• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 11, 2008

    The website of President-Elect Barack Obama, www.change.gov, has added a new feature that allows visitors to submit and vote on specific public policy questions. Not surprisingly, over 130 separate questions have already been added to the site demanding the incoming administration to reform America’s failed marijuana laws.

    Of these, one of the most widely voted on questions for Obama is: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

    So far, votes are running more than 2 to 1 in support of legalizing marijuana. Pete Guither over at drugwarrant (Thanks for the tip!) reports that the question ranks in the top 30 of all questions submitted to the Obama website.

    If you haven’t done so already, considering logging on to the website at:


    Type “marijuana” in the search questions box and tell the incoming administration to enact sensible marijuana law reform, including: ending the federal raids on state-authorized medical marijuana patients, and taxing and regulating the personal use of marijuana by adults.

    Please note: Change.gov is not affiliated with the website Change.org, which is also accepting votes whether the new administration should “legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.” (Be patient; page is slow to download.) As I noted yesterday on NORML’s blog, cannabis legalization is the is the top vote-getter of all criminal justice related questions on the site, which intends to present the top 10 ideas to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day.

    As the old saying goes, “Things are starting to get very interesting…”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 20, 2008

    It has always struck me as a ironic that under our current drug prohibition policies, cannabis is legally defined as a “controlled” substance. By what definition? Right now, there are tens of millions of Americans of all ages purchasing unknown quantities of marijuana of variable quality from millions of unknown, unregulated dealers.

    As for the absurdly titled Office of National Drug Control Policy, what on Earth do they think they’re controlling? Certainly not the domestic production of pot, which has increased ten-fold in the past 25 years from 1,000 metric tons (2.2 million pounds) to 10,000 metric tons (22 million pounds). Not the importation of pot, a mere 10 percent of which is likely interdicted by law enforcement annually. And most certainly not the use of pot, which has been tried by almost 100 million Americans — many of whom, according to the Drug Czar’s own rhetoric, are supposedly starting at younger and younger ages.

    It’s drug law reformers — not prohibitionists — that wish to bring regulation and control to what is now an unregulated, illicit black market commodity. It is NORML, not the Drug Czar, that has testified in favor of taxing and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol — with the drug’s sale and use restricted to specific markets and consumers.

    While such an alternative may not entirely eliminate the black market demand for pot, it would certainly be preferable to today’s blanket, though thoroughly ineffective, expensive and impotent criminal prohibition.

    Advocacy group seeks pot regulation, education
    via CBS News

    (UWIRE.com) The response of marijuana advocacy groups concerning the steady increase of the drug’s potency has revealed an underground debate over whether marijuana is a harmful narcotic or a recreational drug, and the groups involved vary from the U.S. federal government and local law enforcement organizations to college students and scientists.

    Founded in 1970, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana smokers, the NORML Web site said.

    NORML claims to represent the interests of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly, the Web site said.

    “Even by the University of Mississippi’s own admission, the average THC in domestically grown marijuana — which comprises the bulk of the US market — is less than five percent, a figure that’s remained unchanged for nearly a decade,” NORML deputy director Paul Armentano wrote in a letter sent to the editorial staff in the Tuesday issue of The Daily Mississippian.

    The deputy director did not address the alleged connection between mental illness and marijuana use in his letter, but did later in a phone interview.”Nobody really knows the answer,” Armentano said. “We know those who suffer from depression and anxiety sometimes abuse substances like alcohol and cigarettes.”

    Armentano said although he has not seen any research directly linking marijuana use and mental illness, he would not advise those with mental illness or a family history of mental illness to use marijuana.

    “Use of any intoxicant has a risk,” Armentano said.

    NORML supports regulation and education, he said.

    A “targeted education campaign” similar to that of the recent alcohol campaigns would allow the general public to be educated about marijuana and its effects; regulation would ensure the product being sold was taxed and safe for the public to consume, he said.

    The argument for regulation is that the government currently has no control over the drug market, Armentano said.Regulation could end the “anarchy” that exists within the system, he said.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 26, 2008

    My recent essay, “Making Pot Legal; We Can Do It — Here’s How,” yielded a broad spectrum of opinions and comments. One of the most thoughtful and articulate of these comes from Peter Guither, editor of the Drug War Rant. (more…)

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 15, 2008

    The problem: Fewer than one-half of the American public support legalizing and regulating cannabis like alcohol.

    The solution: click here

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