The Changing Nature of Marijuana Politics – and How You Can Help

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate July 8, 2015


    As I finish my first month as a NORML staff member, I am in awe of the incredible group of individuals that comprise NORML’s network; I’m also in awe of the political momentum that we presently enjoy.

    NORML held a Legislative ‘Fly-In’/Lobby Day in Washington, DC just before I began my tenure here. Attendees visited with their US Senators and urged them to vote in favor of the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, permitting veterans the ability to utilize medical cannabis. The vote marked the first time the U.S. Senate had voted in favor of medical marijuana.

    House members have also held important votes in recent weeks, including passing the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which limits the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed operations that are acting in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.

    A couple weeks ago, Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), often known for their opposition to marijuana law reform, held a hearing calling for expedited cannabis research. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow testified at the hearing and acknowledged the need for systemic federal changes, including the allowance of non-government sources of cannabis for clinical research.

    Significant changes in cannabis policy are also afoot at the state level. Oregon enacted their voter approved legalization measure on July 1st and became the fourth state to permit adults to legally possess limited quantities of marijuana for their own personal use. (Separate legislation recently enacted by the Oregon legislature also defelonizes various marijuana-related offenses and provides for the expungement of past marijuana convictions.) Delaware lawmakers recently elected to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses, while Louisiana lawmakers have just amended their toughest-in-the nation repeat offender laws. A marijuana decriminalization measure is awaiting approval from the Governor in Illinois, while legislation to permit medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii also awaits final passage. Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, also recently approved a civil citation program for minor marijuana offenses, becoming the first county to do so in the state.

    I choose to highlight these recent successes because they were made possible, in part, by you and your donations to NORML’s Political Action Committee. As we head into election season, the role NORML PAC will play in electing politicians who support sensible marijuana law reform policies will grow to a record level. But we need your help getting there. Please donate $25 or more to the NORML PAC today and understand you have contributed to bringing an end to marijuana prohibition by helping to elect responsible, marijuana friendly politicians who will support legislation that you care about.

    NORML is now receiving more requests for funding from elected officials and political hopefuls than ever before. By making a donation to the NORML PAC, you are strengthening our ability to help elect these cannabis friendly politicians and to support our allies at the local, state and federal level.

    I’d like to thank you in advance for making your contribution to NORML PAC and I hope you continue to reflect on the importance of electing those who share in NORML’s goals of ending marijuana prohibition.

    25 responses to “The Changing Nature of Marijuana Politics – and How You Can Help”

    1. Of course we are getting the attention of nonusers. We are a group of gentle people who have found the way of enjoying our existance, and reducing the stress in this hyped up modern world by use of a safe natural plant. Keep up the great work Danielle, we are all thankful to have you onboard.

    2. PhDScientist says:

      For Cancer patients, for kids suffering from Seizures, and for so many others, safe, legal, access to Medical Marijuana is a matter of life and death. Please call the whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President have Marijuana removed from Schedule 1. Call every day, and ask everyone you know to call every day, and to keep calling, for however long it takes, until he does it. With luck the effort will go viral.

    3. laquentin mcmurry says:

      I live Tennessee I wish it was legal here, I feel if your not on probation u should be able to use marijuana after a hard days work just as if you were to drink a beer, but without liver damage or having a hangover,all it does is make u happy and forget about everyday stress its our life.

    4. TheOracle says:

      I would like there to be an East Coast equivalent to California, a state where the doctor is allowed basically to recommend cannabis for anything they think it will help with. I’d like the Pennsylvania House to expand upon its copying and pasting of Senate Bill 3–it’s available online in Word and PDF–and add many ailments to the list and language to allow a doctors recommend it for anything they see fit. I want Pennsylvania to add language to legalize seeds and allow MMJ patients and/or their caregivers to grow their own. I want patient collectives and clubs like in California. I want labs to be allowed to process the plant material right away to make tinctures and whatever that patients need. Smoking should be allowed, although with the quality of vaporizers these days I’m not sure why anybody would want to smoke, so vaporizers need to be affordable. I want Pennsylvania to include that employers can’t fire patients for off-job usage and that employers have to prove on-job use, and the tests they use have to show positive ONLY at the time of the test, so saliva or pupil dilation or something other than a piss test.

      Journalist Jon Baer wrote the article at the link below laying out the pathetic democratic deficit that Pennsylvania has, something used to refer to the European countries like satellite countries of the Soviet Union back in the day whose populace wanted western democratic freedoms and societies but whose leaders were beholden to the Politburo in Moscow and resisted any such change/progress.

      Pennsylvanians want a really good and broad medical marijuana law, not some restrictive shit the prohibitionists are planning on dishing up to us, like it’s some kind of bone and that we should be happy we even got anything at all. Not only are Pennsylvania politicians dragging their feet on MMJ, pushing it constantly off to the next session and the next, but they always manage to whittle it down to total shit with amendments so that the proponents have to start all over again rewriting the law from scratch. The state has the biggest disparity in funding between wealthy school districts and poor city school districts, that it just breaks my heart to see this kind of Jim Crow manifesting itself. Just because the state is north of the Mason-Dixon Line doesn’t mean there is no Jim Crow. Turzai was the Republican politician crowing (pun intended) on camera that the state’s voter ID laws were geared to give the election to the Republicans. You’ll see what I mean if you read Jon Baer’s article, link below:


      [Paul Armentano responds: “I would like there to be an East Coast equivalent to California, a state where the doctor is allowed basically to recommend cannabis for anything they think it will help with.” This is, in fact, the policy in Washington, DC. Similar legislation proposed this year in Maine narrowly failed.]

