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Why is Jeff Sessions So Afraid of Marijuana?

fucksessions.jpg

On January 5th, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of the Cole Memo which directed a hands-off approach to federal prosecutors for handling states with recreational and medical marijuana. With public support at an all-time high for both medical and recreational marijuana-nearly 60% and 71% respectively--Sessions’ decision is a rebuke to the will of the people and an affront to states’ rights. Everything seems to be in favor of regulated markets, i.e., popular opinion, economics, restorative justice,  so you have to wonder why is Jeff Sessions so afraid of marijuana?

 

For starters, Jeff Sessions is widely quoted as believing that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” If that wasn’t bad enough, it is also reported that he once said the Klu Klux Klan was okay until he learned they smoked pot. Unfortunately, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks marijuana users belong to an underclass of people. Jeff Sessions’ ideas and information about marijuana are hopelessly outdated, yet I don’t feel that it is reefer in the traditional sense that he’s mad about.

 

Jeff Sessions is terrified that marijuana has gone too mainstream.  He’s afraid of products like Medamints (marijuana mints) being in every corner store in the country. He’s afraid of shops like Lightshade becoming your friendly, neighborhood dispensary in every state. We all know he needs one, but he’s afraid of cannabis-infused massages being the next trend in home health care (thank you, Primal Therapeutics). A couple doobies burning down in the woods is one thing; if the feds aren’t around is it even a crime? What Jeff Sessions is cowering from is the inexorable popularity and growing economic prowess cannabis has taken on. Much like the banking system that was rescued by the Feds in 2008, marijuana is simply too big to fail.

 

Not only is marijuana mainstream, but it is expected to boost the U.S. economy with an expected 70 billion dollars of annual revenue and a quarter-million jobs by 2021. You see, Attorney General Sessions, we have a lot to fight for: our jobs, our well-being, our health, and billions and billions of dollars to go around. Like any industry that is a good steward of its communities, the cannabis industry is united in working with state legislatures across the country to create responsible, pro-consumer policies. Jeff Sessions can rant and rave and posture all he wants, but what he’s really doing is being a sore loser. Like Senator McCain told one of NORML's very own freedom fighters in Washington D.C. last September, we’re winning. And we won’t back down.

To learn more:

Medamints

Primal Therapeutics

Lightshade




 

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The Fight was Never Over

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The Fight was Never Over

Marijuana consumers still face numerous challenges. Whether it's having a place to consume, or job advancement and upward mobility, marijuana users are still marginalized in profound ways. When I learned just how far the fight for my rights was over, I had to join Denver NORML.  

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The Last Nail On The Coffin Of Prohibition

The New York Constitutional Convention on November 7th, 2017 will be one for the books

Since last fall the entire nation and the world at large have witnessed an historic paradigm shift, in the long battle for the reform of marijuana laws as well as the single greatest victory for the legalization movement: 8 out of 9 ballot initiatives were passed and by the 1st quarter of 2018, experts have calculated that 1 in every 5 Americans will have access to recreational sales of cannabis!! Every legalization activist should be proud of this fact and even more so is the emboldening of an entire nation to finally start accepting a miraculous natural resource and begin to understand the infinite potential that it holds.

Cannabis 4 America

So far legislators in California, Nevada and Massachusetts, which are the largest markets for the new recreational states coming online, will have to learn from the success of Colorado and others to get it right, and make sure the citizens of their respective states will be able to reap the benefits of the Cannabis Industry, with an effective monitoring and taxation system that will make the public feel reassured about the quality of future cannabis goods being sold as well as a way for states to earn more funds for needed public programs. On top of that there need to be fair benchmarks for the licensing model, in order for these newly born markets to have a fair playing field and incentivize as many business participants as possible to enter the Cannabis space. 

It is quite shocking that there is overwhelming evidence of the success of the recreational marijuana experiment in multiple states, as well as undeniable empirical data on the incredible medicinal properties that the cannabis plant possesses and yet, we see legislators, police officers, our current AG as well as doctors that still have the courage to say that marijuana legalization is a big mistake! You do not have to have a Ph.D. in statistics or medicine to understand that the numbers speak for themselves and that fear mongering will not trump facts. 

