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New DEA Leader Suspects Marijuana Is Not As Bad As Heroin

NORML - Thu, 30/07/2015 - 07:39

Newly appointed head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Chuck Rosenberg, says that marijuana is “probably” not as dangerous as heroin.

Rosenberg’s comments, issued Tuesday, are seemingly in conflict with marijuana’s Schedule I classification under federal law, which places it in the same category as heroin and is a lesser category than cocaine. The law defines cannabis and its dozens of distinct cannabinoids as possessing “a high potential for abuse … no currently accepted medical use, … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.”

Predictably, Rosenberg did emphasize that he believed cannabis posed potential harms, stating:“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is. Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”

However, Rosenberg acknowledged that he has asked DEA offices “to focus their efforts and the resources of the DEA on the most important cases in their jurisdictions, and by and large what they are telling [him] is that the most important cases in their jurisdictions are opioids and heroin.”

Rosenberg’s predecessor, Michelle Leonhart vigorously defended marijuana’s Schedule I classification. She oversaw dozens of raids on medical marijuana providers, criticized the President on his remarks of marijuana’s safety in relation to alcohol, and rejected an administrative petition calling for marijuana rescheduling hearings. NORML is pleased that although the new DEA administrator, by his own admission is not “an expert” on cannabis, he apparently possesses a better grasp on marijuana and it’s evident differences compared to other schedule 1 substances.

Rosenberg’s comments, coupled with those of NIDA Director Nora Volkow publically espousing the safety of CBD indicate that it may no longer be a question of if the federal government will move to reclassify cannabis but when.

 

NIDA Director Says Cannabidiol Is A “Safe Drug”

NORML - Wed, 29/07/2015 - 17:00

The director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Nora Volkow, believes that cannabidiol (CBD) – a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid – is “a safe drug with no addictive effects.” Volkow made the comments in an op-ed published by The Huffington Post.

Volkow further acknowledged, “[P]reliminary data suggest that it may have therapeutic value for a number of medical conditions.”

Preclinical studies have documented CBD to possess a variety of therapeutic activities, including anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic properties, and bone-stimulating activity. Clinical and observational trials have documented the substance to possess anxiolytic, anti-psychotic, and anti-seizure activity in humans. Safety trials have further concluded the substance to be “safe and well tolerated” when administered to healthy subjects.

To date, 15 states have enacted laws specifically permitting the possession of high-CBD formulated extracts for therapeutic purposes, primarily for the treatment of pediatric epilepsy.

In a recent Time Magazine op-ed, Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein (CA) and Republican Sen. Charles Grassley (IA) encouraged the Obama administration to “definitively determine if CBD has scientific and medical benefits,” and to “look at expanding compassionate access programs where possible, to benefit as many children as possible.”

Under federal law, CBD — like cannabis — is defined as a Schedule I controlled substance with “a high potential for abuse … no currently accepted medical use, … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.”

Oregon: Retail Cannabis Sales To Begin October 1

NORML - Wed, 29/07/2015 - 14:14

Democrat Gov. Kate Brown has signed emergency legislation expediting the retail sales of cannabis in Oregon to those age 21 and older.

Senate Bill 460 permits state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to also engage in cannabis sales to non-medical persons beginning on October 1, 2015. Adults will be allowed to purchase up to one-quarter ounce of cannabis per visit per day.

Initiated legislation approved by voters in November and enacted on July 1 allows those over the age of 21 to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and/or to engage in the non-commercial cultivation of up to four marijuana plants (yielding up to eight ounces of marijuana). Separate provisions in the law permitting the licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults were not anticipated to go into effect until next summer. Senate Bill 60 permits adults to legally obtain cannabis from dispensaries during this interim period.

Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington permit adults to legally possess and purchase limited quantities of marijuana for their own personal use. The District of Columbia also allows adults to possess and grow marijuana legally, but does not provide for as regulated commercial cannabis market. All of these measures were enacted by the passage of voter initiatives.

NORML Nation Membership Drive

NORML - Wed, 29/07/2015 - 10:00

Hello NORML Supporters!

NORML has big things planned for the 2016 election season, and we need more grassroots volunteers to help us fight for cannabis legalization!

That’s why we’re announcing the NORML Nation Membership Drive, taking place from August 5th to August 12th!

We’re working with multiple partners in the cannabis industry to build NORML’s ranks. The goal of this membership drive is to add 1,000 new members to NORML! We’re offering three ways to participate:


$25 Donor Package

  • Green “I Leaf NORML” Shirt (New design!)
  • Merchandise from Hemp Wick, Weed Maps, Mass Roots, and more!

 

$50 Supporter Package

  • Limited Edition NORML Nation Shirt (Only available in this drive!)
  • Complimentary issue of Freedom Leaf Magazine
  • Everything in the Donor Package

 

$100 Advocate Package

  • 30% off 1 month of 420 Goody Box
  • Weed Maps T-shirt
  • Special promotion from Spliffin (Details will be announced soon!)
  • Everything in the Donor and Supporter Packages

 

In addition to all of the cool merchandise you will get with becoming a member of the NORML Nation, we are also going to help all new members get connected with their local NORML chapters! The best part about being a NORML member is getting involved in your local area to push for marijuana law reform. We’re also holding a contest for our local chapters, by offering monetary grants to the chapters that refer the most people to National NORML!

The NORML Nation Membership Drive starts next Wednesday, August 5th and goes for a week, until August 12th. The 2016 election season is right around the corner, so this is the perfect time to get involved with cannabis legalization and support NORML!

Stay tuned for more updates about the NORML Nation Membership Drive!

