“Shenna Bellows has been at the forefront of the fight for marijuana legalization even before beginning this campaign,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “During her tenure leading the Maine ACLU, Shenna has demonstrated she has the skill and determination to fight for sensible reforms and has proven to be a vocal and articulate leader in calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. We believe she will be invaluable in the United States Senate to help move the country away from our failed war on marijuana and towards a new, smarter approach.”
“We need to end the war on drugs and reform our criminal justice system, and we cannot afford to wait. The United States incarcerates more people in total and more people per capita than any other country in the world, and the racial disparities are alarming,” Shenna Bellows wrote in a recent op-ed, “Even in my home state of Maine, which is the whitest state in the union, blacks are 2.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Government spends billions of dollars each year enforcing counterproductive drug laws, which are truly the New Jim Crow. The economic and human rights costs are enormous.”
While we have long had support for marijuana law reform in the House of Representative, support in the Senate has long been harder to come by. In a recent interview with ThinkProgress, Ms. Bellows has made clear she looks to kickstart the movement for rational marijuana policy in the upper chamber of Congress.
“Right now on the Senate side, there doesn’t seem to be a leader who has the courage to move that forward,” Bellows said. “I would be that leader.”
You can donate to the NORML PAC to help elect pro-reform candidates nationwide here.
Delegate Mizeur has made marijuana legalization a central plank in her campaign platform. Under her proposed plan, the state would generate $158 million for early-childhood education, enough to cover 23,600 children annually from revenue produced from regulated marijuana sales.
This reform is desperately needed in Maryland. According to a 2013 ACLU report, Maryland possesses one of the highest rates of marijuana possession arrests of any state in the country. Maryland arrests over 23,000 individuals for simple marijuana possession every year, at the cost over of 100 million dollars. Despite only constituting 30% of the state’s population and having similar use rates to their white counterparts, African Americans account for 58% of the state’s marijuana possession arrests.
“Maryland’s marijuana laws have ruined lives, been enforced with racial bias, and keep law enforcement from focusing their time and resources on more violent crime,” Mizeur stated, “We’re proud to have NORML PAC’s support in the effort to make Maryland the next state to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.”
Heather is currently the only Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland to support marijuana legalization.
“NORML PAC is pleased to endorse Delegate Heather Mizeur in her campaign to become the next governor of Maryland,” said Erik Altieri, NORML PAC Manager. “We believe Del. Mizeur and her running mate Delman Coates will provide the leadership required to help Maryland move towards a new, smarter approach to marijuana.”
You can learn more about Mizeur’s campaign here.
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.