Want Legalization in Your State?

How do we move from prohibition to legalization in my state?

That’s one of the most asked questions we hear every week at NORML.

With national media attention focusing on the favorable experience with legalization in Colorado and Washington, and on the not-yet-implemented legalization programs recently adopted in Oregon and Alaska, anyone living in a state that continues arresting and jailing marijuana smokers would naturally wonder why their state seems to have missed out on the drive to end marijuana prohibition.

More accurately, many of those states are lagging behind in the legalization movement, but that, too, will change. As we continue to gather data demonstrating these new laws are working as intended, with few unintended consequences, the drive to end marijuana prohibition will soon reach every state in the union, and beyond. We are no longer debating theory and conjecture; we now have real-life experiences that can be evaluated, and that data resource will grow with each new state.

Patience and persistence still required

We all need to accept the reality that changing public policy is a complex process that requires financial resources, re-education and political organizing. Following more than 75 years of criminal prohibition, and “reefer madness” propaganda by our state and federal governments, many Americans — especially older Americans — hold a negative view of marijuana and marijuana smoking, believing it presents a risk to health or public safety.

Since all but a few of us have lived under prohibition for our entire lives, it is understandable that many would presume there must have been some justification for those tens of millions of marijuana arrests. Surely our own government would not needlessly wreak havoc on all those lives and careers without a good reason.

To Read the Balance of This Column, please go to Marijuana.com.

74 thoughts

  1. i am all for legalization, especially in Florida. I just don’t think it will happen in my lifetime. Too many closed minded people in America for this to ever be accepted. Not trying to be negative but I have lost hope.

  2. Medical marijuana has been legal in Illinois for more than 365 days, but the number of patients that have actually been able to get relief from the drug remains a big fat zero.

    While 600 local patients have already been approved for a medical marijuana card, there’s no place to actually buy the stuff. And after the state recently blew its self-imposed deadline to award business licenses to medical marijuana growers and dispensaries by the end of 2014, not a single business can even plant pot seeds.

    “Illinois is the worst at anything having to do [with] medicine — or alternative [treatment],” Claire Mooney, a 39-year-old acupuncturist in Chicago, told The Huffington Post. Mooney applied in November for a medical marijuana card, hoping to ease muscle rigidity, pain and other symptoms caused by her multiple sclerosis.

    Though she’s frustrated by the state’s timing, she said she’s also not surprised by it. “It goes on the timeline I thought it would be on, given the bureaucracy of Illinois.”

    Despite the growing frustration among would-be medical marijuana patients like Mooney, it might not be time to lose heart entirely — so says Ali Nagib, the assistant director for the Illinois arm of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a nonprofit advocacy group.

    “Other than the fact that for many patients, any delay is too long, it’s not an unexpected delay for people who have been following it,” Nagib said. “If you go back and listen to floor debates in 2013, they were anticipating — even at that time — a year of rulemaking. In that sense, it’s not unexpected [the licensing has] taken that long.”

    But with a gubernatorial administration hand-off less than a week away, continued delays to the business licensing could see new variables emerge in an already complex landscape.

    Outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn, considered a medical marijuana advocate, on Sunday told the Chicago Sun-Times of the state’s licensing delay: “It is a complicated law and we’re working on it as best we can. There’s a lot of research to be done, and it has to be done right.”

    In less than a week, Quinn’s term ends, and the licensing falls under the purview of Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, who criticized the law in the past.

    “We don’t expect any major changes to the rules under [Rauner],” Nagib noted. “We simply don’t know how he’s going to implement this law. There are a lot of ways he could obstruct it if he chooses, and there are a lot of ways he could expedite it, too.”

    Neither Quinn nor Rauner’s office immediately replied when reached for comment.

    Regardless of which administration issues the business licenses, Nagib said Illinois’ medical marijuana patients are effectively “all dressed up, with no place to go.”

    Katelyn Harper, a 23-year-old Chicagoan who suffers from Crohn’s disease, told HuffPost she’s not surprised by the long wait for medical marijuana access but remains hopeful that policy makers will avoid unnecessary delays.

    “We are real people who have real lives, real jobs, friends, family,” Harper said of her fellow patients who suffer from chronic illness. “[Medical marijuana] will not just benefit patients, it’ll benefit all of those people, too.”

