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Attorney General

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 9, 2017

    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 NORML January 5, 2017


    On Monday, NORML and our supporters will participate in a Day of Action to mobilize opposition to the appointment of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General.

    Senate lawmakers will be deciding Tuesday whether Jeff Sessions is fit for the position of America’s top law enforcement officer. Unless he is willing to acknowledge that, as Attorney General, he will respect the rights of marijuana consumers in the majority of US states that have legalized the plant, we believe that he is the wrong man for the job.

    Our concern is not without merit. 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 no that “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.

    Will you join us in this important day of action? You can help us amplify our message by signing up for our ThunderClap HERE.

    What is a Thunderclap? Think of Thunderclap as a social media flash mob. Supporters can sign up to have a mass message published to their account at a coordinated date and time. Thunderclap is similar to crowdfunding, but uses social currency instead of money. Your audience can “donate” a Tweet or Facebook post to help you spread the word. Your one tweet and post can go along way in helping us bring awareness to this important effort.

    Sign up for the Thunderclap. Then, on Monday morning we will be posting in-depth directions regarding our call to action (including a suggested script for you to use when calling your US Senator) right here on norml.org . Then, on Tuesday, we will be shifting our focus to the members of the Judiciary Committee to assure that Sen. Sessions is made to defend his past statements, and is asked about whether he will respect the will of the voters moving forward.

    Together, we can make our voices heard and demand that statewide marijuana laws be respected and upheld. Stand with us on Monday to send a clear message: The incoming Attorney General must not interfere with state laws that have legalized and regulated marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director December 13, 2016

    Cannabis PenaltiesIt’s official, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has set January 10-11, 2017 for the confirmation hearing of noted marijuana law reform opponent Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to become the next Attorney General.

    Already it appears that Sen. Grassley will try to keep the hearings as short as possible and restrict the number of witnesses who testify. From the Judiciary Committee press release:

    “The hearings for the four most recent Attorneys General lasted one to two days each. At each of those hearings, three to nine outside witnesses testified.”

    It’s clear the hope is to rush the process as much as possible in order to obtain a successful confirmation given Sessions’ failed history of earning the approval of the Judiciary Committee for a previous judicial appointment in the 1980’s.

    In 1986, Sessions was appointed by the Reagan Administration to serve as a federal judge, yet his confirmation was voted down 8-10 in the Republican controlled committee, with two Republicans joining the Democrats in opposition over claims of racial prejudice, including off handed remarks about supporting the Ku Klux Klan until he discovered that they smoke marijuana. At the time, Sessions was just the second judicial federal appointee denied confirmation in 50 years.

    The implications for marijuana policies at the state level could be dire. As recently as April of this year, during a Senate hearing, Sessions proclaimed that “good people do not use marijuana.” How a potential Attorney General Sessions would treat the 29 states that have legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana is still unclear and could prove devastating to the decades of hard-fought progress that we have made on behalf of responsible marijuana users.

    TAKE ACTION: Email your Senators and tell them to not approve Jeff Sessions as the Attorney General

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate February 26, 2016

    map_leafThe Vermont Senate approved legalization legislation this week! We also have several additional international updates from around the globe.

    International:

    Australia: Members of Australia’s House and Senate approved legislation this week to amend federal law to permit for the licensed production and distribution of cannabis to qualified patients. The move by Parliament follows recent efforts by several Australian territories to provide patients participating in clinical trials with access to the plant. Government officials will still need to develop and approve regulations for the new program before any production licenses can be issued.

    Canada: A federal court in Canada ruled this week that government officials cannot prohibit physician-authorized patients from growing their own supply of medical cannabis. The decision strikes down regulations enacted in 2013 that sought to take away patients’ longstanding authority to grow personal use quantities of cannabis.

    The judge’s ruling provides Parliament with six months to create new rules governing the regulation and distribution of medical cannabis in a manner that no longer requires patients to obtain medicine solely from federally-licensed, private third party providers. NORML Canada ‘s John Conroy served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, while NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano served as an expert witness and filed an affidavit in the case.

