The Marijuana Justice Act Introduced In Senate

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) has introduced comprehensive marijuana reform legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017.

The bill would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Click here to watch the video of Senator Booker discussing the bill.

“Not only is it imperative we end our failed experiment of marijuana prohibition, we must also ensure justice for those who suffered most under these draconian policies,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “We applaud Senator Booker for introducing this robust legislation that would not only remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but provide a path forward for the individuals and communities that were most disproportionately targeted by our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers.”

Thirty states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes. According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safetycrime ratestraffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid useabusehospitalizations, and mortality.

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President Trump Compliments Leader Who Executes His Citizens for Drug Charges

Duterte_delivers_his_message_to_the_Filipino_community_in_Vietnam_during_a_meeting_held_at_the_Intercontinental_Hotel_on_September_28If the latest comments and memos coming out of Attorney General Sessions’ Department of Justice didn’t raise concerns about the Trump Administration’s potential plans to reignite our nation’s failed war on drugs, his recent call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte should sound alarm bells.

A reminder: President Duterte has extrajudicially executed thousands of his own citizens on drug charges during his tenure leading the country.

The Washington Post received a transcript of the phone call and describes Trump’s comments on Duterte’s drug “policy” as follows:

…in their call [Trump] praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

“Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the transcript.

After Duterte replied that drugs are the “scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation,” Trump appeared to take a swipe at his predecessor, Barack Obama, who had canceled a bilateral meeting with Duterte after the Philippines leader insulted him.

“I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump said.

Read the full story in The Washington Post here.

Legalization Takes the Stage in Major Congressional Race

voteWhile most political observers are keeping their eyes on the 2018 midterm elections, there are several important special elections to fill seats vacated by members of Congress who were recently appointed to positions in the Trump Administration. One of the more prominent upcoming races will decide who represents the Montana At-Large Congressional District, a position previously filled by the newly minted Interior Secretary Robert Zinke (R).

The two major party candidates, Montana folk musician Rob Quist (D) and conservative multimillionaire tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte (R), will be facing off in a special election set to be held on May 25th. This election has been drawing nationwide attention and is expected to be highly contested. Over the weekend, the pair sounded off on a variety of topics in a debate aired by MTN News. Notably, the candidates were forced to go on record with their position on marijuana law reform.

Do you support the legalization of marijuana?

Rob Quist (D): 

“I went into a dispensary because I wanted to ask the proprietor…I said you know who uses this? The people that come in here are people whose bodies are burned out by pharmaceutical drugs and this is the only relief they can get. Quite frankly, I think that the war on drugs has been an abject failure, I think there’s a pipeline of money going into these organizations that can be better spent not incarcerating people, with our whole prison for profit…There are people in jail that don’t belong in jail because of this. I think the money can be better spent for rehabilitation and treatment. I think it’s important, the majority of Americans want to see that this is legalized.

Greg Gianforte (R): 

“One of the things that really came home to me as I travelled around the state was the addiction problems we have to meth, to opiates…The result is over 3,500 kids in foster care here in the state. I believe that marijuana has medicinal benefits and we should support that, but making it available for recreational use would just add to the addiction problem and cause more problems here and I oppose it.

The candidate for the Libertarian Party, Mark Wicks, also stated he supported the legalization of marijuana.

If you live in Montana, no matter who you support, be sure to participate in our democracy and cast your ballot in this special election. You can check your voter registration and find out all other information necessary to participate from the Montana Secretary of State HERE.

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.

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.

Pharma Company Admits Opposing Marijuana Legalization to Protect Its Corporate Profits

C1_8734_r_xThose of us involved in the marijuana legalization movement have long assumed that those companies that produce and sell competing products — especially alcohol and tobacco — were working behind the scenes to try to maintain marijuana prohibition and to protect their duopoly for legal recreational drugs. These industries have lobbyists who regularly work with state and federal elected officials to keep legal marijuana off the market.

But we now see the pharmaceutical companies are also getting directly involved in political efforts to maintain marijuana prohibition, worried that legal marijuana will undermine their bottom line.

