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  • by NORML September 11, 2018

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced their most recent slate of bi-partisan reelection endorsements for incumbent members of the United States House of Representatives.

    “There was more momentum behind federal marijuana law reform in 2018 than in any previous year, and that is in no small part due to some of our longstanding, outspoken allies in Congress,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “In order to finally cross the finish line and end our failed federal prohibition on marijuana, it is important that we not just vote out reefer mad prohibitionists, but we need to support and ensure our key allies remain in office. Their seniority and passion for the issue makes them true leaders in taking our country in a new and sensible direction on marijuana policy and with their help we will finally resolve the tensions between state and federal laws regarding marijuana. We encourage voters in their districts to support them in November and ensure they serve in Washington another two years to help us finish the fight.”

    The newly announced endorsements are listed below.

    Republican Endorsements: Rep. David Joyce (R-OH14), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI3), Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA2) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3).

    Democratic Endorsements: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA17), and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA2).

    Of the lead sponsors of NORML’s priority legislation, NORML PAC Director Erik Altieri released the following statements:

    On the Marijuana Justice Act, HR 4815 introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee…

    “We are exceptionally pleased to endorse Representative Barbara Lee, the lead sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would not only end federal marijuana prohibition, but also penalize states that maintain the unjust and disproportionate targeting of minority communities as a result of state-level criminalization,”

    “Rep. Lee has been a long time champion of reform. She has been instrumental to the recent explosion of support at the federal level and is a tremendous advocate for her constituents.”

    On the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, HR 1227 introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard…

    “We are happy to endorse Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the lead sponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would end the failed national policy of cannabis prohibition.”

    “Rep. Gabbard is never afraid to speak truth to power and has been one of the most sensible voices in the Congress on improving public policy.”

    On the States Act, HR 6043 introduced by Rep. David Joyce…

    “We are pleased to endorse Representative David Joyce, the lead Republican sponsor of the States Act, which would create an exemption in the Controlled Substances Act to end the threat of federal interference with state-legal marijuana programs.”

    “Rep. Joyce has quickly become the leading Republican in the House of Representatives to address the federal-state policy tensions and has served as a sensible advocate for his constituents.”

  • by NORML April 24, 2018

    We are pleased to release our 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

    KEY FINDINGS

    • Twenty-four US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
    • Fifteen governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Seven governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats)
    • Nineteen governors received a ‘D’ grade (18 Republicans and 1 Democrat)
    • Four governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Three governors received no grade because of insufficient data
    • Of the 31 Republican US governors receiving a letter grade, only nine of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (34 percent)
    • Of the 15 Democratic US governors receiving a letter grade, 14 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (93 percent)

    Commenting on the results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “While federal officials tend to receive most of the scrutiny in the fight for marijuana law reform, it is not just members of Congress who deserve our attention. In fact, with the majority of marijuana-related campaigns decided on the state level, it is our nation’s governors who often hold the key to our success or failure.”

    Similar to the findings of NORML’s 2016 Governors Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis once again affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states – only 48 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while 64 percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only two Governors are public in their support of this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – more than 90 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

    Also evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform often falls upon partisan lines. While 93 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher, fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, nearly all of the governors who received either a ‘D’ or a failing grade from NORML are Republicans. Conversely, both of the governors who received a ‘A’ grade from NORML are Democrats. This partisanship lies largely in contrast to voters’ sentiments, as the public tends to view many aspects of marijuana law reform, such as the regulation of medicinal cannabis, as non-partisan issues. (For example, according to 2017 Quinnipiac polling, 90 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats, and 96 percent of Independents favor “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”)

    Altieri continued: “Voters need to push current governors and 2018 gubernatorial candidates to take a proactive and positive stance on marijuana policy. Constituents must let their governors know that holding positions on marijuana legalization that are of step with the will of state voters will cost them at the ballot box, and that embracing sensible reform policies will increase their support among voters.”

    He added: “Look to New Jersey as an example. The exit of anti-drug zealot Chris Christie and the election of pro-legalization Phil Murphy has changed the entire tenor of the debate. Already, the state is moving to expand and reinforce their long suffering medical marijuana program and his very election catapulted the topic of full legalization to the top of this year’s legislative priorities list.”

    To read NORML’s full report, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 7, 2016

    AUMAMore than seven in ten Californians say that they favor voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 64: the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, according to polling data compiled by the CALSPEAKS Opinion Research Center at Sacramento State.

    Seventy-one percent of respondents say that they are leaning toward voting in favor of the statewide initiative. Public support is strongest among those between the ages of 18 and 34 (84 percent) Latinos (81 percent), Democrats (80 percent), those between the ages of 50 and 64 (74 percent), and Independents (72 percent).

    The poll’s margin of error is +/- four percentage points.

    Polling data compiled last month by by the Institute of Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley reported that 64 percent of California voters believe, “Marijuana should be legal for adults to purchase and use recreationally, with government regulations similar to the regulation of alcohol.”

    Proposition 64 permits adults to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to eight grams of concentrate) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The measure prohibits localities from taking actions to infringe upon adults’ ability to possess and cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes. The initiative language specifies that it is not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt … laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.” Proposition 64 is endorsed by the ACLU of California, the California Democratic Party, the California Medical Association, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California NAACP, the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and NORML.

