Posts Tagged ‘NORML’
by Paul Armentano
“Former public servants, from DEA chiefs to cops, are using their clout to lobby for drug policies that enrich themselves.”
That’s the sub-headline on today’s exceptional feature story on TheFix.com highlighting the revolving door of moneyed interests in perpetuating the war on cannabis.
Author Kevin Gray, whose work has appeared in numerous outlets including The Washington Post, articulately summarizes the role of former drug czars, cops, federal bureaucrats, and others who lobby the keep the drug war machine moving forward — and, as a result, line their own pockets.
“The time-honored revolving door between government and business swings fast and often. It can be straightforward, like the appointment of banking behemoth Goldman Sachs’ alumni as economic policymakers by recent presidential administrations. But when it comes to the drug war, the family tree is more like a thicket of interests among law enforcement, federal and state prisons, pharmaceutical giants, drug testers and drug treatment programs—all with an economic stake in keeping pot illegal.”
The whole story is really a must read. Here is the link to the full text.
by Erik Altieri
Last month, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced legislation, House Resolution 499, which would effectively end the federal prohibition on marijuana and allow states to set their own policies.
House Resolution 499: The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, transfer the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to regulate marijuana to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, require commercial marijuana producers to purchase a permit, and ensure that federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and those involved in commercial sale and distribution.
You can read the full text of this measure here.
Congress needs to hear from you, please take a minute and click here to quickly and easily write your Representative and urge him or her to support the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013!
Representative Nancy Pelosi: I Think State Marijuana Laws Have to Be Respected; I Think Tax and Regulate
by Erik Altieri
When asked, “What are the measures in Washington (DC) that might address states that legalize marijuana and what is your view of federal policy?,” Minority Leader Pelosi expressed her support of state laws regarding marijuana and encouraged a tax and regulate policy:
Q: What are the measures in Washington (DC) that might address states that have taken steps to legalize marijuana and what is your view of the federal role?
Rep. Pelosi: I support the leadership of Jared Polis, who has been a leader on this issue as well as other members..I understand some of the Republican members support the law now that is passed, even if they didn’t before.
But in any case, to answer your question, what is my position regarding the states that have medical marijuana or recreational marijuana as the law of their states: I think that has to be respected. I think tax and regulate.
In order to do that, there has to be a level of respect for the fact, that if you are going to have recreational marijuana, someone is in business to do that and they have to have tax treatment in order for them to function as a business.
How the state of Colorado interacts with the federal government on the taxation issues is something they have to work out, but I think they should.
You can view the full interview here.
Representative Pelosi now joins the growing list of prominent politicians who are coming out in support of rational marijuana policy. Take a minute of your time and click here to easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support Representative Polis’ legislation, HR 499: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, and put an end to our nation’s war on cannabis consumers.
by Erik Altieri
Today, Representatives Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer introduced two legislative measures that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and permit for the regulated production and retail sales of cannabis to adults in states that have legalized its consumption.
Representative Polis’ legislation, The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, transfer the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to regulate marijuana to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, require commercial marijuana producers to purchase a permit, and ensure federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and those involved in commercial sale and distribution.
Speaking on the bill, Rep. Polis stated, “This legislation doesn’t force any state to legalize marijuana, but Colorado and the 18 other jurisdictions that have chosen to allow marijuana for medical or recreational use deserve the certainty of knowing that federal agents won’t raid state-legal businesses. Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal tax dollars on the failed drug war.”
Representative Blumenauer’s legislation is aimed at creating a federal tax structure which would allow for the federal government to collect excise taxes on marijuana sales and businesses in states that have legalized its use. The Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, usually the processor. These regulations are similar to those that now exist for alcohol and tobacco. The bill will also require the IRS to produce a study of the industry after two years, and every five years after that, and to issue recommendations to Congress to continue improving the administration of the tax.
“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Public attitude, state law, and established practices are all creating irreconcilable difficulties for public officials at every level of government. We want the federal government to be a responsible partner with the rest of the universe of marijuana interests while we address what federal policy should be regarding drug taxation, classification, and legality.”
You can use NORML’s Take Action Center here to easily contact your elected officials and urge them to support these measures.
These two pieces of legislation are historic in their scope and forward looking nature and it is likely you have many unanswered questions. NORML has compiled the below FAQs to hopefully address many of these inquiries.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Would this make marijuana legal everywhere?
A: No, but it would allow states who wish to pursue legalization to do so without federal incursion. Currently, the federal government claims that state laws which have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use are in conflict with federal law. It is under this claim that they raid medical marijuana dispensaries, arrest consumers, etc. If these measures were to pass, marijuana law would be the domain of the states. If a state choses to legalize and regulate its use, it can do so in the way it would any other product and the federal government would issue permits to commercial growers and sellers and collect tax revenue. If a state choses to retain marijuana prohibition, they may as well, and the federal government would assist in stopping flow of marijuana into the state’s borders, as transporting marijuana from a legalized state into one retaining prohibition would still be illegal under this legislation.
