In another sign of the changing times, this past week two new polls have been released demonstrating majority support for allowing the medical use of marijuana in two southern states, a region historically less supportive of cannabis law reforms.
A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling revealed that most North Carolinians believe that a doctor should possess the legal option to authorize marijuana for patients. Support for legalizing medical marijuana is at 58% overall, with 33% opposed and 9% undecided. A majority of every age group under age 65 supports allowing for the medical use of marijuana. The poll surveyed 608 North Carolina voters between January 10 and January 13, 2013.
Another Public Policy Polling survey had the majority of West Virginians supporting the medical use of cannabis, 53% in favor to 40% opposed. Further, when asked which is a safer treatment for debilitating pain: the medical use of marijuana or Oxycontin, 63% responded medical marijuana. You can view more data from this poll here.
Legislation to allow for the medical use of cannabis is expected to be introduced in both states this year. If you live in North Carolina, you can currently use NORML’s Take Action Center to write your elected officials and tell them to support this legislation by clicking here.
These recent polls are indicative of the attitude shift towards cannabis that is occurring across the country. Check NORML’s Take Action Center to see if marijuana related legislation has been filed in your state and use our form to easily contact your elected officials in support of these important measures. Check back often, as new legislation is being introduced constantly.
[Update: Wiz busted again for cannabis in Winston-Salem, NC on May 1!]
The Tennessean reported last night that popular musician Wiz Khalifa and a friend were busted in Nashville after police received complaints of the strong odor of cannabis apparently emanating from Wiz’s hotel room (I’m shocked!). After unsuccessfully trying to ditch a blunt out a window upon police entry, the pair were busted.
Every 38 seconds in America, another cannabis consumer is busted on ganja charges (850,000 per year), and with a pro-cannabis profile as high as Wiz’s (heck, hours before he was busted he posted a photo to Instagram depicting his branded rolling papers next to what looks like some excellent cannabis!) whether it was his super stinky stash or Wiz’s number as a cannabis consumer simply came up to become yet another tragic statistic in the 74-year old failed Cannabis Prohibition.
The 2012 legislative session is in full swing and marijuana law reform legislation is pending in well over a dozen states. To keep up to date regarding how you can support marijuana-friendly reform measures in your state, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
You can also stay abreast of 2012 statewide ballot initiative efforts via NORML’s Legalize 2012 Facebook page here.
Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — where we spotlight specific examples of pending marijuana law reform legislation from around the country.
** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!
MASSACHUSETTS: State lawmakers on Tuesday, March 6, will hear testimony in favor of House Bill 1371, which would legalize and regulate the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age. Members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will debate the measure at 1pm in Room A-2 of the Boston Statehouse. For more information on this upcoming hearing, contact MassCann: the Massachusetts chapter of NORML here. To contact your elected officials regarding HB 1371, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
NEW YORK: Bi-partisan legislation, Senate Bill 5187 and Assembly Bill 7620, seeking to reduce marijuana penalties and arrest violations involving cases where marijuana was either consumed or allegedly possessed in public [NY State Penal Law 221.10] remains pending in New York state. Under present law, non-public possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana is a non-criminal civil citation, punishable by a $100 fine. However, in recent years, police — particularly in New York City — have misused Penal Law 221.10 to arrest defendants who would have otherwise faced no more than a civil citation. Passage of these measures will stop this police misconduct. You can contact your state legislators regarding these efforts here.
NORTH CAROLINA: House Bill 324, an act to reclassify the possession of minor amounts of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to an infraction, remains pending before House lawmakers. House Bill 324 would amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would become a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a fine and no criminal record. You can contact your lawmakers regarding this measure by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
RHODE ISLAND: Legislation seeking to reduce marijuana possession penalties has been reintroduced in both chambers of the Rhode Island legislature. House Bill 7092 and its companion legislation Senate Bill 2253 amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 or older is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. Full text of the bills can be read online here and here. A recent statewide poll shows that 65 percent of Rhode Island’s residents approve of this change. If you reside in the Ocean State, you can contact your members of the House and Senate in support of these decriminalization measures here.
