Deputy AG: Marijuana is federally illegal and has no medical use

Cannabis PenaltiesDeputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today and his responses were disconcerting to say the least.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked Rosenstein about the current tension between state and federal marijuana laws.

“We do have a conflict between federal law and the law in some states. It’s a difficult issue for parents like me, who have to provide guidance to our kids… I’ve talked to Chuck Rosenberg, the administrator of the DEA and we follow the law and the science,” said Rosenstein, “And from a legal and scientific perspective, marijuana is an unlawful drug. It’s properly scheduled under Schedule I. And therefore we have this conflict.”

He further elaborated on the Trump Administration’s view of the Cole Memo, which was issued by President Obama’s Deputy Attorney General James Cole, which lays out guidelines for marijuana businesses operating in medical and legal states if they wish to avoid federal interference.

“Jim Cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana,” stated Rosenstein, “So I can assure you that is going to be a high priority for me as the U.S. Attorneys come on board to talk about how to deal with that challenge in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use…”

He also said that the Department of Justice is “responsible for enforcing the law. It’s illegal, and that is the federal policy with regards to marijuana.”

After testifying in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he also appeared before its House counterpart.

Representative Kilmer (D-WA) further questioned the Deputy Attorney General on the Cole Memo and the Department of Justice’s pending review of it, asking for an update on Attorney General Jeff Sessions view on it.

Rosenstein responded: “I do not have an update. I can tell you, it’s a very complicated issue for us. Under federal law as passed by the Congress, and given the science concerning marijuana, it’s a Schedule I controlled substance. That’s a decision I’ve talked with (DEA) Administrator Rosenberg about. Some states have taken a different approach and legalized or decriminalized marijuana for medical use and in some cases recreational use…The question of whether it’s legal under federal law is resolved because Congress has passed a law — it’s illegal. Scientists have found that there’s no accepted medical use for it. Cole made an effort to examine the issue and find a way forward for the department where we could continue with our obligation to enforce federal law and minimize the intrusion on states that were attempting to follow a different path.”

Despite these critiques, Rosenstein stated any revisions are likely to happen further down the road.

“For the moment the Cole memo remains our policy. There may be an opportunity to review it in the future, but at the moment I’m not aware of any proposal to change it. But I think we’re all going to have to deal with it in the future.”

You can watch the exchange on CSPAN by clicking HERE

Send a message to your member of Congress to support legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition by clicking HERE. 

Houston Has Decriminalized Marijuana, Reveals Conflicting Attitudes and Budget Priorities of Law Enforcement

Cannabis PenaltiesOn March 1, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg decriminalized marijuana by instituting the new Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program. This decision in Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, affects more than 4.5 million Texans. As a result, possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana is now punishable by up to $150, required attendance of a “decision making” class, and no criminal record.

With so many Sheriffs Associations and prosecutors traditionally advocate for maintaining marijuana prohibition, even lobbying our legislators with our tax dollars in order to cash in on asset forfeitures, what happened in Harris County marks a real tipping point for ending prohibition in the state of Texas and reveals a growing organization within law enforcement that wants to correct currently ineffective marijuana policy by deprioritizing arrests for simple possession.

Harris County courts and jails were long overwhelmed by arrests and prosecutions for small marijuana possessions. According to internal data provided from the Harris County District Attorney’s office, the cost of enforcing marijuana prohibition in Harris County tax dollars prior to decriminalization (including court fees, indigent defense, DA fees, jail costs, crime labs and labor costs from local police) were estimated at $26,663,800 annually.

To put that amount of money into perspective, that’s more than enough money for the city of Houston to build a new high school or a 17-bed medical facility every year. Another way to look at it is that these freed up resources can now give prosecutors and police the ability and time required to test the backlog of rape kit evidence and investigate unsolved violent crimes in Harris County. What a concept! Instead of confiscating assets and ruining the lives of nonviolent citizens, we can prosecute the violent criminals that law enforcement are sworn to protect us from.

