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GOVERNMENT

  • by NORML April 24, 2018

    We are pleased to release our 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

    KEY FINDINGS

    • Twenty-four US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
    • Fifteen governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Seven governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats)
    • Nineteen governors received a ‘D’ grade (18 Republicans and 1 Democrat)
    • Four governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Three governors received no grade because of insufficient data
    • Of the 31 Republican US governors receiving a letter grade, only nine of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (34 percent)
    • Of the 15 Democratic US governors receiving a letter grade, 14 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (93 percent)

    Commenting on the results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “While federal officials tend to receive most of the scrutiny in the fight for marijuana law reform, it is not just members of Congress who deserve our attention. In fact, with the majority of marijuana-related campaigns decided on the state level, it is our nation’s governors who often hold the key to our success or failure.”

    Similar to the findings of NORML’s 2016 Governors Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis once again affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states – only 48 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while 64 percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only two Governors are public in their support of this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – more than 90 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

    Also evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform often falls upon partisan lines. While 93 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher, fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, nearly all of the governors who received either a ‘D’ or a failing grade from NORML are Republicans. Conversely, both of the governors who received a ‘A’ grade from NORML are Democrats. This partisanship lies largely in contrast to voters’ sentiments, as the public tends to view many aspects of marijuana law reform, such as the regulation of medicinal cannabis, as non-partisan issues. (For example, according to 2017 Quinnipiac polling, 90 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats, and 96 percent of Independents favor “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”)

    Altieri continued: “Voters need to push current governors and 2018 gubernatorial candidates to take a proactive and positive stance on marijuana policy. Constituents must let their governors know that holding positions on marijuana legalization that are of step with the will of state voters will cost them at the ballot box, and that embracing sensible reform policies will increase their support among voters.”

    He added: “Look to New Jersey as an example. The exit of anti-drug zealot Chris Christie and the election of pro-legalization Phil Murphy has changed the entire tenor of the debate. Already, the state is moving to expand and reinforce their long suffering medical marijuana program and his very election catapulted the topic of full legalization to the top of this year’s legislative priorities list.”

    To read NORML’s full report, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors

  • 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.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director April 19, 2018

    In a video tweet posted on Vice News, Leader Schumer says:

    “I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, from one end of the country to the other.”

    With this announcement, Senator Schumer has effectively made it clear that a legislative priority for the Democratic Party is to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. As Democratic Leader, it is his role to ensure that the caucus as a whole falls in line with this public policy position — a position that is held by more than 60 percent of Americans.

    This legislative relief must come sooner rather than later. Over 600,000 Americans, a disproportionate percentage of which are black, brown, young, and poor, are arrested for violating marijuana laws annually. These people bear the greatest burden and lifelong consequences of this ongoing failed federal policy, and it is time for Congressional leaders to take a stand to right these past wrongs.

    Vice reports: “The legislation, which his office expects will be released within the next week, has six main points. First, it would remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, which would end federal prohibition and leave it up to states to decide how to regulate the drug. Schumer stopped short of calling it legalization, but de-scheduling would essentially make marijuana legal at the federal level.”

    With Chuck Schumer now joining Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden in sponsoring comprehensive marijuana law reform legislation, it is time for the Democratic party to speak with one voice. The Party must be clear and consistent in their intent to legalize marijuana, as well as expunge the criminal convictions that hold millions of Americans back from basic needs like employment, housing, and pathways to higher education.

    As states start dialing back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied, and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. We fully applaud Senator Schumer acknowledging this reality with today’s announcement.

    More information about Senator Schumer’s bill to come in the days ahead. 

  • by NORML

    Today, Senator Bernie Sanders joined Senator Cory Booker on a live stream for a conversation about ending prohibition and co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act.

    But they can’t do it alone.

    Right now, 33 members of Congress have put their name on the House and Senate versions of this legislation, but we still have a long way to go. Politicians are starting to realize that legalization is not only good policy, but good politics. Send a message to your federal officials and tell them to put their name on this legislation too.

    The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. The Marijuana Justice Act would be the sensible, moral, and rational way to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization.

    In 2016, over 650,000 people were arrested for marijuana. The consequences are staggering. From time spent in jail to the costs of legal fees – to the collateral consequences, including but not limited to having to list a criminal offense on a job or housing application, the criminalization of cannabis is a cruel concept that most hurts those in poverty and is disproportionately enforced against people of color.

    Don’t wait until 4/20 to take action. Send a message to your lawmakers NOW.

    Thanks for standing up, speaking out, and being a NORML citizen.

    Your friends at National NORML.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 18, 2018

    United States Rep. Timothy Waltz (D-MN), along with over 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, has introduced legislation, HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018, to facilitate federally-sponsored clinical research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis among veterans.

    The legislation states: “In carrying out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, … the Secretary may conduct and support research relating to the efficacy and safety of forms of cannabis … on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions the Secretary determines appropriate.”

    According to nationwide survey data compiled by The American Legion, 39 percent of respondents affirmed that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they themselves “use cannabis to treat a mental or physical condition.” Yet, VA Secretary David Shulkin has consistently rejected calls from veterans groups and lawmakers to study the use of cannabis among military veterans.

    Passage of HR 5520 explicitly authorizes “the Secretary to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of medicinal cannabis.”

    Representative Walz, who is the ranking member of the House VA committee, said: “While we know cannabis can have life-saving effects on veterans suffering from chronic pain or PTSD, there has been a severe lack of research studying the full effect of medicinal cannabis on these veterans. Simply put, there is no department or organization better suited to conduct this critically important research than VA, and there will never be a better time to act.”

    Please click here to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 5520: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018.

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