NORML’s Official Reply To ‘Patients Against I-502’

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director February 24, 2012

    NORML supports (and publicly endorses when requested by the principal organizers) marijuana legalization, regulation, and medical use initiatives that qualify for the state ballot, so long as they move us closer to full legalization, even if they contain provisions we do not believe should be included in a perfect proposal.

    Every cannabis law reform initiative dating back to the 1972 proposal in CA has included some flaws, but nonetheless when the initiatives have been approved, marijuana consumers, (including those who use cannabis for medical reasons) benefit by legal protections that did not exist under prior law.

    When any marijuana law reform initiative qualifies for the ballot, it instantly creates a much needed public policy discussion and debate about the need to end cannabis prohibition. The mainstream media, editorial boards, columnists and radio talk shows FINALLY start to focus on the problems created by 74 years of prohibition and the benefits of alternative public policies.

    The value of this public discussion, even if the initiative loses, clearly moves us closer to eventual victory.  For example, Prop. 19 in CA, which ended up getting nearly 47% of the vote, sparked a national debate over the merits of legalization that helped move the support for full legalization to the highest point ever, measured by a recent Gallup poll as 50% support nationwide.

    At NORML, we support these efforts, even when imperfect, because the greater good achieved by legalization proposals outweighs the imperfect language; and what flaws exist in individual initiatives can be amended in future legislation (or if necessary, via another voter initiative). But in the meantime, tens of thousands of marijuana arrests are avoided by the new law.

    We fully recognize the per se DUI marijuana provisions in I-502 are arbitrary, unnecessary, and unscientific, and we argued strongly with the sponsors for provisions that would require proof of actual impairment to be shown before one could be charged with a traffic safety offense. NORML, arguably more so than any other drug law reform organization, has a long track record of opposing the imposition of arbitrary and discriminatory per se traffic safety laws for responsible cannabis consumers. But we failed to persuade the sponsors of I-502, and now we must decide whether to support the initiative despite those provisions. We believe the overall impact of this proposal, if approved by voters this fall and enacted, will be overwhelmingly helpful to the vast majority of cannabis consumers in the state, and will eliminate tens of thousands of cannabis arrests each year. Thus, NORML’s Board of Directors voted unanimously (including the two members from WA) to endorse the initiative, while maintaining our opposition to per se DUID provisions in principal.

    Additionally, at NORML we also support the right of consumers to grow their own marijuana, and there is no such legal protection in the WA initiative. However, qualified patients already protected under existing law will be able to continue to grow cannabis, as I-502 does not alter existing medicinal cannabis laws. The sponsors found through their polling that the inclusion of the right to cultivate marijuana for personal adult use would reduce their level of public support below that needed for approval. Again, while we continue to support personal cultivation, we believe the initiative still deserves our support, despite this calculated omission by I-502’s sponsors.

    We would urge those who support marijuana legalization, but oppose specific provision of I-502, to nonetheless support this initiative because of the importance of 1.) having one state actually approve legalization and confront the federal government on this issue, and 2.) stopping thousands of expensive and damaging arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations annually in WA for cannabis-related offenses, notably for simple possession.

    For those who feel they cannot support the current initiative, because it is not perfect, we would hope they would step aside and take no public position, in order not to undermine what is an historic opportunity to end marijuana prohibition, by popular vote, under state law.



    63 Responses to “NORML’s Official Reply To ‘Patients Against I-502’”

    1. DrBob66 says:

      I’ve read the studies and am convinced that the 5ng limit is sufficient so that very few false positives will occur. I also trust that if there are, we will see more science and legal cases arguing for or against… and more science and discussion is usually a good thing.

      I am voting yes without question. I want my tax dollars to go to schools and good public works, not jails and prisons where innocent pot smokers learn a criminal trade. We need to show others that prohibition has only made us weaker and poorer and made the drug cartels stronger and richer. It’s just common sense, which is why I am voting yes on I-502.

