Category Archives: Cannabis

Bikini Blast: Reagan Strain Naming?

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast” – Ronald Reagan

it's a headache from hell

I have yet to see the proof. But Ronnie might have a developed a great strain name.

Related Post

The Final Steps of Cannabis Prohibition

A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment:

✔ a procedure available in 48 states.

✔ no petition signatures necessary.

✔ one friendly legislative sponsor per.

✔ a bill (LRCA) putting to the ballot/electorate

✔ a single, unconvoluted, unadulterable question

✔ to gauge/pursue certain legislative policy-making.

…”Should the state of XYZ…”

✔ passage through its requisite committees

✔ passage through both chambers of state legislature. ☄

✔ passage of ‘the bill’ (question) by governors sig.

✔ referral to State SOS offices or electoral authority

✔ for transmittal to General Election ballots

….”Should the state of XYZ…” (check yes)

✔ cannabis will be the most popular vote-getter.

✔ result: a recommendation to lawmakers to “do this” ☎


***this process is NOT an ‘initiative’ ‘referendum’ etc***

(☄ some states at 2/3+ majority in ‘first year attempt)

(☎ vote directive is not necessarily binding in all cases)

*certain details and restrictions apply. particulars of the procedure vary by state.

learn more:
http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Legislatively-referred_constitutional_amendment

Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment

Originally Posted at Free the Leaf, August 20, 2012

Related Post

Free the Leaf Isn’t a Drug Policy Org

  • Free the Leaf is Global Cannabis Freedom.This cause supports consumers, educators, growers, patients and politicians who are friends of Cannabis. This cause welcomes those who view Cannabis holistically, without the undue Stigma.
  • The goals of our effort are to connect with one another socially, through media; and to collect our numbers physically, to educate, recruit and remove cannabis prohibitions Globally and Locally.
  • Free the Leaf ASSERTS provisions in the United States Bill of Rights. Expressly the Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and EFFECTIVE Petition and especially the Right to Individual Privacy. And lends solidarity to other causes engaged in parallel Social Justice assertions.
  • This community is politically ‘Green‘ (when it must be political) but welcomes those of all politics; It is well understood that Cannabis use and activism spans the political spectrum. As such we do not let politics divide us against these principles we agree upon.
  • Free the Leaf is Jobs, Medicine and Peace by the utilization of Cannabis.Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment

Originally posted HERE, November 22, 2011

Related Post

Tupac Shakur “Changes” (1998)

“It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live and let’s change the way we treat each other. You see, the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do what we gotta do to survive.”

MUSIC VIDEO

POLICY: Ohio Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment Template

A JOINT RESOLUTION

To enact Section 22 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to remove penalties attached to the personal use of cannabis and permit the implementation of a regulated, adult market.

Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, three-fifths of the members elected to each house concurring herein, that there shall be submitted to the electors of the state, in the manner prescribed by law at the special election to be held on May 7, 2013, a proposal to enact Section 22 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to read as follows:

  1. Any citizen who has under their control an amount of a cannabis-type substance, designated for personal use, shall not be subject to penalty or fine.

(A) “Cannabis-type substance” as defined in section 3719.01(O) of the Ohio Revised Code.

(B) “Penalty or fine” means any civil or criminal penalty or fine, tax, salary or wage withholding or surcharge or any named fee established by law or rule by a government established, created, or controlled agency that is used to punish or discourage the exercise of rights protected under this section.

(C) The General Assembly shall pass laws within six months of the effective date of section 22 to facilitate the operation of section.

EFFECTIVE DATE

If adopted by a majority of the electors voting on this proposal, the amendment takes immediate effect, and existing Section 22 of Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Ohio is enacted from that effective date.

