Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Press Release: DC MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT THURSDAY

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                           For Immediate Release:

Darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                    February 25, 2015

415.823.5496


DC MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT THURSDAY

Adult Possession, Home Cultivation Protected Under Initiative 71

DC Council Pushes for Retail Sales Despite Congress


Washington D.C. – A new marijuana legalization law will take effect in D.C. tomorrow

when adults 21 and older will be permitted to possess up to two ounces for personal use

and grow up to six plants (three of which can be mature). Public consumption, driving

under the influence, youth possession and any exchange of money for marijuana outside

of the existing medical marijuana dispensaries in the District, will still be prohibited.

“Legalization has come to Congress’s backyard,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.),

executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of

criminal justice professionals opposed to the drug war. “The only question now is will

they be the leaders their constituents voted for and allow the DC Council to tax and

regulate the product, or will they prop up the criminal market by keeping sales

underground?”

Initiative 71 passed overwhelmingly with more than 70% of the vote. Despite some

Congressional opposition to taxing and regulating recreational marijuana sales, the D.C.

Council is pushing forward a legalization bill that responsibly addresses the public safety

issues associated with marijuana regulation. The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

Act of 2015 has already been discussed in public hearings. A majority of the testimony

was in favor of the bill, and made a variety of arguments such as focusing law

enforcement on more important crimes, reducing the racially disparate impact of

marijuana enforcement, reducing youth access to marijuana, generating revenue for the

city, and creating new legal jobs for D.C. residents.

Under the law that takes effect tomorrow, possession or smoking on federal property

(which amounts to 26% of the land in D.C.) remains a federal crime. Caution should be

taken by those traveling with the permitted amount of marijuana to avoid federal

property. District residents are advised to review a map of federal land and some basic

rules in order to comply with the complex interplay of federal and District laws.

The spending bill passed by Congress in December for this fiscal year denies D.C. any

funding to enact marijuana legalization. But because D.C. attorneys have determined that

Initiative 71 requires no funding to implement, with the Congressional review period

required by the D.C. home rule law about to expire, the law is set to take effect at 12:01

a.m. Feb. 26.

LEAP is committed to ending the failed drug policies that have fueled dangerous

underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racially disparate law

enforcement, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction, diverting the penal

system's attention from more important violent crime, all while spending almost one

trillion dollars over the past 40 years.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Alaska Marijuana Legalization Takes Effect Tuesday

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                           For Immediate Release:

darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                     February 23, 2015

415.823.5496


ALASKA MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT 

TUESDAY 

Commercial Regulation Development Underway

Law Enforcement Anticipates Public Safety Improvements


Last November, Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2, a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for

adults, passed with 52% of the vote. When the measure takes effect on Tuesday this

week, people age 21 and older will legally be able to possess up to one ounce of

marijuana and cultivate no more than six plants at home, though commercial sales will

have to wait until regulations have been established – probably spring or summer of

2016. Colorado, Oregon and Washington have also legalized marijuana, and medical

marijuana is permitted in 23 states and Washington D.C.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals

opposed to the drug war, campaigned for Measure 2 by meeting with communities and

the media to discuss the public safety benefits of marijuana regulation.

“We anxiously await the same public safety improvements from Alaska that we have

already seen in Colorado and Washington,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive

director of LEAP. “Cops will spend more time going after dangerous criminals and

protecting communities, and parents can rest assured that their local marijuana retailer is

barred from selling to their children.”

Tuesday also marks the first day of drafting the manufacturing and sales regulations. The

timeline states that regulations should be completed by November 2015, business

applications should open in February 2016, and licenses should be issued by May of the

same year. Some regulators are concerned the timeline is too short, and advocate for a

later deadline to ensure the best possible regulatory model.

The state’s judiciary committee recently stalled SB 30, a bill that initially concerned

legalization advocates due to ambiguity surrounding its ability to supersede Measure 2.

The committee has ordered a replacement bill, which may provide clarity and ensure that

Measure 2 and the will of Alaska’s voters are respected. Other pending state legislation

relating to Measure 2 include SB 8, which would regulate the production of industrial

hemp.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have fueled dangerous

underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely

ignored the public health crisis of addiction, all while spending billions of dollars

diverting the penal system's attention away from more important violent crimes.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Press Release: Federal Marijuana Legalization Bills Introduced to Congress

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                           For Immediate Release:
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                     February 20, 2015
415.823.5496

FEDERAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION BILLS INTRODUCED 
TO CONGRESS   



Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Introduce Separate Marijuana Tax,  Regulation Bills 


Washington D.C. – Today US Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer

(D-OR) introduced separate bills to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana for adults at the

federal level. Polis introduced a bill that would allow states the ability to choose to

legalize marijuana without fear of federal intervention, and a federal regulatory structure

would be built to accommodate those new laws. Blumenauer’s bill would tax marijuana

at the federal level, in addition to any taxes that may be imposed by state and local

jurisdictions. Marijuana is already state-legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and

Oregon, and medical marijuana is allowed in 23 states and Washington, DC. Yet despite

a Department of Justice memo that instructed federal prosecutors to be sparing in their

interference in state-legal operations,  “using [their] limited investigative and

prosecutorial resources to address the most significant marijuana-related cases,” which

the memo explained, and passage of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment defunding federal

prosecution of medical marijuana cases, some US attorneys, such as Melinda Haag,

continue to inappropriately use federal law to go after state-legal operations.



“Cops have better things to worry about than the recreational habits of responsible,

nonviolent adults,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law

Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals

opposed to the drug war. “And dispensary owners have better things to worry about than

whether the federal government is going to arrest them and/or seize their assets for acting

in accordance with state law.”

