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Municipal

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 14, 2019

    City lawmakers have successfully passed a pair of municipal bills limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for past cannabis exposure.

    Democratic Mayor Bill DeBlasio on Thursday permitted both bills to become law absent his signature.

    Commenting on the new laws, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “These reforms protect the civil liberties of New Yorkers and promote fair treatment. There is no reason to treat cannabis consumers as second class citizens. We shouldn’t penalize those who privately use cannabis responsibly from gainful employment, nor should the courts seize upon this behavior as a justification to return someone to jail or prison.”

    Bill No. 1427 states, “The department of probation shall not require individuals to submit to marijuana testing unless a determination is made, based on an individuals’ history and circumstances, that abstinence from marijuana is necessary to otherwise lead an otherwise law-abiding life.” The new law takes immediate effect.

    Bill No. 1445 states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Exceptions to the new law include those employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines. The law take effect in one year.

    Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace,” online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 22, 2019

    Cannabis Penalties[Update: The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday, 4/26, that the announced cite-and-release program is on hold. No further details were provided.] A spokesperson for the Jefferson County (population: 658,000) Sheriff’s Office announced today that local law enforcement will begin citing, rather than arresting, low-level marijuana offenders.

    Under the new policy, police will issue a summons to those who possess personal amounts of marijuana or cannabis-related paraphernalia. Offenders will no longer be arrested or booked. Those cited and released will still have to either pay a fine or appear in court at a later date. Those with prior cannabis violations will still be eligible to receive a summons.

    Under state law, marijuana possession is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one-year in jail and a $6,000 fine.

    Similar cite and release programs are in place in other cities and counties around the country, including in Palm Beach County, Florida and in Harris County (Houston), Texas.

    Additional information is available from NORML’s ‘Local Decriminalization’ report, online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 11, 2019

    Members of the New York City Council approved a pair of municipal bills this week limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for the past use of cannabis.

    Council members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a municipal proposal (No.1445) barring employers from drug testing certain job applicants for the presence of marijuana.

    The proposal states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Council members passed the bill by a vote of 40 to 4.

    Under the plan, employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions – such as police officers or commercial drivers – or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines, would be exempt from the municipal law.

    The measure now awaits final approval from City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. The new rules would take effect one-year after being signed into law.

    Studies have identified the presence of the inert carboxy-THC metabolite in the urine of former marijuana consumers for periods of several months following their last exposure.

    Council members also advanced separate legislation (No. 1427) to the Mayor’s office limiting situations in which persons on probation may be drug tested. Once signed, the new rules will take immediate effect.

    A resolution (Res. 641) calling on the New York City officials to expunge the records of all city misdemeanor marijuana convictions is pending. New York City police made over 78,000 marijuana possession arrests between the years 2014 and 2017.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 8, 2019

    Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

    To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

    “I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

    Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by providing access to a legal and regulated alternative, the decision by municipal governments to opt-out of the sale of adult-use marijuana appears to undermine the intent of the initiative and expectations of voters. We’re at a tipping point in America with regard to public support for ending marijuana prohibition, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially at the local level.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets! Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 16, 2018

    Following the lead of other major cities and counties in states that have legalized adult-use marijuana such as San Francisco and San Diego in California and Seattle and Pierce County in Washington, local officials in Colorado are taking action to undo the injustices of marijuana prohibition.

    Six years after voters in Colorado legalized adult-use marijuana, Boulder County, which encompasses the city of Boulder, and the City of Denver, have announced plans to expunge past convictions of low-level marijuana crimes from criminal records. Regardless of adult-use marijuana being legal to possess and consume in 10 states, a lingering marijuana-related conviction can prevent otherwise honest and hardworking adults from job opportunities, housing and financial resources.

    Boulder County Assistant District Attorney Ken Kupfner shared his thoughts in a recent interview with Colorado Public Radio:

    “We want to help people whose convictions are having the greatest impact first,” Kupfner said. “It could span everything from jobs to potential housing to educational opportunities. Anytime someone has a conviction, even for marijuana, it still shows up as a conviction.”

    Read more here: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/boulder-county-makes-move-to-cancel-past-marijuana-convictions

    Following the announcement from the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled a new citywide effort to expunge low-level marijuana convictions that occurred in Denver before voters legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012. According to the Mayor’s office, more than 10,000 convictions for low-level marijuana crimes will be eligible for expungement.

    Read more here: https://komonews.com/news/local/following-seattle-denver-officials-want-to-erase-low-level-marijuana-offenses

    Colorado state law currently only allows for the expungement of juvenile records, arrests based on mistaken identity and underage DUI offenses. However, in 2017 Representatives Edie Hooton and Jovan Melton worked together to pass HB 1266, which allows those who were convicted of criminal offenses for the use, cultivation, or possession of marijuana to petition for the sealing of criminal records. Certainly a step in the right direction.

    Lawmakers in California, Delaware, Rhode Island, Oregon and others have taken similar steps to allow for the expungement of marijuana-related convictions or at the very least, seal criminal records. With a record number of state legislatures expected to consider numerous bills to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in 2019, advocates can rest assured that expungement will continue to be a part of the conversation.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

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