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Louisiana’s path to a medical marijuana program has been a tortuous and frustrating one. State lawmakers passed a law instating a limited program in 2015, but cannabis products did not begin to reach patients at the nine approved pharmacies until August of last year. There are still fewer than 4,500 patients registered to access cannabis products under the law.
After what has been an agonizing delay for many patients, Louisiana’s legislature has finally taken moves to expand the program.
The program will still allow only extracts, tinctures and other such preparations — not actual herbaceous cannabis, either smoked or vaped. And only two “agricultural centers” are permitted to cultivate and process — one at Louisiana State University and one at Southern University, both in Baton Rouge and the latter a historically Black university. LSU, partnering with the private Wellcana Group, finally produced enough cannabis to begin supplying the approved pharmacies a year ago, Associated Press notes. The Advocate, the state’s biggest newspaper, reported the happy news that Southern University, partnering with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, finally shipped out its first tinctures and other products last month.
And now, under a trio of new laws that were passed in June and went into effect Aug. 1, the ability of patients to access these products will be expanded. At last, the program seems poised for growth.
A Trio of New Bills
The most significant of the new measures, House Bill 819, expands the discretion of physicians to recommend cannabis. Rather than having to conform to the list of conditions named in the 2015 law, doctors can now approve cannabis products for “any condition” that they consider “debilitating to an individual patient,” providing that the condition is one the doctor “is qualified through his [or her] medical education and training to treat.”
The 2015 law, known as Therapeutic Marijuana A, lists the standard conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
According to the national advocacy group NORML, Louisiana joins a handful of other states — including California, Virginia and Maine — that have enacted similar measures giving physicians the ability to recommend cannabis preparations to any patient they believe may benefit from them.
When Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill in June, NORML hailed it as meaningful progress.
“This is common sense legislation that provides physicians, not lawmakers, the ability and discretion to decide what treatment options are best for their patients,” NORML deputy director Paul Armentano said in a statement. Continuuin, he said, “Just as doctors are entrusted to make decisions with regard to the supervised use of opioids and other medicines — many of which pose far greater risks to patients than cannabis — the law should provide doctors with similar flexibility when it comes to recommending cannabis therapy to a bona fide patient.”
Another of the new measures to take effect addresses the question of cannabis use in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. HB 418 provides immunity from prosecution to “any facility that is licensed by the Louisiana Department of Health that has patients in its care using medical marijuana.” HB 211 similarly provides immunity for banks and other financial institutions that provide services to state-licensed cannabis businesses.
Slowly Moving Towards Social Justice
As an AP account observes, these three bills were part of a modest wave of progressive legislation passed by Louisiana lawmakers this year. Other measures limit the use of solitary confinement on pregnant prisoners and increase the ways those sent to prison as juveniles can seek parole.
Local activists feel that progress is long overdue in the Pelican State. In 2016, a “JustSouth” index produced by the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University sought to measure social justice across the Southern states. It ranked Louisiana dead last on measures of poverty, racial disparity and exclusion. The Research Institute’s Jeanie Donovan called it a “a grim picture” in comments to NOLA.com.
Low-income families, immigrants and workers of color are worse off in Louisiana than anywhere else in the United States, the report found. The average low-income household in Louisiana earned only $11,156 in 2014. The Research Institute calculated that a two-person family needs to earn “$45,840 a year to afford basic necessities,” Donovan said.
These conditions reflect the region’s history of “slavery, Jim Crow segregation and continuing inequality,” added the Rev. Fred Kammer, director of the Research Institute.
The other Gulf states ranked almost as poorly. Alabama placed 48th, Texas 49th and Mississippi 50th. Florida had the highest ranking in the region, at 41st place.
Hardly coincidentally, Louisiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation.
TELL US, does your state have medical cannabis?
Dr. Lester Grinspoon, the renowned Harvard scholar whose works boldly challenged the cannabis stigma in an era when it was deeply entrenched in American culture, died June 25 at his home in the Boston area. His passing came unexpectedly, one day after he had celebrated his 92nd birthday.
