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marijuana law reform

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate July 14, 2016

    thumbs_upOver the weekend the Democratic National Committee voted to endorse a “reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana and called on the federal government to downgrade marijuana from it’s current Schedule 1 of the United States Controlled Substances Act.

    In an 81-80 vote, the following language was added as part of the Democratic party’s official 2016 platform:

    “Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”

    Previously, a 15-person panel of the Democratic National Committee voted to include the following language which will also be included in the party platform:

    “We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites, despite similar usage rates.”

    While the language that was originally approved by the panel sufficiently addressed marijuana law reform as a party priority, the additional amendment which nods towards future legalization, bodes well with advocates all around. This is surely a large step in the right direction by one of our country’s main political parties.

    As the Democrats worked to finalize what faction of marijuana law reform they would like to endorse, the Republicans had a different debate on the subject.

    On Monday, the Republican party voted not to endorse medical marijuana in their 2016 platform. And throughout the debate some of oldest marijuana myths were spouted as fact. Delegates contested that marijuana is linked to mental health issues, that mass murderers are all smoking pot, and that the heroin epidemic is a result of teenagers smoking weed. While there were some pro-medical marijuana delegates present and who attempted to push back at the theories, it was not enough to result in a medical marijuana endorsement by the party.

    The Republican party missed their opportunity to endorse any language related to marijuana law reform which could have ranged from medical marijuana to simply endorsing the conservative principle of limited government, allowing states to move forward with their reforms free from federal interference.

    It’s a wonder how one political party has come so far in acknowledging scientific fact and public opinion, which puts voter approval for medical marijuana at 78 percent and voter approval for adult marijuana use at 61 percent, while another political party seems so far from that same point.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 2, 2015

    US_capitolEveryday NORML affiliates and chapters around the country pour countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels.

    State and Local

    Without a citizen initiative process, Virginia NORML is forced to rely on their state legislature to change state law; therefore, volunteers have been working hard over the past few months to unseat Virginia’s most anti-marijuana politician this November!
    Action Alert: Help Virginia NORML Oust A Marijuana Prohibitionist

    Days before the 2015 General Election, marijuana advocates In North Carolina held a rally to remind candidates that marijuana is, and will continue to be an important issue for voters. The group is also asking law enforcement agencies to make marijuana arrests their lowest priority.
    Charlotte NORML Supports Marijuana Reform

    Sharon Ravert, executive director of Peachtree NORML shared her thoughts about law enforcement getting involved in health-related matters such as medical marijuana.
    Commission Hears Sheriff’s Objections to Medical Cannabis in Georgia

    Wyoming NORML remains determined after Campbell County representatives announced their opposition of an effort to put medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016.
    County Commissioners Back Anti-Pot Campaign

    Close to 1,000 marijuana advocates took to the streets of Texas to educate community leaders about the need for a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill for suffering Texans!
    Hundreds Join ‘Marijuana March’ in Dallas

    Now that Mr. Mizanskey has been released from prison, he has found his calling as the Show Me State’s most vocal opponent against the federal government’s War on Drugs and the negative impact it has had on American families.
    Jeff Mizanskey Spent Over a Third of His Life in Prison

    Josh Chittum, executive director of Mid-Missouri NORML continues his work to change local laws regarding marijuana. He’s focused on changing the penalties associated with the cultivation of marijuana in Columbia, Missouri from 15 years in jail to a municipal fine.
    Local Groups Asking for Signatures on Marijuana Legislation

    Northwest Ohio NORML recently endorsed Mike Ferner for Toledo Mayor citing his support for a voter-approved ordinance that aimed to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana crimes.
    Northwest Ohio NORML endorses Ferner for Toledo mayor

    Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML shares his thoughts on Operation Golden Flow, a drug test aimed at finding heroin users among returning Vietnam veterans and the profits that help fuel the failed War on Drugs.
    Operation Golden Flow: America’s Urine is Liquid Gold for Drug War Profiteers

    Pittsburgh NORML recently avoided a long court battle with the NFL over a dispute related to the pro-marijuana group’s popular logo and one used by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    Pittsburgh Steelers Threaten NORML Chapter

    Members of Virginia NORML met to discuss their strategy to expand on HB 1445, a severely limited medical marijuana bill that was passed by the state legislature earlier this year.
    Proponents of Legalized Pot Plot Strategy

    With plenty of snowy months ahead, Wyoming NORML remains optimistic as they continue their work to gather roughly 25,000 signatures to put medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.
    Signatures Still Needed to Get Medical Marijuana Up for Wyoming Vote

