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  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director November 1, 2018

    NORML Recommends:
    YES on Amendment 2
    NO on Amendment 3
    NO on Proposition C

    Voters this November have the opportunity to make Missouri the 32nd state to allow for the physician-recommended use of marijuana, and based on the latest polling data, they will likely do so.

    Therefore, the important question before voters is no longer if the Show-Me State should legalize medical cannabis access, but how Missouri will do so.

    That is because not one, not two, but three medical marijuana measures (two constitutional amendments and one statutory measure) will appear on the ballot on Election Day. But not all of these measures are created equal, and it will be up to voters to decide which one of these three is ultimately in the best interest of Missouri’s patients.

    On Election Day, NORML urges voters to stand with New Approach Missouri and vote “yes” for Amendment 2. Quite simply, Amendment 2 — unlike its competitors — puts the interests of patients first.

    Amendment 2 will let doctors — not legislators or bureaucrats — decide if marijuana is the appropriate option for their patients. Every day, we entrust physicians to use their discretion with regard to assisting their patients in making the right decisions. Amendment 2 upholds the sanctity of the patient-doctor relationship and leaves these important medical treatment decisions up to those who know best: Missouri’s practicing physicians.

    While a competing effort, Amendment 3, proposes the highest tax rate in the nation for medical cannabis products sold at retail (15%), Amendment 2 would set one of the lowest. The revenue raised by the retail sale of medical cannabis will go directly to the Missourian Veterans’ Health and Care Fund and will be used to help provide those in the state who put their lives on the line with necessary health services.

    While much has been written about the obvious flaws of the competing constitutional amendment, Amendment 3, these criticisms are worth repeating. While Amendment 2 is supported by a diverse coalition of patient advocates, Amendment 3 was funded entirely by one person, who drafted his amendment for his own personal benefit. It also puts this same funder largely in charge of overseeing the state’s medical marijuana program. This is hardly in the best interest of Missouri patients.

    Amendment 2, on the other hand, places the program’s oversight in the hands of the Missouri Department of Health. It also creates a robust statewide system for production and distribution of medical cannabis, with strict deadlines in place to ensure that qualified patients do not have to unduly wait for dispensaries to become operational.

    Finally, and most importantly, Amendment 2 is a constitutional amendment, which makes it more resilient to legislative tampering and intervention. By contrast, lawmakers can choose to amend Proposition C largely at their discretion, regardless of what voters decide.

    If you read each of these proposals closely, one clear choice emerges. Amendment 2 creates a broad and patient-centric program that is designed to be implemented in a timely manner and withstand any legislative challenges along the way. The other two can’t say the same. Not all ballot measures are created equal and that is why we encourage all voters to support the superior one this Election Day. Vote YES on Amendment 2. Vote No on Amendment 3 and Prop C.

  • by NORML October 22, 2018

    This November, Measure 3 will be on the ballot in North Dakota to prohibit the prosecution of any person over the age of 21 for any nonviolent, marijuana-related activity and seal the records of adults with past nonviolent marijuana charges. The measure also would add penalties for individuals under the age of twenty-one in possession of, or attempting to distribute, marijuana; and provide penalties for individuals who distribute marijuana to anyone under the age of twenty-one.

    The most recent poll finds voters in support of passage, 51-36 percent.

    This poll distinguishes itself from earlier polling by questioning respondents using the language found on the Nov. 6 ballot. The poll was conducted by the Kitchens Group from Oct 11 through Oct 14, and cites a 4.9% margin of error.

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated:

    “Despite a big-money funded misinformation campaign from the opposition, this poll reveals that most North Dakotans are ready to end the failed prohibition of marijuana in the state.  By voting ‘Yes’ on Measure 3, North Dakotans could save the state millions of taxpayer dollars currently being spent on arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for possession of a plant that is objectively less harmful than legal alcohol and tobacco, allow law enforcement to allocate their limited resources to focus on violent crime, and defend individual freedom. A majority of residents already support this sensible move and we expect more undecided voters will choose to join them on Election Day.”