Pharmaceutical company joins the war on marijuana smokers.

Recently, we saw the first direct evidence that pharmaceutical companies are now working to defeat marijuana legalization efforts, acknowledging that their intent is to protect their market in synthetic opioid drugs.

Earlier this month, Insys Therapeutics Inc., an Arizona-based company, donated $500,000 to a group calling itself Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a newly formed organization established to try to defeat Proposition 205, the marijuana legalization voter initiative that will appear on the ballot this November in that state.

Insys currently markets just one product, Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray, a synthetic opioid far more potent than heroin (fentanyl is the drug found in Prince’s system following his death in April). “Insys Therapeutics made $62 million in net revenue on Subsys fentanyl sales in the first quarter of this year, representing 100 percent of the company’s earnings,” according to The Washington Post. “The CDC has implicated the drug in a ‘surge’ of overdose deaths in several states in recent years.”

Survey data compiled from medical marijuana patients show that subjects often reduce their use of prescription drug therapies — particularly opioids — when they have legal access to cannabis. According to a 2015 RAND Corp. study, opiate-related abuse and mortality is lower in jurisdictions that permit medical cannabis access, compared to those that outlaw the plant.

Insys has come under scrutiny of law enforcement. According to The Washington Post, a number of states are currently investigating Insys for illegally paying physicians to prescribe their drug in situations in which it was inappropriate. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming the company’s “desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients’ health and pushed addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes.”

The smoking gun.

When the company first made its half-million dollar contribution to the group opposing the Arizona legalization initiative — the largest single contribution to the group by a factor of four — the company claimed that its reason for opposing the voter initiative was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens and particularly its children.”

But when the company filed a legally required disclosure statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it acknowledged to shareholders that it was making the donation because it feared a decline in the sales of its powerful opioid product and that of a second drug it is developing: Dranabinol, a synthetic cannabinoid. Synthetic cannibinoid is a blanket term for an artificial version of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the active compound in the marijuana plant — intended to alleviate chemotherapy-caused nausea and vomiting. The company concedes that the scientific literature has confirmed the benefits of natural marijuana over synthetic THC:

“Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate. … If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced, and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.”

The Arizona Republic reported that the company, while publicly claiming to have kids’ best interests in mind, is clearly more concerned with ways to “protect its own bottom line.”

And the company has good reason for that fear. Recently published studies have found that states that provide for the legal use of medical marijuana had a 25 percent decline in opioid prescriptions. Another recent study from Columbia University found the implementation of medical marijuana programs is associated with a decrease in the prevalence of opioids detected among fatally injured drivers, based on a review of 69,000 fatalities in 18 states, according to data published in the American Journal of Public Health. Where legal marijuana is available, people use far fewer opioid drugs.

So we now have direct evidence that this pharmaceutical company in Arizona is spending large amounts of money to avoid having to compete with legal marijuana, in order to protect its market share for an addictive and dangerous synthetic opioid and a synthetic form of THC, at the expense of public health.

This is not the first instance of pharmaceutical companies pouring money into the “war on drugs.” In 2014, The Nation published an article revealing that the makers of Oxycontin and Vicodin were two of the largest contributors to The Partnership for Drug Free Kids and the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, two groups that oppose marijuana legalization and support continued prohibition.

Insys will certainly not be the last pharmaceutical company caught putting company profits ahead of concern for public health, but it is the first instance we have seen where a company was caught with its hands in the cookie jar, opposing a marijuana legalization initiative purely for reasons of corporate greed.

Tobacco and alcohol companies have long opposed legal marijuana.

It is understandable that recreational and pharmaceutical industries would not wish to compete with legal marijuana. By any measure, their products are far more dangerous and far more addictive.

Overdose Deaths.

For comparison purposes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, excessive alcohol use results in approximately 88,000 deaths per year in this country. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco smoking results in more than 480,000 deaths each year in this country, about 1,300 people each day.

A 2014 study by Johns Hopkins University found that states that legalized medical marijuana saw a 25 percent decline in overdose deaths from prescription drugs.

