Medical marijuana's not getting any better – the time for RE-legalization is NOW!

Author’s update: the graphics in the post below have been updated to correct some minor mistakes, such as dated information that left out Rhode Island and Maine’s dispensaries and Oregon’s recent acceptance of Alzheimer’s agitation as a qualifying condition. Also, I have outlined Oregon’s attempt at legalization through the OCTA petition as it could be reasonably said to be as far along or farther along than Washington’s I-1068. I regret my errors.

With New Jersey recently becoming the 14th medical marijuana state, activists in marijuana law reform have been celebrating. After all, over 82 million Americans now live in states where medical use of marijuana is legal – that’s 27% of the US population! Last election, Massachusetts became the 13th decriminalization state, which means over 107 million Americans live in a state where possession of small personal amounts of marijuana no longer merit an arrest – that’s 35% of the US population.

However, after watching fourteen years of marijuana activism focused solely on those who use cannabis for medicine, I must warn activists that medical marijuana is not getting any better and the time for re-legalization of cannabis for all adults – even the healthy ones – is now.

Medical marijuana was a great 20th century strategy to get the sick and dying off the battlefield in the war on drugs. It was the perfect vehicle to enlighten the public, who for so long have been indoctrinated into the reefer madness that classifies cannabis like LSD and heroin. But in the 21st century the idea that marijuana is only a medicine is beginning to take hold and governments and voters are crafting ever-more-restrictive medical marijuana laws. For the vast majority of cannabis consumers this threatens to move us from the category of “illegal drug users” to “possessors of medicine without a prescription” – a step up, perhaps, but still left facing criminal prosecution.
California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. That initiative, Prop-215, established what is clearly the most liberal medical marijuana statute to date:

  • A doctor can recommend for any condition;
  • You needn’t have a “bona fide” doctor/patient relationship;
  • Dispensaries are allowed;
  • Self cultivation is allowed;
  • Patients are protected from arrest.

If we consider these five attributes of the law the baseline, then in the past fourteen years, all thirteen medical marijuana states that have followed have failed to achieve all five. Eight states only offer three or four of those liberties and the rest offer two or only one. Most disturbingly, the right of patients to grow their own medicine (or have a caregiver do it for them), which has been a bedrock principle in medical marijuana law, was taken away from patients in the most recent medical marijuana state, New Jersey. Bills that were considered but vetoed in 2009 in Minnesota and New Hampshire, and those moving forward in New York, Pennsylvania, as well as an initiative in Arizona, all sacrifice this core right.

A comparison of plant and possession limits also shows the decline from the original starting point in California, where 12 plants and 8 ounces are allowed. Oregon and Washington passed their laws next and have the highest statutory limits: 24 plants and 24 ounces in Oregon and 15 plants and 24 ounces in Washington. (To be fair, all the West Coast states started with lower limits or more vague limits that were modified by the legislature.) But since then, only one state has allowed more than 3 ounces (New Mexico with 6 ounces) and average number of plants allowed is a little less than ten.

Another decline in medical marijuana freedom appears when we look at the conditions for which medical marijuana protection is afforded in the various states. There are eight conditions which could be considered the “standard” ones: cancer; HIV/AIDS; seizure disorders, like epilepsy; spastic disorders, like multiple sclerosis; glaucoma; chronic nausea; cachexia; and chronic pain. Most medical marijuana states recognize all eight conditions; a couple (Vermont and Rhode Island) recognize seven of eight.

The latest law in New Jersey, however, eliminated chronic pain, chronic nausea, and cachexia, making it the most restrictive list in the nation. The bill proposed but vetoed in New Hampshire required one to try all other remedies for chronic pain before trying medical marijuana. The vetoed Minnesota bill wouldn’t even allow cancer and HIV/AIDS patients to use medical marijuana unless they could show they were terminal (about to die). The lists in the latest proposed bills continue to become more restricted.
Until we do have legalization for all, every medical marijuana law is going to fail to adequately serve all medical users and subject them to increasing restriction and scrutiny. Additionally, medical marijuana laws make patients an attractive target for criminals because prohibition maintains huge profits for stolen medical cannabis, as well as becoming targets for overzealous anti-marijuana cops and prosecutors.

