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NORML Chapters

  • by Jax Finkel, Texas NORML Executive Director February 8, 2019

    On Thursday, hundreds of Texans joined us at the Texas State Capitol to discuss marijuana policy with legislators! For this historic day, over 400 Texans registered to participate, covering all thirty-one senate districts and three-quarters of the house district. It was a beautiful representation of how important reform is for Texans.

    We provided a training session for our participants that covered an overview of the legislative process, review of priority legislation, what to expect from their visits and Q&A. We provided training packets for them to use in preparation for their visits, including voting records to check where their legislators have historically stood on the issue. Participants then crafted a message to place on their postcards which they delivered to offices along with policy overviews and then requested their Senator and Representative co-sponsor important legislation. Pictures of the event can be found here. Livestream of the event can be found here.

    The changes that I have seen over the last 14 years in Texas are stark. The first lobby day I ever participated in only had a few dozen dedicated Texans holding the torch for freedom. At that time, legislators had a harsh opinion of our work. But today, we have a record number of bills and have created a huge change in public opinion in the Capitol. The import of these drastic changes over the years are not lost and I am so thankful for all of the work that Texans have done to destigmatize marijuana.

    We want to thank our coalition, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, for helping to continue to elevate and expand these lobby days. We are so appreciative of all of our volunteers who made this event possible. Additionally, RAMP and DFW NORML made it possible for more Texans to participate by arranging buses to bring them to Austin.

    Lastly, we still have a lot of work to do this session. Brush up on our advocacy training. Catch up on the bills and participate in our action alerts! Stay tuned to us via social media and our newsletter to track how the bills are progressing and know when new action alerts are put out.

    Please support our work during this session by becoming a member, making a one-time donation or becoming a sustaining donor.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths with NORML’s Fact Sheets! For more information follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!

     

  • by Justin See, Board Member, Indiana NORML

    During the 2018 legislative session, state representative Jim Lucas (R-69) introduced his first medical cannabis bill, HB 1106, which quickly gained three co-authors after being assigned to the House Public Health committee. Fellow Republican Sean Eberhart (district 57) joined Lucas along with Democrats Sue Errington (district 34) and Chuck Moseley (district 10) on the bill, offering bipartisan for the reform.

    Citing the short session and limited time for hearings, public health chairwoman Representative Cindy Kirchhofer (R-89) opted instead to hold a hearing for House Resolution 2, authored by Representative Math Lehman (R-79) along with co-authors including herself, Representative Chris Judy (R-83), and Representative Vanessa Summers (D-99), which called for the legislative council to assign the topic of medical marijuana to the interim Public Health committee as well as requesting that the federal government remove cannabis from the Schedule I category in the Controlled Substances Act. Lehman’s interest in advancing the conversation originates in part from his friendship with his mentor and former state representative Tom Knollman, who refuses opioids in the treatment of his multiple sclerosis and is an advocate for legalizing cannabis. Citing the diametric opinions involved in this topic, from individuals such as Knollman citing their personal experience of the benefit on one hand to law enforcement and other organizations warning against going down the route of legalization on the other, Lehman explained that he thought it was time for our state to begin looking into the evidence as well as the experiences of other states and the overall impact on society.

    HR 2 passed out of committee and was adopted by the House in a unanimous 94-0 vote, leading to the interim Public Health hearing that took place on October 18th of 2018. Numerous individuals testified in favor, including I.U. oncologist Dr. Alan Greenspan, Illinois state representative Tim Butler, as well as Marshall county prosecutor Nelson Chipman, who testified in a break from the official stance of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Council (IPAC), an organization that has maintained a persistent presence at hearings involving any potential legalization of cannabis including agricultural hemp and low-THC hemp extracts.

    During the discussion following testimony, state senator Mark Stoops (D-40) proposed a recommendation to create a state regulatory agency or commission to asses the impact and effectiveness of various regulatory schemes for a medical cannabis program, given the evidence and potential of cannabis for a variety of conditions and the number of states that have already instituted medical cannabis programs. His original language was amended to only specifically mention conditions for which there is a high level of evidence, based on a list of evidence levels provided by lay committee member Dr. Richard Feldman, although this motion was voted down by committee members and instead a statement claiming that the committee failed to reach a consensus and recommended further study was agreed upon by the committee.

