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  • by Sabrina Fendrick July 16, 2012

    Follow the NORML Women’s Alliance on Facebook and Twitter

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  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director June 26, 2012

    At NORML, we’re always a little hesitant to broadly publicize the plights of what are hundreds of thousands of victims annually of Cannabis Prohibition laws. NORML’s snail mail overflows daily with letters and pleas of help from our brothers and sisters incarcerated on cannabis-only related offenses and while the organization replies to all with 1) support and encouragement for them to keep persevering, 2) affirming to them that America’s cannabis laws are overly harsh and punitive, and 3) that their legal plight is recognized and, in turn, fodder to help educate the public, media and elected policymakers on the crucial need to immediately and forever end Cannabis Prohibition in America.

    Below is an email I received yesterday from a mother traveling from California to Texas, who, unfortunately chose a travel route that exposed her to a federal government law enforcement checkpoint on the highway that resulted in her arrest, detention and now prosecution for possessing a small amount of medical cannabis (specifically hash). These very legally questionable federal roadblocks are done under the guise of ‘immigration control’ ensnare thousands of cannabis consumers annually on nothing but minor possession charges.

    Fortunately, she was able to make bail and post a bond, otherwise, she would still be in the local jail…and self-evidently would not be reaching out online for assistance and guidance.

    The account below is an unedited first person description of what they experienced, witnessed and heard when they became one of America’s approximate 820,000 annual arrests for a minor cannabis-related charge.

    My personal reply follows…

    Please join and support NORML and local NORML chapters to help reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws and to provide help and support to the victims of this long-suffering and wasteful public policy.

     

    Hi Allen,

    I just wanted to make you aware of an encounter I had with Border Patrol in TX and Hudspeth County Jail. It’s sort of a very rough account of my dealings. I’m being charged with a third degree felony for PCOS of hashish. I’m a CA resident and not that is matters, I have a dr’s recommendation for the state of CA.

    On Tuesday June 12th I was on my way to pick up my son from Fort Worth, TX. He had been visiting with his grandparents the past 3 weeks. Heading around the bend of a mountain about 200 or so miles into Texas I spotted a permanent border patrol checkpoint. As soon as you turn the corner there are cameras pointed at your car, dogs walking up and down, and men with the border patrol stalking you.

    As soon as I reached the front of the line they were alerted to my vehicle. I was asked to step out of my car and to grab my driver’s license after being asked if I’ve ever traveled through Texas before. The men and dogs tore through my vehicle as I was questioned and informed that I was under arrest for “narcotics.”

    They took me into the border patrol building, without handcuffing. They filled out some paperwork and about an hour and a half after I was arrested I was read my miranda rights. I was thrown into a cage in the building and left to sit for about 7 hours. I was told a few times that the sheriff was on his way to pick me up.

    The sheriff then took me away from the room I had been held in, asked me if that was my car parked out there, which I replied “yes,” and then I was put in the passenger seat of his car, again without handcuffs. The 5 minute drive seemed like eternity. Being in the mercy of this man with guns whose car smelled of burnt cannabis and hashish. I felt the corruption as soon as I sat in his car. I looked over at the time, it was about 10:30 pm.

    When we arrived to the jail we both stepped out of the car and walked in. I was told to dress and give them my personal belongings that I had on me: cell phone, id, and $21. While I was dressing I over heard a woman night guard speak to the sheriff, “We’ve been getting a ton of phone calls for her and it’s been annoying. We should throw her into solitary.” The sheriff and others laughed. I couldn’t tell if he had agreed until I was indeed thrown into a cage marked as solitary.

    I looked around the filthy room, full of used feminine products, hair, dirt, and all sorts of debris. The room was lacking a bed roll, toilet paper, a blanket, and a cup. I asked several times to be provided with these items as I had been awake since 4 am that day and was extremely exhausted. Everytime I was met with the same thing, “when we get you booked.” What seemed like a few hours later I begged for toilet paper and a cup. After another hour of so I was provided with toilet paper and a cup filled with ice that I thought must have come from the male urinal. The next few hours I attempted to sleep on the metal bed frame with the toilet paper under my neck for support. I was shivering from the cold cell and lack of clothing.

    A few hours after falling asleep I was woken up with a yell, “hey, get up.” I was then booked into the jail. I looked over at the digital clock in the room the guards were in: 3:45 am. A few more snide remarks were made about the phone calls as they asked me questions, took my hand prints, picture, and I filled out paperwork with them. One of the forms I filled out stated it was an acknowledgement that I received my bedroll, toilet paper, cup, spoon, blanket, etc. When I told the man those were items I hadn’t received yet, he said that I would obtain them when I reached my cell block.

    After I was booked, I was taken to the cell block. Provided with a mattress, blanket, cup and spoon. I took the toilet paper from solitary.

    The next day I asked every few hours when I was to be arraigned. I was told between 9am and 1pm. The female guard had told me it would more likely be around 1pm because the magistrate shows up later than sooner, usually.