The reason the recent medical marijuana laws are losing ground is not a failure of the medical marijuana strategy, but rather due to its success. Medical marijuana has portrayed the herb as “powerful and effective medicine”. Well, what do we do with powerful and effective medicines? We keep them under lock and key. We require people to visit doctors. We strictly monitor prescription pads. We bust people who have them without proper papers.
Rather than justifying the prohibitionists’ shibboleth of medical marijuana as “the camel’s nose under the tent” for legalization, I’m arguing it’s the opposite: that continuing the medical marijuana strategy further cements the “powerful and effective medicine” frame and takes us farther away from treating cannabis as a personal choice of relaxant. We’ll get to a point where the public accepts “powerful and effective cannabis medicine” and looks upon personal use like we look at someone getting fraudulent scrips for painkillers.
If one of the West Coast states doesn’t pull off legalization soon, the pendulum is going to swing back the other way on marijuana. The economic incentives may fade if the economy recovers and then the tax & regulate argument fizzles. And if we are going to continue working on medical marijuana, the bills and initiatives need to get better, not worse. The way it’s looking now is that the Northeast and upper Midwest are going to institute chronic conditions-only, 2 oz limit, strict registry, only personal doctor, no home grow, state-run dispensary medical marijuana for $15/gram in the next six years. How then do we approach those people and say, “Hey, you know that powerful and effective medical marijuana that you only let a few hundred really sick people use after jumping though a mile of hoops? We think everybody should have it and jump through no hoops!”
Medical marijuana would never have passed in any state if it were not for the votes of non-medical users of marijuana. I do believe it is time for medical marijuana patients in the states that have programs to “repay the favor” and fight as hard for legalization as social tokers fought for medical. Only patients can best make the argument that while prohibition exists, they will always face job discrimination, loss of child custody, high black market prices, housing discrimination, and the sneers of the Bill O’Reillys who think 99% of medical marijuana patients are faking. So long as the prohibition profit exists, there will always be these CBS Undercover investigations casting a pall on all legitimate medical marijuana because of the irresponsible acts of a few.
Maybe I’m just too much of a dreamer. I imagine acres and acres of hemp fields, huge indoor hydroponic cannabis warehouses, thriving cafes and coffeehouses, some folks growing their own in a garage or closet, regular outdoor festivals and special indoor events where cannabis smoking is permitted, buying and selling all varieties of cannabis from ounces at a farmer’s market to bulk bales at CostCo… and none of that is done with “powerful and effective medicines”.
I don’t think that it is reformer’s job to pass medical marijuana in all fifty states first and then worry about legalization in one. I think states that have medical should be moving forward on legalization, states without should focus on better medical laws by calling prohibitionists’ bluff on “marijuana outta control!” in the Western states with liberal medical laws.

0 thoughts

  1. I think we are seeing a struggle to appease all factions without coming away with workable, reasonable laws. Police unions won’t even participate in crafting legislation they could supposedly live with, and legislators are salivating at the mouth for revenue opportunities first, and patient protections second (if at all in the case of MN where they wish to establish mmj growers for export to other states.)
    The exclusion of “grow your own” is all about government greed and law enforcement not wanting to lose anyone from their grasp in the highly lucrative war on pot. The realization that it is medicine is here, but Wall Street cannot make a buck if people can grow their own whether for medicine or recreation. That’s the hold up. Nothing else. Everything must be accounted for in this economy and they can’t stand the thought of people having something of value without getting a piece of the action.

  2. I see your point . To get a legal medicine now requires a prescription from a doctor. At this time no prescription is needed to obtain Cannabis. If Cannabis is a legal medicine in the U.S. it would “still” be illegal, illegal as it is now , without a prescription. A Catch 21 for nonmedical users.
    Yes, #50 Mike,The fear to disagree with a person of “government” has society in a rut, that if not gotten out of will have grave circumstances in not a few years to come. As free people have always said “government by the people and for the people”

  3. To poster #1. I too live in LA. Just moved back form a medical state where i grew my own to treat my chronic pain and insomnia/depression. I understand your feelings, but please fight and educate as i always try to do. since returning to this godforsaken state, i have had to go on cymbalta @ 135.00 per month and thats with insurance, and docs wont even prescribe benzos for sleep, tried ambien, the moth one and had horrid effects, or even opiates for pain, they give prescrption strenght aleve, to destroy my stomache, plus i am naturally opiate tolerant and need strong opiates to obtain any relief anyways. Write congress and subscribe to NORMLS action updates as well as LEAP’s any pressure we can put on theese backwards legislatures is better than standing pat and taking it. Peace and GL my fellow LAer

