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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 11, 2016

    thumbs_upSolid majorities of voters in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania support the legalization of marijuana for adult use, and super-majorities in Florida and Ohio support efforts to medicalize the plant, according to polling data provided today by Quinnipiac University.

    Fifty-six percent of Florida voters believe that state law ought to allow “adults to legally possess for personal use small amounts of marijuana.” Only majorities of self-identified Republicans and respondents over the age of 65 oppose legalization.

    With regard to the question of permitting medical cannabis access, 80 percent of Floridians say that “they will vote for a constitutional amendment this November allowing for medical marijuana.” The 2016 ballot measure, entitled the “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions,” will appear before voters as Amendment 2. Passage of the amendment would permit qualified patients to possess and obtain cannabis from state-licensed facilities. Support for the measure is over 70 percent among every party, gender, education, age and ethnic group measured, Quinnipiac reported.

    In Ohio, 52 percent of voters endorse “allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use,” and 90 percent support “legalizing the use of medical marijuana.” Legislation to permit the limited use of non-herbal cannabis formulations by qualified patients was recently passed by Ohio House lawmakers and awaits further action by the Senate. A separate, more comprehensive medical marijuana measure sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project may appear on the November 2016 Ohio ballot.

    In Pennsylvania, voters support by a margin of 57 percent to 39 percent the notion of “allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” As in Florida, only Republicans and voters over 65 years old expressed majority opposition to legalization. Quinnipiac pollsters did not ask voters to provide their opinions with regard to medicinal cannabis, which state lawmakers just legalized in April.

    The Quinnipiac survey results are similar to those of other recent national polls, such as those by reported by CBS, Gallup, and Pew, finding that a majority of Americans now support ending marijuana prohibition.

  • by Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML May 4, 2016

    A new CBS poll released on 4/20 is the first to show majority female support for marijuana legalization in the US. Though still trailing the 59% of men who are in favor of legalization, 54% of women now say they support it too.

    Last year’s CBS poll found that only 43% of women were pro-legalization, versus 54% of men, an 11-point gap. This year’s poll narrows the gap to 5 points and represents an 11% jump in support from women in only one year’s time.

    National polls in recent years have shown women’s support for legalization as high as 48%, but always trailing men’s approval by 8-13 points. Women are also around 15% less likely to admit that they have tried marijuana.

    The same is true regionally: in Florida a 2015 Quinnipac poll found again 57% of men supported legalization and only 46% of women did. And if marijuana were to be legalized for recreational use in the state, 70 percent of women said they would ‘definitely not use’ it, compared to 59 percent of men.

    Similarly in Ohio, there was a 12% differential between men at 59% support and women at 47%; and 71 percent of women, and only 57 percent of men, said they would ‘definitely not use’ legal marijuana.

    But now perhaps we have reached a tipping point on women coming over to seeing the light of legalization. When I checked in January of this year, Cal NORML’s Twitter followers were 75% male, down from 85% a few months earlier; they’re now down to 66% male, a 20% drop in less than 6 months.

    One reason for the shift, I think, is the increased number of female leaders at NORML chapters across the country, changing the perception of what a marijuana enthusiast looks like and giving women voters a greater comfort zone to voice their own support. A quick list of those leaders compiled by NORML Outreach Coordinator Kevin Mahmalji are:

    • Eleanore Ahrens – Southeast Ohio NORML
    • Vera Allen – Minnesota NORML
    • Trish Bertrand – Springfield NORML
    • Roseann Boffa – Los Angeles NORML
    • Cara Bonin – Houston NORML
    • Jes Bossems – Jefferson Area, Virginia NORML
    • Monica Chavez – New Mexico NORML
    • Cynthia Ferguson – Delaware NORML
    • Jax Finkle – Texas NORML
    • Karen Goldstein – Florida NORML
    • Kandice Hawes – Orange County, California NORML
    • Laura Judy – National Office
    • Jamie Kacz – Kansas City NORML
    • Danielle Keane – National Office
    • Ellen Komp – California NORML
    • Jessica Lee – Nacogdoches NORML
    • Jenni Morgan – National Office
    • Cher Neufer – Ohio NORML
    • Theresa Nightingale – Pittsburgh NORML
    • Danica Noble – NORML Women of Washington
    • Pam Novy – Virginia NORML
    • Jenn Michelle Pedini – Richmond NORML
    • Jordan Person – Denver NORML
    • Sharron Ravert – Peachtree, Georgia NORML
    • Carrie Satterwhite – Wyoming NORML
    • Mary Smith – Toledo NORML
    • Jessica Struzik – Northern Wisconsin NORML
    • Danielle Vitale – O’Brien – Miami Valley, Ohio NORML
    • Destiny Young – San Antonio NORML

    Women everywhere are getting the message. “It is not as harmful as alcohol … It also helps medical conditions as a more natural substitute to pharmaceuticals,” one 46-year-old woman told Pew pollsters in 2015. “I think crime would be lower if they legalized marijuana,” said another woman, aged 62. “It would put the drug dealers out of business.”

