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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 22, 2014

    Oregon voters will decide this November in favor of a statewide initiative to regulate the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana.

    State election officials today announced that petitioners, New Approach Oregon, had submitted enough valid signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

    The proposed ballot initiative (Initiative Petition 53) seeks to regulate the personal possession, commercial cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Taxes on the commercial sale of cannabis under the plan are estimated to raise some $88 million in revenue in the first two years following the law’s implementation. Adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana at a given time) will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations.

    Passage of the initiative would not “amend or affect in any way the function, duties, and powers of the Oregon Health Authority under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.”

    A statewide Survey USA poll released in June reported that 51 percent of Oregon adults support legalizing the personal use of marijuana. Forty-one percent of respondents, primarily Republicans and older voters, oppose the idea. The poll did not survey respondents as to whether they specifically supported the proposed 2014 initiative.

    Alaska voters will decide on a similar legalization initiative in November. Florida voters will also decide in November on a constitutional amendment to allow for the physician-authorized use of cannabis therapy.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 15, 2014

    More than six out of ten Americans – including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Independents, and Republicans – support the regulation and retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, according to the findings of a nationwide HuffPost.com/YouGov poll released today.

    Colorado voters in 2012 approved a statewide initiative legalizing the personal consumption and cultivation of the plant. The measure also allows for the state-licensed commercial production and retail sales of cannabis to those over the age of 21. Commercial cannabis sales began on January 1st of this year. To date, these sales have generated nearly $11 million in tax revenue.

    Sixty-one percent of Americans – including 68 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 52 percent of Republicans – say they “support” Colorado’s efforts to regulate the commercial cannabis market. Only 27 percent of respondents oppose the Colorado law.

    Respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 (65 percent) as well as those age 65 and older (64 percent) were most likely to support Colorado’s efforts, while those between the ages of 45 to 65 (55 percent) were less likely to do so.

    The results of a separate poll of Colorado voters commissioned by Quinnipiac University in April similarly reported that most Coloradoans support the state’s efforts to regulate marijuana sales and consumption.

    Similarly licensed commercial retail sales of cannabis began last week in Washington state.

    In response to a separate HuffPost/YouGov poll question, 54 percent of those surveyed said that the US government should not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized and regulated the plant. Only 29 percent of respondents endorsed the notion of enforcing federal prohibition in states that are pursuing alternative regulatory schemes.

    “Every day in America, hundreds of thousands of people engage in transactions involving the recreational use of marijuana, but only in two states – Colorado and Washington – do these transactions take place in a safe, above-ground, state-licensed facility where consumers must show proof of age, the product sold is of known quality, and the sales are taxed in a manner to help fund necessary state and local services,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Not surprisingly, most Americans prefer to have cannabis regulated in this sort of legal setting as opposed to an environment where the plant’s production and sale is entirely unregulated and those who consume it are stigmatized and classified as criminals.”

    Complete poll results are available online here.

  • by Sabrina Fendrick July 14, 2014

    NORML has been fighting for nearly half a century to replace our nation’s overreaching, under-serving and (by any objective measure) disastrous marijuana laws with a sensible, regulated retail system – and in 2014, real change is finally upon us.  The effective launch of Colorado and Washington State’s new cannabis market is a clear indication that the days of prohibition are numbered.  Marijuana is now a true commercial commodity, and with that comes a new set of standards – the likes of which the industry, and the movement have never seen before.

    NORML Business NetworkAs a result of the commercialization of this new industry, NORML is pleased to announce the launch of the NORML Business Network, a new initiative seeking to bridge consumer advocacy with the cannabis industry.  The Network will be collaborating with marijuana companies and ancillary businesses that are committed to using their enterprise as a positive example of corporate social responsibility, and a platform for ending marijuana prohibition nationwide.  The NORML Business Network has already partnered with WeedmapsMarijuana.com and High Times Magazine to further promote this initiative, and to highlight other members of the NORML Business Network through their various mediums.

