Skip to Content

Blog Feeds

Atlanta Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

NORML Blog - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 13:06

Today, Atlanta City Council voted to pass Ordinance 17-O-1152, decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses. This measure amends the local law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is punishable by a $75 fine — no arrest, jail time, or criminal arrest record.

Annually, over 30,000 Georgians — many of whom reside in Atlanta — are arrested and charged with violating marijuana possession laws. Those arrested and convicted face up to one-year in prison, a $1,000 fine under state law, or up to six months in jail under local statutes. National statistics indicate that African Americans are an estimated four times as likely as whites to be arrested for violating marijuana possession laws, despite using marijuana at rates similar to Caucasians.

“Court costs, the jail time, ruining young people’s lives, they lose their scholarships, it breaks up families, and it wastes our tax dollars. That’s the reason for doing this,” said Kwanza Hall, a city Councilman and candidate for Mayor.

With the passage of this measure, citizens of Atlanta no longer have to fear unnecessary jail time for possessing a drug that should not be illegal in the first place. However, because the law only applies to Atlanta city limits, it conflicts with the state law that calls for jail time and gives police leeway in deciding which law (state or city) should be enforced.

However, Atlanta has now joined the growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. This new ordinance may not be perfect, but it is a victory nonetheless.

“Atlanta is celebrating a big win for their community, for their future. Citizens should be aware of the actual law not just assume they can use Cannabis unfettered across the city. There will be a learning curve and we at Peachtree NORML will do everything we can to make sure the citizens are educated as we continue our work at the State level. For now, 800 arrests will not occur next year if this ordinance stays true to what the essence was meant to accomplish,” said Sharon Ravert, founder of Peachtree NORML.

 

Follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Maryland Expungement Bill Becomes Law

MPP Blog - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:43

On Sunday, SB 949, which makes it easier for people who have been convicted of marijuana possession to clear their records in Maryland, went into effect. The bill became law in May without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.

Prior to the bill’s passage, anyone convicted of cannabis possession was required to wait 10 years before applying for expungement, despite Maryland decriminalizing possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana in 2014. Now, the waiting period has been reduced from 10 years after conviction to four years.

While this reform is a step in the right direction, it is far short of the improvements Marylanders need. If you are a Maryland resident, please write to your state legislators, and ask them to support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.

The post Maryland Expungement Bill Becomes Law appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Marijuana Prohibition Turns 80

NORML Blog - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 04:58

Eighty years ago, on October 2, 1937, House Bill 6385: The Marihuana Tax Act was enacted as law. The Act for the first time imposed federal criminal penalties on activities specific to the possession, production, and sale of cannabis – thus ushering in the modern era of federal prohibition.

“The ongoing enforcement of marijuana prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts young people and communities of color,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “It makes no sense from a public health perspective, a fiscal perspective, or a moral perspective to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of those adults who choose to responsibly consume a substance that is safer than either alcohol or tobacco.”

Congress held only two hearings to debate the merits of the Marihuana Tax Act, which largely consisted of sensational testimony by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Director Harry Anslinger. He asserted before the House Ways and Means Committee, “This drug is entirely the monster Hyde, the harmful effect of which cannot be measured.” His ideological testimony was countered by the American Medical Association, whose legislative counsel Dr. William C. Woodward argued that hard evidence in support of Anslinger’s hyperbolic claims was non-existent.

Woodward testified: “We are told that the use of marijuana causes crime. But yet no one has been produced from the Bureau of Prisons to show the number of prisoners who have been found addicted to the marijuana habit. … You have been told that school children are great users of marijuana cigarettes.  No one has been summoned from the Children’s Bureau to show the nature and extent of the habit among children. Inquiry of the Children’s Bureau shows that they have had no occasion to investigate it and know nothing particularly of it.” He further contended that passage of the Act would severely hamper physicians’ ability to prescribe cannabis as a medicine.

