Mj news for 04/27/2015

7greeneyes

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http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/akron-grad-students-invent-device-detect-marijuana-30606380





Ohio Students' Device to Detect Marijuana Use by Motorists






Two Ohio graduate students have invented a device that will allow law enforcement officers to determine whether motorists have used marijuana.

The Plain Dealer reports (http://bit.ly/1E8IUUn) that two biomedical engineering graduate students at the University of Akron hope to market their roadside testing device to states where marijuana use has been legalized.

Mariam Crow and Kathleen Stitzlein's device tests saliva to determine the concentration of pot's active chemical in the bloodstream. Police must now wait weeks to get results from blood tests for marijuana use.

The two women recently received a $10,000 inventors' award. They previously received Ohio Third Frontier funding to develop their device, which they are calling the Cannibuster.
 

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http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2015/04/michigan_poll_shows_51_support.html





Michigan poll shows 51% support for marijuana legalization, taxation and regulation






LANSING, MI — A small majority of Michigan voters support the legalization of recreational marijuana, according to the results of a new statewide poll, but many Republicans and older voters remain opposed.

The Marketing Resource Group survey of 600 likely voters revealed 51 percent support for legalizing marijuana "if it was regulated and taxed like alcohol." Another 45 percent of respondents were opposed.

The live operator poll, conducted April 13 through 17, included a mix of landline and cell phone calls.

The results come as at least three separate groups are eyeing possible 2016 ballot proposals to tax and regulate marijuana. One of those groups, headed by two well-known Oakland County Republicans, has talked about regulating the drug "like alcohol."

The poll question did not describe Michigan's current regulatory system for alcohol, which involves a three-tiered system of suppliers, wholesale distributors and retailers.

Support for legalization was highest amongst Democrats and young people. However, only 36 percent of self-identified Republicans offered support. Likewise, only 37 percent of voters over the age of 65 said they support legalization, while 50 percent were "strongly" opposed.

"While attitudes toward marijuana may be mellowing, most Republican voters and those 65 and older are still not ready to legalize it," said Tom Shields, president of MRG. "Maybe support for the legalization of marijuana would grow if they suggested using pot taxes to fill the pot holes. I would not be surprised to see a successful ballot proposal within the next few years."

Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative Committee, an activist-led group seeking to put more of a "craft beer" legalization model on the 2016 ballot, is proposing that a share of marijuana tax revenue go to roads.

Another group, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, is proposing a centralized regulation concept with revenue for public safety, health and education.

The Michigan Responsibility Council, the Oakland County group that is also considering a ballot measure, has discussed regulating marijuana like alcohol but has not yet announced any specific plans.

Voters in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have chosen to legalize recreational marijuana in recent years. The drug remains illegal at the federal level.
 

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http://techcrunch.com/2015/04/25/the-marijuana-industry-and-its-first-crossroads/






The Marijuana Industry And Its First Crossroads





Marijuana has come a long way in the United States since California launched its first-in-the-nation medical program 19 years ago. Today, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis to some degree, and public perception of the plant is clearly shifting. Medical marijuana is being used in treatment of a variety of illnesses including several types of seizures, cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.

New polls by Gallup, Beyond the Beltway, and General Social Survey all show that for the first time since its prohibition, a majority of Americans support legalization of the plant. Change is coming to the American cannabis industry, and it’s time to prepare for it in earnest.

Marijuana is now on the cusp of mainstream legitimacy, and established business interests are beginning to work with the initial trailblazers of the American cannabis market. Further, while technological innovation is revolutionizing everyindustry, breakthrough ideas in a market as young this one have the chance to become defining cornerstones. Early-to-market products and solutions are seeing widespread adoption in absence of entrenched industry leaders.

New technology firms are playing a major part in increasing the efficiency, transparency, and security of the legal cannabis market. MJ Freeway, BioTrack THC, and Agrisoft have all developed software to track the plant from seed-to-sale, protecting the integrity of the supply chain at every step. Additionally, I constantly see proposals from developers aiming to find new ways to connect grower to sellers and sellers to consumers.

Companies like Open Vape are establishing benchmarks on what it means to consume marijuana in the 21st century. The company saw the intersection of the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes and the legalization of marijuana, and acted swiftly to become one of the biggest names in the industry. The firm’s convenient, portable, oil-based vaporizer designs were among the first to market, enabling it to now boast roughly 270,000 units sold per month.

