NORML PAC has endorsed Neda Bolourian in her campaign to represent District 2 on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland.
“NORML PAC believes that Neda will bring a fresh perspective and new leadership to the Montgomery County Council,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Her strong support for legalizing marijuana and reforming Maryland’s marijuana laws makes her a great champion for the cause. Her smart approach to these issues will help Montgomery County more effectively allocate its criminal justice and law enforcement resources away from arresting marijuana consumers and focus them more on violent crime.”
“Prohibition didn’t work in the early 20th century and it’s clear it isn’t working now. The only path forward is to promote realistic drug policies,” Neda Bolourian said, “We need full legalization and nothing less. I’m thrilled to bring the movement for drug reform to Montgomery County.”
You can read Neda’s public statement in favor of marijuana legalization on her campaign Facebook page here. To learn more about the campaign, check out their website, Facebook, and Twitter. The Democratic Primary for Maryland is scheduled for June 24th, you can consult this map of Montgomery County’s District 2 and see if Neda will be appearing on your ballot.
Today, NORML PAC is pleased to announce its endorsement of Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin in his campaign for U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District.
“NORML PAC believes strongly that Senator Ebbin has the tenacity, coalition building skills, and political acumen required to help end our country’s destructive war on marijuana consumers,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Outgoing Congressman Jim Moran has a long history of supporting important marijuana law reform proposals at the federal level and Adam Ebbin is a proven and effective leader that will carry on that important legacy by working to roll back the damage marijuana prohibition is having on families and communities across the nation.”
“I have a record of supporting decriminalization and, like President Obama, do not believe that the effects of marijuana are more harmful than alcohol,” Senator Ebbin said. “For more than a decade, I’ve been fighting for progressive causes in the General Assembly. In Virginia, marijuana-related arrests make up over 50% of all drug-related arrests, costing the state over $67 million. We must focus our time and resources on job creation, clean energy, healthcare, education, and our economy. I look forward to continuing my work for our shared progressive values as the next member of Congress from the 8th District.”
State affiliate Virginia NORML is also joining NORML PAC in their support of Senator Ebbin’s campaign.
“Virginia NORML realizes that any federal cannabis policy reform will act as a powerful catalyst for changing our state laws,” commented Virginia NORML Communications Director Duane Ludwig, “We are excited to endorse Adam Ebbin for Congress because he will be a bold, progressive advocate for fair and reasonable cannabis policy.”
In Virginia, more than 4 out of 5 residents support the legalization of medical marijuana and a majority support decriminalization. A recent poll revealed that in Northern Virginia, where the 8th Congressional District is located, over 50% of residents support fully legalizing and regulating marijuana.
The Democratic Primary for the Virginia 8th District is on June 10th. You can check your voter information and find your polling place here.
You can click here to join NORML PAC in supporting Senator Ebbin’s campaign and learn more about his platform. Below is a video from a recent NAACP candidate forum in which Senator Ebbin calls for decriminalization and legalization in addition to casting a spotlight on Arlington’s egregious racially disparate marijuana arrests.
NORML PAC is pleased to announce that it has endorsed Shenna Bellows in her campaign to represent the state of Maine in the United States Senate.
“Shenna Bellows has been at the forefront of the fight for marijuana legalization even before beginning this campaign,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “During her tenure leading the Maine ACLU, Shenna has demonstrated she has the skill and determination to fight for sensible reforms and has proven to be a vocal and articulate leader in calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. We believe she will be invaluable in the United States Senate to help move the country away from our failed war on marijuana and towards a new, smarter approach.”
“We need to end the war on drugs and reform our criminal justice system, and we cannot afford to wait. The United States incarcerates more people in total and more people per capita than any other country in the world, and the racial disparities are alarming,” Shenna Bellows wrote in a recent op-ed, “Even in my home state of Maine, which is the whitest state in the union, blacks are 2.1 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Government spends billions of dollars each year enforcing counterproductive drug laws, which are truly the New Jim Crow. The economic and human rights costs are enormous.”
