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Medical Marijuana + The term "medical marijuana" refers to the use, possession, and/or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes. People who are terminally ill, or suffer from painful or long-term symptoms associated with certain diseases, such as epilepsy, AIDS, glaucoma, and cancer, often request medical marijuana as a form of treatment and/or pain relief.As a general principle, medical marijuana, also known as medicinal cannabis, is no different than standard marijuana. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a "Schedule I drug", meaning it: 1) has the potential for abuse, 2) has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., and 3) has a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.

As such, there is a growing debate concerning the personal medical use of marijuana and its legality. On one side of the issue, some politicians and law enforcement officials would like to combat + Illegal Drug Use of Marijuana and Laws of Marijuana Use ?  and control some of its affects, such as "wide open sale of marijuana under the guise of medical purpose". On the other side, some health advocates and other drug legalization groups would like to legalize the medical use of marijuana, believing that the drug is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions.

Illegal Drug Laws - Marijuana + Drug laws are among the most complex criminal laws on the books. Often certain offenses are given "class" designations into which any number of specific drug offenses are grouped, and sentences are prescribed according to mandated ranges (called "sentencing guidelines"). Drug sentencing guidelines set absolute minimum and maximum sentences for specific crimes and take much of the discretion for setting sentences away from judges.

One recent trend in drug legislation is the growing incorporation of "special enhancements" directed at selling drugs like marijuana to or from minors. Several states have recently amended these particular laws by incorporating mandatory sentencing to adults selling to minors. For example, California drug laws specifically state that enhancements attach when the seller is over 18 and the buyer is a minor at least 4 years younger than the seller.

In most state laws in the Drug Laws tables, reference to the code sections gives a picture of the potential punishments for the violation of a specific crime. Since the class schedules among illegal drugs overlap, and because the penalties are often extremely difficult to summarize, reference is often made only to the class designation. Reference to the individual state code listed should provide easy access to more detailed information.                           

This Website Last Up Dated This Info. On Feb 14/ 2012 About Marijuana Laws & Info. Restricted Both Federal and State Level + This Website Don't Promoting Drugs Use ! 


Medical Marijuana Laws

Medical marijuana laws are constantly changing and vary among geographical location. Both federal and state laws make it a crime to use, grow, sell, or possess marijuana. The federal Supreme Court, for example, has stated that it is illegal to use, sell or possess marijuana, even for medical use (in the 2005 case of Gonzales v. Raich).

A growing number of states, however, have legalized medical marijuana. Currently, there are 14 states that allow for the use and/or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes; thereby removing any criminal penalties from doctors who prescribe the drug or from patients who use it within the bounds set by state law. For example, California was the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 when it passed Proposition 215, also called the Compassionate Use Act. The law allows the possession and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes upon a doctor's recommendation.

Other states that have legalized medical marijuana include: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. These state laws typically set the boundaries under which medical marijuana may be recommended, cultivated, possessed and used. For instance, states may require written documentation from a person's doctor affirming that the person suffers from a debilitating condition and might benefit from the medical use of marijuana. Also, states may require people to present this documentation, or "marijuana ID card", prior to an arrest.

Other provisions may include limits on the type of conditions, such as HIV and AIDS, and the amount of marijuana that a person may possess, use, or grow.

Finally, some states have other specific provisions, such as employee restrictions on the the medical use of marijuana at work and certain ID card requirements and fees.

For a breakdown of specific marijuana laws by state, including punishment for possession, sale and trafficking, click here.

Medical Marijuana Penalties

Penalties for medical marijuana violations may include prison time, fines, or both, depending on the nature of the offense and the state where the occurrence took place. In states that have not legalized medical use of marijuana, the charges are treated as general misdemeanor or felony drug charges.

In states which have decriminalized medical marijuana, penalties in the form of prison or fines may still apply, yet offenses are often treated as minor civil infractions.

