Tags Posts tagged with "Decriminalize"

Decriminalize

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Israel’s cabinet recently approved a proposal to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana, permitting it to go to a vote in the country’s parliament, the Knesset. If it passes there, as anticipated, first-time marijuana offenders will face a fine of 1,000 shekels ($270 USD), but criminal charges will only be brought on a fourth offense. Gilad Erdan, Public Security Minister who led the reform effort said, “The government’s approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement.”

Legislator Tamar Zandberg of the center-left Meretz party, chair of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, stated, “This is an important step, but not the end of the road. It sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals. We will carry on following the details in the committee and ensure that the change is implemented.” The proposal was based on the suggestions of a committee headed by Public Security Ministry director-general Rotem Peleg, calling for a change of focus from criminal prosecution of marijuana users to fines and educational campaigns.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated, “Israel cannot shut its eyes to the changes being made across the world in respect to marijuana consumption and its effect. Israel is already a world leader in medical cannabis, with some 25,000 registered in its national program, and cutting-edge research underway. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, almost 9% of Israelis use marijuana, although many believe the figure could be higher. For now, Israel’s predominantly conservative government is only going so far. Farming and selling marijuana would continue to be criminal offenses under the proposal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “On the one hand we are opening ourselves up to the future. On the other hand, we understand the dangers and will try to balance the two.” However, even some conservatives are coming around. MK Sharren Haskel of the right-wing Likud, chair of the Knesset Caucus for Medical Cannabis, said the proposal is “not enough.” Asserting that “criminalization does not work and wastes resources.” She stated, “I will keep fighting until we have a full-fledged legalization of cannabis.”

Nashville’s Metro Council made history this past Tuesday by approving the city’s first measure to allow less harsh civil penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana, but it may set the stage for a confrontation with the state. The council voted 35-3 to give final approval of legislation that will give Nashville police the option of reducing the penalty for people who are found in knowing possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less to a $50 fine or 10 hours of community service. He reeled off a long list of cities and states as examples, noting that even the conservative Deep South state of Mississippi has a law on the books.

“This legislation is a positive step forward in addressing the overly punitive treatment of marijuana possession in our state that disproportionately impacts low-income and minority residents,” Barry said in a statement after the council’s vote.

“It is important to stress that this ordinance is not a license to sell, possess or use marijuana in Nashville,” she said. “When this ordinance becomes law, police officers will still have the ability to make arrests or issue state criminal citations for marijuana possession as circumstances warrant, which is a Class A misdemeanor under state law.”

Council members Steve Glover, Sheri Weiner and Doug Pardue cast the lone votes against the proposal. Glover expressed concern about sending “mixed messages” by giving police two options for penalties for small marijuana possession. They’ve likened the measure to Metro’s laws for litter and seat belts, both of which have penalties that are not as severe as those outlined in state law. State Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, has argued that Nashville’s pot ordinance would create “two standards of justice” whereby one person caught with small amounts of pot could face a $50 fine and another could face 11 months and 29 days in jail.

“The Sumner County lawmaker has said he is “strongly considering” filing a state bill next session that, as a penalty, would seek to halt state highway funds from cities that do not enforce criminal penalties outlined in state law.

Asked about the threat of state intervention, Barry said Nashville shouldn’t govern “based on what the state may or may not do. Pulley also called on the state legislature to use “reason and common sense” when addressing the issue.In recent days, some judges in Nashville have raised concerns that issuing civil penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana might make it harder to expunge the records.

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The island of Antigua in the Caribbean has turned into the most recent nation to talk about decriminalizing cannabis for individual use. This week, the Antigua Observer reported that the nation’s Cabinet is freely prescribing that inhabitants of the island country be permitted to have up to 5 grams of cannabis without punishment. As indicated by the notes from the Cabinet meeting hung on August 24th, Antigua’s Ministry of Legal Affairs has been coordinated to draft a law that would wipe out fines for 5 grams. The thinking behind this adjustment in enactment is the squandered cost in indicting individuals for such a negligible wrongdoing. The move is likewise an endeavor to prevent individuals from getting criminal records for weed, which makes it more troublesome for them to find jobs and travel.

A prominent leader of the Church in Antigua has gone on record as not being against sanctioning pot. In that part of the world, religious establishments convey a considerable measure of weight with respect to the popular conclusion, so even a little stride towards cannabis change from a Church pioneer is huge. Further down the guide in South America, where President David Granger of Guyana says he is interested in facilitating laws on cannabis for individual use. In a TV address, President Granger expressed that his Cabinet would soon be investigating cannabis control trying to decrease jail packing in Guyana.

Granger included that he is not for full decriminalization, but rather a proposition to dispense with prison time for 15 grams or less is under consideration. The Cabinet is anticipating a report from the Health Ministry before pushing ahead with the exchange. These most recent universal case of cannabis change are an immediate aftereffect of the worldwide arousing that is as of now occurring for weed, hemp, and its related items. Antigua and Guyana are following in some admirable people’s footsteps as to cannabis change; they join a developing rundown of nations on the very edge of change like Italy, Costa Rica, Canada, and a few others.

