NORML has been fighting to legalize marijuana for more than forty years, and as we saw from this week’s midterm election results, our hard work is starting to pay off. Though we are a divided nation in many ways, voters across the political spectrum were largely united on Election Day in their near overwhelming support for marijuana law reform. NORML’s ability to educate and unite people behind this cause has largely been made possible by donations and contributions from people like you. Thanks to NORML’s outreach efforts, Americans are now aware that it makes no sense from any objective measure to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of those adults who choose to responsibly consume a substance that is safer than either alcohol or tobacco. But we still need your support to keep up the momentum, and to continue bringing our winning message of legalization to the American people.
Two More States – and Washington DC – Legalize Marijuana:
The two most significant victories of the night no doubt occurred in Oregon and Alaska – where both states passed measures legalizing and regulating the cannabis plant’s retail production and sale, as well as permitting adults to grow the plant for their own personal use. In Oregon, 56 percent of voters approved the measure – the highest percentage ever to endorse a statewide campaign to regulate adult marijuana sales. Alaska and Oregon are the third and fourth states to enact regulations regarding the retail production and sale of cannabis goods, joining Colorado and Washington.
Voters in the nation’s capitol provided arguably the most resounding victory on Election Day. An overwhelming 69 percent of District voters – yes, I said 69 percent – said ‘yes’ to Initiative 71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to three mature plants. Indeed, marijuana law reform has come to Washington, DC and there is no way for our federal officials to ignore it.
NORML Needs You Now More Than Ever!
There remains much work to be done – and this is why we still need your continued financial support. NORML’s outreach and media efforts in the coming months will be more important than ever, as we fight to maintain our historic gains and push forward for new ones. We can’t expect our prohibitionist opponents to take these victories lying down, and we still need the resources to move legalization across the country. Please donate $50 or whatever you can afford today and help ensure our victories become the foundation for progressive marijuana policy nationwide.
All seven of NORML PAC’s publicly endorsed candidates for the US House of Representatives won decisively in yesterday’s midterm election.
Rep. Alan Grayson for Congress (FL-09)
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress (NJ-12)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer for Congress (OR-03)
Rep. Steve Cohen for Congress (TN-9)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke for Congress (TX-16)
Rep. Denny Heck for Congress (WA-10)
Rep. Jared Polis for Congress (CO-02)
These candidates all endorsed the full legalization of marijuana and are dedicated to championing reform at the federal level in the 114th Congress. We fully expect these individuals to be instrumental in introducing and advancing important legislation when they begin their new session in January.
“What is really worth noting,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Is that all of our endorsements for the US House of Representatives happened to be Democrats and all won by large margins in a year where others in their party were getting handily defeated nationwide. Perhaps this, coupled with solid wins for legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, will send a message to Democratic Party members across the country that it is not only good policy to support marijuana legalization, but good politics.”
Also winning their elections were NORML PAC endorsed New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker and Maine State Representative Diane Russell.
Want to help us continue to elect pro-reform candidates across the country? DONATE to NORML PAC today!
The election results were overwhelmingly positive for marijuana smokers last night, with full-legalization proposals being approved in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. And even the one losing initiative, the medical-use proposal in Florida, won the approval of a significant majority of the voters.
Measure 91 in Oregon
In a convincing victory, Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which legalizes the use and cultivation of marijuana by those 21 and older and establishes a system of licensing, taxing and regulating marijuana sales under the auspices of the Oregon Liquor Control Board, with an impressive 55 percent of the vote.
More specifically, under Measure 91, adults will be permitted to possess up to eight ounces of “dried” marijuana and cultivate up to four plants. And they will be allowed to give up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form, to other individuals 21 and older; they can not be compensated or reimbursed for these transactions. Adults will be allowed to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana products in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana products in liquid form from properly registered businesses. These limits are more permissive than those previously approved in Washington and Colorado, and may provide a model for other states to emulate.
Oregon and Alaska legalized and regulated the commercial production and sale of marijuana for adults, while voters residing in the nation’s capitol and in numerous other cities nationwide similarly decided this Election Day to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.
Voters in two states decided in favor of a pair of statewide measures to regulate the commercial production, retail sale, and personal use of marijuana by adults. Alaska and Oregon are the third and fourth states to enact regulations on the licensed production and sale of cannabis, joining Colorado and Washington. All four states have enacted their marijuana legalization laws via voter initiative.
