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Governor

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 9, 2013

    In his State of the State address, delivered this morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed his commitment to reforming his state’s marijuana laws. The governor proposed decriminalizing the possession of 15 grams of marijuana in public view to a civil violation. Currently only possession of marijuana in private is decriminalized, possession in public view is still currently a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $250 with a maximum sentence of 90 days.

    “These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end and it must end now,” Governor Cuomo stated.

    Last year, the Governor declared his support for a similar proposal, but was unable to gather significant support in the state legislature by the end of the year. NORML applauds Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the issue and we were glad to see him putting the topic front and center in a prominent speech.

    You can view Governor Cuomo’s speech on C-SPAN here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 15, 2012

    During a press conference today, the governor-elect for the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, defended his state’s recently approved marijuana legalization initiative. He stated that he believes it is the best interest “not only of our state, but in our country” for President Obama and the federal government to allow these recently approved measures to move forward.

    “My belief is Washington has worked its will. The voters have spoken,” Inslee stated, “I was not supportive of the initiative but I’m going to be fully supportive of protecting, defending, and implementing the will of the voter—which will essentially allow the use of recreational marijuana in our state.”

    In regards to the federal government, the incoming governor encouraged their support. “I will be working to a very rational, mature way to convince the administration that it’s in the best interest, not only of our state, but in our country, to allow our state to move forward in this regard.”

    You can view his comments in full here.

    It is refreshing, to say the least, to see an elected official going to bat for the voters of their state and defending the will of the people when it comes to marijuana policy. As always, NORML will keep you posted on the ever evolving situation between Washington and Colorado’s new marijuana legalization laws and the federal government.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director October 23, 2012

    While the discussion of marijuana policy may be noticeably absent from the current dialogue in the presidential race, one prominent Democratic Party member is not backing down on his push to reform his state’s marijuana laws.

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has redoubled his efforts to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in public view after state legislators failed to act on the measure before the end of this year’s session. Amid discussions of a pay increase for legislators, Governor Cuomo told reporters this morning that, “I would not even consider, even consider a pay raise, unless the people’s business was being done in a thorough, responsible way.”

    Included in his definition of “the people’s business” is the decriminalization of marijuana he had championed earlier in the year, along with an increase in New York’s minimum wage.

    There have been talks about the legislature reconvening for a special session in the state after election day and before the start of next year’s session in January, but the governor made clear he would not sign off on their desired pay raise without action on these reform efforts.

    “I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise. I’m interested in a people’s agenda and that’s what the session would be about,” stated Gov. Cuomo.

    It is refreshing to see such a prominent sitting politician stand up for sound marijuana reform. New York’s current failed policy has cost the state around $75 million a year to arrest about 50,000 people for small amounts of marijuana, 85% of whom were people of color. This policy disproportionately targets the most vulnerable in our society and we applaud Governor Cuomo for taking a strong stance on this important issue. We can only hope other elected officials take notice and follow suit.

    UPDATE: New York City Council Member for Council District 8, Melissa Mark-Viverito, has released a statement applauding the Governor’s action:

    I commend New York Governor Cuomo for urging the State Legislature to adopt what he calls ‘The People’s Agenda,’ which includes an end to unjust small-quantity marijuana arrests, before they consider a potential salary hike for legislators.

    I strongly support this principled act of leadership in the face of a hostile Republican State Senate which in the last session blocked legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view. This inaction has led to thousands more unjust stop-and-frisk arrests of young men of color when they are told to empty their pockets during stops. Enforcement of this policy costs the city an estimated $75 million each year.

    The new law would make marijuana possession merely a violation, like a traffic ticket, and not a crime that the police can arrest people for committing. Since there are currently over 50,000 annual stop-and-frisk arrests for small-time marijuana possession in NYC, this will dramatically reduce the unjust criminalization of our youth. Earlier this year, the New York City Council passed a resolution in support of this legislation, which I sponsored, and Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly have voiced their support of these reforms. The Commissioner even issued a directive to officers intended to slow down the number of marijuana arrests. Still, it is essential to codify this policy change at the State level, and I thank Governor Cuomo for taking this issue so seriously. – Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (source)

    Note: This story was featured on The Colbert report last night. You can view the segment here. You can view more press coverage here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 3, 2012

    …you provide it!