These estimates don’t include the tax dollars or collateral damage that marijuana prohibition on families including separation from loved ones, lost income from jailed parents or the emotional toll time spent in state custody can have on children. Even for Harris County, these remain real threats under state and federal law.

But after Ogg’s March 1st decision in Harris County, something changed. It was a change that could be felt in the halls of the Texas state capitol. During the Committee hearing on HB81 to decriminalize marijuana in Texas on March 13th, unlike any previous marijuana bill, not a single Sheriff’s Association came to testify against the bill; just one lonely prosecutor from Odessa. By contrast, the halls of the Texas State Capitol filled with members of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, friendly state Congressman like Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), Executive Director Jax Finkle of Texas NORML, and Heather Fazio of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy all lobbying on our behalf to get HB 81 and SB 170 into committee.

However, as Bob Sechler from the Austin American Statesman recently reported, “Still, some law enforcement representatives are dubious, saying among other things that low-volume pot possession can provide police with probable cause to investigate bigger crimes, and that there currently isn’t a good, on-the-spot test to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.”

The other argument made by Lawrence, that “low-volume pot possession can provide police with probable cause to investigate bigger crimes,” is evidence of a different addiction: an addiction distinct to law enforcement for asset forfeitures. When an informant remains planted on a suspect for decades after a plethora of evidence to close the case, or when law enforcement stops only the cars going south with cash and not the ones going north with drugs, we have what can only be described as an asset forfeiture epidemic lead by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Lawrence doesn’t even take into consideration if the detection of marijuana is either a violent or dangerous threat to roadway safety, admitting his worry is he can’t determine if someone is impaired. (Hint: a good indication the driver is not impaired). By that logic, Lawrence implies he is satisfied with the casualties, tax expenses and arrests of nonviolent citizens whose only offense is possession of marijuana, so long as a portion of those arrested lead to “serious” crimes (or asset forfeitures). This erroneous argument is so preposterous he doesn’t appear to realize he is admitting that encountering someone who has consumed marijuana is relatively safe.

So let’s look at the financial motivations of law enforcement that remain loyal to marijuana prohibition. On the other side of Texas from Harris County, on the I-10 corridor near El Paso, federal grants used to be the major motivator for marijuana possession arrests by a self-proclaimed “Boss Hog” in Hudspeth County, where to fill a federal quota the Sheriff infamously arrested Willie Nelson and even Snoop Dog on road tours for possession. Those funds were more bureaucratic in that the grants kept the Sheriff and private jail facilities employed, but the profit motives were parasitic. The Obama administration tried to do away with private prison contracts but Trump and Sessions are bringing them back.

But what about those civil asset forfeitures? Sheriff’s Associations or prosecutors using our tax dollars to lobby for asset forfeitures are more sinister in that not all the money seized gets accurately reported, and since property and money are seized without due process, victims find it difficult and expensive to go to court dockets titled “The State of Texas vs. $10,000,” only to find in some instances a prosecutor instead of a judge in court.

However, looking at the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Program Annual report for 2012, the local money being reported as seized just doesn’t add up to the cost of incarcerating so many non-violent people in possession of marijuana. Harris County reported: $1,387,430 in seized assets, more than most other Texas counties. But we would have to add up the entire state total of $31,520,522 in local asset forfeitures before we can get passed the $26,663,800 in annual costs for prosecuting and jailing minor marijuana possessions in just Harris County alone. Federal agencies target all the big asset seizures but according to this inspector general’s report, what gets accurately reported of that money causes more corrupt internal fighting and competition between federal agencies than any shared resources with local law enforcement.

In short, for local jurisdictions, decriminalizing marijuana makes plain economic sense. And for districts with law enforcement overwhelmed and under budget decriminalization may be the only logical choice to keep up with the payroll.

What do we do as activists? We can pay attention to candidates for District Attorney and Sheriff to vet them on marijuana policy so we can take local action to decriminalize. (After they become Sheriff? Just say “Am I being arrested?” and make sure you know what a Motion to Suppress Evidence is: example here)

But the real people we need to contact to make effective improvement in marijuana policy is not the President, the DA, a cop or anyone in the executive branch: It’s our state and local Congressman in the legislative branch. And this is the right website to do so.

