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Photo: xCannabis

​According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron’s estimates, reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil fine would save Rhode Island about $11.1 million per year in reduced expenditures on police.

Miron also estimates that taxing and regulating marijuana would save the state roughly $40.5 million per year in reduced expenditures on police, prosecutors, judges and prisons. Taxing and regulating marijuana could also generate about $7.6 million per year in tax revenue, according to Miron.
Miron will testify Thursday before Rhode Island’s Marijuana Prohibition Study Commission and explain how changing the state’s current medical marijuana policies could save tens of millions of dollars annually, and possibly even generate additional tax revenue.

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Graphic: Seriously Free Speech

​A pro-legalization Canadian police officer has been ordered by his department’s leadership not to show up at a drug policy event where he was scheduled to speak on Wednesday.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international group of cops, judges and prosecutors who oppose the “War On Drugs,” is criticizing the gag order from the Victoria, British Columbia Police Department that limits the freedom of speech of one of its officers.
Officer David Bratzer, who volunteers with LEAP while off duty, was ordered not to speak at an official, City of Victoria-sponsored event on harm reduction scheduled for Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Even though the event is scheduled outside his regular working hours, management from the Victoria Police Department, without Bratzer’s knowledge, informed city staff that he was being “withdrawn from speaking.” Then on February 24, a senior officer at the department directly ordered Bratzer not to participate in the event.

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Graphic: The Boston Phoenix

​New Hampshire’s House is considering decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, a year after the Legislature voted to legalize medical use of the herb.

Governor John Lynch, who vetoed the medical marijuana bill last year, also opposes the bill to decriminalize a quarter-ounce (seven grams) or less of cannabis, according to the Associated Press.
The Legislature’s attempt to legalize medical marijuana last year fell just two votes shy in the Senate of overriding Gov. Lynch’s veto. The House successfully overrode the veto.

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Graphic: TMZ

​An upcoming “pot party” in Los Angeles to celebrate President Barack Obama’s first year in office is using Photoshopped image of the Commander In Chief smoking a joint.

The ad features the President puffing a fat doobie in a doctored photo. The event’s organizers say the party will “celebrate Obama ending DEA raids” on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical cannabis is legal, report David Edwards and John Byrne at The Raw Story.
According to TMZ, a White House spokesman said the President’s image was used without permission. The spokesman added the Administration has a policy of “disapproving of the use of the President’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.

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Photo: The Bong Place

​A medical marijuana advocacy organization upped the ante on Tuesday, filing a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, saying that certain provisions in a recently adopted ordinance would shut down virtually all dispensaries in the city.

In order to comply with the local ordinance, passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on February 3, dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, libraries, churches, and other so-called “sensitive uses,” and cannot abut or be across the street from any residence — which excludes almost all commercial areas in the city, according to patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.
Dispensaries in “sensitive” areas — which means almost all of them — are required to find a new location within seven days after the ordinance takes effect.
“The dispensary ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council might have been reasonable, if not for some onerous provisions,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel with ASA, who filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday.

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Photo: topnews.net.nz
One in four American teenagers has tried marijuana. Two out of the other three want to know if you can “hook them up.”

​An annual survey released Tuesday by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America indicates that the number of American teenagers who use marijuana has increased for the first time in 10 years. One in four teens, 25 percent of those in grades 9 through 12, say they’ve used cannabis in the past month, up from 19 percent last year.

“These latest numbers show that our current marijuana policies — which keep marijuana unregulated and in the hands of drug dealers — are clearly not working to help reduce teen use,” said Kurt A. Gardinier, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.

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Photo: Reason
Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife walk their two black Labs, Payton and Chase, in 2008. Both dogs were killed in a botched pot raid.

​A judge has ruled the suit Mayor Cheye Calvo filed regarding the deaths of his dogs in a horribly botched 2008 pot raid can go forward. The judge denied motions by Prince George County and the State of Maryland to put a stop to the mayor’s lawsuit, reports Nancy Norman of NBC Washington.

Last July, drug smugglers sent a package containing 32 pounds of marijuana to the Calvo household. A SWAT team, alerted to the package, raided the mayor’s house, bound Calvo and held him at gunpoint. The officers heartlessly shot and killed Calvo’s pet dogs — one of them while, the mayor says, the dog was trying to run away and hide.
Mayor Calvo was later exonerated of any drug charges. It turned out he was just randomly sent the marijuana in a bizarre drug smuggling scheme. The cannabis was left outside the house; in the scenario imagined by the drug smugglers, someone would come and pick up the package before the unsuspecting residents got home.

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Graphic: Statewide Insurance Services

​A California-based insurance company says it is now offering cannabis crop loss insurance from coast to coast, targeting the rapidly growing medicinal marijuana business.

Statewide Insurance Services Medical Marijuana Specialty Division provides what the company says is “the only, nationally available insurance coverage designed specifically for the medical marijuana industry.”
The company is “revolutionizing the cannabis industry with its nationwide program covering growers and their products,” according to a press release.

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Graphic: Cannabis Defense Coalition

​Growing marijuana, as challenging as it can be, is the easy part. Figuring out the state law that allows sick people to use pot is a lot harder for Washington patients.

Since Washington voters passed a law in 1998 legalizing medical marijuana for seriously ill patients with their doctor’s recommendation, patients have been frustrated over how to legally get cannabis while following the rules, reports Diana Hefley at the Everett Herald Net.
Police officers, on the other hand, say they are faced with balancing the rights of medical marijuana patients and their duty to enforce the law, which makes pot illegal for everyone else.
The legal haze was evident in the criminal trial of a medical marijuana patient in Snohomish County, Washington in February.

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Graphic: Reality Catcher

​A Rhode Island Senate panel is expected to recommend decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana when it wraps up its 3 1/2-month investigation later this week.

The commission, chaired by state Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston), has been studying the costs of current marijuana policy since November. Rhode Island, facing a budget crisis, tasked the panel to build a dossier on how much it costs to arrest, prosecute, and sometimes jail people for pot, reports Katherine Gregg at The Providence Journal.
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