    5. MMSecretarySEWINORML says:

      I was so inspired by all of the great people that I met at the legislative fly-in and the fact that we had a real impact on our representatives, I called the board of directors of my local chapter and was cc’d into the secretary position soon after arriving back home. After what I witnessed in DC and the medical program in California, I truly believe that this is the time for making a difference. Wisconsin has a two strike policy on Cannabinoids resulting in a felony for simple possession on your second offense. There has been extreme opposition here and now with all of the new social and political movements around the country there seems to be a new dawn of acceptance on the horizon. Similar bills to what is now being reviewed and debated in our state senate have been tabled in the past. Call your representatives no matter where you are and tell them that prohibition has failed! Tell them that you support the legalization of medicinal and recreational cannabis! Please donate to your local chapter and national NORML accordingly!

    6. TheOracle says:

      Thanks for weighing in on the East Coast California. Yes, DC could be that, but is not that because federal politicians fiddled with the funding of its implementation. Unfortunately for the people who live in DC it does not yet have the status of a state.

      I don’t want to downplay the accomplishments of reform groups such as NORML in the progress they have made in DE, but I meant an actual state so that Chaffetz and other federal politicians could not directly meddle with the public monies to prevent implementation. So long as DC is on hold–and who knows how long (Republican) prohibitionist politicians at the federal level can hold the law in abeyance–there is no functioning East Coast California.

      Pennsylvania, the House, has not yet finalized the legislation to go to the House floor for a vote, so there is still time to expand the ailments to just about anything a doctor recommends it for. I didn’t see anything in there for PTSD or even for stress and anxiety to replace prescription meds that give you suicidal thoughts, etc. Again, I would like to see patients & caregivers being allowed to grow their, patient and caregiver collectives and clubs without all the red tape a dispensary supplier has to jump through, legalization of seeds, clones, and employment guarantees, and mandates that employers can only use drugs testing techniques for cannabis that show impairment at the time of the test, i.e. saliva or pupil dilation tests that are actually accurate.

      The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a disorder. They back medical marijuana, but so far they are taking a wait and see, data collection approach to adult recreational, even recommending to the feds that they change (remove cannabis altogether, I guess) from the CSA.

      As a cancer patient for years already, I’d like to extend my life and improve the quality of my life by having the option of legal cannabis in Pennsylvania instead of having basically to do without my medicine. East Coast states are making medical cannabis laws that are so restrictive that many patients who could benefit simply can’t, and they’re delaying the actual brick and mortar dispensaries for years and years, with cronyism about who gets the licenses in that they don’t allow personal cultivation, clones, seeds or patient/caregiver collectives and clubs.

      I do sincerely thank you for your progress in DC, but the law is held in abeyance, and the sheer size of the territory and population of an entire state positively affects so many more people while being a MAJOR psychological victory over cannabis prohibition.

      So you have anybody in Harrisburg rewriting the House Bill to make that happen? Pols there are on vacation right now.

    7. Mark I. says:

      Treating my asbestos poisoning with cannabis has kept me alive and active for 25 year past my prescribed death date. Will cannabis ever receive the respect it deserves?

    8. JAY says:

      Cannabis will be legal in Wis. when Kochs OK’s it.

    9. Julian says:

      From Oreeeeegon…
      To Waaaashington
      Our work…
      Aint done…
      Free the Heeeerb for everyone…

      To DC
      From sea-sea
      To shining sea
      Let’s Free Seed
      Stop Hate-Greed
      & Tax-Paid Bleed
      We will Lead
      A Good Deed
      So Schools Read
      Lord when did I feed
      You in Prisons Freed
      For Quota’s need
      We Hatebreed
      On Justice Peed
      Spread Love seed
      Grow the Weed
      And proceed
      To succeed…

      From Ooooregon…
      To Waaaashington…
      Our Love…
      Aint done…
      Free the Herb for Everyone’

    10. TheOracle says:

      I realize that DC’s MMJ is up and running, but since the adult recreational is held in abeyance people who live in nearby states without MMJ laws or where the MMJ laws are so restrictive that they don’t qualify can’t just go to DC and get their medicine at an adult recreational shop, just so I clarify where I’m coming from on my previous posts in this thread.

      [Paul Armentano responds: To clarify, the medical marijuana law in the District is separate legislation than the recreational use measure. This legislation was amended last fall to eliminate the need for a qualifying condition. Thus, a DC-licensed physician can recommend cannabis therapy at his/her discretion under DC’s medical marijuana program. The broader recreational use initiative is separate legislation, which was enacted in November. That legislation took effect in January. Both laws are now in effect in the District.]