  4. Hello John,
    Thanks for your comments and longstanding work in Oregon to help reform cannabis laws.
    While some reform groups, often at the state level, favor achieving short term victories by continuing to pass either medical cannabis bills or to ‘improve’ existing medical cannabis laws, other reform groups, often with a national perspective and transparently advocating for legalization, are not keen on focusing on medical cannabis and/or for-profit distribution models for cannabis as medicinal.
    Prohibitionists are pretty much prohibitionists, and after ten years of medical cannabis laws in OR, their seeing retail, for-profit medical cannabis dispensaries are not likely going to persuade them to drop their historical opposition. It may in fact re-energize them to increase their already busy, annual, anti-medical cannabis advocacy in OR.
    Kind of like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
    It would appear that many medical cannabis patients in Oregon don’t favor opening themselves and their caregiver-cultivators up to violent law enforcement intervention (local, state or feds) or legal harassment in the same manner that patients and collectives are targeted by law enforcement in states like CA and CO.
    If past is prologue, if Oregon voters adopt a for-profit dispensary model, law enforcement (and their allied politicians and the mainstream media)are provided near daily targets for enforcement or public derision. As much as cannabis policy law reform groups like NORML favor full legalization, the current medical cannabis laws in states like CA and CO (and MT and MI)have now become almost impossible for public advocates to defend as ‘medical compassion’ when so many cannabis entrepreneurs emerge and consumers take advantage–rightly or wrongly–of the gray area created legally by asserting a medicinal need for cannabis, many coming right out of a life of black market/illegal cultivation or sales; and terrible, exploitative business practices that hardly look compassionate or patient-friendly.
    Reformers at some juncture are being confronted with the question: Should I favor the strategy of medical cannabis over that of the over-arching goal expressed by most cannabis consumers and NORML–full legalization for responsible adult use?
    Cannabusiness leader and longtime law reform activist Stephen DeAngelo, CEO of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, articulates his vision of the transition from large scale medical distribution of cannabis to the non-medical distribution as ‘Flip the switch’: 1) Medical cannabis collectives have to aptly demonstrate to local/state politicians that they can responsibly control/distribute cannabis products to very large numbers of consumers (patients in CA parlance…) and deliver tax revenues. 2) These distribution models need to be explicitly non-profit collectives, not commercial medical cannabis dispensaries.
    At some point, 5-10 years into functional and responsible medical cannabis distribution (and we’re over 5 years into ‘legal’ and now taxed medical cannabis in Oakland) local and state governments under DeAngelo’s view, convinced of the safety and utility of cannabis, certainly when compared to alcohol distribution and use, and rightly desperate for commerce to tax, will have to accept business models for the non-medical sales and use of cannabis based on the largely positive and beneficial experience community’s have when they’re served by ‘best of breed’ organizations like the Harborside Healthside Center non-profit collective model.
    Some cannabis consumers both in and out of OR have concerns that the otherwise reasonably self sufficient, not-the-source-of-law-enforcement-raids system for medical cannabis in OR will change in the direction of the now widely-derided cannabis buyers clubs in states like CA and CO.
    In the last two months, in states like NJ, MD, TN, NY and in DC, otherwise now supportive state legislators and other state players (ie, State Police) in favor of patient access to medical cannabis constantly cite to NORML’s lobbying staff their stark fear that what reform proposals they’re proffering, which are totally unlike CA and CO, are being pummeled, ridiculed and mocked as being ‘too much like the chaos in CA and CO…’
    Also, it appears that fewer and fewer (if any) states will allow patients to grow their own cannabis post NJ adopting the most restrictive regulations to date by any state that has opted towards reform. As cannabis-based drugs become closer to viable and profitable pharmaceuticals approved by the FDA, politicians and the media will not continue to favor and thereby allow patient access to whole-smoked cannabis products.
