The NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada announced via Marketwired:
TERRACE, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – April 18, 2013) – On Saturday April 20(th) , activists and cannabis enthusiasts will gather in cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Yellowknife. It is hoped the events will be a watershed moment for cannabis law reform as Canadians seek to follow their American counterparts and end the social injustice of cannabis prohibition.
This year, the annual nationwide 420 celebrations are entirely sponsored by lottery winner Bob Erb.
When Bob Erb started buying lottery tickets in the early 1970s, ending the war against cannabis may have seemed more likely than hitting the jackpot.
On November 2, 2012, four decades of playing the lottery paid off: Bob Erb won a $25,000,000 jackpot. Two days later, Canadian laws regarding cannabis changed too as mandatory minimum sentencing for cannabis offences came into effect.
To some, winning the lottery would mean retiring from a life-long career of cannabis activism. But to a man who describes the criminalization of cannabis as the “biggest social injustice” of his lifetime, the money meant a chance to do more.
Bob Erb has championed social justice issues, including cannabis law reform, for decades. He has seen firsthand the harm and waste caused by cannabis prohibition, and has set about making change. Particularly, he has tried to create change from within: in 2001 he ran as a Marijuana Party candidate in the BC provincial election and the following year he ran for mayor. Both times his message was clear: its time for a change on cannabis.
Looking to the future, Bob has pledged one million dollars to fund national campaigns to end the criminal prohibition of cannabis and enact positive regulations regarding use, production and consumer safety. His goal is to see a pro-reform party elected in the next Canadian federal election.
So far, Bob Erb’s contributions to the cannabis reform movement can be felt nationwide. In February he had a conference in his hometown of Terrace, BC. The conference brought together activists and policy experts from across Canada to discuss strategy for the future.
As a result of the conference, Bob committed one million dollars to legalize cannabis in Canada and pledged support to various reform organizations including Sensible BC, the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada, NORML Canada, Stop the Violence BC and the 420 rallies.
This Saturday, tens of thousands of Canadians will gather from coast to coast advocating cannabis law reform. Hopefully, individuals will feel part of something bigger than themselves or the local rally they attended.
Bob Erb’s generosity has jump-started a national campaign to elect a new government ready to undertake modern approach to cannabis regulation. Advocates are confident cannabis law reform will be an issue in the next federal election. This year’s 420 rallies will be a call to voters and the beginning of a movement in the name of Bob Erb.
NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada
Get NORML this 4/20 with one of the dozens of events being hosted across the country by our affiliate groups. There are events going on across the country including festivals, concerts, comedy shows, softball tournaments, and more. Check out some of these activities on the list below. If you don’t see your state listed below, visit our chapter directory here to find your local group and check out their websites for their latest activities.
Don’t have a chapter nearby? What better way to celebrate 4/20 than getting a group of committed friends together and forming your own. Click here for information on starting a NORML affiliate in your local area.ARIZONA
Festival Of Education
When: 4/20 – 12pm until 6pm
Where: Tumbleweeds Health Center, 5301 E. Broadway Bjvd., Tucson, Arizona
About: 4/20 is upon us again and we encourage all our members to come out to Tumbleweeds Health Center, 5301 Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85711. 10am-6pm. Saturday April 20th 2013. There will be live music, information booths, vendors, food and our signature Cures not Wars, Marijuana March & Rally. 2013′s Festival of Education starts at 10am, at Tumbleweeds Health Center, 5301 Broadway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85711. The Rally will begin at 1pm and at 3pm the March will head west to Rosemont crossing Broadway Blvd. then will turn East, and crossing Craycroft Ave., march to Park Mall crossing Broadway Blvd. again turning west, crossing Craycroft Ave, again and returning to Tumbleweeds Health Center, the circular nature of the march allows anyone who is unable to complete the planned route to participate can conveniently begin or end at their own discretion. Signs will be provided or bring your own! Don’t forget your hat and a bottle of water, sunscreen is advised. A continuous stationary rally will start at 12noon and continue till 5pm out in front of the 4/20 event at Tumbleweeds. This will allow our non-mobile patients to participate.
Hitting for Hemp: Benefit Softball Tournament
When: 4/20 – Softball games will be starting at around 9AM.
Where: Mills Pond Park, 2201 NW 9th Ave, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
About: Bring plenty of sunscreen. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the softball field. Admission to the softball tournament is free but donations will be welcome. There will be T-shirts for sale for both the tournament and for NORML of Florida.
When: 4/20 – 2pm to 2am
Where: Fusse Studios, 327 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, FL
About: There will be live bands, vendors, food trucks, contests, giveaways, information and more. All that for $10 at the door. Admission limited to 18 and over.
