Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy to Mobilize Activists Statewide in Effort to Inject Marijuana Policy Debate Into 2016 State Legislative Races; New Texas Lyceum Poll Finds Three Out of Four Voters Support Reform
First of several regional advocacy training events will be held Saturday in San Antonio; UTSA criminal justice professor and former corrections officer Michel Gilbert will be a guest speaker
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy will hold an advocacy training event Saturday, October 3, in San Antonio that will mark the beginning of a statewide effort to inject the marijuana policy debate into 2016 state legislative races. Regional events are also scheduled for Dallas on October 31, Corpus Christi on November 7, East Texas on December 5, and Houston on December 12.
“Comprehensive marijuana reform saw tremendous progress this legislative session largely because families and regular Texans shared their stories with lawmakers,” said State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio). “The movement to change our antiquated and dangerous prohibition laws are gaining traction. However, that momentum will be lost unless citizens stay engaged with their lawmakers during the interim and campaign season.
“That's why these advocacy training events are so important because citizens will be the catalyst for change,” Sen. Menéndez said. “I'm excited the inaugural training session is taking place in San Antonio. Poll after poll shows Texans are ready for comprehensive marijuana reform.”
The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to change the perception of medical cannabis and its legislation, and humanize the perception of its patients, on Tuesday announced that it has exceeded 18,000 members.
"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages while raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," said founding Executive Director Dana Arvidson of The Wall. "One of our primary goals is to assist patients in every state to reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, and to end the needless suffering, before more people die.
"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.
According to Arvidson, The Walls' patient support group welcomes patient questions and offers loving support during times of trial and celebration. "We provide patients with a place to gather with others that feel the same way," Arvidson said. "It truly helps when a Patient knows they are not alone in their struggle.
"We also share patient's stories of healing or their search for healing, and many times their struggle for legalization in states denying them legal access," Arvidson said. "We also do our best to connect them with appropriate doctors and dispensaries in their area."
Backers of an initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Arizona announced Thursday that their petition drive has surpassed the 75,000-signature mark and is one-third of the way to its goal of 230,000 total signatures.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol launched its petition drive in May and needs 150,642 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
“We’re finding that more than one out of every two registered voters we ask to sign is happy to do it, so that’s a good sign,” said campaign chairman J.P. Holyoak. “People recognize that marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a mess as alcohol prohibition was 80 years ago. It’s time for a more sensible approach.”
The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and public education programs.
“Most voters seem to recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and that we’d be better off if we started treating it that way,” Holyoak said. “It makes little sense to criminalize adults for choosing to use a product that is safer than one you can currently buy in a grocery store. Regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol just makes sense.”
By Steve Elliott
New federal Drug Enforcement Administration head Chuck Rosenberg in a TV interview last week called marijuana "dangerous" and added, "If we come up with a medical use for it, that would be wonderful. But we haven't."
The woefully misinformed DEA administrator also said that federal drug agents in the field won't be discouraged from working on big marijuana cases, despite directives from the Obama Administration to not waste resources pursuing state-compliant providers, reports James Rosen at Fox News.
"I've been very clear to my agents in charge," Rosenberg said. "If you have a big marijuana case, if that in your jurisdiction is one of your biggest problems, then bring it." That, of course, leaves the door open for pot-hating federal prosecutors to continue their war on marijuana, same as it ever was.
Fox News asked Rosenberg about the continued inclusion of cannabis in Schedule I, the federal government's harshest and most dangerous category of narcotics. "Marijuana is dangerous," Rosenberg replied.
"It's certainly not as dangerous as other Schedule I controlled substances; it's not as dangerous as heroin, clearly, but it's still dangerous," Rosenberg claimed. "It's not good for you. I wouldn't want my children smoking it. I wouldn't recommend that anyone do it. So I frankly don't see a reason to remove it."
Voters in Three Early 2016 Primary States Want to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition
New polling data has revealed that voters in the early presidential primary state of South Carolina overwhelmingly support ending federal prosecutions of people acting in accordance with state marijuana laws.
Among respondents, 65 percent agree that "states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference." Just 16 percent think that "the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws."
The survey, commissioned by Marijuana Majority, is a follow-up to other recent polls from the organization that showed supermajority support for respecting local marijuana laws in Iowa and New Hampshire, which are also key early presidential primary states.
"Regardless of whether they personally support legalization, voters in these early primary states strongly support scaling back the war on marijuana so that local laws can be enacted without federal harassment," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "The Obama administration has made some helpful accommodations to let states start to move forward, but overarching federal prohibition laws still stand in the way of full and effective implementation.
