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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 18, 2011

    The outreach efforts of the NORML Women’s Alliance are pivotal to NORML’s overall goal of cannabis liberation.

    NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition. Similarly, one of the intended goals of the NWA is to sufficiently move public opinion forward among women. Because without increased public support among women, we will arguably never bring about an end to this failed, destructive war of cannabis consumers.

    There exists a startling gender gap between men and women when it comes to the issue of marijuana legalization. And even though over the past decade the work of NORML and likeminded organizations have effectively shifted public opinion overall in favor of rational marijuana policies – from just 36 percent public support in 2005 to 50 percent public support today – the gap between men and women’s support for legalization remains nearly the same now as it was then.

    Here’s some statistics:

    According to a 2005 nationwide Gallup poll, 41 percent of men said they favored cannabis legalization versus 32 percent of women, a gap of 9 percent;

    According to a 2007 Zogby poll commissioned by NORML that asked, ‘Do you support amending federal law to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana by adults,’ 57 percent of men supported such a measure versus 41 percent of women, a difference of 16 percent;

    According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 51 percent of men favored legalizing cannabis versus 41 percent of women, a gap of 10 percent;

    A finally, the most recent Gallup survey from 2011 found that 55 percent of men favored legalization, but only 46 percent of women did so, a difference of 9 percent.

    Are we making progress in shifting public opinion overall? Yes. But there continues to exist a significant and troubling gender gap that limits our efforts to bring about majority support for responsible cannabis liberation. The NWA seeks to close this gap by reaching out, engaging with, educating, and addressing the unique concerns of women. You can learn more about the NORML Women’s Alliance and their work here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 22, 2010

    [Update: A version of this post is now live online at The Hill.com’s Congress blog. Please take a moment to leave some feedback for your members of Congress about the rising popularity of marijuana legalization by going here. PS: And thanks to all of you who helped make my 4/20 Hill.com post the most read, most e-mailed, and most discussed story on The Hill’s Congress blog!]

    A majority of west coast voters, and Californians specifically, believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal, according to the results of a pair of polls conducted on behalf of CBS News.

    Fifty-six percent of Californians believe that “the state of California (should) legalize the use of marijuana,” according to a SurveyUSA poll of 500 adults conducted for CBS. The survey results come less than a month after state election officials certified the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 for the November ballot.

    The measure would allow adults 21 years or older to possess, share or transport up to one ounce of cannabis for personal consumption, and/or cultivate the plant in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence. It would also permit local governments the option to authorize the retail sale of marijuana and/or commercial cultivation of cannabis to adults and to impose taxes on such sales. Personal marijuana cultivation or not-for-profit sales of marijuana would not be taxed under the measure, nor would it amend any aspect of the California Health and Safety code pertaining to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

    Among poll respondents, support for the proposal was strongest among males (65 percent), ‘liberals’ (77 percent), and those between the ages of 18 and 34 (74 percent). Support was weakest among self-identified ‘conservatives’ (39 percent) and those 65 years of age or older (39 percent).

    In a separate national CBS poll of 858 adults, 55 percent of respondents residing in the west coast said that they back legalization, and only 41 percent oppose the idea.

    Nationwide, the poll reported that 44 percent of Americans favor legalizing the use of cannabis, and 51 percent oppose it. Among respondents in the northeast, 44 percent said that they back legalization, versus 40 percent in the south and only 36 percent in the midwest.

    A majority of those Americans under age 35 said that they support legalization. Those respondents over age 65 expressed the strongest opposition to legalization (61 percent).

    A previous poll by Zogby International reported that 58 percent of west coast voters believe that cannabis should be “taxed and legally regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.”

    In December, a national poll of 1,004 likely voters by Angus Reid reported for the first time that just over half of all Americans endorse marijuana legalization.

    By contrast, a separate poll published this week by the Associated Press and CNBC reported that 55 percent of Americans opposed the “complete legalization of the use of marijuana for any purpose.” However, 56 percent of respondents also stated that they believed that “the regulations on marijuana (should) be the same … or less strict … (than) those for alcohol.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 26, 2010

    An excellent and thoughtful analysis appears today via Alternet.org. Below is an excerpt. To read the entire story, please visit here.

    Why Growing Numbers of Baby Boomers and the Elderly Are Smoking Pot
    More and more of the nation’s 78 million Boomers are discovering they’d rather smoke marijuana than reach for a pharmaceutical

    Conventional wisdom dictates that as younger generations slowly replace the old, conservative social traditions are jettisoned. This may be true for issues such as gay marriage, where there are clear divisions among younger and older voters, but when it comes to marijuana reform, the evidence indicates that simplistic divisions of opinion along age lines don’t apply for pot.

    Earlier this week, an AP wire article picked up a lot of buzz in the news-cycle, with a title and premise meant to shock the mainstream: “Marijuana Use by Seniors Goes up as Boomers Age.”