    Similar adult use measures will also appear on the ballot this November in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

    A summary of 2016 statewide ballot measures and their status is online here.

  • by NORML November 5, 2014

    All seven of NORML PAC’s publicly endorsed candidates for the US House of Representatives won decisively in yesterday’s midterm election.

    These include:

    Rep. Alan Grayson for Congress (FL-09)
    Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress (NJ-12)
    Rep. Earl Blumenauer for Congress (OR-03)
    Rep. Steve Cohen for Congress (TN-9)
    Rep. Beto O’Rourke for Congress (TX-16)
    Rep. Denny Heck for Congress (WA-10)
    Rep. Jared Polis for Congress (CO-02)

    These candidates all endorsed the full legalization of marijuana and are dedicated to championing reform at the federal level in the 114th Congress. We fully expect these individuals to be instrumental in introducing and advancing important legislation when they begin their new session in January.

    “What is really worth noting,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Is that all of our endorsements for the US House of Representatives happened to be Democrats and all won by large margins in a year where others in their party were getting handily defeated nationwide. Perhaps this, coupled with solid wins for legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, will send a message to Democratic Party members across the country that it is not only good policy to support marijuana legalization, but good politics.”

    Also winning their elections were NORML PAC endorsed New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker and Maine State Representative Diane Russell.

    Want to help us continue to elect pro-reform candidates across the country? DONATE to NORML PAC today!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    Oregon and Alaska legalized and regulated the commercial production and sale of marijuana for adults, while voters residing in the nation’s capitol and in numerous other cities nationwide similarly decided this Election Day to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.

    Voters in two states decided in favor of a pair of statewide measures to regulate the commercial production, retail sale, and personal use of marijuana by adults. Alaska and Oregon are the third and fourth states to enact regulations on the licensed production and sale of cannabis, joining Colorado and Washington. All four states have enacted their marijuana legalization laws via voter initiative.

    Commenting on the new laws’ passage, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The majority of voters in these states, like a majority of voters nationwide, agree that a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or potential abuse. Elected officials in Alaska, Oregon, and elsewhere should welcome the opportunity to bring these common sense and long overdue regulatory controls to the commercial cannabis market.”

    Under the new Oregon proposal (Measure 91), adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana at a given time) will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations. Imposition of the new law will not “amend or affect in any way the function, duties, and powers of the Oregon Health Authority under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.” The legalization measure takes effect on July 1, 2015.

    Under the Alaska measure (Ballot Measure 2), the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants for personal consumption will be legal and untaxed. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis will be subject to licensing and taxation. Since 1975, Alaskans have enjoyed personal privacy protections allowing for the possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis. However, state law has never before permitted a legal market for marijuana production and sales. The initiative becomes law 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to be in late November.

    Some 56 percent of Oregon voters backed Measure 91 while 52 percent of Alaskans endorsed Measure 2.

    In California, nearly 60 percent of voters backed Proposition 47, which defelonizes simple drug possession crimes, such as the possession of hashish. Under the measure, Californians with felony records for certain marijuana possession offenses will also be eligible to have their records expunged. Those serving time for felony drug offenses will also be able to petition for resentencing.

    In the US territory Guam , 56 percent of voters decided in favor of Proposal 14A, the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act. The new law directs “the Department of Public Health and Social Services to regulate the use of marijuana as treatment for medical conditions.” The Department has up to nine months to provide rules for the territory’s medical marijuana program.

    By contrast, a proposed Florida amendment (Amendment 2) fell shy of the 60 percent support threshold necessary in that state to amend the state’s constitution. Fifty-eight percent of Florida voters endorsed the measure, including supermajorities in most every age group except for those voters age 65 and older. Said NORML’s Deputy Director: “This vote wasn’t a rejection of medical marijuana in Florida, but rather an affirmation that most Floridians want patient access to cannabis therapy. NORML hopes that the Florida lawmakers will hear this message loud and clear and take action in 2015 on behalf of the will of the majority of the electorate.”

    Municipal voters overwhelmingly decided in favor of depenalizing cannabis on Election Day. In Washington, DC, some 70 percent of District voters approved Initiative 71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants. Adults who engage in not-for-profit transactions of small quantities of cannabis or who possess marijuana-related paraphernalia are also no longer be subject to penalty under this act.

    Unlike legalization measures in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, I-71 does not establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial cannabis market. However, members of the DC City Council are currently considering separate legislation to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. (Because Washington, DC does not possess statehood, all District laws are subject to Congressional approval prior to their implementation.)

    Voters in several Michigan cities, including Saginaw (population 51,000), Port Huron (30,000), and Berkley (15,000) also decided in favor of local ballot measures depenalizing offenses involving the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Michigan lawmakers are anticipated to debate a statewide decriminalization proposal in 2015.

    Likewise, voters in South Portland, Maine approved a municipal ordinance eliminating local penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Voters in Lewiston, Maine rejected a similar measure.

    In New Mexico, voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties decided in favor of advisory questions in support of the decriminalization of one ounce or less of marijuana at a city, county and state level. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties represent a third of the state’s population.

    Finally, in Massachusetts, voters in several state representative districts voted in favor of various nonbinding public policy questions calling on state officials to legalize and regulate cannabis-related commerce.

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