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Congressional Lawmakers Demand The VA Study Medical Marijuana

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 21:44

Members of the US House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs are demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs facilitate protocols to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis in veterans suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress.

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, along with nine other Democrat members of the Committee, authored an October 26, 2017 letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin stating: “[The] VA is uniquely situated to pursue research on the impact of medical marijuana on veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD given its access to world class researchers, the population it serves, and its history of overseeing and producing research resulting in cutting-edge medical treatments. … VA’s pursuit of research into the impact of medical marijuana on the treatment of veterans diagnosed with PTSD who are also experiencing chronic pain is integral to the advancement of health care for veterans and the nation. We ask VA to respond … with a commitment to the development of VHA-led research into this issue.”

In September, representatives from The American Legion addressed a separate letter to VA Secretary Shulkin encouraging the VA assist in an ongoing, FDA-approved clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of various strains of cannabis in veterans with PTSD. To date, the VA has refused to assist in patient recruitment for the trial. The VA has yet to publicly respond to the Legion’s letter.

Survey data finds that military veterans report using cannabis therapeutically at rates far higher than the do those in the general population, and that many are already using it as an alternative to conventional medications in the treatment of pain and post-traumatic stress.

Colorado’s Top Doc Debunks Legalization Fears

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 18:21

Contrary to the claims of many marijuana prohibitionists, regulating the adult use of cannabis in Colorado has not been associated with any significant adverse effects on public safety. So affirmed Colorado’s top doctor, Larry Wolk, Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health, in an interview Tuesday with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Specifically, Dr. Wolk said that legalization has not negatively impacted teen use or traffic safety. He also expresses skepticism at the suggestion that legalization may stimulate the greater use of other controlled substances.

Here is a sample of his comments:

TEEN USE

CBC: What have you seen since recreational cannabis has been legal in Colorado?
Dr. Larry Wolk: “The short answer is we have not seen much. We have not experienced any significant issue as a result of legalization. … I think the concern was that by legalizing marijuana, we should certainly see an increase in adult use, and maybe that would leak into our youth. [There was also a concern that] youth would somehow gain greater access, and/or feel entitled to go ahead and use in greater numbers. We just haven’t seen that pan out.”

DRUGGED DRIVING

What about drugged driving?
“We have actually seen an overall decrease in DUI’s since legalization. So, the short answer is: There has been no increase since the legalization of marijuana here.”

MARIJUANA AS A SUPPOSED GATEWAY

Do we know if cannabis legalization is leading to higher uses of hard drugs?
“We are not seeing those kinds of increases. … I think we have yet to answer the question of whether or not legalizing marijuana helps reduce the consumption of those harder, more addictive drugs, or acts as a gateway. The jury is still out.”

NORML has recently posted a number of fact-sheets online here summarizing the relevant peer-reviewed science specific to these and other public policy issues, including: cannabis and traffic safety, marijuana regulation and teen use patterns, legalization and crime rates, the relationship between legal cannabis access and opioid abuse, the gateway theory fallacy, and the economics of statewide legalization policies.

Jeff Sessions: We Will Do Our Best To Enforce The Laws As We’re Required To Do

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 17:06

In an interview with conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his position against marijuana, his commitment to enforcing its prohibition, and expressed an openness to use RICO suits against businesses that handle the plant.

Earlier this year Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank that has a tremendous amount of influence within the leadership of the Republican Party, penned an 11-point plan advising the Justice Department on how to crack down on the states, businesses, patients, and consumers of marijuana. So far, Sessions has followed the first 4 points and the 9th is the implementation of RICO suits.

Just because the Justice Department has yet to make overt policy changes or action in the first 9 months of the administration, it certainly does not mean that it is not coming. You can see it in the words of the Sessions himself. We have already seen them issue new guidelines to rev up charges against those suspected of drug-related crimes, pursue maximum sentences for those charges, and an escalation in the department’s ability to utilize civil asset forfeiture to deprive those charged of their possessions.

Click here to send a message to your Representative and demand a descheduling of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act to end federal prohibition. 

Below is the transcript of the exchange (emphasis added):

HH: I hope they’re looking. It’s becoming a little bit chilling how big they are. Let me turn to marijuana, Mr. Attorney General. A lot of states are just simply breaking the law. And a lot of money is being made and banked. One RICO prosecution of one producer and the banks that service them would shut this all down. Is such a prosecution going to happen?