I speculate that this incessant opposition and resistance towards nationwide legalization is a sad attempt at maintaining the status quo of big corporations, to keep making mind-boggling profits at the cost of many and hold their influence in our public offices. Prohibitionists are scared that other states will follow through and legalize Cannabis themselves after seeing the abysmal failure of the war on drugs and the unqualified success of taxing and regulating the substance instead of prohibiting it. That is why the Constitutional Convention in New York State this November 7th will be a historic moment for the nation and the world; because when the Empire State will legalize recreational Cannabis, it will be the final blow to the war on drugs and the reefer madness era.

Cannabis4NY

When New Yorkers will cast their vote on November 7th, they will have the opportunity of initiating a 2-year process and in the year of 2018 delegates would be elected to attend this convention, and such individuals would be considered "temporary legislators" for the purpose of amending the State's Constitution. If the voters say YES on November 7th, it will grant the delegates unlimited powers to make needed changes to the constitution and this, by all means, presents a tremendous opportunity for legalization activists to see one of the most influential states of the union legalize the recreational of Cannabis and greatly improve the current crippled medical marijuana program!!

Once the delegates will be elected they will be able to attend the constitutional convention in 2019; the session will begin in April and will last for as long as the body of elected delegates will deem necessary. Once the drafted amendments will be brought forth then the political process will be given once again to the voters, to place the final decision on a 50% + 1 vote criteria to have the constitutional amendments implemented. 

To make a long story short, in order to have amendments to the New York State Constitution, 3 different votes will be needed to be cast by the public:

  1. Voting to initiate the process of creating the Constitutional Convention in November 2017
  2. Voting to elect the delegates that will participate at the convention in the Spring of 2018
  3. Voting to approve the proposed constitutional amendments by 2019

There are many marijuana activist groups in the State of New York, including the Empire State NORML Chapter that will be keeping up the good fight in order to successfully reform the marijuana laws of New York State. Legalizing Cannabis in the State of New York will not be a walk in the park; there will be many battles to overcome between now and spring of 2019. One of the most active opposers of the convention is the organization of New York State United Teachers which has been very vocal about the threats they believe will manifest if the constitutional delegates will be given unlimited powers to modify New York State laws. 

Once again for every debate, there will always be opposing views and for each organization/ group of people, including the different agendas they will pursue. The important aspect to always keep in mind is that at the end of the day voters will always have the final say in which legislators will be part of the convention and also whether the proposed amendments will be implemented. We cannot expect change to be perfect, though the current political situation in the Empire state has to change, and this convention will give the people a fighting chance to:

  • Legalize Recreational Cannabis and greatly improve the Medical Marijuana Program
  • Allow for future voter referendums/ ballot initiatives and not have a deadlocked process in the legislative body

The New York State Constitutional Convention will be a historic event, no matter which side of the debate you stand on, and let it be an important reminder that if the people decide to vote NO on November 7th, then this opportunity will not appear for another 20 YEARS!!

New Yorkers do the right thing and keep up the good fight.

 

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Careful What You Wish For

"The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act comes back to life"

Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Al Franken (D-Minnesota) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas) joined forces to bring back a piece of legislation that can potentially bring monumental change on the hill!

representatives

The Cannabis Caucus was one of the first important signals of a political paradigm shift in D.C. and the reintroduction of the CARERS Act is yet another important statement that our legislators have finally come around the reefer madness and starting to embrace Cannabis as the needed revolution in this country and the world at large. 

The CARERS Act was first introduced by Sen. Cory Brooker in 2015 and much has changed in our society when it comes to the topic of Cannabis since 2 years ago. The industry has grown to such an extent that it can no longer be ignored by the skeptics and prohibitionists; soon Cannabis will become a normal aspect of our daily lives as it was and always meant to be. Nonetheless it is important to steer clear from the initial excitment, overall histerya and noise, in order to focus more on the facts and understand the fine print of this revamped bill. This legislation is broken down in various components, tackling diverse aspects of the Cannabis topic:

  1. Moving Marijuana from a Schedule I narcotic to Shedule II.
  2. Excludes "cannabidiol" (aka CBD) from the definition of "marijuana" and defines it separately as the substance cannabidiol.
  3. Prohibits financial institutions from denying services to businesses in the Cannabis industry.
  4. Allows the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue at least three licenses under CSA registration requirements; to manufacture marijuana and marijuana-derivatives for research approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

For every marijuana activist out there, it is a well known fact that when true change manifests it will always be met by heavy resistance; unless a certain entity or group of individuals benefit from it. Talking about one of the biggest societal shifts of the 21st century, many of us have come to learn that through determination, proper messaging and good old persistence much can be achieved! With that being said an effective implementation of policies has to be gradually built for people to get used to it and not feel threatened or worried by the fast pace of change. That's why baby steps are a crucial aspect of the political evolution of reforms in regards to the marijuana laws' realm. 