Marijuana has never caused an overdose death in the history of mankind. According to a recent report from the World Health Organization, one would have to smoke “between 238 and 1,113 joints a day – or at least 10 joints an hour, for 24 hours straight – before overdose would become a realistic concern” for marijuana.

Addictive potential.

While one can develop a dependence on marijuana smoking, the threat of dependence with marijuana is far less than with either alcohol or tobacco. Here is what the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine concluded in regard to cannabis’ potential dependence liability, in the context of other controlled substances:

“In summary, although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do. But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana drug dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”

Here are their dependence ratings:

Tobacco: 32 percent (proportion of users who ever become dependent)
Heroin: 23 percent
Cocaine: 17 percent
Alcohol: 15 percent
Anxiolytics/sedatives: 9 percent
Marijuana/hashish: 9 percent

So if one is electing to use a recreational drug, marijuana is clearly the safest alternative. And if one is using an opioid drug for pain, they should experiment with marijuana as a substitute for the more dangerous and addictive opioids. For many, it is an effective and far less dangerous alternative.

_____________________________________________________________________

Keith Stroup is a Washington, D.C. public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970.

This column was first published in ATTN.com.

http://www.attn.com/stories/11586/pharmaceutical-company-admits-opposing-marijuana-legalization

 

Ohio Lawmaker Introduces Measure to Put Marijuana Legalization Before State Voters

Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) has introduced a measure that would put marijuana legalization on the ballot before state voters. House Joint Resolution 6 would place a question on the Ohio ballot asking voters to approve allowing people 21 or older to purchase and use marijuana. Under this proposal marijuana would be sold only by state-licensed establishments and would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.

“With billions upon billions spent on the war on drugs with little progress to show for it, it is time for more-sensible drug policy in this country,” stated Representative Hagan.

To be placed on the ballot, HJR 6 would need to receive a three-fifths vote from the legislature. The full text of the measure is available online here.

If you live in Ohio, please take a moment to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this historic legislation! It is time to let the people of Ohio decide for themselves whether or not it is time to legalize marijuana.

OHIO: CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE!

A Millennial Manifesto for Marijuana Law Reform

As our nation edges cautiously toward majority support for marijuana legalization, the millennial generation is leading the way more than any other demographic in history.

Our generation has experienced as much or more tragedy than any post-WW II generation with the exception of the baby boomers.  The difference is that boomers, who witnessed the assassination of  a president, a presidential candidate and a major civil rights activist and who lived through significant social and political upheavals, also saw huge social progress, the evolution of equal rights, greater consumer protection and the end of the Cold War.  Despite many bumps along the way, the economy remained intact for that generation, jobs were available and college was still affordable.

Millennials experienced on 9/11, the first major attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.  We’ve grown up with homeland security threat levels, we’ve witnessed massacre after massacre in our schools and in  public places that used to be considered safe (think Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, the D.C. snipers, Boston, etc).  As young adults, we’ve been confronted with an economy on the verge of collapse, a world plagued by terrorism, an expensive and proliferating drug war, skyrocketing tuition costs and a job market that is barely there.  Yet with all of that, we still believe in the glory of the America we were told about growing up.  That, “America is the richest, most powerful country in the world, where everyone has the opportunity to make money and achieve the American dream,” and despite everything going on now, we believe that it still can.

So why, you wonder, do so many millennials (65% according to the latest Pew Research Poll) support the legalization of marijuana in light of all these other issues?  It’s because we believe this is a serious national problem with a sensible fix and a positive outcome for everyone.  

  • We believe that marijuana prohibition negatively affects so many aspects of our society and we believe that reforming this senseless policy will actually help the American people and our economy.
  • We’ve seen the lives of so many of our friends and loved ones destroyed, not by using marijuana, but by the impact of its prohibition.
  • We know that the D.A.R.E. program is a joke.
  • We know that hundreds of millions of our tax dollars are wasted to support a criminal justice system that must track down, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate and then parole hundreds of thousands of non-violent and otherwise law abiding citizens, who are burdened with criminal records for the rest of their lives.
  • We know that our failed, and incredibly expensive war on drugs is destabilizing and corrupting governments south of our border, while enriching brutal drug lords.
  • We know that as long as marijuana remains unregulated, it will be far easier for an American child or adolescent to buy pot from a street vendor then it will be for that same child to purchase a beer or buy a pack of cigarettes in a store, where she is required to produce a government-issued ID.

