The US Supreme Court Monday declined to hear an appeal from medical marijuana advocacy groups who had challenged the DEA’s decision to maintain marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the category reserved for the most dangerous substances.
The court denied in summary order a petition for a writ of certiorari from the groups, led by Americans for Safe Access, which had sought Supreme Court review of a DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the DEA’s ruling that a change in marijuana’s classification required the Food and Drug Administration’s recognition of acceptable medical uses for the drugs.
Advocates of rescheduling marijuana have been trying to do so for more than four decades, but have been thwarted by DEA delays and intransigence. This was the third formal rescheduling effort to be blocked by DEA decision making.
Schedule I drugs are deemed to have no acceptable medical uses and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include LSD, MDMA, and heroin. Despite the fact that there is an ever-increasing mountain of research detailing marijuana medicinal effects and despite the fact that 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, the DEA continues to insist that it cannot be down-scheduled.
Joe Elford, lead attorney on the case for Americans for Safe Access, told Law360 that the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari was in line with its reluctance to overturn lower courts and administrative decisions on medical marijuana.
“It’s disappointing, but not altogether surprising,” he said.
A fourth effort to reclassify marijuana led by the governors of the medical marijuana states of Rhode Island and Washington was filed in 2011 and is still awaiting action.
Louisiana is one of the worst places to get busted with marijuana in the country. Louisiana marijuana laws are so harsh that I can’t imagine being a marijuana consumer there. I live in Oregon where the marijuana laws are very liberal, so maybe Louisiana’s laws seem harsher to me than to other people, but I can’t imagine being sentenced to twenty years in prison for a marijuana offense.
But that is exactly what happened to Corey Ladd. Mr. Ladd was sentenced to twenty years in prison for possessing just 15 grams of marijuana. In Louisiana, if you have been convicted of marijuana possession three times you can get 20 years in prison. It feels weird even typing that out. 20 years in prison, for marijuana. I don’t care how many times you have been convicted for marijuana, or what amount of marijuana you were caught with, there is no reason you should be serving multiple decades in prison for a marijuana only offense. What a waste of tax dollars. What a waste of a jail bed that should be reserved for a deranged, violent person.
Someone really needs to take a hard look at Louisiana’s marijuana laws and see how much money is being wasted. Louisiana’s marijuana laws result in racially biased practices that have a detrimental effect on the State’s minority communities. According to Dissident Voice:
For example, Louisiana arrests about 13,000 people per year for marijuana, 60% of them African Americans. Over 84 percent were for possession only. While Louisiana’s population is 32 percent black, 60 percent of arrests for marijuana are African American making it the 9th most discriminatory state nationwide. In Tangipahoa Parish, blacks are 11.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites and in St. Landry Parish the rate of black arrests for marijuana is 10.7 times as likely as whites, landing both parishes in the worst 15 in the country.
If you live in Louisiana, get active. The only way marijuana laws will change there is if you put the pressure on your legislators over and over again, because Louisiana is not an initiative state. Lobby for an initiative process and align with other causes that also would benefit from an initiative system. Then Louisiana will be ripe for an initiative that reform’s the State’s horrendous marijuana laws.
As of this week, the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in Switzerland. Instead, the Swiss have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed, replacing possible jail time and a criminal record with a maximum fine of $110. The new law went into effect Tuesday.
The change in the Swiss drug law brings the country in line with other European countries that have either formally or effectively decriminalized pot possession. It also brings uniformity within Switzerland, where previously, some cantons had turned a blind eye to marijuana offenses while others came down hard on offenders.
The change will also relieve pressure on Swiss police and courts. The country has dealt with 30,000 or so marijuana charges each year, a number that should decline dramatically under the new law.
Cultivation and distribution of marijuana remain criminal offenses, as does possession of more than 10 grams. The new law also increases penalties for sale to minors.
The country of some eight million people is thought to have up to 500,000 pot smokers.
Almost one year has passed since SaveCannabis.org publicly began the effort to place a Cannabis and Hemp Prohibition Repeal Initiative on the 2014 California ballot. The seeds of the plan were primarily initiated by the failure of Prop 19 and the failure by California advocates to coordinate their efforts to make the ballot in 2012. In fact, when it was known that there was going to be 2, then 3, then…6 different efforts in 2012, it became apparent that they were all doomed to fail. And they did. Split advocacy and the resulting split funding efforts were not a winning solution in California. What was needed was an attempt to consolidate.
