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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 16, 2017

    voteThe Connecticut state chapter of NORML and the Yale University branch of the group Students for Sensible Drug Policy will co-host the inaugural gubernatorial candidate debate of the 2018 governor’s race. Candidates will be asked to weigh in on questions specific to adult use marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform, hemp production, and the state’s current medical marijuana program, among other issues.

    Confirmed to appear at the event are: Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D), former state Sen. Jonathan Harris (D) of West Hartford and Afghanistan war veteran Micah Welintukonis (R). Organizers are actively reaching out to additional candidates.

    The debate is scheduled for Tuesday November 28, 2017, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at Yale University’s Sheffield Sterling Strathcona, Room 114 at 1 Prospect Street in New Haven. The debate will be moderated Aaron J. Romano, legal advisor for Connecticut NORML and a member of NORML’s Legal Committee. The event will be live-streamed on the Connecticut NORML facebook page here.

    Several legislative proposals to regulate the adult use and sale of cannabis in Connecticut were debated during the spring 2017 session. However, momentum for these efforts stalled after Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy publicly expressed his opposition to legalizing cannabis.

    According to statewide polling, 63 percent of registered voters favor permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis. When considering new sources of tax revenue in Connecticut, 70 percent of voters support the idea of “legalizing and taxing marijuana.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 22, 2017

    personal_cultivationThe Asbury Park Press and other Gannett newspaper affiliates, including USA Today, published a fairly extensive online debate on Sunday between myself and Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet under the header “Should We Make Marijuana Legal?”

    I respond to numerous alarmist claims throughout the interview, including allegations that regulating the adult use of cannabis send s mixed message to youth, leads to increased use by young people, that cannabis is a gateway drug, and even the notion that marijuana prohibitionists are out-funded by reform advocates (as if)!

    Here’s an excerpt:

    Gov. Christie, who has consistently opposed legalization of marijuana, contends pot is a so-called gateway drug, that people who use pot will eventually graduate to harder, more dangerous substances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it hasn’t found a definitive answer on that question yet. What is your position and what are the most definitive studies you can cite to bolster it?

    Armentano: It is time for politicians to put to rest the myth that cannabis is a gateway to the use of other controlled substances — a theory that is neither supported by modern science or empirical data.

    More than 60 percent of American adults acknowledge having tried cannabis, but the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance. And by the time these individuals reach age 30, most of them have significantly decreased their cannabis use or no longer indulge in the substance at all. Further, nothing in marijuana’s chemical composition alters the brain in a manner that makes users more susceptible to experimenting with other drugs. That’s why both the esteemed Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corporation’s Drug Policy Research Center conclude, “Marijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.”

    By contrast, a growing body of evidence now exists to support the counter notion that, for many people, cannabis serves as a path away from the use of more dangerous substances — including opioids, alcohol, prescription drugs, cocaine and tobacco.

    You can read and comment on the entire online debate here.

    If you are a New Jersey resident, you can also take action in support of marijuana law reform in the Garden State here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate September 18, 2015

    ballot_box_leafFormer Maryland Governor and current democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley yesterday held a marijuana legalization listening session in Denver, Colorado. Hoping to ignite progressive voters and to differentiate himself from the two leading democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, O’Malley is emphasizing marijuana law reform as a key plank of his campaign.

    O’Malley met in Denver with leading marijuana law reform activists, and cannabis industry leaders, acknowledging, “If you talk to young Americans under 30 there is a growing consensus that marijuana should be treated more akin to alcohol than to other substances.” He pledged, if elected President, to use his executive authority to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

    “While O’Malley’s pledge is a step in the right direction, NORML believes in descheduling cannabis, not rescheduling cannabis. Cocaine, for instance, is a Schedule II controlled substance under federal law, as is methamphetamine. NORML is not of the belief that an ideal public policy is to cease treating marijuana like heroin (Schedule I) but rather to treat it like cocaine (Schedule II).” As NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano recently told the Associated Press, “Rather, we would prefer to see cannabis classified and regulated in a manner that more closely resembles alcohol or tobacco, neither substance of which is classified in any category under the CSA.”

    O’Malley’s announcement yesterday came on the heels of recent, marijuana-specific comments by Clinton and Sanders.

    On Monday, at a campaign stop in Luther College, Clinton responded to a question on whether or not she would support marijuana legalization as President. She answered, “I would support states and localities that are experimenting with this.”

    In an interview with Little Village, a public affairs program on PATV in Iowa City, Sanders also pledged non-governmental interference in state marijuana laws, commenting, “What the federal government can do is say to the state of Colorado that if you choose to vote to legalize marijuana, we will allow you to do that without restrictions.”

    Sanders also pledged to amend federal banking laws to permit state-licensed business to operate like any other legal entity, “In Colorado people who run marijuana shops can’t put their money in banks,” he said. “That’s a violation of federal law. So I think there are things that the federal government can do that would make it easier for states that want to go in that direction to be able to do so.” In addition, he reiterated his position in favor of medical marijuana and decriminalization, a policy he supported in his home state of Vermont.