While new vape pen designs continue to be one of the most popular uses of applied technology, advances in things like grow lights and dosing machines have the potential to change the industry at a far deeper level.

Intelligent Light Source, for example, is aiming to change the quality and quantity standards for all indoor grow industries through developing LED light systems that mimic the exact needs of particular plant species. The company launched recently trying to shift the paradigm away from simple light intensity toward shifting spectrums and pulses matching the plants’ natural growing cycles. This, the company says, increases not only the size of the yield, but also the quality of the final product while using less energy.

The individuals at the forefront of marijuana today are as American a success story as exists, seizing opportunity and creating success through ingenuity and determination, without a national infrastructure, and without the support services that businesses today take for granted. We are reaching a moment, however, where will and energy are not enough.

We like to talk about the spectacular development of the last few years as a “green rush,” but what we’ve experienced up to this point is merely a sign of what’s to come. When we achieve real mainstream acceptance — including comprehensive federal regulation of medical and adult use — we will see astronomical growth if we are prepared, and have developed the resources to fully take advantage of it.

Startups are stepping up to fill the structural gap, but the plant’s long legal prohibition has left a lot of holes to fill, and in these early stages there is still a long way to go before a solid backbone of services is in place.

New Frontier Financials, for example, seeks to harness the power of big data and apply it to the marijuana industry by capturing market trends and user demographics to generate sophisticated analytical models. Every major industry in the world has leveraged this kind of data as a predictive tool for cost-effective decisions. The cannabis industry is behind in that it is only building these tools now, but this sort of analysis has the chance to become part of the foundation of the business nationwide.

The vast majority of proposals that cross my desk are from people with decades of business experience pairing their exhaustive backgrounds with the new approaches of budding entrepreneurs. They work in a variety of more traditional fields — from finance to marketing, from real estate to manufacturing, and from pharmacy to commercial farming.

Dispensaries and cultivation centers are sexy investments right now – and of course we are committed to supporting legal growers and sellers in the United States. However, it will also take development of standardized packaging, voluntary product testing, and sophisticated marketing to build a mature, long-lasting, robust industry.

The introduction of bipartisan bills by high-profile politicians in the House and Senate to legalize medical marijuana is evidence that the national conversation is beginning to see legal cannabis as serious business. We must see ourselves that way as well. It’s very likely that half the country will have medical marijuana laws on the books by the end of 2016, and 18 of those states will have likely moved from medical-only to fully regulated adult use by 2020.

As the marketplace grows and acceptance increases, the consumer base will grow far beyond its current scope. National brands will develop, directed to a wide array of consumers from doctors to lawyers to soccer moms. The adult use market will have to diversify, appealing to as many different palettes and lifestyles as beer, wine and spirit companies do today.

From a medical standpoint we cannot refer to strains like “Sour Diesel” or “Jack the Ripper” as migraine medication or “Blue Crack” and “Crazy Miss Hyde” as a treatment for arthritis. A cancer patient should not walk into a dispensary and order “Ghost Train Haze” to relieve nausea related to chemotherapy.

As more research into the plant is done, it will result in a deeper understanding of how and why marijuana is used as an effective treatment for a variety of serious illnesses in many parts of the country. As the chemicals in the plant are isolated, and their interactions with the human body are charted, new strains will emerge to allay an even wider range of maladies. These targeted, refined strains will be developed as medicine, and will be labeled as such.

New Funding For Privateer Highlights Marijuana's Massive Market In The U.S.
We’re already seeing the establishment of testing labs in several marijuana markets devoted not only to compliance, but also to clinical research and product development. Scientists exploring the full potential of the cannabis plant, and finding new ways to harness and deliver it, will have a huge hand in shaping the industry’s future.

This is an exciting time for marijuana in America. We are at a turning point where perception and law are both beginning to lean in favor of legalization. As stigmas fade and ideas change with regard to legal cannabis, the opportunities for dedicated, ambitious, innovative individuals are limitless.
 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/us/washington-state-tightens-its-law-on-medical-marijuana.html





Washington State Revisits Rules on Use of Marijuana as Medicine





OLYMPIA, Wash. — Nearly two decades after voters passed a medical marijuana law that often left the police, prosecutors and even patients confused about what was allowed, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill on Friday that attempts to clean up that largely unregulated system and to bring it in line with Washington’s new recreational marijuana market.

