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

Legalization in Trump’s America: Skating on Thin Ice

With an aggressive executive branch openly defying constitutional checks on its authority and installing noted prohibitionists in key positions, will the Trump administration make America raid again?

The cannabis industry’s general policy seems to be avoidance of “bad vibes” at all costs —  even when that means ignoring the pounding vibrations of an oncoming freight train.

The first few weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency have revealed an unprecedented disregard for the constitutional checks and balances on the executive branch. That doesn’t bode well for an industry already precariously balanced on a tenuous high-wire of precedents, amendments and memos.

Read more at Cannabis Now

END 4/20 SHAME: THE HOOD INCUBATOR:

The legal marijuana industry is booming. In 2016, it was worth an estimated $7.2 billion dollars and, according to a new report from New Frontier Data, it’s projected to grow at an annual compound rate of 17 percent, which makes it one of the fastest growing industries in America. That’s great news for anyone invested in the cannabis sphere, but there’s just one problem: there’s a huge disparity when it comes to who has entry into the industry.

Cannabis and Race

Photo by Gracie MalleyThe war on drugs was created based on racial bias. While marijuana use is roughly equal among blacks and whites, the ACLU reveals that Black Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. And when it comes to ownership in the cannabis industry, the race divide is even greater.

Read more at Dope Magazine

Obama Administration Wanted to Decriminalize Marijuana

President Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) was on the verge of pushing for nationwide marijuana decriminalization, but reports show those plans were quickly buried for a variety of political reasons.

A former official with the ONDCP recently told the Huffington Post that during President Obama’s first term, the office wanted to make federal marijuana laws less restrictive by eliminating the criminal penalties associated with minor marijuana possession. However, there were snags that prevented the office from going for it.

For starters, the office was worried that pushing for decriminalization would take up too much time, preventing officials from dealing with the opioid problem. But the conundrum that perhaps truly damned the idea altogether was the fact that coming out publicly in support of anything associated with marijuana would conflict with the very law that established the ONDCP.

Read more at High Times

Everything You Need to Know About New Jersey’s Pot Laws

For seven years, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has gone out of his way to keep marijuana out of the hands of his constituents. The newly appointed “opiate czar” continually blocked expansion of his state’s medical marijuana program, going as far as recently calling cannabis reform a democratic plot to poison children. (Not. Even. Kidding.)

With support for legalization at 60 percent nationwide, it’s been reported that New Jersey’s next governor will almost certainly legalize pot. In fact, just last week, the chair of New Jersey’s Senate Judiciary Committee, state Senator Nicholas Scutari, introduced a bill aimed at establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis industry throughout the Garden State.

From what we can tell, New Jersey’s pot laws are ready to change—just as soon as Christie gets out of the way.

Read more at High Times

Pot Prohibition’s Last New England Holdout Is Decriminalizing

Along with the West Coast, the most liberal and tolerant place for marijuana in America has been New England.

Massachusetts and Maine both voted to legalize recreational cannabis for adults on Election Day—the same day as left-coast California and libertarian-friendly Nevada—and for several years, marijuana possession has no longer been a crime in Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Only in New Hampshire, where the license plates all say “Live Free or Die,” is the possession of small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor offense, with violators risking arrest, a court appearance and possible jail time—but those days, too, are ending.

Read more at High Times

Time Runs Out on Marijuana Reform Bills in Texas

A bill can be killed in a number of ways—obstruction, feet dragging, amendments, procedural snags or getting talked to death in a filibuster, to name a few.

In the case of Texas’ medical marijuana and decriminalization bills, even though they both had enough support to pass, they never even came up for a vote before time ran out last Thursday night at midnight.

What happened?

Read more at High Times

Atlanta City Council Considers Decriminalization of Marijuana

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.

Read more at NORML

New Hampshire: Decriminalization Passes Senate, Soon Heads To Governor To Sign

New Hampshire is the only New England state that has not either decriminalized or legalized adult marijuana use but that is soon to change.

Today, the state Senate passed an amended version of House Bill 640, which eliminates the threat of jail time for a possession conviction of less than 3/4 of an ounce and reduces the fine from $350 to $100.

HB 640 is a long overdue, fiscally sensible proposals that is supported by the voters, and that will enable police, prosecutors, and the courts to reallocate their existing resources toward activities that will better serve the public.

Read more at NORML