Commenting on the new laws’ passage, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The majority of voters in these states, like a majority of voters nationwide, agree that a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or potential abuse. Elected officials in Alaska, Oregon, and elsewhere should welcome the opportunity to bring these common sense and long overdue regulatory controls to the commercial cannabis market.”
Under the new Oregon proposal (Measure 91), adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use (up to four marijuana plants and eight ounces of usable marijuana at a given time) will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations. Imposition of the new law will not “amend or affect in any way the function, duties, and powers of the Oregon Health Authority under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.” The legalization measure takes effect on July 1, 2015.
Under the Alaska measure (Ballot Measure 2), the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six-plants for personal consumption will be legal and untaxed. Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis will be subject to licensing and taxation. Since 1975, Alaskans have enjoyed personal privacy protections allowing for the possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis. However, state law has never before permitted a legal market for marijuana production and sales. The initiative becomes law 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to be in late November.
In California, nearly 60 percent of voters backed Proposition 47, which defelonizes simple drug possession crimes, such as the possession of hashish. Under the measure, Californians with felony records for certain marijuana possession offenses will also be eligible to have their records expunged. Those serving time for felony drug offenses will also be able to petition for resentencing.
In the US territory Guam , 56 percent of voters decided in favor of Proposal 14A, the Compassionate Cannabis Use Act. The new law directs “the Department of Public Health and Social Services to regulate the use of marijuana as treatment for medical conditions.” The Department has up to nine months to provide rules for the territory’s medical marijuana program.
By contrast, a proposed Florida amendment (Amendment 2) fell shy of the 60 percent support threshold necessary in that state to amend the state’s constitution. Fifty-eight percent of Florida voters endorsed the measure, including supermajorities in most every age group except for those voters age 65 and older. Said NORML’s Deputy Director: “This vote wasn’t a rejection of medical marijuana in Florida, but rather an affirmation that most Floridians want patient access to cannabis therapy. NORML hopes that the Florida lawmakers will hear this message loud and clear and take action in 2015 on behalf of the will of the majority of the electorate.”
Municipal voters overwhelmingly decided in favor of depenalizing cannabis on Election Day. In Washington, DC, some 70 percent of District voters approved Initiative 71, which removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants. Adults who engage in not-for-profit transactions of small quantities of cannabis or who possess marijuana-related paraphernalia are also no longer be subject to penalty under this act.
Unlike legalization measures in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, I-71 does not establish a regulatory framework for the regulation of a commercial cannabis market. However, members of the DC City Council are currently considering separate legislation to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. (Because Washington, DC does not possess statehood, all District laws are subject to Congressional approval prior to their implementation.)
Voters in several Michigan cities, including Saginaw (population 51,000), Port Huron (30,000), and Berkley (15,000) also decided in favor of local ballot measures depenalizing offenses involving the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Michigan lawmakers are anticipated to debate a statewide decriminalization proposal in 2015.
Likewise, voters in South Portland, Maine approved a municipal ordinance eliminating local penalties in regard to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Voters in Lewiston, Maine rejected a similar measure.
In New Mexico, voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties decided in favor of advisory questions in support of the decriminalization of one ounce or less of marijuana at a city, county and state level. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties represent a third of the state’s population.
Finally, in Massachusetts, voters in several state representative districts voted in favor of various nonbinding public policy questions calling on state officials to legalize and regulate cannabis-related commerce.
Alaska voters approved Measure 2, to legalize and regulate marijuana, with 52% voting in favor (94% of the total vote counted as of writing). The state now joins Oregon and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana this election.
“This victory in Alaska is the coda to a perfect evening for marijuana legalization supporters,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “In a year where Republicans swept many state and local races, marijuana reform brought voters of both parties together in their support for ending marijuana prohibition. Lawmakers in Congress should recognize that a majority of Americans are ready to see marijuana legalized and regulated and should move to make substantial changes to federal law to reflect that reality.”
We will be posting a more in-depth look at what tonight’s results mean throughout the day tomorrow. Stay tuned.
At time of writing, 54.5% of the vote in Oregon has been counted and analysts and media outlets are calling it a victory for Oregon’s Measure 91 to legalize and regulate marijuana. With that amount counted, the totals are 55.1% YES to 44.9% NO.