Marijuana Law Reform Beyond America’s Borders

NORML - Mon, 27/07/2015 - 13:03

While America’s public support for domestic prohibition of marijuana appears increasingly waning, quantifying the types of marijuana law reforms internationally could constitute a full time job for the eager.

This day’s news alone from overseas about cannabis law reforms strongly suggests that the contagion to end pot prohibition is hardly an America-only phenomena:

Israel – The country’s deputy health minister announced today that medical cannabis will be made available for retail access via commercial pharmacies.

Italy – Cannabis law reform group in Italy claims 250 out of 945 members of Italian Parliament support ending pot prohibition, which is a little more than twenty-five percent of the country’s elected policymakers. Drafted by the Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, the legislation would allow anyone over the age of 18 to cultivate as many as five plants at home. Italians could also team up to form a “cannabis social club,” with each having a maximum of 50 people growing as many as 250 plants.

Surveys in Italy indicate that nearly eighty percent of citizens support the country adopting marijuana laws similar to American states Colorado and Washington.

United Kingdom – A twenty-five year old economics student in the United Kingdom has forced the hand of parliament to debate the issue of marijuana legalization by submitting a petition with over one hundred thousand signatures.

Australia’s Queensland – Joining New South Wales, the Australian state of Queensland took steps to formalize a system by which qualified medical patients can access cannabis products via a series of research trials.

PortugalCalifornia’s Press Enterprise’s editorial board reminds all that the week marks the fourteenth anniversary of the first nation, Portugal, to entirely decriminalize drug use and possession, which is serving as a ‘harm reduction’ model for numerous countries.

 

 

Sorting Through the Marijuana Mess in Ohio

NORML - Mon, 27/07/2015 - 06:22

If anyone would have suggested a year ago that Ohio might be on the verge of legalizing marijuana in 2015, I would have laughed at the idea.

First, Ohio is a conservative Midwestern state that is seldom, if ever, on the cutting edge on social issues. And second, 2015 is an off-year election, with no statewide or federal elections, meaning the voter turn-out would be lower and the likely voters would be older and less supportive than would be the case if the proposal were on the ballot in 2016, a presidential election year when younger voters turn out in far higher numbers.

But it turns out that Ohio voters may well be voting on marijuana legalization this November. And the circumstances surrounding this development raise new issues that legalization activists are struggling to deal with. The proposed constitutional amendment, called the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative, sponsored by a group calling itself Responsible Ohio, would legalize both the medical and the recreational use of marijuana.

We have a scarcity of polling data that would indicate whether the voters in Ohio currently support marijuana legalization. A Quinnipiac University poll taken in 2014 found strong support for medical marijuana, and an almost even split (51 percent support) over full legalization. One can presume the sponsors of this initiative must have done their own private polling, but if so, they have not shared the results.

Investor Driven Voter Initiatives

But what is unique about this effort is that it is being funded by a few rich private investors who, under the terms of the proposed initiative, would then own the 10 specific cultivation centers around the state authorized to cultivate marijuana commercially. In other words, those investors who provide the funding to gather the required number of signatures, and to run a professional statewide campaign, would be richly rewarded for their investment, assuming the initiative is approved by a majority of the voters.

Individuals would be permitted to cultivate up to four marijuana plants privately, and retail dispensary licenses would be open for all to apply for licenses, but the commercial cultivation would be limited to what the Rand Corporation has described as a “structured oligopoly.”

As might be expected, this proposal, which would enshrine this special privilege for these investors in the state constitution, has met with some cries of outrage from some in the Buckeye state, both legalization activists and the state legislature.

Some activists have raised objections to the proposal because it would not permit average Ohioans to compete for the commercial cultivation licenses, although ordinary citizens would be entitled to apply for licenses for the more than 1,000 retail dispensaries that would be authorized, claiming it is undemocratic. Some opponents have even argued it would be worse than the current prohibition — despite the fact that roughly 17,000 marijuana arrests occur each year in Ohio, and those arrests would largely be eliminated if this initiative were to pass.

The Legislature Inserts Itself In The Fight

But the situation in Ohio has become even more confusing because of the action of the Ohio legislature, in response to the filing of the Responsible Ohio initiative. The legislature has elected to use an option available to them (they are permitted this option by their state constitution, without the need to collect signatures) of adding a second voter initiative to the ballot this November that, if approved by the voters, they believe would render the Responsible Ohio proposal invalid. The proposal would ban the adoption by voter initiative of attempts to benefit select economic interest groups.

The sponsor of this initiative, Democratic House member Mike Curtin, said he sponsored what he called his “anti-monoply” measue, not because he opposes the legalization of marijuana, but because he opposed the way Responsible Ohio is using the ballot measure to enrich themselves.

What If Both Initiatives Are Approved

Should the Responsible Ohio initiative be approved for the ballot, which is not yet certain (they recently turned in 695,273 signatures, more than double the 305,591 signatures required; but the Secretary of State’s office determined that only 42 percent of those were valid signatures, an unheard of failure rate, leaving them 29,509 signatures short, and 10 days to make-up the deficit), then the confusion really kicks-in.

Ohio law appears to say if the two initiatives both pass, then the one with the highest number of votes would become effective. But Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who opposed legalization, has announced his opinion that should the legislative proposal pass, it would take effect 30 days earlier than the citizen initiative, and would thus block the other proposal from taking effect. The only certainty is that should both initiatives pass, and the citizen initiative receive the higher total of votes, this is an issue that will eventually be decided in the Ohio courts.

