Tag Archives | Legalization

Endorsed: NORML Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Washington State

The NORML Board of Directors officially endorsed a cannabis legalization initiative at the recently concluded Annual Meeting that has qualified for the November ballot in the state of Washington.steves Endorsed: NORML Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Washington State

For the next nine months national NORML and its dozen in-state chapters will provide logistical, strategic, communications and fundraising support for Initiative 502, whose co-petitioner is NORML Advisory Board member and best-selling author/TV host Rick Steves.

NORML’s staff envisages two more marijuana-related reform initiatives likely qualifying for this year’s fall ballot:

*Citizens in Colorado will likely have the opportunity to vote for a binding voter initiative that will legalize cannabis for responsible adult use, cultivation and sales.

*Citizens in Massachusetts too will likely get to send a strong reform message to the federal government this fall when they vote in a binding voter initiative that will legalize the use of cannabis for qualified patients for medical use and allow regulated retail sales.

Also, cannabis law reform advocates in numerous states are trying to join the states listed above in qualifying reform-minded initiatives on their state ballots too. Those states are:

*California (Multiple competing reform initiatives regarding legalization, i.e., ‘Regulate‘ and ‘Repeal‘; Another one for regulating medical cannabis)

*Michigan (Legalization initiative)

*Missouri (Legalization initiative)

*Montana (Legalization initiative)

*Nebraska (Legalization initiative)

It should be abundantly clear by now to federal legislators and the executive branch that while they unwisely continue to support a failed public policy like Cannabis Prohibition–when over 50% of the public now support long overdue cannabis law reforms–citizens (and an increasing number of elected policymakers) at the state level will continue to steadily increase political pressure on the federal government to capitulate on Cannabis Prohibition and embrace demonstrably more free market and Constitutional-friendly alternative public policies that actually benefit citizens and governments, and in turn, public health and safety too.

This upcoming election season will once again confirm that this political trend in cannabis law reform is  long-standing, sustainable and poised for multiple political victories at the state level in the short years to come.

 

 

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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President Obama’s YouTube Forum deems marijuana legalization questions “inappropriate”

NOTE: If you feel marijuana legalization was an entirely “appropriate” topic for debate, tweet your dissatisfaction of the White House’s censoring of NORML’s YouTube question by tweeting them using #WHchat and @WhiteHouse.

“Pres. Obama, what is inappropriate about saving billions and not arresting nonviolent american citizens for marijuana? #WHChat @WhiteHouse”

– E. Altieri, Comm. Coordinator

 

As of 7pm Pacific, I checked the YouTube.com/WhiteHouse page to see how many votes our question received in President Obama’s latest YouTube Forum.  The good news?  Our question, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, for marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up non-violent marijuana users, isn’t it time we regulate and tax marijuana?” received 4,023 votes, making it one of the most popular submissions to the forum.

The bad news?  See for yourself:

Inappropriate President Obama’s YouTube Forum deems marijuana legalization questions “inappropriate”

“The submission has been removed because people believe it is inappropriate.”  Hmm, well, who are these people?  The question got 241 “thumbs down” votes from viewers, was that it?  I notice that of the 615 questions submitted that asked about “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010″ in the text, some still remain with 28 “thumbs down” and others are removed with as few as three, so it doesn’t seem like “people” refers to viewers or the public, does it?

Who are these people, President Obama?  They’re not the people out here who keep making marijuana legalization the number one topic of these online forums.  They’re not the millions whose lives are impacted by a marijuana arrest; the tokers and their families who lose jobs, houses, kids, freedom, assets, respect, security, and peace of mind because of marijuana prohibition.

Sadly, I think these people are actually just one person… a guy who smoked weed (and snorted coke) back in the day as a teenager in Hawaii and was damn lucky he didn’t get caught or today he’d be Barry the Drug Criminal.

