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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 18, 2016

    personal_cultivationThe cumulative use of cannabis by adolescents has no direct effect on intelligence decline, according to longitudinal data published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota evaluated whether marijuana use was associated with changes in intellectual performance in two longitudinal cohorts of adolescent twins. Participants were assessed for intelligence at ages 9 to 12, before marijuana involvement, and again at ages 17 to 20.

    Researchers reported no dose-response relationship between cannabis use and IQ decline. They also found no significant differences in performance among marijuana using subjects when compared to their non-using twins.

    Investigators concluded: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose–response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”

    The findings follow the publication of a separate longitudinal study in the Journal of Pharmacology which concluded that cumulative adolescent marijuana use is not associated with lower IQ or poorer educational performance once adjustments are made for potential confounders, specifically cigarette smoking.

    An abstract of the study, “Impact of adolescent marijuana use on intelligence: Results from two longitudinal twin studies,” is online here.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel
    The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

    The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

    As we look forward to what should be a fantastically successful year for marijuana legalization, it is important that those of us who support legalization join arms and move forward in a unified manner. All political progress requires some measure of compromise, and legalizing marijuana is no exception.

    Each state that legalizes marijuana, at least during this early stage of legalization, will still need to revisit the topic within a couple of years to fix things not covered in the original proposal (e.g., employment and child custody issues). We will need to expand and perfect these early models. But we must not permit the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

    Supposed “Legalizers” Sometimes Opponents in Early States

    In the first group of states to legalized marijuana, we witnessed some of our own friends and colleagues opposing the initiative in their state, sometimes serving as the primary opponents to the proposal, when they had the opportunity to end prohibition and stop the arrest of smokers. Their justification was always the same: the specific legalization proposal was not good enough.

    Sometime their opposition was based on the failure of the initiative to permit home cultivation; sometimes it was because they opposed the DUID provisions; and sometimes they opposed the limits on the amount of marijuana one could legally possess or cultivate.

    NORML has always insisted that consumers have the right to grow their own marijuana; we have led the efforts to require a showing of actual impairment before someone is convicted of a DUID; and, as consumers, we would be delighted if we were allowed to possess or grow larger quantities of marijuana, without the risk of arrest. But those are all political goals that we will continue to push for; not excuses for opposing legalization proposals that are less than perfect.

    Is It Better Than Prohibition?

    The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

    While it is understandable that those who have invested their time and energy, and sometimes resources, to advance a specific legalization proposal would feel a vested interest in seeing that version be the one that advances to the ballot, what is most important is that one good legalization proposal qualify for the ballot, and that the legalization movement both in-state and nationwide come together to embrace and support that proposal.

    Although there have been competing versions of legalization advanced in most of the states where legalization is expected to appear on the ballot this November, there are encouraging signs that a consensus is forming in most of these states supporting one of the competing proposals, increasing the likelihood of ultimate success in November. There is still too much in-fighting in some of these states between different factions, but the trend looks positive.

    Maine

    In Maine, there were two competing initiatives (The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Legalize Maine), and the one with the best funding has now merged efforts with the one comprised primarily of local activists, even accepting their language for the initiative,. The result is an apparent unified effort assuring that only one legalization proposal will appear on the ballot this fall, one that has an excellent chance of being approved by the voters.

    This clearly required compromise from both groups, who were willing to make some concessions in the belief that the goal of legalizing marijuana was more important than the relatively minor differences between the two proposals. All parties should be commended.

    Massachusetts

    In Massachusetts, where there were two competing versions of legalization being circulated as potential voter initiatives, the qualifying process seems to have largely resolved the matter. One proposal, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, continues to meet the steps required to qualify for the ballot, and is expected to officially qualify shortly; while the other proposal, Bay State Repeal, the one that had been endorsed by the NORML affiliate in Massachusetts, MassCann/NORML, has failed to qualify. While not everyone previously involved with Bay State Repeal have agreed to support the remaining proposal, most have, suggesting the opposition in November will primarily come from the prohibitionists; not from disgruntled supporters of Bay State Repeal.