“Oregon voters have delivered another crippling blow to the war on marijuana consumers,” NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri commented, “By a strong margin, Oregonians rejected the failed policy of prohibition and chose to pursue a new approach to marijuana, one that has so far been successful in Colorado and Washington and will prove successful in Washington, DC and now Oregon.”
We will be publishing much more detailed information about what this means for the state and what implementation will look like in the coming days. Stay posted.
With about 30% of the vote counted, analysts are calling it a win for Initiative 71 in Washington, DC to legalize marijuana possession. The current results are 68.6% YES and 31.4% NO.
“Voters in the nation’s capital have taken a strong stance against marijuana prohibition,” NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said about the initiative’s approval, “This victory sends a resounding message to Congress that Americans are ready to legalize marijuana for adult use and, with it right in their backyard, it will be a message that is hard to ignore.”
We will update with final vote totals tomorrow. For now, let’s enjoy the wonderful symbolism of adult marijuana possession and limited home cultivation is legal in our capital.
The measure will now have to be transmitted to Congress and undergo a 60 day review period before implementation.
With 95% of the vote counted, analysts are projecting the amendment will end up with just a hair over 58% of the vote. While not enough to make it a part of Florida’s constitution, it was still a strong showing of support for medical marijuana in a campaign that faced unfriendly voter demographics and a very well funded opposition campaign.
“By no means is this a rejection of medical marijuana in Florida, as the results show that a strong majority of Floridians support it,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “We hope state lawmakers will honor voters wishes in 2015 and act to pass medical marijuana legislation. This was a hostile climate for us and an ideal one for them, that they only got 43% of voters to agree to maintain prohibition of medical marijuana is more a defeat for them than us.”
Get the latest updates from the 2014 elections in our live blog below! Blog auto-updates, so please don’t spam refresh, our servers thank you. – NORML Team
You can read the details of the measure here. When implemented, it would allow patients in Guam to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana from their physician and purchase marijuana from approved dispensary locations.
Stay tuned to NORML Blog for the latest on the 2014 Marijuana Midterm. Live coverage will begin this evening.
“DC’s unfair drug policies ruined lives, burdening thousands of young people with criminal records, and kept law enforcement from focusing their time and resources on violent crimes,” Zukerberg stated, “We’re proud to have NORML’s support in the effort to make DC’s drug policies fair for all District citizens”
“Paul Zuckerberg has long been a passionate and effective advocate for ending our nation’s failed war on marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “The District would be greatly served by having him as the first elected Attorney General to guide the city towards a common sense marijuana policy.”
Paul Zuckerberg has practiced law in the District of Columbia for over 30 years and is a lifetime member of the NORML Legal Committee.
Legalization Initiatives on the 2014 Ballot
As we approach the midterm elections this November 4th, it is important that everyone understand the right to vote is both a privilege and a responsibility of citizenship that should not be overlooked. Not only do we have federal, state and local candidates on the ballot, but even more important for marijuana smokers, we will have full legalization proposals on the ballot in Alaska and Oregon; a more complete version of decriminalization on the ballot in the District of Columbia; a medical use proposal on the ballot in Florida (the first southern state to vote on medical use); and a number of municipal proposals on the ballot in several cities in Michigan and Maine.
This is a wonderful opportunity to move legalization forward, to continue to build our political momentum, and to win back a measure of personal freedom in our lives. If you smoke marijuana, but do not vote, then don’t complain down the road when you are busted, lose your job or otherwise become a victim of marijuana prohibition.
To Read the Balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.
Retail marijuana purchasers in July outspent medical cannabis buyers for the first time since the launch of Colorado’s adult-use market 9 months ago.
The state’s Department of Revenue recently reported that customers bought $29.7 million worth of legal marijuana last month ($5 million more than June), surpassing medical marijuana purchases which totaled $28.9 million in sales. Interestingly, this is despite the fact that medical dispensaries outnumber retail stores by a margin of 4 to 1.
According to Colorado Public Radio (CPR), there has been a 112% increase since sales first started, with more than 100 stores across the state having sold close to $145 million in pot. CPR further notes that, “Taken together, the medical and recreational marijuana industry have sold about $350 million worth of pot since January, contributing $37.5 million in taxes and fees to government coffers,” a portion of which is guaranteed to go to school construction.
