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  • by NORML October 22, 2018

    Sixty-six percent of US adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to national survey data compiled by the Gallup. The percentage is the highest ever reported by Gallup, which has been tracking Americans’ views on the subject of marijuana legalization since 1969.

    Support was strongest among Millennials (78 percent), Democrats (75 percent), and Independents (71 percent). Support for legalization was prevalent among the majority of Republicans (53 percent) and those 55 or older (59 percent), groups who have historically opposed reform.

    Commenting on the poll’s findings, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

    “It is time for lawmakers of both parties to en masse acknowledge the data-driven and political realities of legalization. It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and implement common-sense, evidence-based regulations governing cannabis’ personal use and licensed production by responsible adults. An outright majority of every demographic, including age, political party, and region of the country support the outright legalization of marijuana”

    “Our time has come,” he added.

    The Gallup data is consistent with those of other national polls, including those conducted by Pew (62 percent) and Quinnipiac University (63 percent).

    Thirty-one states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in the nine states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional 15 states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safetycrime ratestraffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

    Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abusehospitalizations, and mortality.

  • by Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML October 15, 2018

    One Year Anniversary

    October 2nd, 2018 marked the one year anniversary of the unanimous passage of Atlanta City Ordinance 17-O-1152, which reduced the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana within the city limits of Atlanta to $75.00 and no jail time.  While this ordinance isn’t a true “decrim” bill, because those arrested are still being fingerprinted, it was a great step toward sensible marijuana legislation here in Georgia.

    Curiosity

    I wanted to know just what effect 17-O-1152 had on “simple possession” arrests in Atlanta.  After all, the ordinance didn’t make it “legal”, it just reduced the penalties.  It didn’t really even “decrim”.  APD officers are still free to arrest offenders and take them to jail.  The question burned in my mind; “Did they, or did they use 17-O-1152 as a justification to act on a moral conviction?“.  I knew where to find at least a clue to the answer.

    ACDC — No, Not the Band

    I have to hand it to the folks in the Records Department of the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC).  I’ve asked them for data several times and they are always quick to respond.  It seems I even have a nickname with them.  More on that later …. maybe.

    So last week I asked them to provide me with the following data, which they promptly did.  I’ve added their response in blue:

    a) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2016, and Oct 2, 2017, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is an included charge:  2136

    b) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2016, and Oct 2, 2017, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is the ONLY charge:  952

    c) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2017, and Oct 2, 2018, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is an included charge:  683

    d) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2017, and Oct 2, 2018, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is the ONLY charge:  252

    The Inference

    To sum it up, personal-use possession arrests fell from 3088 to 935 the first year after implementation of this ordinance.  When you do the math, that’s a 69.8% reduction.  So consider these factors:

    • 17-O-1152 was not directed to the Atlanta Police Department, rather to the Municipal Court.
    • APD officers can still arrest
    • Folks in the Metro live it like it’s legal anyway

    I searched through APD’s Standard Operating Procedures and didn’t find a mention of reducing the emphasis on simple possession arrests, so that doesn’t seem to be a factor.  Chief Shields may have issued an internal memo to that effect, but I’ve found no evidence of it, and I’m fairly certain that would have made its way into print somewhere.  She did say publicly during the hearings associated with 17-O-1152 that possession of small amounts was not high on the APD’s priority list, and that certainly has to be taken into consideration.

    So what can we deduce from this information?  I think it’s simply this; Nearly 70% of cops in Atlanta really don’t have a problem with NOT arresting marijuana users and now that they have an opportunity to exercise their moral discretion, they are doing so.  I think that’s significant.

    Too Optimistic?

    I’m optimistic by nature.  I’m always looking to what’s around the corner, to what the positive, rather than the negative outcome of a situation can be.  When this ordinance was passed many of you in the marijuana movement in Georgia cast aspersions on it.  You felt like it was a hollow gesture, with no substance, and that it wouldn’t make a difference.  Well, apparently you were wrong.  ‘Nuff said.

    So now I’m excited to see how this pans out in Savannah, South Fulton, Fulton County, Forest Park, and Kingsland as they reach the anniversary dates of their “decrim” ordinances.  We already know that Clarkston’s City Council and Mayor Ted Terry were the first to enact such an ordinance, and their program is working well.

    I’m also interested, as we all should be, in whether or not our State Legislators are listening …. or rather, who they are listening to.  This is The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association’s (GSA) position on marijuana  posted boldly on the front page of their website:

    “The position of the GSA concerning marijuana and medical cannabis is as follows:

    • OPPOSE the legalization of marijuana for all social, recreational or industrial purposes.
    • OPPOSE the cultivation of marijuana for all purposes.
    • SUPPORT the use of chemicals derived from cannabis for medical use for certain well defined serious health conditions.
    • OPPOSE the medical delivery or application of chemicals derived from cannabis plants through smoking.
    • OPPOSE legislative proposals where appropriate controls and security measures do not exist and where strict civil and criminal penalties are absent.

    The Executive Vice President of the GSA is a paid lobbyist.  Sheriffs and other law enforcement execs are always telling us, “We don’t make the laws, we just enforce them” and “If you don’t want us enforcing the law, get it changed.”  How are we supposed to do that when phrases like “Danger, danger” and “slippery slope” and “gateway drug” are constantly being whispered in our law-makers’ ears by a paid lobbyist?  Get out of our way and we WILL change the law.  We’re going to change it anyway.  It’s now a matter of when not if.  Your Rank and File support it.  I know.  I talk to them.

    I also find it telling that the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police doesn’t even mention it on their website.

    Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, fighting for the rights of Georgian cannabis consumers. You can visit their website at www.peachtreenorml.org, follow their work on Facebook and Twitter, and please make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director
    New York,  A coalition of over 20 organizations working at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity, and reparative justice, will join local and community groups across the country for the inaugural National Expungement Week (N.E.W.) October 20-27, 2018. Conceived to aid those disenfranchised by the war on drugs, N.E.W. will offer free clinics to help to remove, seal, or reclassify eligible convictions from criminal records.

    N.E.W. events will be held in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Haven, Philadelphia, Prince George’s County, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Organizers will also provide attendees with a varied (depending upon location) range of supportive services including employment resources, voter engagement, health screenings, and more. The N.E.W. website also provides a link to an online toolkit so that interested parties can host their own record change events.

    In recent months, District Attorneys in a number of cities – such as New YorkSan FranciscoSan Diego, and Seattle  have moved to automate the process of expunging past marijuana convictions.

    For more information, visit https://www.offtherecord.us/ 
  • by Nevada NORML October 10, 2018

    With the help of the newly established “Cannabition Cannabis Museum,” Nevada’s state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, along with its local affiliate Las Vegas NORML, welcomed the National NORML Board of Directors to Las Vegas with a “Smoke the Vote” voter rally.

    Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene, Jj Walker, NORML Founder Keith Stroup, Aaron Esparza, NORML Board member Beverley Moran, David Hofstein, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, and Sen. Tick Segerblom in front of Hunter’s Shark at the Cannabition Cannabis Museum in Las Vegas

    On Friday, members of National NORML, as well as state chapter leaders from around the nation, spent time activating voters from Nevada’s Cannabis community. The Executive Director of Nevada NORML, Madisen Saglibene, led a press conference announcing the launch of NORML’s “Smoke the Vote” tool; a comprehensive guide highlighting the voting records of state and federal politicians on issues pertaining to marijuana law reform.

    Nevada NORML worked diligently over the past several months to solicit candidates’ responses to NORML’s survey about marijuana consumer protections. While only 60 of the 150 total state-wide candidates responded, it became evident this midterm cycle that cannabis reform is more nonpartisan than ever before. Candidates from around the state took the time to record their positions about trending issues like housing and employment discrimination, home grow, and criminal justice reform.

    Friday’s press conference brought out several candidates from the Libertarian Party, as well as the only non-partisan Assembly candidate running in the state of Nevada, Daniel Hofstein. Alongside these individuals was State Senator, and Nevada Cannabis Champion, Tick Segerblom. Candidates discussed the importance of exercising citizens’ rights to vote, and how not voting has consequences — especially when it comes to marijuana policy. Nevada has reached a time in which constituents have a choice to endorse candidates who support changes to both medical and recreational programs. It was exciting for Nevada NORML during their first election season to be able to find allies that can remain resources if elected into office.

    Amongst members of the Las Vegas Community were NORML Pioneers of Legalization that provided support to the Nevada NORML chapter during their first election cycle. NORML founder Keith Stroup was also in Vegas to inspire the community, and his positions made an impact. Both the Nevada and Las Vegas chapters were honored to be able to host a mixer following the voter rally, continuing the conversation between their new chapter leaders and National leaders like Dale Gehringer and Dan Viets, that have been with NORML for decades – making them credible mentors and motivators. Vanderbilt University Professor of Law and NORML Director, Beverly Moran, spoke during the Nevada event to remind attendees about the vitality of voting in midterm elections. Executive Director of National NORML, Erik Altieri, acknowledged the Clark County Commission candidate, Tick Segerblom, as an instrumental ally for the legalization movement over the decades.

    Closing out the event with an emphasis on voter registration and restoration of voting privileges, NORML volunteers alerted attendees about the Nevada voter registration deadline of October 18th.

    If you are already involved with a local NORML chapter, or wish to be, please be aware that an incredible system of support exist for you.

    NORML encourages voters to visit vote.norml.org to learn more about your 2018 marijuana friendly candidates.

  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML October 9, 2018

    A listening session was held Thursday evening in Rochester, New York to get feedback about what the community wants to see in the legislation currently being drafted to legalize cannabis for adult use in NY. See the full list of listening sessions happening state-wide here.

    The legislation being drafted is set to pass next April with the budget, and there were many issues from both sides brought up during the session. Overall, the consensus in the room seemed in line with the polling of the state; most people in the room were in favor of legalizing for adult use, while a considerable amount of people are still opposed to the topic due to a mere lack of education.

    Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, the Rochester, NY chapter of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws, shown in this interview, testified during the session to advocate that restorative justice be on the forefront of the legislation, including: sealing of records and resentencing for low-level marijuana possession related offenses, developing a diverse and inclusive industry with priority licensing that promotes small business growth, and community reinvestment grants.

    The police chief shown in the interview also testified during the session, on behalf of the Monroe County Association Chiefs of Police, in which they indicated their opposition to legalizing cannabis for adult use because “we don’t need another drug on the street.”

    The work group drafting the legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October at the email address listed below. In your email, make sure to include the following before your testimony:

    Session Location: Rochester

    Organization: As applicable and/or Roc NORML

    Your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email

    Send emails to rmls@health.ny.gov with the subject line “NYS Regulated Marijuana Listening Session Comment”, or  click here to fill out your contact information and send testimony instantly.

    Roc NORML will also be holding their October Monthly Meeting at which a summary of the session will be provided and volunteers will be available to help the community submit their own testimonies. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details coming soon, or click here to sign up for Roc NORML’s mailing list.

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