Could Cannabis Tourism Save Puerto Rico’s Economy?

Puerto Rico is drowning in a sea of debt more than $74 billion deep, and many on the Caribbean island see legal cannabis as a potential lifeline.

The sunny Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is facing some dark financial times: Large companies fled the island for friendlier tax laws, creating a deficit that the resource-rich, industry-poor territory has been unable to fill. Puerto Ricans — about 45 percent of whom live at or below the poverty line — are following suit: The island’s population has fallen by 400,000 people, to 3.4 million, in no small part because unemployment here (12 percent) is almost triple what it is back in the full-fledged USA (4.3 percent).

Above all, Puerto Rico is more than $74 billion in debt to creditors it cannot pay and has $50 billion in pension obligations it cannot fulfill. There are assertions that up to half of the debt is “illegal” — the result of toxic Wall Street tricks of the kind that engineered the Great Recession — but the weight of the financial obligation remains.

Read more at Cannabis Now

Police Departments Telling K9 Units to ‘Sit and Stay’

What happens to K9 cops when cannabis is decriminalized? For the most part, not much — departments aren’t planning to part with drug dogs any time soon.

Humans of the 21st century think highly of our pets — almost as highly as we think of ourselves. So now that drug-policy reform is swelling government budgets and thinning prisons, some people are asking, “won’t someone think of the drug-sniffing dogs?”

Colorado Public Radio is the latest to examine the question of what to do with K9 units in an era of drug-policy reform. Marijuana is legal in Colorado, CPR points out, so what’s the use of a dog trained to suss out marijuana?

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Oregon Is About to Become the First State to Decriminalize Hard Drugs

Oregon is an amazing state, and it got even more so last month when its legislature voted to decriminalize cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone, LSD and ecstasy.

Oregon already had a weed-friendly history that goes back to 1973, when it became the first state in the union to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. In 1998, medical marijuana went legal, and in 2015, recreational weed was legalized.

While states across the land have stepped up to legalize or decriminalize medical and/or recreational pot in soaring numbers (29 so far), people get a bit squeamish about doing the same with hard drugs.

Read more at High Times

NJ Senator Introduces Bill That Could Federally Legalize Weed

A new bill introduced by New Jersey senator Cory Booker aims to do more than remove cannabis from the Schedule I Drug list — it would remove cannabis from the Scheduled Substances List entirely.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D) recently introduced the best cannabis bill ever seen on Capitol Hill — The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017, which covers a plethora of cannabis issues, from federal scheduling to the disproportionate arrest rates people of color face under current policies.

If passed, the Marijuana Justice Act would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled substances, the magnitude of which is can’t possibly be overstated; it would make cannabis legal at the federal level. States would be encouraged (with federal funding) to make their policies match the new law of the land.

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Pennsylavania Cities Continue to Embrace Decriminalization of Marijuana

With the recent passage of a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, the City of York joins Philadelphia, State College, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg in no longer criminalizing the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. Following several meetings to discuss the proposal, members of city council heard from Chris Goldstein, executive director of Philadelphia NORML and Les Stark, executive director of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. Both spoke in support of the proposal and even provided encouraging data showing a decline in marijuana arrests in other municipalities that adopted similar measures.

“Towns across Pennsylvania are moving away from handcuffs and towards issuing fines instead, that’s good new sin a state where we have more than 18,000 consumers arrested every year,” said Chris Goldstein.

Similar to other decriminalization measures that have been adopted by municipalities in the Commonwealth, the ordinance approved by the York City Council replaces criminal prosecution and potential jail time with a simple fine or community service for those possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana. The ordinance also decriminalized the public consumption of marijuana.

Read more at NORML

Weed Finally Decriminalized in New Hampshire

Photo by Jesse Faatz.

The “Live Free or Die” state just became the last and final one in New England to eliminate the possibility of jail time for possession of small amounts of weed.

Republican Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill to remove criminal penalties for possessing up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis or up to five grams of hash.

Read more at High Times

New Hampshire: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Signed Into Law

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed legislation today decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 640, which takes effect in 60 days, eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis and/or up to five grams of hashish for those age 18 or older. Under the new law, first time offenders will receive a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Presently, first-time marijuana possession is punishable by up to one year in prison, a potential $2,000 fine, and a criminal record.

Read more at NORML

Oregon Is Not Decriminalizing All Drugs, But It Should

Although a number of reports have surfaced this week suggesting that Oregon is about to “decriminalize” the possession of drugs such as meth, cocaine and heroin, it appears the overall message behind these journalistic offerings has been misconstrued.

What is true is that the Oregon legislature recently passed a bill that aims to reduce the penalties associated with the small time possession of illegal substances. However, nothing in the language of the proposal (House Bill 2355) would give law enforcement the freedom to simply handle drug possession cases with in a manner consistent with decriminalization.

In fact, under the bill, not much would change for people caught holding drugs—they would still be arrested and entered into the criminal justice system the same as they always have been. The only benefit is that once their case goes before a judge, they could be given a less severe punishment than in times past.

Read more at High Times

Vermont: House Blocks Marijuana Depenalization Bill From Further Consideration

Members of the Vermont House of Representatives decided late last night to block a marijuana depenalization measure, H. 511, from further consideration this legislative session.

The vote came after Senate members approved the bill, which eliminated civil and criminal penalties for the private possession and cultivation of small quantities of marijuana. Republican Gov. Phil Scott – who had vetoed an earlier version of the bill in May – had also recently expressed his support for the revised legislation.

Further action on the bill during this week’s special veto session required the votes of three-quarters of the House. But only a majority voted to take action on the bill, with almost all Republican House members voting ‘no.’

Read more at NORML

MA Guts Pot Industry Protections for People of Color

When Massachusetts’ voters passed Question 4 last November it included clear language for diversity and inclusion in the forthcoming legal cannabis industry. Now lawmakers and activists are furious that the state’s omnibus cannabis bill does not match the vision of the drafters or will of the voters.

As the discussion around inclusion in the cannabis industry for those communities most affected by the War on Drugs has snowballed over the last couple years, Massachusetts was one of the places industry observers were pointing to as an example of concrete steps being made in that direction. The issue has picked up major steam at the municipal level in places like Oakland, California, but Massachusetts’ actions at the state level would set a high bar for the future.

But now things have gone sideways, and everyone from the bill’s authors to the Boston City Council is up in arms at the bravado of Beacon Hill’s actions — just down the street from the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate black players.

Read more at Cannabis Now