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ACTIVISM

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 13, 2017

    oil_bottlesThe use of the naturally occurring cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) possesses no likely abuse potential and therefore should not be subject to international drug scheduling restrictions, according to recommendations finalized today by the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.

    Concludes WHO: “Recent evidence from animal and human studies shows that its use could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and related conditions. Current evidence also shows that cannabidiol is not likely to be abused or create dependence as for other cannabinoids (such as Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC), for instance). The ECDD therefore concluded that current information does not justify scheduling of cannabidiol and postponed a fuller review of cannabidiol preparations to May 2018, when the committee will undertake a comprehensive review of cannabis and cannabis related substances.”

    A preliminary report issued by WHO in November affirmed, “[T]here is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

    In September, NORML submitted written testimony to the US Food and Drug Administration in opposition to the imposition of new international restrictions regarding CBD access. The FDA is one of a number of agencies that advised the World Health Organization in their review.

    Despite the international health agency’s acknowledgment that CBD is therapeutic, safe, and well-tolerated, it remains classified under US law as a schedule I controlled substance.

    “The domestic classification and criminalization of cannabidiol as a schedule I controlled substance is out of step with both available science and common sense,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “It is yet another example of the US government placing ideology over evidence when it comes to issues related to the cannabis plant.”

    Text of the WHO recommendations are online here.

  • by Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of NORML KC December 12, 2017

    15167619_606981862846104_8187971922597102036_oOn April 4, 2017, Kansas City residents decriminalized marijuana possession with an amazing 75% of voters supporting that move. The Initiative was led by NORML KC, the Kansas City Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

    The Petition decriminalized marijuana possession by eliminating arrests, eliminating the possibility of jail as a sentence, and requiring almost all such cases to be handled in municipal court which does not result in a criminal conviction. The previous range of punishment was up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. The new maximum fine is $25.

    Prior to the election in April, certain public officials claimed they were concerned about the welfare of indigent marijuana defendants who would no longer be eligible for free legal services under the City’s contract with Legal Aid of Western Missouri (LAWMO). Supporters of the Initiative pointed out that this problem could easily be fixed by amending the City’s contract with LAWMO. Now, that has happened.

    The previous KC/LAWMO contract limited free legal services to indigent defendants charged with offenses which carry possible jail sentences. The new amendment specifically allows for LAWMO to represent indigent defendants facing marijuana possession charges.

    According to The Kansas City Star, April 4, 2017, LAWMO represented defendants in about 59% of municipal marijuana cases during the past fiscal year.  The Star reported that approximately 70% of marijuana defendants are black, in a city where the population is only 30% black.  Studies consistently show that marijuana use rates are virtually the same between black and white Americans.

    “NORML KC is pleased that the City has chosen to do the right thing in protecting its most vulnerable population by amending the contract with LAWMO,” said Jamie Kacz, Executive Director of NORML KC. “Prosecuting non-violent cannabis offenses should not be a priority in our city when over half of the nation has some form of safe and legal access.”

    Attorney Dan Viets, Missouri NORML Coordinator and a member of the national NORML Board of Directors, said that the voters of Kansas City spoke loudly and clearly in getting the Initiative a landslide victory. “It was incredible that with no funding and only a small group of volunteers supporting the effort, this Initiative passed with the support of 75% of the voters!”

    Further reform efforts are underway statewide. The New Approach Medical Cannabis Initiative campaign intends to place a measure legalizing medical cannabis on the November 2018 Missouri ballot. Missouri NORML Chapters, including NORML KC, are an important part of the coalition which is supporting this measure. The Initiative would provide funding for veterans’ services and regulate cultivation, processing and dispensing of cannabis to patients whose doctors have recommended such use. The campaign has gathered more than 125,000 signatures.  Nearly 170,000 valid signatures will be required to qualify for the ballot.

  • by Dale Gieringer, Director of California NORML December 5, 2017

    marijuana_growerCal NORML has sent comments to state regulators at the CA Department of Food and Agriculture regarding their emergency licensing regulations for cannabis cultivation.

    “We are concerned that the CDFA’s proposed emergency regulations on cannabis cultivation licensing fail to limit the total amount of acreage that any one applicant may accumulate. This opens the doors to large-scale, industrial mega- grows that could monopolize California’s limited available acreage, exacerbate environmental harm, and stifle participation by smaller growers,” CaNORML wrote.

    “California does not need any new, large-scale, industrial grows,” the comments continue. “Rather, it needs to accommodate existing growers into the legal market with as few adverse impacts as possible. The total acreage needed to supply the state’s entire adult- use market is only about 1,000 outdoor acres, assuming one ounce/sq ft average yield and 2.5 million lbs. total state demand. It’s essential that acreage be allocated in a way that is fair to the many existing modest-scale growers who wish to participate and not thrown away on new industrial mega-grows.”

    CaNORML suggests a licensing priority scheme, designed to minimize environmental impacts, which would allocate licenses in the following order:

    (1) outdoor licenses of all types, up to a total of no more than one acre per applicant;
    (2) indoor mixed lighting licenses, up to no more than one acre total per applicant;
    (3) indoor high-intensity licenses, up to no more than one high-intensity license (1/2 acre) per applicant.

    If there remains a shortage of applicants to assure adequate production, the recommendation is to continue issuing licenses for additional acreage in the same order:

    (1) outdoor licenses in excess of one acre per applicant;
    (2) indoor mixed lighting in excess of one acre;
    (3) indoor high-intensity – firm cap of one acre maximum per applicant.

    Read Cal NORML’s full comments.

