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Election

  • by Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML September 6, 2018

     

    Yesterday morning Jeff Mizanskey registered to vote! For the first time in 24 years, after his release from parole late last week, Jeff Mizanskey, an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Air Force, is eligible to vote again.

    Click Here to Register to Vote Today!

    Jeff was arrested in 1993 and sent to prison in 1994 for the very brief possession of a few pounds of marijuana.  He did not own the marijuana.  He did not possess the marijuana for more than a few minutes, but that was caught on camera and was sufficient for the jury to find him guilty.  Because of his two prior very small marijuana felony convictions, his only other criminal convictions in his life, Jeff was sentenced to the maximum term of life in prison, without possibility of probation or parole, as a “prior and persistent drug offender”.  Due in part to the efforts of Missouri NORML, the “prior and persistent drug offender” law has since been repealed.

    After serving more than 21 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, thanks to the efforts of Missouri NORML Chapters, Show-Me Cannabis and others, Governor Jay Nixon was persuaded to grant Jeff a commutation of his sentence which made him eligible for parole.  I then represented Jeff in his successful effort to obtain parole.

    Click Here to Register to Vote Today!

    Normally, defendants are on parole for the remainder of their sentence.  Therefore, Jeff could have been on parole for the rest of his life.  However, parolees can request release from parole after three years.  Jeff was released from prison three years ago this week.  We expected having to go to court to seek his release from parole.  We were very pleased, however, that the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole chose to terminate his parole late last week!

    Missouri NORML issued a press release about the fact that Jeff was going to go to the office of the Pettis County Clerk in Sedalia this morning to register.  The response was very gratifying.

    Jeff was interviewed urging everyone to register and vote by the Mid-Missouri ABC and NBC television affiliates, as well as by local newspaper and radio stations. Read more from KSIS Radio!

    October 10, 2018 is the deadline to register to vote in the November 6 election where Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative endorsed by NORML, is on Missouri’s statewide ballot. So please make sure you register to vote today!

  • by NORML August 23, 2018

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is endorsing North Dakota’s voter-initiated, adult use marijuana legalization effort, Measure 3.

    “NORML is pleased to support the grassroots Measure 3 campaign. With state legislators continuing to drag their feet with regard to reforming North Dakota’s outdated and failed marijuana prohibition laws, we believe that it is vital that voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard in favor of enacting a sensible and rational cannabis policy,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “North Dakota is among the top states in the nation when it comes to per capita marijuana possession arrests, by approving this measure voters can reprioritize limited police resources toward targeting more serious crimes and they can end the practicing of saddling otherwise law abiding citizens with the stigma of a lifelong criminal record and the lost opportunities that come with it.”

    “The Legalize ND campaign is honored and humbled to welcome NORML as a partner in our fight to pass Measure 3. We are excited to work with the NORML team to educate voters as to how recreational Cannabis will be a major benefit for all North Dakotans,” said David Owen, Chair of the Legalize ND campaign.

    This statewide ballot measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, seeks to legalize the personal possession and use of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over 21 years of age. It also establishes a process for the sealing of non-violent marijuana-related convictions. Unlike the adult use laws established in various other states, the measure does not establish explicit regulations for commercialized marijuana-related activity, such as retail sales.

    If enacted by a majority of voters on Election Day, North Dakota would be the tenth state to legalize adult marijuana use.

    NORML is going to be fighting hard to help pass legalization in North Dakota, but it is going to take all of us working together to win.

    CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE MEASURE 3 CAMPAIGN

    CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER FOR MEASURE 3

    You can also stay up to date on the campaign on their website or Facebook page.

     

  • by NORML August 13, 2018

    Legalize marijuanaToday, the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office confirmed that LegalizeND has submitted more than enough signatures to qualify a marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot.

    The voter-initiated measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, legalizes the possession, use, and sale of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over the age of 21 and also expunges past marijuana convictions.

    Commenting on the initiatives approval, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated:

    “We applaud the hard work and dedication from the campaign and countless volunteers on the ground in North Dakota who went door to door and out into their communities to gather the signatures required to put this on the ballot in November. Marijuana legalization is no longer a regional or partisan issue. Well over 60% of all Americans support ending our nation’s failed prohibition and I expect North Dakota voters to send shockwaves across the country this fall when they join the growing contingent of states who have chosen the sensible path of legalization and regulation over prohibition and incarceration.”

    More information, including how to volunteer or donate to the initiative campaign, can be found on LegalizeND’s website HERE.

    North Dakota now joins Michigan on the list of states voting to legalize adult use this fall, with Missouri and Utah voting on medical marijuana access.

  • by NORML June 26, 2018

    Sooner state is the 31st state to legalize and regulate medical cannabis access

    A majority of Oklahomans today voted to enact State Question 788 a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to those patients who will benefit from it. Oklahoma is now the 31st state to legalize and regulate the use of medical cannabis under state law.