    1pm comes and goes. I get anxious and start asking the guards every 30 minutes when I was going to be arraigned. I kept getting told it would be a bit longer. It was about 3pm that I was arraigned by the magistrate. She had made a comment when she heard about the phone calls from my friends that she should have held me for 72 hours before seeing me. I told her, “My friends don’t like when peaceful people are caged.” She didn’t reply.

    I immediately called my husband and asked him to bail me out. I had been away from my son for 3 weeks and I was afraid of any further mistreatment. My bailiff showed up around 4 pm and paid the bail. I kept asking when I was going to be released and was ignored for 2 hours. I find out after that, the reason for their delay, my clothing had been lost. I was furious and couldn’t stop sobbing. I was released about 7:30 pm to my bailiff when my clothing finally showed up. She took me to a motel room and I slept for the night after a hot shower.

    As of this date, I have not received any more information regarding a court date. I’m unprepared financially and with knowledge to fight this. Any help you can provide would be great, even if it’s spreading the story about my horrible treatment over a healing plant.

     

     

    Hello X,

    Thanks for your email, though I’m sorry to read of the circumstances that precipitate your communication.

    Indeed, every 38 seconds in America, a cannabis consumer is arrested (850,000/year…90% for possession only). I’m not entirely sure post-arrest what practical help NORML can be as 1) you’re correct that a recommendation for medical cannabis use from CA holds no legal sway in TX, 2) there are thousands of drivers/passengers a year harassed/arrested by law enforcement checkpoints in CA, AZ, NM and TX (the ones in TX have nabbed Willie Nelson and other celebrities too), 3) It is not clear what if any legal defense one can employ to challenge the search as, for the most part, these searches are deemed legally conducted by local and regional judges (and the dogs’ smell abilities are not much in question).

    NORML has a few dozen members who’re also lawyers in TX…and you might want to contact one or more of them to inquire 1) what if any possible legal challenges are availed to you and 2) if there is no viable and/or cost effective way to challenge the search in court, then to try to mitigate the possible negative legal outcomes as much as possible is probably the best course (ie, plea bargain, drug court, etc….).

    http://norml.org/lawyers/tx

    Also, you might want to be in touch with NORML chapters in TX too:

    http://norml.org/chapters/tx

    I’ve CCd NORML’s Legal Counsel to see if he has any further ideas or suggestions.

    Your writing about a terrible event that has happened to you during this period of Cannabis Prohibition in TX is extremely well written and articulate. Thank you again for sharing what has happened to you, which only affirms the need for law reform groups like NORML to succeed in ending Cannabis Prohibition. And, please be in touch with local NORML chapters and lawyers in TX to maximize your information base, so that you and your family make the most prudent decision to get this Prohibition-related nightmare behind you…and to look to a future where you too help change these misguided laws as a genuine stakeholder.

    Kind regards,

    Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    Member, Board of Directors
    NORML / NORML Foundation

    1600 K St., NW
    Mezzanine
    Washington, D.C. 20006


  • by Sabrina Fendrick June 18, 2012

    [In response to the AP article “Easing of State Marijuana Laws Poses Challenge for Parents”]

    No one can deny that the number one goal of a parent is for his or her children to grow up healthy, and be able to make responsible decisions about everything from their friendships and lifestyle, to their safety.  Parents do this by sitting down and having open honest conversations about issues that will inevitably affect them in the future.

    Education gives children the tools and understanding to help them cope with the challenges they have already experienced, and will continue to face further down the road.  Creating a government regulated system for marijuana legalization, which will include everything from age limits to promotional and advertising restrictions (and obviously impaired driving regulations), will actually help parents address this issue with their kids.  Several studies have already shown that states with regulated marijuana programs have not seen an increase in teen use.  Some have even seen a decrease in pot use among their youth population.

    The prohibition of marijuana sends the message “marijuana is morally wrong” and implies that there is no such thing as a responsible marijuana consumer.  This ignorant policy improperly allows the government to interfere in the parent’s job of teaching their kids about moderation and responsibility.  Scare tactics and rhetoric are disingenuous and do not help children understand the realities of the world we live in.

    It is socially acceptable for parents, alcohol distributors, and even the government to teach children about safe drinking practices (with a full understanding that alcohol is directly responsible for thousands of deaths every year), and the state regulation of marijuana will allow parents and educators do the same for the plant (whose non-lethal and relatively harmless side effects inevitably make the latter substance the safer choice).

    We did not have to outlaw cigarettes to reduce the use among minors. A policy of education and regulation (not prohibition) has created an environment in which cigarette usage has fallen to an all time low.  The same goes for alcohol.  A sustained and concerted effort on responsible drinking practices by the government, alcohol companies and educational institutions have driven teen alcohol use down to a record low as well, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey.  Age restrictions, government regulation and education have proven to be one of the most effective elements in reducing youth access to adult-only recreational substances.  None of these controls apply to marijuana.

    As it currently stands, marijuana is illegal and sold on the black market to anyone willing to pay for it.  Drug dealers don’t ID.  Today, young people report that they have easier access to illicit marijuana than to legal beer or cigarettes.  This is because the latter is legally limited to adults only.