His most pioneering work, Marihuana Reconsidered, was published in 1971 and was the fruit of years of research with Harvard Medical School. In addition to a review of the scientific literature and historical material, it included actual first-hand interviews with cannabis users, portrayed without prejudice—a ground-breaking notion for its time. With multiple chapters dispassionately dedicated to deconstructing the propaganda of fear, it concluded with an open call for legalization.
This was given greater legitimacy by the fact that Grinspoon came to the question not as an already-convinced advocate but an objective scholar. As he would admit in a new introduction for the 1994 reprint edition: “I first became interested in cannabis when its use increased explosively in the 1960s. At that time I had no doubt it was a very harmful drug that was unfortunately being used by more and more foolish young people… But as I reviewed the scientific, medical, and lay literature, my views began to change. I came to understand that I, like so many other people in this country, had been misinformed and misled.”
Over the following decades, as the marijuana legalization movement burgeoned, Grinspoon emerged as its top intellectual authority and most respected representative.
He was among the very first to speak out for legalization on Capitol Hill. In 1977, he provided lengthy written testimony to the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse & Control, concluding optimistically: “Whatever the cultural conditions that have made it possible, there is no doubt that the discussion about marihuana has become increasingly sensible. We are gradually becoming conscious of the irrationality of classifying this drug as one with a high abuse potential and no medical value. If the trend continues, it is likely that within a decade marihuana will be sold in the United States as a legal intoxicant.”
Of course the backlash in Reagan revolution upset the timeline of Grinspoon’s prediction. But he did live to see a legal market became a reality in several states—and could claim a good share of the credit for helping to bring this about.
Bringing Science to Advocacy Work
Massachusetts native Grinspoon would be compelled by the conclusions emerging from his research to take an advocacy position, eventually joining the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Years after the release of Marihuana Reconsidered, Grinspoon would reveal that one of the cannabis users quoted at length in the book—identified only as “Mr. X”—was in fact Carl Sagan, the Cornell astrophysicist who a decade later would become a celebrity popularizer of science. Sagan’s closing remarks as Mr. X in the book have often been quoted: “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
Grinspoon credited Sagan as the key personality that opened his mind on the cannabis question.
Grinspoon also testified on behalf of John Lennon at his 1973 deportation hearing—a proceeding initiated by the US government based on his prior hashish arrest in England. As Grinspoon related to an amused audience at the 2011 NORML conference in Denver, the Nixon administration really “wanted to get Lennon out of the country because he was effectively protesting the Vietnam War.” The immigration officers overseeing the hearing weren’t even clear on whether hashish was a form of marijuana, Grinspoon wryly recalled. The ex-Beatle was ultimately allowed to stay.
The cannabis question became poignantly personal for Grinspoon and his wife Betsy when their son Danny succumbed to cancer when he was still a young teenager. Cannabis helped him to endure the ill effects from high doses of chemotherapy. This experience propelled Dr. Grinspoon’s interest in the medicinal potential of the cannabis plant. In 1993, he joined with James B. Bakalar to author Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine. Three years later, California would become the first state to legalize medical use of cannabis.
Despite his achievements, Grinspoon was twice turned down for a full professor position at Harvard—something he attributed to the lingering cannabis stigma. According to a 2018 profile on Grinspoon in the Boston Globe, he believed “an undercurrent of unscientific prejudice against cannabis among [Harvard] faculty and school leaders doomed his chances.”
But whatever status he sacrificed for his beliefs among the academic establishment was made up for in the esteem he won from the advocacy community. In 1990 he received the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship & Writing from the Drug Policy Foundation. In 1999, NORML established the Lester Grinspoon Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Marijuana Law Reform, the organization’s highest honor—with Grinspoon, of course, the first recipient. Dr. Grinspoon served as a member of the NORML advisory board until his death.
As NORML wrote in a farewell statement upon the passing the courageous scholar: “Dr. Lester Grinspoon led the way to insist that our marijuana policies be based on legitimate science. He made it possible for us to have an informed public policy debate leading to the growing list of states legalizing the responsible use of marijuana.”
TELL US, did you know about Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s legacy?
