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  • by Jordan Person, Executive Director, Denver NORML June 10, 2016

    Marijuana is legal to purchase, possess and to consume in the state of Colorado, but where? Well, if you happen to be in the city of Denver (or most anywhere else in Colorado) the answer is very simple, you can only legally consume cannabis in a private residence. But what if your landlord won’t allow it, or if you are one of the thousands of tourists that visits our great city on a daily basis. Then where do all of those people go? This question is one Denver NORML hopes to help answer this November.

    The local chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws spent several months working with various stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework to create a space where responsible adults can consume their legally purchased marijuana products. Denver NORML is currently collecting signatures for the Responsible Use Denver initiative. The initiative will provide a license for the establishment and operation of private, 21-and-over members-only facilities where adults and bring their own cannabis and peacefully consume it in a relaxed, legal public setting.Logo-1-R4

    The initiative language was written to provide the city with what it is lacking, a set of rules and standards to open a business and maintain a license for a place for adults to responsibly consume marijuana. There are several businesses right now in the city of Denver operating in a grey area. Currently these businesses have no laws to follow or to protect them. This grey area needs definition. Those same businesses could now open marijuana clubs with their namesake or these businesses could now apply for special event permits where marijuana will be permitted.

    Once passed, the Responsible Use Denver initiative will not only provide private marijuana clubs it will also allow for any individual or entity to apply for 24 event permits per year. The private invitation only events would be 21 and up, allow no onsite distribution and allow guests to bring their own marijuana products to consume. What does a marijuana event look like? These events could be catered and be as creative as any party planner could dream up. They could be intimate occasions or it could allow for an entrepreneur to create a large event venue for occasions such as the Cannabis Cup to return to Denver.

    The Responsible Use Denver initiative is the answer to an ongoing issue that is not going away. As other states continue to legalize marijuana across the country, we are going to continue to see this as a post prohibition concern in more and more jurisdictions. If we had 200 places to purchase alcohol but no place to drink it, where would people drink? Most likely on sidewalks, loitering in front of businesses, in parks, in their cars and anywhere else they could. This is what marijuana consumers are dealing with. It is time for change and it is time for a solution.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator May 23, 2016

    lobby_day_2016

    Today marijuana activists, patients and business owners from around the country are gathering in our nation’s Capitol to officially kickoff NORML’s 2016 Conference and Lobby day in Washington DC. We’re extremely excited about our line up of speakers and panelists for our conference, followed by a busy day of meetings with members of the House and Senate.

    To start off, NORML members and supporters will be meeting at George Washington University, for a full day of presentations and panel discussions with policy experts and seasoned lobbyists. I’m especially excited to hear from John Hudak with the Brookings Institute. He recently wrote an open letter to presidential candidates urging them to take the issue of marijuana law reform more seriously. You can read more, here!

    Tomorrow morning, NORML members will gather at the Longworth building on Capitol Hill where they will be addressed by: Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressman Polis (D-CO) and Congresswoman Delbene (D-WA). They are expected to speak in detail about the various pieces of legislation that are highlighted below. With more than twenty pieces of federal legislation aimed at reforming America’s archaic marijuana and hemp laws, it is imperative that we do our part by educating them on the many benefits of embracing a new approach. The same applies to everyone who will not be able to attend, except the focus will be on making phone calls, writing letters and/or sending emails using our online action center.

    To access the information below, simply click on any of the links and you’ll be directed to a three-page document that includes everything you and your fellow activists will need to assist us with our lobbying efforts (talking points, phone script, letter template etc.). Feel free to contact your representatives about each one, or pick a few that you’re most passionate about!

    House:

    H.R. 3561: The Fair Access to Education Act

    H.R.1013: The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act

    H.R.1538: The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act

    H.R.1940: The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act

    Senate:

    S. 2557: The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act

    S. 2237: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act

    S.683 – Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act

    During last year’s congressional letter writing campaign, our network of affiliates and chapters generated more than 2000 letters and emails to congressional offices so I hope we can do the same or better this year!

    take_action

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator April 1, 2016

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    As Colorado approaches its fourth year of legal marijuana, consumers around the state are still struggling with the issue of acceptance. With local governments passing restrictive laws aimed at preventing the public consumption and/or display of marijuana, marijuana consumers are being forced to enjoy their legally purchased products behind closed doors. Take Denver for example. In 2013, City Council members passed an ordinance that established fines of up to $999 for those who are caught smoking in a public space. This left in state consumers with nowhere to consume their marijuana other than a private residence, and left out-of-state consumers with no legal place to consume at all.

