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EDUCATION

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director June 17, 2013

    There are four new videos worth checking out, two provide comic relief…two provide contrasting views about cannabis prohibition.

    The same day last week I caught a CNN news piece about high school science students sending and recording an egg with a smiley face launched into space, I received something way cooler:

    The first earth-grown cannabis launched into space (unless the US and Russian governments have been ferrying cannabis into space all these years…).

    From our friends at High Times:

    *Proviso: While ‘space’ cannabis is neat, driving while consuming cannabis is an unwise safety and legal decision in all 50 states.

    In what you knew would be a confrontational interview, former Congressman and SAM spokesman Patrick Kennedy bravely goes into the wheelhouse of one of America’s most ardent pro-cannabis supporters: comedian, TV host and NORML Advisory Board member Bill Maher.

    The results. As expected. Kennedy came on larding his advocacy with a plethora of old and/or taken out of context ‘science’ claiming that he used to think ‘pot was not a big deal’, but now has learned otherwise. When confronted by Maher that Kennedy’s anti-cannabis advocacy is misplaced and that his rhetoric sounds like a barely warmed over “Just Say No’  rant from the 1980s, Kennedy claims newly gained insights:

    Really? If this is true–Mr. Kennedy used to think cannabis no big deal and he possess new insight into why prohibition should go on another seventy five years?–the long-serving former state representative and congressman from Rhode Island, with no public or legislative record record indicating anything other than rote support for cannabis prohibition, certainly never conveyed to his constituents or media that he thought cannabis was ‘no big deal’.

    And this new insight that he claims to have gained…might this have come from the ardently anti-cannabis legalization drug rehabilitation industry that Mr. Kennedy is not only had a client of because of his own alcohol and prescription drug abuse, but that he has always been closely associated with this rarely observed side of the pot prohibition perpetuation machinery in Washington,  D.C.?

    Currently, probably living with the real fear that the government will stop bring clients to them forced with the Hobson’s Choice of ‘rehab’ or to get criminally prosecuted, and to often have the government pick up the financial tab, one of the last (and obvious) proponents for the status quo to maintain the government’s failed cannabis prohibition are some active quarters of the ‘drug rehabilitation’ industry.

    Where this newly formed SAM gets its funding (the group appears to be mainly a front group for drug rehabbers and anti-tobacco advocates) will help largely answer the questions: Who likely benefits from cannabis prohibition? Who wants to keep the prohibition policy going, when a majority of the American public no longer does?

    A now nearly regular featured anti-prohibition satirist who specializes in using popular music video parodies to make fun of pot prohibition (and advance his political career in Miami Beach, Florida), Steve Berke has forwarded NORML another of his unique takes:

    Also, Steve is trying to now produce a documentary movie. If you like his style and how is he is trying to shake up Miami Beach’s political scene, check out his new KickStarter campaign here.

    Lastly, and appropriately, the TV originator of the “Last Word’ (a nightly segment on MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Show), gets the last word on the absurdity and inevitable collapse of cannabis prohibition in America.

    Watch O’Donnell’s powerful indictment against the federal government’s continued support for the failed public policy of cannabis prohibition here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 28, 2013

    Update: Watch the very interesting panel discussion—where the major take away point from the data and interpretation of it is that it unlikely that the country will return to a time when a majority of Americans support cannabis prohibition law enforcement.

    Watch video here.

    Also and maybe of far greater significance is the white paper by Brookings scholars William Galston and E.J. Dionne, Jr., The New Politics of Marijuana Legalization: Why Opinion is Changing’. It is an extraordinarily well researched and data-rich paper that well demonstrates a very large, and apparently sustainable shift in public attitude about cannabis, moving from one of great intolerance twenty-five years ago to one of seeking alternative public policies to prohibition, such as decriminalization and legalization.

    I highly commend any one serious-minded about cannabis law reform to read and archive the paper.

    Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 29 from 2:00-3:30 PM (eastern), the Brookings Institute is holding its second in a series of public policy review panels examining the ever-evolving changes of cannabis laws—mainly at the state level, with little-to-no federal reforms—where state legislatures and/or voters have voted to replace prohibition laws with decriminalization, medical access to cannabis or outright legalization.

    The first panel discussion in April co-sposored by Washington Office on Latin America and Brookings examined the stark changes in state law and if current federal laws allow states to in effect experiment with cannabis legalization. See Brookings white paper on state and federal conflict here.

    This second panel in the series looks at the emerging public polling data, along with vote totals in states with binding initiatives, which strongly indicate a profound shift in public attitude about cannabis in favor of it’s reform and what are the political implication for federal lawmakers.