    However, when asked about full legalization, Sanders continues to be noncommittal, responding, “We’re exploring the pluses and minuses — of which there are both — of moving more aggressively on that issue. It is a very important issue. We’re watching what Colorado is doing, and we’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks and months.”

    The comments made by all three Democratic candidates for president, coupled with the marijuana related question aimed at the Republican candidates in the most recent Republican primary debate, highlight the new, elevated role marijuana law reform is playing in the election of our next President of the United States. In previous years, candidates’ largely ignored or belittled the issue. But this election that won’t suffice. Voters are demanding clear answers from candidates on what the federal government should do in relation to marijuana policy and they are demanding a change from business as usual.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director September 16, 2015

    At nearly the two and half hour mark in tonight’s marathon Republican debate on CNN Jake Tapper directed a question from the online audience, indicating it was very popular, to Senator Rand Paul regarding Colorado and other states having recently legalized marijuana by popular vote on binding initiatives, that if elected president of the US Governor Chris Christie recently said ‘the people of Colorado should enjoy their pot now because if elected by 2017 I’ll be going after them to shut down’, imploring Senator Paul to respond to Christie’s clear threat to state autonomy in states like Colorado (along with Alaska, Oregon and Washington too).vote

    Senator Paul indicated that he supports the 10th Amendment and states rights, that the drug war has racist outcomes, that rehabilitation is preferable to incarceration, expanding drug courts, indicated the war on drugs is a failure, and that individuals on the stage are hypocrites for their youthful marijuana use. Governor Jeb Bush apparently took that to mean him…where he extolled the virtues of Florida’s drug courts. Paul retorted that Bush didn’t support medical access to marijuana. Bush claimed that he did, but only the way the legislature in Florida recently passed restrictive laws (‘Not Colorado-like laws’), that he didn’t support the 2014 effort to pass medical marijuana laws via a ballot initiative and that he voted against it.

    Senator Paul drilled Bush that he didn’t really support medical marijuana or states’ rights.

    Bush claimed that if voters in Colorado wanted different marijuana laws he wouldn’t necessarily interfere.

    The next two candidates took the opportunity to try to have it both ways, first with Christie extolling New Jersey’s recently passed ‘rehabilitation over incarceration’ legislation and that the “war on drugs is largely a failure”, but, non-sensibly, then goes on to bluster and re-affirm his virulent opposition to marijuana legalization, claiming marijuana is a gateway drug (which simply is not supported by science or data). He exclaimed to Paul ‘if you want marijuana legalized, pass a law in Congress’.

    Then former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina took the unsolicited opportunity to gratuitously mention her son’s addiction and death from drug overdose (self-evidently not from marijuana), that marijuana is a gateway drug, is way more potent (‘Then when Jeb Bush smoked it”)…but, then, incongruously, she insisted that the war on drugs is a failure, prisons are overcrowded and that “what we’re doing is not working”.

    Senator Paul attacked Christie for not truly supporting the 1oth Amendment allowing states autonomy from the federal government, that, further, if president Christie would enforce federal laws against state medical cannabis patients, including children who’re recommended medical marijuana use by physicians.

    Distilled: Three of the Republican candidates indicated the war on drugs is a failure (Paul, Fiorina and Christie), one candidate (Bush) indicated that the federal government has an important role to play against drug use.

    One candidate supported medical access to marijuana and states rights (Paul); one candidate claimed to support states rights and limited access to medical marijuana (Bush); one candidate supported medical access to marijuana, but would use federal law to stop states from deviating from federal policies they no longer support (Christie) and a candidate will use the death of their child to advance inaccurate and unscientific claims–while at the same time wanting credit for identifying the problems that contributed to their son’s plight, while making no indication how if at all they’d allow states autonomy to make policy decisions independent of the centralized federal government (Fiorina).

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director December 12, 2012

    Our anti-prohibitionist friends at the prestigious Washington, DC think-tank The Cato Institute will feature a live debate today at 4PM (eastern) entitled The Law and Politics of Marijuana Prohibition. The main focus of the debate, in the wake of Colorado and Washington voters recently approving binding ballot initiatives legalizing and taxing cannabis, is the very important–and unknown–federal response to this next generation of state-based cannabis law reforms that run afoul of the current–and unpopular–federal prohibition on cannabis that is now seventy-five years old.

    According to Gallup and PPP polling–to say nothing of the vote totals in Colorado and Washington–more than fifty percent of the population supports legalizing cannabis. Even more recent Gallup polling strongly indicates Americans want the federal government to respect states’ efforts to reform cannabis laws.

    Representing the argument that the states can indeed expand personal civil liberties via reform of cannabis laws is Vanderbilt law professor Robert Mikos, and representing, well, the status quo, is former congressman and Drug Enforcement Administration head Asa Hutchinson (who argues that states can’t legalize cannabis, because that will violate federal laws…cannabis is an evil drug…blah-blah-blah).

    Also of great note, in advance of today’s live debate, The Cato Institute released a new (and compelling) academic paper by Professor Mikos entitled ‘On the Limits of Federal Supremacy: When States Relax (or Abandon) Marijuana Bans’

    You can watch this debate @ 4PM eastern live here.

     

     

     

     

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