Joseph McNamara RIP: Champion Against Cops Drug Warring

A genuinely early and respected voice against the war on some drugs passed away Friday, September 19 in California.

Joe McNamara was a former police chief in Kansas City and San Jose who, in the late 1980s, started to both write and lecture about the need for substantive changes in law enforcement practices (and that the law enforcement community and establishment inherently should SUPPORT drug law policy reform, not reflexively oppose it).

Joe is often credited with being the ‘father of community policing’.

When I first arrived at NORML in 1991, I devoured everything Joe wrote about the drug war. His efforts are clearly the sui generis of one of the most important drug policy reform organizations today—Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).norml_remember_prohibition_

His arguments were so persuasive and fact driven (he was as highly educated as he was a decorated police officer) that, in time, I came to see him as the proxy editorial voice for ‘legalization’ at a hugely important and politically influential newspaper—the Wall Street Journal. He spoke to the concerns the editorial board is unfortunately still to date too timid to publicly express under their own byline. His affiliation with the Hoover Institution at Stanford only enhanced his credibility in the eyes of WSJ editors.

Joe was able to breakthrough with ‘conservatives’ on the need to end cannabis prohibition like few others have (i.e., William F. Buckley).

It was in reading the WSJ last week that I learned of Joe’s passing…

Joe gave great, revealing, informed and prescient lectures at NORML, Drug Policy Foundation/Drug Policy Alliance, Cato Institute and other public policy conferences and seminars. I personally enjoyed conversing with him whenever, about whatever. He had much to share.

Passing at the age of 79, Joe lived what can readily be described as a full life, and that his intelligent and law enforcement reform advocacy, driven by decades of tough and challenging field police work, will live long after his days among us.

Joe McNamara RIP!

Maryland: Reduced Marijuana Possession Penalties Take Effect

A new Maryland law depenalizing marijuana possession offenses takes effect this Wednesday.

Senate Bill 364, signed into law this past April, amends statewide penalties for marijuana possession offenses involving ten grams or less from a criminal misdemeanor (presently punishable by arrest, up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a criminal record) to a non-arrestable, non-criminal, fine-only offense ($100 fine for first-time offenders, $250 for second-time offenders).

The new law does not reclassify penalties involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, which remains a criminal offense.

A 2013 ACLU analysis of state-by-state marijuana arrests data reported that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the nation.

Nearly 20 additional states, as well as the District of Columbia, now classify minor marijuana possession as a non-arrestable offense.

2014 Boston Freedom Rally: New England Gaining Ground

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 25th annual Boston Freedom Rally, the two-day celebration of marijuana and protest against marijuana prohibition, held on the Boston Common each September sponsored by MassCann/NORML, the NORML state affiliate in Massachusetts.

I have been attending this event since the mid-1990s, and always look forward to spending time with tens of thousands of like-minded people on the historic Boston Common, enjoying the New England autumn.

The Boston Common is the oldest public park in America, consisting of 50 acres of land in the heart of the city, at the southern foot of Beacon Hill, the site of the Massachusetts Statehouse, and it enjoys a storied past.

Go to Marijuana.com to read the balance of this column.

 

 

Study: CBD Administration Associated With Improved Quality Of Life In Patients With Parkinson’s Disease

The administration of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychotropic cannabinoid, is associated with improved quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease, according clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Investigators at the University of São Paulo in Brazil assessed the efficacy of CBD versus placebo in 21 subjects with Parkinson’s. Authors reported that the administration of 300 mg doses of CBD per day was associated with “significantly different mean total scores” in subjects’ well-being and quality of life compared to placebo.

Separate assessments of CBD versus placebo reported that the cannabinoid did not appear to mitigate general symptoms of the disease, nor was it shown to be neuroprotective.

“This study points to a possible effect of CBD in improving measures related to the quality of life of PD patients without psychiatric comorbidities,” investigators concluded. They added, “We found no statistically significant differences concerning the motor symptoms of PD; however, studies involving larger samples and with systematic assessment of specific symptoms of PD are necessary in order to provide stronger conclusions regarding the action of CBD in PD.”

Clinical reports have previously indicated that both CBD and/or whole-plant cannabis may address various symptom’s of Parkinson’s disease, including improvement in motor symptoms, pain reduction, improved sleep, and a reduction in the severity of psychotic episodes.

Survey data of patients with PD indicates that almost half of all subjects who try cannabis report experiencing subjective relief from the plant.

The abstract of the study, “Effects of cannabidiol in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease: An exploratory double-blind trial,” appears online here.

