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NORML Chapter

  • by Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML October 15, 2018

    One Year Anniversary

    October 2nd, 2018 marked the one year anniversary of the unanimous passage of Atlanta City Ordinance 17-O-1152, which reduced the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana within the city limits of Atlanta to $75.00 and no jail time.  While this ordinance isn’t a true “decrim” bill, because those arrested are still being fingerprinted, it was a great step toward sensible marijuana legislation here in Georgia.

    Curiosity

    I wanted to know just what effect 17-O-1152 had on “simple possession” arrests in Atlanta.  After all, the ordinance didn’t make it “legal”, it just reduced the penalties.  It didn’t really even “decrim”.  APD officers are still free to arrest offenders and take them to jail.  The question burned in my mind; “Did they, or did they use 17-O-1152 as a justification to act on a moral conviction?“.  I knew where to find at least a clue to the answer.

    ACDC — No, Not the Band

    I have to hand it to the folks in the Records Department of the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC).  I’ve asked them for data several times and they are always quick to respond.  It seems I even have a nickname with them.  More on that later …. maybe.

    So last week I asked them to provide me with the following data, which they promptly did.  I’ve added their response in blue:

    a) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2016, and Oct 2, 2017, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is an included charge:  2136

    b) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2016, and Oct 2, 2017, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is the ONLY charge:  952

    c) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2017, and Oct 2, 2018, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is an included charge:  683

    d) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2017, and Oct 2, 2018, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is the ONLY charge:  252

    The Inference

    To sum it up, personal-use possession arrests fell from 3088 to 935 the first year after implementation of this ordinance.  When you do the math, that’s a 69.8% reduction.  So consider these factors:

    • 17-O-1152 was not directed to the Atlanta Police Department, rather to the Municipal Court.
    • APD officers can still arrest
    • Folks in the Metro live it like it’s legal anyway

    I searched through APD’s Standard Operating Procedures and didn’t find a mention of reducing the emphasis on simple possession arrests, so that doesn’t seem to be a factor.  Chief Shields may have issued an internal memo to that effect, but I’ve found no evidence of it, and I’m fairly certain that would have made its way into print somewhere.  She did say publicly during the hearings associated with 17-O-1152 that possession of small amounts was not high on the APD’s priority list, and that certainly has to be taken into consideration.

    So what can we deduce from this information?  I think it’s simply this; Nearly 70% of cops in Atlanta really don’t have a problem with NOT arresting marijuana users and now that they have an opportunity to exercise their moral discretion, they are doing so.  I think that’s significant.

    Too Optimistic?

    I’m optimistic by nature.  I’m always looking to what’s around the corner, to what the positive, rather than the negative outcome of a situation can be.  When this ordinance was passed many of you in the marijuana movement in Georgia cast aspersions on it.  You felt like it was a hollow gesture, with no substance, and that it wouldn’t make a difference.  Well, apparently you were wrong.  ‘Nuff said.

    So now I’m excited to see how this pans out in Savannah, South Fulton, Fulton County, Forest Park, and Kingsland as they reach the anniversary dates of their “decrim” ordinances.  We already know that Clarkston’s City Council and Mayor Ted Terry were the first to enact such an ordinance, and their program is working well.

    I’m also interested, as we all should be, in whether or not our State Legislators are listening …. or rather, who they are listening to.  This is The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association’s (GSA) position on marijuana  posted boldly on the front page of their website:

    “The position of the GSA concerning marijuana and medical cannabis is as follows:

    • OPPOSE the legalization of marijuana for all social, recreational or industrial purposes.
    • OPPOSE the cultivation of marijuana for all purposes.
    • SUPPORT the use of chemicals derived from cannabis for medical use for certain well defined serious health conditions.
    • OPPOSE the medical delivery or application of chemicals derived from cannabis plants through smoking.
    • OPPOSE legislative proposals where appropriate controls and security measures do not exist and where strict civil and criminal penalties are absent.

    The Executive Vice President of the GSA is a paid lobbyist.  Sheriffs and other law enforcement execs are always telling us, “We don’t make the laws, we just enforce them” and “If you don’t want us enforcing the law, get it changed.”  How are we supposed to do that when phrases like “Danger, danger” and “slippery slope” and “gateway drug” are constantly being whispered in our law-makers’ ears by a paid lobbyist?  Get out of our way and we WILL change the law.  We’re going to change it anyway.  It’s now a matter of when not if.  Your Rank and File support it.  I know.  I talk to them.

    I also find it telling that the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police doesn’t even mention it on their website.

    Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, fighting for the rights of Georgian cannabis consumers. You can visit their website at www.peachtreenorml.org, follow their work on Facebook and Twitter, and please make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

  • by Matthew Maulding, Executive Director, NORML of Catawba Valley October 5, 2018

    In North Carolina there is only one way we will be able to achieve any level of cannabis reform at the state level, that way is through our legislators in Raleigh.

