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All Time High: New Poll Shows Two-Thirds Of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

NORML - Wed, 25/10/2017 - 05:54

Source: Gallup

A record percentage of US adults, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and for the first time ever, Republicans, believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal, according to polling data released today by Gallup.

Sixty-four percent of adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States” — the highest percentage ever reported by Gallup since they began asking adults their views on legalization in 1969, which began at 12%. The following year NORML was founded.

“At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective to maintain the federal prohibition of marijuana,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

Source: Gallup

There are multiple pieces of legislation now pending that would deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to regulate marijuana for responsible adult use in a manner similar to alcohol.  You can click here to contact your member of Congress to support HR 1227, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana consumers. As a nonprofit public interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who consume marijuana responsibly, with over 150 chapters across the United States and internationally.

For nearly 50 years, NORML led the successful efforts to reform local, state, and federal marijuana laws — as well as to change public opinion. Today, NORML continues to lead this fight through our legal, lobbying, and public education efforts. Among other activities, NORML serves as an informational resource to the public and the national media on all topics specific to cannabis, marijuana policy, and the lawlobbies local, state, and federal legislators in support of reform legislation; publishes a regular newsletter; hosts an annual conference; places op-eds and letters to the editor in newspapers throughout the country, publishes timely and important reports and white papers, and serves as the umbrella group for a national network of citizen-activists committed to ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana.

Our efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going?

 

#ACT: Medical Marijuana Could Be On The Line

NORML - Tue, 24/10/2017 - 05:17

Protections for the medical marijuana markets that are now legal in 30 states are set to expire on December 8th.

After that, over 2 million registered patients’ continued access to their medication will rely on the prohibitionist whims of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been lobbying aggressively for the ability to use the full force of the Justice Department to interfere with their operations.

But your member of Congress could make the difference. We’re targeting key elected officials who we need to publicly support these continued protections and need your Representatives to speak up and encourage them to stand with patients.

Send a message to your Representative NOW

Here is the full backstory: The House Rules Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple marijuana-related amendments from receiving consideration by the full House earlier this year, including the one known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer. Specifically, this language maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

However, in July, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed similar language in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This means that the amendment will be considered in a bicameral conference committee despite the fact that the House was denied the opportunity to express its support.

If the Republican Congress decides to strip the amendment out of the Senate budget, over 2 million patients in 30 states will lose these protections and could face the full attention of Jeff Sessions.

We need your Representative to speak up. Send a message right now.

Setting the Record Straight

NORML - Mon, 23/10/2017 - 12:20

One of NORML’s primary missions is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults. One of the ways we successfully achieve this goal is by debunking marijuana myths and half-truths via the publication of timely op-eds in online and print media. Since the mainstream media seldom casts a critical eye toward many of the more over-the-top claims about cannabis, we take it upon ourselves to set the record straight.

The majority of NORML’s rebuttals are penned by Deputy Director Paul Armentano. In the past few weeks, he has published numerous op-eds rebuking a litany of popular, but altogether specious claims about the cannabis plant – including the contentions that cannabis consumption is linked to poor health outcomes, problems with regulations, and the effects of opioid abuse, hospitalizations, and fatalities in the states that have robust medical marijuana programs.

Below are links to a sampling of his recent columns:

Trump’s opioid agency fails to cite marijuana’s benefits, despite mounting evidence
The Hill, October 23, 2017

This is how legal cannabis is improving public health
National Memo, October 22, 2017

RMHIDTA’s marijuana reports are nothing but propaganda
Denver Westword, October 21, 2017

Marijuana is now a driving engine of the American economy
Alternet, September 28, 2017

When will our govt stop ignoring that marijuana is a major regulation success story
Alternet, September 19, 2017

Blowing up the big marijuana IQ myth — The science points to zero effect on your smarts
The National Memo, August 7, 2017

For a broader sampling of NORML-centric columns and media hits, please visit NORML’s ‘In the Media’ archive here.

If you see the importance of NORML’s educational and media outreach efforts, please feel free to show your support by making a contribution here.

