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  • by NORML December 27, 2018

    2018 NORML's Top TenRead the ten biggest stories that shaped marijuana policy in 2018.

    #1: Public Support in Favor of Adult Use Legalization at Historic Highs
    More adults than ever before believe that marijuana use by adults ought to be legal. An October poll conducted by Gallup reported that 66 percent of adults – including majorities of Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and those over the age of 55 – back legalization. The percentage is the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm. A 2018 Pew poll similarly reported greater public support for legalization than ever before, while a June poll by the Center for American Progress reported that 68 percent of voters nationwide endorse legalization – the highest level of national support ever recorded in a scientific survey.

    #2: Marijuana Initiatives Win at the Ballot Box
    Voters in four states – Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah – passed voter initiated measures in 2018 regulating the use of marijuana. Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah became the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd states to enact medical cannabis access laws, while Michigan became the tenth state to permit adult marijuana use. In January, Vermont legislatively enacted provisions permitting adults to grow and possess marijuana for their own personal use.

    #3: Congress Amends CSA to Lift Ban on Commercial Hemp Production
    Hemp-specific provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill (aka The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) for the first time amend the federal classification of marijuana to distinguish between cannabis and hemp. Under the new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. The Act also broadens the definition of ‘hemp’ (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including …. extracts [or] cannabinoids” that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. The Act also for the first time in decades permits for the licensed commercial cultivation of hemp under a partnership of state and federal regulations.

    #4 Canada Legalizes Adult Marijuana Use and Retail Sales
    Canadian lawmakers this summer approved federal legislation permitting the use of marijuana by those ages 18 and older, and regulating adult use cannabis production and sales. Retailers began selling cannabis in compliance with the new law in October. In November, justices for Mexico’s Supreme Court also struck down the nation’s marijuana ban – finding that laws criminalizing the private use and cultivation of cannabis by adults are unconstitutional.

    #5: Governors Campaign, Win On Marijuana Legalization Platforms
    Candidates for Governor in numerous state races campaigned and won in 2018 on a pledge to legalize and regulate the adult use of cannabis. Specifically, incoming governors in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Illinois explicitly pledged to enact legalization. Re-elected Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has also pledged to enact adult use legalization in early 2019, as has New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

    #6: Incoming House Rules Chair to Allow Floor Votes on Marijuana-Related Measures
    Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern said in November that he will permit federal lawmakers to debate and vote on marijuana-related amendments when he assumes control of the House Rules Committee in 2019. Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid. 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. “Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” McGovern said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

    #7: Legal Marijuana Access is Associated with Reduced Opioid Abuse
    Over a dozen peer-reviewed studies were published in 2018 finding that regulated marijuana access is associated with lower rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality. Among patients enrolled in medical cannabis access programs, use of opioids frequently decreases or is eliminated altogether.

    #8: FBI: Marijuana Arrests Spike for Second Straight Year
    The total number of persons arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws rose for the second consecutive year, according to data released in September by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. As in previous years, marijuana possession arrests were least likely to occur in the western region of the United States, where possessing the plant has largely been either legalized or decriminalized. By contrast, in Midwestern states, marijuana-related arrests comprised over 53 percent of all drug arrests.

    #9: FDA Approves First Ever Plant-Derived Cannabis Medicine
    Regulators at the US Food and Drug Administration in June for the first time granted market approval to a plant-derived cannabis medicine, Epidiolex. The medicine contains a standardized formulation of plant-derived cannabidiol for the explicit treatment of two rare forms of severe epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. In September, the US Drug Enforcement Administration classified Epidiolex to Schedule V — the lowest restriction categorization available under federal law.

    #10: States, Localities Move to Expunge Past Marijuana Convictions
    California became the first state to automatically review and expunge past marijuana-related convictions, under legislation enacted in October. Delaware enacted a similar law calling for the mandatory expungement of certain marijuana-related offenses, joining several other states that permit those with past records to petition to have those records sealed. Local officials in various cities in 2018, including Denver, Philadelphia, and Seattle, announced the facilitation of similar policies.

  • 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 NORML October 9, 2018

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

    Support was strongest among Millennials (74 percent), Democrats (69 percent), and Independents (68 percent). Support for legalization was weakest among Republicans (45 percent) and those born between the years 1928 and 1945 (39 percent).

    Since 2000, public support in favor of legalization has nearly doubled, Pew reported.

    “One of the greatest benchmarks of the success of legalization is the simple fact that public support for this policy change has only grown in the years since states began enacting it,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “The public has spoken and it is time for leaders in both parties to come together and amend federal law in a manner that comports with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status.”

    The Pew data is consistent with those of other national polls, including those conducted by Gallup (64 percent) and Quinnipiac University (63 percent).

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

    Over six in ten Americans believe that it is morally permissible for adults to use cannabis, regardless of the plant’s legal status, according to nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup.

    Pollsters reported that 65 percent of respondents personally believe that “smoking marijuana” is morally acceptable. Thirty-one percent defined the behavior as “morally wrong.”

    The Gallup data represents a significant shift in Americans’ attitudes. According to prior data compiled by the Pew Research Center, only ten percent of Americans in 2006 agreed that cannabis use was morally acceptable.

    Survey data compiled by Gallup in 2017 reported that 64 percent of Americans – including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal, the highest percentage ever recorded by the polling firm.

  • by NORML July 21, 2017

    According to recently released polling data from Gallup, nearly half of all Americans have tried marijuana at one point in their lives, an all time high since they began asking the question in 1969 when only 4% of Americans admitted to having tried the substance.

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    Additionally, 12% of survey respondents said they currently consume marijuana.

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    Gallup concludes:

    “With 29 U.S. states allowing medical marijuana use, and eight allowing recreational use, legal cannabis is taking hold in American society.

    There may be obstacles to marijuana becoming fully “accepted” in the United States. Attorney General Sessions appears to be cracking down on marijuana use, and driving under the influence of pot continues to be a concern for many.

    Despite legal hurdles, however, a record-high percentage of Americans say they have tried marijuana.
    Smoking pot is still not as prevalent as cigarette smoking in the U.S., at 17%, but current marijuana usage is about as high as it has been.

    If more states legalize the drug, regular usage — or at least experimenting with marijuana — could rise. Legality may confer a certain societal acceptance of the drug. Sessions’ hopes to prosecute state-level marijuana crimes may prove to be a hindrance, but it is unlikely this multibillion-dollar industry will be stopped anytime soon.”

    Read the full survey results here.

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