2012: The Year In Review — NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 24, 2012

    #1 Colorado and Washington Vote To Legalize Marijuana
    Voters in Colorado and Washington made history by approving ballot measures allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults. Washington’s law, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use (as well as the possession of up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form), took effect on December 6. Colorado’s law, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants in private by those persons age 21 and over, took effect on December 10. Regulators in both states are now in the process of drafting rules to allow for state-licensed proprietors to commercially produce and sell cannabis.

    #2 Most Americans Favor Legalization, Want The Feds To Butt Out
    A majority of Americans support legalizing the use of cannabis by adults, according to national polls by Public Policy Polling, Angus Reid, Quinnipiac University, and others. A record high 83 percent of US citizens favor allowing doctors to authorize specified amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses. And nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose federal interference in state laws that allow for legal marijuana use by adults.

    #3 Connecticut, Massachusetts Legalize Cannabis Therapy
    Connecticut and Massachusetts became the 17th and 18th states to allow for the use of cannabis when recommended by a physician. Connecticut lawmakers in May approved Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana. The new law took effect on October 1. On Election Day, 63 percent of Massachusetts voters approved Question 3, eliminating statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013.

    #4 Schedule I Prohibitive Status For Pot “Untenable,” Scientists Say
    The classification of cannabis and its organic compounds as Schedule I prohibited substances under federal law is scientifically indefensible, according to a review published online in May in The Open Neurology Journal. Investigators at the University of California at San Diego and the University of California, Davis reviewed the results of several recent clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of inhaled or vaporized cannabis. They concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

    #5 Marijuana Arrests Decline, But Still Total Half Of All Illicit Drug Violations
    Police made 757,969 arrests in 2011 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. The total marked a decline from previous years. Of those charged in 2011 with marijuana law violations, 663,032 (86 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. According to the report, approximately 43 percent of all drug violations in 2011 were for cannabis possession.

    #6 Long-Term Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Adverse Lung Function
    Exposure to moderate levels of cannabis smoke, even over the long-term, is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical trial data published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over a 20-year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities. They concluded: “With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (e.g., 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function. … Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana … may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”

    #7 Cannabis Use Associated With Decreased Prevalence Of Diabetes
    Adults with a history of marijuana use have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than do those with no history of cannabis consumption, according to clinical trial data published in the British Medical Journal. Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles assessed the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use among adults aged 20 to 59 in a nationally representative sample of the US population of 10,896 adults. Investigators concluded, “Our analysis of adults aged 20-59 years … Showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of DM and lower odds of DM relative to non-marijuana users.”

    #8 Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime
    The establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries does not adversely impact local crime rates, according to a federally funded study published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers reported: “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study.”

    #9 Rhode Island Becomes The 15th State To Decriminalize Pot Possession Penalties
    Governor Lincoln Chafee signed legislation into law in June amending marijuana possession penalties for those age 18 or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense — punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. The decriminalization law takes effect on April 1, 2013.

    #10 Cannabis Reduces Symptoms In Patients With Treatment-Resistant MS
    Cannabis inhalation mitigates spasticity and pain in patients with treatment-resistant multiple sclerosis (MS), according to clinical trial data published online in May in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. Investigators at the University of California, San Diego assessed the use of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 30 patients with MS who were unresponsive to conventional treatments. “Smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in symptom and pain reduction in patients with treatment-resistant spasticity,” authors concluded.

    58 Responses to “2012: The Year In Review — NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy”

    1. 2013:
      The year to move out of ignorant Middle America
      towards a more enlightened Western state that has
      already RE-Legalized!!!

    2. Galileo Galilei says:

      In the words of ol’ blue eyes, it was a very good year.

    3. dax says:

      Bring on sativa Claus !!!!

    4. brentandrews says:

      Merry Christmas to all my friends at NORML.

      Thank you all for your work toward ending prohibition.

