2014: The Year In Review — NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 30, 2014

    2014: The Year In Review - NORML's Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana PolicyNORML reviews the top news stories of 2014.

    #1 Marijuana Legalization Measures Win Big On Election Day
    Voters in Oregon and Alaska decided on Election Day in favor of statewide initiatives legalizing the commercial production and sale of marijuana for adults, while voters in the nation’s capitol and in numerous other cities nationwide similarly decided on local measures to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.

    #2 Colorado And Washington Begin Regulating Retail Marijuana Sales
    Two states, Colorado and Washington, initiated retail marijuana sales in 2014. Colorado’s program began on January 1. In Washington, state-licensed retail outlets began legally selling cannabis to adults in July.

    #3 Congress Enacts Measure Protecting State-Sponsored Medi-Pot Programs
    President Barack Obama signed spending legislation into law in December that included a provision limiting the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states. The amendment states, “None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent … states … from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    #4 Congress Moves To Permit State-Sanctioned Hemp Cultivation
    Federal lawmakers approved legislation in February permitting state-sponsored hemp cultivation to move forward despite the plant’s federal status as a Schedule I prohibited substance.

    #5 Federal Judge Hears Challenge To Cannabis’ Schedule I Status
    United States District Judge Kimberly Mueller heard five days of testimony in October in regard to the constitutionality of marijuana’s Schedule I status under federal law. Defense counsel and their experts argued that the scientific literature is not supportive of the plant’s present categorization. Judge Mueller is expected to make her ruling in early 2015.

    #6 JAMA: Fewer Opiate-Related Deaths In Medical Marijuana States
    The enactment of statewide medicinal marijuana laws is associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, according to data published in August in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

    #7 President Acknowledges That Booze Is More Harmful Than Marijuana
    Consuming cannabis is less harmful to the individual than is drinking alcohol, President Barack Obama acknowledged in January in an interview with The New Yorker. “I don’t think it (marijuana) is more dangerous than alcohol,” he stated. He added, [W]e should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time.”

    #8 Study: Medical Marijuana States Have Fewer Violent Crimes
    Medicinal cannabis laws are not associated with any rise in statewide criminal activity, according to data published in April in the journal PLoS ONE. “Medical marijuana laws were not found to have a crime exacerbating effect on any of the seven crime types. On the contrary, our findings indicated that MML precedes a reduction in homicide and assault,” authors concluded. “In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.”

    #9 NYT Editors Opine In Favor Of Legalizing Cannabis
    The New York Times editorial board in July called upon federal lawmakers to end the criminalization of cannabis for those over the age of 21. The paper’s editors opined: “The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana. … Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. … [W]e believe that on every level, … the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization.”

    #10 Americans Say Marijuana Is Less Harmful To Health Than Sugar
    Americans believe that consuming cannabis poses less harm to health than does the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, or sugar, according to the findings of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in March. Respondents were asked which of the four substances they believed to be “most harmful to a person’s overall health.” Most respondents said tobacco (49 percent), followed by alcohol (24 percent) and sugar (15 percent).

    44 responses to “2014: The Year In Review — NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy”

    1. MSimon says:

      NYC ended “Stop and Frisk”

    2. Miles says:

      #10 is very telling! It seems that Americans got these answers correct. If only our idiotic congress would pull their heads out long enough to end prohibition our nation could be great again… As it is, America is an embarrassment in my humble opinion. If I went overseas for some reason, I would not want to admit to being from a country that is ran by such stupidity.

      By the way, I recently saw on the news that the top Republican presidential candidates are, wait for it, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush! Ha Ha!!! They don’t have a chance if that’s the best they can do… Ha Ha!!!

    3. TheOracle says:

      I’m looking at how the judge’s decision in #5 might affect the lawsuit that Nebraska and Oklahoma are bringing against Colorado.

      I’m thinking the Koch Bros. wield power in Kansas, and despite their support of right-wing conservatism, I’m thinking, they are libertarian one the topic of cannabis legalization, so could that be the reason Kansas didn’t jump in on the lawsuit right away? Saving money by ending cannabis prohibition can put more money in their pockets, unless they’ve got their fingers in the drug-testing industry pie, too. I just am not sure about the Kochs on this, help or hindrance.