Texas resident? Take Action:

HB 81 and SB 170 to decriminalize marijuana is pending in their respective chambers. Contact your Texas Representative to support HB 81 and SB 170 by clicking here

Vice Chair Todd Hunter is also the Chair of the Calendar Committee which decides if bills get a floor vote in Texas. Hunter held up a decriminalization bill in 2015 by failing to put the vote on the Calendar. If you live in Chorpus Christi, give Todd Hunter a call and tell him to give HB81 a floor vote!

Also in Texas do not forget to mention SB380 to abolish civil asset forfeiture in the state of Texas.

Visit Houston NORMLs website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Did you see John Oliver last night?

Did you catch it? On Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver skewered our nation’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition addressing topics ranging from a potential crackdown from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the newly formed Cannabis Caucus, and the desperate need for federal marijuana law reform.

“There is now a Cannabis Caucus in DC… and if even an 83 year old Republican from Alaska has come around on this issue, then it is probably time for our laws to catch up” Oliver said

Since it’s launch in February, members of the Cannabis Caucus have lead the way in the fight for sensible marijuana policy by introducing a number of bills that would end federal prohibition and support states efforts to set up regulated markets for medical and responsible adult-use.

Click here to tell your member of Congress to join the Cannabis Caucus and push for sensible marijuana policy.

Now, more than ever, it is time for Congress to take action. Jeff Sessions recently said “I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana. States, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.” 

Well, Congress can change that. 

Email your member of Congress to join the Cannabis Caucus

Thanks in advance for taking the time to send your Representative a message. The only way that Congress will listen is if we speak up loudly and clearly.

Together, we WILL legalize marijuana

Thanks for all you do,

The NORML Team

A Congressional Cannabis Caucus Is Born

US_capitolWith public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.

The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.

Click here to email your Congressional Representative and urge them to join the Cannabis Caucus today.

NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society.

The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred.

In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue.

So let’s keep building.

Send a message to your member of Congress now and tell them to join the Cannabis Caucus and support sanity in marijuana policy.

BREAKING: Jeff Sessions Confirmed As Attorney General

Jeff_Sessions_(29299022521)

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Despite historic opposition to a nominee for Attorney General, today Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL) was confirmed to assume the role of our nation’s top law enforcement official.

What happens next in regards to marijuana policy is unclear. We can engage in speculation as much as we’d like, but ultimately theorizing on whether or not Sessions will leverage the resources of the Department of Justice to enforce the federal prohibition of marijuana will be discovered soon enough.

For now, we must reflect on the achievements that we have made as a movement which now must be protected and continue to pursue further progress, be it at the state or federal level.

Currently, states that have implemented medical marijuana programs are technically protected from the Department of Justice under the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, however that is set to expire on April 27th unless renewed as a part of the appropriations process.

Jeff Sessions’ history in regards to marijuana policy, including making statements like “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” and “[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana are a serious reason for concern and highlight the need to remain vigilant.  

During his confirmation process, marijuana legalization supporters with NORML made thousands of phone calls and sent tens of thousands of emails regarding Sessions plans for marijuana policy. While we lost the battle, we continue to win the war.

Our Senators, now more than ever, know this is an issue at the forefront of the minds of American voters and that we are willing and able to mobilize for it. In fact, four Senators referenced Sessions’ position on marijuana as a reason to oppose his nomination during an all night “talk-a-thon” to delay todays vote.

We will never stop fighting for further reforms at the state level and needed federal policy changes. With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking direct action, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.

NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now.

Please consider signing up to be a monthly contributor to ensure that we have the resources we need to stand up to Jeff Sessions and to fight back against our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers.

How can marijuana policy protect the adolescent brain?

As more states begin to legalize the use of marijuana, more young people may believe that it’s safe to experiment with the drug. However, those under 25 are more vulnerable to the effects of drugs than are older adults. New legislation on legal marijuana use should include consideration of age limits and other guidelines for safe use, according to the authors of a new article.