140px-Seal_of_Ohio.svg

Related Post

Article 25: The Human Right to Cannabis

(a recap of my individual experience in a group project) [Originally on Facebook]

blik_article25
The genesis of our team project to explore the implications of Cannabis Prohibition took place in the classroom, on the suggestion that like-minded classmates pair up to complete their research and presentation. I have been personally working my own brand of activism on this subject, with Free the Leaf, for a number of years and the opportunity to present on the matter to any audience, was too important to my heart to pass up.  Leaving class after the announcement of the assignment, most of us asked each other what potential curiosities they wished to explore.  I immediately stated “Cannabis Reform,” which caught immediate looks, but also immediate inquiries.  “You mean ‘Marijuana?’”

A question I have answered thousands of times, this query was answered quite routinely, with “Cannabis.  Marijuana. Hemp. The same plant that has THC is also capable of making everything around you.  Clothes, Paper, Tables, Carpets, etc.  Let alone its miraculous potential as a medicine.”  Oftentimes, this answer is compounded with another question following: “So, are you for ‘Legalization?’” in this case, again my answer was Yes. But it was this conversation which made me realize that, because of the focus on Cannabis being wrapped in the Marijuana Issue for generations, people weren’t necessarily aware of “Hemp.”  I forgot that I was once unaware of abundance of claims I made to my classmates, but I had their captive attention and this had the benefit of stoking my excitement for a productive conversation.

“Seriously?” was asked many times that day, by John and Jermaine when presented with study after study of scientifically researched claims.  To me, and after that point, them, Cannabis is seemingly “too good to be true,” so the obvious question—why is the use of this plant criminalized?—becomes almost a mandated personal mission to understand and solve.  Very early in the semester we decided that we would work together to bring our conversation to the whole classroom. We each had concerns about how and what to present.  For many years, discussion of the issue in our Media has been loaded with puns, pejoratives and misinformation, drenched in stigma, and scoffed at as taboo. However, before its Prohibition, this stigma did not exist. Cannabis, upon just moments of study, was a historical medicine and agricultural staple for its strong and versatile fiber.  We chose to make our presentation entirely “stigma-free” and expand upon these historical claims.

I often say that the Issue is 1/50,000th “Smokeable Cannabis,” with the ‘1’ being ‘Marijuana’—the diversion—and the ’50,000’ representing ‘Hemp’ and its potential applications.  And it has been well traced and argued that Cannabis became taxed at the favor of Big Industry.  Shortly thereafter, its use as a “drug” was established and criminalized, even though the psychoactive properties of THC were experienced and enjoyed by royalty, the middle-class, and the proletariat throughout history in various modes of consumption.  After it was outlawed as Marijuana, Hemp, which had fallen out of favor in America from taxation and the subsidy of other crops, was outlawed; the reason being that it ‘looks like’ marijuana.  Sounds dangerous to me! With this logic winning the argument against us, we got deeper into the discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and at some point, specifically, Article 25.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care… 

Because this article names the defined capabilities of this Plant, why is it not employed to assist in the creation and maintenance of well-being in our society?  Science is well versed in the study of the Human Cannabinoid System; wherein our bodies have receptors ‘designed’ to receive Plant Cannabinoids; and that the satiation of these receptors is indicative of positive health and well-being, whether the Cannabinoids have been acquired by the plant or self-created.  Again, why is it Criminalized?!  To return to the ‘50,000’—its holistic use—you find matters that Cannabis handles easily—“food, clothing, housing”—which the substitution of this plant in their construction could replace petrol-plastics (consider the fertilizer of your foods) with a “clean, green and sustainable” alternative.

Our takeaway with these discussions, and the angle and style in which we chose to present has us wanting the listener to, at the very least, consider this argument again, without the intrusion of stigma, and to juxtapose this information against Declarations that the United States have participated in: Rather than the exorbitant sums of capital allocated to prosecuting consumers of this plant; rather than continue the devastating impact that Prohibition has wrought on the health of our Earth and her Society, Cannabis should be utilized, even embraced, as the cost-effective delivery mechanism of a Human Right for the well-being of All. It is a means to achieve that which we aspire to, is it not?

