Tag: NORML

Missourians for a New Approach Plan to Legalize Cannabis in the Heartland in 2022

With over 40% of our nation living in states that have legalized cannabis, our fight for freedom is reaching a tipping point where a majority of our citizens reside in states that have swept Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history. I’m so happy to see that the hardworking Missouri advocates that led the state’s medical marijuana campaign gearing up to place a full legalization initiative on the 2022 ballot. Legalization in Missouri will benefit the state by creating jobs, generating revenue, and better allocating law enforcement resources, but most importantly, a vast majority of racist and classist cannabis arrests will be a thing of the past.

I was fortunate to be mentored by longtime Missouri attorney and NORML board member Dan Viets over two decades ago, helping craft successful reform measures in Columbia AKA College Town USA. Dan has been helping lead the charge in Missouri for over 40 years and he apparently has no plans of slowing down. One of Dan’s best attributes is that he can keep things in perspective and knows that there can be be positive developments even when you suffer setbacks. Our first local campaign in Columbia together lost, but Viets and other advocates didn’t let that deter them from winning at the ballot box the following year and there have been so many ups and downs and twist and turns for activists, all across the state. Missourians for a New Approach had planned a to place a legalization question on the 2020 ballot, but the COVID crisis derailed signature gathering efforts. Viets, in his usual manner, saw benefits in the delay, as the Riverfront Times reported:

“But the extra time has given the campaign months to draft a better proposal for voters, says Dan Viets, who sits on the initiative’s draft committee and also serves as a Missouri state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“Among the provisions that have changed since 2020, Viets says that ‘the expungement provisions in this draft are going to be far broader, far more comprehensive, and far more helpful’ — and adds, ‘Some of the other provisions related to discrimination and employment, I would say they are also some the most important things that we’ve incorporated into this.’

“Another plus for the 2022 version? Viets says it won’t just be looking forward to an adult-use industry, but also incorporating lessons learned over the past months as Missouri’s burgeoning cannabis industry has gotten off the ground.”

I am so excited to see the unveiling of the new 2022 legalization measure and to do what I can to help the good folks in the Show-me State pass a common sense policy reform. It is easy to see that the Drug War has failed, especially the war on cannabis. With Illinois already enjoying record-setting profits, there is no reason for Missouri to send money out of the state when ending prohibition can bring more freedom, jobs, and revenue to America’s Heartland. Just as the headlines out of Illinois’ will impact Missouri, other surrounding states like Arkansas, Nebraska, and Iowa will all be influenced by future cannabis revenue numbers generated from Kansas City to St. Louis. A sincere thanks to those in the Show-me State that are continuing to fight the good fight in Middle America.

Kind Leaf thanks those that are fighting for freedom and common sense across the United States and around the globe. There are so many victories and reasons to celebrate and we’re happy to help you.

Just Say “HELL NO!” to SAM’s Patrick Kennedy as Joe Biden’s Drug Czar

During the first cannabis law reform campaign that I worked on, all the way back in 2003, we were paid a visit by representatives of the United States Drug Czar’s office, in an illegal, taxpayer-funded trip to campaign against a local decriminalization measure in little Columbia, Missouri, AKA College Town USA. All in an effort to stop the decriminalization of less than 35 grams for all adults and the legal, personal possession of patients with a doctor’s recommendation, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONCP) sent the Deputy Drug Czar, Scott Burns, and a young staffer named Kevin Sabet, to stop our local city measure.

While the ONDCP’s meddling helped the Reefer Madness prohibitionists defeat our 2003 initiative, local advocates struck back, passing both decrim and medical measures in 2004, both with over 60% of the vote. While Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns has seemingly lost relevance, at least from this drug policy reformer’s perspective, and my quick Google research, Kevin Sabet has continued to preach his Reefer Madness prohibitionist message as the executive director of the so-called Smarter Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), which he co-founded with former Representative Patrick Kennedy, of the famous political clan. While Sabet and Kennedy have tried to put a “kindler, gentler” face on their prohibitionism, claiming that they support decriminalization, just not legalization, their actions don’t support their rhetoric, and I don’t remember Sabet ever apologizing for campaigning against decriminalization in the past.

Now, Patrick Kennedy is trying to get appointed as president-elect Joe Biden’s Drug Czar, which would have disastrous consequences to our movement towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal one. Kennedy has had his own battles with addiction, for which I sympathize, but his wealth, privilege, and family connections put him out-of-touch with the realities that everyday people face when suffering criminal consequences due to the failed and harmful Drug War.