Q: What does this mean for scheduling?
A: Marijuana would be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and be listed under Title 27 of the US Code, alongside the provisions for intoxicating beverages.
Q: What does this mean for Washington and Colorado?
A: Colorado and Washington would be empowered to continue moving forward with implementing their marijuana legalization laws and no longer have to worry about federal intervention. Once cultivators and retailers were operational in those states, Rep. Blumenauer’s bill would allow the federal government to collect excise tax from those commercial entities and issue them permits.
Q: What happens to the DEA?
A: The DEA would no longer oversee marijuana law enforcement in this country. Control of marijuana enforcement would move to the newly named Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Firearms and the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau.
Q: What about home cultivation?
A: If you live in a state, like Colorado for example, that passes laws permitting citizens to grow for personal use you would be allowed to do so without running afoul of state or federal law. Federal permits and taxation apply to those engaged in commercial marijuana enterprises.
Majority of Americans Think Feds Shouldn’t Arrest Marijuana Consumers, Growers, or Sellers in Legalized States
by Erik Altieri
According to a Reason-Rupe Public Opinion survey released this week, not only do a majority of Americans believe the federal government should not arrest consumers of cannabis in states that have elected to regulate it, but that view extends to growers and sellers as well.
The poll, conducted from January 17th to 21st, revealed that 72% of Americans thought the federal government should not arrest users of marijuana in states that pass laws regulating it. The majority of them also believe this protection should extend to other aspects of the legalized industry. 68% of respondents responded that the federal government should not arrest growers and 64% said they should also not arrest sellers.
When presented with the question, “Some people argue the government should treat marijuana the same as alcohol. Do you agree or disagree?” 53% replied in the affirmative and only 45% disagreed.
You can view the full poll results here.
Boston, MA: The use of cannabis among patients with established coronary disease is not associated with increased mortality risk, according to trial data published online in the American Heart Journal.
Investigators at the Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, conducted a prospective study assessing the survival rates of 3,886 heart attack survivors over an 18-year period.
Authors reported that 519 subjects died during this period, including 22 of the 109 reporting marijuana use in the year before their heart attack. However, investigators concluded, “There was no statistically significant association between marijuana use and mortality.”
Previous research has speculated that cannabis consumption may increase subjects’ risk of heart attack or stroke because cannabinoids may temporarily increase blood pressure, particularly in more naïve users, and because the chronic use of the substance has been linked to the increased production of a specific protein associated with cardiovascular risks.
The study’s findings contradicted those of a previous report by the same research team, which was based on the results of a smaller cohort.
“In this prospective multicenter cohort study of MI (myocardial infarction) survivors followed prospectively for up to 18 years, there was no conclusive evidence of an association between smoking marijuana and mortality,” authors concluded. They caution, however: Larger studies with repeated measures of marijuana use are needed to definitively establish whether there are adverse cardiovascular consequences of smoking marijuana among patients with coronary heart disease. Given the prior evidence, … it seems prudent to caution patients with coronary heart disease and those at high risk for cardiovascular disease to abstain from smoking marijuana.”
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the study, “Marijuana use and long-term mortality among survivors of acute myocardial infarction,” is available from the American Heart Journal.
Washington, DC: A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week denied petitioners request to overturn the Obama administration’s July 2011 rejection of an administrative petition that sought to initiate hearings regarding the reclassification of marijuana under federal law.
Petitioners sought a hearing regarding whether existing science contradicts the federal categorization of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance that possesses “a high potential for abuse;” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment;” and “a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.” The Court affirmed the position of the US Drug Enforcement Administration that, at this time, insufficient clinical studies exist to warrant a judicial review of cannabis’ federally prohibited status.
Petitioners are expected to appeal the decision.
For more information, please visit: http://safeaccessnow.org. Full text of the decision, Americans for Safe Access et al. v. Drug Enforcement Administration, is available online here: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf.
Washington, DC: Lawmakers in several states are anticipated to debate legislative measures this year that seek to legalize and regulate the adult use and retail distribution of marijuana.
On Friday, members of Hawaii’s House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony regarding House Bill 699, which seeks to tax and regulate the commercial production, sale, and use of cannabis by those persons age 21 or older. House Chairman, Rep. Joseph Souki, is sponsoring the measure. Nearly six out of ten Hawaii voters believe that cannabis should be “taxed, regulated, and legalized for adults,” according to a statewide poll published earlier this month. Only 39 percent of respondents opposed the idea. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the committee here.
