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  • by NORML November 5, 2013

    logosmokevoteThree localities in Michigan (Ferndale, Jackson, and Lansing) all voted in support of marijuana legalization today by huge margins. The three areas had similar proposals to remove criminal and civil penalties for personal possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

    Ferndale won by the largest margin with 72% of voters approving the measure. Jackson approved their ordinance with 61% support and only 39% opposed and Lansing passed theirs with 63% support. (Note: Official final vote tallies will be updated when they come in.)

    “These votes in Michigan, along with the resounding vote in Portland, Maine illustrate that not only are the American people considering moving towards legalization of marijuana, they overwhelmingly are demanding it,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Politicians must open their eyes to the political reality that legalization has arrived and is supported by a massive majority of voters. If they continue to drag their feet on the issue, we will take it to the people wherever possible, and we will win.”

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director

    logosmokevoteToday, voters across the nation head to the polls to cast their ballots in a number of state and local elections. While there are no statewide marijuana initiatives this year, that doesn’t mean some Americans won’t have the chance to vote in favor of sensible marijuana law reforms.

    In Portland, Maine, Question 1 will appear on the ballot. This measure would remove all criminal and civil penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana within the city. No arrest, no fine, no crime. NORML encourages all Portland residents to get out and vote YES on Question 1.

    Three areas in Michigan will also be voting on local marijuana legalization initiatives. Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson will be voting on measures to legalize the private adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana in those locations. NORML encourages voters in these cities to get out and vote YES on these efforts.

    Below is a statement from NORML PAC on the endorsements it has made in this year’s races:

    New Jersey
    18th Legislative District State Senate – Assemblyman Peter Barnes: “NORML PAC is endorsing Assemblyman Peter Barnes in his campaign for a seat in the state Senate representing the 18th Legislative District. Assemblyman Barnes has been a strong supporter of medical use as well as marijuana decriminalization during his tenure in the Assembly and we believe he will prove a strong advocate for reform issues should he be elected to the Senate. Meanwhile, his opponent, East Brunswick Mayor David Stahl, oversaw an over 35% increase in marijuana arrests in his city from 2010-2012. For these reasons, NORML PAC is endorsing Assemblyman Barnes for state Senate.”

    15th Legislative District State Assembly – Assemblyman Reed Guscoria: “NORML PAC is pleased to endorse Assemblyman Reed Guscoria in his campaign for reelection to the New Jersey State Assembly. Assemblyman Guscoria has been a vocal advocate for reforming New Jersey’s marijuana laws, from drafting the original NJ medical marijuana legislation, being the primary sponsor of the NJ Assembly’s marijuana decriminalization bill, and continuing to push for sensible reforms to New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to make it workable for patients.

    Assemblyman Guscoria has been an important leader pursuing reforms that roll back the senseless and destructive prohibition on marijuana and move New Jersey towards a policy that is smart on crime and compassionate towards the state’s patient population. ”

    Miami Beach

    Mayoral Election – Steve Berke: “NORML PAC is pleased to endorse Steve Berke in his campaign for mayor of Miami Beach. Steve has been a tireless advocate for reforming marijuana laws and has used his campaign and platform to educate the public about the failures of marijuana prohibition and the necessity of pursuing a new policy. We believe that during his mayorship, Steve Berke would be an excellent spokesman for advancing the conversation around ending our country’s war on cannabis consumers, as he has already done for many years outside of elected office. Steve Berke believes strongly in reforming our current laws and moving towards a system of legalization and regulation, for these reasons NORML PAC supports his candidacy for mayor.”

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 30, 2013

    As part of an ongoing cannabis law reform effort in Michigan, voters in three more Michigan cities will soon have the chance to do what their elected officials regularly fail to do: pass laws that decriminalize a small amount of cannabis for personal adult use.norml_remember_prohibition_

    The Detroit Free Press reports today that three Michigan cities–Ferndale, Jackson and likely Lansing–will have binding voter initiatives that effectively decriminalize cannabis possession in these three municipalities.

    Numerous other cities in Michigan have already adopted decriminalization, as have 17 other states overall, and as former MI NORML president and current chair of Coalition for Safer Michigan Tim Beck notes in the article that passing these three decriminalization ballots will likely be the ‘tipping point’ for state legislators in Michigan to pass state-wide reforms.

    Let’s hope so!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director November 15, 2009

    At a time of heightened national security post-911, a near-depression economy and state government budgets bleeding red coast to coast, what is the moral and economic imperative that compels some in law enforcement to seek lifetime sentences for small-time cannabis growers?

    Again, cannabis consumers and activists should never shrink back from prohibitionist (and some in the media) arguments that “no one gets arrested for cannabis in the US (it’s practically legal!)” when over 755,000 cannabis consumers are busted annually for simple possession (94,000 others were charged with cultivation, distribution or conspiracy therein).

    Even more so when there are outrageous claims made that ‘no goes to jail or prison for pot’.

    Unfortunately for a Jackson Mississippi man named Ronald Sekul, he can attest to how wrong these false claims are as he stares down a lifetime sentence for cultivating 51 cannabis plants.

    Man could get life in pot bust, Jackson resident was growing 51 plants, officials say
    A 33-year-old Jackson man accused of growing marijuana in his apartment could get up to life in prison if convicted.

    In the case of Ronald Christopher Sekul, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics intends to ask prosecutors to apply a law called the “kingpin” statute, MBN Director Marshall Fisher said.

    The statute can be applied to Sekul’s case because he allegedly had a drug operation for longer than 12 consecutive months and had more than 10 pounds of marijuana, Fisher said.

    Sekul was arrested Wednesday for allegedly growing 4-foot marijuana plants in the back bedroom of the fourplex he lives in at 1510 Myrtle St., according to MBN.

    He is out of jail on $50,000 bond.

    Read the entire article here.

    Think about, life in prison for cultivating one of the most popular agricultural products in America–arguably the number one commercially cultivated commodity in the country. Think about the annual expense incurred by the taxpayers of Mississippi for the incarceration of Mr. Sekul: $22,000-30,000 a year; think about the total cost to the taxpayers if Mr. Sekul spends 10 years in prison (approx. $275,000), 20 years (approx. $600,000) or 30 years (approx. $1 million).

    Rather than tax and actually control cannabis like more dangerous and addictive government-sanctioned drugs like tobacco and alcohol products, is it not remarkable beyond words that the state and federal governments still engages both massive number of annual cannabis-related arrests and the incarceration annually nationwide of an estimated 45,000-65,000 cannabis-only offenders, while still not achieving any of the stated goals of prohibition (view a comprehensive NORML report analyzing cannabis arrests in the US here, read page 45 to see where none of the government’s stated goals are achieved).

    Feds Are The Ones Still Stirring Pot With Taxpayers’ Money

    However, there is a potential policy silver-lining to buttress the expense to the taxpayers and tragedy of what our society is trying to do Mr. Sekul and that is that President Obama’s new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, can stop these kinds of foolish and expensive incarcerations for cannabis by de-funding the federal grants provided to local law enforcement and their ‘multi-jursidictional anti-drug task forces’, like JET, the Jackson Enforcement Team, which boasts of Mr. Sekul’s arrest.

    How many fewer Americans would be arrested annually if the federal government didn’t fund local arrests?

    Exactly how many taxpayer dollars could be saved if the expense and trouble of local cannabis arrests were not subsidized by the feds?