A steep drop in charges filed against adults over 21 in Washington state after legalization of marijuana shows the new law is freeing up court and law-enforcement resources to deal with other issues, a primary backer of the law said Wednesday.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that such low-level charges were filed in just 120 cases in 2013, down from 5,531 cases the year before. “The data strongly suggest that I-502 has achieved one of its primary goals — to free up limited police and prosecutorial resources,” Mark Cooke, criminal-justice policy counsel with the state ACLU, said in a news release.
Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff at the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said that hasn’t been the case in his office. He said prosecutors handled only a few misdemeanor pot cases a day before the law went into effect.
“There’s no great relief of workload,” Goodhew said. “All this has meant is maybe our calendar in District Court in the Seattle division is maybe, instead of 46 cases in a day, 44 or 43 or 42. We’re no longer filing misdemeanor marijuana cases, but we were not ex. . . . . READ MORE
Pristoop, in testimony regarding legalization of marijuana, stated that overdoses on marijuana led to more than 30 deaths on the first day the drug was legalized in Colorado. That data was based upon a hoax story that ran on satirical and comedy websites.
“I apologize for the information I provided concerning the deaths. I believed the information I obtained was accurate but I now know the story is nothing more than an urban legend,” the chief said in a statement. “This does not take away from the other facts presented in opposition to legalization or the good work of the Maryland Chiefs and Maryland Sheriffs associations.”
Pristoop was speaking before the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee, opposing the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, according to the statement from Annapolis police. His testimony was stopped by those on the comm. . . . . READ MORE
Prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs gathered Tuesday in Annapolis to push back against the growing movement to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana or to legalize recreational use of the drug altogether.
At a news conference and at a Senate hearing, law enforcement leaders warned that loosening marijuana laws would undermine drug enforcement across the board. They said it would be premature to pass a bill following in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington state, which recently legalized pot, and opposed a separate measure that would treat possession as a minor civil offense.
“This legislation sends a horrible message,” said Riverdale Park Police Chief David Morris, speaking for the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.
Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, speaking on behalf of the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association, called the movement to legalize pot in Maryland “a rush to judgment.”
Cassilly said the state should wait for legalization in Colorado and Washington to be thoroughly studied, instead of relying on “anecdotal evidence from a bunch of pot heads.”
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DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart reportedly told a group of sheriffs at a closed-door conference in Washington that she was frustrated by the administration’s recent openness toward state legalization. Although Leonhart’s remarks were not made publicly, her pointed references to the president could put her job in jeopardy.
“She was honest,” Mike H. Leidholt, president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, told the Herald. “She may get fired. But she was honest.”
The administration so far has shown itself willing to let Colorado’s and Washington’s experiments with marijuana legalization move ahead. But those baby steps toward respecting state legislation appear to have sown dissension at the DEA.
Leonhart, a former Baltimore cop and long-time DEA agent before ascending to the agency’s top role, staunchly opposes mainstreaming marijuana use. In 2012 House Judiciary testimon. . . . . READ MORE
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, meeting in Winnipeg this week, wants officers to have the ability to ticket people found with 30 grams of marijuana or less.
Kentville, N.S., police Chief Mark Mander, chair of the association’s drug-abuse committee, said Tuesday officers currently have only two choices: turn a blind eye or lay down the law.
Mander said officers could “either to caution the offender or lay formal charges resulting in [a] lengthy, difficult process, which results in a criminal charge if proven, a criminal conviction, and a criminal record.”
Mander said ticketing the offender would be far less onerous and expensive.
However, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said there are no plans in the works to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. Though McKay had no follow up on the chiefs’ recommendation, he said he appreciates their input.
“We don’t support legalization or decriminalization,” Mander said.
“Clearly there are circumstances where a formal charge for simple pos. . . . . READ MORE
Denver police have written more tickets for public marijuana use so far this year than in all of 2012, but the crime is rarely punished, according to new statistics from the city. Though Colorado voters in November legalized marijuana use by adults, consuming marijuana in public remains illegal, under both state law and Denver municipal ordinance. It brings a $100 fine under the state law.
According to figures provided by the Denver Department of Safety, police in the city wrote just 20 tickets for public marijuana consumption during the first half of 2013. Fifteen of those tickets came in May and June. Officers wrote only eight tickets in all of 2012, all but one of those pre-legalization.
“Nothing has changed for us policy-wise,” Denver police spokesman John White said. “If individuals are observed consuming marijuana in public, they will be cited.”
It’s difficult to determine whether public pot use has actually increased. There have been no scientific studies about public marijuana use in Denver, either pre- or post-legalization.
But people concerned about the impacts of mariju. . . . . READ MORE
Most people don’t think “cops” when they think about who supports marijuana legalization. Police are, after all, the ones cuffing stoners, and law enforcement groups have a long history of lobbying against marijuana policy reform. Many see this as a major factor in preventing the federal government from recognizing that a historic majority of Americans – 52 percent – favors legalizing weed.
But the landscape is changing fast. Today, a growing number of cops are part of America’s “marijuana majority.” Members of the non-profit group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) say that loosening our pot policy wouldn’t necessarily condone drug use, but control it, while helping cops to achieve their ultimate goal of increasing public safety. Here are the five biggest reasons why even cops are starting to say, “Legalize It!”
1. It’s about public safety.
While marijuana is a relatively harmless drug, the black market associated with it can cause significant harm. Much like the prohibition of alcohol, marijuana’s illegality does not erase the profit incentive – instead, it esta. . . . . READ MORE
Peter Shumlin, the state’s governor, made a telling distinction between weed and “harder” drugs when he announced the move. “This legislation allows our courts and law enforcement to focus their limited resources more effectively to fight highly addictive opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs that are tearing apart families and communities,” he said.
The idea that weed isn’t that big a deal and that governments need to readjust their priorities is pretty common. There’s little vocal anti-pot government outcry, no temperance movement analog for cannabis. Recent polls have found that a majority of Americans think marijuana should be legalized.
Even our mainstream faces of stoner culture are generally silly, harmless and amiable (Jeff Spicoli, Cheech & Chong, Harold & Kumar, and whatever Snoop is calling himself these days) except when they’re revered and saintly (read: Bob Marley). On TV, there was Weeds, a dramedy about an upper-middle-class widow who st. . . . . READ MORE