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Working to reform marijuana laws
Updated: 7 min 27 sec ago
With little media attention stateside, Senator Miguel Pereira has introduced legislation that would legalize marijuana in the US territory of Puerto Rico. Also, activists for marijuana law reform took to the streets of San Juan this past 4/20 weekend to show public support–one of the first public rallies ever in Puerto Rico for marijuana law reform.
From the CaribbeanBusinesspr.com
Dozens of people marched Saturday through Puerto Rico’s capital amid growing support for a recent bill filed by a former police chief that aims to legalize marijuana for personal use, unleashing an unprecedented debate in this conservative U.S. territory.The crowd marched to the seaside Capitol building, where Sen. Miguel Pereira filed a bill this week stating it should be legal for those 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The former federal prosecutor and corrections secretary said possession cases are costing the government money, noting that 80% of inmates are serving time for non-violent crimes.
His comments have polarized the island, with some legislators demanding his resignation.“It’s outrageous that someone who was elected by the people tries to use his position to cause addiction, sicken and destroy Puerto Rican society,” Sen. Itzamar Pena said.
Critics say the proposal would further fuel violence on an island of 3.7 million people that reported a record 1,117 killings in 2011, with police saying that 70% of killings are drug-related. Others expressed concern that police, teachers and doctors would smoke while working.
“This measure has to be studied extremely carefully,” Sen. José Perez Rosa said. “It’s not like alcohol, where acceptable levels (of use) exist.”
Currently, those charged with marijuana possession can face up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.Justice Secretary Luis Sánchez Betances did not say whether he favored Pereira’s measure, but he said the government should find alternatives to the current law.
“This opens a public debate,” he said.Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla echoed a similar sentiment in a press conference this week.
“I don’t have a problem with an open debate about the possibilities, benefits or drawbacks of such a measure,” he said, adding that the issue is not a priority for his administration.Last year, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for those over 21. The law, however, bans the public use of marijuana.
Puerto Rico joins a handful of other Caribbean islands, including Jamaica and St. Lucia, where there has been a push to legalize marijuana use.
In Jamaica, government officials previously reviewed recommendations to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The proposal has the backing of several church leaders, but it has not gained traction on an island that remains the Caribbean’s largest pot exporter to the U.S.
In St. Lucia, supporters also have spent more than a decade lobbying the government without success to endorse a commercial hemp project.
The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada announced via Marketwired:
TERRACE, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – April 18, 2013) – On Saturday April 20(th) , activists and cannabis enthusiasts will gather in cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Yellowknife. It is hoped the events will be a watershed moment for cannabis law reform as Canadians seek to follow their American counterparts and end the social injustice of cannabis prohibition.
This year, the annual nationwide 420 celebrations are entirely sponsored by lottery winner Bob Erb.
When Bob Erb started buying lottery tickets in the early 1970s, ending the war against cannabis may have seemed more likely than hitting the jackpot.
On November 2, 2012, four decades of playing the lottery paid off: Bob Erb won a $25,000,000 jackpot. Two days later, Canadian laws regarding cannabis changed too as mandatory minimum sentencing for cannabis offences came into effect.
To some, winning the lottery would mean retiring from a life-long career of cannabis activism. But to a man who describes the criminalization of cannabis as the “biggest social injustice” of his lifetime, the money meant a chance to do more.
Bob Erb has championed social justice issues, including cannabis law reform, for decades. He has seen firsthand the harm and waste caused by cannabis prohibition, and has set about making change. Particularly, he has tried to create change from within: in 2001 he ran as a Marijuana Party candidate in the BC provincial election and the following year he ran for mayor. Both times his message was clear: its time for a change on cannabis.
Looking to the future, Bob has pledged one million dollars to fund national campaigns to end the criminal prohibition of cannabis and enact positive regulations regarding use, production and consumer safety. His goal is to see a pro-reform party elected in the next Canadian federal election.
So far, Bob Erb’s contributions to the cannabis reform movement can be felt nationwide. In February he had a conference in his hometown of Terrace, BC. The conference brought together activists and policy experts from across Canada to discuss strategy for the future.
As a result of the conference, Bob committed one million dollars to legalize cannabis in Canada and pledged support to various reform organizations including Sensible BC, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada, NORML Canada, Stop the Violence BC and the 420 rallies.
This Saturday, tens of thousands of Canadians will gather from coast to coast advocating cannabis law reform. Hopefully, individuals will feel part of something bigger than themselves or the local rally they attended.
Bob Erb’s generosity has jump-started a national campaign to elect a new government ready to undertake modern approach to cannabis regulation. Advocates are confident cannabis law reform will be an issue in the next federal election. This year’s 420 rallies will be a call to voters and the beginning of a movement in the name of Bob Erb.
NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada
Get NORML this 4/20 with one of the dozens of events being hosted across the country by our affiliate groups. There are events going on across the country including festivals, concerts, comedy shows, softball tournaments, and more. Check out some of these activities on the list below. If you don’t see your state listed below, visit our chapter directory here to find your local group and check out their websites for their latest activities.
Don’t have a chapter nearby? What better way to celebrate 4/20 than getting a group of committed friends together and forming your own. Click here for information on starting a NORML affiliate in your local area.ARIZONA
Festival Of Education
When: 4/20 – 12pm until 6pm
Where: Tumbleweeds Health Center, 5301 E. Broadway Bjvd., Tucson, Arizona
About: 4/20 is upon us again and we encourage all our members to come out to Tumbleweeds Health Center, 5301 Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85711. 10am-6pm. Saturday April 20th 2013. There will be live music, information booths, vendors, food and our signature Cures not Wars, Marijuana March & Rally. 2013′s Festival of Education starts at 10am, at Tumbleweeds Health Center, 5301 Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85711. The Rally will begin at 1pm and at 3pm the March will head west to Rosemont crossing Broadway Blvd. then will turn East, and crossing Craycroft Ave., march to Park Mall crossing Broadway Blvd. again turning west, crossing Craycroft Ave, again and returning to Tumbleweeds Health Center, the circular nature of the march allows anyone who is unable to complete the planned route to participate can conveniently begin or end at their own discretion. Signs will be provided or bring your own! Don’t forget your hat and a bottle of water, sunscreen is advised. A continuous stationary rally will start at 12noon and continue till 5pm out in front of the 4/20 event at Tumbleweeds. This will allow our non-mobile patients to participate.
Hitting for Hemp: Benefit Softball Tournament
When: 4/20 – Softball games will be starting at around 9AM.
Where: Mills Pond Park, 2201 NW 9th Ave, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
About: Bring plenty of sunscreen. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the softball field. Admission to the softball tournament is free but donations will be welcome. There will be T-shirts for sale for both the tournament and for NORML of Florida.
When: 4/20 – 2pm to 2am
Where: Fusse Studios, 327 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL
About: There will be live bands, vendors, food trucks, contests, giveaways, information and more. All that for $10 at the door. Admission limited to 18 and over.
