2012: The Year In Review — NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

#1 Colorado and Washington Vote To Legalize Marijuana
Voters in Colorado and Washington made history by approving ballot measures allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults. Washington’s law, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use (as well as the possession of up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form), took effect on December 6. Colorado’s law, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants in private by those persons age 21 and over, took effect on December 10. Regulators in both states are now in the process of drafting rules to allow for state-licensed proprietors to commercially produce and sell cannabis.

#2 Most Americans Favor Legalization, Want The Feds To Butt Out
A majority of Americans support legalizing the use of cannabis by adults, according to national polls by Public Policy Polling, Angus Reid, Quinnipiac University, and others. A record high 83 percent of US citizens favor allowing doctors to authorize specified amounts of marijuana for patients suffering from serious illnesses. And nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose federal interference in state laws that allow for legal marijuana use by adults.

#3 Connecticut, Massachusetts Legalize Cannabis Therapy
Connecticut and Massachusetts became the 17th and 18th states to allow for the use of cannabis when recommended by a physician. Connecticut lawmakers in May approved Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana. The new law took effect on October 1. On Election Day, 63 percent of Massachusetts voters approved Question 3, eliminating statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013.

#4 Schedule I Prohibitive Status For Pot “Untenable,” Scientists Say
The classification of cannabis and its organic compounds as Schedule I prohibited substances under federal law is scientifically indefensible, according to a review published online in May in The Open Neurology Journal. Investigators at the University of California at San Diego and the University of California, Davis reviewed the results of several recent clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of inhaled or vaporized cannabis. They concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

#5 Marijuana Arrests Decline, But Still Total Half Of All Illicit Drug Violations
Police made 757,969 arrests in 2011 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. The total marked a decline from previous years. Of those charged in 2011 with marijuana law violations, 663,032 (86 percent) were arrested for marijuana offenses involving possession only. According to the report, approximately 43 percent of all drug violations in 2011 were for cannabis possession.

#6 Long-Term Cannabis Exposure Not Associated With Adverse Lung Function
Exposure to moderate levels of cannabis smoke, even over the long-term, is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function, according to clinical trial data published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over a 20-year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities. They concluded: “With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (e.g., 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function. … Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana … may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”

#7 Cannabis Use Associated With Decreased Prevalence Of Diabetes
Adults with a history of marijuana use have a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than do those with no history of cannabis consumption, according to clinical trial data published in the British Medical Journal. Investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles assessed the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and marijuana use among adults aged 20 to 59 in a nationally representative sample of the US population of 10,896 adults. Investigators concluded, “Our analysis of adults aged 20-59 years … Showed that participants who used marijuana had a lower prevalence of DM and lower odds of DM relative to non-marijuana users.”

#8 Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Not Associated With Neighborhood Crime
The establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries does not adversely impact local crime rates, according to a federally funded study published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers reported: “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study.”

#9 Rhode Island Becomes The 15th State To Decriminalize Pot Possession Penalties
Governor Lincoln Chafee signed legislation into law in June amending marijuana possession penalties for those age 18 or older from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense — punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. The decriminalization law takes effect on April 1, 2013.

#10 Cannabis Reduces Symptoms In Patients With Treatment-Resistant MS
Cannabis inhalation mitigates spasticity and pain in patients with treatment-resistant multiple sclerosis (MS), according to clinical trial data published online in May in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. Investigators at the University of California, San Diego assessed the use of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 30 patients with MS who were unresponsive to conventional treatments. “Smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in symptom and pain reduction in patients with treatment-resistant spasticity,” authors concluded.

58 thoughts

  1. Hey, who would have known 25 years ago that this legalization thing would become a battle of states rights. I am 39 years old, when I was in my 20s, me and my friends thought it would come down to a New Law voted in by Congress or a Surpreme Court decicion from some extreme case. But that is not how legalization is happening, it’s a Staes Rights Revolution going on here. Slowly but surely! So anyway this is BLUENEVADA the band and we’d like to play a song for you please click and listen… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzMlL93c0HA Thanks and Good Day 🙂

  2. The Killer Weed by David Hull
    Everyone should read this book, especially law enforcement. What do you do when the law is unfair and unjust and you’re sentenced to two to three years in State Prison?

  3. As a native Tennessean I think there are plenty of people here that are very much aware of how safe Cannabis is but lack the ability to ‘come out of the closet’ to family and friends . I am one such person but I do however teach each person I can that Cannabis could be good for many people and many reasons using facts that I get from pro Marijuana web sites such as this one .’keep those fingers pickin yall’

  4. Paul, I continue to follow your writings with respect and admiration and I continue to try to express myself-0-now at lawyersforpublicsafety.com, for which I am doing a Crowdfuning.com “call for equity” to support the publishing component,

    Let me know if you any thoughts on any of this. In any event, happy 2013.

    (Presently staying in Nashville at the home of a friend of the NORMAL benefactor, oddly). I will be returning to the Bay Area this weekend, after 5 months in SE Asia mostly in Buddhist monasteries, Hopefully we can can come lunch or coffee together sometime,

    Doug Slain

  5. None of you knuckleheads are listening….. It is time to march on Washington D.C. with 1 million blunts lit at once on 4/20/13 @ 4:20 p.m. to send a smoke signal that the world cannot ignore. A signal to the Obama administration and to congress, that , We , the people , run this country , and that elected officials will obey our orders….
    We are born with inalienable rights, and to choose to use the cannabis plant is a choice, that stems from a law of nature. Bestowed on us by our natural god……….

  6. Marijuana will never be truly legal until growing it isn’t a crime. While I applaud WA for decriminalizing possession, in my view they need the tax money and that is one reason for the change in the law. Until the mighty herb can be grown with my rosemary plants, it is still illegal.

    [Editor’s note: Cannabis was not decriminalized in Washington. Voters made it legal, and in about a year, after the tax-n-control regulations are implemented, citizens over the age of twenty-one years old will be able to purchase cannabis products in a retail store. Currently, there is no penalty for possessing an ounce of cannabis in Washington.]

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