    Pamela Novy, executive director of Virginia NORML recently met with community leaders to discuss an effort to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Roanoke, Virginia.
    VA NORML Works With Local Lawmakers on Decriminalizing Marijuana

    Federal

    Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML pushed back against claims that marijuana is more harmful and dangerous than alcohol by citing a government-funded study that took place between 2012 and 2013.
    Americans’ Marijuana Use Has Doubled in the Past 10 Years, Report Finds

    Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML shared his concerns about major GOP candidates not taking a more definite position on the issue of legalizing marijuana on the federal level.
    Marijuana Industry Advocates Find GOP’s Lack of Pot Talk a Major Bummer

    Events

    Missouri NORML Fall Conference, November 7, St. Louis
    Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, November 11-13, Las Vegas
    High Times Cannabis Cup, November 12-15, Jamaica
    Denver NORML Holiday Potluck & Silent Auction, November 21, Denver
    NORML’s Legal Seminar, December 3-5, Key West

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 3, 2012

    …you provide it!

    I want to relate to NORML supporters my recent call with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, his support for major cannabis law reforms and his wont as a re-elected governor to become a national spokesperson for cannabis law reforms before the Congress and Executive branches.

    Many of us have worked for too many years (decades!) to arrive at this juncture in the Cannabis Prohibition epoch when elected policymakers now contact pro-cannabis law reform organizations proactively for financial help, and to affirm their support for legal reforms.

    Therefore, I strongly suggest it behooves those of us who can make a political donation to a sitting governor that supports legalizing cannabis to do so by a Vermont-imposed August 14 deadline to demonstrate the kind of political-financial support necessary to provide these reform-minded politicians with both the mettle and funding to advance long-needed cannabis law reforms.

    You can donate to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s re-election campaign through either 1) the NORMLPAC by calling in a credit card donation to 202-483-5500 or 2) by sending a check to: NORMLPAC, 1600 K St., NW, Mezzanine, Washington, DC, 20006.

    NORML supporters can donate up to $5,000 annually to the NORMLPAC.

    To comply with current Federal Election Commission rules, $25 of any NORMLPAC donations received by non-members will be separated from your PAC donation and must be applied to an annual NORML membership (because, only NORML members can donate to the NORMLPAC).

    If you’d rather make a direct donation to Shumlin’s campaign, the contact and donation information are found below:

    Shumlin for Governor
    PO Box 5353
    Burlington, VT 05402

    shumlinforgovernor.com

    FYI: The maximum donation from a person or business in Vermont’s election cycles is $2,000.

    Please reference your support for NORML and cannabis law reform when corresponding with his campaign. One can envisage Governor Shumlin informing his fellow governors that he supports cannabis law reforms, sought the support of the cannabis law reform community and received large support and enthusiasm. This will surely encourage some of his fellow (and closeted) governors to both embrace the law reform community and to recognize how popular cannabis law reforms are today among the American people.

    In my recent blog post memorializing Cannabis Prohibition’s unfortunate 75th anniversary I lamented: Do not elect politicians who support Cannabis Prohibition.

    The polar opposite of such is: Support elected politicians who favor ending Cannabis Prohibition.

    We’ve this opportunity in Vermont, and I suspect soon in many more states around the country.

    Again, cannabis law reformers have worked hard and long to arrive at these days where, according to most recent Gallup polling, legalization is more popular than prohibition–let’s help finish this process sooner than later by helping to elect the political allies we need to replace the failed and expensive public policy of Cannabis Prohibition with logical alternatives.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration, financial support and kind regards!

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator March 3, 2010

    Author’s update: the graphics in the post below have been updated to correct some minor mistakes, such as dated information that left out Rhode Island and Maine’s dispensaries and Oregon’s recent acceptance of Alzheimer’s agitation as a qualifying condition. Also, I have outlined Oregon’s attempt at legalization through the OCTA petition as it could be reasonably said to be as far along or farther along than Washington’s I-1068. I regret my errors.

    [caption id="attachment_15808" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Marijuana Law Reform in 2010 (March Update)"]Medipot States 2010 (March)[/caption]

    With New Jersey recently becoming the 14th medical marijuana state, activists in marijuana law reform have been celebrating. After all, over 82 million Americans now live in states where medical use of marijuana is legal – that’s 27% of the US population! Last election, Massachusetts became the 13th decriminalization state, which means over 107 million Americans live in a state where possession of small personal amounts of marijuana no longer merit an arrest – that’s 35% of the US population.

