Tag Archives: cannabis legalization

Marijuana legalization comes to Delaware

Admin; Questions to be answered as another state moves forward with the public opinion…

Police seek to cut through haze on Delaware cannabis law

Q&A: DELAWARE’S NEW RECREATIONAL POT RULES

Delaware is now the 20th state, along with the District of Columbia, to decriminalize or legalize simple marijuana possession.

  • WHAT DOES THE LEGISLATION ALLOW?

    Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on Thursday signed legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

  • HOW MUCH IS ALLOWED?

    The legislation eliminates criminal penalties for possession by an adult of 1 ounce of marijuana or less for personal use. Instead, it would be a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine. The cannabis also would be confiscated.

  • WHAT’S CONSIDERED “PERSONAL USE?”

    Smoking pot in a moving vehicle, in public areas, or outdoors on private property within 10 feet of a street, sidewalk or other area generally accessible to the public would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment of up to five days.

  • WHEN DOES THE NEW RULE START?

    In six months. Simple possession remains a criminal offense for anyone under 18. Marijuana remains considered an illegal narcotic under federal law.

  • WHAT WAS THE OLD RULE?

    Violators previously could be fined up to $1,150 plus sentenced to six months in jail.

Karl Baker, The News Journal9:38 p.m. EDT June 19, 2015

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(Photo: The News Journal)

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A new law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana has opened a new set of questions for Delaware law enforcement.

“We have to talk with the attorney general,” said New Castle County Police Chief Elmer Setting on Friday, the day after Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure.

The legislation, which takes effect in six months, eliminates criminal penalties for possession by an adult of 1 ounce of cannabis or less for personal use. A violation will be considered a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine and would not become part of a person’s criminal record.

“It’s going to be similar to having an open can of alcohol” in public, Setting said.

A violation currently is categorized as a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and six months in jail.

The legislation will not change any rules regarding medical marijuana or penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. Selling pot also will remain banned. Smoking marijuana in a moving vehicle, in public areas, or outdoors on private property within 10 feet of a street, sidewalk or other area generally accessible to the public will be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment of up to five days.

“People should do this in their own homes …,” said state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Democrat, who sponsored the legislation, House Bill 39. “It should not be done in cars. It should be done in the privacy of your own home.”

But there are gray areas, like public areas in apartment complexes. Under current law, if police spot someone smoking marijuana on the steps of an apartment building, they can be arrested, although the new law isn’t clear about whether the standard still applies, Setting said.

“I know it’s confusing, and we’re confused too,” he said.

Newark police Cpl. James Spadola said they’re also consulting with the state Attorney General’s Office to get clarification.

“(We need) to seek their guidance as to how we should adjust,” he said.

State prosecutors are going to interpret the intent of the decriminalization bill and then issue guidance to police agencies, said Department of Justice spokesman Carl Kanefsky.

The clarification process is common when new laws are established, although guidelines have been especially tricky for other states that have undertaken similar changes for medical and recreational usage of marijuana. Florida and Massachusettsboth have had to reexamine standards to clarify rules.

Zoe Pattel, co-chair of the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, worries about confusion with the recent legislation. That might cause cannabis users to continue to be a target of police attention, she said.

“We’re fearful it won’t stop the arrests,” Pattel said.

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The Smoking Authority sells pipes and other paraphernalia used to consume marijuana. (Photo: KARL BAKER/THE NEWS JOURNAL)

She said the bill is a good first step and is calling for more work to completely legalize marijuana. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Delaware is the 20th state, along with the District of Columbia, to decriminalize or legalize simple marijuana possession, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that has urged changes to marijuana laws. Almost half the states allow medical marijuana.

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled Senate on a straight party-line vote. Delaware State Police officials have said the measure will make it more challenging to target drug dealers because they could not initiate searches on suspicion of simple marijuana possession.

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Decriminalization proponents argue a marijuana conviction should not cause lives to unravel because of jail time and lost job prospects. Setting agrees but said he’s worried that kids will see the legislation and think cannabis is now legal. Marijuana use could lead to other drugs, he said.