IL NORML Monthly Meeting
When: 4/20 – 10am
Where: Whiskey Roadhouse, 3207 N Main St, Rockford, Illinois
About: We’ll go over updates on legislation in Springfield, local efforts and national bills that are being debated in Congress. General info on cannabis prohibition and ways to get involved in ILLINOIS NORML.
QFA Illinois NORML Benefit
When: 4/20 – 9pm until 2am
Where: Live Wire Lounge, 3394 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, Illinois
About: Join host and QFA CEO, Lair Scott, at Live Wire as we benefit IL NORML for the important work they do here in Illinois to pass positive cannabis laws. Bands are Seeso, Heroin Black, Catch A Fire, The Hello Freaks, Element Control, The Loudness War and MC Rota. Door Donation, 21+ w/ proper ID.
Indiana NORML – 420 in the Park
When: 4/20 – 4:20pm
Where: Lynnville Park, 405 W SR 68 Lynnville, IN.
Indy Mojo’s 420 Tent Party
When: 4/20 – 7pm
Where: The Mousetrap, 5565 N Keystone Ave, Indianapolis, IN
About: IndyMojo’s 3rd annual 4.20 Tent Party @ The Mousetrap. 3 stages, Jam + EDM + Acoustic
Tickets are $7, ages 21+
MassCann/NORML and UnRegular Radio Present: The 2013 Battle for the Rally
When: 4/20 – 8pm
Where: The Spotlight Tavern, 208 Rantoul St, Beverly, MA
About: Celebrating the passage of Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts and officially kicking off the campaign for FULL LEGALIZATION in 2016, this year people we are stepping it up for the 24th annual and first ever 2-day Boston Freedom Rally on September 14th and 15th 2013 on the Boston Common. To help us educate and rock the expected 50,000 plus crowds, MassCann with the help of Unregular Radio are kicking off the 2013 Battle for the Rally. This year over 36 bands will be competing for 3 spots on the Rally’s 2 Stages, with 3 bands winning the chance to play at the second largest PRO-Marijuana concert in the Country.
4/20 Celebration With MINORML Chapters
When: 4/19 – 4/21
Where: Archie Keil Residence, Rapid City, MI
About: Kalkaska, Antrim, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, and Benzie County NORML Chapters will join together to promote Michigan NORML at the Archie Keil residence in Rapid City, MI on April 19,20,& 21. Live music,camping,food,and fellowship are on the agenda. Open to the public. Contact Archie at 231-676-0123.
The 4/20 Show – A Fundraiser for Minnesota NORML
When: 4/20 – 8pm
Where: The Comedy Corner Underground, 1501 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota
About: The Comedy Corner Underground (In basement of Corner Bar) is hosting a Fundraiser for Minnesota NORML! There are only 150 tickets available, 75 per show! The show times are 8PM and 10PM. We expect both of them to sell out quickly, so buy your tickets ahead of time here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/341804 – The 8PM show is 18+ and the 10PM show is 21+
4-20 Rally & Concert
When: 4/20 – 12pm until 5pm
Where: Grace Abbott Park, 601 State St. W, Grand Island, NE.
About: This is a free event hosted by NORML Nebraska! Come on down for the good times and great live music. Featuring Homemade Crazy and A Life Led Lucid!
When: 4/20 – 10am
Where: Ramapo College Band Shell Lawn
About: It’s almost that time of year again for NORML and 1STEP’s 4/20 celebration! This is easily Ramapo’s best Spring festival, so make sure you keep this weekend open! Invite your friends and stay up to date with event contests and announcements!There will be FREE FOOD, LIVE MUSIC, YOGA, GAMES, HIKES, INFLATABLE FUN, 30′ PARACHUTE, TIE DYE, BAKED GOODS AND MUCH MUCH MORE.
Empire State NORML Meeting and Trivia
When: 4/24 – 6:30pm
Where: 9 Bleecker Street, New York, New York
About: Learn more about Empire State NORML, upcoming volunteer opportunities and exactly how YOU can help to legalize marijuana in New York. Followed at 8PM by a special ALL MARIJUANA Drug War Trivia Night sponsored by Empire State NORML.
NCNORML 4/20 Event
When: 4/20 – Music starts at 9pm.
Where: Roux, 501 E 36th St, Charlotte, NC 28205
About: Music lineup includes The Fritz, Frankie Gene with Butter, Bubonik Funk, SpongeCake and the Fluff Ramblers. Tickets are $8 at the door.