    Campaigns directed at women in states with legalization measures seem to have had an effect. Only 49 percent of women polled in favor of Colorado’s 2012 legalization measure, but 53 percent of them voted for it. The majority of women voters in Washington State also voted in favor of that state’s measure to legalize.

    Many people are aware that women helped bring about alcohol prohibition in 1919. What many don’t know is that women were also instrumental in repealing prohibition, notably Pauline Sabin, the Republican socialite for whom NORML’s award recognizing women’s leadership is named. It seems that women are now also key in bringing about marijuana legalization.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 3, 2016

    personal_cultivationMembers of the Vermont House spent over six hours today debating various amendments to reform marijuana policy, but ultimately decided against enacting any significant changes in law.

    House lawmakers voted 121 to 28 to reject Senate-approved language that sought to regulate the adult use, commercial production, and retail sale of marijuana. Although Gov. Peter Shumlin and Attorney General William Sorrell publicly supported the effort, House members expressed little interest in seriously considering the measure.

    House members also rejected an alternative measure that sought to expand the state’s existing decriminalization law to also include the personal cultivation of marijuana. Representatives voted 77 to 70 to reject the ammendment.

    Representatives also debated whether or not to put forward the question, “Should Vermont legalize marijuana for recreational purposes?” before voters as a non-binding initiative during the upcoming August primary election. Lawmakers decided against the proposal by a vote of 97 to 51.

    House lawmakers narrowly voted 77 to 68 in favor of provisions establishing an advisory commission to make recommendations to the legislature with regard to future marijuana policy. Specifically, the commission would be tasked with “propos[ing] a comprehensive regulatory and revenue structure that establishes controlled access to marijuana in a manner that, when compared to the current illegal marijuana market, increases public safety and reduces harm to public health.” Those recommendations would be due by December 15, 2016.

    House and Senate lawmakers previously approved a study commission in 2014. That commission’s report summarized various alternative regulatory schemes but made no recommendations with regard to if and how lawmakers should ultimately amend state law.

    The amended measure now awaits a concurrence vote by the Senate. [Update: The Senate failed to concur; therefore there will be no commission.]

    In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Gov. Shumlin said, “It is incredibly disappointing … that a majority of the House has shown a remarkable disregard for the sentiment of most Vermonters who understand that we must pursue a smarter policy when it comes to marijuana in this state.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 21, 2016

    Legalize marijuanaFifty-six percent of Americans say “Marijuana use should be legal,” according to the results of a nationwide poll commissioned by CBS News. The percentage is the highest ever reported by news agency.

    Only 36 percent of respondents said that they opposed legalization.

    Seventy-one percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said that marijuana use ought to be legal, an increase of 10 percent since CBS posed the question last year. Among those age 35 to 64, 57 percent of respondents backed legalization, while only 31 percent of those age 65 or older did so.

    Men (59 percent) were more likely than women (54 percent) to support making marijuana use legal. Democrats (63 percent) and Independents (58 percent) were far more likely to support legalization compared to Republicans (44 percent).

    In response to a separate polling question, 51 percent of Americans admitted having consumed cannabis, up from 34 percent in 1997.

    The poll possesses a margin of error of +/- four percent.

    The CBS survey results are similar to those of other recent national polls, such as those by reported by Gallup, CBS, and Pew, finding that a majority of Americans now support ending marijuana prohibition.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director April 14, 2016

    thumbs_upThere is long awaited news from Pennsylvania, as the Keystone State is poised to become the 24th state to permit medical cannabis access and separate legislative efforts continue to move forward around the country. Keep reading below to get this week’s latest in marijuana law reform!

    Federal:

    The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment today, for the second year in a row, to expand medical marijuana access to United States veterans.

