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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 25, 2012


    New polling data released this week from Castleton Polling Institute shows pro-reform incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin (D) holding a massive lead over his challenger, Randy Brock (R). A survey of 477 registered Vermont voters taken from August 11th to 21st found they favored Gov. Shumlin by a full 34 percentage points, 60% for Shumlin and just 26% for Brock.

    This is notable considering Shumlin’s longterm support of marijuana law reforms while governor and that this data comes just over a week after he contacted NORML to explicitly express his desire to continue his push for decriminalization. Attempts by his contender Randy Brock to cast Governor Shumlin’s support for sensible law reforms as “sending the wrong message to kids” seem to have failed in eroding support for the popular sitting politician. And it is no wonder, recent Vermont polling conducted by MPP this February shows that 63% of Vermont citizens support decriminalizing marijuana possession. Perhaps even more telling is that 52% of respondents stated a candidates support of decriminalization made them more likely to vote for them, 21% stated it would not alter their decision, and only 25% said it would make them less likely.

    All other candidates take note, as we saw earlier this year in Oregon and Texas, the majority of Americans are ready to see an end to our seven decade failure that is cannabis prohibition. Coming out in support of these sensible reforms will no longer cost you an election, but it just may win you one.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 20, 2012

    Earlier this year, the Colorado Democrats announced their support for marijuana legalization in their 2012 party platform. On June 9th, the Texas Democrats endorsed marijuana decriminalization. Last weekend, the North Carolina Democratic Party added resolutions supporting medical cannabis and industrial hemp. Now, the Iowa Democratic party is the latest one lining up to support sensible marijuana laws.

    At their state convention on June 16th, the Iowa Democrats adopted their 2012 platform. Two of the policies endorsed within were medical cannabis use and the industrial cultivation of hemp. You can view the full 2012 Iowa Democratic Party platform here.

    Also worth noting, on June 2nd, the Washington State Democratic Party built upon their earlier endorsement of their state’s legalization initiative, I-502, by adding support for full marijuana legalization and medical cannabis as planks in their party platform. You can view the 2012 Washington State Democratic Party Platform here. Recent data from Public Policy Polling has shown the majority Washington State voters support I-502.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 18, 2012

    From Thursday, June 7th through Saturday, June 9th, the Texas Democratic Party held their state convention in Houston, Texas. Along side other election related business such as selecting delegates, they also voted on their party platform for 2012. One of the issues added this year was support for marijuana decriminalization. Below you can read the official language:

    Decriminalization of Marijuana

    This decriminalization of marijuana does not mean we endorse the use of marijuana but it is only a call to wiser use of law enforcement and public health policy. Prohibition of marijuana abdicates the control of marijuana production and distribution to drug cartels and street gangs. Such prohibition promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.

    Every year, hundreds and thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana possession violations- far more than all those arrested for violent crimes in America. Societal costs dealing with the war on drugs concerning marijuana exceeds 12 billion dollars annually. Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only.

    Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.

    There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.

    Texas Democrats urge the President, the Attorney General and the Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate its use, production and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol.

    We further urge the immediate decriminalization of the possession and use of medical marijuana.

    Source: Texas Democratic Party 2012 Platform

    The Texas Democrats now join the growing list of state political parties throwing their support behind marijuana law reform. Earlier this year, the Colorado Democratic Party added marijuana legalization as a plank to their party’s platform and announced support for their state’s legalization ballot initiative, Amendment 64. 56% of Denver Country Republican Assembly also voted in favor of supporting this initiative. The state democratic party in Washington endorsed their legalization initiative, I-502, in late 2011.

    While the federal government may continue to ignore the will of the people on the marijuana issue, it is comforting to see state level politicians supporting the interests and desires of their constituencies. Considering that pro-reform candidates are winning elections in multiple states, respected party members such as Governor Cuomo (D-NY) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) are endorsing decriminalization, and the continuous flow of marijuana law reform being approved at the state level, one has to wonder just how much longer the federal government and current presidential contenders can ignore the giant green elephant in the room.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 30, 2012

    In early May, Ellen Rosenblum rode to a landslide victory in the Oregon Democratic Attorney General Primary with marijuana law reform being a central plank in her platform. It looks like it has happened again, this time in the Lone Star state.

