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NORML Blog

  • by NORML September 2, 2017

    Marijuana researchRepresentative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow the Department of Justice to use funds from the bill to prevent or delay the approval of an application to research medical marijuana. This past year, the DEA moved to create a new procedure to license more facilities to cultivate marijuana for research after hearing concerns about the lack of quality cannabis for trials. However, since this implementation, the DEA has not acted on any of the applications that have been submitted since the creation of this program in an attempt to keep the already outrageous restrictions.

    “Because of marijuana’s draconian schedule 1 status, scientists are hindered in researching its medical potential — and then, because medical research is scarce, its schedule 1 status is upheld. It’s time to break this vicious cycle, and make it easier for researchers to investigate the potential medical uses of cannabis” said Rep. Gaetz. “How many lives throughout the nation could be improved with increased marijuana research — from cancer patients to veterans with PTSD? We do a disservice to them, and to all Americans, by limiting research. The time for change is now.”

    Because marijuana is listed as a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government does not see it as having any medicinal benefits. Trying to get the DEA to actually act upon these new applications to expand research is extremely difficult and it will be just as difficult to get the DEA accept them. If Gaetz’s proposed amendment is passed, it will make it harder for the DEA to deny these research applications.

    In a bipartisan letter, Representatives Gaetz, Rohrabacher (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), and Blumenauer (D-OR) ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop standing in the way of increasing research into marijuana’s medical potential. In the letter, the Representatives write “It is worrisome to think that the Department of Justice, the cornerstone of American civil society, would limit new and potentially groundbreaking research simply because it does not want to follow a rule.”

  • by NORML

    Marijuana ScienceCongressman Denny Heck (WA-10) with Representatives Perlmutter (CO-07), Lee (CA-13), and Titus (NV-01) have submitted two amendments to the financial services division to be included in the House appropriations bill. Both of these amendments focus on banking services for legal marijuana-related businesses and would be a temporary fix until the current legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, is passed into law.

    The first amendment prohibits any funds in the bill from being used to punish banks for serving marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The second amendment prohibits the Treasury from altering FinCEN’s guidance to financial institutions on providing banking services to legitimate marijuana businesses. These amendments, if included, would allow for legal marijuana-related business to operate according to state laws and enjoy access to the banking system.

    Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

    Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult use of marijuana and more than half the states have implemented medical marijuana laws, so it is both sensible and necessary to include these proposed amendments so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

    You can click here to send an email in support of the SAFE Banking Act to your federal elected officials now. 

  • by NORML August 31, 2017

    Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes NortonRep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has introduced an amendment to strike all four anti-home-rule riders from the House fiscal year 2018 District of Columbia Appropriations bill. This amendment would strike the riders that prohibit DC from spending its local funds on marijuana commercialization and on abortions for low-income women, as well as those that repeal D.C.’s medical aid-in-dying law, the Death with Dignity Act, and budget autonomy referendum. Norton’s marijuana amendment has already received bipartisan support in Congress and there should be no reason to prohibit DC from spending money in their local politics.

    In 2015, D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71, which legalized the cultivation and possession of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older. However, because D.C. cannot control its own budget, Congress was able to block the District from legalizing, taxing, and regulating the sale of marijuana. This lack of regulation of non-medical marijuana has caused D.C. to lose out on millions of dollars in tax revenue and hundreds of good jobs in the marijuana-market. Additionally, because residents cannot legally purchase non-medical marijuana, this has lead to more grey and black market sales. The District should have full control over its budget to implement and regulate the sale of marijuana.

    In a press release statement, Norton stated, “The anti-democratic interference in D.C.’s purely local affairs flies directly in the face of the oft touted Republican principle of local control, and I am making sure no Member gets a free pass on abusing congressional authority over the District. Republican Members from states where medical aid in dying and recreational marijuana are legal should particularly apply the same right of local autonomy that their states have used to the District of Columbia. In addition, I am prepared to fight any and all new anti-home-rule riders introduced by Republicans later this week. We will not be used as political fodder for overeager Members who would rather spend their time meddling in the District’s affairs than working on behalf of their own constituents.”