Not only will legalization protect our brothers and sisters from unjust prosecution and a life tainted with a criminal record, it will also generate billions of dollars in federal and state tax revenues, and it will create a whole new industry in the U.S. which means more jobs for Americans.  While marijuana represented a symbol of rebellion and counter culture to the boomer generation of the 60s and 70s – today, for millennials, marijuana legalization simply makes good political and economic sense.  We made up about 20% of all voters in the last election, and are well on our way to becoming the largest generation in American history.  Each year that passes brings millions of new young adults into the voting population. If policy makers don’t take note of our growing influence over future elections and begin to support the issues that are important to us, we will vote them out and find ones who do.

 

New York Times OpDoc: A True Satire Of The War on Some Drugs

While there is nothing genuinely funny about a seventy-five year prohibition on cannabis that has arrested over 25 million cannabis consumers, making fun of the failed policy never goes out of style, especially when done right, with aplomb, which the NORML staff occasionally highlights on an otherwise serious-minded public policy blog.

While over a week-old it would seem a crime itself not to share this New York Times so-called OpDoc (where videos rather than guest columns are submitted). The Gregory Brothers, a quartet of video artists from Brooklyn, absolutely skew the disparity between American society’s hypocritical legal vs illegal drug paradigm.

They accomplish this by very humorous employment of auto-tune and eye-rolling use of politicians’ own words about the now near universally acknowledged failed war on some drugs.

Check out former Congressman Ron Paul, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Chris Christie (with intentional help from Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes of ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ fame) sing in a way, about a subject matter, they surely didn’t intend t00 when they opened their mouths and spoke the truth about an unpopular public policy (which, ironically, is what elected policymakers are supposed to do in democracies).

You can watch the video here.

Enjoy!

White House Drug Control Budget: Failed Drug War Tactics Prioritized Over Prevention and Treatment

The Obama Administration has released its National Drug Control Budget for the FY 2014 and despite their claims that “the war on drugs is over” and that they have “bigger fish to fry” the Office National Drug Control Policy is still prioritizing failed drug war tactics over prevention and treatment.

whbud2The new budget calls for 9.6 billion dollars to be spent on domestic law enforcement, 3.7 billion for interdiction, and 1.4 billion for international drug control efforts.

Prevention, in the form of education and outreach efforts, receives a paltry $1.4 billion dollars. While this is a 5% increase over the previous year’s budget, it is still a minuscule sum when you consider we are spending nine times more on arresting people than we are to educate them on risks of drug use and stop them from ending up in the criminal justice system in the first place. The budget calls for an additional 9.3 billion to be spent on treatment programs for those considered to have drug abuse issues (though $80 million of this funding goes to the drug court program, infamous for giving defendants the “choice” of serving time in rehab or spending time in a jail cell).

For all their rhetoric, this recent budget shows that little has changed in the federal government’s priorities when it comes to the War on Drugs. Funding is still disproportionately spent arresting people or diverting them into treatment programs after the fact, while only a small fraction (13%) of the overall drug budget is spent trying to fix the problem before it starts.

It is time for the Obama Administration’s policy to match its language on the issue of drug law reform. President Obama once promised that he would allow science and factual evidence to guide his administration on issues of public policy, but when it comes to marijuana laws, we are still waiting for him to deliver.

You can view the full text of the budget here.

Bill to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana Introduced in Alabama

Many traditionally write off the Southern United States as an area dead to cannabis law reform, but one Representative is behind a new effort that can change all of that.

This week, Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) has introduced House Bill 550, the Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013. This measure would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 12 mature marijuana plants by those over the age of 21. It would also authorize the Department of Revenue to establish marijuana retail outlets. You can read the full text of the measure here.