    OR’s decade-old medical cannabis while imperfect, as all state reforms have been re cannabis, seems to provide the greatest amount of patient/caregiver autonomy, high weight thresholds, and home cultivation to stakeholders than most any other of the current 14 states that have medical cannabis laws.
    Therefore, one can see the questioning of directing resources and energy into a for-profit medical cannabis dispensary system in OR, when the larger discussion is afoot in North America about the central organizing principal that galvanizes most cannabis consumers: The want to cultivate, purchase and responsibly consume cannabis products, fully recognizing that genuinely sick, dying or sense threatened patients create the moral imperative and political expediency to largely ‘force’, via ballot initiatives or pro-reform legislation upon state governments, and ultimately the US Congress to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act entirely…just like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine products.
    Very likely the ‘truth’ and best strategy is a combination of DeAngelo’s ‘Flip the switch’ concept and cannabis law reformers staying on point that legalization is the best public policy outcome, not ‘medicalization’.
    A number of cannabis law reform lobbyists from MPP, LEAP, DRCNet and NORML were on a panel at Georgetown Law School this evening examining the current trends in cannabis law reform. A prominent law professor and medical doctor was on the panel with us and in his closing remarks he said to this affect, ‘When cannabis is legalized for non-medical purposes, the percentage of citizens asserting a medical need for cannabis will drop dramatically because a politically acceptable label (ie, medicine) will no longer be employed in any practical sense of the word’.
    For all and intent purposes, NORML started this entire public policy debate about medical cannabis by initiating NORML vs DEA in 1972 and signing on again with the second large DEA petition seeking rescheduling from I to II (or III) in 1998, but most of the organization’s efforts, and that of other pro-legalization groups like DPA/MPP/ACLU/LEAP are going to be largely directed in the coming months and years to the larger and more complicated agenda of full cannabis legalization more so than medicalization.
    # John Sajo Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 12:15 pm edit
    Good points Russ, but here’s the other side of the coin:
    1) We continue to work on mmj, not because it is perfect, but because it will win – today.
    2) We should work on legalization everywhere but don’t be shocked when legalization doesn’t pass yet. We have a bit more work to do to convince the voting public. I hope elections this fall prove me wrong – but they won’t. You young whippersnappers need to be prepared for a long struggle. I started work on my first legalization initiative in Oregon over 30 years ago. I will keep working for legalization until my ashes are spread over the earth.
    3) We have figured out how to deal with the federal/state conflict with medical marijuana. After struggling through Clinton and Bush, Obama says the feds will leave us alone. WE HAVE NOT FIGURED OUT HOW TO DEAL WITH THE FEDERAL STATE CONFLICT WHEN IT COMES TO LEGALIZING MARIJUANA! States may be able to legalize personal use (because the feds can’t stop it) but even Obama probably won’t let states openly sell marijuana to adults for pleasure. Truly legalizing marijuana is going to take the U.S. Congress changing federal law. To guage how difficult that will be just look at the current debate over health care reform!
    We absolutely should be calling for legalization, passing state initiatives and lobbying Congress to end a century on insane cannabis laws. But while we engage in that long, difficult struggle, we should help the sick and pass the best medical marijuana laws everywhere we can.
    Passing medical marijuana doesn’t box us in, as you suggest Russ. It would only do that if we were silent about legalization and we are not. Medical marijuana continues to open the eyes of prohibitioninsts who realize that it is a safe effective medicine and therefore their prohibition laws are unjustifed. MMJ wins converts every day, in every state.
    And finally, the legalization proposals we are floating right now all have flaws – because they are the work of courageous individuals, but have not been thoroughly vetted. Tax Marijuana (CA) limits personal use gardens to 25 square feet and makes it a crime to smoke in front of your kids. OCTA (OR) has the government buying and reselling the entire marijuana crop. These parts of otherwise really good proposals are really stupid.
    We have much work to do. We all need to turn our frustration with the pace of justice into a commitment to work hard for as long as it takes to win.

