Search Results: mandatory minimums (13)

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Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters
Canada’s Justice Minister Rob Nicholson: “It does cost money to incarcerate people and I believe that Canadians have been willing to pay those costs up to this point and they’ll continue to do so”

​Canada’s Tories are trying to revive a bill that would impose mandatory minimum sentences on people convicted of growing small numbers of marijuana plants.

The Conservative government will re-introduce its drug bill this week in the Senate, as part of its continued attempt to revive “tough-on-crime” legislation that died when the last Parliament was prorogued, reports Mike Blanchfield of The Canadian Press.
The new legislation will revive a controversial provision — a mandatory six-month sentence for people convicted of growing as few as five cannabis plants, hinted Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on Sunday.

Cannabis Culture

​While Canada moves toward stricter sentencing with the mandatory minimums included with Bill C-10, many states in the U.S. are shifting in the opposite direction, toward control and regulation of the marijuana trade, according to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

A high-profile group of current and former law enforcement officials allied under the LEAP banner points to the 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that have already passed laws allowing the medicinal use of cannabis, the 14 states that have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian senators, the law-enforcement officials point out the failure of the War On Drugs in the U.S., and that the country now seems to be moving in another direction even as Canada is poised to tighten the screws.
United-States-Marijuana-Flag--70678.jpegadmin | Toke of the Town

Here’s your daily dose of cannabis news from the newsletter WeedWeek:

On a conference call with reporters this week, Bill Piper, the Drug Policy Alliance’s Senior Director of National Affairs, discussed the nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) for U.S. Attorney General:

“Civil rights groups point out that Sen. Sessions has been one of the Senate’s most extreme voices on issues affecting immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, Women and the LGBT community. He has a long record of obstructing civil rights.

“In the area of drug policy reform, Sen. Sessions is a drug war dinosaur. His has nearly singlehandedly blocked bipartisan sentencing reform in the Senate. Sessions has been critical of the Obama Justice Department’s guidelines around sentencing that were designed to limit harsh sentences, and he has criticized the Justice Department’s use of consent decrees that force local police departments to address police brutality, racial profiling and other civil rights issues. He opposes giving formerly incarcerated individuals the right to vote. 
“He recently described marijuana as a dangerous drug and said that, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He has criticized the Obama administration for respecting state marijuana laws. 
“If confirmed as U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions could escalate the failed war on drugs. He will likely use his position to oppose any kind of sentencing or criminal justice reform…He could also undo the Cole Memo which provided guidance to U.S. attorneys instructing them to generally not raid marijuana dispensaries in states where it is legal.
“The war on drugs could also be a weapon that Sessions and the Trump administration use to spy on, investigate incarcerate or deport immigrants and other targeted groups. Already, President-elect Trump has said he wants to aggressively deport any immigrant who commits any offense, no matter how minor, including drug offenses…Senator Sessions could not only escalate the war on immigration and the war on drugs, he could combine them.

“He was deemed unfit to be a Federal judge in 1986 and I believe he will be deemed unfit to be U.S. Attorney General when the Senate looks at his history and record during confirmation hearings next year.”

Following Piper, representatives from LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, theCouncil on American-Islamic Relations, and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and the Cato Institute—“massive, massive privacy concerns” – each discussed what Attorney General Sessions could mean for criminal justice and civil liberties.

As Piper writes in a blog post, it isn’t clear how state-legal marijuana businesses would be affected if Sessions wins confirmation:

“No one knows for sure what exactly to expect, but we should assume the worst. His administration, which looks set to be staffed by drug-war extremists, could go after state marijuana laws. Instead of just opposing sentencing reform, they could push for new mandatory minimums. They might demonize drugs and drug sellers to build support for mass deportations and a wall. Trump’s law-and-order rhetoric could fundamentally alter the political environment, nationally and locally.”
Piper adds:
“We need to pace ourselves, choose our battles carefully, be strategic, and perhaps most importantly, keep our morale up. We need to find ways of supporting each other…
“It’s especially important that we find ways to create division among Republicans, who now hold Congress and the White House. The more they disagree, the less they can get done. Two areas that stand out for us are marijuana and sentencing reform. We have enough Republican support on both these issues that we might be able to create dissent within the GOP if Trump tries to do something bad in these areas…
The rise of Trump and Trumpism has put a national spotlight on white supremacy and misogyny. Everywhere, people are now organizing against hate. Drug policy reformers should be part of that fight.

We can start by taking a hard look at our movement and the marijuana industry we have created. If groups draft legalization laws that  ignore racial justice, we need to call them out. If dispensaries, marijuana magazines or other marijuana businesses objectify and demean women to sell their products, or if they exclude people of color, we need to call them out. It is long past time to clean up our own house.”

The Christian Science Monitor tries to parse how or if AG Sessions will go after the industry. So does The Hill. “Pot policy in the U.S. is up in the air,” Brookings Institution scholar John Hudak tells the NYTimes.

Cannabis business lawyer Hilary Bricken shares her views at Above the Law. More from LAist,

Pro-pot activist and journalist Tom Angell told Buzzfeed, “From a political lens, I think reversing course on [marijuana]and trying to shut down broadly popular state laws, that’s going to be a huge distraction from all the other things they care a lot more about,” Angell said. “It’s a fight that they don’t want to pick.”

To put this differently, unlike going after undocumented immigrants or Muslims, an attempt to crush the legal marijuana industry would likely have political consequences for a Republican administration.