Absent further debate, members of Congress readily approved the bill, which President Franklin Roosevelt promptly signed into law on August 2, 1937. The ramifications of the law became apparent over the ensuing decades. Physicians ceased prescribing cannabis as a therapeutic remedy and the substance was ultimately removed from the US pharmacopeia in 1942. United States hemp cultivation also ended (although the industry was provided a short-lived reprieve during World War II). Policy makers continued to exaggerate the supposed ill effects of cannabis, which Congress went on to classify alongside heroin in 1970 with the passage of the US Controlled Substances Act. Law enforcement then began routinely arresting marijuana consumers and sellers, fueling the racially disparate, mass incarceration epidemic we still face today.

Despite continued progress when it comes to legalizing or decriminalizing the adult use of marijuana, data from the recently released Uniform Crime Report from the FBI revealed that over 600,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses in 2016.

After 80 years of failure, NORML contends that it is time for a common sense, evidence-based approach to cannabis policy in America.

“Despite nearly a century of criminal prohibition, the demand for marijuana is here to stay. America’s laws should reflect this reality and govern the cannabis market accordingly,” stated NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, “Policymakers ought to look to the future rather than to the past, and take appropriate actions to comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

On The Passing of Hugh Hefner

NORML Blog - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:48

Hugh Hefner, or “Hef” as he preferred to be called, played a crucial role in the early days of NORML. At a time when most Americans were accepting the government’s “reefer madness” propaganda, Hef, through the Playboy Foundation, provided NORML with our initial funding in early 1971, and became our primary funder all during the 1970s. And by focusing attention in Playboy magazine on some of the most egregious victims of the war against marijuana smokers, he helped us convince millions of Americans that marijuana prohibition was a misguided and destructive public policy.

Hefner was a fearless cultural crusader who believed deeply not just in the right to sexual freedom, but also in civil rights and the right to privacy. May he rest in peace.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Let’s Get Registered! #WeCannaVote

NORML Blog - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 13:13

It’s time to exercise your civic duty and ensure that you are registered to vote!

2018 is a critical midterm election year, and NORML is partnering with the National Cannabis Festival and HeadCount for the #WeCannaVote Voter Registration Drive. The goal is to register thousands of new voters before the 2018 National Cannabis Festival on April 21 & to educate those in and beyond the cannabis community about their right to vote. Click here to register.

2016 was a great year for cannabis reform, with 8 states (out of 9 total) across the US passing ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana, 4 medical and 4 adult-use. Here’s a quick breakdown of the 2016 results:

PASSED:

Arkansas Issue No. 6: Medical Marijuana
53% YES, 46.9% NO

California Proposition 64: Legal Adult-Use Marijuana
56% YES, 43.9% NO

Florida Amendment No. 2: Medical Marijuana
71.2% YES, 28.7% NO

Massachusetts Question 4: Legal Adult-Use Marijuana
53.5% YES, 46.4% NO

Maine Question 1: Legal Adult-Use Marijuana
50.1% YES, 49.8% NO

Montana Initiative No. 182: Medical Marijuana
57.6% YES, 42.3% NO

North Dakota Initiated Statutory Measure No. 5: Medical Marijuana
53.7% YES, 36.2% NO

Nevada State Question No. 2: Legal Adult-Use Marijuana
54.4% YES, 45.5% NO

FAILED:

Arizona Proposition 205: Recreational Marijuana
51.9% NO, 48% YES


As you can see in Arizona, we lost by an incredibly close margin. If only a few more thousand voters turned out, we know we would have won. This just proves how important it is to get out and VOTE! Make sure that you are registered NOW.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Marijuana Arrests Increasing Nationally Despite State Reforms

MPP Blog - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 09:16

On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released their annual Crime in the United States (CIUS) report, and the stats are concerning.

Tom Angell reported for Forbes:

Marijuana possession busts comprised 37.36% of all reported drug arrests in the U.S. in 2016, and cannabis sales and manufacturing arrests accounted for another 4.18% of the total.

Added together, marijuana arrests made up 41.54% of the 1,572,579 drug busts in the country last year.

That means, based on an extrapolation, that police arrested people for cannabis 653,249 times in the U.S. in 2016.

That averages out to about one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds.

According to the same calculation, there were 643,121 U.S. cannabis arrests in 2015.

So arrests for marijuana are on the rise, even as more states legalize it.