It is important to move forward and always support positive changes in the reform of marijuana laws, whike equally important is the ability to pay close attention to the language of an introduced bill and evaluate whether the proposed legislation will benefit society at large or big business as usual. Looking back at the 4 bullet points provided, briefly describing some of the most important aspects of the CARERS Act, point 1 & 4 should raise some initial warnings when it comes to keeping the integrity of the Cannabis industry and the long term viability of a vibrant and competitive market!

Big Pharma

We have already seen monopolies belonging to certain industries take over control of a natural resource and virtually own the supply, thus put consumers in a tight spot and offer very little choice. Placing marijuana on the Schedule II, from Schedule I incentivizes yet again unnecessarily strict control over the so called "narcotic" and from what the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 clearly shows, Schedule II narcotics are recognized as such:

  • Having a high potential for abuse.  
  • Possesses currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

None of the statements above are true when trying to represent the Cannabis Sativa specie nor all of its byproducts containing the psychoactive substance know as THC. Cannabis Sativa as a specie of plants and all of its byproducts should be rescheduled at least to level III of the Controlled Substance Act, with:

  • The drug has a potential for abuse less than the drugs in schedules 1 and 2. The drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the drug may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

The troublesome aspect of the current bill is the shift of Scheduling, accompanied by a restrictive access to licensing, controlled by the DEA, which would facilitate pharmaceutical companies to potentially take over the growing sector of the industry and therefore control the supply for the rest of the market. For now this is just a presumptive speculation, though history has an ironic way of repeating itself when the citizenry does not pay attention to the macro events that will affect all of us in the long term. Follow the money and always be ware of the greater entities that will constantly seek to centralize power and will stop at nothing to persuade public officials to manipulate the political process in their favor. Freedom fighters stay vigilant!

Citations:

1) https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/683

2) https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-84/pdf/STATUTE-84-Pg1236.pdf

 

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The Legislative Session Is Over, Yet Grassroots Activism Never Sleeps

May 10th was the date that officially concluded Colorado's legislative session for this year... and now what? Well I can tell you this much: Denver NORML will continue its fight to educate the public and gather even greater support from our community, to effectively reform our marijuana laws in the legislative session to come. We grant our public officials farewell... for now. 
For all the freedom fighters and grassroots activist out there, they sure know the feeling when politicians divest themselves from their duties and comfortable chairs, when the general public suddenly retrieves back into its bubble and all of a sudden it seems as if all that momentum, the political energy accumulated throughout months of rallying, lobbying, endless calls and messaging quickly faded; blown away like the leaves at fall. 

Often times it is discouraging and incredibly frustrating to see all the efforts you and your team put in to promoting a legislative reform you were vigorously supporting, knowing it would have improved the daily lives of the people in your community, to just see it being thrown aside. There are so many different factors that can play in favor or against a particular bill/proposition that it's hard to pin point one in particular; though we can definitely think of a few: Usually it all comes down to internal powers playing in the backdrop and emboldened by outside entities, manipulating the decision of fellow colleagues in the political realm. Usually we hear the main motif politicians have is to listen closely to their donors; nonetheless intricated and complex dealings can also be attributed to a legislator's political image to his/her constituents as well as the sheer lack of proper information and evidence to make the right decision. 

Let's always remember that a legislative session is a set amount of days throughout the year; so for us grassroots activist not only are large amounts of money and political connections far from our reach, now even time itself is against us!! There will be a moment in time where you will get this depressing sensation of being one of the remaining few that really cares. One of the few out there that still values the democratic process, that is actively involved and whom does NOT fall into the slippery slope of becoming what we define as a "Keyboard Activist". It's hard to keep up a high morale for yourself as well as your peers, especially when so much of this political process can be out of your control. 

