National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Missouri: Kansas City's New Marijuana Law

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved reducing penalties for marijuana possession on 4/4/17, and the new city law has already taken effect. Voters approved an initiative that reduces the maximum fine in city court from $500 to $25 and eliminates possible jail time as a penalty for possessing 35 grams or less of pot, about 1 1/4 ounce.

However, marijuana possession is still illegal, and a guilty plea would involve a drug conviction.

The law took effect the day after the election, on 4/5/17. It affects any Municipal Court case that was open or active at that time. It limits the maximum fine to $25 for a single count of simple pot possession, but court costs of $48.50 per count still apply.

Julita Lattimer is a board member of the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (KC NORML), the organization that advocated and petitioned for this law. Latimer explained, “Our whole point was to keep people out of jail for a non-violent infraction. One of the best things that has come out of this , is its getting people to talk about cannabis. More people are wanting to hear about the benefits of cannabis. It will help as we work to bring medical cannabis to Missouri. ”

U.S.: Marijuana Legalization Is Leading In Every State Where It's On The Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As Election Day 2016 nears, marijuana legalization measures are favored by voters in all five states that have them on their ballot.

As recently as a month ago, polling showed that voters were wary of legalization measures in Arizona and Massachusetts. The races are close in all states, however, meaning the contests could still go either way.

In Arizona, an Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll of 784 registered voters taken in late August found that 50 percent supported marijuana legalization, 40 percent opposed it, and 10 percent remain undecided. That result is a big change from the results of a July poll of likely voters showing that only 39 percent said they favored the measure.

A post-debate SurveyUSA poll of 751 likely voters in California found that Proposition 64, which would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana, is supported by 52 percent of the electorate and opposed by 41 percent, with 6 percent undecided. This is a lower margin than other recent polls there, which have shown support of 60 percent or more.

In Maine, a late September poll of 505 likely voters found 53 percent support for the legalization measure, 38 percent opposed to it and 10 percent undecided. This number has been fairly constant since early this year.

U.S.: Senators And Congressmen Who Support Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) this week released its 2016 congressional scorecard on marijuana policy. Twenty U.S. representatives and two senators received an 'A' grade, indicating that "this member has publicly declared his/her support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults," according to NORML.

But NORML goes on to point out that Congress lags far behind the public when it comes to support for marijuana reform. Four states plus D.C. have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and this fall voters in five more will decide whether to legalize recreatiional weed.

"It is apparent that voters' views regarding marijuana policy have evolved significantly over the past decades," said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, in an email. "Yet, the positions of their federally elected officials have not progressed in a similar manner."

Of the 22 congressmen supporting full marijuana legalization only one, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-Calif.) is a Republican. Conversely, among the 32 most vocal opponents of marijuana reform only one, Sen. Tom Carper (D.-Del.) is a Democrat.

Here is the list of representatives and senators who support marijuana legalization:

Mike Honda (D.-Calif.)
Jared Huffman (D.-Calif.)
Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.)
Ted Lieu (D.-Calif.)

Missouri: University Ignores Warnings, Censors Marijuana T-Shirts

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Despite repeated warnings that it is violating the First Amendment rights of its students, the University of Missouri (Mizzou) is continuing to refuse to allow a recognized student group to create t-shirts featuring a cannabis leaf and the university’s name.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has twice warned Mizzou that its treatment of the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (MU NORML) violates the First Amendment.

“Mizzou flatly told MU NORML that it was censoring the group’s T-shirt artwork because of the message it could appear to express,” said FIRE Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy Will Creeley. "That’s viewpoint discrimination, and it’s prohibited by the First Amendment."

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In the fall 2015 semester, MU NORML sought to sell promotional T-shirts with a design featuring a marijuana leaf in the form of an animal paw, a stylized depiction of the Mizzou campus skyline and a marijuana leaf, and the group’s name. Because the design also included the name “University of Missouri – Columbia,” MU NORML President Benton Berigan applied for official approval on September 5 in accordance with university policy.

