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GOVERNMENT

  • by NORML November 7, 2018

    Voters on election day decided in favor of several gubernatorial candidates who campaigned on promises to either address or enact statewide marijuana law reforms as Governor.

    NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano
    said: “In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms.”

    He concluded, “In 2019, we anticipate unprecedented legislative activity at the state level in favor of marijuana law reform legislation, and we expect to see several significant legislative victories before the year’s end.”

    Below is a summary of several key races:

    CALIFORNIA: Voters elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to be California’s next Governor. Newsom received an A grade from NORML for his longstanding support for marijuana legalization, which includes empaneling the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and campaigning on behalf of California’s 2016 adult use marijuana legalization law. He replaces Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (B grade from NORML).

    COLORADO: Voters elected Democratic Congressman and NORML-endorsed candidate Jared Polis to be Governor. As a member of the US House of Representatives, Polis spearheaded prominent legalization legislation, such as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, and was a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. He replaces outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (B grade from NORML).

    CONNECTICUT: Democrat Ned Lamont replaces Dan Malloy (B- grade from NORML) as Connecticut’s next Governor. In contrast to Malloy, who said that legalizing marijuana was not the state’s “best interest,” Lamont acknowledged during the campaign, “The time has come for Connecticut to responsibly legalize marijuana.” According to the results of an August Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent percent of Connecticut voters support “allowing adults in Connecticut to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”

    ILLINOIS: Democratic candidate J.B. Pritizker defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner (C+ rating from NORML). Pritzker was outspoken in his support for marijuana policy reform throughout the campaign, stating, “In the name of criminal justice reform, consumer safety, and increased state revenue, Illinois needs a governor who is ready to legalize marijuana.” He also campaigned in favor of commuting the sentences of those incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes. Sixty-six percent of Illinois voters support “the legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol,” according to a 2018 Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll.

    MAINE: Democrat Janet Mills will replace outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, who received a D- grade from NORML earlier this year. As Governor, LePage campaigned against the states’ 2016 adult use legalization initiative and later vetoed legislation that sought to fully implement it into law. By contrast, Mills acknowledges that “properly implemented, marijuana legalization has the potential to create thousands of jobs, grow the Maine economy, and end an outdated war on drugs.”

    MICHIGAN: Democratic candidate Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican candidate Bill Schuette in Michigan’s Governor’s race. Whitmer endorsed the state’s 2018 adult use legalization measure, Proposal 1, which was enacted by 56 percent of the state’s voters. By contrast, former Attorney General Schuette opposed Proposal 1, and formerly campaigned — unsuccessfully — against the passage of medical cannabis access in Michigan.

    MINNESOTA: Democratic candidate Tim Walz has been elected to be the next Governor of Minnesota. During his gubernatorial campaign, Walz embraced marijuana legalization, pledging to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.” Fifty-six percent of Minnesota adults support legalizing adult marijuana use, according to the results of an October Survey USA poll.

    PENNSYLVANIA: Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf was re-elected as Governor of Pennsylvania. Wolf received B- grade from NORML and has been vocal in his support for amending the state’s marijuana laws so that minor marijuana possession offenses are no longer classified as criminal misdemeanors. NORML-endorsed candidate John Fetterman was successful in his bid to be elected Lt. Governor.

    NEW MEXICO: Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham will replace Republican Susana Martinez. Grisham has said that she would be “inclined to sign” legislation regulating adult marijuana use. By contrast, Martinez vetoed numerous marijuana reform bills, including those expanding medical cannabis access and legalizing hemp. She received an F grade from NORML.

    WISCONSIN: Democratic candidate Tony Evers defeated Republican incumbent Scott Walker to become Wisconsin’s next Governor. Walker opposed efforts to amend adult use marijuana law during his tenure as Governor – receiving a D+ grade on NORML’s gubernatorial scorecard. By contrast, Evers says he’s “not opposed to” legalization. “I’d support it, but I do believe there has to be a more thoughtful, rigorous conversation around it as a state. So I would love to have a statewide referendum on this.” Sixty-four percent of registered Wisconsin voters say that marijuana should be “legalized for use by adults, … taxed, and regulated like alcohol,” according to a statewide October 2018 poll.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 6, 2018

    One of Congress’ most powerful and vocal marijuana prohibitionists, Republican Pete Sessions of Texas, failed in his re-election bid for Congress’ 32nd District. Sessions was defeated by Democratic challenger Colin Allred.