    That willingness to accept a partial victory, in order to end prohibition, is the crucial element for success. Our friends in MA deserve our thanks for doing the right thing.

    California

    In California, the ultimate prize in the marijuana sweepstakes, and the state most of us presumed would be the first to fully legalize marijuana, the sheer size of the state has in the past resulted in several competing legalization proposals being advanced by different interest groups, and prohibition has continued in place, albeit a version tempered by the “anyone qualifies” medical marijuana system. The same potential was in play over the last year in CA, with as many as 8 different versions of legalization being filed with the Secretary of State, and no assurance that anyone would be willing to compromise.

    But in fact, calmer heads prevailed this year in CA, with crucial leadership provided by Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and a consensus has now formed around a single proposal, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Once the sponsors were willing to accept some revisions in the language, the other leading effort, Reform CA, which enjoyed the support of CA NORML, agreed to withdraw its initiative, and most of the principles of that effort have now endorsed the Newsom effort. And it now appears likely California voters will approve marijuana legalization in November of 2016.

    Again, kudos to those who saw the big picture and were willing to accept some compromises in order to end prohibition.

    Nevada

    In Nevada, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol appears to have had a relatively unobstructed path to qualify for the ballot, without organized competition from other legalization supporters pushing their own version of legalization. That is a rare situation in the world of marijuana legalization today.

    Arizona

    Arizona may be the exception to the rule this year. While efforts were made to forge a general agreement on the terms of the legalization initiative, with early battles over whether to allow personal cultivation, there appears to exist a great deal of enmity between supporters of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and those supporting a competing proposal being circulated by Arizonans for Mindful Regulations, seeking fewer limitations.

    The differences may not seem terribly important from a distance, but both sides are digging in, with little indication anyone is willing to compromise. There have been some steps taken to bridge the two camps by local activists, including efforts by Arizona NORML, but the two sides appear far apart.

    The sometimes heated rhetoric and tactics between the competing factions has the potential to undermine a successful legalization effort in Arizona. Because the vote in Arizona appears to be close, it is most important that those who support marijuana legalization set aside their differences and agree to get legalization approved in the state. There will be time down the road, once the arrests have stopped, to come back and improve and expand these initial legalization provisions.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 15, 2016

    legalization_pollA majority of Americans, including two-thirds of Democrats, believe that marijuana should be legal for adults, according to nationwide survey data compiled by YouGov.com.

    Fifty-two percent of respondents said, “[T]he use of marijuana should be legalized.” Only 34 percent of respondents opposed the idea.

    Support for legalization was strongest among self-identified Democrats (66 percent), those with a household income of $100,000 or more (62 percent), and African Americans (59 percent). Support was weakest among Hispanics (39 percent), those over 65 years of age (39 percent), and self-identified Republicans (36 percent).

    Sixty-six percent of respondents agreed, “[G]overnment efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth,” while 62 percent said that the government should no longer enforce federal law in states that have legalized and regulated the plant’s use.

    Fifty-three percent of those surveyed, including 68 percent of respondents between the ages of 45 and 64, acknowledged having tried cannabis.

    The YouGov.com poll is the latest in a series of national surveys showing majority support among Americans for regulating the adult use of cannabis.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator

    chapter_spotlightLATEST NORML NEWS
    Everyday NORML Affiliates and Chapters from around the country invest countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels. To get involved in your area, please send an email to KevinM@NORML.org to get started today!

    Municipal and State

    Arizona
    “Mikel Weisser, new National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws state director, plans to rebuild Arizona’s fractured NORML in anticipation of a vote to legalize pot for adult use in November.”
    New Arizona NORML Director Committed To Fixing Fractured Marijuana Community

    California
    “Dale Gieringer, director of California’s NORML chapter, said a benefit of the loophole is that it has prompted jurisdictions to explore cultivation regulations sooner than they might have.”
    San Diego Rushes To Establish Rules On Marijuana Cultivation

    Illinois
    “Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), expressed to the Cannabis Career Institute the importance of leveraging the estimated $500 million hemp industry for domestic economic growth”
    Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About Illinois’ Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

