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For Consideration by the Lawrence City Commission: An Ordinance Banning the Adult Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia Submitted by Laura A.

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Presentation on theme: "For Consideration by the Lawrence City Commission: An Ordinance Banning the Adult Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia Submitted by Laura A."— Presentation transcript:

1 For Consideration by the Lawrence City Commission: An Ordinance Banning the Adult Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia Submitted by Laura A. Green Executive Director, Drug Policy Forum of Kansas 941 Kentucky Street Lawrence, KS 66044 784-841-8278 August 2005 Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use." -President Jimmy Carter: Message to Congress, August 2, 1977.

2 Why an Ordinance Banning the Adult Possession of Marijuana is necessary in Lawrence, Kansas zIn Kansas, first-time possession of marijuana conviction is a class A misdemeanor. zThe second possession of marijuana conviction is a felony, drug-severity level 4, even if the previous conviction was in another city, county, state, country, or 30 years ago. zThe Higher Education Reform Act-Drug Provision (section 484-r) denies or delays federal student financial aid to anyone convicted of possession of marijuana in state or federal court, even if the person is charged with a misdemeanor. zNationally, more than 160,500 students have been disqualified from receiving aid since the Higher Education Drug Amendment was added in 1998. KU and Haskell Indian Nations University students who are issued a citation for first-time violation of a city ordinance banning the adult possession of marijuana would not lose their student financial aid under the HEA amendment. zThe 1996 Welfare Reform Act, denies federal assistance, including housing, job training, food, and drug treatment, to adults convicted of first-time possession of marijuana. This denial of benefits has shown to have an adverse effect on the children of persons convicted of drug possession. Nationally, children are more and more living in poverty, while the median income of persons with a college degrees goes up. zTaxpayers dollars used now to arrest, charge, and prosecute persons for possession of marijuana could be better spent on property and violent crime investigations.

3 Summary of the Proposed City of Lawrence Ordinance Banning Adult Possession of Marijuana zThe ordinance pertains only to persons 18 years of age or older on the day the offense was committed. zThe amount charged for possession of marijuana is defined by the Kansas State Statute. zThe Adult Possession of Marijuana ordinance directs the Lawrence Police Department to issue a Uniform Notice to Appear and Traffic Complaint summoning the person to a mandatory municipal court appearance. zIf the person is found guilty of adult possession of marijuana as defined in the ordinance the penalties shall be the same as they would be in the District Court. zThe ordinance directs the Lawrence Police Department to make marijuana possession a low priority. zPersons charged with a second marijuana possession offense will be forwarded to District Court because if convicted the penalty is a felony offense under Kansas law which can not be tried in municipal court.

4 A Few of the many Kansas Cities with Ordinances on Marijuana zTopeka zOverland Park zWichita zManhattan zOlathe zLeavenworth zWinfield

5 HEA Drug Provision The following provision was contained in subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1998 (see 20 U.S.C. 1091(r)).

