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NORML Blog

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 2, 2019

     

    Following a recent trend in Congress to address the collateral consequences associated with a marijuana-related conviction, Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Ocasio-Cortez have introduced the Fair Chance at Housing Act. If passed by Congress, the bill would make it easier for people with criminal records to receive federal housing assistance by prohibiting the use of suspicionless drug and alcohol testing, banning discriminatory “1-strike” and “no-fault” policies and more.

    “As our country continues working toward much-needed reform of our criminal justice system, I am proud to work with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to ensure formerly incarcerated individuals and their families have access to safe and affordable housing as they transition back into their community,” said Senator Harris. “By requiring a higher standard of evidence and a more holistic review process, we are taking a significant step toward giving Americans a fair chance to succeed.”

    Currently, marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance can prevent honest and hardworking individuals from securing housing assistance and other basic services. As a result, property management companies are employing discriminatory policies that deny responsible marijuana consumers access to subsidized housing and other assistance. 

    “I am proud to join Senator Harris in introducing the Fair Chance at Housing Act. This legislation is one of many steps that need to be taken to repair our broken criminal justice system,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez. “The denial of basic necessities to formerly incarcerated people does not make our communities safer. Denying housing to those that have been formerly incarcerated increases recidivism. Today we are taking a step to make our communities safer.”

    While this effort falls short of ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level, it does address the very policies that contribute to a lifetime of social and economic challenges for responsible marijuana consumers. It’s time to end the broken and discriminatory policies of marijuana prohibition. Ensuring a fair chance at housing assistance is a step in the right direction.

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

     

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

     

    Every day 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.

    2019 NORML Conference

    NORML Announces Plans for 2019 Conference and Lobby Day 

    “This September, we invite you to join NORML members from across America to learn effective strategies, hear the latest scientific and political advancements, and meet in person with influential members of Congress.”

    Read more from NORML.org!

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

    NORML Chapters in the Media

    NORML KC Continues Push to Expand Patient Access 

    “Members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws pushed to reduce the buffer zone to only 300 feet, something Mayor-Elect Quinton Lucas had proposed earlier.”

    Read More from Fox 4 News!

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

    Memphis NORML Refocuses Efforts to End Marijuana Prohibition

    “The end goal is always recreational. We believe in responsible use of cannabis, period. For consenting adults over 21, they should have no problem being able to go purchase cannabis.”

    Read more from the Memphis Flyer!

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

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Alan Robinson, Executive Director, Wisconsin NORML

    “The decriminalization and legalization of cannabis is one of the ways this country can undo some of the systematic and intentional racism.”

    Read more from ISTHMUS!

    Follow Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML 

    “They’ll compromise the hell out of anything if it’s in the least controversial.”

    Read more from Riverfront Times!

    Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

    Jamie Kacz, Executive Director, NORML KC

    “We want patients to be able to have access to their medicine so they don’t have to have any unnecessary burden.”

    Read more from KSHB-TV!

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

    Jamie Spencer, Legal Counsel, Texas NORML 

    “This is good news for everyone in Texas — not only those who want to smoke marijuana, but the other majority of Texans that don’t use marijuana but think it’s ridiculous that it’s still a crime at all.”

    Read more from the Statesman

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

    Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML 

    “People are just having a conversation of where should our tax dollars be spent on crimes and clearly low-level offenses, where people aren’t really bothering anyone, have really become not a priority for the general public.”

    Read more from Your Basin

    “HB 3703 will ensure more patients have access to medicine which will have a positive impact on their lives.”

    Read more from the Statesman!

    “Many more patients are still being left behind, however, and will now have to wait until the next legislative session in 2021 for their next opportunity to find relief.”

    Read more from Alice Echo News Journal!

    “This is a real-world test run for what it will be like if we don’t prosecute for marijuana. We’ll see that it’s not worth the resources or testing cost.”

    Read more from The Austin Chronicle

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

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “Now, the million dollar question is when will we get more?” Pedini said of the processors. “And that’s really up to Virginians and who they elect to represent them in the General Assembly.”

    Hear more on WCVE!

    “Virginians overwhelmingly want a fine, not a crime, for marijuana possession.”

    Read more from The Washington Post!

    “The Commonwealth now spends over $100M annually enforcing marijuana prohibition, at time when over three quarters of Virginians favor fines not crimes for simple possession and six in ten support legalizing and regulating responsible adult-use.”

    Read more from Weed News!

    “It really comes down to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and the House Courts of Justice Committee. That’s where marijuana reform goes to die.”

    Read more from RVA Magazine

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

    Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Rochester NORML

    “It leaves us asking many questions about how the complicated/costly process of expungement is going to be covered and done automatically by the State,”

    Read more from Forbes!

    “If someone has a misdemeanor level drug charge on their record, that has collateral consequences throughout their life.”

    Read more from WHEC TV!

    “Actual decriminalization would be it’s okay to grow the plant, it’s okay to sell the plant, it’s okay to consume the plant in spaces that are designated for consumption. None of that is happening with this bill.”

    Read more from WHEC TV!

    “We know we’re moving in the right direction, and we’re not going away.”

    Read more from City Newspaper!

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

    Paul Kirchberg, Executive Director, Connecticut NORML 

    “It’s very liberating here to be among other people in the cannabis industry, to be in a large venue like MassMutual and be able to be free of any prosecution or persecution. We hope Connecticut will follow suit quickly.”

    Read more from West Hartford News!

    Follow Connecticut NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

    “There remains concern that the initial recreational demand will strip out the supply and cause market disruption.”

