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1 Canada: Justice Minister Defends Proposed Maximum Penalty ForMon, 17 Apr 2017
Source:Globe and Mail (Canada) Author:Curry, Bill Area:Canada Lines:92 Added:04/19/2017

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 recreational marijuana.

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 accessing cannabis.

Those opening statements are backed up with stiff penalties, including imprisonment for up to 14 years for providing marijuana to someone 17 or under.

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2 CN ON: Editorial: Big Challenges Still To Come For Cannabis LawFri, 14 Apr 2017
Source:Toronto Star (CN ON)          Area:Ontario Lines:121 Added:04/16/2017

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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3 US MD: Bid To Alter Drug Laws And Allow Some Early Prison ReleasesWed, 18 Jan 2017
Source:Baltimore Sun (MD)          Area:Maryland Lines:116 Added:01/18/2017

[photo] A cell at El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma. President Obama toured the prison last week. (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

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 Committee.

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4 US NY: Pot Grower Serving 20 Years Seeks Clemency From ObamaSun, 15 Jan 2017
Source:Buffalo News (NY)          Area:New York Lines:173 Added:01/15/2017

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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5 US: Sessions Hints At Tougher Policy Toward Legalized MarijuanaWed, 11 Jan 2017
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Weigel, David Area:United States Lines:134 Added:01/13/2017

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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6US NY: Cuomo Proposes Decriminalizing MarijuanaThu, 12 Jan 2017
Source:Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY) Author:Spector, Joseph Area:New York Lines:Excerpt Added:01/12/2017

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 Cuomo's message.

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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7 CN ON: Study Injects New Life Into Safe Needle Site DebateThu, 29 Dec 2016
Source:London Free Press (CN ON) Author:Richmond, Randy Area:Ontario Lines:83 Added:12/30/2016

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 Wednesday.

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 possibility.

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8 US PA: Past Approach To Crack Addicts Harsher Than Today's HeroinMon, 12 Dec 2016
Source:Reporter, The (Lansdale, PA) Author:Yates, Riley Area:Pennsylvania Lines:378 Added:12/14/2016

Officials, former inmate contrast the emphasis on treatment vs. incarceration

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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9 US IL: OPED: Is Our Constitution Going To Pot?Mon, 12 Dec 2016
Source:Chicago Tribune (IL) Author:Choslovsky, William Area:Illinois Lines:134 Added:12/12/2016

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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10 CN ON: Column: Libs Chip Away At Law And OrderWed, 05 Oct 2016
Source:Ottawa Sun (CN ON) Author:Krayden, David Area:Ontario Lines:91 Added:10/06/2016

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 obtaining weapons.

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11 CN ON: Mandatory Minimum Sentences No Longer Seem To ExistWed, 07 Sep 2016
Source:Toronto Sun (CN ON) Author:Mandel, Michele Area:Ontario Lines:103 Added:09/07/2016

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 marijuana plants.

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12US CA: Column: Obama Churns Out Final-Year PardonsThu, 01 Sep 2016
Source:San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Author:Saunders, Debra J. Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:09/01/2016

On Tuesday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 111 federal drug offenders.

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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13US: Obama Cuts Short the Sentences of 111 Imprisoned forWed, 31 Aug 2016
Source:Orange County Register, The (CA) Author:Freking, Kevin Area:United States Lines:Excerpt Added:08/31/2016

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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14 US NY: OPED: Sentences Full Of ErrorsSun, 14 Aug 2016
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Holder, Eric H. Jr. Area:New York Lines:163 Added:08/14/2016

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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15 US MA: PUB LTE: Marijuana Is a Gateway - to a Flawed CriminalThu, 14 Jul 2016
Source:Boston Globe (MA) Author:Wartenberg, Alan Area:Massachusetts Lines:47 Added:07/14/2016

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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16 US: A '90s Legacy That Is Filling Prisons TodayTue, 05 Jul 2016
Source:New York Times (NY) Author:Williams, Timothy Area:United States Lines:159 Added:07/05/2016

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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17US UT: After Outcry, Utahn Set FreeSun, 05 Jun 2016
Source:Denver Post (CO)          Area:Utah Lines:Excerpt Added:06/06/2016

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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18 US: Prince's OD Could Spur Action On OpioidsSat, 04 Jun 2016
Source:Palm Beach Post, The (FL) Author:Hulse, Carl Area:United States Lines:91 Added:06/04/2016

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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19 US: Obama Grants Clemency To 42 Federal InmatesSat, 04 Jun 2016
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Jaffe, Greg Area:United States Lines:81 Added:06/04/2016

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 in office.

Half of the inmates on Friday's list had been sentenced to life for nonviolent drug offenses, according to the White House.

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20 US: Obama Cuts Prison Sentences For 42 Drug OffendersFri, 03 Jun 2016
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Lederman, Josh Area:United States Lines:78 Added:06/03/2016

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 administration.

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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