2011: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 29, 2011

    #1 NORML Sues to Halt Government’s Prosecution of Medical Cannabis Providers
    In October, the United States Deputy Attorney General, along with the four US Attorneys from California, announced their intentions to escalate federal efforts targeting the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries and providers. In response, members of the NORML Legal Committee filed suit in November against the federal government arguing that its actions were in violation of the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution. Plaintiffs further argued, using the theory of judicial estoppel, that the Justice Department had previously affirmed in federal court that it would no longer use federal resources to prosecute cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law. NORML’s lawsuit remains pending. Read the full story here.

    #2 Members of Congress Introduce First Bill Since 1937 to Legalize Cannabis
    House lawmakers introduced legislation in Congress in June to end the federal criminalization of the personal use of marijuana. The bipartisan measure – HR 2306, the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011′ – prohibits the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess cannabis by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The bill awaits Congressional action. Read the full story here.

    #3 Gallup: Majority of Americans Support Legalizing Cannabis
    A record 50 percent of Americans now believe that marijuana ought to be legalized for adult use, according to a nationwide Gallup poll of 1,005 adults published in October. The 2011 survey results mark the first time ever that Gallup has reported that more Americans support legalizing cannabis (50 percent) than oppose it (46 percent). Read the full story here.

    #4 Over One Million Americans Now Use Cannabis Legally Under State Law
    Between one million to one-and-a-half million US citizens are legally authorized by the laws of their state to use marijuana, according to data compiled in May by NORML from state medical marijuana registries and patient estimates. Read the full story here.

    #5 Marijuana Prosecutions For 2010 Near Record High
    Police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released in September. The annual arrest total is among the highest ever reported by the agency. Marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (52 percent) of all drug arrests in the United States. Read the full story here.

    #6 Largest State Doctors Association Calls For Legalizing Cannabis
    The California Medical Association in October called for the “legalization and regulation” of cannabis for adults. The association, which represents some 35,000 physicians, recommends that cannabis be taxed and regulated “in a manner similar to alcohol.” Read the full story here.

    #7 Connecticut Decriminalizes Cannabis Possession Offenses
    Statewide legislation took effect in July reducing the penalties for the adult possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a $150 fine, no arrest or jail time, and no criminal record. Read the full story here.

    #8 Vaporized Cannabis Augments Analgesic Effect of Opiates in Humans
    Vaporized cannabis significantly augments the analgesic effects of opiates in patients with chronic pain, according to clinical trial data published online in the journal Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics in November. Investigators surmised that cannabis-specific interventions “may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer [patient] side effects.” Read the full story here.

    #9 State Governors Call on Obama Administration to Reclassify Cannabis
    In December, governors from Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington formally requested the Obama administration to reclassify cannabis under federal law in a manner that would allow states to regulate its therapeutic use without federal interference. The administration in July had previously rejected a nine-year-old petition calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance without any ‘accepted medical use in treatment.’ Read the full story here.

    #10 Delaware Becomes 16th State to Legalize Limited Medical Use of Marijuana
    State lawmakers in May approved legislation to allow patients with a qualifying illness may legally possess up to six ounces of cannabis, provided the cannabis is obtained from a state-licensed, not-for-profit ‘compassion center.’ The law is anticipated to be implemented in 2012. Read the full story here.

    44 Responses to “2011: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy”

    1. Reese says:

      So US Attorney Melinda Haag is worried about legal medical dispensaries near schools affecting children, but for godsakes there are children in Mexico getting their heads chopped off because of the Mexican Cartels. If the legal availability of cannabis is reduced there is only the black market to turn to. So in effect Melinda Haag is supporting the beheading of children by enabling the profiting of Mexican Drug Cartels. Welcome to America

    2. Truthspeaker says:

      #11- Obama signs NDAA into law, making all drug reformers potential terrorists.

    3. J ustin says:

      this is so dumb. cannabis sativa should just be legal. it’s pathetic that the world suppresses use of a plant that has healing properties.

    4. Galileo Galilei says:

      WOW! What a year. Congratulations NORML.

    5. des says:

      We need to decriminalize marajuana in Newhampshire. Make it a fine if over one ounce. Our adult children are getting put in jail for having pot, this is not right because it just breaks their spirit, in a population of gangs..getting their money will be the wake up call to do more constructive acivities

    6. Smoke n toke says:

      Now we will see which side truly is good and evil by their intentions. But know this, they began this madness – not us the cannabis community. After all, who is doing the killing etc? LEGALIZE for LIFE.

    7. Denver WMD says:

      Great job! We all need to join in on the war on marijuana. I have a question I live in Colorado. So medical marijuana users. Are there laws out there to protect these patients from the illegal drug testing @ jobs & for new higher employees applying for jobs? Because if they have a prescription from a doctor, shouldn’t that trump employment law or state employment law? If not this needs to change. The states are making big money,they need to stand up and take care of every legal Marijuana patient. Turning colorful Colorado green in everyway :)- Denver

      [Paul Armentano responds: While the employment issue is not settled in Colorado, in at least three other states — California, Oregon, and Washington — the state Supreme Courts have determined that state medical marijuana laws are limited in their scope to exemption from arrest, but do not extend to employer/employee relationships.]

    8. RG says:





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      By Virginia T. Sherr 7-31-05
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      Special to AOL News
      (May 28) — We’re in the midst of a terrifying epidemic, although you wouldn’t know it to talk to most doctors and health specialists.
      The disease is growing at a rate faster than AIDS. From 2006 to 2008 alone, the number of cases jumped a whopping 77 percent. In 2008 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 28,921 “confirmed” and 6,277 “probable” cases of the disease, but there could be as many as 420,000 because of underreporting.
      Prominent victims include Parker Posey, Richard Gere, President George W. Bush, Alice Walker and Christie Brinkley.
      If any other disease had stricken so many people, the medical community would be scurrying for knowledge, scrambling for cures or rushing to warn patients (think swine flu).But more important is the need for public health community to treat this disease like the epidemic it is, and start putting real resources into educating the public and the medical profession about how to identify it, treat it, and prevent it.






    9. Sherm Adamson says:

      We’re making progress! I just hope Ohio gets it’s bill passed this year and the feds reschedule cannabis properly! Things are looking better than they have in 40 years of a ridiculous “drug war”!

    10. STEVEN A GIBSON says:

      It want be long now. we are not criminals. we want to work. play, and love…and have a normal life. just like every one else.

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