“It’s a misleading bill,” he said. “We are not educating our kids that marijuana is a gateway drug.”

Markell spokeswoman Kelly Bachman in a statement Thursday said “the governor remains committed to reducing the number of people entering the criminal justice system and refocusing resources where they are needed most.”

Markell in 2011 also authorized the use of marijuana for medical usage. The first dispensary, First State Compassion Center near Wilmington, is scheduled to open Friday. About 340 Delawareans carry cards that will allow them to use medical pot.

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Sherrese Williams visits The Smoking Authority, a shop that sells marijuana paraphernalia, near Wilmington on Friday. Police are consulting with the state Attorney General’s Office to interpret Delaware’s new law allowing possession of small amounts of cannabis. (Photo: KARL BAKER/THE NEWS JOURNAL)

Inside The Smoking Authority, a store that sells marijuana paraphernalia near Wilmington on Friday, Sherrese Williams said she began smoking cannabis to ease pain from medical complications from childbirth 11 years ago. Though she now uses cannabis under the state’s medical marijuana program, she welcomes the decriminalization effort because it will allow individuals to feel better without fear of being arrested.

“I would not have been here right now if I would not have lit up before I came out,” she said.

A total of 2,632 misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana were filed in 2013, according to the most recent Delaware Criminal Justice Information System data.

Contact Karl Baker at kbaker@delawareonline.com or (302) 324-2329. Follow him on Twitter @kbaker6.

State loosens rules on recreational pot

Delaware is now the 20th state, along with the District of Columbia, to decriminalize or legalize simple marijuana possession.

What does the legislation allow?

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell on Thursday signed legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

How much is allowed?

The legislation eliminates criminal penalties for possession by an adult of 1 ounce of marijuana or less for personal use. Instead, it would be a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine. The cannabis also would be confiscated.

What’s considered “personal use?”

Smoking pot in a moving vehicle, in public areas, or outdoors on private property within 10 feet of a street, sidewalk or other area generally accessible to the public would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment of up to five days.

When does the new rule start?

In six months. Simple possession remains a criminal offense for anyone under 18. Marijuana remains considered an illegal narcotic under federal law.

What was the old rule?

Violators previously could be fined up to $1,150 plus sentenced to six months in jail.

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2015/06/19/police-seek-guidance-delaware-marijuana-law/28993931/

Marijuana choice from Pediatrician’s perspective.

Admin; Excellent information, well balanced regarding pros and cons.  Well worth the read to educate yourself.

Alcohol or Marijuana? A Pediatrician Faces the Question

MARCH 16, 2015

Aaron E. Carroll

As my children, and my friends’ children, are getting older, a question that comes up again and again from friends is this: Which would I rather my children use — alcohol or marijuana?

The immediate answer, of course, is “neither.” But no parent accepts that. It’s assumed, and not incorrectly, that the vast majority of adolescents will try one or the other, especially when they go to college. So they press me further.

The easy answer is to demonize marijuana. It’s illegal, after all. Moreover, its potential downsides are well known. Scans show that marijuana use isassociated with potential changes in the brain. It’s associated with increases in the risk of psychosis. It may be associated with changes in lung function or long-term cancer risk, even though a growing body of evidence says that seems unlikely. It can harm memory, it’s associated with lower academic achievement, and its use is linked to less success later in life.

But these are all associations, not known causal pathways. It may be, for instance, that people predisposed to psychosis are more likely to use pot. We don’t know. Moreover, all of these potential dangers seem scary only when viewed in isolation. Put them next to alcohol, and everything looks different.

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Andy Eidinger, chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, held a joint on Feb. 26, on the first full day of marijuana legalization in Washington.CreditRobert Macpherson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Because marijuana is illegal, the first thing I think about before answering is crime. In many states, being caught with marijuana is much worse than being caught with alcohol while underage. But ignoring the relationship between alcohol and crime is a big mistake. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that alcohol use is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes in the United States, including 37 percent of rapes and 27 percent of aggravated assaults.

