All posts by Jordan Linley

Multiple marijuana legalization bills introduced in Texas

Sharon Ko, KENS 10:25 AM. CST November 16, 2016

SAN ANTONIO — Call it a windfall for weed. Four states approved the recreational use of marijuana last week, and four others approved the medicinal use.

And Texas could follow suit.

California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts joined other states and passed measures for recreational marijuana on Election Day. Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives.

But what about Texas?

Read more here: http://www.kens5.com/news/politics/multiple-marijuana-legalization-bills-introduced-in-texas/352701679

Texas legislators file bills aimed at decriminalizing marijuana

HOUSTON – A handful of new states legalized marijuana on Election Day, so could Texas be next?

Newly elected Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg already plans to decriminalize the drug when she takes office.

“I want to send offenders for non-violent offences, especially marijuana, around jail. I don’t want them to pay bail. Most importantly, we don’t have people to have a permanent criminal record for a small offense that then stands in the way of future opportunity,” Ogg told KHOU 11 News on Election Day.

Read more here: http://www.khou.com/news/local/texas/texas-legislators-file-bills-aimed-at-decriminalizing-marijuana/352318396

San Antonio marijuana advocates hopeful of new state legislation

Five items to be discussed in 85th Session

By Josh Skurnik – Reporter



SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio marijuana advocates hope state legislation introduced Monday will pass after four states, including California and Nevada, legalized marijuana for recreational use during the 2016 election.

Five marijuana items are on the table for the 85th Session. State Senator José Rodríguez and state Representatives Moody, Dutton and White have all sponsored legislation this session making it easier to use marijuana and lessen penalties if a person is caught.

For members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws San Antonio, the local chapter of the national nonprofit lobbying group that is working to legalize marijuana, it’s an attractive prospect.

Read more here: http://www.ksat.com/news/san-antonio-marijuana-advocates-hopeful-of-new-state-legislation

Cannabis Marijuana in the Debates

Did you miss marijuana being discussed at the big debate on Monday night? Maybe it was because you watched the wrong event.

While presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump didn’t clash over cannabis during their much-hyped meeting at Hofstra State University, marijuana issues did come up in two other electoral debates taking place on the same night.

 

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz were asked about medical cannabis legislation during their debate at Utah State University.

And in Texas, Republican Devon Anderson, the current district attorney for Harris County (which contains Houston) and challenger Kim Ogg, a Democrat, took opposite sides on the question of whether misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses should be prosecuted during their debate.

A comprehensive medical marijuana bill was approved by the Utah Senate this year, but it couldn’t find enough support in the House. During Monday’s gubernatorial debate, incumbent Herbert said he wasn’t yet ready to offer his support for far-reaching cannabis legislation in the next session, arguing that he wants to see more research first but that the federal government has hampered studies to date.

“There needs to be a process where this can be a controlled substance just like any other medicinal use out there of any other drug, prescribed by a doctor and given by a pharmacist where we can control the quality and quantity and not have self-medication,” he said.

Herbert added that he has a niece who uses cannabidiol (CBD) extracts to treat a seizure disorder in accordance with the state’s existing limited medical cannabis law.

“We’ll see what bubbles up in the legislative session this upcoming time,” he said.

Weinholtz, for his part, is much more ready to sign comprehensive medical marijuana legislation if elected governor.

“I stand with the 71 percent of Utahans who are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis,” he said. “[Medical marijuana] has positive aspects that can help people who are suffering from various conditions.”

But, he added that he’s not on board with full legalization, calling it “a bridge too far for Utah.”

Weinholtz made headlines earlier this year by revealing that his wife is under law enforcement investigation for using medical marijuana to treat arthritis pain.

During the Texas prosecutors debate, the candidates butted heads over whether people caught with small amounts of marijuana should be prosecuted.

Ogg criticized incumbent Anderson for overseeing an average of 8,000 to 12,000 such prosecutions per year.