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Press Release: Michael Botticelli Confirmed as Drug Czar

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                      For Immediate Release:
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                February 10, 2015
415.823.5496


MICHAEL BOTTICELLI CONFIRMED AS DRUG CZAR

Recovered Alcoholic Takes Top Spot at ONDCP

Washington D.C. – President Obama’s nominee for director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), acting director Michael Botticelli, was confirmed by the Senate 92-0 yesterday, granting him one of the nation’s highest drug-control offices. A recovered alcoholic with extensive career experience in public health, the new “drug czar,” as he is informally known, has potential to take more of a public health approach than did his predecessors, including former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, the most recent officeholder,  who was confirmed as Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection last March. Botticelli has recently stated that Congress shouldn’t interfere with the will of D.C. voters to legalize marijuana, despite the ONDCP’s official stance on legalization. Last week, he was quoted in a conference call saying that the ONDCP will bar federal funding from drug courts that prevent access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

“Appointing someone who personally understands addiction provides hope that the government is taking a stronger public health approach to drug policy,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Botticelli understands that it doesn’t make sense to treat drug users as criminals, because imprisonment has never proven to be effective at reducing abuse.”

Botticelli was arrested for drunk driving in 1988, and worked toward sobriety thereafter. He then dedicated his career to helping others recover. Botticelli joined the Massachusetts Department of Heath, and eventually served as director of substance abuse services from 2003 to 2012. As director, he oversaw a program in Quincy that gave police access to naloxone, a drug that saves lives by safely reversing opiate overdoses. His career is celebrated as one that prioritizes public health and safety for those who battle addiction, by instituting humane, effective and compassionate policies and programs. 

LEAP is a nonprofit of criminal justice professionals who know the war on drugs has created a public safety nightmare of increased gang violence, police militarization and the fueling of dangerous underground markets.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Press Release: Congress Reintroduces Bipartisan Asset Forfeiture Reform Legislation


CONGRESS REINTRODUCES BIPARTISAN ASSET FORFEITURE REFORM LEGISLATION

FAIR Act Would End DOJ Equitable Sharing Program

Washington D.C. – Yesterday, both houses of Congress reintroduced S 255, the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, a bipartisan bill that would end the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, which incentivizes state and local law enforcement to seize private property without charging anyone with a crime in a process called civil asset forfeiture.

Reintroduction of the FAIR Act comes only days after Attorney General Eric Holder announced an end to some kinds of forfeiture. Unfortunately, while Holder’s announcement is a step in the right direction, it only addresses about 14% of the total amount of seizures in question. An exception to the reforms announced on January 16th allows state and local officers to exercise civil asset forfeiture practices if they’re involved in a multijurisdictional task force that includes federal enforcement, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency. Because federal agencies are so frequently involved in civil asset seizures, state and local law enforcement can still keep about 86% of the money taken from otherwise innocent civilians. The FAIR Act however, would end the Equitable Sharing Program entirely.

“The FAIR Act is precisely what we’ve been advocating since Holder’s announcement,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “If this bill passes, it would topple a huge cornerstone of the drug war infrastructure that erodes community trust in police, promotes corruption within the ranks and distracts cops from doing their jobs. Once this incentive is gone, cops can spend their time protecting communities from truly dangerous criminals instead of taking money from innocent people.”

The FAIR Act was introduced to the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). An identical version of the bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rep. Tony C├írdenas (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA).

Since the 1980s, the drug war has been used as justification for continuing and expanding the Equitable Sharing Program. A court may allow for assets to be seized, including boats, cars, property and cash associated with the crime. But, in some places such as Washington D.C., the amount of money seized is almost never associated with a crime. Since 2009, Washington D.C. police have seized more than $5.5 million in cash, yet half of that money was seized in increments of $141 or less.  False accusations of drug possession are consistently used as probable cause. Assets seized are then permitted to be used and misused by the department for anything they see fit, including new equipment upgrades, football tickets or “food, gifts and entertainment” for the department.

Civil asset forfeiture currently requires that there be “preponderance of evidence,” rather than “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means far less evidence is needed to charge the property. The Fair Act would establish that “clear and convincing evidence” be present in order to charge the property with a crime, and that the owner “used the property with the intent to facilitate the offense.”

LEAP is a nonprofit of criminal justice professionals who know the war on drugs has created a public safety nightmare of increased gang violence, police militarization and the fueling of dangerous underground markets.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

CO Chiefs Host Discussion About Enforcing Marijuana Regulations

Contact: Darby Beck                                                                                       For Immediate Release:
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                                   January 15, 2014
415.823.5496                                                                                      


COLORADO POLICE CHIEFS HOST MARIJUANA SUMMIT, DISCUSS LEGALIZATION IMPACT

Legalization Allows Police to More Directly Confront Problems Arising from Use of Any Drug

The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police are hosting a conference this week to discuss the impact of legal marijuana on law enforcement and public safety one year after recreational dispensaries opened in the state. The conference offers recommendations for dealing with marijuana-related issues under a legal framework in which police are able to work with growers, distributors and others to ensure consumers are protected, that criminals do not profit from sales and that the drug is not available to children.

“This conference is the result of smart regulation,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “Now that marijuana is sold in a visible, transparent market, enforcement and regulatory bodies can start making recommendations about how to further public safety surrounding the drug. Instead of arresting people for minor marijuana offenses, cops are now ensuring operations are running safely and legally.”

The event lasts three days, beginning Wednesday of this week, and is expected to draw a crowd of almost 500 law enforcement professionals, including representatives from Alaska, which recently voted to legalize marijuana. U.S. Attorney in Colorado John Walsh and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s top officer in the state will also be in attendance.

LEAP is a nonprofit of criminal justice professionals who know the war on drugs has created a public safety nightmare of increased gang violence, police militarization and the fueling of dangerous underground markets.

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