"Presidential contenders in both parties would do well to make marijuana law reform a prominent issue in their campaigns, and they'd be better off doing it before other candidates realize just how much of a winning issue this is with voters," Angell said.
By Steve Elliott
More and more Americans have come to realize that the War On Drugs is a colossal failure -- but presidential contender Hillary Clinton doesn't seem to be one of those. Hillary seems unlikely to end that futile war and the mass incarceration which results from it, due to her ties to the prison lobby.
The pattern of mass incarceration triggered by the Drug War has resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans, and has unfairly targeted the economically disadvantaged and people of color, reports Romain Bonilla at Marijuana Politics.
Clinton has stayed mostly silent on the failures of current drug policies during her presidential campaign. She has historically been opposed to marijuana decrim, and despite voters confronting her on multiple occasions, has failed to clarify her current stance on cannabis policy.
Supermajority Support From Democrats & Republicans in Iowa & New Hampshire
New polling data reveals that voters in early presidential primary states overwhelmingly support ending federal prosecutions of people acting in accordance with state marijuana laws.
Among respondents, 71 percent in Iowa and 73 percent in New Hampshire agree that "states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference." Just 13 percent of Iowans and 15 percent of New Hampshirites think that "the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws."
"Politicians running to become our next president should take note of just how uniformly voters in these key states want to end federal marijuana prohibition," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, which commissioned the poll. "Candidates who say they would send in the DEA to shut down legal, taxpaying marijuana businesses are effectively announcing that they're out of the mainstream and out of touch with the voters they need support from in order to get elected.
"That type of rhetoric is just not going to score any points in 2016," Angell said.
The new data shows that support for letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference is especially high among Democrats and independents in both states, although there is at least 60 percent support across all demographics, including Republicans, 2012 Mitt Romney voters, people older than 65 and those who identify as very conservative.
It took a year to happen, but on Sunday, August 16, history was made as the Brownie Mary Democrats of California received by unanimous vote of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party, their statewide organizational charter.
"BMDC now joins only four chartered statewide organizations in representing the interests of its members to the Democratic Party," said Lanny Swerdlow, RN, president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County.
"I would like to thank all of you who took a minute and sent the California Democratic Party an email of support for the BMDC application," Swerdlow said. "Although there was no opposition of any kind to the application, the 66 supporting emails were duly noted and indicated to the Party the widespread support for marijuana law reform and for the Democratic Party to take a leading role in bringing marijuana prohibition to an end.
"Not only was there no opposition, but when approval of the application for the Brownie Mary Democrats of California was announced as part of the consent calendar, hundreds of people gave it a spontaneous round of applause which they had not really done for much of anything else that was announced as part of the consent calendar," Swerdlow said. "It seems Democrats like marijuana or at least ending marijuana prohibition.
By Steve Elliott
The National Conference of State Legislatures on Thursday passed a resolution demanding that federal laws "be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies."
For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75 percent of the states represented at the conference's general business meeting.
The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Rep. Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”
The resolution states:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.
By Steve Elliott
A 26-year-old Georgia man was arrested Friday after police found a pound of marijuana during a traffic stop. Richard Relliford was unable to convince the cops that he was just heading home planning to salad, according to a Facebook post from the St. Mary's Police Department.
The police Facebooked a photo of the marijuana in a sandwich bag with a message:
"Look, If we have said it once, we have said a zillion times! No matter how hard you try to convince us this green leafy stuff is salad and you're just coming back from the store going to make a chef salad, Well Sous Chef UP! A SALAD THIS IS NOT!!!"
"Officers encountered Richard Relliford during a traffic stop, a 26 year old St. Marys resident, who had recently obtained this 1 pound bag of marijuana. He went to jail, as this is still illegal in Georgia!!!"
"Stay Safe Out There---Criminals Are A-FOOT!!" the Facebook post read.
The post generated more than 140 Likes and sparked a conversation about drug reform in the comments section.
"And I was going to offer up some ranch dressing!" commented Facebook user Lisa Toal. "Too funny!"
"Normal bag of cabbage?" chimed in Richard Ghiloni. "No says I."
Head of the Drug Enforcement Administration Says 'I'm Not An Expert'
By Steve Elliott
It's progress -- of a sort.
The new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration admitted on Tuesday that heroin "probably" is more dangerous than marijuana, an admission his predecessor, the embattled Michele Leonhart, would not make, reports Steven Nelson at U.S. News.
Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said federal DEA agents aren't prioritizing marijuana enforcement, but he's not ordered them off it.
