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Texas

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 24, 2013

    It’s high time Texas grabbed prohibition by the horns!

    DFW NORML proudly presents the Texas Regional NORML Conference at the Norris Conference Center (304 Houston St. Fort Worth, Texas 76102-7404) in downtown Fort Worth from June 7 – 9. This historic event includes over a dozen speakers such as Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, Judge Jim Gray, the 2012 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee, expert cultivation and concentrate tips, medicinal alternatives to smoking, an exclusive screening of the new documentary American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny, patient testimonials, a hemp fashion show, reception and live art show, two after parties, vendors, prizes and more than a few surprises.

    The primary goals for the Texas Regional NORML Conference are:
    1.) Give Texans an honest, entertaining and interactive cannabis education.
    2.) Showcase the strength of the Texas effort to end prohibition.
    3.) Call all Texans to action because now is the time to get involved!

    This historic event includes over a dozen speakers including Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, an exclusive screening of the new documentary American Drug War 2: Cannabis Destiny, expert cultivation and concentrate tips, a hemp fashion show, reception and live art show, two after parties, vendors, prizes and more than a few surprises.

    Get your 3 Day pass for a $100 donation which includes all days of the conference, the reception, both after parties and a swag bag full of goodies provided by our generous sponsors. Discounted pricing available for students, seniors, veterans, media and NORML chapters.

    REGISTRATION DEADLINE

    The deadline for online registration of the Texas Regional NORML Conference is 6/7. Otherwise, you can register in person 6/7 – 6/9 for the same price!

    CONFIRMED SPEAKERS:

    (Click the names with links to view short videos with the speakers)

    – Judge Jim Gray, 2012 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee and author of“Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It”
    Keith Stroup, Founder & Legal Counsel at NORML
    – “Radical” Russ Belville of 420radio.org
    Mike Hyde – Founder of the Cash Hyde Foundation and father of Cash Hyde
    Cheyanne Weldon, Executive Director of Texas NORML
    – Shaun McAlister, Executive Director of DFW NORML
    Erik Altieri, Communications Director & Chapter Coordinator for NORML
    Jamie Balagia – Public Information Officer and Attorney at San Antonio NORML
    – Joy Strickland – Founder of Mothers Against Teen Violence
    Clif Deuvall – Co-chair of Texas at US Marijuana Party of Texas, Chairman at Texas Cannabis Party and Founder Norml of Waco Inc. at NORML
    – Leslie Burgoyne, DFW NORML Family Law Attorney
    Reverend Russell Elleven – Unitarian Universalist Minister
    Derek Cross – Author at Hemp Healthy Today
    – Allen Patterson – Chairman of the Tarrant County Libertarian Party
    Larry Talley – Strategist for DFW NORML, speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and retired US Navy
    Terry Nelson – Executive Board Member at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), former Border Patrol agent and Homeland Security Supervisor
    – Toni Ann Hanskett-Mills – Patient Advocate for Medical Cannabis Patients with 28 yrs experience in Direct Patient Care
    – Stephen Betzen – Founder of the Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care
    – Margarita McAuliffe – Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Texas Moms United

    CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS TODAY!

    More information is available directly from DFW NORML here or at the Facebook Event page here.

    Hope to see you in Texas soon!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director October 11, 2012

    Guest Blog by Joshua Schimberg, Executive Director of Texas NORML

    2012 Election is the Most Important in Marijuana Law Reform History

    This year could likely be the most significant in marijuana law reform history. In case you hadn’t heard, three states, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, will be voting on some form of marijuana legalization on November 6th, and two states, Arkansas and Massachusetts, will be voting on medical marijuana.

    Perhaps even more significant than all of these proposals, are the recent nationwide polling numbers regarding marijuana legalization. In October, 2011, for the first time ever, Gallup reported a plurality of Americans, 50%, were in favor of legalizing marijuana, with 46% opposed. Then, in March, 2012, Rasmussen also reported a plurality of Americans in favor of “legalizing and taxing” marijuana (47% favored, 42% opposed) in order to “help the nations financial problems.” However, the biggest news came just a few months later when Rasmussen, again, asked the question, but with a slightly different slant. In May, Rasmussen asked Americans if they were favored legalizing and regulating marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco,” and the answer was overwhelmingly yes, with 56% in favor and just 36% opposed. Considering the polling trend over the past decade, this most recent poll seems to suggest that we are nearing a point where Americans support marijuana legalization at a two to one margin. This is huge news, but it doesn’t necessarily mean an easy or quick victory.

