UConn Rolls to Top in Marijuana Activism
Maruijuana magazine High Times says the University of Connecticut tops the list for support on decriminalizing marijuana.
High Times wrote:
The Huskies of UConn (Students for a Senisble Drug Policy) SSDP have led the pack this year in reforming marijuana policy both on and off campus. Most notably, they played a huge role in helping pass medical marijuana legislation in Connecticut by hosting rallies, coordinating student-lobbying efforts and testifying before lawmakers. No wonder UConn won the “Campus Change” award at the 2012 International SSDP Conference in Denver this March.
New England colleges were featured several times in the top-20 list. Northeastern University in Boston was ranked second, Brown University in Providence, R.I. was ranked fourth, University of New Hampshire in Durham was ranked seventh and and University of Rhode Island in Kingston was ranked ninth.
The article noted that marijuana legalization is being considered by voters in three states and “students have been playing a vital role in ending the War on Pot.”
Judge: Conn marijuana law having modest impact
By Ed Jacovino boston.com
But it's less clear whether the change has spared the time and resources of police, prosecutors, and courtrooms -- as proponents had predicted.
"This change, to be perfectly candid, it's a modest effect on our court dockets," Judge Robert Devlin said recently. Devlin is the chief administrative judge for criminal matters.
That change comes after the General Assembly made it an $150 infraction to possess up to a half-ounce of marijuana. The law went into effect July 2011.
Before, it was a criminal misdemeanor to possess any amount. The lowest charge was possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana, which carried a fine of up to $1,000 or a year in prison for the first offense.
These are the most recent figures from the Judicial Department:
-- There were 4,928 charges of possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana from July 1 to Nov. 30, 2010, according to figures provided by the courts.
-- There were 1,155 charges of possession of between 4 ounces and a half-ounce during the same five months in 2011. That's a decrease of 76.5 percent, or 3,773.
-- 1,965 tickets were issued for possession of less than a half ounce of marijuana during that period in 2011.
The figures show a decrease in the total number of marijuana citations, whether ticket or arrest. But they don't indicate whether decriminalization led to a significant decrease in court activity. That's because many people charged with marijuana possession also face other charges.
When legislators debated the bill in the spring of 2011, supporters contended too much time and money were spent by police and the courts pursuing criminal cases against people found with small amounts of marijuana.
Opponents countered that any savings from the change would be minimal.
Judge Devlin said that when it comes to the numbers, both sides have a point.
Police often will make an arrest for one thing and then find drugs, Devlin said. "On the other hand, there are cases where it's strictly a marijuana charge. It happens both ways."
Michael P. Lawlor, the undersecretary of the Office of Policy and Management for criminal justice policy, pushed for the legislation on behalf of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Lawlor's main argument was that it would free up time for police, courts, and the probation system.
The change had the greatest effect on the probation system, he said Monday. That's because after defendants entered a diversionary program they were put on probation, Lawlor said.
He also said the change was aimed at setting priorities for police and prosecutors.
"The message we're trying to send to the entire law enforcement community is we want you to focus on violent crime and serious crime," he said. "There's a lot of stuff that comes through the court system that by anyone's definition is not necessary."
But opponents question whether the lowered penalty made a significant change.
Chief State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane was among the bill's most outspoken opponents. He said he doubted the change would save time for prosecutors.
And, after talking to several prosecutors recently, they agree it hasn't, Kane said.
"They have not noticed any significant decrease in their workload," he said. "A lot of the cases, the people who are charged have other charges too."
Kane also questioned whether people who got a ticket for having marijuana would go to court to challenge it -- some have, and asked that they be put into the diversionary program rather than have the infraction on their records, he said.
And Kane questioned whether it's appropriate policy to simply issue a ticket. Lawmakers usually support the educational programs as a way to prevent people from reoffending, especially when it comes to issues of substance abuse.
The Police Chiefs Association also was skeptical. South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed is co-chairman of the group's legislative committee and said police rarely charge someone only with marijuana possession.
"We don't just see somebody standing on the corner smoking some marijuana," he said. "It's always part of another case."
And police officers issuing the new infraction tickets still are taking evidence and writing incident reports. The only time they're saving is in taking fingerprints, Reed said.
He also wondered about the effect on teenagers. "When you say something is a criminal offense it sends a strong message," he said. "Once you start to eat away at that classification, it's somewhat a tacit approval of its use."
Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, opposed the bill when it came before the Democrat-controlled legislature. But as the top Republican on the legislature's Judiciary Committee, he inserted one change: That those under 21 ticketed for possession have their driver's licenses suspended for 60 days.
Kissel also said that whenever crime statistics are in play, it should be noted that crime overall is down in the state.
