Virginia: Big Increase In Marijuana Possession Arrests, Especially In Black Communities


Virginia Moving in Wrong Direction as U.S. States and Congress Reform Marijuana Laws

Black Virginians Arrested for Marijuana Possession at 3.3 Times the Rate of White Virginians, Despite Equal Rates of Marijuana Use

Report Released as Thousands Prepare to Gather Next Month in Arlington for World’s Largest Drug Policy Reform Conference

A new report has found that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, especially in black communities. The report was authored by Shenandoah University professor and researcher Jon Gettman and released on Wednesday by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

“As states around the country pass reforms to scale back the role of criminalization in marijuana policy, Virginia appears to be moving in the wrong direction,” said Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, policy manager with the DPA and former Virginia criminal defense attorney. “This troubling report should encourage Virginia lawmakers to fix the Commonwealth's broken marijuana policies.”

Using data compiled from the Uniform Crime (UCR) Program and the Virginia State Police, the report found that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia consistently increased from 2003 to 2013, as did the racial disparity in arrest rates. Federal government data consistently shows that black and white people use marijuana at similar rates.

U.S.: Coalition Demands Due Process For Father Deported For Minor Marijuana Convictions


A coalition of immigrant rights and criminal justice reform advocacy organizations are calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Chief Counsel to allow green card holder Garfield Kenault Lawrence, who was deported away from his U.S. Citizen wife and child to Jamaica, to reopen his immigration case.

After a year of being held in an immigration detention prison (including during the birth of his first child), Kenault (A# 045 612 966) was wrongfully deported in 2013 based on an incorrect legal standard applied by an immigration judge who labeled his two minor 2009 marijuana convictions to be “drug trafficking aggravated felonies.”

However, just a few months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Moncrieffe v. Holder that “characterize[ing] a low-level drug offense as 'illicit trafficking in a controlled substance,' and thus an 'aggravated felony' . . . defies the 'commonsense conception' of these terms."

Despite this clear decision, ICE is refusing to reopen his case so that he can have a proper hearing under the correct law, and is fighting his lawyers’ attempts by claiming that too much time has passed.

“An Immigration judge got the law wrong and fractured an American family when he ordered Kenault deported,” said Heidi Altman, legal director of the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition. "We call on ICE to right this wrong by allowing Kenault to come home and have his day in court."

Virginia: School Suspends 11-Year-Old For A Year For Leaf That Wasn't Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An 11-year-old sixth grader in Virginia has been suspended from school for 364 days after being caught with a leaf that wasn't even marijuana.

It happened last September to the son of Bedford County residents Bruce and Linda Bays, reports Dan Casey at The Roanoke Times. Their son was enrolled in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School.

Months after the fact, the couple learned that the leaf wasn't marijuana. A prosecutor dropped the juvenile court charge because the "pot leaf" had field tested negative -- three times.

The boy finally got to return to a different school, separate from his friends and peers, on Monday, under "strict probation," but the events of the past six months have wreaked havoc on the formerly happy-go-lucky boy's psyche, according to his parents. They say he's withdrawn socially and is now under the care of a pediatric psychiatrist for panic attacks and depression.

The terms of his suspension letter state that he'll be searched for drugs a the beginning and end of every school day until his probation is over, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post.

U.S.: Faith Leaders Join Criminal Justice, Drug Policy Orgs To Call For End To War On Drugs


Central Virginia Clergy and Community Advocates to Convene for Annual Legislative Day to Highlight Issues of Social Injustice on February 5

As part of its 2015 Virginia General Assembly Legislative Day, Baptist Minister's Conference of Richmond & Vicinity (BMCRV), Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration and its partners the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference and the Drug Policy Alliance will spend Thursday in dialog with Virginia Senators, House of Delegates members, top McAuliffe Administration officials and others on the myriad of social justice issues affecting Virginians.

Ministers and advocates will share stories on the many ways Virginians are impacted by the ongoing failure of Virginia Legislators to seriously consider the needs of all Virginians – in particular, the needs of the poor and the marginalized.

BMCRV is comprised of over 80 Baptist churches located in Central Virginia representing about 50,000 members, family and friends.

What: Press Conference

Where: The first floor Press Room of the General Assembly building

Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Marlon Haskell, President, Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Richmond and Vicinity
Jesse Frierson, Executive Director, Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration
Rev. Dr. Marcus Small, Board Member, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Lindsey Lawson Battaglia, JD, Policy Manager, National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance

Virginia: New Poll Shows Voters Strongly Support Marijuana Law Reform


Approximately three out of four voters think seriously ill people should have legal access to medical marijuana; more voters support regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol than oppose it

A strong majority of state voters support reforming Virginia marijuana laws, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday.

Three out of five (60 percent) of respondents support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and designating it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail time. Under current Virginia law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Senate is expected to consider a proposal this year that would replace criminal penalties for personal possession of marijuana with a civil fine of $100.