No such association has been found among marijuana users. Although there are studies that can link marijuana to crime, it’s almost all centered on its illegal distribution. People who are high are not committing violence.

People will argue that casual use isn’t the issue; it’s abuse that’s worrisome for crime. They’re right — but for alcohol. A recent study in Pediatricsinvestigated the factors associated with death in delinquent youth. Researchers found that about 19 percent of delinquent males and 11 percent of delinquent females had an alcohol use disorder. Further, they found that even five years after detention, those with an alcohol use disorder had a 4.7 times greater risk of death from external causes, like homicide, than those without an alcohol disorder.

When I’m debating my answer, I think about health as well. Once again, there’s no comparison. Binge drinking accounted for about half of the more than 80,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United States in 2010, according to a 2012 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The economic costs associated with excessive alcohol consumption in the United States were estimated to be about $225 billion. Binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on a single occasion, isn’t rare either. More than 17 percent of all people in the United States are binge drinkers, and more than 28 percent of people age 18 to 24.

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Binge drinking is more common among people with a household income of at least $75,000. This is a solid middle-class problem.

Marijuana, on the other hand, kills almost no one. The number of deaths attributed to marijuana use is pretty much zero. A study that tracked more than 45,000 Swedes for 15 years found no increase in mortality in those who used marijuana, after controlling for other factors. Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health followed more than 65,000 people in the United States and found that marijuana use had no effect at all on mortality in healthy men and women.

I think about which is more dangerous when driving. A 2013 case-control study found that marijuana use increased the odds of being in a fatal crash by 83 percent. But adding alcohol to drug use increased the odds of a fatal crash by more than 2,200 percent. A more recent study found that, after controlling for various factors, a detectable amount of THC, the active ingredient in pot, in the blood did not increase the risk of accidents at all. Having a blood alcohol level of at least 0.05 percent, though, increased the odds of being in a crash by 575 percent.

I think about which substance might put young people at risk for being hurt by others. That’s where things become even more stark. In 1995 alone,college students reported more than 460,000 alcohol-related incidents of violence in the United States. A 2011 prospective study found that mental and physical dating abuse were more common on drinking days among college students. On the other hand, a 2014 study looking at marijuana use and intimate partner violence in the first nine years of marriage found that those who used marijuana had lower rates of such violence. Indeed, the men who used marijuana the most were the least likely to commit violence against a partner.

Most people come out of college not dependent on the substances they experimented with there. But some do. So I also consider which of the two might lead to abuse. Even there, alcohol fares poorly compared with marijuana. While 9 percent of pot users eventually become dependent, more than 20 percent of alcohol users do.

An often-quoted, although hotly debated, study in the Lancet ranked many drugs according to their harm score, both to users and to others. Alcohol was clearly in the lead. One could make a case, though, that heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine would be worse if they were legal and more commonly used. But it’s hard to see how pot could overtake alcohol even if it were universally legal. Use of marijuana is not rare, even now when it’s widely illegal to buy and use. It’s estimated that almost half of Americans age 18 to 20 have tried it at some point in their lives; more than a third of them have used it in the last year.

I also can’t ignore what I’ve seen as a pediatrician. I’ve seen young people brought to the emergency room because they’ve consumed too much alcohol and become poisoned. That happens thousands of times a year. Some even die.

And when my oldest child heads off to college in the not-too-distant future, this is what I will think of: Every year more than 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related accidents. About 600,000 are injured while under alcohol’s influence, almost 700,000 are assaulted, and almost 100,000 are sexually assaulted. About 400,000 have unprotected sex, and 100,000 are too drunk to know if they consented. The numbers for pot aren’t even in the same league.

I’m a pediatrician, as well as a parent. I can, I suppose, demand that my children, and those I care for in a clinic, never engage in risky behavior. But that doesn’t work. Many will still engage in sexual activity, for instance, no matter how much I preach about the risk of a sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy. Because of that, I have conversations about how to minimize risk by making informed choices. While no sex is preferable to unprotected sex, so is sex with a condom. Talking about the harm reduction from condom use doesn’t mean I’m telling them to have sex.

