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Election Night: Gubernatorial Victories Bode Well For 2019 Statewide Reform Prospects

NORML Blog - Wed, 11/07/2018 - 07:45

Voters on election day decided in favor of several gubernatorial candidates who campaigned on promises to either address or enact statewide marijuana law reforms as Governor.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano
said: “In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms.”

He concluded, “In 2019, we anticipate unprecedented legislative activity at the state level in favor of marijuana law reform legislation, and we expect to see several significant legislative victories before the year’s end.”

Below is a summary of several key races:

CALIFORNIA: Voters elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to be California’s next Governor. Newsom received an A grade from NORML for his longstanding support for marijuana legalization, which includes empaneling the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and campaigning on behalf of California’s 2016 adult use marijuana legalization law. He replaces Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (B grade from NORML).

COLORADO: Voters elected Democratic Congressman and NORML-endorsed candidate Jared Polis to be Governor. As a member of the US House of Representatives, Polis spearheaded prominent legalization legislation, such as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, and was a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. He replaces outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (B grade from NORML).

CONNECTICUT: Democrat Ned Lamont replaces Dan Malloy (B- grade from NORML) as Connecticut’s next Governor. In contrast to Malloy, who said that legalizing marijuana was not the state’s “best interest,” Lamont acknowledged during the campaign, “The time has come for Connecticut to responsibly legalize marijuana.” According to the results of an August Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent percent of Connecticut voters support “allowing adults in Connecticut to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”

ILLINOIS: Democratic candidate J.B. Pritizker defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner (C+ rating from NORML). Pritzker was outspoken in his support for marijuana policy reform throughout the campaign, stating, “In the name of criminal justice reform, consumer safety, and increased state revenue, Illinois needs a governor who is ready to legalize marijuana.” He also campaigned in favor of commuting the sentences of those incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes. Sixty-six percent of Illinois voters support “the legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol,” according to a 2018 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll.

MAINE: Democrat Janet Mills will replace outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, who received a D- grade from NORML earlier this year. As Governor, LePage campaigned against the states’ 2016 adult use legalization initiative and later vetoed legislation that sought to fully implement it into law. By contrast, Mills acknowledges that “properly implemented, marijuana legalization has the potential to create thousands of jobs, grow the Maine economy, and end an outdated war on drugs.”

MICHIGAN: Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican candidate Bill Schuette in Michigan’s Governor’s race. Whitmer endorsed the state’s 2018 adult use legalization measure, Proposal 1, which was enacted by 56 percent of the state’s voters. By contrast, former Attorney General Schuette opposed Proposal 1, and formerly campaigned — unsuccessfully — against the passage of medical cannabis access in Michigan.

MINNESOTA: Democratic candidate Tim Walz has been elected to be the next Governor of Minnesota. During his gubernatorial campaign, Walz embraced marijuana legalization, pledging to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.” Fifty-six percent of Minnesota adults support legalizing adult marijuana use, according to the results of an October Survey USA poll.

PENNSYLVANIA: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf was re-elected as Governor of Pennsylvania. Wolf received B- grade from NORML and has been vocal in his support for amending the state’s marijuana laws so that minor marijuana possession offenses are no longer classified as criminal misdemeanors. NORML-endorsed candidate John Fetterman was successful in his bid to be elected Lt. Governor.

NEW MEXICO: Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham will replace Republican Susana Martinez. Grisham has said that she would be “inclined to sign” legislation regulating adult marijuana use. By contrast, Martinez vetoed numerous marijuana reform bills, including those expanding medical cannabis access and legalizing hemp. She received an F grade from NORML.

WISCONSIN: Democratic candidate Tony Evers defeated Republican incumbent Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s next Governor. Walker opposed efforts to amend adult use marijuana law during his tenure as Governor – receiving a D+ grade on NORML’s gubernatorial scorecard. By contrast, Evers says he’s “not opposed to” legalization. “I’d support it, but I do believe there has to be a more thoughtful, rigorous conversation around it as a state. So I would love to have a statewide referendum on this.” Sixty-four percent of registered Wisconsin voters say that marijuana should be “legalized for use by adults, … taxed, and regulated like alcohol,” according to a statewide October 2018 poll.

