First Meeting Of Trump’s Opioid Commission: Will It Be Effective?

Marijuana medicineToday, the Office of National Drug Control Policy convened its first meeting of President Trump’s “Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.”

The Commission is tasked with making recommendations for improving the Federal response to opioid misuse and abuse.

Best evidence informs us that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced levels of opioid-related abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Nonetheless, this administration continues to express skepticism with regard to the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana.

Today in The Hill newspaper, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano writes:

With opioid overdose deaths having risen four-fold since 1999, it is imperative that lawmakers and public health experts approach this issue with an open mind and remain willing to entertain all potential alternatives.

For many patients, cannabis provides a safe and effective substitute for the use of opioids and other potentially harmful substances. Committee members should set their political ideologies aside and give strong consideration to this rapidly growing body of scientific evidence.

You can read the full piece in The Hill by clicking here.

It is crucial that our government hear from us. Click here to send a message to the Commission urging them to include medical marijuana as part of any national response to the opioid crisis.

Four days since The White House threatened marijuana consumers…

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

It has been a whirlwind since the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday indicated that the Trump administration may engage in “greater” efforts to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in jurisdictions that have legalized and regulated its adult use.

In the last four days, NORML has helped to generate over 20,000 emails to members of Congress in to support HR 975, The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which would prevent federal agencies from enforcing prohibition in states that have changed their marijuana laws. In addition, over 5,000 individuals for the first time have also emailed their state elected officials via our Act page in support of various statewide legislative reforms.

While neither the White House nor the Department of Justice have yet to act on their threats, this trial balloon could be a prelude to aggressive action in the not so distant future. In the context of recent actions by the Department of Justice in regard to immigration enforcement and private prisons, it is within the realm of possibility that a full scale assault on marijuana users could be coming shortly.

Even if the Department of Justice does little more than send letters to elected officials in legal states declaring its intention to act, this alone will have a serious chilling effect on the implementation of statewide legalization laws. These are exactly the sort of tactics that our opponents in states like Maine and Massachusetts have sought for in order to justify delaying implementing the will of their voters.

We must be vigilant and pressure Congress to protect adult use marijuana states from undue federal interference.

Click here to email your member of Congress right now to support The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act.

Also, in the wake of Spicer’s comments, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano has two new op-ed’s, appearing in The Hill and The Daily Caller.

Trump Administration’s dubious claims about pot and opioids are dead wrong

…Proponents of marijuana prohibition have long alleged that experimentation with pot acts as a ‘gateway’ to the use and eventual abuse of other illicit substances. But the evidence does not support this claim.

In reality, permitting marijuana sales to be regulated by licensed, state-authorized distributors rather than by criminal entrepreneurs and pushers of various other illicit drugs results in fewer, not more, Americans abusing other, potentially more dangerous substances…

Read more in The Hill

Trump’s Proposed Pot Crackdown Is Out Of Step With Voters, Including Many Republicans

…Rather than picking an unnecessary fight with the majority of American voters, including a significant portion of Trump’s own base, the administration should consider embracing common sense marijuana law reforms. Endorsing bipartisan legislation, HR 975: The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,” would be a good place to start. In accordance with the electorate’s wishes, passage of the act would prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals or businesses that are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

Despite more than 70 years of federal marijuana prohibition, Americans’ consumption of and demand for cannabis is here to stay. It is time for politicians to acknowledge this reality and amend federal marijuana laws in a manner that comports with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status. The Trump administration has the opportunity to take the lead on this issue. It would be an enormous political misstep for them to do otherwise….

Read more in The Daily Caller

Additionally, the newly formed Cannabis Caucus put out a statement regarding last the announcement from Spicer:

“Today’s statement by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer regarding marijuana policy reaffirms the need for the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Last November, eight more states passed measures to increase access to state-legal cannabis, and today more than 300 million Americans live in states with access to adult-use marijuana or some form medical cannabis.  Among them are four additional states that have fully legalized the adult-use of marijuana. We hope today’s comments do not reflect the views of the President and his administration.  As co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, we stand ready to educate this administration on the need for more sensible marijuana policies and share the many experiences states have had with the legalization of cannabis. Together, we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to reform our failed marijuana policies and provide a voice for Americans who have overwhelmingly voted for a more sensible drug policy.”

It’s institutions like NORML, the Cannabis Caucus, and most importantly, your efforts as part of the democratic process that will prevent the rollback of progress in marijuana legalization. Don’t stop calling your members of Congress and getting involved locally. Do not accept this as a new normal. This is not normal. Smoking pot is NORML.

Email your member of Congress right now and tell them to protect marijuana progress and join the newly formed Cannabis Caucus.

URGENT: Marijuana Legalization Needs Your Help!

Vote Marijuana Initiatives

In just a few weeks, voters in nine states will go to the polls to vote on crucial marijuana policy reforms at a time when national polling shows that the public’s support for legalization has never been greater. I’m pleased to say that NORML is playing a key role in moving public sentiment toward marijuana sanity.

HELP US KEEP UP THE FIGHT BY DONATING TODAY

From day one, NORML’s chief mission has been to move public and political opinion sufficiently so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer criminalized and stigmatized. We do so by presenting credible, evidence-based information about marijuana and marijuana policy reform to the general public, the mainstream media, pundits, and policymakers. And nobody does it better than we do.

NORML remains the most well-known and most trusted source of cannabis-centric information in the United States. Nearly 30 percent of the entire American public is familiar with NORML and its mission, according to a 2016 YouGov poll, and the overwhelming majority of those who identify as marijuana consumers say that they possess a favorable impression of our organization.