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Small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in Illinois and instead of receiving jail time, offenders will merely need to pay a fine. Governor Bruce Rauner passed this bill on Friday that makes the state the third largest to decriminalize small cannabis offenses. The new law, which is going to take place as soon as possible, makes having ten grams or less of cannabis a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $200.

The Republican senator was predicted to pass the measure since it included dialect he asked for after vetoing a similar bill a year ago. In his message to administrators at the time, Rauner said that current punishments for frivolous pot offenses were excessively serious and that “criminal prosecution of cannabis possession is also a drain on public resources.”

The new law additionally sets a standard for what’s considered excessively impaired, making it impossible to drive. At present, any hint of cannabis is sufficient to be viewed as hindered. However, cannabis advocates have since quite a while ago scrutinized zero-resistance states’ methodology since pot can stay in a person’s blood for a few weeks. The new law makes the standard five nanograms of THC, marijuana’s inebriating substance, in a driver’s blood inside two hours of utilization.

With Rauner’s mark, Illinois joins 16 different states, including New York and California, that have decriminalized pot ownership in little sums. The representative’s office said Rauner would not be saying anything about the bill’s passing. Police boss and sheriffs have communicated reservations about changing the law and worked with Rauner for quite a long time to get ready for its execution. One police boss said he’s worried more individuals will have access to cannabis on account of the change. However, the counter argument is that these people were going to get their hands on the drug no matter what.

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Orlando’s City Council is going to make a final vote on Monday on a bill that, if passed, would decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. It would also give cops the ability to give out a fine rather than put people in jail.
“People need to know and understand that this is making it easier,” Ings stated at the April 18 council meeting. “We should want criminals to stop being criminals, not making them feel confident to use and possess marijuana.”
At the moment, activists from Organize Now are asking Ings to act “on behalf of his community” in a letter written by the group’s Committee co-chair Korey Wheeler.
“District 6 encompasses a large African-American community directly impacted by the false ‘war on drugs’ narrative,” the letter states. “His vote against deprioritization of minor marijuana offenses subjects many of his constituents to higher arrest rates than their white counterparts, and perpetuates negative stereotypes against the very community he represents.”
The letter adds:
“Despite calls for action from his community, Ings proves he is more concerned with serving the interests of local tourism giants making millions of dollars a year than protecting his very people from discriminatory practices.
On three different occasions, Organize Now contacted Commissioner Ings for a meeting but received no reply. Deprioritizing arrests for non-violent misdemeanors would free up our criminal justice system and address real public safety challenges in our community. It’s time Commissioner Ings listened to his constituents and acted on behalf of his community.
Orlando should follow the lead of 24 states and hundreds of municipalities across the country, breaking away from false, fear-mongering rhetoric and shifting its focus to its real public safety challenges. By building on progress and investing into local programs tackling the underlying causes of crime with the money saved by eliminating incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession, we can come together to find solutions that help our communities.”

 

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During February, after years of research on cannabis, the government of Belize decided to make a move towards marijuana decriminalization, with the cabinet giving recommendations stemming from the Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee over to the office of the Attorney General for consideration. As a result, the prospects for a decriminalization bill are on the horizon. According to sources, the proposed bill would allow people holding ten grams or less cannabis to be charged with a fine or community service. In American dollars, it would be approximately $7.50 per gram. In addition, the law would also clean the records of those who have been convicted of ten or fewer grams in the past.

“Too many young people have this following them, those who are seeking jobs,” former National Security Minister Doug Singh reported.

So the good did not last forever. Just after this happy headline was released, the United States State Department published its 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. In that report, Belize was named among fourteen other Central American and the Caribbean sites as a “major money laundering” center.

The report, which came out on March 5th, clarifies that Belize is not a huge financial center, but nonetheless says: “The government of Belize continues to encourage offshore financial activities that are vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing, including offshore banks, insurance companies, trust service providers, mutual fund companies, and international business companies.”

In 2015, Belize also made it onto the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. Here are a list of some others that also made the list: “Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Panama, St. Maarten and Venezuela.” There is a huge similarity between these countries and those who have gone against the U.S. and used decriminalization to fight the drug war recently.

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While Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine attempts to sabotage a measure to completely decriminalize marijuana possession in the city of Toledo, local prosecutors appear to be doing their best to maintain the integrity of the ordinance.

A recent report from the Toledo Blade suggests that ever since voters approved a measure last September that eliminates the criminal penalties associated with misdemeanor and felony pot possession, only one person has been convicted of the offense an 18-year-old woman by the name of Mariah Smith, who received a sentence of “No fines and no jail time.” A total of 21 defendants have been arrested for marijuana possession since the ordinance went into effect last year.

Toledo’s decriminalization measure, which was approved by 70 percent of the voters in 2015, is perhaps one of the best ordinances of its kind in the entire nation.

Not only does the law decriminalize the possession of marijuana in small amounts, but it also eliminates all of the criminal penalties and fines associated with felony possession and trafficking.