We Must Demand Lawmakers Respect the Will of the Voters

Legalize marijuanaVoters in eight states decided on Election Day to radically amend their longstanding marijuana policies. But many lawmakers in these states still aren’t getting the message.

Despite these voter mandates, many lawmakers remain reluctant to move forward with the legal reforms that the public has demanded. In some cases, legislators and regulators are outright defying voters’ will by proposing measures to undermine the election’s outcomes altogether.

THIS WILL NOT STAND, WE NEED TO FIGHT BACK! CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT NORML’S FIGHT AGAINST THESE SENSELESS DELAYS

For example, in Massachusetts, a handful of political leaders pushed through emergency legislation during an informal legislative session to delay marijuana sales until July 1, 2018. The Boston Globe summarized the event this way, “The extraordinary move, made in informal sessions with just a half-dozen legislators present, … unravel a significant part of the legalization measure passed by 1.8 million voters.” Additional measures before lawmakers seek to further derail several other aspects of the law, including adults’ ability to grow marijuana in their private residence.

In Maine, lawmakers have similarly passed legislation to delay the enactment of voter-initiated provisions governing the retail production and sale of marijuana until the spring of 2018. The emergency measure also rolls back specific initiative provisions that permitted on site consumption in specially licensed establishments, as well as the possession of marijuana-infused edible products.

In Florida, where 71 percent of voters endorsed a constitutional amendment providing doctors with the discretion to recommend medical marijuana to patients for whom they believed the benefits “would likely outweigh the potential health risks,” regulators are trying to strip medical marijuana access to those with chronic pain.

In Arkansas, one lawmaker has proposed legislation to postpone the enactment of the state’s new medical cannabis program indefinitely.

Even in California, where 56 percent of voters decided in favor of legalizing the adult marijuana market, some lawmakers are warning citizens to expect delays before the new law takes full effect.

NORML believes that these delays and proposed legislative changes are unacceptable, and we are working hard to assure that the will of the voters is upheld.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT OUR WORK AND HELP US FIGHT BACK AGAINST THESE EFFORTS TO DERAIL LEGALIZATION. WE MUST ENSURE OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS UPHOLD THE WILL OF THE VOTERS!

Voters like you made their opinions on marijuana policy clear at the ballot box in November. Lawmakers in these jurisdictions have a responsibility to abide by the will of the people and to do so in a timely manner. Americans have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long. The people’s will should not be compromised, second-guessed, or held hostage by politicians who are unwilling to recognize that they are on the wrong side of history.

In Solidarity,
Erik Altieri
Executive Director
NORML

Where Is The Future For Marijuana Banking Reform?

depenalized_mjThe election of Donald Trump coincided with a whirlwind of activity surrounding marijuana policy, as voters in eight states decided in favor of initiatives regulating the distribution of cannabis for either medical or non-medical purposes.

Yet despite this statewide progress, the specter of marijuana prohibitionists such as Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions being appointed to federal offices in the new administration has justifiably left advocates, including NORML, uneasy.

But this week, Trump nominee for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, bucked this trend — indicated that he is open to the idea of working with financial regulatory agencies to level the playing field for local marijuana businesses.

Currently, state-licensed marijuana business face a web of conflicting regulations. Specifically, federal prohibitions largely prohibit these businesses from working with financial institutions, processing credit cards, and taking standard business deductions. When asked about these financial hurdles, Mnuchin stated, “I will work with Congress and the President to determine which provisions of the current tax code should be retained, revised or eliminated to ensure that all individuals and businesses compete on a level playing field.”

No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to reliable banking solutions. While it is encouraging to see that a small but growing number financial operators are beginning to provide necessary services to those engaged in state-compliant cannabis commerce, it is self-evident that this industry will remain severely hampered without better access to credit and financing.  