    Commenting on the poll’s findings, Legalize ND campaign advisor Cole Haymond said:

    “The message of ending marijuana arrests is resounding in North Dakota, and these results demonstrate that voters are hearing our call for action. This is a dogfight, and LegalizeND will continue to set the record straight when it comes to adult-use Marijuana. The people of North Dakota believe in personal freedom and criminal justice reform. Marijuana prohibition has hurt this state and our nation as a whole, and North Dakotans believe it’s time to end that failed practice in the state once and for all.”

    If Measure 3 is approved, North Dakota would join the nine states plus the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands who have legalized marijuana for personal use. Legalize ND argues the measure would have a strong positive impact across the state, highlighting potential benefits to law enforcement, the state agricultural industry, and the funding of education and infrastructure through tax revenue.

    States that have legalized marijuana have seen significant reductions in opioid abuse and overdose fatalities, and Legalize ND is optimistic that legalization could have a similar impact in North Dakota.

    Legalize ND is quick to point out that driving under the influence and distribution to minors will remain illegal and strengthened if Measure 3 is approved, and that current laws regarding smoking in public will apply to marijuana as well.

    If approved by voters on November 6, the provisions of Measure 3 related to ending criminal penalties for marijuana would go into effect 30 days after the measure’s approval. Within 60 days of approval, the state must seal the records of individuals with previous non-violent marijuana charges.

    YOU CAN HELP US WIN! CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE LEGALIZE ND CAMPAIGN TODAY!

  • 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.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director September 26, 2018

    Last week, I did something that I had never done before: I traveled to North Dakota.

    This summer, the grassroots group LegalizeND successfully collected enough petition signatures to place a statewide marijuana legalization initiative (Measure 3) on this November’s general election. If enacted in November, North Dakota would become the tenth state — and by far the most politically conservative one — to legalize the adult use of marijuana in the United States.

    And as if I need to tell you, that would be a game-changer in our country.

    Measure 3 has a sort of beauty in its simplicity. Thirty days after passage, it removes the criminal and civil penalties for adults over the age of 21 to possess, privately consume, and privately cultivate personal possession of marijuana. Unlike initiatives in other states, that often possessed robust and sometimes overly-complicated and exclusionary regulatory schemes for the licensing of commercial marijuana market, Measure 3 focuses on the individual consumer — not commercial businesses. In short, it halts new arrests and expunges past convictions. It’s that simple.

    If lawmakers in the future wish to enact specific regulations licensing and taxing the marijuana market, that decision will be up to them.

    But can Measure 3 win this November? I went to North Dakota to see for myself.

    The fundamentals are strong. In 2016, voters passed a medical cannabis regulatory program with 64% of the vote. But then the legislature gutted the law, rewrote the rules, and ultimately ignored the patients who still today bear the black mark of being criminals in the eyes of the state. And voters in North Dakota are, to say the least, very upset.

    This bodes well in the event of Measure 3’s passage, as pressure would ramp up on the lawmakers to swiftly implement a pro-consumer set of rules to compensate for the new legal status of cannabis.

    According to the polling by the campaign earlier this year, a plurality of voters favor the measure. In my time in North Dakota, I spoke with numerous supporters — going to door-to-door with campaign volunteers — and appeared on several media outlets to discuss the initiative. As we like to say at NORML, “The more we’re talking about ending prohibition, the more we’re winning.”

    Here is just some of the media hits that NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri and I participated in while supporting our friends at LegalizeND and their quest to end criminalization in North Dakota.

    National marijuana reform leaders visit ND to offer support: 

    The message to North Dakotans from one of the nation’s most well-known marijuana reform organizations is fairly simple as voters consider a ballot measure to approve recreational marijuana this fall: They want to protect the personal freedom of responsible adults to smoke it without a negative effect on public safety.

    The executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Erik Altieri, and federal political director, Justin Strekal, were in the state for a three-day visit starting Friday, Sept. 21, to discuss the issue through the media, hold a fundraiser, train volunteers supporting the measure and to “support our friends.”

