• by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate October 30, 2015

    Election day is around the corner but some legislators aren’t waiting for that to work towards reforming their marijuana laws. Keep reading to find out what happened this week in marijuana law reform.

    To support the measures below, please use our #TakeAction Center to contact your state and federal elected officials! A full list and summary of pending state and federal legislation is available here. Summaries of the dozens of marijuana law reform bills approved this year is also available here.

    Federal Bill Highlights:letter_writing_campaign

    NORML is currently in the midst of a week long Congressional Letter Writing Campaign Contest! To enter, contact at least two of your three representatives using NORML’s #TakeAction Center by clicking one of the five bills listed below. You can also use of our templates that can be found here. Then take a picture of your letter and post it to your Facebook or Twitter page using the #ActNORML hashtag so we know you’re participating in the campaign! Once the campaign comes to an end at 7PM MST on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, a random winner will be selected from Facebook and Twitter.

    We’re excited to announce that we have partnered with High Times to offer a pair of Cannabis Cup tickets to two lucky winners who participate in our campaign!

    CARERS Act: The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, is pending in the US Senate to strengthen statewide medical marijuana protections and impose various changes to federal law.

    Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act: This act removes cannabis from the United States Controlled Substances Act. It also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matter concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.

    Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act: The DEA program distributes funds to state and local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of locating and destroying marijuana cultivation sites. HR 3518 reads, “[B]eginning in fiscal year 2015, and for each fiscal year thereafter, no amounts in the Fund may be used for the Domestic Cannabis Suppression/Eradication Program of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or any substantially similar program.”

    Fair Access to Education Act: Presently, the Higher Education Act prohibits those convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana possession crime while enrolled in secondary education from being eligible to receive financial aid. This ignores the fact that using and possessing marijuana is legal in at least four states and the District of Columbia. This bill would “exclude marijuana-related offenses from the drug-related offenses that result in students being barred from receiving Federal educational loans, grants, and work assistance, and for other purposes.”

    State Marijuana and Regulatory Tolerance Enforcement Act: Under this proposal, the US federal Controlled Substances Act would be inapplicable with respect to states that have legalized and regulated marijuana in a manner that addresses key federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, violence or use of firearms in cultivation and distribution of marijuana, and drugged driving.

    State Legislative Highlights:

    Illinois: The Illinois General Assembly did not take action following Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of House Bill 218. The bill is dead for the 2015 session, though reformers are hopeful that similar legislation will soon be pre-filed for 2016.

    As originally approved by the legislature, HB 218 reduced penalties for the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana to a civil violation punishable by a fine of $125. The measure also sought to amend the state’s zero tolerance law for those who operate a motor vehicle with trace levels of marijuana metabolites in their system.

    takeactionbanPennsylvania: Members of the Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee have unanimously passed SB 50 to make industrial hemp a legal cash crop in the state of Pennsylvania. This bill is the companion legislation to HB 967, which members of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee unanimously passed a few weeks earlier. Both bills will now be voted on by the full House and Senate.

    Additional information for these and other pending legislative measures may be found at our #TakeAction Center!

    ** A note to first time readers: NORML can not introduce legislation in your state. Nor can any other non-profit advocacy organization. Only your state representatives, or in some cases an individual constituent (by way of their representative; this is known as introducing legislation ‘by request’) can do so. NORML can — and does — work closely with like-minded politicians and citizens to reform marijuana laws, and lobbies on behalf of these efforts. But ultimately the most effective way — and the only way — to successfully achieve statewide marijuana law reform is for local stakeholders and citizens to become involved in the political process and to make the changes they want to see. Get active; get NORML!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director October 13, 2012

    This past Thursday, on the night of the Vice Presidential debates, NORMLtv caught up with Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Governor Gary Johnson, and asked him questions regarding his views on marijuana legalization. In the interview, he discusses what he would do in regards to the war on cannabis if he were elected, why politicians are hesitant to back reform measures, and how he got into the issue while serving as New Mexico’s governor.

    The governor is optimistic with the progress made and sees the issue of marijuana legalization reaching it’s tipping point.

    “We’re on the verge of making legalization happen,” Governor Johnson stated.

    You can view the full interview and read the text transcript below:

    YouTube Preview Image

    Erik Altieri: I’m Erik Altieri, Communications Director for NORML and i’m here with Governor Gary Johnson, libertarian candidate for president.

    Gov. Gary Johnson: Erik, good job and where we’re on the verge of making legalization happen and it’s going to be Colorado.

    EA: What I want to talk about today is, around 1999, you first came out publicly for marijuana legalization, is something you believed for a long time, was there an impetus to make it public?

