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Legalization

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 23, 2018

    Members of the California Assembly and Senate have approved legislation to facilitate the review and expungement of past marijuana convictions.

    Assembly members approved the bill, AB 1793, by a vote of 43 to 28, while members of the Senate passed the measure by a vote of 28 to 10. The legislation now awaits final action by Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown.

    If enacted, the measure “would require the Department of Justice, before July 1, 2019, to review the records in the state summary criminal history information database and to identify past convictions that are potentially eligible for recall or dismissal of sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation pursuant to AUMA (the Adult Use Marijuana Act).” Prosecutors would have up to a year to then expunge the conviction.

    Regulators estimate that some 220,000 cases would be eligible for erasure or a reduction under the law.

    To date, district attorney offices in a number of California cities and counties, including San Francisco and San Diego, have voluntarily moved to review and expunge past cannabis convictions.

    Elected officials in Oregon and Massachusetts have enacted similar expungement laws following the enactment of adult use legalization.

    If you reside in California, you can encourage Gov. Brown to sign AB 1793 into law by clicking here.

  • by NORML August 22, 2018

    Legalize MarijuanaNearly two-thirds of New Jersey voters support legalizing the adult use of marijuana and expunging past criminal convictions associated with the substance, according to statewide polling data released today by Quinnipiac University.

    Sixty-two percent of voters say that they support allowing adults “to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” Support is strongest among voters ages 18 to 34 years of age (90 percent) and Democrats (78 percent). Support was weakest among Republicans (41 percent) and those voters over the age of 65 (46 percent).

    “New Jersey legislators must support the will of their constituents and approve legislation to legalize and regulate adult marijuana use in New Jersey,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.

    He added: “New Jersey holds the dubious distinction of ranking second in the nation in per capita annual marijuana arrests. This policy disproportionately impacts young people of color, violates civil liberties, and is an egregious waste of public resources that can be reprioritized elsewhere. The people of New Jersey are ready to end this failed prohibition and move toward the sensible policy of legalization and regulation. State lawmakers should not make them wait any longer.”

    Sixty-three percent of voters also say that they support “erasing criminal records for marijuana possession.” Once again, those voters ages 34 and younger were most supportive of the changes (81 percent), as were Democrats (74 percent).

    The new polling data comes just days after Senate President Steve Sweeney publicly announced that leadership has likely secured sufficient support in both chambers to pass an adult use legalization reform act.

    Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on a pledge to reform the state’s marijuana policies, and yesterday reiterated his hopes to sign legislative reforms by the end of this year. In his spring budget address, Gov. Murphy said: “Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities – especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided war on drugs – in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs, and other critical areas. …. [F]rom the standpoint of social justice, and from the standpoint of protecting our kids and lifting up our communities, I could not arrive at any other conclusion.”

    In July, the state’s Attorney General has called on county and municipal prosecutors to suspend marijuana-related prosecutions until early September.

  • by NORML

    Marijuana use by adolescents continues to decline in California, according to statewide data provided by the California Healthy Kids Survey, a biennial survey funded by the Departments of Health and Education.

    Among 7th graders, 4.2 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 7.9 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-47 percent). Among 9thgraders, 17.4 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 23.1 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-25 percent). Among 11th graders, 31.9 percent reported ever having used cannabis during the years 2015 to 2017, as compared to 37.9 percent during the years 2013 to 2015 (-16 percent).

    “These initial reports confirm that legalizing and regulating cannabis doesn’t increase youth marijuana use, but rather it has the opposite effect,” said Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML. “The fact that the biggest drop in reported use came from younger age groups is a particularly encouraging indicator of the success of regulation.”

    “It’s time to stop trying to ‘send a message’ to young people about drugs and instead implement sound, science-based policies that best protect our children and public safety, along with our privacy and human rights,” concluded Komp.

    The percentage of teens reporting using cannabis multiple times and/or repeatedly within the past 30 days also declined for all age groups.

    California law legalized the adult use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by adults in November of 2016. Retail adult use marijuana sales did not go into effect until January 1, 2018.

    The findings are consistent with those of other studies and surveys from other states finding that the enactment of adult marijuana use laws is not associated with upticks in young people’s use of marijuana or access to the substance.

    Full text of the study, “School Climate, Substance Use, and Well-being Among California Students: 2015-2017,” appears online here.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 21, 2018

    Just a few weeks after Delaware NORML made the trek down to Washington DC, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) cosponsored The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act (S. 3174), far-reaching legislation that would end the federal prohibition of marijuana and provide resources to expunge the criminal records of those who suffer the collateral consequences of a possession charge.

    Send a message to your Senators now and tell them to cosponsor the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act NOW! 

    Given the public support for outright legalization in Delaware has regularly polled with over 60% support in the First State and across the country, public support is in the low to mid 60 percent range, Senator Carper’s new-found commitment to reform represents another important mile-marker on the highway to victory.

    As states continue moving forward with ending their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied, and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation. Crucial aspects of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act include funding to provide record expungements, funding for small entrepreneurs through the Small Business Administration paid for by the taxes on the existing industry, and other provisions.

    With the addition of Senator Carper, there are now 10 Senators on the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act and 13 out of 100 Senators are declared in support of descheduling legislation (including the Marijuana Justice Act). An additional 7 Senators support of the States Act, which would create an exemption in the Controlled Substances Act to protect states that have reformed.

    This is in contrast to the last congressional session when there was only one bill to deschedule marijuana from the CSA, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders which none of his colleagues had the foresight to cosponsor.

    Send a message to your Senators now and tell them to cosponsor the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act NOW! 

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 20, 2018

    The establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries within close proximity of schools does not make teens more susceptible to using marijuana, according to data published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

    Researchers from UC San Diego examined the association between the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in school neighborhoods and teen use patterns in California. They reported: “The distance from school to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary was not associated with adolescents’ use of marijuana in the past month or susceptibility to use marijuana in the future, nor was the weighted count of medical marijuana dispensaries within the 3-mi band of school. Neither the product price nor the product variety in the dispensary nearest to school was associated with marijuana use or susceptibility to use. The results were robust to different specifications of medical marijuana measures.”

    Authors concluded, “We did not find empirical support of the associations of medical marijuana availability, price, and product variety around schools with adolescents’ marijuana use and susceptibility to use … in the future.”

    The paper’s findings are consistent with prior studies finding that the prevalence of cannabis retailers is not positively associated with increases in either teen marijuana use or access.

    The abstract of the study, “Medical marijuana availability, price, and product variety, and adolescent’s marijuana use,” appears here. The NORML fact-sheet, “Societal Impact of Cannabis Dispensaries/Retailers,” appears online here.

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