• by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director January 16, 2009

    Thanks to everyone who voted in change.org’s “Ideas for change in America” competition. Out of 7,847 ideas generated, “Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana” was voted the #1 idea for change (with 19,530 votes) in America!yes-we-cannabis.jpg

    Now its time to direct our strong commitment for marijuana law reform at Obama’s official website, where “ending marijuana prohibition” continues to remain in first place…so let’s keep it that way by telling all our like-minded friends, family and co-workers to vote now to make sure that Washington policymakers–from both parties–recognize the clear popularity marijuana law reform enjoys in the United States.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    In August I commented on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s revealing interview with CNN, where she called on the public to actively voice their support for marijuana law reform.

    “We have important work to do outside the Congress in order for us to have success inside the Congress.” Pelosi said. “[W]e need peoples’ help to be in touch with their members of Congress to say why this (marijuana law reform) should be the case.”

    Ask and you shall receive.

    In the past few months the public has taken their message to the hallowed halls of Washington, DC in unprecedented numbers:

    Over 700 individuals have posted comments to The Hill.com’s influential Congress Blog calling on lawmakers to amend federal marijuana policy;

    In December, a question calling for the legalization of marijuana bested over 7,300 public policy issues to claim the top spot in Change.gov’s inaugural ‘Open for Questions’ poll;

    In a follow up poll conducted by Change.gov this month, marijuana law reformed was the eighth-most popular question voted on by the public, out of a staggering 76,000 issues;

    This week, the question “legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana” finished first (by nearly 5,000 votes) in Change.org’s inaugural “Ideas for Change’ online poll;

    And finally, in yet a third poll hosted by the Obama Transition Team, the public’s call for “ending marijuana prohibition” is — you guessed it — polling ahead of all other issues. (To participate in this latest poll, please visit: http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov and click on “popular ideas.”)

    In short Madam Speaker, the people have done their part — just as you requested. The question now is: When are your colleagues and the incoming administration going to do their part to end the federal government’s war on marijuana consumers?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 13, 2009

    NORML is once again taking its message to Capitol Hill via the highly influential Hill.com blog.

    Marijuana Law Reform No Longer a Political Liability, It’s a Political Opportunity
    via The Hill‘s Congress Blog


    Rather than rebuff the public’s calls for drug policy reform, the new administration ought to be embracing it. After all, many of the same voters that put Obama in the White House also voted by wide margins in November to liberalize marijuana laws in two states — Michigan and Massachusetts — and in nearly a dozen municipalities.

    In short, marijuana law reform should no longer be viewed by legislators a political liability. For the incoming administration and for Congress, it is a political opportunity. The public is ready for change; in fact, they are demanding it. Are their representatives listening?

    As I’ve written before, The Hill is widely read by lawmakers and by the national media. In fact, my last Hill.com commentary received national television coverage on Fox News. Therefore, it is vital that we demonstrate the popularity of the marijuana legalization issue by commenting prolifically. Please post your feedback to The Hill and make a point of disseminating this essay to your friends and colleagues.

    (Note: Comments to The Hill are moderated. That means that there will be a delay, sometimes a significant delay, between when you post and when your comment appears live online. That said, all comments will eventually be published so please join the discussion.)

    Finally, if you have not done so, please vote for marijuana law reform in the final week of Change.org’s online poll. (Voting ends at 5pm eastern time on Thursday, January 15.) The legalization of cannabis continues to lead all other public policy issues, and will likely be the subject of a major Washington, DC press conference on Friday.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 12, 2009

    Voting ended late last week on the President-Elect’s website Change.gov. As was the case in December, questions regarding marijuana law reform proved to be extremely popular.

    Of the more than 76,000 questions posed to Obama by the general public, the fourth most popular question overall called on the incoming administration to cease arresting and prosecuting adults who use cannabis. And in the sub-category “National Security,” the most popular question posed by the public pertained to amending U.S. drug policies.

    But you wouldn’t know it by listening to the administration’s latest video response (posted online here) — as neither issue received even a passing mention from incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. (The Obama administration’s woefully inadequate response to last month’s top-rated marijuana law reform question appears at the bottom of the Change.gov page here.)

    Am I surprised to learn that the Obama team has decided to hide their collective heads in the sand? Not at all. But by doing so, they’re missing the bigger picture.

    The latest round of Change.gov online poll results illustrate two important points.

    One: there is a significant, vocal, and identifiable segment of our society that wants to see an end to America’s archaic and overly punitive marijuana laws.

    Two: the American public is ready and willing to engage in a serious and objective political debate regarding the merits of legalizing the use of cannabis by adults.

    The Obama administration should heed these poll results and understand that marijuana law reform is not a political liability; rather, it is a political opportunity.

    Fortunately for the public, there will be other “opportunities” for the Obama administration to address marijuana law reform.  (more…)

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 29, 2008

    Change.gov, the official website of President-Elect Obama, has reopened its online polling page, “Open for Questions.” Of course we all know what happened the last time the incoming administration asked the public to decide what issue should be America’s top priority. And we’re all well aware of Obama’s less than favorable reply.

    That said, the fact that the legalization of marijuana finished first out of over 7,000 questions polled generated significant media coverage, including features by Fox News (watch the video here), Esquire, and The Hill.  So let’s keep the media and the soon-to-be President’s feet to the fire and continue to push the debate.

    Currently, over 25,000 public policy questions have been submitted to Obama’s website. Dozens of these questions pertain to cannabis law reform. Right now, the leading vote-getter among these (with 2,000 votes) is:

    “Why do you believe that marijuana should not be legalized? How is the prohibition of marijuana any different than the prohibition of alcohol? 100,000 Americans die every year due to alcohol but none to marijuana.”

    Please take a moment and log onto the Change.gov site to voice your support for this question, and others pertaining to the need to end America’s antiquated and punitive prohibition of marijuana. (To vote for this and other popular marijuana law reform questions, click on the “additional issues” link or perform a word search using the term “marijuana.”) The people spoke once before; it’s time we make our voices heard again!

    “Change we can believe in?” We shall see.

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