Today, voters across the nation head to the polls to cast their ballots in a number of state and local elections. While there are no statewide marijuana initiatives this year, that doesn’t mean some Americans won’t have the chance to vote in favor of sensible marijuana law reforms.
In Portland, Maine, Question 1 will appear on the ballot. This measure would remove all criminal and civil penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana within the city. No arrest, no fine, no crime. NORML encourages all Portland residents to get out and vote YES on Question 1.
Three areas in Michigan will also be voting on local marijuana legalization initiatives. Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson will be voting on measures to legalize the private adult possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana in those locations. NORML encourages voters in these cities to get out and vote YES on these efforts.
Below is a statement from NORML PAC on the endorsements it has made in this year’s races:
18th Legislative District State Senate – Assemblyman Peter Barnes: “NORML PAC is endorsing Assemblyman Peter Barnes in his campaign for a seat in the state Senate representing the 18th Legislative District. Assemblyman Barnes has been a strong supporter of medical use as well as marijuana decriminalization during his tenure in the Assembly and we believe he will prove a strong advocate for reform issues should he be elected to the Senate. Meanwhile, his opponent, East Brunswick Mayor David Stahl, oversaw an over 35% increase in marijuana arrests in his city from 2010-2012. For these reasons, NORML PAC is endorsing Assemblyman Barnes for state Senate.”
15th Legislative District State Assembly – Assemblyman Reed Guscoria: “NORML PAC is pleased to endorse Assemblyman Reed Guscoria in his campaign for reelection to the New Jersey State Assembly. Assemblyman Guscoria has been a vocal advocate for reforming New Jersey’s marijuana laws, from drafting the original NJ medical marijuana legislation, being the primary sponsor of the NJ Assembly’s marijuana decriminalization bill, and continuing to push for sensible reforms to New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to make it workable for patients.
Assemblyman Guscoria has been an important leader pursuing reforms that roll back the senseless and destructive prohibition on marijuana and move New Jersey towards a policy that is smart on crime and compassionate towards the state’s patient population. ”
Mayoral Election – Steve Berke: “NORML PAC is pleased to endorse Steve Berke in his campaign for mayor of Miami Beach. Steve has been a tireless advocate for reforming marijuana laws and has used his campaign and platform to educate the public about the failures of marijuana prohibition and the necessity of pursuing a new policy. We believe that during his mayorship, Steve Berke would be an excellent spokesman for advancing the conversation around ending our country’s war on cannabis consumers, as he has already done for many years outside of elected office. Steve Berke believes strongly in reforming our current laws and moving towards a system of legalization and regulation, for these reasons NORML PAC supports his candidacy for mayor.”
The initiative, Question 1, would remove all criminal and civil penalties for adults possessing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. This means no arrest, no criminal record, no citation, no fine. We know we can win on Election Day and pass this initiative, which would send a clear message down the East Coast that the people in this region are ready to move forward on legalizing marijuana.
You can help make that victory a reality. Our allies at Just Say Now have launched an online phone banking tool which allows anyone across the country to log in and begin calling Portland voters to encourage their support for the issue. A script and talking points will be provided and you can help us by making as many calls to voters as you can, any amount helps inch us closer to the finish line.
Click here to sign up and begin calling Portland voters in support of Question 1 today!
Vote Yes on Question 1, Legalize Marijuana in Portland.
Thanks to NORML members and supporters who pushed NORML’s proposed Super Bowl ad in an ongoing Intuit ad contest to the number one position. This morning, Intuit informed us that we have advanced to Round 2 of the contest. Entries who are deemed finalists from this round will be informed on October 29th.
We can put marijuana legalization before the masses at this year’s Super Bowl, but we still need your help. You can click here to vote for NORML’s entry (Note: You can vote once a day).
“NORML would like to thank everyone who voted for our entry in Intuit’s contest. Millions of Americans now believe that it is time to legalize and regulate marijuana, winning this contest will help put that message in front of millions more,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “As a non-profit with a small staff and limited budget, we would greatly benefit from this contest just the same as any of the other small business entries. One would argue that NORML would benefit even more so than many, as our brand is looking to broadcast a truly national message and bring to light an issue that directly and adversely impacts countless thousands in our country every year. We hope Intuit will give NORML the same fair chance as any other entrant. Our victory would be a win for all parties involved: Intuit gets lots of media coverage and good will for themselves and their contest, FOX would bring in hundreds of thousands of new viewers who would otherwise not watch the Super Bowl, and NORML gets to take our message about the tragic failings of marijuana prohibition to the masses. Keep voting and we can make marijuana law reform the topic of discussion at watch parties across the nation during the big game.”
Our entry has caught the attention of mainstream media around the country. NORML staff have conducted dozens of media interviews in the last week about Intuit’s Super Bowl Small Business Ad Contest, to wit:
Including this humorous (and spot on) news video that is being shown nationwide on selective TV stations:
“One of the organizations competing in the online vote, NORML, a national lobbying organization working towards the legalization of pot. Yep, we can see the first commercial for the legalization of marijuana during the Super Bowl.
