Archive for the ‘marijuana’ category

Press Release: Comprehensive, Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced to Congress

March 10th, 2015
Contact: Darby Beck                                                                      For Immediate Release:
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                     March 10, 2015
415.823.5496


COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION BILL INTRODUCED TO CONGRESS

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Introduce Bipartisan CARERS Act

Today, a comprehensive bipartisan medical marijuana legalization bill was introduced to Congress that would prevent federal law enforcement agencies from interfering in state medical marijuana laws. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act would recognize marijuana’s medical validity by rescheduling it from Schedule I (no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse) into Schedule II (some medical value and high potential for abuse). This would allow banks greater freedom to provide financial services to state-legal medical dispensaries, improve transportability of the drug, and open doors for scientific research. Currently, medical marijuana patients, dispensary owners and cultivators are still in violation of federal law, and could be subject to federal prosecution. This has remained an obstacle for many other states that would otherwise be considering similar policies.

“Whether patients have safe access to medicine is a public health issue, not a criminal justice one,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,a law enforcement group opposed to the war on drugs. “If this bill passes many patients who could benefit from medical marijuana will no longer have to forego treatment for fear of arrest, be considered criminals for obtaining necessary medication, or put themselves in danger by accessing a dangerous unregulated market. We would never put underground drug dealers in charge of selling chemotherapy drugs or antidepressants, and we shouldn’t be putting them in control of marijuana either.”

If passed, the CARERS Act would adjust banking regulations so that financial institutions could provide banking services to marijuana businesses operating in accordance with state law. This has been a major obstacle, forcing dispensaries to operate as cash-only businesses, creating serious logistical problems and opening them up to all sorts of security concerns.

The bill would also remove a requirement that the Department of Health and Human Services do a public health service review before approving studies and end the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s current monopoly on marijuana research by allowing for at least three more research licenses to be granted. Overwhelming anecdotal evidence - and what little domestic research that has been approved - clearly support the medical efficacy of marijuana, but because research is rarely permitted for Schedule I substances, the scientific community has been unable to fully and accurately assess its effectiveness for specific conditions in controlled settings. If passed, the bill would also permit VA doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients who often suffer from combat related depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The State of Colorado recently awarded $2 million dollars to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies for research into the effects of marijuana use on veterans with PTSD.

Finally, it would allow states to import CBD products, which contain a powerful compound found in marijuana that reduces the incidence and severity of seizures in epileptic patients. Twelve states currently have laws allowing for some form of access to CBD, though these laws are not generally considered full “medical marijuana laws” because CBD as an extracted substance has fewer applications than medications using the whole plant. They remain attractive to some policymakers, however, because they exclude THC, a psychoactive but medically useful cannabinoid.

Last year, President Obama signed into law the federal “Cromnibus” spending bill, which includes a provision that prevents the Department of Justice from using its money to create barriers for medical marijuana laws and legally operating dispensaries in those states where it is legal. In addition to the dozen states that allow CBD use, twenty three states and the District of Columbia allow some degree of medical marijuana access, and many more state legislatures are considering such measures as well.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have fueled dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction, all while spending more than a trillion dollars diverting the penal system's attention away from more important violent crimes.


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Press Release: Michael Botticelli Confirmed as Drug Czar

February 10th, 2015
Contact: Darby Beck                                                                      For Immediate Release:
darby.beck@leap.cc                                                                                February 10, 2015
415.823.5496


MICHAEL BOTTICELLI CONFIRMED AS DRUG CZAR

Recovered Alcoholic Takes Top Spot at ONDCP

Washington D.C. – President Obama’s nominee for director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), acting director Michael Botticelli, was confirmed by the Senate 92-0 yesterday, granting him one of the nation’s highest drug-control offices. A recovered alcoholic with extensive career experience in public health, the new “drug czar,” as he is informally known, has potential to take more of a public health approach than did his predecessors, including former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, the most recent officeholder,  who was confirmed as Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection last March. Botticelli has recently stated that Congress shouldn’t interfere with the will of D.C. voters to legalize marijuana, despite the ONDCP’s official stance on legalization. Last week, he was quoted in a conference call saying that the ONDCP will bar federal funding from drug courts that prevent access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction.

