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Michael Phelps

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator October 16, 2009

    This week we’ve seen three usually staid mainstream media outlets – Newsweek Magazine, the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and FOX Business News – examining the growing movement in California and nationwide to discuss the inevitable re-legalization of cannabis in America.  [UPDATE:Apparently the FOX Business Channel (not FOX News) will have a series called “High Noon” beginning Monday at Noon ET / 9am PT.]

    We begin with the PBS NewsHour and their fine report featuring the Honorable Rebecca Kaplan from the Oakland City Council and Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University. For balance (I suppose) they also interview the police chief of El Cerrito, California, who provides the obligatory doses of “reefer madness” at around the 5:00 mark.

    Once again, I have to ask the cop at the end of the piece: How many people who don’t smoke pot now are going to start smoking pot once it is legal, and how much is that going to cost? Whatever it is, make the tax on pot equal to that amount, minus the expenditures we’ll save on not arresting people and sending helicopters on weeding missions, and we’ve covered the costs! (Actually, since Miron estimates that we’d reap in revenues and savings around $14 billion annually from legalized pot nationally, you have to convince us that the brand new legal pot smokers who aren’t already smoking now would cost society more than that.)

    We're still trying to figure out how you inject marijuana (from Newsweek photo essay on pot propaganda)
    We’re still trying to figure out how you inject marijuana (from Newsweek photo essay on pot propaganda)

    That stupid retort that legal weed will cost society more than the taxes only works if you believe that nobody is smoking weed now and suddenly when it’s legal, everyone will smoke weed. 22,000,000 PEOPLE ARE SMOKING WEED THIS YEAR ALREADY! Whatever that costs us as a society, we’re already paying NOW without taking in any tax money!

    Cannabis does not “add another vice” to tobacco and alcohol that costs our society so much more than their taxes bring in. Alcohol and tobacco use create huge medical bills and death. Cannabis does not. With three legal choices and cannabis being obviously safest, we’ll cut costs as people choose it over alcohol and tobacco, and raise tax revenues that are currently going to black marketeers.

    Read more about Newsweek and FOX Business News after the break…
    (more…)

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director February 10, 2009

    Why it is more hype than substance…

    By Norm Kent, Esq., Member, NORML Board of Directors


    Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and Company: ‘Michael Phelps, make our day!’

    On this blog, I do not give legal advice. I express legal opinions. The legal opinion everyone is asking me about is can Michael Phelps actually be charged? After all, there is no proof there was anything in the pipe at all. There is no controlled substance to present to a court. There is not even a pipe that could lead to a paraphernalia charge. So how can they possibly prosecute him?

    In my law office I have a steel Florida Marlin, stuffed by an ichthyologist, which I caught off the shores of Key West, in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Under the fish, there is a plaque which reads, “Behold the bright, blue Marlin; this creature would not be here today had he not opened his big mouth yesterday.

    Michael Phelps should have come by and read it. His publicized admission that he toked from a bong at a frat party in a South Carolina dorm has stirred a whirlwind of controversy and put him in harm’s way.

    The real bad news came from the sheriff in the jurisdiction where Michael allegedly toked up, with a pronouncement that he was going to investigate the case to see if he could prosecute young Mr. Phelps.

    The sheriff’s public information teased the media: “The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is making an effort to determine if Mr. Phelps broke the law. If he did, he will be charged in the same manner as anyone else…”

    Sheriff Leon Lott then commented to a local newspaper about the quality of his case. He stated that, “this one might be a lot easier since we have photographs of someone using drugs and a partial confession. It’s a relatively easy case once we can determine where the crime occurred.” Not so, Sheriff Lott. You are leaving out a lot. (more…)

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 6, 2009

    Boycott Kelloggs - NORMLIt may have been expected, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Late Thursday, cereal and snack manufacturer Kellogg’s announced that it will not renew its sponsorship contract with 14-time Olympic gold medal champion Michael Phelps. The company said that Phelps’ recent acknowledgment of marijuana use, and subsequent apology, was “not consistent with the image” of the company.

