Legislators Propose Lesser Punishments for MJ

Legislators Propose Lesser Punishments for MJ
Posted by CN Staff on February 23, 2006 at 08:36:03 PT
By Chris Bianchi
Source: Daily Free Press
Massachusetts -- In a move that, in part, supports college students, a statehouse committee approved a bill to decriminalize the possession of marijuana."I do not believe that individuals' futures should be ruined for having a very small amount of marijuana and the loss of student loans and scholarships," said Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton), head of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee that passed the bill by a vote of 6-1.
The Committee sent to the House for a full vote a bill last Monday that would decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Instead of receiving a criminal charge, violators would only receive a civil charge, eliminating the possibility of jail time and reducing a potential fine under current law. Under law, violators are subject to up to six months in jail or a $500 fine if convicted of carrying the drug. If the bill were to pass, violators would receive a maximum $250 fine and the parents of minors would be notified by police. Although the bill passed in 11 other states, Massachusetts may be a different story. The committee is only the first step, with the motion still needing to pass through the house, senate and Gov. Mitt Romney before becoming a law."I'm not sure it is likely to pass into law," Balser said. "But we felt like it was important enough to pass."Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a pro-marijuana group trying to reform laws, expressed his support for the bill as well."Taking marijuana off the streets is the most important thing for the government," St. Pierre said. "A $100 fine is good money for the state, while detaining someone costs Massachusetts a lot of money each year. One hundred million Americans live under a state or district with the same laws."According to Balser, Massachusetts spends $24 million a year prosecuting offenders, and that money could be put into better use."I would rather see the $24 million go to treatment and help people with serious drug issues," Balser said. During the election years of 2000, 2002 and 2004, NORML put forth a ballot petition that asked whether Massachusetts citizens thought that "carrying less than an ounce of marijuana should be criminalized," according to St. Pierre. "Voters across the board instructed the politicians to pass legislation such as this one," St. Pierre said. "This law would seem to reflect the will of Massachusetts voters." Colorado recently passed a law stating that offenders carrying less than one ounce of marijuana will not face punishment, although the substance will be confiscated, according to St. Pierre. This indicates that typically conservative states, such as Colorado, are beginning to lighten punishment for those carrying small amounts of marijuana, he added."It's not just a liberal Massachusetts idea," St. Pierre said. "Reform is taking place all around the country."However, many states and politicians are refraining from implementing more lenient laws, fearing complacency may lead to continued use. Balser refuted these claims."There is no evidence that drug use has increased as a result of this law," Balser said.Note: Rep. says students should be protected.Complete Title: Legislators Propose Lesser Punishments for MarijuanaSource: Daily Free Press (Boston U, MA Edu)Author: Chris BianchiPublished: February 23, 2006Copyright: 2006 Back Bay Publishing, Inc.Contact: dfpletters dailyfreepress.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML Years of Reefer Madness Panel Backs Bill To Decriminalize for Serious Talk About Pot 
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on February 23, 2006 at 14:14:12 PT
MPP Ads Censored!
It's time to write some LTE's to the Billings Gazette and e-mail KIQZ-FM - kiqz Rawlins radio stations pull medical marijuana PSA after complaints - By The Associated PressRAWLINS -- A pair of local radio stations has pulled a set of public service announcements advocating medical marijuana use after receiving complaints from the police chief and others.Scott Freeman, a salesman for Mount Rushmore Broadcasting in Casper, which owns KIQZ-FM and KRAL-AM in Rawlins, said he pulled the PSAs as soon as he learned about them.A disc jockey at the stations, Jack Morgan, had run the 30-second PSAs."I told him it was not the practice of this station to promote that type of thing because it was illegal," Freeman said. Freeman said Morgan had run the PSAs without checking with station managers."As soon as we were made aware that it was being done, we made the change to have it canceled," Freeman said.The station received three PSAs from the Marijuana Policy Project.Rawlins Police Chief Mike Reed was among those who called Freeman to complain about the spots."For me, it was disturbing that the local radio station was running advertising that is counter to what the public and our community stand for ...," Reed said. can comment at the bottom of the article!THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...Tonight(Thurs.) on Coast to Coast AM - 9/11 Theories- James Fetzer David Ray Griffin Morgan Reynolds:
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Comment #3 posted by cloud7 on February 23, 2006 at 09:02:19 PT
Conservative Nonsense in the War on Drugs"In fact, if you’re ever wondering whether a person is a conservative or a libertarian, a good litmus-test question is, How do you feel about the war on drugs? The conservative will respond, “Even though I believe in freedom, free enterprise, and limited government, we’ve got to continue waging the war on drugs.” The libertarian will respond, “End it. It is an immoral and destructive violation of the principles of freedom, free enterprise, and limited government.”"From 2/17, sorry if it was already posted.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 23, 2006 at 08:54:05 PT
