Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Do Not Adversely Impact Traffic Fatality Rates

thumbs_upThe enactment of statewide laws regulating the adult use and sale of cannabis is not associated with subsequent changes in traffic fatality rates, according to an analysis of traffic safety data (“Crash fatality rates after recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado”) published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.

“We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization,” author concluded.

They further reported, “[W]e also found no association between recreational marijuana legalization and total crash rates when analyzing available state-reported nonfatal crash statistics.”

Commenting on the findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who have concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety. These results indicate that such fears have not come to fruition, and that such concerns ought not to unduly influence legislators or voters in other jurisdictions that are considering legalizing cannabis.”

A prior study published last year by the same journal reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.

Fatal accident rates have fallen significantly over the past two decades — during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total fell to under 30,000 by 2014.

A summary of the study appears online under ‘First Look’ on the apha.org website here.

Why the marijuana and tobacco policy camps are on very different paths

New research looked at diverging trajectories of cannabis and tobacco policies in the US and attempts to explain some of the reasoning behind the different paths, while discussing possible implications.

Washington: Support For Marijuana Policy Reform Surges Post-Legalization

legalization_pollPublic support for marijuana legalization has surged in Washington state in the years following the enactment of legislation permitting the commercial production and retail sale of the plant, according to survey data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Fifty-five percent of voters approved the voter-initiated measure in 2012.

Investigators with the Public Health Institute in California assessed survey data from a geographically representative sample of those ages 18 and older. Survey data was collected every six months between January 2014 and April 2016 in order to assess support trends over time.

Authors reported that respondents’ support for legalization increased from 64 percent to 78 percent over this time period. Public support grew among those in every age group.

National polls similarly show an increase in public support for marijuana legalization following the enactment of such laws in various states.

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Genetic factors may contribute to adverse effects produced by synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoid abuse is a growing problem in the US. New discoveries tied to genetic factors that increase a person’s risk for experiencing the most dangerous effects of these drugs could lead to more effective treatments and antidotes.

Poll: Support For Legalizing Marijuana At Record High

Legalize marijuanaMore than six in ten Americans believe that the social use of marijuana should be legal for adults, according to nationwide polling data provided by CBS News.

The percentage marks a significant increase since 2013, when only 45 percent of respondents endorsed legalization, and it is among the highest levels of public support ever reported in a national poll. Only a majority of those respondents over the age of 65 did not support legalization.

Pollsters also reported that 88 percent of US adults support regulating the use of medical marijuana, and that 71 percent of Americans — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — oppose efforts on the part of the federal government to interfere in state’s that have legalized the plant’s distribution and use. The percentage represents a blowback to the Trump administration, which in February threatened “greater enforcement” of federal anti-marijuana laws in states that have legalized its adult use.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they believe alcohol to be more harmful than cannabis, and a majority of those under the age of 65 acknowledged having used it.

The CBS News poll possesses a margin of error of +/- four percent.

[Update: A nationwide Quinnipiac University poll, also released this week, reports similar levels of public support. It reports that 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, the highest level of support ever reported by the polling firm. It further reported that voters oppose, by a margin of 73 percent to 21 percent. government enforcement of federal anti-cannabis laws in states that have legalized the medical or recreational use of marijuana.]

Trump Should Abolish the Drug Czar’s Office

Trump_signing_Executive_Order_13780
The Trump Administration is widely expected to pick Representative Tom Marino for Drug Czar.

Representative Marino is a longtime, rabid drug warrior who has a consistent record of voting against marijuana law reform legislation — a position that runs counter to that of the majority of voters and his own constituents. His appointment to this office highlights the fact that this administration remains committed to the failed 1980s ‘war on drugs’ playbook.

The Trump administration promised to eliminate bureaucratic waste. It should start by eliminating the office of the Drug Czar.