For example, punishable circumstances may include:Possession over a certain amount (in grams);The sale of the drug to others, especially to or from a "minor";The cultivation of the drug in states where cultivation is not allowed; andPossession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Defenses -- Know Your Legal Rights

Patients who are arrested on drug charges might use their medical status as a defense, before or during trial, to help reduce any penalties. In addition, a patient may show a doctor's recommendation for marijuana to reduce penalties and help avoid jail time or fines altogether. Finally, a patient may want to claim the defense of medical necessity based on the clinical nature of his or her health condition.

It is important to check with a lawyer who specializes in medical marijuana cases to learn of your rights and responsibilities concerning the use and/or charges of medical marijuana.

The Collision of Federal and State Laws -- A Recent Update

There is generally a "tug of war" between the federal laws and state laws concerning medical marijuana. On the one hand, the federal government makes it a crime to cultivate, possess, or use marijuana for any purpose. On the other hand, some states allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Generally, in cases where federal laws and state laws collide, federal law prevails, and users of state-authorized medical marijuana may still be arrested and/or prosecuted.

The U.S. government shifted its attention to larger drug trafficking issues when the Obama Administration took over in 2009, with the Department of Justice stating it would not prioritize the enforcement of federal marijuana laws on authorized users of medical marijuana or their caregivers. However, the DOJ resumed its prosecution of medical marijuana providers in 2011 and put pressure on publishers who run ads for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Conclusion

Medical marijuana is a hotly debated issue that affects patients, health care providers, lawyers, and law enforcement officials alike. Because medical marijuana laws vary, it is important to check the specific laws of your particular state. Consulting with a criminal or health care attorney may also help you understand your rights and responsibilities concerning marijuana use or possession.

This Website Last Up Dated This Info. On Feb 14/ 2012 About Marijuana Laws & Info. Restricted Both Federal and State Level + This Website Don't Promoting Drugs Use !

Drug Possession + Possession of certain illicit drugs violates federal and state laws. While drug possession laws vary widely from state to state, the elements of the offense are generally the same. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the drug in question was a controlled substance and that he or she knowingly had possession of, or control over, the drug. This may also include what is known as "constructive possession," or access to an illegal drug. Such charges may be filed against one or more individuals who have keys to a van filled with narcotics, for example, rather than actually holding the drugs on their person.

Drug possession laws generally fall into one of two main categories: simple possession (for personal use) and possession with intent to distribute. The latter category typically carries much stiffer penalties upon conviction, as compared to simple possession, in the interest of both punishing and deterring drug dealers. To prove possession with intent to sell, prosecutors may present evidence such as digital scales, baggies, large quantities of the drug, large amounts of cash in small bills or testimony from witnesses.

Drug possession laws also prohibit paraphernalia such as syringes, crack pipes or bongs. The Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute defines what constitutes drug paraphernalia but usually hinges on a determination of primary use. For example, a newly purchased water pipe may not be considered a marijuana bong unless it has drug residue or is sold explicitly as a marijuana bong. Laws also exist to restrict the possession of certain chemicals or materials commonly used in the cultivation or manufacturing of drugs, such as the laboratory equipment used to make methamphetamine.

While some states have legalized possession of marijuana for medical use with a physician's recommendation, it is still considered illegal in all cases under federal law.

Drug Possession Defenses + If you are charged with possession of drugs, either for personal use or with intent to sell, a criminal defense attorney can determine which defenses might apply to your case should you plead not guilty. Different states approach the problem of illicit drugs in different ways, while the federal government tends to have the toughest drug sentencing guidelines. But drug possession defenses are fairly universal across state lines. Some defenses challenge the stated facts, testimony or evidence in the case; others target procedural errors, often search and seizure violations; and some defendants challenge drug possession charges on the basis of an affirmative defense, such as the right to use medical marijuana in some states.