    There were varying reasons for opposition to Stoops’ motion, from wanting to hear from constituents before voting in favor (Senator Vaneta Becker), to concerns about creating a new commission to evaluate regulatory options. “I am opposed to creating another government bureaucratic agency and believe that it is not taxpayer friendly,” explained state representative Steven Davvisson (R-73) to constituents in the Facebook group Concerned Taxpayers of Washington County, defending his vote against Senator Stoops’ proposed recommendation to constituents. “It doesn’t matter what the committee recommends because a bill still must be brought forward in the General Assembly and I’m sure there will be many bills addressing this topic.” True to his prediction, a record number of cannabis bills have been introduced for consideration during the 2019 session, including a total of 13 that pertain to either medical or decriminalization.

    “I understand many people have concerns about this issue,” Representative Davisson added, “but ultimately any recommendation from the committee would have only been exactly that, a recommendation. It could have been accepted by the General Assembly or ignored. By not reaching a consensus on the topic neither positive or negative, it will still be open for discussion in the General Assembly.”

    With what amounted to a neutral recommendation and a call for further legislative discussion, one might have thought that when the House Public Health committee convened in January for the start of the 2019 session that they might have heeded that call by scheduling a hearing for one of the several medical cannabis bills assigned to the committee. While a hearing might not lead to the passage of a bill, it would have at minimum provided the opportunity for the type of detailed discussion requested by some interim committee members.

    Senator John Ruckelshaus (R-30), who served on the interim Public Health committee and is the ranking member of the Senate Health and Provider Services committee, commented on the summer study process at a Hamilton County town hall on January 26th. “I must admit that that committee was not a robust committee. It was not a committee where we really got (I’m not going to say ‘into the weeds’) into the true depth of the issue because one of the things we really didn’t get into was to study about the other states, whose doing this right, whose doing it safe. I want say from my heart with this issue that I am open to this issue because some of you know the story about my son, who is a quadriplegic. I know how families suffer, I have seen families suffer, I have seen individuals suffer, so this is very important to me and I know this is sweeping the country right now.”

    While Senator Ruckelshaus was not satisfied with the breadth of the testimony at the interim hearing, the summer study process was originally billed as a comprehensive look at the issue. “Study committees are a great tool for the legislature to fully review issues. While the federal government has yet to recognize the use of medical cannabis, we plan to fully review the issue,” Representative Cindy Kirchhoffer claimed in the lead-up to the hearing. “There is no guarantee that legislation or policy changes will come from study committee, however this is a great chance for citizens to actively engage in the legislative process and share their thoughts on this complex topic.”

    With the number of speakers both supportive and opposed scheduled into a several hour hearing, many speakers rushed through their presentations in order to allow time for everyone to speak. In a phone conversation, Senator Ruckelshaus explained that the type of discussion he would like to see on this issue would involve several days of hearings where legislators can really dive into the details of how other states are implementing medical programs and which ones have the best practices that could be implemented in Indiana.

    “In Indiana we must do it right, we must do it safe,” Ruckelshaus stated in his final comments at the Hamilton County town hall. “So again, I am open to this concept, but we need to have more discussion.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there will be any further discussion at all this session, at least not in a manner which allows public participation or the possibility, however faint, of advancing legislation. Representative Kirchhoffer explained that in lieu of hearing any of the medical cannabis bills assigned to her committee, she wants the Senate to take up the issue this year because the Senate Democrats made medical cannabis part of their 2019 legislative priorities. The Democrats, being the minority political party, do not hold any committee chair positions and therefore do not have any further ability to advance this conversation beyond the bills they have introduced.

    The fate of non-hemp cannabis in the Senate rests in the hands of two individuals: Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-5) and Senator Mike Young (R-35). Senator Charbonneau is the chair of the Health and Provider Services committee, which was assigned two cannabis bills: S 357, Karen Tallian’s bill establishing a medical cannabis program, and S 287, introduced by Senator Mark Stoops, which would create a defense-to-possession for those whose doctors certify in writing that they have a terminal illness or serious untreatable disease. Karen Tallian also filed a decriminalization bill, S 213, which was assigned to Senator Mike Young’s Corrections & Criminal Law committee.