The White House Drug Czar is required, by statute, “to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance that is listed in Schedule I” and to “ensure that no Federal funds … shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in Schedule I.” This narrow-minded, Flat Earth mentality refuses to acknowledge the reality that the majority of the country is now authorized to engage in the use of medical cannabis and it mandates that US drug policy be dictated by rhetoric and ideology rather than by science and evidence.

NORML opposes Marino’s appointment to the position of Drug Czar and we further call for this anti-science agency to be abolished entirely.

Click here to send a message to President Trump – End the charade of the Drug Czar by abolishing the position.

The Drug Czar’s office is a remnant of a bygone era when US drug policy was framed as a ‘war’ fueled largely by rhetoric and ideology. In 2017 we can do better and we must. The majority of Americans view drug abuse as a public health issue, they favor regulating cannabis as opposed to criminalizing it, and they are demanding policy changes based on facts.

Tell President Trump: There is no place for ‘Czars’ in today’s American government, particularly those like Marino who still cling to outdated and failed drug war policies that embody misplaced ideologies of the past.

Federal Marijuana Sentences Plummet: Report

Cannabis PenaltiesThe number of federal offenders sentenced for violating marijuana laws has fallen significantly since 2012, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Just over 3,000 federal defendants were sentenced for marijuana violations in 2016, according to the Commission. That total is roughly half of the number of federal defendants that were sentenced in 2012. The total has fallen year-to-year since that time.

The 2016 total is nearly equal to the number of federal defendants sentenced for violating powder cocaine laws, and less than the number of federal defendants sentenced for heroin. Some 96 percent of federal marijuana defendants were sentenced for trafficking, with an average sentence of 28 months in prison.

Of those sentenced, 77 percent were Hispanic, 11 percent were Caucasian, and eight percent were African American. Fifty-six percent were categorized as non-US citizens.

In 2015, over 5,600 federal defendants were sentenced for violating marijuana laws, a total equal to some 25 percent of all federal drug sentences.

Click here to email your lawmakers on various pieces of legislation related to marijuana reform.

 

More older Americans using cannabis, underscoring need for research

Cannabis use among older adults in the US is on the rise, yet there is currently a lack of biomedical, clinical, and public health research to inform policy related to this trend, according to a new article.

#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

 

NORML Day of Action on Monday, Jan. 9th – #JustSayNoToSessions


On Monday, NORML and our supporters will participate in a Day of Action to mobilize opposition to the appointment of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General.

Senate lawmakers will be deciding Tuesday whether Jeff Sessions is fit for the position of America’s top law enforcement officer. Unless he is willing to acknowledge that, as Attorney General, he will respect the rights of marijuana consumers in the majority of US states that have legalized the plant, we believe that he is the wrong man for the job.

Our concern is not without merit. 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 marijuana/?utm_term=.2ac0a151b4ba> :

“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 no that “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.

Will you join us in this important day of action? You can help us amplify our message by signing up for our ThunderClap HERE.

What is a Thunderclap? Think of Thunderclap as a social media flash mob. Supporters can sign up to have a mass message published to their account at a coordinated date and time. Thunderclap is similar to crowdfunding, but uses social currency instead of money. Your audience can “donate” a Tweet or Facebook post to help you spread the word. Your one tweet and post can go along way in helping us bring awareness to this important effort.

Sign up for the Thunderclap. Then, on Monday morning we will be posting in-depth directions regarding our call to action (including a suggested script for you to use when calling your US Senator) right here on norml.org . Then, on Tuesday, we will be shifting our focus to the members of the Judiciary Committee to assure that Sen. Sessions is made to defend his past statements, and is asked about whether he will respect the will of the voters moving forward.

Together, we can make our voices heard and demand that statewide marijuana laws be respected and upheld. Stand with us on Monday to send a clear message: The incoming Attorney General must not interfere with state laws that have legalized and regulated marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

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.

Nevada: Adult Marijuana Use To Become Legal On January 1

NVThis Sunday, Nevada will become the seventh US state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “Voters in the western region of the United States are leading the way toward the eventual nationwide re-legalization of marijuana by responsible adults. Federal laws need to reflect this reality, not deny it.”