“Appointing someone who personally understands addiction provides hope that the government is taking a stronger public health approach to drug policy,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Botticelli understands that it doesn’t make sense to treat drug users as criminals, because imprisonment has never proven to be effective at reducing abuse.”

Botticelli was arrested for drunk driving in 1988, and worked toward sobriety thereafter. He then dedicated his career to helping others recover. Botticelli joined the Massachusetts Department of Heath, and eventually served as director of substance abuse services from 2003 to 2012. As director, he oversaw a program in Quincy that gave police access to naloxone, a drug that saves lives by safely reversing opiate overdoses. His career is celebrated as one that prioritizes public health and safety for those who battle addiction, by instituting humane, effective and compassionate policies and programs. 

LEAP is a nonprofit of criminal justice professionals who know the war on drugs has created a public safety nightmare of increased gang violence, police militarization and the fueling of dangerous underground markets.


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Federal Omnibus Includes Amendment to Prohibit DOJ/DEA From Interfering With State Medical Marijuana

December 9th, 2014

marijuana_seedlingThe final version of the House omnibus appropriations bill includes the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year. The amendment restricts the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from using taxpayer funds to interfere in state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs in the 20+ states that have enacted them.

NORML supporters have rallied in favor of this provision, with over 22,000 emails and countless direct calls being directed at federal lawmakers regarding the amendment this year.

“This amendment is an important step towards relieving the tension between federal and state policy when it comes to medical marijuana,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “By restricting these agencies in this manner, the nearly two dozen states that implemented medical marijuana programs can hopefully breathe easier knowing federal money won’t be spent to interfere with their progress. We hope this leads to further reforms at the federal level further enshrining this sentiment into law.”

The House is expect to hold a final vote on this bill in the next couple of days, with a Senate vote to follow. You can read the full bill here.

URGENT: Congress Attempting to Block DC Legalization

December 9th, 2014

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Congress is finalizing their appropriations bills for the coming year, the final draft going around includes a provision blocking DC’s marijuana legalization measure from being implemented.

From The Washington Post:

Tucked in the massive spending bill needed to prevent a federal government shutdown may be a measure sought by conservative House Republicans to halt marijuana legalization in the nation’s capital, advocates for the measure say.

Seven in 10 D.C. voters backed an initiative last month to follow Colorado and Washington state in legalizing marijuana.

But three people who have been closely tracking the issue say budget negotiators in the Democratic-controlled Senate have agreed to curb the popular measure. Congress has the power to do so by restricting city spending.

Congressional Republicans have previously used the technique, known as a spending “rider,” to prevent the heavily Democratic city from spending money on abortion coverage for the poor. For 11 years, one was used to prevent D.C. from implementing a voter-backed measure to allow medical marijuana.”

SOURCE

Time is quickly expiring to change this, we NEED all of you to call House and Senate leadership and tell them this is an unacceptable flouting of the democratic process.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – (202) 224-2541
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – (202) 224-3542
House Majority Leader John Boehner – (202) 225-0600
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – (202) 225-4965

Suggested talking points: “I’m calling today to ask you to please stand up for the will of Washington, DC voters and the principles of democracy. Please reject efforts to overturn the voter approved DC marijuana legalization initiative. DC residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of this measure and it goes against the democratic spirit of our country to attempt to block this measure from going into place. Thank you.”

Do your part to help defend the will of DC voters and ensure that Initiative 71 is properly implemented. TAKE ACTION NOW.

2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report: Marijuana Arrests Down, Still Cost Over 457 Million Annually

November 10th, 2014

norml_remember_prohibition2The FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report was released this morning and provides an updated look at the total number of marijuana arrests law enforcement made across the country in 2013.

The good news is that numbers are down slightly from 2012’s arrest figures. In 2012, there were about 749,825 marijuana arrests (compared to 757,969 in 2011).

The new report shows a modest decrease in arrests. In 2013, there was a total of 693,481 arrests made for marijuana charges, with the overwhelming majority of these being for simple possession. Law enforcement made about 609,423 arrests for possession alone, a decrease of 48,808 arrests compared to 2012. While we may be seeing slight decreases due to the growing number of states who have begun to reform their marijuana policies, the fact that over 600,000 individuals are still being arrested for a non-violent act shows how much work we have left to do in ending our disastrous prohibition of marijuana.