Joe Biden needs to pick a Drug Czar that understands that no one should suffer criminal consequences for their personal cannabis use and that we are not going to arrest and jail our way out of our nation’s addiction issues. NORML has made it easy to speak out against Kennedy’s appointment and to make the even better decision to shut down the Drug Czar’s office altogether:

At a minimum, the head of this agency must be someone whose views align with those of most Americans. Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy does not meet this criteria. Rather, he is a longtime opponent of legalization who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to organize against marijuana policy reform. In fact, he co-founded with Kevin Sabet the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana — which has consistently lobbied against virtually every state and federal reform bill to legalize marijuana for either adult-use or for medical use. Further, while the group claims to support ‘decriminalizing’ penalties for the personal use of cannabis, it has failed to use its lobbying resources to advocate in favor of such policies in states like Virginia and in others that have done so. In 2014, Kennedy said “Incarceration is a powerful motivator,” in regard to his efforts to prevent the adult consumption of cannabis.

There is no place in the Biden administration for policy leaders who cling to these outdated viewpoints. It’s time to do as you promised and to move away from the failed drug war policies of the past. You promised to do so and we expect you to follow through on your pledge.

Please join in the effort to stop a Reefer Madness prohibitionist from becoming the next Drug Czar. The cannabis community, as well as the larger drug policy reform movement, have made too many strides forward to take a major step back. Just say NO to the Drug War, and just say HELL NO to Patrick Kennedy as Drug Czar.

STILL More Arrests for Cannabis Than All Violent Crimes Together

We’ve made so much progress all across the nation legalizing and regulating cannabis for both medical and adult use, that it baffles the mind that we are still arresting and jailing so many people for cannabis in this nation. While some people try to brush off the importance of ending cannabis prohibition, the war on the cannabis community continues to ruin lives and disrupt an industry that is one of the bright spots in today’s economy. In fact, the United States arrests more people for cannabis than for all violent crimes combined:

According to the Uniform Crime Report, which was compiled by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, police in the U.S. made 10,085,207 arrests in 2019. Of that total, 545,602 were for cannabis violations. That number is higher than the 495,871 individuals arrested for violent crimes and represents more than 5 percent of all arrests carried out by law enforcement that year. Cannabis arrests made up about one-third of all drug-related arrests despite being considerably safer than other illicit drugs or opioid-based prescription medications. 

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“Police across America make a marijuana-related arrest every 58 seconds,” said Erik Altieri, executive director at NORML. “At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple marijuana possession.”

The total number of arrests only tells one part of the story. There is a notorious disparity between rates at which white people are arrested versus those from black and Latinx communities. However, the rates at which these groups consume cannabis are similar. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, black Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related violations. 

It is imperative that we don’t remain complacent and continue to urge our federal officials to end prohibition. Too many people are losing their freedom and livelihoods and cannabis businesses can’t flourish without reasonable banking and tax policies. Cannabis businesses in legal states are creating jobs and generating revenue for important social services, and it is simply nonsensical and un-American to continue the harmful and wasteful war on the cannabis community.

Be sure to take advantage of living in the great legal state of Oregon and enjoy the selection and deals at Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique. Discounts available for Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Patients, seniors, veterans, and everyone utilizing the pick-up window. Order online via Leafly to save time.

NORML: Congress Needs to Stop Trump’s Plan to Derail State Cannabis Laws

Support for medical cannabis and states’ rights to choose their own path on cannabis policy has increasingly become a bipartisan issue. Virtually every major presidential candidate during the last two elections has stated support for states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis, particularly for medical use.

While President Trump’s administration caused some alarms when he appointed Jeff “Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana” Sessions as Attorney General and tension was heightened when Sessions repealed President Obama’s Cole Memo policy that mandated a federal hands-off approach regarding state cannabis programs, the Trump administration has maintained a states’ rights positions. Unfortunately, alarm bells have gone once more after Trump’s latest budget proposal okays federal agents trampling the will of state voters that have legalized medical cannabis.

Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, writes that “Congress should halt Trump’s plan to upend states’ medical marijuana laws” in The HIll:

In his recently released 2021 federal budget proposal, the president has called for ending existing federal protections that limit the federal government from interfering in the state-sanctioned regulation of medical cannabis. Doing so would place thousands of medical cannabis providers and the millions of patients who rely on them at risk for criminal prosecution.

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Most recently, Marc Lotter, the director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, stated in an interview that the administration is intent on keeping marijuana illegal under federal law. “I think what the president is looking at is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs,” he said. “They need to be kept illegal, that is the federal policy. I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level, I know many states have taken a different path.”

Let’s be clear — the policy that the administration wants to keep in place is the same failed policy that has existed since 1970, which opines that the cannabis plant should remain classified in the same category as heroin and possesses no accepted medical value. This position doesn’t comport with either public opinion or scientific reality

Mr. Stekal is right, of course, Congress needs to ensure that state medical cannabis programs should be protected from federal interference. Actually, we need to go one step further and ensure that adult use programs are protected as well. The people have spoken. Cannabis legalization is here to stay and this administration, and future administration need to respect and follow the will of the voters. Or pay political consequences.