Here are some defenses to drug possession charges, some more common than others:Unlawful Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to due process of law, including lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. Search and seizure issues are quite common in drug possession cases. Illicit drugs found in "plain view," such as a car's dashboard after a legal traffic stop, may be seized and used as evidence. But drugs found in the trunk of a car after prying it open with a crowbar, assuming the suspect did not give permission, cannot be entered into evidence. If the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were violated, then the drugs cannot be used at trial and the charges typically are dismissed.Drugs Belong to Someone Else

A common defense to any crime charge is to simply say you didn't do it. The drug possession equivalent is to claim the drugs aren't yours or that you had no idea they were in your apartment, for example. A skilled defense attorney will pressure prosecutors to prove that the joint found in the car actually belonged to his or her client and not one of the other three passengers.Crime Lab Analysis

Just because it looks like cocaine or LSD doesn't mean it necessarily is. The prosecution must prove that a seized substance is indeed the illicit drug it claims it is by sending the evidence to a crime lab for analysis. The crime lab analyst then must testify at trial in order for the prosecution to make its case.Missing Drugs

A skilled attorney will make sure prosecutors are able to produce the actual drugs for which their client is being charged. Similar to the need for crime lab analysis, prosecutors who lose or otherwise lack the actual drugs risk having their case dismissed. Seized drugs often get transferred several times before ending up in the evidence locker, so it should never be assumed that the evidence still exists during trial.Drugs were Planted

This may be difficult to prove, since a police officer's sworn testimony carries a lot of weight in the courtroom. Furthermore, other officers may be reluctant to blow the whistle on a fellow officer. But your attorney can file a motion that, if approved by the judge, requires the department to release the complaint file of the given officer. This file contains the names and contact of information of those who made the complaints, who can then be interviewed by your attorney or a private investigator.Entrapment

While law enforcement officials are free to set up sting operations, entrapment occurs when officers or informants induce a suspect to commit a crime he or she otherwise may not have committed. If an informant pressures a suspect into passing drugs to a third party, for example, then this may be considered entrapment. As a rule of thumb, entrapment occurs where the state provides the drugs in question.Medical Marijuana Exception

The medical use of marijuana is never a defense in federal court but may be in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. States with such exceptions to marijuana laws typically require a doctor's signed recommendation. But some of those states also provide for an affirmative defense by those arrested on marijuana possession charges who are able to show clear and convincing evidence of medical necessity.

This Website Last Up Dated This Info. On Feb 14/ 2012 About Marijuana Laws & Info. Restricted Both Federal and State Level + This Website Don't Promoting Drugs Use !

Drug Possession Penalties and Sentencing + Those convicted on drug possession charges face a wide gamut of penalties at sentencing, varying from state to state. Penalties for simple possession range from a fine of less than $100 and/or a few days in jail to thousands of dollars and several years in state prison for the same offense. Simple drug possession sentences tend to be the lightest, while intent to distribute drugs or the cultivation/manufacturing of drugs carry much heavier penalties. Prosecutors sometimes offer plea deals to defendants who may be able to help them with a higher-priority investigation, perhaps leading to the arrest of an organized crime leader.

Federal lawmakers enacted mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug offenses in 1986 in an attempt to target high-level distributors, although they also impact lower-level drug defendants. Most states have adopted a similar approach to drug sentencing. These fixed sentences are based on the type of drug, the weight of the drug and the number of prior convictions. Kentucky, which has adopted similar mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, has some of the toughest provisions. For simple possession, first offenders in Kentucky get two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. In contrast, California has some of the lightest drug possession sentences: between $30 and $500 in fines and/or 15 to 180 days in jail.

Many states have instituted what are known as drug courts, programs for felony drug defendants overseen by a judge that aim to rehabilitate the defendant (often repeat offenders) instead of taking the case to trial. Judges have substantial control over the operation of drug courts. A drug defendant who agrees to drug court spends roughly 12 to 15 months attending treatment sessions and undergoing random drug tests while appearing before the drug court judge on a regular basis. Those who fail to appear in court or fail drug tests are arrested and often given a brief jail sentence.