According to a January 2013 New Hampshire poll conducted by the firm Public Policy Polling, 53 percent of respondents favor “changing (state) law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.” Only 37 percent of respondents opposed the plan.
In Vermont, a 2012 survey of respondents in 148 Vermont cities throughout the state reported that one out of two Vermonters support legalization.
On Election Day, 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington approved citizens’ ballot initiatives legalizing the adult consumption of marijuana and authorizing the state to license individuals to commercially produce and sell it.
Nationally, nearly six out of ten Americans support legalizing cannabis, according to a just released Public Policy Polling automated telephone survey of 1,325 voters, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project.
“Calling for an end to marijuana prohibition is no longer a political liability; it is a political opportunity,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Never in modern history has there been greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with cannabis prohibition and replacing it with a system of legalization and regulation. Politicians who are seeking to amend this failed policy are aligning themselves with the majority. Those who do not are siding with an ever decreasing minority of their constituents.”
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: email@example.com. Summaries of these legislative measures and of other marijuana law reform bills are available here:http://www.capwiz.com/norml2/issues/.
by Erik Altieri
A group of five bipartisan lawmakers have introduced legislation to make New Hampshire the third state to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana.
House Bill 492 legalizes the possession of up to an ounce or less of marijuana and the private cultivation of a limited number of marijuana plants for adults 21 years of age and older. HB 492 would also allow for licensed commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana. Full text of this measure can be read here.
Polling conducted in January of 2013 by Public Policy Polling reported that 53% of New Hampshire voters support changing state law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, only 37% were opposed.
Including New Hampshire, there is now a total of six states considering legislation to fully legalize marijuana. It is imperative that your elected officials hear from you in support of this measure. If you live in one of the six states (Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) considering the legalization of marijuana for all adults, you can click on the appropriate link below and go directly to your state’s action alert. You can also click here to see if your state is considering any legislation pertaining to marijuana law reform.
Tell Your Elected Officials to Support Marijuana Legalization!
by Erik Altieri
In a 28-page decision, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied petitioners request to overturn the July 2011 denial by the Drug Enforcement Administration to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law.
In October 2002, the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, a coalition of reform organizations including NORML, ASA, Patients Out of Time and High Times, among others, petitioned the DEA to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug. Following years of administrative delay, on July 8, 2011, the DEA denied the petition, finding that “[t]here is no currently accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States,” and that “[t]he limited existing clinical evidence is not adequate to warrant rescheduling of marijuana under the CSA.”
Petitioners then sought review in the federal Court of Appeals, alleging the decision by the DEA was arbitrary and capricious when it concluded that marijuana lacks a “currently accepted medical use” and has a “high potential for abuse.” They ask this court to remand the case to the DEA for reconsideration of its decision.
Written by Senior Circuit Judge Edwards, the decision ruled “On the record before us, we hold that the DEA’s denial of the rescheduling petition survives review under the deferential arbitrary and capricious standard. The petition asks the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug, which, under the terms of the CSA, requires a ‘currently accepted medical use.’ The DEA’s regulations, which we approved in Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics v. DEA, 15 F.3d 1131 (D.C. Cir. 1994), define ‘currently accepted medical use’ to require, inter alia, ‘adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.’ Id. at1135. We defer to the agency’s interpretation of these regulations and find that substantial evidence supports its determination that such studies do not exist.
“In its scientific and medical evaluation,” the court held, “DHHS concluded that marijuana lacks a currently accepted medical use in the United States. In reaching this conclusion, DHHS applied the DEA’s established five-prong test, which requires a known and reproducible drug chemistry, adequate safety studies, adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating efficacy, acceptance of the drug by qualified experts, and widely available scientific evidence.”
“We will not disturb the decision of an agency that has ‘examine[d] the relevant data and articulate[d] a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.’”
In this case, we need only look at one factor, the existence of “adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy,” to resolve Petitioners’ claim.
At bottom, the parties’ dispute in this case turns on the agency’s interpretation of its own regulations. Petitioners construe “adequate and well-controlled studies” to mean peer-reviewed, published studies suggesting marijuana’s medical efficacy. The DEA, in contrast, interprets that factor to require something more scientifically rigorous.
In making this assessment, we must “remind ourselves that our role in the Congressional scheme is not to give an independent judgment of our own, but rather to determine whether the expert agency entrusted with regulatory responsibility has taken an irrational or arbitrary view of the evidence assembled before it.
The DEA’s construction of its regulation is eminently reasonable. Therefore, we are obliged to defer to the agency’s interpretation of “adequate and well-controlled studies.” Judged against the DEA’s standard, we find nothing in the record that could move us to conclude that the agency failed to prove by substantial evidence that such studies confirming marijuana’s medical efficacy do not exist.”
Petitioners are considering their legal options at this time.