IL NORML Monthly Meeting
When: 4/20 – 10am
Where: Whiskey Roadhouse, 3207 N Main St, Rockford, Illinois
About: We’ll go over updates on legislation in Springfield, local efforts and national bills that are being debated in Congress. General info on cannabis prohibition and ways to get involved in ILLINOIS NORML.
QFA Illinois NORML Benefit
When: 4/20 – 9pm until 2am
Where: Live Wire Lounge, 3394 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, Illinois
About: Join host and QFA CEO, Lair Scott, at Live Wire as we benefit IL NORML for the important work they do here in Illinois to pass positive cannabis laws. Bands are Seeso, Heroin Black, Catch A Fire, The Hello Freaks, Element Control, The Loudness War and MC Rota. Door Donation, 21+ w/ proper ID.
Indiana NORML – 420 in the Park
When: 4/20 – 4:20pm
Where: Lynnville Park, 405 W SR 68 Lynnville, IN.
Indy Mojo’s 420 Tent Party
When: 4/20 – 7pm
Where: The Mousetrap, 5565 N Keystone Ave, Indianapolis, IN
About: IndyMojo’s 3rd annual 4.20 Tent Party @ The Mousetrap. 3 stages, Jam + EDM + Acoustic
Tickets are $7, ages 21+
MassCann/NORML and UnRegular Radio Present: The 2013 Battle for the Rally
When: 4/20 – 8pm
Where: The Spotlight Tavern, 208 Rantoul St, Beverly, MA
About: Celebrating the passage of Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts and officially kicking off the campaign for FULL LEGALIZATION in 2016, this year people we are stepping it up for the 24th annual and first ever 2-day Boston Freedom Rally on September 14th and 15th 2013 on the Boston Common. To help us educate and rock the expected 50,000 plus crowds, MassCann with the help of Unregular Radio are kicking off the 2013 Battle for the Rally. This year over 36 bands will be competing for 3 spots on the Rally’s 2 Stages, with 3 bands winning the chance to play at the second largest PRO-Marijuana concert in the Country.
4/20 Celebration With MINORML Chapters
When: 4/19 – 4/21
Where: Archie Keil Residence, Rapid City, MI
About: Kalkaska, Antrim, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, and Benzie County NORML Chapters will join together to promote Michigan NORML at the Archie Keil residence in Rapid City, MI on April 19,20,& 21. Live music,camping,food,and fellowship are on the agenda. Open to the public. Contact Archie at 231-676-0123.
The 4/20 Show – A Fundraiser for Minnesota NORML
When: 4/20 – 8pm
Where: The Comedy Corner Underground, 1501 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota
About: The Comedy Corner Underground (In basement of Corner Bar) is hosting a Fundraiser for Minnesota NORML! There are only 150 tickets available, 75 per show! The show times are 8PM and 10PM. We expect both of them to sell out quickly, so buy your tickets ahead of time here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/341804 – The 8PM show is 18+ and the 10PM show is 21+
4-20 Rally & Concert
When: 4/20 – 12pm until 5pm
Where: Grace Abbott Park, 601 State St. W, Grand Island, NE.
About: This is a free event hosted by NORML Nebraska! Come on down for the good times and great live music. Featuring Homemade Crazy and A Life Led Lucid!
When: 4/20 – 10am
Where: Ramapo College Band Shell Lawn
About: It’s almost that time of year again for NORML and 1STEP’s 4/20 celebration! This is easily Ramapo’s best Spring festival, so make sure you keep this weekend open! Invite your friends and stay up to date with event contests and announcements!There will be FREE FOOD, LIVE MUSIC, YOGA, GAMES, HIKES, INFLATABLE FUN, 30′ PARACHUTE, TIE DYE, BAKED GOODS AND MUCH MUCH MORE.
Empire State NORML Meeting and Trivia
When: 4/24 – 6:30pm
Where: 9 Bleecker Street, New York, New York
About: Learn more about Empire State NORML, upcoming volunteer opportunities and exactly how YOU can help to legalize marijuana in New York. Followed at 8PM by a special ALL MARIJUANA Drug War Trivia Night sponsored by Empire State NORML.
NCNORML 4/20 Event
When: 4/20 – Music starts at 9pm.
Where: Roux, 501 E 36th St, Charlotte, NC 28205
About: Music lineup includes The Fritz, Frankie Gene with Butter, Bubonik Funk, SpongeCake and the Fluff Ramblers. Tickets are $8 at the door.
Asheville NORML 420 Earth Day Event
When: 4/20 – 12pm
Where: 5th Annual Asheville Earth Day on Lexington Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina
About: Asheville NORML will be in full swing at the 5th Annual Asheville Earth Day Festival on 4-20. This is the perfect opportunity to educate the public on the benefits of Cannabis and to let everyone know about our new chapter! We will meet at 12:00 pm at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. We will have a brief chat and will supply our volunteers with flyers to pass out at the festival. If you would like to make your own signs with facts about Cannabis (especially facts that relate to “Earth Day”) and wear any clothing you have supporting Cannabis, we can have a bit of a parade as we leave from the park and head to the festival on Lexington. We also look forward to spending time with our new friends on 4-20! Please respond to this event so that we can plan on an appropriate amount of flyers. This will be our first community event and we want to make a respectful impression on the community! Come join us with peace in my mind and empower yourself with knowledge on the amazing plant we speak for CANNABIS! Keep Asheville NORML!!!
Cleveland NORML – Dance with Mary Jane
Where: Negative Space, 3820 Superior Ave. E, Second Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44114
About: Negative Space & Cleveland NORML present Dance with Mary Jane. Come out on Saturday April 20, 2013 at 4pm @Negative Space in the Asian Town Center which is located at 38th St between Superior and Payne St in beautiful Cleveland Ohio. A truly unique event in the cannabis world! A holiday that surpasses all other events. You can if you want to come out you can see JustLikEdith and the feature of the event: Wanyama! There will be a 2 drinks with your $10 admission ticket and there will be a 2 ticket raffle prize drawing. There will be a finger snacks and a Cleveland NORML membership table.
Central Ohio NORML – 420 Party
Where: Circus Club & Grub, 1227 N. High St, Columbus, Ohio 43201
Miami Valley NORML – Earth Day Celebration
When: Noon until 5pm
Where: Sawyer Point, 805 E Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Miami Valley NORML – 420 Earth Day Hemp Exhibit
When: Noon until 5pm
Where: Sawyer Point, 805 E Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Miami Valley NORML – 420 Earth Day Celebration
Where: Fries Cafe, 3247 Jefferson Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45220
Miami Valley NORML – Love ya Mother Earth
Where: W.O. Wright’s Grill & Pub, 3979 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Beavercreek, OH 45324
About: Miami Valley NORML benefit, $5 Cover.
