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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 13, 2018

    Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern says 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.

    “Unlike my predecessor, I’m not going to block amendments for marijuana,” he said. “Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind.”

    Representative McGovern replaces outgoing Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Colin Allred. 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. His actions 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 Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

    Representative McGovern indicated that he would prioritize legislative measures to limit federal interference in legal marijuana states, to expand medical cannabis access for veterans, and to amend federal banking restrictions on the legal cannabis industry.

    “This just seems like common-sense stuff,” McGovern said. “Especially on the issue of medical marijuana — people who are opposed to that are just on the wrong side of public opinion, overwhelmingly. It’d be nice if, every once in a while, Congress acted in a way that people wanted. I know that may seem like a radical idea, but come on.”

  • by NORML November 7, 2018

    Marijuana reformers enjoyed numerous federal, state, and local victories last night. Here are the highlights.

    STATE BALLOT INITIATIVES

    Florida: Sixty-three percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, which amends the state constitution to restore voting privileges to those with non-violent felony convictions – including tens of thousands of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses. Passage of the amendment is anticipated to reinstate voting rights to some 1.4 million Floridians.

    Michigan: Voters by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent approved Proposal 1, legalizing the adult use, cultivation, and retail marketing of marijuana. Michigan is the first Midwest state to legalize adult marijuana use and sales, and it is the tenth state overall to do so. Under the measure’s provisions, adults will be able to legally begin possessing cannabis ten days following the certification of the 2018 election results. An estimated 25 percent of the US population now resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use and possession of cannabis is legal.

    Missouri: Sixty-six percent of Missourians approved Amendment 2, which amends the constitution to permits physicians to recommend medical marijuana at their sole discretion, and provides licensed dispensary access to qualifying patients. The measure beat out two competing ballot initiatives, neither of which received more than 50 percent support from voters.

    North Dakota: Fifty-nine percent of North Dakota voters rejected Measure 3, a grassroots initiative that sought to strike marijuana from much of the criminal code and would have ended most marijuana-related arrests. Though the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, NORML is proud to have worked closely with local organizers over the past months, and is looking forwarding to coordinating future statewide reform efforts under the North Dakota NORML banner here.

    Utah: Fifty-three percent of Utah voters approved Proposition 2, which facilitates legal medical cannabis access to qualified patients. In the coming months, state lawmakers are anticipated to hold a special legislative session with regard to implementing the new law. NORML is calling on state politicians to “respect the will of the electorate and move swiftly to enact The Utah Medical Cannabis Act in a manner that comports with both the spirit of the law and the letter of law.” With yesterday’s passage of medical marijuana legalization in Missouri and Utah, 33 US states now recognize the therapeutic use of cannabis by statute.

    KEY FEDERAL RACES

    There were some major changes in the US House of Representatives that bode well for the prospects of future, federal marijuana law reform. Perhaps most importantly, Congress’ chief marijuana prohibitionist – Texas Republican Pete Sessions – 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. His actions 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.

    But Rep. Sessions is not the only prohibitionist leaving Congress. Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte – who as House Judiciary Chair failed to schedule any significant marijuana bills for hearings – has retired and will no longer be in Congress following the conclusion of this term

    With Sessions and Goodlatte out of power, it is likely that members of the House will once again weigh in on and pass a number of important legislative reforms in 2019.

    In addition to these notable departures, a number of NORML-endorsed Congressional candidates and incumbents won their races – including leading reformers like: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), David Joyce (R-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA). To see the outcomes for races involving all of NORML’s 2018 endorsed candidates, please visit here.

    KEY STATE RACES

    In four states — Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois — voters elected Governors who openly campaigned on a platform that included legalizing adult marijuana use. In two other states — California and Colorado — voters elected Governors who have a long-history of spearheading legalization reform efforts. And in Maine and in New Mexico, two of the nation’s most rabid marijuana prohibitionists, Paul LePage and Susana Martinez, have been replaced by Governors who are open to enacting common-sense cannabis reforms. For a complete run-down of gubernatorial races impacting marijuana policy, please visit the NORML blog here.

    LOCAL BALLOT VICTORIES

    Voters in Ohio and Wisconsin approved a series of binding and non-binding local marijuana reform initiatives on Election Day.