Study: Cannabis Use Inversely Associated With Fatty Liver Disease

NORML - Fri, 20/10/2017 - 10:37

Adults with a history of cannabis use are less likely to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than are those who have not used the substance, according to data published online in the journal PLoS One. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent form of liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States.

An international team of researchers from Stanford University in California and the Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea evaluated the association between marijuana and NAFLD in a nationally representative sample of over 22,000 adults. Researchers reported that cannabis use independently predicted a lower risk of suspected NAFLD in a dose-dependent manner.

“Active marijuana use provided a protective effect against NAFLD independent of known metabolic risk factors,” authors determined. “[W]e conclude that current marijuana use may favorably impact the pathogenesis of NAFLD in US adults.”

The findings are similar to those of a prior study published in the same journal in May. In that study, authors reported that frequent consumers of cannabis were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with NAFLD as compared to non-users, while occasional consumers were 15 percent less likely to suffer from the disease.

Separate data published online earlier this month in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis also concluded that daily cannabis use is independently associated with a reduced prevalence of fatty liver disease in patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Full text of the study, “Inverse association of marijuana use with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among adults in the United States,” appears online here.

ACLU Pennsylvania: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession

NORML - Mon, 16/10/2017 - 11:00

African Americans in Pennsylvania are over eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period – at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana – up from 6.5 percent in 2010.

Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

“Pennsylvania’s insistence in continuing to fight the war on marijuana, is at the root of the problematic data presented in this report,” the ACLU of Pennsylvania concluded. “Law enforcement has not only continued its business-as-usual arresting policies in enforcement of cannabis prohibition, it has ramped up enforcement as marijuana use has become more accepted throughout the commonwealth and the nation. If laws don’t change, this pattern will likely continue; law enforcement could become even more heavy handed until policymakers are clear that it is time to end this approach. The clearest way to send that message is to end prohibition altogether.”

This October 20th marks the third anniversary of the decriminalization of marijuana in Philidelphia, making the birthplace of the American Constitution the largest city to have marijuana possession a non-arrestable offense outside of a legalized state. Yet there is much progress to still be made beyond decriminalization.

“It is time for us to chart a better path forward. When politicians and police stop treating cannabis consumers like criminals, Pennsylvania can gain thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue,” wrote Temple Professor Chris Goldstein for Philly.com earlier this month. “I hope that by next October, the verdant harvest of Pennsylvania cannabis is something that will benefit every single resident of the commonwealth.”

And the political winds are changing.

In September, 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.”

“It’s time to stand on research, and the research shows it’s time to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia, who is chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

“Millions of dollars are spent each year on marijuana prosecutions. And prosecution costs are just part of the story,” wrote Pennsylvania Auditor General of  Eugene DePasquale in September, “There is also the loss of income and other social, personal, and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana. That’s ridiculous. The police and court systems have more urgent issues to address.”

PA Resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of pending legislation for statewide decriminalization and then click here to send a message in support of pending legislation for outright legalization. 

Study: Colorado’s Adult Use Cannabis Access Law Associated With Reductions In Opioid Deaths

NORML - Fri, 13/10/2017 - 11:18

Retail cannabis distribution in Colorado is associated with a reduction in opioid-related mortality, according to data published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Public Health.

A team of investigators from the University of North Texas School of Public Health, the University of Florida, and Emory University compared changed in the prevalence of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado retailers began selling cannabis to adults.

They reported: “Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

Authors concluded, “Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths.”

Their data is consistent with prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reductions in prescription drug spending, opioid-related hospitalizations, and opioid-related fatalities.

An abstract of the study, “Recreational cannabis legalization and opioid-related deaths in Colorado, 2000-2015,” appears online here.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer: Medical Cannabis Is Safer Than Opioids

NORML - Thu, 12/10/2017 - 11:17

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking at a NORML Conference

On Wednesday, October 11th, Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) testified before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health on how to deal with the opioid crisis in America.

In his testimony, the Congressman makes the case for medical cannabis as a safer alternative to highly addictive opioids, especially for our veterans—as well as the need to remove barriers to medical cannabis research.

It is well documented that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Watch the video below and click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of the CARERS Act of 2017 in support of medical marijuana and click here to send a message to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Opioid Commission to urge them to include medical marijuana as part of the national strategy to combat the opioid crisis.