      I am enjoying the latest MSNBC mini-series Pot Barons of Colorado, and look forward to Harry Smith’s end-of-year cannabis special tentatively scheduled for January 5, 2015, as well as the new CNN potumentary. However, I would like to see the New York Times keep up the legalization drumbeat. If The Big Apple would legalize cannabis they could use some of the revenues to meet the demands of their employees, specifically to address the pension and union concerns of city employees, especially like stop pissing off the NYPD in exchange for the cops ending Stop N Frisk based upon cannabis. So far that whole neck of the woods has had political leaders who have been flaming useless for cannabis legalization. Douchebag Cuomo, Douchebag Christie, and so far de Blasio not going far enough soon enough and then shit backfiring on him big time. The whole New York City metropolitan area is high profile for organized crime, the mafia families, has been for almost a century now, History or H2 was showing documentaries along these lines, and both governors decided to shut down the reform and restructuring of the Port Authority, and against the wishes of their respective state legislatures. They both are as prohibitionist as they can get away with right now in the political climates of their states. Christie would have UNDONE Corzine’s legalization of medical cannabis in New Jersey, and Cuomo would have stalled medical cannabis as long as possible in New York state. If it affects mob money, it ain’t happenin’ so adult recreational ain’t happenin’ in those states for a while. States without the ballot initiative are the most prohibitionist, even when there is a majority of the public in support of it. Pennsylvania has had majority support for medical marijuana, but no ballot initiative, and since it’s got the most corrupt legislature in the nation, according to political reporter John Baer, you (Baer doesn’t make that connection) can pretty much figure if the price of pot drops as was reported in The Cannabist about “Oscar” the illegal pot grower that legal medical cannabis put out of business and another story in The Cannabist about how the price has dropped for Mexican farmers and how legalization is really working that if it reduces mob money in Pennsylvania then the legislature will postpone legalizing cannabis in any way as long as possible. After New York’s crime families, Philadelphia’s crime family network is probably the next most powerful on the East Coast. Christie’s mother was of Sicilian descent, and he has that King Shit swagger about him they way he treated that little girl’s dad, Vivian Wilson’s dad, like medical cannabis is complicated but the dad was too dumb to understand it and just was a total asshole to the dad.

      Something positive needs to happen so that legal adult recreational takes hold in D.C.

      I certainly hope NORML’s plans work there, and that they succeed in legalizing by ballot initiative in New England.

    4. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Yes! and sugar in my coffee.

    5. Ray says:

      #11 Native Americans Can Engage In Cannabis Commerce

      #12 Colorado Did Not Implode After Legalization

      #13 Harry Anslinger, William R. Hearst, Andrew Mellon, DuPont Industries are outed as so f#!@ing racist and greedy that they denied the USA of 80 years of research and development of new medicines, technology, and jobs by creating marijuana prohibition. All this to lock up blacks, Mexicans and Native Americans, while profiting off of the lumber industry.

      Jobs, jobs, jobs, medicine, food, fiber, fuel.

    6. Mark I. says:

      The media outlets are already attacking WSJ editorials regarding cannabis opinions promoting the future of drug prohibition and the fallout from separating cannabis from other recreational drugs. Science and personal research shows the efficacy and safety of cannabis over medications touted by chemical companies worldwide. Just don’t try to convince anyone from the other side without knowing the information will be used against you in a court of law. The vote no longer matters.

    7. fireweed says:

      put it this way: too much sugar and I feel like crap for at least the next day. Smoke too much pot and the next day I feel awesome!

    8. MaryDattir says:

      OMGoodness YES, 2014 has indeed been an interesting year in Medicinal-MJ World. (That “interesting” is as in an Asian statement, “May you have an interesting life.”)
      But I would like to comment on an event from many years ago…which means I do not now remember just what year it WAS…in San Francisco, CA.
      A group of people advertised that there would be a program presented regarding signing people up to test effects of MJ on human beings.
      One amusing-to-myself side note, the signing up of people for the program, along with comments from the Study Group overseers, in a venue called Langley-Porter Mental Health Facility.
      Not amusing: females were not allowed to sign up for the study.
      Why? That question came from a woman in one of many folding chairs, and was apparently a question several women wished to ask. I say that because when the first woman to be pointed at by a program mission overseer so as to allow her to voice her comment or question, other women lowered their hands as if to indicate “Yes, that was my question as well.”
      One of the men addressing the group of people in chairs explained the non-admittance of females into the program thusly: “We are not sure whether or not females’ reproductive capabilities would be altered.”
      Another woman raised her hand and was recognized by the lecturer.
      “What if,” she asked, “a female knows she is sterile due to having had a complete hysterectomy years ago? Could such a woman be considered okay to sign up?”
      Lecturer: “Well, no. You see, even if a female might be sterile, we are not sure of any possible adverse effects of testing females with THC, a primary ingredient in MJ.”
      At the moment the lecturer finished giving the excuse for banning females from the Effects on Humans of THC study, many women and any men who had accompanied them to the Lecture left the lecture room.
      Basically, many of the women and the men who were with them said “Well, if an entire gender is not allowed into tis study, how badly-skewed might the results of such a study be?”
      The answer to that question was never heard since it was not spoken.

    9. MaryDattir says:

      EDIT my comment above: The lecturer also said that non-sterile females could not be allowed to participate in the program “Because women cannot sign away their reproductive rights.”

      What? That sounds more, to me, like: “You women who are not sterile and who might have children someday might today, by agreeing to participate in our study, have issues regarding possible birth defects or challenges of any children to whom such women could give birth.
      So no, no females sterile or fertile were to be allowed to enroll in the study that day.

      I am sorry I forgot to include this “Edit” in my first comment.

    10. mexweed says:

      Maybe @fireweed is hinting at the ESDMO Every-Second-Day Modus Operandi– set up a fascinating hands-on workschedule for the first four hours after serving first vapetokes in 2 days, and during the ensuing inspired LEAP (Long-term Episodic Associative Performance) Memory worktime, disciplinedly abstain from munchies especially sugarcrap.

      The resulting “Our Four Hour Tour” work achievement will launch you on a trajectory of triumphant success lasting 2 days into the next brilliant preabstinentized “breakfast tokefest”.