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US: Senator: Sentencing Reform Bill Isn't Stalled

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 08:00
Washington Post, 11 Feb 2016 - Despite Recent Setbacks, Utah Republican Says Legislation Has Traction The co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation to reduce some mandatory minimum drug and gun sentences said Wednesday that he is hopeful Congress can still pass the bill despite recent setbacks.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Ex-Judge Urges Freedom For Man He Sentenced

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 08:00
Washington Post, 10 Feb 2016 - Now a Professor, He Writes to Obama About Mandatory 55-Year Term A former federal judge in Utah asked President Obama on Tuesday to "swiftly" give clemency to Weldon Angelos, a man he sentenced to 55 years in prison in connection with selling marijuana.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NJ: Column: I Want to Take Over the Federal Courthouse in

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:00
The Trentonian, 01 Feb 2016 - I'm passing a joint at The Joint and pondering while on pot. Through hazy eyes I watched FoxNews coverage of the armed takeover of a federal building in Oregon, feeling helpless. I've decided to do something about it here in Trenton.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: Marijuana Decrim Killed in VA, Ireland Ponders Pill Testing for Festivals, More (1/26/16)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 22:12

Alaska's commercial marijuana regulations advance, so does a Kansas bill lowering pot penalties and a pair of Florida asset forfeiture reform bills, the Irish government ponders pill testing for nightclubs and festivals, a medical marijuana bill is filed in Mexico, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Hillary Clinton Reiterates Support for Letting States Legalize Marijuana. In an interview Monday, the Democratic presidential contender restated her position that the federal government shouldn't interfere with state-level legalization. "I think that states are the laboratories of democracy, and four states have already taken action to legalize, and it will be important that other states and the federal government take account of how that's being done, what we learn from what they're doing,"said Clinton. "I think that the states moving forward is appropriate and I think the federal government has to move to make this more available for research that they can then distribute to interested people across our country."

Alaska Legal Marijuana Rules Advance, With Two Exceptions. The Marijuana Control Board's rules and regulations for commercial marijuana activity have been approved by the state Law Department, with two exceptions. The Law Department struck down a requirement for a national criminal history check, saying that authority must come from statute, not regulations, and it struck down marijuana testing requirements for rural growers. The Law Department said the Board's allowance of "alternative means of testing" for rural growers lacks standards. The Board said the legislature is already working on a fix for the background checks, but it doesn't yet have a fix for the rural grower issue.

Kansas Senate Panel Okays Lessening Pot Penalties, Legalizing CBC Cannabis Oil. The Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee Tuesday approved bills lessening marijuana possession penalties and allowing for the use of CBD cannabis oil for people with epilepsy. The bills now head for the Senate floor.

Virginia Decriminalization Bills Killed By House Committee. The House Courts of Justice Committee's Subcommittee on Criminal Law Monday voted down a pair of bills that would decriminalize marijuana possession in the Commonwealth.

New Orleans Ordinance Would Give Police Discretion to Ticket Marijuana Possessors. Currently, only first-time pot possession offenders are eligible for a summons instead of an arrest, but Councilwoman Susan Guidry is offering a measure that would allow police to only ticket pot possessors no many how many offenses they had. The measure is on the council's agenda today.

Medical Marijuana

California Senate Approves Bill to Slow Medical Marijuana Bans. The state Senate Monday approved Assembly Bill 21, designed to fix what lawmakers called a mistake in the state's comprehensive medical marijuana regulation laws. The bill had a paragraph that gave the state authority to license cultivation in localities that didn't have their own laws on the books by March 1, and many localities had responded by passing preemptive cultivation bans. The bill now goes to the Assembly.

Asset Forfeiture

Florida Asset Forfeiture Reform Bills Win Committee Vote. Two competing reform bills passed a Senate panel Tuesday. A bill from Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) would leave civil asset forfeiture intact, but increase oversight, while a bill from Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) would require a criminal conviction before seizure of assets. Law enforcement supports the first bill, but not the second. The committee passed both measures.

