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  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director July 1, 2018

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

    Arizona NORML Works to Reform Concentrate Law

    “Cannabis will prevail,” said Mikel Weisser, director of Arizona NORML. “I cannot see us losing—it doesn’t seem like a logical conclusion.”

    Read Tucson Weekly’s Concentrate Commotion: Arizona Appeals Court Deems Marijuana Extracts Illegal Under State Law

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Chicago NORML Activists Push for Equity in the Pot Business

    Chicago NORML Founder and Executive Director Donte Townsend: “You gotta think about how many people are doing time right now for cannabis convictions,” he said. “And there’s businesses operating as they were, they just didn’t have the money to pay for it. Now some are in jail, and some are getting rich.”

    Read more from the Chicago Sun Times!

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

    Indiana NORML Advocates for Medical Cannabis Legislation

    “Things are evolving very quickly. The legislators, even the ones who are against it, know that they’re going to have to come around in the near future if they want to stay in office,” said David Phipps, a self-described “Hoosier advocate,” and member of Indiana NORML, a group pushing for medical marijuana legalization.

    Read WIBC’s two-part interview: Medical Marijuana in Indiana: The Change in 2018 and The Summer of Medical Cannabis in Indiana?

    Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Lehigh Valley NORML Wins in Bethlehem and Allentown

    In Pennsylvania, the City Council of Bethlehem approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, while Mayor Ray O’Connell of Allentown signed a marijuana decriminalization ordinance into law.

    Read more on the NORML Blog!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

    Oklahoma NORML Instrumental in Passage of Medical Marijuana Initiative

    “We’re going to unbuckle the Bible belt,” Norma Sapp, state director of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, shouted to supporters of State Question 788, the medical marijuana issue that will be on the June 26 primary election ballot.

    Read more from NewsOK!

    Follow Oklahoma NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Texas NORML Pushes for Marijuana Planks GOP Platform

    In Texas, the state’s Republican Party approved four new planks to the party’s platform: endorsing marijuana decriminalization, expanded medical cannabis access, industrial hemp and federal rescheduling.

    Read more on the NORML Blog!

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

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Scott Weldon, Executive Director, Lowcountry NORML

    “As someone who has been working on this issue for several years now, I can assure you that state lawmakers want to know where their constituents stand with regard to supporting marijuana law reforms before they will have the confidence to take action. I’m certain the results from [Tuesday’s] election will be the catalyst for future conversation about this issue.”

    Read more from the Charleston City Paper!

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

    Justin See, Board of Directors, Indiana NORML

    “Given the exceptional limitations that researchers in the U.S. face when considering the prospect of conducting clinical trials using botanical cannabis, Governor Holcomb should take the lead from 29 states and the District of Columbia and become an advocate for allowing legal access for medical purposes.”

    Read more from Indy Politics!

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

    Jeff Reidy, Executive DIrector, Lehigh Valley NORML

    “Public opinion and the power of the vote can persuade even the most stubborn of politicians. Our courts, city councils, DAs, and legislators are elected by the people, to work for the people. We should repeatedly remind them of their duties, especially when they stubbornly refuse.”

    Read more from Lehigh Valley Live!

    Follow Lehigh Valley NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “While the rest of the country is drastically decreasing their marijuana enforcement either because of decriminalization efforts at municipal or state levels or because of regulating use at the state level, Virginia is moving in the opposite direction,” Pedini said. “And that is not at all in context with what the overwhelming majority of Virginians want.”

    Read more from RVA Magazine!

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

    Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please reach out to chapters@norml.org for help starting your own! For over 45 years NORML chapters have been leading marijuana law reform conversations and continue to be the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level.

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

  • by Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director of Las Vegas NORML June 30, 2018

    Despite recreational marijuana use being legal in Nevada, the 42 million annual visitors don’t have any options for a place to consume. State law doesnt allow public consumption, and casinos and hotels have banned cannabis on their properties. In fact, claims have been made that Las Vegas security personnel have been very forceful and militant regarding public consumption despite confusion on behalf of the tourists.

    I thanked the City Attorney’s office on Wednesday for their leadership on the proposed social use venue ordinance. “Though the majority of intentions throughout this process today are revenue seeking, NORML views it as a form of social justice, and for this we thank you.”

    The ordinance would allow the City of Las Vegas to issue Business Licenses specifically known as “Social Use Venues”, which would allow people to bring in their own cannabis to consume. This ordinance would also allow patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages of up to 11%, but the space needs to be fully enclosed and utilize strict air filtration regulation, making it so no special event permits can be given. Las Vegas is, however, one of the few U.S. cities to allow cigarette smoking indoors still to this day.

    With a team of 7 in bright green, Nevada NORML advocated that cannabis consumers should not be forced behind enclosures, nor should they be subjected to a 24 hour live stream of their activities fed directly to law enforcement. Though the city was quick to respond that this was a safety measure that would only be utilized in certain circumstances, Saglibene told them a warrant should need to be obtained for the footage.

    City Attorney, Bryan Scott made it clear the proposed ordinance is only the first draft and will undergo many changes before it is approved. Skeptics say that the inclusion of alcohol will be a hard sell to voters on the committee.

    NORML volunteer Madison Rodgers inquired about how proposed federal legislation could impact this ordinance if passed, “Are you familiar with the STATES act?” The answer from all parties holding the meeting, was no.

