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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 19, 2017

     

    Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 11.44.51 AMOne of the latest developments in the Montana Congressional special election is the news that Democratic candidate Rob Quist had previously consumed marijuana during the course of his life. Certain media outlets in the state have attempted to make a lot of hay out of this issue, hoping to shift a hotly contested election. I think Quist’s opponents may be surprised by the reaction this “revelation” will evoke from most Montana residents, and Americans across the spectrum. That reaction can largely be summed up as:

    “So what?”

    First, I’d like to clarify that NORML finds it an affront to personal privacy that these outlets are leaking the medical history of an individual without their consent. That in and of itself is unacceptable. However, there is no grand controversy in a story about an American smoking marijuana. Recent surveys have shown approximately half of all Americans have tried using marijuana at least once during their lives and 60% of Americans believe the adult use of marijuana should be legalized and regulated. Eight states have already legalized the possession and retail sale of marijuana with more expect to join them over the next few years. Thirty states have approved state medical marijuana laws, including Montana.

    With legalization now policy in these states, all of the rhetoric and bluster from the “reefer madness” era has been proven false. All reliable science has demonstrated that marijuana is not a gateway to harder drug use, as youth use rates have either slightly declined or stayed the same after the implementation of legalization; highway traffic fatalities did not spike; and millions of dollars in tax revenue are now going to the state to support important social programs instead of into the pockets of illicit drug cartels.

    Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy. It disproportionately impacts people of color and other marginalized communities, fills our courts and jails with nonviolent offenders, engenders disrespect for the law and law enforcement, and diverts limited resources that can be better spent combating violent crime. Rob Quist’s past marijuana use doesn’t make him a pariah, it makes him an average American. Members of the press, particularly the Washington Free Beacon, should not be in the business of criminalizing or stigmatizing responsible adults who chose to consume a product that is objectively safer than currently legal ones such as tobacco and alcohol.

    Calling for an end to the disastrous policy that is our nation’s prohibition on marijuana and replacing it with the fiscally and socially responsible policy of legalization and regulation isn’t something that should or will scare voters away. Pursuing these sensible proposals is both good policy and good politics. I think that Quist’s opponents will soon realize the attempts to use one’s past marijuana consumption and support for legalization against them not only puts them out of step with the majority of Montana residents, but puts them firmly on the wrong side of history as well.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 1, 2017

    voteWhile most political observers are keeping their eyes on the 2018 midterm elections, there are several important special elections to fill seats vacated by members of Congress who were recently appointed to positions in the Trump Administration. One of the more prominent upcoming races will decide who represents the Montana At-Large Congressional District, a position previously filled by the newly minted Interior Secretary Robert Zinke (R).

    The two major party candidates, Montana folk musician Rob Quist (D) and conservative multimillionaire tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte (R), will be facing off in a special election set to be held on May 25th. This election has been drawing nationwide attention and is expected to be highly contested. Over the weekend, the pair sounded off on a variety of topics in a debate aired by MTN News. Notably, the candidates were forced to go on record with their position on marijuana law reform.

    Do you support the legalization of marijuana?

    Rob Quist (D): 

    “I went into a dispensary because I wanted to ask the proprietor…I said you know who uses this? The people that come in here are people whose bodies are burned out by pharmaceutical drugs and this is the only relief they can get. Quite frankly, I think that the war on drugs has been an abject failure, I think there’s a pipeline of money going into these organizations that can be better spent not incarcerating people, with our whole prison for profit…There are people in jail that don’t belong in jail because of this. I think the money can be better spent for rehabilitation and treatment. I think it’s important, the majority of Americans want to see that this is legalized.

    Greg Gianforte (R): 

    “One of the things that really came home to me as I travelled around the state was the addiction problems we have to meth, to opiates…The result is over 3,500 kids in foster care here in the state. I believe that marijuana has medicinal benefits and we should support that, but making it available for recreational use would just add to the addiction problem and cause more problems here and I oppose it.

    The candidate for the Libertarian Party, Mark Wicks, also stated he supported the legalization of marijuana.

