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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 25, 2012

    On Wednesday, October 24, a group of California dispensary operators, medical cannabis providers, and patients, as Plaintiffs, filed their Opening Brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, asking the Circuit Court to hold that Plaintiffs, in their continuing litigation against the Federal Government, have a constitutional Ninth Amendment and Substantive Due Process fundamental right to distribute, possess and use medical cannabis. The brief, filed by members of the NORML Legal Committee, also contends that the Federal Government’s criminal prohibition of medical cannabis has no rational basis and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Plaintiffs further contend that the Federal Government is Judicially Estopped from enforcing medical marijuana prohibition in states that allow such activity because the Administration has previously asserted in public and in court that they would no longer do so.

    Plaintiffs in November 2011 initially filed suit in California’s four federal districts against Eric Holder (United States Attorney General), Michelle Leonhart (Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the individual US Attorneys of each California District: Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego — following increased efforts from the Obama administration and the state’s US Attorneys to crack down on the production and distribution of medical cannabis. Plaintiff’s are asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse the district court’s dismissal of that complaint, and to allow the plaintiff’s the opportunity to prove their contentions in a court of law.

    Three members of the NORML Legal Committee — Matt Kumin and David Michael from San Francisco and Alan Silber from Roseland, NJ — are representing the Plaintiffs in this appeal. In a press release, they stated, “The ill, in compliance with state law and with a physician’s recommendation, are made to suffer needlessly by the federal threats and denial of access to medical cannabis due to irrational governmental policy. Judicial intervention is the only way to stop the federal government from acting irrationally and from willfully ignoring the science supporting the use of cannabis as medicine.”

    The cases are El Camino Wellness Center, et al. v. Eric Holder et al. (Sacramento), Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, et al. v. Eric Holder, et al. (San Francisco), and Alternative Community Health Care Cooperative, et al. v. Eric Holder, et al. (San Diego).

    Other NLC attorneys who participated in the litigation of these cases are Lance Rogers of San Diego, Mark Reichel of Sacramento and Edward Burch of San Francisco.

    A copy of Plaintiff’s Opening Brief is available here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director October 2, 2012

    The Brownie Mary Club Democratic Club of California is hosting an online petition to be presented to the chairman of the Presidential Debate Commission to include at least one cannabis-related question in the presidential debates.

    MARIJUANA IS A MAJOR ISSUE AND NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

    Seventeen states and the District of Columbia representing over a third of the U.S. population have legalized the use of marijuana when recommended by a physician, six states have marijuana initiatives on their November ballots (three legalization and three medical), $20 billion taxpayer dollars are spent every year enforcing marijuana prohibition ensnaring over 850,000 Americans in the criminal justice systems and thousands are killed along our border over illegal importation of marijuana into the United States. There is no other issue that costs so much and directly affects the lives of millions of Americans yet is so totally ignored.

    It is time that this issue is given the attention it deserves. We respectfully request that one or both of the following two questions be asked in one of the three presidential debates.

    1. Colorado, Oregon and Washington have initiative measures on their ballots that will legalize the sale and distribution of marijuana for any purpose. If one or more of these states pass a legalization measure, as polls indicate is likely, what will be the response of your administration?

    2. With seventeen states and the District of Columbia representing over a third of the U.S. population having legalized the use of marijuana when recommended by a physician, there is a direct conflict between federal law and state law. Three states have medical marijuana initiatives on their ballots in November and several more states are expected to enact medical marijuana laws over the next two years. Will you do anything as President to help reconcile the differences between federal and state law?

    Sign petition here.

  • by Sabrina Fendrick August 29, 2012

    Charlotte, NC: On Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30 pm, during the Democratic National Convention, North Carolina NORML will be hosting Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, former special agent Jamie Haase, and southern rock artist Greta Gaines as they speak on behalf of the organization to raise awareness and support for ending marijuana prohibition.

     

    The chapter issued the following statement:

    “The North Carolina chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws is excited to have such an esteemed group of individuals speak on behalf of the marijuana movement at this politically symbolic event, and especially during such a historic time in our fight for legalization.  Marijuana prohibition continues to feed a violent criminal economy and waste precious tax dollars.