    Last year, Las Vegas NORML made several attempts to ask the City of Las Vegas and the Convention & Visitors Authority to put information on their website to educate visitors on the laws to create less confusion, and ultimately arrests. After all, we can’t rely on dispensaries to tell the customers that there is nowhere for them to consume that product legally. The requests from both agencies were ignored, and almost a year after the program has gone into effect, there is still no public information available to our tourists through those channels. Public consumption in Las Vegas is punishable by $600 and could still result in being arrested. Though local law enforcement has been instructed to only issue citations in most situations, there have been more arrests for public consumption made already this year compared to last.For more information, please follow Las Vegas & Nevada NORML on Facebook & Instagram.

    Click on the image above to watch the live stream! NORML begins at about 55 minutes.

  • by NORML May 8, 2018

    Police in the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown and Bethlehem continue to arrest hundreds of residents for less than 30 grams of cannabis while opiate and cocaine arrests seem to be going down.

    Last year Allentown put 315 people into handcuffs and the courts over marijuana possession, while the city reported just 31 other drug possession arrests during 2017, according to data from the Pa. Uniform Crime Reporting System.

    Bethlehem police also favor arresting cannabis consumers, between 130 and 160 per year are caught up in the criminal justice system over a few joints. Data from Bethlehem is also showing some odd trends, with zero opiate or cocaine arrests logged in 2016 or 2017.

    “Decriminalization would seem a simple and effective option anywhere,” said Lehigh Valley NORML Director Jeff Riedy, “When you consider the human cost to those convicted of arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

    A RAND Corp. study commissioned for Vermont found that each marijuana arrest is estimated to cost taxpayers $1,266 to perform. Prosecuting each person spends another $1,000 according to some estimates.

    That means Allentown and Bethlehem spent over $1 million last year treating otherwise law abiding cannabis consumers like criminals. Thankfully the city councils in both communities have introduced ordinances to address this expensive injustice.

    “The decrim ordinances, like that in Philadelphia, have helped to remove stigma, freed up the courts and allowed law enforcement to focus on more pressing issues. We should stop ruining lives over a joint,” said Riedy.

    Lehigh Valley NORML encourages members of the press and elected officials to review the marijuana possession arrest data included with this release.

    According to Pa. State Representative Michael Schlossberg (D., Lehigh), cosponsor of two statewide decriminalization bills in Harrisburg, “It’s time to put an end to senseless mass incarceration brought on by the prohibition of marijuana. I have added my name to legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana and bring commonsense back to our criminal justice system.  Pennsylvanian’s cannot afford to continue to follow the path of failed policies which hurt individuals and communities.”

    Allentown introduced their ordinance at Council last week, and it has been moved to a Committee of the Whole, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 at 6pm in Council Chambers. If it passes the Committee with a majority vote, the ordinance will move to the full City Council for a vote next Wednesday, May 16 at 7pm. Public opinion is encouraged both dates.

    Allentown’s proposed ordinance: http://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6212844&GUID=F77277E0-5440-436B-B430-9CAC4AFFB0BD

    For more info, please contact Jeff Riedy at 610-533-0906 or via email at lehighvnorml@gmail.com. You can also follow Lehigh Valley NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 5, 2018

    Minor marijuana possession arrests have plunged in the city of New Orleans following the adoption of a municipal ordinance one year ago that called for fining rather than arresting low-level offenders.

    According to data made available last week, just one percent of encounters between police and someone accused of possessing marijuana resulted in an arrest between June 2016 and May 2017. In prior years, over 70 percent of such encounters resulted in an arrest. In those cases, some 75 percent of those arrested were African Americans.

    Under Louisiana state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a term of incarceration of up to eight years, depending on whether the person convicted is a repeat offender.

    In March of last year, members of the New Orleans city council voted 7 to 0 in favor of legislation permitting police to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders (defined as those who possess 14 grams or less), including repeat offenders. First-time violators are subject to a $40 fine while subsequent offenders may face fines of up to $100. In recent years, nearly 60 municipalities in states where cannabis remains criminalized have enacted local ordinances either partially or fully decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

    According to a study published last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the enactment of recent statewide decriminalization laws has similarly resulted in a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests while having no adverse impact on youth use patterns.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 16, 2018

    Philadelphia officials announced today that they will no longer prosecute marijuana possession offenses.

    In October 2014, Philadelphia enacted a municipal ordinance reclassifying cases involving the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis to a non-summary civil offense, punishable by a $25 fine – no arrest and no criminal record. Since that time, annual arrests for marijuana possession violations have fallen by an estimated 85 percent. However, despite this decrease, police have continued to make several hundreds of marijuana possession arrests yearly. These arrest primarily target young people pf color.

    Newly elected District Attorney Larry Krasner declared today that the city will no longer prosecute those additional cases. “What we’re talking about is the 10 percent or so that are being charged as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court,” he said. “We are going to … drop any cases that are simply marijuana possession.”

    Krasner said that refusing to pursue these cases is “the right thing to do.”

    Last week, Seattle city officials announced their intentions to vacate the criminal convictions of minor marijuana possession offenders. The week prior, city officials in San Francisco announced plans to automatically expunge thousands of past marijuana possession convictions.

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