    Representative Sessions used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure. His actions single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

    “Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

    Representative Sessions received an ‘F’ grade in NORML’s latest Congressional Scorecard. By contrast, his Democratic challenger received a B+ grade as a result of his stated support for cannabis decriminalization and medical marijuana access.

    Texas’ 32nd Congressional District represents the city of Garland and the northeastern section of Dallas.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

    I want to take the opportunity today to personally thank you for being a marijuana policy reform supporter. Whether you are new to the cause or an old hand like myself, we at NORML both appreciate and rely upon your continued support.

    When I founded NORML in late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by tens-of-thousands of committed supporters like you, together we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public. Today, some two out of three adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

    Election Day is a time when we can make our collective voices heard. That is why I am personally asking you to share NORML’s voter guide so that your friends and neighbors can be as informed as you are when they go to cast their ballot.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    We are certainly proud of the enormous progress we have made toward ending marijuana prohibition nationwide, and we are especially proud of the gains we have made over the last several years. Today, over 30 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; and nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational adult use of marijuana.

    Our friendly neighbors to the North have also been busy. Canada has become the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of marijuana. It’s important to note that Prime Minister Trudeau was not always in favor of legalization, in fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML Canada advocates Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs in 2012. They presented Trudeau with pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today as prime minister. That is why we must all continue to raise our voices and advocate for change.

    Frankly, I have been smoking marijuana for more than 50 years, beginning when I was a first-year law student at Georgetown Law School in 1965. I enjoy my marijuana when I am relaxing in the evening, just like millions of other Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at the end of their workday. But this issue is only incidentally about marijuana; it is really about personal freedom.

    Most Americans don’t want the government intruding into our homes in order to learn what books we read, what music we listen to, or how we conduct ourselves in the privacy of our bedroom. Neither does the government have the right to know whether we consume marijuana or drink alcohol.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults. It  is time for our lawmakers to recognize this fact and to act to make this policy a reality. That is why I am asking you to share NORML’s voter guide so that this election day we can elect reform-minded candidates up and down the ballot.

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    With your dedication, diligence, and continued support, together we will win to fight for personal freedom.

    Regards,

    Keith Stroup, Esq.
    NORML Founder and Legal Counsel

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 5, 2018

    Marijuana legalization is a prominent and pivotal issue in the 2018 elections, with thousands of local, state, and federal candidates around the country advocating for an end to our decades-long, failed policy of prohibition.

    Our issue is no longer a regional one confined to deep blue states on the West Coast or the Northeast. Advocating for comment sense marijuana policy reform has gone nationwide. Voters increasingly agree with us that the battle for legalization goes hand-in-hand with our battle for improved civil liberties, personal freedom, racial justice, and sound economics.

    We are winning this fight, but that is no reason to relent in our struggle. We must double down and end this war on cannabis and those who consume it once and for all.

    That is why we built Smoke the Vote – the most comprehensive listing of state and federal candidates’ positions on marijuana reform ever created.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    When I first came to NORML as the Executive Director, our movement was in a precarious position. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was gearing up his rhetoric for a war on marijuana, and we seemed destined for a head-on collision between states and the Department of Justice. A few months later, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo that provided cover to states with legalization, thus providing an opening for the federal government to once again begin to prosecute state legal marijuana patients or businesses.

    But how quickly the tides can change. Unfortunately for Sessions, his outspoken opposition and not so veiled threats have largely blown back in his face. While Jeff Sessions may live like it’s 1956, the rest of us are in 2018. Sixty-eight percent of American voters are on our side and believe we need to end our failed racist prohibition on cannabis and legalize it for adult use.

    We have won the hearts and minds of the people. Americans from all political persuasions, demographics, and regions of the country are saying “enough is enough, we will not go back.”

    We will not continue to lock up over 650,000 of our fellow citizens each year for the simple possession of a plant that is objectively safer than currently legal alcohol and tobacco. We will not put patients into handcuffs for using cannabis to alleviate their suffering. We will not allow jackbooted thugs to continue to knock down doors in communities of color and tear apart families. We will not continue to fuel a school to prison pipeline that is destroying the future of countless promising students. We will not continue to allow money to flow to drug cartels when it can be going to state tax coffers to fund new school construction and important social programs.