    I want to relate to NORML supporters my recent call with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, his support for major cannabis law reforms and his wont as a re-elected governor to become a national spokesperson for cannabis law reforms before the Congress and Executive branches.

    Many of us have worked for too many years (decades!) to arrive at this juncture in the Cannabis Prohibition epoch when elected policymakers now contact pro-cannabis law reform organizations proactively for financial help, and to affirm their support for legal reforms.

    Therefore, I strongly suggest it behooves those of us who can make a political donation to a sitting governor that supports legalizing cannabis to do so by a Vermont-imposed August 14 deadline to demonstrate the kind of political-financial support necessary to provide these reform-minded politicians with both the mettle and funding to advance long-needed cannabis law reforms.

    You can donate to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s re-election campaign through either 1) the NORMLPAC by calling in a credit card donation to 202-483-5500 or 2) by sending a check to: NORMLPAC, 1600 K St., NW, Mezzanine, Washington, DC, 20006.

    NORML supporters can donate up to $5,000 annually to the NORMLPAC.

    To comply with current Federal Election Commission rules, $25 of any NORMLPAC donations received by non-members will be separated from your PAC donation and must be applied to an annual NORML membership (because, only NORML members can donate to the NORMLPAC).

    If you’d rather make a direct donation to Shumlin’s campaign, the contact and donation information are found below:

    Shumlin for Governor
    PO Box 5353
    Burlington, VT 05402

    shumlinforgovernor.com

    FYI: The maximum donation from a person or business in Vermont’s election cycles is $2,000.

    Please reference your support for NORML and cannabis law reform when corresponding with his campaign. One can envisage Governor Shumlin informing his fellow governors that he supports cannabis law reforms, sought the support of the cannabis law reform community and received large support and enthusiasm. This will surely encourage some of his fellow (and closeted) governors to both embrace the law reform community and to recognize how popular cannabis law reforms are today among the American people.

    In my recent blog post memorializing Cannabis Prohibition’s unfortunate 75th anniversary I lamented: Do not elect politicians who support Cannabis Prohibition.

    The polar opposite of such is: Support elected politicians who favor ending Cannabis Prohibition.

    We’ve this opportunity in Vermont, and I suspect soon in many more states around the country.

    Again, cannabis law reformers have worked hard and long to arrive at these days where, according to most recent Gallup polling, legalization is more popular than prohibition–let’s help finish this process sooner than later by helping to elect the political allies we need to replace the failed and expensive public policy of Cannabis Prohibition with logical alternatives.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration, financial support and kind regards!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 27, 2012

    Members of the New Hampshire state Senate this morning failed to override Governor John Lynch’s veto of SB 409, which sought to allow for the personal possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis by qualified patients. The Senate voted 13 to 10 to override the Governor’s veto. However, 16 total ‘yes’ votes were necessary to achieve the two-thirds Senate majority necessary to enact SB 409 into law.

    Although House members had overwhelmingly backed SB 409, Senate support for the measure had consistently been more evenly split, with Senate members having previously voted 13-9 in favor of the bill. According to a MPP news release, two Democratic Senators, Lou D’Allesandro and Sylvia Larsen, reversed their prior ‘yes’ votes on the bill and decided to uphold the veto of Gov. Lynch, who is also a Democrat.

    In 2009, Gov. Lynch vetoed a separate medicinal cannabis law. That year, members of the Senate also fell just shy of the votes necessary to override him.

    While today’s outcome is disappointing, the future nonetheless looks bright for the passage medical cannabis legalization in New Hampshire. Lynch, a four-term governor, recently announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2012. Hopefully, New Hampshire’s next Governor will listen to the will of its people and to the majority of state lawmakers and sign medical marijuana legalization into law. If so, the Granite State will soon join fellow New England states Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont — all of which now allow for the possession and use of cannabis as a medicine.

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