Asheville NORML 420 Earth Day Event
When: 4/20 – 12pm
Where: 5th Annual Asheville Earth Day on Lexington Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina
About: Asheville NORML will be in full swing at the 5th Annual Asheville Earth Day Festival on 4-20. This is the perfect opportunity to educate the public on the benefits of Cannabis and to let everyone know about our new chapter! We will meet at 12:00 pm at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. We will have a brief chat and will supply our volunteers with flyers to pass out at the festival. If you would like to make your own signs with facts about Cannabis (especially facts that relate to “Earth Day”) and wear any clothing you have supporting Cannabis, we can have a bit of a parade as we leave from the park and head to the festival on Lexington. We also look forward to spending time with our new friends on 4-20! Please respond to this event so that we can plan on an appropriate amount of flyers. This will be our first community event and we want to make a respectful impression on the community! Come join us with peace in my mind and empower yourself with knowledge on the amazing plant we speak for CANNABIS! Keep Asheville NORML!!!
Cleveland NORML – Dance with Mary Jane
Where: Negative Space, 3820 Superior Ave. E, Second Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44114
About: Negative Space & Cleveland NORML present Dance with Mary Jane. Come out on Saturday April 20, 2013 at 4pm @Negative Space in the Asian Town Center which is located at 38th St between Superior and Payne St in beautiful Cleveland Ohio. A truly unique event in the cannabis world! A holiday that surpasses all other events. You can if you want to come out you can see JustLikEdith and the feature of the event: Wanyama! There will be a 2 drinks with your $10 admission ticket and there will be a 2 ticket raffle prize drawing. There will be a finger snacks and a Cleveland NORML membership table.
Central Ohio NORML – 420 Party
Where: Circus Club & Grub, 1227 N. High St, Columbus, Ohio 43201
Miami Valley NORML – Earth Day Celebration
When: Noon until 5pm
Where: Sawyer Point, 805 E Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Miami Valley NORML – 420 Earth Day Hemp Exhibit
When: Noon until 5pm
Where: Sawyer Point, 805 E Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Miami Valley NORML – 420 Earth Day Celebration
Where: Fries Cafe, 3247 Jefferson Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45220
Miami Valley NORML – Love ya Mother Earth
Where: W.O. Wright’s Grill & Pub, 3979 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Beavercreek, OH 45324
About: Miami Valley NORML benefit, $5 Cover.
Miami Valley NORML – Wiley’s Comedy Club
When: 8:30pm & 10:30pm
Where: 101 Pine St, Dayton, Ohio 45402
About: Miami Valley NORML comedy show benefit, shows 8:30 + 10:30, cover charge is $10.
PhillyNORML/The Panic Hour – Smoke Down Prohibition IV
When: 4/20 – 3pm
Where: Independance Mall, Philadelphia, PA (by the Liberty Bell)
About: After three successful Smoke Down Events, The Panic Hour is back on the highest of stoner holidays, 4/20, to demand an end to cannabis prohibition! We will be playing a game show with fabulous prizes, signing cards of support for wrongly incarcerated drug war prisoners, and welcoming special surprise guests, possibly of an elected-official nature. There is absolutely no excuse for not spending the most important date on the marijuana calendar with us! Tell all your friends, roll a huge bone, and join The Panic Hour and Philly Norml as we have an absolute blast ending the LUNATIC INSANE FALSE TEACHINGS DRUG WAR.
Buds in the Burgh – 4/20 Smoke Down Event
When: 4/20 – 4pm until 5:30pm
Where: Point State Park, Pittsburgh, PA
About: This April 20th, 2013 come down to Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh and take your stand! We will be gathering together at 4:00 PM to let our voices be heard. Then promptly at 4:20 PM we will join together in a moment of cannabis reflection.
Pittsburgh NORML/Pittsburgh NORML Women’s Alliance – The Bong Show
When: 4/20 – 8pm
Where: Lava Lounge, 2204 E Carson St, South Side, Pittsburgh, PA
About: For this cannabis holiday, please come out to support NORML and the NORML Women’s Alliance of Pittsburgh at our 4/20 fundraiser! The long awaited return of the Bong Show, a talent show where the stakes are high, and so are the judges! Hosted by Phat Man Dee and Smokin’ McQueen, this high stakes gritty competition is judged off site by 3 very suggestible judges. These judges don’t have a Gong, but they have a Bong and are not afraid to use it! Don’t worry, no laws being broken here, the judges are shown live via satellite feed from the great state of Colorado! Live performances by musical groups Chai Baba, The Rusty Haywhackers and J Pad da Juggernaught! Prizes for the winner and raffle items provided by our generous sponsors: Slacker, Hot Rod Body Piercing, Jesters Court Tattoos, Krutch Rolling Papers, PKN Law, Element Skateboards.
TN NORML 4/20 Marijuana Education Day & Celebration
When: 4/20 – 4:20pm
Where: Performing Artist Co-Op, at 5-Points, East Nashville, TN
About: Come help educate & celebrate 4/20 with TN NORML! Wrapper’s Delight food truck will be there from 4:00 to 9:00!!! Entertainment includes comedy, music and poetry. We will have a table with information for the taking.
