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  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director July 27, 2015

    While America’s public support for domestic prohibition of marijuana appears increasingly waning, quantifying the types of marijuana law reforms internationally could constitute a full time job for the eager.ReThink the Leaf

    This day’s news alone from overseas about cannabis law reforms strongly suggests that the contagion to end pot prohibition is hardly an America-only phenomena:

    Israel – The country’s deputy health minister announced today that medical cannabis will be made available for retail access via commercial pharmacies.

    Italy – Cannabis law reform group in Italy claims 250 out of 945 members of Italian Parliament support ending pot prohibition, which is a little more than twenty-five percent of the country’s elected policymakers. Drafted by the Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, the legislation would allow anyone over the age of 18 to cultivate as many as five plants at home. Italians could also team up to form a “cannabis social club,” with each having a maximum of 50 people growing as many as 250 plants.

    Surveys in Italy indicate that nearly eighty percent of citizens support the country adopting marijuana laws similar to American states Colorado and Washington.

    United Kingdom – A twenty-five year old economics student in the United Kingdom has forced the hand of parliament to debate the issue of marijuana legalization by submitting a petition with over one hundred thousand signatures.

    Australia’s Queensland – Joining New South Wales, the Australian state of Queensland took steps to formalize a system by which qualified medical patients can access cannabis products via a series of research trials.

    PortugalCalifornia’s Press Enterprise’s editorial board reminds all that the week marks the fourteenth anniversary of the first nation, Portugal, to entirely decriminalize drug use and possession, which is serving as a ‘harm reduction’ model for numerous countries.

     

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 22, 2012

    Possessing and cultivating personal use amounts of cannabis should no longer be a criminal offense, according to the recommendations of a six-year study released last week by a coalition of leading British drug policy experts, treatment specialists, and law enforcement.

    The study, commissioned by the UK Drug Policy Commission, argues that decriminalizing minor cannabis offenses will reduce police and prosecutorial costs without adversely impacting levels of illicit drug use. The UK Drug Policy Commission is an independent charity “that provides objective analysis of the evidence concerning drug policies and practice.”

    According to the study, criminal penalties for cannabis “could be replaced with simple civil penalties, such as a fine, perhaps a referral to a drug awareness session run by a public health body, or if there was a demonstrable need, to a drug treatment program. … These changes could potentially result in less demand on police and criminal justice time and resources. Given the experience of other countries, our assessment is that we do not believe this would materially alter the levels of use, while allowing resources to be spent on more cost-effective measures to reduce harm associated with drug use. … We would expect the net effect to be positive.”

    Although the study’s authors do not recommend the removal of “criminal penalties for the major production or supply offenses of most [illicit] drugs,” they acknowledge that such non-criminal approaches ought to be considered for cannabis, concluding: “[F]or the most ubiquitous drug, cannabis, it is worth considering whether there are alternative approaches which might be more effective at reducing harm. For example, there is an argument that amending the law relating to the growing of it, at least for personal use, might go some way to undermining the commercialization of production, with associated involvement of organized crime. … Perhaps the most expedient course to take here would be to re-examine sentence levels and sentencing practice to ensure that those growing below a certain low volume of plants face no – or only minimal – sanctions.”

    The Drug Policy Commission’s final report is the first major, independent review of British drug policy since a 1999 report commissioned by the Police Foundation, which similarly recommended decriminalizing cannabis. Following the publication of that report, British lawmakers in 2004 temporarily downgraded cannabis from a Class B to a Class C ‘soft’ drug. Lawmakers reclassified cannabis as a Class B illicit substance in early 2009. Nevertheless, British police typically issue warnings to minor cannabis offenders in lieu of making criminal arrests.

    Full text of the UK Drug Policy Commission’s final report is available online here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director August 6, 2012

    According to Washington, D.C. Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, a group of bipartisan Senators, led by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), have filed legislation seeking to exempt industrial hemp (which, in effect, is very low potent cannabis) from the Controlled Substances Act (which, concerning cannabis specifically, is largely directed at prohibiting recreational and therapeutic use of the herb).

    Update: You can help advocate for this bill’s passage here.

    One of the most indefensible aspects of modern Cannabis Prohibition is the federal government’s continued opposition to allowing American farmers and consumers benefit from a domestic industrial hemp industry, when, ridiculously, other free market and democratic countries who also maintain user prohibitions on cannabis—countries like the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and notably Canada—allow their farmers to legally cultivate industrial cannabis. This inherently places American farmers and agriculture at a competitive disadvantage and American consumers paying higher costs for imported raw and finished hemp products.