“I believe that our public wants something different,” she said, adding that public resources would be better spent “directed toward rape, toward robbery, toward murder.”

Citing racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement, she said prohibition policies “have been unfairly applied in minority communities…unfairly applied to the poor and people who can’t fight back, and used to oppress communities.”

Anderson defended her office’s practices, saying that she has enacted a policy that already diverts several thousand people a year from prosecution but that it would be wrong to stop prosecuting marijuana offenses across the board.

“If you don’t like a law you go to the legislature and seek to change it,” she said. “You don’t just decide not to prosecute something because you don’t personally agree with it.”

But while marijuana being discussed in the Utah and Texas debates is a sign of the issue’s increasing prominence, reform advocates were disappointed that Clinton and Trump didn’t mention cannabis in their presidential debate, even though it contained a section focused on criminal justice reform.

Both candidates have already pledged that they would respect the right of states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference. But at a time when a growing majority of voters support legalizing cannabis, it struck some observers as a big missed opportunity that neither candidate saw fit to mention the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are still arrested for marijuana in the U.S. every year during a discussion about crime policy.

There are still two more presidential debates on the calendar, though, so Trump and Clinton could still have a cannabis conversation before Election Day.

Originally posted by: http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/09/marijuana-in-the-debates/

Dose of Reality: The Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations

By Angela Dills, Sietse Goffard, and Jeffrey Miron
September 16, 2016

In November 2012 the states of Colorado and Washington approved ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational use under state law. Two years later, Alaska and Oregon followed suit. In November 2016 as many as 11 other states will likely consider similar measures, through either ballot initiative or state legislative action.

Supporters and critics make numerous claims about the effects of state-level marijuana legalization. Advocates think that legalization reduces crime, raises revenue, lowers criminal justice expenditure, improves public health, improves traffic safety, and stimulates the economy. Critics argue that legalization spurs marijuana and other drug or alcohol use, increases crime, diminishes traffic safety, harms public health, and lowers teen educational achievement. Systematic evaluation of those claims after legalization, however, has been limited, particularly for Oregon and Alaska.

This paper assesses the effect to date of marijuana legalization and related policies in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

Each of those four legalizations occurred recently, and each rolled out gradually over several years. The data available for before and after comparisons are therefore limited, so our assessments of legalization’s effect are tentative. Yet some post-legalization data are available, and considerable data exist regarding earlier marijuana policy changes—such as legalization for medical purposes—that plausibly have similar effects. Thus available information provides a useful if incomplete perspective on what other states should expect from legalization or related policies. Going forward, additional data may allow stronger conclusions.

Our analysis compares the pre- and post-policy-change paths of marijuana use, other drug or alcohol use, marijuana prices, crime, traffic accidents, teen educational outcomes, public health, tax revenues, criminal justice expenditures, and economic outcomes. These comparisons indicate whether the outcomes display obvious changes in trend around the time of changes in marijuana policy.

Our conclusion is that state-level marijuana legalizations to date have been associated with, at most, modest changes in marijuana use and related outcomes. Our estimates cannot rule out small changes, and related literature finds some effects from earlier marijuana policy changes such as medicalization. But the strong claims about legalization made by both opponents and supporters are not apparent in the data. The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents.

The remainder of the paper proceeds as follows. The next section outlines the recent changes in marijuana policy in the four states of interest and discusses the timing of those changes. Subsequent sections examine the behavior of marijuana use and related outcomes before and after those policy changes. A final section summarizes and discusses implications for upcoming legalization debates.

Read more here: http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/dose-reality-effect-state-marijuana-legalizations

Cannabis not danger it’s said to be

Posted: September 17, 2016 – 12:03am
RAY KINSERLOW/Lubbock

Hemp is used to make rope among other things. It is also the source of what we call marijuana. I have used it off and on for many years with intervals dictated by jobs I held. I had about a 20-year lapse for a job in the oil field I held.