    The NORML Business Network is a selective, industry focused, membership-based program that advocates for high industry standards, and using business as a force for change.  The Network’s mission is to empower the market early on to become invested in creating a culture of self-regulation, and to encourage entities to adopt a socially conscious corporate model that integrates the interests of their customers and communities into the fabric of their business’ DNA.  Similar to that of the Better Business Bureau, stores or products that carry the NORML Business Partner seal confirms that they are operating a “values-driven” enterprise, and are active supporters of marijuana law reform nationwide.  NORML Business Partners will be required to meet certain criteria, including various market and industry qualifiers such as testing, labeling, environmental sustainability, fair wages, decent pricing and special discounts for certain populations such as seniors and veterans.

    The cannabis industry is under more scrutiny than any other developing market has ever been, and it is critical for all stakeholders to remain cognizant of this enduring challenge.  The public as well as lawmakers will be watching closely at how these new policies in Colorado and Washington affect the communities and environments of those states, and beyond their borders.  How retail marijuana unfolds in these early years will determine the future course of legalization nationwide.

    As a consumer advocacy nonprofit, NORML is dedicated to identifying and protecting all new and evolving stakeholder interests – while also continuing on the path to legalization nationwide.  The organization recognizes that the implementation of Colorado and Washington State’s commercial retail cannabis market have permanently changed the scope of the consumer advocacy debate, and the NORML Business Network is a natural evolution for the forty-five year old organization. The evolution of this burgeoning industry is creating entirely new legal and logistical challenges, which call for new standards and industry accountability – and NORML will continue to advocate for consumer’s interests under a legal regime.

    “We want to recognize the positive impact these marijuana businesses are having on their communities by highlighting those who go above and beyond the letter of the law in an effort to align their economic benefits alongside the interests of their customers and communities,” said Sabrina Fendrick, NORML’s Director of Strategic Partnerships.

    The NORML Business Network will promote these good corporate citizens to a national audience, media, elected official and the public safety community, amplifying their work as positive examples of the marijuana industry.  This in turn will help solidify the integrity of legalization as public policy, and ensure the sustainability of the industry as reform takes root nationwide.  For more information visit www.norml.org/business.

     

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    normlrallyI’m sometimes asked how a midwestern farm-boy ended up starting a marijuana smokers’ lobby. I had been raised in the 1950s in southern Illinois by southern Baptist parents, and there was nothing in that environment that would cause one to challenge authority or attempt to change the prevailing cultural values.

    But then came the Vietnam War. Like many young men of my generation who came of age during that war, I had been radicalized by the war, or more specifically, by the threat of being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam, a war few of us understood and even fewer wanted to die for (58,000 Americans eventually died in Vietnam). My primary focus at the time was avoiding the war in any way possible – a “draft dodger” was the derogatory term used for those of us who did not wish to serve.

    Back then, before the draft lottery had even been established, all young men, by the time they were 18 years of age, were required to register for the draft, and unless they were a full-time student, were promptly inducted. So many of us stayed in school for as long as possible, but we remained subject to the draft until we turned 27 years of age. So when I graduated law school in 1968 at 25, I immediately received my draft notice, passed my physical, and was only two weeks away from my report date, when, with the help of some dedicated lawyers working with the National Lawyers’ Guild, I managed to get what was called a critical-skills deferment, that allowed me to spend my two years working at a presidential commission in Washington, DC, instead of getting shot in Vietnam.

    CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON MARIJUANA.COM

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 8, 2014

    Proponents of a District initiative to permit the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by those age 21 or older have turned in 57,000 signatures to the DC Board of Elections. The total is more the twice the number of signatures from registered voters necessary to place the measure on the 2014 electoral ballot.

    District of Columbia election officials will meet in mid-August to certify the measure for the ballot.

    The proposed ballot initiative (Initiative Measure 71) seeks to remove all criminal and civil penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants (no more than three mature).

    Nearly two out of three District residents favor legalizing the possession and use of marijuana by adults, according to a January 2014 Washington Post poll.

    Even if approved by District voters this fall, members of the DC City Council still possess the authority to amend the measure. Members of Congress could also potentially halt the law’s implementation. Federal lawmakers possess oversight regarding the implementation of all District laws.

    This spring, DC city council members approved legislation reducing minor marijuana possession offenses to a $25 civil fine. That ordinance is scheduled to take effect later this month. However, federal legislation seeking to undermine this measure is presently pending in the US House of Representatives.

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