Drug Policy

Poll: New Hampshire Voters Support Drug Decriminalization. Two-thirds of state voters supported not arresting small-time drug possessors, but instead offering them counseling and treatment. And nearly three-quarters (73%) supporting doing away with mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession offenses.


Ireland Considering Pill Testing for Nightclubs, Festivals. In the wake of the drug-related death of a teenage clubber last week, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the government is considering allowing pill testing kits for music venues. But he said that prevention is the first pillar in the department's approach to the problem.

Mexico Medical Marijuana Bill Coming. A senator from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has proposed a bill to legalize medical marijuana and says she thinks it can pass by May. Sen. Cristina Diaz said she hoped the national debate on marijuana, which began this week, would help the bill progress.

(This article was prepared by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

CN ON: OPED: Black Community Unfairly Targeted In War On Drugs

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 08:00
Toronto Star, 20 Jan 2016 - The Supreme Court of Canada will soon decide the fate of the mandatory one-year jail sentence for trafficking certain drugs. The mandatory minimum has come under fire by civil liberty groups for constituting cruel and unusual punishment, arbitrary imprisonment and restricting security of the person contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case at issue concerns Ryan Joseph Lloyd, a drug addict in his mid-20s, who lived in Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside. He was found in possession of less than 10 grams of three drugs, enough to be charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was eventually convicted and faced no less than 12 months in jail because he had a prior conviction for trafficking within the last 10 years. The British Columbia Court of Appeal sentenced him to 18 months. The appeal of this sentence has reached our top court, in part because it sparked debate over how our courts deal with markers of disadvantage, including addiction, poverty and race.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

Chronicle AM: Top Cops Call for Sentencing Reform, GOP Senators Split On Reform, More... (1/20/16)

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (STDW) - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 22:10

GOP legislators are busy filing retrograde drug bills across the land, from chipping away at medical marijuana in Arizona to public benefits drug testing bills in several states. Meanwhile, a battle looms over federal sentencing reform.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Missouri Legislators Face Plethora of Marijuana Bills. The legislative session has barely started, but lawmakers in Jefferson City have already filed nearly 20 bills aiming at reforming marijuana policy. The bills range from legalization and medical marijuana to barring asset forfeiture in pot cases and expunging the record of nonviolent offenses, including marijuana offenses. Click on the link to see the whole list.

Medical Marijuana

Arizona GOP Legislators Try to Chip Away at Medical Marijuana Access. Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) has filed House Bill 2061, which would bar pregnant women from qualifying for the medical marijuana program, and Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale) has filed House Concurrent Resolution 2019, which removes homeopaths and naturopaths from the list of doctors who can issue medical marijuana recommendations.

Fix in the Works for California's Medical Marijuana Local Regulation Deadline. Legislators are working to fix a provision of the medical marijuana regulation law that requires localities to pass their own rules by March 1 or face loss of regulatory control to the state. The provision has caused a stampede of cities and counties seeking to get measures in place by that date, with most of them resorting to simple bans. The Senate Finance Committee last week passed a bill to remove the date.

Drug Testing

Indiana Unemployment Benefits Drug Testing Bill Filed. State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) has filed Senate Bill 245, which would require people applying for unemployment benefits to undergo drug testing if they were fired for drug use or if they work in an occupation the federal Bureau of Labor has determined is one where drug testing is common. The bill had a hearing set for today.

West Virginia Food Stamp Drug Testing Bill Advances. A bill that would require drug testing of food stamp recipients passed the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources Tuesday and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill would only require testing of those for whom state officials had a "reasonable suspicion" were drug users. The measure is Senate Bill 6.