    The last time any state voted on marijuana legalization was in 2010, when California’s Prop. 19 was voted down in what many people viewed as an upset. That defeat, despite widespread support of marijuana legalization in California, demonstrated the complicated nature of voter ballot initiatives, and also highlighted fault lines in the activist community. Marijuana law reform activists and supporters are not a monolithic group. More than fifteen years of legal medical marijuana in California, brought about by the passage of Prop. 215 in 1996, have changed the activist landscape there and, more broadly, the west coast. Subgroups and alternate factions of activists, with different goals and agendas, have popped up not just in California, but in many states which have seen years of legal medical marijuana access.

    Differences between activist groups were highlighted prior to California’s vote on Prop. 19. Some medical marijuana activists feared it would harm their access, and some legalization activists feared it didn’t go far enough, or still included too many restrictions. The problem with that logic is medical marijuana has been increasingly under attack, and even in California, according to the California Criminal Justice Statistics Center, misdemeanor arrests for marijuana have sharply increased over the past 20 years to record levels of nearly 55,000 per year, comprising 22% of all drug arrests. Marijuana possession arrests in California have increased more than 100% since 1990. Nationwide in that same time, marijuana arrests have increased more than 250%, going from 326,850 to more than 850,000, and nearly 90% of those arrests are for possession. What conclusion should activists take from this?

    Despite the success of medical marijuana laws, there is much more work to be done in order to end the massive number of marijuana arrests nationwide. And if history is any indicator of how to accomplish that, states like California will have to take the lead as they did with medical marijuana. Since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, 16 other states, and Washington D.C., have followed suit. Even with more than one third of our country having passed some form of medical marijuana, our Federal government has not yet moved on the issue.

    Enactment of marijuana prohibition didn’t happen overnight; neither will its end.

    Consider that the first state to pass a law against marijuana was Massachusetts in 1911, 26 years before Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. During the 26 years between Massachusetts’ law and the Tax Act, nearly 20 other states passed anti-marijuana laws. Solidification of marijuana prohibition came more than thirty years after the Tax Act, when it was listed as a Schedule I Controlled Substance under 1970’s Controlled Substances Act, after which marijuana arrests began to balloon. The lesson here is that changing established public policy is not something that can be accomplished uniformly, quickly, or easily. But, nationwide policy is more likely to change as more states join in, and this November could very well bring about the first state to vote for legal marijuana. If so, it will likely be the first in a long line of states to do so before the Federal government.

    For that reason it is imperative for marijuana law reform activists in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, to put everything into passing their respective legalization initiatives.
    The sooner we can get the first “domino” to fall, the quicker more broad changes will happen. Activists fighting against activists are delaying progress, and they should keep in mind that public opinion plays a vital role in voter initiatives. If 56% support legalizing and regulating marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco,” it’s highly likely the number will significantly drop without sensible regulations. Even many in the legalization community agree with some sensible regulations, especially if that expedites an end to hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests every year.

    Ending those arrests is the goal of organizations like NORML, and that is why we support any and all steps in that direction. Whether it’s a decriminalization bill, an affirmative defense medical bill, (both of which NORML has supported in Texas for years) or if it’s a legalization bill (with regulations) in Colorado, Oregon, or Washington, NORML supports any and all chances at protecting responsible, adult marijuana consumers from arrest and imprisonment.

    Election Day 2012 is November 6th, so keep an eye on Colorado, Oregon, and Washington to see who will be first to legalize. Keep an eye on Arkansas and Massachusetts to see who will be the next medical marijuana state.

    This is the biggest Election Day in the history of marijuana law reform.

    For more information on marijuana law reform around the country, visit:
    www.norml.org/about/smoke-the-vote

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 18, 2012

    This Week in Weed

    Click here to subscribe to NORMLtv and receive alerts whenever new content is added.

    The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

    This week: A new study confirms marijuana’s medical efficacy, NORML and the Women’s Alliance join the Peace Caravan, and Seattle Hempfest begins in Washington State.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8TZTDVuadM[/youtube]

    Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv every week to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to be notified as soon as new content is added.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director June 26, 2012

    At NORML, we’re always a little hesitant to broadly publicize the plights of what are hundreds of thousands of victims annually of Cannabis Prohibition laws. NORML’s snail mail overflows daily with letters and pleas of help from our brothers and sisters incarcerated on cannabis-only related offenses and while the organization replies to all with 1) support and encouragement for them to keep persevering, 2) affirming to them that America’s cannabis laws are overly harsh and punitive, and 3) that their legal plight is recognized and, in turn, fodder to help educate the public, media and elected policymakers on the crucial need to immediately and forever end Cannabis Prohibition in America.

