Archive for the ‘Cannabis-related Legislation’ category

Show-Me Cannabis Legalization

November 16th, 2011

Efforts are currently underway to put marijuana legalization on the ballot in Missouri next year. Missouri NORML and Show-me Cannabis Regulation are working together to acquire the number of signatures required to put a Constitutional amendment proposal before Missouri voters in November 2012. Missouri now joins several other states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) that are looking to put the issue of cannabis legalization before voters next election.

If you live in Missouri, and want to get involved, MO NORML and Show-me Cannabis Regulation will be holding a strategy meeting this Saturday, November 19th. For more information see the message below from Dan Viets, Missouri NORML Coordinator.

Dear Friends and Supporters of Missouri NORML:

Missouri NORML in conjunction with Show-Me Cannabis Regulation is holding a special meeting next Saturday, November 19, 2011 from noon to 6:00 p.m. at the Arts & Science building at the University of Missouri here in Columbia. this event will be a kickoff for the campaign to place marijuana legalization on the Missouri ballot in November, 2012.

We will be brainstorming ideas for how to move this campaign forward effectively and efficiently. We will be sharing ideas with our fellow activists from the state of Missouri. We will be talking with folks who have experience in similar campaigns to get their advice on how we can gather the signatures we need as quickly as possible.

SMCR has chosen to proceed with a Constitutional amendment proposal. This means we will need to gather nearly 150,000 signatures on petitions to place this issue on the ballot before next May. We will need the help of every one of our supporters to make this happen.

Following the meeting Saturday afternoon, we will hold a Dinner/Party/Fundraising event at one of Columbia’s finest restaurants. We ask everyone who attends to please bring something, large or small, which can be auctioned to help us raise funds for the campaign.

Please join us and become part of this historic effort to end the terrible injustice of cannabis prohibition in Missouri. For more information about the proposed initiative, go to www.showmecannabis.org. There is a football game in Columbia next Saturday so hotel and motel rooms will be in short supply. If you plan to stay in Columbia, you should probably search for a room immediately. You may need to look at accommodations in towns nearby since the hotels here may be full.

Sincerely,
Dan Viets, Missouri NORML Coordinator

You can see coverage of the proposal on Missouri’s local FOX affiliate here.

Medical marijuana turns 15 years old – Has it reached its zenith?

November 4th, 2011

Tomorrow, November 5th, 2011, marks the fifteenth anniversary of California’s passage of Prop 215, The Compassionate Use Act. The Act passed with 55.58% of the vote and remains the greatest achievement in marijuana law reform in the “War on Drugs” era.

NORML's Chart of Legalization Polls - data compiled by Russ Belville from various organizations asking a form of the question "Should marijuana be legalized in America?" (click graphic for full-sized version)

The successes of Prop 215 are well documented.  Two years following its passage, the rest of the West Coast and Alaska passed their own medical marijuana initiatives, with close to equal (OR 55%) or greater (WA 59% & AK 58%) support than California voters gave Prop 215.

The next decade saw twelve more states and the District of Columbia passing medical marijuana laws, with seven of those states doing so through the legislature.  Five of the citizen initiatives topped 60% support.  As states passed medical marijuana, some added more conditions for qualification, some legislated dispensary operations, and the most recent have instituted protections for the rights of patients to drive, work, have a home, get an organ transplant, and raise their kids.  In some ways, medical marijuana has improved in fifteen years.

In the 21st Century, medical marijuana support has flatlined and support for legalization of marijuana has almost doubled.

But a closer examination reveals a reform strategy that has stalled out and may even be in decline.  The last election saw Oregon fail to pass a dispensary measure for the second time with about the same support after six years.  South Dakota defeated medical marijuana with only 36% support, a drop of 12 points since they tried in 2006.  Arizona only barely passed medical marijuana with 50.13% support, when they had previously seen 65% in 1996 and 64% in a 1998 referendum (both 1990’s Arizona Acts were invalidated.)

Indeed, the national polls show a stalling on the medical marijuana issue as well.  When Gallup asked about support for medical marijuana and legalized marijuana in 1999, support was 73% and 29%, respectively.  We assume that someone who supports legalization for healthy people probably supports legalization for sick people, too, so that means 44% of those polled only support medical marijuana, not legalization.  But in the latest 2011 poll, legalization support has hit 50% while in the 2010 poll, medical support had dropped to 70%, down 8 points since 2005.  How has the support for legalization doubled (25% to 50%) since Prop 215 while support for making a medical exception to criminal marijuana has flatlined?