    After the new law was put into place, Denver police officers issued more than 650 tickets within the first year, compared to just over 117 for the previous year. This massive increase of 461 percent in citations speaks volumes to the obvious need for a more thoughtful approach. It just doesn’t make sense to provide a legal avenue for adults to purchase marijuana while simultaneously applying restrictions that severely limit the act of consuming it. It’s fairly simple, marijuana consumers deserve similar rights that our society typically affords to someone who enjoys a glass of wine at a local wine bar after an exhausting day.

    Hopefully this situation will soon change. Last week Denver NORML filed the Responsible Use initiative with the city of Denver. If passed by voters this November, it would legalize the establishment of private marijuana clubs for adults 21 and up. Passage of this ordinance would be a historic first step in moving towards the ultimate goal of normalizing the consumption of marijuana in our country. The initiative would provide responsible adults a legally defined space where marijuana could be consumed and shared with other like-minded adults — a simple, yet necessary accommodation for states that have passed some form of legalization. It’s time for marijuana consumers to embrace the idea that just like any other consumer focused industry, we have rights.

    We have our work ahead of us: gathering signatures, voter outreach and coalition building will be our top priorities over the next few weeks. Even in a progressive city such as Denver, where marijuana is fairly popular, we must work to earn the support non-consumers to ensure a victory on this issue. I believe we can accomplish this by offering a pragmatic initiative that will focus on the basics. There are plenty of places to grab a drink or a quick bite to eat, but we as marijuana consumers have no where to legally consume marijuana other than the privacy of someone’s home. If we focus on what is truly needed, I believe we can increase our chances of being successful this November.

    To learn more about the Responsible Use Initiative or to get involved, please visit the campaign’s website by clicking, here!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 4, 2016

     

    LATEST NORML NEWS

    State and Local:

    Everyday NORML Affiliates and Chapters from around the country invest countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels. To get involved in your area, please send an email to KevinM@NORML.org to get started today!

    California:

    California NORML’s executive director questioned a recent report produced by an anti-tobacco organization that encouraged municipalities to ban the use of marijuana in public areas or in locations that must adhere to clean indoor air regulations.

    “The report vastly inflates the health hazards of smoked marijuana, but concedes that it shouldn’t be criminalized. Rather, it calls for stigmatizing it as much as possible,”
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2016/02/03/anti-tobacco-forces-target-legal-pot-use

    As California gets closer to approving a legalization measure for this November’s ballot, some activists are raising concerns about the impact it will have on the state’s medical marijuana program.

    “If you look at the ballot initiative that’s circulating right now, it doesn’t give a lot of incentives to the medical marijuana industry except that you can avoid some of the (proposed 15 percent excise and extra cultivation) taxes if you go to some trouble.”
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/entertainment/article/Will-doctors-suffer-if-marijuana-is-legalized-6793270.php

    “We are calling for locals to repeal the bans in favor of meaningful land regulations that will enact the statewide licensing standards … in order to protect public safety, the environment and patients’ rights,”
    http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/tns-california-local-marijuana-regulations.html

    Colorado:

    Last week, Denver NORML announced they will be leading a Responsible Use initiative that will allow the limited consumption of marijuana in the City of Denver. Details are still being worked out with NORML’s national office.

    “We are willing to work with them on this issue — we just really want something to happen, we want action to take place,”
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/pot-activists-plan-denver-initiative-to-allow-smoking-in-public-places

    “Denver NORML announced that it would be filing its own initiative to put a limited social use of marijuana item on the ballot in 2016.”
    http://www.westword.com/news/denver-norml-to-file-marijuana-social-use-initiative-for-2016-ballot-7537133

    Illinois:

    Medical marijuana patients in Illinois experienced another setback after lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have expanded access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

    “My concern is first and foremost for patients to have access to this medicine and if shops are closing then patients will have to go farther distances to get access to this medicine.”
    http://foxillinois.com/news/local/springfield-medical-marijuana-dispensary-to-open-in-february

    “By having the Illinois Department of Public Health deny the eight conditions that the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board approved to be added to the list of debilitating conditions for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, this administration has turned their back on veterans suffering from PTSD”
    http://www.sj-r.com/article/20160201/OPINION/160209956

    Iowa:

    After a long court battle, Iowa State University NORML won a first amendment lawsuit against school administrators after an attempt to censor a marijuana leaf printed on a t-shirt.