Press Release from U.S. Newswire
Quest for U.S. Industrial Hemp Farming Advances; Ag Commissioners of Four States Meet DEA Officials on Hemp Farming***WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Agriculture commissioners from four states met with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials last week to explore acceptable rules on industrial hemp farming. The official meeting marked a turning point in the federal government's relations with hemp- friendly policymakers who have been routinely ignored by DEA officials who still threaten to prosecute anyone who tries to grow non-psychoactive hemp in America. Led by North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, agriculture commissioners from Massachusetts, West Virginia and Wisconsin met with DEA officials, including Joseph Rannazzisi (Deputy Assistant Administrator), Robert C. Gleason (Deputy Chief Counsel) and Eric Akres (Chief of Congressional Affairs). "The DEA people were very cordial, but they told us that the process of legalizing the production of industrial hemp will be extremely complicated under existing federal law," said Commissioner Johnson. "The DEA has never responded to our earlier inquiries, but today we were able to present our case and learn from them what may be required in terms of regulations and safeguards." North Dakota and West Virginia already have laws on the books that allow hemp farming but are hamstrung because the DEA insists it has the authority to regulate the crop under the Controlled Substances Act and considers growing it to be cultivation of marijuana. However, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) won a major federal court decision in 2004 that blocks the DEA from banning hemp products made from the seed and fiber of the cannabis plant, as expressed in the federal government's statutory definition of marijuana. We are pleased that North Dakota is issuing hemp farming regulations after consulting with the DEA," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "We hope the meeting with the DEA is an indication that they are finally willing to discuss how U.S. farmers can legally grow hemp like their counterparts in Canada, Europe and Asia. Ideally the finish line won't be limited to a handful of states, however even one state growing hemp would make a major impact on the availability of raw materials for U.S. hemp manufacturers. Many of hemp's uses such as foods, animal bedding, biofuel and paper will become more viable if hemp is treated like any other crop. How can a raw material that's legal to import, to sell, to eat and to use in all kinds of everyday products not be legal for farmers in America to grow? No other agricultural commodity is restricted to just importation," says Steenstra. "The DEA has the authority to allow North Dakota farmers to grow hemp. If the DEA is unwilling to give support to the new North Dakota hemp rules, we may well be heading towards another legal showdown." Meanwhile, later this year California and Vermont could become the eighth and ninth states to pass hemp farming legislation. Last month the California Assembly passed AB 1147 which has now been sent on to the state Senate. Later this year Vermont legislators will also consider H 455 which would define hemp and allow licensed farmers to grow the crop. Currently seven states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) have passed pro-hemp farming laws. Sales of hemp foods in 2004-2005 grew by 50 percent over the previous 12-month period. U.S. retail sales of hemp products are estimated to now be $250 to $300 million per year. There are more than 2.5 million cars on U.S. roads that contain hemp composites. Hemp cultivation in Canada exceeds 24,000 acres per year, while European farmers now grow more than 40,000 acres. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at http://www.VoteHemp.comCopyright: 2006 U.S. Newswire
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 23, 2006 at 08:45:31 PT
Jerry Garcia Teas To Go on The Market
Thursday, February 23, 2006LOS ANGELES - As leader of the band that helped give birth to psychedelic music, Jerry Garcia's name was often associated with fans of leafy herbal substances.Now the Grateful Dead guitarist has five such herbal blends named after him and, even better, these are legal.The first batch of J. Garcia Artisan Teas are expected to make their debut at premium tea shops and gourmet food stores next week, said Marideth Post, spokeswoman for The Republic of Tea. The blends, licensed by the estate of Garcia, who died in 1995, are already available through the company's Web site.Post said a portion of the profits are being given to DrawBridge, a charity that provides art supplies for children in homeless shelters."I think Jerry would be very pleased by this," said Dennis McNally, Garcia's longtime friend and Grateful Dead biographer.Garcia was also a well-respected abstract artist who created hundreds of works in watercolor, pencil, ink and other forms. One of his illustrations adorns each tin of tea.The teas are named with a bit of whimsy. Morning Brew, for example, takes its name from "Morning Dew," a song the Grateful Dead often performed. Shady Grown, a blend of Brazilian and South African teas, is derived from "Shady Grove," a bluegrass album that Garcia recorded.Then there is Magic Herb, a tea that pays tribute to a band that during its early years were known to perform while under the influence of magic herbs."We had a little bit of fun with Magic Herb Tea," Post said with a laugh.On the Net:http://www.jerrygarcia.comhttp://www.drawbridge.orghttp://www.republicoftea.comA service of the Associated Press (AP)
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