    If you live in Montana, no matter who you support, be sure to participate in our democracy and cast your ballot in this special election. You can check your voter registration and find out all other information necessary to participate from the Montana Secretary of State HERE.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate April 20, 2016

    NORML Congressional ScorecardNORML would like to wish you a Happy 4/20! In honor of the annual holiday we are pleased to release our 2016 Congressional Scorecard.

    With 61 percent of  American adults now advocating that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” and 67 percent of voters believing states, not the federal government, ought to be the ultimate arbiters of marijuana regulatory policy, it’s no longer acceptable for the federal government to continue to be an impediment to progress.

    Do you know where your federally elected officials stand?

    Our Congressional Scorecard  is an all-encompassing database that assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to members of Congress based on their marijuana-related comments and voting records.

    Below are some key findings from the Scorecard:

    NORML Congressional ScorecardAmong the 535 members of the 114th Congress:

    • 312 members (58 percent) received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (258 Representatives and 54 Senators)
    • Nineteen members (3.6 percent) received a grade of ‘A’ (17 Representatives and 2 Senators) and 37 members (6.9 percent) received failing grade (20 Representatives and 17 Senators)
    • Of the 233 Democrats in Congress, 208 members (89.3 percent) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher.
    • Of the 302 Republicans in Congress, 102 members (33.8 percent) received a passing grade of a ‘C’ or higher.

    You can access the complete 2016 Congressional Scorecard here.

    You can read our Executive Summary here.

    Projects like this are only possible because of the donations from NORML members. If you find our Congressional Scorecard useful and wish to support NORML’s efforts, please make a donation of at least $4.20 on this 4/20.

    Thank you for your continued support and Happy 4/20,
    -The NORML Team

    P.S. Don’t forget to attend NORML’s 2016 Congressional Lobby Day, May 23-24 in Washington, DC.

  • by NORML December 10, 2014

    DC Initiative Measure 71A rider was included in the final version of the House omnibus appropriations bill with the intent blocking the implementation of Washington, DC’s 2014 marijuana legalization initiative.

    As written, the rider seeks to restrict the District from utilizing federal or local funds to “to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.” A summary of the provision posted on the House Appropriations Committee website acknowledges that the language is intended to prevent any funds from being used to “implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District.”

    Washington DC’s Initiative 71 was approved by over 70 percent of District voters in November. The initiative seeks to legalize the adult possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivation of three mature and three immature plants.

    “This rider is an affront to the concept of democracy,” commented NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Seven out of ten voters in Washington, DC cast their ballot in favor of ending prohibition and legalizing the adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana, this attempt by members of Congress to flout the will of the people is a gross injustice to these voters and to the democratic system.”

    The House will vote on the final version of the omnibus bill in the next couple days and then it must be approved by the Senate. This rider has no impact on the District’s current decriminalization or medicinal marijuana policies. NORML will keep you updated as the situation develops and what precisely this means for legalization in the nation’s capital.

    Further coverage regarding this rider and its potential impact on the District is available from the Washington Post, Roll Call, and CNN.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 14, 2014

    Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 9.49.54 AMNORML PAC is endorsing Wes Neuman in his campaign against incumbent John Mica to become the next Congressman for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

    “NORML PAC is pleased to announce our endorsement of Wes Neuman for Congress in Florida’s 7th district. Florida needs new, bold leadership and we believe Wes will be a great champion for the cause of marijuana law reform in Washington, DC,” said NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “A vote for Wes Neuman is a vote to end our failed federal prohibition and to begin to move our country towards new, sensible marijuana policies. NORML PAC is delighted to support him in this campaign.”

    “Current federal marijuana policies waste taxpayer dollars. It is unacceptable to continue allowing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair laws to squander billions of dollars and ruin thousands of lives,” stated Wes Neuman, “That’s why, as a Member of Congress, I will advance policies to fully legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, which will reduce government spending and increase tax revenues. Legalizing marijuana will more efficiently allocate and save $17.4 billion annually. In Florida, that’s as much as $440 million per year, which is nearly 100% of what the Florida Department of Education allocated for Student Financial Aid for 2013-2014. This is an easy policy decision.”

    You can view an interactive map of the 7th district here and see if Wes will be on your ballot in the upcoming election.

    You can learn more about Wes’ campaign on his website, Facebook, or Twitter. You can learn more about NORML PAC and contribute to help marijuana law reform candidates here.

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