  5. Marijuana has NO INDOLs,=non posionous, NO ALKALOIDS=
    non addictive..66Delta Cannabinoids,over 100 terpenes,
    aspirin,chlorophyll, plant sterols,phytates,fibre,and many other useful chemicals..OVER 400 safe chemicals
    that we have many uses for in today`s modern world and medicine…LEGALLIZE IT…GROW YOUR OWN..
    OVER GROW the GOVERNMENT

  6. 10th Amendment Nullification- Just like the Firearms Freedom Acts that were passed in several states recently. The State’s do not need Federal Congressional approval to what they wish with cannabis.

  7. Was wonderful to read your response Allen to John.
    Pleased to hear the direction will be largely focused towards full Legalization.
    MPP and LEAP may be on board but ….. it is you that I’m putting my money on NORML.

  8. Question…
    Assuming pot were legalized in all states – what role would NORML play with marijuana from that point? In what capacity could NORML make money to support its officers and other partners? Why would NORML push hard for legalization throughout the country when it stands to no longer have any supporting members? Why would there need to be a NORML thereafter?
    These points cause curiosity and make me wonder about and question the motives of NORML. Why would an organization that brings in lots of money, as NORML does, push themselves out of existence? Perhaps they wouldn’t, and perhaps the campaign they let us see is a front. What if NORML was a government run agency, just not on the books?!
    [Editor’s note: Wow….you’ve got NORML pegged as both a self-interested organization that wants to last forever and a government agency. Which is it? You need to get your conspiracy theories straight before posting.
    NORML self-evidently is not a government agency…the US government has been actively opposing NORML since 1970. NORML is a transparent, non-profit public interest organization that has a 17-person board of directors comprised of unpaid cannabis law reform activists and the organization publishes its annual finances online. The organization has over 130 chapters nationwide, and the hundreds of unpaid women and men that manage these regional chapters are certainly no party to some kind of grand conspiracy to keep cannabis illegal–while appearing in public to support ending prohibition laws.
    What will happen to NORML (and other drug policy reform groups like MPP, ASA, DPA, DRCNet, SSDP, MAPS, etc…) after cannabis is legalized? There are are likely one of two scenarios that will play out as either the organization will stop existing and close, or the organization’s board of directors may choose to continue and expand NORML’s consumer advocacy in a manner that looks similar to the way the National Rifle Association, AARP, NOW, Consumer’s Union, Beer Wholesalers, Tobacco Institute, etc…advocate on behalf of consumers, producers and sellers of lawful commerce.
    In Washington, DC and in all 50 state capitals, if a business or service generates taxes to local, state and federal governments, it must have have a lobby organization or be subject to government abuses, over taxation or stifling regulations.]

  9. Well, this is an encouraging announcement from NORML’s outreach director. But there is a lot that is being unsaid, things that really need to be said. Although, explaining that it was cannabis users who made “medical marijuana” possible and not the medical community goes a long way. And putting “medical marijuana” in the context of real legalization instead of the other way around is also progress.
    Still, it is too easy to see that one of the strategies that the prohibitionists are applying against “medical marijuana” is by actually treating it like medicine. Isn’t it obvious what that means? It means that the overriding application of “medical marijuana” is as a recreational drug and the whole thing revolvs around a license to get high. Doesn’t anyone realize that this is not news to the prohibitionists?
    But instead of trying to dodge this, it would be better to expand on it. Allowing people to smoke cannabis, even under the false pretense of medical application has not done any users any kind of damage. It seems like the experience of the past decade with “medical marijuana” suggests complete legalization would not be as destructive as the prohibitionists would like us believe. And we need somebody to explain to the prohibitionists that the visions of a future of freed cannabis suffered by many anti-prohibitionists are as delusional as their own.
    When this stuff is legalized completely, there will be no more dispensaries, there will be no cafes, there will be no hydroponic garden in every garage. Admit it, that’s what we have now. After legalization, nobody will care about any of that stuff and the romantic era of cannabis consumption will be over.

  10. I was very pleased to see that Oregon has such lax laws. I hope we can aid in this effort to push forward and to continue in this vein.

  11. I agree that we need to move to full legalization, but there is one medical condition that needs to be addressed:
    Individuals with a combination of two ailments— Chronic Pain + NSAID Intolerance. Meaning that they can’t take aspirin or aspirin based painkillers and leaving them no option but dangerous tylenol or opiate based medications.
    For these people, marijuana is **LITERALLY** the safest medicine available to them, as the only drug less toxic than marijuana is aspirin and that is not the case for these individuals.

  12. Outstanding presentation of the political pulse of marijuana in this country. I found this article riveting and especially appreciated the graphs and charts to better illustrate the main points. I also agree that nothing less than full legalization should be the goal and the government must begin to genuinely serve the people at some point. Especially those in need of relief of any kind that can be safely provided by marijuana. As I see it, a major conflict with legalization is the pharma economic engine that is unable to manufacture a pill with the broad and safe application of marijuana. This conflict becomes especially difficult when the prospect of home grown cannabis eats away at their profits. Legalize now as there is no time like the present and marijuana truly is a present we must be able to responsibly take advantage of.

  13. Paul Revere
    You ebtter belive I’ll be votibng for RON PAUL!!! if anyone is the man for the job he is and I would also agree that Obama has clearly Failed us but I think Americans have woken up to there mistake and will next time will know when someone makes something sound to good to be true. As he did through his entire campaign then it probably is.. Does anyone know if Florida has a shot a medical Cannabis or decriminalization?

