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Editorial: Decriminalize marijuana, don’t legalize

5/10/19--The News Editorial Board of The Buffalo News believe that before the State Legislature ends its session in June, their first priority should be to decriminalize, not legalize, marijuana use by focusing on turning the penalties for pot use into financial ones rather than putting people behind bars. Read

Puff, puff, possession

3/11/19--Georgia State lawmakers are now addressing marijuana possession by introducing Senate Bill 10. Under current state law, one ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor; SB 10 would amend possession of up to two ounces a misdemeanor. Some advocates say the legislation is a step toward decriminalizing marijuana in Georgia. Read

GA lawmaker proposes more lenient regulations for marijuana possession

1/15/19--Democrat Senator Harold Jones of Augusta filed Senate Bill 10 to alter the criminality and punishment of misdemeanor marijuana possession in Georgia. Current state law sets possession of marijuana in the amount of “one ounce or less” as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to a year in jail. Jones’ proposal would increase the possession cap at two ounces, essentially doubling what encompasses a misdemeanor crime in Georgia. Read

Editorial: Medical marijuana: Anything’s better than what we have now

1/15/19--There has been much confusion over the issue of marijuana for medical use in Georgia. The law passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2015 makes specific exceptions for researchers in possession of the low-THC oil in apparent hopes of getting more reliable information about how well it works. But the 2015 law specifically makes it a crime to produce or sell the oil in Georgia, and federal law makes it illegal to transport it across state lines. As stated in the editorial published in The Moulrie Observer, the legislature ought to approve a path so patients who need the drug can legally obtain it. Read

Erie City Council poised to change rules on marijuana

1/14/18--Erie City Council looks poised to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Council is expected to vote on changes to an existing city ordinance that would make possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, a summary offense instead of a misdemeanor under certain conditions. Read

Decriminalizing marijuana in Augusta

11/2/17--Senator Harold Jones plans to address changing marijuana possession laws and punishment. Jones says these changes work in the city’s favor by not backlogging the criminal system with non-violent drug offenders. While he’s not pushing for legalizing marijuana, he does say reducing these punishments can make a huge difference for people across the state. Read

Here’s how much Virginia taxpayers are spending to jail marijuana users

10/31/17--According to the findings of a report on marijuana decriminalization prepared by the Virginia State Crime Commission, Virginia authorities have arrested more than 133,000 people suspected of marijuana possession over the past 10 years. Each year, about 10,000 individuals are convicted of a first-time marijuana possession offense. And on one day in July 2017, there were 127 individuals in jail on a marijuana charge alone, costing Virginia taxpayers more than $10,000 a day. Read

Officials in Obama’s drug czar office wanted to decriminalize marijuana

5/30/17--Officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) under President Barack Obama wanted to take a more lenient stance on marijuana. Staff pushed to ease federal prohibitions against the drug but they never made that case directly to the public. It was determined that they couldn’t publicly support decriminalizing marijuana because of a provision in the legislation that authorized its existence. Read

Bill would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana in Wisconsin

5/30/17--Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake, and Democratic Representatives Evan Goyke of Milwaukee, Jonathan Brostoff of Milwaukee, and Sen. Fred Risser of Madison unveiled a bill that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana. By introducing legislation that is likely to die, the lawmakers hope they can also build public support for the bill they say would save taxpayers money and keep people who commit minor offenses out of jail. Read

Mobile, AL mayor seeks to ‘decriminalize’ marijuana possession

5/15/17--Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is sponsoring a City Ordinance that would decriminalize several minor offenses in the City of Mobile. The ordinance would not require a person to be arrested for what the city calls “minor offenses.” Instead, a Uniform Non-Traffic Citation and Complaint (UNTCC) would be issued, at the sole discretion of the City. Read

Atlanta’s pot laws discriminate, so change them

5/8/17--The Atlanta City Council is considering reducing the penalty for getting caught with pot. The effort put forth by Councilman Kwanza Hall is based on the idea that black residents are overwhelmingly the target of marijuana enforcement in the city, staining them with jail time, fines, and arrest records that follow them in life. Hall said the city is trying to work out possible kinks in an ordinance that would model itself after what DeKalb County's town of Clarkston passed last year that limits pot possession under an ounce to a $75 ticket with no jail time. Read

Is Florida ready to decriminalize marijuana?

