediatricians to “advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.”

Supporters of the bill who are expected to testify at the committee hearing include retired Texas District Judge John Delaney; retired Houston Police Department Lt. Jay Hall; Baker Institute fellow Dr. William Martin; Texans for Accountable Government Executive Director Michael Cargill; Texas Young Republican Federation President John Baucum; and Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

The measure is also supported by the League of Women Voters of Texas and the Texas Association of Business.

More than two-thirds of Texans (68%) support reducing the penalty for low-level marijuana possession to a citation and $250 fine, according to a June 2015 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Only 26% were opposed.

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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 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 ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor, which is currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000, to a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within three years, and $350 for a third or subsequent offense within three years of two previous offenses.

“Most representatives agree it is time to stop wasting limited public resources on arrests for simple marijuana possession,” said Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We hope their colleagues in the Senate will agree that our tax dollars and law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing serious crimes.”

HB 640 has faced much less opposition than similar bills that failed in recent years. Only one person testified against it at a public hearing on February 1, and the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which voted 7-6 last year to kill a similar measure (HB 1631), approved HB 640 14-2.

Additionally, Gov. Chris Sununu has consistently said he supports decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, whereas previous governors have been opposed.

“There is very little public support for continuing to criminalize marijuana consumers,” Simon said. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and a strong majority of Granite Staters want the Legislature to start treating it that way.”

More than seven out of 10 Granite Staters (72%) would like to see the Legislature decriminalize or legalize marijuana, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in July 2016.

The New Hampshire House approved decriminalization bills in each of the last five years, only to see those bills die in the Senate.

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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.

Bipartisan Vote Carries Medical Marijuana Research Bill to Passage in New Mexico House

SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico State House voted 41-26 Saturday afternoon to pass House Bill 155, co-sponsored by Rep. D. Armstrong (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. McCamley (D-Las Cruces) to establish a fund in the state treasury for research related to the production, uses, effects, and efficacy of medical marijuana.

The bill had bi-partisan support with six Republicans voting in favor, including the minority leader, Nate Gentry, R-Abq. Other Republicans who voted in favor of medical cannabis research were David Adkins, Jim Dines, Sarah Maestas-Barnes, and Monica Youngblood from Albuqurque, and Gail Armstrong, Magdalena.

The bill also establishes protections from state level prosecution and criminal liability for researchers, similar to protections that already exist for medical cannabis patients, producers and medical providers. The proposed legislation does not create an appropriation or cost the state money, but creates a placeholder fund that the legislature or Dept. of Health could choose to direct funds toward in the future. The fund could also collect income from grants, donations, etc..

“This bill would allow researchers like Siv Watkins, a Biology Professor at NM Tech, to conduct university approved studies without fear of criminal or civil liability,” said Representative Armstrong. “This researcher already has a university approved study ready to go. They even have private funding. But, until and unless this bill passes and is signed into law, Professor Watkins and others aren’t protected from prosecution, even at the state level.”

New Mexico’s original medical marijuana bill, the Lynn Pierson Controlled Substances Research and Therapeutic Act, created a program at UNM that distributed marijuana to New Mexicans sick with cancer.

“If we want to learn more about the effects of marijuana, it is critical to ensure that academic researchers have the same level of protection from liability that is already extended to state licensed patients, producers and medical practitioners,” said Jessica Gelay, New Mexico Policy Coordinator with the Drug Policy Alliance. “It was great to see that Representatives from both sides of the aisle voted for this measure. The only way to get more data on effects of marijuana is to support well-designed research, which is what this bill sets up a framework to do.”

More than 32,000 New Mexicans are qualified to participate in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program, which is administered by the Department of Health (DOH). Patients are certified by a medical practitioner to have one of 21 serious medical conditions and must register with DOH in order to become a qualified patient.

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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 Mexico Senate Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill By Wide, Bi-Partisan Margin

SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico Senate on Thursday voted (33-9) to pass Senate Bill 258, sponsored by Senator Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, reducing penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  The final vote was bi-partisan with eight Republicans voting in support.

The proposed legislation makes 1/2 ounce or less of marijuana and possession of any drug paraphernalia a penalty assessment with a fine of $50; a penalty assessment is not considered a criminal conviction. It also makes drug paraphernalia a civil penalty with a $50 fine.

Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over 1 ounce and up to 8 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime with large fines or possible jail time of up to 1 year.

The bill was amended on the floor to reduce the amount that would be decriminalized from 1 ounce to ½ ounce. The amendment was introduced by Senator Moores, R-Abq.

Two years ago, a similar bill, also sponsored by Cervantes, narrowly passed the Senate on a 21-20 vote but didn’t have time to get through the House before the end of the 2015 session. Senate bill 258 now advances to the House.

“Adopting financial civil penalties for small amounts of marijuana for personal use would be a major step forward for criminal justice reform in our state,” stated Senator Joseph Cervantes. “This bill alone would free up dollars that are better spent by law enforcement agencies and courts on more pressing public safety needs.”

The New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts have reported that in 2016 there were over 2,000 possession of marijuana one ounce or less cases filed in magistrate and metropolitan courts, which were not related to any DWI, domestic violence, or a felony charges.  There were 3,660 cases of use or possession of drug paraphernalia, which were not attached to DWI, domestic violence, or felony charges.

Senator Mark Moores, R-Abq., who introduced the amendment and voted in support of the measure said, “This bill garnered my support because it only reduces penalties for people using marijuana for their own personal use. Individuals selling and distributing marijuana would still face the same penalties they do today.  In no way does this bill lessen those penalties.”

New Mexicans agree it is time to change the way we are policing marijuana in the state. In November 2014, voters in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County voiced overwhelming support for marijuana decriminalization; Bernalillo County voting 60% and Santa Fe County voting 73% in favor of statewide decriminalization. The state’s first vote on marijuana policy was not merely local; more than 40% of state voters weighed in and a clear majority of those casting ballots sent the message that voters are ready to end criminal penalties for marijuana possession. A 2013 poll by Sanderoff showed 57% of New Mexicans in favor of decriminalization.

“Although we would have preferred our legislators support statewide legalization of marijuana, this bill represents an important step forward by making sure we are not making criminals out of thousands of New Mexicans who do not belong in jail,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I am troubled by the millions of taxpayer dollars that are spent every year on processing thousands of low level marijuana misdemeanor offenders. Even more troubling is that young people and people of color are disproportionally arrested for marijuana in our state.”

To date, 21 states and the District of Columbia have reduced penalties for marijuana possession. As of today, over 120 million people, or 1/3 of the U.S. population, live in jurisdictions where marijuana has been essentially decriminalized – meaning there is no jail time associated with possession.

The city of Santa Fe decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2014.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

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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.

The ‘Respect State Marijuana Laws Act’ Reintroduced In Congress

WASHINGTON, DC — United States Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

House Resolution 975 amends the federal Controlled Substances Act to read, ”Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.”

Passage of this Act would halt federal officials from prosecuting individuals and businesses in the 29 states that permit either the medical or the adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 60 percent of Americans believe that state officials ought to possess the authority to “control and decide whether to legalize marijuana” – not the federal government.

“With the recent confirmation of militant marijuana prohibitionist Jeff Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is a priority to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference,” NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said.

The bill is one of several pieces of legislation already filed in Congress to amend federal marijuana policy. Other pending measures include HR 715, which seeks to reschedule cannabis under federal law, and HR 331, which halts the federal government from taking civil forfeiture action against properties involved in state-approved, medical marijuana-related conduct.

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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 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, employment, housing opportunities, and other state services.

This bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo and members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, who have vocally called for equity in our state’s drug policies, citing the impact the discriminatory enforcement of these policies have had on communities of color.

“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,” added Peoples-Stokes.

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 Andrew 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.

This sealing legislation has taken on increased importance amid the Trump Administration’s rhetoric and actions targeting immigrant communities. On the national level, simple marijuana possession is the fourth most common cause of deportation, according to the report “Secure Communities and ICE Deportations: A Failed Program?

Sealing records will provide a measure of protection for immigrants 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.

Additionally, sealing will guard against the Trump administration’s Executive Order targeting non-citizens with any criminal arrests and/or convictions for deportation. If the arrest is also sealed and the sealed information is not shared with the FBI, these individuals may be at lower risk of becoming an enforcement target.

“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.”

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.

“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

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.”

“We applaud the New York Assembly for their continued leadership on marijuana reform,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “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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