Over this time, SaveCannabis.org made the most significant effort possible within the California movement to coordinate and unify all supporters. The website forum was utilized continuously to offer information, solicit input and make sure above all that everyone in California had an opportunity to participate in the Initiative development process. We reached out to those who were supportive and especially those who weren’t. We offered a public forum for everyone to participate and voice their opinions. We held meetings and conferences and reached out directly to all sides in the hopes of working together toward a mutual goal.
The process began with a single page base document that was posted to the forum. This was the first step on what has become in many ways an historical journey. According to input from several political advisers and legal experts, what was evolving was a thoroughly researched and legally vetted document created in a manner had never been done before.
SaveCannabis.org utilized the email forum and release of the companion wiki-based site Help.SaveCannabis.org to create the first true open-source generated California State Ballot Initiative. Grassroots development in the truest sense of the term. There has never been a document of this detail and complexity created for a State ballot utilizing the open-source technique to this extent. By essentially allowing THE PEOPLE to create, edit and directly participate in the writing process, history has once again been made in California.
In an age where high tech social and mass media tools now offer real-time information flow, this was the most practical and unifying (and now in hindsight, obvious) technique to achieve success. That success is now a reality in the form of a working final draft soon ready for submission to the State.
One of the biggest challenges has been the continuing effort to coordinate the existing Cannabis and Hemp supporters. It is not uncommon for the Movement reaction to unification to be cautious and move slowly until there is a crisis, then madly rush to create documents, argue issues, struggle mightily to get a consensus agreement on whatever the issue is, and then do nothing unless forced to at the last minute. The end result is often weak preparation, limited communication and coordination, and many times an example of amateurs attempting to play with the pros. Through no fault of some very skilled and dedicated advocates and legal experts sincerely attempting to do their best, winning and success have been a crapshoot at best.
Through patience, persistence, staying true to a consistent stance and always keeping our eyes on the prize, SaveCannabis,org has been able to overcome the majority of the internal challenges. There is still much to do, but the results of almost a full year of drafting and vetting now offer something concrete for everyone to support and we trust it will become easier every day.
Everyone connected to SaveCannabis.org wishes to reach out once again to all Californians. As we maintain our objective and open-source support of Cannabis and Hemp Prohibition Repeal, we once again invite your input and suggestions for the Cannabis and Hemp Freedom Act of 2014.
By necessity, there is a very short time left for the editing process in order to meet the 2014 ballot deadline. The document will be locked for final editing by our legal team very soon. It will then be presented to the Secretary of the State of California for processing. If anyone is still reluctant to take part in this historic drive to freedom for California Cannabis and Hemp supporters, please put aside whatever reasons may be driving you to resist and consider the many positive changes you can support with this effort. Please take the time right now to communicate your thoughts and concerns directly to us or through the forum.
All of us are being given a wonderful yet time-restrictive opportunity. We can provide support for the thousands of patients, prisoners, families and jobless who would be greatly aided by this effort and the hope and compassion it brings. We feel an obligation to do everything we can for all of them. Prohibition Repeal is a winnable option for California. Arguments against a 2014 Initiative campaign are no longer valid. Reputable polling across the U.S. reveals increasing favor by well over the majority in support of medical cannabis use, and finally many polls show over 50% in favor of legal adult use. California is in agreement and positioned for success. Now is the time to take action.
Please visit http://bit.ly/camj2014v3 to review and submit comments to the current version of the Initiative.
Senate Bill 157 has officially become law, explicitly legalizing hemp in the State of Vermont. Under this new law, farmers who wish to grow hemp must simply file some paperwork with the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and maintain a 0.3% or lower THC content in the hemp they cultivate. The secretary may require a registration fee, but the maximum they can issue is $25 a year. Unlike most other state hemp laws, this proposal allows farmers to begin cultivation prior to a federal law change.
With this law taking effect, Vermont joins Washington and Colorado which allow hemp cultivation before the feds end their prohibition. Obviously those who decide to cultivate hemp will be violating federal law and putting themselves at risk of prosecution, but they would no longer risk state-level charges.
This opens up a market for these states which, according to congressional research, consists of over 25,000 various products; the same research found that America imports nearly half a billions worth of hemp products from other countries, while maintaining the illegality of its cultivation.
In this week’s “hypocrisy news,” the federal government continues to deny the medical value of cannabis even in light of contrary claims by its own agency, the National Institute of Health.