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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case is Commonwealth v. Gerhardt.

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

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

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

Key takeaways from the WSIPP report:

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

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

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

 

Study: Perceived Marijuana Access Declining Among Youth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORML Canada Testifies In Parliament On Impending Legalization

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

American Legion’s National Commander Calls Out VA Secretary Shulkin

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mr. Secretary:

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Denise H. Rohan
National Commander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awful News

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

The James Bell I Knew

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

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

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

What Now?

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

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

I’ll see ya further on!

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Adopts Marijuana Legalization Into Policy Platform

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full resolution below.

Resolution – Platform Policy on the Legalization of Marijuana/Cannabis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submitted by: ______________________ Cynthia Purvis
Date: ______________

 

2017 NORML Conference and Lobby Day In Brief

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

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

By the numbers:

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the feedback from the lobby day we received:

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

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

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

Study: Medical Cannabis Registrants Reduce Their Prescription Drug Use

NORML - Mon, 18/09/2017 - 13:04

Chronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical marijuana program are more likely to reduce their use of prescription drugs than are those patients who don’t use cannabis, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Investigators from the University of New Mexico compared prescription drug use patterns over a 24-month period in 83 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program and 42 non-enrolled patients. Researchers reported that, on average, program registrants significantly reduced their prescription drug intake while non-registrants did not.

Specifically, 34 percent of registered patients eliminated their use of prescription drugs altogether by the study’s end, while an additional 36 percent of participants used fewer medications by the end of the sample period.

“Legal access to cannabis may reduce the use of multiple classes of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations,” authors concluded. “[A] shift from prescriptions for other scheduled drugs to cannabis may result in less frequent interactions with our conventional healthcare system and potentially improved patient health.”

A pair of studies published in the journal Health Affairs previously reported that medical cannabis access is associated with lower Medicaid expenditures and reduced spending on Medicare Part D approved prescription medications.

Separate studies have reported that patients with legal access to medical marijuana reduce their intake of opioidsbenzodiazepinesanti-depressantsmigraine-related medications, and sleep aids, among other substances.

An abstract of the study, “Effects of legal access to cannabis on Scheduled II–V drug prescriptions,” appears online here.

Congress Passes Three Month Budget Continuation – Marijuana Protections Included

NORML - Mon, 11/09/2017 - 03:52

In a quick deal between President Trump and Congress, a three-month budget continuing resolution will be in effect until December 8, 2017, maintaining current spending levels.

While this seems mundane (it is), it is important for marijuana policy because it guarantees a temporary extension of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protections for lawful medical marijuana programs from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In context, this comes on the heels of the House Rules Committee, led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocking multiple amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House earlier this week, thus ending their consideration for the 2018 House CJS Appropriates bill.

Amendments included: ending the federal incentive to revoke drivers licenses from those charged with marijuana offenses; protections for states that have implemented hemp programs; a reduction in funding for the DEA’s cannabis eradication program; expanded access to researchersprotections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses; allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales, and expanded protections to the eight states that have outright legalized marijuana.

Most notably, Chairman Pete Sessions also blocked the amendment offered by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Earl Blumenauer, and other allies in the House This language has been included in budgets since 2014, with 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.”

Eariler this year, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee, meaning that the language will be considered in a conference committee regardless of the fact that the full House was denied the opportunity to express it’s support for the 30 states which have legalized medical marijuana and 16 states that have authorized CBD oil access.

The fight is still to come, and you can send a message to your elected officials about the need to include this in the budget process here by clicking here. 

 

Federal Survey: Youth Marijuana Use Continues To Decline

NORML - Thu, 07/09/2017 - 13:23

Fewer young people today identify as current users of cannabis as compared to 2002, according to national survey data released today by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report finds that 6.5 percent of respondents between the ages of 12 and 17 report having consumed cannabis within the past 30 days – a decrease of 21 percent since 2002 and the lowest percentage reported by the survey in 20 years. Adolescents’ use of alcohol and tobacco also declined significantly during this same period.

The findings are similar to those compiled by the University of Michigan which also reports long-term declines in young people’s marijuana use, which have fallen steadily nationwide since 1996.

The new SAMHSA data acknowledges an increase in the percentage of respondents ages 18 or older who report using cannabis, a trend that has similarly been identified in other national surveys. By contrast, rates of alcohol abuse have been steadily declining for over a decade among this same age group. Rates of problematic cannabis use by those over the age of 18 have largely held steady since 2002, and have fallen substantially among adolescents.

