Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Drug law reform in the air

The pace of drug law reform is beginning to be almost breathtaking. New York legislators, after years of effort and a number of false starts, have voted to repeal the worst aspects of the notorious "Rockefeller" drug laws passed in the 1970s, which featured some of the harshest mandatory minimum sentences for mere possession of small amounts of drugs. Alternative sentencing, to treatment instead of prison, will be increased. Some details remain to be worked out, but this is big news.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota a medical marijuana bill cleared the House Public Safety Committee and appears to be on its way toward legislative approval. Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper has been doing yeoman work supporting it. In Maine, which has had a medical marijuana law on the books, there's a move to create state-licensed stores.

In Maryand a state legislator is pushing a bill to require the creation of a state task force to study medical marijuana. In New Hampshire, where legislatoirs have tried and failed to pass a medical marijuana bill several times recently, another effort is underway and supporters think it has a better chance this time. In New Jersey a medical marijuana bill has bassed the state senate but faces an uncertain fate in the assembly, though Gov. Jon Corzine says he would sign it. Michigan's medical marijuana law officially goes into effect April 4.

And so it goes.

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