With the exception of May, each month has set a new record in marijuana sales, so far showing that a legal marijuana regime not only works, but is proving to be valuable and growing source of revenue for the state – and its residents agree. A new NBC/Marist Poll found that Colorado’s retail cannabis market remains popular among Colorado residents, 55% of whom continue to support the passage and implementation of Amendment 64, the initiative that was passed in 2012 to tax and regulate sales to adults, aged 21 and over.
City mayor Michael Nutter announced today that he will sign municipal legislation into law decriminalizing marijuana possession penalties.
Under the measure, penalties pertaining to the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis would be reduced from a criminal misdemeanor to a non-summary civil offense, punishable by a $25 fine – no arrest and no criminal record.
Members of the City Council in June voted 13 to 3 to reduce municipal marijuana penalties. A slightly amended version of this proposal is anticipated to be before the mayor by the end of this month. The revised language is expected to take effect on October 20.
Anyone cited under the pending ordinance would be required to make an appearance before a Municipal Court judge, but would not face criminal charges or a criminal record. Those caught smoking marijuana in public would face a $100 fine, which could be waived if the defendant agreed to perform several hours of public service.
Philadelphia NORML had long lobbied in support of a change in the city’s criminal classification of marijuana possession offenses. A 2013 review of marijuana arrest data by the organization reported that African Americans are arrested in Philadelphia for minor marijuana violations at five times the rate of whites despite both races consuming the substance at nearly equal rates.
“This will go a long way toward a much more saner and a much better policy for people in Philadelphia,” said Chris Goldstein, PhillyNORML co-chair. “This is something that should have happened earlier in the summer. It would have alleviated almost 1,000 people getting arrested.”
It remains to be seen to what extent local police will enforce the new ordinance, once enacted. In past statements, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had publicly pledged to ignore the ordinance, stating, “State law trumps city ordinances.”
[UPDATE! It is now being reported that Chief Ramsey is on board with the amended ordinance.]
NORML is pleased to announce the newest member of the NORML Business Network; Julie’s Baked Goods. The Denver-based edibles company produces of some of the highest quality, all-natural cannabis snacks in the state, and is also a prime example of responsible labeling among infused food companies. Formerly known as Julie & Kate’s Baked Goods, the inspiration behind starting the business came when both women were dealing with a serious illness and agreed that marijuana could be beneficial to managing their symptoms. What started as a friendly trial, with a bag of weed in a domestic kitchen in 2008, has turned into one of the leading marijuana edible companies in Colorado.
The product line for Julie’s Baked Goods is geared toward “foodies” and health conscious consumers. Items have turned out to be especially popular in Boulder, and among the senior crowd. Each creation starts with clarified butter or coconut oil that is infused with specific strain of organically grown marijuana and is slowly heated to carefully extract every last bit of activated cannabinoids. They use only premium, all-natural ingredients for their gluten-free THC infused edibles. The founders built product testing into the budget of their business plan before they even opened – unlike most of the other marijuana companies around at that time. The company has nearly a half-dozen products, including a fresh granola snack, a roasted Seed Mix (which took 1 year to develop), the Nutty Bite (37 recipes), the Groovy Granola Bar and clarified cannabutter.
“Consume ¼ of the package, wait 60 minutes, eat more if necessary. Try eating with yogurt, milk or other healthy food. Fat facilitates THC digestion and intensifies psychoactive effects. If you over ingest: drink water or tea, avoid eating fatty foods. Onset: 45-60 minutes after ingestion. Effect Duration: 4-10 hours. First Euphoric Peak: 2 hours. Second Euphoric Peak: 3-4 hours. Please Plan Accordingly.” - Text from the label of a Julie’s Baked Goods product
Most notably, Julie’s Baked Goods has been on the forefront of responsible edible education for consumers from the beginning. Since their first sale in 2010, the company has been a model of proper labeling (prior to the implementation of labeling laws), dedicated to making sure that the consumer is prepared for the experience. Products include information about the recommended amount, the onset of the high, how long it might last, certain foods that can intensify the feeling and how to mitigate the negative effects of over ingestion. When Colorado implemented new edible labeling laws a few months ago, they didn’t have to change a thing.
Julie’s Baked Goods is a wonderful example of how the industry can be proactive about incorporating responsible business practices and self-regulation into such their burgeoning market. The products are sold in over 125 different cannabis stores around the state, including locations such as Preferred Organic Therapy in Denver, and The Farm in Boulder.
