USA: Members of Congress Demand An End To Pot Possession Arrests
Observing the world of cannabis
USA - Wednesday, July 30, 2008: At a press conference held this morning, members of Congress called on their fellow lawmakers to remove all federal penalties that criminalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults.
"To those who say that the government should not be encouraging the smoking of marijuana, my response is that I completely agree," said Representative Barney Frank (D-MA). "But it is a great mistake to divide all human activity into two categories: those that are criminally prohibited, and those that are encouraged. In a free society, there must be a very considerable zone of activity between those two poles in which people are allowed to make their own choices as long as they are not impinging on the rights, freedom, or property of others. I believe . criminalizing choices that adults make because we think they are unwise ones, when the choices involved have no negative effect on the rights of others, is not appropriate in a free society."
Rep. Frank, along with co-sponsors Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lacy Clay (D-MO), urged lawmakers to support HR 5843, An Act To Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults, which would eliminate federal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana, and for the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana. This is the first federal marijuana decriminalization bill to be introduced in Congress since 1978, and reflects the changing public attitudes that no longer support treating responsible marijuana smokers like criminals.
According to a nationwide Time/CNN poll, three out of four Americans now favour a fine only, and no jail, for adults who possess or use small amounts of marijuana. Each year in this country we arrest more and more of our citizens on marijuana charges. In 2006, the last year for which the data are available, we arrested 830,000 Americans on marijuana charges, and 88 percent of those arrests were for personal possession and use, not trafficking. They were otherwise law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana. Since 1965, a total of nearly 20 million Americans - predominantly young people under the age of 30 -- have been arrested on marijuana charges; more than 11 million marijuana arrests just since 1990.
Currently 47 percent of all drug arrests in this country are for marijuana, and another marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds. Police arrest more people on marijuana charges each year than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
USA: New Mexico is working on rules for manufacturing cannabis for medical use.
USA - The Department of Health of New Mexico announced on 24 July that it will hold a public hearing on 8 September to take comments on regulations that would set up rules for patient identification cards and a regulated system for licensing, distributing and manufacturing medical cannabis. The state law that took effect in July 2007 allows the medical use of cannabis for serious illnesses.
So far, the department has approved 169 people for medical cannabis. New Mexico has been careful in drafting its regulations because no other state has developed rules for a distribution and production system, Dr. Alfredo Vigil of the Health Department said. The state proposes two types of licensed producers: a qualified patient who can produce up to four mature plants for personal use only and a non-profit private entity operating a facility limited to 95 mature plants and seedlings at any time. The regulations include measures to prevent unauthorized cannabis use by requiring criminal background checks for applicants and security measures for facilities.
Spain: Cannabis harvest
Spain - A group called Association of Vigo for the Study of Marijuana (Asociación Viguesa de Estudios de María, AVE María) reported that their collective harvest of cannabis is under way and that some of the cannabis will be given to patients who use it medicinally.
Spanish medical growers coop "AVE Maria" has brought in this year's harvest
The association produces cannabis only for their members. According to decisions by courts in Catalonia and the Basque region in 2006 cannabis clubs such as AVE Maria are legal, since the possession of cannabis for personal use is legal in Spain.
USA: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative in Signature Drive.
USA - An initiative that would make adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is now in the signature-gathering phase. Canvassers in the Ozarks college town need 3,600 signatures to make the November ballot. If it makes it to the ballot and is approved, Fayetteville would become the second Arkansas town to approve such a measure.
Eureka Springs did the same thing in 2006. Directed by Sensible Fayeteville, the initiative would mandate that: Fayetteville law enforcement officers shall make law enforcement activity relating to marijuana offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, their lowest law enforcement priority. Law enforcement activities relating to marijuana offenses include, but are not limited to, investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult marijuana offenses. Fayetteville's prosecuting attorney shall make marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia offenses, where the marijuana and paraphernalia was intended for adult personal use, the lowest prosecutorial priority.
This lowest law enforcement priority policy shall not apply to driving under the influence. "You know, in Arkansas, if you get caught a second time with marijuana, no matter what amount, it's an automatic felony. That destroys lives. That means you can't vote and you lose your financial aid to college," Sensible Fayetteville campaign director Ryan Denham told KNWA Fox 24. "This is clogging the court and jail system here in Washington County and it's taking away precious police resources," he said. Lowest priority initiatives have already passed in six California cities (Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, West Hollywood), Seattle, Denver, Columbia, Missouri; Hailey, Idaho; and Missoula County, Montana.
Science: Hemp foods
USA - US researchers investigated the presence of THC in 79 hemp
products and noted that THC levels in "currently marketed hemp products are significantly lower than in those products available before 2003". THC concentrations ranged from none detected to 117.5 mg/kg material.
No THC was detected in 58 per cent of the products marketed before a change of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) concerning the listing of THC and 86 per cent of the products produced after the change of the CFR. (Source: Holler JM, et al. J Anal Toxicol 2008;32(6):428-32.)
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