This Thursday: US Senate Committee To Debate Reevaluating The Drug War!

[Author’s Note: The following legislative alert is being e-mailed to NORML e-zine subscribers. To sign up to receive federal and state-specific updates like this one, please go here, and don’t forget to check NORML’s Take Action Center for the latest legislative developments.] This Thursday, December 3, members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will debate Senate Bill 714, The National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. The time and location of the hearing are available here.
Senate Bill 714 will establish a `National Criminal Justice Commission’ to “undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system … and make reform recommendations for the President.” The lead sponsor of this measure, Democrat Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, has remarked that this review ought to include a “very careful examination of all aspects of drug policy. … I think everything should be on the table.”
It’s been many years since a federally appointed commission has taken an objective look at American criminal justice policies, and it’s been nearly 40 years since federal lawmakers have undertaken a critical examination of U.S. marijuana policy.  Please take time today to urge your United States senators to support Senate Bill 714. If your senators sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then it is especially important that that they hear from you.  For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your members of Congress when you enter your contact information here.
After you have written your senators, please take a moment to write or call Sen. Webb and thank him for raising this important issue.  You may contact him here.
Thank you for assisting NORML’s federal law reform efforts.

0 thoughts

  1. FYI NORML. Got an email reply from Senator Bennett that said:
    Thank you for your email. It is important for me to hear from my constituents and I appreciate that you have taken time to contact me.
    The number of Utahns that communicate with me via email has increased dramatically over the years. To help manage incoming emails, reduce the amount of spam and respond more quickly to emails, I have established an online contact form for constituents to send their comments and questions. Please resend your comments to me by using this form located on my official web site at
    You can also send me a letter or call one of my offices to express your views. My contact information can be found on my web site at
    Thank you, again, for writing. I look forward to receiving your message soon through my online contact form.
    Regards, Bob Bennett
    I resent the email and the reply was: Thank you for visiting Senator Bennett’s online office. We have received your submission and your request is being processed.
    If you have any questions, please call 202-224-5444.

  2. this is the best news of the century i thought we might see baby steps near the end of obamas term that is if he didn’t think a second term would happen but this is one hell of a step in the right direction people just need to tell those Gallup polls that we support the most useful plant ever known to mankind those ever changing polls are what the politicians will point to one day when we all have life liberty and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

  3. I was a child of the 60’s and we tried to make it happen. But wasn’t to be, until now when we are now old enough to be in charge of everything. The lies are no longer acceptable to the majority, because we are them and we are every where. This is going to happen this time. Every one stick to your guns never give up on this, and we will make it come to be.

