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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 6, 2012

    The campaign behind I-502, a ballot measure that would end cannabis prohibition in Washington State this fall, unveiled their first TV advertisement in support of the initiative. This commercial kicks off a recently announced million dollar ad campaign, which aims to keep marijuana legalization at the forefront of Washington voters’ minds as we approach November. You can view the ad below:

    YouTube Preview Image

    Polling data taken in July by SurveyUSA shows an upward swing in support for the initiative, with 55 percent of likely voters approving of the measure, 32 percent opposing, and 13 percent undecided.

    Get all the latest information on cannabis law reform in the 2012 Election by viewing NORML’s voter guide, Smoke the Vote, here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 5, 2012

    As more and more public, economic and political attention is being cast towards cannabis legalization during the failed policy’s 75th birthday week, these apparently are the years of sober public policy writing examining what an end to Cannabis Prohibition is possibly going to look like with tax lawyer Patrick Ogelsby’s cover article in State Tax Notes last year, Rand Corporation/Kleinman/Caulkins’ book ‘Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know — 2012’ and now a cover piece in the magazine we policy wonks live to read…Governing Magazine.

    The Governing writer touches upon what I’ve come to recognize as obvious:  rigid state medical cannabis programs like Colorado’s (as, for example, compared to California’s practically non-existent state regulations and laws regarding medical cannabis) as necessary precursor to state-sanctioned cannabis legalization for non-medical retail.

    With publications and books like these being distributed widely among policymakers, elected officials, staff, media and NGOs…it is not possible that Cannabis Prohibition can survive in free market-oriented democracies like America for an additional seventy-five years!

    Not possible!

     

    Hey Allen,
     
    Wanted to share the link to my medical marijuana feature, now it’s been posted online: http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-medical-marijuana-becoming-mainstream.html

    As I think I mentioned to you, it was our August cover! (You can see it in the upper right-hand corner). Feel free to distribute it through your own channels, and I’d love to hear any feedback. Couldn’t have done it without all the background and additional help and contacts that you gave me. Thanks again. Sure we’ll have a chance to chat again soon.
     
    – Dylan
     
    _____
     
    Dylan Scott
    Staff Writer
    GOVERNING | governing.com 
    A division of e.Republic | Smart Media for Public Sector Innovation
    1100 Connecticut Ave N.W., Suite 1300
    Washington, D.C. 20036

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 26, 2012

    Last week Charles Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Washington, DC think tank The Heritage Foundation, took to the opinion pages of the conservative-leaning DC publication, The Daily Caller, to opine “why we shouldn’t legalize marijuana.”

    Stimson’s commentary predictably contained various inaccuracies and outright falsehoods — including the unfounded allegations that marijuana use inspires violence, that the areas around medicinal cannabis clubs have experienced “exponential increases in crime rates,” (A recently published UCLA study and several others eviscerate this claim.) and that the daily consumption of alcohol “has been shown to actually improve health; not so with marijuana … (which) has no known general healthful properties.”

    Predictably, Stimson’s comments drew a firestorm of criticism, generating nearly 400 comments on The Daily Caller‘s website. It also drew a harsh rebuke, in the form of a letter to the editor, from NORML Advisory Board Member, Dr. Mitch Earleywine, who responded that Mr. Stimson’s “misstatements and half-truths” lacked any empirical foundation.

    To their credit, The Daily Caller on Wednesday also devoted space for NORML to respond directly to Charles Stimson’s pot propaganda via my own op/ed, which I’ve excerpted below.

    Regulations, not criminal prohibition, best address concerns regarding cannabis
    via The Daily Caller

    The views on marijuana legalization expressed in The Daily Caller last week by The Heritage Foundation’s Charles Stimson (“Why we shouldn’t legalize marijuana,” July 19, 2012) are woefully out of step with contemporary science and public opinion.

    Americans have grown weary of the federal government’s war on cannabis. Their exasperation is justified. Since 1970, over 21 million U.S. citizens have been cited or arrested for violating marijuana laws. Yet despite this vigorous and fiscally taxing criminal enforcement, over 100 million Americans, including the president, acknowledge having consumed cannabis. One in ten admit that they use it regularly. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t dissuaded the general public from consuming cannabis or reduced its availability, especially among young people. But it has damaged the lives and careers of millions of people who were arrested and sanctioned for choosing to ingest a substance that is safer than alcohol or tobacco.

    … A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the limited legal use of marijuana by adults would best reduce any risks associated with its use or abuse.