6 The following student governments have endorsed a resolution calling for the repeal of the provision of the Higher Education Act that delays or denies college financial aid to persons with drug convictions: U.S. Student Association Association of Big Ten Schools Florida Student Association Oregon Student Association Student Association of the State University of New York United Council of University of Wisconsin Students American University (DC) Amherst College (MA) Appalachian State University (NC) Baltimore City Community College Bates College (ME) Bergen Community College (NJ) Brandeis College (MA) Brown University College of William and Mary Columbia College (Columbia University) Dalton College (GA) Dartmouth College (NH) De Anza College (CA) Douglas College (Rutgers University) Earlham College (IN) Florida A&M University Florida International University at University Park Florida International University at Biscayne Bay Campus Florida State University Georgetown University (DC) George Washington University (DC) Goshen College (IN) Gettysburg College (PA) Grand Valley State University (MI) Hampshire College (MA) Howard University (DC) Illinois State University at Normal Indiana University at Bloomington James Madison University (VA) Lewis and Clark College (OR) Linfield College (OR) Louisiana State University Loyola University (IL) Mercyhurst College (PA) Monroe Community College (NY) Mount Holyoke College (MA) New College of Florida North Carolina State University Northwestern University (IL) Ohio State University Ohio University Oregon Students of Color Coalition Pennsylvania State University Pitzer College (CA) Pomona College (CA) Portland Community College at Cascade (OR) Portland Community College at Rock Creek (OR) Portland State University (OR) Rice University (TX) Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) Saint Cloud State University (MN) Smith College (MA) South Carolina State University Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Southern Oregon University SUNY Albany SUNY Binghamton SUNY ESF Syracuse University Texas State University - San Marcos Union College (NY) University of California at Berkeley University of California at San Diego University of California at Santa Barbara University of Colorado at Boulder University of Connecticut University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Iowa University of Kansas University of Maryland at College Park University of Michigan University of Minnesota at Twin Cities University of Missouri at Columbia University of Montana - Missoula University of Nevada at Las Vegas University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University of North Carolina at Wilmington University of North Texas University of Pennsylvania University of Rhode Island University of Southern California University of Texas at Austin University of Texas at Dallas University of Toledo University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire University of Wisconsin at Madison University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee University of Wisconsin at Richland University of Wyoming University of Vermont Utica College (NY) Washington University (MO) Wesleyan University (CT) Western Connecticut State University Western Maryland College Western State College (CO) Western Washington University Yale University

7 Organizations with Ties to Lawrence Supporting the Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision zUniversity of Kansas Student Government zKNEA zLeague of Women Voters zNAACP zKansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers zStudents for Sensible Drug Policy zEpiscopal Church zChurch of Christ zMethodist Church zUnitarian Church zAmerican Academy of Physicians zAmerican Nurses Association zKansas Families Against Mandatory Minimums

8 Cutting College Aid, and Fostering Crime One of the most irrational initiatives in the war on crime was a decision by Congress in the 1990's to cut off some ex- offenders from federal education aid. It's highly unlikely that anyone has been deterred from lawbreaking as a result. But if people who have paid their debts to society and are seeking new starts are denied education aid, they could well be locked out of the new economy and sent right back through the revolving door into prison. Congress is revisiting a particularly onerous law under which tens of thousands of students have been turned down for federal grants and loans because of drug offenses, some of them minor and as much as a decade old. A proposed change in the law would improve the picture slightly. It is aimed at penalizing students who commit drug-related crimes while receiving federal aid. It would be better to repeal the provision entirely, as many observers have suggested. Law enforcement officials have learned over and over again that ex-offenders who get an education and find jobs are far less likely to end up back behind bars. Barring former offenders from school aid makes it virtually impossible for them to get the necessary schooling for joining the mainstream. The law has a disproportionate impact on poor and minority communities, where the drug trade is rampant and young men often have run-ins with the law before they get their lives on track. By narrowing access to affordable education, the federal government further diminishes the prospects of young people who are already at risk of becoming lifetime burdens to society. Members of Congress are understandably hesitant to cast votes that might brand them as being "soft on crime." But it doesn't take a genius to see that barring young offenders from college leads to more crime - not less. Student aid was never intended for use as a law enforcement weapon. Any attempt to employ it that way will inevitably yield perverse and unfair results. Opinion from NY Times Calling for the Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision, July 20, 2005

9 Life Sentences: Denying Welfare Benefits To Women Convicted of Drug Offenses* Our report, Life Sentences: Denying Welfare Benefits to Women Convicted of Drug Offenses, documented the harmful effects to women, children, and communities of the 1996 welfare reform provision imposing a lifetime welfare ban on people convicted for possessing or selling drugs. As this report documents, legislative action in the areas of welfare reform and the war on drugs has combined to produce negative consequences for many lowincome women, with a disparate impact on African American women and Latinas. Since our report was issued, several states have reconsidered their ban. Report highlights: Lifetime Welfare Ban Provision · Section 115 of the welfare reform act provides that persons convicted of a state or federal felony offense for using or selling drugs are subject to a lifetime ban on receiving cash assistance and food stamps. No other offenses result in losing benefits. · 34 states and the District of Columbia have eliminated or modified the lifetime ban, including California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. · The growing trend among states to modify or opt out of the ban reflects mounting recognition that a complete lifetime welfare ban is unsound public policy. National Impact of the Lifetime Welfare Ban · Over 92,000 women are currently affected by the lifetime welfare ban. · The ban also currently places over 135,000 children at risk of coming in contact with child welfare services and the criminal justice system due to the prospect of reduced family income support. · More than 44,000 white women, nearly 35,000 African American women and almost 10,000 Latinas are affected by the ban. * Kansas puts a lifetime ban on a person convicted of a felony drug offense.