Miami Valley NORML – Wiley’s Comedy Club
When: 8:30pm & 10:30pm
Where: 101 Pine St, Dayton, Ohio 45402
About: Miami Valley NORML comedy show benefit, shows 8:30 + 10:30, cover charge is $10.
PhillyNORML/The Panic Hour – Smoke Down Prohibition IV
When: 4/20 – 3pm
Where: Independance Mall, Philadelphia, PA (by the Liberty Bell)
About: After three successful Smoke Down Events, The Panic Hour is back on the highest of stoner holidays, 4/20, to demand an end to cannabis prohibition! We will be playing a game show with fabulous prizes, signing cards of support for wrongly incarcerated drug war prisoners, and welcoming special surprise guests, possibly of an elected-official nature. There is absolutely no excuse for not spending the most important date on the marijuana calendar with us! Tell all your friends, roll a huge bone, and join The Panic Hour and Philly Norml as we have an absolute blast ending the LUNATIC INSANE FALSE TEACHINGS DRUG WAR.
Buds in the Burgh – 4/20 Smoke Down Event
When: 4/20 – 4pm until 5:30pm
Where: Point State Park, Pittsburgh, PA
About: This April 20th, 2013 come down to Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh and take your stand! We will be gathering together at 4:00 PM to let our voices be heard. Then promptly at 4:20 PM we will join together in a moment of cannabis reflection.
Pittsburgh NORML/Pittsburgh NORML Women’s Alliance – The Bong Show
When: 4/20 – 8pm
Where: Lava Lounge, 2204 E Carson St, South Side, Pittsburgh, PA
About: For this cannabis holiday, please come out to support NORML and the NORML Women’s Alliance of Pittsburgh at our 4/20 fundraiser! The long awaited return of the Bong Show, a talent show where the stakes are high, and so are the judges! Hosted by Phat Man Dee and Smokin’ McQueen, this high stakes gritty competition is judged off site by 3 very suggestible judges. These judges don’t have a Gong, but they have a Bong and are not afraid to use it! Don’t worry, no laws being broken here, the judges are shown live via satellite feed from the great state of Colorado! Live performances by musical groups Chai Baba, The Rusty Haywhackers and J Pad da Juggernaught! Prizes for the winner and raffle items provided by our generous sponsors: Slacker, Hot Rod Body Piercing, Jesters Court Tattoos, Krutch Rolling Papers, PKN Law, Element Skateboards.
TN NORML 4/20 Marijuana Education Day & Celebration
When: 4/20 – 4:20pm
Where: Performing Artist Co-Op, at 5-Points, East Nashville, TN
About: Come help educate & celebrate 4/20 with TN NORML! Wrapper’s Delight food truck will be there from 4:00 to 9:00!!! Entertainment includes comedy, music and poetry. We will have a table with information for the taking.
4/20 at the Green Elephant Presented by DFW NORML
When: 4/20 – 3pm until 2am
Where: The Green Elephant, 5627 Dyer St, Dallas, Texas
About: DFW NORML is back at the Green Elephant to celebrate everyone’s favorite hempy holiday, 4/20! As always, you can expect some of the finest live music DFW has to offer, as well as vendor booths, prizes, fire spinners, hoop dancers, live glass blowing, drink specials and more. RSVP and invite your friends and together we’ll continue ending cannabis prohibition one Texan at a time. 18+ Welcome.
First Annual NOVA NORML 4/20 Party
When: 4/20 – 6:30pm until 2am
Where: Lucy’s ARL. 2620 S Shirlington Rd, Arlington, Virginia
About: Can’t make it to Colorado for 4/20?! Come hang out with us! Join NOVA NORML on April 20th for our first ever social event! Join us for an evening of fun at Lucy’s in Arlington. We will have raffles with awesome prizes, drinks specials, good music and more.Your contribution will go to Virginia NORML to help end marijuana prohibition in VA! We are very pleased to announce that the Upton Blues Band and also Maple will be there performing live! It will surely be a night to remember! Invite your friends. No cover charge
Ben Masel Day at the Capital
When: 4/20 – 2pm
Where: State Capital Building, Madison, Wisconsin
About: In honor of Ben Masel, Madison’s proudest fighter for freedom, let’s meet at the Capitol to remember our missed friend and the ideas he stood up for. As April 20th has been officially deemed Ben Masel Day in Madison it seems only fitting. 2pm. Come ready to speak if you have words.
Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced federal legislation that would establish a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy. The proposed commission, inspired by the 1971 Shafer Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, would be tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of how federal policy should interact with state laws that make marijuana legal for medicinal and personal use, the cost of our current marijuana prohibition and potential revenue from marijuana regulation and taxation, the impact of federal banking and tax laws on marijuana related businesses, the health benefits of risk of marijuana use, the public safety and criminal justice implications of marijuana prohibition compared with regulation, and the effects of marijuana prohibition and potential regulation on our international relationships and treaties.
“Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” said Congressman Cohen. “This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”
Representative Steve Cohen is joined by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA).
During an interview with Barbara Walters in December of 2012, President Obama stated, “…what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske stated in January of this year that, “Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”
“The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that a national conversation is needed when it comes to our country’s marijuana policies, but so far that conversation has been largely one sided,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “It is time for federal lawmakers to listen to the voice of the majority of Americans who want to see change to our nation’s marijuana laws and for them to take part in that dialogue. NORML is pleased to have worked with Representative Cohen and his staff on this important legislation that would provide a public and professional venue for that conversation to take place. A majority of Americans agree that it is time for the United States to end it’s fruitless and expensive war on cannabis consumers and pursue policies of regulation and taxation. Enjoining this national commission would be a pragmatic and productive step towards assessing the true costs of our current prohibition and creating a framework for a functional federal policy on marijuana.”
Join NORML and federal legislators in calling for a “serious national conversation” on regulating marijuana.Click here to quickly and easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation.
With tongue firmly planted in her cheek, leading scholar, author and activist for youth drug education, Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D, from the Drug Policy Alliance, criticizes DARE’s ineffectiveness and expense for the last thirty years.
‘Just Say No’ Turns 30
Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D
If you are under 40, it is very likely that you, like 80 percent of schoolchildren in the U.S., were exposed to Drug Abuse Resistance Education, which celebrates its 30th birthday this month.
D.A.R.E. was created by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983, following the rise of a conservative parents movement and First Lady Nancy Reagan in need of a cause. The purpose of D.A.R.E. was to teach students about the extreme dangers of drugs by sending friendly police officers into classrooms to help kids resist the temptation to experiment; to stand up in the face of peer pressure; and to “just say no.”