U.S.: Federal Data Shows Marijuana Trafficking Falls Following State Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Federal marijuana prosecutions dropped significantly after the passage of statewide laws legalizing and regulating the production and retail sale of cannabis to adults, according to data provided by the United States Sentencing Commission.

According to the new report, the number of cannabis trafficking offenders prosecuted federally fell dramatically after 2012, declining from more than 6,000 a year to fewer than 4,000 in 2015, reports Tom Angell at Marijuana.com.

"The number of marijuana traffickers rose slightly over time until a sharp decline in fiscal year 2013 and the number continues to decrease," according to the report.

The period of decline matches the passage and enactment of marijuana legalization measures in states including Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Those convicted of marijuana trafficking serve an average of 29 months in prison, according to federal data.

A copy of the USSC report is available here for downloading:
https://lists.norml.org/list/mail.cgi/r/chapters/697347662961/dale/canor...

New York: NORML Founder Keith Stroup To Keynote At Cannabis World Congress

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Industry Pioneer & Anti-Prohibition Activist Joins Strong Speaker & Educational Lineup at Cannabis Business Trade Show & Conference

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

“Why We’re Finally Winning After All These Years” will be the keynote address given by Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo), June 15-17, at the Javits Center in New York. Stroup joins Leonard Marshall, Super Bowl Champion and concussion prevention advocate, as a headlining Keynote Speaker.

Stroup’s address will take place on Thursday, June 16, at 1:50 p.m. CWCBExpo is a business event for the for the legalized cannabis marketplace.

Stroup is a Washington, DC-based public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970, served as its executive director for 20 years and currently serves as NORML’s legal counsel and a member of the board of directors. Fortune magazine recently named Stroup one of the most powerful people in America’s marijuana industry.

“With more and more states legalizing the responsible use of marijuana, including two East Coast states expected to adopt full legalization this November, I am excited to speak to the CWCBExpo NY audience about the history of our anti-prohibition efforts and the current groundswell of support for ending prohibition and removing the stigma of marijuana as a Schedule I drug,” Stroup said.

Missouri: Brother, Sister Get 15 Years Each For Growing 20 Marijuana Plants

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A brother and sister who were caught with 12 marijuana plants and eight seedlings inside their home have been sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison.

Natlie DePriest and David DePriest each received 15 years, the harshest possible sentence which can be given for cannabis cultivation in Missouri, reports Daniel Miller at the Daily Mail. The maximum punishment for manslaughter in Missouri is also 15 years.

A maintenance man entered the DePriests' home in the city of Farmington, Missouri, in 2001, in order to "fit a fire extinguisher" while they were out, and photographed what he thought was a "pipe bomb" on the counter.

He informed the police, showing them the pictures, and they conducted a search, considering the photos probable cause. They found the marijuana plants inside a bedroom closet, along with three pounds of dried cannabis, a rifle which was a quarter-inch shorter then the legal limit, two legal pistols and two bulletproof vests.

They also found ledgers they claimed contain sales record totaling up to $8,000 a month. The "pipe bomb," basis of the entire search, turned out to be no such thing, and harmless.

U.S.: 1 In 8 Federal Drug Prisoners Serving Time For Marijuana Offenses

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

More than 12 percent of federal drug prisoners are incarcerated for marijuana-related violations, according to data compiled by the federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Sentencing Commission, published by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

With 94,678 federal inmates incarcerated for a drug violation as their most serious offense, 12.4 percent (11,533 inmates) are serving time for violating cannabis laws, reports Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) at The Daily Chronic.

Most federal marijuana prisoners are incarcerated for trafficking violations. The average sentence for those in federal prison for marijuana is 88 months.

Nearly half -- 44.3 percent -- of federal marijuana inmates have minimal crime histories and have not previously served time in prison. An overwhelming majority -- 85 percent -- did not possess any firearms.

More than a third of these prisoners, 36.5 percent, are 40 or older. Thirty-five percent of them aren't American citizens.

