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decriminalization

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director October 7, 2013

    sheet-of-money-hempThree countries, one week and three different public policy views about cannabis laws:

    Switzerland — After years of debate, and with a number of cantons having already done so, the entire nation of Switzerland began a cannabis possession decriminalization policy for adults. This is not unlike similar penalties in fifteen states in America and likely a prelude to eventual legalization in the infamously ‘neutral’ country (certainly more than most countries as the Swiss have been largely neutral in the war on some drugs).

    Romania — Romania became the tenth European country to allow citizens to access medical cannabis for serious medical conditions.

    North Korea — A social conscience travel blogger writes about and photographs what it is like in North Korea and that there are no laws against cannabis. This may explain Dennis Rodman’s new fascination with visiting the country.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 23, 2013

    Nearly 80 percent of Michigan voters favor eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, according to survey data released by Epic-MRA Polling and commissioned by the Michigan state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

    Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they backed legalizing marijuana “by taxing it and regulating it like alcohol.” An additional 16 percent of respondents endorsed “replac[ing] criminal penalties for marijuana offenses with a fine” only. Another four percent of respondents supported an outright “repeal” of all state criminal penalties for cannabis offenses.

    Only 26 percent of those polled said that supported continuing the present system of state criminal penalties for marijuana offenses. Under state law, the possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

    Six hundred likely voters participated in the survey, which has a margin of error of ±4 percent.

    Lansing voters will decide this fall in favor of a municipal initiative repealing criminal and civil penalties involving the adult possession of cannabis by adults on private property. Last year, voters in four Michigan cities — Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Ypsilanti– all voted overwhelmingly in favor of municipal measures to depenalize marijuana offenses.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 30, 2013

    As part of an ongoing cannabis law reform effort in Michigan, voters in three more Michigan cities will soon have the chance to do what their elected officials regularly fail to do: pass laws that decriminalize a small amount of cannabis for personal adult use.norml_remember_prohibition_

    The Detroit Free Press reports today that three Michigan cities–Ferndale, Jackson and likely Lansing–will have binding voter initiatives that effectively decriminalize cannabis possession in these three municipalities.

    Numerous other cities in Michigan have already adopted decriminalization, as have 17 other states overall, and as former MI NORML president and current chair of Coalition for Safer Michigan Tim Beck notes in the article that passing these three decriminalization ballots will likely be the ‘tipping point’ for state legislators in Michigan to pass state-wide reforms.

    Let’s hope so!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 6, 2013

    Democrat Gov. (and NORML PAC recipient) Peter Shumlin today signed legislation into law eliminating criminal penalties for adults who possess personal use amounts of cannabis and/or hashish.

    “This change just makes common sense,” said Shumlin. “Our limited resources should be focused on reducing abuse and addiction of opiates like heroin and meth rather than cracking down on people for having very small amounts of marijuana.”

    The new law amends penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. The law also decriminalizes possession of less than 5 grams of hashish.

    Vermont’s proposed law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

    Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (The laws in Colorado and Washington were enacted via voter initiative while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)

    Vermont’s new law takes effect on July 1, 2013.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 9, 2013

    Members of the Senate this week approved legislation to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties. On Tuesday, Senators voted 24 to 6 in favor of a House measure that amends penalties for the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia by a person 21 years of age or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to six-months in jail and a $500 fine) to a civil fine only — no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record. House members had previously signed off on a slightly different version of the bill in April.

    House members must sign off on the Senate’s changes to the bill. It will then go to Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has publicly expressed support for liberalizing the state’s marijuana possession penalties.

    If signed into law, the measure will take effect on July 1, 2013.

    Vermont’s proposed law is similar to existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense.

    Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (The laws in Colorado and Washington were enacted via voter initiative while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)

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