These figures are only estimates based on the available information provided by law enforcement agencies, but represent the best current method for determining arrest rates. In addition, the FBI has ceased publishing the information about the drug arrest percentages by type of drug, making analysis even more difficult.

MPP’s Morgan Fox released the following statement:

Arresting and citing more than 650,000 people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty. Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested. Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals. It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.

The post Marijuana Arrests Increasing Nationally Despite State Reforms appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

College Medical Marijuana Policy Leaves Many Students Unable to Legally Consume

NORML Blog - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 06:56

What’s a medical marijuana card-holding college student to do when they are required to live in on-campus housing but their medicine is banned from the premises?

Apparently, choose between suffering from their illness or face disciplinary action, at least according to the majority of University policy.

In Washington DC, marijuana is legal to for those over the age of  21 to possess, transfer (exchange with no currency involved), and grow up to two ounces of marijuana in their homes and available to buy from a dispensary for medical use per a doctor’s recommendation. However, given its treatment on college campuses in the area, you would have no idea.

For example, at American University, their code for student conduct clearly states the punishable offenses for “alcohol and illegal drugs” (despite the fact that cannabis has been legalized for medical and recreational use for adults 21+) include:

  • To use or possess any illegal drug (including medical marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in the residence halls.
  • To sell, manufacture, or distribute any illegal drug (including medical marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in the residence halls.
  • To knowingly and voluntarily be in the presence of any illegal drug (including medical marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in the residence halls.

At The George Washington University, their policy on medical marijuana is less clear. Their policy for medical marijuana is not listed in their Code for Student Conduct, and when asked for clarification on the matter, the administration declined to respond.

The code for student conduct does say, however, that students caught using, possessing, and distributing marijuana face a minimum $50 fine, mandatory drug education classes, and possible eviction from housing. If there’s an intent to distribute, students face suspension or expulsion.

Alcohol penalties at the school, on the other hand, are significantly less harsh. The penalty for consumption and possession is parental notification, and in subsequent offenses, students could face a possible fine or alcohol education classes.  

In addition to this, GW provides an Alcohol Medical Amnesty Policy, wherein underage, intoxicated students can receive a penalty-free ride to the hospital in a student-run ambulance for their first offense. Subsequent offenses receive harsher penalties each time, though it takes much longer for a student to reach serious disciplinary action than for marijuana users, who are harshly penalized for their first time.

So why do these schools remain so behind the times? Why is marijuana classified so much more harshly than alcohol– which kills over 1800 students per year and is heavily associated with sexual assault?

The answer comes down to the same reason a college makes any decision: funding.

According to the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 (that’s right, 1989), the use of “drugs” (a vague term that somehow excludes alcohol and caffeine) must be disallowed by schools, universities, and colleges. If they fail to comply, they become ineligible for federal funding.

Until we can overcome the pervasive stereotype of cannabis users as sluggish, lazy, stupid, and unconcerned, it looks like students will have to continue to live in the impossible bind between relieving their illnesses and violating school policy.  

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report

NORML Blog - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 12:17

Tabulations calculating the percentage of annual marijuana arrests nationwide are absent from the 2017 edition of the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which the agency released today.

The table,’Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations: Percent Distribution by Region,’ had for decades appeared in the section of the FBI report entitled ‘Persons Arrested.’ It was one of over 50 tables eliminated from this year’s edition of the Crime report. NORML had relied on the table in order to extrapolate and publicize annual marijuana arrest data, which it has tracked since 1965.

According to the latest FBI report, police made 1,572,579 arrests for illicit drug offenses in 2016. This total represents nearly a six percent increase in arrests since 2015.

Although data with regard to what percentage of these drug arrests were marijuana-related was absent from this year’s report, the FBI did provide percentages by request to Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell, who summarized the data in a column for Forbes.com.

The unpublished data estimates that police made 653,249 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2016. Of these, 587,516 arrests (90 percent of all marijuana arrests) were for possession-related offenses.

The arrest total is an increase from 2015 figures and marks the first year-to-year uptick in nationwide marijuana arrests in nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when eight states have enacted laws to regulate the adult use of cannabis and when public support for legalizing the plant is at a record high.