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Voters Approve Proposition 2 Legalizing Medical Marijuana Access in Utah

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 21:24

With the approval of Proposition 2, Utah has become the 33rd state to regulate the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to qualified patients. The vote comes ahead of a proposed special legislative session of the Utah legislature to address specific rules and regulations governing medical cannabis patient access.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “It is our hope that Utah’s politicians will respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact The Utah Medical Cannabis Act in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.”

Under legislation enacted by the legislature in 2018, only those patients who are terminally ill may potentially access cannabis-infused products. To date, however, such products are not yet legally available.

According to national polling compiled earlier this year by Quinnipiac University, 91 percent of voters nationwide support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”

 

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Michigan Voters Overwhelmingly Pass Proposition 1 Legalizing the Retail Sale of Marijuana For Adults

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:24

With the approval of voter-initiated Proposition 1, Michigan has become the 10th state to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said,  “Voters in Michigan sent a resounding rebuke to their state’s failed policy of prohibition and elected to follow a new, more sensible path of regulation and legalization. Instead of arresting thousands of citizens a year for possession of a plant, Michigan will now be able to prioritize law enforcement resources towards combating violent crime, honor personal freedom and civil liberties, end the racist application of weaponizing prohibition laws against communities of color, and collect tax revenue that was previously going to black market elements and put it towards important social programs such as education and infrastructure development.”

Proposition 1 permits those over the age of 21 to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis and related concentrates, while also licensing activities related to commercial marijuana production and retail marijuana sales.

“For years, Michigan has been one of the leading states in the nation in total annual marijuana-related arrests,” added Altieri, “In 2016, police made over 22,000 marijuana-related arrests, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of over $94 million. That wasteful and harmful practice ends today.”

According to recently compiled nationwide survey data provided by Gallup, 66 percent of US citizens — including majorities of self-identified Republicans, Independents, and Democrats — believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal.

 

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Voters Approve Amendment 2 Legalizing Medical Marijuana Access in Missouri

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 20:03

With the approval of Amendment 2, Missouri has become the 32nd state to regulate the licensed production and distribution of medical cannabis products to qualified patients.

The amendment was one of three competing ballot measures that seek to regulate medical cannabis use in Missouri. Of the three, NORML only endorsed Amendment 2. That is because we believe that Amendment 2 is written in a manner that best provides for the needs of patients and their physicians.

“This is a patient-centered proposal that puts power in the hands of state-licensed physicians and their patients, not politicians or bureaucrats. Passage of Amendment 2 creates a robust statewide system for production and sale of medical cannabis,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Of the three proposals on the ballot, we believed that Amendment 2 was the clear choice for voters, and the voters agreed.”

According to national polling compiled earlier this year by Quinnipiac University, 91 percent of voters nationwide support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”

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Texas: Leading Marijuana Prohibitionist Fails In Congressional Re-Election Bid

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 19:52

One of Congress’ most powerful and vocal marijuana prohibitionists, Republican Pete Sessions of Texas, failed in his re-election bid for Congress’ 32nd District. Sessions was defeated by Democratic challenger Colin Allred.

Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

“Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

Representative Sessions received an ‘F’ grade in NORML’s latest Congressional Scorecard. By contrast, his Democratic challenger received a B+ grade as a result of his stated support for cannabis decriminalization and medical marijuana access.

Texas’ 32nd Congressional District represents the city of Garland and the northeastern section of Dallas.

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Illinois: Cannabis reform candidates J.B. Pritzker, Kwame Raoul, Bob Morgan cruise to victory

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 19:27

Yesterday’s blue wave in Illinois poised to become a green wave next session

Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who has been a vocal supporter of legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adults’ use, appears to have handily won yesterday’s gubernatorial election. While official election results are still pending, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times reported a margin of victory of around 55% of the vote.

In the race for state attorney general, cannabis reform supporter Sen. Kwame Raoul also notched a win with around 54% of the vote. Both J.B. Pritzker and Kwame Raoul were rated A+ candidates by MPP leading up to the election for their strong positions in support of sensible marijuana policy.

And a hearty congratulations go out to friend-of-the-movement Bob Morgan, who won the 58th District seat in the Illinois House of Representatives! Morgan headed up the successful launch of the state’s medical cannabis program, and as a private attorney, Bob has continued to be engaged in cannabis reform. He is a welcome addition to the General Assembly.