Ask Obama 1 101 300x193 President Obama’s YouTube Forum deems marijuana legalization questions “inappropriate”

In 2010, these were the Top 100 questions for President Obama, and they ALL dealt with marijuana legalization

(YouTube.com/WhiteHouse) On Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. ET, President Obama will speak to the nation in his annual State of the Union address.Starting today, you can ask President Obama the questions that are on your mind about the direction of the country and vote on others that you think should be asked. He’ll answer several of your top-voted questions during a special interview, which will take place on January 30, live from the White House. A selection of people who submit questions will also be invited to join a Google+ Hangout live with the President during the interview.

The deadline to submit is January 28 at midnight ET so submit your question now.

Here we go again.  How many times will President Obama ask the American people for their questions on national policy, how many times will we resoundingly call for marijuana legalization, and how will he diminish, mock, or ignore our concerns this time?

  1. We petitioned him to legalize marijuana in September 2011, the number one petition;
  2. We Twittered him to legalize marijuana in July 2011, making up one out of eight questions asked;
  3. We asked him via YouTube video in January 2011, with LEAP’s question the number one video;
  4. We asked him via Ideas for Change in March 2010, with legalization again the number one question;
  5. We lobbied him via Citizen’s Briefing Book in May 2009, with the number one idea being legalization;
  6. We asked him via Open for Questions II in March 2009, where he mocked the number one idea of legalization helping the economy;
  7. We asked him via Open for Questions I in January 2009, where legalization topped most categories of questions;
  8. We asked him via Change.gov in December 2008, where legalization was again number one and a dozen of the top fifty questions.

Maybe the ninth time is the charm?  Once again in this “ask the people” exercise the most popular questions deal with legalization of marijuana*.

Here’s the official National NORML question:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here’s my entry:

Click here to view the embedded video.

* Though this time, we may get beaten by SOPA, PIPA, and NDAA questions… which wouldn’t bother me a bit.  A free and open internet, threatened by SOPA and PIPA, is crucial to spreading the message of marijuana law reform.  NDAA is an abomination that allows the president to declare citizens “enemy combatants” and lock them up indefinitely without charge, without trial, and without rights.  We’re big fans of the First and Fourth Amendments here and these acts are counter to the spirit and Constitution of America.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Rep. Barney Frank Educates George Will and Paul Ryan on Marijuana Legalization

bf 194x300 Rep. Barney Frank Educates George Will and Paul Ryan on Marijuana LegalizationRep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the primary sponsor of HR 2306: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, appeared on ‘This Week with Christiane Amanpour’ on ABC with fellow guests George Will of the Washington Post and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The conversation found its way to marijuana legalization which led to Barney Frank calling out the hypocrisy of most of his conservative colleagues.

“It’s a great embarrassment to the conservatives,” said Frank, “They want to tell people who they can have sex with. Come on, all this is big government! Who can I have sex with? Who can I marry? What can I read? What can I smoke? You guys, on the whole — not all of you — but the conservatives are the ones who intrude on personal liberty there.”

The debate got heated between Frank and George Will. “I mean, personal liberty, if someone wants to smoke marijuana who’s an adult, why do you want to make them go to jail?” Frank questioned.

“I need to know more about whether it’s a gateway drug to other drugs, I need to know how you’re going to regulate it,” George Will replied.

“Anything is a gateway to anything,” Representative Frank shot back, “That’s the slippery slope argument which is a very anti-libertarian argument. The fact that if somebody is doing something that’s not in itself wrong, that it might lead later on to something else then stop the something else. Don’t lock them up for smoking marijuana.”

Will defended himself claiming, “What you’re calling a cop-out, I’m calling a quest for information.”

“How long’s it going to last, George?” Frank asked, “We’ve been doing this for decades.”

Watch the clip below:

You can read more coverage of this story here and here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Marijuana Law Refom Marching On: Legalization Highly Favored In New Massachusetts Poll

58% support in Massachusetts for legalizing marijuana and regulating it as other agricultural commodities

Georgetown, MA – This evening, attendees at the Second Annual Massachusetts Cannabis Convention hosted by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/NORML (MassCann/NORML) at the Crowne Plaza in Natick heard the major results of a live telephone poll conducted in November by DAPA Research Inc. of 600 Massachusetts voters with a margin of error of +/-4%.