Put It On The Ballot: Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment

177098452

From: District and State residents and members of the global community…

We submit this legislative proposal and course of action for your consideration:

REGARDING:  Cannabis and Committee Sponsorship to place a Question on the 2012   General Election Ballot permitting it’s consumption, cultivation and use.

VIA: the procedure of a ‘Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment’              

We urge you to consider these points in your decision making:

The issue should be framed around job and market creation (and economic demand). The cannabis plant has over 40,000 applications.  One of them is therapeutic consumption, unjustly prohibited.

The wording of this Question put to you has brought into consideration the 39,999 other potential uses of Cannabis, long neglected in the drug policy conversation; but, as well, prohibited federally and in need of state action prior to removal of federal restrictions.

This matter receives majority popular support nationwide and locally, for ALL of its aspects. This is a vastly underrepresented constituency, consisting of individuals who are in many cases (relative to the size of the demographic) one-issue voters, who support the politicians who support their chief concern, political party aside.

People who make use of the cannabis plant are falsely portrayed as ‘criminals.’  This is a wholly inaccurate representation of perhaps your largest issue demographic.  It has long been established that these individuals are parents, physicians, politicians et al.  This issue should be characterized with honesty and respect to fact.

This Question will help instruct the Legislature as to a course of action to serve this constituency and codify their ‘innocence.’


A ‘YES’ vote to put the Question on the ballot is essentially a yes vote for an Official Poll, and should be conveyed as such to detractors of this policy (who will have every chance to vote ‘NO’ on it in the election).

Cannabis/Hemp/Marijuana is plant.  Because of its industrial, medicinal, and therapeutic aspects have threatened corporate interests, there has been a continued lobby of lies to keep it criminalized.  This must end. Prohibition of Cannabis has stagnated the world economy… yet it is the most logical solution to a number of problems…

medicinal, industrial, chemical, agricultural, ecological, commercial…

“Shall the state constitution be amended to permit the growth, transfer and use of Cannabis?”

There has long been a concerted effort to undermine and prevent the use of the Cannabis plant, recreationally, medically, and industrially.  Criminalized for just a fraction of human history, the plant has proved itself versatile and valuable to humanity long before it’s prohibition, due to its medicinal and therapeutic attributes and, far greater so as a strong natural fiber.  Logic and science regularly refutes the prohibitionist argument, which is strong in fallacy and reflective of ignorance and propagandist repetition. However, the misinformed, within the public and legislature, do the legwork to promote a greed driven, corrupt and wasteful injustice.  Because Cannabis threatens the self-interest of old, powerful industries, the plant AND its two primary uses “Marijuana” and “Hemp” remain illegal in an open conspiracy.

We believe that science should represent policy regardless of anyone’s personal ‘opinion’ and that constituents, Ours and Yours, deserve to voice their opinion on the ballot, considering the ‘controversial’ nature of public discussion on this issue… yet it’s importance in our future.

Recreationally, Cannabis is SAFE and not the “gateway drug” it is purported to be by opponents.   Medically, it treats dozens of conditions; more recently, the plant is emerging as a having benefit to cancer patients and future research.  It is a therapeutic anti-oxidant (and interestingly, was used for dietary purposes as gruel for much of human history).  Industrially, Cannabis is an economic and environmental miracle in that it can produce every item within your proximity (*except for metal) with less of the toxicity, ecological damage and geopolitical strife associated with deforestation and petroleum based plastics.  In the matters of energy and economic potential, cannabis ‘Hemp’ has unlimited reach, in that new applications are being studied worldwide (save for the United States).

Sadly, its industrial capability IS the reason Cannabis is criminalized. This fact is EASILY researched via an internet or science/medical study search.  Since its Prohibition, the only danger in the plant is from its criminality.  We are asking for you and members of the committee you sit upon to:

Please place the above question on the ballot through the procedure of a joint resolution to amend the state constitution.

