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  • by Sabrina Fendrick, Director of Women's Outreach February 12, 2014

    Nearly 30 states, and the District of Columbia are considering marijuana law reform legislation this year, including bills that cover legalization for adults, decriminalization, medical marijuana and hemp.  Some states have a variety of reform bills simultaneously pending such as Arizona which is considering legalization and decriminalization, and Pennsylvania which is considering legalization as well as medical marijuana legislation.  Here’s a quick breakdown:

    14 states are considering legalization: Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

    12 states and the District of Columbia are considering decriminalization: Alabama, Arizona, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

    11 states are considering legislation to establish effective medical marijuana programs: Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    3 states are considering allowing industrial hemp cultivation: Indiana, New York, and Tennessee.

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    Click here to access NORML’s Action Alerts and quickly and easily contact your elected officials to encourage their support of any pending reform bills.  Be sure to keep checking NORML’s Take Action Center to see if your state has joined the list! 

  • by Sabrina Fendrick, Director of Women's Outreach December 5, 2013

    On December 5th 1933 at exactly 5:32pm eastern standard time, Utah signed on as the last of the 36 states needed to ratify the 21st amendment, repealing the nation’s failed 13-year prohibition policy experiment banning the sale and use of alcohol nationwide.  At 6:55 p.m., President Roosevelt signed an official proclamation announcing the nation’s new alcohol policy.

    It was clear to the public, and politicians of the day that alcohol prohibition had failed in everything it was trying to achieve.  The 18th amendment led to widespread disrespect for the law, black market violence, serious loss of tax revenue, and a drain on police resources.

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    Here we are again, eighty years later fighting another, equally damaging policy of marijuana prohibition.  Unlike the short lived 18th amendment however, our nation’s punitive and disastrous marijuana laws have been in effect for more than 75 years.  The longevity of this current prohibition has resulted in exponentially more damage to our society than that caused by the alcohol laws of the 1920’s and early 30’s.  Today’s laws have ruined millions of lives and wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.  It has fueled the black market, contributes to the erosion of civil liberties and continues to line the pockets of criminals and cartels.

    Eighty years ago today, our President and 36 states came to the same conclusion: That making something a majority of people perceive as harmless and fun illegal will not make it go away, or solve any problems perceived to be associated with its use.  It is about managing public safety by containing the market and managing the user experience.  The majority of alcohol drinkers and marijuana users are responsible people who consume in moderation.  It is time for our lawmakers to recognize what their predecessors did so many years ago, legalization and regulation is the only sensible solution.  Colorado and Washington are pioneering a new policy allowing for the legal, taxable sale of marijuana to adults 21+, and it is only a matter of time before more states follow suit.  Through an environment of control, standardization and accountability, both for the individual and the industry, our nation can begin to undo the generations of damage brought on by marijuana prohibition.

    The days of marijuana prohibition are numbered and one day, marijuana will take its rightful place alongside alcohol as a legal recreational alternative.  One day, we too will be celebrating our very own day of repeal.

  • by Sabrina Fendrick, Director of Women's Outreach December 2, 2013

    Did you know you can do your holiday shopping and support marijuana legalization at the same time?

    As we close out of Cyber Monday and enter the full swing of the holiday season, you now have the opportunity help a great cause while doing your online holiday shopping at no extra cost.  Every Time you make a purchase through the following websites, a percentage of your purchase price will be donated to the NORML Foundation.

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    iGive:  Sign-up through www.igive.com/norml, download the button and start shopping.  There’s over 1400 socially-responsible stores helping to make donations happen.

    Amazon: When you shop through Amazon,  the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to NORML.  Just click here or the link below and start shopping.

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    Other ways to help NORML during the holiday season: You can make a tax-deductible contribution to the NORML Foundation via check, credit card or PayPal by clicking here.  You can also donate stock options, sign up for corporate gift matching (if applicable) and/or incorporate NORML into your will and estate planning.

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director November 25, 2013

    NORML filed an “amicus curiae” brief with the state supreme appellate court on Friday, November 22, urging the court to enforce the limits on police searches set by 2008′s voter-initiative state decriminalization law, which eliminating police searches and arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Attorneys Michael Cutler of Northampton and Steven Epstein of Georgetown authored the brief.norml_remember_prohibition_

    In this case a Boston judge initially ruled a 2011 police search — based entirely on the smell of unburnt marijuana — violated the “decriminalization” law which made possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil infraction subject only to a fine, thereby ending police authority to search or arrest the possessor. The state appealed.

    Earlier in 2011 the state supreme court ruled, in a case in which NORML also filed an amicus brief, that police searches based only on the odor of burnt marijuana were now illegal. The court reasoned that smell alone did not establish probable cause to believe a criminal amount (more than an ounce) was present, so police had no power to search or arrest.

