Read the letter here: MI Federal Legislator Letter 2017
By: Matthew Abel
Today, on the occasion of President’s Day, and in the spirit of the President’s heralded as “leaders of the free world”, the Michigan Affiliate of NORML participated in a national campaign to contact our members of Congress by mailing them each a letter. This letter is our third in a series of letters in 2017 that has included Vice President Mike Pence and the 109 members of the Michigan House of Representatives. Direct mail is an effective and powerful way to be seen by the Representatives themselves or their Chiefs of Staff and to communicate a message.
First we introduced ourselves and provided information about who we are and what we have done in Michigan. We communicated some concerns and and made some policy suggestions. We specifically asked each of them to support The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, HR 975, and to become members of the newly-formed Cannabis Caucus. We reminded them of the damage caused by prohibition and urge them to change federal law. It is a friendly letter, but very direct and specific.
Sending a letter to 14 out of 435 Representatives may not seem very effective, but when the fourteen members of the Michigan Delegation read our message, and legislators from other states receive and read letters from other NORML state affiliates echoing th e same message, collectively, NORML affiliates will have reached hundreds of Members of Congress with a clear, strong and unified message!
Engaging elected officials is a primary function of NORML and all its affiliates. As the Michigan Affiliate of NORML, we are pleased to participate in this and other NORML nationally-coordinated campaigns that reach out to federal representatives in a collaborative way that reinforces the strength of support for cannabis reforms.
Today we recognize and celebrate the 45 Presidents who have led this great nation. Michigan NORML appreciates what these leaders have done and their significance in history, and it is in that spirit that we ask the fourteen men and women of the Michigan Delegation to take the lead, and help shape the policies that will regulate the emerging cannabis industry.
The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of NORML ISU right to use a marijuana leaf and the logo of the school on their promotional items.
Here is the background as written in the Washington Post by Eugene Volokh:
NORML ISU at first got permission from the Trademark Office to use a T-shirt “that had ‘NORML ISU’ on the front with the ‘O’ represented by Cy the Cardinal,” with “Freedom is NORML at ISU” and a cannabis leaf depicted on the back. But after a Des Moines Register article mentioned the T-shirt, a state legislator and someone at the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy heard about this and objected, and the University barred NORML ISU from printing further T-shirts with the design. After that, the University’s Trademark Guidelines were changed to ban “designs that suggest promotion of the below listed items … dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors; … [or] drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful.”
The court disagreed.
“NORML ISU’s use of the cannabis leaf does not violate ISU’s trademark policies because the organization advocates for reform to marijuana laws, not the illegal use of marijuana,”
The circuit court decided that students’ “attempts to obtain approval to use ISU’s trademarks on NORML ISU’s merchandise amounted to constitutionally protected speech.”
Basically, ISU violated the students’ first amendment rights and discriminated against them on the basis of their viewpoint.
The suit was overseen by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, FIRE’s director of litigation, released a statement saying “We are so pleased to see Paul and Erin’s victory unanimously affirmed by the Eighth Circuit today. Paul and Erin had the courage to stand up for their First Amendment rights, and thousands of students in seven states will now benefit from their commitment.”
This can only come as a reminder to us to stand up and fight back against those looking to suppress advocates for marijuana legalization (and fashionable people everywhere). We as a constituency have the unalienable right of freedom of speech, so make your voice heard and get involved with a NORML chapter near you.
Despite historic opposition, members of the United States Senate voted 52 to 47 last week to approve the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.
NORML thanks the tens of thousands of you who responded to our action alerts opposing this nomination and the thousands more who took time to make phone calls. While we are disappointed with this outcome, we are pleased that several members of Congress cited the senator’s opposition to marijuana policy reform as an impetus for rejecting his appointment.
We’ve previously told you why Jeff Sessions is the wrong man for the job, but today it is time to move forward, not backward.
So now what?
Well, during his testimony before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Sen. Sessions said that it is not the responsibility of the Attorney General to pick and choose which federal laws to enforce. “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act,” he said. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”
Just hours prior to Sessions’ confirmation vote, US Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, introduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.
HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’
Passage of this Act would halt US Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other federal official from prosecuting individuals and businesses for violating the Controlled Substances Act in the 29 states that permit either the medical or adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
With the appointment of Sen. Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.
There will be a number of bills in the coming months that will build upon the progress that the movement to legalize marijuana will support. As we always have, NORML will keep you informed and provide you the tools needed to connect with your elected officials.
Please take action today to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 975, the ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ and when you have finished, please also take a moment to make a generous and much appreciated donation to NORML here so that we can continue to make progress in our federal and statewide efforts.
With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking action over the coming days and weeks, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.
NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now; in fact, we’re just getting started. Are you in?
What happens next in regards to marijuana policy is unclear. We can engage in speculation as much as we’d like, but ultimately theorizing on whether or not Sessions will leverage the resources of the Department of Justice to enforce the federal prohibition of marijuana will be discovered soon enough.
For now, we must reflect on the achievements that we have made as a movement which now must be protected and continue to pursue further progress, be it at the state or federal level.
Currently, states that have implemented medical marijuana programs are technically protected from the Department of Justice under the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, however that is set to expire on April 27th unless renewed as a part of the appropriations process.
Jeff Sessions’ history in regards to marijuana policy, including making statements like “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” and “[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana” are a serious reason for concern and highlight the need to remain vigilant.
During his confirmation process, marijuana legalization supporters with NORML made thousands of phone calls and sent tens of thousands of emails regarding Sessions plans for marijuana policy. While we lost the battle, we continue to win the war.
Our Senators, now more than ever, know this is an issue at the forefront of the minds of American voters and that we are willing and able to mobilize for it. In fact, four Senators referenced Sessions’ position on marijuana as a reason to oppose his nomination during an all night “talk-a-thon” to delay todays vote.
We will never stop fighting for further reforms at the state level and needed federal policy changes. With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking direct action, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.
NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now.
Please consider signing up to be a monthly contributor to ensure that we have the resources we need to stand up to Jeff Sessions and to fight back against our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers.
More than 70 percent of Floridians voted on Election Day in favor of Amendment 2 to regulate patients’ access to medical marijuana. However, newly proposed rules by the Department of Health seek to significantly amend this measure in a manner that undermines the law’s intent and is contrary to patients’ needs.
This week, town hall meetings are being held throughout Florida to discuss proposed rule changes and so far, turnout to these meetings have been so large that WTSP in Tampa Bay reported “The meeting was so full that there wasn’t even enough room for people to stand.”
For example, the rules arbitrarily limit those patients who may qualify for cannabis therapy only to those diagnosed with one of ten specific conditions. This change contradicts the explicit language of Amendment 2, which provides physicians the discretion to recommend medical marijuana in any instance where they believe that its use “would likely outweigh the potential health risks.”
NORML has submitted official comments to the state’s Dept. of Health addressing the need to address the following issues:
- Physicians Must Be Permitted To Recommend Cannabis Therapy For Chronic Pain
- Patients Should Have The Legal Option To Obtain Whole-Plant Cannabis
- Market Demand Requires More Licensed Dispensaries
- Do Not Mandate Multiple Patient Visits In A Single Calendar Year
It is unfortunate that after the passage of Amendment 2, so many attempts would be made to weaken the ability for patients to be able to obtain access to medical marijuana. If regulators truly intend to implement Amendment 2 in a manner that is in the best interest of Florida’s patient community, then they must revise these rules in ways that focus on serving the sick, not promoting political expediency.
There is still time to submit comments to the FL Department of Health online. For more information and to find out how, click here.