As many of you have seen, yesterday, Pew Research released new polling data that revealed, for the first time in data from a US based polling firm, that Americans support legalizing marijuana by over 50%. The survey found that 52% support legalization and only 45% were opposed. This is no longer just an issue relegated to states such as those on the West Coast and Colorado, traditionally considered bastions of marijuana law reform, this support is now nationwide.

As it very well should be, marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that squanders hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year, inversely affects society’s underprivileged, violates civil liberties, and fuels a violent, criminal black market responsible for countless deaths on our border as well as our local communities.

If states such as the traditionally conservative Alabama are beginning the discussion around alternatives to our failed prohibition of marijuana, the collapse of the drug war machine and its war on a green plant cannot be too far behind.

ALABAMA: If you live in Alabama click here to easily write your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation!

TheFix.com: “The Drug Warriors Cashing In on Pot Prohibition”

“Former public servants, from DEA chiefs to cops, are using their clout to lobby for drug policies that enrich themselves.”

That’s the sub-headline on today’s exceptional feature story on TheFix.com highlighting the revolving door of moneyed interests in perpetuating the war on cannabis.

Author Kevin Gray, whose work has appeared in numerous outlets including The Washington Post, articulately summarizes the role of former drug czars, cops, federal bureaucrats, and others who lobby the keep the drug war machine moving forward — and, as a result, line their own pockets.

“The time-honored revolving door between government and business swings fast and often. It can be straightforward, like the appointment of banking behemoth Goldman Sachs’ alumni as economic policymakers by recent presidential administrations. But when it comes to the drug war, the family tree is more like a thicket of interests among law enforcement, federal and state prisons, pharmaceutical giants, drug testers and drug treatment programs—all with an economic stake in keeping pot illegal.”

The whole story is really a must read. Here is the link to the full text.

How to Win & Influence Congress, with Rep. Barney Frank

Examining legislative stategy and benefits of stopping the drug war, Rep Barney Frank,(D) MA, addresses the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)in Washington, DC, April, 2001. Saying that the people are far ahead of the politicians on these issues, Rep.Frank also knows that an elected official will always give priority to constituants over lobbyists – if the constituants are actively expressing their wishes. Rep. Frank also states that voting and calling your Congressperson is much more effective than parades, etc. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: www.norml.org This video was produced by Cannabis TV http for the Western North Carolina chapter of Americans for Safe Access, as an instructive tool for understanding socio-political aspects of drug policy reform, especially for our goal of introducing legislation for protection of medical marijuana patients, caregivers and doctors. www.asawnc.org

A Vision for a New NORML

A Message from the Chair of NORML’s Board of Directors, Norm Kent:

NORML is the pioneer, the grand patron and founder of the marijuana policy reform movement in America. We are still here and by your side, and we are needed now, more than ever.

Some have said that as our nation moves towards medicalization, decriminalization, or legalization, our tasks will be diminished, our duties lessened, our essence threatened.

The truth is that it is just the opposite.

Now, with cannabis reforms about to blossom in city after city, from small communities to large counties, our nation needs a respected consumer advocacy group more than ever.

Our nation needs a lobby such as the new NORML, firmly planted, and nationally respected, which will protect the rights of cannabis consumers, as no one else has in the past or can in the future.

Our nation needs a new NORML, which ensures that the distribution of cannabis to anyone is universally safe, readily accessible and fairly affordable to everyone.

Our nation needs a new NORML that ensures that the laws which legislatures pass favor freedom and fairness, not moneymakers or mercenaries.

Our nation needs a new NORML that ensures patients have access to safe medicine, consumers acquire healthy products, and distribution mechanisms protect gender, age, and race, available not just to corporate conglomerates but individual entrepreneurs.

The new NORML today contains a NORML Women’s Alliance representing the power of feminism and professionalism, bringing passion and gender diversity to the cause of personal freedom and individual choice.

The new NORML brings vast youth advocacy to the table, with hundreds of chapters in 50 states, young men and women fighting with their heart and soul to ensure scholarships are not revoked, driving privileges are not taken away, and jobs are not lost because they make legal decisions to use cannabis responsibly.