So the question becomes whether groups such as NORML should get involved in the fight over who gets rich off the legalization of marijuana, or whether we should continue to focus on ending the practice of treating marijuana smokers like criminals, and the establishment of a legally controlled market where consumers can buy their marijuana in a safe and secure environment, and leave these economic fights to others. At the national level, this seems like an easy decision.

Some people get rich off of marijuana legalization, wherever it is adopted. There are scores of successful entrepreneurs who have surfaced in Colorado and Washington, and who are beginning to surface in Oregon and Alaska, creating new businesses and new jobs, and sometimes getting rich in the process. The phenomenon is know as the “Green Rush.” So we should not act shocked to learn that someone is going to get rich off marijuana legalization in Ohio, should it occur.

Nor should opponents act so offended by the fact that average citizens in Ohio do not have the resources to be part of those investors who would control the commercial cultivation licenses. In many of the states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, for example, the licenses to cultivate or dispense the marijuana have been quite limited, and enormously expensive.

In Massachusetts, for example, those seeking a license to commercially cultivate marijuana were required to put $500,000 in escrow before their application would even be reviewed. And in Florida, where a medical marijuana bill was approved permitting only low-THC, high CBD marijuana, applicants for one of only five licenses for a cultivation center were required to post a $5 million performance bond and pay a $100,000 non-refundable application fee, and demonstrate they have been in the nursery business in Florida for a minimum of 30 years. Few average citizens in either state would have the ability to participate in the profitable legal marijuana market, yet we did not hear a lot of protest from citizens in either state.

Further, most states that have legalized marijuana for either medical use or for everyone have established caps on the number of licenses for producers and distributors. These caps vary widely from state to state and market to market, with some states limiting the number of producers to no more than two (Minnesota) or three (Delaware).

So there is really nothing unique about the Ohio proposal, other than it is being funded by the very people who will benefit from its passage, instead of by billionaire philanthropists. But the bottom line is that someone gets rich off legalization, regardless of how it is funded, or structured.

At NORML, we recognize there are many inequities in the free market system, with an ever-increasing gap between the rich and the rest of us. But NORML is not an organization established to deal with income inequality; we are a lobby for responsible marijuana smokers. So we will leave other issues, including income inequality, to other organizations who focus on those issues, and we will continue to focus on legalizing marijuana.

And if the investor driven legalization initiative in Ohio qualifies for the ballot, national NORML will almost certainly support it. And we hope, so will a majority of the voters in Ohio.

NBN Partner Profile: Spliffin

NORML - Fri, 24/07/2015 - 10:47

Another one of our great NORML Business Network Partners is Spliffin!

Spliffin manufacturers solvent-free concentrates and vaporizers. Spliffin products are engineered for discretion, convenience, and dependability. They provide consumers with a safe and clean alternative to smoking. Spliffin uses only locally grown California varieties of cannabis that are free of pesticides and herbicides. Spliffin concentrates are produced through a state-of-the-art manufacturing process that extracts and condenses marijuana’s psychoactive and medicinally active elements into a concentrated form.

Beyond quality, sophistication, and exceptional craftsmanship, Spliffin is building community and cultivating a lifestyle movement. Spliffin is also a founding member of the NORML Business Network and a financial supporter of NORML’s legalization efforts!

Check out Spliffin.com for amazing vape products and to help support the NORML Business Network!

DISCLOSURE: This post is provided as a service of the NORML Business Network,  which works to create mutually beneficial partnerships with marijuana-related businesses that seek to use their enterprise as a positive example of corporate social responsibility. Spliffin is a proud member of the NORML Business Network. To learn more about our Network partners, or to become a member, please visit here.

Senate Committee Votes In Favor Of Marijuana Banking Bill

NORML - Thu, 23/07/2015 - 11:37

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 today in favor of an amendment to allow state-compliant marijuana businesses to engage in relationships with financial institutions.

Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) of Oregon and Patty Murray (D) of Washington, the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill prohibits the US Treasury Department from using federal funds to take punitive actions against banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws.

Presently, most major financial institutions refuse to provide services to state-compliant operators in the marijuana industry out of fear of federal repercussions. Their refusal to do so presents an unnecessary risk to both those who operate in the legal marijuana industry and to those consumers who patronize it.

No industry can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. Further, forcing state-licensed businesses to operate on a ‘cash-only’ basis increases the risks for crime and fraud.

It is time for Congress to change federal policy so that this growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities. Today’s Senate Committee vote marks the first step taken by Congress to address these federal policy deficiencies.

Although stand-alone legislation, The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, is pending in both the House and the Senate, it appears unlikely at this time that leadership will move forward with either bill. This means that the Merkley/Murray amendment is like to be reformer’s best opportunity this Congress to impose substantial banking reform.

Keep following NORML’s blog and Take Action Center for legislative updates as this and other relevant reform measures progress. To take action in support of the Merkley/Murray amendment, click here here.

The following Senators voted in favor of the Merkley/Murray amendment:

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
Christopher Coons (D-DE)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Steve Daines (R-MT)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Tom Udall (D-NM)

And these Senators voted against the Merkley/Murray amendment:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AK)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)

 

CA Legalization Efforts Receive Guidance From Blue Ribbon Commission

NORML - Wed, 22/07/2015 - 17:42

Today a Blue Ribbon Commission led by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom released a report providing a total of 58 recommendations for advocates to consider as they move forward to place a legalization initiative on the statewide ballot in November 2016.

California will be joined by a number of other states hoping to legalize marijuana in 2016.