    On the spectrum of states handling weed legislation, those like California and Colorado — which legalized medical marijuana but have fewer regulations on the substance than Illinois does — moved fastest from legalization to actual access, according to Nagib. At the other end of the spectrum is Massachusetts, still waiting on access to medical marijuana despite voters overwhelmingly approving it on a ballot measure more than two years ago.

    “One criticism was that [Illinois’ law] doesn’t allow for home cultivation,” Nagib said. “If that provision had been in this bill, patients could have access already.”

    Mooney said the dearth of licensed marijuana businesses in Illinois means patients are being denied not only access to the drug, but guidance as to which strains will best help certain conditions.

    “For my multiple sclerosis, I’ve found [specific types of marijuana] very helpful,” Mooney said, noting that without licensed dispensaries, finding and using the best strain is a challenge. “I just have to scour the streets for my Maui Waui,” she added, referring to the name of a strain of marijuana.

    Nagib said most advocates and lawmakers are anticipating that patients will have medical marijuana access sometime between late spring and early fall of this year.

    “I think this next week is going to be very telling,” he said. “We’ll see if things move or not. If we get to 2015 and there’s still no patient access, I’d consider that to be a significant failure.” – Huffington Post

  3. One raised cash for former Gov. Pat Quinn.

    Another ran the state’s department of agriculture for Quinn and his predecessor.

    And a third is a retired judge who ended his judicial career as the chief of Will County’s felony division.

    All three might have had a chance to legally grow or sell medical marijuana in Illinois had the former governor followed through on recommendations for awarding the coveted licenses before he left office.

    RELATED: Pot czar reacts as Quinn fails to issue licenses: ‘I am so sorry’

    Instead, records show Quinn left behind a list of companies recommended by the Department of Agriculture to operate 21 medical marijuana farms and by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to run 56 medical marijuana dispensaries. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office released the records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

    Quinn administration officials have said the former governor wanted to get relief to patients waiting to use the drug, but also wanted it done right and “in a fair and careful way” that shouldn’t be rushed at the last minute.

    They’ve also stressed the applications went through a blind scoring process. But among those recommended to receive one of the coveted licenses was a company listing Keith McGinnis of Ottawa as a managing member.

    McGinnis held a fundraiser at his home for the former governor in August.

    The next month, McGinnis’ firm, In Grown Farms LLC, applied for a license to grow medical marijuana in Stephenson County, records show.

    And staffers in the Quinn administration had recommended In Grown receive the license, records obtained by the Sun-Times show.

    McGinnis himself contributed $1,500 to Quinn last year, records show. He also contributed $250 in December to Rep. Lou Lang’s campaign fund. Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, has championed the medical marijuana program.

    McGinnis said he doesn’t believe the fundraiser had any influence on his successful application.

    “The only way you can win this is by writing the best application,” he said.

    His company applied in other districts for licenses but was not recommended for the license, he said

    Another company that may have been allowed to grow medical marijuana is Ieso LLC, which was recommended for a license in the downstate district that includes Marion and Carbondale.

    A manager of that company is Tom Jennings, the state’s former Department of Agriculture director who was appointed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jennings, who served under Quinn before retiring from his state post in 2011 after more than three decades with the department, downplayed his connection to Quinn and said he worked for the state under a myriad of governors. Jennings declined to comment further.

    Though Quinn administration officials have stressed applicants were scored in the blind, notations beside some of the applicants suggest it wasn’t that simple. However, no such notations appeared beside In Grown or Ieso.

    Finally, staffers working in the Quinn administration recommended two dispensary licenses for 3C Compassionate Care Center LLC, which is co-owned by Traci Fernandez, her husband Hugo Fernandez, and her father — retired Will County Judge Robert Livas.

    “I retired as the chief of the felony division in Will County,” Livas said. “I was a little tough on drugs.”

    But about six years ago his daughter, Traci Fernandez, was stricken with transverse myelitis in 2008 — essentially waking up paralyzed over Labor Day weekend of that year. The mother of two young children, now bound to a wheelchair, started a foundation to help find a cure but ultimately had trouble raising money.

    She persuaded her husband and father to help her found 3C.

    Fernandez said she felt a mix of excitement and pride when she learned 3C had been recommended for a license. Livas, who said the venture is part of the reason he retired in November, called it a “tribute to how much effort we put in.”

    Still, he said it won’t mean much until the Rauner administration makes its own decision and determines who will be allowed to legally grow and sell medical marijuana.

