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Supreme Court

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 16, 2020

    Marijuana CultivationFederal prosecutions for marijuana-related crimes fell significantly from September 30, 2018 to September 30, 2019, according to a recently released report from Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

    The 2019 end-of-year report finds that the number of federal defendants charged with cannabis-associated crimes declined by 28 percent. By contrast, total filings for drug crimes increased five percent over the same time period, totaling over 83,000 cases in 2019.

    Separate data reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration in July reported a decline in DEA-led marijuana seizures, but showed an increase in DEA arrests for marijuana violations in 2018. State-level arrests for marijuana violations have increased year-over-year since 2016, according to annual data reported by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Full text of the 2019 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 26, 2019

    Marijuana LawsThe warrantless search of a passenger’s personal property during a traffic stop is unconstitutional, according to a ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court. The judgement overturns a 2007 decision that barred passengers from challenging similar searches by members of law enforcement.

    Justices unanimously opined that the driver’s voluntary consent to allow the police to search her vehicle did not extend to the passenger’s personal belongings. They determined: “In this case, defendant had a legitimate expectation of privacy in his backpack. Defendant asserted a clear possessory interest in his backpack by clutching it in his lap, and the officer believed that the backpack belonged to defendant because of the way defendant was holding it. Therefore, although defendant had no (and claimed no) legitimate expectation of privacy in the interior of the driver’s vehicle, he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in his backpack that society is willing to recognize as reasonable.”

    Justices concluded, “A passenger’s personal property is not subsumed by the vehicle that carries it for Fourth Amendment purposes.”

    The defendant’s backpack held marijuana and methamphetamine. He had already served nearly three years in prison for the offenses prior to this week’s verdict.

    The case is People v. Mead. A summary of the opinion is online here.

  • by NORML June 15, 2018

    Former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice and former Dean of the St. Louis University Law School, Michael A. Wolff, will speak in support of the New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative at a marijuana law reform conference which will take place at the St. Charles Opera House, 311 N. Main Street, in St. Charles this Saturday, June 16. Judge Wolff is a professor emeritus of law at St. Louis University and a highly respected legal scholar.

    Preceding his remarks at 4:00 p.m., there will be a full day of fascinating speakers. Mr. Paul Armentano, national Deputy Director of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) will speak at 3:00 p.m. Mr. Armentano is one of the nation’s most knowledgeable and articulate experts on the science of medical marijuana. He will speak about how the legalization of medical marijuana in 29 other states has dramatically reduced opioid overdose and provided relief from suffering to thousands of Americans.

    At 2:00 p.m., the leader of the St. Louis NAACP, Mr. Adolphus Pruitt, will speak, followed by Mr. Tom Mundell at 2:20 p.m. Mr. Mundell is the former commander of the Missouri Association of Veterans’ Organizations (MAVO). He is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran.

    At 2:40 p.m., Mr. Jeff Mizanskey will speak. Jeff was sentenced to serve life without possibility of parole for minor marijuana offenses. He has no other criminal convictions. After serving more than 21 years in prison, his sentence was commuted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon following a nationwide campaign urging the Governor to do so.

    At 1:00 p.m., a panel of health experts and patients will discuss how medical marijuana is helpful to people with a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. At 11:30 a.m., St. Louis Alderperson Megan Green will speak about her efforts to reform local marijuana laws through the St. Louis Board of Alderpeople and through the initiative process. Earlier speakers will review the status of the New Approach Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative campaign and other state, national and local marijuana law reform efforts.

    For more information, contact Dan Viets via email at danviets@gmail.com.