    NORML asks the court to reject the Boston prosecutor’s claim that federal prohibition — which allows arrest and imprisonment for any amount of cannabis under federal law — trumps the state decriminalization law and allows police to ignore state law and use evidence from smell-based searches in state courts.

    NORML argues that state prosecutors and police must obey state law and state appellate court rulings under the state constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, requiring the executive branch to obey the legislative branch’s laws and the judicial branch’s limits on police conduct under state law and the state’s constitution.

    Finally, NORML argues that the state prosecutor’s position violates fundamental principles of Federalism, which limit federal “preemption” of state law only where state law “positively conflicts” with federal law. Since the August 2013 federal Justice Department Guidance memo to  federal prosecutors nationwide, recommending no interference with state laws legalizing marijuana in a responsible manner, no such conflict exists between federal and state authority.

    Oral argument in the case of Commonwealth v. Craan is scheduled for early February, with a decision possible by June 2014.

     

  • by Sabrina Fendrick, Director of Women's Outreach October 29, 2013

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    There’s an air of cognitive dissonance about it, that a woman, especially a nurturing, professional woman, could both smoke pot and not be Jim Breuer in Half Baked was, to many, a revelation.” Emily Dufton, The Atlantic (10/28/13)

    Emily Dufton does an excellent job identifying the cultural challenges and social setbacks that are experienced by female cannabis consumers on a regular basis.  The issue of women and weed has become a hot topic recently, and being on the forefront of this push for female engagement has been nothing short of fascinating.  The emergence of independent, mainstream professional women becoming more outspoken about their cannabis use has prominently challenged traditional stereotypes, and started the long-overdue process of reframing gender norms.  As marijuana goes mainstream, its cultural connotations will continue to evolve.  In return, more women will feel comfortable coming out of the cannabis closet.

    A little over 4 years ago, I wrote an aptly named blog; Because Women are NORML Too, in response to the overwhelming interest to Marie Claire’s famous Stiletto Stoners article.  In that post, I noted, “The normalization of recreational cannabis consumption is not just happening with men, which is what most people think of when they think of pot smokers.  Women, who are not necessarily left out of the movement, are rarely recognized as a major demographic that is essential for the reform effort to push forward in a truly legitimate fashion.”   It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.

    Since then, there has been a major effort on behalf of NORML and the movement to identify and close the gender gap.  Reformers are acutely aware that in order to succeed in ending blanket prohibition, female outreach has to be a key component to their advocacy work.  Women, a significant demographic were largely responsible for bringing down California’s Proposition 19, but were also a key factor in the passage of Washington and Colorado’s legalization initiatives in 2012.  In fact, campaigners in Colorado and Washington spent a significant amount of time and resources cultivating the female vote. Though a gender gap still exists nationwide, it is shrinking, fast.

    While great strides have been made culturally and politically, there still remains a great deal of curiosity and intrigue surrounding female cannabis consumers.  Many want to know, who are these women who smoke pot?  Why do we smoke pot? Is it because we are sick or in pain, need a crutch or because we simply want to relax with a substance that has less side effects than alcohol?  Why don’t more of us speak out about it?  Why aren’t there more women leading the fight?  Can a responsible mom still smoke pot?  It’s truly amazing how a single chromosome can alter the entire construct and perception of a certain behavior.  One can write volumes on each of these questions, but the interest clearly comes from the disconnect of deeply rooted gender norms regarding women, intoxication, and our various roles in society.  Many of these abstract components have been mulled over time and again by different authors and publications.  But if we look at our current policies, some of these questions are answered in very real terms.

    For example, a mother who chooses to unwind with a joint after her child has gone to bed is no more a danger to her child than one who chooses a glass of wine.  Yet, our laws say otherwise.  A mother who smokes pot is in constant danger of losing her children because child protective services maintain the false presumption that this behavior (or the mere presence of pot) poses a threat to the child’s safety.  This is just one example of how the culmination traditional gender norms and our current marijuana policies play a real and tragic role in our society.  The proliferation of government agencies across the country removing children from safe, loving homes for the mere fact that a parent is a cannabis consumer, even in states with a legal medical marijuana program, or where marijuana possession is no longer a criminal offense is not just an abstract discussion, but a tangible, legal issue that requires immediate attention and an expedited solution.  Support for marijuana legalization is higher than ever before, and as the political winds change, so too will the scope of the marijuana culture.  Women, and our relationship with marijuana will have political and social implications for years to come, and it is therefore up to us to make sure we take a leading role in defining what those outcomes will be.

     

     

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