    We disagree!

    As NORML wrote earlier this week, it’s not Michael Phelps who should be castigated, but rather it’s the absurd and hypocritical laws that criminalize the behavior of Phelps and tens of millions of other successful and productive Americans like him that is worthy of condemnation.

    Millions of Americans agree. In fact, in the past week dozens of high profile pundits and commentators — including Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post, Stanton Peele in the Wall Street Journal, and Doug Bandow in National Review Online — have demanded a repeal of America’s archaic and overly punitive pot laws.

    Michael Phelps is in good company. Nearly one out of two Americans have admitted using marijuana. Whether or not the most decorated athlete in history chooses to unwind during his off time with a glass of wine or a bit of cannabis is really none of the government’s — or our — business.

    Please take time today to contact the Kellogg Corporation. Tell them that you oppose their decision to drop Michael Phelps and that, as a result of their actions, you will not be purchasing any Kellogg’s related products for the next three months (or until the company decides to reinstate the Phelps as their spokesperson).

    There are several ways you can make your opinion known to the company.

    You can call Kellogg’s main telephone number during east coast business hours, Monday through Friday, at: (269) 961-2000 or toll free at: 1 (800) 962-1413.

    You can e-mail Kellogg’s consumer services department by visiting: http://www2.kelloggs.com/ContactUs.aspx.

    You can contact Kellogg’s media relation department at: 269-961-3799 or via e-mail at media.hotline@kellogg.com.

    You can e-mail Kellogg’s corporate responsibility department at: corporateresponsibility@kellogg.com.

    You can e-mail Kellogg’s investor relations department at: investor.relations@kellogg.com.

    Or finally, you can write the Kellogg Company a letter at:

    One Kellogg Square
    P.O. Box 3599
    Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

    When contacting the company, please be polite and concise. Tell them:

    “Hi, my name is _____________ and I’m a frequent consumer of Kellogg’s products.

    Nearly one out of two Americans has used marijuana. This includes tens of thousands of prominent, highly successful Americans — including our current President. Michael Phelps should not be stigmatized nor condemned for private behavior that he, and millions of others, engage in.

    The majority of the public, as well as those in the media, are standing behind Michael Phelps and so am I. I will no longer be purchasing Kellogg’s brand products until your company reverses its decision and reinstates Michael Phelps as your spokesperson.”

    Thank you for standing up against the needless discrimination of cannabis consumers.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 3, 2009

    Become a Pot-Smoking Athlete!Well, once again it’s time to give folks on Capitol Hill a dose of ‘reefer reality.’

    This morning NORML is taking our message to lawmakers in Washington, DC via the highly influential Hill.com blog.

    Why Condemn Phelps, When We Ought to Condemn the Laws That Brand Him A Criminal
    via The Hill‘s Congress blog

    [excerpt]

    Add decorated Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps to the growing list of successful Americans who happens to indulge in marijuana during his down time. The tabloid news story is making international headlines, though it’s difficult to understand why.

    … Sure, there will be some who will say that this latest chapter in Phelp’s life is deserving of criticism because the 14-time gold medalist is sending a poor message to young children. And what message would that be? That you can occasionally smoke marijuana and still be successful in life. Well sorry if the truth hurts.

    Fact is, most Americans who use pot do so for the same reasons — and in the same manner — as do those who drink alcohol. According to a recent University of Alberta study, the majority of adults who use cannabis do so recreationally to “enhance relaxation.” Researchers concluded: “[M]ost adult marijuana users regulate use to their recreational time and do not use compulsively. Rather, their use is purposely intended to enhance their leisure activities and manage the challenges and demands of living in contemporary modern society. Generally, participants reported using marijuana because it enhanced relaxation and concentration, making a broad range of leisure activities more enjoyable and pleasurable.”

    No doubt Michael Phelps indulged in the use of marijuana for these very same reasons. He ought not to be condemned for it nor branded a criminal for his actions.

    For that matter, neither should anyone else.