Let's just take a quick look on the treacherous path that a bill has to go through to make it to the finish line: 

  1. Passing the vote of a carefully selected committee
  2. Voting on the house floor 
  3. Senate chooses its committee which will vote on the bill
  4. Voting on the senare floor
  5. Bill goes back to the house floor and is finalized
  6. Bill heads to governor's desk for approval

Keep in mind that throughout this long, 6-step process, you always can have countless amendments to a bill, which will force this back-and-forth tug of war between the two chambers of the state government and on top of that, any majority "no vote" at any step of the way constitutes legal grounds for killing a bill. Last but not least you also have a final filtering process where the governor has undeniably great influence over the passage of a proposed legislation. A pretty scary thought, thinking that a bill could climb the political ladder so far to then be discarded altogether by one individual!!

Throughout the incredible learning experience our chapter has gained these past 3 months, starting during the March 7th NORML Lobby Day at the State Capitol and ending a few days ago while still continuing to attend committee hearings, to maintain an open dialogue with our legislators, was for sure an eye opening process for all of us. We knew that our efforts left a significant mark in the minds of many elected officials and we truly understood the hidden potential of practicing the greatest sport of all: Democracy. 

Remember the ABC of proper grassroots activism lies in creating and most importantly MAINTAINING an open discussion about the topic you feel so strongly about and make sure that the public is constantly engaged, to encourage elected officials to do the same; because even though many in our society feel like a vote doesn't count, well it sure does for the ones who are elected!! Email your respective representative once in a while (we suggest once a month will be plenty, since surprisingly enough they have a life outside of politics.. WHAT!!?), make sure to stay updated with your local grassroots organizations to know what's going on in your community, spread the word about a particular topic you care about, volunteer at events that will promote the cause and in the end always be prepared to learn from your experiences, to know what to do and what to avoid. 

Being part of the democratic process can be frustrating, time consuming but often times instill your mind with an overwhelming sense of empowerement and an exhilarating feeling of pride, knowing you are practicing something that people in most places around the world would die for and indeed, our ancestors gave their lives to. This past legislative session in 2017 has left a bitter taste in our mouths because we fought so hard to make Senate Bill 184, on the Marijuana Membership Clubs, a reality for every marijuana consumer in the State of Colorado. Even though we may have lost this battle, the war is far from over and the revolution continues... always moving forward.  

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420 Day of Action

420 Day of Action

After marijuana won the 2016 elections by doubling the number of states allowing recreational use with four more for a total of 8 and the establishment of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus this year, it’s clear that consumers are catching the ears of decision-makers across the nation. It’s high time they listen and some simply need that personal touch. For example, Colorado Senator Chris Holbert of Douglas County initially opposed marijuana law reform because he didn’t know its medical benefits until he met a family of constituents using CBD to treat their son’s seizures. Now he’s open to meeting with advocates pushing legalization and supports marijuana law reform.

The pioneers of marijuana legalization paved the road that brought us to this pivotal moment. Now our voices remain on congress’ doorstep.

Do you know those commercials from truth.com urging this generation to halt big tobacco and the smoking epidemic? Truth.com does an excellent job of getting in the faces of industry executives with displays of facts on big orange signs and organized chaos outside metro high-rises housing corporate tobacco companies. They’re changing the way consumers feel about ciggarettes using education or factual knowledge, one of the principle catalysts in paradigm shifts. We can do that with marijuana. Advocates for reform have an obligation to present the truth and halt misrepresentation.

On April 20th, marijuana consumers and advocates gather with NORML around the world to put an end to marijuana prohibition by supporting the 4/20 Day of Action Campaign; a grassroots effort that will combine social media presence with a call to action targeting federal lawmakers. Through this effort, we will raise awareness and support for the growing number of marijuana reform bills pending before the House and Senate lawmakers.

RSVP and sign up for our Thunderclap Campaign today!

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/55788-4-20-online-day-of-action

Support Marijuana Social Clubs

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Support Marijuana Social Clubs

 

**UPDATE: SB-184 passed the Senate's Business, Labor and Technology Committee and is now scheduled for a vote by the full Senate this Wednesday, March 8, 2017.**

Support Marijuana Social Clubs!