The post Lester Grinspoon Pioneer of Cannabis Normalization Dies at 92 appeared first on Cannabis Now.
California’s response to the Cannabis industry, through this COVID-19 crisis, has been the right approach. As a result, the industry is thriving. In March, cannabis was deemed to be an essential service. But, it didn’t start out this way. The people spoke, the Government listened and it worked out well… Here is what happened down […]
The marijuana reform group NORML is leading an effort to encourage states to deprioritize the enforcement of cannabis criminalization amid the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, more than 4,000 constituents across the country have participated in the organization’s action campaign launched on Wednesday by sending messages to their governors, urging them to take steps to minimize the spread of the virus by avoiding unnecessary marijuana arrests.
NORML created customized email blasts to supporters in all 39 states that have yet to legalize marijuana for adult use. Each one contains a link to a suggested prewritten letter asking the governor to abide by the group’s public health recommendations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Beyond deprioritizing marijuana enforcement, the organization said states should also drop existing charges for nonviolent cannabis violations “in order to reduce non-essential interactions,” review and release those currently incarcerated for marijuana convictions and waive pending probation requirements for cannabis-related cases.
“Enforcing marijuana prohibition is in itself unfair and unnecessary. Enforcing marijuana prohibition during a global public health crisis, even more so,” Carly Wolf, state policies coordinator at NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “At a time when stress, anxiety, and uncertainty is at an all time high, no one should have the added fear of arrest or expensive fines as a result of low-level possession of a plant during a time when many are experiencing extreme economic hardship.”
“Law enforcement and other correctional personnel are being forced to make physical contact with members of the public solely to enforce an ineffective policy, requiring them to violate social distancing guidelines and in turn detrimentally affect the health and wellbeing of many vulnerable communities. Instead, more common sense, evidence based policies should be put in place to protect the health of everyone, not just some. It’s absolutely essential that state officials deprioritize marijuana enforcement, release those currently serving time for minor possession, and waive and withdraw all pending charges and probation requirements for those solely convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses.”
A memo that the group put out in late March made similar points, and it also made recommendations for legal states on how cannabis businesses can safely operate. It also stressed the need to provide the industry with access to federal coronavirus relief funds and banking services. That memo came after NORML issued advice to consumers about best practices amid the pandemic.
In terms of deprioritization, so far no states where cannabis remains illegal or where only medical cannabis is allowed have taken the measure of formally instructing law enforcement to avoid pursuing marijuana offenses.
“I strongly encourage governors and other state officials to work alongside law enforcement agencies to ensure that these emergency actions are taken immediately to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Wolf said.
NORML’s online action page has links to the state-based opportunities to contact governors about reduced cannabis enforcement.
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This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.
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Drug policy reform advocates and lawmakers celebrated on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, after a key congressional committee approved a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition for the first time in history.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-10, including two “aye” votes from Republican lawmakers, to advance the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is the bill’s sponsor.
The legislation would federally deschedule cannabis, provide expungement and resentencing relief and impose a five percent federal tax on marijuana sales to support investments in communities most harmed by the drug war. It would also protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearance due to its use.
Here’s how people are reacting to the bill’s historic passage
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
I thank @HouseJudiciary for marking up the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement Act today, an important bill to decriminalize marijuana & reassess convictions. This bill will help communities of color disproportionately hurt by our current marijuana laws.
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) November 20, 2019
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake,” Nadler said in a statement. “While states have led the way in reform, our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change. With the passage of the MORE Act today, the Judiciary Committee has taken long overdue steps to address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs and to finally decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.”
