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Advocacy

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 16, 2017

    ACLU PAAfrican Americans in Pennsylvania are over eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period – at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana – up from 6.5 percent in 2010.

    Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

    “Pennsylvania’s insistence in continuing to fight the war on marijuana, is at the root of the problematic data presented in this report,” the ACLU of Pennsylvania concluded. “Law enforcement has not only continued its business-as-usual arresting policies in enforcement of cannabis prohibition, it has ramped up enforcement as marijuana use has become more accepted throughout the commonwealth and the nation. If laws don’t change, this pattern will likely continue; law enforcement could become even more heavy handed until policymakers are clear that it is time to end this approach. The clearest way to send that message is to end prohibition altogether.”

    This October 20th marks the third anniversary of the decriminalization of marijuana in Philidelphia, making the birthplace of the American Constitution the largest city to have marijuana possession a non-arrestable offense outside of a legalized state. Yet there is much progress to still be made beyond decriminalization.

    “It is time for us to chart a better path forward. When politicians and police stop treating cannabis consumers like criminals, Pennsylvania can gain thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue,” wrote Temple Professor Chris Goldstein for Philly.com earlier this month. “I hope that by next October, the verdant harvest of Pennsylvania cannabis is something that will benefit every single resident of the commonwealth.”

    And the political winds are changing.

    In September, citing racism, bigotry, and mass-incarceration, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party adopted a resolution to “support Democratic candidates and policies which promote the full repeal of cannabis prohibition by its removal from the Controlled Substances Act, and to support the creation of new laws which regulate it in a manner similar to other culturally accepted commodities.”

    “It’s time to stand on research, and the research shows it’s time to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia, who is chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

    “Millions of dollars are spent each year on marijuana prosecutions. And prosecution costs are just part of the story,” wrote Pennsylvania Auditor General of  Eugene DePasquale in September, “There is also the loss of income and other social, personal, and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana. That’s ridiculous. The police and court systems have more urgent issues to address.”

    PA Resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of pending legislation for statewide decriminalization and then click here to send a message in support of pending legislation for outright legalization. 

  • by NORML October 8, 2017

    You can follow MassCann/NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

    MASS CANN/NORML TESTIMONY BEFORE THE CANNABIS CONTROL COMMISSION

    10/02/2017

    MassCannWe are the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, Inc., state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as MASS CANN/NORML.

    We are the largest, oldest and most successful cannabis law reform organization in the northeastern United States. We have run the annual Boston Freedom Rally on Boston Common every year for 28 years, which has raised over $500,000 for our cause. We have run over 50 public policy questions in local districts throughout the Commonwealth – all of which were approved by voters by healthy majorities. The results of those public policy questions and our professional polling persuaded the Marijuana Policy Project to finance the decriminalization of marijuana by ballot initiative in 2008.

    We alone have been representing cannabis users for years. Our activists made decriminalization, medical marijuana and, now, regulated cannabis the new reality. We represent the voters who made your Commission possible.

    Unlike others seeking to advise you, we alone purely represent the interests of cannabis users. We are the marijuana user group in Massachusetts. We are motivated by our collective desire to be free from overly intrusive, overly repressive government.

    We are not motivated by money, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are an all- volunteer organization. None of us are paid for what we do.

    We are not motivated by career interests, as so many others who hope to advise you are. MASS CANN/NORML employs no one.

    We are not motivated by a desire for political power, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are a public education organization and are barred by law from doing political work.

    What MASS CANN/NORML is asking you to do:

    We are asking for no regulations about marijuana that would be ridiculous if applied to alcohol. As a recreational substance, marijuana is less debilitating and less addictive than alcohol. As a medicine, it is one of the safest therapeutic substances known, far safer than aspirin. Regulations concerning storage, distribution, and handling that require marijuana to be treated like enriched plutonium—regulations like those put out during the disastrous rollout of medical marijuana—have no basis in reality. They’re just the kind of governmental overreach the voters rejected in passing Question 4. You recall that Question 4 was called an act to “tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

    We want you to avoid regulations based on fear-mongering:
    – Legalization has NOT led to increased marijuana use by youths.
    – Legalization has NOT led to more highway accidents.
    – Opening marijuana outlets has NOT increased crime in the neighborhoods that have them.
    There are many, many other examples of false claims that we can disprove.

    Value freedom over compromise. No compromising with our freedom. Freedom is precious. The first colonists came to Massachusetts to escape repressive government. Ever since, many have fought in many ways for freedom and some have died for it. You have no more sacred duty than to maintain whatever freedom is possible.

    We want you to evaluate the other stakeholders in this discussion in light of their particular interests.

    It is in the interest of capitalists, for instance, to corner the market. Therefore, they would favor regulations making it hard for us users to grow our own plants for free. The influence of those well-heeled interests is hard to resist. Please resist.

    Prosecutors and police want to maintain their ability to target us marijuana users and to define us as criminals. They have used marijuana laws to enforce institutionalized racism. They still will seek to criminalize us to the greatest degree they can. Voters rejected their approach when they passed Question 4. The job of prosecutors and police is to enforce the laws that are given them. They should not be shaping policy.

    The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has proved they are interested only in benefitting their bureaucracy, expanding their budget, employing a larger workforce, and consolidating their power—NOT in helping medical marijuana patients. In fact, they are a principal reason that so many patients have gone for years without legal access to their medicine. They should not be listened to as some kind of voice of experience. They should just be studied as a history of horrible examples.

    Treatment professionals are interested in maintaining their gravy train. They want all cannabis use to be defined as drug abuse, and they want all users to be forced into expensive court-ordered rehab programs. They have no larger social interest at heart, and they do not deserve a seat at our table.