      “This war is over, if you want it.” – Eric Schlosser

    5. Fireweed says:

      Now next year I WILL put up a tree :-)

    6. dk says:

      Every two years, we get a little closer. Vote the opponents out and keep voting that way until they’re all gone. The smart ones are jumping on board because they realize that it’s time and it will help them get elected.

    7. grandma3d says:

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year NORML!
      Thank You NORML your the best!!

      OK everybody Look at all events NORML has spearheaded for our cause. Now show some appreciation and support NORML. Please donate at least $10. or $20. a month. That is only .33 to .66 cents a day.I know you can afford that. This time we are in is crucial. We have to keep up the momentum. Help NORML help us.

    8. St. Nick says:

      Just smoked the last of my shit ’till friday. 1 puff’o’nugs. Man, when pot becomes legal again, I could get it prescribed!! Hard to believe life in USA could be so good as to LEGALLY feel good whenever-wherever you want. It’s like freedom to pray or not to w/e God(s) you want, LEGALLY! That’s why USA was founded-Freedom. Not restrictions. We’re not even asking for a dangerous drug to be legal like Crystal Methamphetamine. We want sensible laws. Not goofy ones. You know in Alabama it was illegal to have sex in any position except missionary?! And of course that had to be between 1 man 1 woman. Another dumb law. We have to take back the power from the sanity-challenged robots in charge. You smell the chronic in the air? That means we’re taking over! >:o

    9. 2cents says:

      This bi-coastal progress highlights that NY and FL refuse to cooperate with cultural change. Part of cultural change is the documentation of real life, so as states legalize, we’ll see an international desire to witness/experience it. A main motivator to experience legal/medical states is the open lifestyle and cultural bonding. Quality of life is something better understood since the recession. I imagine NY/FL will see a reduction in tourism. Also inevitable will be the noticeable brain drain of educated youth that leave NY/FL, to live open lifestyles. Do not underestimate the importance of carefree exchanging of cannabis food recipe pictures on Facebook!

    10. Donna says:

      Happy Holidays NORML.

      Thanks for a of your hard work. I have a question regarding NY state laws that is not answerable on your web page “by state” info.

      How is it looking for NY when it comes to legalization? There seems to be a fairly large movement here and NY is a wildly liberal state.

      When I check the Web Page of the NY chapter of NORML is is a digital ghost town. Information has not been updated in months. Can you ask them to be more proactive?

      Thanks for everything!!!


    11. Jason R Clifton says:

      the white house has a good petition web site where you can writ your own but you need 150 signatures before they make it public, this ones a little late, but you get the picture people can make a differance by making a petition and writing you public officials https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-attack-dispensaries-states-where-marijuana-legal/BbNyBdPG?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl

    12. Evening Bud says:

      The tide is definitely turning. (I went to the “State Info” section on this NORML page, and on the map clicked the boxes for the states that had Decriminalization, Medical and now Legalization, and boy, that map is starting to look prettier and prettier. Especially with those two burning roaches sitting there on Colorado and Washington! Sort of gives you goosebumps.)

    13. jim says:

      Of all the great things to have witnessed this year, don’t forget that Colorado’s Proposition 64 victory also means, besides legal possession and cultivation of psychoactive cannabis….

      Jack Herer lives on in this great portion of Proposition 64:

      Commercial regulation

      The new legislation defines industrial hemp as any part of the cannabis plant, growing or not, “with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed three tenths percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis.”[14] The amendment declares that industrial hemp should be regulated separately from cannabis with higher THC concentrations, and requires the Colorado General Assembly to “enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp” by no later than July 1, 2014.[15]

      The new amendment provides for licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores.[16] Local governments can now regulate or prohibit such facilities. This amendment requires the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of cannabis, requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund.


      The end of tyranny over non-psychoactive hemp in one state will mean all states of the US will eventually, finally, return to hemp production, without having to import hemp from countries that lack the stupid, greedy fascists masked as our elected officials. They know hemp can be used to make thousands of products, including plastic (like all pharma drugs, plastics, all synthetic materials that are laboratory mixed, are currently only made from petrol). BTW, when all the petrol is gone, and that day will certainly come amidst panic and price gouging. They know that hemp production would grow the US economy but they don’t want that–they like their current status as #1, 1% wealthiest money hoarding degenerates.