    In a recent interview with Fox59, Senator Charbonneau told reporters that he was unwilling to consider allowing use while it is still illegal under federal law, offering little hope for a hearing in his committee this year. While Tallian’s bill would offer a more complete medical program, Stoops’ bill stops short of legalizing use per se or even setting up a legal or regulated supply chain, instead merely offering a defense to possession for those with terminal or untreatable conditions. This reform would circumvent any perceived or real concerns with state legalization in spite of federal law, although Senator Charbonneau has not yet responded to any queries asking if he would consider hearing this bill.

    Senator Mike Young, who authored the 2018 bill legalizing low-THC hemp extract, would not commit to a hearing for the decriminalization bill assigned to his committee, however he did make the following statement on the Indiana NORML Facebook page in response to a question about whether or not he would be willing to comment on the possibility of hearing S 213 in his committee: “Only to say that I have 70 or so bills assigned to my committee. I have only 7 possible hearing dates available and have already had three meeting totaling 13 bills heard with one carryover. Which means I only have four dates left where I can hear 12 bills of the 57 that remain.”

    “He has said that he will hear certain bills as time allows,” his legislative aide, Andrianna Hji-Avgouti, stated in an email. “As of right now, he has them prioritized and that is how he chooses what to hear in committee.” It is unclear how far down the list of bills assigned to his committee that S 213 is prioritized, although this offers the slight possibility that Senator Young has at least not completely ruled out the possibility of giving it a hearing.

    Meanwhile in the House, several bills offering different iterations of cannabis decriminalization have been assigned to the Corrections and Criminal Law committee chaired by Representative Wendy McNamara (R-76). Bills assigned  were introduced by both Republicans and Democrats, including Jim Lucas (HB 1283), John Young (HB 1460), Heath VanNetter and Mara Reardon (HB 1658), Ragen Hatcher (HB 1540) and Dan Forestal (HB 1658).  When Representative McNamara’s press secretary was asked if McNamara would be willing to provide a quote for this article on whether or not she planned to schedule any of these bills for a hearing, the request was responded to with a simple, “Rep. McNamara is unavailable for an interview”. While full legalization and even the implementation of a medical access program are still the source of contention in the Statehouse, considering some form of decriminalization is not completely anathema to legislators. Representative Lehman, while stating up front that he will likely never support full legalization in Indiana, said that the topic of decriminalization in some form has merit and is worth reviewing.

    From outside the Statehouse, it can seem as though the issue is in a gridlock that might never be broken until it is too late for some Hoosier to access the therapeutic uses of cannabis or to avoid the criminal consequences of possession, but legislators familiar with Indiana politics behind the scenes are noting an increasing willingness to see this as a serious rather than fringe issue. “I think that there is momentum building, just not as fast as some of us would like,” Representative Shane Lindauer (R-63) told us. Lindauer is Vice Chair of the Public Health committee and co-author of Representative Lucas’ medical bill, HB 1384. “Please continue to encourage members to contact their state Representatives and Senators,” he said, offering advice on how to continue to move this issue forward. “I understand that sometimes it feels like that doesn’t get us anywhere, but I can assure you that if done respectfully, it will register.”

    While the decision not to hear bills exists in a political environment that includes lack of support from Governor Holcomb, the current state of cannabis reform in Indiana and the potential progress that could be made this session rests largely on the shoulders of a few committee chairs, none of whom have thus far opted to schedule hearings for the cannabis bills assigned to their committee. 2019 might not be the year of measurable progress (although it is certainly not out of the question), but it is absolutely the year that the General Assembly becomes aware of the fact that this issue can’t be shuffled around forever without adequately addressing it.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

     

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director February 1, 2019

    Everyday NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    NORML Chapters Organized and Energized for State Legislative Sessions in 2019

    “That’s why dozens of NORML chapters are organizing citizen lobby days to advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition and other reforms ranging from depenalization and expungement, to workplace drug testing and social consumption.”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Chicago NORML Continues Push for Diversity in Cannabis Industry

    “Recognizing the short window of time available to shape the cannabis industry in Illinois, Chicago NORML and BlackRoots Alliance plan to bring the issues of racial equity and restorative justice in the cannabis industry to the forefront of the public’s attention.”

    Read more from In These Times!

    Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Mid-Missouri NORML Hosted Medical Marijuana Panel Discussion

    “Because voters approved Amendment 2 in the November general election, the panel will discuss how medical marijuana will work in Missouri, along with what constitutional rights people have when dealing with police.”

    Read more from the Missourian!

    Follow Mid-Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Texas NORML Hosted Advocacy Training for 2019 Legislative Session  

    “The Texas chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hosted an advocacy training day on Saturday with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.”

    Read more from the Austin Business Journal!

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Virginia NORML Hosted 2019 Cannabis Conference and Lobby Day

    “About 150 people, including health care providers and attorneys, attended the Virginia 2019 Cannabis Conference, held by the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.”

    Read more from WTKR News 3!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Washington NORML Continues to Make Home Cultivation a Top Legislative Priority

    “Bailey Hirschburg of the Washington chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws contended that all other states with legalized recreational marijuana have allowed home-growing for recreational use.”

    Read more from Crosscut!

    Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML

    “It’s about getting to know your representatives, and writing them daily if something’s important. Make appointments, become an acquaintance with them.”

    Read more from NORML!

    Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Brian Seamonson, Deputy Director, Madison NORML

    “I think it’s there and people are coming around,” Seamonson said. “They’re not being afraid to talk about it anymore.”

    Read more from Wisconsin Public Radio!

    Follow Madison NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Chris Cano, Executive Director, Central Florida NORML

    “The method of ingestion for someone utilizing medical marijuana should be between them and their doctor, not the state legislature.”

    Read more from WFLA News 8!

    Follow Central Florida NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Cindy Cutler, Board Member, Virginia NORML

    “We would certainly like to see other Commonwealth’s Attorneys follow the lead of Greg Underwood and would like to see our General Assembly this year address the decriminalization of marijuana.”

    Read more from WTKR 3!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML

    “Boone County voters clearly favor making marijuana possession enforcement a very low priority. It would be very appropriate for our prosecutors to do the same thing that the prosecutors in St. Louis County, St. Louis City and Jackson County have already done.”

    Read more from KOMU 8!

    Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    David Phipps, Communication Director, Indiana NORML

    “CBD is usually the first step most states take, because it does not have THC in it. Or it has extremely low amounts.”

    Read more from My Wabash Valley!

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Doug Green, Legislative Director, Empire State NORML

    “They are big, basically out-of-state corporations, some of which are publicly traded, and they don’t represent the communities that need to have equity in the industry, not just an opportunity for jobs or job training.”

    Read more from Crain’s!

    Follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

    “Keeping in place local bans on retail outlets and consumption rooms and keeping the state law allowing employers to continue to discriminate against workers for off the job abuse of cannabis, even for medical use.”

    Read more from 790 KABC!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

    “Right now, the money from Measure D could be used for anything. We’re going to have to hold public officials accountable to make sure this happens.”

    Read more from The Potrero View!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

    “We’re hearing rumors that there may be legislation in Sacramento this year to put into law a provision to strike deliveries around the state.”

    Read more from SF Weekly!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

    “The positive socialization aspect of cannabis use is long-established and forcing people to consume only in their homes (if permitted) separates people unnecessarily.”

    Read more from Cannabis Now!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ellen Komp, Deputy Director, California NORML

    “Lowering state excise taxes will help the legal marijuana industry gain a better foothold over the black market in California.”

    Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    “We ask that he include cannabis law reform, ideally in the form of adult recreational legalization, in his upcoming budget proposal so we can finally put an end to the injustices of cannabis prohibition.”

    Read more from the Green Bay Progressive!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    “They had on average a 25-percent reduction in both opiate overdose deaths and admissions to treatment for opiate addiction.”

    Read more from the WTMJ TV!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML

    “I’m going to kick off the night talking about the Farm Bill.”

    Read more from Dallas News!

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

    “The best way to combat illicit marijuana coming into your state is to develop a program opposite of prohibition.”

    Read more from Fox 11!

    Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jay Selthofner, Executive Director, Northern Wisconsin NORML

    “It is going to be a business that wants to open up within the boundary of a municipality that will be the one willing to spend the resources needed to petition.”

    Read more from the Daily Press!

    Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “It’s time for the courts of justice committee in the Senate to advance this legislation. If it doesn’t get a floor vote we can only look to the controlling members of those committees who are not supporting what Virginians are demanding.”

    Read more from WHSV 3!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “Cannabis policy will be the loudest it’s ever been on the campaign trail in 2019.”

    Read more from the Richmond Free Press!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “Three quarters of Virginians support marijuana decriminalization or ‘fines not crimes,’ and nine out of ten Virginians support doctor-recommended medical cannabis.”

    Read more from Alt Daily!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “These members are primarily prosecutors, former prosecutors, former law enforcement, and maintaining the status quo is something that works for them.”

    Read more from Public New Service!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “Will Virginia eventually decriminalize personal possession of marijuana? Yes. Will it be in 2019? That’s very unlikely.”

    Read more from Southside Daily!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “In 2016, we passed a bill that let us go forth and write a regulatory program that was based on Connecticut’s then-program, which was also low-THC, extraction-based products only and served to a small set of patients.”

    Read more from WTVR CBS 6!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

    “The facts and the research are on our side, we are very lucky that there are 10 states ahead of us with adult regulated use so that’s essentially ten case studies.”

    Read more from 13 News Now!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jesse Scaccia, Fundraising Director, Virginia NORML

    “Just as every Virginian should be able to enjoy a bourbon or a beer in their home, so they should enjoy marijuana.”

    Read more from WAVY TV 10!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Josh Brard, President, Purdue NORML

    “Marijuana became illegal not because of what it is but because of the propaganda behind it, and propaganda is just misinformation.”

    Read more from The Exponent!

    Follow Purdue NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Katie Clifton, Board Member, Virginia NORML

    “We are very frustrated that the General Assembly is not listening to what the majority of voters are saying about marijuana legislation.”

    Read more from WDBJ 7!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Kevin Oliver, Executive Director, Washington NORML

    “I believe there will be a home-grow bill this year.”

    Read more from the Inlander!

    Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Lee Otts, Executive Director, Memphis NORML

    “While we’re encouraged by republicans coming forward with it, we’re cautiously optimistic about what it should contain.”

    Read more from Local Memphis!

    Follow Memphis NORML on Facebook and become a member today!   

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “He was one of the first to go public that marijuana should be legal and has stayed with the fight all these many years. It’s great that we have him as a senior leader of the movement.”

    Read more from Fox 17!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “We replaced the governor and Gretchen Whitmer replaced the director of LARA and even in this first month they already have taken action to benefit patients.”

    Read more from The Manchester Mirror!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

    “When these specialty medications are not available, it significantly affects the health and welfare of the people across the state. That should be a cause for concern for everyone involved.”

    Read more from the Lansing City Pulse!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Tom Gallagher, Board Member, Minnesota NORML

    “A majority of Republican voters support legalization, so it is a bipartisan issue.”

    Read more from KARE 11!

    Follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Tom Gallagher, Board Member, Minnesota NORML

    “About 500 people per year have been going to prison in Minnesota for marijuana cases.”

    Read more from WCCO TV!

    Follow Minnesota NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets!

    For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

     

  • by NORML January 31, 2019

    Nearly 10 years after opening the first cannabis cafe in the United States, Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez is appealing directly to legislators in Salem to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) that would finally legalize her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Cafe. Martinez played a crucial role in organizing local cannabis advocates to bring about Frederick’s legislation, Senate Bill 639.

    Martinez says this isn’t just an issue of dysfunctional laws that allow adults living or visiting Oregon to purchase cannabis but not legally consume it, it is an issue of discrimination and equal rights.

    “This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,” said Martinez.

    Martinez points out that taking direct actions like opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces are legal to push the issue into the mainstream discussion and bring into question unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but dangerous territory to cross into for a woman of color. As a former corrections officer, Martinez says she knows how the law works, is friendly to law enforcement and firm that actions like hers are what propel the change of bad laws and make the cannabis space more welcoming to marginalized groups.

    “You have to be bold, I never asked anyone for permission,” says Martinez. “When you don’t like the laws, you change them. All the gains in movements of social justice are made by people breaking bad laws. I have been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Cannabis’.”

    S.B. 639 is currently awaiting assignment into a Senate committee. If passed it would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces, allow for the sale of cannabis in these clubs, tasting tours on farms (similar to wine) and expanded legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences (like hotels).