    Currently, the amount of legislators in office that are supportive of cannabis reform is pretty much nil. Zero. Nada. There are few representatives that are supportive currently but they can’t do anything by themselves. They need other supporters in Raleigh with them.

    Click Here to View NORML’s  North Carolina Voter Guide

    How do we achieve this goal of cannabis reform that we all supposedly hold so dear then if there isn’t anyone willing to change the laws from the inside for us? The answer is, and you’re gonna hate it, vote. We MUST vote, one district at a time, to increase the amount of legislators in Raleigh that support cannabis reform from just a handful of legislators to an abundance of legislators.

    This isn’t going to happen “overnight”, or in one election cycle. This is going to take years to evolve but we must start now. There is nothing we can do about the past and how organizations like ours have tried to get the reform we want, but we can make an assertive effort to change the future.

    I use this analogy all the time when I refer to the reform efforts here in North Carolina; this movement is like a car that’s ran out of gas. In order for us to get the car running and to get where we want, we have to push the car to the gas station. It takes a lot of effort to initially get the car moving, but once it gets rolling it goes faster and gets easier to push. Up till now, I think many separate organizations and activists looked at the car in the past and couldn’t figure out how to get it to the gas station. However, now I feel we have a path towards victory.While its not an easy path, there is only one way we can do it.

    Voting the right candidates in and increasing the number of allies in the Legislative Building in Raleigh starts with this year and starts getting the car rolling. Lobbying efforts in-between elections help keep the car rolling. Then, every election year we can increase our allies through the elections which helps the car pick up speed and helps us “get gas”. Getting favorable numbers in Raleigh will be like finally getting gas in the car in which we can start the car, and drive the rest of the way to the finish line.

    Click Here to View NORML’s North Carolina Voter Guide

    The bottom line is, cannabis reform in North Carolina starts with this election, continues through lobbying efforts in “off-election years”, and then builds speed through every election from here on out. Get out and vote for cannabis friendly candidates every single election and we will get the reform we all need, it’s that simple. It’s a long process but it’s simple.

    For more info about cannabis law reform efforts in North Carolina, please visit http://ncnorml.org/ or email normlofcatawbavalley@gmail.com. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 26, 2018

    Following the lead of municipalities around the state, the City Council of Kingsland, Georgia, voted to approve a new ordinance to ease penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

    “I’m glad to see the Kingsland City Council unanimously approve this ordinance. They join Clarkston, Atlanta, Savannah, Forest Park, South Fulton and Fulton County in enacting sensible marijuana ordinances here in Georgia,” said Tom McCain, executive director of Peachtree NORML.  

    Citing concerns of racial profiling and the effects of the black market regarding teen access and use, Councilman Mike McClain was one of the most vocal proponents during Monday’s meeting to discuss the proposal.

    “There is a definite amount of racial profiling with the outdated law. We need to be on the right side of history, and I want to do the right thing,” said Mclain. “We are a small town, but we are not afraid of change when it goes to correctly police our community.”

    Read more here: https://www.allongeorgia.com/camden-local-news/kingsland-city-council-passes-relaxed-marijuana-rule/

    As state lawmakers around the country continue to drag their feet on marijuana law reforms, municipalities are taking matters into their own hands. As a result, more than 50 localities in a dozen states have adopted municipal ordinances to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    “While they cannot change Georgia Law, they can indeed lower penalties for simple possession, and in doing so, send a message to the General Assembly that it needs to follow suit at the state-level,” added McCain.

    Click Here to Review NORML’s Decriminalization Report

    To learn more about marijuana law reforms in Georgia, follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook, and Twitter or check out their website!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

  • by Jeff Riedy, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley NORML August 16, 2018

    Greetings from your friends at Lehigh Valley NORML! With Summer rushing by, we just wanted to check in with our supporters. We want to fill you in on recent activities and upcoming meetings, events, and happenings.

    As many of you hopefully already know, we have planned a Rally and Lobby Day in Harrisburg for Monday, September 24, along with our friends at Pittsburgh NORML, Keystone Cannabis Coalition, AND ACLU-PA. The Rally is 10-11 AM, with lobbying to follow. We hope that many of you can find the time to join us. To help bring our friends to the rally, we have priced out a chartered bus with TransBridge, seating 56 people. The bus would leave the Lehigh Valley at 7am from the William Penn Rideshare off Route 33, between Freemansburg Avenue and William Penn Highway. And would bring everybody to Harrisburg and then back home around 6pm.

    If we fill the bus (56 person capacity), it would cost $25pp at full price. HOWEVER, Lehigh Valley NORML IS PAYING HALF THE COST OF THE BUS, and may have a benefactor to help with the other half. So, with our contribution, a full bus will cost each rider $12.50 ($14pp w/ 50 riders to $20pp w/ 35 riders), but you’ll have to be one of the first to register for the bus. We expect a few backouts and will accept about 100 registrants, BUT only 56 seats will be available (unless we find benefactors to cover a second bus). We will call in chronological order to reserve your spot on the bus. There are already a few people pre-registered. Don’t hesitate, as we’ll need to confirm riders by the end of the month, with payment in full. We are allowing our mailing list advanced notice, but by week’s end we will reveal the remaining inexpensive seats to all on Facebook.