JS: I don’t know that one prosecution would be quite as effective as that, but we, I do not believe that we should, I do not believe there’s any argument, because a state legalized marijuana that the federal law against marijuana is no longer in existence. I do believe that the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states. And we will do our best to enforce the laws as we’re required to do so.

HH: But one prosecution that invokes a supremacy clause against one large dope manufacturing concern, and follows the money as it normally would in any drug operation and seizes it, would shut, would chill all of this. But I haven’t seen on in nine months, yet. Is one coming?

JS: Really analyze all those cases, and I can’t comment on the existence of an investigation at this time, Hugh, you know that, so, but I hear you. You’re making a suggestion. I hear it.

HH: I’m lobbying.

JS: (laughing) You’re lobbying.

 

All Time High: New Poll Shows Two-Thirds Of Americans Support Marijuana Legalization

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 13:54

Source: Gallup

A record percentage of US adults, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and for the first time ever, Republicans, believe that the adult use of marijuana should be legal, according to polling data released today by Gallup.

Sixty-four percent of adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States” — the highest percentage ever reported by Gallup since they began asking adults their views on legalization in 1969, which began at 12%. The following year NORML was founded.

“At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective to maintain the federal prohibition of marijuana,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

Source: Gallup

There are multiple pieces of legislation now pending that would deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to regulate marijuana for responsible adult use in a manner similar to alcohol.  You can click here to contact your member of Congress to support HR 1227, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana consumers. As a nonprofit public interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who consume marijuana responsibly, with over 150 chapters across the United States and internationally.

For nearly 50 years, NORML led the successful efforts to reform local, state, and federal marijuana laws — as well as to change public opinion. Today, NORML continues to lead this fight through our legal, lobbying, and public education efforts. Among other activities, NORML serves as an informational resource to the public and the national media on all topics specific to cannabis, marijuana policy, and the lawlobbies local, state, and federal legislators in support of reform legislation; publishes a regular newsletter; hosts an annual conference; places op-eds and letters to the editor in newspapers throughout the country, publishes timely and important reports and white papers, and serves as the umbrella group for a national network of citizen-activists committed to ending prohibition and legalizing marijuana.

Our efforts are supported by thousands of people throughout the country as we work to advance marijuana reform in all 50 states and the federal level. Can you kick in $5, $10 or $20 to help us keep going?

 

#ACT: Medical Marijuana Could Be On The Line

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 13:17

Protections for the medical marijuana markets that are now legal in 30 states are set to expire on December 8th.

After that, over 2 million registered patients’ continued access to their medication will rely on the prohibitionist whims of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been lobbying aggressively for the ability to use the full force of the Justice Department to interfere with their operations.

But your member of Congress could make the difference. We’re targeting key elected officials who we need to publicly support these continued protections and need your Representatives to speak up and encourage them to stand with patients.

Send a message to your Representative NOW

Here is the full backstory: The House Rules Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple marijuana-related amendments from receiving consideration by the full House earlier this year, including the one known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer. Specifically, this language maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

However, in July, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed similar language in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This means that the amendment will be considered in a bicameral conference committee despite the fact that the House was denied the opportunity to express its support.

If the Republican Congress decides to strip the amendment out of the Senate budget, over 2 million patients in 30 states will lose these protections and could face the full attention of Jeff Sessions.

We need your Representative to speak up. Send a message right now.

Setting the Record Straight

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 20:20

One of NORML’s primary missions is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults. One of the ways we successfully achieve this goal is by debunking marijuana myths and half-truths via the publication of timely op-eds in online and print media. Since the mainstream media seldom casts a critical eye toward many of the more over-the-top claims about cannabis, we take it upon ourselves to set the record straight.

The majority of NORML’s rebuttals are penned by Deputy Director Paul Armentano. In the past few weeks, he has published numerous op-eds rebuking a litany of popular, but altogether specious claims about the cannabis plant – including the contentions that cannabis consumption is linked to poor health outcomes, problems with regulations, and the effects of opioid abuse, hospitalizations, and fatalities in the states that have robust medical marijuana programs.