    “Members of ISU NORML weren’t keen on being censored. They felt the administration was discriminating against their group. So on July 1, 2014, they filed a lawsuit alleging that school administrators had violated their constitutional rights.”
    https://www.civilized.life/cannabis-shirt-freedom-speech-1582756933.html

    Missouri:

    NORML KC is working hard to push an initiative that would decriminalize the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana in Kansas City.  

    “Once you start talking to people about cannabis reform, you’d be surprised how many people are for it,” Kacz said. “It doesn’t have to be Democrats or liberals, it’s Republicans, it’s religious people, it’s elderly people.”
    http://kcur.org/post/kansas-city-marijuana-reformers-working-toward-decriminalization#stream/0

    New Hampshire:

    New Hampshire NORML urged lawmakers to support a bill that would add PTSD to the state’s list of ailments for medical marijuana.

    “By stuffing opiates down people’s throats, it’s going to create a problem. You guys are going to have a heroin epidemic. You’re going to see it. And in the last two years, it is just out of control,”
    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/1/22/new-hampshire-medical-marijuana.html

    Virginia:

    With some of the stringent marijuana laws in the country, Virginia NORML continues to work with state lawmaker on a wide range of marijuana reform bills.

    “We will continue to work educating lawmakers who wish to learn more about cannabis science and widely accepted medical applications, the successful decriminalization legislation in 21 states and successful medical legislation in 24 states.”
    http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/house-gop-favors-criminal-penalties-for-marijuana-possession/article_fdb5d256-c706-11e5-89c2-1b85526f966e.html

    Washington:

    Washington NORML is encouraging lawmakers to support a bill that would permit the home cultivation of marijuana.

    “NORML Washington is doing a great job leading this fight to grow your own marijuana. They have even made it possible for you to help the movement from your computer/tablet/phone. Here’s a letter they’ve put together for you to send to your representatives and urge their support for personal cultivation”
    http://www.marijuana.com/blog/news/2016/02/if-marijuana-is-legal-why-is-growing-your-own-a-felony/

    Wyoming:

    After going through a much needed reorganization, Wyoming NORML has assembled a strong team who are dedicated to passing the Peggy A. Kelley Wyoming Cannabis Act of 2016.

    “We haven’t stopped on that from day one, but in the same process we just had to get things a little more organized and get a better structure in here.”
    http://kgab.com/wyoming-norml-makes-final-push-to-get-medical-marijuana-question-on-2016-ballot/

    “NORML Wyoming spokeswoman Carrie Satterwhite said the group has the fewest number of volunteer petition circulators in the conservative northeast part of the state, but that region will be targeted in the upcoming months”
    http://www.wyomingnews.com/opinion/drake-medical-marijuana-will-improve-quality-of-life/article_a6184c86-c652-11e5-8361-4fcfb98c3a2f.html

    “Even though Wyoming NORML didn’t get enough signatures this year, members say if they have enough signatures for the 2018 ballot, medicinal marijuana could help Wyoming in the long run.”
    http://www.kcwy13.com/home/headlines/Effort-to-Legalize-Medicinal-Cannabis-367659921.html

    Federal:

    NORML’s deputy director, Paul Armentano recently spoke to reporters about the need for a common sense approach to ending the prohibition of marijuana in America.

    “This administration clearly recognizes that the present enforcement of marijuana prohibition and marijuana criminalization is out of step with both public opinion and common sense,”
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/212416-2/212416/

    NORML board member and passionate marijuana advocate will prove to be one of this year’s most effective weapon in the war against the prohibition marijuana.

    “Steves has been on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for years and he has worked closely with Washington pot initiative author Alison Holcomb, who now heads the American Civil Liberties Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice”
    http://crosscut.com/2016/02/rick-steves-ready-to-push-pot-nationally/

    During a recent interview, NORML’s deputy director, Paul Armentano shared his thoughts on a recent study about the health risks associated with marijuana use.