“The recent uptick in the number of marijuana arrests is unprecedented in recent years, especially given the rate of state-level reform we have seen. This combined with the FBI’s disturbing change of protocol and lack of transparency in the publishing of arrest records only further demonstrates the need for state lawmakers to respect the will of the majority of their constituents and end the practice of marijuana prohibition once and for all,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Massachusetts High Court: Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Valid Measures For Determining Marijuana-Induced Impairment

NORML Blog - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 10:16

Standard roadside field sobriety tests (FST) are not reliable indicators of marijuana-induced impairment, according to a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

Justices determined that there is a lack of scientific consensus as to the validity of FSTs for determining whether a subject is under the influence of cannabis. They opined: “There is ongoing disagreement among scientists, however, as to whether the FSTs are indicative of marijuana impairment. In recent years, numerous studies have been conducted in an effort to determine whether a person’s performance on the FST is a reliable indicator of impairment by marijuana. These studies have produced mixed results. … We are not persuaded … that the FSTs can be treated as scientific tests establishing impairment as a result of marijuana consumption.”

As a result, justices ruled that police may only provide limited testimony with regard to a defendant’s FST performance. An officer “may not suggest … on direct examination that an individual’s performance on an FST established that the individual was under the influence of marijuana,” the court determined. “Likewise, an officer may not testify that a defendant ‘passed’ or ‘failed’ any FST, as this language improperly implies that the FST is a definitive test of marijuana use or impairment.”

The court further ruled that a police officer may not testify “without being qualified as an expert [as] to the effects of marijuana consumption [or] offer an opinion that a defendant was intoxicated by marijuana [because] no such general knowledge exists as to the physical or mental effects of marijuana consumption, which vary greatly amongst individuals.”

Attorneys Steven Epstein and Marvin Cable filed an amicus curiae brief in the case on behalf of national NORML.

The case is Commonwealth v. Gerhardt.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Minnesota Hearing on Adding Qualifying Conditions to Take Place This Week

MPP Blog - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:09

The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program will be holding its second New Condition Review Panel Meeting on Tuesday, September 26. The panel will be reviewing five of the 10 petitioned conditions: liver disease, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea, endocannabinoid deficiency, and dementia.

It’s important to expand Minnesota’s qualifying conditions so that more patients have access to medical marijuana. This meeting is open to the public. If you cannot make the meeting, written comments can be sent to: Health.Cannabis.AddMedicalCondition@state.mn.us

Here are the meeting details:

When: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Where: State Office Building
100 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Room 200
St. Paul, MN 55155

In legalization news, we are glad to find out that most of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates for governor support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. The Star Tribune reports that “St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Reps. Erin Murphy, Tina Liebling and Paul Thissen, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz all support legalizing marijuana for recreational and not just medical use. Among the major DFL candidates, only State Auditor Rebecca Otto declined to do so.” Unfortunately, none of the Republican candidates support making marijuana legal.

Please talk to your local officials and explain that regulating marijuana is working in states like Colorado and can work in Minnesota too. With your help, we can continue to bring sensible marijuana policy reform to Minnesota.

The post Minnesota Hearing on Adding Qualifying Conditions to Take Place This Week appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

How to Win a War on Drugs

DrugWarRant - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:16

That’s the title of Nicholas Kristof’s investigative article in the New York Times (it’s this Sunday’s Times, but they’ve put it online early)

Decades ago, the United States and Portugal both struggled with illicit drugs and took decisive action — in diametrically opposite directions. The U.S. cracked down vigorously, spending billions of dollars incarcerating drug users. In contrast, Portugal undertook a monumental experiment: It decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001, even heroin and cocaine, and unleashed a major public health campaign to tackle addiction. Ever since in Portugal, drug addiction has been treated more as a medical challenge than as a criminal justice issue.

After more than 15 years, it’s clear which approach worked better. The United States drug policy failed spectacularly, with about as many Americans dying last year of overdoses — around 64,000 — as were killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars combined.

In contrast, Portugal may be winning the war on drugs — by ending it. Today, the Health Ministry estimates that only about 25,000 Portuguese use heroin, down from 100,000 when the policy began.