WE CAN’T SUCCEED WITHOUT YOUR HELP, CLICK HERE TO DONATE

The messaging put forward by NORML, its 100+ affiliates, and its staff is prominently featured almost daily in the mainstream media and in opinion-shaping publications like the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Hill – outlets that reach millions of readers and policy makers in the highest levels of government. Meanwhile, NORML reports, such as its new 2016 Congressional Report Card and its newly updated handbook, Clinical Applications for Cannabis, continue to inform the public about the latest scientific and political developments surrounding the cannabis plant. It is your donations and support that permit us to continue to do this important work and engagement.

CLICK HERE HELP US CONTINUE FIGHTING PROHIBITIONIST PROPAGANDA

Today, it is clear that NORML’s efforts are paying dividends. The 2016 state election season was the busiest on record with lawmakers in 25 US states enacting legislation to reform their marijuana laws – the most ever in a single year. On Election Day we anticipate even more victories, but we can’t slow down now!

There is little doubt that we are on the precipice of seismic changes in both public opinion and public policy. Help us make these changes a reality. Please consider making a contribution to NORML today of $25, $50, $100. We could not have gotten this far without your help and with your continued support we are confident that we will achieve historic victories on Election Day and beyond.

Donate to NORML

Congress’ Continued Disconnect on Marijuana Prohibition

Among the many hundreds of public policy concerns that Americans care and act upon, what are the top policy concerns in Congress for which citizens search?

-Military spending?
-Environment?
-Reproduction Rights?
-Economy?
-National Deficit?
-Sequestration?
-Drones Used In Domestic Law Enforcement?

None of these supposedly political hot button topics were at the top of a newly created list by Thomas (the online interface the public has with Congressional legislation, run by the Library of Congress).

According to the March 6 print edition of The Hill, the new marijuana legalization legislation introduced by Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) was the second most popular legislation that citizens have searched on in the previous week (second only to the white hot issue of pending gun control legislation).

Gun, pot bills attract the most attention online
By Bob Cusack

It’s a Top 10 list that will never make David Letterman’s show, but it reveals that people are very interested in guns and marijuana. A relatively new feature on the Library of Congress THOMAS site is a Top 10 list of bills searched on Congress’s official website.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) measure to ban assault weapons has the top spot with Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Ore.) bill to allow states to legalize medical marijuana in second place.

However, despite the popularity for marijuana law reform in America, will the leaders in the House allow even a subcommittee hearing on the Blumenauer bill (or the near half dozen other marijuana law reform bills—which range from legalization to banking regulation reform to decriminalization to sentencing reform to industrial hemp)?

Aren’t elected officials supposed to listen, deliberate and respond to public advocacy—long festering public advocacy, in the case for cannabis law reform going back almost forty-five years—rather than be silent and oppositional?

Who do they work for? Who pays their salaries? Who is ‘wise’ enough to both elect them to power and also want substantive cannabis law reforms? Why disrespect citizens’ concerns in a democracy?

The phenomena of ‘malevolent neglect’ specific to cannabis law reform is not of course unique to the legislative branch as President Obama has laughed off basically the number one asked question at his so-called electronic town meetings from the beginning of his presidency.

The empirical data (all measurable from public surveys to citizen vote totals to public interest with reform legislation to Internet traffic on reform vs. prohibitionist webpages) is clear and elected officials—from all political parties—are rue to ignore it: Ending cannabis prohibition is a major political concern for Americans.

The Hill.com: “Voters Say ‘No’ To Pot Prohibition”

I have an op/ed today online at The Hill.com’s influential Congress blog (“Where lawmakers come to blog”).

Read an excerpt from it below:

Voters say ‘No’ to pot prohibition
via TheHill.com

Voters in Colorado and Washington made history on Election Day. For the first time ever, a majority of voters decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.

… Predictably, the federal government – which continues to define cannabis as equally dangerous to heroin – is not amused. According to various media reports, the Justice Department is in the process of reviewing the nascent state laws. Meanwhile, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has already affirmed that the agency’s “enforcement of the [federal] Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.” That may be true. But in a matter of weeks, the local enforcement of marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington most definitely will change. And there is little that the federal government can do about it.

States are not mandated to criminalize marijuana or arrest adult cannabis consumers and now two states have elected not to. The federal government cannot compel them to do otherwise. State drug laws are not legally obligation to mirror the federal Controlled Substances Act and state law enforcement are not required to help the federal government enforce it. Yes, theoretically the Justice Department could choose to prosecute under federal law those individuals in Colorado and Washington who possess personal amounts of cannabis. But such a scenario is hardly plausible. Right now, the federal government lacks the manpower, political will, and public support to engage in such behavior. In fact, rather than triggering a federal backlash, it is far more likely that the passage of these two measures will be the impetus for the eventual dismantling of federal pot prohibition.

Like alcohol prohibition before it, the criminalization of cannabis is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. How did America’s ‘Nobel Experiment’ with alcohol prohibition come to an end? Simple. When a sufficient number of states – led by New York in 1923 – enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer complying with the government’s wishes to enforce an unpopular law, federal politicians eventually had no choice but to abandon the policy altogether.

… On Election Day, voters in Colorado and Washington turned their backs on cannabis prohibition. They are the first to do so. But they will not be the last. Inevitably, when voters in the other 48 states see that the sky has not fallen, they too will demand their lawmakers follow suit. As more states lead the way, federal politicians will eventually have no choice but to follow.

You can read the entire op/ed here. You can also post your feedback and comments to The Hill by going here. Congress is listening; tell them what’s on your mind.

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