    Applicants like 3C are ready for that day to come, he said.

    “We’ve done everything we can do,” Livas said. “There’s nothing left to do. We just have to wait this out.”

  4. Below is the list of applicants that scored highest in evaluations to receive marijuana cultivation licenses in each of Illinois’ state police districts, according to the documents. In some cases, where marked, the Quinn administration did not include those businesses in later drafts of prepared, but unsent news releases.

    District 1 – Carroll, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside counties

    GTI Clinic Holding, LLC

    This company was omitted from later versions of the draft news release.

    District 2 – DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry counties

    Progressive Treatment Solutions, LLC

    District 3 and 4 (C) – Cook County

    Illinois Grown Medicine
    Bedford Grow LLC

    None of the drafts mentioned these business names, saying the “selection process is ongoing.” The businesses were listed on a scoring sheet along with other top scorers, but they were highlighted in red.

    District 5 – Grundy, Kendall, Will counties

    Cresco Labs, LLC

    This company was omitted from later versions of the draft news release.

    District 6 – DeWitt, Livingston, McLean counties


    District 7 – Henry, Knox, Mercer, Rock Island counties

    GTI Clinic Holding, LLC

    District 8 – Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell, Woodford counties

    Ace Delevan, LLC

    This company was omitted from later versions of the draft news release.

    District 9 – Cass, Christian, Logan, Mason, Menard, Morgan, Sangamon counties

    Cresco Labs, LLC

    This company was omitted from later versions of the draft news release.

    District 10 – Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby, Vermilion counties

    Shelby County Community Services, Inc.

    District 11 – Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, St. Clair counties

    Progressive Treatment Solutions, LLC

    This company was omitted from later versions of the draft news release.

    District 12 – Clark, Clay, Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Lawrence, Marion, Richland counties

    Flora Grow, LLC

    District 13- Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Randolph, Washington, Williamson counties

    Ieso, LLC

    District 14 – Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, Warren counties

    Natures Grace and Wellness, LLC

    District 15 – Downers Grove – Tollway

    No applicants

    District 16 – Boone, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Winnebago counties

    In Grown Farms, LLC 2

    District 17 – Bureau, LaSalle, Putnam counties

    GTI Clinic Holding, LLC

    This company was omitted from later versions of the draft news release.

    District 18 – Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Montgomery counties

    Compass Ventures, Inc.

    District 19 – Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Saline, Wabash, Wayne, White counties


    District 20 – Adams, Brown, Pike, Schuyler, Scott counties

    Ace Barry, LLC

    District 21 – Ford, Iroquois, Kankakee counties

    Cresco Labs, LLC

    District 22 – Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Union counties

    Wellness Group Pharms

    None of the draft news releases mentioned this business name, saying the “selection process is ongoing.” This company was listed on a scoring sheet along with other top scorers, but highlighted in red.

    Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics/illinois-medical-marijuana-289824201.html#ixzz3Q2ZFCR6S
    Follow us: @nbcchicago on Twitter | nbcchicago on Facebook

  5. “The inexplicable unwillingness of Governor Quinn to finish the job on the medical marijuana program means one thing: unnecessary prolonged pain and suffering of very sick people,” Lang said. “The people suffering from cancer, epilepsy will be further victimized by the governor’s failure to do his job.”

    “This single failure may doom the medical cannabis program,” Lang said. “This single failure said to all of those folks that made applications to be cultivators or dispensary owners that, ‘We took your $5 million, but we’ll get to you when we feel like it.’”

    Gov. Rauner, who was inaugurated on Monday, is now in charge of the medical marijuana licensing process.

    Rauner has criticized the selection process as subject to cronyism.

    During his campaign for governor, the venture capitalist suggested just auctioning the licenses off to the highest bidders.

    With yet more delays now occurring in a pilot program set to expire in 2017, some discouraged patients are speculating the law might never result in any safe access at all.

    “Here we sit again at the whims of the politicians and what they decide they’re going to do,” said multiple sclerosis patient Julie Falco of Chicago. “People are definitely frustrated, the patients are really upset that they are waiting.

    “Some very sick people were hurt,” Lang said on Tuesday. “And some very innocent people were hurt yesterday… from a person who has spent his life talking about health care.”

    “The state of Illinois has a responsibility to fulfill its obligations under the law,” Lang said.

    “We did not do that.”

