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  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate June 30, 2016

    Canova profile picThe NORML PAC is proud to announce its endorsement of Tim Canova, democratic primary challenger to US House member and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for Florida’s 23rd congressional district race.

    Mr. Canova, a law school professor and political activist, is the first Democratic challenger to Representative Wasserman-Schultz since she’s held the office and NORML is excited to support his Congressional campaign.

    Unlike Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz, who has cast a number of votes opposing sensible marijuana law reforms, candidate Canova is making drug policy reform a key plank of his campaign. He writes:

    In Florida, I supported the 2014 medical marijuana referendum that garnered about 58 percent of the vote state-wide, falling just short of the required 60 percent mark. My opponent, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is a drug warrior who opposed the medical marijuana referendum. Calling marijuana a “gateway” drug, she refuses to allow her constituents in South Florida, in consultation with their doctors, to decide for themselves whether to utilize this plant-based medicine to alleviate pain and other symptoms of various illnesses and the side effects of other medications.

    Certain industries have a special interest in keeping marijuana illegal – for example, the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, both of which view recreational and medicinal use of marijuana as a competitive threat; and the private prison industry, which profits from warehousing people in jails, including for marijuana possession. Not surprisingly, having taken in lots of campaign donations from the alcohol, pharmaceutical, and private prison industries and their political action committees (PACs), Debbie Wasserman Schultz opposes medical marijuana and supports privatized prisons and mass incarceration. Unlike my opponent, I do not take any contributions from these special interests, or from any corporate interests at all.

    In addition to Florida’s medical marijuana referendum, I also support the recent reforms by Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to decriminalize marijuana for personal use, and I call on the federal government to “de-schedule” marijuana from the list of controlled and dangerous substances.

    In many of the states that have moved in the direction of legalization and regulation of marijuana for personal use, entire new industries are flourishing, adding jobs and increasing tax revenues, and crime rates are falling. While I support state efforts to allow individuals to make their own decisions, I also recognize the need to provide young people — and people of all ages — with many more job and educational opportunities in a time of decriminalization and legalization.

    Earlier this year NORML released our 2016 Congressional Scorecard, an all-encompassing database of information related to marijuana law reform that graded members of Congress on their willingness to reform our country’s archaic marijuana laws. Representative Wasserman-Schultz was one of 37 congressional members to receive an “F” grade, a grade reserved for members who have spoken out against and actively opposed marijuana reforms.

    NORML would like to commend Mr. Canova for his commitment toward amending America’s antiquated and overly punitive marijuana policies.

    Please consider donating to Mr. Canova’s campaign here. Additionally, you can also volunteer for his campaign from the comfort of your own home! All you need is a phone, computer, and internet connection. This call tool on his website allows anyone to call into his district to contact voters to urge their support for Mr. Canova.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 10, 2015

    South Carolina voters, including some two-thirds of Republicans, do not believe that the incoming administration ought to interfere with the enactment of state laws legalizing marijuana, according to polling data conducted by Public Policy Polling and published today by Marijuana-Majority.com.

    Sixty-five percent of South Carolina believe “[S]tates should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference.” Seventy-three percent of Independents endorsed the notion, as did 66 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats.

    Only 16 percent of voters agreed that the federal government should continue to “arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws.”

    Similar support has been voiced among voters in the other early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where super-majorities oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.

    Nationwide polls have reported similar results. Gallup pollsters reported that 64 percent of respondents oppose federal interference in state laws that allow for the legal use of cannabis by adults, while a poll commissioned by the think-tank Third Way found that six out of ten voters believe that states, not the federal government, should authorize and enforce marijuana policy. Most recently, a 2015 nationwide Pew poll reported that a strong majority of Americans — including 64 percent of Independents, 58 percent of Democrats, and 54 percent of Republicans — believe that the federal government should not enforce laws in states that allow marijuana use.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director March 14, 2014

    NORML-Endorse-SuareThis morning, NORML PAC announced its endorsement of Councilman Tommy Wells for mayor of Washington, DC.

    “Councilman Wells is a passionate crusader for the cause of marijuana law reform,” stated NORML PAC manager Erik Altieri, “Wells showed his skill and acumen for the issue when he championed the District’s marijuana decriminalization measure, which was overwhelmingly approved by the DC City Council just this month. The District of Columbia would greatly benefit from having his compassion, knowledge, and strong leadership in the mayor’s office. Under a Tommy Wells administration, DC will continue to roll back its failed prohibition on marijuana and move towards a system of legalization and regulation.”

    “Decriminalization is the first step in ending the failed War on Drugs that has unfairly affected our minority communities and ruined countless lives,” stated Councilman Wells, “We still have much to do to bring about common sense changes – like legalization – so that DC can set an example for the rest of the country.”