But while Mnuchin’s statements may indicate a step in the right direction, ultimately, the responsibility is upon Congress — not upon the US Treasury Department or upon state lawmakers — to change federal policy so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

There will be a number of pieces of legislation introduced in Congress to address these federal banking issues in the near future, and NORML will notify you as further developments unfold.

Please make sure to join our email list to receive our action alerts. 

As the nation’s largest and oldest consumer rights group, NORML is committed to supporting efforts that provide a safe, convenient, aboveground market for cannabis consumers, and that allow local entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace free from undue federal interference.

BREAKING: Attorney General Vote Delayed

jeff-sessions-f (1)Today, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee requested a delay on the vote to advance Jeff Sessions to the full Senate for confirmation to become the next Attorney General.

The delay comes at the request of California Senator Diane Feinstein, who justified the delay for the American public to learn more about Senator Sessions’ background and cited Saturday’s Women’s March as justification.

While this in no way means that Sessions will not merely be advanced and approved next week, it does buy us time to make our voices heard in regards to his stance on marijuana policy. One more week of the federal government not arresting responsible consumers in states that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana. One more week for us to reach out to the Senate to apply more scrutiny to Sessions.

Email your Senators now to make sure that marijuana is front and center.

For weeks we have been calling upon NORML members to contact their Senators to oppose the Sessions if he would not clearly declare that he would not use federal resources to prosecute marijuana consumers.

To date Senator Sessions has made no such clarification.

Tens of thousands of people have participated by emailing their home state Senators – and we need to keep the pressure up.

Join us and thousands of other regular Americans who are voicing their anger about the continued prohibition of marijuana and engage in your democracy- email your Senators now.

NORML Responds To National Academy of Sciences’ Marijuana Report

for_painThe National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report today acknowledging that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for cannabis’ efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain, and sharply criticized longstanding federal regulatory barriers to marijuana research – in particular “the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance” under federal law.

Authors of the report also addressed various aspects of marijuana’s effect on health and safety, acknowledging that the substance may pose certain potential risks for adolescents, pregnant women, and for those who may be driving shortly after ingesting cannabis. In each of these cases, these risks may be mitigated via marijuana regulation and the imposition of age restrictions in the marketplace.

Commenting on the report, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said:

“The National Academy of Science’s conclusions that marijuana possesses established therapeutic utility for certain patients and that it possesses an acceptable safety profile when compared to those of other medications or recreational intoxicants are not surprising. This evidence has been available for some time, yet for decades marijuana policy in this country has largely been driven by rhetoric and emotion, not science and evidence.

“A search on PubMed, the repository for all peer-reviewed scientific papers, using the term ‘marijuana’ yields over 24,000 scientific papers referencing the plant or its biologically active constituents — a far greater body of literature than exists for commonly consumed conventional drugs like Tylenol, ibuprofen, or hydrocodone. Further, unlike modern pharmaceuticals, cannabis possesses an extensive history of human use dating back thousands of years, thus providing society with ample empirical evidence as to its relative safety and efficacy.

“Today, 29 states and Washington, DC permit physicians to recommend marijuana therapy. Some of these state-sanctioned programs have now been in place for nearly two decades. Eight states also permit the regulated use and sale of cannabis by adults. At a minimum, we know enough about cannabis, as well as the failures of cannabis prohibition, to regulate its consumption by adults, end its longstanding criminalization, and to remove it from its Schedule I prohibitive under federal law.”

The report marks the first time since 1999 that the National Academy of Sciences has addressed issues surrounding marijuana and health. Authors reviewed over 10,000 scientific abstracts in their preparation of the new report.

You can read the full report here.

#TakeAction – Call the Judiciary Committee Today to Protect Marijuana Progress

On January 10th and 11th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Jeff Sessions to become the next Attorney General. Over the course of these two days, marijuana reformers and citizens alike from around the country will be calling members of the committee to have them ask a simple question: Does Sen. Sessions intend to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies?

The stakes are high.

Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

“[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Please take a few minutes and call the following offices using this simple script. All in it should only take less than 10 minutes to call either the DC or home offices of these members and you will make an outsized impact on the future of marijuana policy in America.