    At no time in previous history is there greater public and political support for legalization than right now. This public policy series at Brookings reflects the need to cast sober and dispassionate policy analysis, coupled with acknowledgement of change in public sentiment, in the fast changing public policy  realm that elected policy makers and their staff; media and academics need to be made fully aware as the country apparently morphs from seventy-five years of cannabis prohibition, to one of ‘tax-n-control’.

    If you can’t attend in person, Brookings and WOLA are making this important public panel discussion on cannabis legalization available via webcast.

    From Brookings’ press release:

    Last November, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana, and they may not be the last: legalization now has the support of about half the country, up from 25 percent two decades ago. But legalization remains controversial among the public and contrary to federal law and policy. Is a new national consensus emerging, or a new stage of the culture war? Either way, what are the implications?

    On May 29, Governance Studies at Brookings and the Washington Office on Latin America will host a public forum to discuss changing attitudes towards marijuana legalization. Brookings Senior Fellows William Galston and E.J. Dionne will present findings of a detailed study of evidence from opinion surveys, some of it newly available. Two experts on politics and public opinion will comment. After the program, speakers will take audience questions.

    Panelists include: Senior Fellows at Brookings William Galston and E.J. Dionne, Jr.,; Pollster Anna Greenberg and RealClear Politics Sean Trend

    Moderated by Senior Fellow at Brookings Jonathan Rauch

    This event will be live webcast.

    Register here for the live webcast.

    Register here to attend the event in person.

    Follow the conversation at #MJLegalization.

  • by Sabrina Fendrick May 1, 2013

    As our nation edges cautiously toward majority support for marijuana legalization, the millennial generation is leading the way more than any other demographic in history.

    Our generation has experienced as much or more tragedy than any post-WW II generation with the exception of the baby boomers.  The difference is that boomers, who witnessed the assassination of  a president, a presidential candidate and a major civil rights activist and who lived through significant social and political upheavals, also saw huge social progress, the evolution of equal rights, greater consumer protection and the end of the Cold War.  Despite many bumps along the way, the economy remained intact for that generation, jobs were available and college was still affordable.

    Millennials experienced on 9/11, the first major attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.  We’ve grown up with homeland security threat levels, we’ve witnessed massacre after massacre in our schools and in  public places that used to be considered safe (think Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, the D.C. snipers, Boston, etc).  As young adults, we’ve been confronted with an economy on the verge of collapse, a world plagued by terrorism, an expensive and proliferating drug war, skyrocketing tuition costs and a job market that is barely there.  Yet with all of that, we still believe in the glory of the America we were told about growing up.  That, “America is the richest, most powerful country in the world, where everyone has the opportunity to make money and achieve the American dream,” and despite everything going on now, we believe that it still can.

    So why, you wonder, do so many millennials (65% according to the latest Pew Research Poll) support the legalization of marijuana in light of all these other issues?  It’s because we believe this is a serious national problem with a sensible fix and a positive outcome for everyone.   (more…)

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 27, 2013

    While there is nothing genuinely funny about a seventy-five year prohibition on cannabis that has arrested over 25 million cannabis consumers, making fun of the failed policy never goes out of style, especially when done right, with aplomb, which the NORML staff occasionally highlights on an otherwise serious-minded public policy blog.

    While over a week-old it would seem a crime itself not to share this New York Times so-called OpDoc (where videos rather than guest columns are submitted). The Gregory Brothers, a quartet of video artists from Brooklyn, absolutely skew the disparity between American society’s hypocritical legal vs illegal drug paradigm.

    They accomplish this by very humorous employment of auto-tune and eye-rolling use of politicians’ own words about the now near universally acknowledged failed war on some drugs.

    Check out former Congressman Ron Paul, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Chris Christie (with intentional help from Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes of ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ fame) sing in a way, about a subject matter, they surely didn’t intend t00 when they opened their mouths and spoke the truth about an unpopular public policy (which, ironically, is what elected policymakers are supposed to do in democracies).

    You can watch the video here.

    Enjoy!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 25, 2013

    In another positive sign of the times for cannabis law reform, please find below a new video from the Washington Post’s The Fold looking at a couple of different situations where parents faced the legal-moral dilemma of whether or not to follow a physician’s recommendation for their young child to use cannabis as a therapeutic. Dr. Ben Whalley From Reading University in United Kingdom is interviewed about his recent cannabinoid research into the use of pediatric cannabis medicine for children, for example, suffering from epilepsy. As a twenty plus year reader of the Washington Post, it is very hard for me to imagine prior editors (and publishers) who would have assigned and widely broadcast a piece that looked at the potential health benefits from cannabis (meaning that as the World War II generation, informed by their government-created ‘Reefer Madness’, that largely ran the storied newspaper until recently has had to logically yield and defer to a decidedly more cannabis-informed generation of Baby Boomers and younger).

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