While we have long had support for marijuana law reform in the House of Representative, support in the Senate has long been harder to come by. In a recent interview with ThinkProgress, Ms. Bellows has made clear she looks to kickstart the movement for rational marijuana policy in the upper chamber of Congress.
“Right now on the Senate side, there doesn’t seem to be a leader who has the courage to move that forward,” Bellows said. “I would be that leader.”
You can learn more about Shenna Bellows campaign on her website or by visiting her Facebook page.
You can donate to the NORML PAC to help elect pro-reform candidates nationwide here.
Today, NORML PAC has announced its endorsement of Delegate Heather Mizeur and her running mate Delman Coates for Governor and Lt. Governor of Maryland.
Delegate Mizeur has made marijuana legalization a central plank in her campaign platform. Under her proposed plan, the state would generate $158 million for early-childhood education, enough to cover 23,600 children annually from revenue produced from regulated marijuana sales.
This reform is desperately needed in Maryland. According to a 2013 ACLU report, Maryland possesses one of the highest rates of marijuana possession arrests of any state in the country. Maryland arrests over 23,000 individuals for simple marijuana possession every year, at the cost over of 100 million dollars. Despite only constituting 30% of the state’s population and having similar use rates to their white counterparts, African Americans account for 58% of the state’s marijuana possession arrests.
“Maryland’s marijuana laws have ruined lives, been enforced with racial bias, and keep law enforcement from focusing their time and resources on more violent crime,” Mizeur stated, “We’re proud to have NORML PAC’s support in the effort to make Maryland the next state to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.”
Heather is currently the only Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Maryland to support marijuana legalization.
“NORML PAC is pleased to endorse Delegate Heather Mizeur in her campaign to become the next governor of Maryland,” said Erik Altieri, NORML PAC Manager. “We believe Del. Mizeur and her running mate Delman Coates will provide the leadership required to help Maryland move towards a new, smarter approach to marijuana.”
NORML Comm. Director Erik Altieri, PA Gubernatorial Candidate John Hanger, and Philly NORML Co-Director Chris Goldstein
At press conferences held in Philadelphia and Harrisburg on Wednesday, and one in Pittsburgh today, NORML PAC announced its endorsement of Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate John Hanger.
John Hanger is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and has made marijuana law reform a central plank in his platform. He has released a three step plan for marijuana law reform that advocates for medical marijuana and decriminalization immediately upon taking office in 2015 and to move to full legalization by 2017.
At the press conference, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri stated, “Hanger is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to openly discuss and campaign on a platform that calls for widespread reform of Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws. Since the start of his campaign, John Hanger has been a passionate and outspoken advocate of ending Pennsylvania’s war on marijuana and moving the state towards a smarter approach.”
In an interview with NORML conducted earlier this year, John Hanger stated his belief that marijuana law reformers can elect the next governor. “We can win this issue in May 2014, by my winning that primary,” Hanger said, “It will shock the political establishment and accelerate the changing of the laws by years in Pennsylvania and around the country. I believe Pennsylvania is seen as a bellwether. If marijuana reform can win in Pennsylvania, it can win anywhere.”
For more information on John Hanger’s campaign, you can visit his website or Facebook.
VOTER NOTE: Since the Republicans are running current governor Tom Corbett for reelection, there will only be a Democratic primary in this election which will be held in May 2014. To vote in this primary, you must be registered Democrat. You can change your party affiliation, then change it back, at any time by sending in a new voter registration application and marking “Change of Party” where given the option. More information on Pennsylvania voting can be found here.
Judge Richard Posner serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, he also wants marijuana to be legalized.
During a September 6th speech at Elmhurst College, the federal judge lambasted the war on cannabis. “I don’t think we should have a fraction of the drug laws that we have,” proclaimed Posner to loud applause, “I think it’s really absurd to be criminalizing possession or use or distribution of marijuana.”
Posner went on to state that our drug laws are “a waste of a lot of high quality legal minds, and it’s also a waste of people’s lives who could be as least moderately productive with having to spend year after year in prison. That is a serious problem.”
