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SOCIETY

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 6, 2016

    Cannabis PenaltiesMembers of the Nashville metro council and the Memphis city council have given final approval to municipal legislation providing police the discretion to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders.

    Nashville city council members voted 35 to 3 in late September in favor of the new ordinance. It provides police the option of issuing $50 citations for those who possess up to a half-ounce of marijuana. By contrast, under state law, the possession of small amounts of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

    The legislation now awaits action from the city’s mayor, who has pledged to sign the ordinance into law.

    Members of the Memphis city council decided this week in favor of a similar measure by a 7 to 6 vote. For the better part of the past year, members of Memphis NORML have spent their time lobbying members of the Memphis city council in support of the policy change. However, the director of the Memphis Police Department remains opposed to the proposal and has indicated that he may instruct his officers to not immediately comply with the new ordinance.

    Many other cities and counties in the southeastern region of the United States have recently enacted similar ordinances, including Miami-Dade county and West Palm Beach in Florida.

    A Republican state lawmaker has threatened to limit funding to the two Tennessee cities if they enact the ordinances into law.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 4, 2016

    oil_bottlesThe enactment of statewide medicinal cannabis programs is associated with greater participation in the workforce by adults age 50 and older, according to the findings of a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-partisan think-tank.

    Researchers at the John Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore and Temple University in Philadelphia analyzed two-decades of data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel survey of Americans over 50 and their spouses, to determine the impact of medical marijuana access laws on subjects’ health and workforce participation.

    Authors reported, “[H]ealth improvements experienced by both groups (older men and women) permit increased participation in the labor market.” Specifically, investigators determined that the enactment of medical marijuana laws was associated with a “9.4 percent increase in the probability of employment and a 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent increase in hours worked per week” among those over the age of 50.

    They concluded: “Medical marijuana law implementation leads to increases in labor supply among older adult men and women. … These effects should be considered as policymakers determine how best to regulate access to medical marijuana.”

    Previous analyses of the impact of medical cannabis laws on various health and welfare outcomes report that legalization is associated with a reduction in obesity-related medical costs, decreased rates of opioid addiction and mortality, fewer workplace absences, and reduced Medicare costs.

    Full text of the study, “The impact of medical marijuana laws on the labor supply and health of older adults: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 3, 2016

    Legalize marijuanaVoters favor legalizing the adult use of cannabis in the five states where the issue will appear on the ballot this Election Day. Here is a summary of the latest polling data.

    ARIZONA: Half of Arizona voters intend to vote ‘yes’ in favor of Proposition 205: The Arizona Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act, according to an Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll. Forty percent of voters oppose the initiative. The Act allows adults age 21 and older to possess and to privately consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana (up to one ounce of marijuana flower, up to five grams of marijuana concentrate, and/or the harvest from up to six plants) and provides regulations for a retail cannabis marketplace.

    CALIFORNIA: Numerous polls show strong support among Californians for Proposition 64: The Adult Use of Marijuana Act. In recent weeks, polling data compiled by the Public Policy Institute of California and the California Field Poll show the measure leading among voters by some 30 percentage points. Proposition 64 permits adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative language specifies that it is not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.”

    MAINE: Fifty-three percent of voters support Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act, according to a September UNH Survey Center poll. Only 38 percent of respondents oppose it. The Act authorizes adults to obtain up to two and one-half ounces of cannabis from licensed facilities. Adults can also cultivate up to six plants and possess the harvest from those plants.

    MASSACHUSETTS: Voters back Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act by a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent, according to polling data released last week by WBZ-TV. The ballot measure permits adults to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis and to grow up to six plants for non-commercial purposes. The measure also establishes regulations overseeing the commercial production and sale of the plant.

    NEVADA: Question 2: The Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative leads among Nevada voters by a margin of 57 percent to 33 percent, according to Suffolk University polling data released last week. The initiative states, “The People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other businesses.”

    For more information about these and other pending ballot initiatives, please see NORML’s Election 2016 page here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 26, 2016

    Marijuana-related arrests in the United States have fallen to their lowest levels since the mid-1990s, according to data released today by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 643,122 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in 2015. Of those arrested, 574,641 (89 percent of all marijuana-related arrests) were charged with marijuana possession only, not cultivation or trafficking.

    US Marijuana Arrests

    The annual arrest total represents more than a 25 percent decline since 2007, when police arrested a record 872,721 Americans for violating marijuana laws.

    Since 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the adult use and possession of personal quantities of cannabis, leading to a dramatic decline in marijuana-related arrests in those jurisdictions.

    As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized.

    According to 2016 nationwide survey data compiled by the Associated Press, some six out of ten Americans now say that the adult use of marijuana should be legally regulated.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 19, 2016

    oil_bottlesThe implementation of medical marijuana programs is associated with a decrease in the prevalence of opioids detected among fatally injured drivers, according to data published in the American Journal of Public Health.

    Researchers at Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Davis performed a between-state comparison of opioid positivity rates in fatal car accidents in 18 states. Authors reported that drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 who resided in states that permitted medical marijuana use were approximately half as likely to test positive for opioids as were similar drivers in jurisdictions that did not such programs in place.

    They concluded, “Operational MMLs (medical marijuana laws) are associated with reductions in opioid positivity among 21- to 40-year-old fatally injured drivers and may reduce opioid use and overdose.”

    Prior comparisons have determined that medical cannabis access is associated with lower rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality. Most recently, a 2016 study published in the journal Health Affairs reported a significant decrease in the use of prescription medications following the implementation of medical marijuana programs.

    An abstract of the study, “State medical marijuana laws and the prevalence of opioids detected among fatally injured drivers,” appears online here.

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