“Most voters do not support laws that saddle people with criminal penalties just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “These antiquated prohibition laws are causing far more problems than they solve.”

Virginia: State Senator Introduces Marijuana Decriminalization Bill


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that would decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana has been introduced by Virginia state Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) for the upcoming General Assembly session.

Ebbin said there have been unsuccessful decrim bills in the Virginia House of Delegates in the past, but that this is the first bill he's aware of which has originated in the Virginia Senate, reports Frank Green at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

"It would decriminalize simple possession of an ounce or less, but not decriminalize it to the extent recently done in Colorado and Washington state," Ebbin said of the legalization measures approved by voters in those states. (Oddly, he didn't mention Alaska and Oregon, where, along with the District of Columbia, voters also approved legalization last month.)

"I had requests to do it for a number of years, and I decided this year to go ahead," Ebbin said. "There's about 25 million Americans who smoked marijuana in the past year, and our public policy should start to reflect reality and not deny it."

U.S.: Medical Cannabis Institute Launches Website For Healthcare Pros, Caregivers, and Patients


Site closes an education gap since the science of medical cannabis is generally not part of today's medical training

Scitent, Inc., a provider of eLearning business solutions for healthcare organizations, nonprofits, and associations, on Monday launched The Medical Cannabis Institute, a website featuring continuing medical education (CME) on medical cannabis topics.

The site is designed to help educate a growing global community of healthcare professionals, caregivers, and patients who want and need to learn about the science behind and clinical application of medical cannabis, according to Scitent.

The Medical Cannabis Institute's charter group of content providers includes Patients Out of Time, the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, and Healthy Choices Unlimited, and comprises distinguished faculty and healthcare professionals who are experts in medical cannabis.

As of September 1, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and three states have pending legislation. As the legalization of medical cannabis advances across the United States, The Medical Cannabis Institute brings together content from experts in the field to close the education gap.

West Virginia: Medical Marijuana Gaining Support


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Fellow lawmakers would get uncomfortable three years ago when Delegate Mike Manypenny would buttonhole them in the hallways of the West Virginia House of Delegates. You see, Manypenny was trying to collect votes to legalize medical marijuana.

Even for Manypenny himself, it could get a bit uncomfortable, reports Mannix Porterfield at the Beckley Register-Herald.

"I needed to try to get support," Manypenny said. "I'd go out and start discussing it. Everybody I talked to stared at the floor and shuffled their feet in discomfort. No one walked away, but they said very little. They wouldn't give me eye contact."

Manypenny even heard whispered comments -- and snide remarks -- as he walked to and from his office. "Your bill just went up in smoke," was a typical crack.

No one is laughing anymore.

Manypenny introduced the medical marijuana bill again in this year's legislative session, and this time he picked up nine cosponsors, including Delegate Larry Kump, a conservative Republican from Berkeley County.

The shift has emboldened Manypenny to increase his efforts; he has been assured than an interim committee on health will give him time for a least one hearing -- possibly two -- on the bill before lawmakers convene in regular session next January.

Virginia: Correctional Officer Busted For Bringing Marijuana Into Jail

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A correctional officer in Virginia is facing charges after he allegedly tried to bring marijuana into the Danville Adult Detention Facility.

Ezra Lamont Price, 32, or Danville, Va., was arrested at the jail last Wednesday morning, according to Danville police, reports the Greensboro News-Record.

The Special Investigations Division of the Danville Police Department were called in after supervisors asked for the probe, reports WAKG. An investigation had begun after supervisory staff had suspected a correctional officer was taking contraband into the facility, reports WXII.

Price was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was taken to the Danville City Jail, then transferred to a jail in another jurisdiction.

The suspect is being held under a $7,500 secured bond. Additional charges are expected, according to police.

Price is currently on administrative leave, pending termination.

United States: Farmers, Hemp Industry Leaders Arrested for Planting Industrial Hemp at DEA Headquarters in Act of Civil Disobedience to Protest 'Reefer Madness'

Fed Up Captains of Hemp Industry Plant Hemp Seed on DEA's Lawn with Ceremonial Shovels

By Ryan Fletcher/Adam Eidinger, Vote Hemp

There is a truth that must be heard!WASHINGTON, DC — At approximately 10:00 AM this morning, North Dakota farmer Wayne Hauge, Vermont farmer Will Allen, and fed up American entrepreneurs, who have dedicated their livelihoods to developing and marketing healthy, environmentally-friendly hemp products, for the first time turned to public civil disobedience with the planting of industrial hemp seed at DEA headquarters (700 Army Navy Dr Arlington, VA 22202) to protest the ban on hemp farming in the United States. Even though the U.S. is the largest market for hemp products in the world, and industrial hemp is farmed throughout Europe, Asia and Canada, not a single American farmer has the right to grow the versatile crop which is used for food, clothing, body care, paper, building materials, auto paneling and more.

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