    Minnesota
    “I’m glad that they’re taking that step,” Harcus said. “It moves us closer toward full legalization, which is really the only solution to end prohibition.”
    Proposal Would Sync Mpls. Marijuana Law With State

    Pennsylvania
    “Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML Patrick K. Nightingale challenged Board Member of Colorado NORML Chris Chiari to a friendly wager on the Steelers/Broncos game this coming weekend and the stakes are as you can say HIGH!”
    Pittsburgh NORML Bets Colorado NORML On Steelers/Broncos Game

    “According to Pittsburgh NORML, nearly 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year.  Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.”
    Pittsburgh Mayor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

    Texas
    “Members of the Southeast Texas NORML chapter met Thursday night to go over a new law across the state, the Compassionate Use Act.”
    Local Marijuana Reform Advocacy Group Plans Efforts for Upcoming Year

    Virginia
    “People who simply are arrested for possession without any evidence of violent behavior,” said Pamela Novy with Virginia NORML, a nonprofit aimed at reforming marijuana laws across the country.”
    8News Daily Poll: Should marijuana be decriminalized in Va.?

    Wyoming
    “Members of Wyoming NORML repeatedly have called for reforms to make the state’s initiative process easier on groups that are trying to get questions on the ballot.”
    Pushing an Issue May Get Even Tougher in Wyoming


    Federal

    “Does smoking cannabis pose similar dangers to lung health? According to a number of recent scientific findings, marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke vary considerably in their health effects.”
    What Are the Risks of Marijuana Smoke, Compared to Tobacco?

    “Marijuana consumers do not typically use cannabis and alcohol in combination with one another, regardless of whether they are consuming cannabis for medicinal or social purposesPeople Don’t Mix Alcohol & Marijuana as Often as You Might Think

    “NORML’s Armentano told MintPress that marijuana arrests have fallen in some states as a result of legalization or loosening of laws. At the same time, though, some states have seen increases in marijuana-related arrests — including Virginia”
    Clemency Is Not Enough: Thousands Still Imprisoned For Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes

    “Similarly, the DNC chair is no stranger to coddling up to Big Booze. Presently, representatives of the beer and wine industry rank as the fifth largest donor to Wasserman-Schultz’s re-election campaign. Until leading politicians wean themselves off booze, expect them to keep maligning pot.”
    Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug, So Why Do Leading Republicans and Democrats Say Otherwise?

    Events

    Pittsburgh NORML Bets Colorado NORML a Friendly Wager of Weed vs Whiskey
    Texas NORML’s 3rd Annual Puff-N-Putt Spring Fling at Willie’s Golf Course

    Kevin Mahmalji is NORML’s national outreach and chapter coordinator

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    whha-souzaAlcohol is typically the first substance consumed by individuals who report polydrug use later in life, according to data published this month in The Journal of School Health.

    Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of Florida, Gainesville evaluated drug use patterns from a nationally representative sample of 2,835 12th graders.

    Authors found that youth use of alcohol most often preceded the use of tobacco or marijuana. They also reported subjects’ age of alcohol initiation is the strongest predictor of later polydrug use.

    “Alcohol is the most commonly used substance, and the majority of polysubstance using respondents consumed alcohol prior to tobacco or marijuana initiation,” they reported. “Respondents initiating alcohol use in sixth grade reported significantly greater lifetime illicit substance use and more frequent illicit substance use than those initiating alcohol use in ninth grade or later.”

    They concluded, “Our results … assert that the earlier one initiates alcohol use, the more likely that they will engage in future illicit substance use.”

    The findings are inconsistent with recent claims made by several prominent lawmakers that cannabis is a ‘gateway’ to later substance abuse.

    Studies conducted by the RAND Corporation and others have previously dismissed any alleged causal role of marijuana as a gateway to subsequent illicit drug abuse, finding, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other drugs.”

    An abstract of the study, “Prioritizing Alcohol Prevention: Establishing Alcohol as the Gateway Drug and Linking Age of First Drink With Illicit Drug Use,” appears online here.

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