Proud to announce that @HouseJudiciary just passed my MORE Act, which ends the federal prohibition of marijuana and enacts restorative justice for communities of color that continue to be devastated by our nation’s failed War on Drugs. #WeWantMORE pic.twitter.com/9FEn9DF9pq
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) November 20, 2019
BREAKING The House Judiciary committee has passed 1st ever legislation to decriminalize marijuana & start repairing the damage of the misguided war on drugs. Will you sign my petition to show your support? #WeWantMORE https://t.co/O8E1xvpBkv
— (((Jerry Nadler))) (@JerryNadler) November 20, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
“As more states legalize marijuana, millions of Americans with marijuana-related convictions continue to face overwhelming barriers to jobs, education, and housing,” Harris said in a statement. “That is why we must act to remove the burden of marijuana convictions and make sure these individuals have the support needed to move forward. It is also critical that everyone — especially people of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. This is a matter of racial and economic justice. I am grateful for Chairman Nadler’s partnership on this issue and for his leadership in moving this legislation forward. I look forward to the House of Representatives passing our legislation soon.”
Not only do we need to legalize marijuana at the federal level, but we have to do it right and bring justice to communities of color.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) November 20, 2019
While my colleagues in the House are working on impeaching our lawless president, they’re also legislating.
5 of my bills on marijuana legalization, Black maternal health, and public lands have passed House committees this week. The Senate should do its job and pass these bills.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) November 20, 2019
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
“After years of work in the Senate, our efforts to pair marijuana legalization with expungement and reinvestment in the communities most harmed by the War on Drugs have finally led us to today’s critical mark-up,” Booker said in a statement. “The war on drugs has systematically targeted people of color and the poor, harmed job prospects and access to housing for our nation’s most vulnerable communities, and destroyed countless lives.”
“The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to advance this bill is a significant step toward righting these wrongs and healing the wounds of decades of injustice,” he said.
“This is a significant tipping point. The Committee passage of this bill is an important step towards reversing decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income individuals. These draconian laws have sacrificed critical resources, violated our values, destroyed families and communities, and failed to make us safer,” Booker added in a separate press release. “This legislation continues us down the path towards justice and I’m excited to see momentum growing around the movement to fix our nation’s broken drug laws.”
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D)
It is time to legalize marijuana nationally – as we have done effectively in WA state for 6 years.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) November 20, 2019
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
“This is really a defining moment on so many fronts as it relates to cannabis reform,” Lee told Marijuana Moment in an interview prior to the vote. “I have to salute and thank Chairman Nadler for being bold and for living up to his commitment and for making sure that this is a comprehensive bill that will address the different aspects of these very complicated issues.”
BREAKING: The MORE Act just passed out of committee! This is a HUGE step forward in righting the wrongs of the failed and racist War on Drugs. Let’s keep up the fight and get this passed on the floor! #WeWantMORE https://t.co/r7cVqWGX6l
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) November 20, 2019
This critical bill will help right the wrongs of the failed and racist War on Drugs by expunging criminal convictions, reinvesting in communities of color through restorative justice, and promoting equitable participation in the legal marijuana industry. https://t.co/XLm2O0Gekb
— Barbara Lee (@BLeeForCongress) November 20, 2019
“For those who have been victimized by these unjust laws, I want to just say to them that we have to keep optimistic, keep hope alive and just know that their members of Congress worked to make sure that justice is served.”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) November 20, 2019
This vote was a vote for progressive reform, for racial justice, for personal freedom, for economic opportunity, and for better health. #WeWantMORE
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) November 20, 2019
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
I’m glad @HouseJudiciary is marking up the #MOREAct today. This comprehensive legislation will help modernize our federal cannabis policies, ensure policies are fair, equitable & inclusive, and invest in local communities. #WeWantMORE https://t.co/rqYynSeXZr
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) November 20, 2019
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted to pass H.R.3884, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which I introduced with Chair Jerry Nadler (NY-10). The bill passed with a bipartisan vote, 24-10, and now awaits consideration by the full House.
— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiPress) November 20, 2019
Congress must pass this bill so that we can begin to help heal the wounds caused by the failed war on drugs and move forward together.https://t.co/n4BMAH8a8p
— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiPress) November 20, 2019
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA)
Yesterday, we passed the MORE Act out of the @HouseJudiciary. This bill would correct the injustices of our failed drug policies by decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, reassessing marijuana convictions, and investing in local communities. https://t.co/JwfMn2ikzd
— Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (@RepMGS) November 21, 2019
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Today in @HouseJudiciary, we took an important step forward by passing the #MOREAct, to undo some of the devastating impacts of the war on drugs.#WA voters knew that in 2012 when they voted to decriminalize cannabis, and the success we’ve enjoyed could be enjoyed nationwide. pic.twitter.com/hm04ruu6GV
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) November 21, 2019
Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA)
I’m proud to have voted to take the first step in federally descheduling cannabis.
