• by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director August 13, 2015

    ballot_box_leafThe Ohio Secretary of State’s office yesterday confirmed that a statewide ballot proposal seeking to permit the personal use and commercial production and retail sale of cannabis will appear on the November ballot. Proponents of the measure, Responsible Ohio, gathered sufficient signatures to place the issue before voters as a constitutional amendment.

    Ohio now has the opportunity to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. as states that have passed laws allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults.

    If enacted, the measure would initially establish 10 state-licensed commercial growing sites. (State regulators will have the opportunity to grant additional licenses if these initial production sites do not adequately meet demand.) Commercially produced cannabis will be sold at over 1,000 proposed retail dispensaries.

    A minimum of five regional marijuana testing facilities will be established to regularly check the chemical compounds found in the product for adequate labeling for consumers and regulators.

    Additionally, residents over the age of 21 will be allowed to purchase a $50 license to grow their own marijuana plants with a limit of 4 plants per household and/or 8 ounces of useable product at a time. The amendment also establishes a non-profit medical marijuana dispensary system to provide access to those patients with a recommendation from a physician. Medical marijuana will not be taxed and will be provided on a needs-based fee system. Commercial marijuana production will be taxed at 5% when purchased for personal use and 15% at the wholesale and manufacturing level.

    You can read the full text of the amendment here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 12, 2015

    Houston NORMLRepresentatives from the Houston affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws will hold a joint press conference tomorrow calling for Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman to immediately take administrative action against three sheriff’s deputies who forcibly conducted an illegal body cavity search on a 21-year-old woman in Houston. You can read more about the case, which has attracted national attention, here. Houston NORML will also call for Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to investigate the allegation and file any necessary criminal charges against the deputies involved.

    Police conducted the search without a warrant or consent after claiming to have smelled marijuana. Two deputies forced the woman’s legs apart and conducted an intrusive manual cavity search in a public parking lot.

    “Atrocities like this should not be happening in our community,” says Jason Miller, executive director of Houston NORML. “This is a blatant violation of our Constitution. When law enforcement has its way, marijuana-smokers are afforded no Fourth Amendment rights whatsoever. They are discriminated against and violently abused over nothing more than mere suspicion of possessing a plant. It has to stop.”

    Tomorrow’s press conference will take place at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center located at 1201 Franklin St downtown on Thursday August 13, at 11am.

    You can read the full text of Houston NORML’s press release here.

    [UPDATE: Watch archived video from the press conference here.]

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2015

    Study: Adolescent Marijuana Use Not Associated With Health Problems In Early Adulthood Marijuana use by adolescents, including self-reported chronic use, is not associated with adverse health effects later in life, according to an assessment of longitudinal data published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

    Investigators from the Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Rutgers University prospectively examined whether young men who consumed cannabis during adolescence and/or young adulthood experienced a heightened risk of developing physical and mental health problems in their mid-30s. Researchers controlled for several potential confounding factors, including subjects’ socioeconomic status, co-occurring use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and access to medical care and health insurance.

    Researchers reported that marijuana users, including chronic users, were no more likely to self-report experiencing physical or mental health issues than were non-users. Investigators further reported that early onset chronic marijuana use was not associated with an increased risk for the development of depression or anxiety disorders in early adulthood.

    The findings contradicted researchers’ initial hypothesis, as their stated motivation for conducting the study was to “provide empirical evidence regarding the potential adverse consequences of marijuana legalization.”

    Authors concluded: “The present study used prospective, longitudinal data that spanned more than 20 years to examine whether patterns of marijuana use from adolescence to young adulthood were related to indicators of physical and mental health in adulthood. … Overall, data from this sample provide little to no evidence to suggest that patterns of marijuana use from adolescence to young adulthood … were negatively related to the indicators of physical or mental health studied. … This is particularly striking given that men in the early onset chronic group were using marijuana (on average) once per week by late adolescence and continued using marijuana approximately 3-4 times a week from age 20 to 26 years.”

    Full text of the study, “Chronic adolescent marijuana use as a risk factor for physical and mental health problems in young adult men,” appears online here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director August 7, 2015

    voteThe National Council of State Legislatures passed a resolution yesterday urging the federal government to amend the Controlled Substances Act and to refrain from interfering with state laws permitting the legal production and use of cannabis.

    The National Council of State Legislatures is a bipartisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1975 to unite members of legislature’s from around the United States. The council works to improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures, promote innovative policy and communication among state legislatures, and to magnify their voice in the federal system.

    The NCSL resolves “[S]tates and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.” Members passed the resolution overwhelmingly by a voice vote.

    The vote represents a strong consensus among state lawmakers that the federal government should embrace, not impede the progress states have made to amend their marijuana laws, and encourages federal lawmakers to consider rescheduling marijuana in order for states to safely and effectively move forward in their reforms.

    Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws on the books, and half of all US states recognize industrial hemp. Four states plus Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  There is no doubt states have recognized the failed efforts of marijuana prohibition and are eager to try out other policies. NORML commends the resolution adopted by the National Council of State Legislatures and will continue to advocate for the federal government’s compliance.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director August 6, 2015

    We read with interest the recent review of medical use of cannabinoids (1). As the authors attempt to emphasize, they focus on a heterogeneous collection of experiments that employed a range of treatments, including synthetic THC, CBD, and THC-mimicking drugs.


    Lay readers might inappropriately generalize these results specifically to whole plant medical cannabis  But few (only two) of these experiments were conducted using medical cannabis; most of the studies reviewed focused on outcome measures that do not address the plant’s potential advantages over a single, compound agent in pill form.

    For example, the authors conclude that evidence of individual, synthetic cannabinoids to help nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy was low in quality. Within hours of the publication of the paper, mainstream media coverage applied these conclusions to medical cannabis per se, not just medical cannabinoids (2). In fact, as the authors emphasize, only 6 of the 28 studies assessing nausea and vomiting used THC, and none of these actually employed vaporized or inhaled botanical cannabis. The dependent measures were also not sensitive to the key advantage of medical cannabis for nausea: speed of onset. (Inhaled medicines can work within seconds. Sprayed extracts require at least a half hour while cannabinoids in pill form can take multiple hours.)  The authors were generally careful about these caveats, but the disparate and inaccurate media coverage suggests that flagship journals in all fields now have to be even more diligent when cautioning readers about the inappropriate generalization of results. Despite increasing popularity, medical cannabis remains controversial and, apparently, newsworthy. As reviews of the effects of cannabinoids proliferate, authors, editors, journal staff, and journalists might welcome a reminder that cautions about interpretation need to be spelled out in more effusive, detailed, and thorough ways.

    Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D.
    University at Albany
    Department of Psychology
    Chair, NORML Board of Directors

    Paul Armentano
    National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

    Amanda Reiman, Ph.D.
    Drug Policy Alliance

    1) Whiting PF, Wolff RF, et al. Cannabinoids for Medical Use: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA, 2015: 313(24):2456-2473

    2) Seaman, AM. Medical marijuana: good evidence for some diseases, weak for others. Reuters. June 24, 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/23/us-marijuana-medical-evidence-idUSKBN0P31WT20150623


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