    Legalization could generate approximately $10 billion annually in tax revenue and law enforcement savings.  Seventeen states, along with the District of Columbia, have already passed pro-marijuana legislation. With Colorado, Oregon and Washington all voting on legalization initiatives this November, it is more important than ever that we bring as much attention to this issue as possible.”

    Event Information:

    Date: September 4th at 5:30pm.

    Location: Speaker’s Podium (The corner of E. Stonewall Street and S. Caldwell Street in uptown Charlotte) 

    About the Speakers:

    Gary Johnson: The former Governor of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson is the current Libertarian candidate for president in the 2012 election. In the marijuana discussion, Mr. Johnson believes that by making the plant a legal, regulated product, we can restrict availability, curtail underage use, and reduce the legal costs associated with prosecuting marijuana offenders.

    Jamie Haase: As a former ICE Special Agent, Mr. Haase brings a unique perspective to the conversation of marijuana reform. Having worked as a federal agent along the Mexican border, he’s been involved in multiple narcotics investigations. In 2011, he resigned from the United States government to become an advocate for marijuana legalization. He is now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

    Greta Gaines: Ms.Gaine’s career has crossed the entertainment industry in many forms.  She performed with Sheryl Crowe and Alanis Morissette on the Lilith Fair tour, hosted her own show on the Oxygen network, Free Ride with Greta Gaines, for three years and worked as a correspondent on ESPN2.  She has also produced four albums as a southern rock musician.  In 1992, Gaines became the first winner of the Women’s World Extreme Snowboard Championship. Currently, she serves on the National NORML Board of Directors and is actively involved with the NORML Women’s Alliance.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director August 10, 2012

    No matter the media medium, the tragic story of the federal government’s war against a beloved plant and the people who’re keen to it, can’t be told enough times, in enough ways.

    Artist-journalist Susie Cagle’s take on the federal government’s latest crackdown against medical cannabis providers in California is found at CartoonMovement.com

    This unique cartoon medium allows for audio embeds, some offensive language may be heard.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 31, 2012

    As I wrote last week in an op/ed for The Sacramento Bee, when it comes to the federal government’s policy on marijuana, not so much.

    Viewpoints: Science supporting medicinal pot is clear
    via The Sacramento Bee

    A dozen years ago, California lawmakers did something extraordinary. They authorized investigators throughout California to conduct a series of FDA-approved, gold standard trials to assess whether cannabis is safe and effective as a medicine.

    In all, researchers conducted more than a dozen clinical studies examining whether cannabis could meet objective standards of safety and therapeutic efficacy. For example, investigators at the University of California, San Francisco, assessed whether vaporizing cannabis could rapidly and consistently deliver the plant’s active ingredients to patients in a manner that is far safer than smoking. It could. At UC San Diego, clinicians examined whether inhaling cannabis posed potential harms to the immune system, particularly in subjects suffering from immune-compromised conditions like HIV. It didn’t. And at universities throughout the state, investigators studied whether marijuana provided statistically significant relief in a number of hard-to-treat conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and neuropathic (nerve) pain. Cannabis did so – consistently.

    … Nonetheless, policymakers – particularly those in Washington – have responded to these most recent scientific findings with no more than a collective yawn. Despite pledging to let “science and the scientific process … inform and guide decisions of my administration,” neither President Barack Obama nor Congress have taken any steps to amend federal law or federal policy to reflect the scientific reality that marijuana possesses well-established therapeutic value. In fact, this administration has taken just the opposite approach.

    In 2011, the Obama administration quashed out-of-hand an administrative petition that sought federal hearings regarding the present classification of cannabis as a substance with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” In its rejection, the administration alleged, “The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”

    Yet, the findings from California’s 12-year-old study program show that each of these claims is demonstrably false.

    It is long past time to reject the notion that we as a society possess insufficient evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of cannabis. The truth is that we know plenty. Most of all we know that there remains no valid scientific reason to justify the continued targeting, prosecution and incarceration of those Americans who consume cannabis responsibly.

    Read my entire commentary here.

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