Below are links to a sampling of his recent columns:

Trump’s opioid agency fails to cite marijuana’s benefits, despite mounting evidence
The Hill, October 23, 2017

This is how legal cannabis is improving public health
National Memo, October 22, 2017

RMHIDTA’s marijuana reports are nothing but propaganda
Denver Westword, October 21, 2017

Marijuana is now a driving engine of the American economy
Alternet, September 28, 2017

When will our govt stop ignoring that marijuana is a major regulation success story
Alternet, September 19, 2017

Blowing up the big marijuana IQ myth — The science points to zero effect on your smarts
The National Memo, August 7, 2017

For a broader sampling of NORML-centric columns and media hits, please visit NORML’s ‘In the Media’ archive here.

If you see the importance of NORML’s educational and media outreach efforts, please feel free to show your support by making a contribution here.

Study: Cannabis Use Inversely Associated With Fatty Liver Disease

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 18:37

Adults with a history of cannabis use are less likely to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than are those who have not used the substance, according to data published online in the journal PLoS One. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent form of liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States.

An international team of researchers from Stanford University in California and the Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea evaluated the association between marijuana and NAFLD in a nationally representative sample of over 22,000 adults. Researchers reported that cannabis use independently predicted a lower risk of suspected NAFLD in a dose-dependent manner.

“Active marijuana use provided a protective effect against NAFLD independent of known metabolic risk factors,” authors determined. “[W]e conclude that current marijuana use may favorably impact the pathogenesis of NAFLD in US adults.”

The findings are similar to those of a prior study published in the same journal in May. In that study, authors reported that frequent consumers of cannabis were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with NAFLD as compared to non-users, while occasional consumers were 15 percent less likely to suffer from the disease.

Separate data published online earlier this month in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis also concluded that daily cannabis use is independently associated with a reduced prevalence of fatty liver disease in patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Full text of the study, “Inverse association of marijuana use with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among adults in the United States,” appears online here.

ACLU Pennsylvania: Blacks Eight Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 19:00

African Americans in Pennsylvania are over eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession offenses than are Caucasians, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU Pennsylvania report reviewed arrest data for all 67 counties from 2010 to 2016. Excluding Philadelphia, which decriminalized cannabis possession offenses in 2014, adult marijuana possession arrests increased 33 percent during this time period – at a cost of $225.3 million to taxpayers. Black adults were 8.2 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for possessing marijuana – up from 6.5 percent in 2010.

Recent analyses from other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have similarly identified racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Nationwide, African Americans are approximately four times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana, despite members of both ethnicities using the substance at similar rates.

“Pennsylvania’s insistence in continuing to fight the war on marijuana, is at the root of the problematic data presented in this report,” the ACLU of Pennsylvania concluded. “Law enforcement has not only continued its business-as-usual arresting policies in enforcement of cannabis prohibition, it has ramped up enforcement as marijuana use has become more accepted throughout the commonwealth and the nation. If laws don’t change, this pattern will likely continue; law enforcement could become even more heavy handed until policymakers are clear that it is time to end this approach. The clearest way to send that message is to end prohibition altogether.”

This October 20th marks the third anniversary of the decriminalization of marijuana in Philidelphia, making the birthplace of the American Constitution the largest city to have marijuana possession a non-arrestable offense outside of a legalized state. Yet there is much progress to still be made beyond decriminalization.

“It is time for us to chart a better path forward. When politicians and police stop treating cannabis consumers like criminals, Pennsylvania can gain thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue,” wrote Temple Professor Chris Goldstein for Philly.com earlier this month. “I hope that by next October, the verdant harvest of Pennsylvania cannabis is something that will benefit every single resident of the commonwealth.”

And the political winds are changing.

In September, citing racism, bigotry, and mass-incarceration, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party adopted a resolution to “support Democratic candidates and policies which promote the full repeal of cannabis prohibition by its removal from the Controlled Substances Act, and to support the creation of new laws which regulate it in a manner similar to other culturally accepted commodities.”

“It’s time to stand on research, and the research shows it’s time to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia, who is chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

“Millions of dollars are spent each year on marijuana prosecutions. And prosecution costs are just part of the story,” wrote Pennsylvania Auditor General of  Eugene DePasquale in September, “There is also the loss of income and other social, personal, and emotional impacts on those arrested for simply possessing a small amount of marijuana. That’s ridiculous. The police and court systems have more urgent issues to address.”