The MORE Act will right the wrongs of the drug war & move us forward.
It’s time to invest in medical cannabis & allow consenting adults to make their own decisions.
Next stop, the House Floor. https://t.co/TpunKn6Qfe
— Rep. Lou Correa (@RepLouCorrea) November 20, 2019
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
This critical bill works to right the wrongs of the failed and racist War on Drugs by expunging criminal convictions, reinvesting in communities of color, decriminalizing #marijuana & promoting equitable participation in the cannabis industry. #WeWantMore
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) November 20, 2019
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
Today’s @HouseJudiciary Committee’s markup of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement Act is significant. As states like California continue to modernize how we regulate cannabis, Congress needs to ensure that our policies are fair, equitable & inclusive. #WeWantMORE pic.twitter.com/SA5Wffsuvf
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) November 20, 2019
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA)
FACT: Our marijuana laws disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color, leading to convictions that damage job prospects, access to housing, and the ability to vote.
I look forward to the passage of this bill on the House floor.
— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) November 20, 2019
Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
2/ The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (HR 3884) is comprehensive legislation to decriminalize marijuana.
— Dwight Evans (@RepDwightEvans) November 20, 2019
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
“Today’s vote is a historic step toward setting a federal cannabis policy that works in the 21st century. Eleven states including Maine have already legalized marijuana even though it remains illegal under federal law. The MORE Act will remove a major hurdle for states by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act list. It will also provide incentives for this industry to grow and succeed with new grant programs,” Pingree said in a press release. “I’m especially pleased that this legislation will right the wrongs of the misguided ‘war on drugs’ which has for decades disproportionately harmed disadvantaged communities and communities of color. The MORE Act will reassess marijuana convictions, create programs for restorative justice, and promote equal participation in the legal marijuana industry.”
Today @HouseJudiciary will vote on the #MOREAct which would decriminalize marijuana, reassess pot convictions, and support small businesses. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this common sense bill. It’s time to bring federal cannabis policies into the 21st century.
— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) November 20, 2019
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Our cannabis policy is reflective of the failures of our past.
Rooted in a racist war on drugs targeting communities of color—it’s time we right our wrongs.
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) November 20, 2019
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal
“The passage of the MORE Act represents the first time that the Judiciary Committee has ever had a successful vote to end the cruel policy of marijuana criminalization,” Strekal said. “Not only does the bill reverse the failed prohibition of cannabis, but it provides pathways for opportunity and ownership in the emerging industry for those who have suffered most.”
HISTORY MADE: The MORE Act was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in a 24-10 bipartisan vote. Next stop the House floor! Thanks to all of you who sent nearly 60,000 letters in the last few days. #WeDeserveMORE #MakeHistory #WeDidIt #Onward #EndingProhibition pic.twitter.com/CKCMoRxo8a
— NORML (@NORML) November 20, 2019
“In 2018 alone, over 663,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes, a three-year high,” he said. “Now that Chairman Nadler has moved the MORE Act through committee, it is time for the full House to vote and have every member of Congress show their constituents which side of history they stand on.”
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri
“This is a truly historic moment in our nation’s political history,” Altieri said. “For the first time, a Congressional committee has approved far-reaching legislation to not just put an end to federal marijuana prohibition, but to address the countless harms our prohibitionist policies have wrought, notable on communities of color and other marginalized groups.”
“Opposition to our failed war on marijuana has reached a boiling point with over two-thirds of all Americans, including majorities of all political persuasions, now supporting legalization,” he said. “Congress should respect the will of the people and promptly approve the MORE Act and close this dark chapter of failed public policy.”
Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno
“With today’s markup of the MORE Act, the United States is coming one step closer to ending the devastating harms of marijuana prohibition, which have fallen so heavily on Black and Brown people,” Sánchez-Moreno said.