How dare they right? The Super Bowl is an American institution, a family friendly event, brought to you the makers of beer and junk food and male enhancement pills. How could they let such an atrocity happen? Well, it’s quite simple hypocrites…alcohol induced deaths in 2010? More than 25,000 people, heart disease? Over 780,000. Erections lasting over 4 hours…the jury is still out. But pot? Zero, nada, zilch, zip. Ever.
It is time we stop wasting an estimated 10 billion dollars per year on the enforcement of marijuana laws. It’s time we stop putting people away for the recreational use of a natural product that has legitimate health benefits.”
One of, if not the, highest profile election this year is the Virginia gubernatorial race. Things are beginning to heat up as we enter the final two month stretch before the election on November 5th and NORML thought it was worth looking at how the issue of marijuana law reform has come into play.
There are three candidates on the ballot vying for the position: Terry McAuliffe (Democrat), Ken Cuccinelli (Republican), and Robert Sarvis (Libertarian).
In an interview with a local FOX affiliate, Sarvis elaborated on his position, stating “I think these [marijuana] laws … are very expensive to enforce. They do a lot of damage to families and communities. They lead to high incarceration rates and unemployment rates when people can’t get jobs.”
You can read his drug policy platform here.Republican Ken Cuccinelli made some statements about marijuana policy early in the campaign, but has largely remained silent since the beginning of this year and has not answered specifics such as which measures, if any, he would support and sign into law.
Responding to a student question while speaking to a class at the University of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli said he was “evolving” on the marijuana issue.
“I don’t have a problem with states experimenting with this sort of thing I think that’s the role of states,” Cuccinelli stated, “I’m not sure about Virginia’s future [re: marijuana legalization], but I and a lot of people are watching Colorado and Washington to see how it plays out.”
“What I expressed to [the students] was an openness to observe how things work there, both in terms of the drug side and the economics. One issue that is often discussed is how the war on drugs itself has played out. Have we done this the right way? It’s been phenomenally expensive.”
Discussing the issue at a later event, Cuccinelli said that, “[If we are] going to put people in jail and spend $25,000 [to] $30,000 a year for a prison bed, do we want it to be for someone who’s pushing marijuana or pushing meth? I’ll tell you what, that $30,000 for the meth pusher is well worth the deal.”
He stated that “I’m ready to watch and learn. I’m not ready to do it [legalize marijuana] but I don’t want to just never ever say never to the possibility in the future.”
He clarified this isn’t an issue he expects to take up if he wins the election. “I don’t want you to think that I’m going to land in the governor’s office and sign a legalization bill. I don’t think you have to worry about it getting to the governor’s desk but it’s worth knowing what your candidate’s saying.”The Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, has not issued any statements or formalized positions on marijuana law reform.
Join NORML in asking the candidates to clarify their positions when it comes to marijuana!
Click here to contact the McAuliffe campaign and here to contact the Cuccinelli campaign.
Below is a template letter you can send or personalize as you see fit:
“As a Virginia voter, I believe one of the most important issues facing our state is its failed war against marijuana. Before I decide which candidate to support this November, I’d like you to clarify your position on marijuana law reform.
Would you support legislation to allow for the medical use of cannabis and provide Virginia’s seriously ill patients with safe access to a medicine with fewer side effects and no risk of fatal overdose compared with conventional narcotic medications?
Would you support decriminalizing the possession of marijuana and halting the arrests of over 18,000 Virginians annually at the cost of 67 million dollars per year?
Would you consider supporting a regulated system for the adult use of marijuana, taking the profits away from criminal cartels, putting control in the hands of regulated businesses, and implementing age restrictions and regulations to decrease youth access?
This is an issue that is inversely impacting countless thousands of Virginians. It erodes our civil liberties and wastes over 67 million dollars a year to arrest non-violent cannabis consumers. I’d appreciate hearing your position on this important matter.”
@TerryMcAuliffe Would you support medical marijuana? Decrim? Legalization? You can help end 18k mj arrests per year and save $67mil annually
— NORML (@NORML) September 6, 2013
@KenCuccinelli Would you support medical marijuana? Decrim? Legalization? You can help end 18k mj arrests per year and save $67mil annually
— NORML (@NORML) September 6, 2013
Note: We are not including Libertarian Robert Sarvis as a target for these messages, as he already has formalized and publicized his marijuana policy position. If you wish to contact that campaign you can view his website here and Twitter page here.
You can get involved with marijuana law reform in the Commonwealth by following Virginia NORML here.
Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) has introduced a measure that would put marijuana legalization on the ballot before state voters. House Joint Resolution 6 would place a question on the Ohio ballot asking voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana. Under this proposal marijuana would be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.
“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” stated Representative Hagan.
To be placed on the ballot, HJR 6 would need to receive a three-fifths vote from the legislature. The full text of the measure is available online here.
If you live in Ohio, please take a moment to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this historic legislation! It is time to let the people of Ohio decide for themselves whether or not it is time to legalize marijuana.