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NORML Blog

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel November 6, 2018

    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.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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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 Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 5, 2018

    Texas Republican and ardent marijuana prohibitionist Pete Sessions trails by four points in his re-election bid, according to polling data released yesterday. According to the survey results, Sessions is behind Democratic challenger Colin Allred by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent in the race for Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.

    As a member of Congress, Sessions has been one of the nation’s most vocal and powerful forces against our efforts to enact sensible marijuana policy reforms. Speaking publicly on the issue earlier this year, Sessions opined: “Marijuana is an addictive product, and the merchants of addiction make it that way. They make it to where our people, our young people, become addicted to marijuana and keep going.”

    As I wrote last month in my ‘Marijuana and the midterms” op-ed in The Hill, “Pete Sessions has 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 have almost 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 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 Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director

    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!

  • by Carly Wolf, NORML Political Associate

    Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

    A bit of news from across the border to start; Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down the country’s prohibition of marijuana by issuing two separate rulings, setting binding precedent that the country’s ban on consuming marijuana is unconstitutional. The nation’s Congress has 90 days to repeal cannabis bans now considered unconstitutional.

    Let’s talk about Election Day, which is this Tuesday, November 6th, 2018. Don’t forget to vote if you haven’t already! No matter where you live, or what political party you identify with, your vote counts. It matters. It can make a difference. It’s your civic duty to exercise your right to vote. Make sure you know where your voting location is. And, make sure you know who and what is on your ballot, so you can make an informed decision. Also check out NORML’s voter guide and scorecard to see who the most cannabis friendly candidates are this election, and get ready to #SmokeTheVote!

    In Congress this week, The U.S. House bill to require the federal government to study the effects of legalizing marijuana (Marijuana Data Collection Act) got two new cosponsors, for a total of 33.

    At the state level, Utah lawmakers and advocates are working to tweak provisions of proposed medical cannabis compromise legislation. The House speaker also held a public forum on the issue.

    New Hampshire’s marijuana legalization study committee released a lengthy report looking at policy considerations for the potential end of prohibition.

    New Mexico lawmakers held a hearing on allowing medical cannabis at schools. Separately, a New Mexico judge ruled that the state’s 450-plant limit on medical cannabis dispensaries is arbitrary and capricious and has no factual basis.

    Maine regulators are estimating that the first recreational marijuana stores could open next year.

    Colorado regulators will host a Marijuana Science and Policy Work Group meeting on Monday.

    Oregon regulators will hold a public hearing on technical changes to marijuana rules on November 16.

    Colorado regulators are inviting people to submit comments on proposed changes to medical cannabis rules. You can submit your own comments here.

    Ohio regulators are now accepting petitions to add additional medical cannabis qualifying conditions. You can submit your own petition here.

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill into law to stop revoking driver’s’ licenses from people convicted of drug offenses and other crimes unrelated to motor vehicle operation.

    At a more local level, San Francisco, California’s mayor announced the expansion of the city’s cannabis equity program. And Manhattan’s district attorney announced that marijuana prosecutions are down 94% in the first quarter of a newly implemented policy.

    Following are the bills that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

    Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

    Your Highness,
    Carly

    Priority Alerts

    Federal

    Penalize States that Maintain Criminalization: The Marijuana Justice Act would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

    Click here to email your federal lawmakers and urge them to support this important legislation

    New York

    A11390 seeks to require public health insurance programs to cover medical marijuana related costs.

    The measure amends state law so that publicly funded health programs, including the largely-publicly funded Essential Plan, would treat medical cannabis like any other legal prescription drug “for the purposes of coverage under medical assistance.”

    NY resident? Click here to email your elected officials in support of medical marijuana coverage

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