This report seeks to provide regulatory guidance for the state’s forthcoming legalization effort. The commission prefaced its report by stating: “Legalization of marijuana would not be an event that happens in one election. Rather, it would be a process that unfolds over many years requiring sustained attention to implementation.”

The 93-page report addresses policy options on a myriad of subjects, ranging from commercial production to taxation and everything in between. Authors advocate that the four core goals of legalizing cannabis are: promoting the public interest, reducing the size of the illicit market, offering legal protection to responsible actors, and capturing and investing tax revenue. Another predominant theme throughout the report is youth safety. The Commissions states, “A Tax and Regulate policy legalizing marijuana use by adults has the potential to reserve sufficient revenue to provide universal access to programs such as Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) that emphasize learning skills, remediation of academic performance, improved school climate, school retention, peer group interventions, family engagement and more effective drug education, prevention and counseling programs. ”

Notably, the report acknowledges that if California voters were to legalize in 2016, “state officials should engage the federal government, both to ensure compliance with these federal enforcement priorities and to help change other federal rules that may be obstacles to safe legalization at the state level,” signaling that lawmakers intend to bring immense pressure to federal authorities to accommodate state legalization efforts. Specific changes the report wishes to see on the federal level are amendments to banking regulations and IRS rules.

While the report itself avoids explicitly endorsing or opposing marijuana legalization, Lieutenant Governor Newsom has been an outspoken critic of prohibition and is currently the highest office holder in California calling for the plant’s legalization.

Six separate initiatives have been filed in California so far in hopes of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Voters rejected legalization previously in 2010 but a recent poll performed by the Public Policy Institute of California puts support among likely voters at 56%.

NBN Partner Profile: 420 Food Safety

NORML - Tue, 21/07/2015 - 16:04

The Associated Press recently highlighted public and industry concerns regarding the use of herbicides and pesticides in the commercial cannabis operations.

Understandably, many commercial growers, producers, and wholesalers have numerous questions about good agricultural practices, food safety, and quality management systems.

420 Food Safety, a NORML Business Network Partner, assists cannabis businesses with those important questions!

420 Food Safety’s President and CEO is a certified Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) auditor through the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with extensive experience in food safety and quality management. 420 Food Safety helps companies make food safety and quality systems work from seed to sale.

420 Food Safety offers:

  • Consulting in safety and quality management from seed to sale
  • Training on safety and quality management systems
  • Help with HACCP MJ Planning and practice
  • Help with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Planning

Right now, 420 Food Safety is promoting their “Food Safety Helpdesk”.  For just $50, an organization can get 30 minutes of top-grade consulting on quality and safety management systems for their business!

To learn more about 420 Food Safety and their great services, visit their website! 420FoodSafety.com

DISCLOSURE: This post is provided as a service of the NORML Business Network, which works to create mutually beneficial partnerships with marijuana-related businesses that seek to use their enterprise as a positive example of corporate social responsibility. 420 Food Safety is a proud member of the NORML Business Network. To learn more about our Network partners, or to become a member, please visit here.

 

Yeah Mon! Jamaica Finally Joins the Party

NORML - Tue, 21/07/2015 - 04:23

In my lifetime, the island nation of Jamaica, which gained its independence from Great Britain in 1962, has been one of the world’s most cannabis-friendly nations, both for locals and for tourists. While technically marijuana, or ganja as they call it in Jamaica, was until recently illegal, in fact marijuana and marijuana smoking was largely ignored by authorities, and one could not get through the airport at either Negril or Kingston without being offered marijuana by several local entrepreneurs, competing for your business.

I know because I accepted the hospitality of these “Welcome Wagon” connections on a couple of occasions, and found the product to be excellent, and the cost was a bargain, at least compared to high-quality home-grown marijuana in the US.

And, of course, Jamaica is home to the Rastafarians, a fascinating and colorful (frequent use of red, yellow and green stripes in their hats and other clothing, the colors from the Ethiopian flag) religion that was started in Jamaica in the 1930s by descendants of African slaves, that celebrates the spiritual use of cannabis and is practiced by an estimated 1,000,000 adherents world-wide.

For many Americans, their first awareness of Jamaica may well have been cultural, when they first heard Bob Marley, a Rastafari musician, songwriter and singer who introduced reggae music and dreadlocks to the world, openly preached the benefits of marijuana smoking, and who became enormously popular in the U.S. and around the world, selling more than 75 million albums. Similarly, Peter Tosh, another reggae music star who first performed with Marley as part of the Wailers, before becoming a successful solo artist (who could ever forget his 1976 “Legalize It” anthem), popularized Rastafarianism, and advocated for marijuana legalization.

Sadly, Marley died of melanoma in 1981 at the age of 36, but his influence and reputation continue to fascinate, even today. The Marley family earlier this year announced that, in conjunction with the Privateer Holding Company from the U.S., they will be offering a new global cannabis brand to be called Marley Natural, featuring “heirloom Jamaican cannabis strains inspired by those Bob Marley enjoyed.” And President Obama, in a state visit to Jamaica in February, made an unscheduled stop at the Bob Marley museum. Obama had earlier, in an interview with MTV, discussed the influence Marley had on him during his youth.

I traveled to Jamaica on two occasions during the 1990s to work with Jamaica NORML to move proposed legalization proposals forward through their parliament. On both occasions, despite a clear majority of legislators wishing to officially legalize ganja, senior government officials became convinced the U.S. would punish Jamaica were it to legalize marijuana, by cutting important aid programs, and the legalization drive was stopped dead in its tracks. They wanted to legalize ganja, but they needed our foreign aid, and the U.S. was more than happy at that time to use the leverage of our aid programs to dismantle their ganja reform efforts.