MASS CANN Marijuana Law Refom Marching On: Legalization Highly Favored In New Massachusetts Poll

The most significant findings:

*Fifty-eight percent (58%) support legalizing marijuana and regulating it in the same manner as other agricultural commodities with sales prohibited to underage persons (69% Democrats, 44% Republicans, 54% Other).

*Sixty-two percent (62%) are more likely to support legalization if the proposed law would regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana to adults and tax it in the same manner as the state currently regulates alcohol (70% Democrats, 56% Republicans, 60% Other).

*Fifty-four percent (54%) oppose the federal government disregarding state law in states legalizing marijuana, while only 35% support the federal government’s disregarding state law.

“The data strongly suggests that Massachusetts voters are more ready than voters in any other state to end prohibition and establish reasonable regulation of cannabis cultivation and commerce for all purposes,” said Steven S. Epstein, a founder and currently an officer of MassCann/NORML. “The data also establishes that if the legislature does not enact a law allowing medical use of marijuana this session the voters will overwhelmingly, perhaps 80%+, approve the voter initiative for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana at the ballot box in November.”

“Legalization is essential to ending crime created by the prohibition of cannabis,” said Cara Crabb-Burnham, a member of MassCann/NORML’s Board of Directors. “It is important to recognize legal vendors will card customers and keep it out of the hands of children.”

* * *

For more information contact:
Michael Crawford, 978-502-4080
Attorney Steven Epstein, 978-352-3300

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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‘Legalization Of Marijuana Is Needed To Increase Public Safety’ Fmr US Attorney John McKay

November 16, 2011 PBS News Hour MOXNews.com
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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CBS News Poll confirms troubling data for legalization and medical marijuana proponents

[Update: Yes, I meant "proponents", not "opponents".  An 11-point gender gap and 52% believing medical marijuana is not for the severely ill, but for "something else" should trouble proponents of legalization. -"R"R]

The latest poll to ask the American people their opinions on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization reveals some disturbing trends for opponents of marijuana prohibition.

legalization 21st century polls exec CBS News Poll confirms troubling data for legalization and medical marijuana proponents

21st Century Legalization Polls by major news and polling organizations (click for full size version)

According a recent CBS News poll conducted at the end of October, a slim majority of 51 percent continues to think that marijuana use should be illegal. But support for specifically allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for serious medical conditions – or legalized “medical” marijuana – is far stronger: 77 percent Americans think it should be allowed.

CBS’s poll compares well to the bulk of polls on the issue over the past two years, which have ranged from 40% to 46% support for full-legalization.  It’s interesting to note that no news organization has ever shown a poll with majority support for full-legalization; the five polls showing 50% or greater support all come from Zogby, Angus Reid, and Gallup.

Still, even though most Americans support this, just three in 10 believe that the marijuana currently being bought in this country under state-authorized medical marijuana programs is being used in the way it has been authorized: for alleviating suffering from serious medical conditions.

In previous posts we’ve noted the gap between medical-only and full-legalization has shrunk from 44% to 20% in the Gallup Polls.  This CBS poll shows 77% nationwide for “Do you think doctors should be allowed to prescribe small amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses?” but also shows only 31% of the country believes “marijuana that is purchased in this country through state authorized medical marijuana programs is being used to alleviate suffering from serious medical illnesses”.  Majorities of Republicans (62%) and Independents (51%) and a plurality of Democrats (44%) believe “most of it is being used for other reasons”.

As usual, people between the age of 18-29 support legalization (52%) as do liberals (66%).  Greatest support geographically is again found in the West (48%).  But surprisingly, the Midwest (43%) beats the Northeast (41%) in support and Independents (48%) have greater support for legalization than Democrats (45%).  Also as usual, and still vexing for legalization proponents, is the gender gap of 11 points between men (46%) and women (35%).