Now that I am retired I am fighting a battle to make cannabis legal in Texas under the auspices of NORML. I will no longer smoke cannabis until it is legal in Texas. In its place I will use a low THC, high CBD oil that I will use in my diffuser to enjoy the medical benefits of cannabidiol as an essential oil. CBD oil can be ordered on the internet.

Even very famous doctors like CNN’s Sanjay Gupta are calling for marijuana’s descheduling by the FDA. The evidence that marijuana is a danger to the user is simply not supported by the research. The ban on experimental studies of cannabis is not supported by any evidence. This means any kind of law against cannabis as a recreational drug is not supported by the scientific evidence. Alcohol kills us in the tens of thousands, while cannabis has no record of killing anyone.

Alcohol is a public menace while it remains legal and cannabis has no bad or deadly threats and is treated as a top-level killer, according to the idiotic DEA, which is one to the most useless federal government agencies. The drug war is over. We lost.

Originally posted by: http://lubbockonline.com/editorial-letters/2016-09-17/letter-cannabis-not-danger-its-said-be#

Marijuana advocates train locals about medical use

 Posted: September 17, 2016 – 7:30pm

State and local advocates of reforming marijuana policy met in Amarillo on Saturday to train others with similar views on how to be more effective change agents.

The event, hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, is the first in a series of ones being held across Texas as part of an effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races and to educate supporters of marijuana policy reform.

An additional regional event is scheduled for today in Lubbock.

The event, held at Amarillo Public Library, also was attended by members of Amarillo Cannabis Culture, which is affiliated with Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which has local and statewide chapters.

“Amarillo is an important city. It’s built as a conservative bastion and we’ve got legislators up here that sit on committees and have influence and need to know from their constituents exactly what the truth is about cannabis, not the propaganda,” said Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML said.

The groups think the upcoming legislative session will be their opportunity to debunk myths and continue the reform push throughout the nation and the state.

 

According to the group, 76 percent of Texans think seriously ill people should have the right to use marijuana for medical purposes and 58 percent of Texans are ready to end marijuana prohibition.

“We want to see marijuana regulation, similar to alcohol, replace prohibition which has utterly failed on every measure,” said Heather Fazio, spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “We’ve seen how prohibition [of cannabis] has utterly failed from putting people in jail, to giving them a criminal record when they aren’t criminals.

The groups hope that arming citizens with facts will lead them to call, write, email and make appointments with legislative leaders and educate those leaders on facts and myths about cannabis during this break in the legislative session.

“We’re looking forward to the next legislative session in January. We want to meet with legislators, talk to them about sensible policies and work to get them instituted by the end of the legislative session in June,” Fazio said.

According to the group, 12 marijuana-related bills were introduced during the 2015 Texas legislative session with not much to show for it in terms of reform.

Originally posted by: http://amarillo.com/news/2016-09-17/marijuana-advocates-train-locals-about-medical-use

Texas police officer charged with drug trafficking, fired

By Associated Press

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas (AP) A South Texas police detective has been arrested on drug trafficking charges after investigators say he tipped off dealers to law enforcement activity.

Court records show Ramon DeLaCruz, Jr. remains in custody pending a federal detention hearing Thursday in McAllen.

Rio Grande City police Chief Noe Castillo says DeLaCruz was fired Monday after about two years on the force.

DeLaCruz was arrested Friday on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

The complaint says DeLaCruz helped dealers distribute more than a ton of marijuana, including some pot stolen and redistributed after being reported as a drug seizure.

Investigators also accuse the now-ex-officer of hiding guns that allegedly were used in drug-related crimes.

An attorney for DeLaCruz didn’t immediately return a message for comment Tuesday.