Among the law’s many provisions, it creates a voluntary registry of patients and, beginning next year, eliminates what have become in some cases large, legally dubious “collective gardens” providing cannabis to thousands of people. Instead, those patients will be able to buy medical-grade products at legal recreational marijuana stores that obtain an endorsement to sell medical marijuana, or they will be able to participate in cooperatives of up to four patients.

And those big medical marijuana gardens will be given a path to legitimacy: The state will grant priority in licensing to those who have been good proprietors.

The proliferation of medical dispensaries has long been a concern for the police and other officials who denounce them as a cover for black-market sales. Washington in 1998 became one of the first states to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but the initiative passed by voters did not allow commercial sales.

Medical marijuana growers repeatedly sought legislation that would validate their businesses, coming closest in 2011, when the Legislature approved a bill to create a licensing framework for medical dispensaries. But Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed much of the measure.

This time, with the state seeking to support its nascent recreational marijuana industry after the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, there was a financial impetus to pull the medical users into the recreational system.

Under the new law, patients who join the voluntary registry will be allowed to possess three ounces dry, 48 ounces of marijuana-infused solids, 216 ounces liquid and 21 grams of concentrates.
 

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http://www.newsweek.com/marijuana-not-gateway-drug-325358





Marijuana Is Not, Repeat Not, a Gateway Drug




BY MIRIAM BOERI

With states legalizing marijuana by popular vote, some politicians, including Boston mayor Marty Walsh and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, are still calling marijuana a gateway drug.

The gateway theory argues that because heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine users often used marijuana before graduating to harder drugs, it must be a “gateway” to harder drug use. The theory implies that there is a causal mechanism that biologically sensitizes drug users, making them more willing to try—and more desirous of—harder drugs.

Yet the gateway hypothesis doesn’t make sense to those who use marijuana or have used in the past. Research shows that the vast majority of marijuana users do not go on to use hard drugs. Most stop using after entering the adult social world of family and work.

So why is it still part of the rhetoric and controversy surrounding the drug? A closer look reveals the historical roots—and vested interests—that are keeping the myth alive.

Explaining hard drug use

When analyzing what acts as a “gateway” to hard drug use, there are a number of factors at play. None involve marijuana.

Poverty and poor social environment is a gateway to drugs, according to much research.

Association with people who use hard drugs is a better predictor of harder drug use.

Certain mental illnesses, such as antisocial personality and bipolar disorder, are found to predispose some people to use drugs.

Other research notes that criminalization and prohibition are real gateways to harder drugs.

With so much research challenging the gateway theory, it’s important to examine—and dispel—the research that proponents of the myth latch onto.

But what about all that evidence?

Most of the research linking marijuana to harder drug use comes from the correlation between the two. However, as any junior scientist can tell you, correlation does not mean causation.

Correlation is a first step. A correlation can be positive or negative; it can be weak or strong. And it never means a cause unless a rational reason for causality is found.

The brain disease model, which describes changes in the brain during the progression from drug use to addiction, currently gets a lot of attention as a potential causal link of the gateway theory. For example, in a 2014 article, neuroscientist Dr Jodi Gilman reported that even a little marijuana use was associated with “exposure-dependent alterations of the neural matrix of core reward systems” in the brains of young marijuana users. The reasoning goes that this would predispose them to use other drugs.

But other researchers were quick to point out the flaws of the Gilman study, such as a lack of careful controls for alcohol and other drug use by those whose brains were studied. Nonetheless, Dr Gilman’s research continues to be cited in the news media, while its critics are ignored.

In another study supporting the gateway theory, the authors admit to limitations in their study: that they excluded younger cocaine users from the analysis, as well as older cocaine users who had never used marijuana. This means that those cases that might provide evidence of no gateway effect were left out of the analysis.

One the other hand, there’s a wealth of research showing the flaws in the gateway theory. Unfortunately, the common thread among these studies is that much of them come from outside the U.S. or from grassroots organizations within the U.S. that are promoting marijuana legalization.

U.S. drug policy began with racist fear-mongering

So why is it that most of the funded research pointing out flaws in the gateway theory comes from overseas?

As Nathan Greenslit explained in an Atlantic article last year, U.S. drug policy began with racist fear-mongering by Federal Bureau of Narcotics director Harry Anslinger in 1937.

The Nixon administration strengthened drug control with the creation of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, against the advice of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse.

