One of the most important Washington DC think tanks, the Brookings Institute, is hosting a panel discussion on states’ efforts to legalize marijuana on April 15.
Event: Marijuana Legalization: Are There Alternatives to State-Federal Conflict?
Time: 2:00 PM
Date: Monday, April 15, 2013
Location: Brookings Institution, Saul/Zilkha Rooms, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20036
To register to watch this event online, go here.
Panelist include Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), sponsor of legalization legislation in Congress; Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson; UCLA professor (and Washington state’s new ‘cannabis consultant‘) Mark Kleiman, Ph.D and legal author/essayist and Brookings Institute scholar Stuart Taylor, Jr.
Moderator: Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institute
Many traditionally write off the Southern United States as an area dead to cannabis law reform, but one Representative is behind a new effort that can change all of that.
This week, Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) has introduced House Bill 550, the Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013. This measure would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 12 mature marijuana plants by those over the age of 21. It would also authorize the Department of Revenue to establish marijuana retail outlets. You can read the full text of the measure here.
As many of you have seen, yesterday, Pew Research released new polling data that revealed, for the first time in data from a US based polling firm, that Americans support legalizing marijuana by over 50%. The survey found that 52% support legalization and only 45% were opposed. This is no longer just an issue relegated to states such as those on the West Coast and Colorado, traditionally considered bastions of marijuana law reform, this support is now nationwide.
As it very well should be, marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that squanders hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year, inversely affects society’s underprivileged, violates civil liberties, and fuels a violent, criminal black market responsible for countless deaths on our border as well as our local communities.
If states such as the traditionally conservative Alabama are beginning the discussion around alternatives to our failed prohibition of marijuana, the collapse of the drug war machine and its war on a green plant cannot be too far behind.
ALABAMA: If you live in Alabama click here to easily write your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation!
For the first time since they began polling the question four decades ago, Pew Research Polling has released new survey data that reveals 52% of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. Only 45% were opposed.
This support is spread across demographics. The Baby Boomers (50%), Generation X (54%), and Millenials (65%) all have majority support for legalization. The only age demographic that remains opposed is the Silent Generation, those born before 1942, though support in this age group has also significantly increased. 32% of this age group now support legalization, up from 17% in 2002.
According to this polling data, most Americans have also tried marijuana personally. 48% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if they consume marijuana, up from 38% about a decade ago.
Not only are Americans becoming more supportive of legalization, but there has been a dramatic change in how Americans view marijuana use. In 2006, Pew Research found that 50% of Americans believed smoking marijuana was “morally wrong” and only 35% did not think it was a moral issue. Today these numbers have completely flipped, 50% of Americans responded in this latest survey that using marijuana is not a moral issue and only 32% stated it was morally wrong.
60% of Americans across all political orientations also believe the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize it. 57% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats, and 64% of Independents believe the federal government should leave states like Washington and Colorado alone.
You can view the full results of this survey here.
Presently, possessing cannabis in the Ocean State is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine. Starting Monday, the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is a non-arrestable civil offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $150 but no jail time, and no criminal record.
Fifteen states have enacted similar decriminalization laws. Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (Colorado had previously decriminalized cannabis possession decades earlier, while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)
Similar decriminalization legislation is pending this year in nearly a dozen additional states, including Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont.
Lawmakers in several other states, including Maine, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, are considering separate legislation to legalize the adult consumption of cannabis and regulate its retail production and sale.
This week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) formally introduced LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana into the Maine legislature. This legislation would legalize the sale of as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana per week to people 21 or older at licensed retail locations. It would also permit for the cultivation of the plant in private settings. The measure has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
In a previous session, an earlier version of Russell’s legalization measure was rejected by House lawmakers by a vote of 107 to 39. States Rep. Russell: “I think there’s been a major culture shift since I introduced this bill in 2011. What we’ll see is a lot more folks ready to talk about this issue.”
This cultural shift is readily apparent in the groundswell of support this legislation has already generated. LD 1229 was introduced with the backing of 35 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Those supporting the bill were 2 tribal representatives, 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 independent. The previous version of this measure only had 4 co-sponsors.
NORML is pleased to support this historic legislation that would make Maine the third state to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. This is common sense legislation that would put Maine at the vanguard of a reform which is not only supported by over half of the country, but would also save the state precious law enforcement resources, create a new job and tax producing industry, stop the arrest of non-violent citizens, enhance protection of civil liberties, and help keep marijuana out of the hands of Maine’s children. We urge Representative Russell’s colleagues to join with her and the 35 co-sponsors of LD 1229 in taking a stand to end the state’s prohibition on marijuana and to start creating a safer Maine.
Our supporters generated hundreds of emails to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor this measure and it looks like that outpouring of support is already paying off. However, we need to keep up the momentum. If you live in Maine, please take a moment today to contact your Representative and State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so using NORML’s Take Action Center here.