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  • 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 Danielle Keane, NORML Associate June 28, 2016

    Representatives within the Democratic National Committee have approved provisions specific to marijuana law reform as part of the party’s 2016 platform.

    A 15-person decision-making panel unanimously voted to adopt the following language:

    “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 to be done 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.”

    thumbs_upSeparate, more specific language was proposed by Bernie Sanders-appointed members of the panel however it did not garner enough support.

    Though the language falls well short of calling for an end to federal cannabis prohibition, it nonetheless marks a stark contrast between the two major political parties.

    Last week, Republican leaders in Congress quashed a number of proposed marijuana law reforms. Specifically, provisions previously voted on by Congress to expand medical cannabis access to eligible military veterans were removed by leadership during the conference committee process and earlier there was a decision to deny members the opportunity to vote on a Democrat-sponsored amendment that sought to permit banks and other financial institutions to engage in relationships with state-compliant marijuana businesses.

    With many Congressional Republicans actively discouraging marijuana related reforms at the federal level, it’s motivating to see Democrats pro-actively finding ways to include the need for cannabis policy reform in the party’s national conversation.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 21, 2012

    Not to be outdone by the Democrats, whose state parties in Washington, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas, and Iowa have all recently adopted pro-reform policies in their platforms, the Montana Republican Party has endorsed medical marijuana at their state convention held on June 16th. The official language from their 2012 platform is as follows:

    Medical Use of Marijuana

    We recognize that a significant problem exists with Montana’s current laws regarding the medical use of marijuana and we support action by the next legislature to create a workable and realistic regulatory structure.

    Source: Montana Republican Party 2012 Platform

    This endorsement should be taken with a grain of salt, considering it was the Montana Republicans who had previously attempted to veto Montana’s medical program entirely and, when that was not politically feasible, passed SB 423 which greatly restricts the number of patients who may qualify to use medical cannabis legally under state’s voter-approved law.

    The Republicans’ endorsement comes just over a week after the Montana Democratic Party adopted a similar resolution. At their convention, held from June 8th-9th, the Democrats also publicly voiced support for medical marijuana in their platform:

    Medical Marijuana

    WHEREAS, the voters of Montana approved by initiative the compassionate use of medical marijuana

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports the right of qualified patients, with a medical condition where marijuana is appropriate, to have safe access to medical marijuana.

    Source: Montana Democratic Party 2012 Platform

    This provides a rare instance where both the political right and left seem to agree on a single issue.

    Hopefully this political support turns into success at the ballot box. Montana residents will be casting their vote this November to decide whether or not to strike down SB 423, a measure passed in 2011 through the legislature that essentially gutted the 2004 voter approved medical marijuana measure already in place. You can read more about the upcoming referendum vote here.

    If you wish to learn more about the fight over medical marijuana in Montana, NORML highly recommends watching the documentary “Code of the West” as it does a fantastic job of explaining and detailing the ups and downs in the battle to save the state’s medical cannabis program.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 18, 2012

    From Thursday, June 7th through Saturday, June 9th, the Texas Democratic Party held their state convention in Houston, Texas. Along side other election related business such as selecting delegates, they also voted on their party platform for 2012. One of the issues added this year was support for marijuana decriminalization. Below you can read the official language:

    Decriminalization of Marijuana

    This decriminalization of marijuana does not mean we endorse the use of marijuana but it is only a call to wiser use of law enforcement and public health policy. Prohibition of marijuana abdicates the control of marijuana production and distribution to drug cartels and street gangs. Such prohibition promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.

    Every year, hundreds and thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana possession violations- far more than all those arrested for violent crimes in America. Societal costs dealing with the war on drugs concerning marijuana exceeds 12 billion dollars annually. Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only.

    Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.

    There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.

    Texas Democrats urge the President, the Attorney General and the Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate its use, production and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol.

    We further urge the immediate decriminalization of the possession and use of medical marijuana.

    Source: Texas Democratic Party 2012 Platform

    The Texas Democrats now join the growing list of state political parties throwing their support behind marijuana law reform. Earlier this year, the Colorado Democratic Party added marijuana legalization as a plank to their party’s platform and announced support for their state’s legalization ballot initiative, Amendment 64. 56% of Denver Country Republican Assembly also voted in favor of supporting this initiative. The state democratic party in Washington endorsed their legalization initiative, I-502, in late 2011.

    While the federal government may continue to ignore the will of the people on the marijuana issue, it is comforting to see state level politicians supporting the interests and desires of their constituencies. Considering that pro-reform candidates are winning elections in multiple states, respected party members such as Governor Cuomo (D-NY) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) are endorsing decriminalization, and the continuous flow of marijuana law reform being approved at the state level, one has to wonder just how much longer the federal government and current presidential contenders can ignore the giant green elephant in the room.