Because marijuana is still officially classified in the U.S. as a Schedule I drug with no medical value, carefully controlled research using marijuana must receive approval from several federal departments. On the rare occasions that researchers do get approval, local politics can thwart the study.

Meanwhile, in the United States, addiction researchers and addiction treatment professionals are heavily invested in the weakly supported claim that marijuana is a gateway to hard drugs. For decades, scientists who study addiction have received millions of dollars in government and pharmaceutical funding to perpetuate the gateway hypothesis. Many would lose their respected reputations (or continued funding) if a gateway mechanism is not a legitimate research goal.

Those who work in the vast addiction treatment profession are especially invested in keeping the gateway theory believable, since the majority of their treatment patients are marijuana users. Their jobs depend on a belief in addiction as a disease and on marijuana being an addictive drug.

Scare tactics

Today, what started as scare tactics under Anslinger has been “modernizied” (and mystified) by scientific jargon.

Sociologists Craig Reinarman and Harry G. Levine described how the media and politicians manufacture drug scares to influence policy. One fear perpetuated is that marijuana use will increase if decriminalized.

But a 2004 study compared Amsterdam, where marijuana was decriminalized, to San Francisco, where cannabis was, at the time, still criminalized. The authors found that criminalization of marijuana didn’t reduce use, while decriminalization didn’t increase use.

The gateway fear has focused mostly on youth. For example, newly elected Maryland governor Larry Hogan announced that he is against legalization partly out of concern that “marijuana use would increase among young people.” Meanwhile, parents are concerned by recent research showing marijuana’s effect on the brain.

These studies showed structural changes and loss of white matter in marijuana users, although the limitations of these studies and implications were questioned by other research.

But fears of decriminalization resulting in increased use among youth haven’t been supported by research from countries where drugs were decriminalized. Nor has this trend been noted in studies of U.S. states that legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. For example, in an article published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, the authors found no evidence that young people had increased marijuana use in states that had legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

The worst impact on kids, according to these authors, was the potential for criminal prosecution.

A gateway to jail

Studies consistently find that the traumatic experience of being arrested and incarcerated for marijuana possession is the most harmful aspect of marijuana among young people. Arrest for possession can result in devastating—often permanent—legal and social problems, especially for minority youth and low-income families.

According to studies by the ACLU, nearly half of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession, and the majority of those arrested were African-American. In some states, African-Americans were more than eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites.

Unfortunately, marijuana legalization has not changed arrests and incarceration disparities for minorities. While African-Americans have always been over-represented for drug arrests and incarceration, new research shows African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession after marijuana reform than all other races were before marijuana policy reform. Although in some states decriminalization makes possession a “noncriminal” offense, it can still be illegal and can result in an arrest, court appearance and stiff fines.

Marijuana as a gateway—out of hard drugs

On the periphery of the marijuana-as-gateway-drug debates are studies showing marijuana as beneficial for the treatment of opiate addicts.

These have been largely ignored. However, now that marijuana has become legal for medical purposes in some states, new research offers substantial findings that can’t be dismissed.

Crime has not increased in states that have legalized marijuana; it’s actually gone down. Surprisingly, opiate overdose deaths have gone down as well.

As I’ve written previously for The Conversation, anyone who actually talks with problem drug users (and doesn’t simply talk about them) knows that marijuana can help drug users prevent, control—even stop—hard drug use.

If anything, marijuana can work as a gateway out of hard drug use—an exit strategy that needs to be studied and, possibly, implemented at the policy level.

It’s time to move beyond marijuana as a gateway drug and start to study its use as treatment for the deadly, addictive and socially devastating drugs.

Miriam Boeri is associate professor of sociology at Bentley University and has received funding from the National Institutes of Health. This article first appeared on The Conversation.
 

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http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment...-security-solutions-cannabis-markets-30608269






PSI to Develop Biometric Security Solutions for Cannabis Markets





TO BUSINESS EDITORS:

Profile Solutions Names Medicinal Cannabis, Agriculture and Technology

Expert Dr. Gerry Bedore to its Scientific Advisory Board

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Apr. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Profile

Solutions, Inc. (OTC: PSIQ), a leading solution provider of access

control and security systems is pleased to announce that Dr Gerry

Bedore has joined the company as a consultant and member of its

scientific advisory board.