  14. This last state NJ MEd pass is why we in the Community need to step our game plan away from Medi Mari.. We need to focus on the real concerns of the human population Such as our energy crisis and start pushing for HEMP.. I suggested this statagy at a Philly NORML meeting about 3 years ago. I still feel we need to push this issue being we will get more support from the conservitive Americans all over. HEMP = Fuel, Food, Clothing, Building Material!! All fundimental Elements of Human SURVIVAL!! NO ONE CAN DENY THE BASIC NEEDS OF LIFE!!!!! LETS DO THIS AMERICA!!!

  15. One of the oddities in this battle for legalization is that both sides work at it for exactly opposite motivations. The anti-drug cartel want marijuana kept illegal so they can continue too get their government subsidies from the ONDCP. Legalization means they are going to have to get a different occupation.
    NORML and organizations like them are working towards being out of a job,if they happen to be in a paid position,which many are not,they provide their time and effort on a voluntary basis.
    Their job ends when legalization occurs.
    the difference is that advocates look forward to being out of work,while prohibs are scared to death of the possibility.

  16. Why are we so damn stupid ??? (or lazy )
    If all of the users of marijuana in this country would all just show up for the annual WORLDWIDE MARIJUANA MARCH JUST ONE TIME the crowds would be so large in numbers that the legalization of marijuana would happen very, very quickly. The windbags in congress would be forced to legalize marijuana if we ALL were to march at once. It would be impossible for the media and the politicians to continue to ignore this issue. Think about what the scene would look like. There would be millions of marchers in the streets demanding legalization. The government would be forced to change the laws. And it would happen overnight IF we all were to march at once.
    The protest marches worked for the civil rights movement and the antiwar protesters in the 60’s and it would be just as effective for this issue if we ALL were to march at once. Our numbers are so large the government would have to change their laws and give us legalization we desire.
    There has never been a better time than now to try to force action on this issue. (don’t be lazy of stupid)
    So if your for legalization why don’t you join us this spring for the annual WORLDWIDE MARIJUANA MARCH on May 1 to march for change? (worldwidemarijuanamarch.org)

  17. I have to at least partially disagree.
    Although medical marijuana is not getting better, it is serving a very important role in this country right now.
    Each state that legalizes marijuana as medicine is another blatant contradiction to the Controlled Substances Act. The more that our country recognizes that marijuana does have an accepted medical value, the more likely it will be for marijuana to be rescheduled. The SMALLEST step of measurable progress possible on the federal level would be to have cannabis placed away from Schedule I. And even this small step would accomplish 2/3 of NORML’s main goals! It would
    (1) importantly secure marijuana as a medicine to anyone in the country who could use it, and
    (2) be far more likely that farmers would be permitted to grow hemp like our neighbor to the north
    The third and arguably most fundamental goal of NORML is legalization for personal use. But we cannot expect marijuana to be re-legalized overnight, as Russ suggests. I really think we should focus on taking reachable steps and move from there.

  18. Doesn’t anyone listen to the news ?
    Recently the Supreme Court ruled that any firm can make political contributions to any politician and does not have to disclose where the contributions came from . After hearing this , President Obama was very upset meaning he’s on our side . I’ve been telling you since day 1 = this war on drugs is all about D.A.T.
    Drug & Alcohol are undoubtably paying these politicians to keep Marijuana ” under the gun “.In other Countries it’s Tobacco Companies along with Drug & Alcohol .

  19. Let’s be honest, neither Mr. Obama nor the democratic party are going to support us in any way. I’ve written letters, signed petitions and called every representative and our President and NOBODY gives a shit about us! MMJ was a nice try but as this article points out that’s gone about as far as it’s going to go. Doing this “the right way” isn’t going to accomplish our goals. Just saying.

  20. Consider the Maine vote. Med Pot was more popular than traditional marriage by a fairly wide margin. 58% to 53% (both passed).
    Where there are big interests involved it is going to take time. Remember how politics really is: money runs the country but voting is a safety valve.
    Raise the pressure.

  21. Ron Paul will not win, geez …….
    And Americans have not woken up, just the end the drug war group.

  22. It is premature to consider legalization has much of a chance of happening in the US. Even if California is successful in November (you think the gay marraige thing was a fiasco, just wait!), I don’t doubt the feds will be as tolerant of it as they say they are about MMJ.
    The most sensible thing to me is this:
    Medical access is granted for all patients who need it. Thousands participate. Statistics are gathered to assess the impact. When it is “discovered” that the participants haven’t become addicted to cannabis, they haven’t passed through the “gateway” to cocaine, heroin, and other drugs, they haven’t suffered side-effect related health dangers, haven’t increased use by minors, and haven’t clogged up our highways with smashed automobiles and human carnage, medical cannabis will become available OTC.
    There’s your legalization scenario.