VERMONT: House Bill 427 — which amends state law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by six months in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a civil offense, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record — remains pending in the 2012 legislative session. According to a just-released statewide poll, over 60 percent of Vermont voters endorse decriminalizing cannabis. You can contact your House member in support of HB 427 here.
Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in over twenty states, and liberalization measures have been pre-filed in many more. Below is this week’s edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Round Up — activists’ one-stop guide to the latest statewide votes and happenings relevant to marijuana law reform.
Arizona: The Arizona Department of Health Services last week finalized rules for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program. Patients may begin qualifying for the program next week, and dispensary applications will be accepted beginning June 1. Program rules, physician certification forms, and answers to frequently asked questions are all available online here. Arizona is the fifteenth state since 1996 to allow for the use of medical cannabis by qualified patients.
Connecticut: On Tuesday, members of the Joint Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly voted in favor Governor’s Bill No. 1015, which seeks to allow qualified patients to use and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. The Committee is expected to act on separate decriminalization legislation (See NORML’s recent op/ed in favor here) imminently. You can support both proposals via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here and here. You can get involved with Connecticut NORML here.
Delaware: On Thursday, March 30, members of the Delaware Senate voted 18 to 3 in favor of Senate Bill 17, The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act. The measure now awaits action from the House of Representatives. You can contact your House member in support of this effort via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
Montana: Members of the Montana Senate last week resurrected and then passed House Bill 161, which repeals the state’s six-year-old, voter-approved medical marijuana law. Senate lawmakers voted 29 to 21 in favor of the GOP-backed measure, which had previously stalled in committee. The bill is now expected to go before Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, who has voiced support for the state’s medical cannabis program. You can contact the Governor and urge him to veto this draconian legislation here. Additional information is available from our allies Montana NORML and Patients & Families United.
North Carolina: Legislation that seeks to legalize the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana has been reintroduced in the North Carolina legislature. House Bill 577 amends state law to “authorize an individual to use marijuana for medical purposes as directed by a physician.” HB 577 would allow patients both the ability to cultivate their own cannabis at home or to purchase it at state licensed distribution centers. This proposal has been referred to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations, but has yet to be assigned a hearing. You can urge your lawmakers to support this proposal here.
Vermont: Senate lawmakers are expected to act this week on SB 17, which seeks to allow for state-licensed facilities to provide medical marijuana to authorized patients. Similar legislation is already in place in several states, including Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. You can contact your state Senator about SB 17 via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.
NORML introduces a few new regular blog items for 2010:
-Letters From The Victims Of Marijuana Prohibition
-NORML’s Reefer Madness Du Jour
–Who Do I Want To Smoke A Joint With And Why?
NORML is in constant contact with thousands of victims of cannabis prohibition on a weekly basis. The organization is flooded with calls, letters and emails from citizens ill-effected by cannabis prohibition laws, from getting arrested and going to prison to civil forfeiture, child custody, revocation of drivers license, removal of student loans and workplace drug testing.
Below is a prime, firsthand account of how what appears to be a minor cannabis offense can seriously impair a person’s ability to live the most productive and prosperous life possible because they chose to relax with cannabis, as compared to alcohol.
The soldier below, who got busted in what is technically speaking a decriminalized state for cannabis possession, aptly points out the hypocrisy of the government to hire him into the National Guard and Army, but, because of a minor cannabis bust years ago, he still can’t get a minimum wage job in corporate retail big box stores. These same corporate brand names often claim to support and honor the men and women who serve in the military.