We are aware of the ‘controversy’ and ‘complication’ of this issue and approach.  We believe both to be a matter of political will.  We are aware of the timeline of such a process, and that a regulation scheme is still years away. We are aware that such a vote is non-binding to the legislature, we don’t ask you to support this issue, necessarily, but we do wish for it to be put to Question.  It provides an accurate sampling of public opinion to inform you in successive attempts at this process.   The reality is that Prohibition will end, and that until then, this Question will not go away.  Change must come first at the state level, as intention, and thirty-five of them united forces this matter federally.  Connecticut, her people and politicians must take the first step to TRUE “Green” Jobs.

Thank You for your time and favorable consideration of this matter:
Daniel Malo on behalf of my friends, family, and the State and Global Community at Free the Leaf

Illegality of Drugs Begets Violence

US/NATO forces guarding poppies.

US/NATO forces guarding poppies.

Drug Policy Expert and former Green Party Candidate for Governor (and personal friend) Cliff Thornton, regularly harps this in my ear:  You can connect the “War on Drugs” to anything—and Tom Condon does a good job at connecting it to “place.”   In my advocacy work at the Capitol, I stress this, too.  In introducing his argument, Condon brings up the history of “a once-prominent Hartford crime figure.” Tony Volpe, who presided over illegal gambling and the crimes associated with it.  Once the mob’s business was “eviscerated” by legal gambling, the crime disappeared.  Condon posits, “Could the same thing happen with drugs?”

Yes, and for a number of reasons:  the main idea is based on the idea that the lure of a means of income (and drugs can come at a markup) attract individuals who would otherwise be forced to find legal work.  Supporting this idea is John McWhorter, an African American author, linguist, and politics, who believes that changing our drug laws would “eliminate in a generation” what he calls “the “black problem” or ‘black malaise” in America.” Idle or (currently) “criminal” individuals would migrate to other, “positive” income avenues out of necessity.

“The black male community would no longer include a massive segment of underskilled, drug-addicted ex-cons churning in and out by the thousands year after year, and thus black boys growing up in these communities would not see this life as a norm. They would grow up to get jobs, period.”

If drugs were legal, Condon surmises, “these boys would not grow up with a bone-deep sense of the police—and thus whites—as an enemy.”  Racism and violence have no place in a healthy community.  If it is not safe, people will not choose to live there, given in the example of a New Jersey developer who purchased and restored buildings on Bedford Street in the North End. At a cost of 5 million dollars, he had “all kinds of trouble renting them because of drugs and related gunplay in the area.”

Not only does the “War on Drugs” just “cripple” the city of Hartford and other American cities. It funds international terrorism of the most vicious variety in places such as Mexico, where narco-terrorism has been responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths, including children.  This has had such a disruptive effect on the Mexican economy that we face another planning issue in the matter of “illegal immigration.”  But alas, what these people are running from is an inevitability here, unless a radical change in drug policy is considered.  Like prohibition of alcohol, repeal reduced mob proceeds.  It can do the same with the repeal of drugs.  With time, one can envision McWhorter’s revival of culture and community, not just among African Americans, but across all Americans, once we’ve moved forward from laws that do more harm than good.  As Condon says, “the whole thing is crazy…What other crime has an organization of police officers, judges and prosecutors, such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, working for its repeal?”

inspiration from:
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-condon-legalize-drugs-0109-20110109,0,4218372.column

Legalizing Drugs Would Stop The Bleeding, by Tom Condon—Hartford Courant, 9 January, 2011

Related Post

Public Service Announcement: Salvia

Don’t smoke salvia!

Salvia

Tuck it between your gums.

