#NORML #News Source: @norml @WeedConnection Posted By: email@example.com media :: news - Tue, 19 May 2020 04:20:21 PST
Study: Police Make Fewer Traffic Stops After Marijuana Legalization, But People of Color Still Disproportionately Targeted
Stanford, CA: Police are less likely to conduct searches for illicit contraband during a traffic stop following the enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization, according to data published in the journal Nature: Human Behavior.
A team of researchers affiliated with Stanford University and New York University assessed the effects of statewide legalization laws in Colorado and Washington on traffic stop outcomes.
Investigators reported, "After the legalization of marijuana, the number of searches fell substantially" in both states as compared to rates in 12 control states (jurisdictions that did not amend their marijuana laws). In addition, "the proportion of stops that resulted in either a drug-related infraction or misdemeanor fell substantially in both states after marijuana was legalized."
However, despite the overall decline in traffic stop-related searchers, authors reported that African Americans and Hispanics continued to be subject to vehicle searches at disproportionate rates. "We found that white drivers faced consistently higher search thresholds than minority drivers, both before and after marijuana legalization," they wrote. "The data thus suggest that, although overall search rates dropped in Washington and Colorado, black and Hispanic drivers still faced discrimination in search decisions."
Nationwide, African Americans' and Hispanics' vehicles are searched about twice as often as are those of white motorists.
Authors concluded, "We find that legalization reduced both search rates and misdemeanor rates for drug offences for white, black, and Hispanic drivers – though a gap in search thresholds persists."
Their findings are similar to those reported in a 2017 analysis by The Marshall Project and the Center for Investigative Reporting. In that study, researchers reported that traffic stop-related searches fell among both whites and African Americans post-legalization, but that blacks still remained two to three times more likely to have their vehicles searched.
Commenting on the new study, NORML's Political Director Justin Strekal said, "While we are pleased to see the total number of traffic stop-related searches decline in legal cannabis states, we must not overlook the reality that people of color continue to be policed in a racially disparate manner. While legalization is one tool that appears to lessen some of these disparities, it is not a panacea to solve the structural problems of systemic racism that persist in America."
Full text of the study, "A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States," appears in Nature: Human Behavior.
Economic Relief for Cannabis Businesses Absent from Latest COVID Package
Washington, DC: A newly proposed House-backed COVID relief measure, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (aka the ''HEROES Act"), does not include language amending eligibility requirements for state-licensed cannabis businesses.
The proposal, introduced on Tuesday, keeps in place existing prohibitions barring marijuana-related businesses from applying for Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance, such as low interest loans. NORML, along with various other advocacy groups, had advocated for SBA reform language to be included in the measure.
By contrast, provisions were included in the bill prohibiting the SBA from denying assistance to an applicant solely because he or she possesses a past criminal record. Separate provisions in the measure permits banks and other financial institutions to work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses. In September, members of the House voted 321 to 103 in favor of similar language (The SAFE Banking Act).
NORML's Political Director Justin Strekal criticized the House's failure to include more comprehensive SBA reform language in the bill. "The inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act in the CARES 2 package is a positive development, but one that's akin to applying a Band Aid to a gaping wound," he said. "In the majority of states, these cannabis businesses have been deemed essential during this pandemic. But at the federal level, they are being cast aside by Congress. Those small cannabis businesses facing tough economic times are essentially being told by Congress to shutter their doors and fire their employees."
He added: "While larger, better capitalized players may be able to weather this storm, smaller cannabis businesses may not be able to do so absent some economic stimulus. By continuing to deny these small businesses eligibility to SBA assistance, it is possible that we could see an acceleration of the corporatization of the cannabis industry in a manner that is inconsistent with the values and desires of many within the cannabis space."
It has been estimated that the state-licensed cannabis industry employs more than 240,000 American workers, over four times the number of American workers as does the coal industry. The majority of these businesses are small-to-medium in size.
Uruguay: Teen Cannabis Use Not Adversely Impacted by Adult-Use Legalization
Montevideo, Uruguay: The imposition of regulations governing the retail sale of cannabis to adults is not associated with changes in young people's attitudes toward cannabis or their use of the plant, according to data published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
An international team of investigators from Uruguay, the United States, and Chile assessed the impact of legalization policies on youth use patterns. Uruguay initially approved legislation regulating the use of cannabis by adults in 2013, although retail sales in licensed pharmacies did not begin until 2017.
Authors found "no evidence" to indicate that legalization was associated with any impact on young people's "cannabis use or perceived risk of use."
They concluded, "Our findings provide some support for the thesis that Uruguay's state regulatory approach to cannabis supply may minimize the impact of legalization on adolescent cannabis use."
Under the law, cannabis sales are restricted to those age 18 or older who register with the state. Commercially available cannabis products may only be produced by state-licensed entities and sold at specially licensed pharmacies. THC levels are capped by regulators and government price controls ($1.30 per gram) are imposed upon flower. Limited home cultivation is also allowed in private households.
Full text of the study, "The impact of cannabis legalization in Uruguay on adolescent cannabis use," appears in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
Maryland: Governor Vetoes Bill Shielding Marijuana-Related Convictions from Public View
Annapolis, MD: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has vetoed legislation, House Bill 83, which sought to prohibit "the Maryland Judiciary Case Search from in any way referring to the existence of a certain case in which possession of marijuana is the only charge in the case and the charge was disposed." The database provides public access to the case records of the Maryland Judiciary.
The legislation, had it been enacted, would have shielded an estimated 200,000 low-level marijuana convictions from public view.
In a prepared statement, the Governor acknowledged that he vetoed HB 83, along with several other criminal justice reform measures, because House lawmakers failed to pass a separate bill, the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2020. Lawmakers adjourned the 2020 legislative session nearly three weeks early as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While the Senate approved the package by a wide margin, the House failed to act upon it [the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2020]," Gov. Hogan wrote in his veto message. "Therefore, ... I have vetoed ... House Bill 83."
As initially drafted and passed by the House, HB 83 sought to review and automatically expunge past, low-level marijuana convictions. State law currently allows those previously convicted of certain low-level marijuana possession offenses to petition the courts to have their criminal record expunged.
Vermont: Lawmakers Likely to Revisit Pending Measure to Regulate Marijuana Sales
Montpelier, VT: Lawmakers will likely convene a hearing in August to reconcile dueling versions Senate Bill 54, which regulates the commercial production and retail sales of marijuana to adults. Senate members passed an initial version of the bill in 2019, while House members passed an amended version of the measure in February.
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) recently said that she expects members of a specially appointed conference committee to take up the issue of reconciling the two bills later this summer.
The pending legislation establishes rules and regulations governing a statewide commercial cannabis industry. The measure provides regulations for licensed producers and retailers, establishes tax rates on retail sales of cannabis products, and sets potency caps on specific products, such as concentrates.
In 2018, lawmakers approved legislation legalizing the personal possession and private cultivation of marijuana by those ages 21 and older. However, that law did not establish a structure for the retail production and sale of marijuana.
Maryland: Bill Permitting Medical Cannabis Access on School Grounds Becomes Law Absent Governor's Signature
Annapolis, MD: Legislation allowing qualified patients to access to certain medical cannabis products while on school grounds has become law absent the signature of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
House Bill 617, also known as Conner and Raina's Law, permits either designated caregivers or designated school personnel to administer medical cannabis to students while they are on school property, participating in school-sponsored activities, or on a school bus. More explicit guidelines regulating medical cannabis administration must be finalized by December 31, 2020.
Lawmakers in multiple states, including California, Delaware, Illinois, Virginia, and Washington, already regulate the administration and use of certain cannabis products to qualified student patients while on school campuses.