Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signs marijuana decriminalization bill

Today, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed legislation (PDF) into law that will reform how Rhode Island penalizes the simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana (PDF). Currently, simple possession can be penalized with a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $200-$500 criminal fine. Under the provisions of the new law – which will take effect on April 1, 2013 – most violations of possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will be penalized with a simple civil fine of $150!

Rhode Island is the 15th state to remove the threat of jail time for the simple possession of marijuana. Other states are considering enacting similar laws or improving their existing ‘decriminalization’ laws. Where one stands on marijuana policy has become a deciding issue at the polls lately, and support for reform is winning out. Colorado and… Continue reading

Congress Members Responsible For Marijuana Prohibition May Soon Be Able To Obtain It For Medical Use

It’s unfortunate that chronic pain isn’t a qualifying condition under D.C.’s medical marijuana law because prohibitionists in Congress have been getting beaten up pretty badly lately (metaphorically, of course). Late yesterday afternoon, the District of Columbia Department of Health announced the prospective operators eligible to register as medical marijuana dispensaries and begin distributing medical marijuana to patients in the fall. The announcement comes on the heels of Rhode Island’s legislature passing a decriminalization bill, and both Connecticut and New Hampshire’s legislatures passing medical marijuana legislation.

Ironically, that means medical marijuana will soon be available just blocks from Congress, which is responsible for prohibition and for holding up D.C.’s program for more than a decade. Despite nearly 70% of D.C. voters approving a medical marijuana initiative in 1998, Congress put a hold on D.C.’s appropriations bill that prevented the District from implementing the law. That hold was finally lifted in… Continue reading

Tommy Chong Cancer: ‘Cheech And Chong’ Star Battling Prostate Cancer

Actor Tommy Chong is battling prostate cancer, he revealed to CNN’s Don Lemon on Saturday night.

The 74-year-old is best known for his stoner-comedy routine alongside Cheech Marin, as the comedy duo “Cheech and Chong.”

Chong told CNN he was diagnosed about a month ago and that the cancer is currently in a “slow stage one.” He revealed he first noticed symptoms nearly eight years ago during his nine-month sentence at Taft Correctional Institution in California, adding that he believes the prison caused his health to take a turn for the worse.

Tommy Chong“The prison is built on toxic waste. I also got gout from the food there,” he told CNN.

The actor and comedian revealed his condition during an interview about his support for decriminalizing marijuana use and sales, so it’s not surprising how he plans on treating his illness.

“I’ve got prostate cancer, and I’m treating it… Continue reading

Country Music Television Embraces Marijuana

During the 2012 CMT Music Awards, Willie Nelson, a country music legend and well-known marijuana supporter, performed his song, “Roll Me up,” a marijuana ballad whose refrain is “roll me up and smoke me when I die,” a clear allusion to marijuana. Joining Mr. Nelson in singing verses of the popular song were some of country music’s best and brightest: Darius Rucker, Toby Keith, Zac Brown, and Jamey Johnson.

It is refreshing to see mainstream musicians that are thought to cater to a relatively conservative fan base singing in support of marijuana. More than that, by singing “Roll Me Up” in a venue that is seen by so many and considered family-friendly, these artists are removing the stigma from the marijuana discourse. They are not debating the use or legality of the drug; they are simply singing a song about marijuana, taking for granted that the subject matter is perfectly… Continue reading

Medical marijuana gains Republican support in New Hampshire Senate

Two Republican senators added their support to SB 409 today, as the New Hampshire Senate voted 13-9 to approve a final draft of the medical marijuana bill.

Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) and Senator Fenton Groen (R-Rochester) joined the majority in support after having previously voted in opposition.

Advocates noted that 15 senators, including 10 Republicans and all five Democrats, have now voted in favor of the bill this year. One of the previous “yes” votes, former Senator Andy Sanborn (R-Henniker) resigned his seat yesterday to run for office from another district. A cosponsor of the bill, Senator John Gallus (R-Berlin) was not present for today’s vote.

The same final draft was approved by the House in a voice vote this morning. Now that the House and Senate have passed identical language for SB 409, the bill will be presented to Governor John Lynch.

Sadly, Lynch, a fourth-term Democrat serving… Continue reading

Cuomo Seeks Cut in Frisk Arrests

Wading into the debate over stop-and-frisk police tactics, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask legislators on Monday for a change in New York State law that would drastically reduce the number of people who could be arrested for marijuana possession as a result of police stops.

The governor will call for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view, administration officials said. Advocates of such a change say the offense has ensnared tens of thousands of young black and Latino men who are stopped by the New York City police for other reasons but after being instructed to empty their pockets, find themselves charged with a crime.

Reducing the impact of the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy has been a top priority of lawmakers from minority neighborhoods, who have urged Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, to pay more attention to the needs of their communities. The lawmakers… Continue reading

Rhode Island General Assembly overwhelmingly decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana

Earlier this evening, June 5, 2012, the Rhode Island General Assembly overwhelming approved twin bills that would – for most offenses – remove the threat of jail time for the simple possession of marijuana. The companion bills – S2253/H7092 – would replace the current criminal charge for simple possession – up to a year in jail and/or up to a $500 fine – with a $150 civil offense. Individuals under the age of 18 would be subject to the same civil violation and would also be required to attend a drug education course as well as perform community service. A third marijuana possession offense within 18 months could result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. The twin bills must now each get a vote in the other legislative chamber. Then, they will go to Gov. Lincoln Chafee… Continue reading