    Read more from M Live!

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

     

    Legalize marijuana

    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 July 30, 2019

    The use of cannabis during adolescence is not associated with structural brain differences in adulthood, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    Investigators from Arizona State University and the University of Pittsburgh assessed the impact of adolescent cannabis exposure on brain morphology in adulthood. Researchers tracked differing adolescent use patterns – from no cannabis use (defined as four days of use or less) to heavy use (defined as, on average, 782 days of use) – in a cohort of 1,000 teenage boys. A subset of participants subsequently underwent structural brain imaging in adulthood (between the ages of 30 to 36). Scientists examined 14 brain regions of interest, including the amygdala and the hippocampus.

    Authors reported, “We found that adolescent cannabis use was not associated with adult brain structure in a sample of boys followed prospectively to adulthood.”

    They added: “Boys were classified into one of four prototypical adolescent cannabis trajectory subgroups based on prospective assessments of cannabis use frequency from age 13–19: infrequent use/no use, desisting use, escalating use, or chronic-relatively frequent use. … We found no differences in adult brain structure for boys in the different adolescent cannabis trajectory subgroups. Even boys with the highest level of cannabis exposure in adolescence showed subcortical brain volumes and cortical brain volumes and thickness in adulthood that were similar to boys with almost no exposure to cannabis throughout adolescence.”

    They concluded, “[T]he patterns of cannabis use typically seen in community-dwelling adolescents does not appear to have lasting effects on brain structure.”

    The findings are consistent with those of several prior brain imaging studies, such as those here, here, here, and here. A recent meta-analysis published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry similarly reported that youth cannabis exposure does not appear to be associated with any sustained cognitive deficits in adulthood.

    Commenting on the new study, NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine – Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany – said: “These data replicate previous work to reveal that even some of the most frequent users of cannabis do not show changes later in brain structure. The measures are very sensitive and the researchers looked throughout the brain very thoroughly. Let’s hope that these findings mitigate some of the alarmist cries that have too often persisted and dominated this narrative.”

    The abstract of the study, “Associations between adolescent cannabis use frequency and adult brain structure: A prospective study of boys followed to adulthood,” appears online here.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director

    Working to reform marijuana laws

    In an attempt to address one of several collateral consequences associated with a marijuana-related charge, Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) has introduced the Second Chance for Students Act. If passed by Congress, the bill will allow students convicted of simple marijuana possession to maintain access to financial aid for six months while they complete an approved drug rehabilitation program.

    “One mistake shouldn’t mean the end of a student’s education,” Congressman Foster said. “For many students, financial aid can mean the difference between staying in school and dropping out. This legislation would ensure that students stay in school while they complete the required rehabilitation program. No student should have their future determined by one bad choice.”

    Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) have signed on as cosponsors.

    “Currently, students who are convicted of possessing marijuana risk losing their federal aid, no matter the quantity,” Congresswoman Moore said. “Losing financial aid can be devastating and often determines whether one can remain in school. This policy harms students of color, who are often targeted for low-level offenses like marijuana possession. It’s why I am thrilled to support this bill because a marijuana conviction shouldn’t jeopardize a students’ future or access to educational opportunity.”

    Regardless of efforts to ease criminal penalties for marijuana possession in more than 60 municipalities around the country, and legalizing and regulating adult-use marijuana in 11 states, marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance continues to prevent honest and hardworking individuals from securing gainful employment, housing, access to student loans and other basic services. It’s time to end the broken and discriminatory policies of marijuana prohibition. Passage of the Second Chance for Students Act is a step in the right direction.

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

     

  • by Dale Gieringer, Director of California NORML July 29, 2019

    Mark KleimanNORML regrets the passing of Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman, an academic expert on cannabis policy who often shared and debated his well informed views on marijuana policy reform with those of us who were committed to advocating for a policy of adult use legalization.

    Unlike many of us at NORML, Dr. Kleiman’s advocacy for ending marijuana prohibition did not stem from a deep appreciation of either personal freedom or equal rights; rather, he approached the issue primarily from a public safety and health perspective. But in the end, Mark’s analysis came down against marijuana prohibition, and his academic credentials gave his position credibility in the mainstream press at a time when few academics were willing to express such points of view. His first book, “Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control,” published at the height of the drug war in 1989, made the case that the war on marijuana had backfired, and that decriminalization and regulated, legal consumption ought to be considered.

    Dr, Kleiman boldly accepted our invitation to speak at the 1993 MAPS – Cal NORML “Psychedelic Summit,” which came close to compromising the reputations of those scholars who spoke there (including Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Ethan Nadelmann, PhD). At the time, he warned that the American public was seriously frightened about drug abuse, and that any liberalization in policy would require that these fears be addressed.

    He further developed his views on cannabis and criminal justice as a professor of public policy at UCLA. He later accepted an invitation to speak to at a national NORML conference in Washington, DC, where he debated the economic potential of marijuana legalization with Dr. Jon Gettman and myself. Dr. Kleiman continued to interact with NORML and other drug reform advocates as he moved further toward the pro-legalization side of the policy debate.

    He went on to found a cannabis consulting group called BOTEC, named for his fondness for back-of-the-envelope calculations. After Washington State approved its adult-use legalization initiative in 2012, BOTEC was hired to consult on the law’s implementation. Most recently, he served on the faculty at New York University.

    Throughout his life, Mark Kleiman was always open-minded and committed to honest policy debate. Like the rest of us, he was sometimes right and sometimes wrong, and his voice will be missed.

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