    **We cannot smoke on the bus, but we’re working on a cool after-party when we return! Please CLICK HERE to reserve your seat!**

    LOBBYING? We’ll be lobbying in Harrisburg after the Rally. Soon we’ll be setting up a scheduler to help organize lobbying appointments for those who want to press their legislators.

    UPCOMING FESTIVALS… We want to remind everybody that we’ll have a booth at Pride in the Park this coming Sunday, August 19, noon-6pm. Because of recent rains, the festival is at Allentown’s Jewish Community Center, at 22nd and Tilghman Sts.. We also plan to table ArtsFest again this year, September 28-30, at Allentown’s Cedar Beach Park.

    PETITIONING EASTON is still in our mind. We hope to start organizing people, petitions, and clipboards for Downtown Easton in the coming weeks. If you might have some spare time to ask for residents’ signatures on a petition pressing City Council to reconsider Citywide Decrim, drop us a note, please! We hope to make this the start of our Action Committees, to help us coordinate future events and volunteers, as we build our community.

    NEXT MEETING: As August flies by, we’re already planning for our September meeting. We are hosting an all-afternoon family affair, and renting the larger pavilion (closest to street) at Illicks Mill/ Monocacy Park in Bethlehem on Sunday September 16, noon-6pm. There will be a short meeting, and then we’ll just hang, play, commune, drink beers (canned beers allowed), and eat some food. Maybe a POT LUCK (wink)? Bring the kids. Pack a basket!

    Meeting page: http://www.facebook.com/events/2138643323124158/?ti=icl

    WEEDSTOCK, hosted by our friends at Delaware NORML is happening August 24-26. Two days of bands, camping, and fun in the First State! Details can be found here:  http://www.facebook.com/events/181136362592813/?ti=icl

    Finally, we want thank everybody who came out to say hello at the GRATEFUL FOR GREG fundraiser the other week. The incident at Bernville was tragic and still hurts, but we managed to get some media coverage, opening a view to the world. All over TEN PLANTS! Our work is not done, until incidents like this never happen again.

    In the Leaf ?

    Lehigh Valley NORML

    P.S. Here is the Facebook Event page for the Harrisburg Rally. Please RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/2081707708735937/?ti=ia

    P.P.S. And please remember that all these programs we run and events we help fund happen only through your kind donations and merchandise purchases. We’ll soon have a revenue site up, but in the meantime DONATE, DONATE, DONATE. Hit us up on PayPal with your donation @ lehighvnorml@gmail.com.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 14, 2018

    Due to growing concerns about the impact America’s opioid crisis is having on his state, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval along with Governors Steve Bullock of Montana, Charlie Backer of Massachusetts, and Kate Brown of Oregon, recently sent a letter to federal lawmakers requesting support for state and local-level initiatives:

    “Every day governors face the devastating impact of this disease on our communities, health care system, schools and families,” the letter reads. “Governors need increased financial and technical support to address this crisis and we urge Congress to avoid burdensome requirements on state programs.”

    Read more here: https://www.nga.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NGA-Letter-6.7.2018.pdf

    In addition to his formal request for Congressional support, Governor Sandoval created the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to explore, among other things, education and guidelines for treatment options and data collection.

    Click here to urge the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Nevada’s opioid epidemic

    When asked about the Governor’s actions, Executive Director of Nevada NORML Madisen Saglibene had this to say: “State data shows that per 100,000 patients, Nevada ranks 2nd highest for hydrocodone and oxycontin addiction in the nation. Furthermore, Las Vegas ranked 4th highest in the nation for methadone, and 7th for codeine. So while we appreciate the efforts of Governor Sandoval, we’re encouraging members the the Governor’s Task Force to consider the positive role access to marijuana can play in addressing this issue.”

    Several observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – find that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription drug use trends among individual patients enrolled in state-licensed medical marijuana programs is consistent with this conclusion, finding that many chronic pain subjects reduce or eliminate their use of opioids following enrollment.

    Nevada lawmakers should not ignore the reality that access to marijuana can play a role in mitigating the opioid abuse crisis. Use NORML’s online action center below to urge members of the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to acknowledge the positive role that access to marijuana is playing in combating the prescription drug overdose epidemic, and promoting greater public health and safety.

    Click here to urge the Governor’s Opioid State Action Accountability Task Force to acknowledge the role that marijuana can play in combating Nevada’s opioid epidemic

    Is there an active opioid commission or task force in your community? Email KevinM@NORML.org and we’ll create an action alert to engage and educate your elected officials about the role access to marijuana can play in reducing opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations, and total number of opioids prescribed.

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