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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director April 18, 2013

    Lets Be HonestRepresentative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced federal legislation that would establish a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy. The proposed commission, inspired by the 1971 Shafer Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, would be tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of how federal policy should interact with state laws that make marijuana legal for medicinal and personal use, the cost of our current marijuana prohibition and potential revenue from marijuana regulation and taxation, the impact of federal banking and tax laws on marijuana related businesses, the health benefits of risk of marijuana use, the public safety and criminal justice implications of marijuana prohibition compared with regulation, and the effects of marijuana prohibition and potential regulation on our international relationships and treaties.

    “Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” said Congressman Cohen. “This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”

    Representative Steve Cohen is joined by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA).

    During an interview with Barbara Walters in December of 2012, President Obama stated, “…what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

    Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske stated in January of this year that, “Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”

    “The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that a national conversation is needed when it comes to our country’s marijuana policies, but so far that conversation has been largely one sided,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “It is time for federal lawmakers to listen to the voice of the majority of Americans who want to see change to our nation’s marijuana laws and for them to take part in that dialogue. NORML is pleased to have worked with Representative Cohen and his staff on this important legislation that would provide a public and professional venue for that conversation to take place. A majority of Americans agree that it is time for the United States to end it’s fruitless and expensive war on cannabis consumers and pursue policies of regulation and taxation. Enjoining this national commission would be a pragmatic and productive step towards assessing the true costs of our current prohibition and creating a framework for a functional federal policy on marijuana.”

    Join NORML and federal legislators in calling for a “serious national conversation” on regulating marijuana.

    Click here to quickly and easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director April 5, 2013

    On Friday, April 5th, Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky stated that he will let Kentucky’s industrial hemp measure become law without his signature. Gov. Beshear had expressed concerns that marijuana growers could hide their illegal growing operations with hemp plants. Despite his concerns, he allowed the measure to become law without his signature and did not veto the legislation.

    House and Senate lawmakers passed an amended version of Senate Bill 50, “An Act relating to industrial hemp”, in March during the final hours of the 2013 legislative session. Noting that “public pressure to pass the bill helped achieve the last-minute deal.”

    After the bills approval by the state legislature, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer stated that “by passing this bill, the General Assembly has signaled that Kentucky is serious about restoring industrial hemp production to the commonwealth and doing it in the right way. That will give Kentucky’s congressional delegation more leverage when they seek a federal waiver allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.”

    Kentucky is now the ninth state to have passed a law allowing for farmers to cultivate industrial hemp. Hemp cultivation is still prohibited by the federal government, so until the feds alter their current policy, it is unlikely that Kentucky farmers will begin to grow this crop. Of the eight states who previously approved industrial hemp legislation, only Hawaii has received a federal waiver allowing them to grow an acre of hemp for research purposes.

    Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana is currently pending in the US Senate and House of Representatives and has been sponsored by prominent politicians such as Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. You can click here to write your federal officials in support of this legislation.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director March 27, 2013

    hempfieldHouse and Senate lawmakers yesterday passed an amended version of Senate Bill 50, “An Act relating to industrial hemp.” The floor votes took place with only hours to go before the close of the 2013 legislative session. Proponents of the measure acknowledged that “public pressure to pass the bill helped achieve the last-minute deal.”

    The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing.

    Senate Bill 50 “establishes conditions and procedures for the licensing of industrial hemp growers by the Department of Agriculture.” It designates the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission to work in concert with the state Department of Agriculture, and also tasks the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station to engage in research related to hemp production.

    The bill passed the House by a vote of 88 to 4. The Senate re-approved the measure by a vote of 35 to 1.

    Said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer in a prepared statement: “By passing this bill, the General Assembly has signaled that Kentucky is serious about restoring industrial hemp production to the commonwealth and doing it in the right way. That will give Kentucky’s congressional delegation more leverage when they seek a federal waiver allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.”

    Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana is pending in the US Senate and House of Representatives.

    Senate Bill 50 now goes to the desk of Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear, who has said he shares the concerns of the Kentucky State Police who opposed the bill,” but has not stated publicly whether he intends to veto the measure.

    If you live in Kentucky, click here to write the Governor and urge that he does not stand in the way of this legislation.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director March 19, 2013

    WinslowAt a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston this past weekend, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) took a jab at pro-legalization Republican State Representative Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk), who is currently vying for the Republican nomination for Senate in Massachusetts’s upcoming special election.

    Addressing the crowd, Senator Warren said, “I advise everyone to pay very close attention to Dan Winslow’s platform. He has a 100 percent ranking from the gun lobby and he’s for the legalization of marijuana. He wants us armed and stoned.”

    According to statements received by VoteSmart, Rep. Dan Winslow’s stance on marijuana policy is as follows:

    I disfavor decriminalization of marijuana because it increases demand from illicit sources. Instead, I think we need to legalize marijuana (likely starting with medicinal marijuana in view of the current federal prohibition) and then regulate it and tax it. Only be lawful production of marijuana will the cartels, crooks and drug dealers be put out of business in the US. – State Representative Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk)

    Representative Winslow is currently engaged in a primary for the GOP nomination, if he were to receive it he would face either Democratic Congressmen Stephen Lynch or Edward Markey in the June 25 special election.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director March 12, 2013

    Lets Be HonestIn an interview with the Denver Post, published this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke about the marijuana legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington in November.

    When asked, “What are the measures in Washington (DC) that might address states that legalize marijuana and what is your view of federal policy?,” Minority Leader Pelosi expressed her support of state laws regarding marijuana and encouraged a tax and regulate policy:

    Q: What are the measures in Washington (DC) that might address states that have taken steps to legalize marijuana and what is your view of the federal role?

    Rep. Pelosi: I support the leadership of Jared Polis, who has been a leader on this issue as well as other members..I understand some of the Republican members support the law now that is passed, even if they didn’t before.

    But in any case, to answer your question, what is my position regarding the states that have medical marijuana or recreational marijuana as the law of their states: I think that has to be respected. I think tax and regulate.

    In order to do that, there has to be a level of respect for the fact, that if you are going to have recreational marijuana, someone is in business to do that and they have to have tax treatment in order for them to function as a business.

    How the state of Colorado interacts with the federal government on the taxation issues is something they have to work out, but I think they should.

    You can view the full interview here.

    Representative Pelosi now joins the growing list of prominent politicians who are coming out in support of rational marijuana policy. Take a minute of your time and click here to easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support Representative Polis’ legislation, HR 499: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, and put an end to our nation’s war on cannabis consumers.

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