4/20 at the Green Elephant Presented by DFW NORML
When: 4/20 – 3pm until 2am
Where: The Green Elephant, 5627 Dyer St, Dallas, Texas
About: DFW NORML is back at the Green Elephant to celebrate everyone’s favorite hempy holiday, 4/20! As always, you can expect some of the finest live music DFW has to offer, as well as vendor booths, prizes, fire spinners, hoop dancers, live glass blowing, drink specials and more. RSVP and invite your friends and together we’ll continue ending cannabis prohibition one Texan at a time. 18+ Welcome.
First Annual NOVA NORML 4/20 Party
When: 4/20 – 6:30pm until 2am
Where: Lucy’s ARL. 2620 S Shirlington Rd, Arlington, Virginia
About: Can’t make it to Colorado for 4/20?! Come hang out with us! Join NOVA NORML on April 20th for our first ever social event! Join us for an evening of fun at Lucy’s in Arlington. We will have raffles with awesome prizes, drinks specials, good music and more.Your contribution will go to Virginia NORML to help end marijuana prohibition in VA! We are very pleased to announce that the Upton Blues Band and also Maple will be there performing live! It will surely be a night to remember! Invite your friends. No cover charge
Ben Masel Day at the Capital
When: 4/20 – 2pm
Where: State Capital Building, Madison, Wisconsin
About: In honor of Ben Masel, Madison’s proudest fighter for freedom, let’s meet at the Capitol to remember our missed friend and the ideas he stood up for. As April 20th has been officially deemed Ben Masel Day in Madison it seems only fitting. 2pm. Come ready to speak if you have words.
Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced federal legislation that would establish a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy. The proposed commission, inspired by the 1971 Shafer Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, would be tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of how federal policy should interact with state laws that make marijuana legal for medicinal and personal use, the cost of our current marijuana prohibition and potential revenue from marijuana regulation and taxation, the impact of federal banking and tax laws on marijuana related businesses, the health benefits of risk of marijuana use, the public safety and criminal justice implications of marijuana prohibition compared with regulation, and the effects of marijuana prohibition and potential regulation on our international relationships and treaties.
“Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” said Congressman Cohen. “This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”
Representative Steve Cohen is joined by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA).
During an interview with Barbara Walters in December of 2012, President Obama stated, “…what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”
Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske stated in January of this year that, “Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”
“The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that a national conversation is needed when it comes to our country’s marijuana policies, but so far that conversation has been largely one sided,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “It is time for federal lawmakers to listen to the voice of the majority of Americans who want to see change to our nation’s marijuana laws and for them to take part in that dialogue. NORML is pleased to have worked with Representative Cohen and his staff on this important legislation that would provide a public and professional venue for that conversation to take place. A majority of Americans agree that it is time for the United States to end it’s fruitless and expensive war on cannabis consumers and pursue policies of regulation and taxation. Enjoining this national commission would be a pragmatic and productive step towards assessing the true costs of our current prohibition and creating a framework for a functional federal policy on marijuana.”
Join NORML and federal legislators in calling for a “serious national conversation” on regulating marijuana.Click here to quickly and easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation.
With tongue firmly planted in her cheek, leading scholar, author and activist for youth drug education, Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D, from the Drug Policy Alliance, criticizes DARE’s ineffectiveness and expense for the last thirty years.
‘Just Say No’ Turns 30
Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D
If you are under 40, it is very likely that you, like 80 percent of schoolchildren in the U.S., were exposed to Drug Abuse Resistance Education, which celebrates its 30th birthday this month.
D.A.R.E. was created by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1983, following the rise of a conservative parents movement and First Lady Nancy Reagan in need of a cause. The purpose of D.A.R.E. was to teach students about the extreme dangers of drugs by sending friendly police officers into classrooms to help kids resist the temptation to experiment; to stand up in the face of peer pressure; and to “just say no.”
Because of its widespread use in elementary schools all across America (and in over 40 countries around the world), D.A.R.E .was evaluated extensively. The reviews consistently showed that while students enjoyed interacting with police (especially examining the sample cases of drugs used for show and tell), and may have been initially deterred, effects were short lived. In fact, by the time D.A.R.E. graduates reached their late teens and early 20s, many had forgotten what they had learned or rejected the exaggerated messages they’d heard. And by 2001, D.A.R.E. was deemed by none other than the United States Surgeon General, “an ineffective primary prevention program,” and lost 80 percent of its federal funding shortly thereafter.
Yet D.A.R.E .has kept going — trying to keep up with the times, at least rhetorically, with its new “Keepin’ it Real” curriculum. Last fall, I read with keen interest that the program in Washington State had been notified by national D.A.R.E., its oversight agency, that the subject of marijuana would be dropped from the curriculum.