But all of that leverage ended once states in the U.S. began to push forward with marijuana legalization, without sanctions or punitive responses from the federal government. Seeing that legalization was no longer verboten within the U.S., the Jamaicans realized they now had the freedom to determine their own domestic marijuana policy without fear of U.S. economic retribution.

Jamaica Decriminalizes Marijuana

In late February of this year, the Jamaican Parliament enacted new laws governing ganja, which took effect on July 15, removing criminal penalties for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, substituting a $5 civil fine with no arrest or criminal record. In addition, households will be permitted to cultivate up to five marijuana plants. The legislation also authorized officials to enact regulations licensing the cultivation and dispensing of medical and industrial cannabis, as well as the right of the Rastafarians to use ganja as a religious sacrament.

While the Parliament has not yet authorized regulations to license commercial growers and recreational dispensaries, most observers expect that will come in the near future. Already they have invited U.S. marijuana tourism by announcing that those from the U.S. who hold medical recommendations will also qualify to obtain up to 2 ounces of medical ganja while they are in Jamaica. Justice Minister Mark Golding described the reforms as “long overdue.”

And to appropriately celebrate the addition of Jamaica to the growing list of countries that have decriminalized the use of marijuana, High Times recently announced they will be holding a World Cannabis Cup in Negril this year, on Nov. 12–15. Now that’s an occasion I would not want to miss.

Yeah, mon! See you in Negril.

NBN Partner Profile: O.penVAPE

NORML - Thu, 16/07/2015 - 17:22

Hello NORML supporters!

Have you heard of O.penVAPE?

Founded in 2012 by six dispensary owners and growers, O.penVAPE produces reliable and easy to use vaporizer pens. Their signature “go.pen” is rechargeable, has seven available color options, and comes with a lifetime warranty. The upgraded “go.pen plus” has a more powerful battery, provides a two-second longer puff than the go.pen, and is also backed by a lifetime warranty.

O.penVAPE also offer accessories like chargers, cartridges, and even apparel on their website! They work with Organa Labs to provide organically extracted cannabis oils for their vape pens. Additionally, O.penVAPE is a founding member of the NORML Business Network and is a financial supporter of NORML’s legalization efforts!

So if you’re looking for a great vaporizer pen for a great price, support the NORML Business Network and consider O.penVAPE!

Check out O.penVAPE products on their website: http://www.openvape.com/.

DISCLOSURE: This post is provided as a service of the NORML Business Network, which works to create mutually beneficial partnerships with marijuana-related businesses that seek to use their enterprise as a positive example of corporate social responsibility. O.penVAPE is a proud member of the NORML Business Network. To learn more about our Network partners, or to become a member, please visit here.

Senators Press Feds for Answers Regarding the State of Medical Marijuana Research

NORML - Thu, 16/07/2015 - 09:32

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with seven other Senators, has directed a letter to the Obama administration demanding regulators answer questions specific to the facilitation of research into the medical benefits of marijuana.

Senators acknowledged the need for unbiased research. They wrote, “While the federal government has emphasized research on the potential harms associated with the use of marijuana, there is still very limited research on the potential health benefits of marijuana — despite the fact that millions of Americans are now eligible
by state law to use the drug for medical purposes.”

The Senators applauded a recent decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to eliminate the HHS Public Health Service review process. But they also acknowledged the drawbacks of NIDA’s monopoly on supply of marijuana for research purposes and the need for alternative providers.

Senators also questioned marijuana’s current classification as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law and its classification under international treaties and if the FDA is prepared to call for the reclassification of cannabidiol.

Addressed to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the letter signals to many that medical marijuana is becoming an even more important issue in the political sphere not only to voters but also to their elected officials.

Co-signing the letter with Senator Warren  were Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The Senators are seeking a reply to their questions from the administration by August 31.

Hawaii: Measure To Provide Safe Access To Medical Cannabis Becomes Law

NORML - Wed, 15/07/2015 - 15:25

Legislation to establish a system of medical dispensaries for the state’s nearly 14,000 medical marijuana patients has become law.

Governor David Ige signed the measure, stating, “I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana. We know that our challenge going forward will be to adopt rules that are fair, cost effective and easy to monitor. The bill sets a timeline. We will make a good faith effort to create a fair process that will help the people most in need.”

House Bill 321 permits the state “to issue eight dispensary licenses statewide; provided that three dispensary licenses shall be issued for the city and county of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each shall be issued for the county of Hawaii and the county of Maui, and one dispensary license shall be issued for the county of Kauai. … Up to two production centers shall be allowed under each dispensary license, provided that each production center shall be limited to no more than three thousand marijuana plants. A dispensary licensee may establish up to two retail dispensing locations under the licensee’s dispensary license.”

The state Department of Health has until January 4, 2016 to finalize rules governing the dispensary program. Licensed dispensaries are anticipated to be operational by July 15, 2016. Once operational, qualified patients will be able to obtain up to four ounces of cannabis or cannabis-infused products, such as oils, tinctures, or lozenges, from a licensed provider every 15 days.

A separate provision included in HB 321 also adds post-traumatic stress as a qualifying condition under the state’s medical cannabis law.

Legislation initially enacted by the legislature in 2000 provides qualified patients the legal right to possess and cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes, but did not allow for its production and distribution via dispensaries.

Canary App Permits Marijuana Consumers To Gauge Their Personal Performance

NORML - Wed, 15/07/2015 - 06:31

For over 45 years NORML has been at the center of national efforts to legalize responsible use of marijuana by adults. But missing from these efforts was an accurate way to measure impairment. Today we’re happy to announce such a way exists and it’s called Canary.

