#NORML #News Source: @norml @WeedConnection Posted By: firstname.lastname@example.org media :: news - Tue, 02 Oct 2018 04:20:21 PST
FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike For Second Straight Year
Washington, DC: The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released on Monday by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the 2017 edition of the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations last year. That is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested in 2017 for the commission of all violent crimes (518,617).
Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over last year's annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when ten states, including California, have legalized the adult use of cannabis - leading to a significant decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions.
"Actions by law enforcement run counter to both public support and basic morality," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. "In a day and age where twenty percent of the population lives in states which have legalized and nearly every state has some legal protections for medical cannabis or its extract, the time has come for lawmakers to end this senseless and cruel prohibition that ruins lives."
As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.
The 2017 FBI report, "Crime in the United States," is available online. State-specific arrests data through the year 2016 is available online.
Study: Daily Cannabis Use Associated With Grater Retention Rates Among Subjects Undergoing Opioid Agonist Treatment
Vancouver, Canada: Daily cannabis users undergoing therapy for opioid dependence are far more likely to complete their treatment regimen than are non-users, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Addiction.
Canadian investigators assessed retention rates among 820 subjects enrolled in either methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone-based treatment programs. Researchers reported, "[I]ndividuals initiating OAT (opioid agonist treatment) were approximately 21 percent more likely to be retained in treatment at six months if they reported ≥ daily use of cannabis. This finding persisted after adjustment for a range of confounders."
They concluded, "Given the well-known mortality risk reduction benefit of sustained engagement in OAT, findings from the present study alongside prior research evidence support the urgent need for clinical research to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids as adjunctive treatment to OAT to address the escalating opioid-overdose epidemic."
Prior observational studies have consistently reported lower rates of opioid abuse and mortality in jurisdictions where marijuana access is legal.
Full text of the study, "High-intensity cannabis use is associated with retention in opioid agonist treatment: a longitudinal analysis," appears in Addiction. NORML's fact-sheet, "Relationship between marijuana and opioids," is online.
US Territory Legalizes Adult Marijuana Use
Saipan, CNMI: The governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI), a US territory of approximately 54,000 people, has signed legislation into law legalizing the use and retail sale of cannabis. House and Senate lawmakers had previously approved the measure in August by a vote of 24 to 1.
Under the new law, those over the age of 21 will be permitted to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis, and to obtain cannabis-infused products such as tinctures and extracts from licensed retailers. Commercial marijuana cultivation will be subject to a 10 percent excise tax. Those under 21 years of age who suffer from a qualifying medical condition will also be legally permitted to access cannabis.
Public cannabis consumption, along with the use of marijuana while in the presence of a minor, is subject to civil penalty.
A five-member commission will oversee the implementation of the new law. Members of the commission must be appointed within 30 days. The commission must adopt regulations governing the medical and adult use markets within 180 days of its initial organizational meeting.
Employers Can't Discriminate Against Medical Cannabis Patients, US District Court Judge Rules
New Haven, CT: A federal judge for the US District Court of Connecticut has ruled that an employer engaged in discrimination by rescinding a job offer to an employee solely based on her status as a medical cannabis patient.
Opining for the Court, Judge Jeffrey Alker Mayer wrote: "[T]here is no legitimate dispute that defendant's rescinding of plaintiff's job offer was contrary to plaintiff's right not to be subject to discrimination because of her status as a qualifying patient under PUMA (the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act)." He therefore concluded, "[The] plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law in her favor on her claim of employment discrimination under PUMA."
Connecticut's medical cannabis law explicitly states, "No employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person's or employee's status as a qualifying patient."
The ruling follows that of a similar decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2017 which determined that state-registered medical cannabis patients may sue a private employer for discrimination if they are fired solely as a result of their off-the-job marijuana use.
By contrast, courts in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have previously ruled in favor of employers' ability to sanction employees without cause for their state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis.
The case is Noffsinger v Niantic Operating Company LLC.
Seattle: Hundreds Of Past Marijuana Convictions To Be Vacated
Seattle, WA: Judges on the city's municipal court have agreed to a motion, filed by Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes, to vacate hundreds of former low-level marijuana convictions.
In an order signed by all seven municipal court judges, they opine, "Inasmuch as the conduct for which the defendant was convicted is no longer criminal, setting aside the conviction[s] and dismissing the case[s] serves in the interest of justice."
Defendants convicted between the years 1996 and 2010 are eligible to have their records expunged. City officials ceased prosecuting low-level marijuana offenses in 2010, and Washington voters legalized cannabis possession statewide in 2012. All eligible past convictions are anticipated to be vacated by mid-November.
In recent months, District Attorneys in a number of cities - such as New York, San Francisco, and San Diego - have similarly moved to expunge past marijuana convictions.
Customs Agency Formalizes Policy Barring Canadians Involved In Legal Cannabis Industry From Entering United States
Washington, DC: A newly released memorandum by the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency reaffirms that those working in the legal cannabis industry in Canada or in other jurisdictions may be denied entry into the United States. The memo formalizes sentiments publicly expressed by a US Customs representative last week.
It states: "Generally, any arriving alien who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, or who is convicted of, admits having committed, or admits committing, acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of (or an attempt or conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a state, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance, is inadmissible to the United States. As marijuana continues to be a controlled substance under United States law, working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect admissibility to the U.S."
Canada legalized the regulated production and distribution of medical cannabis nearly two decades ago, and several Canadian-based companies operating in this space are currently traded on the US stock exchange. In June of this year, Canadian lawmakers gave final approval to separate legislation regulating the adult use marijuana market. The new law takes effect on October 17, 2018.
Louisiana: Blacks Disproportionately Arrested For Marijuana Possession Offenses
Montgomery, AL: African Americans in Louisiana are disproportionately arrested for low-level marijuana possession offenses, according to an analysis of 2016 arrest data conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Investigators reported that blacks were arrested for marijuana possession at approximately three times the rate of whites. In some regions of the state, this disparity was significantly higher. For example, African Americans in Baton Rouge (population 228,000) were six times more likely to be arrested.
Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.
Further information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, "Racial disparity in marijuana arrests." Full text of the SPLC report, "Racial Profiling in Louisiana: Unconstitutional and Counterproductive," is online.