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Show-Me Cannabis Legalization

rethinklogohd12 300x125 Show Me Cannabis LegalizationEfforts are currently underway to put marijuana legalization on the ballot in Missouri next year. Missouri NORML and Show-me Cannabis Regulation are working together to acquire the number of signatures required to put a Constitutional amendment proposal before Missouri voters in November 2012. Missouri now joins several other states (including California, Washington, and Colorado) that are looking to put the issue of cannabis legalization before voters next election.

If you live in Missouri, and want to get involved, MO NORML and Show-me Cannabis Regulation will be holding a strategy meeting this Saturday, November 19th. For more information see the message below from Dan Viets, Missouri NORML Coordinator.

Dear Friends and Supporters of Missouri NORML:

Missouri NORML in conjunction with Show-Me Cannabis Regulation is holding a special meeting next Saturday, November 19, 2011 from noon to 6:00 p.m. at the Arts & Science building at the University of Missouri here in Columbia. this event will be a kickoff for the campaign to place marijuana legalization on the Missouri ballot in November, 2012.

We will be brainstorming ideas for how to move this campaign forward effectively and efficiently. We will be sharing ideas with our fellow activists from the state of Missouri. We will be talking with folks who have experience in similar campaigns to get their advice on how we can gather the signatures we need as quickly as possible.

SMCR has chosen to proceed with a Constitutional amendment proposal. This means we will need to gather nearly 150,000 signatures on petitions to place this issue on the ballot before next May. We will need the help of every one of our supporters to make this happen.

Following the meeting Saturday afternoon, we will hold a Dinner/Party/Fundraising event at one of Columbia’s finest restaurants. We ask everyone who attends to please bring something, large or small, which can be auctioned to help us raise funds for the campaign.

Please join us and become part of this historic effort to end the terrible injustice of cannabis prohibition in Missouri. For more information about the proposed initiative, go to www.showmecannabis.org. There is a football game in Columbia next Saturday so hotel and motel rooms will be in short supply. If you plan to stay in Columbia, you should probably search for a room immediately. You may need to look at accommodations in towns nearby since the hotels here may be full.

Sincerely,
Dan Viets, Missouri NORML Coordinator

You can see coverage of the proposal on Missouri’s local FOX affiliate here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Cannabis’ Impact on Health Justifies Its Legalization, Not Its Criminal Prohibition

NORML Remember Prohibition Cannabis’ Impact on Health Justifies Its Legalization, Not Its Criminal ProhibitionThe theme of the November issue of the academic online journal CATO Unbound is “If Not Now, When? The Slow Rise of Marijuana Reform.”

I have the lead essay in the journal, which also features forthcoming contributions from NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and other notable drug law reform advocates.

Below is an excerpt from my commentary, entitled, “Cannabis Impact on Health Justifies Its Legalization, Not Its Criminal Prohibition.”


CANNABIS’ IMPACT ON HEALTH JUSTIFIES ITS LEGALIZATION, NOT ITS CRIMINAL PROHIBITION

via CATO Unbound

In July 2011, the Obama Administration rebuffed an administrative petition filed by a coalition of public interest organizations, including NORML, which sought to reassess cannabis’ Schedule I status under federal law. Yet little if any scientific basis exists to justify the federal government’s present prohibitive stance, and there is ample scientific and empirical evidence to rebut it.

… Ultimately, … none of the potential health risks associated with the adult, responsible use of cannabis in any objective way justify the substance’s present Schedule I prohibitive status or legitimize the use of state and federal force to restrict consumers from engaging in the plant’s production, distribution, or consumption. Nor do they justify the Obama Administration’s present heavy-handed attempts to interfere with the rule of law in states that have enacted policies that diverge from that of the federal government’s.