“This legislation won’t make up for the full scale of harm that prohibition has caused to its victims. It’s not going to return anyone their lost dreams, time lost at the mercy of the criminal justice system; or the years spent away from their families,” she said. “But this legislation is the closest we’ve come yet to not only ending those harms at the federal level, but also beginning to repair them. Now it’s up to Congress to do the right thing and swiftly pass the bill to ensure justice is not delayed a moment longer.”
Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine
“This committee vote is a historic step forward for cannabis policy reform at the federal level,” Levine said. The MORE Act would ensure cannabis consumers and businesses are treated fairly under the law. It would also bolster state and industry efforts to promote diversity within the cannabis business community, while helping communities and individuals adversely impacted by the war on drugs.”
The House Judiciary just made history, casting the first-ever congressional vote in favor of ending cannabis prohibition! Help keep the momentum going — tell your lawmakers to support the MORE Act! Take action now and urge others to do the same! https://t.co/wymUGkdoHg
— Cannabis Trade Federation (@CanTradeFed) November 20, 2019
“A solid majority of Americans support ending cannabis prohibition, and we’re finally seeing that reflected in a vote on Capitol Hill. These votes demonstrate the broad bipartisan support that exists in Congress for allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies,” he said. “There appears to be a consensus among both parties that the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws is untenable and needs to be resolved. We encourage our allies in the Democratic and Republican parties come together to find a bipartisan path forward and pass a law this Congress.”
Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association
“Today’s vote marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy, and is truly a sign that prohibition’s days are numbered,” Smith said. “Thanks to the diligent efforts of advocates and lawmakers from across the political spectrum, we’ve seen more progress in this Congress than ever before.”
Today’s vote marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy, and is truly a sign that prohibition’s days are numbered. https://t.co/cdMaNAKHfd
— Aaron Smith (@FAaronSmith) November 20, 2019
“Supermajority public support for legalization, increasing recognition of the devastating impacts of prohibition on marginalized communities and people of color, and the undeniable success of state cannabis programs throughout the country are all helping to build momentum for comprehensive change in the foreseeable future,” he said.
Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins
“This vote is an encouraging indication that federal lawmakers are listening to the majority of Americans who support cannabis legalization,” Hawkins said. “Prohibition brings devastating and unjustifiable human and economic costs, and it is time for Congress to take action. We are hopeful that the House of Representatives and the Senate will cooperate to pass legislation to finally end the failed policy of prohibition.”
Americans for Safe Access Interim Director Debbie Churgai
“This groundbreaking legislation would eliminate barriers to cannabis research and provide access for patients throughout the entire country,” Churgai said. “It is time our federal government steps up to provide relief so that patients everywhere can medicate without fear of losing any of their civil rights and protections, including while in federal housing or healthcare settings, such as hospices.”
— Americans4SafeAccess (@SafeAccess) November 20, 2019
American Civil Liberties Union Policy Analyst Charlotte Resing
“The House Judiciary Committee’s consideration of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act is a significant step towards ending the failed war on drugs and correcting some of the harms that it has caused,” Resing said. “The bill not only deschedules marijuana at the federal level, but it also provides a roadmap for states to legalize in a just and equitable manner. The MORE Act also provides resentencing and expungement for those with marijuana convictions and mandates the inclusion of those most impacted by the criminalization of marijuana in the newly legal marijuana industry. The ACLU is pleased to support the MORE Act and its efforts to counter the over-criminalization, over policing, and mass incarceration stemming from the war on drugs.”
Maritza Perez, senior policy analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress
“We commend Chairman Nadler, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and the House Judiciary Committee for voting the MORE Act out of committee today,” Perez said. “Along with the Marijuana Justice Coalition, CAP has called on Congress to enact marijuana legalization legislation centered on justice reform and equity. We are proud of the milestone reached today and ask that this bill now move swiftly to the House floor for a vote.”
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Vanita Gupta
Very big deal. MORE Act passes out of @HouseJudiciary with bipartisan support.
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) November 20, 2019
Feature image by Shutterstock.