"The current practice of allowing adults 21 years of age to purchase legal marijuana, while not providing a legally defined space to consume their legally purchased marijuana will continue to be a burden not just for marijuana consumers, but also for Colorado communities."

Click on the link below to contact your representative today!

#TakeAction

 

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Take Action: So We Have Attorney General Sessions – What’s Next For Marijuana?

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Take Action: So We Have Attorney General Sessions – What’s Next For Marijuana?

|by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director |February 11, 2017|

 Despite historic opposition, members of the United States Senate voted 52 to 47 last week to approve the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.

NORML thanks the tens of thousands of you who responded to our action alerts opposing this nomination and the thousands more who took time to make phone calls. While we are disappointed with this outcome, we are pleased that several members of Congress cited the senator’s opposition to marijuana policy reform as an impetus for rejecting his appointment.

We’ve previously told you why Jeff Sessions is the wrong man for the job, but today it is time to move forward, not backward.

So now what?

Well, during his testimony before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Sen. Sessions said that it is not the responsibility of the Attorney General to pick and choose which federal laws to enforce. “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act,” he said. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

He’s right. It is time we demand Congress to change the rules once and for all.

Just hours prior to Sessions’ confirmation vote, US Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with six other Republicans and six Democrats, introduced bipartisan legislation, ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ to prevent the federal government from criminally prosecuting individuals and/or businesses who are engaging in state-sanctioned activities specific to the possession, use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

HR 975 states, ‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.’’

Passage of this Act would halt US Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other federal official from prosecuting individuals and businesses for violating the Controlled Substances Act in the 29 states that permit either the medical or adult use and distribution of marijuana. According to national polling, 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

Click here to send your member of Congress a message urging them to support HR 975.

With the appointment of Sen. Sessions to the position of US Attorney General, passage of this Act is necessary to ensure that medical marijuana patients and others are protected from undue federal interference.

There will be a number of bills in the coming months that will build upon the progress that the movement to legalize marijuana will support. As we always have, NORML will keep you informed and provide you the tools needed to connect with your elected officials.

Please take action today to urge your federal lawmakers to support HR 975, the ‘The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act,’ and when you have finished, please also take a moment to make a generous and much appreciated donation to NORML here so that we can continue to make progress in our federal and statewide efforts.

With NORML members throughout the country organizing lobby days and taking action over the coming days and weeks, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.

NORML has resisted marijuana prohibition for 47 years – We’re not going to stop now; in fact, we’re just getting started. Are you in?

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This was originally posted on norml.org and reposted here.

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Active Colorado Bills 2017

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Active Colorado Bills 2017

As of February, here is a snapshot of the current bills in the Colorado 2017 Legislative Session obtained from the General Assembly website :

SB17-015 Unlawful Marijuana Advertising
Concerning the unlawful advertising of marijuana.
Sponsors: Sen. I. Aguilar | Rep. D. Pabon
Subjects: Crimes, Corrections, & Enforcement, Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

SB17-063 Marijuana Club License
Concerning licensing marijuana consumption clubs.
Sponsors: Sen. V. Marble | Rep. J. Melton
Subject: Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

HB17-1034 Medical Marijuana License Issues
Concerning licensing changes to the medical marijuana code to conform with the retail marijuana code.
Sponsors: Rep. D. Pabon | Sen. R. Baumgardner
Subject: Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

SB17-111 Medical Marijuana Inventory Shortfall Fixes
Concerning measures to address medical marijuana inventory shortfalls.
Sponsors: Sen. T. Neville | Rep. M. Gray | Rep. D. Michaelson Jenet
Subject: Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

SB17-025 Marijuana Education Materials Resource Bank
Concerning the development of marijuana education materials.
Sponsors: Sen. R. Baumgardner | Sen. C. Holbert | Rep. J. Singer
Subjects: Education & School Finance (Pre & K-12), Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

SB17-017 Allow Medical Marijuana Use For Stress Disorders
Concerning adding stress disorders to the list of debilitating medical conditions for the purposes of the use of medical marijuana.
Sponsors: Sen. I. Aguilar | Rep. J. Singer
Subject: Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