The concerns raised by federal lawmakers and the present administration regarding the potential health implications of cannabis do not validate the drug’s continued criminalization. Just the opposite is true. There are numerous adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco, and prescription pharmaceuticals – all of which modern scientific inquiry has determined to be far more dangerous and costlier to society than cannabis – and it’s precisely because of these consequences that these products are legally regulated and their use is restricted to particular consumers and specific settings. Similarly, a pragmatic regulatory framework allowing for the limited legal use cannabis by adults would best mitigate the health risks associated with the drug’s use and abuse. At a minimum, this framework would require federal lawmakers to reschedule cannabis from its archaic and unscientific Schedule I prohibitive status. At best, such a scheme would demand that cannabis be ‘descheduled’ and removed the from the federal Controlled Substances Act altogether.

You can read my entire essay here.

Continue to check back often to the CATO Unbound website as several other essays on the topic, including a commentary by LEAP’s Norm Stamper, will be added to the site and discussed in the coming days.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petition

The Obama White House has released its official response to the “We the People” online petition for marijuana legalization submitted by NORML.  The petition, which garnered 74,169 signatures, was by far the most popular petition submitted.  The government response (released late on a Friday to avoid news cycles, we’ll note) repeats the same tired lies and classic misdirections.  Most of all, it fails to answer NORML’s actual petition, which asked:

Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.

We the people want to know when we can have our “perfectly legitimate” discussion on marijuana legalization. Marijuana prohibition has resulted in the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, countless lives ruined and hundreds of billions of tax dollars squandered and yet this policy has still failed to achieve its stated goals of lowering use rates, limiting the drug’s access, and creating safer communities.

Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol? If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?

Following is the full official White House response, with NORML’s comments interspersed…

What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana

By: Gil Kerlikowske

When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.

Oh, good.  Then we’ll look forward to implementation the 1972 Shafer Commission Report or any of the other government and scientific studies that recommend the decriminalization of cannabis.

According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment.

Dependence Rates 300x207 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petition“Addiction” links to a NIDA page noting the lifetime dependence rate of cannabis to be 9% – that is, 9 in 100 people who try cannabis will develop a dependence.  Kerlikowske does not mention that caffeine has the same 9% rate, alcohol is a 15% rate, and tobacco is a 32% rate.  NIDA scientists also rated the addictive qualities of those substances and rated cannabis about equal to caffeine in risk.  The withdrawal from this rare dependence is characterized by the Institute of Medicine as “mild and short lived” and “includes restlessness, irritability, mild agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbance, nausea, and cramping.”  (Speaking of withdrawal, Mr. Drug Czar, you do know withdrawal from alcohol can kill a person and it’s legal, right?)

“Respiratory disease” links to a 2008 Science Daily article on a study entitled “Bullous Lung Disease due to Marijuana” which looked at the cases of ten people who came in already complaining of lung problems, who admitted they smoked pot over a year.  The subject was featured in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine as it found “insufficient evidence for a causative link“.  Matthew Naughton, author of the 2008 study, co-authored a 2011 study which noted “unfortunately, it is difficult to separate marijuana use from tobacco smoking which does confound these reports“.  (Speaking of tobacco, Mr. Drug Czar, you do know tobacco is much worse for the lungs and it’s legal, right?)

“Cognitive impairment” links to a 1996 NIDA fact sheet on studies of cognitive impairment involving card sorting.  Since then…

  1. A 2001 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found chronic users who quit for a week “showed no significant differences from control subjects”.
  2. A 2002 clinical trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal determined, “Marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence.”
  3. A 2003 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society also “failed to reveal a substantial, systematic effect of long-term, regular cannabis consumption on the neurocognitive functioning of users who were not acutely intoxicated.”
  4. A 2004 study of twins published in the journal Psychological Medicine reported “an absence of marked long-term residual effects of marijuana use on cognitive abilities.”
  5. A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Addictions used magnetic resonance imaging and found “no significant differences” between heavy cannabis smokers compared to controls.
  6. A 2006 study published in the German journal Psychopharmacology found no “long-term deficits in working memory and selective attention in frequent cannabis users after 1 week of abstinence”.
  7. A 2009 study published in Human Psychopharmacology found “little indication of differences in executive functioning” for mild to moderate cannabis users.
  8. And a 2010 study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior found regular cannabis users’ performance accuracy on episodic memory and working memory tasks “was not significantly altered by marijuana.”