     Read more: Grand Folks Herald, Bismarck Tribune, Inforum, Jamestown Sun, Dickinson Press

     

    Washington D.C. advocacy group in North Dakota in support of recreational marijuana: 

    A Washington DC advocacy group has arrived in North Dakota to support the Measure 3 campaign.

    Measure 3 would legalize marijuana for adult use and cultivation. Erik Altieri is executive director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He says NORML has a 50 year history and they’ve worked in several states that have already legalized marijuana for recreational use. Altieri says North Dakota is 5th in the nation for per capita incarcerations related to marijuana, and this measure would help keep otherwise law abiding citizens out of jail. He says much like campaigns they’ve worked on in other states, here they will educating the public about recreational marijuana.

    Political director Justin Strekal says the legislation would be beneficial to veterans. He says 22 percent of veterans report using cannabis to treat ailments, but if they do it in North Dakota they are considered to be criminals.

    Read more: Prairie Public (NPR)

     

    Washington nonprofit pushes for legal recreational marijuana in North Dakota: 

    Supporters of legal recreational marijuana in North Dakota are getting backers from Washington.

    The director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is asking North Dakota voters to say yes to Measure 3 this November.

    Read/Watch: WDAY

     

    Volunteers Advocate for “Yes” Vote on Measure 3, Which Would Legalize Marijuana:

    When you head to the polls, you’ll see something on the ballot called Measure 3. It will legalize marijuana in the state of North Dakota, and advocates say that would help many families.

    Read/Watch: KVRR-TV

     

    NORML and Measure 3 in ND:

    Source: POVnow CBS-KX4 / West Dakota FOX

     

    GET INVOLVED: You can follow LegalizeND on Facebook, visit their website at http://legalizend.com/ and click here to support their work.

  • by NORML September 11, 2018

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has announced their most recent slate of bi-partisan reelection endorsements for incumbent members of the United States House of Representatives.

    “There was more momentum behind federal marijuana law reform in 2018 than in any previous year, and that is in no small part due to some of our longstanding, outspoken allies in Congress,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “In order to finally cross the finish line and end our failed federal prohibition on marijuana, it is important that we not just vote out reefer mad prohibitionists, but we need to support and ensure our key allies remain in office. Their seniority and passion for the issue makes them true leaders in taking our country in a new and sensible direction on marijuana policy and with their help we will finally resolve the tensions between state and federal laws regarding marijuana. We encourage voters in their districts to support them in November and ensure they serve in Washington another two years to help us finish the fight.”

    The newly announced endorsements are listed below.

    Republican Endorsements: Rep. David Joyce (R-OH14), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI3), Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA2) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3).

    Democratic Endorsements: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI2), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA17), and Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA2).

    Of the lead sponsors of NORML’s priority legislation, NORML PAC Director Erik Altieri released the following statements:

    On the Marijuana Justice Act, HR 4815 introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee…

    “We are exceptionally pleased to endorse Representative Barbara Lee, the lead sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would not only end federal marijuana prohibition, but also penalize states that maintain the unjust and disproportionate targeting of minority communities as a result of state-level criminalization,”

    “Rep. Lee has been a long time champion of reform. She has been instrumental to the recent explosion of support at the federal level and is a tremendous advocate for her constituents.”

    On the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, HR 1227 introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard…

    “We are happy to endorse Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the lead sponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would end the failed national policy of cannabis prohibition.”

    “Rep. Gabbard is never afraid to speak truth to power and has been one of the most sensible voices in the Congress on improving public policy.”

    On the States Act, HR 6043 introduced by Rep. David Joyce…

    “We are pleased to endorse Representative David Joyce, the lead Republican sponsor of the States Act, which would create an exemption in the Controlled Substances Act to end the threat of federal interference with state-legal marijuana programs.”

    “Rep. Joyce has quickly become the leading Republican in the House of Representatives to address the federal-state policy tensions and has served as a sensible advocate for his constituents.”

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