DEA Administrator Chief Michele Leonhart Expected to Resign

By Drug Policy Alliance

Michele Leonhart (Photo: Reuters).
Michele Leonhart (Photo: Reuters).

Resignation Comes as DEA at Center of Series of Scandals in its Effort to Continue Failed War on Drugs

After Decades of Mass Incarceration, Racial Disparities, and Failed Drug Policies, DEA Finally Facing Scrutiny

New DPA Issue Brief Released Today: The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know

A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, is expected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration.

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New York Department of Health Issues Final Medical Cannabis Regulations

By Drug Policy Alliance

New York State Officials Ignore Patients, Providers and Industry Experts to Instead Pursue One of the Nation’s Most Unworkable Medical Marijuana Programs

ALBANY, NYnewjersey — Late Tuesday, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) released the final regulations for New York’s medical marijuana program. The announcement followed a period of public comment in which patients, families, experts, and industry professionals submitted more than a thousand letters and emails critiquing the proposed regulations for being too restrictive and unworkable.

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Legislation to End Federal Prohibition on Medical Cannabis Announced in U.S. Senate

federal marijuana laws

On Tuesday, March 10cannaamerica, at 12:30pm EST, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will host a press conference to introduce bipartisan legislation that would end the United State’s prohibition on medical cannabis. Specific details of the proposal will be announced at the press conference.

“Almost half the states have legalized marijuana for medical use; it’s long past time to end the federal ban,” says Michael Collins, Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This bipartisan legislation allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and ends the criminalization of patients, their families, and the caregivers and dispensary owners and employees who provide them their medicine.”

Read moreLegislation to End Federal Prohibition on Medical Cannabis Announced in U.S. Senate

DNC Chair Offers to Support Medical Cannabis if Donor Retracts Negative Comments, Donor Refuses

Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office offered to officialy change her position on medical cannabis and endorse an initiative to legalize the medicine in Florida if a major donor and former Obama fundraiser recanted his criticism of her, according to emails obtained by POLITICO.

“The proposal to Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan was straightforward: retract critical statements he made to a reporter in return for Wasserman Schultz publicly backing his cannabis initiative that she had trashed just months earlier” says POLITICO’s Marc Caputo. “Morgan declined the offer with a sharp email reply sent to a go-between, who described the congresswoman as being in a “tizzy.”

Read moreDNC Chair Offers to Support Medical Cannabis if Donor Retracts Negative Comments, Donor Refuses

New York State Lawmakers Hold Public Forum on Taxing and Regulating Cannabis Like Alcohol

By Drug Policy Alliance

Hearing Follows Historic Votes to Legalize Marijuana in Alaska, Oregon and D.C.

Statement by the Drug Policy Alliance: It’s Time to Fix New York’s Broken Marijuana Policies

New York's State Seal.
New York’s State Seal.

New York — Today, Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyperson Crystal Peoples-Stokes sponsored a public forum about the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. Under the proposal, those over 21 would be able to purchase small amounts of marijuana from a state-regulated store. The bill would rectify the many problems associated with marijuana prohibition, including the arrests of tens of thousands of primarily young people of color.

“There is no question that New York’s marijuana policies are broken,” said Kassandra Frederique, Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Each year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are swept into the maze of the criminal justice system for nothing more than possessing small amounts of marijuana. Enforcement of these policies is focused almost entirely focused on young people, primarily young people of color, such that our laws are now applied differently to different people based on the color of their skin and their income level – this must stop.”

Read moreNew York State Lawmakers Hold Public Forum on Taxing and Regulating Cannabis Like Alcohol

Another Child Dies Waiting for Access to Medical Marijuana in New York

By Drug Policy Alliance

Family’s Pleas for Relief for Little Donella Nocera Went Unheeded; Families, Advocates Call Upon Governor Cuomo to Immediately Help Suffering New Yorkers

Donella Nocera.
Donella Nocera.

NIAGRA FALLS, NY — Yesterday, 8 year old Donella Nocera of Niagra Falls passed away while waiting for emergency access to medical marijuana to ease her end-of-life suffering.