    Federal:

    In an interview from last year but only recently made public, former US Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged that marijuana should “certainly be rescheduled”. He said, “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate. So at a minimum, I think Congress needs to do that. Then I think we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington.”

    While NORML agrees that marijuana’s current classification in the Controlled Substances Act is inappropriate, NORML believes in descheduling cannabis, not rescheduling the plant. In an article published this week on Alternet, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano outlines why rescheduling cannabis does not go far enough and advocates for why it should be removed from the CSA altogether.

    State:

    greenhouseGeorgia: Legislation has been introduced, House Bill 1046, to amend state law so that minor marijuana offenders no longer face jail time. If approved, the legislation would make the first time possession of up to one ounce of marijuana punishable by a $250 fine. Subsequent offenses would result in a $500 fine for the second offense and $750 fine for the third offense. #TakeAction

    Hawaii: Pending legislation, Senate Bill 2787, to further encourage the state Department of Agriculture to license farmers to grow industrial hemp for “research and development purposes” was approved by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor this week. The committee approved an amended version of the legislation in a 4-0 vote. #TakeAction

    Pennsylvania: Members of the Harrisburg City Council have scheduled two separate public meetings to discuss a proposal to redefine municipal marijuana possession offenses from a misdemeanor to a citation. The meetings will be Thursday March 10 at the Harrisburg Area Community College midtown campus, Midtown 2, Room 206, at 1500 North Third Street and Thursday March 24 at the city’s public works building at 1820 Paxton Street. Both meetings will start at 5:30 p.m.

    Michigan: Newly introduced Senate legislation, SB 813, seeks to permit for the personal possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana. Under the measure, adults would be permitted to possess and grow personal use quantities of the plant, and a system would be established for the retail production and sale of cannabis. Similar legislation introduced in the fall of 2015, HB 4877, remains pending in the Judiciary Committee. #TakeAction

    Vermont: Members of the Senate voted 17 to 12 on Thursday in favor of legislation, Senate Bill 241, to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. The historic vote marks the first time that any legislative chamber in the state has ever approved legislation to permit the adult use and retail sale of cannabis.

    The Senate’s action was praised by Gov. Shumlin, who is backing the measure. The measure now will be debated by members of the Vermont House. #TakeAction

    marijuana_gavelWest Virginia: House Bill 4712 was introduced this week to depenalize marijuana possession offenses. The legislation removes marijuana from West Virginia’s list of schedule I drugs and removes all state criminal and civil penalties associated with the substance. Additionally, the proposal allows adults 21 and older to cultivate up to six cannabis plants, and to transfer up to one ounce of cannabis to another person age 21 or older without remuneration. #TakeAction

    In addition, senate legislation is pending to permit qualified patients access to medical cannabis. Senate Bill 640 permits qualified patients to engage in marijuana therapy and to cultivate (up to 12 mature plants) and to possess (up to six ounces) personal use amounts of cannabis. The measure also seeks to establish a permitting process for “registered compassion centers”, which will be licensed to produce and dispense medicinal cannabis to qualified patients. The bill is before the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. You can read the full text of this measure here. Companion legislation, House Bill 4680, has also been filed in the House of Representatives. #TakeAction

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 9, 2013

    In an interview earlier this week with National Public Radio, US Attorney General Eric Holder publicly acknowledged the obvious:

    -There are too many citizens in prison on low level drug charges

    -The mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines employed by the federal government should be reformed

    -The inherent outcome of the federal criminal justice system affirms serious racial disparities exist

    yes-we-cannabis

    Holder: “The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old. There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”

    “[W]e can certainly change our enforcement priorities, and so we have some control in that way,” Holder said. “How we deploy our agents, what we tell our prosecutors to charge, but I think this would be best done if the executive branch and the legislative branch work together to look at this whole issue and come up with changes that are acceptable to both.”

    Listen to interview here.

    The Drug Policy Alliance has multiple suggestions on how President Obama and Attorney General Holder ‘can go big’ in their last three years in office to substantively reform the failed war on some drugs.

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