    Senator Wyden tells The Hill:

    “I firmly believe that American farmers should not be denied an opportunity to grow and sell a legitimate crop simply because it  resembles an illegal one,” Wyden said. “Raising this issue has sparked  a growing awareness of exactly how ridiculous the U.S.’s ban on  industrial hemp is. I’m confident that if grassroots support continues to grow and Members of Congress continue to hear from voters then common sense hemp legislation can move through Congress in the near  
    future.”

    Read more here.

    To learn everything you need to know about hemp and efforts to reform America’s antiquated industrial hemp laws, please check out our hempen friends:

    VoteHemp.org

    TheHIA.org

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 24, 2010

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this today’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    British health regulators have approved the sale and marketing of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts (primarily the plant cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol aka CBD) as a treatment for symptoms of multiple sclerosis. (MS)

    The spray, which has been legally available to patients in Canada since 2005, went on sale in Britain on Monday. The drug will be marketed in the United Kingdom by the Bayer Corporation which estimates that Sativex will cost the country’s state-run National Health Service roughly £11, or about $16, a day for each patient.

    Commenting on the drug’s regulatory approval, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The approval of Sativex in the UK is newsworthy though hardly surprising, as the scientific evidence in support of marijuana’s medical safety and utility has been available for decades. However, the bigger question still remains. That is: ‘How can the US government continue to promote a policy that calls for the arrest and prosecution of patients who use a substance that fourteen states and much of the rest of the western world now acknowledges as a safe and legitimate medicine?’”

    In clinical trials, Sativex has been demonstrated to reduce MS-associated spasticity, pain, and incontinence. Long-term investigational trials indicate that consistent use of the cannabis-based medicine may also slow the progression of the disease.

    Surveys from the UK and elsewhere indicate that MS patients often report using cannabis therapeutically, with one study reporting that some four out of ten patients with the disease find relief from marijuana.

    GW Pharmaceuticals, makers of the Sativex, is expected later this year to seek separate regulatory approval for the spray in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

    In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized recruitment for the first-ever North American clinical trial of Sativex for cancer pain treatment. A Phase III trial is anticipated to begin the US later this year.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director April 24, 2010

    NORML hails the passage of another milestone for the Global Marijuana March with Georgetown, Guyana and Ryebrook, NY, as the 299th and 300th cities convening a march, rally, forum or benefit for the reform of cannabis laws on the weekends of Saturday May 1st and May 8th. NORML and numerous other reform groups called for more cities this year to participate so that organizers could meet and surpass their stated goal of more than 200 cities.2009glassglobe1-810x1024

    Worldwide action is necessary for any outright legalization, since cannabis is largely prohibited globally by a United Nations treaty known as the Single Convention, enacted in 1962 through the efforts of top anti-cannabis zealot Harry Anslinger, the original instigator of U.S. cannabis prohibition in 1937. The U.S. Justice Dept. has cited the UN treaty as one of its principle arguments against medical cannabis rhetorically and Supreme Court cases.

    Local NORML chapters are responsible for almost 40 of the protests in the U.S., New Zealand NORML is doing several cities; Norway “NORMAL” is not only marching in Oslo– they’re doing an international website at www.globalmarijuanamarch.com.

    NORML welcomes the participation of pro-reform advocates of all stripes. Of course, we’d like you to join NORML, but this is an ecumenical effort to legalize cannabis once and for all. The important thing is to get more cities to participate before next weekend.

    There’s still a few more days to call 212-677-7180 or email cnw@cures-not-wars.org to get your city on www.worldwidemarijuanamarch.org.

    The Global Marijuana March has events planned in almost every time zone on six continents, including most of the capitols of Europe and South America. Many cities are already signing up for May 7, 2011.

    NORML congratulates Cures-not-Wars and worldwide participants for organizing no less than a global march in favor of ending the expensive and failed prohibition of cannabis for responsible adult use. Contact your local and regional media outlets to make sure they cover this global day of protest as a major media event because this many citizens, in over 300 cities worldwide protesting their own governments is by definition a major media event.

    Call 212-677-7180 or check the city-by-city listing to get specific information about your region’s march and/or to get your city on www.worldwidemarijuanamarch.org.

    Is your city on this huge list?