What???? The very same D.A.R.E. program that taught my daughter that marijuana would lead to heroin addiction isn’t even mentioning pot? Had it given up its “reefer madness” campaign, perhaps in light of Washington’s Initiative 502 that legalized marijuana last November?
I had to call and hear for myself about these big changes.
President and CEO Frank Pegueros told me that, in fact, D.A.R.E. had changed. The didactic approach is gone, replaced by dialogue and discussion. “Just say no,” he said, “has gone by the wayside.” It sounded almost touchy feely to me.
I was encouraged, thinking for a brief moment that the chorus of anti-D.A.R.E. critics, like me, who emphasized the importance of honest, science-based drug education, had actually been heard.
But then I asked Mr. Pegueros about marijuana, and why it was dropped from the curriculum, and that’s when I got the real scoop.
Actually, it was not officially dropped. Instead, not wanting to pique students’ interest, the subject of marijuana will be discussed by D.A.R.E. officers only if it is brought up by students themselves. And what will they be told? As for content, one needs only to peruse www.dare.com to see that although the packaging may have evolved, the content has remained the same: marijuana is a very dangerous drug; medical marijuana is a hoax; and big money, rather than compassion and pragmatism, is behind legalization initiatives.
By now it is commonly known that the extreme dangers of marijuana have been exaggerated, and few users become addicted or graduate to hard drug use; roughly 70 percent of the American population supports medical marijuana; and it is public opinion that is driving initiatives and legislation to make medical marijuana available to people who need it.
If D.A.R.E. failed to convince youth a generation ago to “just say no” because its content was unbelievable, no amount of new anti-drug rhetoric will help. Students didn’t believe what they were told 30 years ago, and they’re too smart to believe it now.
And worse, D.A.R.E.’s recycled rhetoric will certainly fail to provide young people with useful information to help them make wise, health-driven decisions about dealing with the myriad of substances available to them today.
So Happy 30th D.A.R.E. Now that you’re approaching middle age, how about trying “just say know” this time around?
Marsha Rosenbaum is the founder of the Safety First drug education project at the Drug Policy Alliance and author of “Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs.”
A poll released today by Public Policy Polling, funded by Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance, revealed that 63% of District of Columbia voters support taxing and regulating marijuana, similar to the initiatives just passed in Colorado and Washington. Only 30% of respondents were opposed.
The survey also found that 75% of respondents supported changing the penalty for marijuana possession to a civil violation, punishable by a $100 fine and only 21% were opposed to this change.
Considering this overwhelming support, and the fact that the District of Columbia allows for ballot initiatives, Washington, DC seems incredibly ripe for reform in the very near future. While the politicians who work in Congress seem to be tone-deaf to the growing call for legalizing marijuana, those living right in their backyard have overwhelmingly made up their minds that it is time to legalize and regulate marijuana.
You can read the full results of the poll here.
United States Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with a bipartisan coalition of three Republicans (Reps. Rohrabacher, Rep. Justin Amash [R-MI], and Don Young [R-AK]) and three Democrats (Reps. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR], Steve Cohen [D-TN] and Jared Polis [D-CO]) today introduced House Bill 1523: the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act.
The measure would amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to exempt from federal prosecution individuals and businesses, including marijuana dispensaries and/or retail outlets, who comply with state marijuana laws.
“This bipartisan bill represents a common-sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws,” Rohrabacher said in a news release. “It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”
The proposal is one of several marijuana law reform bills now pending before the United States Congress, including House Resolution 499: The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, House Bill 689: the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, and Senate Bill 359: the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013.
On Election Day 2012, Colorado and Washington residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana. In the months that followed nearly two dozen states have introduced countless bills to reform marijuana laws locally, including an unprecendent ten measures that would legalize marijuana outright. In Washington, DC, more measures than any previous year have been introduced to roll back the federal prohibition on marijuana.
On April 20th, 2013 celebrate our recent victories and support the ongoing fight to bring these reforms nationwide by buying one of these limited edition NORML t-shirts, available exclusively during this year’s high holiday. Proceeds go to help NORML in our mission to legalize marijuana in the other 48 states!
Together, we WILL legalize marijuana.Click here to pre-order your shirt today!
Brookings Institute: Marijuana Policy and Presidential Leadership: How to Avoid a Federal-State Train Wreck
As previewed last week on NORML’s blog, the Brookings Institute is convening a cannabis policy forum on Monday, April 15.
Excerpts from the Brookings’ press release and description of the issues tackled by Brookings scholar and noted legal writer and commentator Stuart Taylor, Jr. are found below.
Mr. Taylor’s thoughtful and dynamic analysis and policy recommendations are here.