    Below is an email I received yesterday from a mother traveling from California to Texas, who, unfortunately chose a travel route that exposed her to a federal government law enforcement checkpoint on the highway that resulted in her arrest, detention and now prosecution for possessing a small amount of medical cannabis (specifically hash). These very legally questionable federal roadblocks are done under the guise of ‘immigration control’ ensnare thousands of cannabis consumers annually on nothing but minor possession charges.

    Fortunately, she was able to make bail and post a bond, otherwise, she would still be in the local jail…and self-evidently would not be reaching out online for assistance and guidance.

    The account below is an unedited first person description of what they experienced, witnessed and heard when they became one of America’s approximate 820,000 annual arrests for a minor cannabis-related charge.

    My personal reply follows…

    Please join and support NORML and local NORML chapters to help reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws and to provide help and support to the victims of this long-suffering and wasteful public policy.

     

    Hi Allen,

    I just wanted to make you aware of an encounter I had with Border Patrol in TX and Hudspeth County Jail. It’s sort of a very rough account of my dealings. I’m being charged with a third degree felony for PCOS of hashish. I’m a CA resident and not that is matters, I have a dr’s recommendation for the state of CA.

    On Tuesday June 12th I was on my way to pick up my son from Fort Worth, TX. He had been visiting with his grandparents the past 3 weeks. Heading around the bend of a mountain about 200 or so miles into Texas I spotted a permanent border patrol checkpoint. As soon as you turn the corner there are cameras pointed at your car, dogs walking up and down, and men with the border patrol stalking you.

    As soon as I reached the front of the line they were alerted to my vehicle. I was asked to step out of my car and to grab my driver’s license after being asked if I’ve ever traveled through Texas before. The men and dogs tore through my vehicle as I was questioned and informed that I was under arrest for “narcotics.”

    They took me into the border patrol building, without handcuffing. They filled out some paperwork and about an hour and a half after I was arrested I was read my miranda rights. I was thrown into a cage in the building and left to sit for about 7 hours. I was told a few times that the sheriff was on his way to pick me up.

    The sheriff then took me away from the room I had been held in, asked me if that was my car parked out there, which I replied “yes,” and then I was put in the passenger seat of his car, again without handcuffs. The 5 minute drive seemed like eternity. Being in the mercy of this man with guns whose car smelled of burnt cannabis and hashish. I felt the corruption as soon as I sat in his car. I looked over at the time, it was about 10:30 pm.

    When we arrived to the jail we both stepped out of the car and walked in. I was told to dress and give them my personal belongings that I had on me: cell phone, id, and $21. While I was dressing I over heard a woman night guard speak to the sheriff, “We’ve been getting a ton of phone calls for her and it’s been annoying. We should throw her into solitary.” The sheriff and others laughed. I couldn’t tell if he had agreed until I was indeed thrown into a cage marked as solitary.

    I looked around the filthy room, full of used feminine products, hair, dirt, and all sorts of debris. The room was lacking a bed roll, toilet paper, a blanket, and a cup. I asked several times to be provided with these items as I had been awake since 4 am that day and was extremely exhausted. Everytime I was met with the same thing, “when we get you booked.” What seemed like a few hours later I begged for toilet paper and a cup. After another hour of so I was provided with toilet paper and a cup filled with ice that I thought must have come from the male urinal. The next few hours I attempted to sleep on the metal bed frame with the toilet paper under my neck for support. I was shivering from the cold cell and lack of clothing.

    A few hours after falling asleep I was woken up with a yell, “hey, get up.” I was then booked into the jail. I looked over at the digital clock in the room the guards were in: 3:45 am. A few more snide remarks were made about the phone calls as they asked me questions, took my hand prints, picture, and I filled out paperwork with them. One of the forms I filled out stated it was an acknowledgement that I received my bedroll, toilet paper, cup, spoon, blanket, etc. When I told the man those were items I hadn’t received yet, he said that I would obtain them when I reached my cell block.

    After I was booked, I was taken to the cell block. Provided with a mattress, blanket, cup and spoon. I took the toilet paper from solitary.

    The next day I asked every few hours when I was to be arraigned. I was told between 9am and 1pm. The female guard had told me it would more likely be around 1pm because the magistrate shows up later than sooner, usually.

    1pm comes and goes. I get anxious and start asking the guards every 30 minutes when I was going to be arraigned. I kept getting told it would be a bit longer. It was about 3pm that I was arraigned by the magistrate. She had made a comment when she heard about the phone calls from my friends that she should have held me for 72 hours before seeing me. I told her, “My friends don’t like when peaceful people are caged.” She didn’t reply.