Study: Legal Marijuana Market Would Yield Over $3 Billion In Tax Revenue

Legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis in the United States would yield over $3 billion in annual tax revenue, according to an analysis published this week by the personal finance website, NerdWallet.com.

Authors provided a state-by-state economic analysis, taking into account available data estimating marijuana use rates (for those age 25 and older), cannabis market size, and state and local tax rates. Researchers also assumed a flat, 15 percent excise tax on commercial marijuana production. (This excise tax rate is presently imposed in Colorado.)

Based on existing market projections, California would gain the largest amount of annual tax revenue ($519,287,052) were commercial cannabis production and sales to be legalized for adults. Other top tax revenue generating states include: New York ($248,103,676), Florida ($183,408,640), Texas ($166,303,963), and Illinois ($126,107,360).

Washington, which began allowing retail cannabis sales this summer, is estimated to reap some $119,000,000 in annual tax revenue, according to the study’s projections. Colorado, which has allowed retail cannabis sales since January 1, 2014, is estimated to gain some $78,000,000 in annual revenue.

Revenue projections for all 50 states are available online here.

Support NORML and get “Evergreen”, the exciting documentary that tells the story of how Rick Steves and friends helped legalize marijuana in Washington State

Support NORML and get Evergreen

Dear NORML members and supporters,

As a board member of NORML I am feeling really good. I’m on a drug policy reform high for four reasons:

  • We legalized marijuana in my state (Washington) and in Colorado in 2012. (That gives "the lower 48" a whole new meaning.) And, the Brookings Institution gave it a two-year review and concluded it’s a good thing.
  • We plan to legalize in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia this November. (I’ll be spending six days on a 12 city barn-storming tour in Oregon, like I did in Washington two years ago, to explain to the confused and frightened that ending this crazy prohibition of our age is good citizenship).
  • There’s a great new documentary movie called "Evergreen" which tells the amazing and behind the scenes story of how a committed band of NORML-types waged our successful campaign and did what no one else until then had been able to do: make the responsible adult recreational use of marijuana a civil liberty. In my state and in Colorado now we can smoke pot just because it’s fun…we can invite our friends over and get high legally. Finally: pot is legal, taxed, and regulated. The movie tracks the political battle from start to finish and travels with me as I bring the NORML view to citizens all over the state–from churches to universities and to our capital dome. (Spoiler alert: the "rumble under the rotunda" is pretty messy.)
  • And, you and your friends have a great opportunity to empower NORML to end the war on marijuana in your state too by joining or renewing your NORML membership or even joining up your mother. And, for that $50, we’ll send you a copy of the documentary movie, Evergreen.

This is important. We have momentum. There’s lots more to do. That’s why I’m donating these DVDs to NORML for this campaign. And that’s why I’m packing up and heading to Oregon next month for an intense week of media and lectures. We are a team and you matter. What are you doing? All we’re asking is that you send NORML $50. As a thanks, we’ll send you the exciting Evergreen movie.

I am so proud of what we did in Washington State. I’m proud of what NORML is doing nation-wide. And I’m really excited to offer you this movie on DVD. If you care about legalizing pot, this is something you need to watch. Share it with your friends. It’s an inspiration.

Again, to be among the first in the nation to watch Evergreen, please join NORML for $50 or more to receive your DVD copy of this important documentary capturing a historic change in American politics: When cannabis prohibition first ended.

I am contributing the cost of these DVDs to NORML as my personal challenge to you. I hope you’ll kindly join NORML, view Evergreen with friends and family, share with neighbors, co-workers and locally elected policymakers. I sincerely hope you too find the same inspiration we developed in Washington to get the job of ending marijuana prohibition done, once and for all.

Thanks in advance for your support of marijuana law reform in America and NORML’s long-standing public advocacy work.

Warm regards,

Rick Steves
Author and TV Host
NORML board member
Edmonds, WA

Hanging With Willie: A Friendship Sealed With Weed

Willie Nelson is a proud marijuana smoker who stopped using alcohol and tobacco decades ago. Willie, 81, credits his longevity to that decision.

Willie was purposely out of the “marijuana closet” before that became fashionable, or even politically correct. His openness came across as charmingly naive, as if he did not know cannabis was illegal, and could not figure out why others were sometimes upset.

Willie was — and still is — making a political statement that there is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana.

Two issues have always been the focus of Willie’s political attention: helping family farmers remain on the land and legalizing marijuana.