HB17-1082 BEST Building Excellent Schools Today Act Technology Grant Funding
Concerning financial assistance under the 'Building Excellent Schools Today Act', and, in connection therewith, requiring a specified amount of retail marijuana excise tax revenue to be used to provide such financial assistance in the form of technology grants to public schools.
Sponsors: Rep. D. Pabon
Subjects: Capital Construction, Education & School Finance (Pre & K-12), Liquor, Tobacco, & Marijuana

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TAKE ACTION: Letter to the Editor

| Teresa Wright | February 1, 2017|

Dear Editor:

When I was a child, my family was poor. Not quite living out of our car poor, but never very far from it. Most years, we had a garden –usually a pretty substantial one. I loved fresh veggies and in the summer my brother, three sisters, and I were able to eat lots of healthy foods that we often couldn’t afford year-round. For kids whose dinners were sometimes no more than mac & cheese with some breakfast sausage – those salads, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and more were gifts beyond measure. For my parents, it was a small respite from their ongoing struggle to keep the family above water.

Considering recent announcements in Colorado, I have tried to imagine what it would have been like if, in the middle of July one summer, the police came to our house and pulled up 90% all our crops, and then burned what they had already destroyed. What if they had been willing to let hungry children watch their next three months’ worth of meals go up in smoke?

Inconceivable, right? Except that is essentially what the state and many municipalities, including Denver, are trying to do in 2107 – except instead of food, they want to reduce the amount of medicine an individual can grow. Children’s medicine. Cannabis medicine.

Somehow in 2017 we have reached a point where we accept that politicians and bureaucrats know more about how much medicine someone requires than doctors, nurses, other healthcare providers, and the patients or their families. To someone who doesn’t know much about cannabis or about the way various healing component are extracted, 99 plants may seem ridiculous. And I get that. But it really does take a large amount of flower to make enough medicine to treat a child with epilepsy or cancer.

But the black market. Yes, the black market is certainly a concern, but does it really make sense to take away affordable, safe, effective, home-grown medicine from thousands of sick people to make it potentially easier to weed out illegal grows? How will licensing people’s legal basement grows make life harder for black marketers? Exactly – it won’t.

So please, learn about proposed changes to state and local laws, call your elected officials, write letters to editors, and if you don’t know enough about the subject – learn a little. There is so much evidence available now that it is no longer in question that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for many illnesses and conditions. And if none of this matters to you because you aren’t a cannabis patient, I know very many people who are – people I care about. People who are living better lives today because the people of Colorado decided to send the message that we want control of our own lives and our own health. And now that we have it, I am not willing to let it go without a fight. I hope you will join me.

NORML Chapters Organize State Lobby Days for Marijuana Law Reforms

NORML Chapters Organize State Lobby Days for Marijuana Law Reforms

| by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator| January 25, 2017

On the heels of the 2016 election – where four states voted to approve adult-use marijuana initiatives, and four more voted to approve medical marijuana initiatives – NORML Chapters across the country are lobbying their state legislators for additional reforms. In the coming weeks, NORML Chapters around the country, such as California NORML, Connecticut NORML, Wyoming NORML, and Virginia NORML, will be focusing their time and energy in support of dozens of statewide reform bills seeking to amend various aspects of their state’s marijuana policies.

To help increase the likelihood of success for these volunteer-led lobbying efforts, NORML has created a citizen lobby guide. This comprehensive booklet will assist activists in planning and execution of a successful lobby day. It also provides organizational checklists and a legislative questionnaire so that marijuana activists, regardless of the state they’re located in, will be fully prepared to meet with state lawmakers to discuss meaningful marijuana law reforms and to most effectively communicate NORML’s message of ending the prohibition of marijuana on the local, state and federal level.

Citizen Lobby Guide: http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_CitizenLobbyGuide.pdf

In addition to offering support through NORML’s Citizen Lobby Guide, we have created more than 30 action alerts targeting state lawmakers across the country urging their support for marijuana legislation being considered in their state. Simply click on the link below and enter your information to join the fight!

Take Action: http://norml.org/act

We hope that with these tools, along with the direct support of NORML staff, marijuana activists will have the resources needed to effectively lobby state lawmakers in support of marijuana law reforms.