Because of its widespread use in elementary schools all across America (and in over 40 countries around the world), D.A.R.E .was evaluated extensively. The reviews consistently showed that while students enjoyed interacting with police (especially examining the sample cases of drugs used for show and tell), and may have been initially deterred, effects were short lived. In fact, by the time D.A.R.E. graduates reached their late teens and early 20s, many had forgotten what they had learned or rejected the exaggerated messages they’d heard. And by 2001, D.A.R.E. was deemed by none other than the United States Surgeon General, “an ineffective primary prevention program,” and lost 80 percent of its federal funding shortly thereafter.
Yet D.A.R.E .has kept going — trying to keep up with the times, at least rhetorically, with its new “Keepin’ it Real” curriculum. Last fall, I read with keen interest that the program in Washington State had been notified by national D.A.R.E., its oversight agency, that the subject of marijuana would be dropped from the curriculum.
What???? The very same D.A.R.E. program that taught my daughter that marijuana would lead to heroin addiction isn’t even mentioning pot? Had it given up its “reefer madness” campaign, perhaps in light of Washington’s Initiative 502 that legalized marijuana last November?
I had to call and hear for myself about these big changes.
President and CEO Frank Pegueros told me that, in fact, D.A.R.E. had changed. The didactic approach is gone, replaced by dialogue and discussion. “Just say no,” he said, “has gone by the wayside.” It sounded almost touchy feely to me.
I was encouraged, thinking for a brief moment that the chorus of anti-D.A.R.E. critics, like me, who emphasized the importance of honest, science-based drug education, had actually been heard.
But then I asked Mr. Pegueros about marijuana, and why it was dropped from the curriculum, and that’s when I got the real scoop.
Actually, it was not officially dropped. Instead, not wanting to pique students’ interest, the subject of marijuana will be discussed by D.A.R.E. officers only if it is brought up by students themselves. And what will they be told? As for content, one needs only to peruse www.dare.com to see that although the packaging may have evolved, the content has remained the same: marijuana is a very dangerous drug; medical marijuana is a hoax; and big money, rather than compassion and pragmatism, is behind legalization initiatives.
By now it is commonly known that the extreme dangers of marijuana have been exaggerated, and few users become addicted or graduate to hard drug use; roughly 70 percent of the American population supports medical marijuana; and it is public opinion that is driving initiatives and legislation to make medical marijuana available to people who need it.
If D.A.R.E. failed to convince youth a generation ago to “just say no” because its content was unbelievable, no amount of new anti-drug rhetoric will help. Students didn’t believe what they were told 30 years ago, and they’re too smart to believe it now.
And worse, D.A.R.E.’s recycled rhetoric will certainly fail to provide young people with useful information to help them make wise, health-driven decisions about dealing with the myriad of substances available to them today.
So Happy 30th D.A.R.E. Now that you’re approaching middle age, how about trying “just say know” this time around?
Marsha Rosenbaum is the founder of the Safety First drug education project at the Drug Policy Alliance and author of “Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs.”
A poll released today by Public Policy Polling, funded by Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance, revealed that 63% of District of Columbia voters support taxing and regulating marijuana, similar to the initiatives just passed in Colorado and Washington. Only 30% of respondents were opposed.
The survey also found that 75% of respondents supported changing the penalty for marijuana possession to a civil violation, punishable by a $100 fine and only 21% were opposed to this change.
Considering this overwhelming support, and the fact that the District of Columbia allows for ballot initiatives, Washington, DC seems incredibly ripe for reform in the very near future. While the politicians who work in Congress seem to be tone-deaf to the growing call for legalizing marijuana, those living right in their backyard have overwhelmingly made up their minds that it is time to legalize and regulate marijuana.
You can read the full results of the poll here.
United States Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with a bipartisan coalition of three Republicans (Reps. Rohrabacher, Rep. Justin Amash [R-MI], and Don Young [R-AK]) and three Democrats (Reps. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR], Steve Cohen [D-TN] and Jared Polis [D-CO]) today introduced House Bill 1523: the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act.
The measure would amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to exempt from federal prosecution individuals and businesses, including marijuana dispensaries and/or retail outlets, who comply with state marijuana laws.
“This bipartisan bill represents a common-sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws,” Rohrabacher said in a news release. “It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”
The proposal is one of several marijuana law reform bills now pending before the United States Congress, including House Resolution 499: The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, House Bill 689: the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, and Senate Bill 359: the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013.
On Election Day 2012, Colorado and Washington residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana. In the months that followed nearly two dozen states have introduced countless bills to reform marijuana laws locally, including an unprecendent ten measures that would legalize marijuana outright. In Washington, DC, more measures than any previous year have been introduced to roll back the federal prohibition on marijuana.
On April 20th, 2013 celebrate our recent victories and support the ongoing fight to bring these reforms nationwide by buying one of these limited edition NORML t-shirts, available exclusively during this year’s high holiday. Proceeds go to help NORML in our mission to legalize marijuana in the other 48 states!
Together, we WILL legalize marijuana.Click here to pre-order your shirt today!
Brookings Institute: Marijuana Policy and Presidential Leadership: How to Avoid a Federal-State Train Wreck
As previewed last week on NORML’s blog, the Brookings Institute is convening a cannabis policy forum on Monday, April 15.
Excerpts from the Brookings’ press release and description of the issues tackled by Brookings scholar and noted legal writer and commentator Stuart Taylor, Jr. are found below.
Mr. Taylor’s thoughtful and dynamic analysis and policy recommendations are here.
Of equal value and incredibly informative are two accompanying appendixes:
Appendix One: The Obama Administration’s Approach To Medical Marijuana: A Study In Chaos
Appendix Two: Conflicts Of Laws: A Quick Orientation to Marijuana Laws At The Federal Level and CO and WA
Stuart Taylor, Jr. examines how the federal government and the eighteen states (plus the District of Columbia) that have partially legalized medical or recreational marijuana or both since 1996 can be true to their respective laws, and can agree on how to enforce them wisely while avoiding federal-state clashes that would increase confusion and harm communities and consumers.
* * *This paper seeks to persuade even people who think legalization is a bad idea that the best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is not for the federal government to seek an end to state legalization. To the contrary, Taylor asserts, a federal crackdown would backfire by producing an atomized, anarchic, state-legalized but unregulated marijuana market that federal drug enforcers could neither contain nor force the states to contain.
In this broad-ranging primer on the legal challenges surrounding marijuana legalization, Taylor makes the following points:
- The best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is for the federal government to stand aside when it comes to legalization at the state-level.
- The federal government should nonetheless use its considerable leverage to ensure that state regulators protect the federal government’s interests in minimizing exports across state lines, sales outside the state-regulated system, sales of unduly large quantities, sales of adulterated products, sales to minors, organized crime involvement, and other abuses.
- Legalizing states, for their part, must provide adequate funding for their regulators as well as clear rules to show that they will be energetic in protecting federal as well as state interests. If that sort of balance is struck, a win-win can be achieved.