The new NORML will bring activists and academicians, economists and entrepreneurs, to political forums, explaining how justly taxing cannabis legally today can stop the bleeding of state, city and village budgets tomorrow.

The new NORML will still need and provide the national canvas with a network of criminal defense attorneys to represent clients who are wrongly arrested and unjustly prosecuted, from patients with medical conditions to adult drivers illegally stopped.

The new NORML needs to remind Americans that decriminalization in 18 states means we still have a ways to go in 32 others, where nearly a million Americans a year still go to jail for consuming cannabis.

Thus, the new NORML needs to remind everyone that apathy and inertia has no room for intrusion; that our advocacy must still be engaged, that our voices still be heard.

The new NORML thus needs to blend innovative social media tools to drive activists with initiatives from coast to coast and in community after community. With hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, and millions of cannabis consumers living and supporting our cause all across America, our word must be spread on the web and throughout the country. We must remind Americans everywhere that it is unjust and unfair for adults consuming cannabis privately and personally to get arrested anywhere, anytime, or in any place.

The new NORML needs to be advocates not just for patients who want access to safe medicine and fair distribution systems, but adults who demand the right to responsible use along with just access for righteous, recreational use, needing no apologies for exercising their individual sovereignty openly and freely.

The new NORML also needs to be advocates who rectify the injustices of past decades, for individuals whose futures were destroyed by a drug war that failed to do anything but ruin good lives with bad laws.

The new NORML needs to marshal public policy so that the laws are changed everywhere not in the next few decades, but in the next few years. To achieve national reform, we need to harness the energy and network of drug policy reform organizations throughout this country. We need to speak with a common voice and universal message.

The message to be shared and the story to be told is not just that prohibition was wrong all along, or that the drug war has been a financial and moral failure. That is a past we have learned all too well.

The message for the new NORML is to state that Americans citizens have always come to support equal civil liberties for all, from women to African Americans, to our friends in the gay and lesbian community. After decades of pain, that morning has come for cannabis consumers. The new NORML will celebrate the future, not condemn the past.

For 40 years, NORML has been on the side of those who embraced individual choice and the responsible use of cannabis, as an extension of personal freedom.

Now, more than ever, the new NORML will remain by your side in order to ensure that as cannabis is distributed and disseminated to consumers from state to state, or coast to coast, it becomes readily accessible, equitably affordable and universally safe.

Thank you,
Norm Kent
Chair, NORML Board of Directors

Please consider making a donation to NORML today to help support our ongoing efforts to legalize the responsible adult use of marijuana by clicking here.

Jack Cole, Founder of LEAP, Testifies at HB1393 Medical Marijuana Hearing 8/19/2010 (Part 1 of 2)

Jack Cole, founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, testifies at HB1393 Medical Marijuana Hearing on 8/19/2010 in Pittsburgh about his experience as an undercover cop busting kids for smoking a joint, and how pointless and counterproductive the war on drugs is.
Video Rating: 5 / 5

Video in the public domain. Q. Does marijuana have any medical value? Any determination of a drug’s valid medical use must be based on the best available science undertaken by medical professionals. The Institute of Medicine conducted a comprehensive study in 1999 to assess the potential health benefits of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoids. The study concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for the treatment of any disease condition. In addition, there are more effective medications currently available. For those reasons, the Institute of Medicine concluded that there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication. Advocates have promoted the use of marijuana to treat medical conditions such as glaucoma. However, this is a good example of more effective medicines already available. According to the Institute of Medicine, there are six classes of drugs and multiple surgical techniques that are available to treat glaucoma that effectively slow the progression of this disease by reducing high intraocular pressure. In other studies, smoked marijuana has been shown to cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, respiratory problems, increased heart rate, loss of motor skills, and increased heart rate. Furthermore, marijuana can affect the immune system by impairing the ability of T-cells to fight off infections, demonstrating that marijuana can do more harm than good in people with already compromised immune systems. In

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