    – See more at: http://hemp.org/news/node/4592#sthash.hR8ziFhy.dpuf


  7. Dear Charles,

    I hope your attackers see the inside of a jail cell themselves. While I despise our “criminal justice system”, you might take some comfort knowing that “Corrections Officers” regularly kill themselves as their jobs are so depressing and half illegal as locking people up for life is a crime all by itself. And jail times just keep getting longer and longer so criminals that own jails and keep stealing more tax money. All the while the “corrections Officers” slowly morph in “slave overseers”. After taking stock of the damage they personally do to society, many of them decide to eat a bullet.

  8. I’m in Tennessee, one of the most conservative states when it comes to marijuana policy reform. Pray for us guys, because we’re gonna be the very last state to change.

    [Editor’s note: In a short period of time the TN NORML chapter has become increasingly busy and visible in the state, please contact them to help hasten an end to cannabis prohibition there.]

  9. I really wish some strong people with titles would stand up for marijuana in Alabama ….we need doctors, lawyers,big business owners I don’t care ….I also don’t care about how conservative you are …how many so called conservative people smoke cigarettes and come shake your hand for an interview smelling like five ashtrays….it’s time to stand up for what we believe in damnit

  10. Dear NORML Blog Editor,
    I do believe TGAINES is ALREADY active
    w/ the local chapter, (TN NORML),
    writing and visiting state representatives,
    attending legislative hearings, etc.

    Only a handful of legislators here are
    even open-minded enough to possibly consider
    severely-limited “medical” cannabis, much less
    backing more encompassing reforms.

    [Editor’s note: At the legislative level, notably in cities and states, elected policy makers are far more influenced by personal lobbying. In essence, in the politico’s mind, a problem has to be pointed out, aggrieved citizens peacefully petition the government for redress, politicos more often than not are responsive to well organized lobbying campaigns from their constituents.

    Every year both the chapters and TN get more and more active. In response more hearings will be scheduled in 2015/2016. Indeed, passing a bill and getting executive signature remains tall order still there, but, the building blocks for reform in TN are being erected and the more citizens there active, the faster the reforms. It is that wonderfully binary.]

  11. Illinois has a medical marijuana law…kinda?…maybe?…not?

    I remember calling a Chinese restaurant one time many years ago.

    The very encouraging voice on the other end of the line asked, ” You want come eat”?

    I answered with great enthusiasm, ” Yes”!

    She replied, ” We not open”!…and hung up.

    This true story reminds me of the current state of The State of Illinois regarding legal access to medicinal cannabis therapy under a law that has been in effect for more than 600 days…without one legally certified patient receiving any medical cannabis.

    “We not open”?…until we get the money straight… into the Right pockets of CorporatePotProfiteers (CCP) ?

    They are the businessmen who will own a plant!

    Think about it?

    Can’t grow your own means paying for a plant owned by Businessmen.

    Give it a think?…and you may either laugh or cry?…your choice!

    As the youngsters say, ” The Stupid, it Burns”!

    [Editor’s note: If states adopt overly restrictive licensing and taxing policies, cannabis prohibition will keep chugging along with home cultivation and illegal sales, then, like with the end of prohibition itself, consumers will seek greater consumer choice and freedoms. The only substantive difference is that consumers will be advocating in a post-cannabis prohibition environment that accepts cannabis commerce as compared to lobbying during prohibition when the government sees cannabis consumers as criminals and deviants.]

  12. Advocating and lobbying have substantive and very different and distinct definitions from one another.

    You seem to stating they are, in effect, synonymous?

    Been “chugging along” for way too long, Mr. Editor!

    I imagine you have the benefit of youth/time for the train to keep chugging its merry way along the slow track…many others do not.

    [Editor’s note: It is both idiotic to insinuate that NORML is slow walking legalization efforts and to believe that legalization is going to come about without people donating money to the actual organizations that are in fact legalizing cannabis in your lifetime.

    Do you think that this webpage, software licensing, numerous servers and bandwidth are provided for free??

    The legalization of cannabis in the US is not happening because of magic. Freedom ain’t free.]