    2. […] for sure. To the other patients that bring up the dui part, Read this link from norml.org. NORML?s Official Reply To ?Patients Against I-502? | NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform __________________ He who sows the ground with care and diligence acquires greater stock of […]

    3. […] legalize cannabis and become a model for the rest of the US. As the director of NORML said in his reply to Patients Against I-502, any initiative no matter how imperfect will open doors for legalization […]

    4. […] for Violence Prevention and Substance Abuse – it technically was released in opposition of I-502. Cannabis consumption is the main purpose that teens go to treatment within Washington, and […]

    5. chris says:

      no sorry thought u were on our side im down with sharing a joint with my friends without being charged with a felony the reason this has come to light is state wide corp greed not for people man..are u part of that circle ../?im for legalize but this is big pharma man.. vote nooooo///

    6. Jim says:

      Can you believe that in the ‘beacon of liberty’ to set an example for the whole world, a person can be charged with a felony for possessing a bag of dried flowers that are as relatively harmless as any substance could be. Cannabis and its products are basically non-toxic.

      For having in possession a bag of dried flowers that is not toxic that the body doesn’t even care to excrete it completely for weeks on end. It’s not a priority to eliminate what apparently considered by the body to be non-toxic, or “self” material, because cannabinoids mimic and resemble endogenous cannabinoids like anandamide, naturally produced by the human body, and necessary for normal function of the brain (CNS) and also the immune system (PNS peripheral nervous system).

      Other (toxic) drugs are eliminated rapidly because of their toxic nature, like alcohol and caffeine which are excreted rapidly, such that they are also called diuretics (cause excessive urination/sweating/excretion/elimination).

      A felony for possessing dried flowers? In America?
      Where people used to pay taxes with dried cannabis? Where the drafts of the Declaration of Independence were printed on cannabis hemp (non-psychoactive)? It used to be against the law to NOT grow cannabis hemp when all people were farmers.

      Deliberate lies where people ardently claim medicine is not really medicine, according to them, and so prohibitive laws which are plainly draconian, and the principle that the punishment should fit the crime is disregarded completely.

      Cannabis has been shown to inhibit growth of some tumor types (tumors are cancer) and even stimulate growth of new brain cells (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus, a region involved in memory.

      It’s not a crime. Cannabis is a long-time companion to man, like the dog.

      It synchronizes our clocks to a similar frequency and is a palliative medicine that treats chronic pain and all people have the right as humans, to live free of pain without harmful side effects. Cannabis, medical marijuana has the least physical side effects/damage of any pain medicine known. This is self evident or “common sense.”

      convicted of a crime as bad as rape, murder, grand larceny and other banking practices

    7. jroadrunner says:

      Fantastic,Lawyers 4 the future MMJ Patients!

    8. Melinda says:

      I still would like to grow hemp..(make own clothing etc..will that be possible when 502 is passed?

    9. Reets 420 says:

      What u have done by legalizing cannabis is give the government total control. A medical marijuana card holder WAS able 2 quietly grow there 15 plants w/no one telling u – u had 2 buy ump-teen license. No one telling u-ur doc only would decide if ur ailment was serious enough 2 slow u 2 consume cannabis and how much of it. The government could never figure out how 2 control it tax it. Etc. They now have full control and

    10. Reets 420 says:

      We gave it 2 them what a sad sad day. It seems 2 me they r now doing what so many people spent time in jail 4. That would b growing harvisting bagging up and selling making money now we r buying from the government at how much what kind where at so on and so on.they had less control b-4. but that word legal is a powerful word w/no meaning behind it we will c what we will c

    11. […] First off, we must all recognize the truth about how Washington’s I-502 per se DUID provision came to be.  While I no longer work for NORML, I did during the entire campaign leading up to I-502, and I can tell you definitively that NORML has always opposed per se DUID standards and did everything in its power to prevent them from being included in I-502.  From NORML.org at http://blog.norml.org/2012/02/24/normls-official-reply-to-patients-against-i-502/ […]

    12. […] for the Reform of Marijuana Laws supported I-502, its executive director, Allen St. Pierre, said, “We fully recognize the per se DUI marijuana provisions in I-502 […]

    13. […] A group calling themselves Patients Against I-502 has the medical marijuana community in Washington divided, and are working to defeat the legalization measure. On Friday, Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) issued the following “Official Reply to ‘Patients Against I-502′ on the NORML blog: […]

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