Connect with us

Politics

Atlanta City Council Approves Marijuana Decriminalization

Published

on

The Atlanta, Georgia City Council unanimously voted to approve a proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance on Monday afternoon.

Under the measure, the threat of jail time for possession of less than an ounce of cannabis would be eliminated. Instead, those caught with small amounts would be subject to a maximum fine of $75.

Currently, people who encounter police while possessing marijuana face fines of up to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.

The decriminalization measure’s sponsor, Councilman Kwanza Hall, is running for mayor this year.

“Today we stand with every parent of Atlanta who is fearful of or has seen their children’s lives destroyed, or careers ruined because of a racist policy that unjustly incarcerated minorities by more than ninety percent,” Hall said in a press release after the vote.

The councilman is particularly concerned about stark racial disparities in marijuana enforcement. Citing statistics from his own district, he said that 92 percent of people caught up in the criminal justice system for marijuana are African American, while only 17 percent of his constituents are black.

Police shouldn’t be “wasting money on penalizing the possession of less than an ounce when they could be focused on serious violent crimes,” he said in a recent interview. “You’ve seen families broken up, and we’ve seen officers spend their time on this type of stuff when they could be focused on real things that keep our citizens safe.”

The vote to approve the proposal was 15 to 0.

Mayor Kasim Reed said on Twitter that he would sign the legislation.

Earlier this year, Reed called marijuana a “gateway drug.”

City Council President Ceasar Mitchell tweeted after the vote that decriminalization is “key” in ensuring racial justice.

“I don’t smoke weed, but I think this is one thing I had to stand up on,” Hall said in the earlier interview. “We don’t need to see people’s live go up in smoke.”

The decrim proposal was approved last week by the Council’s Public Safety Committee on a vote of three in favor and one against, with one abstention and two absences.

At the full Council meeting on Monday, approximately 50 people signed up to give public comment on the issue.

Reed has eight days to act on the legislation or it becomes law automatically.

Even when the proposal goes into effect, Georgia state marijuana criminalization will remain on the books and enforceable in the city of Atlanta.

But Hall said that the measure’s passage sends a strong message to law enforcement that Atlanta officials want to reduce cannabis arrests.

Whoever operate the Council’s official Twitter account was still riding high from the news on Tuesday morning.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please take a second to support Marijuana Moment on Patreon!
This content is for Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon

Politics

GOP Congressman: Legal Marijuana Has “Possibility To Create Jobs”

Published

on

Legalizing marijuana might be a way to help lift rural areas of Virginia out of poverty, a Republican who represents part of the state in Congress says.

“The lands out in Southwest are conducive to be able to grow that for medicinal purposes, or whatever it is, for other research purposes, and even recreational use for some areas, if Virginia chooses to legalize it in that way,” Congressman Scott Taylor said on Wednesday. “And if Virginia goes that way I think there is the possibility to create jobs down in the Southwest.”

Taylor, who was answering a caller’s question during an appearance on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, added that he supports letting states set their own cannabis laws without federal interference.

“I think we should decriminalize it and leave it up to the states,” he said. “I do believe it’s a state decision, not a federal decision.”

Taylor, a freshman member of Congress, is a cosponsor of a pending House bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

“When I was in the state House we voted to legalize industrial hemp, which is also another product that would grow well in Southwest just as tobacco did,” Taylor added. “So I think there’s product there.”

Advocates believe that Virginia has a good chance of decriminalizing cannabis in 2018. Incoming Gov. Ralph Northam, A Democrat, spoke often about cannabis on the campaign trail, consistently describing criminalization’s impact in stark racial justice terms.

New Virginia Governor Pledges Marijuana Decriminalization

Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment has announced he will file a decriminalization bill when the new legislative session begins in January.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please take a second to support Marijuana Moment on Patreon!
This content is for Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon
Continue Reading

Politics

Vermont Will Legalize Marijuana Within Weeks, Officials Indicate

Published

on

Vermont appears poised to become the next state to legalize marijuana. And, according to top elected officials, it is likely to do so within a matter of weeks.

Last week, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, a Democrat, said she expects “it likely will pass in early January.” Days earlier, Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, said he is “comfortable” signing a cannabis legalization bill into law in early 2018. And on Thursday, Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, a member of the Progressive Party, said he and his colleagues “look forward to working with the governor to make sure that that bill gets to the finish line.”

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Photo courtesy of M a n u e l.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please take a second to support Marijuana Moment on Patreon!
This content is for Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon
Continue Reading

Politics

Here’s What Jeff Sessions Discussed In Secret With Anti-Marijuana Activists

Published

on

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a behind-closed-doors meeting about marijuana with anti-legalization activists.

Now, thanks to the fact that Sessions inadvertently showed an agenda for the meeting to a TV camera that was in the room to capture introductions — along with some high-tech sleuthing — we know what the prohibitionists discussed in secret after reporters were kicked out.

A Twitter user with the handle @MentalMocean was able to enhance a screen capture of the document that Marijuana Moment posted.

Enhanced photo.

The document appears to read:

Agenda

Bertha Madras: Marijuana is not a substitute for opiates as a pain medication.

Dr. Hoover Adger: The harm from today’s marijuana.

Dr. Bob DuPont: The effect of marijuana on drugged driving.

David Evans: The role that the Food and Drug Administration can and should [obscured]

[obscured] The organizations you can speak for and what you and they are [obscured] people from recreational marijuana use.

[obscured] law enforcement thinks of the commercialization of [obscured] law enforcement would support an enforcement initiative.

[obscured] course of marijuana commercialization in the states if the [obscured] not intervene.

The enhanced photo makes clear that the anti-legalization activists made a concerted pitch during meeting to convince Sessions to launch a federal crackdown on states that have ended cannabis prohibition.

In attendance, according to video of the opening introductions captured by a pool photographer and posted by C-SPAN, were:

  • Edwin Meese III, U.S. attorney general under the Reagan administration
  • Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana
  • Bertha Madras, a former Office of National Drug Control Policy staffer and a member of President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis
  • Robert DuPont, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • David Evans, executive director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition
  • Dr. Hoover Adger, Johns Hopkins Hospital

“I think it’s a big issue for America, for the country, and I’m of the general view that this is not a healthy substance,” Sessions said at the beginning of the gathering. “I think that’s pretty clear. And then have the policy response that we and the federal government needs to be prepared to take and do so appropriately and with good sense.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to hear your analysis on marijuana and some of the related issues,” Sessions told the group. “I do believe, and I’m afraid, that the public is not properly educated on some of the issues related to marijuana. And that would be a matter that we could, all of us together, maybe be helpful in working on and that would allow better policy to actually be enacted.”

The group’s roundtable discussion itself, which took place after initial introductions, was closed to the press.

The gathering comes as the Justice Department’s overall position on marijuana policy remains uncertain. Sessions has in recent weeks sent mixed signals about his plans for federal marijuana enforcement under the Trump administration.

Last month, he testified before Congress that an Obama-era Justice Department memo that generally allows states to implement their own marijuana laws without interference remains in effect. But he separately told reporters at a briefing that his department is actively conducting talks about potential changes to the policy.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

If you value staying updated on cannabis news, please take a second to support Marijuana Moment on Patreon!
This content is for Patrons pledging $1 or more on Patreon
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Stay Up To The Moment

Marijuana News
In Your Inbox

Support Marijuana Moment

Trending