- The Obama Administration and legalizing states should take advantage of a provision of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to hammer out clear, contractual cooperation agreements so that state-regulated marijuana businesses will know what they can and cannot safely do.
- The time for presidential leadership on marijuana policy is now. The CSA also gives the administration ample leverage to insist that the legalizing states take care to protect the federal interests noted above.
Stuart also surveys (1) what legalizing states can and cannot do without violating federal law; (2) the Obama’s administration’s approach to medical marijuana and; (3) current marijuana law at the federal level and in Colorado and Washington State.
The Obama Administration has released its National Drug Control Budget for the FY 2014 and despite their claims that “the war on drugs is over” and that they have “bigger fish to fry” the Office National Drug Control Policy is still prioritizing failed drug war tactics over prevention and treatment.
Prevention, in the form of education and outreach efforts, receives a paltry $1.4 billion dollars. While this is a 5% increase over the previous year’s budget, it is still a minuscule sum when you consider we are spending nine times more on arresting people than we are to educate them on risks of drug use and stop them from ending up in the criminal justice system in the first place. The budget calls for an additional 9.3 billion to be spent on treatment programs for those considered to have drug abuse issues (though $80 million of this funding goes to the drug court program, infamous for giving defendants the “choice” of serving time in rehab or spending time in a jail cell).
For all their rhetoric, this recent budget shows that little has changed in the federal government’s priorities when it comes to the War on Drugs. Funding is still disproportionately spent arresting people or diverting them into treatment programs after the fact, while only a small fraction (13%) of the overall drug budget is spent trying to fix the problem before it starts.
It is time for the Obama Administration’s policy to match its language on the issue of drug law reform. President Obama once promised that he would allow science and factual evidence to guide his administration on issues of public policy, but when it comes to marijuana laws, we are still waiting for him to deliver.
You can view the full text of the budget here.
Senate lawmakers today voted 42 to 4 in favor of House Bill 1101, which establishes a new 12-member state commission to promulgate medical cannabis research. House members had previously approved the measure, which now goes to the desk of Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to sign it into law.
House Bill 1101 establishes an independent commission within the state Department of Health. The purpose of the commission is to request applications from academic medical centers to operate ‘medical marijuana compassionate use programs.’ The commission will decide which patients will qualify for the programs and it will license growers to provide cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Medical marijuana patients who are not participants in an authorized medical center program will not be legally protected from arrest. (Existing state legislation allows certain medical cannabis patients to raise an affirmative defense of medical necessity at trial.)
Full text of House Bill 1101 is available here. Once signed into law, the measure will take effect on October 1, 2013. However, media reports estimate that the programs are not likely to be up and running until 2016.
One of the most important Washington DC think tanks, the Brookings Institute, is hosting a panel discussion on states’ efforts to legalize marijuana on April 15.
Event: Marijuana Legalization: Are There Alternatives to State-Federal Conflict?
Time: 2:00 PM
Date: Monday, April 15, 2013
Location: Brookings Institution, Saul/Zilkha Rooms, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20036
To register to watch this event online, go here.
Panelist include Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), sponsor of legalization legislation in Congress; Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson; UCLA professor (and Washington state’s new ‘cannabis consultant‘) Mark Kleiman, Ph.D and legal author/essayist and Brookings Institute scholar Stuart Taylor, Jr.
Moderator: Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institute
On Friday, April 5th, Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky stated that he will let Kentucky’s industrial hemp measure become law without his signature. Gov. Beshear had expressed concerns that marijuana growers could hide their illegal growing operations with hemp plants. Despite his concerns, he allowed the measure to become law without his signature and did not veto the legislation.
House and Senate lawmakers passed an amended version of Senate Bill 50, “An Act relating to industrial hemp”, in March during the final hours of the 2013 legislative session. Noting that “public pressure to pass the bill helped achieve the last-minute deal.”
After the bills approval by the state legislature, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer stated that “by passing this bill, the General Assembly has signaled that Kentucky is serious about restoring industrial hemp production to the commonwealth and doing it in the right way. That will give Kentucky’s congressional delegation more leverage when they seek a federal waiver allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.”
Kentucky is now the ninth state to have passed a law allowing for farmers to cultivate industrial hemp. Hemp cultivation is still prohibited by the federal government, so until the feds alter their current policy, it is unlikely that Kentucky farmers will begin to grow this crop. Of the eight states who previously approved industrial hemp legislation, only Hawaii has received a federal waiver allowing them to grow an acre of hemp for research purposes.
Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana is currently pending in the US Senate and House of Representatives and has been sponsored by prominent politicians such as Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. You can click here to write your federal officials in support of this legislation.
Many traditionally write off the Southern United States as an area dead to cannabis law reform, but one Representative is behind a new effort that can change all of that.
This week, Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) has introduced House Bill 550, the Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013. This measure would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 12 mature marijuana plants by those over the age of 21. It would also authorize the Department of Revenue to establish marijuana retail outlets. You can read the full text of the measure here.
As many of you have seen, yesterday, Pew Research released new polling data that revealed, for the first time in data from a US based polling firm, that Americans support legalizing marijuana by over 50%. The survey found that 52% support legalization and only 45% were opposed. This is no longer just an issue relegated to states such as those on the West Coast and Colorado, traditionally considered bastions of marijuana law reform, this support is now nationwide.
As it very well should be, marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that squanders hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year, inversely affects society’s underprivileged, violates civil liberties, and fuels a violent, criminal black market responsible for countless deaths on our border as well as our local communities.
If states such as the traditionally conservative Alabama are beginning the discussion around alternatives to our failed prohibition of marijuana, the collapse of the drug war machine and its war on a green plant cannot be too far behind.
ALABAMA: If you live in Alabama click here to easily write your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation!
For the first time since they began polling the question four decades ago, Pew Research Polling has released new survey data that reveals 52% of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. Only 45% were opposed.
This support is spread across demographics. The Baby Boomers (50%), Generation X (54%), and Millenials (65%) all have majority support for legalization. The only age demographic that remains opposed is the Silent Generation, those born before 1942, though support in this age group has also significantly increased. 32% of this age group now support legalization, up from 17% in 2002.
According to this polling data, most Americans have also tried marijuana personally. 48% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if they consume marijuana, up from 38% about a decade ago.
Not only are Americans becoming more supportive of legalization, but there has been a dramatic change in how Americans view marijuana use. In 2006, Pew Research found that 50% of Americans believed smoking marijuana was “morally wrong” and only 35% did not think it was a moral issue. Today these numbers have completely flipped, 50% of Americans responded in this latest survey that using marijuana is not a moral issue and only 32% stated it was morally wrong.
60% of Americans across all political orientations also believe the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize it. 57% of Republicans, 59% of Democrats, and 64% of Independents believe the federal government should leave states like Washington and Colorado alone.
You can view the full results of this survey here.
Today I share with you wonderful news from an all too conservative state, Florida, where the sun shines on everything but justice for cannabis users.
