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  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director August 13, 2015

    ballot_box_leafThe Ohio Secretary of State’s office yesterday confirmed that a statewide ballot proposal seeking to permit the personal use and commercial production and retail sale of cannabis will appear on the November ballot. Proponents of the measure, Responsible Ohio, gathered sufficient signatures to place the issue before voters as a constitutional amendment.

    Ohio now has the opportunity to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. as states that have passed laws allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults.

    If enacted, the measure would initially establish 10 state-licensed commercial growing sites. (State regulators will have the opportunity to grant additional licenses if these initial production sites do not adequately meet demand.) Commercially produced cannabis will be sold at over 1,000 proposed retail dispensaries.

    A minimum of five regional marijuana testing facilities will be established to regularly check the chemical compounds found in the product for adequate labeling for consumers and regulators.

    Additionally, residents over the age of 21 will be allowed to purchase a $50 license to grow their own marijuana plants with a limit of 4 plants per household and/or 8 ounces of useable product at a time. The amendment also establishes a non-profit medical marijuana dispensary system to provide access to those patients with a recommendation from a physician. Medical marijuana will not be taxed and will be provided on a needs-based fee system. Commercial marijuana production will be taxed at 5% when purchased for personal use and 15% at the wholesale and manufacturing level.

    You can read the full text of the amendment here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director August 7, 2015

    voteThe National Council of State Legislatures passed a resolution yesterday urging the federal government to amend the Controlled Substances Act and to refrain from interfering with state laws permitting the legal production and use of cannabis.

    The National Council of State Legislatures is a bipartisan, non-governmental organization founded in 1975 to unite members of legislature’s from around the United States. The council works to improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures, promote innovative policy and communication among state legislatures, and to magnify their voice in the federal system.

    The NCSL resolves “[S]tates and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.” Members passed the resolution overwhelmingly by a voice vote.

    The vote represents a strong consensus among state lawmakers that the federal government should embrace, not impede the progress states have made to amend their marijuana laws, and encourages federal lawmakers to consider rescheduling marijuana in order for states to safely and effectively move forward in their reforms.

    Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws on the books, and half of all US states recognize industrial hemp. Four states plus Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  There is no doubt states have recognized the failed efforts of marijuana prohibition and are eager to try out other policies. NORML commends the resolution adopted by the National Council of State Legislatures and will continue to advocate for the federal government’s compliance.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director August 6, 2015

    marijuana_gavelAs first reported by Marijuana.com, a Justice Department internal memo distributed to U.S. House Representatives last year misinformed members on the scope of a medical marijuana amendment they were voting on.

    Last year, lawmakers approved 219 to 189 an amendment aimed at prohibiting the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

    We have now learned that in the days before this vote, Justice Department officials distributed “informal talking points” incorrectly warning members that the amendment could “in effect, limit or possibly eliminate the Department’s ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases as well.” The realization came from a footnote contained in the memo stating that the talking points previously released were, “intended to discourage the passage of the rider but does not reflect our current thinking.”

    The talking points seemed to have an effect on several members, who prior to the final vote on the amendment, argued against it claiming the “amendment as written would tie the DEA’s hands beyond medical marijuana.” Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) went on to claim, “The problem is that the way the amendment is drafted, in a state like Maryland which has medical marijuana, if we ever legalized it, the amendment would stop the DEA from going after more than medical marijuana.”

    These statements coupled with the rest of the long debate that took place before the amendment, clearly signal that lawmakers on both sides of the argument believed the amendment to prohibit federal interference in states with medical marijuana.

    However, in a very narrow interpretation of the amendment, the Justice Department memo claims that the restriction of federal funds for the use of interfering in state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs is strictly for states and state officials implementing the laws themselves. That is to say, the federal government would still be allowed to arrest and prosecute people who grow marijuana and operate dispensaries but the state officials issuing the licenses are protected from federal intrusion. This explains the continued action taken by the federal government against individuals in states with legal medical marijuana laws on the books.