    Children need accurate information to make informed decisions. They need to be educated on how consuming marijuana can effect their body’s development specifically, and how to reduce any harms associated with its use – as well as how to distinguish between use and abuse.  Just as it is socially acceptable for parents to speak with their children openly about their use of alcohol, with an emphasis on that fact that it is only appropriate for adults in moderation, the legalization of marijuana will allow parents to openly discuss their (possible) past or current use and be able to objectively and rationally speak to their children about pot.  The controlled regulation of marijuana will send a message of moderation and responsible use.  It will also undercut the black market, which in turn will reduce teen access.  It’s as simple as that, and it’s a win-win for everybody.

     

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    Twitter.com/normlwomen

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  • by Sabrina Fendrick June 1, 2012

    The NORML Women’s Alliance has been growing at an unprecedented rate.  Women have been organizing around the country, targeting the female demographic and spreading the word of marijuana law reform.  The enthusiasm for this NORML Foundation program has crossed the border and gone international. The Women’s Alliance has become the latest sensation for marijuana law reformers in Canada, and is spreading like wildfire across the territories. From Vancouver to Toronto, the NORML Women’s Alliance has brought together an amazing group of strong, empowered, like-minded women.

    In early May, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada had the honor of serving as one of this year’s Grand Marshals for the Global Marijuana March.  Along with Jodie Emery and other well-known Canadian marijuana figures, the women of NORML lead 20,000 people through the streets of Toronto in support of marijuana law reform.They dressed up in 1920s and 1930’s costumes and were followed by a vintage car of the same era, so as to make a clear connection to America’s ill-fated alcohol prohibition, and women’s role in ending that failed policy.  The goal was to reenact a similar campaign image put on by the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, which has since become a staple image for reformers today.

    Just last week, our Canadian Sisters were invited to have a presence at the annual Treating Yourself Expo of 2012, a three-day event that brought tens of thousands of people to the Toronto Convention Center.  The women were not only given the opportunity to hand out literature, several of them were even invited to speak on a panel about the purpose and significance of the NORML Women’s Alliance.  This panel featured an amazing group of leaders including Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture Magazine, NORML Women’s Alliance Coordinator of Canada, Kelly Coulter, Andrea Matrosovs, Lisa MamaKind Kirkman, Joanne Baker, Loretta Clarck and Sandra Colasanti.  Keep up the great work ladies!

    Check out the videos below the fold.
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  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 26, 2012

    Over the last five years there have been numerous media reports about the anecdotal use of cannabis to help autistic children. Two brave women, one on the east coast the other the west, have been at the forefront of this effort to help scientifically explain why cannabis appears to be so helpful. Marie Myung-Ok Lee wrote about her experience in Rhode Island, a state with medical cannabis laws, in 2009. Soon after, inspired by Marie’s writings, Mieko Perez Hester and her son had a similarly positive experience with treating his autism in California. Mieko, soon after going public about their experience, was invited onto ABC’s Good Morning America.

    The reply from parents around the country to these charter members of the NORML Women Alliance experience as parents using cannabis as a therapy for their autistic children has been overwhelming and inspired the need to perform proper scientific research to possibly develop cannabinoid-based treatments for autism in both children and adults.

    To help accomplish this Mieko established The Unconventional Foundation for Autism (UF4A), which is asking the NORML community of hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers and patients to help with a scientific survey today.

    The NORML community has joined UF4A in this remarkable journey and fight, and has offered to help solicit feedback through the survey.

    Target: Persons on the autism spectrum currently using or interested in using cannabis as a safe and effective medication to treat autism.

    With more than 1 in 88 children affected, autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.  Currently, there is no medical detection or cure for autism; however, there are pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatments that have proven to be effective in treating the condition. Among the safest and most remarkable is the therapeutic use of medical cannabis.

    Amidst a highly controversial setting, one California mother is sharing her autistic son’s triumphant and life-saving journey with the world.  Single mother of three, Mieko Hester Perez was watching her young son, Joey, succumb to various combinations of 13 different prescription drugs that ravaged his body and internal organs.  Joey weighed only 46 pounds, and was in a battle for his life.  

    Read more: www.uf4a.org

    In 2009, The Unconventional Foundation for Autism (UF4A) was formed. UF4A is lighting a path in hopes that others may benefit from alternative therapies that may be available to other families on the Autism Spectrum. Mieko helped create a survey to help solidify and amplify her results and the level of help the Foundation can provide.

    At UF4A, we believe providing the most accurate information to medical professionals for research purposes will pave the way for clinical trials for unconventional treatments.

    We seek to solidify and further the fundamental understanding we have in regards to the effectiveness of cannabis alleviating symptoms along the Autism Spectrum. The information collected in the survey will be used to further guide families, new patients, doctors and lawmakers in making informed and proper decisions for themselves and our community.

    SURVEY LINK:
    If this survey applicable to you or a loved one, we invite you or them to fill out the form UF4A Treatment of Persons on the Spectrum with Cannabis. To fill out the survey, click here.

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