• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 11, 2015

    Teen Marijuana Use FlatCurrent use of marijuana by those between the ages of 12 to 17 has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, while young people’s self-reported consumption of alcohol and cigarettes has fallen to record lows, according to federal data compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the percentage of respondents ages 12 to 17 who reported past-month use of marijuana remained steady from 7.6 percent in 2004 to 7.4 percent in 2014. By contrast, teens’ use of tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol fell dramatically during this same period. Over the past ten years, adolescents’ use of tobacco fell from 14.4 percent to 7 percent, their use of cigarettes fell from 11.9 percent to 4.9 percent, and their use of alcohol fell from 17.6 percent to 11.5 percent. Binge drinking by young people fell from 11.1 percent in 2004 to 6.1 percent in 2014.

    Self-reported marijuana use by older respondents, particularly among those age 26 and older has increased in recent years. By contrast, since 2012, when voters in Colorado and Washington decided to permit the commercial production and sale of cannabis to adults, youth marijuana use in the past 30 days is virtually unchanged (7.2 percent in 2012, 7.4 percent in 2014).

    Of all estimated past-month illicit drug consumers, 82 percent are users of marijuana, the survey reported.

    The data once again undermines the concern that liberalizing marijuana laws for adults will inherently increase youth marijuana use and indicates that a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults but restricts its use among young people — coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis’ potential harms — best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse.

    Nonetheless, marijuana law reform opponents are refusing to acknowledge these positive trends, instead falsely stating that marijuana use is “continuing to rise among youth.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 10, 2015

    Majority of voters support alternatives to marijuana prohibitionA majority of Michigan voters endorse legalizing marijuana and having its sales regulated by state or local governments, according to statewide polling data released today.

    Fifty-six percent of respondents backed some form of legalizing cannabis. Of these, 27 percent endorsed a proposal to allow for both the commercial production and home cultivation of the plant. Twenty-one percent endorsed state-imposed regulations but opposed home cultivation. Eight percent supported legalization but endorsed local controls, not state controls, in regard to how the plant ought to be regulated.

    Forty percent of respondents said “Recreational marijuana use should not be legalized in Michigan.”

    The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

    Previous statewide polls from 2013 and this past spring also show majority support for ending marijuana prohibition.

    Michigan is one of several states where advocates are considering 2016 ballot initiatives to regulate the adult use of cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    South Carolina voters, including some two-thirds of Republicans, do not believe that the incoming administration ought to interfere with the enactment of state laws legalizing marijuana, according to polling data conducted by Public Policy Polling and published today by Marijuana-Majority.com.

    Sixty-five percent of South Carolina believe “[S]tates should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference.” Seventy-three percent of Independents endorsed the notion, as did 66 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats.

    Only 16 percent of voters agreed that the federal government should continue to “arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws.”

    Similar support has been voiced among voters in the other early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where super-majorities oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.

    Nationwide polls have reported similar results. Gallup pollsters reported that 64 percent of respondents oppose federal interference in state laws that allow for the legal use of cannabis by adults, while a poll commissioned by the think-tank Third Way found that six out of ten voters believe that states, not the federal government, should authorize and enforce marijuana policy. Most recently, a 2015 nationwide Pew poll reported that a strong majority of Americans — including 64 percent of Independents, 58 percent of Democrats, and 54 percent of Republicans — believe that the federal government should not enforce laws in states that allow marijuana use.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 9, 2015

    Changes in marijuana laws are not associated with increased use of the substance by teens, according to data compiled by Washington’ Healthy Youth Survey and published by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy.

    State survey results from the years 2002 to 2014 show little change in cannabis consumption by Washington teens despite the passage of laws permitting and expanding the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes during this time.

    Self-reported marijuana use fell slightly among 8th graders, 10th graders, and 12th graders during this period. Young people’ self-reported access to cannabis also remained largely unchanged during this time period, although more 8th graders now report that marijuana is “hard to get.”

    The passage of voter-initiated legislation legalizing the adult use of cannabis in 2012 is also not to associated with any increase in consumption by youth. Between 2012 and 2014, self-reported lifetime marijuana use and/or use within the past 30 days either stayed stable or fell among all of the age groups surveyed.

    The report concluded, “[C]annabis use and access among students in 6th through 12th grades have changed little from 2002 through the most recent survey in 2014.”

    The findings are consistent with those of previous assessments acknowledging that liberalizing state marijuana laws does not stimulate increased use among young people.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director September 2, 2015

    News reports out of Vermont indicate that a major political shift has just occurred that well positions the state legislature to become the first in the nation to end cannabis prohibition and replace with tax-n-regulate policies.

    The four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington) that have chucked cannabis prohibition have done so by popular vote on binding ballot initiatives passed by citizens, not legislators. Historically, circa 1996, most all substantive cannabis law reforms at the state level have happened because of ballot initiatives, not legislation.Vote marijuana

    With national surveys and the vote totals in favor of legalizing cannabis in the four vanguard states equaling similar levels of support–54%–some elected officials have finally ‘got it’ about the need to end cannabis prohibition, if only because it is no longer politically popular.

    A state legislature voting in the majority for cannabis legalization, with a supportive governor awaiting passed legislation to sign, has yet to happen in America. Arguably, once a state legislature passes cannabis legalization legislation, this action more so than voter initiatives placed on the ballot by stakeholders in reform (be them civil justice groups or business interests) will likely spark a ‘reefer revolution’ among states that want the revenue and public policy controls that the long-failed federal prohibition does not provide them.

    With a largely supportive and anti-prohibtion legislature and governor (in Democrat Peter Shumlin) already in place in the Green Mountain state, the only political impediment was the Speaker of the House Shap Smith, who, in his run up to try to become the state’s next governor, has reversed his public stance on cannabis legalization from undecided to publicly endorsing Vermont legalizing cannabis:

    “It’s clear to me in my discussions with Vermonters that in general, the people in this state probably favor legalization. And I certainly believe that we can legalize marijuana if we do it right.” – House Speaker Shap Smith

    Will the Vermont legislature be the first one to officially legalize cannabis?

    Yesterday’s policy reversal from Speaker Smith almost certainly places Vermont in the lead to do so.

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