The number of Portuguese dying from overdoses plunged more than 85 percent before rising a bit in the aftermath of the European economic crisis of recent years. Even so, Portugal’s drug mortality rate is the lowest in Western Europe — one-tenth the rate of Britain or Denmark — and about one-fiftieth the latest number for the U.S.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Washington State Releases Update On Legalization Findings – High Hopes Are Rewarded

NORML Blog - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 07:03

In their second formal assessment on the impact of legalization in the wake of the implementation of I-502, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) issued the next regularly scheduled report – and suffice to say, the news was very positive, unless you are still relying on tired and debunked prohibitionist talking points.

Key takeaways from the WSIPP report:

– Found no evidence that greater levels of legal cannabis sales caused increases in overall adult cannabis use
– Found no impact on hard drug use in adolescents or adults
– Found no evidence that state medical marijuana laws caused an increase in property and violent crimes reported by the FBI but did find evidence of decreased homicide and assault associated with medical legalization
– Found evidence that nonmedical legalization in Washington and Oregon may have led to a drop in rape and murder rates
– Found that among respondents under age 21, those living in counties with higher sales were significantly less likely to report use of cannabis in the past 30 days
– Found no evidence of effects of the amount of legal cannabis sales on indicators of youth cannabis use in grades 8, 10, and 12

As Kevin Oliver, the head of Washington NORML, always tells me: Legally High Regards.

You can read the full WSIPP report by clicking HERE or read further analysis of the report by NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano HERE.

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

Study: Perceived Marijuana Access Declining Among Youth

NORML Blog - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:25

The percentage of young people who believe that they can readily access marijuana has fallen significantly since 2002, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

A team of investigators from Boston University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina, and St. Louis University examined trends in perceived cannabis access among adolescents for the years 2002 to 2015.

Authors reported: “[W]e observed a 27 percent overall reduction in the relative proportion of adolescents ages 12 to 17 and a 42 percent reduction among those ages 12 to 14 reporting that it would be ‘very easy’ to obtain marijuana. This pattern was uniformly observed among youth in all sociodemographic subgroups.”

They concluded, “Despite the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states, our findings suggest that … perceptions that marijuana would be very easy to obtain are on the decline among American youth.”

The new data is consistent with figures published last year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported, “From 2002 to 2014, … perceived availability [of marijuana] decreased by 13 percent among persons aged 12–17 years and by three percent among persons aged 18?25 years [old].”

An abstract of the study, “Trends in perceived access to marijuana among adolescents in the United States: 2002-2015,” is online here.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Marijuana

MPP Blog - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:02

The 2018 medical cannabis campaign in Utah is fully underway. Right now, the Utah Patients Coalition is collecting signatures from across the state in order to qualify for next year’s ballot.

A new poll was released showing that 74 percent of Utahns support medical cannabis. Other recent polls have showed similar levels of support.

With legislative inaction, a group now puts forward a citizen petition which would set up a medical marijuana (non-smoking) system in Utah, where a limited number of registered growers would provide types of marijuana to be prescribed by a limited number of doctors for specific diseases and/or chronic pain.

Here are some of the interesting numbers found by Jones in his latest survey:

— Utah Republicans favor passage of the citizen initiative on MM, 61-35 percent.

— Democrats really like the idea, 93-7 percent.

— Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, favor MM, 87-13 percent.

— Even those who self-described themselves as politically “very conservative” favor medical marijuana legalization, 51-42 percent.

— The “somewhat conservatives,” favor it, 71-25; the “moderates” like the petition, 84-14 percent; “somewhat liberals,” 92-8 percent; and the “very liberals,” 97-2 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat active” in the LDS Church like MM, 80-15 percent; former Mormons who have left the faith like it, 87-5 percent; Catholics favor MM, 80-20 percent; Protestants (which includes born-again Christians), 61-26 percent; and those with no religion like it, 96-4 percent.

The post Another Utah Poll Shows Strong Support for Medical Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

Florida Accepting Medical Marijuana Business Applications

MPP Blog - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 09:32

The Florida Department of Health has proposed regulations to establish the procedure to apply for Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC) licenses and to outline the evaluation process for applicants. The application is posted on the Office of Compassionate Use website, and applicants may begin completing applications for submission.