The leaves, that is…not the extracts. Salvia is medicine–Shamans have used it for many centuries. It is very safe when used appropriately for visioning.  Shame on those who use the extracts like a party drug in its name.  The unregulated extracts are just a way for a profiteer to make a dollar off of the farcical drug war.  If you want something to smoke for a positive experience, support your local cannabis trader.  If your life’s questions lead you to salvia for insights, there are PROCEDURES to follow.  Really, only, common sense.  Understand that salvia is NOT marijuana.  You will have an experience, but one that you are not typically accustomed to.  Choose good people and good environs.  A trusted room or porch or a a daytime camping experience.  Never in a car, or while swimming, or on a rollercoaster—do not try under those circumstances unless you are a professional.

A friend or two should want to sit the ride out, but that doesn’t stop them from participating in cannabis use.  Compassion associated with THC is welcome in those who chose to participate as sitters.  Like some substances, you don’t want to take it on an empty stomach.  Brownies, cannabis or otherwise, and other fun foods complement the experience.  Alcohol does NOT. Having water nearby is practicing smart humanity.  It also works in a pinch when you’re thirsty.  Take a deep breath find a nice comfy place to sit.  Stretch while you’re at it…forget about what you have to do for an hour.  This will happen pretty quick, so remember to remember…let your breath out and ask yourself a question.

Related Post

Change by Legislature – CT Decrim

Change by Legislature (and Legislative Resource)

Cannabis Decriminalization in Connecticut as a template

Prior to 2011, there had been numerous attempts in the State of Connecticut to remove the criminal penalties attached to cannabis possession. The majority of these proposed bills focused mostly on the legalization of medical cannabis, for which a bill was first passed in 1981. Implementation of the law was never worked out, and it the law itself atrophied, until the late 1990s, when ‘medical marijuana’ became a mainstay issue of Committee hearings, but not up for Assembly vote until its passage ‘again’ in 2012.[1] While the efforts of medical cannabis legalization have ran parallel to criminal justice reforms, it is the intention of this report to focus solely on decriminalization efforts put forth by the State Legislature.

Connecticut’s ‘Decrim’ story is regarded as a new and special case, by policy makers in that the Connecticut legislature was the mechanism for policy change, rather than ballot provision, for the first Decrim by legislature since Alaska in 1975. Undoubtedly our attempts were bolstered by Massachusetts decriminalizing adult possession by a voter referendum in 2008, but employed in Connecticut was is different, and hitherto, unsuccessful for over two decades across the country in all its attempts. Victory via this procedure proved itself a catalyst for similar change in neighboring states, with the Rhode Island (successfully), and New Jersey (Governor veto) following suit in 2012.

After a dormant, ‘tough on crime’ 1980s, the issue was resurrected with Proposed Bill 815;  referred to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly in the legislative session of 1995.  This bill sought to decrease the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis by labeling it an infraction.  Individuals found in possession of cannabis would be “guilty of a violation and be fined fifty dollars.”[2] Two years later, a more comprehensive Raised Bill 6991 would come out of the Judiciary Committee.  Among many proposed substitutions and deletions revising State drug policy, this bill sought to decrease penalties for cannabis possession. The objectives of the bill were, first, to determine “substance use, abuse and dependency in the state, client and patient demographics and crime and criminal justice efforts.”  One of the benefits of this approach was that it began to make use of the state’s power to research this issue for policy change.

This bill started a new effort in gathering data for the purpose of policy reform.  Prior to this bill, the issue of cannabis was largely considered a moral political battle.  Raised Bill 6991 looked at the reality of the situation, acknowledging it as a health and judicial “problem.”  The bill also examined the use of prevention, treatment, intervention and education services as alternatives to incarceration and the use of criminal justice resources to address substance use and abuse. Also in the bill was language which questioned the appropriateness, quality and cost effectiveness of substance abuse services (including incarceration) administered by the Judicial Department.[3]  In 2003, legislation was proposed which looked to reduce penalties for simple cannabis possession. Proposed Bill 356 suggested that the penalty for possession of less than four ounces be an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor offense.[4] Another proposed bill that year, 5260, would have made possession punishable by a fine of $150 for a first offense and an additional $100 for each subsequent violation. Neither bill would be raised.[5]

