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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 27, 2015

    CongressCalifornia Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, along with five other Republicans and six Democrats, has reintroduced legislation to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to marijuana.

    HR 1094 states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.”

    Representative Rohrabacher sponsored a budgetary amendment last year to limit federal interference in states with marijuana regulation schemes. (That provision expires this fall.) However, the Department of Justice has recently claimed that the law does not prevent the government sanctioning individuals or businesses in states where marijuana is legal.

    “The American people … have made it clear that federal enforcers should stay out of their personal lives,” Rohrabacher said in a statement upon the bill’s reintroduction late last week. “It’s time for restraint of the federal government’s over-aggressive weed warriors.”

    According to national survey data released today by Fox News, 51 percent of registered voters say that they favor “legalizing marijuana.” The figure is an increase of five percentage points since Fox pollsters asked the question in 2013. It is the first time that a majority of respondents have favored legalization in a Fox News sponsored poll. The poll is the latest in a series of national surveys showing majority support for legalizing and regulating marijuana

    To learn more about HR 1940, or to contact your elected officials in support of this or other pending legislation, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director September 12, 2011

    Google and Fox News will host a debate between Republican primary candidates in Orlando on September 22nd. Similar to the “social media townhalls” President Obama has previously hosted, this debate will consist exclusively of questions submitted by the public. This forum provides advocates with a unique opportunity to put these presidential hopefuls on record regarding their position on marijuana law reform.

    NORML has submitted a question for consideration:

    “As president, would you stand up for states’ rights by ending federal marijuana prohibition and allow them to experiment with models of decriminalization and legalization without federal interference?”

    Here is how you can voice your support and promote this question:

    Step 1: Go to Fox News’ Youtube page here.

    Step 2: Click the “Vote” tab at the top of the page.

    Step 3: In the topics box, select “Social Issues”

    Step 4: Click “Video Questions.”

    Step 5: You should see our video question towards the top of the list, look for the NORML logo in the thumbnail. Click the thumbs up icon next to the question.

    The current line up of candidates have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the current policies of President Obama, yet most have remained silent on the topic of marijuana law reform (that is, of course, excluding Ron Paul). Take a moment of your time to vote up our question, if these candidates want your vote, don’t you deserve to know where they stand on cannabis?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 22, 2010

    Texas GOP drug warrior Rep. Lamar Smith (21st District) lashed out at the Obama administration yesterday on Fox News (Watch the video here.) — claiming that the President is ‘soft’ on pot and is refusing to enforce federal drug laws. But as I opine in today’s edition of The Hill.com’s Congress blog, Congressman Smith is fundamentally wrong on both counts.

    Failed marijuana policies are a bi-partisan boondoggle
    via The Hill

    [excerpt: read the full text here]

    Law enforcement officials prosecuted a near-record 858,408 persons for violating marijuana laws in 2009 – the first year of the Obama presidency. That total is the second highest annual number of pot prosecutions ever recorded in the United States.

    According to the arrest data, made public last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some 88 percent (758,593 Americans) of those charged with marijuana violations were prosecuted for possession only. The remaining 99,815 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

    Does any rational person really think that arresting and prosecuting nearly one million Americans annually for their use of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol exemplifies a ‘soft’ – or better yet, sound – public policy?

    Rep. Smith further claims that the administration has abdicated the enforcement of federal drug laws in the fourteen states that have legalized the physician-supervised use of marijuana since 1996. Not so. Despite promises from the U.S. Attorney General to respect the laws of these 14 states, the September 21 edition of DC’s Daily Caller reports that just the opposite is taking place.

    In an article entitled, ‘DEA, DOJ stay mum on medical marijuana raids,’ reporter Mike Riggs states: “Despite campaign promises to the contrary, the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t stopped raiding marijuana dispensaries operating in states where sale of the drug is legal for medical purposes. But the DOJ has demonstrated one marked change now that it’s under Democratic control: The department has stopped publicizing medical marijuana raids, both by requesting that more cases be sealed under court order and by refusing to distribute press releases.”

    The story goes on to cite details of over a dozen recent federal raids of medical marijuana providers in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada – all states that have approved the cultivation and possession of medical marijuana.