Of equal value and incredibly informative are two accompanying appendixes:
Appendix One: The Obama Administration’s Approach To Medical Marijuana: A Study In Chaos
Appendix Two: Conflicts Of Laws: A Quick Orientation to Marijuana Laws At The Federal Level and CO and WA
Stuart Taylor, Jr. examines how the federal government and the eighteen states (plus the District of Columbia) that have partially legalized medical or recreational marijuana or both since 1996 can be true to their respective laws, and can agree on how to enforce them wisely while avoiding federal-state clashes that would increase confusion and harm communities and consumers.
* * *This paper seeks to persuade even people who think legalization is a bad idea that the best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is not for the federal government to seek an end to state legalization. To the contrary, Taylor asserts, a federal crackdown would backfire by producing an atomized, anarchic, state-legalized but unregulated marijuana market that federal drug enforcers could neither contain nor force the states to contain.
In this broad-ranging primer on the legal challenges surrounding marijuana legalization, Taylor makes the following points:
- The best way to serve the federal interest in protecting public health and safety is for the federal government to stand aside when it comes to legalization at the state-level.
- The federal government should nonetheless use its considerable leverage to ensure that state regulators protect the federal government’s interests in minimizing exports across state lines, sales outside the state-regulated system, sales of unduly large quantities, sales of adulterated products, sales to minors, organized crime involvement, and other abuses.
- Legalizing states, for their part, must provide adequate funding for their regulators as well as clear rules to show that they will be energetic in protecting federal as well as state interests. If that sort of balance is struck, a win-win can be achieved.
- The Obama Administration and legalizing states should take advantage of a provision of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to hammer out clear, contractual cooperation agreements so that state-regulated marijuana businesses will know what they can and cannot safely do.
- The time for presidential leadership on marijuana policy is now. The CSA also gives the administration ample leverage to insist that the legalizing states take care to protect the federal interests noted above.
Stuart also surveys (1) what legalizing states can and cannot do without violating federal law; (2) the Obama’s administration’s approach to medical marijuana and; (3) current marijuana law at the federal level and in Colorado and Washington State.
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.
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.
Senate lawmakers today voted 42 to 4 in favor of House Bill 1101, which establishes a new 12-member state commission to promulgate medical cannabis research. House members had previously approved the measure, which now goes to the desk of Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to sign it into law.
House Bill 1101 establishes an independent commission within the state Department of Health. The purpose of the commission is to request applications from academic medical centers to operate ‘medical marijuana compassionate use programs.’ The commission will decide which patients will qualify for the programs and it will license growers to provide cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Medical marijuana patients who are not participants in an authorized medical center program will not be legally protected from arrest. (Existing state legislation allows certain medical cannabis patients to raise an affirmative defense of medical necessity at trial.)
Full text of House Bill 1101 is available here. Once signed into law, the measure will take effect on October 1, 2013. However, media reports estimate that the programs are not likely to be up and running until 2016.
A group of five bipartisan lawmakers have introduced legislation to make New Hampshire the third state to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.
House Bill 492 legalizes the possession of up to an ounce or less of marijuana and the private cultivation of a limited number of marijuana plants for adults 21 years of age and older. HB 492 would also allow for licensed commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana. Full text of this measure can be read here.
Polling conducted in January of 2013 by Public Policy Polling reported that 53% of New Hampshire voters support changing state law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, only 37% were opposed.
Including New Hampshire, there is now a total of six states considering legislation to fully legalize marijuana. It is imperative that your elected officials hear from you in support of this measure. If you live in one of the six states (Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) considering the legalization of marijuana for all adults, you can click on the appropriate link below and go directly to your state’s action alert. You can also click here to see if your state is considering any legislation pertaining to marijuana law reform.Tell Your Elected Officials to Support Marijuana Legalization! Hawaii
I was on a radio show this past weekend debating a prohibitionist who still believes that medical cannabis is little more than a hoax…a ‘camel’s nose under the tent’ to trick the American public into legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes. I’ve heard this individual exclaim numerous times over the years that he would not give cannabis to a loved one who needed it, because, he still clings to the myth that cannabis in its natural form is a ‘dangerous narcotic’…he even claims cannabis is toxic to humans (despite the drug having a lethal dose rating of fifty…the safest indicator measurement of a drug’s lack of toxicity).
Someone who was listening to the show but could not get on the air to address the prohibitionist’s anti-pot prevarications forwarded me an email and link to a recent CNN video of a young boy in Oregon lawfully using medical cannabis for his autism. Now this is not the first time NORML’s seen credible information about how cannabis can help children with autism, to wit:
In 2009 Brown University writing instructor Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s essay on her successfully treating her autistic son J. with cannabis broke this new ground for parents trying to raise children during both the era of cannabis prohibition and the re-discovery of cannabis as a valuable, affordable, safe and non-toxic medicine.
In fact, Marie’s frank and daring essay about children, autism and cannabis has spawned numerous other related articles, TV interviews and videos. Many of them archived by NORML here.