    Prohibitionists, with their flat earth mentality, are attempting to push back against the inevitable. They continue to flail against the forward march of progress — endlessly defending a policy will go down in history books as a national embarrassment, much like alcohol prohibition or Jim Crow laws. Their names will be listed as ignorant enablers of racist and anti-American policies — a footnote to be laughed at in disbelief. That is, if they are remembered at all.

    But this victory is only possible if the American marijuana majority votes!

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    In response to prohibitionists’ last-ditch efforts to slow our momentum, they have inadvertently converted new vocal supporters to our cause. And they have shaken many of our elected officials out of their state of complacency. Former ravenous drug warriors like Senator Schumer and Senator Feinstein now subscribe to the gospel of comprehensive reform. Republican lawmakers, once largely unified in their opposition, are now taking up leadership roles in the fight for federal marijuana reform. Representative David Joyce of Ohio and Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado have become strong and necessary allies. Our fight is now mainstream and bipartisan, as we always knew it should be.

    With the wind at our backs, we must redouble our efforts. 2018 is truly shaping up to be the Marijuana Midterms and we need to make sure all of our supporters are informed and ready to vote. Much still remains at stake.

    With every single member of the House of Representatives up for reelection, as well as pivotal Senate offices, we are in the position to shape the makeup of Congress to our liking. This election will determine who chairs those committees that will be critical in order to move our federal legislation forward. It provides the opportunity to vote out prohibitionists and vote in reformers. Candidates from across this country, with our encouragement, have added support for ending marijuana prohibition to their campaign platforms because we have shown them it is no longer a political liability, but a political opportunity to put oneself on the right side of history. With more Americans running for office than ever before, we can help usher in a new era of federal leadership that truly represent their constituents’ wishes when it comes to marijuana policy.

    And it is not just federal candidates who are embracing cannabis reform, this change also taking place at the state level. While we need reformers in Congress to finally end this prohibition, we also need state legislators and governors to approve and defend our state-level reform efforts. In Colorado’s race for Governor, one of our longest and most ardent supporters, Jared Polis, overwhelmingly won his contested primary with the support of NORML — support he highlighted again and again on the campaign trail. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman blew away his competition in the race for Lt. Governor. Fetterman is now likely to win on the Democratic ticket with Governor Tom Wolf in November. Fetterman has spoken at numerous NORML events, worked with us to push for change in the Keystone state, and, should he be victorious next week, he will be able to help make decriminalization and legalization a reality.

    In the final run-up to Election Day, we must do everything we can to educate and mobilize voters.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    Together, we have already accomplished so much. When we stand shoulder to shoulder and fight with one voice against these unjust laws, we will cross that final finish line.

    Together, we WILL legalize marijuana nationwide.

    See you at the polls,
    Erik

    Erik Altieri
    NORML Executive Director

     

  • by NORML November 2, 2018

    With the marijuana midterms right around the corner, it’s imperative that you know who you’re voting for, what issues are going to be on your ballot, and where your voting location is leading up to Election Day this Tuesday November 6th. To see who the most pro-cannabis reform candidates are in your district, check out our Smoke the Vote scorecard and voter guide.

    In addition, if you live in any of these cities, be sure to vote YES on the following marijuana ballot initiatives.

    Dayton

    Shall the Dayton Revised Code of General Ordinances be amended to decriminalize specific misdemeanor marihuana and hashish offenses?

    Garrettsville

    “Shall the proposed ordinance to lower the penalties for misdemeanor marihuana offenses to the lowest penalties allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Windham

    “Shall the proposed ordinance to lower the penalties for misdemeanor marihuana offenses to the lowest penalties allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Fremont

    “Shall the proposed Sensible Marihuana Ordinance which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Norwood

    “Shall the proposed ordinance adding Section 513.15 Marijuana Laws and Penalties to the City of Norwood Municipal Code, which would lower the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law, be adopted?”

    Oregon

    “Shall the proposed Sensible Marihuana Ordinance which lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to the lowest penalty allowed by state law be adopted?”

    Make sure you know where your polling location is, who the most cannabis friendly candidiates are, and be sure to get to the polls on November 6th to #SmokeTheVote!

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