Brooklyn District Attorney To Allow Up to 20,000 Past Marijuana Convictions to be Vacated

At a press conference held today Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced that he plans to allow for up to 20,000 low-level marijuana convictions to be wiped from criminal records.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Despite lawmakers in New York decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses in 1977, possessing small amounts of cannabis in public view remains a criminal misdemeanor. City police “have made several hundred thousand arrests since the late 1990s for violation of the ‘public use’ statute – primarily due to aggressive ‘stop and frisk’ policing”, says Paul Armentano, NORML’s Deputy Director. “Over 80 percent of those arrested were either Black or Latino.”

Under the DA’s newly announced initiative, those with low-level marijuana-related convictions will be eligible to have the charges vacated from their criminal record beginning September 21. Gonzalez estimates that prosecutors will consent to dismissing the charges in a great majority of cases, which could ultimately result in the expungement of up to 20,000 past convictions

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Medical Marijuana Initiative Campaign Begins Collecting Signatures Next Week in Mississippi

Proponents behind a medical marijuana legalization initiative in Mississippi will begin collecting signatures next week in an attempt to place the proposal to a vote of the people in 2020.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care is running the campaign, called Medical Marijuana 2020. According to State Representative Joel Bomgar (R), who’s a steering committee member for the group, they will begin collecting signatures for their initiative next week. They will need to collect roughly 100,000 signatures for the measure to be on the November, 2020 ballot.

“Medical Marijuana 2020 is a campaign to make medical marijuana available to Mississippians who have debilitating medical conditions”, states the group’s website. If approved, the proposal “would allow physicians to certify medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions and then allow those patients to obtain medical marijuana in a legal and safe manner from treatment centers licensed and regulated by the Mississippi State Department of Health.”

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Delaware Governor Signs Marijuana Expungement Bill Into Law

Delaware Governor John Carney has signed into law legislation that provides mandatory expungement eligibility to those convicted of a marijuana offense that is now decriminalized.

Senate Bill 197 passed the House of Representatives in July by a unanimous 40 to 0 vote, just a few weeks after passing the Senate, also unanimously (20 to 0). Now, Governor Carney has signed the measure into law; it takes effect immediately.

According to the official synopsis of Senate Bill 197, “This Act provides mandatory expungement eligibility to individuals who were convicted of the possession, use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses.” To be eligible for the mandatory expungement, “the marijuana conviction must be the applicant’s only criminal conviction.”

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Bipartisan Federal Bill Introduced to Seal Marijuana Charges After One Year

Legislation that would seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed has been filed in the U.S. Congress.

The Clean Slate Act (HR 6669) was introduced by Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D) and Rod Blum (R) along with 20 additional cosponsors. The measure would allow marijuana-related charges to be sealed from an individual’s criminal record a year after the conviction is complete. This would mean that the charge/s wouldn’t appear when an employer, landlord or college does a criminal background check.

“Individuals saddled with a marijuana possession conviction are disproportionately either people of color or at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, and it is essential that they are not held back from being able to obtain employment, housing, access to higher education, and all of the other necessities of being an active participant in their community”, says Justin Strekal, NORML’s Political Director. “Having been arrested for mere marijuana possession does not make one a bad person, but rather a victim of a cruel public policy.”

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Medical Cannabis for Pets Bill Passed by California Senate, Already Passed Assembly

California’s Assembly and Senate have both approved legislation that would explicitly allow and regulate the medical use of cannabis for pets.

Assembly Bill 2215 was given approval by the full Senate Tuesday in a 37 to 1 vote, roughly three months after the Assembly passed it 60 to 10.  Although it has already passed the Assembly it will need to go back for one final vote to concur with Senate changes before it can be sent to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration.

Assembly Bill 2215 would expand “the intent of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) to control and regulate cannabis and cannabis products for medicinal use on pets.” It would define “cannabis products” to include products intended for medicinal use on a pet, and although it wouldn’t allow a veterinarian to administer medical cannabis, it  would “allow a veterinarian to discuss the use of cannabis on an animal for medicinal purposes without being disciplined or denied, revoked or suspended by the Veterinary Medical Board (VMB).”

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Connecticut Adds Eight New Qualifying Medical Cannabis Conditions

Connecticut officials have added eight new conditions to the list that qualifies an individual to become a legal consumer of medical cannabis.

On Tuesday Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection announced an expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program which will significantly increase the number of people eligible to take part in it.  The move – which is expected to be made final by the Secretary of State’s office within a week – takes the state’s already expansive list of qualifying conditions and adds eight more (six for those 18+ and two for minors).

The Department added the following conditions for those 18 and older:

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California Safe Injection Site Legislation Passed by Legislature

The California Legislature has voted in favor of a bill to allow San Francisco to move forward with a three-year pilot program allowing for the establishment of safe drug injection sites.

Assembly Bill 186, sponsored by Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman and co-sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener, passed the Senate last week by a vote of 21 to 16. In June it was given approval by the Assembly 41 go 33, and on Monday the Assembly concurred with changes made in the Senate, This means it will soon be sent to Governor Jerry Brown for final consideration.

According  to the bill’s official summary, it “Authorizes the City and County of San Francisco to approve entities to operate an overdose prevention program for adults supervised by healthcare professionals or other trained staff where people who use drugs can safely consume drugs and get access to referrals to addiction treatment.” The measure establishes a sunset date of January 1, 2022.

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Legislation Allowing Medical Cannabis to Replace Opioids to be Signed Into Law by Illinois Governor

Legislation to allow those who have been or could be prescribed opioids to join the state’s medical cannabis program will be signed into law today by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Governor Rauner is scheduled to sign Senate Bill 336 today at the Chicago Recovery Alliance. Filed by Senator Don Harmon along with a bipartisan group of 47 other lawmakers, the measure was passed by the Senate in April in a 44 to 6 vote, and  in June was passed by the House of Representatives 77 to 38.

The proposed law “includes in the definition of “debilitating medical condition” any other medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally accepted standards of care.” It “Provides that within 30 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act, the Department of Public Health shall adopt emergency rules to expedite approval for individuals who submit an application as an alternative to opioid treatment.”

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Illinois Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Hemp

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed  into law legislation that legalizes hemp; the measure takes effect immediately.

Governor Rauner’s signature on Senate Bill 2298 comes roughly three months after it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 106 to 3;  a month prior it was given unanimous approval by the Senate, 50 to 0.

Titled the Industrial Hemp Act and filed by Senator Toi Hutchinson, the legislation amends state law so that the legal definition of  cannabis doesn’t include industrial hemp. It “Provides that a person desiring to grow, cultivate, or process industrial hemp or industrial hemp products must be licensed by the Department of Agriculture.”

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Ohio Initiative to Defelonize Drug Possession Placed on November Ballot

An initiative to reduce penalties for non-violent drug crimes while allowing many current inmates to seek shorter sentences will be voted on this November in Ohio.

Issue 1 would reduce the penalty for possessing and using a variety of illegal substances, including cocaine, heroin and LSD, from a felony to a misdemeanor offenses. In addition, jail time couldn’t be imposed until an individual’s third offense.

The constitutional amendment also allows reductions of up to 25% on the sentences of current inmates who participate in rehabilitation, work or educational programming. Only murderers, rapists and child molesters are ineligible.

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