Forgive the overkill, but as an organization that is honored to have regular cannabis consumer Carl Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, as an Advisory Board Member, we’re particularly offended when the government claims science says that regular cannabis consumers are stupid.  (Speaking of cognitive impairment, Mr. Drug Czar, are you aware that frequent alcohol use is shown to have incredibly deleterious effects on cognition and it’s legal?)

But our petition wasn’t about whether or not cannabis is harmful, it was whether we should consider regulating cannabis like the far more harmful substances, alcohol and tobacco.

We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms.

Rehab Characteristics 300x194 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petition“Voluntary drug treatment admissions” links to 2007 TEDS data tables showing that 37% of the people admitted to treatment for marijuana hadn’t used it in the past thirty days.  These tables are based on admissions data that show 57% of marijuana treatment admissions were coerced by law enforcement (drug courts) and only 15% of such admissions are actually “voluntary drug treatment admissions”.  (This is much easier to debunk when the Drug Czar links to the government tables that make our point.  Thanks, Gil!)

“Visits to emergency rooms” links to 2009 DAWN data which contains this interesting bit of fine print, “Within DAWN, the drug misuse or abuse category is a group of [emergency room] visits defined broadly to include all visits associated with illicit drugs.” That is, if you mention pot, have pot on you, or your urine or blood tests positive for pot, that’s a drug-related emergency room visit.  If you smoked a bowl last night, broke your leg skiing today, went to the ER, and they found metabolites of THC in your pee, that’s going into the DAWN stats as a pot-related ER visit.  Meanwhile, a 2011 study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found “marijuana dependence was associated with the lowest rates” of emergency room admittance compared to other drugs.

Rehab Referrals 300x169 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petitionSo we have illegal marijuana which lets government arrest people and make them choose jail or rehab, then those rising rehab numbers are an indication that we need to keep arresting people.  And we have emergency room data that tells us that some sick and injured people, like some Americans generally, smoke pot.  Can you tell us why we shouldn’t end those charades and consider regulating cannabis like alcohol and tobacco?

Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.

Therapeutic Ratio 240x300 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petition“Marijuana potency has tripled” links to a paper (“Potancy [sic] Paper 2010″) at Ole Miss’s US Pot Farm showing potency tables from 1993 to 2008 (15 years, 20 years, whatever).  These figures include hashish and hash oil (concentrated preparations of cannabis), which is like throwing three Rhodes scholars into an eighth grade social studies class and then grading on a curve.  Figures for all samples (including the hash) show a rise from 3.4% to 8.8% THC (2.5x, not even “almost triple”), but what they call “marijuana” goes from 3.4% to 5.8% THC (1.7x, not even double) and “sinsemilla” goes from 5.8% to 11.5% THC (2x, double).

So today’s average marijuana is as good as yesteryear’s sinsemilla and today’s average sinsemilla is twice as good as yesteryear’s sensimilla.  Anybody recall any deaths, riots, or serious social disorder due to the sensimilla of 1993?  As we’ve said before, potency is irrelevant as cannabis smoking is a self-titrating behavior.  You smoke to get high.  If you have ditchweed, you smoke a lot to get high.  If you have kind bud you smoke a little to get high.  Less smoke in your lungs is a good thing and by that measure, smoking more potent marijuana may be a harm reduction strategy.  Besides, it’s hard to take seriously any concerns about non-toxic 11.5% THC sinsemilla when the government approves of 100% synthetic THC Marinol and marijuana of any potency has never killed anybody.

But nobody here said cannabis was a benign drug, only that it is far safer than the two current choices of legal substances, alcohol and tobacco, and we’re wondering why we couldn’t just regulate cannabis like them?