On Election Day, 55 percent of Nevada voters approved Question 2, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or up to 3.5 grams of cannabis concentrates. An adult may also lawfully grow up to six plants in their home if they reside 25 miles or more away from a marijuana retailer. Provisions in the law also permit for the possession and sale of marijuana-related paraphernalia as well as the gifting of small amounts of cannabis for no financial remuneration. Public use of the plant remains a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $600.

Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis, which will be subject to a 15 percent excise tax. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences. Similar legislation in Maine is anticipated to go into effect later next month.

Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Associated With Fewer Traffic Fatalities

cropsThe passage of medical marijuana legalization is associated with reduced traffic fatalities among younger drivers, according to data published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health.

Investigators from Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Davis analyzed traffic fatality data from the years 1985 to 2014.

They reported that states with medical cannabis laws had lower overall traffic fatality rates compared to states where cannabis is illegal, and that there was an immediate decline in motor vehicle deaths following the establishment of a legal cannabis market – particularly among those under 44 years of age.

Authors concluded: “[O]n average, MMLs (medical marijuana laws) states had lower traffic fatality rates than non-MML states. …. MMLs are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years. … It is possible that this is related to lower alcohol-impaired driving behavior in MML-states.”

An abstract of the study, “US traffic fatalities, 1985-2014, and their relationship to medical marijuana laws,” appears online here.

Massachusetts: Over a Century Of Cannabis Criminalization Comes to an End

Legalize marijuanaMassachusetts today became the sixth US state to enact legislation eliminating criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis. The law change ends over a century-long policy of criminal cannabis prohibition in the Bay State. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to criminalize the use of marijuana — a policy it first enacted in 1911.

“By legalizing the adult use of marijuana, Massachusetts will shrink the illicit black market, generate millions in tax revenue, end the arrest of otherwise law abiding citizens, and better enable society to keep marijuana out of the hands of children,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

On Election Day, 54 percent of Massachusetts voters approved Question 4, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Question 4 permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to legally grow up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants, and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce and/or up to 5 grams of concentrate; in addition, adults may legally possess up to ten ounces of marijuana flower in their home). Public consumption of cannabis remains a civil violation.

Separate provisions in the statute also license the commercial cannabis production and retail sales of cannabis. Those regulations do not take effect until January 1, 2018. However, some state lawmakers have suggested delaying this timeline, raising the state’s proposed sales tax rate, and amending the state’s new home cultivation guidelines — proposals that NORML opposes.

If you live in Massachusetts, urge your lawmakers to move swiftly to fully implement Question 4: The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act as written as approved by voters by clicking here.

Canadian Government’s Legal Marijuana Task Force Releases Recommendations

legalizationThis morning in Ottawa, a government task force assigned to study legalizing and regulating the adult use of marijuana in Canada released their recommendations. The task force recommended that sales should be restricted to those over the age of 18 with a personal possession limit of 30 grams. Their recommended model of legalization would put heavy restrictions on most types of cannabis advertising and tax the product based on THC content. The task force suggested that both storefronts and delivery services would be allowed as well as the home cultivation of up to four plants. They also believe that all of Canada’s current laws regarding medical marijuana remain in place as they are currently with no change.

“The prohibitory regime exists does not work and has not met the basic principles of public health and safety that have to be at the core of this public policy,” stated Anne McLellan, former minister of justice and chair of the task force.

The group’s nine members had discussions with scientific experts across Canada and received the opinions of over 28,000 citizens via online consultations before making their recommendations. They also made visits to states in the US that have already legalized marijuana for adult consumption.

While the task force’s recommendations are non-binding, they announced during the press conference that the Canadian government will present legislation in the spring of 2017 modeled after this report. The implementation date of that legislation is still unclear.

With Canada blazing a new and smarter path forward on marijuana policy, the pressure will only continue to build on the United States government to reform our federal marijuana laws.

You can read the full report HERE.

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