  4. The SENATE
    Name Number Election Cycle Committee Membership
    Dodd, Christopher J. – (D – CT) (202) 224-2823 Up for election in November Banking Committee Chairman
    Bayh, Evan – (D – IN) (202) 224-5623 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Bennett, Robert F. – (R – UT) (202) 224-5444 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Bunning, Jim – (R – KY) (202) 224-4343 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Crapo, Mike – (R – ID) (202) 224-6142 Up for election in November Committee Member
    DeMint, Jim – (R – SC) (202) 224-6121 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Martinez, Mel – (R – FL) (202) 224-3041 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Schumer, Charles E. – (D – NY) (202) 224-6542 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL) (202) 224-5744 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Vitter, David – (R – LA) (202) 224-4623 Up for election in November Committee Member
    Name Number Committee Membership
    Akaka, Daniel K. – (D – HI) (202) 224-6361 Committee Member
    Brown, Sherrod – (D – OH) (202) 224-2315 Committee Member
    Corker, Bob – (R – TN) (202) 224-3344 Committee Member
    Hutchison, Kay Bailey – (R – TX) (202) 224-5922 Committee Member
    Johanns, Mike – (R – NE) (202) 224-4224 Committee Member
    Johnson, Tim – (D – SD) (202) 224-5842 Committee Member
    Kohl, Herb – (D – WI) (202) 224-5653 Committee Member
    Menendez, Robert – (D – NJ) (202) 224-4744 Committee Member
    Merkley, Jeff – (D – OR) (202) 224-3753 Committee Member
    Reed, Jack – (D – RI) (202) 224-4642 Committee Member
    Tester, Jon – (D – MT) (202) 224-2644 Committee Member
    Warner, Mark R. – (D – VA) (202) 224-2023 Committee Member
    Name Number Election Cycle
    Bennet, Michael F. – (D – CO) (202) 224-5852 Up for election in November
    Bond, Christopher S. – (R – MO) (202) 224-5721 Up for election in November
    Boxer, Barbara – (D – CA) (202) 224-3553 Up for election in November
    Brownback, Sam – (R – KS) (202) 224-6521 Up for election in November
    Burr, Richard – (R – NC) (202) 224-3154 Up for election in November
    Burris, Roland W. – (D – IL) (202) 224-2854 Up for election in November
    Coburn, Tom – (R – OK) (202) 224-5754 Up for election in November
    Dorgan, Byron L. – (D – ND) (202) 224-2551 Up for election in November
    Feingold, Russell D. – (D – WI) (202) 224-5323 Up for election in November
    Grassley, Chuck – (R – IA) (202) 224-3744 Up for election in November
    Gregg, Judd – (R – NH) (202) 224-3324 Up for election in November
    Inouye, Daniel K. – (D – HI) (202) 224-3934 Up for election in November
    Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA) (202) 224-3643 Up for election in November
    Leahy, Patrick J. – (D – VT) (202) 224-4242 Up for election in November
    Lincoln, Blanche L. – (D – AR) (202) 224-4843 Up for election in November
    McCain, John – (R – AZ) (202) 224-2235 Up for election in November
    Mikulski, Barbara A. – (D – MD) (202) 224-4654 Up for election in November
    Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK) (202) 224-6665 Up for election in November
    Murray, Patty – (D – WA) (202) 224-2621 Up for election in November
    Reid, Harry – (D – NV) (202) 224-3542 Up for election in November
    Specter, Arlen – (D – PA) (202) 224-4254 Up for election in November
    Thune, John – (R – SD) (202) 224-2321 Up for election in November
    Voinovich, George V. – (R – OH) (202) 224-3353 Up for election in November
    Wyden, Ron – (D – OR) (202) 224-5244 Up for election in November
    Name Number
    Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN) (202) 224-4944
    Barrasso, John – (R – WY) (202) 224-6441
    Baucus, Max – (D – MT) (202) 224-2651
    Begich, Mark – (D – AK) (202) 224-3004
    Bingaman, Jeff – (D – NM) (202) 224-5521
    Byrd, Robert C. – (D – WV) (202) 224-3954
    Cantwell, Maria – (D – WA) (202) 224-3441
    Cardin, Benjamin L. – (D – MD) (202) 224-4524
    Carper, Thomas R. – (D – DE) (202) 224-2441
    Casey, Robert P., Jr. – (D – PA) (202) 224-6324
    Chambliss, Saxby – (R – GA) (202) 224-3521
    Cochran, Thad – (R – MS) (202) 224-5054
    Collins, Susan M. – (R – ME) (202) 224-2523
    Conrad, Kent – (D – ND) (202) 224-2043
    Cornyn, John – (R – TX) (202) 224-2934
    Durbin, Richard J. – (D – IL) (202) 224-2152
    Ensign, John – (R – NV) (202) 224-6244
    Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY) (202) 224-3424
    Feinstein, Dianne – (D – CA) (202) 224-3841
    Gillibrand, Kirsten E. – (D – NY) (202) 224-4451
    Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC) (202) 224-5972
    Hagan, Kay R. – (D – NC) (202) 224-6342
    Harkin, Tom – (D – IA) (202) 224-3254
    Hatch, Orrin G. – (R – UT) (202) 224-5251
    Inhofe, James M. – (R – OK) (202) 224-4721
    Kaufman, Edward E. – (D – DE) (202) 224-5042
    Kennedy, Edward M. – (D – MA) (202) 224-4543
    Kerry, John F. – (D – MA) (202) 224-2742
    Klobuchar, Amy – (D – MN) (202) 224-3244
    Kyl, Jon – (R – AZ) (202) 224-4521
    Landrieu, Mary L. – (D – LA) (202) 224-5824
    Lautenberg, Frank R. – (D – NJ) (202) 224-3224
    Levin, Carl – (D – MI) (202) 224-6221
    Lieberman, Joseph I. – (ID – CT) (202) 224-4041
    Lugar, Richard G. – (R – IN) (202) 224-4814
    McCaskill, Claire – (D – MO) (202) 224-6154
    McConnell, Mitch – (R – KY) (202) 224-2541
    Nelson, Ben – (D – NE) (202) 224-6551
    Nelson, Bill – (D – FL) (202) 224-5274
    Pryor, Mark L. – (D – AR) (202) 224-2353
    Risch, James E. – (R – ID) (202) 224-2752
    Roberts, Pat – (R – KS) (202) 224-4774
    Rockefeller, John D., IV – (D – WV) (202) 224-6472
    Sanders, Bernard – (I – VT) (202) 224-5141
    Sessions, Jeff – (R – AL) (202) 224-4124
    Shaheen, Jeanne – (D – NH) (202) 224-2841
    Snowe, Olympia J. – (R – ME) (202) 224-5344
    Stabenow, Debbie – (D – MI) (202) 224-4822
    Udall, Mark – (D – CO) (202) 224-5941
    Udall, Tom – (D – NM) (202) 224-6621
    Webb, Jim – (D – VA) (202) 224-4024
    Whitehouse, Sheldon – (D – RI) (202) 224-2921
    Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS) (202) 224-6253
    Source: Campaign For Liberty — Targeted Senate List for S 604 (HR 1207 companion bill in the Senate)