    In the Democratic primary for the House seat representing El Paso, eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes faced an unexpected challenger in Beto O’Rourke, who formerly served on the El Paso city council. The race garnered media attention, largely focusing on O’Rourke’s support for marijuana legalization.

    O’Rourke had been vocal in his critique of the drug war, telling the Huffington Post in April that, “you have 10,000 people killed in the most brutal fashion in Ciudad Juarez in the last 10 years, without a single word from the congressman about what we can do to change the dynamic and stop the bloodshed.” He also stated that, “it is clear to me that what we’re doing is a failure.”

    During his second term on the city council, O’Rourke championed a resolution that urged the re-examination of the drug war and went on to author a book on the subject.

    Beto’s support of marijuana law reform became the focus of attacks from his opponent, Reyes, in the final days of the campaign. Reyes lambasted O’Rourke’s position as soft on crime stating that “my opponent seems to think that recreational use of marijuana is okay with him, and that’s the group he hangs around with — but it’s not for me, it’s not for my grandkids.”

    Reyes feared ending prohibition would lead to widespread use around schools and children. “I don’t want to live in a community where people think that it’s okay to light up a joint and parade around elementary schools and junior highs,” he said.

    Despite these attempts to turn O’Rourke’s rational support for the reform of marijuana policy into a political liability, the voters decided otherwise. Last night, O’Rourke claimed victory, with 50.4% of the vote. Silvestre Reyes, despite the advantage of holding the office for eight terms, only received 44.4%.

    Let’s hope this is just another in an ongoing wave of pro-reform candidates being elected into office, replacing those who employ tired drug war rhetoric to continue the costly failure that is cannabis prohibition. The people want it. If the politicians aren’t willing to take a stand and change the policy, it is time we start changing the politicians.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 5, 2010

    No fooling. On Friday, April 1st the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a report looking at both public support for medicinal access to cannabis as well as the larger issue of legalization. 602-1

    The results of the Pew survey confirm previous NORML reports about the overall popularity of cannabis law reform despite 73-years of cannabis prohibition:

    -Strong and undeniable public support now exists nationwide for medical patients having access to cannabis;

    -A fast growing plurality of Americans now support outright legalization of cannabis

    With a growing number of states moving to legalize medical marijuana, nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they favor their state allowing the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes if it is prescribed by a doctor, while 23% are opposed. Support for legalizing medical marijuana spans all major political and demographic groups, and is equally high in states that have and have not already passed laws on this issue.

    There are public concerns about legalizing medical marijuana. For example, 45% say they would be very or somewhat concerned if a store that sold medical marijuana opened near other stores in their area. And roughly the same percentage (46%) says allowing medical marijuana makes it easier for people to get marijuana even if they don’t have a real medical need – though just 26% of Americans say this is something that concerns them. These concerns are highest among opponents of legalizing medical marijuana, but are no higher or lower in states that already allow marijuana for medical purposes.

    Far more Americans favor allowing marijuana for prescribed medical purposes than support a general legalization of marijuana. But the proportion who thinks the use of marijuana should be legal has continued to rise over the past two decades.

    The most recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 10-14 among 1,500 adults on landlines and cell phones, finds that 41% of the public thinks the use of marijuana should be made legal while 52% do not. In 2008, 35% said it should be legal and 57% said the use of marijuana should not be legal, according to data from the General Social Survey. Twenty years ago, only 16% of the public said the use of marijuana should be legal and 81% said it should not be legal.Far more Americans favor allowing marijuana for prescribed medical purposes than support a general legalization of marijuana. But the proportion who thinks the use of marijuana should be legal has continued to rise over the past two decades.

    602-4

    Read entire report and view the numerous survey charts with cross tabulations here.

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