    The same amendment protecting medical marijuana states from federal intervention was passed again this year with a larger margin of support, 242-186.

    Representatives Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Farr (D-CA) (sponsors of the medical marijuana amendment) requested last week the Department of Justice’s inspector general hold an internal investigation into the continued action taken by the federal government. They feel Congress has made it clear by passing the amendment two years in a row, federal funds should no longer be used to prosecute individuals acting in compliance with their state laws.

    Currently 23 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws. Check out our State Info page to check on your state’s current marijuana laws.

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator July 31, 2015


    UPDATE:
    Join the NORML Nation HERE!

    One of the most valuable resources that NORML Nation Membership Drive Profile PictureNORML possesses is our members. They are our lifeblood and the driving force behind the multitude of statewide and local reform efforts taking place around the country. That’s why NORML is pushing to build our ranks in advance of the 2016 election by launching the weeklong NORML Nation Membership Drive. As many of you know, presidential elections tend to attract a larger pool of younger and more politically progressive voters. We hope to tap into this expected voting block to achieve unprecedented successes in 2016.

    2016 will be a watershed year for ending marijuana prohibition at the local, state and federal level. NORML and NORML chapters are engaging in multistate strategy to assist with marijuana-related ballot initiatives and legislative reform efforts, and we and the NORML PAC are pushing for federal reform by lobbying members of Congress in support of The CARERS Act, The Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, and The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, as well as additional budgetary amendments and regulatory reforms.

    Funds that we raise through this membership drive will help us cover costs related to our ongoing lobbying efforts and expand our network of NORML Chapters. Also, a portion of the proceeds will be used to establish our Chapter Grant program which will dedicated to directly supporting NORML-led local reform efforts.

    NORML Nation Chapter Contest

    If you’re already NORML Chapter Leader or Member, you can earn money for your local NORML Chapter through the NORML Nation Chapter Contest! The top three chapters with the most referrals to the NORML Nation will earn $1,000, $500, and $250! I’ll be sending around an email to Chapter Leaders with more information about the NORML Nation Chapter Contest.

    Thank you in advance for helping us make this a successful membership drive. You can help us reach our goal by encouraging others to become members of NORML and to donate to our work. You can also join the NORML Nation Membership Drive Facebook event, and invite your friends!

    You can read more about NORML’s ongoing legislative efforts by visiting our ‘Take Action Center’ here, and/or the NORML PAC here.

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director July 30, 2015

    imgresNewly appointed head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Chuck Rosenberg, says that marijuana is “probably” not as dangerous as heroin.

    Rosenberg’s comments, issued Tuesday, are seemingly in conflict with marijuana’s Schedule I classification under federal law, which places it in the same category as heroin and is a lesser category than cocaine. The law defines cannabis and its dozens of distinct cannabinoids as possessing “a high potential for abuse … no currently accepted medical use, … [and] a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.”

    Predictably, Rosenberg did emphasize that he believed cannabis posed potential harms, stating:“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is. Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”

    However, Rosenberg acknowledged that he has asked DEA offices “to focus their efforts and the resources of the DEA on the most important cases in their jurisdictions, and by and large what they are telling [him] is that the most important cases in their jurisdictions are opioids and heroin.”

    Rosenberg’s predecessor, Michelle Leonhart vigorously defended marijuana’s Schedule I classification. She oversaw dozens of raids on medical marijuana providers, criticized the President on his remarks of marijuana’s safety in relation to alcohol, and rejected an administrative petition calling for marijuana rescheduling hearings. NORML is pleased that although the new DEA administrator, by his own admission is not “an expert” on cannabis, he apparently possesses a better grasp on marijuana and it’s evident differences compared to other schedule 1 substances.

    Rosenberg’s comments, coupled with those of NIDA Director Nora Volkow publically espousing the safety of CBD indicate that it may no longer be a question of if the federal government will move to reclassify cannabis but when.

     

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