Here’s a list of scheduled NORML Chapter Lobby Days below:

  • Virginia NORML – Jan 30
  • Arizona NORML – Feb 2
  • Texas NORML – Feb 8
  • Houston NORML – Feb 8
  • DFW NORML – Feb 8
  • Waco NORML – Feb 8
  • New Mexico – Feb 8
  • Missouri NORML – Feb 28
  • Kansas City NORML – Feb 28
  • Greater St. Louis NORML – Feb 28
  • Mid-Missouri NORML – Feb 28
  • Springfield NORML – Feb 28
  • University of Missouri NORML – Feb 28
  • North Carolina NORML – Mar 1
  • Charlotte NORML – Mar 1
  • Denver NORML – Mar 7
  • Colorado NORML – Mar 7
  • Monterey County NORML – Mar 7
  • NORML Women of Washington – Mar 7
  • Washington NORML – Mar 7
  • Portland NORML – Mar 7
  • Michigan NORML – March 30
  • Illinois NORML – May 17

To get involved or to find out more information about a lobby day in your state, please email: KevinM@NORML.org

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Drug Testing Policies Might Get a Much Needed Upgrade Soon

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Drug Testing Policies Might Get a Much Needed Upgrade Soon

 

| By Reilly Capps |

Even though recreational cannabis has been legal for adults to consume since 2012 in Colorado, there isn't a single company known to have changed its policies on having it in your system. So NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, is developing a citizen-led lobbying effort to convince employers that they're missing out on good talent by testing for a substance that's less harmful than alcohol.

"You've got way more to worry about with someone coming in all hungover and half awake than you do with someone on trace metabolites of marijuana," said Denver NORML executive director Jordan Person.

Person unveiled the new anti-drug test campaign recently in Denver's RiNo neighborhood, in a vaulted warehouse that was recently converted into a high-class, cannabis-friendly meeting space and co-work area called Cultivated Synergy.

There, the air is filled with strong whiffs of dabs and new money. The shmancy track lighting overhead and heavily-laminated business cards being handed around are a stark reminder that, in Denver, smoking marijuana is more likely to land you a job than it is to lose you one.

Still, the people there tell stories of horror back when they lived in bummer states, when drug tests dragged down their careers. For budtender Kees Van Bergeijk, whose body was a tangled mess after he hit the pavement at 50 mph on his longboard, marijuana was the best thing to manage the pain — except for opioids, he said, but those things will kill you. He was a lifeguard at a camp for special needs kids, but his use made him have to quit. When he told the kids, a special needs girl who he used to tell stories to broke into tears.

Yet, just as some businesses look down on pot smokers, intelligent cannabists look down on drug-testing businesses as unsophisticated or uneducated, says brand consultant Tyco Skinner — who has an MBA from Cornell. "I discount their business acumen," he says.

Drug-testing businesses are missing out on top-notch talent, Person adds. "Really intelligent people who might be the best graphic designers or coders on the planet, but because they have daily nausea, they use marijuana, so they don't go for the job," she says.

NORML's campaign also includes coordination from NORML chapters in Oregon, Washington and California. Colorado's NORML will be lobbying on Colorado's Capitol Hill on March 7. There, they'll point out how silly it is to test for marijuana but not other, more life-wrecking drugs. The current situation tells employers, "Take all the drugs you want, just don't smoke any weed,” says Person. “Get as drunk as you want, but don't do weed. Do a bunch of cocaine and then come to work, and you'll be fine, it's out of your system quick, but don't do any weed.

"It's ridiculous," Person adds. "In time, it has to change. People are excited that the conversation is being had again."

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This article was originally published on www.therooster.com and has been reposted here.

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NORML Day of Action on Monday, Jan. 9th – #JustSayNoToSessions

NORML Day of Action on Monday, Jan. 9th – #JustSayNoToSessions

On Monday, NORML and our supporters will participate in a Day of Action to mobilize opposition to the appointment of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General.

Senate lawmakers will be deciding Tuesday whether Jeff Sessions is fit for the position of America’s top law enforcement officer. Unless he is willing to acknowledge that, as Attorney General, he will respect the rights of marijuana consumers in the majority of US states that have legalized the plant, we believe that he is the wrong man for the job.

Our concern is not without merit. Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s. In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements like these :

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.”