Eric Holder: Attorney General Sessions “Almost Obsessed With Marijuana”

NORML - Tue, 10/10/2017 - 14:54

Former Attorney General Eric Holder Photo by Ryan Johnson

In recent remarks at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, former US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about current Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ views on marijuana, saying “The Sessions almost obsession with marijuana I think is the thing that’s put the Justice Department in this strange place,” in regards to potential changes in current policy held up by what is known as The Cole Memo.

Authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, the memo directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

Despite Holder’s comments, he took no action while he had the power as the Attorney General to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

Jeff Sessions has a long history of advocating for the failed policies of the “Just Say No” era — policies that resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana.

This comes as Congress is currently debating the extension of federal protections for the 30 state lawful medical marijuana programs and the 16 state lawful limited CBD access programs, know as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

At a time when the majority of states now regulate marijuana use, and where six out of ten votes endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.

Take action to contact your federal lawmakers and urge them to support the descheduling of marijuana to prevent Jeff Sessions from implementing a crack-down on marijuana consumers. 

Testimony Submitted By MassCann/NORML In Massachusetts To Cannabis Control Commission

NORML - Sun, 08/10/2017 - 11:46

You can follow MassCann/NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

MASS CANN/NORML TESTIMONY BEFORE THE CANNABIS CONTROL COMMISSION

10/02/2017

We are the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, Inc., state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as MASS CANN/NORML.

We are the largest, oldest and most successful cannabis law reform organization in the northeastern United States. We have run the annual Boston Freedom Rally on Boston Common every year for 28 years, which has raised over $500,000 for our cause. We have run over 50 public policy questions in local districts throughout the Commonwealth – all of which were approved by voters by healthy majorities. The results of those public policy questions and our professional polling persuaded the Marijuana Policy Project to finance the decriminalization of marijuana by ballot initiative in 2008.

We alone have been representing cannabis users for years. Our activists made decriminalization, medical marijuana and, now, regulated cannabis the new reality. We represent the voters who made your Commission possible.

Unlike others seeking to advise you, we alone purely represent the interests of cannabis users. We are the marijuana user group in Massachusetts. We are motivated by our collective desire to be free from overly intrusive, overly repressive government.

We are not motivated by money, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are an all- volunteer organization. None of us are paid for what we do.

We are not motivated by career interests, as so many others who hope to advise you are. MASS CANN/NORML employs no one.

We are not motivated by a desire for political power, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are a public education organization and are barred by law from doing political work.

What MASS CANN/NORML is asking you to do:

We are asking for no regulations about marijuana that would be ridiculous if applied to alcohol. As a recreational substance, marijuana is less debilitating and less addictive than alcohol. As a medicine, it is one of the safest therapeutic substances known, far safer than aspirin. Regulations concerning storage, distribution, and handling that require marijuana to be treated like enriched plutonium—regulations like those put out during the disastrous rollout of medical marijuana—have no basis in reality. They’re just the kind of governmental overreach the voters rejected in passing Question 4. You recall that Question 4 was called an act to “tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

We want you to avoid regulations based on fear-mongering:
– Legalization has NOT led to increased marijuana use by youths.
– Legalization has NOT led to more highway accidents.
– Opening marijuana outlets has NOT increased crime in the neighborhoods that have them.
There are many, many other examples of false claims that we can disprove.

Value freedom over compromise. No compromising with our freedom. Freedom is precious. The first colonists came to Massachusetts to escape repressive government. Ever since, many have fought in many ways for freedom and some have died for it. You have no more sacred duty than to maintain whatever freedom is possible.

We want you to evaluate the other stakeholders in this discussion in light of their particular interests.

It is in the interest of capitalists, for instance, to corner the market. Therefore, they would favor regulations making it hard for us users to grow our own plants for free. The influence of those well-heeled interests is hard to resist. Please resist.