Factors that influence penalties for drug possession -- aside from mandatory minimum sentences -- include the defendant's past record, the amount and type of drug. Some states have effectively decriminalized possession of marijuana, making it a simple infraction (not unlike a traffic ticket), while possession of crack cocaine once carried the harshest penalties in most states. Depending on a given state's sentencing rules, judges have a certain degree of discretion and can impose sentences ranging from fines, community service hours and probation to lengthy prison sentences. Talk to a criminal defense attorney experienced in drug possession cases for more detailed information.

This Website Last Up Dated This Info. On Feb 14/ 2012 About Marijuana Laws & Info. Restricted Both Federal and State Level + This Website Don't Promoting Drugs Use !

Miranda Warnings and Police Questioning + Through pop culture, TV and movies, most Americans know that in some cases the police are obligated to "read you your rights". Most of us can recall at least the beginning of a typical Miranda warning as easily as recalling the pledge of allegiance. What most Americans don't know, however, is exactly what their Miranda rights are and when they apply.

In 2010, the US Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that modified the rules surrounding Miranda rights. These decisions have significantly affected the circumstances under which Miranda protections apply, so it's a good idea to reexamine the rules for Miranda warnings.Your Miranda Rights

The Miranda warnings originated in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, which set forth the following warning and accompanying rights:You have the right to remain silent;Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation;If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you;You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop.You can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must stop.Variations on Traditional Miranda Warnings

You might notice that the last two points from above are often omitted in pop culture references. In fact, many states have their own particular variation of Miranda requirements that their police officers must use, so the language differs slightly from one police department to another.

The most common addition to these core Miranda rights has been to end the traditional warning with a question along the lines of "do you understand these rights as they have been read to you". A suspect must affirmatively respond that they understand these rights - courts will not interpret silence as a sufficient acknowledgment of the Miranda warning.

The US Supreme Court firmly established this principle in a 2010 decision. In that case, a murder suspect refused to sign an acknowledgment of his Miranda rights, then later made statements that were used against him in his conviction for the crime.

The Court ruled that the burden was on the suspect to invoke his Miranda rights, and his failure to sign the acknowledgment essentially amounted to a waiver of those rights. Miranda Warnings Don't Always Apply

There are two very basic prerequisites before the police must issue a Miranda warning to a suspect:The suspect is in police custodyThe suspect is under interrogation

It's crucial to understand these prerequisites because if you aren't formally in police custody, and you aren't being interrogated, the police don't have to give you a Miranda warning. This, in turn, means that the police can use anything you say until those two requirements are fulfilled as evidence against you.Police Custody

"Police custody" is generally defined as anytime the police deprive you of your freedom of action in a significant way. Realistically though, it means being arrested. Some jurisdictions treat detentions differently than arrests, though, and a Miranda warning isn't required in such a situation.

Generally speaking, an actual arrest must take place before the police need to give you a Miranda warning. This means that simple things such as traffic stops or a police officer walking up to you and asking you questions are not considered police custody. When in doubt, just stay silent (except for the exception about identification discussed below).Police Interrogation

Finally it's worth noting that the warning must come before you are being interrogated, so until the interrogation has begun, you are not necessarily owed a Miranda warning. A request for identification is generally not considered an interrogation, nor have the police placed you into custody simply by asking about your identity. In general, you must always give a police officer identification.

Once police officers begin asking questions that may implicate involvement in a crime, however, an interrogation has begun.

In another 2010 case, the US Supreme Court refined the rules for police interrogations. In that case, the Court ruled that police officers could initiate a second interrogation of a suspect who had previously invoked his Miranda right to remain silent once two weeks had elapsed from the date of the original interrogation. The police did not have to give the suspect another Miranda warning, according to the Supreme Court. The Court decided that the Miranda warning from the previous interrogation remained in effect, thus the statements the suspect gave during the second interrogation constituted a waiver of his right to silence.Failing to Provide a Miranda Warning

If the police fail to make you aware of your Miranda rights, nothing said in response to a custodial interrogation can be used against you. In addition, any evidence that is derived from that improper custodial interrogation is also inadmissible.