    I immediately called my husband and asked him to bail me out. I had been away from my son for 3 weeks and I was afraid of any further mistreatment. My bailiff showed up around 4 pm and paid the bail. I kept asking when I was going to be released and was ignored for 2 hours. I find out after that, the reason for their delay, my clothing had been lost. I was furious and couldn’t stop sobbing. I was released about 7:30 pm to my bailiff when my clothing finally showed up. She took me to a motel room and I slept for the night after a hot shower.

    As of this date, I have not received any more information regarding a court date. I’m unprepared financially and with knowledge to fight this. Any help you can provide would be great, even if it’s spreading the story about my horrible treatment over a healing plant.

     

     

    Hello X,

    Thanks for your email, though I’m sorry to read of the circumstances that precipitate your communication.

    Indeed, every 38 seconds in America, a cannabis consumer is arrested (850,000/year…90% for possession only). I’m not entirely sure post-arrest what practical help NORML can be as 1) you’re correct that a recommendation for medical cannabis use from CA holds no legal sway in TX, 2) there are thousands of drivers/passengers a year harassed/arrested by law enforcement checkpoints in CA, AZ, NM and TX (the ones in TX have nabbed Willie Nelson and other celebrities too), 3) It is not clear what if any legal defense one can employ to challenge the search as, for the most part, these searches are deemed legally conducted by local and regional judges (and the dogs’ smell abilities are not much in question).

    NORML has a few dozen members who’re also lawyers in TX…and you might want to contact one or more of them to inquire 1) what if any possible legal challenges are availed to you and 2) if there is no viable and/or cost effective way to challenge the search in court, then to try to mitigate the possible negative legal outcomes as much as possible is probably the best course (ie, plea bargain, drug court, etc….).

    http://norml.org/lawyers/tx

    Also, you might want to be in touch with NORML chapters in TX too:

    http://norml.org/chapters/tx

    I’ve CCd NORML’s Legal Counsel to see if he has any further ideas or suggestions.

    Your writing about a terrible event that has happened to you during this period of Cannabis Prohibition in TX is extremely well written and articulate. Thank you again for sharing what has happened to you, which only affirms the need for law reform groups like NORML to succeed in ending Cannabis Prohibition. And, please be in touch with local NORML chapters and lawyers in TX to maximize your information base, so that you and your family make the most prudent decision to get this Prohibition-related nightmare behind you…and to look to a future where you too help change these misguided laws as a genuine stakeholder.

    Kind regards,

    Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    Member, Board of Directors
    NORML / NORML Foundation

    1600 K St., NW
    Mezzanine
    Washington, D.C. 20006


  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 18, 2012

    From Thursday, June 7th through Saturday, June 9th, the Texas Democratic Party held their state convention in Houston, Texas. Along side other election related business such as selecting delegates, they also voted on their party platform for 2012. One of the issues added this year was support for marijuana decriminalization. Below you can read the official language:

    Decriminalization of Marijuana

    This decriminalization of marijuana does not mean we endorse the use of marijuana but it is only a call to wiser use of law enforcement and public health policy. Prohibition of marijuana abdicates the control of marijuana production and distribution to drug cartels and street gangs. Such prohibition promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.

    Every year, hundreds and thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana possession violations- far more than all those arrested for violent crimes in America. Societal costs dealing with the war on drugs concerning marijuana exceeds 12 billion dollars annually. Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only.

    Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.

    There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.

    Texas Democrats urge the President, the Attorney General and the Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate its use, production and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol.

    We further urge the immediate decriminalization of the possession and use of medical marijuana.

    Source: Texas Democratic Party 2012 Platform

    The Texas Democrats now join the growing list of state political parties throwing their support behind marijuana law reform. Earlier this year, the Colorado Democratic Party added marijuana legalization as a plank to their party’s platform and announced support for their state’s legalization ballot initiative, Amendment 64. 56% of Denver Country Republican Assembly also voted in favor of supporting this initiative. The state democratic party in Washington endorsed their legalization initiative, I-502, in late 2011.

    While the federal government may continue to ignore the will of the people on the marijuana issue, it is comforting to see state level politicians supporting the interests and desires of their constituencies. Considering that pro-reform candidates are winning elections in multiple states, respected party members such as Governor Cuomo (D-NY) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) are endorsing decriminalization, and the continuous flow of marijuana law reform being approved at the state level, one has to wonder just how much longer the federal government and current presidential contenders can ignore the giant green elephant in the room.

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