10 Impact of the Ban on Women and Children · The loss of welfare benefits adversely affects the ability of women, especially women of color, to become self-sufficient, provide for their children, and be active participants in their communities. · The ban endangers the basic needs of low-income women and their children, including housing, food, job training, education and drug treatment, which are all key ingredients to help poor families lift themselves out of poverty. · The ban will lead to higher incidences of family dissolution and further increase child welfare caseloads. · The lifetime welfare ban has a disproportionate impact on African American and Latino families. Recommendations · Congress should hold hearings to consider the immediate repeal of the lifetime welfare ban. · State governments should opt out of the ban or at least modify it. For those states tying drug treatment to welfare assistance, additional programs, such as job training or GED programs, should be provided as an alternative to maintain welfare benefits. · The federal government should shift its focus in the “war on drugs” and allocate a greater proportion of funds to prevention and treatment. * State modifications updated January 2005 514 10TH STREET NW, SUITE 1000 WASHINGTON, DC 20004 TEL: 202.628.0871 · FAX: 202.628.1091 STAFF@SENTENCINGPROJECT.ORG WWW.SENTENCINGPROJECT.ORG

11 Common Questions about Marijuana answered by the National Academy of Sciences (ISBN 0-309-07155-0) zQ: Is marijuana addictive? zA: "Compared to most other drugs... dependence among marijuana users is relatively rare." [p. 94] zDrug CategoryProportion Of Users that Became Dependent(%)Tobacco 32Alcohol 15Marijuana (including hashish)9Cocaine 17Heroin 23 z"In summary, although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs." [p. 98] zQ: Does marijuana lead to harder drugs? zA: "It does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse; that is, care must be taken not to attribute cause to association." [p. 101] z"There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect." [p. 99] zQ: Is marijuana more dangerous than tobacco? zA: "Given a cigarette of comparable weight, as much as four times the amount of tar can be deposited in the lungs of marijuana smokers as in the lungs of tobacco smokers.... However, a marijuana cigarette smoked recreationally typically is not packed as tightly as a tobacco cigarette, and the smokable substance is about half that in a tobacco cigarette. In addition, tobacco smokers generally smoke considerably more cigarettes per day than do marijuana smokers." [Pp. 111, 112] zQ: Does marijuana cause cancer? zA: "There is no conclusive evidence that marijuana causes cancer in humans, including cancers usually related to tobacco use." [p. 119]

12 Common Questions about Marijuana answered by the National Academy of Sciences (ISBN 0-309-07155-0) zQ: Does marijuana cause other life-threatening health problems? zA: "Epidemiological data indicate that in the general population marijuana use is not associated with increased mortality." [p. 109] zQ: Is marijuana useless or unnecessary for medical purposes? zA: "Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety... all can be mitigated by marijuana. Although some medications are more effective than marijuana for these problems, they are not equally effective in all patients." [p. 159] zQ: Does marijuana cause brain damage? zA: "Earlier studies purporting to show structural changes in the brains of heavy marijuana users have not been replicated with more sophisticated techniques." [p. 106] zQ: Does marijuana cause laziness (a.k.a. "motivational syndrome")? zA: "When heavy marijuana use accompanies these symptoms, the drug is often cited as the cause, but no convincing data demonstrate a causal relationship between marijuana smoking and these behavioral characteristics." [Pp. 107, 108] zQ: Do criminal penalties deter marijuana use? zA: "There is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use." [p. 104]

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