It’s Official: These 5 States Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization in November

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

Vote on Cannabis LegalizationArizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan last week certified a marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot, setting the stage for a national election that will see the issue go directly to the voters in five states, including California, the nation’s most populous.

Four states have already legalized marijuana at the ballot box, Colorado and Washington in 2012 and Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia also legalized marijuana—but not commercial sales—in 2014.

But those states combined only have a population of about 17 million people. Winning California alone would more than double that figure and winning all five states would triple it. If all five states vote for pot, we could wake up on November 9 with nearly a quarter of the nation living under marijuana legalization.

Read moreIt’s Official: These 5 States Will Vote on Cannabis Legalization in November

President Obama Commutes Sentences of Nearly a Hundred Federal Drug Prisoners

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

President Obama today commuted the federal prison sentences of 95 men and women, all but two of them drug offenders serving draconian sentences. He also issued pardons for tw150713171952-obama-commutes-46-drug-sentences-acosta-dnt-lead-00000000-large-169o people who have already served their sentences.

Many had been imprisoned since the 1990s. Some were doing life sentences for drug offenses. Most were cocaine offenders, but the commutations also included people doing time for marijuana, meth, and heroin.

Read morePresident Obama Commutes Sentences of Nearly a Hundred Federal Drug Prisoners

Here Comes the Big One: ReformCA Files its California Cannabis Legalization Initiative

reformcaBy Phillip Smith, StopTheDrugWar.org

SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, also known as ReformCA, has filed a draft marijuana legalization initiative with state officials, the group announced Sunday. The long-anticipated move means the campaign best-placed to bring legalization to the Golden State can finally get underway.

The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 would allow people 21 and over to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana and it would set up legal marijuana commerce overseen by a pair of new state agencies, the California Cannabis Commission and the Office of Cannabis Regulatory Affairs.

Read moreHere Comes the Big One: ReformCA Files its California Cannabis Legalization Initiative

2016 Cannabis Legalization Initiatives: An Overview

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

Marijuana is going to be part of the political conversation between now and Election Day 2016. Support for legalization is now consistently polling above 50% nationwide,canna four states and DC have already voted to legalize it, and activists at least ten states are doing their best to make it an issue this time around.

In those states, they’re working to take marijuana legalization directly to the voters in the form of initiatives. Not all of those efforts will actually make the ballot — mass signature-gathering campaigns require not only enthusiasm but cold, hard cash to succeed — and not all of those that qualify will necessarily win, but in a handful of states, including the nation’s most populous, the prospects for passing legalization next year look quite good.

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New Report Shows How Western-Imposed Prohibition Policies Hurt Poor Countries

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

An Afghan poppy field.
An Afghan poppy field.

Wealthy Western countries are undermining good governance and social and economic development in poor, drug-producing countries by pressuring them to enforce prohibitionist policies that exploit peasant farmers and waste millions of dollars a year on failed crop eradication and drug interdiction programs. That’s the conclusion of a recent report by the British advocacy group Health Poverty Action (HPA).

Read moreNew Report Shows How Western-Imposed Prohibition Policies Hurt Poor Countries

Florida Cops Sell Man Drugs In Sting, Then Kill Him

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

Police conductingputman an undercover, street-level, reverse drug sting in Putnam County, Florida, shot and killed one of their targets Friday night as he attempted to drive away from the scene. Andrew Anthony Williams, a 48-year-old black man, becomes the 11th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to local press accounts, all relying on law enforcement sources, deputies and detectives from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office were conducting a “reverse sting” where they posed as drug dealers, sold unwary customers small amounts of drugs, and then arrested them.

Read moreFlorida Cops Sell Man Drugs In Sting, Then Kill Him

Maraschino Cherry Mogul Kills Self As Cops Discover Cannabis Grow

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

The ownerscene of historic maraschino cherry company in Brooklyn, New York, committed suicide at his plant Thursday morning moments after officers discovered a massive marijuana grow-up behind a false wall in the factory basement. Arthur Mondella, 48, becomes the 9th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Dell’s Maraschino Cherries factory in Red Hook has been around since 1948 and was founded by Mondella’s grandfather. It is a major player in the industry, supplying cocktail cherries to clients including TGIF Fridays, Chick Filet, and Caesars. The plant has the capacity to process 400,000 pounds of cherries a week.

Read moreMaraschino Cherry Mogul Kills Self As Cops Discover Cannabis Grow

Montana Judge Blocks Medical Cannabis Restrictions

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

A state district court judge last Friday dealt a hard blow to provisions of a restrictive state medical marijuana law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature seven years after Big Skymedcan voters approved a more open initiative allowing for medicinal use and a wide open dispensary scene.

District Judge James Reynolds in Helena permanently enjoined the implementation of certain key provisions in the law. Those provisions have never actually taken effect because Reynolds blocked them with a temporary injunction back in 2011.

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The March Toward Marijuana Legalization: 2016 and Beyond

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

State-level marijuana law reform won big in this month’s elections, with legalization initiatives triumphing convincingly in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC. The Florida medical marijuana initiative lost, but only because it had a higher bar of 60% of the popular vote. It ended up with 57%, a clear sign of solid majority support. And don’t forget Guam — the US territory approved medical marijuana with 56% of the vote.

The California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform is laying the groundwork for 2016. (CCPR)
The California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform is laying the groundwork for 2016. (CCPR)

Local marijuana reform initiatives also fared well. In Maine, Massachusetts, and Michigan, activists built on earlier successes to win more victories this year, while in New Mexico, voters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe voted in favor of decriminalizing pot possession.

All in all, a good year for marijuana law reform, the second good election year in a row. Since 2012, voters in four states and DC have been asked to legalize marijuana. They’ve now said yes in all of them.

Read moreThe March Toward Marijuana Legalization: 2016 and Beyond

Georgia Homeowner Killed in Fruitless Drug Raid

By Phillip Smith, StoptheDrugWar.org

A Georgia SWAT team shot and killed an armed homeowner duringcrimescene a September 24 drug raid sparked by the word of a self-confessed meth addict and burglar who had robbed the property the previous day.  No drugs were found. David Hooks, 59, becomes the 34th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to WMAZ TV 13, Laurens County sheriff’s deputies with the drug task force and special response team (SWAT team) conducted a no-knock search on Hooks’ home in East Dublin on the evening of the 24th. When the raiders burst through the back door of the residence, they encountered Hooks’ carrying a shotgun. Multiple deputies opened fire, shooting a killing Hooks.

Read moreGeorgia Homeowner Killed in Fruitless Drug Raid