  23. One thing I do commend NORML for is their honesty and integrity in leaving, in tact, posts that question their motives as an organization. I posted something earlier (with a hint of paranoia) and the response I received was professional and made points to be acknowledged.
    One thing I will say is that without a concerted effort by large entities as NORML, who can invest real money into the advertising circuit – on radio and television – broadcasting in large markets, you can have all of these forums and blogs online creating and posting polls, petitions, and surveys and no one will hear your voice. The Democrats have been trying to initiate fairness in broadcasting legislation which would basically moderate the content that could be broadcast, and they are wanting to control the internet in the same manner.
    I don’t know where people get the idea that Republicans are the party trying to take away freedoms and liberties, especially where speech is concerned. This administration has tried to push so many citizen rights violations, basically to re-write the Constitution and give government more control over Americans. People really should know where their candidate and his/her party stands before they cast the big vote. Now we have a President who was voted in solely because of his skin color and great orating abilities (with a teleprompter) and look where we stand now. We’ve had more set backs in the movement to legalize marijuana during the last year than ever during Bush’s administration. Heh – go figure. The “I told you so” phrase has rolled off my tongue so many times during the last several months that I’ve considered just buying the bumper sticker!

  24. It would be awesome to see this graphic as a time lapse video, showing the progression over the past 20 years.

  25. its stupid for the state of indiana to not leagalize.All the farmers should jump on the bandwagon .they would be rich if they leagalize hemp.thats where i am convinced that the u.s.would make more money, from taxes, than the smoking herb.

  26. Allen
    Thanks for posting a reply. A few comments on your post:
    1)The new initiative (I28) that we are putting on the Oregon ballot this fall calls for a system of nonprofit dispensaries. No one is proposing for profit dispensaries.
    2) There is nearly as much opposition to the medical marijuana law here in Oregon as there is in California and Colorado to dispensaries. Here the anti-marijuana forces complain about the OMMA growers who abuse the law (make money).
    3) The new mmj laws that are coming are going to be more conservative than somw of the oldr mmj laws. But that is because they are coming out of legislatures rather than being voted in as initiatives by the people. The people are far ahead of the politicians on this issue.
    4) The mmj/mj split that Russ writes about is not real. Passing new mmj laws and improving the existing mmj laws is the fastest path to full legalization.
    NORML should focus on full legalization. There is much work to do. I would like to see NORML play a key role and help improve the legalization proposals being offered and improve the campaigns behind them. The next national conference should devote much time to panels discussing:
    A) What is a good model legalization bill?
    B) How do states overcome the conflict with federal law to legalize?
    C) How do marijuana activists build the broadest coalitions possible so that we have the best chance of winning.
    I salute the current legalization campaigns. But we must all work together to make the next round of legalization initiatives better. I hope NORML will take a key role in this.

  27. 86# poster said “I don’t know where people get the idea that Republicans are the party trying to take away freedoms and liberties, especially where speech is concerned. This administration has tried to push so many citizen rights violations, basically to re-write the Constitution and give government more control over Americans.”
    Let’s not single out one party for taking away liberties and free speech after 8 years of Bush. I think both parties are equally to blame and equally ineffective at wiping their own behinds.
    The SCOTUS for one needs to be broken up and replaced with real Constitutional judges, not corporate lawyers.
    Also, there has been more movement in legalization in the past year since Obama took office than the whole damn eight years with Bush combined.

  28. #83 said;”Medical access is granted for all patients who need it. Thousands participate. Statistics are gathered to assess the impact. When it is “discovered” that the participants haven’t become addicted to cannabis, they haven’t passed through the “gateway” to cocaine, heroin, and other drugs, they haven’t suffered side-effect related health dangers, haven’t increased use by minors, and haven’t clogged up our highways with smashed automobiles and human carnage, medical cannabis will become available OTC.”
    Ah, that’s already happening.

  29. It is time for re-legalization. The responsible use of cannabis by adults in America should not be a crime. Cannabis is by far less harmful to an individual than Alcohol and tobacco but continues to be ranked by the government as being as dangerous as Heroin. I just do not understand why the government continues to wage war on the plant.