Yesterday’s results come as Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy prepare to introduce a revised bill for the session starting in January that would legalize cannabis for adults in Illinois. This moment is a huge step toward the bill’s passage and an exciting moment for those who seek an end to cannabis prohibition in Illinois.

The post Illinois: Cannabis reform candidates J.B. Pritzker, Kwame Raoul, Bob Morgan cruise to victory appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform!

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 19:19

Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform.

Michigan has passed legalization! MPP played a central role in this campaign from start to finish. From coordinating the initiative drafting to overseeing the production of TV ads, MPP staffers worked alongside a excellent campaign team for two years to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to adopt legalization. This is a huge win that will maintain our momentum in Washington, D.C. to pass a landmark federal reform bill through Congress in the near future.

Utah passed medical marijuana! MPP led the drafting process and played an important supporting role throughout the campaign. We are so proud of the Utah Patients Coalition team on this historic win that will end the heartless policy of criminalizing patients. If we can pass medical marijuana in Utah, then we can pass it in any state in the country…and we will.

In Missouri, voters approved medical marijuana, and they chose the best of the three possible initiatives. We congratulate our allies in the marijuana reform movement for this important win that will help patients access the medicine they need.

Sadly, North Dakota did not pass its legalization initiative. In such a conservative state, it was always an uphill battle. The proponents ran a strong campaign, but in a midterm year, the electorate was always going to be a challenge. North Dakota passed medical marijuana in 2016. It’s only a matter of time before the state adopts legalization, either via ballot initiative or legislative action.

As a movement, we won three out of four states. And for MPP, we’ve now played a leading role in seven of the 10 states that have legalized marijuana for adults (Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Michigan).

We couldn’t do this work without the support of voters, allies, activists, and donors. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who made these crucial victories last night possible.

In other great news, voters elected at least seven governors who support ending marijuana prohibition — Ned Lamont in Connecticut, JB Pritzker in Illinois, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Tim Walz in Minnesota, Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan. For more details, check out our elections page.

The post Another election, and another historic night for marijuana reform! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Florida: Voters Pass Amendment Restoring Voting Rights To Marijuana Felons

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 18:11

Florida voters today passed Amendment 4, which amends the state constitution to restore voting privileges to those with non-violent felony convictions.

Under Florida law, first-time possession of marijuana in amounts greater than 20 grams (less than one ounce) is classified under state law as a felony offense. Only one other state, Arizona, classifies minor marijuana offenses so punitively.

Commenting on the vote result, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Florida is a national leader in annual marijuana arrests. In many cases, those arrested are charged with felony offenses for simple possession. Passage of Amendment 4 restores voting privileges to those tens of thousands of Floridians who have been stigmatized by a felony marijuana conviction, and makes it clear that the collateral consequences of a non-violent drug possession conviction should not forever bar one from participating in the democratic process.”

In 2016, Floridians passed a separate constitutional amendment regulating medical cannabis access to qualified patients.

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Missouri: Election day is here — vote YES on Amendment 2!

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:38

Have you voted yet? If not, look up your polling location and make a plan to get there before 7 p.m. when the polls close!

Voting is one of the most important tools we have to change marijuana laws. Sitting out an election is a great way to ensure that failed prohibitionist policies remain in place.

Today Missourians have an opportunity to vote on not one, but three different medical marijuana initiatives. MPP encourages voters to say “YES” on Amendment 2, because it will enshrine a sensible and compassionate medical marijuana program in the state constitution, making it harder for state politicians to undermine it later.

Today, be one of the millions of Americans voicing their support for humane and rational marijuana policies through the ballot box. Grab a few friends and get out there and VOTE!

The post Missouri: Election day is here — vote YES on Amendment 2! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Utah: If you haven’t already — go vote YES on Prop 2!

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:32

Election Day is here. Have you voted yet?

If you haven’t, look up your polling location and go vote YES on Prop 2 right now!

Your vote matters! It’s important that Utah sends a message to the political establishment that there is strong support for a medical marijuana policy.

After you vote, if you’re near Salt Lake City, join the Utah Patients Coalition for their election night celebration! The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the Infinity Event Center (26 East 600 South). You can register here with Facebook or here without it.