The percentage of marijuana-related federal prisoners has remained basically flat for the past decade.

To review the full text of the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, click here.

Photo: The Weed Blog

Study: Patients Replace Prescription Drugs With Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients with legal access to medical marijuana use less conventional pharmaceuticals, according to a demographic review of patient characteristics published online in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Investigators with the Medical Marijuana Research Institute in Mesa, Arizona, looked at responses from 367 state-qualified medicinal cannabis patients recruited from four Arizona dispensaries, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Respondents were most likely to be male, in their mid-40s, and daily users of cannabis.

Respondents most often reported using marijuana for pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anxiety, depression, arthritis, headaches, insomnia, and stress. They typically said cannabis provides "a lot of relief" or "almost complete relief" of their symptoms, and that it is more effective than conventional pharmaceuticals.

Patients also understandably, therefore, reported reducing their use of pharmaceuticals. More than 70 percent of those responding said they used other medications "a little less frequently" or "much less frequently" for 24 of the 42 conditions specified. More than 90 percent of those who used marijuana for nausea, headache, muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, bowel discomfort, and chronic pain said they used pharmaceuticals less frequently once they started cannabis therapy.

Washington: Marijuana Legalization Not Associated With Increased Teen Use

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Changes in marijuana laws aren't associated with increased use of pot by teenagers, according to data compiled by Washington's Healthy Youth Survey and published by the Washington State Institute of Public Policy.

Survey results from the years 2002 to 2014 show little change in marijuana use by Washington teens, despite the passage of laws allowing and expanding the use of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational uses during this time, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Self-reported pot use fell slightly among 8th graders, 10th graders, and 12th graders during the survey period. Self-reported access to marijuana remained largely unchanged, and more 8th graders actually now report that cannabis is "hard to get."

The passage of I-502, which legalized the adult use of marijuana in 2012, isn't associated with any increase in consumption by youth, according to survey numbers. Between 2012 and 2014, self-reported lifetime cannabis use and/or use within the past 30 days either stayed stable or fell among every age group surveyed.

"Cannabis use and access among students in 6th through 12th grades have changed little from 2002 through the most recent survey in 2014," the report concluded.

U.S.: Marijuana Arrest Turns Into Music Career For Chief Greenbud

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A simple marijuana possession charge in a small Nashville suburb back in 2005 changed the career trajectory of a small business owner and songwriter. When he saw firsthand how the system handles those convicted of what he saw as a victimless crime, Chief Greenbud decided to share his experience.

After writing several songs on the subject and posting them online, he was asked to perform for a local chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Ten years later the Chief is releasing his fourth album and has amassed over 1.7 million followers on his social networks.

Chief Greenbud's latest CD, "Chief Greenbud Volume 4" is set for physical and digital release on August 25.

The Chief said he's especially proud of the title, saying “I've spent a lot of time thinking about it. We've had multiple meetings brainstorming ideas to come up with the perfect name to represent what we're putting on the CD. I feel that we captured its essence,” he noted lightheartedly.

“There are several songs that I am excited for people to hear," Chief Greenbud said. "‘Everybody Gets High’ is an upbeat anthem that every stoner will be able to groove to and sing along with.”

Another song on the disc is 'iBake', about a regular guy who likes to smoke a little weed but is fearful of what may happen if he is caught. As the lyrics state, "I can’t wait for the day when my state says okay, and I won’t waste a single minute being afraid I bake."

Oklahoma: Medical Marijuana Rally Scheduled Wednesday

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana advocates will rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, February 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as part of a push to reform the state's strict cannabis laws.

Medical Marijuana Day will include lobbying, advocacy and training, according to Norma Sapp, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Tim Farley at the Oklahoma Gazette.

An advocacy training session is scheduled for 10 a.m. in Room 104 at the Capitol, according to Sapp. The meeting is designed to help advocates effectively lobby their elected representatives and how to fill a bill as it progresses through the Legislature.

NORML volunteers will be on the 4th Floor Rotunda all day to help arrange meetings between voters and their lawmakers, according to Sapp.