    As I’ve written before, The Hill is widely read by lawmakers and by the mainstream media, and previous posts by NORML have elicited national press coverage. Therefore, it is vital that we demonstrate the popularity of the marijuana legalization issue by commenting prolifically. Please post your feedback to The Hill and make a point of disseminating this essay to your friends and colleagues.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director February 2, 2009

    By Norman Kent, Esq. , NORML Board Member

    willie-jam.jpg

    Okay, it is only February 1st, and more people this year have already died from peanut butter than pot.

    Seriously, when you think about what has crossed the pages of our nation’s conscience in the past month, you have to wonder why we are all not getting high.

    With thanks to Michael Phelps, I have ten good reasons to believe drug law reform will ‘take’ this year. Here is why.

    Number One: The President
    First of all, we elected a President who has admitted inhaling, and whose half brother just got arrested in Kenya for possession of marijuana. Growing up in urban Chicago, and having come from Hawaii, home of ‘Maui Waui,’ we have a man in the oval office that has an herbal background.

    I am therefore not intimidated that, on his third day in office, while he was working on a nationwide economic stimulus package, some renegade prosecutors raided a medical dispensary in California. Those ugly efforts will cease soon enough. I am encouraged by President Obama’s prior public statements that such raids are counterproductive and provide illusory answers to real problems.

    Number Two: The Medicine
    Just as I was exploring the placement of my mom into an assisted living facility for early stage Alzheimer’s patients, I see a study released by Ohio State University this month. The research is indicating that marijuana has some potential capacity to reduce brain inflammation, which plays a role in Alzheimer’s. Mom, those brownies might taste differently next week.

    While evidence showing the benefits of marijuana in multiple sclerosis cases has been advancing significantly, work in Alzheimer’s disease is still in its infancy. Still, another recent study performed at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, inhibits the formation of a brain plaque that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Number Three: The Politics
    If you light up a joint while walking down High Street in Medford, Massachusetts, not much is likely to happen to you. As of Jan. 2, Massachusetts became one of 12 states that have decriminalized marijuana possession to some extent. The new civil penalties for possession of less than 1 ounce include a $100 fine and forfeiture of one’s stash for those over 18 years of age. Minors will receive the same fine and be required to attend drug education classes.

    In city after city, and state after state, once silent minorities are becoming vocal majorities and voting to enact legislation freeing marijuana from unjust law enforcement. When given the chance, we are winning the war against prohibition. Legislators in Michigan, Connecticut and even Florida are starting to re-introduce bills to lower penalties for pot. The whirlwind is commencing; just ask anyone in a dorm room within a wave of the White House after the inauguration.

    Number Four: The Media
    Marijuana has gone mainstream. Media outlets are no longer hiding in the shadows afraid to produce honest reports about the culture of marijuana. We are less likely to see commercials of pot smokers having their brains grilled in a frying pan. We are more likely to view legitimate programming which produces truths rather than trash about your stash.

    One such report was featured on NBC news last week, a snippet of an hour long production on MSNBC entitled ‘Marijuana, Inc.’ Focusing more on economics then the sociology of pot, the well-supported report inescapably concluded that marijuana commerce is here to stay and unlikely to change. As even the NY Daily News said, “When it comes to marijuana, a whole lot of people voted some time ago to just say yes.” Ask the cast of the award winning Showtime series, ‘Weeds,’ which captures a growing American spirit.

    Number Five: The Public
    Even the Department of Health has said that 95 million Americans have over the age of 21 have tried marijuana at least once. Everyone except Bill Clinton has inhaled. The anti drug warriors have a hard time explaining to the average adult in the 21st century that millions of Americans are wrong when they light up every day.

    It is normal to smoke pot. The vast amount of marijuana users today are parents choosing to calm down instead of liquor up, not just kids, looking to get high after class. Of course, they are too, adults treating arthritis, patients using it for multiple sclerosis, or people with HIV fighting a wasting syndrome. Pot smokers cross ethnic, sociological, and economic boundaries.