Patients and their families in Utah deserve a compassionate medical cannabis program. Please, don’t sit this one out. Go vote YES on Prop 2 and send the message that it’s time to move forward!

The post Utah: If you haven’t already — go vote YES on Prop 2! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Today’s the day, North Dakota: Go vote YES on Measure 3!

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:21

Election Day is finally here. For many months, the YES on 3 team has worked tirelessly to educate North Dakotans about the benefits of ending the wasteful and destructive policy of marijuana prohibition.

Now, all that’s left is to go out and VOTE! Look up polling locations here and set a time to go.

By passing Measure 3, North Dakota could send a powerful message about the strength of the legalization movement in this country. It all comes down to today. Be part of this historic reform effort and vote YES on Measure 3!

We’re eagerly waiting for the results to start coming in. Tonight could represent incredible progress for our movement. Go be part of it and vote!

The post Today’s the day, North Dakota: Go vote YES on Measure 3! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Michigan: It’s all up to you now — get out there and vote for Prop 1!

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:16

Election Day is finally here. With the help of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters across the state, the YES on 1 campaign has done all it can to educate the voters of Michigan about the benefits that Proposal 1 will bring to the state.

Now, all that’s left is to go out and VOTE! Find your polling location and set a time to go there today. Polls close at 8:00 pm ET tonight.

Having trouble finding your polling location? Please email us and we would be happy to help.

Michigan is poised to become the 10th state in the country to officially end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. Be part of this historic reform effort and vote YES on Prop 1!

This has been a long campaign, stretching back for two years. Now is when we bring it over the finish line. VOTE TODAY!

The post Michigan: It’s all up to you now — get out there and vote for Prop 1! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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It’s Election Day – vote like our marijuana policies depend on it!

MPP Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:11

If you haven’t voted yet, look up your polling place and check out our Election 2018 page and voter guides.

Over the years, our movement has made significant progress through the ballot box. This year will be no different. Be part of the wave of change today and go vote!

Voters are weighing in on adult-use legalization initiatives in Michigan and North Dakota and medical marijuana measures in Utah and Missouri. Some residents of Ohio and Wisconsin, too, have a chance to voice their support for local measures ending punitive marijuana policies. Go here for information about this year’s ballot questions.

Voters in states without marijuana-related ballot initiatives can play a huge role in changing marijuana laws, too. Visit MPP’s website to find out where candidates stand on marijuana policy in every gubernatorial race, along with in-depth state legislative voter guides for nine states. Roughly half the country lacks a ballot initiative process. The only way we can change marijuana laws in those states is to support thoughtful elected officials and oppose those who aren’t.

If you haven’t voted yet, make a plan right now. Look up your polling location and set a time to go. Spread the word on social media and urge your friends to vote, too!

There’s too much at stake to sit it out.

The post It’s Election Day – vote like our marijuana policies depend on it! appeared first on MPP Blog.

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A Note From NORML’s Founder On Election Day

NORML Blog - Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:08

The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

I want to take the opportunity today to personally thank you for being a marijuana policy reform supporter. Whether you are new to the cause or an old hand like myself, we at NORML both appreciate and rely upon your continued support.

When I founded NORML in late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by tens-of-thousands of committed supporters like you, together we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public. Today, some two out of three adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

Election Day is a time when we can make our collective voices heard. That is why I am personally asking you to share NORML’s voter guide so that your friends and neighbors can be as informed as you are when they go to cast their ballot.

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We are certainly proud of the enormous progress we have made toward ending marijuana prohibition nationwide, and we are especially proud of the gains we have made over the last several years. Today, over 30 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; and nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational adult use of marijuana.

Our friendly neighbors to the North have also been busy. Canada has become the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of marijuana. It’s important to note that Prime Minister Trudeau was not always in favor of legalization, in fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML Canada advocates Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs in 2012. They presented Trudeau with pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today as prime minister. That is why we must all continue to raise our voices and advocate for change.

Frankly, I have been smoking marijuana for more than 50 years, beginning when I was a first-year law student at Georgetown Law School in 1965. I enjoy my marijuana when I am relaxing in the evening, just like millions of other Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at the end of their workday. But this issue is only incidentally about marijuana; it is really about personal freedom.