  13. Louisiana is in budget trouble big time. If they would change the laws and sell mmj they could dig us out of a hole.

  14. Kansas SB9 and HB2011 is another attempt to reach relief and patient rights once again. Kansas needs cannabis.

  15. I’m very concerned I have heard nothing with marijuana and decriminalization/legalization in the same sentence in regards to WI. I guess its time to find a local chapter and get some work done. I ask any and all WI residents who read this to do the same. And while we’re at it lets ask, or I should say “tell” all government officials thanks but no thanks. We don’t need them making decisions for us in regards to if we should as adult taxpayers be told that we shouldn’t put marijuana in our bodies for whatever reason they are peddling this time. Come on Wisconsin…we are rolling over playing dead letting some overweight, uninformed, likeminded politician schooling us on “there” unfounded facts. Let’s get national headlines WI opens its arms to legal Marijuana in 2015/16!!!

  16. Connecticut’s MMJ is about the same price as “street weed”; maybe more expensive!!! About the only advantage is “full counts”!!:)

  17. I have Gillian barre . Dr don’t know what causes it and want to use me for a guina pig. Plasmapheresis uh no. It’s a shame people like me suffer. And a lot of others. Because of out dated polices and fear of loss of jobs in enforcement. Let’s face it Tricky dick onward have done nothing but escalate drug use. No pot oh I’ll try coke or even worse heroine. Kids are dying daily because we need to stand up and say no. Taxation could do much for education. And put a end to the idiocy we have at hand.

  18. Mississippi was the only state that grew the medical Marijuana for the entire country for years and years. And we have decriminalized it as well. But even though we now have a virtual flood of information showing all of the hundreds of great things about Cannabis, people still have this mentality that its bad in some way. And as I have been an advocate of Cannabis for years and I have done tons of research on Cannabis in which I try to use to inform and educate people with, some people are so stuck in the 50`s with the reefer madness mentality that there will never be a way to change their minds. Thats whats frustrating. When yoiu show those people, literally stick literature and scientific facts in their faces, they nod it off. How can anyone be so shallow, and so stupid. Not ignorant because once you have been shown and informed you have the knowledge so the denial of the truth is in fact just plain stupidity. Im so tired of this. And then when they can`t use all of the garbage and conjecture that they dreamed up because they at least acknowledge the facts shown to them, they come up with those “what if`s” What if they make it so strong it can kill or “what if” kids can buy it, bla, bla, bla. With tobacco killing nearly half a million people each year and alcohol killing 90,000 each year and Marijuana killing ZERO each year you would think that anyone with a brain could understand how completely ridiculous it is to have Cannabis titled as a schedule one narcotic. I know a man who was sentenced to 60 years for growing Marijuana. SIXTY YEARS!! The judge who sentenced this man should be sentenced to 100 years in prison. I could go on for hours but I wont bore you. PLEASE HELP US IN MISSISSIPPI!

  19. Has anyone pointed out the success that Portugal has had after legalizing “ALL” drugs. Let’s end the war on drugs.

  20. Here in Florida there is a dark cloud over our cause. We have had 2 houses blow up in one month in south FLA by people trying to make hash oil using butane. Please people do not do this because the press and the sheriff are exploiting this to scare people. The other day on channel 5 a Fox affiliate we had the sherif laying the blame on Colorado. He stated that this is Colorado’s fault that they are exporting cannabis to FLORIDA(propaganda ). He claims Fla. is an import state and Co. is an export state(even though it is winter). He tells you to be observant of your neighbors and if smell anything like pot call the police. The station web site should still have his interview up, WPTV in West Palm BEACH. The sheriff invited the reporter to see the evidence and broadcast the pictures. To be honest you could do the same process with horse manure and it would explode. It is the propane that is dangerous not the pot. To keep our cause alive and stop the fear mongering Please do not do this. This battle is as much a propaganda war as it is one based on truth.

  21. I haven’t heard anything pertaining to Louisiana in quite a while. One would think with New Orleans, Mardi Gras, the heavy drinking and all the debauchery our state enjoys, that we would be a little faster to address and implement something like Cannabis. Especially considering that it is MUCH safer.

    [Paul Armentano responds: HB 6, which seeks to allow for the therapeutic use of cannabis, has been pre-filed for the 2015 legislative session: https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=226448%5D

  22. cannabis should be legal in every state and it is up to us to fight for that right, I live in new york and smoke cannabis daily for severe anxiety, with out this medicine it would be very difficult for me day to day. recreational use should be allowed in every state. this plant has the ability to help so many people and yet our government classifies it as this awful drug that we should not be allowed to use illegally. WE WILL WIN THIS FIGHT EVENTUALLY!

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