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Advocacy

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director May 10, 2018

    Today, California’s junior Senator Kamala Harris announced in a video message that she will be joining Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden on the Marijuana Justice Act.

    This comes just a week and a half after California senior Senator Diane Feinstein told reporters that she has dropped her opposition to ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, however, did not elaborate on how to do so.

    The Marijuana Justice Act (S. 1689 and HR 4815) would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    Senator Harris has come a long way on her position of this issue, most known for her response to a question in 2014 on legalizing marijuana when she laughed in the face of a reporter at the thought.

    Journalist Tom Angell noted last year that Senator Harris would oddly talk about the drug war in the past-tense when making public statements or on social media. By co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act, she is making it crystal clear that the Drug War rages on and that it is the responsibility of the Congress to do something about it.

    Have your federal officials co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act? Have you asked them to? Click here to send a message right now. 

  • by NORML May 8, 2018

    Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

    Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

    Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

    “Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

    A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

    That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

    “The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

    Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

    According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

    Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

    Allentown’s proposed ordinance: http://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6212844&GUID=F77277E0-5440-436B-B430-9CAC4AFFB0BD

    For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at lehighvnorml@gmail.com. You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by NORML May 7, 2018

    Dear Friends,

    On Friday, May 4, 2018, the New Approach Missouri medical marijuana initiative campaign filed more than 372,400 signatures with the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State in Jefferson City.  Only 168,000 valid signatures are required in order to place the legalization of medical access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes on the ballot in Missouri in November of 2018.

    Fieldworks, the professional petitioning company retained by NAM did an excellent job of gathering signatures and keeping the campaign’s Board of Directors informed, on a daily basis, of the number of signatures gathered in each county and each congressional district in our state.  We are virtually certain to have well in excess of the required signatures to be certified for the November ballot.

    This accomplishment is the result of the generosity of hundreds of donors and the work of hundreds of volunteers who gathered signatures for this initiative.  I thank all of you who have contributed generously to support this effort.  I ask you to consider making a donation at this time to support the campaign to pass this measure by going to NewApproachMissouri.org.

    All polling has indicated that support for medical marijuana in Missouri is well above 60%.  Only 50% of voters is required in order for this initiative to succeed in amending our state’s Constitution.  Although one or possibly two other medical marijuana initiatives may be placed on the ballot, ours will be first among the Constitutional amendments on this topic.  If both of the two Constitutional amendment initiatives pass, the one with more votes will prevail.

    The other two medical marijuana initiatives being circulated do not allow for any patient cultivation.  The other Constitutional amendment initiative would impose the highest tax on medical marijuana in the country.  That tax would go to support a medical research institute which will be required to be headed by one who is both a lawyer and a doctor.  The individual who filed this initiative happens to hold both a J.D. and an M.D. degree.  Further, that research institute’s board of directors will be hand-picked by the individual who filed the initiative, the same individual who will apparently be heading that research institute, which would be funded by imposing a high tax on medical marijuana patients, who would have no legal alternative to purchasing cannabis from dispensaries through this very restrictive proposal.

    The other initiative proposes to enact a statutory law.  If either of the Constitutional amendments passes, this statutory initiative will be rendered irrelevant.  Further, the Missouri General Assembly has demonstrated that it will not hesitate to repeal or radically amend any statutory initiative passed by the voters.

    Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Dan Viets, Chair

    New Approach Missouri

    Board of Directors

    For more info, please contact Dan Viets via email at danviets@gmail.com. You can also follow New Approach Missouri on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by NORML April 26, 2018

    Legalize MarijuanaSixty-three percent of US voters believe that “marijuana should be made legal in the United States,” according to survey data released today by Quinnipiac University. The percentage is the highest support level ever reported in a nationwide Quinnipiac poll.

    The result is similar to those of other recent national polls, such as surveys by CBS News, Gallup, and Fox News.

    “Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long failed experiment with marijuana criminalization,” said Justin Strekal, NORML’s Political Director. “As this momentum and public pressure continue to build, now is the time for elected officials to find their way to a political evolution. We are ready to welcome them to the cause of justice, fairness, and individual liberty.”

    He added, “In 2018, NORML members and marijuana reform supporters will be attending town halls, knocking on doors, and making political contributions with every intention of defeating candidates who maintain their reefer madness hysteria as a justification to treat cannabis consumers as second-class citizens.”

    The poll’s results also revealed overwhelming support for medical marijuana and sweeping opposition to federal intervention in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

    From Quinnipiac:

    Ninety-three percent of voters support the medical use of marijuana, as authorized by a doctor. This widespread support is in line with the results of prior polls.

    Voters oppose the enforcement of federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana by a margin of 70 percent to 23 percent. Seventy-four percent of respondents say they support federal legislation to prohibit the federal government from intervening in states that have enacted marijuana regulatory laws.

    Twenty-two percent of respondents acknowledged that they reside in a state where the recreational, adult use of marijuana is legal, and 61 percent of Americans reject the claim that cannabis is a supposed “gateway drug.”

    Read the full results here.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 23, 2018

    NORML today hand-delivered over 10,000 written comments from US citizens calling on federal and international agencies to amend the international prohibition of cannabis. The public comments, which were requested earlier this month by the US Food and Drug Administration, will be considered as part of the World Health Organization’s ongoing review of the plant’s international classification.

    Under international treaties, the marijuana plant is classified in the most restrictive schedules available for controlled substances. NORML maintains that this scheduling does not accurately reflect the plant’s widespread therapeutic acceptance and relatively low abuse potential.

     

    The United National’s international prohibition of cannabis is a relic from a bygone era. This decision, which was largely a political one made over 50 years ago, does not accurately reflect either the available science or the rapidly changing political and cultural status of cannabis worldwide.

    Members of NORML’s Board of Directors also submitted their own written testimony to the FDA, opining: “In general, the safety, dependence, and usage profile of cannabis compares favorably to alcohol, tobacco, and other unscheduled substances. For this reason, NORML believes that cannabis [ultimately] should be withdrawn from the treaty framework entirely.”

    As of 1pm EST on April 23rd, there are only 6,566 comments submitted through the federal site. With the comments by NORML members, we will have submitted 61% of all public comments should that number hold.

    Background per Regulations.gov:

    The United States is a party to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances (Psychotropic Convention). Article 2 of the Psychotropic Convention provides that if a party to the convention or WHO has information about a substance, which in its opinion may require international control or change in such control, it shall so notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations (the U.N. Secretary-General) and provide the U.N. Secretary-General with information in support of its opinion.

    Paragraph (d)(2)(A) of the CSA (21 U.S.C. 811) (Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970) provides that when WHO notifies the United States under Article 2 of the Psychotropic Convention that it has information that may justify adding a drug or other substances to one of the schedules of the Psychotropic Convention, transferring a drug or substance from one schedule to another, or deleting it from the schedules, the Secretary of State must transmit the notice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary of HHS). The Secretary of HHS must then publish the notice in the Federal Register and provide opportunity for interested persons to submit comments that will be considered by HHS in its preparation of the scientific and medical evaluations of the drug or substance.

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