In order to become a licensed MMTC, each applicant is required to submit financial statements and to pass a background check. The law regulating Amendment 2 provides for 10 new licenses to be granted to growers in the state in addition to the seven that already exist and would require another four licenses to be issued for every 100,000 patients added to the state’s medical marijuana registry.

The post Florida Accepting Medical Marijuana Business Applications appeared first on MPP Blog.

Categories: Blog Feeds

NORML Canada Testifies In Parliament On Impending Legalization

NORML Blog - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 05:53

When Trudeau announced his decision to legalize marijuana in Canada (set to take effect in 2018), Trump-fearing Americans vowed to seek refuge with our Northern neighbors.

So what brought Trudeau to his decision to repeal prohibition? You know what they say: behind every great man there’s even greater, weed-loving woman.

In November of 2012, two NORML Canada board members, Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs, met with Trudeau and convinced him that supporting full legalization– not just decriminalization– was the right course of action for the Parliamentarian.

“Al Capone would have loved it if alcohol were only decriminalized,” Coulter said, convincing Trudeau that decriminalization wouldn’t keep organized crime rings and gangs out of the marijuana business.

“I saw the light go on in his eyes,” Coulter said. “He was seeing this as a politician, realizing ‘I can sell this,’ ” she recalled.

Following in their footsteps, NORML Canada Board members Marc-Boris St-Maurice and Abigail Sampson went to testify before Parliament last week, discussing The Cannabis Act (C-45) with other jurisdictions in which cannabis is legal, to share their experiences in terms of public health, tax, and banking implications for legalization.

In addition, NORML Canada Board member Kirk Tousaw went to Parliament to talk international considerations and how to deal with the transport of marijuana across border lines as it remains federally illegal in the United States.

NORML Canada President John Conroy then took part in a panel on the issue of household cultivation (the current bill proposes four plants per household).

NORML Canada members are proving that citizen involvement in legalization efforts with lawmakers, even simply having a discussion like Coulter and Matrosovs did with Trudeau, can make an enormous difference. Only time will tell if the United States will be able to follow the example set by our neighbors to the North.

Follow NORML Canada on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website at: http://norml.ca/

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

American Legion’s National Commander Calls Out VA Secretary Shulkin

NORML Blog - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 16:42

For more than a year, The American Legion has been calling on the federal government – and specifically the Veterans Affairs Department – to support research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in treating veterans with PTSD.

Many veterans, especially Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, have told both the Legion and NORML that they have been able to eliminate or reduce their dependency on other drugs, specifical opioids.

Now, the Legion is ramping up their efforts to convince VA Secretary Shulkin to expand research into the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis.

In a letter sent yesterday and released publicly today, they state:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

For more than a year, the American Legion has called on the federal government to support and enable scientific research to clinically confirm the medicinal value of cannabis. The National Academy of Medicine recently reviewed 10,000 scientific abstracts on the therapeutic value of cannabis and reached nearly 100 conclusions in a report issued earlier this year. As a two million member strong veteran service organization, our primary interest and advocacy is grounded in the wellbeing and improved health of our veterans, and specifically our service disabled veterans.

The American Legion supports VA’s statutory medical research million and has donated millions of dollars toward expanding VA’s scientific research. VA innovation is widely championed for its breakthrough discoveries in medicine and has been recognized over the years with three Nobel Prizes for scientific work that has benefitted the world over.

Your immediate attention in this important matter is greatly appreciated. We ask for your direct involvement to ensure this critical research is fully implemented.

Sincerely,
Denise H. Rohan
National Commander

This comes just one month after the Legion adopted a resolution calling on federal officials to expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana.

NORML has documented the longitudinal data on how cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths

You can read the full letter to VA urging cannabis research access here.

Click here to send a message to your federal officials in support of HR 1820, the bipartisan Veterans Equal Access Act introduced by Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Earl Blumenauer

Earlier this year, a budget amendment that reflected the Veterans Equal Access Act’s language was introduced by Senator Daines (R-MT) and passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee and introduced by Rep. Blumenauer and blocked in the House Rules Committee. The amendments fate will likely be decided in a joint conference committee later this year.