Prosecutors and police want to maintain their ability to target us marijuana users and to define us as criminals. They have used marijuana laws to enforce institutionalized racism. They still will seek to criminalize us to the greatest degree they can. Voters rejected their approach when they passed Question 4. The job of prosecutors and police is to enforce the laws that are given them. They should not be shaping policy.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has proved they are interested only in benefitting their bureaucracy, expanding their budget, employing a larger workforce, and consolidating their power—NOT in helping medical marijuana patients. In fact, they are a principal reason that so many patients have gone for years without legal access to their medicine. They should not be listened to as some kind of voice of experience. They should just be studied as a history of horrible examples.

Treatment professionals are interested in maintaining their gravy train. They want all cannabis use to be defined as drug abuse, and they want all users to be forced into expensive court-ordered rehab programs. They have no larger social interest at heart, and they do not deserve a seat at our table.

All of these stakeholders have an interest in treating legal marijuana as a disaster to be delayed and restricted as much as possible. But the voters didn’t vote for a disaster, they voted for an opportunity: new jobs, new revenue, safer communities, better community-police relations. We want you to respect the will of the voters, and that means not working against legalization as some kind of threat, but moving ahead with legalization as a fine new opportunity. Legal marijuana is a great thing for Massachusetts! Make it happen!

NORML Founder Keith Stroup to Speak at First Annual Cannabis Fund Gala & Awards

NORML - Fri, 06/10/2017 - 12:00

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Portland, OR: The Cannabis Fund, a PAC created by Representative Earl Blumenauer to support cannabis-friendly candidates, will be hosting its first annual Gala & Awards on October 6th at the Marriott Waterfront in Portland, OR with NORML founder Keith Stroup as the featured speaker.

“It is an honor to support Rep. Earl Blumenauer and The Cannabis Fund in 2017. I first met the Congressman in 1973, when he was a freshman state legislator in Oregon who helped pass the nation’s first marijuana decriminalization bill, ending the practice of treating marijuana smokers as criminals. It is exciting to see him continuing to lead the charge to legalize the responsible use of marijuana under federal law, co-founding the Cannabis Caucus in Congress, and author HB 1823, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act,” said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, “NORML is proud to stand with Rep. Earl Blumenauer in his efforts to end marijuana prohibition and establish a regulated market.”

Congressman Blumenauer’s Cannabis Profile:

For more than 40 years, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) has fought for the reform of our outdated marijuana laws.

As an Oregon state legislator, Blumenauer supported the Oregon Decriminalization Bill of 1973, which abolished criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, he has championed several legislative efforts to protect medical marijuana patients, allow the federal government to tax and regulate marijuana, and normalize taxes and banking for marijuana businesses in states where it is legal.

Blumenauer received the National Organization for the Rationalization of Marijuana Laws Award for Outstanding Public Leadership in 2010. In February 2017, Blumenauer launched the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

VA Secretary Shulkin Still Hasn’t Responded to The American Legion’s Call for Marijuana Research

NORML - Fri, 06/10/2017 - 11:00

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

Many veterans have told both the Legion and NORML that they have been able to eliminate or reduce their dependency on other drugs, specifically opioids, by using cannabis.

The Legion recently ramped up their efforts to convince VA Secretary Shulkin to expand research into the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis by sending him a letter demanding for his direct involvement in making sure the medical marijuana study meets its goals.

That letter was sent on September 19th. 17 days ago.

Has Secretary Shulkin or the Dept. of Veterans Affairs responded? No. Have either even acknowledged receipt of the letter? To public knowledge, no.

Why hasn’t Sec. Shulkin or the VA responded? Is he going to listen to the nation’s largest Veterans advocacy group? One that is pleading for help that our veterans so desperately need and deserve? Great question. The American Legion seems to be wondering the same thing.

The Legion has been expressing their frustration on Twitter for Sec. Shulkin’s failure to act on this pressing issue.

 

Secretary Shulkin is doing himself, our veterans, and to a larger extent, our nation, a huge disservice by not acknowledging the Legion’s cry for help and support.

Join us in calling upon Secretary Shulkin to listen to the pleas of Veterans.

Share one or more of the following tweets (and this blog on all of your accounts):

Why hasn’t @SecShulkin responded to @AmericanLegion call for help? https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/911576050043408384

.@SecShulkin failure to act on this issue is hurting our veterans. @AmericanLegion
https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/913010589668188160

RT to help the @AmericanLegion call upon @SecShulkin to take action on behalf of veterans

DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Increased By 20 Percent In 2016

NORML - Fri, 06/10/2017 - 08:36

Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration rose in 2016, according to annual data compiled by the agency.