Haze Clearing over New England
By: Matty S. Ville, Releaf Magazine
PROVIDENCE- The New England cannabis law reform movement has been active this week. While the stock market is falling, medical cannabis is on the rise despite a lacking economy and a recent tightening of the Obama administrations views on the medicine. Friday Governor Dannel Malloy signed HB 5389 “THE PALLIATIVE USE OF MARIJUANA ACT” in to law. This law is written to allow for cannabis to be distributed through licensed pharmacists to qualifying patients. The list of qualifying conditions is limited, not including the condition of “chronic pain” that is the source of many questionable medical cannabis recommendations in the 16 other states that have passed similar laws. The patients will be supplied by at least three but no more that 10 producers. Remember that the recent federal raids have mostly targeted large scale producers and retailers of medical marijuana. If the seemingly strict regulations and tight list of qualifying patients will
these ten producers be small enough to stay in the shadows of the impending spotlight shining on Connecticut by the Obama/Kerlikowske tag team duo.
Also in recent news New Hampshire Governor John Lynch says he will veto the bill recently passed through the Senate. He feels there is lack of control over the distribution of cannabis to patients while he does feel compassion for the sick who believe cannabis as medicine can help them. The New Hampshire public is polling strongly in favor of cannabis for the sick.
Will Connecticut’s new law be the model for states like New Hampshire on the verge of passing laws to take the plunge into the fight for the states right to regulate cannabis for medical purposes as Obama touted in his 2007-2008 campaign for President. Only time will tell but until then bravo to Connecticut and to those up there Live Free or Die seems to exclude the right to toke the pain away…For now?
Connecticut Lawmakers Vote To Allow For The Limited Legalization Of Medical Marijuana
CT, welcome to the club, MASS you are next. - UA
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director cannabis.hawaiinewsdaily.com
Members of the Connecticut Senate today voted in favor of HB 5389, the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act. Their vote follows similar approval by the General Assembly. Today’s vote clears the way for Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy, a supporter of the Act, to sign the bill into law.
Connecticut will become the 17th state since 1996 to allow for the limited legalization of medicinal cannabis. It will be the fourth New England state to do so, joining Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
“Today is a day of hope, compassion and dignity and I thank all of the legislators who worked hard on this legislation and who voted to pass this bill,” said Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML. “I am so happy for all the patients who will have another medicinal option to discuss with their doctor and for all of those currently suffering with debilitating conditions who will no longer suffer the indignity of being sick and a criminal.”
The statewide efforts of Connecticut NORML resulted in tens of thousands of phone calls, emails, patient and legislator meetings, and letters to legislators. “Patients and doctors told their stories and asked legislators to tell them ‘No, you haven’t suffered enough,’” said Williams. “Many others stressed that this bill did medical marijuana the correct way and that Connecticut had an opportunity to be a leader in America on this issue. Our strategy and dedication has obviously paid off.”
The Palliative Use of Marijuana Act mandates the state to license a limited number of producers to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Qualified patients under this act would obtain cannabis via licensed pharmacists, which would obtain permits to dispense the substance from the state Department of Consumer Protection.
In addition to the efforts of Connecticut NORML, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the A Better Way Foundation, ACLU, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) all actively worked to help pass the bill.
The new law, once signed by the Governor, will take effect on October 1, 2012.
Last year, Connecticut NORML took a lead role in the passage of separate statewide legislation that decriminalized the possession of marijuana by adults from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a fine, no jail time, and no criminal record.
CT Takes Another Step Toward Legalizing Medical MarijuanaState Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a vocal opponent of legalizing medical marijuana, reportedly tried to tack several amendments onto the bill as it was brought to the floor, all of which failed.
- By Patrick Barnard
According to a report CBS News, the General Assembly's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee on Friday passed the proposal 36-14. The proposed bill, "An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana," now moves to the House of Representatives for further action.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, a vocal opponent of legalizing medical marijuana, reportedly tried to tack several amendments onto the bill as it was brought to the floor, all of which failed. Specifically she tried to add a measure that would increase funding to the state's anti-drug education and addiction programs, stating that these programs will need to be beefed up, as other states which have legalized medical marijuana have seen an uptick in drug related problems.
In a statement last month, Sen. Boucher said it was ironic that in the same year the state is looking to pass education reform it is also considering a bill that sends "a negative message to our families and children — the very ones that education reform is meant to assist in making the most of their potential.”
As currently drafted, the bill would make it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with certain specified illnesses, such as cancer or AIDS. Patients requesting the drug would have to register with the state. The bill also outlines a licensing system for medical marijuana producers as well as drug dispensaries.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy reportedly supports the bill and has vowed to sign it into law, providing it passes in the General Assembly. Possession of marijuana will remain illegal under federal law.
Last June the General Assembly passed a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the new law, people caught with less than a half ounce of marijuana are issued an infraction and are not required to appear in court. The fine for the first offense of minor possession is $150, and increases within the range of $200-$500 for subsequent charges. Those under 18 years of age caught with possession must additionally have their driver’s license revoked for 60 days.
Conn. committee passes medical marijuana bill