2009: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

  • 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.

    #6 Maine Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Measure; Dispensaries Coming To Rhode Island, Washington, DC In 2010
    Voters in November decided in favor of a statewide measure that allows for the state to license non-profit facilities to distribute medical cannabis to qualified patients. The vote marked the first time that citizens ever approved a statewide ballot proposal authorizing the creation of dispensaries. In June, Rhode Island lawmakers enacted a similar measure. In December, Congress lifted federal restrictions to allow for the DC City Council to implement provisions of a ten-year-old medical marijuana law that would allow for the use and distribution of medicinal cannabis in the District of Columbia. Read the full story here.

    #7 Oakland: Voters Approve First-In-The-Nation Medical Marijuana Business Tax
    In July 80 percent of municipal voters approved Ballot Measure F, the nation’s first ever business tax on the retail sales of cannabis. The tax, which takes effect on January 1, imposes an exclusive tax for “cannabis businesses” of $18 for every $1,000 of gross receipts. Read the full story here.

    #8 Rasmussen Poll: Majority Of Americans Say Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol
    More than half of American adults believe that alcohol is “more dangerous” than marijuana, according to the results of a national telephone poll of 1,000 likely voters published in September by Rasmussen Reports. Fifty-one percent of respondents, including a majority of women, rated the use of marijuana to be less dangerous than alcohol. Only 19 percent of those polled said that cannabis is the more dangerous of the two substances. Read the full story here.

    #9 Many Teens See Medical Cannabis As Alternative Treatment Option
    Some one-third of adolescents view their use of marijuana as therapeutic rather than recreational, according to survey data published in May by the journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy. Teens most commonly reported using cannabis therapeutically to counter symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), physical pain, and sleeplessness. In November several mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times and Good Morning America, featured stories on adolescents using marijuana as a medicine. Read the full story here.

    #10 Oregon NORML Opens ‘Cannabis Café,’ Media Frenzy Follows
    In November Oregon NORML opened the state’s first café catering to state-authorized medical marijuana patients. Unlike conventional marijuana dispensaries that operate in states like California and Colorado, medical cannabis is not sold on the premises, nor is the primary function of the café to dispense marijuana. “This is not a medical marijuana dispensary with a café; this is a café for medical marijuana patients,” said Madeline Martinez, Oregon NORML Executive Director. The Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, The New York Times, and Democracy Now were among the hundreds of media outlets that covered the story. Read the full story here.

    17 responses to “2009: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy”

    1. Chasee says:

      What the stiletto stoners story didn’t make it on here?! Mainstream Media didn’t even acknowledge marijuana stories until this was printed/ talked about on the morning show! This Could be one of the biggest things to happen to the Marijuana Movement ever!

      [Paul Armentano responds: NORML will have a major announcement regarding women and cannabis law reform in the coming weeks.]

    2. Bodie says:

      #7 is misleading. Arcata, CA has had a tax on dispensaries for years.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Oakland’s tax is a special business licensing/excise tax specific to locally licensed providers. It is a separate tax from California state/retail tax.]

    3. km says:

      dear god,

      i have a very simple prayer for 2010: please help the california supreme court uphold the people v kelly decision that hb420 is unconstitutional. my entire life hangs in the balance.

      with great respect and a humble spirit,

    4. ChronJohn says:

      Top 10 Events That Need To Happen In 2010
      1. Cannabis should be removed from Schedule I to Schedule II or lower and
      2. A Federal Law protecting medical cannabis patients and providers needs to be enacted.
      3. Cannabis possession and cultivation for personal use (no more than 10 flowering plants) should be decriminalized at the Federal level.
      4. States should legalize cannabis for personal use and set up systems of sale and regulation.
      5. Hemp (cannabis with trace amounts of THC) should be removed from the Controlled Substance Act completely and its cultivation allowed without license or gov’t interference.
      6. Research looking into cannabis’ many therapeutic uses should be allowed to proliferate uninhibited.
      7. NORML, MPP, DPA, etc need to band together to create a clear and concise plan to guide our country to the national regulation and taxation of cannabis sales.
      8. Drug Czar’s office needs to create an exit strategy in the War on Drugs, starting with the removal of all funds funding the Drug War on the international level.
      9. The public needs to be educated as to the REAL harms and benefits of cannabis use; no more lies like in the “Above the Influence” ads.
      10. All tax proceeds from cannabis sales should go to reducing the societal costs associated with cannabis use, including education about responsible use and treatment for those with real dependency issues. Any left over monies should go to paying for schools, teachers, and firemen. BUT NOT LAW ENFORCEMENT. They spent too many years oppressing us to deserve a dime of our tax dollars. In fact I anticipate them losing a lot of “drug war funding” due to cannabis’ new-found legality.

      Let’s make it happen NORML! It’s NORML to use cannabis!

    5. Brett says:

      this was alotta buzz for 2009.

      There will ben an ENORMOUS amount of discussion next year. it may very well become legal in many places in 2 years (right when I turn 21 too).

    6. law enforcement is the real enemy says:

      this is what happens in prisons around the country


    7. claygooding says:

      2009=the most advances in the reform of marijuana laws since 1972. Even with all these advances,we are not satisfied. No one that was in DC when Nixon threw the Shafer Report in the trash can and declared war on the hippies,because the hippies realized,way before the rest of America,that Nixon was a jive turkey son of a bitch. The country finally realized it and he was impeached,and that s.o.b. is a hero to the gestapo drug
      They hold him up as a hero,for the most costly,foolish war against this countries own citizens and consider him a hero. He was a piece of dog shit on your foot that wouldn’t go away,and still remains in his death as one of America’s most shameful presidents. He was
      far worse than even Bush and his war for the oil companies. His bones should be exhumed and scattered
      over a trash dump. May he never rest in peace.
      That said,we have come a long way this year and just maybe,we will see the first state to legalize marijuana
      in 2010. It will be a book mark in America’s and the worlds history.
      The Shafer Report and it’s recommendations are exactly what this country should follow,even now and still stands as the most thorough study ever done on marijuana and it’s safety,and impact on society if marijuana were

      Happy New Year All

      “Marijuana is addictive to people the same way sex is,anything that good needs repeating!”

    8. CKDK29 says:

      # 4, u couldn’t of said it any better than that

    9. PressureKook says:

      Little battles are sweet to win but the big war is about to begin.

      Those who live in States where the voters choose may witness the biggest wave of cannabis opposition that we have ever seen in our lifetime…this is the big one people so put on your thinking caps now and stay ready and prepared to dialog the shit out of them wherever they may be, including the internet: any online debates/blogs/forums/online newspaper articles/social networking sites/chat rooms

      Take the dialog to them this time!!!

    10. ajh says:

      2009 was a good year. I have really high expectations for 2010. No pun intended, of course.

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