  5. Oh my God! I can’t believe this. I always hoped that I would see an end to marijuana prohibition! This is such wonderful news. The only trouble I have ever got into was with marijuana. God said if it was green it is good. He also said if it bare a seed it was good! Wow my heart skipped a beat when I read this.

  6. I sent my letter, However I sent one before and because Michigan has Medical Marijuana they lean towards that as being an answer, However there are certain Illnesses that Michigan don’t allow you to get Medical Marijuana.. I went to the doctor and he told me he couldnt’ prescribe Marijuana to me. I asked him if he Knew of anyone and he told me no. I dont’ have hardly any money to keep going to doctor to doctor and I am unemployed and Looing for work. I have Arthritis of my knee and Yes cannabis works well for inflammation. I am doing my Part thanks NORML for doing your part and all others who support the legalization of cannabis.

  7. On a different note,Cannabis garnered a little PR yesterday on Fox News,Joey’s Mom,And her attorney appeared to discuss her self medicating of her autistic son with Cannabis laced cookies’Joey”s Cookies”

  8. It’s time to reGrow this country like our forefathers did.Ganja and social action not military control.

  9. yea! i sent my email to my senator. so if all goes well, then what might happen ? is there more debatin about “fine print” issue or will we be able to smoke in our on homes?

  10. If this commission fails to stop this insanity, then what? Continue to live in a police state? Sorry , but that is not an option.

  11. Will this be on C-span?
    [Editor’s note: It may well be, check your cable provider to confirm as C-Span does not publish their broadcast schedule until about 24 hours before a congressional hearing. Also, NORML staff will be in attendance to report on the hearings.]

  12. Thanks for the heads up guys. I sent my letters already.
    MN and WI each have two representatives on the committee!
    I didn’t realize it beforehand, but now googling the committee I’ve learned both Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Al Franken (D-Minnesota) are members (and looking further, Wisconsin has two on the board as well).
    On top of the fact that it’s nice to have two representatives from my state on the board, it’s important because of the decriminalized nature of cannabis here.
    Here’s hoping it’s in our favor.

  13. #59 Amy: Really do hope you find employment and arthritis is added to the list in your state.
    I am still so sad this morning over the 17 year old being shot in the head over a trooper “smelling Marijuana”. This madness needs to end, now.

  14. What does NORML expect this development to lead to?
    Will they recommend legalization/decriminalization in 2010 and if they do will it be likely to pass?
    Is this really THAT BIG of a deal?
    [Paul Armentano responds: “They” would rather do nothing at all. It is up to “us,” the reform community and those who believe that these archaic laws ought to be amended, to impose our will upon those who purport to represent our interests. S. 714 seeks to establish a review commission only: whether the measure passes, whether the commission focuses on marijuana policy, whether it recommends decriminalization or legalization — the answers to those questions depend on us, not on “them.”]

