USA: DEA Denies Marijuana Rescheduling Petition

The DEA Friday denied a petition asking the federal government to reschedule marijuana out of Schedule l of the Controlled Substances Act. The petition had languished within the caverns of federal bureaucracies for nine years, but the agency finally moved to deny it two months after medical marijuana advocates filed a lawsuit to compel the government to act.

USA: DEA Denies Marijuana Rescheduling Petition.

Marijuana has no accepted medical use, the DEA claims. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis had sought to reclassify marijuana on a lesser schedule, arguing that current science does not allow for it to be classified as a Schedule I drug. Such substances must have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the US, and a lack of accepted safety for use.

Portugal: Portugal celebrates 10 year anniversary of decriminalizing druges

July 1st was the 10th anniversary of Portugal decriminalizing drug use.  In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of small amounts of all illicit substances.  Having small amounts of drugs is no longer a criminal offence.  It's still against the rules; it just won't get you thrown in jail or prison.  It's a civil offense - like a ticket.  Portugal continues to punish sales and trafficking of illicit substances.

In Portugal's thoroughly re-envisioned drug policy, police officers now issue citations - but do not arrest - persons found in possession of small amounts of illicit substances.  People who receive these citations are ordered to appear at a "dissuasion commission," an administrative panel that operates outside of the criminal justice system.  The panel, with two health practitioners and one legal practitioner, examines the individual's circumstances and determines whether to make treatment referrals, issue fines or impose other non-criminal penalties.

Decriminalization in Portugal actually helped reduce the stigma around drug use (without increasing it) and made drug use less politically difficult to talk about. It encouraged better collaboration between law enforcement and service providers, and allowed law enforcement to focus on large-scale traffickers, resulting in increased seizures of commercial quantities of illicit drugs.

USA: Washington Marijuana Legalization Initiative Falls Short

An initiative that would have legalized marijuana in Washington state will not be on the November ballot after organizers Sensible Washington said last week that they had been unable to gather sufficient signatures with their all-volunteer campaign.

That's two years in a row that Sensible Washington has come up short in signature-gathering campaigns. The initiative, I-1149, would have simply removed all criminal and civil penalties related to marijuana and left it to the legislature to come up with a regulatory scheme. It would have created new criminal penalties for pot smokers under age 18 and the people who sold it to them.

USA: Montana Judge Blocks Restrictive Medical Marijuana Provisions

A state judge has blocked some of the most onerous provisions of a new law designed to rein in Montana's medical marijuana industry from taking effect. But other provisions of the law, which will make life more difficult for patients and providers, are now in effect.

District Court Judge James Reynolds issued a preliminary injunction late Thursday to block those portions of the law from going into effect hours later. But the rest of the repressive "reform" is in effect as of July 1. Reynolds ruled that lawmakers went too far in trying to clamp down.

He blocked a provision of the new law that outlawed anyone making money in the business, including growers being compensated for their efforts. He blocked the law's ban on advertising and promotion of medical marijuana. And he threw out the new law's provision limiting providers to growing for no more than three patients.

USA: Indiana Lawmakers to Study Marijuana Legalization

Lawmakers in Indiana will convene between legislative sessions to study whether the Hoosier State should change its marijuana laws. Under a bill passed into law earlier this year, the General Assembly's Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy study committee is charged with reexamining the state's approach to pot.

The commission's first meeting is set for next week, although it's not clear if marijuana policy will be on the agenda then or during future meetings. The bill, Senate Bill 192, gives the commission a broad mandate. It asks the commission to report back on whether the use and possession of marijuana should continue to be illegal in Indiana, and if so, what penalties and quantities related to its possession are appropriate.

It also asks the commission to assess whether marijuana should be regulated and taxed like alcohol, whether Indiana should implement a medical marijuana program, and "any other issue related to marijuana." Under current Indiana law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, although conditional discharge is possible for a first offense.

Possession or sale of more than 30 grams is a felony, with a sentence of up to three years. A second pot paraphernalia offense can also earn a three year sentence. There is no provision for medical marijuana under Indiana law.

USA: Marijuana "Lowest Priority" Initiative Advances in Maine City

A municipal initiative that would make adult marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority in Portland, Maine, has handed in enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, organizers said at a press conference Tuesday. Sensible Portland, the group pushing the measure, said it had turned in 2,100 voter signatures, well above the 1,500 needed for it to qualify.

The measure would amend city statutes to codify that marijuana possession offenses committed by nonviolent adults 21 or older would be the lowest law enforcement priority for city police. The proposed ordinance is aimed at stopping police from fining or arresting people for pot or pot paraphernalia possession.

The possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana is already decriminalized under state law, with a fine of up to $1,000. Pot paraphernalia possession is also decriminalized, with a maximum fine of $300. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces is considered possession with intent to distribute and is punishable by jail or prison time.

Brought to you by The Greenish Warbler

July 15th 2011

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