Throughout every facet of their business, Julie’s Baked Goods has gone above and beyond the letter of the law, setting a standard that embodies the ideals of corporate social responsibility, and the principles of the NORML Business Network. This is how an edibles company does it right.
**Julie’s Baked Goods is a licensed and regulated marijuana business whose products can only be purchased in the state of Colorado, either by medical marijuana patients or retail customers who are 21 and older.**
For more information about joining the NORML Business Network go to www.norml.org/business
As we approach the annual Boston Freedom Rally in mid-September, held on the historic Boston Common, I thought it might be a good time for me to share with the readers the details of a bust I experienced, along with High Times associate publisher Rick Cusick, for sharing a joint at the combined NORML/High Times booth at the 2007 Freedom Rally.
The reality is that marijuana smokers remain the target of aggressive and misguided law enforcement activities in most states today. They read about the newly-won freedoms in a handful of states, and dream of the day when their state laws will become more tolerant; but they are still being busted in large numbers and have to worry that next knock on the door may be the police with a search warrant, about to destroy their homes and wreck their lives, looking for a little weed.
In fact, 749,825 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges in 2012 (the latest arrest figures that are available), and approximately 87% of those arrests (658,231) were for simple possession for personal use; they were just marijuana smokers, not traffickers. Another marijuana smoker is arrested every 48 seconds in this country!
And for each of these unfortunate souls unfairly caught-up in the criminal justice system, the experience is personally frightening and alienating, even if they manage to avoid a jail sentence (and far too many still go to jail).
But my story is a little different; a story of two old men arrested for sharing a joint at the Freedom Rally, with the court subsequently trying to dismiss the charges, but the defendants demanding to go to trial.
Nearly 60 percent of Americans support regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, according to an analysis of over 450,000 online responses collected by the online polling data company CivicScience over a nearly two-year period.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that they would support “a law in [their] state that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol?” Thirty-five percent of respondents said that they would oppose such a change in law.
An analysis of responses provided within the past three months found even stronger support for legalization, with 61 percent of those polled endorsing marijuana law reform.
Democrats, men, and those respondents between the ages of 25 to 34 were most likely to support regulating cannabis.
Though the CivicScience survey is not a scientific poll, its findings are similar to those previously reported by Gallup in 2013. In that poll, 58 percent of respondents similarly backed legalizing marijuana. More recently, in April, national polling data published by the Pew Research Center reported that 54 percent of Americans support legalizing the plant.
Poll: Sixty-Four Percent Of Florida Voters Back Constitutional Amendment To Legalize Medical Marijuana
More than 60 percent of Florida voters say that they support Amendment 2, a proposed constitutional amendment to permit cannabis therapy to qualified patients, according to a recently released Gravis Marketing poll.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said that they would vote in favor of the amendment, up from 50 percent in late June. Twenty-six percent of respondents said that they opposed the measure.
Because Amendment 2 seeks to amend the state constitution, 60 percent of voters must decide in favor of it before it can be enacted.
Although previous statewide polls have reported greater support among Floridians in regard to the concept of legalizing medical marijuana, the Gravis survey specifically polled voters on whether or not they endorse Amendment 2.
Among those polled, 90 percent said that they were either “very likely” or “likely” to vote in the 2014 general election.
The Gravis Marketing poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
When one looks at many other important public policy debates in this country, at some point the courts can and must step in to render a decision that changes the entire debate, and corrects an injustice with the stroke of a pen. In our system of government, the courts have co-equal standing with the legislative and the executive branch, and can overrule an offensive or unfair policy based on Constitutional principles.
Perhaps the most important example of these modern decisions was Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, in which a unanimous Supreme Court overruled the separate-but-equal policy of racial segregation in public schools, finding “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and declared the policy as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, paving the way for integration. Next came Griswald v. Connecticut, in 1965, when the Supreme Court first identified a Constitutional right to privacy, overturning laws making the use of birth control a crime . Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention “privacy”, Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the majority that the right was to be found in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections.
Similarly, in 1967 the Supreme Court struck down state laws known as miscegenation laws, that made it a crime for interracial couple to marry, finding those laws a violation of both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the court, based on the right to privacy found in the Fourteenth Amendment, ended the ban on abortions, permitting a women to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.
For the rest of this column, please jump to Marijuana.com.
The new law takes effect in January.
Illinois joins more than a dozen states — including Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah earlier this year — that have enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and authorizing state-sponsored research and/or cultivation of the crop.