      Auto business, petrol business, chemical business are drooling in anticipation for a crisis that is wholly ignored. How many years have they promised vehicles that can/will run on sustainable renewable resources instead of whoring the US to foreign oil?

      Hemp prohibition is not even explained by the CSA scheduling system. Drug scheduling which is a joke, a non-scientific, intellectually dishonest, immoral, dirty trick justified through fallacious disinformation and appeals to fear. It’s been a sham and certain people responsible should be punished. severely. e.g., 10 year minimum sentences following publicized firings from federal prohibition gestapo agencies.


    14. Brother Toadstool says:

      For those of you that live in the South, or those of you interested in the federal government’s cannabis program at the University of Mississippi, here’s a nice article that was just published in Mississippi’s newspaper The Clarion Ledger: http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20121228/NEWS01/312280023/Attitudes-pot-changing?nclick_check=1

      The times they are a’changin

    15. john w says:

      Cheers everyone!

    16. TheOracle says:

      These are great accomplishments that move us closer to legalization.

      Also, MPP’s site just today has been setting off my Symantec software, which gives me a message about MPP’s site that says that a Malicious Java Download 14 web attack was blocked. I emailed Rob, but so far nothing. I don’t know if he has his team working on the problem or if he’s gone for a long New Year’s Eve weekend. Countless cannabis supporters might now have infected computers. I wouldn’t be surprised if prohibitionist law enforcement or spy agencies were behind it.

      MPP has something new on its blog from Barney Frank, but the there appears to be a script that loads from an infected web site feed. I’d love to hear more of anything Barney Frank says, but MPP is a no-go. How about putting it here on NORML.

      I love Barney Frank.

      Kiss, kiss. XX

    17. phrtao says:

      When you guys fall from that “fiscal cliff” next week – how about cushioning the fall with legalised marijuana. Where else will they find Billions in savings plus Billions in tax revenue and make people happy. Of course it can’t be seen to just be about money otherwise the (formerly) prohibitionist politicians would look really bad. The details are for the NORML lobbyists to work out but surely it is a policy whose time has come.

    18. mark says:

      phrtao- Boehner, McConnell and Cantor would rather not take a shit for year than do anything remotely responsible for America.

    19. Spike says:

      So, I live in Alabama, and here we don’t even have a citizen’s initiative or referendum. How is that even legal?

      I could be being naive, but I thought this was a democracy? Being in my early 20’s, its not like I can pack up and move to Colorado or Washington today and be free of the insane laws we have here. I graduate college in May, and I still don’t know if that will be enough to get away from here. It wasn’t really my choice to be born here in this state, and considering that we are the UNITED states, why can’t citizens just adopt laws from another state? Especially when the state you live in doesn’t allow you to vote or petition to change the law. Catch 22?

    20. fishcreekbob says:

      Darn fine people. Just one thong to say. Come on come on Make it legal everywhere. Come on come on…

    21. scott blow says:

      I attended the 1st public cannabis cup in Amsterdam in 1993. There were only 50 people that attended as judges. I have been arguing openly for re-legalization since I was 18, in the year 1975. We have, NOT, put the lie to rest just yet!! When we rise as one unified voice,then, and only then,will justice be done…. THE LIES OF REEFER MADNESS MUST BE ENDED….

    22. scott blow says:

      It is time to organize a million blunt march on the Washington mall, 4/20/2013 is the day to march on Washington D.C.. With 1 million voices declaring our independence and right of natural law to use the cannabis plant, as was intended by our creator, as we see fit , for our own personal use.