PA Resident? Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of pending legislation for statewide decriminalization and then click here to send a message in support of pending legislation for outright legalization. 

Study: Colorado’s Adult Use Cannabis Access Law Associated With Reductions In Opioid Deaths

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 19:18

Retail cannabis distribution in Colorado is associated with a reduction in opioid-related mortality, according to data published online ahead of print in The American Journal of Public Health.

A team of investigators from the University of North Texas School of Public Health, the University of Florida, and Emory University compared changed in the prevalence of monthly opioid-related deaths before and after Colorado retailers began selling cannabis to adults.

They reported: “Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales and use resulted in a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths. This reduction represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

Authors concluded, “Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths.”

Their data is consistent with prior studies finding that cannabis access is associated with reductions in prescription drug spending, opioid-related hospitalizations, and opioid-related fatalities.

An abstract of the study, “Recreational cannabis legalization and opioid-related deaths in Colorado, 2000-2015,” appears online here.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer: Medical Cannabis Is Safer Than Opioids

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 19:17

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking at a NORML Conference

On Wednesday, October 11th, Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) testified before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health on how to deal with the opioid crisis in America.

In his testimony, the Congressman makes the case for medical cannabis as a safer alternative to highly addictive opioids, especially for our veterans—as well as the need to remove barriers to medical cannabis research.

It is well documented that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.

Watch the video below and click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of the CARERS Act of 2017 in support of medical marijuana and click here to send a message to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Opioid Commission to urge them to include medical marijuana as part of the national strategy to combat the opioid crisis.

Eric Holder: Attorney General Sessions “Almost Obsessed With Marijuana”

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 22:54

Former Attorney General Eric Holder Photo by Ryan Johnson

In recent remarks at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, former US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about current Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ views on marijuana, saying “The Sessions almost obsession with marijuana I think is the thing that’s put the Justice Department in this strange place,” in regards to potential changes in current policy held up by what is known as The Cole Memo.

Authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, the memo directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

Despite Holder’s comments, he took no action while he had the power as the Attorney General to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

Jeff Sessions has a long history of advocating for the failed policies of the “Just Say No” era — policies that resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana.

This comes as Congress is currently debating the extension of federal protections for the 30 state lawful medical marijuana programs and the 16 state lawful limited CBD access programs, know as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

At a time when the majority of states now regulate marijuana use, and where six out of ten votes endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.

Take action to contact your federal lawmakers and urge them to support the descheduling of marijuana to prevent Jeff Sessions from implementing a crack-down on marijuana consumers. 

Testimony Submitted By MassCann/NORML In Massachusetts To Cannabis Control Commission

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 19:46

You can follow MassCann/NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website

MASS CANN/NORML TESTIMONY BEFORE THE CANNABIS CONTROL COMMISSION

10/02/2017

We are the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, Inc., state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as MASS CANN/NORML.

We are the largest, oldest and most successful cannabis law reform organization in the northeastern United States. We have run the annual Boston Freedom Rally on Boston Common every year for 28 years, which has raised over $500,000 for our cause. We have run over 50 public policy questions in local districts throughout the Commonwealth – all of which were approved by voters by healthy majorities. The results of those public policy questions and our professional polling persuaded the Marijuana Policy Project to finance the decriminalization of marijuana by ballot initiative in 2008.

We alone have been representing cannabis users for years. Our activists made decriminalization, medical marijuana and, now, regulated cannabis the new reality. We represent the voters who made your Commission possible.

Unlike others seeking to advise you, we alone purely represent the interests of cannabis users. We are the marijuana user group in Massachusetts. We are motivated by our collective desire to be free from overly intrusive, overly repressive government.

We are not motivated by money, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are an all- volunteer organization. None of us are paid for what we do.

We are not motivated by career interests, as so many others who hope to advise you are. MASS CANN/NORML employs no one.

We are not motivated by a desire for political power, as so many others who hope to advise you are. We are a public education organization and are barred by law from doing political work.