We here at NORML couldn’t agree more and applaud Judge Posner for having the courage to speak the truth from his high ranking position and for setting a bold example for his colleagues. You can view the entirety of his speech below:
More than 100 members of the academic community from across Colorado and throughout the nation have signed on to the following letter endorsing Amendment 64. These college professors represent various fields of study, including economics, law, and public health, among others, and they all agree: marijuana prohibition has failed, and the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado presents a sensible alternative.
Please read the letter below and check out the impressive list of signatories here.
To the Voters of Colorado:
As professors in the fields of law, health, economics, and criminal justice, among others, we write this open letter to encourage a sensible, evidence-based approach to marijuana policy, and to endorse Amendment 64, the initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.
For decades, our country has pursued a policy of marijuana prohibition that has been just as ineffective and wasteful as alcohol prohibition. We have reviewed Amendment 64 and concluded that it presents an effective, responsible, and much-needed new approach for Colorado and the nation.
Marijuana prohibition has proven to be the worst possible system when it comes to protecting teens, driving marijuana into the underground market where proof of age is not required and where other illegal products might be available. In a regulated system, marijuana sales will be taken off the streets and put behind a counter where age restrictions are strictly enforced. There is evidence that regulating marijuana works. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana use among Colorado high school students declined from 2009 to 2011, the time during which the state began regulating medical marijuana sale. Meanwhile, it increased nationwide, where no such regulations were implemented.
Given our current economic climate, we must evaluate the efficacy of expensive government programs and make responsible decisions about the use of state resources. Enforcing marijuana prohibition is wasting our state’s limited criminal justice resources and eroding respect for the law. Our communities would be better served if the resources we currently spend to investigate, arrest, and prosecute people for marijuana offenses each year were redirected to focus on violent and otherwise harmful crimes. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, passage of Amendment 64 would immediately save local and state law enforcement officials more than $12 million per year, and it could save more than $36 million per year within the first five years. Paired with new state and local revenues, the initiative has the potential to generate more than $120 million per year for Colorado and its localities.
It is also important to note that Amendment 64 does not change existing laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana, and it allows employers to maintain all of their current employment and drug-testing policies.
The State of Colorado, as well as our nation, have successfully walked the path from prohibition to regulation in the past. Eighty years ago, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative to repeal alcohol prohibition at the state level, which was followed by repeal at the federal level. This year, we have the opportunity to do the same thing with marijuana and once again lead the nation toward more sensible, evidence-based laws and policies.
Please join us in supporting Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Click here to read the full list of professors who have signed on. You can learn more about Amendment 64 and the campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado by visiting the campaign’s website here or by staying up to date with Colorado NORML here.
This morning, the Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana conference of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) endorsed Amendment 64, a Colorado ballot initiative that aims to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. This adds to the growing list of organizations getting behind the ballot measure, which already includes groups such as the Democratic and Libertarian Parties of Colorado, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
Speaking in support of the endorsement, conference president Rosemary Harris Lytle stated, “In ending the prohibition against adult use of marijuana we might affect mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on African-Americans and other people of color.”
The latest polls show growing support for Amendment 64 among Colorado citizens, particularly driven by an influx of support from independent voters. When first polled in early June, a Public Policy Polling survey had support for the initiative at 46% to 42% opposed. In early August, PPP conducted their first survey of “likely” Colorado voters, and the spread had increased to 49% support and only 40% opposed. During that time, independent voters moved from 49% support and 40% opposed in June to 58% support and 28% opposed in August.
Learn more about Amendment 64 by visiting the campaign’s website here. You can also learn about all the other ways marijuana law reform comes into play during the 2012 election by reading NORML’s online voter guide “Smoke the Vote.”
Earlier this year, the Colorado Democrats announced their support for marijuana legalization in their 2012 party platform. On June 9th, the Texas Democrats endorsed marijuana decriminalization. Last weekend, the North Carolina Democratic Party added resolutions supporting medical cannabis and industrial hemp. Now, the Iowa Democratic party is the latest one lining up to support sensible marijuana laws.