Using the ACLU low-level estimate of cost per arrest ($750), the minimum enforcement cost for the 609,423 individuals put in handcuffs for just marijuana possession in 2013 would be in excess of $457,067,250.

(NOTE: Numbers in this reporting were rounded to the nearest decimal point. You can read the full Uniform Crime Report here.)

NORML PAC Candidates Sweep US House Races

November 5th, 2014

All seven of NORML PAC’s publicly endorsed candidates for the US House of Representatives won decisively in yesterday’s midterm election.

These include:

Rep. Alan Grayson for Congress (FL-09)
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress (NJ-12)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer for Congress (OR-03)
Rep. Steve Cohen for Congress (TN-9)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke for Congress (TX-16)
Rep. Denny Heck for Congress (WA-10)
Rep. Jared Polis for Congress (CO-02)

These candidates all endorsed the full legalization of marijuana and are dedicated to championing reform at the federal level in the 114th Congress. We fully expect these individuals to be instrumental in introducing and advancing important legislation when they begin their new session in January.

“What is really worth noting,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Is that all of our endorsements for the US House of Representatives happened to be Democrats and all won by large margins in a year where others in their party were getting handily defeated nationwide. Perhaps this, coupled with solid wins for legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, will send a message to Democratic Party members across the country that it is not only good policy to support marijuana legalization, but good politics.”

Also winning their elections were NORML PAC endorsed New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker and Maine State Representative Diane Russell.

Want to help us continue to elect pro-reform candidates across the country? DONATE to NORML PAC today!

First Victory: Voters in Guam Set to Approve Medical Marijuana

November 4th, 2014

pot_shopWith 56 of 58 precincts reporting, voters in Guam have approved a medical marijuana measure with over 56% of the vote.

You can read the details of the measure here. When implemented, it would allow patients in Guam to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana from their physician and purchase marijuana from approved dispensary locations.

Stay tuned to NORML Blog for the latest on the 2014 Marijuana Midterm. Live coverage will begin this evening.

MARIJUANA MIDTERM: Smoke the Vote November 4th

November 3rd, 2014

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Tomorrow is Election Day and voters across the country will be faced with measures regarding marijuana law reform and some difficult legislative races. To help keep you on top of all the upcoming votes, we are issuing this helpful primer on what races to watch as the results begin to roll in. Don’t forget, we will be running live election coverage right here on blog.norml.org all night, so check back in tomorrow evening to stay on top of all the breaking exit polls, news stories, and official results. Don’t forget to get out and cast your ballot, click here if you need help finding your polling place and other voting information.

On the Ballot:

Voters in three states and in numerous municipalities, including Washington, DC, will decide this Election Day on ballot measures seeking to significantly amend marijuana laws.

Voters in Alaska will decide on Ballot Measure 2, which seeks to legalize the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants for personal consumption. The measure would also allow for the establishment of licensed, commercial cannabis production and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to those over the age of 21. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis would be subject to taxation, but no taxes would be imposed upon those who choose to engage in non-commercial activities (e.g., growing small quantities of marijuana for personal use and/or engaging in not-for-profit transfers of limited quantities of cannabis.) Public consumption of cannabis would be subject to a civil fine.

Voters in California will decide on Proposition 47, which seeks to reduce penalties for various drug possession crimes, including offenses involving the possession of hashish or other concentrated forms of cannabis.

Voters in Florida will decide on a constitutional amendment (Amendment 2) that would permit physicians the discretion to authorize cannabis therapy to their patients. The measure would also direct the state Department of Health to establish regulations for the establishment of licensed medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries. Under the proposal, authorized patients would not be permitted to cultivate their own marijuana. Because the proposal seeks to amend the Florida state constitution, it requires the support of more than 60 percent of voters in order for passage.