Willie and I have frequently talked over the years about the natural crossover between those two issues. If marijuana were legal for American farmers to cultivate and sell, tens of thousands of family farmers could grow marijuana and financially thrive and remain on the land, continuing the great rural tradition dating back to the founding of our country.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON MARIJUANA.COM

Poll: Younger Voters Say Marijuana Is Less Destructive Than Alcohol

Younger voters overwhelmingly agree that marijuana is less damaging than alcohol, according to the findings of a Rare.us/Gravis Marketing poll released yesterday.

Among those voters age 18 to 40, 47 percent ranked alcohol as the most harmful substance to society, well ahead of both tobacco (27 percent) and cannabis (13 percent). (Thirteen percent of respondents were undecided.) Respondents among all age and ethnic groups were consistent in ranking marijuana as the least harmful of the three substances, as were self-identified Democrats and Independents. (Republicans rated tobacco to be the most harmful of the three products.)

“[These] numbers suggest younger Americans are upending societal conventions, which have long seen alcohol as an acceptable drug while condemning marijuana,” stated Rare.us in an accompanying press release.

The results are somewhat similar to those of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in March which reported that most Americans believe tobacco to be most harmful to health (49 percent), followed by alcohol (24 percent), sugar (15 percent), and marijuana (8 percent).

Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a schedule I controlled substance, meaning that its alleged harms are equal to those of heroin. Both tobacco and alcohol are unscheduled under federal law.

According to a study published in 2004 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the leading causes of death in the United States ware tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1 percent of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (365,000 deaths; 15.2 percent), and alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5 percent).

DC Voters Ready to Approve Marijuana Legalization

A NBC4/Washington Post/Marist pollmajority_support of DC voters released today revealed strong support for Initiative 71, which would legalize adult possession and limited cultivation of marijuana in the District.

The survey showed 65% support for the initiative amongst likely voters, only 33% were opposed and 2% undecided.

The polling data also showed NORML PAC endorsed DC Attorney General candidate Paul Zukerberg leading the field of five with double the support of his closest competitor.

If these figures hold, the nation’s capital will be getting a whole lot greener come November, with legalized adult possession and an Attorney General committed to pursuing marijuana law reform.

You can learn more about and donate to Initiative 71 at the campaign webpage here.

You can learn more about Paul Zukerberg and how to contribute or volunteer for his campaign here.

If you want to help NORML in DC voter turnout efforts, please email erik@norml.org with the subject line “Smoke the Vote.”

You can read the full poll results here.

Grease Pot Parody: Steve Berke-style

Grease Pot ParodyAdding to his ever-growing series of pro-cannabis law reform song parody videos, as well as in support of his home state’s current efforts to pass a medical cannabis initiative, comedian and Miami Beach political gadfly Steve Berke has just released a new pro-pot parody based on the famous movie of the 1970s ‘Grease‘.

Upping the ante in Berke’s video productions, his talented crew drove from Florida to Texas, in search of the original amusement park backdrop used for the 1978 movie production of ‘Grease’.

“You’re The Law That I Want!”
A more heartfelt and satirical political advertisement in support of passing the voter ballot initiative question in Florida this fall, Amendment 2, is hard to envisage.

For more information about Steve Berke’s 4TT production company and make donations to run 30 second version of the Grease parody on Florida TV stations check out press release below.

 

PRESS CONTACT: Lee Molloy
PHONE: 786-499-6134
EMAIL: LeeGMolloy@gmail.com

September 15, 2014

For Immediate Release

Miami Beach politician drives 1,400 miles to Texas to shoot “Grease” parody video supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida

Founded by former Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke, The After Party PAC is a political organization fighting to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on Amendment 2, The After Party recently commissioned a shot-for-shot parody video of the song “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease.”

Called “You’re the Law that I Want (Yes on 2)” the musical parody faithfully recreates the carnival scene made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – with Berke taking on the role of Travolta.

The original Fun House used as a location in the ’70s movie classic was in service at a county fair in Texas this summer. So, Berke and the production crew traveled the 1,400 miles from Miami Beach to Decatur (in an RV) especially for the two-day shoot.

“Our crew drove half way across the country because we wanted to make this parody as authentic as possible,” Berke said. “We felt compelled to really go to bat for the 1.1 million Floridians who signed the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot this November.”

Berke is a former professional tennis player who found marijuana after herniating two discs in his lower back. The injury permanently ended his tennis career and Berke, an athlete and Yale graduate, realized that marijuana wasn’t just for stoners when his doctor in California recommended trying medical marijuana to manage his pain as an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.

“Ultimately, all we are asking for is that people in Florida have the same opportunity that I had to get the medicine they need,” Berke said. “And, our video gets that message across in a way that is fun, informative and memorable.”