Most Americans don’t want the government intruding into our homes in order to learn what books we read, what music we listen to, or how we conduct ourselves in the privacy of our bedroom. Neither does the government have the right to know whether we consume marijuana or drink alcohol.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults. It  is time for our lawmakers to recognize this fact and to act to make this policy a reality. That is why I am asking you to share NORML’s voter guide so that this election day we can elect reform-minded candidates up and down the ballot.

Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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With your dedication, diligence, and continued support, together we will win to fight for personal freedom.

Regards,

Keith Stroup, Esq.
NORML Founder and Legal Counsel

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N.H.: Study commission proposes legalization framework

MPP Blog - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 10:08

After you vote tomorrow, you are welcome to attend a marijuana legalization debate at New England College in Henniker!

Last week, New Hampshire’s study commission on marijuana legalization published its final report. The commission did not take a position on legalization, but it did make 54 recommendations to the legislature, including the following:

  • Marijuana should be referred to as cannabis in any future legislation.
  • If cannabis is legalized for adults’ use, limited home cultivation should be allowed.
  • If cannabis is legalized, a Cannabis Commission should be created to license and regulate cannabis cultivators, testing labs, product manufacturers, and retail stores.

You can read the full report here. Overall, this is a much more useful report than we originally expected from the study commission, which was stacked with prohibitionists. Although it does contain some problematic language, the report will help to inform the legislature about the issue when it convenes in January.

We expect that your calendars are already marked for Election Day tomorrow. If you are available tomorrow evening after you vote, you’re welcome to join me and other panelists for a cannabis legalization debate at New England College.

WHAT: Debate: Should New Hampshire Legalize Cannabis?

WHERE: New England College, Simon Center Great Room, 98 Bridge Street, Henniker

WHEN: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

WHO: Six panelists including Richard Van Wickler, Superintendent of Cheshire County Department of Corrections, Kate Frey, vice-president of advocacy at New Futures, and MPP’s New England Political Director Matt Simon

Finally, please click here to learn where candidates on your ballot stand on marijuana policy! Then, please share this information with your family and friends and remind them to vote on November 6!

The post N.H.: Study commission proposes legalization framework appeared first on MPP Blog.

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Congress’ Leading Marijuana Prohibitionist Trails In Latest Poll

NORML Blog - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 09:11

Texas Republican and ardent marijuana prohibitionist Pete Sessions trails by four points in his re-election bid, according to polling data released yesterday. According to the survey results, Sessions is behind Democratic challenger Colin Allred by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent in the race for Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.

As a member of Congress, Sessions has been one of the nation’s most vocal and powerful forces against our efforts to enact sensible marijuana policy reforms. Speaking publicly on the issue earlier this year, Sessions opined: “Marijuana is an addictive product, and the merchants of addiction make it that way. They make it to where our people, our young people, become addicted to marijuana and keep going.”

As I wrote last month in my ‘Marijuana and the midterms” op-ed in The Hill, “Pete Sessions has used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure.” His actions have almost single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

Representative Sessions received an ‘F’ grade in NORML’s latest Congressional Scorecard. By contrast, his Democratic challenger received a B+ grade as a result of his stated support for cannabis decriminalization and medical marijuana access.

Texas’ 32nd Congressional District represents the city of Garland and the northeastern section of Dallas.

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No Reason To Relent

NORML Blog - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 07:30

Marijuana legalization is a prominent and pivotal issue in the 2018 elections, with thousands of local, state, and federal candidates around the country advocating for an end to our decades-long, failed policy of prohibition.

Our issue is no longer a regional one confined to deep blue states on the West Coast or the Northeast. Advocating for comment sense marijuana policy reform has gone nationwide. Voters increasingly agree with us that the battle for legalization goes hand-in-hand with our battle for improved civil liberties, personal freedom, racial justice, and sound economics.

We are winning this fight, but that is no reason to relent in our struggle. We must double down and end this war on cannabis and those who consume it once and for all.

That is why we built Smoke the Vote – the most comprehensive listing of state and federal candidates’ positions on marijuana reform ever created.

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When I first came to NORML as the Executive Director, our movement was in a precarious position. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was gearing up his rhetoric for a war on marijuana, and we seemed destined for a head-on collision between states and the Department of Justice. A few months later, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo that provided cover to states with legalization, thus providing an opening for the federal government to once again begin to prosecute state legal marijuana patients or businesses.