The KMVT video below will be added to this growing archive…it is hard to watch, it made me cry thinking about 1) how truly difficult life must be for Alexander Echols, 2) how enduring and loving his parents are, 3) how ignorant (and at times extreme) prohibitionists are in trying to ban all human interface with the quite wonderful cannabis plant and 4) how blessed we are as humans to know of and have a relationship with this remarkable plant species.
Whether one has an evolutionary or ‘intelligent design’ point of view regarding the origins of life, the relationship between cannabis and humans is an indisputably ancient one, and for many humans today a genuine ‘quality of life’ issue that is not at all served well under a prohibition regime.
Huffington Post reporters Ryan Grimm and Ryan Reilly publish one of the most comprehensive and insightful pieces to date on the current friction between state and federal laws regarding cannabis in America, and conclude that federal prosecutors at the regional level—not elected policymakers or department leaders in Washington—are largely creating an ad hoc enforcement policy from state-to-state.
In January 2010, NORML launched what would become one of the most successful programs in the history of the organization. The NORML Women’s Alliance also became the first nationwide female outreach program ever created in the marijuana and drug law reform movement. This month, January 2013, marks the third anniversary of that program. The following video is a compilation showing some of the highlights and achievements of the NORML Women’s Alliance throughout the last three years.
Please support our efforts by donating to this important cause.
Find us of Facebook: Facebook.com/NORMLWomen
In a 28-page decision, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied petitioners request to overturn the July 2011 denial by the Drug Enforcement Administration to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law.
In October 2002, the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, a coalition of reform organizations including NORML, ASA, Patients Out of Time and High Times, among others, petitioned the DEA to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug. Following years of administrative delay, on July 8, 2011, the DEA denied the petition, finding that “[t]here is no currently accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States,” and that “[t]he limited existing clinical evidence is not adequate to warrant rescheduling of marijuana under the CSA.”
Petitioners then sought review in the federal Court of Appeals, alleging the decision by the DEA was arbitrary and capricious when it concluded that marijuana lacks a “currently accepted medical use” and has a “high potential for abuse.” They ask this court to remand the case to the DEA for reconsideration of its decision.
Written by Senior Circuit Judge Edwards, the decision ruled “On the record before us, we hold that the DEA’s denial of the rescheduling petition survives review under the deferential arbitrary and capricious standard. The petition asks the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug, which, under the terms of the CSA, requires a ‘currently accepted medical use.’ The DEA’s regulations, which we approved in Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics v. DEA, 15 F.3d 1131 (D.C. Cir. 1994), define ‘currently accepted medical use’ to require, inter alia, ‘adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.’ Id. at1135. We defer to the agency’s interpretation of these regulations and find that substantial evidence supports its determination that such studies do not exist.
“In its scientific and medical evaluation,” the court held, “DHHS concluded that marijuana lacks a currently accepted medical use in the United States. In reaching this conclusion, DHHS applied the DEA’s established five-prong test, which requires a known and reproducible drug chemistry, adequate safety studies, adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating efficacy, acceptance of the drug by qualified experts, and widely available scientific evidence.”
“We will not disturb the decision of an agency that has ‘examine[d] the relevant data and articulate[d] a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.’”
In this case, we need only look at one factor, the existence of “adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy,” to resolve Petitioners’ claim.
At bottom, the parties’ dispute in this case turns on the agency’s interpretation of its own regulations. Petitioners construe “adequate and well-controlled studies” to mean peer-reviewed, published studies suggesting marijuana’s medical efficacy. The DEA, in contrast, interprets that factor to require something more scientifically rigorous.
In making this assessment, we must “remind ourselves that our role in the Congressional scheme is not to give an independent judgment of our own, but rather to determine whether the expert agency entrusted with regulatory responsibility has taken an irrational or arbitrary view of the evidence assembled before it.
The DEA’s construction of its regulation is eminently reasonable. Therefore, we are obliged to defer to the agency’s interpretation of “adequate and well-controlled studies.” Judged against the DEA’s standard, we find nothing in the record that could move us to conclude that the agency failed to prove by substantial evidence that such studies confirming marijuana’s medical efficacy do not exist.”
Petitioners are considering their legal options at this time.
Representative Joseph Souki, Chair of the Hawaiian House Committee on Transportation and House Speaker Emeritus, has introduced legislation that would make Hawaii the third state to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.
House Bill 150 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over the age of 21, in addition to allowing for the licensing and regulation of marijuana retail stores, as well as cultivation and manufacturing centers.
Polling conducted this month by the ACLU of Hawaii found that 57% of Hawaiians support taxing and regulating marijuana and only 39% were opposed.