This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content-sharing agreement. Read the original article here.
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The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been recognizing cannabis legalization advocates from around the country since 1998, as part of their National Conference and Lobby Day in Washington DC.
The Michael J Kennedy Social Justice Award, now in its third year, is part of that tradition.
Named after legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney Michael Kennedy, who served as general counsel to High Times from its founding in 1974 until his death in early 2016, the award was established by NORML with the blessing of Kennedy’s wife, Eleanora, and their daughter Anna.
For those who may not have known Kennedy, chairman of High Times for many years, his daughter Anna introduced him with a short film about his, High Times’, and NORML’s enduring struggle to legalize cannabis.
In her welcome speech, Eleanora Kennedy told the packed conference hall that her husband had been devoted to NORML and its mission for decades.
“We want to honor those individuals who, like Michael, are working for the legalization of cannabis and advancing the cause of social justice in America,” Kennedy said.
Hence, this year’s choice for the Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award was perfectly appropriate: Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic, children’s and women’s rights advocate, and former professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
Enter Michael Kennedy
Dohrn, who met the Kennedys during the turbulent 1960s, told the NORML audience that Michael Kennedy gave the word “defiant” a new meaning.
“Kennedy was absolutely committed to his clients, and absolutely contemptuous of the apparatus and trappings of the state when he was in pursuit of justice,” Dohrn said.
Kennedy’s client list included some of the most high profile criminal and civil-rights cases in the second half of the 20th century. He represented LSD guru, Timothy Leary, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, countless anti-war and free speech activists among the Chicago Seven, Black Panther Party co-founder, Huey Newton, and Native American protesters in 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
He also kept High Times’ founder, Tom Forçade, out of prison on drug-smuggling charges.
“Tom Forçade once famously said there are only two kinds of smugglers: those who need a forklift, and those who don’t. Clearly Forçade needed the forklift, and he needed Michael Kennedy to stay out of jail,” Keith Stroup, a close friend of both men and the founder of NORML, said.
“I’m not sure NORML would have made it all these years without Michael Kennedy, in addition to some much-needed financial support that came from the bales of weed Tom [Forçade] flew into Miami,” Stroup told High Times.
Tom Forçade passed away in November 1978.
Stroup noted that Kennedy and High Times remained true to Forcade’s desire to always support NORML, making the magazine the single largest financial supporter in the organization’s nearly 50-year history.
“In more recent times, as we began to enact legalization measures in more and more states, Kennedy was one of the strongest voices reminding everyone that we must not forget those who are still in prison on marijuana charges,” Stroup said.
Enter Guitarist Tom Morello
Eleanora Kennedy introduced Tom Morello, co-founder of Rage against the Machine, Audioslave and Prophets of Rage, as living proof of the transformative power of rock & roll.
“Tom has continually pushed the limits of what one man can do with six strings,” she said.
Morello doesn’t dispute that. “Music is political, either supporting the status quo or challenging it.”
Asked by NORML to introduce his close friend Bernardine Dohrn, Morello called her “an almost mythical hero of my youth” who influenced his political consciousness for years to come.
Judging from the crowd’s reaction to Dohrn, Morello was not the only one who felt that way about the woman he called “an unapologetic warrior for social justice.”
“Less talk, more rock.”
“Bernardine Dohrn is punk rock as hell. And the Days of Rage? Where do you think my band got its fucking name?” Morello said.
He said that at the core of Dohrn’s lifetime of work “is the unshakeable notion that everyone, every underdog, deserves to be able to become the person they were meant to be.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently named Morello 2020 Ambassador for their Campaign for Smart Justice, which aims to cut the U.S. prison population in half.
“The next Mozart might be slaving away in a maquiladora [sweat shop] , or the person who has the cure for cancer locked in their head might be locked up for weed possession in Alabama,” Morello told conference attendees, many of whom were already up on their feet.“And now I would like to play a rousing song for all these nice people,” Morello said, then belted out a ferocious version of Flesh Shapes the Day.
The post Activist Bernardine Dohrn Receives Michael Kennedy Social Justice Award appeared first on High Times.
Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther
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