“[Marijuana] cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Senator Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws of over half of the states. We must demand that Senators ask this nominee whether he intends to respect the will of the voters in these states, and whether he truly believes no that “good people” have ever smoked pot.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Sen. Sessions will possess the power to roll back decades of hard-fought gains. He will have the authority to challenge the medical marijuana programs that now operate in 29 states and the adult use legalization laws that have been approved in eight states.

Will you join us in this important day of action? You can help us amplify our message by signing up for our ThunderClap HERE.

What is a Thunderclap? Think of Thunderclap as a social media flash mob. Supporters can sign up to have a mass message published to their account at a coordinated date and time. Thunderclap is similar to crowdfunding, but uses social currency instead of money. Your audience can “donate” a Tweet or Facebook post to help you spread the word. Your one tweet and post can go along way in helping us bring awareness to this important effort.

Sign up for the Thunderclap. Then, on Monday morning we will be posting in-depth directions regarding our call to action (including a suggested script for you to use when calling your US Senator) right here on norml.org . Then, on Tuesday, we will be shifting our focus to the members of the Judiciary Committee to assure that Sen. Sessions is made to defend his past statements, and is asked about whether he will respect the will of the voters moving forward.

Together, we can make our voices heard and demand that statewide marijuana laws be respected and upheld. Stand with us on Monday to send a clear message: The incoming Attorney General must not interfere with state laws that have legalized and regulated marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.
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This was originally published on www.norml.org and reposted here with special permission.

Marijuana Regulators Target Home Cultivation

Marijuana Regulators Target Home Cultivation

| by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator | January 18, 2017 |

Since its founding, NORML has advocated that statewide legalization efforts – whether through a ballot initiative or using the legislative process – should ideally include provisions that permit and protect the act of home cultivation by marijuana consumers. This advocacy has resulted in more than 16 states now allowing home cultivation, including in six of the eight voter-initiated measures passed in 2016.

But although there has been a tremendous amount of progress on this issue, it appears that home cultivation is now at risk in several municipalities across Colorado and California. Local and state lawmakers in both jurisdictions are revisiting the issue and are moving toward unnecessarily limiting adult’s home cultivation rights.

Most recently, representatives with Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy revealed a plan to, “limit unlicensed recreational and medical grows in private residences,” throughout the city of Denver. This decision came after months of closed-door meetings between regulators and leading marijuana industry interests such as the Marijuana Industry Group (MIG); which together, form what’s being called the, “Non-Licensed Marijuana Grows Inspection Team.

Although there has been little to no mention of specific details regarding this proposed program, many are anticipating the new regulations to resemble those that have come under fire in Indian Wells, California. In that city, lawmakers are pushing for regulations mandating that anyone who wishes to cultivate marijuana in their home must purchase an annual permit and must also allow inspectors into their residence. This amounts to an absolutely unnecessary burden for responsible, law-abiding citizens.

In recent days, Denver NORML became inundated with emails, messages and comments on social media demanding a response to what many believe is a blatant overreach by city government officials. In response, members of Denver NORML, led by Executive Director, Jordan Person, began mobilizing volunteers to contact members of the Denver City Council with the goal of defending the rights and privacy of marijuana consumers in the city of Denver.

“With all of the uncertainty we are expecting in 2017 at both the local and state level our goal at Denver NORML is to help maintain our rights as residents of Colorado to grow in our homes,” said Person. “We will keep our members and supporters informed and part of the conversation as it happens.”

While it’s obvious that there’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into regulating Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, most marijuana consumers would never support any effort that would attempt to bring similar regulations into the privacy of their homes. Not to mention the fact that the creation of a task force or any other bureaucratic process to approve and/or oversee the cultivation of marijuana in a private residence amounts to a severe misuse of tax dollars and violation of privacy when those limited resources could be dedicated to combating actual problems in our communities.

Without providing any data points related to the correlation between home cultivation and out-of-state diversion, those advocating for tighter regulations deserve to fail in their attempt to convince marijuana consumers that allowing regular visits from government officials in their homes is a good idea. Adults who brew their own beer are not subject to inspections by the state and neither should those who choose to grow personal use quantities of marijuana. Furthermore, criminalizing the personal cultivation of marijuana is an arbitrary prohibition that has absolutely no basis in public safety. Therefore NORML will continue to support the right of individuals to grow their own marijuana as an alternative to purchasing it from licensed commercial producers.