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Freedom to Choose: New Mexico Veterans Push for Improved Access to Medical Marijuana

July 9th

SANTA FE, NM — The Drug Policy Alliance, veterans’ groups, elected officials and others are introducing a campaign to protect New Mexico’s military veterans’ legal access to medical marijuana. The Campaign is asking New Mexico to stand with veterans and their families to ask our state lawmakers, employers, and medical professionals to support efforts to ensure that when veterans come home they will have access to the medicine that works for them.

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is considered a nationwide model – in 2007 New Mexico became the first state to develop and implement a state-licensed medical marijuana production and distribution system, and in 2009 it became the first medical marijuana state to specifically include post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition.

“This campaign has national implications, as hundreds of thousands of veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD,” said Jessica Gelay of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We hope that this campaign will encourage other states to ensure that their veterans receive the best care possible.”

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a former prosecutor, has vowed to veto any mariju. . . . . <a href=READ MORE

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City of Berkeley Fights Federal Action to Seize Medical Marijuana Dispensary

July 3rd

BERKELEY, CA – The City of Berkeley filed a claim Wednesday in the action brought by the federal government in May to seize the property used by Berkeley Patients Group at 2366 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, California.  Berkeley Patients Group has been providing medical marijuana to patients within the City since 1999.  It is in full compliance with the City of Berkeley’s medical marijuana ordinance, regulations, and zoning laws.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California has used federal asset forfeiture laws to target and close numerous medical marijuana dispensaries, even when those dispensaries have long track records of working with the cities in which they are located, responsibly providing medical marijuana to patients, and complying with state and local law.

The city’s claim was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In its claim, the City asserts that the closure of Berkeley Patients Group will harm the City through the loss of substantial revenue.  Berkeley Patients Group has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the City in taxes over the years.  The federal government’s action also undermines the City’s comprehensive plan to regulate and control medical marijuana, which was designed and implemented to positively impact the health and well-being of all Berkeley residents and to which the City has devoted a significant amount of time and resources.

The claim, filed on Ju. . . . . READ MORE

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CO Festival to Host Marijuana Legalization Debate Between Ex-DEA Chief & DPA’s Nadelmann

June 26th

ASPEN, CO – The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2, 2013. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond will gather in Aspen, CO to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas.

The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics. The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1st, Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former DEA head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as on CNN’s Crossfire.

Last November, Colorado and Washington became the first states in the country – and the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world – to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adult use.

Two months ago, a Pew poll found for the first time in four decades of p. . . . . READ MORE

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Long Island Patients Rally in Support of NY Medical Marijuana Bill

June 16th

HEMPSTEAD, NY — With the end of New York’s legislative session less than a week away, patients and community members from across Long Island gathered at the Garden City, Long Island Rail Road station Friday to mobilize supporters of New York’s medical marijuana bill.

They collected signatures and handed out flyers urging their neighbors to contact senate leadership and demand a vote on the Compassionate Care Act by the Senate before the end of the legislative session on June 20th. The bill, which would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs, would allow seriously ill patients access to a small amount of marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

A recent poll by Siena College founds that an astonishing 82% of New York voters, including 81% of both Democrats and Republicans support medical marijuana for seriously ill patients.

Earlier this month, the Assembly passed the bill with bipartisan vote of 99-41, the widest margin of the four times the bill has been passed in that chamber.

“We hit the streets of Long Island today to urge our neighbors to support the bi. . . . . READ MORE

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Momentum Builds for Marijuana Law Reform in the District of Columbia

June 8th

WASHINGTON, DC — District of Columbia residents are arrested for marijuana possession at greater rates than residents of any U.S. state and D.C. taxpayers pay more per capita on marijuana arrests in the country, according to a groundbreaking report issued yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union that examines nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.

The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests” also found that African Americans comprise just over half the D.C. population, but accounted for more than nine out of every ten marijuana possession arrests in 2010. All told, African Americans were eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession that white residents, and more than 90 percent of all marijuana arrests in 2010 were of African Americans. Since 2001, the report found that the racial disparity in D.C. marijuana arrests widened by more than 75 percent as the overall marijuana arrest rate in D.C. grew more than 60 percent.

“The only way to reduce the appalling racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement and stop the hemorrhaging of law enforcement time and taxpayer dollars is to eliminate penalties for marijuana possession,” said Bill Piper, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Marijuana use in the D.C. should no longer be a crime and the p. . . . . READ MORE

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Congressmen to Help Launch DPA’s Drug War Exit Strategy Guide

May 16th

WASHINGTON, DC – The Drug Policy Alliance will formally release An Exit Strategy for the Failed War on Drugs, the group’s first-ever federal legislative guide, Thursday in Washington.

This comprehensive report contains 75 broad and incremental recommendations for legislative reforms related to civil rights, deficit reduction, law enforcement, foreign policy, sentencing and re-entry, effective drug treatment, public health, and drug prevention education.

The guide will be released at a forum on the Hill cosponsored by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), both of whom fought for major drug policy reform at the local level before running for Congress and winning.

“The United States has approximately five percent of the world’s population but twenty-five percent of its prison population, largely resulting from failed policy decisions connected to the war on drugs,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York). “The over-criminalization phenomenon has cost us in lost human capital and economic productivity. I look forward to thoroughly reviewing DPA’s recommendations and working closely together to improve the fairness and humanity of the criminal justice system.”

As a New York Assemblyman, Jeffries was a leader in opposing New York City’s racially discriminatory marijuana arr. . . . . READ MORE

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