Categories: Blog Feeds

The Loss of an Activist, the Passing of a Friend, James Bell

NORML Blog - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 09:37

Awful News

My friend Stephen Bradley called me on Friday, September 14th and asked if I was sitting down. I knew it couldn’t be good news, but when he told me our mutual friend James Bell had died suddenly, I experienced several moments of simple denial. This just can’t be true, I thought. Then the enormity of the news dropped on me like a heavy stone as I realized how large a hole James’ death leaves in the politics of Marijuana Law Reform in Georgia.

The James Bell I Knew

I met James in the fall of 2014 in Dublin, Georgia. He was there videoing a Justice for David Hooks rally. David had been killed in his own home during the execution of a fruitless search warrant, based on the word of an addict/thief who had burglarized David’s property the night before his death. Soon after, I met James again when I testified against the term no-knock warrant being written into black letter Georgia Law before a Senate Committee. We had an opportunity to talk for a while that day, discovering that we had several interests in common. We became friends and allies and called each other often. Over time, James shared the tragic story of his niece, Lori Knowles with me, and I understood his interest in David Hooks and no-knock warrants much better. I think the incident with Lori added fuel to the fire of James’ activism and drove him harder over the past 3 years.

As James and I talked (and he could talk), I realized just how central a figure he was in the fight for cannabis law reform in Georgia. He was involved in the movement since at least as far back as the 70s, and his interest covered all things cannabis. From advocating the freedom to make personal, adult choices about smoking it, to supporting the use of medical marijuana, to reintroducing Hemp as a staple crop in Georgia, James was involved in it all. He truly believed that the re-legalization of cannabis could be accomplished here in Georgia. He was a constant presence around the Gold Dome when the Legislature was in session, both testifying on issues and videoing procedures. His easy way, his extensive knowledge, and his passion paved the way for good relationships with lawmakers. He was well-known and respected by many.

James was keenly aware of the societal harm caused by the War on Marijuana. He and I often spoke of Harm Reduction during our conversations, and he felt that an arrest and subsequent criminal record for mere possession of a small amount of marijuana was unjust. No victim, no crime.  He believed a grassroots approach to the problem at the Municipal level, combined with lobbying for change at the State level was the key. He testified in advocacy of Harm Reduction ordinances in Clarkston and Atlanta. He tried in Temple but was met by a crowd of rabid Prohibitionists who hijacked the Town Hall meeting. Clarkston passed their ordinance, and the City hasn’t fallen into a sinkhole. Atlanta is still considering it and the upcoming Mayoral election has several candidates with pro-decriminalization planks in their platforms.

What Now?

I will miss talking to James. I’ll miss his counsel. I’ll miss his laugh. I’ll miss seeing him around the Capitol. I know in my heart, though that he would want us to carry on. No one can ever fill James’ shoes, but others will step up.  Others will ensure his legacy and work continue. I’ll be among them.

Go rest high upon that mountain,
Son your work on Earth is done

I’ll see ya further on!

Categories: Blog Feeds

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Adopts Marijuana Legalization Into Policy Platform

NORML Blog - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:34

Earlier this month, citing racism, bigotry, and mass-incarceration, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party adopted a resolution to “support Democratic candidates and policies which promote the full repeal of cannabis prohibition by its removal from the Controlled Substances Act, and to support the creation of new laws which regulate it in a manner similar to other culturally accepted commodities.”

The resolution was drafted by Derek Rosenzweig, long-time cannabis activist from Pennsylvania and former board member of PhillyNORML. This change in party policy comes as Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale continues to be a loud and active voice for state and held a seminar on legalization the day before the vote.

Thanks to Derek and all of those working hard to change hearts, minds, and the law in Pennsylvania and throughout the country.

Click here to send a message to your federally elected officials in support of HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act

Read the full resolution below.