To sweeten the deal, the law also comes with a “Gag rule” that prohibits Toledo police from referring marijuana violations to the state, which still considers these types of actions a criminal offense.

Basically, in Toledo, marijuana possession in any amount is considered a minor misdemeanor, whereby those convicted “Shall not be fined and no incarceration, probation, not any other punitive or rehabilitative measure shall be imposed.” After the ordinance was approved, Attorney General DeWine filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the portion of the ordinance that allows felony pot possession and trafficking to go unpunished.

The lawsuit did not offer any arguments into the city’s desire to abolish fines and jail sentences for those caught in possession of marijuana in amounts less than 200 grams.

DeWine’s lawsuit claims the City of Toledo has no authority to reduce the penalties for marijuana offenses that are still considered felonies in the eyes of the state.

He is also contesting the “Gag rule,” because he wants Toledo police to have the option of feeding state law enforcement information regarding potential violations to the state’s drug laws.

In December, a Lucas County Common Pleas Judge was left shaking his head at the debate surrounding the city’s decriminalization ordinance.

Citing a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court, which finds “a statute is not a criminal statute unless the penalty is provided for its violation,” the judge argued that a law could not be considered a law without some sort of penance for breaking it.

A city briefing suggests there are still penalties covering felony marijuana possession in Toledo, including the seizure of contraband and a smear on a defendant’s record.

The defense went on to say that the people of Toledo have decided that the state’s definition of penalties, specifically fines and jail time, are no longer necessary for offenses pertaining to marijuana.

A judge must now decide the outcome of this debacle.
As for now, Toledo police have been instructed to use their discretion when charging people with marijuana.

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Pittsburgh City Council officially passed a measure to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis on Monday morning after a vote of 7-2. The bill gives officers the ability to give someone with less than thirty grams of marijuana, or eight grams of hashish, a $100 fine rather than a misdemeanor. Public Safety Committee Chair Daniel Lavelle sponsored the bill and said that the measure would “help break the damning life-long consequences of unemployment, lack of education, and being caught in a revolving criminal justice system.”

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris voted against the bill, but at the same time, sympathized with the goals of the measure. However, Kail-Smith added that it was “irresponsible” to pass a decriminalization of marijuana at a local level. She added that her district that includes southern and western neighborhoods, which all border other areas where decriminalization has not been considered. Because of this, she stated, “I think [the bill] gives a false sense of security to people driving on the streets,” and confrontations in certain areas “could actually escalate to something much more serious than a fine.”

Harries agreed with those concerns, saying that changing drug laws should only be done by state officials. “We have opened ourselves to many lawsuits by overstepping our bounds this year,” she said, referring to legislation that attempts to impose sundry requirements on employers.

The supporters of the bill did not respond to concerns about the bill, which was passed by a 6-1 vote just a week ago. However, Councilman Ricky Burgess stated that while he did not allow drug use, “I think young people who make mistakes should not suffer lifelong consequences on something that I think is perhaps not life-threatening.”

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On Friday, Delaware will legalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. As of right now, eighteen other states have decriminalized marijuana. In the last two years, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational possession of marijuana, so activists hope that decisions like that of Delaware will be a step in ending marijuana prohibition throughout the country.

In June, the Delaware state legislature passed a bill getting rid of severe criminal penalties for small possession of an ounce or less of the drug. In the past, that could have led to three months in jail. Now, similar to a traffic ticket, it merely leads to a civil violation with a fine.

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” Karen O’Keefe, who lobbied for the bill as state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, stated. “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately, they will not have to any longer.”

Yet there are still numerous circumstances where the police of Delaware can arrest somebody for having just a bit of cannabis. Smoking marijuana is still a misdemeanor that could result in up to a year in jail.

“People should do this in their own homes,” state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said to local news website Delaware Online. “It should not be done in cars. It should be done in the privacy of your own home.”

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Starting in 2016, officers in the United State’s fourth largest city will not be arresting citizens caught with small amounts of marijuana. Because of a new policy outlined by the Harris County District Attorney, authorities in Houston will simply cite and release anyone found with two ounces or less of marijuana. Those who are cited must go to a drug rehabilitation program, which is filled with class work and community service. When finishing the program, defendants will not need to face any other penalties; there will be no crimes charged and the person will not have a criminal record.

After one is caught with the marijuana a second time, though, one will not have such a luxury. However, Texas is gladly welcoming any sort of decriminalization. The state’s officers arrest almost 75,000 offenders for violating marijuana possession laws yearly, which is the second-highest number in the country. Under Texas’s laws, the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is currently considered a criminal misdemeanor and can result in 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine as well as a criminal record.

In 2007, lawmakers in Texas permitted police in local jurisdictions to cite instead of arresting small pot offenders. Even then, sundry police departments have decided to continue arresting these minor offenders rather than following the new law.

Houston is one of the most populated cities in the United States with 2.2 million people. Recently, officials in many other metropolitan areas (Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida) have issues respective ordinances that have resulted in less marijuana-related arrests.

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