If Sessions doesn’t realize it already, he’ll soon learn that gutting the REC and MED industry would require opposing state Legislatures in Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and going against the will of voters in states including Florida, Arkansas, Nevada, Colorado, Montana and North Dakota. It would mean killing tens of thousands of jobs, and perhaps prosecuting White, media-savvy, cannabis executives, who can afford good lawyers.

Trump did not make a return to prohibition central to his campaign — his support for MED has beenrelatively consistent – and for a president who wants to win re-election, it’s hard to see much if any upside for him in a widespread crackdown. Given these uncertainties, there is a case for the industry to keep its head-down and hope President Trump has other priorities.

There is also a case for action.

In important respects, the marijuana industry is a marginalized community. But unlike other marginalized groups, marijuana is also a thriving industry, one expected to generate more than $6 billion in revenue this year.

During the Obama years, the marijuana industry has obtained the resources and geographic scope to make the Sessions confirmation a fiercely contested battle, and perhaps even defeat him. To do so, Republican Senators, especially those from legal states, need to understand that a vote for Sessions will cast a long shadow over their political futures.

For more than two years, cannabis executives have been telling me that this industry isn’t just about getting high and getting rich, that it’s rooted in struggles for health and justice. The Sessions nomination is the test of that commitment. If industry leaders don’t fight when other groups –including those that include colleagues, friends and customers — appear far more vulnerable, it’s hard to see how this industry stands for anything except its own enrichment. If the industry doesn’t fight now, who will stand up for it if political realities shift and legal cannabis emerges as a primary target?

The cannabis industry is indebted to countless Americans whose lives have been ruined by the war on drugs. Honoring their sacrifice demands a full-throated, and generously-funded, campaign against the Sessions nomination.

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Big photos below.

Which state will be the next to legalize marijuana? What do the Obama administration’s recent announcements about marijuana legalization and mandatory minimums really mean? What are some solutions to the national overdose crisis that takes more lives than car accidents or gun violence? Those were just some of the questions that over 1,000 people gathered to consider at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel October 23-26. Denver Westword has the entire coverage.

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Wikipedia commons.
Rusell Simmons.

What do P-Diddy, Cameron Diaz, Nicki Minaj, Ron Howard and Mark Wahlberg all have in common? Aside from being ridiculously famous and wealthy, they all support the reformation of drug laws in this country.
More than 175 actors, artists, athletes and elected officials signed on to an open letter to President Obama today, asking him to change our drug policy laws from punitive, harsh jail times to one that favors evidence- based prevention and rehabilitation.

~ alapoet ~
Toke of the Town editor Steve Elliott celebrating three years of high points and big hits

Three years ago today — actually, three years ago tonight, at 7:08 p.m. Pacific time — my THC-stained fingers hit the “Post” button for the first-ever story on Toke of the Town.

“The good thing about a free marketplace of ideas is,” I wrote, in the first sentence ever to appear on this site, “despite the best efforts of prohibitionists and their fear-mongering propaganda, the truth eventually prevails.”
More than 3,600 stories later — and with hundreds of joints, medibles, and bongloads littering my path — I’m still loving this gig, and judging by pageviews, so are close to half a million of you every month.

Green Wellness
Marc Emery: Two years to go

Marc Emery, the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” who is doing time in a United States federal prison, now has just two years left of his five-year sentence for selling marijuana seeds to American customers from his headquarters in Canada.

His wife, Jodie, who has spearheaded the Emery empire in the Prince’s absence, is marking the occasion with him in Mississippi, reports James Lewis at Vancouver’s CKNW radio.
“Eighty-five percent of the five-year sentence — that’s July 9, 2014 (when) he would be released,” Jodie said. “But we know that next year, Marc is eligible to apply for transfer to Canadian prisons, and he’ll be doing that in April.

California 420 Cannabis Network
Rev. Eddy Lepp, left, with hemp legend Jack Herer

By Mickey Martin
Some great activists are working on fundraising for Reverend Eddy Lepp and have organized a silent auction to help raise funds for his defense efforts. The auction contains a lot of great items to bid on, including vacations, glass pieces, tickets, and a whole lot more.
To see these great items and to place a bid to help out Eddy visit the auction site HERE. Our brothers and sisters sit in jail today because of a safe, enjoyable, and helpful plant. Please do your part to help free the old man from the clutches of tyranny.

Photo: Ocean State Cannabis
Pastor Erik Johansson: “They killed all our plants in violation of state law”

​​The pastor of a Rhode Island parish was indicted May 11 on federal charges of conspiracy and cultivating more than 100 marijuana plants — in his church.

Erik Johansson, 48, an ordained minister for Prospect Ministries Inc., was arrested last September after police in Warwick, R.I., executed a search warrant at the church, reports W. Zachary Malinowski at The Providence Journal.
The cops confiscated 183 marijuana plants in several different grow rooms, $565 in cash and other supplies and items used to grow marijuana. Officers said they also discovered an extensive ventilation system to disperse heat and carbon dioxide.


​Every new industry is driven by risk-taking pioneers, and it’s no different with medical marijuana in the District of Columbia. Entrepreneurs trying for a piece of the cannabis action in D.C. are crafting business plans, arranging financing, and readying for fierce competition to get licenses to operate five dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers.

Whether motivated by prospective profits or a belief in the medicinal value of marijuana, “everyone is cagey about their plans, because no one is certain who is in the hunt,” reports Paul Schwartzman at the The Washington Post.
“People are hiding in the shadows,” said Alan Amsterdam, co-owner of a hemp store and part of a team hoping to open a marijuana dispensary and cultivation center. “Then they’ll strike like a cobra.”
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