  30. I agree Russ. We need to legalize asap and stop focusing so much on medical legislation. Because the medical legislation, right out the gate, is hindered by prohibition. It has too many restrictions which treat cannabis like a dangerous drug, not the benign herb it is. We need though, to not only talk about recreational users when we talk about legalization. We need to talk about the other infinitely large industries that will emerge when cannabis is legalized: Industrial hemp, cannabinoid medicines, cannabis paraphernalia, and advertising. Hemp alone is definitely going to be even more valuable an industry than the recreational use itself- why is this never taken into account? Where are some hypothetical figures on the size of these industries? Because when states hear about the possible revenues from taxing recreational sales, sure they’re impressive. But they aren’t the whole picture. And I think we should show them that picture.
    As far as the argument being that “powerful and effective medicine” should be heavily regulated, well we can debate our ways out of that corner. First off, yes cannabis is powerful and effective but as far as negative consequences resulting from its use, it’s rather benign. And this is the goddamn United States of America! We should have the freedom to do whatever we want with our own bodies. That will be my argument til the day I die. Anyone who disagrees is a fascist fuck who will get no respect or acknowledgment from me. We can do this! We just have to make sure that all our arguments are concrete (which they are) and make our case to the public, in editorials and news segments all across the country. Use the propaganda machine for our own purposes. Hell CBS finally let you use their billboard! We can do this! Re-legalize cannabis!

  31. Hello John,
    Thanks for your reply email.
    1) I stand corrected re for-profit dispensaries. However the confusion re “non-profit” dispensaries is exactly what is going on in California and Colorado. A recent dispensary owner in Hollywood commented on NORML’s podcast ‘The Stash’ about how his non-profit was paying him a salary of $10,000-$20,000 per MONTH. Hard for most of us to believe “non-profit” when that’s more than most for-profit doctors and pharmacists make–combined.
    2) So…you want to give those same profit-driven growers a storefront now? Why? What have they done to earn the respect and trust of the medical cannabis community with their $70 ‘eighths’?
    3) True, legislatures are going to craft more conservative mmj bills. When they do so, they readily cite the abuses of California (and Colorado, somewhat) as the prime reason for their cautious concerns.
    Also,even with the citizen initiatives passed between 1999-2008, they average only 7.4 plants and 1.8 ounces possession limit; four cover only 3 of the 5 basic rights, and three cover only the “Big 8” conditions with no extra conditions, so even the people who are so ahead of the politicians are dialing back medical marijuana laws.
    4) Unfortunately, from NORML’s perspective, the larger effort to legalize cannabis is being somewhat balkanized by some medical cannabis-only advocates and some cannabusinessess who, happy with the political gains and ‘legal’ profits provided to them by the multi-decade advocacy efforts of the so-called ‘legalizers’, project to their supporters, media and elected policy makers that they’re only for adult citizens having access to cannabis via the permission of a physician.
    This is the dreaded ‘boxed canyon’ presented by medical cannabis law reforms to citizens and policymakers who favor total legalization, rather than medicalization.
    I agree that passing new mmj laws is critical, but I disagree about constantly “improving” the existing laws. With seemingly every session, the Oregon legislature’s “restrict mmj” bills always outnumber the
    “improve mmj” bills. If a dispensary initiative passes, I can see AOI and LEO lobbying hard for stricter doctor/patient rules and stricter evaluation
    of “chronic pain”. I can already hear Dan Harmon saying “Well, now that the legitimate mmj patients have a place to access medicine, they don’t really
    need 24 plants and 24 ounces anymore, do they?”
    Any “improvement” is going to come with horse trading and compromise –
    I wish I concurred with you re the availability of medical cannabis seriously changing public attitudes in favor of full legalization.
    However, medical marijuana isn’t convincing people that responsible healthy adults should be able to use cannabis, it is convincing people that sick and disabled people should be exempted from the otherwise vexing and acceptable policy of arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating healthy people.
    NORML is all for broad coalitions of groups and people who have the best interests of the marijuana consumer in mind–but not necessarily the needs and wants of cannabis producers or sellers.

  32. I’m so glad that I live in California, where it’s most likely going to be legalized this year. I can’t wait to vote yes for re-legalization this November. I’m also excited to get my doctor’s recommendation this Friday and I’m also getting a new bong/water pipe right afterwards.

  33. Can I travel from Texas to another state to see a doctor that will
    medially prescribe me? Im not able to find any doctors in Texas willing
    or that deals with Medical Marijuana
    [Russ responds: Only if you establish residency in that state. And you can only use medically if you stay in that state; a card from any state won’t help you in Texas.]

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