Just a few weeks ago, I announced that the ‘New NORML’ would have an active, working legal committeethat would make a difference for all of us.
Last month, State Senator Jeff Clemens in Tampa announced that he was introducing a medical marijuana bill in Florida, which would allow for the establishment of dispensaries in our state.
The bill was named the ‘Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act’, in honor of a woman who has beenopenly using cannabis as medicine for over a quarter century, championing our cause from her wheelchair while living with an incurable condition- ALS; Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Backed by her loving husband, Bob, who cultivates two-dozen plants on their farm for her personal use, Cathy has been a public advocate for cannabis law reform. Here she is:
One day after the state senator introduced the medical necessity legislation, publicizing her name and address, the DEA and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office paid her a not-too-polite visit, raiding her home, dressed in swat uniforms, armed with machine guns and wearing masks, seizing her cannabis and arresting her husband for cultivation. Her wheelchair was no defense.
One NORML lawyer from our NLC legal committee immediately stepped up to the plate to come to her defense. Florida CAN, the Cannabis Action Network, contacted Michael C. Minardi, of Stuart, Florida. He undertook the defense.
Michael had already prevailed on a medical necessity case on the west coast of Florida, and he at once met with Bob and Cathy Jordan. Both were adamant that they would take no pleas, but instead sought to fight for their right to use marijuana as medicine.
Based in South Florida, I volunteered with another NLC Committee member, my law office partner, Russell Cormican, and entered into a civil retainer agreement with Cathy Jordan, to prosecute a pro bono civil legal action seeking a declaratory judgment that Cathy’s possession of cannabis warranted a judicial order stating that such ownership was entirely medicinal and lawful.
I could not do it alone, so I contacted NLC Committee member Matt Kumin, who immediately agreed to join the cause on behalf of NORML, coming in as amicus curiae. “This is an impact case,” he concluded.
Together, we decided that we had a viable claim Cathy had a legal right to grow her medicine, and a court would conclude as much. Matt brought in two more NLC colleagues, Alan Silber and David Michael. These guys are already arguing tough cases in the Ninth Circuit. But we have a good plaintiff and a strong case.
This past Monday, the State Attorney dismissed all charges against Cathy and Bob Jordan. The decision by the State Attorney, explaining why he filed a ‘no information.” ratifies the defense of medical necessity for patients, and caregivers as well. The prosecutor’s determination goes beyond the customary and routine post of ‘case declined.’
The decision outlined by the chief prosecutor goes out of its way to acknowledge the legal basis of the medical necessity defense and the ‘progressive, neurodegenerative disease’ that Cathy Jordan deals with daily. The state attorney said he could not in ‘good faith’ proceed with a criminal prosecution against an individual with such a compelling medical reason to use marijuana. It was a courageous decision to see a prosecutor protect a pot patient.
The result came about in no small part to Bob Jordan, Cathy Jordan’s husband. He refused to accept a probationary plea offer. “If I could handle Vietnam,” he told me last week, “I can take whatever the State wants to try and hit me with. I am protecting my wife. No deals. No nothing. I want a trial. I want a jury to see my wife and try to convict her.”
Michael C. Minardi and his client even refused to cop a plea to a deferred prosecution. Matt. Kumin, who has never met Bob, called him, “my hero.” Armed with solid case law, a determined defendant, and a courageous lawyer- Michael Minardi- the good guys prevailed.
A talented team of NLC amicus curiae attorneys are now preparing to go to court and seek a judgment declaring that the use of cannabis by Cathy Jordan should continue as an exception to Florida drug statutes, based on her use being lawful, medically necessary, and legally protected. Hell, we might even get her pot back through a replevin action.
Unfortunately, Florida is a conservative state. I won’t mislead you. The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Bill is already ‘stuck like chuck’ in a legislative committee.
However, also due to the efforts of NLC Committee member, Michael C. Minardi, the criminal prosecution of Cathy and Bob Jordan is dead in the water.
Remember the TV show, ‘The Naked City,’ that ‘there are 8 million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them.’
My friends, there are thousands of Cathy Jordans across America who still need our help. There are hundreds of you capable of assisting so many of them. The spiritual rewards of engaging such tasks enrich your soul and make your practice so much more meaningful.
Please consider also asking a friend to help expand ranks by joining NORML today. In fact, this week we are promoting new memberships by offering up a NORML Hemp Baseball Cap. Wear it to the ballpark, and let everyone know that it is NORML to smoke pot. Cheer for your home team, but stand up for freedom.
Today, all of us throughout the country celebrate the victory of Cathy and Bob Jordan. We also thank the lawyer, Michael C. Minardi of Stuart, Florida, who stood up for them.
We are all cannabis warriors with stories of our own to tell, lives of our friends to illuminate. Never forget the cause you are fighting for is more than to torch up a joint. It is to light a torch for personal sovereignty and individual freedom.
Chair, NORML Board of Directors
Presently, possessing cannabis in the Ocean State is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine. Starting Monday, the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is a non-arrestable civil offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $150 but no jail time, and no criminal record.
Fifteen states have enacted similar decriminalization laws. Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (Colorado had previously decriminalized cannabis possession decades earlier, while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)
Similar decriminalization legislation is pending this year in nearly a dozen additional states, including Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont.
Lawmakers in several other states, including Maine, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, are considering separate legislation to legalize the adult consumption of cannabis and regulate its retail production and sale.
Written Testimony In Favor of Senate Bill 297
To Be Heard By The Members of the House Judiciary Committee
Thursday, March 28, 2013, at 1:00pm
By Allen St. Pierre
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
I thank members of the Maryland House Committee on the Judiciary for considering Senate Bill 297, which proposes to in effect decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possessed by adults.
NORML and its members in Maryland encourage this committee to agree with their senate colleagues that now is the right and proper time for Maryland to adopt a decriminalization enforcement policy for possession amounts of cannabis, and to join fifteen other states—and numerous large cities across the country such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Denver and Seattle—by adopting this cost-effective, time-saving, resource-stretching and law enforcement-friendly alternative public policy to the state’s current ‘arrest-n-prosecute’ policy for minor cannabis offenses (for non-medical use).
Currently, well over one-third of the US population resides in states and cities that have adopted cannabis decriminalization, in some cases, decades ago, and to no discernible ill effects.
The fifteen states with decriminalized cannabis enforcement laws, from west to east:
Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.
The Nixon-appointed ‘Shafer Commission’ strongly opined for cannabis decriminalization in 1972. Despite Mr. Nixon rejecting his own commission’s public policy recommendations, numerous states accepted the wisdom and guidance of the massive report, starting with Oregon in 1973, which became the first state to officially decriminalize possession amounts of cannabis for adults.