    “Ultimately, this study’s findings are consistent with the notion that while cannabis is not altogether harmless, its potential risks to health relative to other substances — including legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medications — are not so great to warrant its continued criminalization,”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/marijuana-use-may-hurt-memory-in-middle-age/

    Events:

    2016 NORML Congressional Lobby Day

    NORML Houston Marches at the State Capital

    Illinois NORML Lobby Day Feb. 17, 2016

    Illinois NORML Lobby Day March 2, 2016chapter_spotlight

    Veterans: Operation Trapped – Year Long Project

    Texas NORML’s 3rd Annual Puff-N-Putt Spring Fling at Willie’s Golf Course

    Texas NORML’s 9th Texas Marijuana March

    Texas NORML Statewide Veteran Conference Call

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator January 15, 2016

    chapter_spotlightLATEST NORML NEWS
    Everyday NORML Affiliates and Chapters from around the country invest countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels. To get involved in your area, please send an email to KevinM@NORML.org to get started today!

    Municipal and State

    Arizona
    “Mikel Weisser, new National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws state director, plans to rebuild Arizona’s fractured NORML in anticipation of a vote to legalize pot for adult use in November.”
    New Arizona NORML Director Committed To Fixing Fractured Marijuana Community

    California
    “Dale Gieringer, director of California’s NORML chapter, said a benefit of the loophole is that it has prompted jurisdictions to explore cultivation regulations sooner than they might have.”
    San Diego Rushes To Establish Rules On Marijuana Cultivation

    Illinois
    “Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), expressed to the Cannabis Career Institute the importance of leveraging the estimated $500 million hemp industry for domestic economic growth”
    Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About Illinois’ Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

    Minnesota
    “I’m glad that they’re taking that step,” Harcus said. “It moves us closer toward full legalization, which is really the only solution to end prohibition.”
    Proposal Would Sync Mpls. Marijuana Law With State

    Pennsylvania
    “Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML Patrick K. Nightingale challenged Board Member of Colorado NORML Chris Chiari to a friendly wager on the Steelers/Broncos game this coming weekend and the stakes are as you can say HIGH!”
    Pittsburgh NORML Bets Colorado NORML On Steelers/Broncos Game

    “According to Pittsburgh NORML, nearly 1,000 people are charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in Pittsburgh each year.  Under Pennsylvania state law, possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.”
    Pittsburgh Mayor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

    Texas
    “Members of the Southeast Texas NORML chapter met Thursday night to go over a new law across the state, the Compassionate Use Act.”
    Local Marijuana Reform Advocacy Group Plans Efforts for Upcoming Year

    Virginia
    “People who simply are arrested for possession without any evidence of violent behavior,” said Pamela Novy with Virginia NORML, a nonprofit aimed at reforming marijuana laws across the country.”
    8News Daily Poll: Should marijuana be decriminalized in Va.?

    Wyoming
    “Members of Wyoming NORML repeatedly have called for reforms to make the state’s initiative process easier on groups that are trying to get questions on the ballot.”
    Pushing an Issue May Get Even Tougher in Wyoming


    Federal

    “Does smoking cannabis pose similar dangers to lung health? According to a number of recent scientific findings, marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke vary considerably in their health effects.”
    What Are the Risks of Marijuana Smoke, Compared to Tobacco?

    “Marijuana consumers do not typically use cannabis and alcohol in combination with one another, regardless of whether they are consuming cannabis for medicinal or social purposesPeople Don’t Mix Alcohol & Marijuana as Often as You Might Think

    “NORML’s Armentano told MintPress that marijuana arrests have fallen in some states as a result of legalization or loosening of laws. At the same time, though, some states have seen increases in marijuana-related arrests — including Virginia”
    Clemency Is Not Enough: Thousands Still Imprisoned For Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes

    “Similarly, the DNC chair is no stranger to coddling up to Big Booze. Presently, representatives of the beer and wine industry rank as the fifth largest donor to Wasserman-Schultz’s re-election campaign. Until leading politicians wean themselves off booze, expect them to keep maligning pot.”
    Marijuana Is Not a Gateway Drug, So Why Do Leading Republicans and Democrats Say Otherwise?

    Events

    Pittsburgh NORML Bets Colorado NORML a Friendly Wager of Weed vs Whiskey
    Texas NORML’s 3rd Annual Puff-N-Putt Spring Fling at Willie’s Golf Course

    Kevin Mahmalji is NORML’s national outreach and chapter coordinator

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