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Russ Belville

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator March 11, 2012

    DFW NORML's "Truth Enforcement Vehicle" was parked out front of the Baker Institute flashing the green lights to lead people to the event.

    My undying thanks go out to The James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy for the invitation to participate in this illustrious event. I learned so much from the incredible presentations of Rev. Edwin Sanders, Sen. Larry Campbell, Prof. Alex Stevens, Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, Prof. Michelle Alexander, and everyone who participated.

    I also thank the crews from DFW NORML, Houston NORML, and NORML of Waco Inc. for showing up with the Truth Enforcement Vehicle, putting on a great fundraiser, and showing me a NORML (if a little traffic-laden) good time in H-town.  (Once again, like last year, wherever I go, Portland-like rain follows me, leading Professor Bluntston to exclaim, “Russ ‘Break It Down’ Belville done brought the rain!”)

    Debating Kevin Sabet was fun.  Before we went up, he thanked me for devoting half of my show to him (it was only a quarter, but whatever) and suggested that maybe it isn’t a good idea for me to give up my whole debate strategy before the debate.  I told him that when you have truth, facts, logic, and reason on your side, you don’t have to have much of a strategy.

    Please take the time to watch the other videos from presenters at the Baker Institute.  I’m flattered by all the hits my video is getting, but you’ll learn a whole lot more from the learned people on the other videos.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 11, 2011

    From NORML Daily Stash’s Russ Belville:

    I’m always thrilled when I get word from one of our local NORML chapters about their new creative projects to capture the public imagination.  This latest treat from Dallas/Fort Worth NORML, however, is one of my favorites.

    It’s the “Truth Enforcement Vehicle”, a former police car bought at auction.  DFW NORML replaced the red’n’blue lights with green LEDs and christened it vehicle #420 (of course).

    David Sloane, Esq., public information officer for DFW NORML, tells us about the reaction from the public and from the police.

    Cop photographing the Dallas/Ft. Worth NORML Truth Squad Car...

    David’s been forwarding us progress reports on the Truth Enforcement Vehicle and in response, NORML Founder Keith Stroup warned that such a brazen appropriation of police imagery might bring with it some extra attention from cops, so be very careful to obey the law and not allow contraband in the car.  Sure enough, Papa NORML knows best, judging by today’s report from David:

    Well, Keith Stroup’s crystal ball seems to be in fine working order.  I just got stopped in 420 TRUTH CAR on Loop 820.  I was driving under the speed limit and a FTW PD traffic unit working stationary radar on the shoulder started kicking up dirt and gravel coming onto the freeway before I even past him.  (Indicating to me they’ve been watching for that car.)

    Then he noticed an old City of FTW vehicle inventory sticker on the dash.  “371… was that a traffic unit?”  I said no it was a Low-Jack car… but I re-numbered it to 420.  He kinda chuckled again and said he noticed and something to the effect of everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.   Then he asked if he could get some pictures!  I told him sure and turned the light bar back on for him.  He pulled out his phone and began snapping away.  (I got a shot of him… gettin a shot of me… attached!)

    We exchanged cordial adieus and I was on my way. He wasn’t menacing or harassing at all.  I think they are just curious.   I’m sure those pics got the FTW-PD most-forwarded award for the afternoon shift!  Now just three more shifts to go!  LOL!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 22, 2010

    On Tuesday I penned a commentary for the Los Angeles Times rebutting Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s public condemnation of Prop. 19 — The Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Initiative of 2010.

    Now the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), which provides non-partisan fiscal and policy advice, has come out with their own repudiation of Sen. Feinstein’s claims. Specifically, it sets the record straight regarding opponents allegations that passage of Prop. 19 would not result in significant cost savings, and counters the senator’s groundless argument (which nevertheless will appear in the 2010 California voter guidebook) that the measure is “a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, our workplaces and our communities less safe.”

    You can read the entire LAO summary here. Below are some key excerpts regarding what the passage or Prop 19 would and would not do. (Note: sections are set in bold for emphasis by the editor.)

