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Bernie Sanders

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate November 9, 2015

    Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropDuring an appearance in South Carolina over the weekend, Hillary Clinton endorsed amending marijuana from it’s current Schedule I classification, reserved for the most dangerous of drugs, to Schedule II, a lesser classification intended for drugs that have recognized medical applications but also have a high potential for abuse and severe psychological or physical dependence.

    The presidential candidate said, “What I do want is for us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana, so we’ve got two different experiences or even experiments going on right now. And the problem with medical marijuana is there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions, but we haven’t done any research. Why? Because it’s considered what’s called a Schedule I drug, and you can’t even do research on it.”

    Let’s take a look at these statements a little more closely.

    First, Clinton’s claim that “we haven’t done any research” on cannabis’ safety and potential efficacy is false. NORML documents hundreds of relevant trials here. Clinton’s allegation is further rebutted by the findings of a 2012 review of FDA-approved clinical trials involving the use of herbal cannabis in various patient populations, “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

    Second, while Clinton’s comments mark an evolution in her position on marijuana policy, she is late to the game among the presidential candidates proposing policy solutions to marijuana’s prohibition. Fellow democrat presidential candidate, Martin O’Malley previously pledged to use his executive authority, if elected, to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. And Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is a sponsor of the CARERS Act, legislation that, among other things, would also move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II.

    Third, while all of these statements by presidential candidates is a step in the right direction, NORML has and will continue to advocate for marijuana’s removal from the federal Controlled Substances Act. Rescheduling marijuana from I to II would not limit the federal government’s authority to prosecute marijuana offenders, including those who are in compliance with state law, nor would it likely stimulate clinical trial research trials beyond those studies funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse and reliant upon government-grown marijuan330px-Bernie_Sandersa.

    Fortunately, Vermont Senator and Democrat Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to remove marijuana from the US Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 would deschedule cannabis from the CSA, similar to alcohol and tobacco. It would also allow states the power to establish their own marijuana policies and banking policies free from federal interference.

    Reform advocates can contact their member of the US Senate in support of The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 by clicking here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate November 6, 2015

    ballot_box_leafThis week was a busy one for marijuana law reform around the country. There were several election day measures and a new bill was introduced in the Senate. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s marijuana happenings:

    The controversial ResponsibleOhio measure failed to garner enough support in Ohio to become law. You can read more on what was learned from the campaign here. The measure was defeated 65 to 35 percent so it’s clear the initiative had some qualities that were less than desirable by Ohio residents. Those living in the city of Logan, OH also had the chance to vote on a local depenalization measure but voters rejected that measure 57 to 43 percent.

    On the successful end of things, residents in two Michigan cities approved local measures to reduce the penalties associated with the possession, use, transfer and transportation of small amounts of marijuana.

    Following election day, Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders introduced legislation, S 2237, to remove marijuana from the US Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 would deschedule cannabis from the CSA, as is alcohol and tobacco. This legislation provides states the power to establish their own marijuana policies and banking policies free from federal interference.

    What’s notable about this legislation is that it is the first ever bill introduced in the Senate that has called for the end of marijuana prohibition at the federal level. And it’s only the fourth marijuana law reform bill to have ever been introduced in the Senate. You can take action on this legislation, here.

    While not necessarily legislative news, a couple other important events took place this week:

    Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in a 4-1 decision that the prohibition of marijuana is unconstitutional. The ruling declares that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use.

    While this is definitely a step in the right direction for a country that is almost crippled with drug cartel problems, what happens next remains to be seen. The ruling does not strike down current drug laws and it only applies to the four plaintiffs involved in the case. It could however, pave the way for more substantive policy changes to be made later on.

    Disappointingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chief, Chuck Rosenberg said this week he doesn’t believe smoking marijuana is actually medicinal and called the entire premise a “joke”.

    He said, “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not. We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine. That is a joke.”

    “There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise” medicinally,” he said. “But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana, which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana, it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”

    To have a top official, largely responsible for our country’s drug policy, refuse to acknowledge the therapeutic effects of the whole marijuana plant is disappointing and very misleading. To learn more about medical marijuana and it’s scientifically proven medical efficacy, click here.

    Thanks for catching up on what happened in marijuana law reform this week and keep following our blog for more updates as they happen!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director October 13, 2015

    Teased out by CNN host Anderson Cooper’s comment about ‘everyone in the room having probably smoked pot before’, American voters were informed by a question from CNN el Espanol’s Juan Carlos Lopez to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders about the state’s pending cannabis legalization initiative that will be on the 2016 ballot in Nevada (the state where the debate was being held), and whether or not if he were a Nevadan that he’d vote to support legalization.

    Senator Sanders indicated that he ‘suspected he would vote for the measure’ and went on to enumerate numerous problems with America’s so-called ‘war on drugs’ and the criminal justice system in general.vote

    Mr. Lopez did a follow up question with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referencing an earlier CNN interview, where she indicated that she never tried marijuana and was not about to do so now. She further said in the previous CNN interview recorded one year earlier that she was still waiting to formulate a policy position based on the pro-reform actions of the four states and the District of Columbia in favor of legalization, Mr. Lopez pressed her if she was yet going to take a position ‘for’ or ‘against’ what she called ‘state experiments’. Mrs. Clinton’s reply, ‘No.’

    However, Mrs. Clinton indicated that she supports states’ ability to create cannabis law reforms, that much can be learned from these states’ efforts; she supports medical access to cannabis; that she agreed with Senator Sanders that cannabis consumers should not be incarcerated in America’s over wrought criminal justice system.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director August 6, 2012

    According to Washington, D.C. Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, a group of bipartisan Senators, led by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), have filed legislation seeking to exempt industrial hemp (which, in effect, is very low potent cannabis) from the Controlled Substances Act (which, concerning cannabis specifically, is largely directed at prohibiting recreational and therapeutic use of the herb).

    Update: You can help advocate for this bill’s passage here.

    One of the most indefensible aspects of modern Cannabis Prohibition is the federal government’s continued opposition to allowing American farmers and consumers benefit from a domestic industrial hemp industry, when, ridiculously, other free market and democratic countries who also maintain user prohibitions on cannabis—countries like the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and notably Canada—allow their farmers to legally cultivate industrial cannabis. This inherently places American farmers and agriculture at a competitive disadvantage and American consumers paying higher costs for imported raw and finished hemp products.

    Senator Wyden tells The Hill:

    “I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it  resembles an illegal one,” Wyden said. “Raising this issue has sparked  a growing awareness of exactly how ridiculous the U.S.’s ban on  industrial hemp is. I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and Members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near  
    future.”

    Read more here.

    To learn everything you need to know about hemp and efforts to reform America’s antiquated industrial hemp laws, please check out our hempen friends:

    VoteHemp.org

    TheHIA.org