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NORML Blog

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 10, 2017

    marijuana_gavelDuring his confirmation for the position of Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions failed to give a straight answer with regard to how the Justice Department should respond to states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

    The Alabama Senator was questioned by both Sens. Leahy (D-VT) and Lee (R-UT) with respect to whether the principles of federalism ought to apply to state marijuana laws.

    Senator Leahy: “Would you use our federal resources to investigate and prosecute sick people using marijuana in accordance with state law even though it might violate federal law?”

    Senator Sessions: “I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law, Senator Leahy, but absolutely it is a problem of resources for the federal government. The Department of Justice under Lynch and Holder set forth some policies that they thought were appropriate to define what cases should be prosecuted in states that have legalized, at least in some fashion marijuana, some parts of marijuana.”

    Senator Leahy: “Do you agree with those guidelines?”

    Senator Sessions: “I think some of them are truly valuable in evaluating cases, but fundamentally the criticism I think that is legitimate is that they may not have been followed. Using good judgment on how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine I know it wont be an easy decision but i will try to do my duty in a fair and just way.”

    Senator Leahy: “The reason I mention this, is because you have some very strong views, you even mandated the death penalty for second offense on drug trafficking, including marijuana, even though mandatory death penalties are of course unconstitutional.”

    Senator Sessions: “Well I’m not sure under what circumstances i said that, but I don’t think…”

    Senator Leahy: “Would you say it‘s not your view today?”

    Senator Sessions: “(laughs) It is not my view today.”

    Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) followed up with questions regarding how marijuana policy factors into federalism and asked if the way the Obama Administration has handled marijuana laws created any issues with separation of powers and states rights. Sessions replied that, “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule, it is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

    So, after finally being put on the spot and questioned on the issue, we are no closer to clarity in regards to Sessions plans for how to treat state marijuana laws than we were yesterday. If anything, his comments are a cause for concern and can be interpreted as leaving the door open for enforcing federal law in legalized states. If Sessions wants to be an Attorney General for ALL Americans, he must bring his views in line with the majority of the population and support allowing states to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention.

    Clearly, the battle is just beginning to protect state legalization and medical marijuana laws. Can you contribute today to help us keep up our federal political actions and advance our efforts for state-level law reform?

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director

    On January 10th and 11th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to become the next Attorney General. Over the course of these two days, marijuana reformers and citizens alike from around the country will be calling members of the committee to have them ask a simple question: Does Sen. Sessions intend to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies?

    The stakes are high.

    Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

    “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

    “[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

    Please take a few minutes and call the following offices using this simple script. All in it should only take less than 10 minutes to call either the DC or home offices of these members and you will make an outsized impact on the future of marijuana policy in America.

    “Hello, my name _______ and I am calling regarding the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Senator Sessions views on marijuana are completely out of step with those of the majority of the American public. They also conflict with the stated views of President-Elect Trump, who said on the campaign trail that questions regarding marijuana policy are best left up to the states, not the federal government.  For these reasons, I urge you to ask Sen. Sessions whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies. If his answers are unsatisfactory, I urge you to reject his nomination.”

    Committee Chairman
    Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
    DC Office (202) 224-3744
    Des Moines Office (515) 288-1145

    Ranking Member
    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    DC Office (202) 224-3841
    San Diego Office  (619) 231-9712

    Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
    DC Office (202) 224-5251
    Salt Lake City Office (801) 524-4380

    Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    DC Office (202) 224-5972
    Florence Office (843) 669-1505

    John Cornyn (R-TX)
    DC Office0 (202) 224-2934
    Dallas Office (972) 239-1310

    Mike Lee (R-UT)
    DC Office (202) 224-5444
    Salt Lake City Office (801) 524-5933

    Ted Cruz (R-T)
    DC Office (202) 224-5922
    Austin Office (512) 916-5834

    Ben Sasse (R-NE)
    DC Office (202) 224-4224
    Omaha Office (402) 550-8040

    Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
    DC Office (202) 224-4521
    Phoenix Office (602) 840-1891

    Mike Crapo (R-ID)
    DC Office (202) 224-6142
    Boise Office (208) 334-1776

    Thom Tillis (R-NC)
    DC Office (202) 224-6342
    Charlotte Office (704) 509-9087

    John Kennedy (R-LA)
    DC Office (202) 224-4623
    Baton Rouge (225) 930-9033

    Senator Mazie Hirono (D – HI)
    DC Office – (202) 224-6361
    Honolulu Office – (808) 522-8970

    Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – CT)
    DC Office – (202) 224-2823
    Hartford Office – (860) 258-6940

    Senator Christopher A. Coons (D – DE)
    DC Office – (202) 224-5042
    Wilmington Office – (302) 573-6345

    Senator Al Franken (D – MN)
    DC Office – (202) 224-5641
    Saint Paul Office – (651) 221-1016

    Senator Amy Klobuchar (D – MN)
    DC Office – 202-224-3244
    Minneapolis Office – 612-727-5220

    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D – RI)
    DC Office – (202) 224-2921
    Providence Office – (401) 453-5294

    Senator Dick Durbin (D – IL)
    DC Office – 202.224.2152
    Chicago Office – 312.353.4952

    Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT)
    DC Office – (202) 224-4242
    Burlington Office – (802) 863-2525

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator January 9, 2017

    fifty_dollar_fineNow that 29 states have legalized medical marijuana, eight have legalized adult-use, and several others are considering legislation to legalize either adult-use or medical marijuana during the 2017 legislative session, it’s obvious that the end of marijuana prohibition is near. But that doesn’t mean the ongoing conflict between local, state and federal laws has become any less confusing.

    Unfortunately for Ted Hicks and Ryan Mears, two marijuana farmers from Sacramento, California, this confusion lead to a military style raid and both men being charged with illegally cultivating marijuana, a misdemeanor, and conspiracy for planning “to commit sales of marijuana,” a felony.

    “I told my 2-year-old son to stay upstairs,” said Mears, 35. “When I opened the security door, there were 15 cops with assault rifles drawn, pointed, with their fingers on the trigger, in vests, ski masks. They grabbed me and pulled me out front, put me in handcuffs. There were 20 to 30 officers. My son walked downstairs and my wife had to grab him. They had guns pulled on them. It was real painful.”

    Regardless of spending several months working with local regulators to establish what they thought was the legal framework for their business, Big Red Farms, and being considered “shinning stars” for their diligence related to local licensing, Hicks and Mears found themselves at the business end of automatic weapons. A clear sign that they had become victims of the patchwork of marijuana laws adopted by local and state officials across California prior to the passage of Proposition 64.

    If found guilty, both men could face up to one year in jail, and pay thousands of dollars in fines and court costs.

    Read more »

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director

    Say No to SessionsSenate lawmakers are only days away from deciding whether Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will become the next Attorney General — the top law enforcement officer in the land.

    Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

    “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

    “[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

    Senator Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws of over half of the states. We must demand that Senators ask this nominee whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in these states, and whether he truly believes that no “good people” have ever smoked pot.

    If confirmed by the US Senate, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states.

    Call your Congressional Switchboard and ask to be patched through to your home state Senators at (202) 224-3121 to tell them to have Sessions clarify his intentions or be defeated.

    If you don’t know who your Senators are you can click HERE to find out.

    Use this script:

    “Hello, my name ______. I am a constituent and I am calling regarding the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Senator Sessions views on marijuana are completely out of step with those of the majority of the American public. They also conflict with the stated views of President-Elect Trump, who said on the campaign trail that questions regarding marijuana policy are best left up to the states, not the federal government. For these reasons, I urge you to ask Sen. Sessions whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies. If his answers are unsatisfactory, I urge you to reject his nomination.”

    After you call your Senators, tell your friends and family to do the same by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.

    You can also email your Senators by clicking here.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator January 8, 2017

    Marijuana medicineGOP lawmakers in Wisconsin have a track record of opposing efforts to reform marijuana laws in the Badger State, but a recent comment from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has some marijuana advocates hopeful for progress during the 2017 legislative session.

    “If you get a prescription to use an opiate or you get a prescription to use marijuana, to me I think that’s the same thing,” Vos said, a surprising position after years of GOP opposition to legalizing any form of marijuana. “I would be open to that.”

    Of course this came as a surprise to many, especially after Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Governor Scott Walker have both repeatedly stated that they will continue to oppose any effort to advance the issue in the state of Wisconsin. Regardless of the lack of support from GOP leadership, Sen. Van Wanggaard is expected to sponsor legislation that would make it legal to possess cannibidiol (CBD) – the marijuana extract known for treating seizures associated with epilepsy – during the upcoming legislative session.

    Read more here: http://m.startribune.com/in-wisconsin-signs-of-gop-softening-on-medical-marijuana/410016665/

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