    In Ohio, voters in five cities — including Dayton (population 140,000) — approved municipal ordinances seeking to either eliminate or significantly reduce local fines and penalties associated with marijuana-related offenses. Voters approved similar measures in the communities of Fremont (population 16,000), Norwood (population 20,000), Oregon (population 20,000), and Windham (population, 2,200). And in Wisconsin, voters in sixteen separate counties — including Milwaukee County — approved non-binding ballot questions expressing support for the legalization of cannabis for either medical purposes or for adult use.

  • by David Crosby, NORML Advisory Board October 18, 2018

    David Crosby

    Hello. My name is David Crosby. You might know me as a founding member of rock legends The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. But today I’m wearing a very different hat. Today, I am writing to you to personally introduce myself as the newest member of NORML’s Advisory Board.

    Why have I decided to become involved with NORML? It’s simple. I’d like cannabis to be legal everywhere, and I – like the good folks at NORML – feel a responsibility to stick up for those people who have been punished as a result of this oppressive and senseless policy. That is why I’m partnering with NORML to lend my name and talents to help end this multi-decade failure that is marijuana prohibition.

    TOGETHER, WE CAN END FEDERAL PROHIBITION. JOIN US.

    Let’s face it. I, like all of you, believe that people should not be arrested or go to jail for the responsible use of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol, tobacco, or most prescription drugs. And I’ve looked at the success of states like Colorado and Oregon that have elected to move in a different direction. That is why I’m proud to become a part of America’s oldest and most well-recognized marijuana law reform organization, and that’s why I’ve joined NORML’s Advisory Board to help bring these sensible policies to the entire country.

    I know that many of you have been involved with NORML for many years, and for that I’m grateful. It is because of people like you that NORML has been able to move popular opinion and change laws. So today, let me say ‘thank you’ for your time and efforts, and I’m looking forward to joining you and NORML in the fight to end marijuana prohibition in America once and for all.

    WILL YOU JOIN ME IN STANDING WITH NORML IN THE FIGHT FOR NATIONWIDE LEGALIZATION BY DONATING TODAY?

  • by NORML October 15, 2018

    Legislation permitting the possession, use, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis takes effect this Wednesday, October 17.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri is hailing the policy change. “We applaud Canada for showing legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy,” he said. “America’s leaders would be wise to learn from our neighbors, and similarly replace our archaic and failed marijuana prohibition laws with a regulatory scheme that is largely evidence-based and that reflects cannabis rapidly changing cultural status.”

    Canada is only the second country in the world to explicitly legalize cannabis production and sales nationwide.

    The Act, Bill C-45, permits those age 18 and older to legally possess (up to 30 grams) and grow cannabis (up to four plants of any size per household). Individual provinces possess the authority to enact additional regulations with respect to distribution, such as raising the legal age limit to purchase cannabis or by restricting home grow operations.

    The Act also federally licenses commercial producers of cannabis and certain cannabis-infused products, while permitting provinces to regulate retail sales in public (government operated) and private stores, subject to local rules. Online cannabis sales will also be permitted in certain provinces.

    While fewer than 200 total retailers are anticipated to be operational on day one of the new law, additional facilities are anticipated to be operational in the near future. Cannabis-infused edible products are anticipated to be regulated and available at retail stores early next summer. The new social use regulations do not amend Canada’s existing medical marijuana access laws, which have been in place since 2001.

    The enactment of the new law fulfills a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised shortly after taking office to legalize and regulate the marijuana market. Prime Minister Trudeau, who formerly opposed legalization, cites a 2012 meeting with NORML members as the impetus for changing his position on the issue.

    In anticipation of the law change, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency published a memorandum in September affirming that those Canadians either involved or invested in the legal cannabis industry may be barred admission into the United States. The agency later updated their policy directive on October 9, 2018, acknowledging: “A Canadian citizen working in … the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the US for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

    NORML criticized the agency for its stance. NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Those thousands of Canadians participating in the legal cannabis industry pose no threat to the US and should not face discrimination or additional scrutiny,” he said. “At a time when public opinion and the culture surrounding marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the United States but around the world, it is inane for US border officials to maintain such a backward-looking policy.”

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director October 11, 2018

    Can you believe that we are less than four weeks away from Election Day? This year, the stakes have never been higher.