Similarly, none of these arguments I’ve presented are “pro pot” in the sense that I’m saying that adolescents should go use marijuana without worrying about consequences. There’s little question that marijuana carries with it risks to people who use it, as well as to the nation. The number of people who will be hurt from it, will hurt others because of it, begin to abuse it, and suffer negative consequences from it are certainly greater than zero. But looking only at those dangers, and refusing to grapple with them in the context of our society’s implicit consent for alcohol use in young adults, is irrational.

When someone asks me whether I’d rather my children use pot or alcohol, after sifting through all the studies and all the data, I still say “neither.” Usually, I say it more than once. But if I’m forced to make a choice, the answer is “marijuana.”

Aaron E. Carroll is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. He blogs on health research and policy at The Incidental Economist, and you can follow him on Twitter at @aaronecarroll.

Marijuana legalization challenged by well funded alcohol and beer lobbyists.

POLITICS

Marijuana Legalization: Pharmaceuticals, Alcohol Industry Among Biggest Opponents Of Legal Weed

By Philip Ross@ThisIsPRop.ross@ibtimes.com
on August 06 2014 5:54 PM

Opposition To Pot Reform = Big Money For Pharmaceuticals

Pancreatic cancer survivor Mellody Gannon smokes medicinal marijuana during the annual convention of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in San Francisco, California Sept. 25, 2009.REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Opponents of marijuana legalization argue that decriminalizing pot increases crime, creates juvenile delinquents and can even lead to more marijuana-related deaths. But there is another reason for the crusade against marijuana that involves some people losing lots of money as the country becomes increasingly pot friendly, according to a recent report from The Nation and astudy by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The biggest players in the anti-marijuana legalization movement are pharmaceutical, alcohol and beer companies, private prison corporations and police unions, all of whom help fund lobby groups that challenge marijuana law reform. In 2010, California Beer and Beverage Distributors funneled $10,000 to Public Safety First, a political action committee, or PAC, that led the opposition to California’s Prop 19. The initiative, if passed, would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state.

Corrections Corporations of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., has spent nearly $1 million a year on lobbying efforts. The company even stated in a report that “changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances … could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

Among the largest donors to Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a New York City-based nonprofit that campaigns against teen drug and alcohol abuse, are Purdue Pharma, makers of the painkiller OxyContin, and Abbott Laboratories, which produces the opioid Vicodin. Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, or CADCA, a Virginia-based anti-drug organization, also receives donations from Purdue Pharma, as well as Janssen Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson that manufactures the painkiller Nucynta, according to The Nation.

The reason for opposing marijuana reform is simple: Legal weed hurts these companies’ bottom lines. “There is big money in marijuana prohibition,” the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C., notes in a recent series on marijuana lobbying efforts, including who funds legislation to keep the drug illegal.

Part of the missions of groups like Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and CADCA is to lobby Congress to maintain marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the U.S. government considers the drug as having a high potential for abuse, has no medical use and poses risks to public safety. Nevermind that more than 22,000 people die every year in the U.S. from overdoses involving pharmaceutical drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three out of every four pharmaceutical overdose deaths involve painkillers — more than heroin and cocaine combined.

“I think it’s hypocritical to remain silent with regard to the scheduling of hydrocodone products, while investing energy in maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I drug,” Andrew Kolodny, a New York psychiatrist and head of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told The Nation. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for them to be advocating on marijuana, [but] when we have a severe epidemic in America — one the CDC says is the worst drug epidemic in US history — it makes you wonder whether or not they’ve been influenced by their funding.”

The idea is that drug companies want to sell expensive drugs by downplaying the medical benefits of marijuana, alcohol and beer manufacturers do not want to compete for customers with legal pot, and private prisons need to fill their beds with convicted drug offenders. That means marijuana advocates have some pretty large — and well-funded — enemies to contend with.

http://www.ibtimes.com/marijuana-legalization-pharmaceuticals-alcohol-industry-among-biggest-opponents-legal-weed-1651166