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  • 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 February 11, 2013

    Today, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach will formally introduce a bill to tax and regulate marijuana in Pennsylvania.

    “This past November, the people of Washington State and Colorado voted to fully legalize marijuana,” said Leach. “It is time for Pennsylvania to be a leader in jettisoning this modern-day prohibition, and ending a policy that has been destructive, costly and anti-scientific.”

    “NORML applauds Senator Leach for taking this important step forward to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in his state. Pennsylvania has long been considered a bellwether state that sets the precedent for politics across the country, as such it is both exciting and encouraging to see the Keystone State take up this crucial dialogue,” said Erik Altieri, Communications Director for NORML, “Marijuana prohibition costs the state of Pennsylvania over 300 million dollars a year in enforcement costs and tens of millions a year in lost potential tax revenue, while doing little to keep the substance out of the hands of children or lower use rates. It is time for a new policy that works for the state and its people. We encourage all of Senator Leach’s colleagues in Harrisburg to join him in this call for rational marijuana laws.”

    Speaking at Monday’s press conference will be Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Dr. David Nathan, a clinical associate professor from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

    The press conference will be aired live online here at 2pm EST on February 11th.

    If you live in Pennsylvania, you can easily contact your state representatives and tell them to support this legislation by visiting NORML’s Take Action Center here.

    Senator Daylin Leach will be the keynote speaker at the NORML Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, you can purchase your tickets to that event by clicking here.

    NORML will keep you updated as this important reform effort moves forward in Pennsylvania. For further information, please visit PhillyNORML or Pittsburgh NORML’s websites here and here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director February 1, 2013

    In a statement published Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a previously outspoken opponent of marijuana law reform, did something surprising. He came out in support of allowing the production of industrial hemp.

    “I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy,” McConnell’s statement read, “The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

    The Senator cited his discussions with fellow Ketucky Senator Rand Paul and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Come as being influential in his new position.

    It is worth noting, that as recently as last year, Senator McConnell was vociforus in his opposition to marijuana law reform. Replying to a constituent’s letter in 2012, McConnell stated that he was opposed to legalizing marijuana due to the “detrimental effects of drugs..[such as] short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.”

    While he makes clear that he wants hemp regulated in a way “that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use,” perhaps his new found support for hemp will become his “gateway” to supporting further rational marijuana policies.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 17, 2013

    The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the most senior member of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) again spoke out against the War on Drugs today during a briefing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s upcoming agenda.

    “The fact that so many people, especially young people, go to prison for a relatively minor thing, a drug offense. And then you ask, why can’t they get jobs afterward? Why do they have problems from then on?

    I think we have spent tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars on the so-called War on Drugs. Well, we’ve lost.” – Sen. Leahy

    Senator Leahy also addressed the disproportionate toll marijuana prohibition takes on people of color:

    “There are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but have the money to stay out and are not there.” – Sen. Leahy

    It seems time does bring wisdom and other members of Congress should take notice and follow the lead of one of their most experience legislators. The time for sensible marijuana policy has come and this reaffirmation of support from an elected official, in such a position of influence as Senator Leahy, is clear proof the winds of reform are blowing strongly in our favor.

    The full remarks are available from C-SPAN here. You can also read further media coverage here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director March 14, 2012

    “Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other narcotics pose to our society, I have concerns about this legislation. The detrimental effects of drugs have been well documented: short-term memory loss, loss of core motor functions, heightened risk of lung disease, and even death.”

    No, that is not a quote from 1936′s Reefer Madness, it came from the mouth of current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and it happened in 2012.

    Prohibitionist arguments have always been quite laughable, the government originally warned of the dangers of reefer addicted jazz musicians and immigrants corrupting our youth and harming women. However, we’ve come a long way since the 1930′s and the fact that a high ranking elected official in the 21st century can say something so blatantly untrue with a straight face is disturbing at best. Centuries worth of use and countless volumes of research prove Senator McConnell’s statement to be nothing more than lies and scaremongering. Perhaps the good Senator should do some research of his own, if he did he’d find that inhaled cannabis has been shown safe and effective in trials using FDA’s own ‘gold standard’ method.

    As long as our representatives in Congress hold such archaic, patently false views on marijuana our efforts to end prohibition will forever be stymied. We need to hold our politicians accountable and if they continue to make statements such as these, they will lose our support come election time. Help us give Senator Mitch McConnell a #RealityCheck by tweeting your displeasure with his recent statements:

    @Team_Mitch: Centuries of use and decades of research say you’re wrong. Deaths from marijuana = 0. #RealityCheck

    More info and a link to the original constituent letter are available here.