“Canary is the first app to give consumers the scientific information they need to honestly and accurately evaluate their personal performance, privately, anytime, and anywhere,” says Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML.

Available for iPhone® and iPad®, Canary combines decades of research and experience, specialized mental and physical performance tests, and sophisticated analysis to accurately measure impairment due to alcohol, medication, fatigue and even the subtle impact of marijuana.

Download and Canary yourself: https://appsto.re/us/QYxB7.i

As a special offer for NORML members, the first 500 downloads of Canary are free. Afterwards the app will be available for $4.99 and a percentage of each sale will go to support responsible consumption initiatives at NORML.

Please try Canary and send us your feedback.

Sincerely,

The NORML Team

P.S. For more information about responsible marijuana use visit:

http://norml.org/about/intro/item/principles-of-responsible-cannabis-use-3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Allen St. Pierre: allen@norml.org, (202) 483-5500

Organization: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

Web Site: www.norml.org

Email: media@norml.org

iTunes App Store: https://appsto.re/us/QYxB7.i

Additional Contact: Marc Silverman: mycanaryapp@gmail.com

Canary App Permits Marijuana Consumers To Gauge Their Personal Performance

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 15, 2015. Representatives of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) today endorsed Canary, the first-ever mobile app that quickly and accurately measures one’s personal performance to determine whether or not a subject may be under the influence of marijuana. Available for iPhone® and iPad®, Canary combines decades of research and experience, specialized mental and physical performance tests, and advanced modeling and analysis to accurately measure behavioral or cognitive impairment. Interested parties may view a full demonstration of the Canary app:

“NORML’s purpose is to influence public opinion to legalize the responsible use of marijuana,” said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML. “Canary is the first app to provide consumers with the scientific information they need to accurately evaluate their personal performance, privately, anytime, and anywhere.”

Canary features four distinct mental and physical performance tests, designed to evaluate baseline performance, and then to compare subjects’ behavior against this established baseline. Potential deviation in baseline performance as a result of the use of cannabis, alcohol, prescription drugs, or even exhaustion, is readily identified by the app.

To form this overall picture, Canary uses state-of-the-art metrics and advanced features of the iPhone 4s and later, to measure and record:

  • Memory
  • Balance
  • Reaction Time and Divided Attention
  • Time Perception

The Canary tests can be completed in two minutes and the results are immediately analyzed to determine the individual user’s performance level. Average performance data from a large group of unintoxicated individuals is used to assess impairment. For greater accuracy, users can set a unique personal baseline; then future tests are measured against this personal baseline.

“Canary is the culmination of 60 years of combined technical and legal experience and thousands of peer-reviewed studies, including NASA, NHTSA, and DOD research, as well as upon thousands of studies specific to cannabis’ acute impact on cognitive and psychomotor functioning,” said Marc Silverman, Canary’s developer. “Canary measures key performance indicators that may be impacted by potentially impairing substances, including marijuana, while respecting users’ privacy. Canary doesn’t share users personal data with anyone.”

“The identification of THC in blood is poorly associated with users’ impairment of performance,” said Leonard Frieling, a published author on the impact of marijuana on functioning and an a ttorney of 39 years. He is also a member of the NORML Legal Committee , Colorado NORML, and (while speaking for himself only) the first Chair of the Colorado Bar Association Marijuana Law Committee. “Canary is the first app to use performance science to help marijuana users consume more responsibly, ” he said. He added: “Of great importance is that Canary is not limited to marijuana’s impact, alcohol’s impact, or any specific cause of behavioral impairment. What we all need to know, on the spot, is ‘are we functioning up to our personal ‘normal’ standards?'”

According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans are concerned about how the implementation of statewide marijuana legalization laws may impact traffic safety.

Such concerns pose a potential impediment to the enactment of additional marijuana law reforms. The Canary app seeks to respond to these concerns in a way that utilizes the best available science to assure personal responsibility and safety.

For more information visit: www.mycanaryapp.com

Canary is compatible with iOS 7.1 and iPhone versions 4S and newer.

For more information regarding cannabis and psychomotor performance, please see: http://norml.org/library/driving-and-marijuana.

###

NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by responsible adults. NORML’s Principle of Responsible Use state, “The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while impaired by cannabis.” To read NORML’s full Principles, visit: http://norml.org/principles/item/principles-of-responsible-cannabis-use-3.

Study: Medical Cannabis Access Associated With Reduced Opioid Abuse

NORML - Tue, 14/07/2015 - 14:21

States that permit qualified patients to access medical marijuana via dispensaries possess lower rates of opioid addiction and overdose deaths, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-partisan think-tank.

Researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of California, Irvine assessed the impact of medical marijuana laws on problematic opioid use, as measured by treatment admissions for opioid pain reliever addiction (compiled from the years 1992 to 2012) and by state-level opioid overdose deaths (compiled from the years 1999 to 2013).

“[S]tates permitting medical marijuana dispensaries experience a relative decrease in both opioid addictions and opioid overdose deaths compared to states that do not,” authors reported. They found that women over the age of 40 showed the most significant decrease in problematic opioid use.

Data published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine reported that the enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws,” investigators reported.

Overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have increased dramatically over the past decade. While fewer than 4,100 opiate-induced fatalities were reported for the year 1999, by 2010 this figure rose to over 16,600 according to an analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control.

An abstract of the study, “Do Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Addictions and Deaths Related to Pain Killers?”, is available online here.