For instance, if the police fail to make you aware of your Miranda rights and questioning you leads them to a murder weapon, that weapon and the contents of that interrogation are both inadmissible unless they can show that they would have found the weapon without your statements.Physical and Psychological Intimidation

Information that you voluntarily offer to a police officer after receiving a proper Miranda warning is generally admissible in court. Police officers are not allowed to use physical or psychological intimidation to get you to make a statement, however. TV favorites such as hours spent under a bright light or sleep deprivation render the statement involuntary, and not admissible in court.What to Say and Not Say If You Are Arrested

People often blurt out admissions in the heat of the moment or let the police bait them into admissions. The best advice if you are arrested is quite simple: Be cooperative, be polite, provide identification, but say nothing other than to request a lawyer.

Legal marijuana backers raise $3 million in two states

Campaigns to become the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Washington and Colorado have raised $3 million ahead of a November vote, far outpacing the opposition.Proponents of pot legalization in Washington state have raised nearly $2 million since the initiative qualified for the ballot in January, and about $1 million in Colorado since its measure earned a place on the ballot the following month, according to the most recent state campaign figures.

In Oregon, where a voter referendum qualified in July, the legalization campaign reported less than $1,000 in contributions. All three state measures go on the ballot in November, when Americans vote for president and other offices.

With their war chests, backers of legalization drives in Washington state and Colorado have already bought television ads in a bid to convince voters, especially those who have never smoked pot, of merits of legalizing and taxing it.

Legalizing the drug for recreational purposes would run afoul of the federal government, which says that marijuana is a dangerous narcotic.

The referendums in the three Western states, among the 17 that already allow marijuana for medical purposes, comes as some states battle with the federal government over its raids of medical marijuana dispensaries.

"If one of these initiatives wins, it will really be a breakthrough," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which seeks alternatives to the current U.S. policy to combat drug use.

"And in the end, just as there has been a federal-state conflict involving medical marijuana, we anticipate there will be similar conflicts when states begin to legally regulate marijuana like alcohol," he said. "But the only way we think change can happen is through this process."

Polls indicate support in Colorado and Washington for legalizing pot.

A July poll by Survey USA of 630 registered voters in Washington state said 55 percent backed the marijuana legalization ballot measure. The margin of error was 4 percent.

Rasmussen Reports said its June poll of likely Colorado voters showed 61 percent supported legalizing and regulating pot. The survey had 500 respondents and a margin of 4.5 percent.

Billionaire Peter Lewis, the Ohio-based chairman of Progressive Insurance who helped finance successful state-level campaigns for medical marijuana, has emerged as the Washington state legalization measure's largest supporter with total contributions this year of $875,000.

A representative for Lewis declined requests for comment.

Drug Policy Action, a group related to New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, has given $600,000 this year to the Washington legalization campaign.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project has given the two registered groups behind the Colorado campaign most of their roughly $1 million in funds, state records show. Lists of donors to Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Action are not publicly available.

LEGAL AT 21

The ballot measures in all three states would legalize marijuana for people 21 and older, impose state-level taxes on the drug and allow sales of the drug at special pot stores.

A representative for the U.S. Justice Department had no comment in response to multiple requests. The Obama administration's Office of National Drug Control Policy has argued that pot use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease and cognitive impairment.

"One of the canards the other side puts out is that keeping marijuana, even in small amounts, illegal is essentially equivalent to a modern day prohibition for alcohol, which is a total joke," said Cully Stimson, chief of staff for the conservative Heritage Foundation, which opposes legalization.

Stimson said having only a couple drinks a day is healthy. "With marijuana use, the purpose is to get high," he said.

Despite such arguments, opponents of legalization have so far fallen short in fundraising. State campaign figures show that Smart Colorado has raised the most of any anti-legalization group, but its 2012 total stands at less than $40,000.

Holcomb said her pro-legalization group bought more than $1 million in TV air time in Washington state this month.

In Colorado, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spent $800,000 for fall season television ads, said Mason Tvert, co-director of the group.



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