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine.  To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

That “ardent support” consists of six ongoing FDA-approved clinical trials (two of which have already been completed) worldwide involving subjects’ use of actual cannabis and fourteen researchers allowed to study inhaled cannabis on human subjects.  It does not include a recent FDA-approved study of medical marijuana use to treat post-traumatic stress in our returning combat veterans.  That study was ardently opposed by NIDA, which wouldn’t sell any Ole Miss US Pot Farm marijuana for the researchers to study.  Furthermore, a NIDA spokesperson admitted to the New York Times in 2010, “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use.  We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

Medical vs. Legal Gallup 2011 300x218 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petitionThe FDA and Institute of Medicine links take you to papers from 2006 and 1999, respectively.  The American Medical Association in 2009 issued a position paper stating, “smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.”

It’s too bad our petition wasn’t about carving exceptions in federal law to allow medical use of marijuana, as 70% of Americans support.  It was whether we should regulate marijuana like we do alcohol and tobacco, like 50% of Americans support.

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem.

If you recognize that, why were there virtually the same number of arrests this year for marijuana as last year, a number that still eclipses any arrest total under Presidents Bush and Clinton?  It seems you’re going to ignore our petition to end the strategy of arresting our way out of the problem by regulating marijuana like we do alcohol and tobacco.

We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

Right, legalizing marijuana won’t address drug use.  It will address marijuana use by regulating it like we do alcohol and tobacco. Legal marijuana would be an answer to many Americans’ health challenges.  Legal marijuana would raise tax revenues to benefit society and community.  Legal marijuana would help replace the “reefer madness”-style youth education proven not to work with honest, factual information.  Legal marijuana removes the cost of arresting, prosecution, and monitoring on parole and probation and, by definition, eliminates crime.

That is why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities.

Drug War Budgets 300x194 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petitionThe president’s budget is only slightly different than the drug control budgets of his predecessor; still a two-to-one tilt toward “Supply Reduction” (interdiction and domestic and international law enforcement) versus “Demand Reduction” (treatment and prevention).  Which takes us to the second part of our petition asking how the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?

Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we’ve seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We’re also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Drug Courts 300x275 White House response to NORML’s “We the People” marijuana legalization petitionSee our rebuttal above to TEDS treatment admission statistics and forcing cannabis consumers into rehab via drug courts.  Bless the millions of Americans in successful recovery for drug (?) and alcoholism who didn’t miss out on an open bed because it was taken up by a coerced cannabis consumer who hadn’t smoked weed in a month.  Those drug courts only work thanks to arrests of cannabis consumers and we were wondering how the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $ 10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $ 9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.

Which is fuzzy math and see our rebuttal to President’s National Drug Control Strategy, which, as we mentioned, differs little from President Bush’s before him.  So how is the continued criminalization of cannabis going to achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President’s approach to drug control to learn more.

Thank you for wasting America’s time ignoring her wishes.  I encourage you to take a moment to actually read and answer the questions on these petitions.  Every answer you gave to “whether we should consider regulating cannabis like the far more harmful substances, alcohol and tobacco” was an excuse to make alcohol and tobacco prohibited like marijuana.  Every answer you gave to “how will the continued criminalization of cannabis achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?” illustrated that you’re continuing the same failed strategies as your predecessors.  We the People were hoping for some change.

(Updated for minor grammar corrections and additional hyperlinks –RB)

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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November 2, 2010 California Election: Proposition 19, Legalization of Marijuana

Check out these marijuana vote images:

November 2, 2010 California Election: Proposition 19, Legalization of Marijuana
5103603168 5f849ac809 November 2, 2010 California Election: Proposition 19, Legalization of Marijuana

Image by DoNotLick
My vote-by-mail ballot

I voted YES on Prop. 19!
5141242508 0a6cb546d8 November 2, 2010 California Election: Proposition 19, Legalization of Marijuana

Image by Newbirth35
November 2, 2010 – Taken on my cell phone.

Vote yes on Proposal 1!
2948768150 c8d70e0f3a November 2, 2010 California Election: Proposition 19, Legalization of Marijuana

Image by novocainstain

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