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NORML Blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 11, 2015

    Members of the United States Senate Appropriations Committee voted by a margin of 2 to 1 today in favor of language limiting the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed operations that are acting in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states. The provision was offered as an amendment by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.

    The Senate amendment mirrors language approved by the House last week in their version of the CJS bill.

    Passage of the provision reauthorizes protections signed into law last year, but which are set to expire this September.

    A vote by the full Senate and reconciliation with the House is necessary before the 2016 spending bill is transmitted to the President.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel June 10, 2015

    6_8_NORMLK.StroupPortrait_zThe anti-marijuana zealots in this country have always been entertaining, but I have lately noticed the appearance of some new defenders of prohibition, making Reefer Madness claims reminiscent of the earliest years of prohibition.

    Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was the principal architect of the Reefer Madness strategy aimed at demonizing marijuana and marijuana smokers.

    In the American Magazine in 1937, in an article entitled “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth,” he wrote:

    “An entire family was murdered by a youthful addict in Florida. When officers arrived at the home, they found the youth staggering about in a human slaughterhouse. With an axe he had killed his father, mother, two brothers, and a sister. He seemed to be in a daze… He had no recollection of having committed the multiple crimes. The officers knew him ordinarily as a sane, rather quiet young man; now he was pitifully crazed. They sought the reason. The boy said that he had been in the habit of smoking something which youthful friends called ‘muggles’ a childish name for marijuana.”

    While today we all laugh when we read those words, at the time the average citizen knew almost nothing about marijuana, nor did members of Congress, and it was with that absurd and uninformed mindset that Congress passed marijuana prohibition with little debate in 1937.

    Today no rational person would treat those claims as serious or credible. Millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens smoke marijuana responsibly with no harm to themselves or anyone else, and the average citizen is far more familiar with marijuana and understand it is a mild intoxicant that is far less dangerous than alcohol, and should be similarly legalized and regulated.

    Yet the clowns keep coming out of the circus car, one after another.

    In one recent example, media curmudgeon Ben Stein published a column on the right-wing website The American Spectator, entitled “Marijuana Is A Cancer.” From that incredible start (ironic in light of research suggesting THC is helpful in treating several types of cancer), Stein describes a 27-year-old unnamed family friend whom he says has destroyed his life because of his marijuana smoking.

    “Marijuana ate this young man’s soul. It was very much like that movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where space aliens invade the bodies of humans. I have never known any chronic user of the chronic whose ambitions and good sense have not been either demolished or very substantially lessened by the use of the weed. It is eating up the soul of the nation altogether.”

    And in case anyone did not yet understand his views on marijuana, Stein added: “The most bitter enemies of the United States could not have imagined a more wicked attack on a society based on individual initiative than the mass use of marijuana. To think we have a President in favor of its legalization, a Mayor of Gotham who is a huge proponent of the poison, a rap culture that celebrates this vile poison, is heart breaking.”

    How’s that for trying to out-do Anslinger!

    But Stein is not the only alarmist resurrecting the Anslinger rhetoric.

    In March of this year drug advisor and televangelist Pat Robertson opined on marijuana on his CBN program “The 700 Club,” saying marijuana smoking is “slavery to vegetables.” According to Robertson “Cocaine is the product of a vegetable, alcohol is the product of a vegetable, marijuana is a vegetable. … And yet, people are enslaved to vegetables,” adding God could set you free from this vegetable slavery.

    Thank God we have the guidance of Robertson to help us fight this new scourge of vegetable addiction!

    Apparently it is circus season, and we can only look forward to more of these clowns surprising us with their insightfulness on marijuana and marijuana policy. It almost makes me long for Kevin Sabet and his warnings about “big marijuana” taking over after legalization. At least Sabet recognizes his tired, exaggerated claims about the dangers of marijuana smoking are no longer effective, and he has decided to challenge the free market system.

    Good luck with that, Kevin.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 9, 2015

    Survey: Nearly One Out Of Six MS Patients Use Cannabis TherapeuticallyOne-quarter of patients with multiple sclerosis report having used cannabis therapeutically and nearly one out of six (16 percent) currently use it to treat symptoms of the disease, according to survey data commissioned by the North American Research Committee on MS.

    Over 5,600 MS patients participated in the survey, the results of which were presented last week at the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Center 2015 Annual Meeting.

    Most subjects who had tried marijuana said it mitigated disease symptoms, such as spasticity or pain. Only five percent of patients surveyed said that cannabis said it did not provide some level of relief.

    Those with more advanced symptoms of MS were more likely to report using cannabis therapeutically.

    Of those surveyed, 82 percent said that they would consider cannabis therapy if it were a legal option in their state.

    Clinical trials have previously reported that cannabis inhalation is superior to placebo in reducing pain and spasticity in patients with treatment-resistant MS. Other studies indicate that long-term use of cannabinoid therapy may potentially modify MS progression.

    Previously survey data published in the journal Neurology reported that 14 percent of MS patients used cannabis for symptom management.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 8, 2015

    Poll: 56 Percent Of Likely California Voters Back LegalizationFifty-four percent of Californians support legalizing marijuana for adults, according to polling data commissioned by the Public Policy Institute of California and released today.

    The percentage of respondents agreeing that “the use of marijuana should be legal” increased three percent since 2014. Fifty-four percent is the highest level of support for legalizing cannabis ever reported in a PPIC poll.

    Among likely voters, 56 percent favor legalization (versus 41 percent opposed).

    Democrats (65 percent), Californians age 18 to 34 (62 percent), Independent voters (61 percent), and whites (60 percent) were most likely to favor legalization. Sixty percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Republicans opposed legalization.

    The complete PPIC poll is online here.

    California is one of several states where voters are anticipated to decide whether or not to legalize and regulate the use, production, and retail sale of the plant in 2016.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    Poll: Most Arizonans Favor Legalizing Marijuana For Personal UseMost Arizonans support permitting adults to legally possess marijuana for personal consumption, according to statewide polling data commissioned by the Behavioral Research Center.

    Fifty-three percent of respondents favor legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. That is an increase of two percent compared to when pollsters asked a similar question last year.

    Only 39 percent of respondents disapproved of the notion of legalizing cannabis.

    Legalization supporters were more likely to be under the age of 35 (71 percent) and to vote Democrat (64 percent). Respondents age 55 or older (45 percent) and Republicans (33 percent) were least likely to support legalizing the plant for adult use.

    Arizona is one of several states where voters will likely decide whether or not to legalize and regulate the use, production, and retail sale of the plant in 2016.

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