    Are we fighting “against criminalization.” Up until 1937 it was “LEGAL.” Are we fighting to “keep it legal?”…or…are we on the defensive, do they have us on the ropes, fighting to “DECRIMINALIZE” a 72 year old “UNJUST LAW?” I guess it’s just a matter of the way one see’s it. It seems to me, on one hand, “DON’T TOUCH IT”…and…on the other hand, “PUT IT BACK.” It seems to me the more confident view is to say…”DON’T TOUCH IT…IT’S LEGAL…HANDS OFF…NOW! PROVE TO ME WHY IT’S ILLEGAL.” PROVE IT!!! That’s all I ask…”PROVE IT”…before you enact laws against it. If it were voted on for the first time today…the majority would say “DON’T TOUCH IT…LEAVE IT ALONE.”

  16. I’m sorry but I have to temper my hope with the realization that these things never seem to work out the way they really should. Not to mention the fact that legalization puts the US in violation of a lot of treaties that we forced on other nations.
    I really, really want to hope but with the way things go we may just be looking at a restructuring of who gets the money. I guess it depends on who gets to pick the ones to sit on the committe, huh?
    The prison industry is huge and has a lot of interested (pronounced invested) parties so don’t think they will take to being reigned in easiely.
    We do have the truth on our side though and hopefully the fact that over 3 out of 10 in our population being caught up in the penal system due to past failed policies is proof of that truth in the eyes of this panel.
    We’ll keep fighting the good fight but we need to fight harder than ever because if this bill gets approval the battle is going to get real ugly.
    Thank you Norml for helping us get this far. (and giving me a place to ramble:])

  17. This law based on racism and fear needs to make way for a more sensible policy based on logic and reason.

  18. With all the marijuana legalization articles on some of the major media outlets published lately, I wonder and hope that the media at some point acknowledges that this bill is being reviewed this Thursday. We need to continue to write to our representatives and make it known that the far outdated marijuana laws are in need of reform.
    Great job NORML for doing such a great job in continuing to help us push this issue.

  19. Congratulations to everyone involved with NORML!!! This is the most exciting time I’ve experienced since I’ve become a legal medical cannabis patient! I’m honored to be a part of the NORML team. God bless all of you!
    Cheryl Shuman
    Executive Director
    Beverly Hills NORML

  20. If only we could educate all of the national black organizations so they can join our cause. They will make sure their voice is heard loud and clear.

  21. Let’s hope this doesn’t end up like the Shaffer commission. Luckily tricky dick nixon isnt in control now.

  22. so whats norml gonna do once its legal? i mean besides jump up and down and scream from the rooftops?

  23. I sent the message and they allready repiled, this is what they said………..
    Thank you very much for contacting me to express your views. I have received your letter and I look forward to our correspondence.
    The constituents of Illinois are of the utmost importance to me, and it is an honor to work on your behalf by representing you in the United States Senate.
    If you have any further questions as my staff and I review your letter, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, DC office. Again, thank you and I am honored to serve you in the United States Senate.
    Roland W. Burris
    United States Senator

  24. Niiice! Im not gonna hold my breath though. By the time they get done ‘evaluating’ how many more lives are going to be ruined by prohibition? I find it hard to believe the $$ driven feds are going to allow any kind of sensable reform… Here’s hoping.

  25. I don’t guess anyone noticed that Ron Pauls “Hemp” bill
    and Barney Franks medical marijuana bill are also going to this committee for consideration. At least they are listed along with about 40 other bills that they have to debate.
    With our present economic stress test and the fact that our prisons are full and our county jails are holding convicted and sentenced prisoners,awaiting an empty bed or space on the floor to be transferred to prison,this should be a no brainer,but I’m sure they will muddy up the water,some way. Not to mention that our courts and judicial system is backed up with cases awaiting trials or plea bargains too occur.
    The “Pot” is boiling over,and someone has to clean up the mess.
    [Paul Armentano responds: The Frank and Paul bills are in the House, not the Senate. HR 2835 is now before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. HR 1866 is before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. HR 2943 is now before both the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. All the information you need to support these bills directly may be found here:

  26. Patrick J. Leahy
    Chairman, D-Vermont
    Herb Kohl
    Jeff Sessions
    Ranking Member, R-Alabama
    Dianne Feinstein
    Orrin G. Hatch
    Russ D. Feingold
    Chuck Grassley
    Chuck Schumer
    D-New York
    Jon Kyl
    Dick J. Durbin
    Lindsey Graham
    R-South Carolina
    Benjamin L. Cardin
    John Cornyn
    Sheldon Whitehouse
    D-Rhode Island
    Tom Coburn
    Amy Klobuchar
    Ted Kaufman
    Arlen Specter
    Al Franken