With the ever-growing public sentiment nationwide in favor of substantive cannabis law reform measures, generally stated at…
*75% in support for medical access
*73% in support of decriminalization
*50-52% in support of legalization (voters in CO and WA approved legalization ballot initiatives by 55% respectively in 2012)
…Maryland legislators should adopt these popular public policy reforms, specifically, with the legislation approved by the senate at bar before them, Senate Bill 297.
Marijuana Decriminalization & Its Impact on Use
- U.S. Studies
- International Studies
“The available evidence suggests that removal of the prohibition against possession itself (decriminalization) does not increase cannabis use. … This prohibition inflicts harms directly and is costly. Unless it can be shown that the removal of criminal penalties will increase use of other harmful drugs, … it is difficult to see what society gains.”?- Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes. British Journal of Psychiatry. February 2001.
Findings from dozens of government-commissioned and academic studies published over the past 25 years overwhelmingly affirm that liberalizing marijuana penalties does not lead to an increase in marijuana consumption or affect adolescent attitudes toward drug use.
Since 1973, 13 state legislatures — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon — have enacted versions of marijuana decriminalization. In each of these states, marijuana users no longer face jail time (nor in most cases, arrest or criminal records) for the possession or use of small amounts of marijuana. Internationally, many states and nations have enacted similar policies.
The following studies examine these decriminalization policies and their impact on marijuana use. The studies’ conclusions are listed chronologically.
“In sum, there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use.” – National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM). 1999. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press: Washington, D.C., 102.
“The Law Revision Commission has examined laws from other states that have reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana and the impact of those laws in those states. … Studies of [those] states found (1) expenses for arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession offenses were significantly reduced, (2) any increase in the use of marijuana in those states was less that increased use in those states that did not decrease their penalties and the largest proportionate increase occurred in those states with the most severe penalties, and (3) reducing the penalties for marijuana has virtually no effect on either choice or frequency of the use of alcohol or illegal ‘harder’ drugs such as cocaine.”?- Connecticut Law Review Commission. 1997. Drug Policy in Connecticut and Strategy Options: Report to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. State Capitol: Hartford.
“There is no strong evidence that decriminalization affects either the choice or frequency of use of drugs, either legal (alcohol) or illegal (marijuana and cocaine).” – C. Thies and C. Register. 1993. Decriminalization of Marijuana and the Demand for Alcohol, Marijuana and Cocaine. The Social Sciences Journal 30: 385-399.
“In contrast with marijuana use, rates of other illicit drug use among ER [emergency room] patients were substantially higher in states that did not decriminalize marijuana use. The lack of decriminalization might have encouraged greater use of drugs that are even more dangerous than marijuana.”?- K. Model. 1993. The effect of marijuana decriminalization on hospital emergency room episodes: 1975-1978. Journal of the American Statistical Association 88: 737-747, as cited by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine in Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. 
“The available evidence indicates that the decriminalization of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states [that] reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states [that] retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernible impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called ‘decriminalization’ measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system.”?- E. Single. 1989. The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: An Update. Journal of Public Health 10: 456-466.
“Overall, the preponderance of the evidence which we have gathered and examined points to the conclusion that decriminalization has had virtually no effect either on the marijuana use or on related attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use among American young people. The data show no evidence of any increase, relative to the control states, in the proportion of the age group who ever tried marijuana. In fact, both groups of experimental states showed a small, cumulative net decline in annual prevalence after decriminalization.”?- L. Johnson et al. 1981. Marijuana Decriminalization: The Impact on Youth 1975-1980. Monitoring the Future, Occasional Paper Series, paper 13, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.
“Consumption appears to be unaffected, or affected only minimally by decriminalization, and most people believe that it has had little impact. Further, decriminalization has proven to be administratively and economically advantageous for state law enforcement efforts.”?- D. Maloff. 1981. Review of the effects of decriminalization of marijuana. Contemporary Drug Problems Fall: 307-322.
“Levels of use tended to be higher in the decriminalization states both before and after the changes in law. [S]tates which moderated penalties after 1974 (essentially a group of decriminalization states) did indeed experience an increase in rates of marijuana use, among both adolescents (age 12-17) and adults (18 or older). However, the increase in marijuana use was even greater in other states and the largest proportionate increase occurred in those states with the most severe penalties.”?- W. Saveland and D. Bray. 1980. American Trends in Cannabis Use Among States with Different Changing Legal Regimes. Bureau of Tobacco Control and Biometrics, Health and Welfare: Ottawa, as cited by E. Single in The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: an Update.
“The reduction in penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use does not appear to have been a factor in people’s decision to use or not use the drug.”?- California State Office of Narcotics and Drug Abuse. 1977. A First Report on the Impact of California’s New Marijuana Law. State Capitol: Sacramento.
“The number of [hospital] admissions directly due to marijuana use decreased from … 1970 to … 1975. In the same time, the number of admissions for drug abuse of all types, except alcohol, [also] decreased. … The following conclusion seem[s] warranted: medically significant problems from the use of marijuana have decreased coincident with decriminalizing marijuana.”?- P. Blachly. 1976. Effects of Decriminalization of Marijuana in Oregon. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 282: 405-415.
“Data collected at four points in time in Ann Arbor [Michigan] and the control communities (which underwent no change in marijuana penalties) indicated that marijuana use was not affected by the change in law [to decriminalization.]“?- R. Stuart et al. 1976. Penalty for the Possession of Marijuana: An Analysis of Some of its Concomitants. Contemporary Drug Problems 5: 553, as cited by E. Single in The Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization: an Update.
“The Dutch experience, together with those of a few other countries with more modest policy changes, provides a moderately good empirical case that removal of criminal prohibitions on cannabis possession (decriminalization) will not increase the prevalence of marijuana or any other illicit drug; the argument for decriminalization is thus strong.”?- R. MacCoun and P. Reuter. 2001. Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes. British Journal of Psychiatry 178: 123-128.
“Fear of apprehension, fear of being imprisoned, the cost of cannabis or the difficulty in obtaining cannabis do not appear to exert a strong influence on decisions about cannabis consumption. … Those factors may limit cannabis use among frequent cannabis users, but there is no evidence, as of yet, to support this conjecture.”?- D. Weatherburn and C. Jones. 2001. Does prohibition deter cannabis use? New South Wales (Australia) Bureau of Crime Statistics: Sydney.
“The available data indicate that decriminalization measures substantially reduced enforcement costs, yet had little or no impact on rates of use in the United States. In the South Australian community, none of the studies have found an impact in cannabis use which is attributable to the introduction of the Cannabis Expiation Scheme [decriminalization.]“?- E. Single et al. 2000. The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalisation in Australia and the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy 21: 157-186.
“There is no evidence to date that the CEN [decriminalization] system … Has increased levels of regular cannabis use, or rates of experimentation among young adults. These results are broadly in accord with our earlier analysis of trends in cannabis use in Australia. …They are also consistent with the results of similar analyses in the United States and the Netherlands.”?- N. Donnelly et al. 1999. Effects of the Cannabis Expiation Notice Scheme on Levels and Patterns of Cannabis Use in South Australia: Evidence from the National Drug Strategy Household Surveys 1985-1995 (Report commissioned for the National Drug Strategy Committee). Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra, Australia.