According to a 2013 survey from SoonerPoll.com, 71 percent of likely Oklahoma voters support medical marijuana. Other surveys show 57 percent prefer treating minor cannabis violations as noncriminal offenses, with fines only.

A bill was introduced in this legislative session by state Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Forest Park) which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Oklahoma. Two other cannabis-related bills from the 2013 legislative session are still alive, including one proposal which would allow doctors to authorize medical marijuana for patients.

Tennessee: Bill Filed To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Democratic lawmaker has filed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee.

"It's just simply a matter of being rational and compassionate," said Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), who sponsors HB 1385, reports Tom Humphrey at The Knoxville News-Sentinel. "It would apply to only the most severely debilitated people ... children suffering a hundred seizures a day, people on chemotherapy, people with multiple sclerosis ... people with a plethora of diseases."

The Tennessee Legislature passed a bill allowing "marijuana by prescription" under state law in the 1980s, but that bill was unworkable as it required federal permission. Attempts since then have died in legislative committees, most recently in 2012.

But Rep. Jones, along with Doak Patton, president of Tennessee NORML, say times have changed in the state because of the rapidly developing political situation around cannabis.

"This really isn't about marijuana at all," said Patton. "It's about freedom and liberty."

"I think anybody would tell you alcohol is much worse than marijuana," Rep. Jones said. "If you think alcohol should be legal, then you would think that for sure medical marijuana should be legal."

Florida: Billionaire Marijuana Philanthropist, Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter Lewis Dies

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Peter Lewis, the billionaire chairman of Progressive Insurance and a prominent donor to marijuana legalization, died Saturday afternoon at age 80 at his home in Coconut Grove, Florida, according to his adviser Jennifer Frutchy.

Lewis was a high-profile backer of drug-law reform, reports Luisa Kroll at Forbes. He spent almost $3 million on the November 2012 election, contributing $2 million to the I-502 marijuana legalization drive in Washington state and another $1 million to the medical marijuana effort in Massachusetts; both were successful.

"We were, of course, incredibly grateful for Mr. Lewis's significant contributions that made Initiative 502 possible," I-502 author Alison Holcomb told David Holley of Bloomberg News. "We're very hopeful that others will follow in the example he set."

Cynics pointed out that Progressive Insurance is the chief source of the auto insurance policies that those convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana in Washington (cannabis DUI) under I-502 will be forced to buy; 502, in addition to legalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot, created a whole new crime in Washington state, that of driving with more than 5 ng/ml of THC in the blood (previously, law enforcement had to prove actual impairment to make a DUI stick).

Study: Marijuana Least Likely Of All Substances Studied To Increase Vehicle Crash Risk

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana is the least likely to elevate the risk of automobile crashes of all substances studied, according to research recently published in the scientific journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Scientists at Columbia University performed a study to determine the connection between drug use and fatal auto crash risk, reports Paul Armentano at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The authors reported that marijuana, at 1.83, had the lowest crash odds ratios of all substances identified.

Depressants were most likely to be associated with crash risk, with an estimated odds ratio of 4.83. Estimated odds ratios for other drug categories were 3.57 for stimulants, 3.41 for "polydrug use" (excluding alcohol), and 3.03 for narcotics.

The odds ratio for marijuana is similar to that reported in a 2012 meta-analysis of 66 separate studies which estimated that cannabis is associated with a "nominally increased" risk of accident, with an estimated odds ratio of 1.25. In that study, antihistamines (1.12) and the antibiotic penicillin (1.12) were close to cannabis in crash risk odds.

U.S.: TSA May Let You Carry Marijuana On Airplane, Depending On Flight

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reportedly allowing passengers to bring both medical and recreational marijuana aboard commercial airliners, depending on where they are flying and what the law allows in the departing and arriving states.

Since the TSA is a federal agency, it doesn't involve itself with state laws such as the general cannabis legalization recently passed by voters in Colorado and Washington, reports Chris Weller at Medical Daily. While flying with any amount of marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the current protocol for agents who find cannabis during the screening process is to defer to local law enforcement officials.

