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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 29, 2016

    thumbs_upRepublican Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation today amending the state’s marijuana possession penalties.

    Senate Bill 2228 reduces the penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine) to a civil fine of no more than $200 — no arrest and no criminal record.

    It also decriminalizes related offenses involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

    Senate Bill 2228 also amends the state’s zero tolerance per se traffic safety law, stating that the presence of THC in blood at levels below 5ng/ml “shall not give rise to any presumption that the person was or was not under the influence of cannabis.”

    The full text of the measure is available here.

    According to the ACLU, Illinois police arrest some 50,000 individuals annually for marijuana possession offenses — ranking #5 in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests.

    Illinois becomes the third largest state to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 27, 2016

    vote_keyboardMassachusetts voters will decide this November on a statewide ballot measure to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail sale of cannabis.

    The Secretary of State’s office has confirmed that initiative proponents, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, submitted a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

    Question 4, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, permits adults to possess (up to ten ounces) and to cultivate (up to six plants) personal use quantities of cannabis and establishes licensing for its commercial production and retail sale. Commercial for-profit sales of cannabis will be subject to taxation, while non-commercial exchanges of marijuana will not be taxed.

    State voters have previously approved ballot measures decriminalizing marijuana possession penalties and legalizing the use and dispensing of medicinal cannabis.

    Voters in Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada will also decide on adult use measures this November. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and Montana will decide on medical use initiatives this fall.

    A summary of 2016 statewide ballot measures is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 25, 2016

    oil_bottlesMore than two in three military veterans say that medical cannabis should be legal, and 75 percent believe that VA physicians should be able to recommend marijuana therapy to eligible patients, according to the results of the 7th annual membership survey of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA).

    Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they “support the legalization of medical marijuana in their state.” Only 20 percent oppose legalizing medical cannabis access.

    Seventy-five percent of veterans “believe the VA should allow medical marijuana as a treatment option where warranted.” Fourteen percent of respondents disagreed.

    Founded in 2004, the IAVA states that it is “the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America.”

    In May, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include language in the 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to permit VA doctors to recommend cannabis therapy. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee decided in June to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    C1_8734_r_xWith the country so divided right now along party lines, as well as within each of the two major parties, it would be easy for voters to say “The hell with them all,” and sit this election out. Both of the major party candidates have record-setting voter disapproval ratings, assuring that our next president will be starting off their first term knowing that more than half the country did not like them, and would have preferred someone else for president.

    But there really is no other choice this year.

    History of Third Party Candidates

    The reality is third party candidates have a terrible track record in this country, so a vote for the Green Party or the Libertarian Party is, in effect, throwing away your vote. Those who insist on exercising this option may get some emotional satisfaction out of rejecting the two major party candidates, but they are also helping Donald Trump.

    The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 established a Republican-Democrat duopoly that persists even today. Since then we have seen third-party candidates on the presidential ballot in two dozen elections, without success. In fact, most – including Ralph Nader in 2000 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 – have failed to win a single electoral vote, do to the winner-take-all nature of the electoral college.

    The last such candidate to secure any electoral votes was segregationist candidate George Wallace in 1968, who won five Southern states in his fight against the civil rights movement. And the most successful third party presidential candidate was Teddy Roosevelt, who bolted the Republican Party to run as a Progressive Party (aka “Bull Moose Party”) candidate in 1912, who won six states and came in second with 27% of the vote, but lost badly to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

    It Matters

    Despite the continuing complaints of dissatisfaction being heard from the cadre of enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters, in fact Sen. Sanders himself has now acknowledged the inevitable and endorsed Hillary Clinton. Sanders used his popularity with millions of American voters to nudge the Democratic Party platform, and the Democratic candidate, to the left. And that’s a positive development.

    But Sanders also realized the most important priority at this time is to assure that Donald Trump is not elected president.

    Both Hillary Clinton and her vice-presidential running mate Sen. Tim Kaine support the right of the states to continue to experiment with different versions of marijuana legalization, without interference from the federal government. While Donald Trump said he too holds that position, that was not apparent from the language in the Republican platform, that appeared to be heading in the other direction. And with Trump, who could guess what his position will be tomorrow or the next day.

    But more importantly, Donald Trump is a bigoted, racist, ignorant candidate whom no one with a whit of common sense would want running our country, or having his finger on the nuclear button. Merely having him as a major party candidate is an embarrassment for the country, and has sent shockwaves throughout our allies in NATO and other strategic alliances. He is obviously unfit to be president.

    So don’t waste your vote making a political point, knowing it would make it more likely that “the Donald” might somehow squeak through and win this election. Every progressive voter who sits out this election, or who votes for a third party candidate, helps Donald Trump.

    We can all fight among ourselves about specific issues and how best to achieve more progressive policies in this country. But none of us can afford the risk of a Trump presidency.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 22, 2016

    legalization_pollSixty-five percent of Americans ages 18 and older believe that “government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth” and 55 percent of respondents say that the plant’s use ought to be legal, according to national polling data compiled by YouGov.com.

    Those living in the western region of the United States (65 percent), Hispanics (64 percent), Democrats (63 percent), and those under 30 (63 percent) were most likely to endorse legalizing marijuana use. Republicans (45 percent), African Americans (44 percent), and those over the age of 65 (40 percent) were least likely to be supportive.

    By contrast, a majority of respondents of all ages and political persuasions agreed with the notion that marijuana law enforcement costs more than it’s worth.

    In response to a separate polling question, respondents agreed by a margin of more than 2 to 1 that the government should not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized its use.

    A majority of those polled also disputed the allegation that cannabis use is a ‘gateway’ to other illicit drug use. Of those under the age of 60, only 25 percent believed the claim.

    The YouGov.com survey polled 1,000 US citizens and possesses a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

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