Your Bill of Rights does not fully apply in the shaded states

We’ve seen how courts, legislatures, and law enforcement have supported medical exceptions – by trying to make those exceptions as narrow and costly as possible.  No state followed California’s lead in making marijuana available by doctor’s recommendation for any other illness for which marijuana provides relief”, instead crafting strict condition lists and patient registries.  The West Coast standard of a dozen or more home-grown plants became 3-6 plants or no home growing at all.  The precedent of a half-pound or more of usable medicine became 1 or 2 ounces, tracked to the gram and filmed at all times.  Courts all across the Ninth Circuit have ruled that medical marijuana use does not protect patients from job discrimination and patients still experience housing, child custody, and medical procedure discrimination on a daily basis.

Medical marijuana laws have become stricter since California's Prop 215

Oregon legislators proclaimed the medical marijuana program rife with abuse on the sole evidence that 50,000 patients had signed on, so they doubled the mandatory registry fee (up to ten times greater if you’re poor and previously got a discounted fee) to reduce the medical marijuana registry numbers.  Oregon sheriffs are in agreement with the ATF that patients have no Second Amendment rights.  Colorado legislators passed a series of medical marijuana business regulations making it more difficult and expensive to operate a dispensary than a liquor store and impossible to be a personal caregiver who just supplies marijuana to a patient.  Montana outright repealed medical marijuana, saved only by a governor’s veto, only to enact new strict regulations to decimate (literally) the medical marijuana program.  California localities continue to restrict dispensary operations.  Washington’s governor vetoed a dispensary measure.  Arizona’s governor is stonewalling implementation of dispensaries.  Alaska, Maine, Nevada, and Vermont still have fewer than 1,000 protected patients.  New Jersey and District of Columbia leaders are dragging their feet and haven’t implemented their programs yet.

What don't we have on site? Spell check.

The basis of medical marijuana restrictions and discrimination depends on a federal Schedule I designation that defines the use of cannabis by healthy people a criminal act.  These restrictions, dropping poll numbers, and failing medical marijuana initiatives indicate a substantial portion of Americans that believe “compassionate use” is a ruse (I wonder what gave them that idea?).

I believe that there are three basic stands on medical marijuana among the voters not personally invested in the issue:

  1. The people who believe pot smoking is evil and will never support anyone using it for any reason (“prohibitionists”).
  2. The people who believe pot smoking is evil, but letting cancer and AIDS patients suffer is more evil (“medicalizers”).
  3. The people who don’t believe pot smoking is evil and would allow any adult to use it (“legalizers”).

If there are 1.5 million pot smokers protected from arrest by medical marijuana laws, why have marijuana arrests continued to climb?

The prohibitionists will never support medical marijuana and the legalizers have always supported medical marijuana.  So the fate of any medical marijuana proposal rests on whether a coalition of legalizers and medicalizers can form a majority.  Over the past fifteen years, forming that majority has required more restrictive definitions of medical marijuana to assuage the medicalizers who increasingly think evil pot smokers are getting through the loopholes.  Worse, forming that coalition requires legalizers to tacitly agree that healthy pot smoking is evil.

When medical marijuana began in the Nineties, the rallying cry was “If there’s going to be a ‘War on Drugs’, let’s get the sick and dying off the battlefield.”  If that’s the case, why do we continue to see a rise in “casualties” on the battlefield?  Even in medical marijuana states, annual arrests of cannabis consumers continue to rise.  All medical marijuana has done for marijuana convicts is improve their population’s average level of health in sixteen states.

It's time to stand up for healthy marijuana users

Medical marijuana started a revitalization of marijuana activism.  But I believe it has reached a point where any future medical marijuana laws will have to be increasingly restrictive.  And the near future holds DEA rescheduling of plant THC for use by Big Pharma in devices that will provide all the medical relief without the “high”, which will cleave some of the medicalizers away from further reforms.  We’ve gotten to a point in time where half as many people only support “medical legalization” over a decade and support of legalization for all adults now outnumbers opposition for the first time.

This is not to argue that we give up on medical marijuana campaigns.  It is to argue that the campaigns need to be re-framed away from “Oh, no, this isn’t legalization at all!” to “Yes, we’re going to legalize for sick people first”.  Until marijuana is supported as a good thing for all and not an evil thing we allow medical exceptions for, medical marijuana patients will remain in second-class citizenship and healthy marijuana smokers will remain behind bars.