Resolution – Platform Policy on the Legalization of Marijuana/Cannabis

WHEREAS, The prohibition of cannabis was based on racism and bigotry, but not science or sound reasoning [Testimony of Harry J. Anslinger – Marihuana Tax Act of 1937; Findings of LaGuardia Committee & Shafer Commission]

WHEREAS, The government, at all levels, regulates the legal sale of substances known through scientific rigor to be harmful or deadly to humans, by means other than the Controlled Substances Act

WHEREAS, Cannabis is one of the most well-studied plants in human history [Google Scholar search for `”cannabis sativa” OR marijuana` produces 556,000 results]

WHEREAS, As of September, 2017, the People and legislatures of 28 states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have already legalized cannabis for medical purposes; 8 states (plus Washington D.C.) have ended prohibition on cannabis and have legalized, regulated markets for adult recreational use

WHEREAS, Cannabis is regularly used safely and responsibly without medical supervision by almost two million Pennsylvanians [SAMHSA 2012: 20.2% respondents aged 15 and older use cannabis; PA 2010 Census 9,861,456 aged 15 or older]

WHEREAS, Cannabis does not fit any of the criteria to be placed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act [Act of Apr. 14, 1972 P.L. 233, No. 64; Section 4-1]

WHEREAS, Approximately 25,000 People are arrested per year for possession, sale, or cultivation of cannabis on a State and local level in Pennsylvania

WHEREAS, The Commonwealth spends unknown millions of dollars per year enforcing prohibition policies

WHEREAS, The current Auditor General of Pennsylvania has publicly called for the immediate legalization and regulation of cannabis specifically for judicial, criminal justice, and economic benefits

WHEREAS, The black market resulting from the prohibition of cannabis is opaque to public entities, is
totally unregulated, and is thus not a good outcome of policy

WHEREAS, The prohibition of cannabis has had no meaningful positive effect, as it is widely available in
the Commonwealth. In over 80 years, the prohibition of cannabis has not achieved its stated goals

WHEREAS, Pennsylvanians have been arrested, imprisoned, fined, or otherwise punished and stigmatized
resulting in lost productivity and quality of life for their possession or use of cannabis

WHEREAS, Approximately 56% – 61% of Pennsylvanians support the full legalization of cannabis [May
2017 Franklin & Marshall Poll; August 2017 Quinnipiac University Poll]

WHEREAS, The DNC included support for legalization in the party platform in 2016

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED , to adopt an official platform position which recognizes the above facts about cannabis. The Party resolves that cannabis is safe enough, and ubiquitous enough in society, that it does not need to be restricted or prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, to support Democratic candidates and policies which promote the full repeal of cannabis prohibition by its removal from the Controlled Substances Act, and to support the creation of new laws which regulate it in a manner similar to other culturally accepted commodities.

Submitted by: ______________________ Cynthia Purvis
Date: ______________

 

Categories: Blog Feeds

2017 NORML Conference and Lobby Day In Brief

NORML Blog - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 14:05

First off – a huge thank you to all of those activists and chapter leads from around the country who came to DC to participate in our National Conference and Lobby Day.

By the numbers:

–     140+ attendees
–     21 speakers
–     5 members of Congress
–     150+ congressional meetings
–     1 goal: End marijuana prohibition.

More to come as we follow up with our attendees and continue to build on the momentum generated (and have our photographer send us the rest of the pictures!).

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno, and aide to Virginia State Senator Dave Marsden receive awards from the DMV NORML Coalition

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) addresses NORML citizens before they depart to their congressional meetings

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) met with NORML chapter leaders from around the country to discuss his legislation known as The Marijuana Justice Act

Some of the feedback from the lobby day we received:

Mikel Weisser, Executive Director of Arizona NORML in a meeting with Senator Flake’s staffer, reported “She [Katie] is familiar with Endocannabinoid Receptor System. It is one of her policy issue areas. She said she did not know if the Senator was aware of the E.R.S., so I wrote a short note on [the] materials and she said she would show him.”

In a meeting with Senator Casey’s staffer, Les Stark, head of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition reported “They are open to the issue but do not seem very bold. They don’t want to set too far ahead of the Pennsylvania legislature…we intend to follow-up.”

Jane Preece, in a meeting with Senator Harris’s staffer, reported “Ms. Hira is smart and is interested in the recent research showing pot is safe and effective.”

Categories: Blog Feeds