What MASS CANN/NORML is asking you to do:

We are asking for no regulations about marijuana that would be ridiculous if applied to alcohol. As a recreational substance, marijuana is less debilitating and less addictive than alcohol. As a medicine, it is one of the safest therapeutic substances known, far safer than aspirin. Regulations concerning storage, distribution, and handling that require marijuana to be treated like enriched plutonium—regulations like those put out during the disastrous rollout of medical marijuana—have no basis in reality. They’re just the kind of governmental overreach the voters rejected in passing Question 4. You recall that Question 4 was called an act to “tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.”

We want you to avoid regulations based on fear-mongering:
– Legalization has NOT led to increased marijuana use by youths.
– Legalization has NOT led to more highway accidents.
– Opening marijuana outlets has NOT increased crime in the neighborhoods that have them.
There are many, many other examples of false claims that we can disprove.

Value freedom over compromise. No compromising with our freedom. Freedom is precious. The first colonists came to Massachusetts to escape repressive government. Ever since, many have fought in many ways for freedom and some have died for it. You have no more sacred duty than to maintain whatever freedom is possible.

We want you to evaluate the other stakeholders in this discussion in light of their particular interests.

It is in the interest of capitalists, for instance, to corner the market. Therefore, they would favor regulations making it hard for us users to grow our own plants for free. The influence of those well-heeled interests is hard to resist. Please resist.

Prosecutors and police want to maintain their ability to target us marijuana users and to define us as criminals. They have used marijuana laws to enforce institutionalized racism. They still will seek to criminalize us to the greatest degree they can. Voters rejected their approach when they passed Question 4. The job of prosecutors and police is to enforce the laws that are given them. They should not be shaping policy.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has proved they are interested only in benefitting their bureaucracy, expanding their budget, employing a larger workforce, and consolidating their power—NOT in helping medical marijuana patients. In fact, they are a principal reason that so many patients have gone for years without legal access to their medicine. They should not be listened to as some kind of voice of experience. They should just be studied as a history of horrible examples.

Treatment professionals are interested in maintaining their gravy train. They want all cannabis use to be defined as drug abuse, and they want all users to be forced into expensive court-ordered rehab programs. They have no larger social interest at heart, and they do not deserve a seat at our table.

All of these stakeholders have an interest in treating legal marijuana as a disaster to be delayed and restricted as much as possible. But the voters didn’t vote for a disaster, they voted for an opportunity: new jobs, new revenue, safer communities, better community-police relations. We want you to respect the will of the voters, and that means not working against legalization as some kind of threat, but moving ahead with legalization as a fine new opportunity. Legal marijuana is a great thing for Massachusetts! Make it happen!

NORML Founder Keith Stroup to Speak at First Annual Cannabis Fund Gala & Awards

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 20:00

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Portland, OR: The Cannabis Fund, a PAC created by Representative Earl Blumenauer to support cannabis-friendly candidates, will be hosting its first annual Gala & Awards on October 6th at the Marriott Waterfront in Portland, OR with NORML founder Keith Stroup as the featured speaker.

“It is an honor to support Rep. Earl Blumenauer and The Cannabis Fund in 2017. I first met the Congressman in 1973, when he was a freshman state legislator in Oregon who helped pass the nation’s first marijuana decriminalization bill, ending the practice of treating marijuana smokers as criminals. It is exciting to see him continuing to lead the charge to legalize the responsible use of marijuana under federal law, co-founding the Cannabis Caucus in Congress, and author HB 1823, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act,” said Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, “NORML is proud to stand with Rep. Earl Blumenauer in his efforts to end marijuana prohibition and establish a regulated market.”

Congressman Blumenauer’s Cannabis Profile:

For more than 40 years, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) has fought for the reform of our outdated marijuana laws.

As an Oregon state legislator, Blumenauer supported the Oregon Decriminalization Bill of 1973, which abolished criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, he has championed several legislative efforts to protect medical marijuana patients, allow the federal government to tax and regulate marijuana, and normalize taxes and banking for marijuana businesses in states where it is legal.

Blumenauer received the National Organization for the Rationalization of Marijuana Laws Award for Outstanding Public Leadership in 2010. In February 2017, Blumenauer launched the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

VA Secretary Shulkin Still Hasn’t Responded to The American Legion’s Call for Marijuana Research

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 19:00

The American Legion has been calling on the federal government for over a year – specifically the Veterans Affairs Department – to support research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in treating veterans with PTSD.

Many veterans have told both the Legion and NORML that they have been able to eliminate or reduce their dependency on other drugs, specifically opioids, by using cannabis.