  • by NORML August 30, 2017

    Legalize marijuanaFirst, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of you who responded to NORML’s request to contact the American Automobile Association and urged them to “stop lying about marijuana legalization.”

    But even as public and media pressure grows, AAA affiliates are doubling down on their reefer madness rhetoric.

    At a recent AAA Texas-sponsored event, attendees were falsely told that drivers testing positive possess a 25-fold risk of accident compared to sober drivers. But the actual study cited by AAA concluded nothing of the sort. Rather, the study in question — conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — determined that THC-positive drivers possessed virtually no statistically significant risk of motor vehicle accident compared to drug negative drivers.

    Similarly, AAA Mid-Atlantic is continuing to distort the truth about cannabis. Despite having been provided with peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary, a recent reply by their Director of Public and Government Affairs office shows that the agency is refusing to listen to the facts with regard to cannabis regulation and traffic safety.

    “We are deeply concerned that lawmakers are considering the legalization of recreational marijuana,” the AAA’s response states. “AAA opposes the legalization … of marijuana for recreational use because of its negative traffic safety implications.”

    Yet, recent studies of federal crash data find that changes in the legal status of cannabis are not associated with a rise in traffic fatalities – and, in some instances, regulating cannabis has been associated with a reduction in deadly motor vehicle crashes.

    Send AAA the facts in a message now

    Nonetheless, AAA Mid-Atlantic opines, “The problem of drugged driving … will only get worse if [a] state legalizes it for recreational use.”

    AAA further argues that a 2015 Governors Highway Safety report finds that “drugs were present in … fatally-injured drivers with known test results, appearing more frequently than alcohol.” However, AAA fails to acknowledge that the Governors report was primarily highlighting a rise in the presence of prescription medications and over-the-counter medications in fatally injured drivers. As acknowledged by the paper’s authors: “For this report, a drug is any substance that can impair driving. There are four categories of drugs: illegal drugs, legal non-medical drugs, prescription medications, [and] over-the counter medicines.” The Governors’ report also fails to identify whether the drug-positive drivers identified by the study were either impaired at the time of the crash or even culpable for the accident.

    Further, the Governors’ report has fallen under scathing public criticism from other traffic safety groups, including MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), who publicly repudiated its interpretations. “There is no way you can say that drugs have overtaken alcohol as the biggest killer on the highway,” MADD responded. “The data is not anywhere close to being in a way that would suggest that.”

    They’re correct. Specifically, a 2014 review of US fatal traffic accident data by researchers at the Pacific Research Institute in Maryland reported definitively that alcohol remains a greater contributor to crash risk than all other drugs combined, concluding: “Alcohol was not only found to be an important contributor to fatal crash risk, … it was associated with fatal crash risk levels significantly higher than those for other drugs. … The much higher crash risk of alcohol compared with that of other drugs suggests that in times of limited resources, efforts to curb drugged driving should not reduce our efforts to pass and implement effective alcohol-related laws and policies.”

    If we are going to achieve sane policy solutions in regards to cannabis reform, it is essential that we call out those who seek to deceive the public, even if we appreciate their roadside assistance.

    Take Action:

    Tell AAA to stop spreading disinformation on the impacts of legalization.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 29, 2017

    oil_bottlesOn Regulations.Gov, right now, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is soliciting public comments with regard to the therapeutic utility and abuse liability of various controlled substances, including cannabidiol (CBD).

    The agency will consider these comments prior to preparing a formal response to the World Health Organization, which is considering placing the substances within their international drug scheduling code.

    Now, to be frank, it’s a little silly that the FDA is seeking public comment on a topic that would normally be judged based on the merits of evidence-based science and data. But prohibition itself would be considered silly if not for the detrimental effects of a criminal record and lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

    That being said, cannabidiol is defined by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I controlled substance, despite:

    • Its therapeutic properties and lack of abuse potential, despite the safety trials which have determined the substance to be non-toxic and well-tolerated in human subjects
    • Seventeen states explicitly recognizing by state-law that CBD as a therapeutic agent
    • The head of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse publically acknowledging that CBD is “a safe drug with no addictive effects” 

    So a request for public comment should never go unfulfilled. So we made it incredibly easy for you to do so.

    CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT FORMAL COMMENTS TO THE FDA NOW

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