Visit our Website for more content: www.mmmrmag.com

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

National news for Januaryr 2018 - by Dolan Frick

PAST MARIJUANA CRIMES IN CALIFORNIA COULD BE FORGIVEN

LOS ANGELES —With California on the verge of legal recreational marijuana sales starting Jan. 1,  hundreds of thousands of people could have their drug convictions wiped away, thanks to a lesser-known provision in the new state marijuana law.

California is offering a second chance to people convicted of almost any marijuana crimes, from serious felonies to small infractions, with the opportunity to have their criminal records cleared or the charges sharply reduced. State officials hope to reverse decades of marijuana convictions that can make it difficult for people to gain meaningful employment and disproportionately affect low-income minorities.

“We worked to help create a legalized and regulated process for legal marijuana, but we also wanted to make sure we could help — some way, somehow — repair the damages of marijuana prohibition,” said Eunisses Hernandez, a policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance. The alliance said there have been 500,000 arrests for marijuana offenses in California in the past 10 years, and it estimates that up to a million people have reviewable convictions on their records.

At least 4,500 people had filed petitions to have their sentences reduced, redesignated or thrown out as of September, according to the California Judicial Council. The highest amount came from Riverside County, where 613 applications were filed. In addition, at least 365 people have applied to have their juvenile marijuana convictions thrown out. Not every county
reported data.

The change here is part of a nationwide movement to reduce marijuana charges and atone for harsh penalties during the war on drugs. At least nine states have passed laws expunging or reducing marijuana convictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maryland, Oregon and Vermont also now allow convictions for marijuana offenses that are not crimes under current law to be wiped off a criminal record.
The re-designation of marijuana crimes in California went into effect immediately after voters approved the measure legalizing pot. Many viewed it as an offshoot of a 2014 ballot initiative that reduced penalties for certain drug and theft crimes.

Those who want their marijuana convictions lessened must present their cases in court. Prosecutors can decide not to support a reduction should someone have a major felony, such as murder, on their record. Old convictions will be reclassified under the law as it reads now. For example, if someone had been convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, that conviction would be tossed out because that is now legal in California.

Some district attorney’s offices notified the recently convicted and incarcerated that they were eligible to have their records changed and that they potentially could leave prison. Last year, prosecutors in San Diego searched for people convicted of marijuana offenses in the prior three years who would be eligible for reductions. When the measure passed, prosecutors got their petitions before a judge as soon as possible.

“We absolutely didn’t want people to be in custody who shouldn’t be in custody,” said Rachel Solov, chief of the collaborative courts division in the San Diego district attorney’s office. She said that as of mid-December, the office has handled nearly 600 reductions.

But advocates said many people who completed their sentences still do not know they could be able to change their criminal records. Hernandez and defense lawyers said that the state has put little effort into outreach and that most people are hearing about the opportunities through word of mouth or social media.
“One of the projects we’re working on this year is to notify people that this is an option,” said Bruce Margolin, a Los Angeles defense lawyer who specializes in marijuana cases. “It’s a viable thing to do, obviously, because people are suffering with these felony convictions in so many aspects of their life.”
Omar Figueroa, a defense lawyer in Sebastopol, Calif., who specializes in marijuana law, said the requirement to go to court makes it more difficult for the poor to take advantage.

LEGAL MARIJUANA JUST CAN'T CATCH A BREAK

The marijuana industry has taken a couple of hits in Washington this month.

First, an amendment that would have stripped a part of the tax code that places extra financial burden on cannabis businesses was pulled at the last minute from the GOP tax plan approved by the U.S. Senate.

Also, Attorney General Jeff Sessions again made remarks that seemed to threaten a potential federal crackdown on the legal marijuana business any day now, maybe even by the time you read this. The events underscore the fact that even as the marijuana industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it still faces challenges.




No tax relief, yet. Marijuana industry entrepreneurs had hoped the sweeping tax changes voted on by Congress would provide the perfect opportunity to end the dreaded provision 280E in the federal tax code.

The provision blocks marijuana businesses from deducting normal business expenses on tax returns. Such deductions are used in every industry. Costs deducted including buying materials and supplies, paying employees and purchasing and maintaining equipment.

ALCOHOL SALES FALLING DUE TO POT

Medical marijuana becoming available in U.S. states led to a noticeable fall in alcohol sales, a recent study finds.


Researchers looked at retail sales data for beer and wine in the aftermath of states passing laws that legalized medical marijuana, and in counties that bordered on them. Two years after medical marijuana became available, sales had fallen by 13 per cent.

Medical marijuana becoming available in U.S. states led to a noticeable fall in alcohol sales, a recent study finds.

Researchers looked at retail sales data for beer and wine in the aftermath of states passing laws that legalized medical marijuana, and in counties that bordered on them. Two years after medical marijuana became available, sales had fallen by 13 per cent.

TEEN MARIJUANA CONSUMPTION ON THE DECLINE

Earlier this week, reefer madness acolytes issued a warning that “young adult use has skyrocketed over the past 10 years,” but the latest federal data proves the claim is demonstrably false. In fact, the opposite is true. As adult recreational legalization of marijuana spreads across the United States, teen consumption is on the decline. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationwide survey, discovered drops in teen marijuana use in all but one of the five states (Alaska) that had legal cannabis from 2014 to 2016.

“These survey results should come as welcome news to anyone who worried teen marijuana use would increase following legalization,” Brian Vicente, a Denver lawyer and a marijuana legalization proponent, said in a statement.

“The days of arresting thousands of adults in order to prevent teens from using marijuana are over. As a proponent of Amendment 64 and a parent of two young children, they certainly came as welcome news to me,”

No comments:

Post a Comment