    23. Dave Evans says:

      Spike, this is America. We bring democracy to the world, just not ourselves. We talk about democracy, but then take it to mean minorities shouldn’t have rights…

      Probably, at most, about 1/3 of people will or could benefit directly from using marijuana. So we’ll always be in a minority. Does this mean we are supposed to be targeted by these Drug War laws? Are minorities always going to be walked on and diss’ed here in America?

    24. jage says:

      Scot blow has it right. 420 at the mall. Now is the time to push the bastards and free us from there grip. God bless NORMEL for there hard work and may we all have a good year ahead.

    25. HmmmSaysDavidHume says:

      @ The Oracle: the MPP blog post with the Barney Frank quote has a broken link. Google “Barney Frank press our advantage” and you will find non-MPP sites that link the article correctly. What’s interesting in the article is that MPP plans to press their advantage with ballot initiatives – in 2016. That’s a long time for opponents to organize and shift opinion, as well as ame time for Feds and others to plan and execute belligerent strategies.

      I hope to God the movement’s leaders will move faster than that. The iron is hot NOW! It’s almost tipped NOW! Don’t wait until 2016! PRESS NOW!

    26. God's messages says:

      You will never run out of us but we will run out of you prohibitionist.

    27. Cat Cassie says:

      Thank you Norml for all your hard work. I live in Colorado and couldn’t be more proud of my fellow Coloradans. Also thanks to Mason Tvert from SAFER. Happy New Year to all.

    28. scott blow says:

      It’s past due time for at least 1 million of the pot smokers in this country to get up off the couch, stop being afraid, and organize a 1 million blunt march for this coming april 20th 2013.
      Gays are a minority, Dave, yet they are no longer being persecuted in this country due to coming out of the closet.

    29. Marie Matt says:

      I am very glad overall to see such a bold and appropriate expression of Freedom in a country considered to be “Free”!!! Well I like to congratulate both of this state – Colorado and Washington. I wish Obama will take the proper division. I like to mention here still some country places where marijuana growers and entrepreneurs are treated as major, dangerous criminals….http://bigbudsmag.com/grow/article/marijuana-legalization-cannabis-marijuana-growing-books

    30. Dave Evans says:

      Yes, a march is a great idea.

      No, I don’t see gay folk as not being persecuted anymore. There are plenty of people that really hate on gay people and for no good reason. But at least there has been an official acknowledgment that being gay do make one a target and extra protections (in some cases) have been granted and become law. Many conservatives continue their quest to legally disenfranchise many minorities (and especially gays, blacks, pot heads, Mexicans), even people with “pre-existing medical conditions” are on their hit list.

    31. Aleii Joan says:

      yall forgot one: Texas Dems Embrace Marijuana (dallas observer blog article) :) maybe that was a close #11… #puffpuffpass and everyone please read my essay in support of decriminalization at: http://freemaryjanemovement.blogspot.com

    32. Don M says:

      I wish I owned property in WA and/or CO! Their values will skyrocket with all the people who want to move to a place where liberty is in action rather than in theory.

    33. scott blow says:

      4/20/2013 !!!!!!!
      THE TIME IS NOW !!!!

    34. scott blow says:

      We have an obligation to disobey unjust laws …
      It is for us to declare our independence from this violation of our rights.
      Our constitution is founded on natural law and there is nothing more natural then for us to make the PERSONAL choice to interact with the cannabis plant. Thank you Jack Herer for being in Amsterdam in 1993 and waking me up !!!!!

    35. John McClane says:

      Medical is being re-introduced in PA. Write some editorials and write to your reps because they’re saying it will just die in committee. I live in a small town and our paper “The Daily News” came out with an article trying to make it look like everyone was against it and i just sent a response in for this weeks op-ed. let’s make sure we’re really LOUD this time, because it died in committee last time. Politicians read the paper often, so please my fellow Pennsylvanians, let this not fall on deaf ears! Senator Eichelberger is against this and so is Tom Corbett. Make sure they see that 80% of us are for this and they need to get it out of committee!