    Of course, if the stricter enforcement of marijuana laws – as Rep. Lamar advocates – was really the solution to curbing Americans’ appetite for pot then how does one explain this? Since 1965, police have arrested over 21 million Americans for violating marijuana laws; yet according to the World Health Organization more Americans consume marijuana than do citizens of any other country in the world.

    Rather than scapegoating the new administration, which has done little to alter longstanding U.S. marijuana policy, Rep. Smith ought to reconsider the past 40 years of failed drug war policies. … It is time to replace failed marijuana prohibition with a system of legalization, sensible regulation, taxation, and education.

    The Hill’s ever-popular Congress blog ‘is where lawmakers come to blog.’ It’s also where legislators and other politicos come to gauge the pulse of the public. Given that this is a paper of record on Capitol Hill, why not send Rep. Smith and his colleagues a message that their anti-marijuana rhetoric is woefully out of touch with voter sentiment? You can make your voice heard by leaving your feedback here.

    If you live in Texas (particularly if you live in the 21st District, which includes the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Kerrville, and San Antonio), you can also contact Rep. Smith directly here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 28, 2010

    Below is the video from my most recent appearance (yesterday) on the Fox News.com broadcast Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano.

    Judge Napolitano has long been one of the mainstream media’s most vocal and consistent critics against the so-called ‘war on drugs.’ In recent broadcasts, he has profiled how U.S. marijuana prohibition is fueling violence and murder in Mexico, and has called for the arrest and prosecution of several police officers involved in a violent SWAT raid in Columbia, Missouri.

    In this segment, Judge Napolitano questions the White House’s recent call to expand so-called ‘drugged driving’ laws to punish non-impaired, former cannabis consumers (and he is no doubt the first national commentator to do so), and asks whether the war on marijuana consumers is less about pot, and more about expanding budgets and job opportunities for law enforcement. (Answer: Absolutely!)

    You can watch our full conversation below.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 13, 2010

    Just days after the White House released their inherently flawed 2010 National Drug Control Strategy (Read NORML’s refutation of it on The Huffington Post here and here.), and mere hours after Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske told reporters at the National Press Club, “I have read thoroughly the ballot proposition in California; I think I once got an e-mail that told me I won the Irish sweepstakes and that actually had more truth in it than the ballot proposition,” the Associated Press takes the entire U.S. drug war strategy and rakes it over the coals.

    It’s about damn time!

    AP IMPACT: After 40 years, $1 trillion, US War on Drugs has failed to meet any of its goals
    via FoxNews.com

    After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

    Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.

    “In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. “Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”

    Seriously, if you care at all about drug policy and marijuana law reform, you really must read the entire AP analysis. It’s that good.

    In 1970, hippies were smoking pot and dropping acid. Soldiers were coming home from Vietnam hooked on heroin. Embattled President Richard M. Nixon seized on a new war he thought he could win.

    “This nation faces a major crisis in terms of the increasing use of drugs, particularly among our young people,” Nixon said as he signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The following year, he said: “Public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”

    His first drug-fighting budget was $100 million. Now it’s $15.1 billion, 31 times Nixon’s amount even when adjusted for inflation.

    Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs. In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:

    — $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.

    $33 billion in marketing “Just Say No”-style messages to America’s youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have “risen steadily” since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.

    — $49 billion for law enforcement along America’s borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.

    $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.

    $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.

    At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse — “an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction” — cost the United States $215 billion a year.

    Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides.

    “Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use,” Miron said, “but it’s costing the public a fortune.”

    The so-called ‘war’ on some drugs — which is really a war on consumers of certain temporarily mood-altering substances, mainly marijuana, can not survive if continually faced with this kind of scrutiny. Even the Drug Czar — when faced with the actual evidence and data above — folds his cards immediately, acknowledging that U.S. criminal drug enforcement “has not been successful.” Yet apparently neither he, nor the majority of Congress, the President, the bulk of law enforcement officials, or any of the tens of thousands of bureaucrats in Washington, DC have the stones to stand up and put a stop to it.

    And that is — and always has been — the problem.

    And so the drums of war beat on, and the casualties mount.

    Isn’t it about time that we all said: “Enough is enough?

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