Study: Changes In State Marijuana Laws Not Associated With Greater Acceptance By Young People

NORML - Mon, 13/07/2015 - 15:49

The use of marijuana by younger adolescents is falling while their perceived disapproval of cannabis use is rising, according to data published this week in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Investigators from the University of Texas at Austin evaluated trends in young people’s attitudes toward cannabis and their use of the substance during the years 2002 to 2013 – a time period where 14 states enacted laws legalizing the medical use of the plant, and two states approved its recreational use by adults. (Six states also enacted laws decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses during this time.) Analyses were based on self-reported measurements from a nationally representative sample of 105,903 younger adolescents (aged 12-14); 110,949 older adolescents (aged 15-17); and 221,976 young adults (aged 18-25).

Researchers reported that the proportion of adolescents age 12 to 14 who strongly disapproved of marijuana use rose significantly during this period. The percentage of 12 to 14-year-olds reporting having used marijuana during the past year fell significantly during this same time period.

Among youth age 15 to 17, past year cannabis use also fell significantly, while young people’s perception of marijuana remained largely unchanged.

“Our results may suggest that recent changes in public policy, including the decriminalization, medicalization, and legalization of marijuana in cities and states across the country, have not resulted in more use or greater approval of marijuana use among younger adolescents,” the study’s lead investigator said in a press release.

Young adults age 18 to 25, in contrast to their younger peers, were less likely in 2013 to disapprove of the use of cannabis. However, this change in attitude was not positively associated with significant rises in past year marijuana use by members of this age group, researchers reported.

Separate survey data reported by the University of Michigan has reported an overall decline over the past decade in the percentage of young people perceiving a “great risk” associated with the use of marijuana. However, this decline in perceived risk has not been accompanied by a parallel increase in cannabis use by young people.

The abstract of the study, “Trends in the disapproval and use of marijuana among adolescents and young adults in the United States: 2002-2013,” appears online here
.

Learning To Accept Victory and Build On It

NORML - Mon, 13/07/2015 - 06:16

Over the years, marijuana legalization advocates became effective at gradually building public support for our issue, even as we continued to lose votes when our elected officials focused on marijuana policy. We learned to lose creatively.

We became accustomed to years when it was difficult to identify any real political progress. For example, we won not a single statewide marijuana law reform proposal between 1978, when Nebraska became the last of 11 states to adopt a modified version of marijuana decriminalization, following the release of the first report of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (which recommended the country decriminalize minor possession and personal use offenses), and 1996, when California approved Proposition 215, legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Eighteen years without a single significant victory is, by any definition, a long political winter.

But over those years, and continuing still today, we learned to hone the skill of making small gains, at least in public attitudes, even as we lost the immediate political vote, whether at the local level or at the state legislatures. At a minimum we learned to present a public image of marijuana smokers that was more professional and mainstream than our opponents were accustomed to confronting, which over time helped us turn around the exaggerated anti-marijuana biases common in the media, resulting in a more balanced public debate over marijuana policy. That, in turn, began causing many non-smokers to reassess their views on marijuana policy.

And even as we continued to lose reform proposals, we were also identifying more and more elected officials who has the political courage to stand-up to the “war-on-drugs,” who would sponsor our reform legislation in the coming years. Out of necessity, our political misfortunes had forced us to learn how to lose creatively; to come out of a losing effort with more support than when we started.

What To Do With Majority Support

But then something incredible occurred. Beginning in 2010, for the first time we demonstrated sufficient public support to approve full legalization initiatives in two states, a step that only a few years ago had seemed unrealistic and out-of-reach. And beginning in 2012, a handful of national polls began to reflect the new reality that for the first time, a majority of Americans nationwide now oppose marijuana prohibition and favor legalization.

That growing public support made it possible for us to win legalization proposals in additional states, as we did in 2014 and expect to do again in 2016. So long as we are willing to make some concessions to satisfy the concerns of non-smokers, who comprise the vast majority of voters (86 percent), we can continue to win these precedent-setting laws to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana, and to stop the arrest of marijuana smokers, in more and more states.

It is important as we continue to move forward that we recognize the value of slow, steady change, and that we learn to accept and enjoy our victories as they occur, even though they will seldom be as complete as we might wish, and will require additional work in coming years to fix problems that remain. It is far easier to fine-tune these laws to make them work in a more equitable manner, once marijuana smoking has been legitimized and marijuana smokers are no longer considered criminals.

Learning To Accept Victory, and Build On It

I have been reminded of that fact recently when I observed colleagues who are allies in the legalization movement, but who were upset with political compromises that occurred as part of the implementation of legalization in Oregon, and were making allegations that all was lost, that some advocates had sold their souls, and that legalization in Oregon is not “real” legalization, since there are limits and regulations that apply. In fact, the version of legalization adopted in Oregon is the best to date, from the perspective of marijuana smokers.

Incidentally, there were a handful of voices, loud but not large, in both Colorado and Washington, who made those same claims when those states were passing and implementing legalization, and who continue today to file suits seeking to have the state legalization initiatives declared invalid and unconstitutional, leaving prohibition still in effect in those states, and in other ways seeking to undermine the new legalization systems currently in effect.

To some degree we should recognize that social movements attract “true believers,” many of whom are purists who oppose compromise and insist on demands that would never be acceptable to a majority of the voters in the state. We should welcome their involvement and support when they join us in opposing prohibition, but separate ourselves from them politically when they insist that we should not adopt marijuana legalization because the version they are voting on is less than perfect.

