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EDUCATION

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 16, 2013

    The so-called Partnership for a Drug-Free [sic] America (PDFA) has been a prolific, yet impotent, anti-marijuana propaganda machine since its inception in the mid 1980′s under President Ronald ‘Just Say No’ Reagan. No other quasi governmental or private entity spent more money or had greater access to mainstream media to try to perpetuate the federal government’s failed cannabis prohibition. Only the now unpopular and underfunded DARE program rivaled PDFA in it’s high visibility efforts to maintain support among the American populace for cannabis prohibition–but was equally feckless–wasting billions in taxpayer dollars and not impacting youth drug use rates.

    norml_remember_prohibition_Both DARE and PDFA were largely ignored and underfunded by the George W. Bush Administration from 2000-2008, with the current administration continuing to follow suit by diminishing the size and scope of both’s finances and public reach.

    After the PDFA released a new survey today, with media outlets starting to contact NORML for commentary, only then did it become clear to me that the beginning of the end is die in the cast for PDFA when they chose to put out a survey that in effect says ‘marijuana legalization is coming, but only for adults’.

    Really?! PDFA needed to waste even more funding and bandwidth informing the public that support for cannabis legalization for adults is at an all time high, but that parents surveyed don’t think the herbal drug should be legalized for youth or marketed to children.

    Gee. Was there anybody in America advocating that children should be able to legally buy and use cannabis products?

    While the PFDA’s most recent survey seeks to create a political red herring about children and cannabis, the survey affirms the now obvious in American life: public support for continuing cannabis prohibition is at an all time low and tax-n-regulating cannabis is an alternative public policy that now enjoys majority support.

    After watching and archiving hundreds of anti-cannabis propaganda commercials from the PDFA going back to the late 1980s, reading this new survey acknowledging 1) Legalization is quickly picking up public and political support in America, 2) Americans want a sensible cannabis policy, where, like with alcohol products, only adults have legal and controlled access and 3) Parents have concerns about potential cannabis advertisements in mass media demonstrates to me that another major socio-political ‘tea leaf” has revealed itself with the PDFA now left to propagandize about if and how legal cannabis will marketed, not whether cannabis is an inherently ‘evil’ drug that will forever be prohibited.

    With even the hardcore anti-cannabis folks at PDFA now recognizing the changing attitudes about cannabis in favor of legalization, when will Congress and the White House finally embrace this political reality too?

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 9, 2013

    At a meeting with drug reform advocates in San Francisco, former Mexican President Fox expressed support for California’s efforts to legally regulate cannabis, medical and otherwise. He said that California has a strong cultural influence on Mexico, and that progress here would help efforts there.NWA Canada Prohibition Car

    Speakers included Dale Sky Jones for CCPR, Nate Bradley for LEAP and myself for California NORML, who noted that marijuana prohibition is an international problem founded on international treaties, which need to be fixed through international cooperation by the U.S., Mexico, and other countries. Many thanks to President Fox, Jamen Shively, and Steve DeAngelo for arranging this meeting.  - Dale Gieringer, CA NORML

     

    Former Mexican president Fox urges marijuana legalization

    Source: Reuters – Tue, 9 Jul 2013 12:40 AM

    By Ronnie Cohen

    SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 (Reuters) – Former Mexican President Vicente Fox took his crusade to legalize marijuana to San Francisco on Monday, joining pot advocates to urge the United States and his own country to decriminalize the sale and recreational use of cannabis.

    Fox met for three hours with the advocates, including Steve DeAngelo, the Oakland-based executive director of California’s largest marijuana dispensary, and former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively, who hopes to create a Seattle-based pot brand now that Washington state has legalized recreational use.

    Legalization, Fox told reporters after the meeting, is the only way to end the violence of Mexican drug cartels, which he blamed on America’s war on drugs.

    “The cost of the war is becoming unbearable – too high for Mexico, for Latin America and for the rest of the world,” Fox said in English.

    Every day, he said, 40 young people are killed in drug-related violence.

    Fox’s position on legalizing drugs has evolved over time since the days when he cooperated with U.S. efforts to tamp down production in Mexico during his 2000-2006 presidential term. He has been increasingly vocal in his opposition to current policies, backing two prior efforts to legalize marijuana in Mexico.

    Mexico’s current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, has opposed legalization. But he recently said that he would consider world opinion on the matter, particularly in light of recent voter-approved initiatives to legalize marijuana in Washington state and Colorado for recreational use.

    In San Francisco on Monday, Fox said he had signed on to attend and help develop an international summit later this month in Mexico to strategize a path to end marijuana prohibition.

    Participants scheduled to attend the three-day meeting starting July 18 in San Cristobal include an American surgeon, the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health and a Mexican congressman who plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in Mexico this summer, Fox said.

    The bill, which he expects to be introduced by Mexican lawmaker Fernando Belaunzaran, would legalize adult recreational use of marijuana, Fox said.

    Support for legalizing marijuana in the United States has been growing. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, according to the pro-legalization National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But the drug remains illegal under federal law.

    Lifting the prohibition on cannabis in Mexico, however, appears to face more of an uphill battle. Mexican lawmakers have rejected previous legalization efforts and polls have shown little popular support for the idea.

    But Fox promised to wage what he said was a necessary battle.

    “We cannot afford more blood and the loss of more young people,” Fox said. “We must get out of the trap we are in.” (Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 5, 2013

    In St. Louis, Missouri Sgt. Gary Wiegert has been given permission by his chief of police to become an official lobbyist in the state to legalize marijuana for the non-profit organization Show Me Cannabis.norml_remember_prohibition_

    While there are hundreds of former law enforcement officers lobbying with the non-profit group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), having a currently employed  law enforcement officer being given the ‘green’ light by their command to lobby for marijuana legalization maybe a first. Regardless, it most certainly will not be the last!

    Article appeared from the AP in the Kansas City Star:

    ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has reversed course and will allow a veteran officer to moonlight as a lobbyist for a pro-marijuana organization.

    Dotson wrote to police Sgt. Gary Wiegert on Tuesday saying his request for “secondary employment” will be allowed.

    Wiegert filed a complaint earlier this year with U.S. District Court claiming the department violated his First Amendment rights to free speech for refusing to allow him to lobby on behalf of Show-Me Cannabis.

    Wiegert worked for three years as a lobbyist for the St. Louis Tea Party. In February, he submitted a new application to the department. The application did not require him to state for whom he would lobby. It was approved but revoked after the department learned Wiegert was lobbying for the pro-marijuana group.

     

     

  • 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.

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