NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - January 17, 2008

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - January 17, 2008
Posted by CN Staff on January 17, 2008 at 11:54:50 PT
Weekly Press Release 
Source: NORML 
  Vermont: Senate Bill Seeks To Replace Minor Pot Penalties With Civil Fines  January 17, 2008 - Montpelier, VT, USAMontpelier, VT: Members of the Vermont Senate have introduced legislation seeking to decriminalize the possession and sale of small amounts of cannabis.
As introduced, Senate Bill 238 would replace existing criminal sanctions outlawing the possession, cultivation, and sale of minor quantities of pot with civil sanctions, punishable by a fine only. Specifically, the bill would impose a civil penalty of no more than $250 upon first offenders found guilty of possessing up to two ounces of marijuana or growing up to two marijuana plants. Offenders found guilty of possessing between two and four ounces of marijuana and/or cultivating up to five marijuana plants would face civil fines of $1,000. Defendants found guilty of possessing or cultivating amounts above this threshold would face up to three years imprisonment.Under current state law, the possession or cultivation of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail.Senate Bill 238 also seeks to reduce violations involving the transfer of small amounts of cannabis from a felony offense to a civil violation.The bill is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee.Members of the Burlington City Council are also debating a separate marijuana decriminalization resolution. Currently, twelve states have enacted similar versions of marijuana decriminalization – replacing criminal sanctions with the imposition of fine-only penalties for minor pot violators.For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup at (202) 483-5500. Additional information on SB 238 is available from NORML’s "Take Action" Center at:  Study Highlights Limitations Of Urine Testing   January 17, 2008 - Kansas City, KS, USAKansas City, KS: Results of immunoassay urine screens – the most popular type of workplace drug tests – should always be considered presumptive until confirmed by a laboratory-based confirmation test (e.g., gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry testing), according to a review published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.Investigators at the University of Kansas Medical Center conclude: "Immunoassays, which use antibodies to detect the presence of specific drugs or metabolites, are the most common method for the initial screening process. … However, these assays are not perfect. False positive results of immunoassays can lead to serious medical or socials consequences if the results are not confirmed by secondary analysis. … Also, urine drug screens do not provide information regarding the length of time since last [drug] ingestion, overall duration of [drug] abuse, or state of intoxication."Authors report that various prescription and over-the-counter medications may yield false positive drug test results on immunoassay tests, though these results are primarily limited to amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine (PCP).For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul norml.orgFull text of the study, "Urine drug screening: practical guide for clinicians," is available online at:  White House Announces Dates, Locations For 2008 Regional Drug Testing Summits  January 17, 2008 - Washington, DC, USAWashington, DC: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is once again sponsoring a series of regional summits to encourage middle-school and high school administrators to enact federally sponsored random student drug testing. The 2008 summits mark the fifth consecutive year that the White House is funding the symposiums, which are scheduled to take place this winter in Jacksonville, Florida (January 29), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (January 31), Albuquerque, New Mexico (February 6), and Indianapolis, Indiana (February 13)."These summits fail to acknowledge the harsh realities of random student drug testing programs," NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "These programs are humiliating, expensive failures. They fail to deter students from using drugs and alcohol, and they break down trust between teens and educators."According to the results of a two-year prospective study published in the Journal of School Health in November, random drug testing programs that target high school athletes do not reduce self-reported drug use and may encourage behaviors associated with "future substance use." Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on School Health resolved, "There is little evidence of the effectiveness of school-based drug testing," and warned that students subjected to random testing programs may experience "an increase in known risk factors for drug use." The Academy also warned that school-based drug testing programs could decrease student involvement in extracurricular activities and undermine trust between pupils and educators.A 2003 cross-sectional study of national student drug testing programs previously reported, "Drug testing, as practiced in recent years in American secondary schools, does not prevent or inhibit student drug use."Since 2005, the US Department of Education has appropriated over $10 million dollars to enact random student drug testing programs in public schools and has sponsored over 20 regional summits. Free registration to attend any of this year’s summits is available online at: more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul norml.orgDL: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: January 17, 2008Copyright: 2008 NORML Contact: norml Website: NORML Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 17, 2008 at 18:58:03 PT
ACLU Sues Sheriff’s Deputies 
ACLU Sues Sheriff’s Deputies to Uphold New Mexico Marijuana LawThursday, January 17, 2008I see Sheriff's deputies in Eddy County, acting as part of the so-called Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, have nothing better to do than harrass a disabled individual who is legally allowed to ease his pain under New Mexico's medical marijuana law, which was enacted last year. I wonder who they think they are protecting, and under which state law. Can they possibly believe this is a justified use of taxpayer dollars? Thank goodness the ACLU is standing with the victim of this horrible (and illegal) treatment by law enforcement officials who apparently believe they are above the law and are certainly without compassion or wisdom.From the American Civil Liberties Union of NM:CARLSBARD – A paraplegic man is suing Eddy County Sheriff's Deputies for seizing marijuana plants and equipment to grow marijuana, which he uses to control pain resulting from a spinal cord injury. Leonard French received a license to cultivate and use small quantities of marijuana for medicinal purposes from the State of New Mexico under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, which represents French, says the deputies' actions violated not only that law, but also state forfeiture laws and a constitutional prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures."The New Mexico state legislature, in its wisdom, passed the Compassionate Use Act after carefully considering the benefits the drug provides for people who suffer from uncontrollable pain, and weighing those benefits against the way federal law considers cannabis,” said Peter Simonson, ACLU Executive Director. “With their actions against Mr. French, Eddy County officials thwarted that humane, sensible law, probably for no other reason than that they believed federal law empowered them to do so."On September 4, 2007, at least four Eddy County deputies, acting as members of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, arrived at French's home in Malaga, New Mexico and announced, "We're here about the marijuana." Thinking that the deputies had arrived to check his compliance with the compassionate use law, French presented the deputies with his state license to grow marijuana, then showed them his hydroponic equipment, including two small marijuana plants and three dead sprouts. The deputies seized the equipment and plants, and later turned them over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. French has not been charged with any violations of federal drug laws. A physician prescribed marijuana for French after other medications lost their effectiveness in controlling pain and severe muscle spasms stemming from a 1987 motorcycle accident.Simonson said, "With the Compassionate Use Act, New Mexico embarked on an innovative project to help people who suffer from painful conditions like Mr. French's. The law cannot succeed if the threat of arrest by county and local law enforcement hangs over participants in the program. With this lawsuit, we hope to clear the way for the State to implement a sensible, conservative program to apply a drug that traditionally has been considered illicit for constructive purposes."The ACLU’s complaint is available online at: online (pdf). For more information about the national ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, visit this page.
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