    “Public support for medical marijuana access is non-partisan,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Even in a predominantly ‘red’ state like Oklahoma, it is the will of the voters to enact common sense, yet significant marijuana law reforms.”

    He continued, “The ongoing expansion of compassionate medical marijuana in states like Oklahoma places additional pressure upon Congress to take action to end this existing state/federal conflict. It is time for members to move forward with legislation like The States Act or The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would allow states the flexibility and autonomy to regulate cannabis as best they see fit — free from the looming threat of undue federal intervention.”

    State Question 788 permits licensed medical marijuana patients to cultivate up to six mature plants and to possess personal use quantities of marijuana flowers, edibles, or infused concentrates. It also establishes a regulatory framework for the retail production and dispensing of medical cannabis at licensed facilities. The full text of SQ 788 is available online here.

    Oklahoma voters endorsed the plan despite organized opposition from law enforcement, political leaders, and other groups. Opponents of the measure spent an estimated $500,000 in the final week of the campaign on an advertising blitz that falsely claimed that “SQ 788 was not about medical marijuana,” a mischaracterization that was previously determined to be purposely misleading as by the state Supreme Court.

    “It is our hope that Oklahoma politicians will respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact SQ 788 in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law,” NORML’s Armentano said.

    Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who publicly opposed SQ 788, said that she intends to call lawmakers back for a special session to address the passage of SQ 788. Proposed rules and regulation regarding the implementation of SQ 788, drafted by the Oklahoma Department of Health, appears online here.

    Under existing Oklahoma laws, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense — punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis cultivation or sales may be punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this month, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people — the highest rate in the United States.  

  • by Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML May 25, 2018

    What’s A Straw Poll?

    For those that don’t know, a straw poll is an unofficial ballot conducted as a test of opinion.  On 5/22/2018 the question above appeared as the first local question on the Democratic ballot for Forsyth County, Georgia.  “Should Georgia amend the state Constitution to legalize the use of cannabis/marijuana for those 21 years old and older, allow a retail dispensary base, tax said products, and allocate revenue received equally to state education and transportation infrastructure?”

    The results are non-binding.  It was just a question to “test the opinion” of the voters.  Well, the voters spoke, and the results are pretty amazing, though not all that surprising.

    4996 (a whopping 77%) answered YES
    Only 1471 answered NO

    Did I mention that a whopping 77% answered YES?

    Marijuana On An Official Ballot in Georgia?

    How’d that happen?  I reached out to Melissa Clink, who currently chairs the Forsyth Democratic Party and asked that question.  She told me, “Our election board officials asked about a month ahead of elections if we wanted questions on our ballot. These questions take the temperature of voters and in my opinion alert elected officials how their constituents want them to vote on such matters.  I believed marijuana legalization was a high priority question in Georgia”.

    Clink said that there was some initial resistance from within the party, although support for medical usage was unequivocal.  As is the case with many citizens in Georgia, some believed Georgia had a viable medical marijuana program and were unaware of some of the hypocrisy in that program.  Clink explained that Georgia has a non-functioning medical use law that does not include in-state growth or access to medicine and that “we need to know how voters feel about outright legalization so that our elected officials can legislate according to the will of the people”.  The question was added to the ballot.

    Did I Mention That A Whopping 77% Answered YES?

    I bring that up because according to the latest Quinnipiac poll 63% of the Nation favors legalization.  The folks in Forsyth County, Georgia obviously favor it more than that.  Even the Republican Party there is saying they wish they’d asked that, and other, questions.

    Catherine Bernard, a liberty-loving criminal defense attorney said: “[this] matches up with my jury selection experience in Forsyth where almost everyone raised their hand when the prosecutor asked who thought it shouldn’t be against the law to have MJ!”

    The Heroin Triangle and Education

    Forsyth County is in Georgia’s “Heroin Triangle”, and this may have some bearing on why this county ranges 14% higher than the national percentage.  I’m sure they’ve been paying close attention to the growing evidence that marijuana is an exit from opiates, not the gateway.

    While the percentage of folks that want marijuana legalized in other Georgia counties may not be quite as high, we know that the majority of citizens want this.  We knew it in 2014 when we had a telephone poll done and over 50% of those polled were for full legalization.  That percentage has grown immensely over the past 4 years.

    Why Georgia, Why?

    So the questions become, “Why aren’t Georgia Legislators listening? Why aren’t more of them vocally supporting in-State cultivation for medical purposes?  Why aren’t they getting on board with decriminalizing possession of one ounce or less?  Why is it necessary to arrest more than 24,000 people a year for possession?”

    Take Action!!

    Contact your legislators during this recess.  Reach out to them on their home turf.  Call, write, email.  Express your support for more rational marijuana laws.

    Contact your Republican and Democratic Party Chairs.  Discuss a straw poll with them.

    “When we are talking, we are winning”.  Sooner now, than later, they will have to listen to us.  The tide is turning in Georgia.

    Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, fighting for the rights of Georgian cannabis consumers. You can visit their website at www.peachtreenorml.org, follow their work on Facebook and Twitter, and please make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

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