Police Chiefs, Prosecutors Urge Congress to Pass Criminal Justice Reform. More than 70 top police chiefs and prosecutors organized as Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration today called on Congress to pass sentencing reform. They are urging support for the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (Senate Bill 2123). The letter comes on the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a major hearing on criminal justice reform. "Today, law enforcement leaders from across the nation join together to let our lawmakers know that reforming federal mandatory minimum sentences will help keep down crime and unnecessary incarceration. As police chiefs and prosecutors, our first priority is public safety. But we know first-hand from our experience that our country's high levels of incarceration are not making us safer," said the letter they sent out today.

GOP Split on Mandatory Minimums Threatens Sentencing Reform Bill. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is keeping mum about how he plans to proceed on the bill, which is cosponsored by several Republicans. GOP hardliners are balking, threatening passage of the measure. "I don't think it’s a healthy thing to do," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a fervent opponent of the justice bill. "If we lay off drug prosecutions, we're going to see even more murders and crimes, deaths and destruction. I think we need to slow down, be careful about this." The bill had appeared to be one of the few areas where bipartisan support could ensure passage, but now GOP support looks to be eroding.


Indian Has a Booming Industry Manufacturing New Psychoactive Substances. Recent raids by drug police have uncovered a domestic party drug manufacturing industry cranking out drugs by the ton. Police busted more than 1,200 pounds of mephedrone in one bust, 750 pounds in another, and more than 2500 pounds of ketamine in yet another. The drug makers are behaving like legitimate drug manufacturers, finding factories, chemists, and workers, then obtaining licenses to manufacture legitimate drugs, then cranking out party drugs.

Costa Rica Court Clears Activist of Marijuana Cultivation Charges. In a case that could be a step down the path to decriminalization, a court refused to convict Cerdas Salazar on drug trafficking charges for growing his own marijuana. Police contended he grew for sale, but provided no evidence of that. "Yes, marijuana cultivation is illegal; nonetheless, it is not a crime if it is not utilized for sale," the judge hearing the case, Carolina Leitón, said.

Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US NY: OPED: Just Saying Yes To The Politics Of Drugs

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 08:00
New York Times, 19 Jan 2016 - EARLIER this month, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida opened up on a subject he had once chided reporters for asking about: his daughter, Noelle, who, he said, "was addicted to drugs." In a video released by the campaign, Mr. Bush speaks plainly about his daughter's struggle, her time in jail and drug court, and her recovery. "I can look in people's eyes and I know that they've gone through the same thing that Columba and I have," he said, referring to his wife.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US CA: Column: Misguided War on Drugs Has Left Many Victims

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sat, 01/09/2016 - 08:00
Chico Enterprise-Record, 09 Jan 2016 - Five Republican presidential contenders this week addressed a New Hampshire forum concerned with a crisis swamping certain regions of the country, including New England: heroin addiction. The candidates spoke passionately, some sharing personal experiences.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Review: Harlem's Drug Warriors

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Fri, 01/01/2016 - 08:00
Reason Magazine, 01 Jan 2016 - Was the Drug War Imposed on Black America, or Did Black America Demand It? Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment, by Michael Javen Fortner, Harvard University Press, 368 pages, $29.95
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US MA: Prosecutors, Judges Duel On Sentences

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Sat, 12/26/2015 - 08:00
Boston Herald, 25 Dec 2015 - A man who was busted for hiding heroin in his prosthetic leg has sparked the latest battle between judges and prosecutors - two powerful factions who are fighting over mandatory minimum sentences. Imran Laltaprasad was convicted of possession with intent to distribute heroin and two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in July. He hid the heroin in his artificial leg. He had been convicted of the same offenses in the past.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums

US: Obama's Clemency List Brings Joy - And Heartbreak

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (MAP) - Thu, 12/24/2015 - 08:00
Washington Post, 24 Dec 2015 - At 9:10 a.m. Friday, the intercom blared at the federal prison here as Weldon Angelos walked the track on this sprawling campus of drab gray buildings in California's Central Valley. The booming voice of a prison official called an inmate to the main office. About 25 minutes later, the official came on the intercom again, summoning another prisoner.
Categories: Mandatory Minimums
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