    Number Six: The Celebrities
    There is a lot of reason to hate the celebrity culture, paparazzi, and people who get their daily pulp from finding out where Brittany Spears went shopping. As more media types get busted with pot, the less newsworthy it becomes. The public could care less. An arrest for pot is not a career-ending event. As I finish this piece and send it off for distribution, I am watching Snoop Doggy Dogg being interviewed on ESPN for the NFL Countdown to the Super Bowl. It does not seem to have hurt him. And guess what Michael Phelps got caught doing this weekend? Toking off a bong!

    Macauley Culkin, Bud Bundy, Willie Nelson, Art Garfunkel, and Al Gore’s son also make the High Subscription List. So do Allen Iverson, Matthew McConaughey, Whitney Houston, Oliver Stone, and even Queen Latifah. All have posted bail for pot. They are not doing too badly for themselves. Go visit Celebstoner for more prime examples of the intersection of celebrity and cannabis.

    Number Seven: The Growers
    In speaking out against rescheduling marijuana so as to remove it from its classification as dangerous, the most significant point that the Office of Drug Control Policy makes is that today’s weed ‘is not your grandfather’s pot.’

    Exactly! It is not, but they miss the mark when they say today’s pot is ‘stronger.’

    Today’s pot is also cleaner, safer, and healthier to consume. From vaporizers to hydroponic labs, the marijuana grown and consumed today is more precisely cultivated, carefully processed, and lovingly manicured then the mold-encased, dried-out weed we grew up on decades ago. That pot was often delivered to Americans from overseas after being buried in the dark, musky cargo hulls of ships for weeks at a time.

    Now that Americans grow our own marijuana at home, we do not hear stories on a daily basis about people smoking rat poison or buying oregano. We have returned to the roots of our forefathers, lest we forget that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison all grew hemp. They did not turn out too bad, either. Today’s pot growers are the new revolutionary farmers.

    Number Eight: The Police and Jails

    Sadly, the criminal justice system in America is teeming with serious crimes and violence against Americans. A Department of Homeland Security must necessarily focus on threats from abroad. From drive-by shootings to corporate white collar crime, the jails in our country are simply not capable of housing all those who should arguably be locked up. So law enforcement has to prioritize. Building jails and keeping people in prisons costs more money than communities can afford. Pot smokers are the residual beneficiaries.

    The necessities of twenty first century law enforcement have reduced pot to secondary priorities. More and more cities are encouraging cops to treat simple pot possession as a civil traffic infraction and just write a ticket. As those progressive initiatives take hold, pot prosecutions will diminish and pot users will be treated more fairly.

    Number Nine: The Non Profits
    The wealth of non profit organizations advocating drug law reform is growing exponentially. We are not just NORML anymore. Benefactors like Peter Lewis and George Soros have underwritten drug reform movements the way Hugh Hefner once helped NORML. The Marijuana Policy Project, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition are just a small sampling of honorable groups fighting to change the public perception in the way drug consumers are viewed and treated. If you enhance their efforts today, there is less of a chance that you will be bonding yourself or your child out of jail tomorrow.

    Number Ten: The Internet
    There is no better way to end this column then to point towards the awesome power of networking to generate partnerships for the common good. Overnight, hundreds of thousands of reformers can be linked for a specific goal, a targeted protest, or unified voice to speak out for or against a new law or proposed regulation.

    The NORML blog and podcast draws hundreds of thousands of Americans daily who would otherwise never be reached but for the arm of the ‘Net. Stopthedrugwar.org, Marijuananews.com, and cannabisnews.com are amongst the target specific Internet resources drug law reformers can access instantly. There are too many more to mention.

    Finally, the Internet has spawned awesome networking groups such as Facebook and MySpace, where activists, organizers, and reformers can synthesize their partnerships and causes. And there is always something new unfolding, like Twitter, which I have not figured out, but I know is catching on.

    It’s Up to Us!

    For too many years, pot smokers have been political prisoners, captive to repressive government and a rolling tide. 2009 represents a renewed opportunity to make the waters of justice run our way again.

    *This was originally published at KentVent.com

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