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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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 Executive Director March 28, 2013

    This week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) formally introduced LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana into the Maine legislature. This legislation would legalize the sale of as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana per week to people 21 or older at licensed retail locations. It would also permit for the cultivation of the plant in private settings. The measure has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

    In a previous session, an earlier version of Russell’s legalization measure was rejected by House lawmakers by a vote of 107 to 39. States Rep. Russell: “I think there’s been a major culture shift since I introduced this bill in 2011. What we’ll see is a lot more folks ready to talk about this issue.”

    This cultural shift is readily apparent in the groundswell of support this legislation has already generated. LD 1229 was introduced with the backing of 35 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Those supporting the bill were 2 tribal representatives, 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 independent. The previous version of this measure only had 4 co-sponsors.

    NORML is pleased to support this historic legislation that would make Maine the third state to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. This is common sense legislation that would put Maine at the vanguard of a reform which is not only supported by over half of the country, but would also save the state precious law enforcement resources, create a new job and tax producing industry, stop the arrest of non-violent citizens, enhance protection of civil liberties, and help keep marijuana out of the hands of Maine’s children. We urge Representative Russell’s colleagues to join with her and the 35 co-sponsors of LD 1229 in taking a stand to end the state’s prohibition on marijuana and to start creating a safer Maine.

    Our supporters generated hundreds of emails to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor this measure and it looks like that outpouring of support is already paying off. However, we need to keep up the momentum. If you live in Maine, please take a moment today to contact your Representative and State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so using NORML’s Take Action Center here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director February 26, 2013

    Legislation has been introduced in Oregon by the House Committee on Revenue that would legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.

    House Bill 3371 would establish a regulatory system, similar to the one in place in the state for alcohol, for the cultivation, production, and sale of cannabis to adults over 21. Adults would be allowed to possess up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes, in addition to purchasing it from regulated retail outlets. You can read the full text of the legislation here.

    If you needed any further proof that elections have consequences, we now have a total of seven legalization bills pending in state legislatures, whereas we rarely had even one in previous years. The voters in Colorado and Washington set the ball of legalization rolling down hill and it seems unlikely to slow down anytime soon.

    If you live in Oregon, please click here to quickly and easily contact your elected officials in support of this legislation. If you don’t live in Oregon, click here and see if there is any pending marijuana law reform legislation in your state.

    OREGON: CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN SUPPORT OF HOUSE BILL 3371

    In November 2012, two states legalized marijuana. Help us win the rest. Consider making a donation to support NORML’s advocacy work today.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director February 21, 2013

    Hot on the heels of the introduction of a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Maine earlier today, Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) has filed legislation in Maryland that would end his state’s prohibition on marijuana and regulate its possession, use, and sale for adults over the age of 21.

    House Bill 1453 would create a system to regulate and tax cannabis in a manner similar to how the state handles alcohol. It would instruct the Maryland comptroller to license marijuana retail stores, wholesale facilities and testing facilities and apply an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales. The excise tax revenue would go to fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. You can read the full text of this proposal here.

    If you live in Maryland, please take a moment and use NORML’s Take Action Center here to easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this important legislation.

    MARYLAND: Click here to urge your elected officials to support this legislation

    The winds of reform are blowing strongly at our backs, with Maryland entering the fray, there is currently a total of six states (Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) with pending legislation to legalize marijuana for adult consumption. Check out the full list of pending state legislation here and find out if your state is considering marijuana law reforms in this legislative session.

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