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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 9, 2018

    Legalize marijuanaProponents of a statewide ballot initiative to legalize the adult use of marijuana in North Dakota turned in nearly 19,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office today in an effort to place the measure before voters this November. State officials must certify 13,452 signatures in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

    The voter-initiated measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, legalizes the possession, use, and sale of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over the age of 21 and also expunges past marijuana convictions.

    In 2016, nearly two-thirds of state voters approved a ballot measure regulating medical cannabis access. However, state officials have yet to make the program operational — with regulators now aiming to have licensed dispensaries up and running by June 2019. Regulators’ failure to swiftly implement the 2016 measure was the impetus for the 2018 campaign, activists have acknowledged.

    State officials are anticipated to take an estimated 35 days to verify proponents’ signatures. According to internal polling data commissioned by the Legalize North Dakota campaign, a plurality of voters back the measure.

    Voters in Michigan will also be deciding this November on whether to legalize the adult use of marijuana, while voters in Utah and Missouri will be deciding on medical access measures.

  • 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 Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 12, 2018

    Oklahoma voters will decide on Tuesday, June 26, on State Question 788 — a statewide voter-initiated measure that permits doctors to use their discretion to recommend medical cannabis to patients.

    Under the proposed plan, licensed medical marijuana patients may cultivate up to six mature plants, and may possess personal use quantities of marijuana flower, edibles, or infused concentrates.

    According to polling data released in May, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788 by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. Public support for the measure has largely held steady, even in the face of growing, organized opposition from members of law enforcement and certain business leaders. State lawmakers also attempted to preempt the initiative by passing legislation to significantly limit its scope and purpose, but that effort was eventually tabled in April.

    Under state law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal offense — punishable by up to a year in prison. Engaging in cannabis sales is punishable by up to life in prison. According to a study released earlier this week, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people — the highest rate in the United States.

    If Oklahoma voters pass SQ 788 in two weeks, it will become the 31st state to legalize the possession and use of cannabis by authorized patients.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 29, 2018

    State regulators today certified a voter-initiated medical cannabis access measure for the 2018 ballot. Officials announced that proponents gathered nearly 154,000 validated initiative signatures from registered voters — far exceeding the total necessary to place the measure before a statewide vote.

    The Utah Medical Cannabis Act permits qualified patients to obtain either herbal cannabis or cannabis-infused products from a limited number state-licensed dispensaries.

    Both the Utah Medical Association and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert have publicly opined against the measure. Nonetheless, public support in favor of the initiative remains strong, with 77 percent of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” endorsing the plan, according to a UtahPolicy.com poll.

    Voters in Oklahoma will also decide on a medical access initiative in a special election on Tuesday, June 26. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, Oklahoma voters support the passage of State Question 788, according to polling data reported last week.

    Voters in two other states — Michigan and Missouri — are anticipated to decide on Election Day on statewide marijuana reform initiatives. Recent polling from those states finds majority public support for all three measures.

  • 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!

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