The Legion recently ramped up their efforts to convince VA Secretary Shulkin to expand research into the therapeutic and medicinal effects of cannabis by sending him a letter demanding for his direct involvement in making sure the medical marijuana study meets its goals.

That letter was sent on September 19th. 17 days ago.

Has Secretary Shulkin or the Dept. of Veterans Affairs responded? No. Have either even acknowledged receipt of the letter? To public knowledge, no.

Why hasn’t Sec. Shulkin or the VA responded? Is he going to listen to the nation’s largest Veterans advocacy group? One that is pleading for help that our veterans so desperately need and deserve? Great question. The American Legion seems to be wondering the same thing.

The Legion has been expressing their frustration on Twitter for Sec. Shulkin’s failure to act on this pressing issue.

 

Secretary Shulkin is doing himself, our veterans, and to a larger extent, our nation, a huge disservice by not acknowledging the Legion’s cry for help and support.

Join us in calling upon Secretary Shulkin to listen to the pleas of Veterans.

Share one or more of the following tweets (and this blog on all of your accounts):

Why hasn’t @SecShulkin responded to @AmericanLegion call for help? https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/911576050043408384

.@SecShulkin failure to act on this issue is hurting our veterans. @AmericanLegion
https://twitter.com/AmericanLegion/status/913010589668188160

RT to help the @AmericanLegion call upon @SecShulkin to take action on behalf of veterans

DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Increased By 20 Percent In 2016

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 16:36

Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration rose in 2016, according to annual data compiled by the agency.

According to the DEA’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report, law enforcement confiscated more than 5.3 million marijuana plants nationwide in 2016. The total is a 20 percent increase over the agency’s reported 2015 seizure totals and is the most plants seized by the DEA and its cooperating agencies since 2011, when law enforcement confiscated more than 6.7 million plants.

As in past years, the DEA-sponsored eradication efforts primarily targeted California. Of the total number of plants confiscated nationwide by the DEA and cooperating agencies in 2016, 71 percent (3.78 million) were seized in California. Law enforcement seized an estimated 552,000 plants in Kentucky, 333,000 in Texas, 128,000 in Tennessee, and 124,000 in West Virginia.

Only seven percent of all marijuana seized by law enforcement came from indoor grows.

The agency and its partners reported making 5,657 arrests in conjunction with their cannabis eradication efforts – a ten percent decline from 2015.

The DEA also reported seizing some $52 million in assets during their confiscation operations – nearly twice as much as the agency reported the prior year.

Full data from the DEA’s 2016 report, as well as from past years’ reports, is available online here.

Alaska: Voters Decide Against Municipal Marijuana Bans

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 20:19

Voters in Fairbanks and on the Kenai Peninsula (south or Anchorage) have decided against a number local ballot measures that sought to prohibit the operation of cannabis retailers and providers. Each proposal lost by wide margins.

Under a 2014 voter-initiated state law, local governments may opt out of regulations licensing the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults.

If the ballot measures had been approved, local retailers would have to had to close within 90 days. A significant portion of the state’s cultivators and retailers are located in Fairbanks and on the Kenia Peninsula.

Proponents of the ban cannot put a similar issue before voters until 2019.

Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 20:17

Tabulations calculating the percentage of annual marijuana arrests nationwide are absent from the 2017 edition of the FBI Uniform Crime Report, which the agency released today.

The table,’Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations: Percent Distribution by Region,’ had for decades appeared in the section of the FBI report entitled ‘Persons Arrested.’ It was one of over 50 tables eliminated from this year’s edition of the Crime report. NORML had relied on the table in order to extrapolate and publicize annual marijuana arrest data, which it has tracked since 1965.

According to the latest FBI report, police made 1,572,579 arrests for illicit drug offenses in 2016. This total represents nearly a six percent increase in arrests since 2015.

Although data with regard to what percentage of these drug arrests were marijuana-related was absent from this year’s report, the FBI did provide percentages by request to Marijuana Majority‘s Tom Angell, who summarized the data in a column for Forbes.com.

The unpublished data estimates that police made 653,249 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2016. Of these, 587,516 arrests (90 percent of all marijuana arrests) were for possession-related offenses.