    [caption id="attachment_15809" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Population of States with Medical Marijuana Laws"]Medical Marijuana Stats 1[/caption] [caption id="attachment_15810" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Population of States that have Decriminalized Marijuana"]Medical Marijuana Stats 2[/caption]

    However, after watching fourteen years of marijuana activism focused solely on those who use cannabis for medicine, I must warn activists that medical marijuana is not getting any better and the time for re-legalization of cannabis for all adults – even the healthy ones – is now.
    [caption id="attachment_15811" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Comparison of five core rights found in existing medical marijuana law"][/caption]
    Medical marijuana was a great 20th century strategy to get the sick and dying off the battlefield in the war on drugs. It was the perfect vehicle to enlighten the public, who for so long have been indoctrinated into the reefer madness that classifies cannabis like LSD and heroin. But in the 21st century the idea that marijuana is only a medicine is beginning to take hold and governments and voters are crafting ever-more-restrictive medical marijuana laws. For the vast majority of cannabis consumers this threatens to move us from the category of “illegal drug users” to “possessors of medicine without a prescription” – a step up, perhaps, but still left facing criminal prosecution.

    California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. That initiative, Prop-215, established what is clearly the most liberal medical marijuana statute to date:

    • A doctor can recommend for any condition;
    • You needn’t have a “bona fide” doctor/patient relationship;
    • Dispensaries are allowed;
    • Self cultivation is allowed;
    • Patients are protected from arrest.
    [caption id="attachment_15812" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Comparison of plant and possession limits and qualifying conditions in medical marijuana law"]Medical Marijuana Stats 4[/caption]

    If we consider these five attributes of the law the baseline, then in the past fourteen years, all thirteen medical marijuana states that have followed have failed to achieve all five. Eight states only offer three or four of those liberties and the rest offer two or only one. Most disturbingly, the right of patients to grow their own medicine (or have a caregiver do it for them), which has been a bedrock principle in medical marijuana law, was taken away from patients in the most recent medical marijuana state, New Jersey. Bills that were considered but vetoed in 2009 in Minnesota and New Hampshire, and those moving forward in New York, Pennsylvania, as well as an initiative in Arizona, all sacrifice this core right.

    [caption id="attachment_15820" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="New Jersey - The (No Medical Marijuana) Garden State"]No Garden State[/caption]

    A comparison of plant and possession limits also shows the decline from the original starting point in California, where 12 plants and 8 ounces are allowed. Oregon and Washington passed their laws next and have the highest statutory limits: 24 plants and 24 ounces in Oregon and 15 plants and 24 ounces in Washington. (To be fair, all the West Coast states started with lower limits or more vague limits that were modified by the legislature.) But since then, only one state has allowed more than 3 ounces (New Mexico with 6 ounces) and average number of plants allowed is a little less than ten.

    [caption id="attachment_15813" align="alignleft" width="299" caption="The "Big 8" Conditions for which marijuana is recommended in the states"]Medical Marijuana Stats 5[/caption]

    Another decline in medical marijuana freedom appears when we look at the conditions for which medical marijuana protection is afforded in the various states. There are eight conditions which could be considered the “standard” ones: cancer; HIV/AIDS; seizure disorders, like epilepsy; spastic disorders, like multiple sclerosis; glaucoma; chronic nausea; cachexia; and chronic pain. Most medical marijuana states recognize all eight conditions; a couple (Vermont and Rhode Island) recognize seven of eight.

    [caption id="attachment_15814" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Other conditions recognized in state medical marijuana laws (not a complete list)"]Medical Marijuana Stats 6[/caption]

    The latest law in New Jersey, however, eliminated chronic pain, chronic nausea, and cachexia, making it the most restrictive list in the nation. The bill proposed but vetoed in New Hampshire required one to try all other remedies for chronic pain before trying medical marijuana. The vetoed Minnesota bill wouldn’t even allow cancer and HIV/AIDS patients to use medical marijuana unless they could show they were terminal (about to die). The lists in the latest proposed bills continue to become more restricted.

    Until we do have legalization for all, every medical marijuana law is going to fail to adequately serve all medical users and subject them to increasing restriction and scrutiny. Additionally, medical marijuana laws make patients an attractive target for criminals because prohibition maintains huge profits for stolen medical cannabis, as well as becoming targets for overzealous anti-marijuana cops and prosecutors.

    (more…)