    Abbotsford
    Aberdeen
    Albany
    Albuquerque
    Alicante
    Alva
    Amherst
    Amsterdam
    Anchorage
    Ann Arbor

    Arcadia
    Athens
    Atlanta
    Auckland
    Aurillac
    Austin
    Bakersfield
    Bangor University
    Barcelona
    Basel
    Belfast
    Bellingham
    Belmar
    Belo Horizonte
    Benton Harbor
    Berlin
    Bermuda
    Berne
    Bilbao
    Binghamton

    Birmingham
    Birmingham
    Boise
    Boston
    Boulder
    Bozeman
    Braga
    Brasilia
    Bridgeton
    Brighton

    Bristol
    Brussels
    Budapest
    Buenos Aires
    Buffalo
    Bullhead City
    Burlington
    Cadiz
    Calgary
    Cali

    Canfield
    Cardiff
    Cebu City
    Champaign-Urbana
    Charleston
    Charlotte
    Charlottesville
    Chelyabinsk
    Chicago
    Chico

    Chisinau
    Christchurch
    Cincinnati
    Clemson
    Cleveland
    Coimbra
    Colorado Springs
    Columbia
    Columbia Falls
    Columbus

    Comodoro Rivadavia
    Concord
    Constanta
    Copenhagen
    Cordoba
    Cork
    Corpus Christi
    Corvallis
    Dallas
    Denver

    Des Moines
    Detroit
    Dinuba
    Dnepropetrovsk
    Dover
    Duluth
    Dunedin
    Durban
    Edmonton
    Elkins

    Enid
    Eugene
    Fayetteville
    Flagstaff
    Flint
    Florianopolis
    Fontana
    Frankfurt
    Fresno
    Ft. Bragg

    Ft. Collins
    Ft. Erie
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Ft. Meyers
    Gainesville
    Garberville
    Georgetown
    Glasgow
    Grand Junction
    Grand Rapids

    Great Falls
    Green Bay
    Greenville
    Hachita
    Halifax
    Hamilton
    Hammond
    Hartford
    Helena
    Helsinki

    Hilo
    Holland
    Homer
    Independence
    Indianapolis
    Istanbul
    Jacksonville
    Jakarta
    Jerusalem
    João Pessoa

    Johannesburg
    Kalamazoo
    Kamianets-Podilskyi
    Kansas City
    Katmandu
    Kiev
    Kokomo
    Lake Isabella
    La Laguna
    Lansing

    Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
    Las Vegas
    Lawton
    Leek
    Lefkosia-Nicosia
    Leicester
    Lethbridge
    Lexington
    Lima
    Lincoln

    Lisboa
    Little Rock
    London
    Longview
    Los Angeles
    Lyon
    Madison
    Madrid
    Manchester
    Manila

    Mar del Plata
    McAllen
    Medford
    Medicine Hat
    Memphis
    Mérida
    Mexico City
    Miami
    Miamitown
    Milwaukee

    Minneapolis
    Missoula
    Montevideo
    Monterey
    Montreal
    Montrose
    Moscow
    Nashville
    Nelson
    Netanya

    Newark
    New Brunswick
    New Orleans
    New York
    Nimbin
    Nottingham
    Odessa
    Ogden
    Oklahoma City
    Olympia

    Omaha
    Orange
    Orlando
    Osaka
    Oslo
    Ottawa
    Paducah
    Paia
    Palm Springs
    Paris

    Parker
    Penticton
    Peoria
    Philadelphia
    Phoenix
    Pineville
    Pittsburg
    Pittsburgh
    Portland
    Portland

    Porto
    Porto Alegre
    Port of Spain
    Potsdam
    Prague
    Pretoria
    Prince George
    Pueblo
    Quincy
    Raleigh

    Red Deer
    Redding
    Regina
    Rice Lake
    Richmond
    Riverside
    Rome
    Rosario
    Rostock
    Ryebrook

    Sacramento
    Salem
    Salt Lake City
    Salvador
    San Diego
    San Francisco
    San Juan
    Santa Barbara
    Sao Paulo
    Sapporo

    Sarasota
    Sarnia
    Saskatoon
    Savannah
    Seattle
    Sevilla
    Simferopol
    Sofia
    South Bend
    Southhampton

    Spokane
    Spokane Valley
    Springfield
    Stavanger
    Steamboat Springs
    St. Louis
    St. Petersburg
    Stuttgart
    Susanville
    Tacoma

    Tampa
    Tampere
    Taos
    Ternopil
    Thessaloniki
    Thunder Bay
    Tokyo
    Toledo
    Topeka
    Toronto

    Traverse City
    Tucson
    Tulsa
    Turku
    Ukiah
    Uniontown
    Ushuaia
    Valencia
    Vancouver
    Vero Beach

    Vienna
    Vigo
    Vilnius
    Virginia Beach
    Visalia
    Vitoria-Gasteiz
    Waco
    Warsaw
    Warwick
    Washington, D.C.

    Wellington
    West Kelowna
    Whitehall
    Wichita
    Wilmington
    Wilmington
    Woodstock
    Worland
    Yakima
    Zaragoza

    NORML Advisory Board Member Rick Steves addresses over 100,000 at Seattle Hempfest

    Call 212-677-7180 or email cnw@cures-not-wars.org to get your city on www.worldwidemarijuanamarch.org.

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