    The amendment, sponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) from spending money to enforce a policy that prohibits the department’s physicians from filling out medical marijuana recommendation forms in states where the drug is legal. It will be attached to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.

    The bipartisan vote was 20 to 10, marking a slight improvement from last year’s 18-12 vote. Though a majority of the Senate passed the amendment in 2015, it was ultimately defeated in conference with the House.

    State:

    Alabama: Legislation to protect qualified patients eligible for CBD therapy is gaining traction in the legislature. Both the House and Senate are considering similar proposals to expand patient access. While existing state law permits qualified patients to use CBD if they are part of state-sponsored clinical trial, these proposed measures would legally protect qualified patients who possess the substance outside of a clinical trial environment. #TakeAction

    Florida: Another municipality in Florida is considering decriminalizing offenses involving the possession of small amounts of marijuana. On Monday, Orlando’s City Council will review an ordinance to make possession of 20 grams (about two-thirds of an ounce) or less a violation of city code, punishable by a fine of $50 for first-time offenders. Tampa and Volusia County both approved similar ordinances last month. NORML first reported this trend of Florida cities and counties adopting decriminalization policies last August.

    If you live in Orlando, you can contact your City Council member to urge their support for this measure here.

    Louisiana: House and Senate legislation is pending to fix and expand the state’s dormant medical marijuana law. Existing law only permits for the patients’ use of medical marijuana in instances where the plant is ‘prescribed.’ However, under federal law, physicians cannot legally ‘prescribe’ cannabis or any schedule I substance. House Bill 1112 addresses these problems by: permitting physicians to recommend rather than ‘prescribe’ cannabis therapy; by licensing facilities to produce and dispense the product; and by expanding the pool of eligible patients to include ailments like cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and intractable pain. Law enforcement groups have voiced disapproval of the proposed change, so it is important that lawmakers hear from you. #TakeAction

    Maryland: Governor Larry Hogan has signed legislation to permit the Department of Agriculture to authorize institutions of higher education to cultivate industrial hemp for academic research purposes. Members of the Senate voted 45 to zero in favor of the bill. House members voted 136 to zero in favor of the measure. Maryland is the 26th state to enact legislation recognizing hemp as a agricultural commodity.

    State lawmakers have also approved legislation to expand the pool of medical professionals who can provide written recommendations for marijuana to qualifying patients. Under the proposal, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners, among other medical professionals, who are in good standing with the state will be permitted to provide written certifications to qualifying patients. The legislation awaits action from Governor Larry Hogan. #TakeAction

    Oregon: Governor Kate Brown has signed legislation into law that seeks to encourage financial institutions to engage in financial relationships with state-compliant marijuana businesses. The emergency legislation, House Bill 4094, “exempts financial institutions that provide financial services to marijuana related businesses, researchers and laboratories from any criminal law of this state.” The law took effect upon signing.

    pills_v_potPennsylvania: House and Senate lawmakers have given final approval to legislation, Senate Bill 3, to permit the production and use of medical marijuana products to qualified patients. Members of the Senate initially approved the measure in 2015. House leadership delayed acting on the bill for several months until finally passing an amended version of SB 3 in March. Senate and House members voted this week in favor of a concurrent version of the proposal. Once signed into law, Pennsylvania will become the 24th state to permit the use of physician-recommended cannabis.

    South Carolina: Members of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee have defeated SB 672, the Medical Marijuana Program Act. However, identical legislation, H. 4037, remains pending in the House. The legislation would allow the use of medical marijuana for debilitating medical conditions; it also permits a registered patient or caregiver to possess up to, “two one-ounce packages of marijuana in leaf form, one ounce of cannabis oil concentrate, or eight ounces of diluted cannabis oil.” #TakeAction

    Vermont: Members of the House Judiciary moved away from Senate-backed legislation, S. 241, to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. On Friday, April 8, members of the Committee voted 6 to 5 on an amended version of S. 241 to establish a study commission to evaluate the matter of legalization. The vote came after members of the committee narrowly rejected an effort to amend the bill in a manner that would expand the state’s existing decriminalization laws.

    Members of the Senate previously voted 17 to 12 in favor of the legislation in its original form, and it continues to be backed by Gov. Shumlin, state Attorney General William Sorrell, and a majority of Vermonters. It is vital that members of both the House and Senate continue hear from you in support of S. 241 so that lawmakers will be persuaded to once again amend this bill in a manner that seeks to regulate the adult use, production, and sale of cannabis. #TakeAction

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