    The AP article was pegged to a December report released by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It revealed that the number of Americans over 50 who had reported consuming cannabis in the year prior to the study had gone up from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent in the period from 2002 to 2008.

    This is supported by earlier polling results. In February 2009, a Zogby poll found that voters aged 50 to 64 were almost equally divided in their support for marijuana legalization at 48 percent. In that same poll, young voters aged 18 to 29 were the cohort who most enthusiastically supported legalization, at 55 percent. But overall support among all ages came in at 44 percent.

    So who brought the average down? Don’t lay the blame on the elderly. In fact, as early as 2004, an AARP poll found that 72 percent of its members (all 50-plus, with the lion’s share over 65) supported marijuana for medical purposes, indicating their understanding of the benefits of legal cannabis availability.

    Some expert observers in the marijuana reform movement believe that the bulk of marijuana detractors are made up of 30- and 40-somethings — adults of parenting age. And as more of the 65-and-over crowd is populated by Baby Boomers, it appears that in the not-too-distant future every age demographic including the elderly will approve of marijuana reform more than Americans in their 30s and 40s.

    Read the rest of the story online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 30, 2009

    #1 Obama Administration: Don’t Focus On Medical Marijuana Prosecutions
    United States Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum to federal prosecutors in October directing them to not “focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The directive upheld a campaign promise by President Barack Obama, who had previously pledged that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” Read the full story here.

    #2 Public Support For Legalizing Pot Hits All-Time High
    A majority of U.S. voters now support legalizing marijuana, according to a national poll of 1,004 likely voters published in December by Angus Reid. The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll results echo those of separate national polls conducted this year by Gallup, Zogby, ABC News, CBS News, Rasmussen Reports, and the California Field Poll, each of which reported greater public support for marijuana legalization than ever before. Read the full story here.

    #3 Lifetime Marijuana Use Associated With Reduced Cancer Risk

    The moderate long-term use of cannabis is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer, according to the results of a population-based control study published in August by the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Authors reported, “After adjusting for potential confounders (including smoking and alcohol drinking), 10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.” Read the full story here.

    #4 AMA Calls For Review Of Marijuana’s Prohibitive Status
    In November, the American Medical Association resolved that marijuana should longer be classified as a Schedule I prohibited substance. Drugs classified in Schedule I are defined as possessing “no currently accepted use in treatment in the United States.” In a separate action, the AMA also determined, “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” Read the full story here.

    #5 California: Lawmakers Hold Historic Hearing On Marijuana Legalization
    State lawmakers heard testimony in October in support of taxing and regulating the commercial production and distribution of cannabis for adults age 21 and older. Additional hearings, as well as a vote on Assembly Bill 390: the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, are scheduled for January 12, 2010. Read the full story here.

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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 30, 2009

    Earlier this year, a NORML-commissioned national Zogby telephone poll revealed that a record 44 percent of American voters — including nearly six out of ten adults on the west coast — now believe that cannabis should be “taxed and legally regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.”

    Since then, several additional polls have confirmed that the nation’s support for legalizing marijuana has never been higher, and is fast approaching “super-majority status.”

    In fact, a recent poll sponsored by Oaksterdam University indicates that support for legalization among Californians has already achieved such vaulted status (well, almost).

    Today two more polls are reaffirming America’s new “marijuana Zeitgeist.”

    First, in California a new Field Research Corporation poll of 901 registered voters found that 56 percent of voters agree with the statement: “Legalize marijuana for recreational use and tax its proceeds.”

    According to pollsters, this is the first time ever in a California Field poll that a majority of voters have endorsed regulating the adult use of cannabis. In February, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced legislation — Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act — to tax the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis. To date, over 8,000 NORML supporters have contacted their state representatives in support of AB 390, which is expected to be taken up by the state Assembly early next year.

    Nationally, a just-released ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,072 adults finds that a record 46 percent of all Americans now favor “legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” This total is more than double the percentage of Americans who responded affirmatively (22 percent) to a similar ABC poll question in 1997!

    ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST POLL: HOT-BUTTON ISSUES
    via ABCNews.go.com

    46 percent of Americans now favor legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use, the most in data back to the mid-
    1980s and more than double its level 12 years ago. While 52 percent remain opposed, that’s down from 75 percent in the late 1990s and 78 percent in 1986.

    The biggest changes in the past two decades are 29- and 27-point advances in support for legalization among Democrats and independents, to 49 and 53 percent, respectively. The slightest: a 10-point gain among Republicans, to just 28 percent support.

    So much for the myth that supporting marijuana law reform is ‘politically suicidal.’ In fact, if you are a politician — or President — whose constituency leans Democrat or Independent, it’s becoming increasingly likely that more of your supporters favor legalization over prohibition, and if you want to stay elected, you should too!

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