    All of these stakeholders have an interest in treating legal marijuana as a disaster to be delayed and restricted as much as possible. But the voters didn’t vote for a disaster, they voted for an opportunity: new jobs, new revenue, safer communities, better community-police relations. We want you to respect the will of the voters, and that means not working against legalization as some kind of threat, but moving ahead with legalization as a fine new opportunity. Legal marijuana is a great thing for Massachusetts! Make it happen!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 6, 2017
    Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

    Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

    Portland, OR: The Cannabis Fund, a PAC created by Representative Earl Blumenauer to support cannabis-friendly candidates, will be hosting its first annual Gala & Awards on October 6th at the Marriott Waterfront in Portland, OR with NORML founder Keith Stroup as the featured speaker.

    “It is an honor to support Rep. Earl Blumenauer and The Cannabis Fund in 2017. I first met the Congressman in 1973, when he was a freshman state legislator in Oregon who helped pass the nation’s first marijuana decriminalization bill, ending the practice of treating marijuana smokers as criminals. It is exciting to see him continuing to lead the charge to legalize the responsible use of marijuana under federal law, co-founding the Cannabis Caucus in Congress, and author HB 1823, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act,” said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, “NORML is proud to stand with Rep. Earl Blumenauer in his efforts to end marijuana prohibition and establish a regulated market.”

    Congressman Blumenauer’s Cannabis Profile:

    For more than 40 years, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) has fought for the reform of our outdated marijuana laws.

    As an Oregon state legislator, Blumenauer supported the Oregon Decriminalization Bill of 1973, which abolished criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, he has championed several legislative efforts to protect medical marijuana patients, allow the federal government to tax and regulate marijuana, and normalize taxes and banking for marijuana businesses in states where it is legal.

    Blumenauer received the National Organization for the Rationalization of Marijuana Laws Award for Outstanding Public Leadership in 2010. In February 2017, Blumenauer launched the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

    The American Legion has been calling on the federal government for over a year – specifically the Veterans Affairs Department – to support research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in treating veterans with PTSD.

    Many veterans have told both the Legion and NORML that they have been able to eliminate or reduce their dependency on other drugs, specifically opioids, by using cannabis.

    The Legion recently ramped up their efforts to convince VA Secretary Shulkin to expand research into the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis by sending him a letter demanding for his direct involvement in making sure the medical marijuana study meets its goals.

    That letter was sent on September 19th. 17 days ago.

    Has Secretary Shulkin or the Dept. of Veterans Affairs responded? No. Have either even acknowledged receipt of the letter? To public knowledge, no.

    Why hasn’t Sec. Shulkin or the VA responded? Is he going to listen to the nation’s largest Veterans advocacy group? One that is pleading for help that our veterans so desperately need and deserve? Great question. The American Legion seems to be wondering the same thing.

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 12.24.17 PM

    The Legion has been expressing their frustration on Twitter for Sec. Shulkin’s failure to act on this pressing issue.

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 12.36.06 PM

     

    Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 12.46.37 PM

    Secretary Shulkin is doing himself, our veterans, and to a larger extent, our nation, a huge disservice by not acknowledging the Legion’s cry for help and support.

    Join us in calling upon Secretary Shulkin to listen to the pleas of Veterans.

    Share one or more of the following tweets (and this blog on all of your accounts):

    Why hasn’t @SecShulkin responded to @AmericanLegion call for help? https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/911576050043408384

    .@SecShulkin failure to act on this issue is hurting our veterans. @AmericanLegion
    https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/913010589668188160

    RT to help the @AmericanLegion call upon @SecShulkin to take action on behalf of veterans

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 5, 2017

    cropsOn Wednesday, NORML and Washington NORML both submitted public comment to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) in support of the regulatory body drafting model legislation to allow the lawful home cultivation of marijuana for personal use.

    You can review the comprehensive assessment and recommendations made by Washington NORML’s Legislative Associate Bailey Hirschburg and Executive Director Kevin Oliver by clicking HERE.

    NORML Board Member and Travel Writer Rick Steves submitted:

    The ending of a wrong-minded prohibition happens incrementally. Home-brewing of beer was not immediately on the docket as states made alcohol legal again with the repeal of Prohibition back in the 1930s. It eventually became clear that “home brewing” was a logical extension of the progress made on that issue and today we have the right to home brew as part of the rights afforded to adults that allow them to engage in responsible drinking. In the same way, we believe that home cultivation of marijuana is a smart step for our state to take at this time.

    NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano wrote:

    NORML maintains that the inclusion of legislative provisions permitting the non-commercial home cultivation of cannabis serves as leverage to assure that the product available at retail outlets is high quality, safe, and affordable to the general consumer. Just as adults have the right to brew small amounts of alcohol for personal purposes, adults should also have the right to cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis at home. There is no reason or compelling state interest to infringe this right in a jurisdiction where the cannabis plant is no longer defined as contraband.

    Legislation enacted in 2017 directed the WSLCB to “conduct a study of regulatory options for the legalization of marijuana plant possession and cultivation by recreational marijuana users.” The study must take into account the “Cole Memo,” issued by the United State Department of Justice in 2013, which outlines the federal government’s enforcement priorities in states where medical or recreational marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized. The study and recommendations are due to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2017.

    Media hits surround NORML’s involvement in this area includes:

    Public comment closes on October 11, 2017. If you are a Washington State resident, you can easily submit written comments by clicking HERE.

    Follow Washington State NORML by clicking HERE.

     

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