Gerry Bedore is widely known as a thought leader in

technology-enhanced learning models. He was a co-founder of Socrates

Distance Learning Technology Group, and has published studies and

books focused on online student success and completion rates. Gerry is

recognized as having developed many of the most successful higher

education online programs in the world. As a horticulturist for the

State of Georgia, Dr. Bedore was recognized for his expertise in

entomology and pathology in the care of plant life in the state. He

has authored one book, co-authored two books, and has served as a

research chair and committee member for more than 200 studies in

education, psychology and business disciplines.

Dr. Bedore served in roles ranging from institutional President to

Assistant Dean for Doctoral Programs. He is a member of the Cannabis

Career Institute, is involved with cannabis agricultural development

with Global Hemp Group, is serving in a leadership role for Cannabis

State University, and is a U.S. disabled veteran.

Dr. Bedore currently serves in researching and consulting with people

in need of help in understanding cannabinoids for medicinal purposes.

Dr. Bedore is involved extensively within the medicinal cannabis

community in areas related to strains, extractions, and the

development of products for specific health challenges. Bedore will

provide PSI with expertise in entering these markets to distribute

legal industry related products.

Profile Solutions (PSI) is targeting the emerging cannabis market to

provide the technology for physical access to secure areas, including

access to buildings, doors, inventory, cash and personnel with this

proprietary patented technology.

"I am excited to join the PSI team and look forward to helping the

company reach their goals." stated Dr. Gerry Bedore. "I look forward

to working closely with the management of PSI to develop additional

solutions for the expanding Cannabis market." added Dr. Bedore.

"PSI is honored to have Dr. Gerry Bedore on our team." stated Dore

Perler, CEO of Profile Solutions, Inc. "Dr. Bedore is a visionary,

educator and leader in field of Cannabis education and information.

His knowledge on the use, medical benefits and general business acumen

will be very useful in the future of PSI." added Mr. Perler

Please see more information via its website

www.profilesolutionsinc.com or www.PSI-Store.com or the Company's

Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProfileSolutionsInc

About Profile Solutions

Profile Solutions, Inc. (PSI) designs, manufactures and sells

security-based identification products and systems that incorporate

state-of-the-art security technology to verify a person's identity, or

grant physical access. PSI has developed turnkey integrated

applications that incorporate our proprietary Access-It hardware

platform. We also integrate our applications with biometric

technology for additional security when required. PSI targets the law

enforcement, cannabis industry and corporate America as our customer

base. Please visit the company website at www.ProfileSolutionsInc.com

or www.facebook.com/ProfileSolutionsInc.
 

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http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/27/cannibis-business-summit-will-lobby-lawmakers-visi/





Cannabis Business Summit will lobby Capitol Hill, hear from Grover Norquist





“The grass grows greener - and greener. The Cannabis Business Summit has come to the nation’s capital with a hefty agenda and intentions to lobby Congress. The three-day event has been organized by the Denver-based National Cannibis Industry Association, which bills the event as “where commerce meets a revolution.”

The old hippies of yore would surely be amazed: The group plans an early networking session at a historic restaurant on block from the White House on Monday evening, then switches to the heavy stuff on Tuesday - policy, tax issues, media outreach and other mainstream business concerns. A “fireside chat” features a conversation between Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat, and American for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the groups stages a press conference with several lawmakers, followed by much lobbying on Capitol Hill.

All this activity follows a Marijuana Investor Summit in Colorado last week, which included “lunch with the pot barons of Colorado,” a trade show, seminars, public relations workshops and advice on profits during the early stages of the industry.

“Right now, the national marijuana industry is worth $50 billion, according to the latest industry figures. While most of that is still in the black market, the potential for above-board profits is drawing scads of investors. But with any nascent industry - especially one with a core product that is illegal on the federal level - there is a lot of risk involved,” says Will Yakowicz, a staff writer for Inc.
 

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http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/cannabis-caf-opens-guildford-promote-9117239





(UK) Cannabis café opens in Guildford to promote 'benefits' of drug





The café, located in a flat, offers a meal deal of a cannabis cigarette, coffee and food to people who wish to come and smoke with others.

A cannabis ‘café and hotel’ has been opened in the urban area of Guildford to try to promote the ‘benefits’ of the class B drug which many think should be legalised.

The café owner set up the business in a bid to educate people on the medicinal properties of cannabis and also try to get himself off benefits by providing a new income.