    A large majority of Washington, DC residents agree with Wells’ position. A poll of District residents released by the Washington Post in January revealed that 63% were in favor of legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, only 34% were opposed. Legalization had majority support amongst every single demographic surveyed.

    The District of Columbia currently leads the rest of the country in marijuana arrests per capita, with 854 individuals arrested for every 100,000 residents. These arrests are also disproportionately impacting people of color. While only accounting for about 51% of the population, African Americans constitute 90% of all marijuana possession arrests. This is despite the fact that African Americans and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Councilman Wells’ recently approved marijuana decriminalization measure will be a great first step in rolling back this social injustice.

    The Democratic primary for the DC mayor’s race will be held on April 1st. DC voters can get more information on how and where to vote in the primary on the District of Columbia’s website here.

    You can learn more about Tommy Well’s campaign on his website or Facebook page.

  • by NORML November 14, 2013

    [caption id="attachment_12230" align="alignright" width="300"]NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri, PA Gubernatorial Candidate John Hanger, and Philly NORML Co-Director Chris Goldstein NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri, PA Gubernatorial Candidate John Hanger, and Philly NORML Co-Director Chris Goldstein[/caption] At press conferences held in Philadelphia and Harrisburg on Wednesday, and one in Pittsburgh today, NORML PAC announced its endorsement of Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate John Hanger.

    John Hanger is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and has made marijuana law reform a central plank in his platform. He has released a three step plan for marijuana law reform that advocates for medical marijuana and decriminalization immediately upon taking office in 2015 and to move to full legalization by 2017.

    At the press conference, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri stated, “Hanger is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to openly discuss and campaign on a platform that calls for widespread reform of Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws. Since the start of his campaign, John Hanger has been a passionate and outspoken advocate of ending Pennsylvania’s war on marijuana and moving the state towards a smarter approach.”

    In an interview with NORML conducted earlier this year, John Hanger stated his belief that marijuana law reformers can elect the next governor. “We can win this issue in May 2014, by my winning that primary,” Hanger said, “It will shock the political establishment and accelerate the changing of the laws by years in Pennsylvania and around the country. I believe Pennsylvania is seen as a bellwether. If marijuana reform can win in Pennsylvania, it can win anywhere.”

    For more information on John Hanger’s campaign, you can visit his website or Facebook.

    hangermeme

    VOTER NOTE: Since the Republicans are running current governor Tom Corbett for reelection, there will only be a Democratic primary in this election which will be held in May 2014. To vote in this primary, you must be registered Democrat. You can change your party affiliation, then change it back, at any time by sending in a new voter registration application and marking “Change of Party” where given the option. More information on Pennsylvania voting can be found here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 30, 2012

    In early May, Ellen Rosenblum rode to a landslide victory in the Oregon Democratic Attorney General Primary with marijuana law reform being a central plank in her platform. It looks like it has happened again, this time in the Lone Star state.

    In the Democratic primary for the House seat representing El Paso, eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes faced an unexpected challenger in Beto O’Rourke, who formerly served on the El Paso city council. The race garnered media attention, largely focusing on O’Rourke’s support for marijuana legalization.

    O’Rourke had been vocal in his critique of the drug war, telling the Huffington Post in April that, “you have 10,000 people killed in the most brutal fashion in Ciudad Juarez in the last 10 years, without a single word from the congressman about what we can do to change the dynamic and stop the bloodshed.” He also stated that, “it is clear to me that what we’re doing is a failure.”

    During his second term on the city council, O’Rourke championed a resolution that urged the re-examination of the drug war and went on to author a book on the subject.

    Beto’s support of marijuana law reform became the focus of attacks from his opponent, Reyes, in the final days of the campaign. Reyes lambasted O’Rourke’s position as soft on crime stating that “my opponent seems to think that recreational use of marijuana is okay with him, and that’s the group he hangs around with — but it’s not for me, it’s not for my grandkids.”

    Reyes feared ending prohibition would lead to widespread use around schools and children. “I don’t want to live in a community where people think that it’s okay to light up a joint and parade around elementary schools and junior highs,” he said.

    Despite these attempts to turn O’Rourke’s rational support for the reform of marijuana policy into a political liability, the voters decided otherwise. Last night, O’Rourke claimed victory, with 50.4% of the vote. Silvestre Reyes, despite the advantage of holding the office for eight terms, only received 44.4%.

    Let’s hope this is just another in an ongoing wave of pro-reform candidates being elected into office, replacing those who employ tired drug war rhetoric to continue the costly failure that is cannabis prohibition. The people want it. If the politicians aren’t willing to take a stand and change the policy, it is time we start changing the politicians.