This Week: Surprising Reason Some Newborns test Positive for Marijuana; Senator Adds Hemp Legalization to Farm Bill; Marijuana Law Just Creates Criminals; Jail Sentences on the Increase; New Study Shows Dispensaries NOT Linked to Crime; DC Decriminalization Unlikely; Rhode Island General Assembly Passes Decriminalization Measures; Feds Crack Down on LA Pot Shops; Cuomo Seeks Cut to Stop and Frisk Arrests; Detroit Residents May Vote on Legalizing Marijuana; and more!
Surprising Reason Some Newborns test Positive for Marijuana — Some newborns are testing positive for marijuana exposure and the reason why could surprise you. Soap and hand wash products, including products commonly used in hospital nurseries, can interfere with urine drug tests of newborns and lead to false positives, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Senator Adds Hemp Legalization to Farm Bill — Vote Hemp released an action alert on Thursday encouraging support for Senator Ron Wyden’s submitted last-minute amendment to the Farm Bill, S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, which would exclude industrial hemp from the definition of “marihuana.”According to Vote Hemp, Senator Wyden’s amendment will empower American farmers by allowing them to once again grow industrial hemp, a profitable commodity with an expanding market. The cultivation of industrial hemp will be regulated by state permitting programs, like North Dakota’s, and will not impact the federal government’s long-standing prohibition of marijuana.
Jail Time on the Increase for Identical Crimes — A new study from the Pew Center on the States has found that in 35 states inmates serving time for drug offenses and violent crimes are serving on average nine months longer than they would have in 1990, a 36 percent increase.
Marijuana Law Just Creates Criminals — More than 50,000 people in 2011 were arrested in New York City for possessing small amounts of marijuana — the majority of whom were black and Latino — at a considerable judicial and financial cost. New York City spends about $75 million every year on arresting people for recreational marijuana possession. But what many people don’t know is that the state decriminalized this offense more than 30 years ago, making private possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana a violation punishable by a $100 fine. Possession of the same amount in public view remains a criminal misdemeanor.
New Study Shows Dispensaries NOT Linked to Crime — It’s long been the argument of law enforcement and anti-medical marijuana advocates that the government-sanctioned pot dispensaries cause an uptick in crime, especially burglary and muggings. The only problem is that argument isn’t necessarily true, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Cuomo Seeks Cut to Stop and 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.
DC Decriminalization Unlikely — D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Tuesday said District officials should focus on implementing the new medical marijuana program, but should also “keep open their options” when dealing with recreational users. But at least one member of the D.C. Council claims that a federal prosecutor won’t let the council decriminalize cannabis.
More High School Students Smoke Pot Than Cigarettes— More high school students in the United States now smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes, according to the federal government. A youth risk survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reported that 23 percent of high school students said they had recently smoked cannabis, while 18 percent said they had smoked cigarettes.
Rhode Island General Assembly Passes Decriminalization Measures –– By a vote of more than 2 to 1, members of the General Assembly on Tuesday approved legislation to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties. Members of the House and Senate passed twin bills, House Bill 7092 and Senate Bill 2253, which amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense — punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record.
Feds Crack Down on LA Pot Shops— Federal authorities today announced a crackdown on 36 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County, including raids on two shops in Santa Fe Springs and warning letters to 34 businesses and property owners. Interestingly, the actions did not involve any pot shops in the city of Los Angeles.
Detroit Residents May Vote on Legalizing Marijuana — Detroit residents may soon be voting on whether to legalize marijuana in their city, The Detroit Free Press reports. Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court cleared the way for a referendum question that could make Detroit the state’s first city to legalize the green stuff.