But how quickly the tides can change. Unfortunately for Sessions, his outspoken opposition and not so veiled threats have largely blown back in his face. While Jeff Sessions may live like it’s 1956, the rest of us are in 2018. Sixty-eight percent of American voters are on our side and believe we need to end our failed racist prohibition on cannabis and legalize it for adult use.

We have won the hearts and minds of the people. Americans from all political persuasions, demographics, and regions of the country are saying “enough is enough, we will not go back.”

We will not continue to lock up over 650,000 of our fellow citizens each year for the simple possession of a plant that is objectively safer than currently legal alcohol and tobacco. We will not put patients into handcuffs for using cannabis to alleviate their suffering. We will not allow jackbooted thugs to continue to knock down doors in communities of color and tear apart families. We will not continue to fuel a school to prison pipeline that is destroying the future of countless promising students. We will not continue to allow money to flow to drug cartels when it can be going to state tax coffers to fund new school construction and important social programs.

Prohibitionists, with their flat earth mentality, are attempting to push back against the inevitable. They continue to flail against the forward march of progress — endlessly defending a policy will go down in history books as a national embarrassment, much like alcohol prohibition or Jim Crow laws. Their names will be listed as ignorant enablers of racist and anti-American policies — a footnote to be laughed at in disbelief. That is, if they are remembered at all.

But this victory is only possible if the American marijuana majority votes!

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In response to prohibitionists’ last-ditch efforts to slow our momentum, they have inadvertently converted new vocal supporters to our cause. And they have shaken many of our elected officials out of their state of complacency. Former ravenous drug warriors like Senator Schumer and Senator Feinstein now subscribe to the gospel of comprehensive reform. Republican lawmakers, once largely unified in their opposition, are now taking up leadership roles in the fight for federal marijuana reform. Representative David Joyce of Ohio and Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado have become strong and necessary allies. Our fight is now mainstream and bipartisan, as we always knew it should be.

With the wind at our backs, we must redouble our efforts. 2018 is truly shaping up to be the Marijuana Midterms and we need to make sure all of our supporters are informed and ready to vote. Much still remains at stake.

With every single member of the House of Representatives up for reelection, as well as pivotal Senate offices, we are in the position to shape the makeup of Congress to our liking. This election will determine who chairs those committees that will be critical in order to move our federal legislation forward. It provides the opportunity to vote out prohibitionists and vote in reformers. Candidates from across this country, with our encouragement, have added support for ending marijuana prohibition to their campaign platforms because we have shown them it is no longer a political liability, but a political opportunity to put oneself on the right side of history. With more Americans running for office than ever before, we can help usher in a new era of federal leadership that truly represent their constituents’ wishes when it comes to marijuana policy.

And it is not just federal candidates who are embracing cannabis reform, this change also taking place at the state level. While we need reformers in Congress to finally end this prohibition, we also need state legislators and governors to approve and defend our state-level reform efforts. In Colorado’s race for Governor, one of our longest and most ardent supporters, Jared Polis, overwhelmingly won his contested primary with the support of NORML — support he highlighted again and again on the campaign trail. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman blew away his competition in the race for Lt. Governor. Fetterman is now likely to win on the Democratic ticket with Governor Tom Wolf in November. Fetterman has spoken at numerous NORML events, worked with us to push for change in the Keystone state, and, should he be victorious next week, he will be able to help make decriminalization and legalization a reality.

In the final run-up to Election Day, we must do everything we can to educate and mobilize voters.

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Together, we have already accomplished so much. When we stand shoulder to shoulder and fight with one voice against these unjust laws, we will cross that final finish line.

Together, we WILL legalize marijuana nationwide.

See you at the polls,
Erik

Erik Altieri
NORML Executive Director

 

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Vote. And vote well.

DrugWarRant - Sat, 11/03/2018 - 07:50

If you haven’t already voted in advance, be sure to vote on Tuesday.

Of course, here at DrugWarRant, we are fully aware that change rarely comes from politicians, but rather, as we’ve been doing, from educating the people so that they make the politicians follow.

And we’ve succeeded extremely well — more and more candidates at least support legalization of marijuana and are often willing to talk about the shortcomings of the drug war.