    A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, H.B. 2233. The fundamental difference between the two pieces of legislation is that while S.B. 639 creates a legalized framework for indoor smoking and vaping, H.B. 2233 does not. Martinez says this approach further marginalizes the poor, who are disproportionately punished for public consumption.

    “In Oregon, due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, cannabis consumers must find a place outside in the shadows and elements, which is unsafe and has become a social justice issue. Cannabis consumers should be treated with dignity and respect. We are deserving of safe, regulated spaces to consume out of public view. Only S.B. 639 would accomplish this goal,” Martinez concludes.

    About Oregon NORML & Women’s Alliance
    The mission of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is to further the social justice goals of the marijuana legalization movement post-legalization. Cannabis is legal but still not “normal” in our society; Oregon patients and recreational consumers still risk housing and employment discrimination and loss of custody of their children for choosing to use cannabis legally and there are not safe legal public spaces for social consumption. Oregon NORML believes that although it is legal statewide, conflicts with federal law still threaten the liberties of Oregonian cannabis users. For more information visit:  http://ornorml.org/.

  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML January 28, 2019

    The New York State Association of Police made a statement opposing legalization of cannabis for adult-use in New York, in response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he plans to pass legislation April 1st, with the budget, that will legalize cannabis for adult-use in New York. The New York State Association of Police said traffic safety is a major concern, citing an increase in vehicle-related fatalities by 62 percent in Colorado the first year cannabis was legalized in the state.

    Roc NORML is the Rochester chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and we want to make sure the public is aware that statement is simply not true. Here are the number of vehicle-related fatalities, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation:

    Year
    Total Number of Vehicle Related Fatalities
    % Change (+/-) from previous year
    Notes
    2002 743 2 years before medical legalization, the largest number of vehicle-related fatalities in the last 17 years
    2003
    641
    1 year prior to legalization
    2004 667 +4.1% Sales began January 1
    2005 606 -9.1%
    2006 535 -11.7%
    2007 555 +3.7%
    2008 548 -1.2%
    2009 466 -15.0%
    2010 450 -3.4%
    2011 447 -0.1%
    2012 474 +6.0%  Adult-use passes by ballot
    2013 481 +1.5%
    2014 488 +1.5%  Adult use-sales go into effect
    2015 547 +12.1%
    2016 608 +11.2%
    2017 648 +6.7%
    2018 620 -4.3%  Four years into adult-use sales, net fatalities below 2002 despite rise in population and increased miles traveled
    Total % change from pre-legalization (2003) until 2018 = -3.3%
    Total % change from pre-legalization (2003) until 5 years post (2009) = -27.3%

    Source: Colorado Department of Transportation

    At the same time, we should also acknowledge the overall population in Colorado has increased significantly, an increase of 13.2% as estimated by the US Census. Furthermore, when we look at states that haven’t legalized cannabis for adult-use, take Alabama for example, we see similar trends related to number of vehicle related fatalities.

    The conclusions we can draw from this data are as follows:

    • – Legalization does not lead to a decrease in road safety, and the argument can even be made, with this data, that roads become more safe after legalization;
    • – We need to approach this topic in the same way we approach any other substance that doesn’t have a biological field sobriety test associated with it, like Ambien or Xanax, and we need to put responsibility in the hands of the consumer and expect them not to operate a motor vehicle if they are intoxicated from the substance; and
    • – As advised by the American Automobile Association (AAA), we urgently need more research, and we shouldn’t put arbitrary “per se” driving limits for the presence of THC, as they improperly classify motorists who are not behaviorally impaired.

    While we can understand law enforcement’s hesitancy to embrace legalization after their efforts against the plant during the War on Drugs, we want to urge them to consider the benefits we’ve seen in other states that have legalized. Most notably, law enforcement from those states have increased the rate at which they solve more serious crimes, like automobile theft and assault, as well as an overall decrease in serious crimes, like murder and rape.

    Roc NORML is dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of responsible cannabis use and we look forward to continuing these conversations with local law enforcement. Please visit www.rocnorml.org for more information about how you can get involved and follow ROC NORML on Facebook and Twitter.

    You can read more about marijuana and psychomotor performance on NORML’s factsheet here.

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