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SOCIETY

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director August 25, 2014

    Think you know a lot about cannabis and it’s history? Could you relate the ‘history of hemp’, thousands of years worth of human experience, in just four minutes and twenty seconds?

    Comedian and pot activist extraordinaire Steve Berke’s 4 Twenty Today production company’s first video ‘History of Marijuana in Four Minutes and Twenty Seconds’ achieves such in high fashion and invoking laughter all the way.

    Two of Steve’s previous pro-cannabis law reform pot song parodies are found here, the Macklemore parody has been seen by almost 14 million viewers:

    Eminem

    Macklemore

    The next production of 4 Twenty Today is set for release on September 8th (an absolutely hysterical parody of a classic American movie musical!), which is meant to correspond as being supportive for this fall’s big election in Florida on Amendment Two (which will legalize medical access for qualifying patients if 60% of the voters approve the initiative).

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    hempfestI just returned a few days ago from the annual Seattle Hempfest, the 24th version of this extravaganza, and I thought I might share some of my reflections on this extraordinary and unique event.

    First and foremost, Hempfest is truly an enormous undertaking that requires several days of long hours to assemble the stages and hundreds of individual exhibitor and vendor booths; three days of long hours to manage, including a security team to guard the park overnight and provisions to feed the hundreds of volunteers each day; and then several days of equally long hours to disassemble everything, clean the grounds and replace any damaged turf.

    And keep in mind this is an all-volunteer event sponsored by Seattle Events, a not-for-profit corporation, and is also free to the public. The event costs the Hempfest organization nearly $900,000 to put on, and that money is raised largely from vendors, exhibitors and sponsors. The volunteer effort is headed by Hempfest co-founder and Executive Director Vivian McPeak. McPeak leads a core group of volunteers who meet year around to plan for the next Hempfest, and who run a downtown store called Hempfest Central selling all sorts of hemp-based products.

    There are three primary stages (the Share Parker Memorial Main Stage; the Peter McWilliams Memorial Stage; and the Ralph Seeley Memorial Stage, all named for beloved legalization activists who are no longer with us) spread along a narrow piece of parkland called the Myrtle Edwards Park. The park extends more than a mile along the downtown Seattle waterfront, from which an array of bands perform each day, with several speakers scheduled for brief 5-minute speeches between music sets (while the next band is setting-up). Some of the prominent speakers this year included Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from CA, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and public television travel guru and author (and NORML board member) Rick Steves.

    CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON MARIJUANA.COM

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 18, 2014

    Nearly seven out of ten Pennsylvania voters believe that marijuana should be legal for either medicinal or recreational use, according to the results of a statewide survey released by Keystone Analytics.

    Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that cannabis should be made legal under state law, with 47 percent of voters endorsing its medicinal use and another 22 percent agreeing with the statement, “It should be legal for any adult to use for any reason.”

    Twenty-seven percent of respondents believed that cannabis “is a harmful substance that should remain illegal to buy and use in Pennsylvania.”

    The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

    House and Senate legislation (HB 1181/SB 1182) seeking to authorize cannabis therapy to qualified patients remains pending in the state. A Senate floor vote on the measure is expected when lawmakers return from their summer recess.

    In coming months, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association will be holding a series of educational seminars on the subject of cannabis and its potential therapeutic application. The Association is on record in support of “the establishment of efficient drug (cannabis) delivery, growing and dispensing systems as contained within SB 1182.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 13, 2014

    Sixty-six percent of Americans believe that adults ought to legally be able to consume cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home, according to results of a nationwide HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey released late last week.

    Seventy-two percent of self-identified Democrats and 70 percent of Independents said that the private consumption of cannabis should be legal. Republican respondents endorsed private consumption by a margin of 50 percent to 39 percent.

    Fifty-five percent of respondents — including 62 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Independents — also said that they supported statewide laws seeking to tax and regulate the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, such as those recently enacted in Colorado and Washington. By contrast, only 37 percent of Republicans said they supported such a plan.

    The HuffPost/YouGov survey possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel August 6, 2014

    Dear NORML members and supporters,

    Donate to NORMLIt is nearly impossible to detect the precise moment when support for a change in social policy reaches the "tipping point", but for the marijuana legalization movement, that time was likely July 26, 2014, when the editorial board of the New York Times published their editorial entitled Repeal Prohibition, Again.

    For those who may have missed it, here an excerpt; it is one of the strongest endorsements I have ever read.

    "The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana." …

    "The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."

    "There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the "Reefer Madness" images of murder, rape and suicide."…

    "Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime."…

    "it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition."

    And that is only beginning. The Times editors, with whom NORML’s staff and board have been assisting for some time, are now publishing additional editorials, dealing with different aspects of marijuana legalization on a daily basis. The editors of America’s most influential newspaper have not just changed their position; they are now determined to lead the change from marijuana prohibition to legalization.

    Their new position on marijuana policy reflects a gradually evolving perspective, going back to 1966, when the paper warned readers that marijuana "for a considerable number of young people who try it, it is the first step down the fateful road to heroin."

    By 1969, they were calling for some "distinction between soft and hard drugs," and by 1972, with the release of the Marijuana Commission report, the Times acknowledged "the dangers inherent in smoking marijuana appear to be less than previously assumed," and called for the elimination of penalties for possession and use.

    But it was not until early 2014 that they heralded the opening of the first licensed marijuana shops in Colorado, noting that the experiences in Colorado and Washington "will serve as test cases for full-on legalization."

    And now they have taken the crucial, final step to endorse full legalization for all adults, the position NORML has advanced since 1970.

    New York Times

    • 1966 – "for a considerable number of young people who try it, it is the first step down the fateful road to heroin."
    • 1969 – "distinction between soft and hard drugs,"
    • 1972 – "the dangers inherent in smoking marijuana appear to be less than previously assumed,"
    • 2014 – "The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana."

    So we trust you will understand if, to those of us at NORML, who have been fighting for full legalization for 44 years, we see this latest endorsement by the New York Times as the unofficial tipping-point for legalization.

    Sure, there remains a great deal of work to move legalization forward in the remaining 48 states. But with the favorable reviews coming out of Colorado and Washington, and with the national polling demonstrating that we currently enjoy the support of between 53% and 58% of the American public, we think it is fair to say we have turned the corner politically, and victory will be ours within just a few years.

    And that is why we are writing today, to ask that you please make a generous contribution to NORML so we can expand our lobbying activities, and media and educational outreach efforts so that we can continue to build on this momentum. Without question, we are finally winning this struggle, but nevertheless marijuana arrests continue unabated in most states today, and seriously ill patients still do not have access to medical marijuana in more than half of the states.

    Let us take a well-deserved moment to celebrate the enormous progress we have made, but then let’s get back to work to stop the senseless arrests of marijuana consumers. We must stop destroying the lives and careers of so many otherwise law-abiding citizens, simply because they prefer to use marijuana when they relax in the evening, just as tens of millions of Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day. And we need to put in place regulations for licensed marijuana growers and sellers, to bring the black market above ground.

    NORML was the first marijuana legalization lobby in America–with over 1.5 million supporters and members we’ve been the voice for marijuana consumers now for more than four decades.

    Please make a tax-deductible donation to NORML Foundation (for public education and mass communications) and/or a regular charitable donation to NORML (in support of our direct lobbying and other political activities).

    With your generous support, we can continue to lead the charge for full legalization, both state and federal, all across this country.

    Regards,

    Keith Stroup
    NORML Founder and Legal Counsel

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