House Rules Committee Blocks Marijuana Amendments

NORML - Wed, 06/09/2017 - 20:32

Late Wednesday night, the House Rules Committee led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked multiple amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer protections from Attorney General Jeff Sessions when it comes to cannabis.

Amendments included: ending the federal incentive to revoke drivers licenses from those charged with marijuana offenses; protections for states that have implemented hemp programs; a reduction in funding for the DEA’s cannabis eradication program; expanded access to researchersprotections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses; allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales, and expanded protections to the eight states that have outright legalized marijuana.

Most notably, the amendment offered by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Earl Blumenauer, and other allies in the House had again offered the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to continue to protect lawful state medical marijuana programs from the federal government. Specifically, the 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.”

Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher released the following statement in response:

“By blocking our amendment, Committee leadership is putting at risk the millions of patients who rely on medical marijuana for treatment, as well as the clinics and businesses that support them. This decision goes against the will of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose federal interference with state marijuana laws. These critical protections are supported by a majority of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. There’s no question: If a vote were allowed, our amendment would pass on the House floor, as it has several times before.

“Our fight to protect medical marijuana patients is far from over. The marijuana reform movement is large and growing. This bad decision by the House Rules Committee is an affront to the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized use and distribution of some form of medical marijuana. These programs serve millions of Americans. This setback, however, is not the final word. As House and Senate leadership negotiate a long-term funding bill, we will fight to maintain current protections.”

Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer language, protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice.

Most recently, the amendment was reauthorized by Congress in May as part of a short term spending package, in spite of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions aggressively lobbying Congressional leadership to ignore the provisions. At the time of the signing of the bill, President Trump issued a signing statement objecting to the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer provision.

Without these maintained protections, it is difficult to assess how much business confidence and investment will continue to pour into the nascent industry, which currently serves over 3 million

However as the Congressmen indicated in their statement, the fight is not over. In July, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee, meaning that the language will be considered in a conference committee should the House be denied the opportunity to express it’s support for the 30 states which have legalized medical marijuana and 16 states that have authorized CBD oil access.

We will continue to advocate for the members who will be in the conference committee to maintain the language from the Senate version in order to continue to serve the millions of men, women, and children who depend on their medication. On Monday and Tuesday, September 11th and 12th, NORML will hold it’s annual Conference and Lobby Day in DC and will focus on the need to not allow our progress to be rolled back – if you can join us in DC, click here to register.

Keep fighting with us – send a message to your federal elected officials now. 

An Important Message From Whoopi Goldberg

NORML - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 10:54

I’m writing to you with an urgent request: that you join me in telling Congress to protect lawful medical marijuana patients and programs from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Send a message to your member of Congress NOW

Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, 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.”

Thirty states have or are in the process of implementing a lawful market, serving millions of men, women, and children who depend on their medication.

I started my company Whoopi and Maya so that women suffering from debilitating menstrual pain could find relief from a safe, natural product rather than turning to potentially addictive and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs.

It is absolutely critical that we ensure these patients can continue to access their medicine.

Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice should not put patients at risk! Stand with me and NORML in our fight to defend medical access to cannabis by writing your elected officials in support of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment today.

Join me in sending a message to Congress now

Thanks for all that you do,
Whoopi

McClintock/Polis Amendment to Limit Federal Interference of State Marijuana Laws

NORML - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 05:13

Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) have introduced an amendment that, if passed, would disallow the Department of Justice to use funds from Congress to enforce federal laws on activities that are legal under state law with regard to marijuana. Ultimately, this amendment seeks to limit the federal government’s ability to intrude in states that have regulated various aspects of marijuana production and access.

Thirty states (and the District of Columbia) permit the medical use of cannabis, while eight states now regulate the plant’s production and sale to all adults. (Washington, DC imposes no penalties on the personal use, possession, and cultivation of the plant, but does not allow for its retail sale.) More than a dozen additional states permit patients to possess a specific anticonvulsant compound found in the marijuana plant, known as cannabidiol. Additionally, more than half of all states permit farmers to cultivate industrial strains of cannabis.

The passage of this bill is especially important with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. He believes that lawful medical marijuana patients are causing violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking and has asked Congress to allow the Department of Justice to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities. There is no logical reason for such interference by the federal government.

Congressional passage of the McClintock/Polis amendment would allow these states and the citizens who reside in them, to engage in these permitted activities free from any threat of federal interference or prosecution. It is time for Congress to respect these measures and the rights of voters and state lawmakers who support them.

Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of HR 975, the Respect States Marijuana Laws Act.

Bonamici Files Amendment Preventing Federal Interference of State Hemp Laws

NORML - Sun, 03/09/2017 - 14:33

Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has introduced an amendment to the House appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow funds to be used to prevent states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of industrial hemp. These laws are defined in section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. In 2014, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research.

The majority of US states have already enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and allowing for its cultivation. However, the federal government still includes hemp in the Controlled Substances Act, despite it containing minimal amounts of THC–the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

All parts of the hemp plant can be cultivated and used to produce everyday household items. It can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials such as clothing, paper, construction materials, and biofuel. Not only is it useful, but growing hemp is much more environmentally friendly than traditional crops. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.

If Bonamici’s amendment is passed, this could prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with states’ rights, specifically regarding to the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of industrial hemp. It’s time for Congress to respect state laws and allow them to engage in the environmentally responsible cultivation of industrial hemp.

Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of H.R. 3530, to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana.

 

Amendment to Cut Funding of DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program

NORML - Sun, 03/09/2017 - 07:20

Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) has reintroduced an amendment to cut funds from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) cannabis eradication program through their Salaries and Expenses Account. In 2016, the budget for the eradication program was $18 million and the amendment would cut that in half. The funds would be redirected to domestic abuse prevention and juvenile justice programs.  This CJS appropriations amendment that was also proposed last year.

In a 2015 statement, Rep. Lieu explained that this cannabis eradication program “is a ridiculous waste of precious federal resources, especially when multiple states and jurisdictions have already legalized marijuana…it is time for the federal government to stop making marijuana use or possession a federal crime.”

Gaetz Introduces Amendment for Medical Marijuana Research

NORML - Sat, 02/09/2017 - 13:10

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow the Department of Justice to use funds from the bill to prevent or delay the approval of an application to research medical marijuana. This past year, the DEA moved to create a new procedure to license more facilities to cultivate marijuana for research after hearing concerns about the lack of quality cannabis for trials. However, since this implementation, the DEA has not acted on any of the applications that have been submitted since the creation of this program in an attempt to keep the already outrageous restrictions.

“Because of marijuana’s draconian schedule 1 status, scientists are hindered in researching its medical potential — and then, because medical research is scarce, its schedule 1 status is upheld. It’s time to break this vicious cycle, and make it easier for researchers to investigate the potential medical uses of cannabis” said Rep. Gaetz. “How many lives throughout the nation could be improved with increased marijuana research — from cancer patients to veterans with PTSD? We do a disservice to them, and to all Americans, by limiting research. The time for change is now.”

Because marijuana is listed as a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government does not see it as having any medicinal benefits. Trying to get the DEA to actually act upon these new applications to expand research is extremely difficult and it will be just as difficult to get the DEA accept them. If Gaetz’s proposed amendment is passed, it will make it harder for the DEA to deny these research applications.

In a bipartisan letter, Representatives Gaetz, Rohrabacher (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), and Blumenauer (D-OR) ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop standing in the way of increasing research into marijuana’s medical potential. In the letter, the Representatives write “It is worrisome to think that the Department of Justice, the cornerstone of American civil society, would limit new and potentially groundbreaking research simply because it does not want to follow a rule.”

Congressman Heck Introduces Marijuana Banking Amendments

NORML - Sat, 02/09/2017 - 09:19

Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) with Representatives Perlmutter (CO-07), Lee (CA-13), and Titus (NV-01) have submitted two amendments to the financial services division to be included in the House appropriations bill. Both of these amendments focus on banking services for legal marijuana-related businesses and would be a temporary fix until the current legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, is passed into law.

The first amendment prohibits any funds in the bill from being used to punish banks for serving marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The second amendment prohibits the Treasury from altering FinCEN’s guidance to financial institutions on providing banking services to legitimate marijuana businesses. These amendments, if included, would allow for legal marijuana-related business to operate according to state laws and enjoy access to the banking system.

Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult use of marijuana and more than half the states have implemented medical marijuana laws, so it is both sensible and necessary to include these proposed amendments so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

You can click here to send an email in support of the SAFE Banking Act to your federal elected officials now. 

Norton Files Amendment To Strike Anti-Home-Rule Rider For DC

NORML - Thu, 31/08/2017 - 13:09

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has introduced an amendment to strike all four anti-home-rule riders from the House fiscal year 2018 District of Columbia Appropriations bill. This amendment would strike the riders that prohibit DC from spending its local funds on marijuana commercialization and on abortions for low-income women, as well as those that repeal D.C.’s medical aid-in-dying law, the Death with Dignity Act, and budget autonomy referendum. Norton’s marijuana amendment has already received bipartisan support in Congress and there should be no reason to prohibit DC from spending money in their local politics.

In 2015, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71, which legalized the cultivation and possession of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older. However, because D.C. cannot control its own budget, Congress was able to block the District from legalizing, taxing, and regulating the sale of marijuana. This lack of regulation of non-medical marijuana has caused D.C. to lose out on millions of dollars in tax revenue and hundreds of good jobs in the marijuana-market. Additionally, because residents cannot legally purchase non-medical marijuana, this has lead to more grey and black market sales. The District should have full control over its budget to implement and regulate the sale of marijuana.

In a press release statement, Norton stated, “The anti-democratic interference in D.C.’s purely local affairs flies directly in the face of the oft touted Republican principle of local control, and I am making sure no Member gets a free pass on abusing congressional authority over the District. Republican Members from states where medical aid in dying and recreational marijuana are legal should particularly apply the same right of local autonomy that their states have used to the District of Columbia. In addition, I am prepared to fight any and all new anti-home-rule riders introduced by Republicans later this week. We will not be used as political fodder for overeager Members who would rather spend their time meddling in the District’s affairs than working on behalf of their own constituents.”

AAA Is Doubling Down On Their Marijuana Distortions

NORML - Wed, 30/08/2017 - 13:48

First, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of you who responded to NORML’s request to contact the American Automobile Association and urged them to “stop lying about marijuana legalization.”

But even as public and media pressure grows, AAA affiliates are doubling down on their reefer madness rhetoric.

At a recent AAA Texas-sponsored event, attendees were falsely told that drivers testing positive possess a 25-fold risk of accident compared to sober drivers. But the actual study cited by AAA concluded nothing of the sort. Rather, the study in question — conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — determined that THC-positive drivers possessed virtually no statistically significant risk of motor vehicle accident compared to drug negative drivers.

Similarly, AAA Mid-Atlantic is continuing to distort the truth about cannabis. Despite having been provided with peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary, a recent reply by their Director of Public and Government Affairs office shows that the agency is refusing to listen to the facts with regard to cannabis regulation and traffic safety.

“We are deeply concerned that lawmakers are considering the legalization of recreational marijuana,” the AAA’s response states. “AAA opposes the legalization … of marijuana for recreational use because of its negative traffic safety implications.”

Yet, recent studies of federal crash data find that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with a rise in traffic fatalities – and, in some instances, regulating cannabis has been associated with a reduction in deadly motor vehicle crashes.

Send AAA the facts in a message now

Nonetheless, AAA Mid-Atlantic opines, “The problem of drugged driving … will only get worse if [a] state legalizes it for recreational use.”

AAA further argues that a 2015 Governors Highway Safety report finds that “drugs were present in … fatally-injured drivers with known test results, appearing more frequently than alcohol.” However, AAA fails to acknowledge that the Governors report was primarily highlighting a rise in the presence of prescription medications and over-the-counter medications in fatally injured drivers. As acknowledged by the paper’s authors: “For this report, a drug is any substance that can impair driving. There are four categories of drugs: illegal drugs, legal non-medical drugs, prescription medications, [and] over-the counter medicines.” The Governors’ report also fails to identify whether the drug-positive drivers identified by the study were either impaired at the time of the crash or even culpable for the accident.

Further, the Governors’ report has fallen under scathing public criticism from other traffic safety groups, including MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who publicly repudiated its interpretations. “There is no way you can say that drugs have overtaken alcohol as the biggest killer on the highway,” MADD responded. “The data is not anywhere close to being in a way that would suggest that.”

They’re correct. Specifically, a 2014 review of US fatal traffic accident data by researchers at the Pacific Research Institute in Maryland reported definitively that alcohol remains a greater contributor to crash risk than all other drugs combined, concluding: “Alcohol was not only found to be an important contributor to fatal crash risk, … it was associated with fatal crash risk levels significantly higher than those for other drugs. … The much higher crash risk of alcohol compared with that of other drugs suggests that in times of limited resources, efforts to curb drugged driving should not reduce our efforts to pass and implement effective alcohol-related laws and policies.”

If we are going to achieve sane policy solutions in regards to cannabis reform, it is essential that we call out those who seek to deceive the public, even if we appreciate their roadside assistance.

Take Action:

Tell AAA to stop spreading disinformation on the impacts of legalization.

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