Attempts at decriminalization would be made in 2009 and 2010 with SB 349 and SB 476, both times on estimates that “doing so could save the state more than $11 million in law enforcement costs annually because far fewer people would be sent to state Superior Court to be overseen by prosecutors and probation officials…If marijuana users were issued a ticket that could be paid by mail, they would no longer need to go to court.”[6] Again like the others before it, these bills would die in committee. The legislative language of SB 349 was added to the slate of Cannabis bills in 2011, brought back to life as SB 1014, and with unprecedented activist and legislative support, passed its committee vetting, was voted on favorably in both chambers and signed by the Governor and took effect: 1 July, 2011. [7]

Final approval of this legislation accepts the reality that the current law does more harm than good – both in the impact it has on people’s lives and the burden it places on police, prosecutors and probation officers of the criminal justice system –

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy

Decriminalization is hardly a new issue—During the 1970’s there was an effort in many states to decriminalize cannabis possession by imposing a civil fine rather than a criminal penalty. During that time, eleven states dropped criminal penalties. Recently, Nevada and Massachusetts decriminalized simple possession. As well, a number of municipalities have taken steps to decriminalize or “deprioritize” marijuana arrests.  Some states, such as Alaska, have “rolled back” their policies, criminalizing cannabis by referendum after a long period of legalization.  Connecticut was the tenth (or eleventh, by unit of measure) approve the decriminalization of cannabis possession in small amounts[8], and now bills of similar nature are proposed in nearly every state in the country. The biggest ‘sell’ in terms of effective lobbying has been conveying the bottom line numbers to legislators, with the facts and research to put their political opinion to the side. The ability to have the testimony and ‘support’ of the state’s legislative research team and other high-profile researchers was integral to that process.

Harvard University Professor Jeffrey Miron believes that “estimated savings in criminal justice resources is likely the minimum savings that would occur under decriminalization”  He believes that “since most of the assumptions underlying this estimate err on the low side,”[9] there is a potentially large, unknown upside.  While the State might not “win the lottery” in decriminalizing cannabis, all indications point to both cost savings and increased revenue.  To best gauge the possible fiscal impact of decriminalized cannabis in Connecticut, it is helpful to look at the effects of other decriminalization efforts around the United States. One of the strongest arguments, cost-savings, was expressed in the work Professor Miron researched nearby; the “Prop. 2” decriminalization measure in Massachusetts. This research is likely the most reliable, in terms of coverage of fiscal impact, using methodology and data sets similar to that of OFA, and concluded that decriminalization of marijuana in Massachusetts would produce an annual savings in law enforcement resources of approximately $ 29. 5 million based on 2006 data.  Miron found that judges and lawyers generally estimated stand-alone arrests at 40% of marijuana possession arrests in Massachusetts. He also found, like OFA, that 33% was a reasonable estimate of the marijuana arrests that would no longer occur due to decriminalization. He also found that 5. 8% of all arrests in Massachusetts were for marijuana possession. He multiplied this by 33% to get 1.9% as the fraction of all arrests that would not occur and result in a savings of criminal justice resources under decriminalization.[10]

According to a 2010 OFA report reviewing Miron’s work, savings in criminal justice resources had three components: “a reduction in police resources because of the reduced number of arrests; a reduction in prosecutorial and judicial resources because of the reduced number of criminal applications, pre-trial hearings, and trials; and a reduction in correctional resources because of the reduced number of prisoners.” OFA notes that Miron found that only the first category was likely to be substantially affected by decriminalization due to the low numbers of people incarcerated solely for marijuana possession, which amounted to about 1.9% of the Massachusetts’ budget for police protection.  It is on that figure that Miron determined the $29.5 million figure. He concludes that this estimate may be low for several reasons, including the earlier mentioned assumption that parole and probation rules will stay the same.[11]