  27. I sent my email in support of the commission. In addition to thanking Senator Webb for initiating this and for rebuffing Senator Grassley’s attempt to neuter the commission, I also brought to their attention once again information I sent them a few weeks ago. This involved a situation several years ago in which the drug war was cynically used to discredit me after I made whistleblower allegations in the nuclear power industry. This is one of the worst aspects of drug possession laws, the ease with which they can be manipulated to control and silence people for political or corporate purposes.
    For the curious, there is more about this here:,-Drugs,-and-RockRollpart-II,-Whistle-Retaliation

  28. #77 – Hopefully NORML opens dispensaries in every state and profits go through the roof for them. Hopefully NORML people end up being wealthy because in my heart I know they’ll always do the right thing with their well deserved earnings.
    While individual states are doing the right thing for medical MJ the biggest challenge lies ahead and that’s the Federal government.
    Even if medical MJ becomes real in my state we live on a military base as DoD employees. Not to mention all the active duty military that live on bases that need medical MJ.
    And I don’t consume cannabis because of the husband’s federal job and where we live but I do write letters and make calls. Even writing those letters and making those calls has me shaking in my boots but I do it.
    It upsets the husband that I do it but he does understand.

  29. Two things:
    a) I also live in Illinois but did not receive that respond email from Burris for some reason (unless I missed it). I appreciate you showing the message I surely would have received as well (despite the fact I wrote my own 5 paragraph plea… no one will see that but a computer. Quantity still helps though).
    b) Roland Burris has already openly said he supports the decriminalization of marijuana, so we are already looking good there. More importantly, Dick Durbin, who is one of the 19 judiciary committee members also supports the decriminalization. That is the reason we are a January vote away from being #15 for medical usage (NJ has #14 wrapped up).

  30. ” bill (cowboydan) TN Says:
    December 2nd, 2009 at 12:52 am
    so whats norml gonna do once its legal? i mean besides jump up and down and scream from the rooftops?”
    ive thought about this before- NORML could possibly move into selling high quaality cannabis?
    maybe sell online- become the amazon of online marijuana.
    if NORML uses this – a job would be nice! ill grow the marijuana
    [Russ responds: I don’t know about marijuana selling. However, we get this question often: what becomes of NORML post-re-legalization? Well, first of all, it’s not going to happen all at once, it will happen state by state, so that gives us fifty separate battles to fight. Then once prohibition is repealed nationwide there will still be cannabis consumers and they will still need a lobby. Beer’s legal and the National Beer Wholesalers Association is a huge and powerful lobby. Places with more restrictive cannabis statutes will still need tweaking. Standards will need to be set in various cannabis industries. In short, I don’t see NORML going anywhere after re-legalization, I see us growing. Maybe we change the acronym to “National Organization for Re-legalized Marijuana Lovers”?]

  31. Does anyone have a list of emails for the judiciary committee? I really don’t feel that I should have to give all my information on some stupid web form in order to show my support… 🙁
    Anyone look at the people on the judiciary committee? Look at when they were elected.. half of them come from the time of major drug propaganda… we need to educate these people.. but remember –
    “Never argue with a person whose job depends on not being convinced.”

  32. The system cannot support current practices. The corruptions created by current marijuana laws creates societal conflict with police and erodes constitutional values. Frankly our drug laws are essentially a way to keep minority populations at risk. As a mental health professional who has seen funding for behavioal trearnt diminish as the USA has taken a more hard line militant approach to drug problems. Rachel Hoffman would be pleased to see the current positive changes in the marijuana reform movement. Too bad she died in police entrapment strategy. This case is a stand alone example of this countries current drug policies! (added by Mobile using Mippin)

  33. I can’t find the part where they talk about the SB 714 bill. i don’t want to watch the whole 2 hours…

  34. I wrote to my senator Bill Nelson (D) here in Florida and as he is one of the co-sponsors of the bill and he says that he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana and continued to say that it is a dangerous drug…
    I wrote him back and asked him to do his research before concluding that it is a dangerous drug. Still waiting to here back from him on this, but if Floridians could all band together and mail or email him to get the point across that this is not a dangerous drug than it may help in our battle. Especially considering Florida is trying to get medical marijuana on the Florida ballot initiative for 2010, we need to let our senators know we want to be taxed on this cash crop.

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