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NORML Blog

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director October 1, 2014

    A genuinely early and respected voice against the war on some drugs passed away Friday, September 19 in California.

    Joe McNamara was a former police chief in Kansas City and San Jose who, in the late 1980s, started to both write and lecture about the need for substantive changes in law enforcement practices (and that the law enforcement community and establishment inherently should SUPPORT drug law policy reform, not reflexively oppose it).

    Joe is often credited with being the ‘father of community policing’.

    When I first arrived at NORML in 1991, I devoured everything Joe wrote about the drug war. His efforts are clearly the sui generis of one of the most important drug policy reform organizations today—Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).norml_remember_prohibition_

    His arguments were so persuasive and fact driven (he was as highly educated as he was a decorated police officer) that, in time, I came to see him as the proxy editorial voice for ‘legalization’ at a hugely important and politically influential newspaper—the Wall Street Journal. He spoke to the concerns the editorial board is unfortunately still to date too timid to publicly express under their own byline. His affiliation with the Hoover Institution at Stanford only enhanced his credibility in the eyes of WSJ editors.

    Joe was able to breakthrough with ‘conservatives’ on the need to end cannabis prohibition like few others have (i.e., William F. Buckley).

    It was in reading the WSJ last week that I learned of Joe’s passing…

    Joe gave great, revealing, informed and prescient lectures at NORML, Drug Policy Foundation/Drug Policy Alliance, Cato Institute and other public policy conferences and seminars. I personally enjoyed conversing with him whenever, about whatever. He had much to share.

    Passing at the age of 79, Joe lived what can readily be described as a full life, and that his intelligent and law enforcement reform advocacy, driven by decades of tough and challenging field police work, will live long after his days among us.

    Joe McNamara RIP!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 30, 2014

    A new Maryland law depenalizing marijuana possession offenses takes effect this Wednesday.

    Senate Bill 364, signed into law this past April, amends statewide penalties for marijuana possession offenses involving ten grams or less from a criminal misdemeanor (presently punishable by arrest, up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a criminal record) to a non-arrestable, non-criminal, fine-only offense ($100 fine for first-time offenders, $250 for second-time offenders).

    The new law does not reclassify penalties involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, which remains a criminal offense.

    A 2013 ACLU analysis of state-by-state marijuana arrests data reported that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the nation.

    Nearly 20 additional states, as well as the District of Columbia, now classify minor marijuana possession as a non-arrestable offense.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel September 29, 2014

    I recently had the pleasure of attending the 25th annual Boston Freedom Rally, the two-day celebration of marijuana and protest against marijuana prohibition, held on the Boston Common each September sponsored by MassCann/NORML, the NORML state affiliate in Massachusetts.

    I have been attending this event since the mid-1990s, and always look forward to spending time with tens of thousands of like-minded people on the historic Boston Common, enjoying the New England autumn.

    The Boston Common is the oldest public park in America, consisting of 50 acres of land in the heart of the city, at the southern foot of Beacon Hill, the site of the Massachusetts Statehouse, and it enjoys a storied past.

    Go to Marijuana.com to read the balance of this column.

     

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 25, 2014

    The administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, is associated with improved quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease, according clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

    Investigators at the University of São Paulo in Brazil assessed the efficacy of CBD versus placebo in 21 subjects with Parkinson’s. Authors reported that the administration of 300 mg doses of CBD per day was associated with “significantly different mean total scores” in subjects’ well-being and quality of life compared to placebo.

    Separate assessments of CBD versus placebo reported that the cannabinoid did not appear to mitigate general symptoms of the disease, nor was it shown to be neuroprotective.

    “This study points to a possible effect of CBD in improving measures related to the quality of life of PD patients without psychiatric comorbidities,” investigators concluded. They added, “We found no statistically significant differences concerning the motor symptoms of PD; however, studies involving larger samples and with systematic assessment of specific symptoms of PD are necessary in order to provide stronger conclusions regarding the action of CBD in PD.”

    Clinical reports have previously indicated that both CBD and/or whole-plant cannabis may address various symptom’s of Parkinson’s disease, including improvement in motor symptoms, pain reduction, improved sleep, and a reduction in the severity of psychotic episodes.

    Survey data of patients with PD indicates that almost half of all subjects who try cannabis report experiencing subjective relief from the plant.

    The abstract of the study, “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: An exploratory double-blind trial,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 23, 2014

    Legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis in the United States would yield over $3 billion in annual tax revenue, according to an analysis published this week by the personal finance website, NerdWallet.com.

    Authors provided a state-by-state economic analysis, taking into account available data estimating marijuana use rates (for those age 25 and older), cannabis market size, and state and local tax rates. Researchers also assumed a flat, 15 percent excise tax on commercial marijuana production. (This excise tax rate is presently imposed in Colorado.)

    Based on existing market projections, California would gain the largest amount of annual tax revenue ($519,287,052) were commercial cannabis production and sales to be legalized for adults. Other top tax revenue generating states include: New York ($248,103,676), Florida ($183,408,640), Texas ($166,303,963), and Illinois ($126,107,360).

    Washington, which began allowing retail cannabis sales this summer, is estimated to reap some $119,000,000 in annual tax revenue, according to the study’s projections. Colorado, which has allowed retail cannabis sales since January 1, 2014, is estimated to gain some $78,000,000 in annual revenue.

    Revenue projections for all 50 states are available online here.

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