The City of Seattle adopted ballot initiative “I-75” in 2003. The initiative mandated that “the police department and city attorney’s office make the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of marijuana offenders the city’s lowest enforcement priority when the marijuana is intended for adult personal use.” Studied by University of Washington Professors, Beckett and Herbert, the two recently crafted a report which discusses the consequences and costs of marijuana prohibition. Their report concludes that “there were reductions in the number of referrals of marijuana-related incidents from the police department to the city attorney and also a reduction in people charged with marijuana possession by the city attorney, after I-75’s adoption.”[12]

The California decriminalization effort is discussed in a 1988 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Prior to the enactment of the Moscone Act in 1976, ¼ of the felony arrests in California were for marijuana, costing the state $100 million annually to process marijuana offenders. The act reduced possession of small amounts of marijuana from a felony to a new type of misdemeanor. The study’s authors, Aldrich and Mikuriya, concluded that California saved at least $ 1 billion between 1976 and 1986 as a result of this change. However, this study discusses the savings associated with “de-felonization” rather than outright decriminalization of cannabis.” [13]
Using metrics similar to Miron’s, the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) showed that there were 9,928 marijuana arrests in Connecticut in 2007, representing 7.0% of total arrests statewide.  The OFA concluded that approximately 33% of those arrests were for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.  In their findings, OFA saw an estimated 2.3% of total law enforcement resources statewide currently allocated to crimes of cannabis possession. The agency posited a “theoretical savings to state and local law enforcement agencies…estimated to be $9.4 million, resulting from savings associated with police officers no longer having to process arrests for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.” More likely, this will free up resources for other police actions according to OFA, which concluded that a “savings in this amount may not be realized by state and local law enforcement budgets due to the fact that resources would most likely be reallocated, rather than eliminated.”[14] Besides the potential cost savings, decriminalization would have a positive public safety impact in that it diverts resources from the enforcement of a non-violent crime to other crimes of more pressing importance.

Criminalized cannabis can be shown to pose a cost burden on the courts as well.  Data given in 2009 by OFA estimates a smaller number of Judicial cases under CGS 21a‑279(c).  They approximate 3,200 prosecutions (suspiciously down from the 9,700 in the 2005 data).  With these numbers, OFA assumes “that possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana accounts for ¼ of these cases, then the annual cost to process them is estimated to be $400,000, including the salaries of 1 Public Defender, 2 State’s Attorneys, a portion of 1 Judge and support staff, expenses and fringe benefits.”  If using their 2005 statistics, the savings potentially exceeds $1,000,000.

Obviously, along with cost burdens of cannabis criminalization on enforcement agency and courts, there is a large fiscal impact on the State prison system.  OFA, using 2009 data found that there were 57 inmates serving a sentence where the controlling charge is CGS 21a-279(c) (possession of less than four ounces of marijuana).  At the time of the data collection, an additional 17 offenders were being held pretrial.  The OFA then worked with the Miron metrics to conclude that “possession of less than one ounce of marijuana accounts for ¼ of these individuals, and assuming an average cost of $44,895 per year per inmate (including employee fringe benefit costs) the resulting savings would be $831,000 per year.”[15] These figures average $121 per day, having risen since 2003 when estimates by the Department of Corrections and the Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded $76 and $96, respectively.[16]  These numbers will theoretically rise higher over time with inflation, further increasing costs to the State and taxpayer.

Savings could also be realized in the 1,300 probationers under supervision in the community who were convicted of possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana as their primary charge.  In particular, the estimate assumes no trials on charges of marijuana possession and no prison terms due to marijuana possession.  The estimate presented here takes as given that current rules regarding parole and probation would remain in effect under decriminalization.  Under current rules, Miron notes, “regarding parole and probation, a positive urine test for drugs can send a parolee or probationer to prison, regardless of the original offense…these rules might change under legalization, implying additional reductions in government expenditure.”[17]  Miron also believes that “it is plausible these rules would be relaxed under decriminalization. This would keep non-trivial numbers of parolees and probationers out of prison, with substantial savings for the government budget.[18] The OFA again assumes that “possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana accounts for ¼ of these individuals” and “the estimated, annual cost to supervise these offenders in the community is $424,000, including probation officer salaries, fringe benefits, expenses and contracted services.  Again, these are conservative estimates, and the potential savings rises greatly, depending on the data used and the interpretation thereof.

