The way Nancy Grace on the HLN network screams about your baby sitter being on pot can make you think she is on crack. But the truth is she is not. She is in show business, knows a good topic, and can figure out how and when to run with it.
Last week she had three shows featuring the President of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. That would be me. Each time, she held the dump button, controlled the microphone, and was able to cut me off at will. No, that usually does not happen to me, but I was a guest on her show — in her court. But this is our issue. We live with facts. She sensationalizes fiction.
America has turned the corner on the possession of marijuana. No one wants it to be a crime anymore. Welcome to the party. You can now come out of the closet. Legalization, education and regulation have always made so much sense. It has worked with alcohol and tobacco and the use and consumption of both is down across America. I don’t want to fool you. It is not that the world is pro-weed. Everyone is just anti-prohibition.
The entire drug war has just been a jobs program for cops. Let them do real work and arrest criminals, not cannabis users. Nancy Grace chose to defend an indefensible topic that she is eventually going to lose. Her position was so histrionic in today’s America that Saturday Night Live did a spoof of her last weekend. Let’s face it. Pot smokers have become like the pods in the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ We are everywhere. We have taken control. Everyone who was in the closet about cannabis is coming out, from the President of the United States to the Democratic senator in Florida, a former astronaut, Bill Nelson.
Mind you, pot smokers and cannabis users have always been here, from Woodstock to Washington State. Many of you have been hiding behind closed doors, afraid to admit that you smoke. Whether you are a kid walking down Main Street in Middletown, USA, or a retiree living in Coral Gables, you smoke weed. Or someone you know does. And you know nothing the government has ever said about it is true. Reefer Madness, my ass! The only reefer madness has been the government’s prohibition against responsible personal consumption. We knew it was a farce then, and everyone is finally willing to say so now.
Legalization is not the experiment. Prohibition is, and it has failed dramatically. That cannabis is still illegal in 28 states stinks. Men with badges and guns can break down your doors, lock you up in steel cuffs, and bring you to jails where you are put in human cages. Legalization and regulation is so much safer. What you knew back when is still right today.
No more deals in dark alleys and no more cartels in criminal conspiracies. Let’s just have small businesses properly run, licensed and taxed, marketing the latest products and strains, from purple diesel to green kush. Free choice means Marlboros or Mary Jane; whiskey or weed. As long as you are an adult and not harming anyone, you must have the right to have your government stay the heck out of my life.
Our time is here. Light up your joint. Smoke where and when you want, but preferably not in an elementary schoolyard. Recreationally, medically, spiritually, everything tastes better with cannabis. Sex is better. Food is better. Watching Nancy Grace is easier. In fact, next time I do her show, I think I am going to get lit before the lights go on. How else do you come to grips with a delusional woman who is ranting about cab drivers smoking weed when every other person on the road seems to be a congressman on coke or mayor on meth?
The only time cannabis is dangerous is when a cop finds it on you. If Nancy Grace wants to be known as a victim’s rights advocate, let her speak up for over 29 million Americans that have been arrested for the possession of cannabis over the past 30 years. How crazy is that? And what does it say about how many have used it? Licensing, age controls, taxation, regulation, and an end to prohibition is so transparently the way to go.
It is not just that cannabis is not harmful; we have proven it medicinally invaluable. From treating muscular spasticity to glaucoma, marijuana is a healing alternative. Let’s live and let live. Let’s do no harm to each other. If we are concerned about drug abuse, treat the person and arrest the abuse. Don’t lock up the patient. We do not need any more pot prisoners.People like to say that cannabis is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and therefore it should be legalized because of that. No, it should be legalized because any abuses related to cannabis should be treated as a health or medical issue, not a criminal one.
No one has ever died from weed, but damn, society has seen its freedoms die away because of it. The criminal treatment of marijuana has opened the door to illegal seizures, outrageous forfeitures, massive fines, and unjust confiscations of personal property. We have sold our constitutional souls to arrest weed, and now it is time to free the leaf.
It is true that the majority of Americans now favor legalization of marijuana, and even more want decriminalization. One thing is sure, and that is we need to end criminalization. We have stood by and let people be wrongly placed in horrible jails with steel bars and strong locks, all to prevent them from consuming a substance that does them no harm. We have perpetuated an injustice. We owe it to ourselves to undo the hurt our deafening silence has caused.
We have harmed the fabric and freedoms our country held dear, discriminated unjustly against minorities, and denied to Americans the desires of its majority. There is no cannabis calamity or catastrophe in America. There is an awakening that will soon shine a soothing light on the rest of America, and with luck, one day, even Nancy Grace.
During his second inaugural address, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had some harsh words for our War on Drugs:
“We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse,” Governor Christie stated, “We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable.”
While critiques of the War on Drugs are always welcomed (Governor Christie had previously made similar statements), it is hard to take his comments seriously when you consider his record regarding sensible reforms to New Jersey’s marijuana laws.
The same day he was calling for an end to this failed policy, two pieces of legislation that would have made pragmatic changes to New Jersey’s marijuana laws were sitting on his desk awaiting signature. The first would have allowed state farmers to receive licenses for industrial hemp cultivation as soon as the federal government changed the national policy on the issue. The other, Senate Bill 1220, would have ensured patients enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program would be able to receive organ transplants and not be disqualified because of their medicinal use of cannabis. You would think that a governor who just stood at a podium and lambasted our prohibition as a failed policy, would immediately leave the stage and eagerly sign these pieces of legislation.