It would be one thing if the government’s war on cannabis consumers was actually effective, or that when citizens were busted in the prohibition they’d repent, defer to the government’s rationale for the prohibition laws and necessarily feel good about the taxing and stressful experience. There is no correlation to greater number of arrests equating to less cannabis use. Instead, since 1965, 20 million citizens in America come out on the backside of an interaction with prohibition laws and typically develop less respect for authority and the government, and perceive police as adversaries rather than public servants. It makes them jaded about the words and promise of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. It makes some citizens on the fringes developing an anti-government attitude so strident that they advocate violent revolt.
Why is any of this good in a democracy that relies on trust, respect and fidelity to basic institutions, institutions founded in America’s basic values, largely rationality and reason?
NORML thanks SPC Hunt, and hundreds of thousands of men and women in America’s armed forces, for making great sacrifice and taking risks to keep the country as safe as it can be.
Cannabem liberemus and godspeed Specialist Hunt!
To whom it may concern:
My name is SPC L. D. Hunt. I am 28 years old, a loving husband, and very proud father of an amazingly smart little boy. I am also currently in Iraq. I am writing to you in hopes that maybe my story can help motivate some of you to continue the fight you are bravely acting out in on behalf of the American people.
In May 2002 I was arrested in Brunswick county, NC for possession of less than one half ounce of marijuana. At the time I was in my care in a private area but I was unaware of laws at the time dealing with search warrants, etc. The police officer who arrested me drilled the hell out of me. Questioning me and making subtle threats against myself and my occupants, I agreed for him to search me personally. I told him of the bags and the bowl in my pockets and he promptly put me in cuffs and began to tear my car apart. After the search I was taken to the magistrates office and booked. I was given a court date and told to return. The cute part about that was when I was getting out of the police car, the bags were on the center console and when the officer got out, his elbow knocked one of the bags down into the floor between the seat and the console. When I informed him of what happened, he told me “not to worry about it”…
A few weeks later came my court date. I went to court to represent myself, ready to accept whatever punishment they were going to give me. I told the judge in a very professional manner of my mistake and my willingness to go along with the sentencing. I was given a $100.00 fine and 1 year of unsupervised probation. When I received the judgement I breathed a sigh of relief thinking that the worst part was over, when in fact, it was just beginning.
I consider myself a good worker, especially in terms of customer relations in sales positions. I was also working on getting back into college and moving on with my life. But it became quickly apparent that nearly all employers would not hire me. Target, Walmart, and many other places wanted nothing to do with me, all while I watched them hire people with felonies and much harsher police records on them. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how minding my own business and using such a small amount of plant material could cost me worse treatment than a car thief or someone with an assault record. To this day I still can’t figure the logic in it. Needless to say this affected my finances very quickly.
The next few years proved to be extremely trying as the only work I could get were at construction and jobs I had no experience in and I was not good in. I felt like I was forced into a position that made me constantly searching for new work as with that industry in NC the amount of work available was dependent on my employer’s success at acquiring new contracts. This did not bode well for trying to pay bills, go to college, and keep a healthy relationship with my wife.
In 2005 things came to an extremely bad climax and I was without work, none was available, and there was nowhere among the dozens of job applications I put in that would give me a second thought due to my conviction. All but one. And it was the one place I laughed at the thought of being hired: The North Carolina National Guard. The decision to join wasn’t very hard when I found out that with a simple letter I could be approved to put my life at risk for my country. Once again I wondered about the ethical and moral stance that places like Walmart, Target, and the other giant companies took when it came to hiring. How could I be rejected at a Walmart or a McDonalds and be hired in an instant by the US government? When the paperwork was over I was among the newest of the NCNG’s medics. I chose that job since I figured it would be a great career path and it allowed me to help stop my brothers and sisters from dying. As a medic I knew I could make a difference.
After I completed my training and returned home I was immediately put on the Katrina relief duty and worked extremely hard, trying to earn the respect of my fellow soldiers, which I can proudly say I did. I recieved an award for my service there and I still work with that ethic in mind. I thought once again that due to my hard efforts to make myself into a better person, those put in a position to judge me would see those efforts and be proud to hire a US soldier. I was wrong. Very wrong. (more…)