    GJ: You know I grew up smoking marijuana so that as a preface, what i understood right off the bat was that in no category was marijuana more dangerous than alcohol, that it was a terrific alternative to alcohol. Back in 1971, I, in my wildest dreams did not believe that it would still be illegal, that it would still be criminal, that people would still be going to jail 40 years later. And that’s what we have here.

    So, when I launched into legalizing marijuana, I just wanted to take a really hard look at the war on drugs and I wanted to include legalization as a potential alternative. I had no idea the compelling argument that goes along with legalizing marijuana. So since 1999, it took about a couple weeks, and it wasn’t that it took two weeks, right off the bat I’m finding statistic after statistic after statistic that would suggest legalization was a much better alternative, and of course that had to do with Holland at that time, since then Portugal has added a lot of fuel to that.

    EA: As you know, tonight is the Vice Presidential Debate, they’re probably not going to talk about drug reform. Why do you think that is? And if you have a spot on the stage what would you like the american people to know about marijuana legalization?

    GJ: Well that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition related, not use related. And that is not to discount the problems with use and abuse but that should be our focus.

    So i think we’re at a tipping point on this issue and the reason we’re at a tipping point on this issue is ’cause everybody’s talking about it, finally. The more we talk about these issues the better. Why don’t we extend this to a whole lot of issues we are facing in this country right now like spending and entitlements and the endless wars we find ourselves intervening in.

    EA: What would voters expect to be done on the drug war in the first year or so of a Johnson presidency?

    GJ: Well you’d see…of course if i’m elected who has the wind at their backs and what are the people of the United States shouting at Congress? We want meaningful drug reform and that starts with decriminalizing drugs, it starts with legalizing marijuana.

    EA: Would you be looking to descheduling marijuana?

    GJ: I’m promising to deschedule marijuana as a narcotic. I’m promising to set up a process for pardoning individuals who have been convicted on victimless non-violent drug crime. I’m also promising to set up a system of review for everybody that is currently incarcerated for those same reasons and would commute those sentences.

    EA: As you probably know, legalization polling over fifty percent, and decriminalization in the sixties, medical marijuana in the seventies

    Yet, there are few politicians, other than perhaps yourself, Barney Frank, Ron Paul, come to mind, who are openly embracing marijuana legalization and marijuana law reform.

    Why do you think they’re so hesitant to put their foot in the water, despite this polling data, which politicians usually live or die by?

    GJ: It is the root of all evil, the root of all evil are politicians that want to get elected or reelected and in the name of getting elected or reelected this is the opinion when it comes to marijuana legalization, these are people with their heads in the sand. They’re running for offices, that they’re supposed to be providing leadership, well they’re providing no leadership what-so-ever on this issue, or on any issue for that matter.

    EA: This is Gary Johnson, he’s the former two-term Governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian for president this year. Check him out at www.garyjohnson2012.com and thank you so much for talking to us.

    GJ: And NORML, you rock. You rock.

    Learn about the all the other presidential candidates’ views on marijuana reform, as well as all the ballot initiatives in play in this fall’s election by checking out NORML’s voter guide, Smoke the Vote.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director September 25, 2012

    Today, September 25th, is National Voter Registration Day and never has it been more important to make sure you are registered to vote and are ready to let your voice be heard this election. With three states voting on outright legalization, several voting on medical marijuana measures, many local municipalities voting on decriminalization, and a presidential campaign, this fall will be one for the history books.

    You can utilize NORML’s 2012 Election Guide: Smoke the Vote by clicking here or on the poster image at the bottom of the page. This guide provides you with a variety of tools to prepare you for November 6th. Use our resources to register to vote, find your polling place, learn about all the marijuana voter initiatives, and see the presidential candidates‘ public statements on marijuana policy all on one convenient page. To make it even easier, you can register to vote quickly, right from this page, by using NORML’s rock the vote widget below.

    Together we will legalize marijuana and we can start this fall. Won’t you help us Smoke the Vote?

    (Note: You can download a printable copy of the above flyer here)

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 27, 2012

    Click here to subscribe to NORMLtv and receive alerts whenever new content is added.

    The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

    This week: Colorado’s Amendment 64 would bring in big revenue for the state, Grand Rapids will be voting on marijuana decriminalization, and Arkansas’ medical marijuana initiative qualifies for the ballot.

    Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv every week to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter.

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

    Click here to subscribe to NORMLtv and receive alerts whenever new content is added.

    The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

    This week: A new study confirms marijuana’s medical efficacy, NORML and the Women’s Alliance join the Peace Caravan, and Seattle Hempfest begins in Washington State.

    Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv every week to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter.

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