    North Dakotans on November 6th have the unique opportunity to end the state’s failed experiment with marijuana prohibition and to cease arresting adults for marijuana-related offenses. By voting “yes’ on Measure 3, you will be voting to end the needless discrimination of our fellow citizens for their use of a plant that is objectively less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

    Today, North Dakota ranks near the top of all US states in annual marijuana arrests per capita. Each of these arrests represent police hours and resources that are not being allocated toward more serious criminal activity, such as targeting violent criminals. And vote for Measure 3 is a vote to end wasteful spending, to reprioritize our limited resources, and to defend individual liberty.

    LEGALIZE ND LAUNCHED A NEW WEB AD, “MAKE HISTORY” – WATCH IT HERE:

    The Proof Is In the Pudding

    Data from other marijuana legalization states shows that ending marijuana prohibition significantly impacts the opioid crisis. Numerous studies find that opioid-related abuses, hospitalizations, and deaths decrease significantly following cannabis legalization. This is good news for North Dakotans. In 2016, more than three times as many North Dakotans died from opioid overdoses than from homicides. Passage of Measure 3 can reverse this trend.

    Measure 3 Helps Patients Too

    Although North Dakotans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a state-regulated medical marijuana access program in 2016, lawmakers have done their best to restrict and delay its implementation. For example, did you know that, as amended, it would difficult to impossible for individuals suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or depression to obtain legal access to medical cannabis? This is particularly important to our honored military veterans. A recent poll from the American Legion revealed that an estimated one in four veterans currently utilize marijuana to treat a mental or physical ailment. Locked out of the medical program, we are forcing those who put their lives on the line for this country to become criminals for simply choosing a safe and effective treatment. Measure 3 will protect our veterans, and tens of thousands of others. Thirty days after its passage, no adult will be arrested again in North Dakota for possessing or using marijuana — period.

    Moving Us Forward

    Winning in North Dakota will have profound implications for the fight for sensible marijuana laws nationwide. When this measure is approved, North Dakota will become the tenth state to end the arrest of adults for marijuana possession. Think of the message this will send to politicians and voters throughout the nation — those who say “North Dakota is too conservative,” “North Dakota will never end prohibition,” “North Dakota is too ‘red.’” With your support, we can show them North Dakota isn’t too “red” (or even “blue”). Rather, North Dakota is a “green” state that is fed up with failed marijuana policies and is ready to take a new approach that favors legalization over prohibition and incarceration.

    I’m going to level with you, this will be a close and difficult fight. Our opponents have more money than we do and they have more resources than we do. Thankfully, we have something they don’t: YOU. When ordinary Americans come together and fight back against unjust laws, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

     

    IF YOU LIVE IN NORTH DAKOTA, I’m asking you to take 5 minutes out of your day to get us another step towards that victory.

    Make a plan to vote: Do you know where your polling place is? Do you need an absentee ballot? Want to vote early? You can learn everything you need to know HERE. (Don’t forget, North Dakotans do NOT need to register to vote. Just show up at your designated polling place on Election Day with a valid North Dakota ID that has your current address on it and you are good to go.)

    Commit to vote: LegalizeND has a great “commit to vote” tool. This tool helps the campaign keep supporters informed on the latest efforts and allows them to provide voters with important information and reminders about the upcoming election. It takes seconds to sign. Please, do so if you have not already and, if you have, SHARE on your social media channels and encourage your friends and family to join you. Click HERE to commit to vote for Measure 3.

    Donate to the campaign: All campaigns need resources and if you are able to, please contribute what you can afford to the campaign today. They will need all the help they can get in the lead up to the vote to educate and contact voters. Can you spare $5, $20, $50 for ending North Dakota’s prohibition? Click HERE to donate.

    Volunteer: The campaign also needs a grassroots army of volunteers. Can you spare an evening or weekend knocking on doors, making phone calls, or providing assistance with other campaign needs? Click HERE to sign up as a Measure 3 volunteer. There is also a easy to use volunteer kit with all the tools you’ll need to help advocate for Measure 3 available HERE.

    NORML is doubling down on our efforts in support of Measure 3. Will you? We need your help these final weeks in order to assure victory this November. Together, we will win.

    Stay tuned to the NORML blog for our Election 2018 Coverage over the next few weeks, we will take an in-depth look at all the marijuana related initiatives on the ballot across the country.

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