Voters in Oregon will decide on Measure 91, which seeks to regulate the commercial production, retail sale, and personal use of marijuana by adults. Adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana at a given time) will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations. Passage of the initiative would not “amend or affect in any way the function, duties, and powers of the Oregon Health Authority under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.”

Citizens residing in the US territory Guam will decide on Proposal 14A, the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act. If approved by voters, the measure would “direct the Department of Public Health and Social Services to regulate the use of marijuana as treatment for medical conditions.” The Department would have up to nine months following the law’s passage to provide rules for the territory’s medical marijuana program.

In the District of Columbia, voters will decide on Initiative 71, which would remove criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants. Adults who engage in not-for-profit transactions of small quantities of cannabis or who possess marijuana-related paraphernalia would also no longer be subject to penalty under this act. The measure would not establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial cannabis market. Because Washington, DC does not possess statehood, all District laws are subject to Congressional approval prior to their implementation.

In Maine, voters in the cities of Lewiston and South Portland will decide on municipal measures eliminating local penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis.

In Massachusetts, voters in eight select districts in the state will decide on non-binding public policy questions asking, “Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana in the same manner as alcohol?” There will also be several other ballot questions regarding the legalization of marijuana in other locations, you can read about these in-depth here and here.

In Michigan, voters in eleven cities – Berkley, Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Huntington Woods, Lapeer, Mt. Pleasant, Onaway, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, and Saginaw – will decide on local ballot measures seeking to depenalize minor marijuana possession offenses by adults.

In New Mexico, voters in Bernalillo will decide on a non-binding countywide ballot measure asking citizens whether to reduce minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor to a fine-only, civil offense.

Voters in several additional cities in California and Colorado will also decide on Election Day on various measures specific to marijuana cultivation, taxation, and dispensing. Washington state voters will also decide on an advisory measure (Advisory Vote No. 8) in regard to agricultural tax preferences for the marijuana industry.

NORML PAC Candidates:

The NORML Political Action Committee has made endorsements of candidates in a variety of states. View the below list to see if a NORML PAC endorsed candidate will be on the ballot in your state:

US House of Representatives

US Senate

Other:

Be sure to stay tuned to blog.norml.org for coverage all Election Day, including a live blog in the evening as the results begin pouring in. Most importantly, don’t forget to get to your local polling place and SMOKE THE VOTE!

NORML PAC Endorses State Representative Diane Russell in Maine

October 30th, 2014

vote_keyboardNORML PAC is endorsing State Representative Diane Russell in her campaign to be re-elected to the Maine House of Representatives for Maine’s 39th Legislative District.

“There are few lawmakers, at either the state or federal level, that have exhibited the same level of passion and commitment to the responsible regulation and legalization of marijuana for adults as Rep. Diane Russell,” state NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Voters in her district should elect her to another term so she can continue to fight for an end to the state’s prohibition of marijuana, a battle she is uniquely equipped for as one of the country’s strongest champions of reform.”

Rep. Russell has been the lead sponsor of measures that would legalize and regulate marijuana in Maine every year since 2011, and she intends to reintroduce a similar measure in 2015. She was also a key proponent of Portland’s 2013 vote to legalize adult marijuana possession in the city.

Commenting on the endorsement, Rep. Russell said, “NORML has been so supportive of our work here in Maine to responsibly legalize marijuana, and it’s an honor to have their endorsement this year.”

You can learn more about Rep. Diane Russell’s campaign by following her on Facebook here.

NORML PAC Endorses Bonnie Watson Coleman for US Congress

October 28th, 2014

vote_keyboardNORML PAC is endorsing Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman in her campaign to be elected to the United States Congress representing the 12th Congressional District in New Jersey.

“Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman has been a proponent of reforming New Jersey’s marijuana laws during her time in Trenton. She voted in support of legalizing medical marijuana in New Jersey, co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana in the garden state, and supports a move to the legalization and regulation of marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Voters in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District should vote to send her to Congress where she will be a great asset in pursuing reform at the national level.”

Bonnie Watson Coleman was named by MSNBC as one of the 30 women candidates to watch in 2014 and was named one of the top five female pro-marijuana candidates in Freedom Leaf Magazine.

You can learn more about her campaign, including how to donate and volunteer, on her website her Facebook page.