This Week in Weed: September 18th – 24th

September 24th, 2011

This Week in WeedNow streaming on NORMLtv is the latest episode of “This Week in Weed.”

This Week: thousands of Americans take a stand for marijuana legalization, a study looks at marijuana dispensaries’ effect on crime rates, and we review Dutch coffee shops and their influence on youth drug use.

Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv each Thursday afternoon to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to be notified as soon as new content is added.

If you haven’t signed the petition already, you may do so by clicking above.

This Week in Weed: September 11th – 17th

September 16th, 2011

This Week in WeedNow streaming on NORMLtv is the latest episode of “This Week in Weed.”

This Week: a congressman calls upon Drug Czar Kerlikowse to reschedule marijuana, per se THC limits for drugged driving stall out in Colorado, and the biggest marijuana rally on the east coast is about to commence.

Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv each Thursday afternoon to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to be notified as soon as new content is added.

Congressman Steve Cohen Demands The Obama Administration Reschedule Marijuana

September 13th, 2011

Tennessee Congressman Steven Cohen (D) is urging the Obama administration to rethink its support for the criminal prohibition of marijuana. Rep. Cohen is a longtime critic of marijuana prohibition (Watch him grill FBI Director Robert Mueller over the claim that cannabis is a ‘gateway drug’ here) and a primary co-sponsor of HR 2306: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.

This week, Rep. Cohen sent a letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske calling on the agency to support changing marijuana’s status as a schedule I prohibited drug and to respect the laws of states that have legalized it for its medical utility.

“There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine,” states Cohen, “and should not be treated as such.”

He adds: “We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely on the benefits that marijuana provides. I strongly recommend that this administration allow states that have chosen to legalize medical marijuana to enact strong regulations without fear of prosecution. [W]e should not interfere with the will of the people to enact these compassionate laws.”

You can view the entirety of his letter below:

Ask the Republican Candidates Where They Stand on Cannabis Reform

September 12th, 2011

Google and Fox News will host a debate between Republican primary candidates in Orlando on September 22nd. Similar to the “social media townhalls” President Obama has previously hosted, this debate will consist exclusively of questions submitted by the public. This forum provides advocates with a unique opportunity to put these presidential hopefuls on record regarding their position on marijuana law reform.

NORML has submitted a question for consideration:

“As president, would you stand up for states’ rights by ending federal marijuana prohibition and allow them to experiment with models of decriminalization and legalization without federal interference?”

Here is how you can voice your support and promote this question:

Step 1: Go to Fox News’ Youtube page here.

Step 2: Click the “Vote” tab at the top of the page.

Step 3: In the topics box, select “Social Issues”

Step 4: Click “Video Questions.”

Step 5: You should see our video question towards the top of the list, look for the NORML logo in the thumbnail. Click the thumbs up icon next to the question.

The current line up of candidates have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the current policies of President Obama, yet most have remained silent on the topic of marijuana law reform (that is, of course, excluding Ron Paul). Take a moment of your time to vote up our question, if these candidates want your vote, don’t you deserve to know where they stand on cannabis?

This Week in Weed: August 28th – September 3rd

September 1st, 2011

This Week in WeedNow streaming on NORMLtv is the latest edition of “This Week in Weed.” This new weekly video series covers the most newsworthy stories shaping the marijuana law reform world. This week a new study is released on cannabis use and obesity, Arkansas lowers marijuana penalties, and the DEA continues to reject proposals to grow cannabis for research purposes.

Be sure to tune in to NORMLtv each Thursday afternoon to catch up on the latest marijuana news. Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to get notified as soon as new content is added.

Legalization Week: Oregon, California, Colorado, Washington Activists on Ballot Initiatives for 2012

August 19th, 2011

Weekdays 1pm, 4pm, and 10pm Pacific, on http://live.norml.org

This week on NORML SHOW LIVE we took a look at four states where activists are proposing multiple ballot initiatives to legalize… or “sensibly regulate”… marijuana for all adults, even healthy ones. We covered Oregon, California, Colorado, and Washington, click the Full Story link below to get the lineup of interviewees and videos.

Join us online for our live coverage this weekend at Seattle Hempfest.  We have interviews scheduled with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Councilman Nick Licata, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Washington Rep. Roger Goodman, Washington Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, and US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, plus all the activist luminaries and performing artists we can snag!  Check out our NORML Stage Schedule for more info.

Watch the Legalization Week interviews here.