Hawaii now joins Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont on the list of states with pending legislation to legalize the adult use of marijuana, with more expected to join them in the coming weeks. It is no longer a question of if these states will join Colorado and Washington in adopting new and sensible marijuana laws, but which one will do it first. Perhaps, in honor of the Choom Gang, President Obama’s birth state of Hawaii will lead the charge.
It is extremely important your elected officials hear from you in support of these measures. You can find out if your state is currently considering marijuana law reform legislation and easily send a pre-written letter of support to your elected officials by using NORML’s Take Action Center here. If you live in one of the five states (Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) considering the legalization of marijuana for all adults, you can click on the appropriate link below and go directly to your state’s action alert.Tell Your Elected Officials to Support Marijuana Legalization! Hawaii
One of the major public policy and business fronts to end cannabis prohibition in America is to pressure the federal government to allow American farmers the same ability to cultivate industrial hemp like farmers in the United Kingdom, France, Russia and even Canada do under current so-called anti-drug international treaties. Ninety percent of hemp used in the United States is cultivated and imported from Canada.
What sane reason can be employed by the federal government to ban industrial hemp cultivation when Canadian farmers can prosper from cultivating it?
Numerous states–just like with decriminalization, medicalization and legalization–have passed industrial hemp reform laws that run afoul of the federal government’s anti-cannabis policies. This has created upward political pressure on Congress to introduce needed hemp law reform.
Check out this recent Washington Post article profiling lobbying efforts to get hemp legalized.
You can help out by signing the White House petition to bring the matter of industrial hemp law reform before the Obama Administration for a public reply.
See the dozen or so state hemp laws here.
To learn more about hemp and law reform efforts in states and Congress check out VoteHemp.
The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the most senior member of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) again spoke out against the War on Drugs today during a briefing on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s upcoming agenda.
“The fact that so many people, especially young people, go to prison for a relatively minor thing, a drug offense. And then you ask, why can’t they get jobs afterward? Why do they have problems from then on?
I think we have spent tens of billions, hundreds of billions of dollars on the so-called War on Drugs. Well, we’ve lost.” – Sen. Leahy
Senator Leahy also addressed the disproportionate toll marijuana prohibition takes on people of color:
“There are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but have the money to stay out and are not there.” – Sen. Leahy
It seems time does bring wisdom and other members of Congress should take notice and follow the lead of one of their most experience legislators. The time for sensible marijuana policy has come and this reaffirmation of support from an elected official, in such a position of influence as Senator Leahy, is clear proof the winds of reform are blowing strongly in our favor.
Polling data released this week by Public Policy Polling shows a large base of support for marijuana law reforms in New Hampshire. Not only is there majority support from New Hampshire voters for the medical use of marijuana and decriminalizing its possession, but more than half support regulating and taxing marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
When asked if they would support or oppose changing New Hampshire law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, where stores would be licensed to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older, 53% responded they would support this law and only 37% were opposed.
62% stated that they would support a change in the law to provide for a fine of up to $100 without jail time or the threat of arrest for those who possess an ounce or less of marijuana and 68% support allowing for its physician supervised use. Even more enlightening, 52% stated an elected official’s support of medical marijuana made them more likely to support them.
Fortunately for New Hampshire lawmakers, they have the opportunity to capitalize on this groundswell of support for sensible marijuana laws. Legislation has already been introduced to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and a separate measure has been introduced to allow patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. The incoming governor has even voiced her support for legalizing medical use.
If you live in New Hampshire, you can use NORML’s Take Action to easily contact your elected officials in support of these measures. Click here to view our alert for decriminalization and here for medical use.
You can view the full polling data here.
In another sign of the changing times, this past week two new polls have been released demonstrating majority support for allowing the medical use of marijuana in two southern states, a region historically less supportive of cannabis law reforms.
A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling revealed that most North Carolinians believe that a doctor should possess the legal option to authorize marijuana for patients. Support for legalizing medical marijuana is at 58% overall, with 33% opposed and 9% undecided. A majority of every age group under age 65 supports allowing for the medical use of marijuana. The poll surveyed 608 North Carolina voters between January 10 and January 13, 2013.
Another Public Policy Polling survey had the majority of West Virginians supporting the medical use of cannabis, 53% in favor to 40% opposed. Further, when asked which is a safer treatment for debilitating pain: the medical use of marijuana or Oxycontin, 63% responded medical marijuana. You can view more data from this poll here.
Legislation to allow for the medical use of cannabis is expected to be introduced in both states this year. If you live in North Carolina, you can currently use NORML’s Take Action Center to write your elected officials and tell them to support this legislation by clicking here.
These recent polls are indicative of the attitude shift towards cannabis that is occurring across the country. Check NORML’s Take Action Center to see if marijuana related legislation has been filed in your state and use our form to easily contact your elected officials in support of these important measures. Check back often, as new legislation is being introduced constantly.