    Proposition 19 — Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed
    via the California Legislative Analyst’s Office

    State Legalization of Marijuana Possession and Cultivation for Personal Use
    Under the measure, persons age 21 or older generally may (1) possess, process, share or transport up to one ounce of marijuana; (2) cultivate marijuana on private property in an area up to 25 square feet per private residence or parcel; (3) possess harvested and living marijuana plants cultivated in such an area; and (4) possess any items or equipment associated with the above activities. … The state and local governments could also authorize the possession and cultivation of larger amounts of marijuana. … State and local law enforcement agencies could not seize or destroy marijuana from persons in compliance with the measure.

    In addition, the measure states that no individual could be punished, fined, or discriminated against for engaging in any conduct permitted by the measure.

    [E]mployers would retain existing rights to address consumption of marijuana that impairs an employee’s job performance.

    [T]he measure would not change existing laws that prohibit driving under the influence of drugs or that prohibit possessing marijuana on the grounds of elementary, middle, and high schools.

    Authorization of Commercial Marijuana Activities
    The measure allows local governments to adopt ordinances and regulations regarding commercial marijuana-related activities— including marijuana cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation, and retail sales. For example, local governments could license establishments that could sell marijuana to persons 21 and older. … As discussed below, the state also could authorize, regulate, and tax such activities.

    … Whether or not local governments engaged in this regulation, the state could, on a statewide basis, regulate the commercial production of marijuana. The state could also authorize the production of hemp, a type of marijuana plant that can be used to make products such as fabric and paper.

    Impacts on State and Local Expenditures
    Reduction in State and Local Correctional Costs. The measure could result in savings to the state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana offenders incarcerated in state prisons and county jails, as well as the number placed under county probation or state parole supervision. These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars annually.

    Reduction in Court and Law Enforcement Costs. The measure would result in a reduction in state and local costs for enforcement of marijuana-related offenses and the handling of related criminal cases in the court system.

    Impacts on State and Local Revenues
    The state and local governments could receive additional revenues from taxes, assessments, and fees from marijuana-related activities allowed under this measure. … To the extent that a commercial marijuana industry developed in the state, however, we estimate that the state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenues.

    NORML’s Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville also has recently posted a line-by-line analysis of Prop. 19 here for those of you who have any lingering questions or concerns.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 11, 2010

    Judge Andrew Napolitano, host of Fox News.com’s Freedom Watch, has long been on the right side of the war on drugs, and his scathing critique of the deplorable police actions in Columbia, Missouri is no exception.

    (To recap for those who have not yet seen the video: under the cover of darkness, a team of militarized SWAT agents enter a family home and immediately engage in gunfire — killing one of two family dogs and wounding the other — and likely inflicting lifelong trauma to the family’s seven-year-old son. Police ultimately seized a small amount of marijuana residue and associated paraphernalia, which resulted in a misdemeanor charge and a $300 fine.)

    In fact, Napolitano’s very first question to befuddled Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid is: “When are the cops who did this going to be arrested and put in jail where they belong?” It’s a valid question that, not surprisingly, leaves the new mayor speechless.

    In less than a week nearly one-million people have watched the graphic and sickening footage from Columbia. It has, quite understandably, inspired public outrage and, apparently, some welcome changes in police procedure.

    Yet as NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville astutely points out on today’s edition of the NORML Stash blog, none of these minor amendments to protocol in any way gets to the heart of the problem, and that is this: Police and politicians still “accept the premise that this level of force is appropriate to keep people from using marijuana.” Ultimately, this societal mentality must change.

    That is why, while on the one hand NORML (obviously) supports cannabis medicalization and decriminalization efforts, we also recognize that these efforts fall woefully short for many Americans. In short, the only way to fully protect all our citizens from these kinds of abhorrent events is through the legalization and regulation of marijuana for all adults. Help us make this a reality.

    Stop the violence. Join NORML.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator January 30, 2010
    Cultural Distortion

    CNN Radio, Sunday, January 31, 3:40 - 4:20pm Pacific... it just worked out that way!

    I’m happy to let you all know that I will be on national radio this Sunday, which just happens to be my 42nd birthday!

    I’ll be the guest of Kyle Allison and Shane Bell on the CNN Radio program “Cultural Distortion” which airs Sundays at 3pm Pacific.

    I’ll be on from 3:40pm – 4:20pm talking about the War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Phamaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs.

    No, I didn’t request the interview to end by 4:20pm… it just worked out that way. Kyle and Shane are on Central Time.

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