A prison sentence of up to 14 years for providing cannabis to youth is
shaping up as one of the early points of contention as the Liberal
government prepares to defend its landmark legislation to legalize
Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, makes clear in its opening passages that
the main purpose of the legislation is to prevent young people from
Those opening statements are backed up with stiff penalties, including
imprisonment for up to 14 years for providing marijuana to someone 17
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The true test of Justin Trudeau's commitment to his sound pot policy
will be how his government handles the hurdles to come
By tabling legislation to overturn Canada's 94-year-old prohibition on
pot, the Trudeau government has put forward its first truly bold bit
of public policy. And it's a good one. The ban on marijuana has
brought a great deal of misery, while delivering few benefits. Yet
legalization is far from a fait accompli. The true test of Justin
Trudeau's commitment to this policy will be how his government handles
the hurdles to come.
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[photo] A cell at El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma.
President Obama toured the prison last week. (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty
A bipartisan push to reduce the number of low-level drug offenders in
prison is gaining momentum in Congress, but proposals may disappoint
advocates hoping to slash the mandatory minimum sentences that are seen as
chiefly responsible for overcrowding in the nation's detention facilities.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) surprised advocates Thursday by
saying he strongly supported holding a vote on a prison reform bill
similar to one sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a moderate Republican
from Wisconsin. The measure has been languishing in the House Judiciary
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Joseph Tigano III is spending 20 years in prison for growing marijuana.
He grew a lot of it. No one disputes that. And this was his second felony
conviction. So no one, not even Tigano's lawyers, suggests the Cattaraugus
County man should go unpunished.
But 20 years?
Even the federal judge who sentenced Tigano in 2015 thought it was too
heavy a price to pay.
"It is much greater than necessary," U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A.
Wolford said at the time, "but I do not have a choice."
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In November 2012, people in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize
marijuana for recreational use in their states. Nine months later, as
the states worked out their local legal regimes, then-Attorney General
Eric H. Holder Jr. issued a directive to law enforcement, urging them
to let the states' experiments proceed. By the end of 2016, a batch of
new states had legalized marijuana, and Holder himself was advocating
for marijuana to be "rescheduled" -- meaning that penalties should be
lowered for sale and possession across the country.
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ALBANY - 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.
"The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New
York state, but data consistently show that recreational users of
marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety," is on Page 191 of
The idea will again stoke a debate in Albany after the issue gained
prominence in 2012 -- when the Democratic governor first made the push to
decriminalize possession of marijuana.
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Heavy with needle users, London could move a step closer in February to a
supervised injection site for drug-addicted residents amid renewed debate
about the idea.
The results of a feasibility study that surveyed 200 current and former
needle users, as well as police, politicians, and social service and
health agency representatives, is to be released in early February,
Christopher Mackie, the Middlesex-London medical officer of health, said
That study won't suggest a location or timeline to establish a site, but
one area Conservative MP already is raising the alarm about the
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Officials, former inmate contrast the emphasis on treatment vs.
When Leola Bivins was first sent away for dealing drugs, she was a
22-year-old high school dropout with a 2-year-old daughter at home.
Addiction was the center of the life she knew in East Stroudsburg,
where she was born and raised, she recalled recently. Bivins' mother
was a heroin addict - she eventually died of an overdose - and
seemingly everyone around her was either selling drugs or abusing
them, Bivins said.
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Imagine this: Upon taking his oath of office, President Donald Trump
instructs his new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to ignore civil
rights laws. How would that go over? Before you yell, "But we are a
nation of laws!" you can thank President Barack Obama and his prior
Attorney General Eric Holder for magnifying this issue.
Basically, the Obama administration made it standard operating
procedure to ignore laws they thought unfashionable or unworthy.
The best example of this is marijuana.
To be clear at the outset, I am neither pro-pot nor anti-pot. And, in
fact, marijuana is not even the issue - rather, the Constitution is.
Marijuana is just the symptom that exposes the problem.
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Ottawa achieved a dubious distinction over the weekend when the
capital saw its 50th shooting of 2016. With a quarter of the year left
to go, that beats the previous record of 49 set in 2014.
Now, I am not prepared to invite outrage and opprobrium from the left
by suggesting that we might encapsulate the increased violence with
the sobriquet of "welcome to Justin Trudeau's Canada." But it does
suggest that while Canada enforces some of the toughest gun control
legislation in the world, the criminals never have any difficulty in
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There goes another Harper tough-on-crime law out the judicial window.
Because, of course, we wouldn't want to be too hard on a woman farming
1,100 pot plants in the middle of a Jane St. highrise apartment building.