Standing tall for a principle is a good thing, but knowing which principles are important, and which are self-defeating, is an essential skill for any advocate. Accepting reasonable compromises that assure a majority of the voters in a state will support an end to prohibition, and agree to a system of regulating the legal sale of marijuana to adults, is basic to winning this fight.

Most Americans are not marijuana smokers (only 14 percent are), nor are they “pro pot.” In fact, one recent national survey found that while a majority of the public nationwide now support an end to marijuana prohibition, 54 percent of those same individuals had a negative impression of recreational marijuana smokers! They support ending prohibition because they now recognize prohibition causes far more problems than the use of the drug we were trying to prohibit; but they are not “pro pot” and they remain concerned that legalization may result in some unintended consequences that will harm society. Just this past week we learned from a new Gallup Poll, taken at the end of June 2015, that 47 percent of the public believe, for example, that legalization will make driving in those states less safe (30 percent believe it will make driving “a lot less safe”; 17 percent say “a little less safe”)

Fortunately, the data from the first few states to legalize marijuana have not shown an increase in DUID cases or accidents blamed on pot intoxication, but we still must deal with that concern, and take reasonable steps to reassure those non-smokers that we too oppose impaired driving and support reasonable efforts to get them off the road. (Note: I am not talking about drivers with some THC in their system, but drivers who are actually impaired. There is an important distinction between those two categories.)

Those of us who work for legalization must occasionally stand back a step and take a realistic assessment of the enormous progress we have made over the last few years, especially the legalization victories we have achieved in four states and the District of Columbia. Of course, none of these first few state laws are perfect from the standpoint of those of us who smoke. Looking forward, we must find ways to treat responsible marijuana smokers fairly regarding employment issues, child custody issues, and in the definition of impaired driving.

But those are reasons for rededicating ourselves to continuing the political and education efforts necessary to come back and improve these laws, and to try to assure that each new law that is approved by the voters brings us a little closer to a model law. But most importantly, minor imperfections in these initial laws do not justify opposing or undermining their implementation.

We are ending a corrupt system that resulted in the unnecessary and unfair arrest of tens of millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans, and the resulting damage caused to those individuals and their families. We are achieving what most Americans, only a few years ago, would have thought impossible. Let’s enjoy and celebrate these victories, and stop focusing on what we have not yet accomplished.

These new legalization victories are changing the way the world looks at marijuana and marijuana smokers. It’s a great time to be alive if you are a marijuana smoker. Let’s enjoy it.

The Changing Nature of Marijuana Politics – and How You Can Help

NORML - Wed, 08/07/2015 - 06:46

As I finish my first month as a NORML staff member, I am in awe of the incredible group of individuals that comprise NORML’s network; I’m also in awe of the political momentum that we presently enjoy.

NORML held a Legislative ‘Fly-In’/Lobby Day in Washington, DC just before I began my tenure here. Attendees visited with their US Senators and urged them to vote in favor of the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, permitting veterans the ability to utilize medical cannabis. The vote marked the first time the U.S. Senate had voted in favor of medical marijuana.

House members have also held important votes in recent weeks, including passing the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which limits the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed operations that are acting in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.

A couple weeks ago, Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), often known for their opposition to marijuana law reform, held a hearing calling for expedited cannabis research. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow testified at the hearing and acknowledged the need for systemic federal changes, including the allowance of non-government sources of cannabis for clinical research.

Significant changes in cannabis policy are also afoot at the state level. Oregon enacted their voter approved legalization measure on July 1st and became the fourth state to permit adults to legally possess limited quantities of marijuana for their own personal use. (Separate legislation recently enacted by the Oregon legislature also defelonizes various marijuana-related offenses and provides for the expungement of past marijuana convictions.) Delaware lawmakers recently elected to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses, while Louisiana lawmakers have just amended their toughest-in-the nation repeat offender laws. A marijuana decriminalization measure is awaiting approval from the Governor in Illinois, while legislation to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii also awaits final passage. Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, also recently approved a civil citation program for minor marijuana offenses, becoming the first county to do so in the state.

I choose to highlight these recent successes because they were made possible, in part, by you and your donations to NORML’s Political Action Committee. As we head into election season, the role NORML PAC will play in electing politicians who support sensible marijuana law reform policies will grow to a record level. But we need your help getting there. Please donate $25 or more to the NORML PAC today and understand you have contributed to bringing an end to marijuana prohibition by helping to elect responsible, marijuana friendly politicians who will support legislation that you care about.

NORML is now receiving more requests for funding from elected officials and political hopefuls than ever before. By making a donation to the NORML PAC, you are strengthening our ability to help elect these cannabis friendly politicians and to support our allies at the local, state and federal level.

I’d like to thank you in advance for making your contribution to NORML PAC and I hope you continue to reflect on the importance of electing those who share in NORML’s goals of ending marijuana prohibition.

California: Governor Signs Law Expanding Medical Marijuana Patients’ Rights

NORML - Mon, 06/07/2015 - 14:42

Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today, Assembly Bill 258, to allow medical marijuana patients to receive organ transplants. 

Hospitals in California and elsewhere have denied patients from receiving organ transplants solely based on their status as medicinal marijuana consumers. Assembly Bill 258 reads, “A hospital, physician and surgeon, procurement organization, or other person shall not determine the ultimate recipient of an anatomical gift based solely upon a potential recipient’s status as a qualified patient, as defined in Section 711362.7, or based solely upon a positive test for the use of medical marijuana by a potential recipient who is a qualified patient.” 

Passage of AB 258 ends these discriminatory practices in California.

The new law takes effect on January 1, 2016.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Transplantation, marijuana use by patients undergoing transplants does not adversely impact survival rates.

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