Originally posted by: http://www.kwtx.com/content/news/Texas-police-officer-charged-with-drug-trafficking-fired-394131001.html

Lincolnshire Place Could Soon Become First Facility in Illinois to Offer Patients Medical Marijuana

Facility Determined to Get Patients the Quality of Life They Deserve

By Pari Cruz | pcruz@wtvo.com

Published 08/12 2016 06:40PM

Updated 08/12 2016 06:42PM

“My residents have a terminal illness, and we’re keeping them from something that they deserve,” says Kim Zamora, the Executive Director of Lincolnshire Place. “That will give them quality of life.”

Kim Zamora sat down with me earlier to discuss her plans to make her facility the first to offer medical marijuana as treatment.

She’s seen firsthand the benefits of medical marijuana to treat those suffering from terminal diseases.

“This is not my job, this is my life and my passion,” said Zamora. “So if I can impact somebody’s life, not only in the beginning of their life but at the end of their journey, it’s what I’m going to do at any cost.”

They started the process in early June, but the problem is that the process is so long-and their patients don’t have a lot of time.

“With the Alzheimer’s it’s really hard to find things that will work for the anxiety and agitation that they have, without causing other side effects,” said the Director of Nursing at Lincolnshire Place, Karen Hamilton.

She added that it devastates her that they can do a better job of getting them help.

Illinois is one of 25 states that have legalized medical marijuana.

But on Thursday, the DEA announced it’ll keep marijuana illegal-no matter what-putting it in the same category as other drugs like heroin and ecstasy.

Still. Lincolnshire is working closely with one well-known dispensary in Rockford.

But they say, it has its challenges.

“When they wrote the Medical Cannabis Act, they included Alzheimer’s patients and other people who were in assisted living facilities,” said Medmar Vice President, John Sullivan. “But what they didn’t contemplate was the idea that those patients can’t get here, and we can’t deliver.”

One employee, who is also a patient, says using medical marijuana changed her life.

“I feel like I’m alive again-that’s the best,” said Medmar’s Patient Liaison, Maria Johnson. “That is the highest praise I could give as I feel like I’m living. I feel like I’m alive again.”

Originally posted by: http://www.mystateline.com/news/lincolnshire-place-could-soon-become-first-facility-in-illinois-to-offer-patients-medical-marijuana

Despite trend in other counties, marijuana dismissals are not increasing in Brazos County

Ian Smith, KAGS 10:42 PM. CDT September 06, 2016

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas – A recent report in the Austin American Statesman suggests the largest counties in Texas are increasingly dismissing misdemeanor marijuana cases.

However, when it comes to Brazos County, that isn’t the case.

“It’s still illegal and our job is to enforce the law that the legislators make, not to legislate and not make up new laws,” said Rod Anderson, the county attorney for Brazos County.

Anderson’s says his office handles roughly a thousand marijuana cases each year. If you’re caught with the drug, you can face fines and even jail time.

As far as dismissals, the Texas Office of Court Administration says from 2011 to August of 2016, there were 4,889 new cases filed for marijuana possession and 587 dismissals.

But Anderson says the amount of cases dismissed stays roughly the same each year. Dismissals or reductions aren’t necessarily the norm because it depends on several factors.

“We’re looking at the individual’s criminal history,” said Anderson. Have they been in trouble for other things before? So this is just one more offense that they’ve committed?”

Anderson says public safety is the key reason behind prosecuting marijuana cases and he hopes it cuts down on the drug trade and other criminal activity.

Others also chimed in.

“It’s a cure, it’s a medicine, it’s a plant, there’s nothing wrong with it,” said Jesse Ocana.

Another man, who didn’t want to be identified, says resources should be used elsewhere.

“As far as our justice system, if we’re going to arrest people for selling or smoking or doing anything with marijuana, what are we doing with the people that are doing the real crimes?”

Anderson says deferred adjudication and probation are sometimes alternatives for those caught with marijuana.

As for chances of the county seeing more dismissals, he says that’s not likely unless changes are made by legislators.

Originally posted by: http://www.kagstv.com/news/local/despite-trend-in-other-counties-marijuana-dismissals-are-not-increasing-in-brazos-county/314794712

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform