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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 5, 2016

    chapter_spotlightPetitioners seeking to decriminalize municipal penalties specific to the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana have gathered sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, a representative from the Kansas City Clerk’s office confirmed today.

    The proposal, spearheaded by Kansas City NORML, amends citywide penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil fine, punishable by a $25 fine. Similar municipal measures are currently in place in St. Louis and in Columbia, Missouri.

    Members of the city council have 60 days to either act on the measure or to place it before voters this spring in a special election.

    Under state law, the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. On January 1, new sentencing provisions will take effect reclassifying the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana as a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine but no jail.

  • by NORML December 1, 2016

    president_obamaIn a just published “exit interview” with Rolling Stone Magazine, President Barack Obama opined that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue, not a criminal matter, and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”

    “Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

    He added, “It is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another. So this is a debate that is now ripe, much in the same way that we ended up making progress on same-sex marriage.”

    Although the administration, largely in its second term, has permitted states to experiment with marijuana legalization policies without federal interference, it has not pushed strongly for any permanent changes in federal law, such as amending cannabis’ schedule I classification or permitting banks to work closely with state-licensed marijuana businesses. As a result, some marijuana law reform advocates believe that President Obama has not done enough to move the issue forward during his tenure. Responding to this criticism, Obama said: “Look, I am now very much in lame-duck status. And I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go.”

    Why Obama believes that he will have greater opportunities to address cannabis policy as a private citizen than he did as President of the United States leaves us scratching our heads, but we certainly hope that he follows through on his pledge to focus on drug policy reform in the next phase of his political career.

    You can read President Obama’s exit interview with Rolling Stone in it’s entirety here.

  • by Raleigh Dierlam, NORML Development Associate November 29, 2016

    Since the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has come to an end, NORML invites you to take part in #GivingTuesday, a movement created to kick-start the charitable season by supporting non-profits.

    Donate to NORML Foundation to support our efforts (donations to NORML Foundation are tax-deductible).

    With over 150 chapters nationwide, a professional staff based in Washington, DC, and a social media reach of over 1.5 million individuals, NORML is the largest group committed to working with members of Congress, business leaders, legal experts, and citizens from around the country to reform marijuana law and move our country forward.

    With four states legalizing marijuana for adult use on Election Day this year and four additional states approving initiatives to allow the medical use of marijuana — this is clearly an issue on the move.  It is also an issue that has strong support across all demographics, with recent polling of nationwide support for legalization at 60%.

    Over 600,000 Americans are arrested each year on marijuana charges, and these arrests disproportionately fall on already marginalized communities. If you are an African American you are 4 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana as Caucasians, even though consumption rates are similar.

    Will you help NORML pursue policies which aim to remove the Schedule I classification of marijuana, provide safe and effective medicine to suffering patients, and create substantial reforms to our criminal justice system?

    Donate to NORML to make a difference today.

    Your support is truly appreciated!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 28, 2016

    ballot_box_leafPolitical leaders in several states are threatening to thwart the implementation of voter-approved initiatives specific to the regulation of marijuana.

    In Massachusetts, where voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent on election day to legalize the cultivation, use, and retail sale of cannabis by adults, politicians have suggested amending the law and delaying its implementation. Specifically, lawmakers have called for pushing back the date when adults may legally begin growing cannabis from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified point in time. Legislators have also called for delaying retail sales of cannabis until late 2018, and have proposed increasing marijuana-specific sales taxes. “I believe that when voters vote on most ballot questions, they are voting in principle. They are not voting on the fine detail that is contained within the proposal,” Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said in regard to the proposed changes.

    In Maine, where voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law’s implementation. Governor LePage, who adamantly opposed the measure, said that he “will be talking to Donald Trump” about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and pronounced that he “will not put this (law) into play” unless the federal government signs off on it.

    Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson made similar statements following voters’ decision to legalize the medical use of cannabis. “I don’t like the idea of implementing laws in Arkansas that violate federal law,” the Republican Governor and former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration said. “This does not call for a state-by-state solution, it calls for … a national solution.”

    During the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump voiced support for the authority of individual states to impose regulatory policies specific to the use and dispensing of medical cannabis, but was less clear with regard to whether he believed that state lawmakers ought to be able to regulate the adult use of cannabis absent federal interference. His nominee for US Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, strongly opposes any liberalization in cannabis policy, stating in April, “[M]arijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.”

    In 2013, the Obama administration issued a memorandum directing US prosecutors not to interfere with statewide marijuana legalization efforts, provided those efforts did not undermine specific federal priorities – such as the diversion of cannabis to non-legal states. According to Gallup pollsters, nearly two-thirds of Americans support allowing states to decide their own cannabis policies.

    Voters in eight states – Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota – approved statewide ballot measures this November regulating marijuana for either medicinal or social use.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 24, 2016

    turkey-jointAs we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, NORML would like to acknowledge and give thanks to you, our faithful members and supporters. Without you, there is no us.

     As we reflect upon this unprecedented year, we have much to be thankful for:

    • – Lawmakers in 24 states approved more than 30 pieces of legislation specific to marijuana policy reform in 2016.
    • – We also made history at the ballot box on Election Day. Eight states voted in favor of statewide law changes to both medicinal and recreational use.

    These notable victories would not have been achieved without your courage, conviction, and support.

    Click here to continue the momentum and show your support for marijuana legalization this holiday season. 

    As we look toward an uncertain future, we know we must work to both sustain our existing gains and to assure future progress. With your continued support, we are confident that we can bring the era of marijuana prohibition to an end and usher in the new era of legalization. Together, we will be unstoppable. Together, we WILL legalize marijuana across this great country.

    From all of us at NORML to all of you, we hope you have a hempy and happy Thanksgiving.

    Erik Altieri
    NORML Executive Director

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