Donella was fighting stage 4 brain cancer. Her father, Nate, joined Compassionate Care NY from Donella’s bedside, fighting for emergency access for his daughter and pleading with Governor Cuomo to take action.

“More than five months after Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law that was meant to bring vital treatment to our family, my daughter Donella is dead,” said Donella’s father, Nate Nocera, in a statement. “Governor Cuomo, I know you cannot turn back time to get us the medical marijuana that could have slowed the aggressive growth of the tumor in her brain. I know you cannot give us back the days, turned into weeks, turned into months that we lost Donella to a narcotic-induced sleep. But you have the power to end the needless suffering of so many New York families, and I urge you to use it. In the name of my little girl and at least two other children who have died waiting for medical marijuana, I urge you to take action. When you gather with your loved ones this holiday season, I ask that you keep my family in your heart as we suffer the loss of our dearest Donnie.”

Read moreAnother Child Dies Waiting for Access to Medical Marijuana in New York

Congress Prohibits Justice Department from Undermining State Medical Cannabis Laws

By Drug Policy Alliance

WASHINGTON, DC — Thecannabud final “must pass” federal spending bill that Congress will consider this week, also known as the “cromnibus,”and released by senior appropriators last night includes an amendment that prohibits the U.S. Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. The spending bill also includes a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the DEA from blocking implementation of a federal law passed last year by Congress that allows hemp cultivation for academic and agricultural research purposes in states that allow it. It also contains an amendment blocking marijuana law reform in Washington, D.C., although it is unclear what exactly the amendment blocks.

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New York Mayor de Blasio Continues Discriminatory Marijuana Arrest Crusade

By Drug Police Alliance

NEW YORK: A new report released today by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project newyorkcityand the Drug Policy Alliance shows that, despite campaign promises, marijuana possession arrests under Mayor de Blasio are on track to equal – or even surpass – the number of arrests under Mayor Bloomberg. As under the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations, these arrests are marked by shockingly high racial disparities.

The report, Race, Class & Marijuana Arrests in Mayor de Blasio’s Two New Yorks: the NYPD’s Marijuana Arrest Crusade Continues in 2014 draws on data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and shows that despite a change in mayoral administrations and police commissioners, the NYPD continues its practice of making wasteful, racially biased, and costly marijuana arrests.

Read moreNew York Mayor de Blasio Continues Discriminatory Marijuana Arrest Crusade

Measure Announced in New York to Decriminalize Cannabis in Public View, Among Other Changes

By Drug Policy Alliance

With the continued staggering racial disparities and Governor Cuomo’s re-commitment to ending marijuana arrests, NYC Assembly member Karim Camara and state Senator Daniel Squadron, along with community members and advocates, are calling for reforms that not only end racially bias marijuana arrests but also address the racial bias in the NY criminal justice system and deal with the devastating collateral consequences of these racially biased arrests.stopstopandfrisk

NEW YORK, NY — At a rally on the steps of New York City Hall Wednesday, advocates and elected officials announced plans to reform New York’s ineffective marijuana decriminalization law.

Entitled the Fairness and Equity Act, the legislation calls for comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences.

Read moreMeasure Announced in New York to Decriminalize Cannabis in Public View, Among Other Changes

United Nations: Criminal Sanctions for Drug Use Are “Not Beneficial”

By Drug Policy Alliance

Drug Decriminalization Rapidly Emerging as Consensus Goal of Drug Policy, Public Safety and Health Stakeholders

Today, a key working group of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced the release of groundbreaking recommendations discouraging criminal sanctions for drug useunitednations. The Scientific Consultation Working Group on Drug Policy, Health and Human Rights of the UNODC – which includes Nora Volkow, head of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – is releasing the recommendations at the High-Level Segment of the 57th UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The working group recommendations say “criminal sanctions are not beneficial” in addressing the spectrum of drug use and misuse.

Read moreUnited Nations: Criminal Sanctions for Drug Use Are “Not Beneficial”