He didn’t. These two important measures sat on his desk, unsigned and were ultimately doomed to failure by Governor Christie’s pocket veto.
In the previous few years, Governor Christie declared that he would veto any legislation decriminalizing marijuana that came to his desk and also fought against rational reforms to the state’s medical marijuana program tooth and nail. He eventually capitulated slightly on the latter, but not before watering down many proposed amendments to the state’s program.
We appreciate the Governor’s sentiment and welcome him in joining the overwhelming majority of Americans who think the War on Drugs has failed, but his statements are merely political bluster until his rhetoric is matched by his actions. While the ensuing years (and continual rise in public support) will only lead to more politicians, both aspiring and those currently in power, joining us in our call for a new approach to marijuana, we must be vigilante. Actions speak louder than words. If Governor Christie (and President Obama for that matter) want the rubber to meet the road between their statements and actual public policy, they will need to follow these flowery words with legitimate action.
Atlanta, GA – A newly released poll found that over half of Georgia voters support a marijuana legalization policy similar to that of Colorado and Washington (54%), however that same report found that even larger majority supports decriminalization. 62% of respondents believe that the state should remove criminal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Only 32% were opposed. Interestingly, 56% of seniors, and republicans respectively, were among that nearly two-thirds majority.
The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) was commissioned by state affiliates of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Georgia NORML, and Peachtree NORML. Said Peachtree NORML’s Executive Director Sharon Ravert, “The citizens of Georgia agree, marijuana prohibition is a wasteful and destructive policy. It is time for our state to catch up with public opinion and find a more sensible solution to the status quo.” Peachtree NORML and other advocacy groups are working with lawmakers and various state coalition groups to amend Georgia’s criminal marijuana laws. In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.
Also of note, only 9% of respondents were millennials. This demographic is known to be overwhelmingly supportive of this issue, but their limited representation highlights the fact that there is significant support among other age groups. 71% of those questioned were between the ages of 30 and 65 which suggests that older generations, who are more likely to vote, are also strongly in favor of decriminalization. It’s clear that the widespread support for marijuana law reform in the traditionally conservative state of Georgia has grown to such an extent that it now reaches across all party lines, age groups and races.
“Though it may be surprising to some, these numbers are consistent with a growing trend of support for reform in the southern region of the country,” said Sabrina Fendrick NORML’s Outreach Coordinator for the southeastern region. Recent polls conducted in Louisiana and Oklahoma both show a majority of support (56% and 53% respectively) for a change in the law providing for a $100 fine without jail time for those who possess an ounce or less of marijuana. Said Fendrick, ”Everywhere you look you will see more and more people dissatisfied with the strict penalties associated with current marijuana laws, and an ever increasing number of southerners are ready for a sensible alternative to existing failed policies, including decriminalization.”
In a profile published online over the weekend in New Yorker magazine, President Barack Obama continued his softening towards marijuana legalization. In the interview, the president alluded to his own youthful marijuana consumption and clarified that, while he doesn’t believe it to be a healthy pastime and has discouraged his daughters from its use, it is a less dangerous substance than alcohol. President Obama also stated that current moves towards legalization are important experiments that can help end discriminatory arrest practices.
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” President Obama stated when asked about the growing public support for ending marijuana prohibition.
When asked to clarify if he thought it was “less dangerous,” Obama replied that he thought it was less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” He continued that “it’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do and African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” he stated, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.”
“It’s important for it [marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington] to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”
You can read the full article on the New Yorker’s website here.
Perhaps President Obama will continue to evolve and find himself on the right side of history when it comes to marijuana legalization. It would take just one simple Executive Order to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and help institute some real lasting change in our nation’s failed war on cannabis. At a minimum, these statements show just how far we have come from the “Just Say No” era of American politics.
After a heated and lengthy debate on the floor of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, the lower chamber of New Hampshire’s legislature today voted 170 to 162 in favor of House Bill 492, which seeks to legalize under state law the personal use and home cultivation of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older and establish regulations for the retail production and sale of cannabis.
The historic vote makes the New Hampshire House the first state legislative chamber to ever vote in favor of regulating cannabis.
House Bill 492 had initially received a “Ought Not to Pass” report from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. However, in New Hampshire legislative rules permit all House measures to receive floor votes by the full House. This afternoon, House lawmakers debated the measure for more than three hours before voting 170 to 168 to accept the committee report. But this was just the beginning.
Members of the House of Representatives voted 173 to 165 to reconsider their actions and hold a revote. On their second vote, a majority 170 members voted to reject the “Ought Not to Pass” report. House lawmakers then voted to adopt amendments to adjust minor details of the bill. More debate ensued, but when the final vote was held 170 voted in favor of approving HB492 as amended and sending it to and 162 voted in opposition.
“This vote is historic,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Today’s vote approving House Bill 492 is the first time a chamber of a state legislature has ever approved of legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for all adults. Fifty-eight percent of Americans support ending our prohibition on marijuana and the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ actions today signal that politicians are finally beginning to acknowledge the will of their constituents.”
Tax issues pertaining to the bill will now be debated by the House Ways and Means Committee. A second House floor vote is anticipated in the coming months. However, Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan has already stated her opposition to this measure.
NORML will keep you updated on this evolving situation.