“Hello, my name _______ and I am calling regarding the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Senator Sessions views on marijuana are completely out of step with those of the majority of the American public. They also conflict with the stated views of President-Elect Trump, who said on the campaign trail that questions regarding marijuana policy are best left up to the states, not the federal government.  For these reasons, I urge you to ask Sen. Sessions whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies. If his answers are unsatisfactory, I urge you to reject his nomination.”

Committee Chairman
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
DC Office (202) 224-3744
Des Moines Office (515) 288-1145

Ranking Member
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
DC Office (202) 224-3841
San Diego Office  (619) 231-9712

Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
DC Office (202) 224-5251
Salt Lake City Office (801) 524-4380

Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
DC Office (202) 224-5972
Florence Office (843) 669-1505

John Cornyn (R-TX)
DC Office0 (202) 224-2934
Dallas Office (972) 239-1310

Mike Lee (R-UT)
DC Office (202) 224-5444
Salt Lake City Office (801) 524-5933

Ted Cruz (R-T)
DC Office (202) 224-5922
Austin Office (512) 916-5834

Ben Sasse (R-NE)
DC Office (202) 224-4224
Omaha Office (402) 550-8040

Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
DC Office (202) 224-4521
Phoenix Office (602) 840-1891

Mike Crapo (R-ID)
DC Office (202) 224-6142
Boise Office (208) 334-1776

Thom Tillis (R-NC)
DC Office (202) 224-6342
Charlotte Office (704) 509-9087

John Kennedy (R-LA)
DC Office (202) 224-4623
Baton Rouge (225) 930-9033

Senator Mazie Hirono (D – HI)
DC Office – (202) 224-6361
Honolulu Office – (808) 522-8970

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – CT)
DC Office – (202) 224-2823
Hartford Office – (860) 258-6940

Senator Christopher A. Coons (D – DE)
DC Office – (202) 224-5042
Wilmington Office – (302) 573-6345

Senator Al Franken (D – MN)
DC Office – (202) 224-5641
Saint Paul Office – (651) 221-1016

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D – MN)
DC Office – 202-224-3244
Minneapolis Office – 612-727-5220

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D – RI)
DC Office – (202) 224-2921
Providence Office – (401) 453-5294

Senator Dick Durbin (D – IL)
DC Office – 202.224.2152
Chicago Office – 312.353.4952

Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT)
DC Office – (202) 224-4242
Burlington Office – (802) 863-2525

 

CALL NOW: NORML Day of Action #JustSayNoToSessions

Say No to SessionsSenate lawmakers are only days away from deciding whether Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will become the next Attorney General — the top law enforcement officer in the land.

Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

“[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Senator Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws of over half of the states. We must demand that Senators ask this nominee whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in these states, and whether he truly believes that no “good people” have ever smoked pot.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states.

Call your Congressional Switchboard and ask to be patched through to your home state Senators at (202) 224-3121 to tell them to have Sessions clarify his intentions or be defeated.

If you don’t know who your Senators are you can click HERE to find out.

Use this script:

“Hello, my name ______. I am a constituent and I am calling regarding the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Senator Sessions views on marijuana are completely out of step with those of the majority of the American public. They also conflict with the stated views of President-Elect Trump, who said on the campaign trail that questions regarding marijuana policy are best left up to the states, not the federal government. For these reasons, I urge you to ask Sen. Sessions whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies. If his answers are unsatisfactory, I urge you to reject his nomination.”

After you call your Senators, tell your friends and family to do the same by sharing this on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also email your Senators by clicking here.

Chicago Suburb Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

thumbs_upOfficials in the Village of Oswego, Illinois recently passed an ordinance that allows local law enforcement to issue tickets and fines to anyone found with small amounts of marijuana or certain drug paraphernalia. For example, if a person is in possession of drug paraphernalia and is convicted of possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana, the charge for the paraphernalia is now considered a civil law violation, punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200.