The arrest total is an increase from 2015 figures and marks the first year-to-year uptick in nationwide marijuana arrests in nearly a decade. The uptick comes at a time when eight states have enacted laws to regulate the adult use of cannabis and when public support for legalizing the plant is at a record high.

“The recent uptick in the number of marijuana arrests is unprecedented in recent years, especially given the rate of state-level reform we have seen. This combined with the FBI’s disturbing change of protocol and lack of transparency in the publishing of arrest records only further demonstrates the need for state lawmakers to respect the will of the majority of their constituents and end the practice of marijuana prohibition once and for all,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

Massachusetts High Court: Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Valid Measures For Determining Marijuana-Induced Impairment

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 18:16

Standard roadside field sobriety tests (FST) are not reliable indicators of marijuana-induced impairment, according to a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

Justices determined that there is a lack of scientific consensus as to the validity of FSTs for determining whether a subject is under the influence of cannabis. They opined: “There is ongoing disagreement among scientists, however, as to whether the FSTs are indicative of marijuana impairment. In recent years, numerous studies have been conducted in an effort to determine whether a person’s performance on the FST is a reliable indicator of impairment by marijuana. These studies have produced mixed results. … We are not persuaded … that the FSTs can be treated as scientific tests establishing impairment as a result of marijuana consumption.”

As a result, justices ruled that police may only provide limited testimony with regard to a defendant’s FST performance. An officer “may not suggest … on direct examination that an individual’s performance on an FST established that the individual was under the influence of marijuana,” the court determined. “Likewise, an officer may not testify that a defendant ‘passed’ or ‘failed’ any FST, as this language improperly implies that the FST is a definitive test of marijuana use or impairment.”

The court further ruled that a police officer may not testify “without being qualified as an expert [as] to the effects of marijuana consumption [or] offer an opinion that a defendant was intoxicated by marijuana [because] no such general knowledge exists as to the physical or mental effects of marijuana consumption, which vary greatly amongst individuals.”

Attorneys Steven Epstein and Marvin Cable filed an amicus curiae brief in the case on behalf of national NORML.

The case is Commonwealth v. Gerhardt.

Washington State Releases Update On Legalization Findings – High Hopes Are Rewarded

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 15:03

In their second formal assessment on the impact of legalization in the wake of the implementation of I-502, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) issued the next regularly scheduled report – and suffice to say, the news was very positive, unless you are still relying on tired and debunked prohibitionist talking points.

Key takeaways from the WSIPP report:

– Found no evidence that greater levels of legal cannabis sales caused increases in overall adult cannabis use
– Found no impact on hard drug use in adolescents or adults
– Found no evidence that state medical marijuana laws caused an increase in property and violent crimes reported by the FBI but did find evidence of decreased homicide and assault associated with medical legalization
– Found evidence that nonmedical legalization in Washington and Oregon may have led to a drop in rape and murder rates
– Found that among respondents under age 21, those living in counties with higher sales were significantly less likely to report use of cannabis in the past 30 days
– Found no evidence of effects of the amount of legal cannabis sales on indicators of youth cannabis use in grades 8, 10, and 12

As Kevin Oliver, the head of Washington NORML, always tells me: Legally High Regards.

You can read the full WSIPP report by clicking HERE or read further analysis of the report by NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano HERE.

 

Study: Perceived Marijuana Access Declining Among Youth

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 23:25

The percentage of young people who believe that they can readily access marijuana has fallen significantly since 2002, according to data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

A team of investigators from Boston University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina, and St. Louis University examined trends in perceived cannabis access among adolescents for the years 2002 to 2015.

Authors reported: “[W]e observed a 27 percent overall reduction in the relative proportion of adolescents ages 12 to 17 and a 42 percent reduction among those ages 12 to 14 reporting that it would be ‘very easy’ to obtain marijuana. This pattern was uniformly observed among youth in all sociodemographic subgroups.”

They concluded, “Despite the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in some states, our findings suggest that … perceptions that marijuana would be very easy to obtain are on the decline among American youth.”

The new data is consistent with figures published last year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported, “From 2002 to 2014, … perceived availability [of marijuana] decreased by 13 percent among persons aged 12–17 years and by three percent among persons aged 18?25 years [old].”

An abstract of the study, “Trends in perceived access to marijuana among adolescents in the United States: 2002-2015,” is online here.