    36. TxLupusPatient says:

      As someone with a terminal disease who has already been advised by my “Rheumatologist”, which is a Medical Specialist in the treatment of my disease “Lupus”, that marijuana would be beneficial in my treatment, I find the government’s attitude & practices as a personal, hateful attack against myself and millions of other American Citizens not only with mine but several other afflictions that could be helped tremendously with such a simple act as ending this hurtful prohibition.

      The American People should take a lesson from the AID’s movement and get off their ass’s and follow in their footsteps.

      There’s no question that if everyone that believes in putting an end to this wasteful prohibition would writer their representatives (both state & federal) & threaten the loss of their votes for their next term, and march once a month, it wouldn’t take long to have it changed.

      It’s time to wake up America. It’s obvious that writing letters has minimal and deniable affects and the only actions that will work is to go to the streets and protest on our own behalfs.

    37. Bruce says:

      Question, Do you have to be a resident of the state to legally smoke or poss. pot?

      [Editor’s note: Unlike state medical cannabis laws, the change of law in CO and WA allows any adult who wants to access cannabis the ability to do so without being a resident of the state.]

    38. Click-N-Hit says:

      #7 is bizarre, I always assumed that having the munchies = bigger chance to get diabetes cause of increased sugar and caloric intake (for me its generally cupcakes and cookies). Then again it seems its fairly subjective as an old room mate of mine literally just eats everything in front of him.

      All in all, great article gives us more hope for the upcoming new year (or current!) Cheers to a new year for everyone and hope legislation gets closer to you for 2013!

    39. Click-N-Hit says:

      # 7 seems a bit off IMO, then again its very subjective on how our individual experiences with cannabis goes (I get the munchies)

      regardless great article and very hopeful for the rest of the US. Happy new years, hope legislation reaches near YOU!

    40. wbs 101 says:

      @Evening Bud
      I went to the state info page and checked out the map that is a cool feature I didn’t know about. If a admin reads this you should take the decriminalization mark off of Colorado as that no longer applies :)

    41. scott blow says:

      one more time ! is anyone listening ? 1 million blunts on the Wasington, D.C. mall, 4/20/2013 @ 4:20 p.m. and we all light up to send a smoke signal to Obama & congress that we will no longer tolerate this violation of our natural rights !! We have a more natural right to use this plant than to a second amendment firearms right. Humans have used this plant for bare minimum 10,000 years & and very likely 50 to 100 thousand years. Get off our butts and take this to Washingtn on 420 @ 420. 800,000 arrests a year over the last five years, not to mention all those over the last 70 years and America has allowed this ?? SHAME ON AMERICA !!!!

    42. Evening Bud says:

      @ wbs 101

      That is cool isn’t it? Gives you an idea how things are slowly changing for the better. Concerning the decrim of Colorado, I was thinking the same thing.

    43. Henry says:

      Finally time to see what effect the measures in Colorado and Washington will have on crime rates and personal usage.

    44. Joel: the other Joel says:

      I feel very jubilant about the state of Washington and Colorado, but I think there are sinister plans being taking place by the anti-cannabis agencies in Washington D.C.
      For the next four years be on a lookout on some strategic prohibition policy changes in the Obama administration. Already Obama has giving vice-president Biden the authority over gun control. Would this mean that Obama may do the same thing over cannabis by making vice-president Biden the bad cop with authority while Obama plays the good cop trying mostly to avoid the issue by claiming he has more important matters to deal with?
      So far it seems quiet. I hope there is no prohibition storm brewing by the federal government because prohibition is their source of power for the past hundred years for the politically enriched organized crime.

    45. St. Nick says:

      Man, we have to get angry. We need to use righteous anger and demand we be allowed to smoke grass. How do you think the minorities survive? They didn’t sit on the couch and wait for it to come to them! They did something about it. women, blacks, gays all DID something about it. That’s how righteous anger works. Red is an angry color like with bulls and bull-fighting(which I do NOT approve of) and it’s the color of Mars, “the war planet.” You GOTTA FIGHT for your RIGHT, to PARTY!

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