"If you want me to say that marijuana's not dangerous, I'm not going to say that because I think it is," Rosenberg claimed. "Do I think it's as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I'm not an expert."
"Let me say it this way," he added. "I'd rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I'd prefer not to be in an accident at all."
Rosenberg's predecessor, Leonhart, claimed comparisons of marijuana to crack cocaine or heroin would be "subjective" and claimed cannabis is an "insidious" drug.
"This is not a matter of opinion," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "It's far less harmful than heroin and it's encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that."
Senator Chuck Schumer Joins NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Sponsoring the CARERS Act, a Bill that Would End Federal Prohibition of Medical Marijuana
New York Patients and Families Applaud Schumer for His Support
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday added his name to the Senate’s sweeping medical marijuana bill. The CARERS Act, introduced in March by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rand Paul (R-KY), would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and remove barriers for research, veterans, and banking.
The move comes just days before New York State is expected to announce the names of five companies that will be allowed to produce medical marijuana in New York. New York’s medical marijuana program is expected to become fully operational in January 2016.
New York patients expressed their gratitude for Senator Schumer’s support.
“Chuck Schumer sided with patients and their families yesterday when he agreed to co-sponsor the CARERS Act,” said Kate Hintz of North Salem, N.Y., whose daughter Morgan suffers from a severe seizure disorder. “I’m proud to be from a state where both Senators – Gillibrand and Schumer – have recognized the importance of medical marijuana.
"Families, like mine, should be able to use medical marijuana when a doctor recommends it without having to worry about federal interference," Hintz said. "I hope the rest of our leaders in Washington will follow the lead of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, act quickly to pass the CARERS Act, and help relieve patient suffering.”
Public Service Ads By Award-Winning Creative Audio/Music House Designed to Educate the Public and Reform Harsh Sentencing Laws
After witnessing first hand the effects of the nation’s draconian marijuana laws, Howard Bowler, president of the award-winning audio post/music production company HOBO, is responding the only way he knows how -- through the power of sound. The company is launching a TV, radio and Internet public service campaign targeting states where measures to legalize marijuana are on the ballot.
HOBO’s creative team wrote and produced the ads that are available for free to any broadcast outlet and organization interested in this issue. All of the spots can be customized for local markets. Several regional radio spots have already been produced with input from the organization Regulate Rhode Island.
Click here to check out one of the radio spots entitled: "Master-Peace Theater.”
“The more I learned about the origin of prohibition, the more I realized these laws have a complex political history, are not based on science or health and yet their social impact is huge,” Bowler said. “Last year alone 700,000 people were arrested on marijuana related charges. That’s more than for all violent crimes combined.
By Steve Elliott
A proposal to legalize the recreational use of cannabis has been introduced in the Italian parliament, and has gained the support of more than 200 lawmakers.
The Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a cross-party committee of lawmakers, agreed on a provisional text to legalize the consumption, growing, production and sale of cannabis under certain conditions. "The text was signed by 218 members of parliament, and not just the usual backers of such measures," reports Antoine Sander at Politico.
The bill would make it legal to possess up to 15 grams of marijuana, to cultivate up to five plants, and to smoke it in private, and would allow its sale in government-licensed shops, reports The Courier Mail of Brisbane.
Cannabis clubs, with a maximum of 50 people, could cultivate marijuana as a group and then share the harvest, with strict prohibitions on selling it to the general public.
Sponsored by Benedetto Della Vedova, a junior minister of foreign affairs, the bill was supported by 217 other members of Italy's two chambers of parliament, which have more than 900 lawmakers in total.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on Wednesday announced that former Assistant Attorney General Will Luzier will lead the campaign in support of a 2016 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Massachusetts.
Luzier, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, served as executive director of the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention from 2008 until April 2015. Previously, he served as chief of staff and general counsel to a state senator.
“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big of a failure as alcohol prohibition, and Massachusetts deserves better,” Luzier said. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will replace the underground market with a tightly regulated system of licensed businesses.
"Marijuana should be sold by responsible Massachusetts companies, not violent criminals and cartels,” Luzier said.
The campaign also announced that Jim Borghesani has been hired to serve as communications director.
Borghesani held top communications positions in the offices of the Massachusetts governor and the Suffolk County district attorney, and he has worked for many clients in the private sector. He is a former reporter at the Patriot Ledger and the Boston Business Journal.
“Adults who consume marijuana responsibly are no more deserving of punishment than adults who enjoy a cocktail responsibly,” Borghesani said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol makes sense.