Marijuana-related offenses became civil violations after the Illinois state legislature voted to amended the Cannabis Control Act in 2016, but it is up to local governments to amend their local marijuana laws to reflect the change at the state level.

“Oswego’s fines will begin at $100 for the first offense and $150 and $250 for second and third offenses. There is a maximum $750 penalty for repeat violators,” said Oswego Police Chief Jeff Burgner.

The City of Yorkville adopted a similar ordinance in October.

Read more here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-oswego-marijuana-st-0105-20170104-story.html

Take Action: Oppose Jeff Sessions For US Attorney General

jeff-sessions-f (1)Senate lawmakers are only days away from taking a vote that may have a drastic impact on the future of marijuana policy.

Beginning Tuesday, January 10, members of the US Senate will begin confirmation hearings on the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for the position of US Attorney General — the top law enforcement officer in the land.

As a US Senator, Sessions has been among the most outspoken anti-marijuana opponents in Congress, and he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card.

Senator Sessions has a long and consistent record of opposing any efforts to reform marijuana policy. He once notoriously remarked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” More recently, he condemned the Obama administration’s ‘hands off’ policy with regard to state marijuana laws, stating, “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

Fast-forward to today: Senator Sessions is on the cusp of becoming the top law enforcement officer in the United States. That is, unless your members of the US Senate hear a loud and clear message from you!

If confirmed by the US Senate to be US Attorney General, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states. Senator Sessions views on marijuana are out of step with those of the majority of the American public and also with those of President-Elect Trump, who has said that questions regarding marijuana policy are best left up to the states, not the federal government. In short, the appointment of Sen. Sessions would be a step backwards at a time when the American public is demanding we push marijuana legalization forward. He is the wrong man for the job, and he represents a clear and present danger to the marijuana law reform movement.

Please take action today to assure that he is vetted properly. At a minimum, Sen. Sessions must be asked whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in the majority of US states that have enacted to pursue alternative marijuana policies. If he is not willing to act on the behest of the majority of Americans and to respect the laws of the majority of US states, then he does not deserve the support of the cannabis reform community.

Contact your Senator and ask him/her to take a critical look at Sen. Sessions. You can do so by visiting NORML’s Take Action Center here.

NORML Releases Open Letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence on Marijuana Policy

chapter_spotlightNational NORML, Michigan NORML and dozens of other state and local chapters have released an open letter to Vice President-Elect Pence seeking clarity and common sense from the incoming administration regarding marijuana policy. During the campaign, President-Elect Trump, on multiple occasions, has voiced support for allowing states to move forward with medical and recreational marijuana laws if they chose to do so. Yet his nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General, who infamously stated that  “good people don’t use marijuana” during a Senate hearing in 2016, the administration is currently sending mixed messages in regards to the future of marijuana law reform under the incoming administration.

In keeping with President-Elect Trump’s message of economic growth, the marijuana advocacy groups wrote: “Voters are less and less convinced that cannabis is a criminal problem and no longer want their hard earned tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute non-violent users or entrepreneurs and employees of state licensed cannabis businesses.”

The letter, co-signed by over 50 NORML chapters throughout the country as well as the national organization, represents tens-of-thousands of advocates for cannabis reform.

“As a Michigan resident, I know that Mr. Trump would not have won my state had he campaigned on the continued criminalization of responsible marijuana users,” said Brad Forrester, Communications Director of Michigan NORML, “as the transition Chairman and soon to be Vice President, Mr. Pence has an enormous responsibility to his voters and the American people to support federal policy that respects adults to make their own decisions.”

National NORML recently released a petition to President-Elect Trump with a similar request for marijuana clarity with the letter reading “On behalf of the millions of loyal Americans who use marijuana, we hope he will respect the right of states to determine their own marijuana policy, as you advocated in your campaign. Can you clarify whether you will support states’ rights and allow states that chose to reform their laws to do so or will you use the force of the federal government to interfere with or shut down these programs?”

