John Hanger is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and has made marijuana law reform a central plank in his platform. He has released a three step plan for marijuana law reform that advocates for medical marijuana and decriminalization immediately upon taking office in 2015 and to move to full legalization by 2017.
At the press conference, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri stated, “Hanger is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to openly discuss and campaign on a platform that calls for widespread reform of Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws. Since the start of his campaign, John Hanger has been a passionate and outspoken advocate of ending Pennsylvania’s war on marijuana and moving the state towards a smarter approach.”
In an interview with NORML conducted earlier this year, John Hanger stated his belief that marijuana law reformers can elect the next governor. “We can win this issue in May 2014, by my winning that primary,” Hanger said, “It will shock the political establishment and accelerate the changing of the laws by years in Pennsylvania and around the country. I believe Pennsylvania is seen as a bellwether. If marijuana reform can win in Pennsylvania, it can win anywhere.”
VOTER NOTE: Since the Republicans are running current governor Tom Corbett for reelection, there will only be a Democratic primary in this election which will be held in May 2014. To vote in this primary, you must be registered Democrat. You can change your party affiliation, then change it back, at any time by sending in a new voter registration application and marking “Change of Party” where given the option. More information on Pennsylvania voting can be found here.
Judge Richard Posner serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, he also wants marijuana to be legalized.
During a September 6th speech at Elmhurst College, the federal judge lambasted the war on cannabis. “I don’t think we should have a fraction of the drug laws that we have,” proclaimed Posner to loud applause, “I think it’s really absurd to be criminalizing possession or use or distribution of marijuana.”
Posner went on to state that our drug laws are “a waste of a lot of high quality legal minds, and it’s also a waste of people’s lives who could be as least moderately productive with having to spend year after year in prison. That is a serious problem.”
We here at NORML couldn’t agree more and applaud Judge Posner for having the courage to speak the truth from his high ranking position and for setting a bold example for his colleagues. You can view the entirety of his speech below:
NORML is reposting this message on behalf of our allies at The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:
More than 100 members of the academic community from across Colorado and throughout the nation have signed on to the following letter endorsing Amendment 64. These college professors represent various fields of study, including economics, law, and public health, among others, and they all agree: marijuana prohibition has failed, and the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado presents a sensible alternative.
Please read the letter below and check out the impressive list of signatories here.
To the Voters of Colorado:
As professors in the fields of law, health, economics, and criminal justice, among others, we write this open letter to encourage a sensible, evidence-based approach to marijuana policy, and to endorse Amendment 64, the initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.
For decades, our country has pursued a policy of marijuana prohibition that has been just as ineffective and wasteful as alcohol prohibition. We have reviewed Amendment 64 and concluded that it presents an effective, responsible, and much-needed new approach for Colorado and the nation.
Marijuana prohibition has proven to be the worst possible system when it comes to protecting teens, driving marijuana into the underground market where proof of age is not required and where other illegal products might be available. In a regulated system, marijuana sales will be taken off the streets and put behind a counter where age restrictions are strictly enforced. There is evidence that regulating marijuana works. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana use among Colorado high school students declined from 2009 to 2011, the time during which the state began regulating medical marijuana sale. Meanwhile, it increased nationwide, where no such regulations were implemented.
Given our current economic climate, we must evaluate the efficacy of expensive government programs and make responsible decisions about the use of state resources. Enforcing marijuana prohibition is wasting our state’s limited criminal justice resources and eroding respect for the law. Our communities would be better served if the resources we currently spend to investigate, arrest, and prosecute people for marijuana offenses each year were redirected to focus on violent and otherwise harmful crimes. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, passage of Amendment 64 would immediately save local and state law enforcement officials more than $12 million per year, and it could save more than $36 million per year within the first five years. Paired with new state and local revenues, the initiative has the potential to generate more than $120 million per year for Colorado and its localities.
It is also important to note that Amendment 64 does not change existing laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana, and it allows employers to maintain all of their current employment and drug-testing policies.
The State of Colorado, as well as our nation, have successfully walked the path from prohibition to regulation in the past. Eighty years ago, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative to repeal alcohol prohibition at the state level, which was followed by repeal at the federal level. This year, we have the opportunity to do the same thing with marijuana and once again lead the nation toward more sensible, evidence-based laws and policies.
Please join us in supporting Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Click here to read the full list of professors who have signed on. You can learn more about Amendment 64 and the campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado by visiting the campaign’s website here or by staying up to date with Colorado NORML here.
This morning, the Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana conference of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) endorsed Amendment 64, a Colorado ballot initiative that aims to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. This adds to the growing list of organizations getting behind the ballot measure, which already includes groups such as the Democratic and Libertarian Parties of Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
Speaking in support of the endorsement, conference president Rosemary Harris Lytle stated, “In ending the prohibition against adult use of marijuana we might affect mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on African-Americans and other people of color.”
The latest polls show growing support for Amendment 64 among Colorado citizens, particularly driven by an influx of support from independent voters. When first polled in early June, a Public Policy Polling survey had support for the initiative at 46% to 42% opposed. In early August, PPP conducted their first survey of “likely” Colorado voters, and the spread had increased to 49% support and only 40% opposed. During that time, independent voters moved from 49% support and 40% opposed in June to 58% support and 28% opposed in August.
Learn more about Amendment 64 by visiting the campaign’s website here. You can also learn about all the other ways marijuana law reform comes into play during the 2012 election by reading NORML’s online voter guide “Smoke the Vote.”
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.