In a landmark ruling, an Ontario judge has struck down yet another of
the former Conservative government's mandatory minimum sentences as
unconstitutional, this time the two-year minimum jail term - with an
extra year for endangering public safety - for growing more than 500
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On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 111 federal
In his first term, Obama endured the sting of critics like me who
called him one of the stingiest modern presidents when it comes to
the presidential pardon power.
In his second term, Obama is making up for lost time. With 673
commutations , the Washington Post reports , Obama has approached
690, the number of commutations issued by the previous 11 presidents.
Obama deserves credit for doing the right thing.
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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama cut short on Tuesday the
sentences of 111 federal inmates in another round of commutations for
those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.
Obama has long called for phasing out strict sentences for drug
convictions, arguing they lead to excessive punishment and
incarceration rates unseen in other developed countries.
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston said the commutations underscored
the president's commitment to using his clemency authority to give
deserving individuals a second chance. He said that Obama has granted
a total of 673 commutations, more than the previous 10 presidents
combined. More than a third of the recipients were serving life sentences.
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Washington - As a college student in Virginia, Corey Jacobs started
selling drugs with the help of a group of friends to make some extra
money. A Bronx native, Mr. Jacobs was no kingpin, and no aspect of
their drug conspiracy involved violence. Now age 46, Mr. Jacobs has
served 16 years of a sentence of life without parole in the federal system.
No question, Corey Jacobs should have gone to prison for his felony.
But does he deserve to die there?
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I am deeply concerned about both Joan Vennochi's column ("Like Bill
Clinton, I didn't inhale," July 12) and the political coalition that
opposes the marijuana legalization initiative ("Mass. leaders join
against marijuana legislation"). While decriminalization in
Massachusetts has been a worthwhile and successful step in reducing
the number of arrests for marijuana possession, it has not gone far enough.
I have worked with the Committee for Public Counsel Services for many
years, and found that police officers routinely charge people not
only with possession, but with intent to distribute marijuana, which
almost automatically adds in the school zone provision. Virtually
everywhere in any urban area is within 1,000 feet of what is defined
as a school zone. This brings felony conviction, mandatory minimum
sentences, and the potential for total unemployability in the future,
not to mention the harm that comes from prison time. It does so with
no evidence that it accomplishes any positive purpose in the vast
majority of those incarcerated, nor for society.
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BURKEVILLE, Va. - Lenny Singleton is the first to admit that he
deserved an extended stay behind bars. To fuel his crack habit back
in 1995, he walked into 13 stores over eight days and either
distracted a clerk or pretended to have a concealed gun before
stealing from the cash register. One time, he was armed with a knife
with a six-inch blade that he had brought from his kitchen.
Mr. Singleton, 28 at the time, was charged with robbery and accepted
a plea deal, fully expecting to receive a long jail sentence. But a
confluence of factors worked against him, including the particularly
hard-nosed judge who sentenced him and the zero-tolerance ethos of
the time against users of crack cocaine. His sentence was very long:
two life sentences. And another 100 years. And no possibility for parole.
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Case Sparked Debate Because of Mandatory 55-Year Sentence.
Salt Lake City (AP) - A Utah music producer who was ordered to 55
years behind bars for bringing guns to marijuana deals has been set
free, after 12 years in prison and national outcry over the mandatory
minimum sentencing laws that forced a federal judge to impose the lengthy term.
Weldon Angelos, 36, was freed Tuesday. He says he kept his release
quiet for a few days because he wanted to spend time with his three
teenage children, who were much younger when he was sentenced in 2004 at 24.
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Lawmakers Mostly Agree That Congress Needs to Take Steps.
The official confirmation of Prince's death by opioid overdose is
likely to reverberate in Washington, where lawmakers are still trying
to hammer out a deal on legislation attempting to stem a national
crisis in abuse of those drugs.
"No one is immune," Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a statement.
Portman is one of the main authors of the Senate legislation.
"The heroin and prescription drug epidemic is devastating families
and communities all over the country, and we need to get this bill to
the president's desk as quickly as possible," he said.
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President Obama granted clemency to 42 inmates Friday as part of an
ongoing effort to release federal prisoners who are serving prison
terms resulting from sentencing laws that the White House said were
"outdated and unduly harsh."
To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 348 federal inmates. The
White House said in a statement that the president will continue
commuting the sentences of inmates through his seven remaining months
Half of the inmates on Friday's list had been sentenced to life for
nonviolent drug offenses, according to the White House.
[continues 475 words]
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama shortened the sentences Friday of
42 people serving time for drug-related offenses, continuing a push
for clemency that has ramped up in the final year of his
Roughly half of the 42 receiving commutations Friday were serving life
sentences. Most are nonviolent offenders, although a few were also
charged with firearms violations. The White House said many of them
would have already finished their sentences if they had been sentenced
under current, less onerous sentencing guidelines.
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