The three biggest winners on election night were Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and marijuana. Given the broad support for marijuana reform across essentially all demographics, the Trump-Pence administration would be wise to allow states to continue to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention. This is not just good policy, it’s good politics.

Click here to co-sign the letter.

 

Below is the full text of the letter sent to Vice President-Elect Pence

Trump Transition Team
Chairman Mike Pence
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C, United States

December 20, 2016

Vice President-Elect Mike Pence,

American drug policy is at an important crossroads and the incoming Trump/Pence Administration will inherit an unprecedented schism between state and federal law in regards to the regulation and enforcement of cannabis statutes.

Where will the new administration take cannabis policy? President-Elect Trump has said he supports medicinal cannabis and states’ rights to set their own policies without interference by the federal government while on the campaign trail. Now that you both are about to assume office, we ask for clarity regarding the new administration’s plans.

Currently, twenty-one states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes with a combined population of over 123 million people, fifteen states have enacted CBD cannabis oil laws with a combined population of over 97 million people, and eight states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult consumption with a combined population of over 67 million people.

Only six states still reflect the federal prohibition of cannabis, composing just 11% of the U.S. population.

However, recent cabinet appointments have sent shockwaves through patient communities, emerging industries, and responsible private citizens as many of the recent nominations that have been selected are historic opponents to cannabis law reform. In order to maintain economic stability in a rapidly growing market, the country would benefit from the Trump/Pence Administration articulating its priorities for future cannabis policy in a manner that respects state autonomy as guided by the 10th amendment of the US Constitution.

National NORML, Michigan NORML, and the undersigned chapters request that the incoming administration meet with advocates from a cross section of the cannabis community in order to formulate workable policies that reflect the popular will of independent states and protect responsible consumers of cannabis within the parameters of enacted state policies.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment for cannabis reform as it was for the Trump/Pence Presidential ticket. Voters from across the country responded favorably to both the Trump/Pence message of law and order and the message for cannabis reforms that stop the arrests of ordinary cannabis consumers. Voters are less and less convinced that cannabis is a criminal problem and no longer want their hard earned tax dollars used to arrest and prosecute non-violent consumers or entrepreneurs and employees of state licensed cannabis businesses.

Voters recognize that local resources should be devoted to addressing crimes that adversely affect their communities ranging from burglars and identity thieves to murderers and terrorists. Now more than ever, Americans want law enforcement officers to focus on issues that are truly a threat to public safety, not enforce the outdated prohibition of marijuana at the cost to responsible citizens and businesses.

Respectfully,

The Michigan NORML Board of Directors and The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Also endorsed by the following NORML chapters: Aiken (SC) NORML, Arizona NORML, Ball State (IN) NORML, Benzie County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Berrien County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Calhoun County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, California NORML, Central Florida NORML, Central Ohio NORML, Charlotte (NC) NORML, Columbia (SC) NORML, Connecticut NORML, Delaware NORML, Denver (CO) NORML, El Paso (TX) NORML, Empire State (NY) NORML, Florida NORML, Greater St. Louis NORML, Harrisonburg (VA) NORML, Humboldt (CA) NORML, Illinois NORML, Indiana NORML, Jackson County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Kalkaska County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Los Angeles (CA) NORML, Las Vegas (NV) NORML, Low Country (SC) NORML, Macomb County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Madison (WI) NORML, Maryland NORML, Eastern Shore Miami (FL) NORML, MN NORML, Monterey County (CA) NORML, NC NORML, NC NORML of the Triad, NM NORML, North Central Ohio NORML, Northeast Indiana NORML, Northeast Lower Peninsula sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Northern Wisconsin NORML, Northwest Indiana NORML, Oakland County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Ohio NORML, Pittsburgh (PA) NORML, Purdue (IN) NORML, Purdue Northwest (IN) NORML, Santa Cruz (CA) NORML, Shiawassee County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML San Luis Obispo (CA) NORML, Stanislaus (CA) NORML, Washington NORML, Washtenaw County sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Wayne State Law Students sub-chapter of Michigan NORML, Western New York NORML, and Wyoming NORML

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