“The different laws which govern the use and sale of marijuana do not appear to have resulted in substantially different outcomes if we view those outcomes solely in terms of consumption patterns.”?- Australian Institute of Criminology, and the New South Wales Department of Politics 1997. Marijuana in Australia, patterns and attitudes. Monograph Series No. 31, Looking Glass Press (Public Affairs): Canberra, Australia.
“While the Dutch case and other analogies have flaws, they appear to converge in suggesting that reductions in criminal penalties have limited effects on drug use, at least for marijuana.” – R. MacCoun and P. Reuter. 1997. Interpreting Dutch cannabis policy: Reasoning by analogy in the legalization debate. Science 278: 47-52.
“General deterrence, or the impact of the threat of legal sanction on the cannabis use of the population at large, has been assessed in large scale surveys. These studies have compared jurisdictions in the USA and Australia where penalties have been reduced with those where they have not, and rates of use have been unaffected. … Since no deterrent impact was found, this research illustrates a high-cost, low-benefit policy in action. Therefore, if any penalty is awarded, it should be a consistent minimum one. … The greatest impact on reducing the harmful individual consequences of criminalization would be achieved by eliminating or greatly reducing the numbers of cannabis criminals processed in the first place.”?- P. Erickson and B. Fischer. 1997. Canadian cannabis policy: The impact of criminalization, the current reality and future policies. In: L. Bollinger (Ed.) Cannabis Science: From Prohibition to Human Right. Peter Lang, Frankfurt, Germany. 227-242.
“There does not appear to be a consistent pattern between arrest rates and [marijuana] prevalence rates in the [United States] general population. … Following precipitous increases, marijuana use began decreasing in the late 1970s, during a period of relative stability in arrest rates. The general deterrence effects of the law (i.e., arrest practices), are not apparent based on the intercorrelations of the measures presented here.”?- L. Harrison et al. 1995. Marijuana Policy and Prevalance.  In: P. Cohen and A. Sas (Eds.) Cannabisbeleid in Duitsland, Frankrijk en de Verenigde Staten. University of Amsterdam: Amsterdam. 248-253.
“The evidence is accumulating … that liberalization does not increase cannabis use [and] that the total prohibition approach is costly [and] ineffective as a general deterrent.”?- L. Atkinson and D. McDonald. 1995. Cannabis, the Law and Social Impacts in Australia. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 48.
“It has been demonstrated that the more or less free sale of [marijuana] for personal use in the Netherlands has not given rise to levels of use significantly higher than in countries which pursue a highly repressive policy.”?- Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. 1995. Drugs: Policy in the Netherlands: Continuity and Change. The Hague.
“It is clear … that the introduction of the CEN scheme [decriminalization] in South Australia has not produced a major increase in rates of cannabis use in South Australia by comparison with changes occurring elsewhere in Australia. … It is not possible to attribute the moderate increases in cannabis use rates in South Australia to the removal of criminal penalties for small-scale cannabis offenses in that state.”?- N. Donnelly et al. 1995. The effects of partial decriminalization on cannabis use in South Australia, 1985 to 1993. Australian Journal of Public Health 19: 281-287.
“The available evidence suggests that those jurisdictions which have decriminalized personal cannabis use have not experienced any dramatic increase in prevalence of use.” – National Drug and Alcohol Research Center. 1994. Patterns of cannabis use in Australia. Monograph Series No. 27, Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra, Australia.
“It appears clear that there is no firm basis for concluding that the introduction of the Cannabis Expiation Notice System in South Australia in 1987 has had any detrimental effect in terms of leading to increased levels of cannabis use in the Southern Australian community. … In the context of a society which is increasingly well informed about the risks associated with drug use in general, a move toward more lenient laws for small scale cannabis offenses, such as the CEN [decriminalization] system, will not lead to increased cannabis use.”?- Drug and Alcohol Services Council of South Australia, Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Unit. 1991. The Effects of Cannabis Legalization in South Australia on Levels of Cannabis Use. DASC Press: Parkside, Australia.
This week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) formally introduced LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana into the Maine legislature. This legislation would legalize the sale of as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana per week to people 21 or older at licensed retail locations. It would also permit for the cultivation of the plant in private settings. The measure has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
In a previous session, an earlier version of Russell’s legalization measure was rejected by House lawmakers by a vote of 107 to 39. States Rep. Russell: “I think there’s been a major culture shift since I introduced this bill in 2011. What we’ll see is a lot more folks ready to talk about this issue.”
This cultural shift is readily apparent in the groundswell of support this legislation has already generated. LD 1229 was introduced with the backing of 35 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Those supporting the bill were 2 tribal representatives, 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 independent. The previous version of this measure only had 4 co-sponsors.
NORML is pleased to support this historic legislation that would make Maine the third state to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. This is common sense legislation that would put Maine at the vanguard of a reform which is not only supported by over half of the country, but would also save the state precious law enforcement resources, create a new job and tax producing industry, stop the arrest of non-violent citizens, enhance protection of civil liberties, and help keep marijuana out of the hands of Maine’s children. We urge Representative Russell’s colleagues to join with her and the 35 co-sponsors of LD 1229 in taking a stand to end the state’s prohibition on marijuana and to start creating a safer Maine.
Our supporters generated hundreds of emails to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor this measure and it looks like that outpouring of support is already paying off. However, we need to keep up the momentum. If you live in Maine, please take a moment today to contact your Representative and State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so using NORML’s Take Action Center here.
House and Senate lawmakers yesterday passed an amended version of Senate Bill 50, “An Act relating to industrial hemp.” The floor votes took place with only hours to go before the close of the 2013 legislative session. Proponents of the measure acknowledged that “public pressure to pass the bill helped achieve the last-minute deal.”
The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing.
Senate Bill 50 “establishes conditions and procedures for the licensing of industrial hemp growers by the Department of Agriculture.” It designates the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission to work in concert with the state Department of Agriculture, and also tasks the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station to engage in research related to hemp production.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 88 to 4. The Senate re-approved the measure by a vote of 35 to 1.
Said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer in a prepared statement: “By passing this bill, the General Assembly has signaled that Kentucky is serious about restoring industrial hemp production to the commonwealth and doing it in the right way. That will give Kentucky’s congressional delegation more leverage when they seek a federal waiver allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.”
Federal legislation, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana is pending in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 50 now goes to the desk of Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear, who has said he shares the concerns of the Kentucky State Police who opposed the bill,” but has not stated publicly whether he intends to veto the measure.
If you live in Kentucky, click here to write the Governor and urge that he does not stand in the way of this legislation.