At their state convention on June 16th, the Iowa Democrats adopted their 2012 platform. Two of the policies endorsed within were medical cannabis use and the industrial cultivation of hemp. You can view the full 2012 Iowa Democratic Party platform here.
Also worth noting, on June 2nd, the Washington State Democratic Party built upon their earlier endorsement of their state’s legalization initiative, I-502, by adding support for full marijuana legalization and medical cannabis as planks in their party platform. You can view the 2012 Washington State Democratic Party Platform here. Recent data from Public Policy Polling has shown the majority Washington State voters support I-502.
Hot on the heels of the Texas Democratic Party’s endorsement of marijuana decriminalization, the North Carolina Democratic Party endorsed two resolutions in support of marijuana law reform of their own. On Saturday, June 16th, the party held their state convention in Raleigh, NC. During this meeting they passed two reform minded resolutions, one calling for the legalization of medical marijuana and one for the industrial cultivation of hemp. The official text of the resolutions are as follows:
51. IN SUPPORT OF LEGALIZING MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN NORTH CAROLINA (11TH CD)
WHEREAS, “Medical Marijuana” has been demonstrated to be an effective drug for treatment of certain human ailments; and
WHEREAS, Current North Carolina law denies doctors the right to treat patients by prescribing
Medical Marijuana; and
WHEREAS, Many states currently allow doctors to prescribe Medical Marijuana, a policy resulting in relief from pain and suffering for their patients; and
WHEREAS, Many other treatments legally prescribed by doctors are known to be extremely dangerous when misused.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the State of North Carolina grant doctors the right to prescribe Medical Marijuana in the same way they prescribe other drugs; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That the State of North Carolina legalize the use of Medical Marijuana.
52. IN SUPPORT OF THE RENEWAL OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP AS AN AGRICULTURAL CROP IN NORTH CAROLINA (11TH CD)
WHEREAS, in 2006, the N.C. State Legislature passed a Bill (House 1723/Senate 1572) to create an independent commission to study the beneficial uses of industrial hemp, among other studies, but there has never been any report or follow through to the study, and
WHEREAS, American companies are forced to import millions of dollar’s worth of hemp seed and fiber products annually from Canada, Europe, and China, thereby effectively denying American farmers an opportunity to compete and share in the profits; and
WHEREAS, nutritious hemp foods can be found in grocery stores nationwide and strong durable hemp fibers can be found in the interior parts of millions of American cars; and
WHEREAS, buildings are being constructed using hemp and lime mixture, thereby sequestering carbon; and
WHEREAS, retail sales of hemp products in this country are estimated to be over $400 million annually; and
WHEREAS, industrial hemp is a high-value low input crop that is not genetically modified, requires little or no pesticides, can be dry land farmed, and uses less fertilizer than wheat and corn; and
WHEREAS, the reluctance of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to permit industrial hemp farming is denying agricultural producers in this country the ability to benefit from a high value, low-input crop, which can provide significant economic benefits to producers and manufacturers; and
WHEREAS, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration has the authority under the Controlled Substances Act to allow this state to regulate industrial hemp farming under existing laws and without requiring individual federal applications and licenses.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That N.C. Democratic Party urge legislators to recognize industrial hemp as a valuable agricultural commodity; to define industrial hemp in Federal law as non-psychoactive and genetically identifiable species of the genus Cannabis; to acknowledge that allowing and encouraging farmers to produce industrial hemp will improve the balance of trade by promoting domestic sources of industrial hemp; and to assist United States producers by removing barriers to State regulation of the commercial production of industrial hemp; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we urge the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to allow the State to regulate industrial hemp farming under existing state laws and regulations, or those to be passed, without requiring federal applications, licenses, or fees; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Secretary of State shall forward copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, and to each member of the state’s Congressional Delegation.
When politicians long considered opposed to marijuana law reform, such as those in Texas and North Carolina, openly endorse rational marijuana policy measures, you have to ask yourself: Just how many more dominos need to fall before our federal politicians finally wake up and end our country’s war on cannabis consumers? At lest one thing is certain, however, and that is all the momentum is behind reform and these recent victories for sensible marijuana laws are only just the beginning.