According to the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, law enforcement confiscated more than 5.3 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2016. The total is a 20 percent increase over the agency’s reported 2015 seizure totals and is the most plants seized by the DEA and its cooperating agencies since 2011, when law enforcement confiscated more than 6.7 million plants.

As in past years, the DEA-sponsored eradication efforts primarily targeted California. Of the total number of plants confiscated nationwide by the DEA and cooperating agencies in 2016, 71 percent (3.78 million) were seized in California. Law enforcement seized an estimated 552,000 plants in Kentucky, 333,000 in Texas, 128,000 in Tennessee, and 124,000 in West Virginia.

Only seven percent of all marijuana seized by law enforcement came from indoor grows.

The agency and its partners reported making 5,657 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a ten percent decline from 2015.

The DEA also reported seizing some $52 million in assets during their confiscation operations – nearly twice as much as the agency reported the prior year.

Full data from the DEA’s 2016 report, as well as from past years’ reports, is available online here.

Alaska: Voters Decide Against Municipal Marijuana Bans

NORML - Thu, 05/10/2017 - 12:19

Voters in Fairbanks and on the Kenai Peninsula (south or Anchorage) have decided against a number local ballot measures that sought to prohibit the operation of cannabis retailers and providers. Each proposal lost by wide margins.

Under a 2014 voter-initiated state law, local governments may opt out of regulations licensing the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults.

If the ballot measures had been approved, local retailers would have to had to close within 90 days. A significant portion of the state’s cultivators and retailers are located in Fairbanks and on the Kenia Peninsula.

Proponents of the ban cannot put a similar issue before voters until 2019.

NORML Weighs In For Personal Cultivation Rights In Washington State

NORML - Thu, 05/10/2017 - 10:18

On Wednesday, NORML and Washington NORML both submitted public comment to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) in support of the regulatory body drafting model legislation to allow the lawful home cultivation of marijuana for personal use.

You can review the comprehensive assessment and recommendations made by Washington NORML’s Legislative Associate Bailey Hirschburg and Executive Director Kevin Oliver by clicking HERE.

NORML Board Member and Travel Writer Rick Steves submitted:

The ending of a wrong-minded prohibition happens incrementally. Home-brewing of beer was not immediately on the docket as states made alcohol legal again with the repeal of Prohibition back in the 1930s. It eventually became clear that “home brewing” was a logical extension of the progress made on that issue and today we have the right to home brew as part of the rights afforded to adults that allow them to engage in responsible drinking. In the same way, we believe that home cultivation of marijuana is a smart step for our state to take at this time.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano wrote:

NORML maintains that the inclusion of legislative provisions permitting the non-commercial home cultivation of cannabis serves as leverage to assure that the product available at retail outlets is high quality, safe, and affordable to the general consumer. Just as adults have the right to brew small amounts of alcohol for personal purposes, adults should also have the right to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis at home. There is no reason or compelling state interest to infringe this right in a jurisdiction where the cannabis plant is no longer defined as contraband.

Legislation enacted in 2017 directed the WSLCB to “conduct a study of regulatory options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users.” The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice in 2013, which outlines the federal government’s enforcement priorities in states where medical or recreational marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized. The study and recommendations are due to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2017.

Media hits surround NORML’s involvement in this area includes:

Public comment closes on October 11, 2017. If you are a Washington State resident, you can easily submit written comments by clicking HERE.

Follow Washington State NORML by clicking HERE.

 

Atlanta Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

NORML - Mon, 02/10/2017 - 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.

Marijuana Prohibition Turns 80

NORML - Mon, 02/10/2017 - 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.”

 

On The Passing of Hugh Hefner

NORML - Thu, 28/09/2017 - 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.

Let’s Get Registered! #WeCannaVote

NORML - Wed, 27/09/2017 - 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.

College Medical Marijuana Policy Leaves Many Students Unable to Legally Consume

NORML - Tue, 26/09/2017 - 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.  

 

Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report

NORML - Mon, 25/09/2017 - 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.

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