    Also see: Lawmakers say California’s proposed marijuana rules will hurt small family farms

    California NORML is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to protecting the interests of cannabis consumers by legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use in California.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director November 29, 2017
    Rick Steves with Illinois NORML's Ali Nagib

    Rick Steves with Illinois NORML’s Ali Nagib

    On Tuesday, travel radio and television host Rick Steves, a NORML Board Member, journeyed to Illinois to testify in support of marijuana legalization effort in the state legislature.

    “When you legalize marijuana, use does not go up, teen use does not go up, crime does not go up, what goes up ix tax revenue, what goes down is the black market,” Steves said. “Seventy thousand people are locked up in our country every year, 700,000 people are arrested, for possession of marijuana, not violent crimes. They’re not rich white guys, they’re poor people and they’re black people. It’s amazing that it’s happening in our country right now and there is just a way out of this.”

    Steves is well known for his public support of reform and has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy in support of outright legalization. During his press conference in Chicago, he was flanked by state lawmakers who have introduced the legislation. In their remarks, they laid out the economic realities of prohibition.

    “It is clear that prohibition doesn’t work and that by lifting cannabis restrictions we can encourage economic development in Illinois,” State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said. “We are carefully considering all aspects and potential impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis, including job growth.”

    “Legalizing cannabis will spur the creation of new small businesses and much-needed jobs,” State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) said. “We are leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity on the table by continuing the outdated status quo of prohibition.”

    A recent poll of Illinois voters shows that 66% support the outright legalization of marijuana, and 74% support an end to arrests and penalties for simple possession.

    You can watch the press conference by clicking here.

    Make sure to follow Illinois NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website: https://illinoisnorml.org/

  • by Clare Sausen, NORML Junior Associate November 14, 2017

    women weed blogIn the era of increasing acceptance and outright legalization of cannabis use, cannabis-centric television keeps getting better and better. From comedies like The Lucas Bros Moving Co (Fox) to documentaries like Weediquette (Viceland) and dramas like High Maintenance (HBO), you will never be at a loss for something to zone out to. Unless, of course, you’re a woman.

    Through the zonked-out adventures of stoner dudes in the Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke and Pineapple Express, the category of “stoner comedies” was born and solidified as commercially successful. However, as is true in the more general comedy category, women are frequently excluded from this narrative– lest it become a national issue (see: the release of the all-female Ghostbusters and the subsequent end of the world).

    Thankfully, the male-dominated world of cannabis tv is finally changing. More women are being showed smoking weed and not being demonized for it. However, like the revolution to end cannabis prohibition itself, there is still much work to be done. So, let’s look at the most prominent fictional female cannabis icons in popular media today:

    Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) –  Weeds 

    3leafOne of the most prominent female cannabis users is Nancy Botwin, fictional star of HBO’s Weeds. Nancy is a sexy, suburban soccer mom looking to make a little extra cash who turns to selling weed to support her family. Unfortunately, however, Nancy doesn’t really smoke weed—just sells it. Throughout the show’s nine season run, Nancy is only shown smoking weed twice. Plus, there’s the fact that she started as a small-time suburban weed dealer and ended up entangled in the Mexican heroin cartel running a laundering front with multiple deaths on her hands. So, overall, not great for the cause. My favorite episode: “Pittsburgh”, season 2 episode 12.

    Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler (Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer) – Broad City  

    leaf5For millennial weed smoking women, Broad City (Comedy Central) is our Cheech and Chong. Abbi and Ilana are two young women navigating the messy lives of millennials in New York City—but not before hitting their gold Pax, of course. Abbi and Ilana are two of the most prominent female cannabis users in pop culture today and are generally here for being yourself in every way possible. The women depict cannabis use in an everyday sense as well as in a funny, typical stoner way (they regularly video chat each other as they rip bongs on their toilets). Perhaps I’m biased, but the rating system for these reviews is leaf emojis so I don’t think we have to worry too much about journalistic integrity here. My favorite episode: “Coat Check”, season 2 episode 9. Honorable mention: “Pu$$y Weed”, season 1 episode 2.

    Donna Pinciotti and Jackie Burkhart (Laura Prepon and Mila Kunis) – That 70’s Show ?

    2leafIn That 70’s Show, the girls aren’t really considered a part of “The Circle” until season 2, and despite their introduction, Foreman, Hyde, Kelso, and Fez remain the core members. While Donna is viewed as more of an equal, Jackie is usually used as comedic relief and makes ditzy remarks about shopping and makeup. Plus, Jackie acts much more stereotypically affected by weed, leading to comments like “no more for the cheerleader” from the boys. The whole show is hokey in and of itself (remember their cover of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”?), so the “girls like shopping” jokes and the fact that the girls are constantly “catfighting” is to be expected. Still, not a great representation of women who weed. My favorite episode: “Reefer Madness” Season 3, Episode 1.  

    Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (Kathy Bates) – Disjointed

    4leafOkay, look—I had the same reservations about Disjointed that you did. It’s a corny multi-camera set-up with a painful laugh track and a lot of stereotypical, one-dimensional characters. BUT, Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, played by the legendary Kathy Bates, is a shining light that will guide you through this show.  She’s a 70-year-old single mom running a dispensary in California, working to help and heal (or, as the show cringingly refers to it, “healp”) her patients through the magical medicine of cannabis. Ruth is a great example for women that have been a part of the cause since the 70’s and how her activism is affected by the changing perceptions of marijuana consumption and legalization. You must be able to withstand the uproarious laughter of the audience at jokes that fall flat to get to the best parts of this show: innuendos, weed, and trippy animation—but it’s worth it. My favorite episode: “The Worst”, Part 1 Episode 10 (the last five minutes, in particular).

     

    Those are my thoughts, tell me yours in the comments below!

     

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