If the passenger can show sufficient proof of medical use -- or is flying between states where marijuana is legal -- officials will often let it slide.

"I hear reports from people flying from one medical use site to another or flying from one part of California to another, and they generally report that if they carry their authorization, they simply show the letter and are sent on their way and are allowed to keep their medicine," said Keith Stroup, the attorney who founded the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Aaron Kase at Lawyers.com.

Wyoming: Group Ready To File Initiative For Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The group "Weed Wyoming" plans to file a state ballot initiative for 2016 to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

The nonprofit group has drafted the Weed Wyoming Compassionate Use Act, a measure that focuses on medical rather than recreational uses of cannabis, reports Kelly Byer at the Casper Star-Tribune.

Members believe the medical marijuana initiative has a better chance than an all-or-nothing attempt for outright legalization, according to a Weed Wyoming press release.

The initiative would allow qualified patients to grow up to 10 marijuana plants, and possess up to 10 ounces. Marijuana could be smoked anywhere where tobacco smoking is allowed. If the cannabis is being vaporized rather than smoked, "it may be used anywhere within the State," according to the measure's language.

The Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is also trying to put an initiative on the 2016 statewide ballot to legalize hemp and cannabis.

Weed Wyoming Facebook page

Wisconsin: Medical Marijuana Bill Unlikely To Pass, Despite Public Support

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are going to try to pass a medical marijuana law again this year; previous attempts have failed.

Thousands of Wisconsin residents are using medical marijuana illegally, according to Gary Storck, a Madison-based medicinal cannabis activist. And a majority of state residents support making it legal for medical purposes -- but the Legislature is unlikely to pass a medical marijuana law, according to observers.

"So many people have been forced into making that choice," said Storck, who has for decades used cannabis to treat this glaucoma, reports Allison Geyer at the La Cross Tribune. "People are going to do it anyway, if they're willing to break the law."

Sen. John Erpenbach of Middleton and Rep. Chris Taylor of Madison will introduce a bill to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes when the Legislature reconvenes for its fall session. Erpenbach has already sponsored such a bill twice before; Taylor is taking the place of Rep. Mark Pocan, who was elected to Congress last year.

"It will be a tough time," Erpenbach said. "It was tough last time when Democrats were in the majority."

U.S.: 25 Years Ago, DEA's Own Judge Ruled Cannabis Should Be Reclassified Under Federal Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Twenty-five years ago today, on September 6, 1988, an administrative ruling determined that marijuana has accepted medicinal uses, and for that reason it ought to be reclassified under federal law.

Drug Enforcement Administration Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young, in the ruling, determined: "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."

"It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record," Judge Young continued in the ruling, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling."

"The administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator conclude that the marijuana plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II [of the federal Controlled Substances Act]."

D.C.: Proposed Program To Subsidize Medical Marijuana For Low-Income Patients

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A proposed program in the District of Columbia -- which would be the first of its kind in the nation -- would require medical marijuana dispensaries in D.C. to put aside two percent of their profits to subsidize low-income patients.

Dispensaries would give at least a 20 percent discount on marijuana to people at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level under the process, reports Celina Durgin at The Washington Times.

While dispensaries sometimes offer reduced prices to poor patients, no state has put this type of provision into medical marijuana regulations, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

"The rule is totally unprecedented in the medical marijuana community," St. Pierre said.

Medical marijuana sales in D.C. began last month at Capital City Care dispensary. Prices for marijuana seem quite expensive, at least by Pacific Northwest standards, with cannabis ranging from $380 to $440 per ounce, according to the dispensary's website.

Since poor people potentially comprise a large portion of medical marijuana patients -- especially given the fact that you must be seriously ill to qualify -- the sliding scale program is intended to improve access for them. Often, marijuana patients cannot hold full-time jobs because of the illnesses that qualify them to use cannabis, analysts say.

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