    … Need further proof that regulation works? Just look at our contemporary experience with tobacco — a legally marketed but deadly recreational drug. Teen use of cigarettes has recently fallen to its lowest levels in decades. Conversely, young people’s self-reported use of cannabis is rising and has now surpassed the number of teens consuming tobacco. Why the disparate trends? Simple. In short, it’s legalization, regulation and public education — coupled with the enforcement of age restrictions — that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children.

    Despite more than 70 years of federal prohibition and regardless of the fear-mongering of pundits like Charles Stimson, marijuana is here to stay. Let’s acknowledge this reality, cease ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and put forward common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ use and production.

    You can read the entire commentary and leave comments by clicking here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director July 23, 2012

    New polling data from SurveyUSA shows growing support for Washington State’s marijuana legalization initiative, I-502.

    The new survey found that 55 percent approve of the initiative, with just 32 percent opposed and 13 percent undecided. The poll was conducted from July 16th through 17th and involved 600 likely voters. You can read more about the SurveyUSA poll here. This is a significant upward swing in support for I-502, previous polling in June had only 50% of voters supporting Initiative 502 to 37% opposed.

    The Seattle Times is also reporting that initiative proponents plan on kicking off a million dollar advertising campaign in August.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 26, 2012

    Marijuana law reform legislation is pending in nearly 30 states this 2012 legislative session. Is your state among them? Find out here.

    More importantly, have you taken the time to call or write your state elected officials this year and urged them to support these pending reforms? If not, NORML has provided you with all of the tools to do so via our capwiz ‘Take Action Center’ here. (FYI: NORML’s capwiz page is specific to legislation only, not ballot initiative efforts. A summary pending 2012 ballot initiative campaigns may be found at NORML’s Legalize It 2012 page on Facebook here or on the NORML blog 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!

    California: Democrat Assemblywoman Norma Torres is sponsoring legislation, AB 2552, that seeks to criminalize anyone who operates a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of marijuana or its metabolites in their system, regardless of whether their psychomotor performance is demonstrably impaired. NORML is opposing this measure, which has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. More information about this legislation is available from California NORML or via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Connecticut: Legislation that seeks to allow for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients is moving forward in the Connecticut state legislature. On Wednesday, March 21, members of the Judiciary Committee voted 35 to 8 in favor of the measure, Raised Bill 5389. NORML thanks all of you who contacted your elected officials ahead of this important vote.

    The Committee vote follows on the heels of the release of a statewide Quinnipiac University Poll of over 1,600 residents which reported that 68 percent of voters endorse the measure. According to the poll, “there is no gender, partisan, income, age or education group opposed” to legalizing marijuana as a physician-recommended therapy.

    To receive future e-mail updates on the progress of this legislation and what you can do to assure its passage, please contact Erik Williams, Connecticut NORML Executive Director, here.

    New Hampshire: Members of the Senate Committee on Health voted 5-0 last week in favor of Senate Bill 409, which allows for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients, on March 23rd. SB 409 now awaits a vote on the Senate floor, which may come as soon as this week. [UPDATE!] On Wednesday, March 27th, members of the Republican-led New Hampshire State Senate voted 13-11 in favor of Senate Bill 409. You can watch lawmakers reaction to the vote here. As amended, qualified patients would be able to possess up to four cannabis plants and/or six ounces of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. SB 409 now awaits action from the House of Representatives, House Health and Human Services Committee. To become involved in the statewide campaign effort in favor of SB 409, contact NH Compassion here or visit 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. A recent statewide poll, conducted in January by the Public Policy Polling Firm, shows that 65 percent of Rhode Island’s residents approve of this change.

    On Tuesday, March 27, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony in favor of the measure. Last week, members of the House Judiciary Committee held similar hearings. NORML submitted written testimony in favor of the measure to the Committee.

    Separate legislation to regulate the adult sale and use of marijuana is also pending in both chambers, and will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow.

    Additional information about these measures is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    [UPDATE] Tennessee: The House version of legislation, the “Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act”, that seeks to allow for the use of medical marijuana passed out of Committee on Tuesday, March 27. The bill now goes to the full House Health and Human Resources Committee, which will hear the measure on Wednesday, April 4, at 1:30pm. In past years, similar legislation has gained significant legislative support. NORML had previously retained a state lobbyist to work on behalf of the medicinal cannabis issue in the state legislature, and many Tennessee lawmakers have expressed support authorizing patients’ access to marijuana therapy. Now lawmakers need to hear from you. You can contact your lawmakers about this legislation via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

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