Still, there is an opportunity on Tuesday to get a few more elected officials in office who are on the right side.

NORML has a very handy guide called Smoke the Vote. Simply enter your 9-digit zip code, and they’ll give you a list of all the candidates and their grade on marijuana legalization. Very handy.

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Here Are the Ohio Cities Voting on Marijuana This Tuesday November 6th

NORML Blog - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 11:10

With the marijuana midterms right around the corner, it’s imperative that you know who you’re voting for, what issues are going to be on your ballot, and where your voting location is leading up to Election Day this Tuesday November 6th. To see who the most pro-cannabis reform candidates are in your district, check out our Smoke the Vote scorecard and voter guide.

In addition, if you live in any of these cities, be sure to vote YES on the following marijuana ballot initiatives.

Dayton

Shall the Dayton Revised Code of General Ordinances be amended to decriminalize specific misdemeanor marihuana and hashish offenses?

Garrettsville

“Shall the proposed ordinance to lower the penalties for misdemeanor marihuana offenses to the lowest penalties allowed by state law be adopted?”

Windham

“Shall the proposed ordinance to lower the penalties for misdemeanor marihuana offenses to the lowest penalties allowed by state law be adopted?”

Fremont

“Shall the proposed Sensible Marihuana Ordinance which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law be adopted?”

Norwood

“Shall the proposed ordinance adding Section 513.15 Marijuana Laws and Penalties to the City of Norwood Municipal Code, which would lower the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law, be adopted?”

Oregon

“Shall the proposed Sensible Marihuana Ordinance which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law be adopted?”

Make sure you know where your polling location is, who the most cannabis friendly candidiates are, and be sure to get to the polls on November 6th to #SmokeTheVote!

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 11/2/18

NORML Blog - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 09:26

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

A bit of news from across the border to start; Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down the country’s prohibition of marijuana by issuing two separate rulings, setting binding precedent that the country’s ban on consuming marijuana is unconstitutional. The nation’s Congress has 90 days to repeal cannabis bans now considered unconstitutional.

Let’s talk about Election Day, which is this Tuesday, November 6th, 2018. Don’t forget to vote if you haven’t already! No matter where you live, or what political party you identify with, your vote counts. It matters. It can make a difference. It’s your civic duty to exercise your right to vote. Make sure you know where your voting location is. And, make sure you know who and what is on your ballot, so you can make an informed decision. Also check out NORML’s voter guide and scorecard to see who the most cannabis friendly candidates are this election, and get ready to #SmokeTheVote!

In Congress this week, The U.S. House bill to require the federal government to study the effects of legalizing marijuana (Marijuana Data Collection Act) got two new cosponsors, for a total of 33.

At the state level, Utah lawmakers and advocates are working to tweak provisions of proposed medical cannabis compromise legislation. The House speaker also held a public forum on the issue.

New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study committee released a lengthy report looking at policy considerations for the potential end of prohibition.

New Mexico lawmakers held a hearing on allowing medical cannabis at schools. Separately, a New Mexico judge ruled that the state’s 450-plant limit on medical cannabis dispensaries is arbitrary and capricious and has no factual basis.

Maine regulators are estimating that the first recreational marijuana stores could open next year.

Colorado regulators will host a Marijuana Science and Policy Work Group meeting on Monday.

Oregon regulators will hold a public hearing on technical changes to marijuana rules on November 16.

Colorado regulators are inviting people to submit comments on proposed changes to medical cannabis rules. You can submit your own comments here.

Ohio regulators are now accepting petitions to add additional medical cannabis qualifying conditions. You can submit your own petition here.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill into law to stop revoking driver’s’ licenses from people convicted of drug offenses and other crimes unrelated to motor vehicle operation.

At a more local level, San Francisco, California’s mayor announced the expansion of the city’s cannabis equity program. And Manhattan’s district attorney announced that marijuana prosecutions are down 94% in the first quarter of a newly implemented policy.

Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation

New York

A11390 seeks to require public health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs.

The measure amends state law so that publicly funded health programs, including the largely-publicly funded Essential Plan, would treat medical cannabis like any other legal prescription drug “for the purposes of coverage under medical assistance.”

NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana coverage

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