‘Armed’ with knowledge, the fiscal argument was finally  proven compelling enough to be given favorable treatment in a legislature; a trend developed in isolation of Drug Policy Organizations and high profile ballot campaigns, creating a fifth column of support, consisting of compassionate and informed citizen legislators.  With Connecticut as a template for other states to achieve policy change, the model can be transferred, rapidly to other legislatures, until prohibition is merely a topic for history (again).  Thus far, nearly every state has, at the very least, broached the subject of cannabis decriminalization in the committees of their legislatures.  Decriminalization—and now legalization, bolstered by victorious ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington—are popular subjects that get mentioned both by word of mouth, and in the media. As well, this issue has come to affect everyone, or at the very least, someone they know. Cannabis is the most popular illegal substance, with nearly 42% of the population estimated to be experimenting with it in their lifetime.  Proponents argue that decriminalization and eventual legalization are measures that have become necessary to “right the wrong” caused by prohibition.[19] In today’s budget crisis, regardless of one’s opinion of the drug itself, decriminalization of cannabis is perhaps the simplest legislation with the quickest turn around in cost savings and potential revenue.

[1] http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/01/connecticut-gov-signs-nations-most-restrictive-medical-marijuana-bill-into-law/

[2] State of Connecticut, Proposed Bill 815, An Act Concerning Marijuana and Cannabis Type Substances (1995).

[3] State of Connecticut, Raised Bill 6991, An Act Concerning Drug Policy (1997).

[4] State of Connecticut, Proposed Bill 356, An Act Concerning the Penalty for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana (2003).

[5] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “2004-R-0264  Decriminalization of Marijuana.  February 25, 2004

[6] Keating, Christopher.  Hartford Courant “Judiciary Committee Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana.” March 31, 2009  http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2009/03/decriminalize-marijuana.html (Accessed April 23, 2010)

[7] http://www.ctmirror.org/story/12857/legislators-send-marijuana-decrim-bill-governor

[8] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994.

 

[9] Miron, Jeffrey.  Harvard University. “The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization on the Budgets of Massachusetts Governments” (October, 2008).

[10] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994.

[11] Soncia Coleman, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Research. “Criminal Justice Cost Savings Associated with Marijuana Decriminalization.” February 17, 2010.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[13] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0052.htm (Accessed April 22, 2010)

[14] Murphy, Michael, Alan Calandro, Christopher Wetzel.  State of Connecticut, Office of Fiscal Analysis. “OFA-1575, Fiscal Impact of reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana.” March 23, 2009.

[15] Murphy, Michael, Alan Calandro, Christopher Wetzel.  State of Connecticut, Office of Fiscal Analysis. “OFA-1575, Fiscal Impact of reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana.” March 23, 2009.

[16] Wolkoff, Adam, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Research.  “2006-R-0113  Marijuana Statistics.” February 6, 2006.

[17] Miron, Jeffrey.  Harvard University. “The Budgetary Implications of Prohibition.”(December, 2008)

[18] Miron, Jeffrey.  Harvard University. “The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization on the Budgets of Massachusetts Governments” (October, 2008).  http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/miron/files/decrim_update_2007.pdf  (Accessed April 23, 2010)

[19] Norman-Eady, Sandra, State of Connecticut, Office of Legislative Resarch. “94-R-1089  Legalization of Illicit Drugs”  December 22, 1994.

Free the Leaf

Free the Leaf