4/17/17--Five counties and eight cities in Florida have passed ordinances decriminalizing personal use amounts of marijuana. Passing in some of Florida’s biggest cities, like Tampa, Orlando, and Miami-Dade County, make activists think decriminalization may be on the horizon. Advocates said they’re excited that the idea is even getting a hearing despite no vote taken, and believe the hearing was a step into the future. Read

Atlanta Mayor is unsure about marijuana decriminalization

4/8/17--There has been a push recently to decriminalize possession of an ounce of marijuana in Atlanta. The current proposal would lower the penalty for personal marijuana possession to just a fine of $75 – no jail time. Mayor Kasim Reed, who said he does not believe in legalizing marijuana, said he’s weighing his options. While Reed said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug, he also said he thinks the punishment “disproportionately affects brown people.” Read

Texas House panels endorses lower fines for marijuana possession

4/3/17--The House Criminal Jurisprudence committee approved a bill that would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of up to $250 instead of a criminal charge. The bill now advances to the full House for consideration. Read

Marijuana decriminalization in Kansas City on the ballot

4/3/17--Voters will decide if they want to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City, Missouri. If approved, someone caught with less than 35 grams of marijuana would face a maximum fine of $25 and not face jail time. It would also remove marijuana from the prohibition against drug paraphernalia. Read

Wisconsin town to vote on $1 marijuana possession fine

3/30/17--In Monona, Wisconsin, city law states that a person caught possessing 25 grams or less is an infraction, punishable by a $200 fine (no jail time). The Monona City Council is set to vote on a reform measure that would lower the fine to $1 for those over 21. Under the city’s current ordinance, those who possess 25 grams or less of marijuana are fined $200. Read

Texas state rep rolls out marijuana decriminalization bill

2/17/17--Texas state Representative Joe Moody, with the support of police officers and a retired judge, is pushing hard for the decriminalization of marijuana possession. Moody’s House Bill 81, if passed, would make the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable by only a $250 fine. Carrying weed for personal use wouldn’t get you arrested, and it wouldn’t get you a record. Read

New bill in GA State Senate would change marijuana possession laws

2/7/17--A new bill introduced by State Senator Harold Jones would change the state's marijuana possession laws, which determines what punishment can be given to first-time drug offenders. Currently, anyone convicted of possessing up to one ounce of marijuana can be sentenced to a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in prison, or up to one year of public works. Read

Israel plans to decriminalize small-scale marijuana use

1/26/17--Israel plans to decriminalize personal marijuana use by adopting an approach similar to some U.S. states and European countries. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that if the government approves his new policy, those caught smoking marijuana would be fined rather than arrested and prosecuted. Criminal procedures would be launched only against those caught repeatedly. Read

NY proposes decriminalizing marijuana

1/12/17--Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making another pitch for the state to decriminalize possession of some marijuana. Cuomo quietly included the proposal in a 380-page State of the State message that he provided late Wednesday to the State Legislature. Read

Virginia Senator requests state marijuana study

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-8-09-13-pm12/7/16--Virginia’s Senate majority leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. has requested that the State of Virginia look into marijuana decriminalization by developing a study to examine four key areas: The consequences experienced by any state that has decriminalized marijuana, any ramifications with the feds if marijuana was decriminalized in Virginia, and whether states have opted to raise penalties for subsequent offenses. Read

Kansas City marijuana decriminalization initiative has enough signatures

screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-9-40-23-am12/5/16--Missouri has experienced some ups and downs when it comes to marijuana reform efforts, but the Kansas City NORML chapter has led an effort to gather signatures to put marijuana decriminalization on the ballot. It was announced recently that the effort met its signature goal. The initiative would make possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana an infraction instead of a crime, punishable by a $25 fine. Read

Which states will legalize marijuana next?

tmr_image-block11/26/16--More than half of the United States allow marijuana use of some kind after voters in eight states passed legalization laws following the 2016 presidential election. Since then, cannabis advocates in states such as Texas, Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee have already started considering making changes to weed laws. Read

Will Kansas City allow changes to marijuana laws?

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-9-30-47-am11/16/16--The Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws seeks to decriminalize marijuana possession in Kansas City. The organization is asking the City Council to adopt its proposal or put a measure on the April ballot. The measure says possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana would be treated as a city ordinance violation with a $25 fine, rather than a more serious criminal violation that would go on someone’s permanent record. Read

Texas legislators file bills aimed at decriminalizing marijuana

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-8-02-08-am11/15/16--Some Texas legislators have submitted several proposals to decriminalize marijuana. Among the bills are those that would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders, reduce criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, and re-classify convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Read

Reading considers lessening penalties for marijuana possession

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-1-36-33-pm9/22/16--Reading City Council is expected to introduce a new ordinance Monday night. Marijuana possession is currently a misdemeanor, however, the ordinance would make it only a summary offense. Read

Following its country music, Nashville may loosen up on marijuana

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-10-54-09-am9/19/16--Nashville may be on the cusp of joining the long roster of American cities that have decriminalized the drug. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Council will vote on a proposed ordinance that would give the police an alternative to criminally charging people caught with a half-ounce of marijuana or less. Read

Black caucus backs Nashville, Memphis marijuana decriminalization efforts

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-1-08-19-pm8/29/16--The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, whose members are all Democrats, on Monday announced its support of Nashville’s pot decriminalization bill as well as a similar bill under consideration in Memphis. Read