The café is located in the flat he is a tenant of and provides refreshments, full dinners, and a varying meal deal offer which includes a cannabis cigarette, coffee, and a meal, to people who wish to come and smoke with others.

A price list ranging from teas and coffees to an overnight stay encourages people to smoke in what the owner describes as a safe and educated environment.

“We only have two rules and that is there is no use of other harder drugs and also that we do not disturb or annoy the neighbours,” the owner said.

“Many people who have visited are using medicinally to deal with pain or to overcome other drug addictions.

“It promotes an appetite so many people who would go without food due to health issues or stress can come here and know they can have a home cooked meal.

“It is a social place of smokers and tokers. I would say the age limit is 16 for people who want to come but I think younger people should be opened up to the benefits of cannabis and how it can actually help people.”

'Raising awareness'

The café’s receptionist is a 17-year-old girl who moved into the property when she found herself homeless and with only a family friend to turn to.

“I wouldn’t know what I would do without this place, I would probably have ended up in the YMCA,” the receptionist said.

“Everyone who comes here we know or know of so they are nice people who all just have smoking in common.

“It helps people because it helped me and I think raising awareness will help people who use drugs and also those who do not.”

Despite being threatened with eviction from Guildford Borough Council and ongoing enquiries by the police, the café owner said the café will continue as long as he can keep it going for.

A spokesman for the police, said: “This matter has been brought to our attention and we are in the process of carrying out further enquiries.”

The Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol party launched in February and Gerri Smyth is standing as the parliamentary candidate in Guildford.

Gerri Smyth said her new election slogan is ‘prohibition punishes the poor’ and believes any prosecution or eviction of the café owner will be evidence of this.

“I will push hard to ensure he is not homeless and that those with a lot of money, for example Richard Branson, who can talk publicly about sharing a spliff with his son with no comeback, are engaged if this man is threatened with eviction.”
 

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https://badgerherald.com/news/2015/...the-latest-cannabis-bills-mean-for-wisconsin/






Decriminalization vs. legalization: What the latest cannabis bills mean for Wisconsin





The disparities in arrests for marijuana use has two Democratic lawmakers taking different approaches on lessening penalties for possession.

One bill, from Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, would fully legalize marijuana in the state for medical and recreational purposes.

The other, from Rep. Mandela Barnes, D-Milwaukee, would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana up to 25 grams. Small scale possession would not warrant jail time or be punishable under state law, but municipalities would have the authority to write fines for marijuana possession.

Barnes told The Badger Herald recently that he does not believe possessing a small amount of marijuana should ever be a felony, even after the first conviction.

“Having that felony on your background check, it limits people’s ability to find jobs, stifles their ability to pay for education in some cases and also restricts them from voting for a certain amount of time,” Barnes said.

Decriminalization of marijuana typically means first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use is considered a misdemeanor and generally will not result in a criminal record or prison time, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legalization of cannabis, however, means there is no legal penalty for small amounts marijuana, and the state can regulate and tax its distribution.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws decriminalizing marijuana, and in four states, recreational marijuana use is legal for adults.

According to a 2013 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, there were 15,950 marijuana arrests in Wisconsin in 2010, placing the state at 15 for most cannabis possession arrests.

The ACLU report found a significant racial disparity in terms of cannabis arrests in Wisconsin. In Dane County, blacks were 6.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites in 2010.

Currently, first time marijuana possession is punishable as a misdemeanor under Wisconsin state law, bringing up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months of jail time. Subsequent possession incidents are considered felonies under state law.

But Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said the department tends not to focus efforts on penalizing those possessing small amounts of cannabis.

“We just don’t put that much effort into smaller amounts of marijuana,” DeSpain said.

MPD puts more resources into prosecuting those possessing and dealing large amounts of cannabis than situations where only small, personal amounts are present, DeSpain said.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said in a previous interview with The Badger Herald he would rather see the force’s efforts focused on combating other drug issues in the city, such as the recent spike in the city’s heroin-related crimes.

Joe Erato, president of the Wisconsin Cannabis Project, describes himself as a conservative who supports legalization of cannabis. He said whether or not cannabis is legal, there will be a market need.

“When you make that illegal, the need or want for that substance doesn’t go away; it just drives it underground,” Erato said.

Erato said this “market need” would exist whether or not marijuana is legal, but its illegality emboldens criminal operations that sell the drug.
 
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