2002: The Year In ReviewNORML’s Top Ten Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

#1:  Decriminalization, Eh?  Canada Announces End To Pot Prohibition
Canadian government officials placed pot prohibition on the endangered species list in 2002, announcing in December that the nation’s Justice Minister would push to decriminalize pot within the first four months of 2003.  Under the pending law change, possession and/or cultivation of up to 30 grams of marijuana will become a fine-only offense.  Those found in violation of the law will not be subject to criminal arrest or prosecution.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5492

#2:  Poll Finds Most Americans Back Decriminalizing Pot For Personal Use
Americans’ support for NORML’s marijuana law reform goals rose sharply in 2002, according to an October poll commissioned by Time Magazine and CNN.  Seventy-two percent of respondents backed decriminalization, saying that adults who use pot recreationally should be fined, but not jailed.  That number was up from 61 percent who said they supported decriminalizing marijuana in a 2001 Zogby poll.  In addition, 80 percent of respondents said they supported legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, and a record 40 percent said they backed legalizing small amounts of pot for personal use.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5492

#3:  British Government Reaffirms Plans To Abolish Pot Possession Arrests
British Home Secretary David Blunkett announced in July that marijuana possession would be reclassified as a non-criminal offense by next summer.  The announcement came after a pilot project in the Lambeth neighborhood of London found that pot decriminalization was associated with a 50 percent reduction in street crime, and an increase in arrests for hard drugs.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5343

#4:  NORML Foundation Attracts International Attention After Launching Largest Ever Pro-Pot Media Campaign
A successful spring media-blitz sponsored by the NORML Foundation and featuring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg received national and international media attention.  The ad campaign – the largest ever paid for by a drug law reform organization – included the slogan: “It’s NORML to smoke pot,” along with a quote from Mayor Bloomberg admitting that he smoked marijuana and “enjoyed it.”  The ad, which ran in the New York Times, as well as on New York radio, buses and phone kiosks, urged the mayor to reverse the city’s decade-long policy of arresting and jailing minor marijuana offenders.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5237

#5:  Marijuana Not A Gateway To Hard Drug Use, Rand Study Says
Marijuana experimentation by adolescents does not lead to the use of harder drugs, according to the findings of a RAND study released in December.  The study dismissed the so-called “gateway theory,” finding that teenagers who tried hard drugs were predisposed to do so whether or not they tried pot.  Authors of the study noted said that their findings raised serious questions about the legitimacy of U.S. drug policy, since much of it is based on the false assumption that pot is a gateway drug.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5490

#6:  GAO Says State Medical Marijuana Laws Working Primarily As Voters Intended
State laws legalizing the use and possession of medical marijuana under a doctor’s supervision are operating primarily as voters intended and have not led to widespread abuses, according to a December General Accounting Office (GAO) report examining the implementation of state medi-pot laws in Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and a handful of California counties.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5491

#7:  Government Approval For Legal Medical Pot Spray Likely One Year Away
Non-smoked, cannabis-based medicines could receive British regulatory approval as early as next year, GW Pharmaceuticals President Geoffrey Guy announced at the Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in May. Among multiple sclerosis and spinal-cord injured patients who participated in a recent clinical trial of the cannabis spray, more than 80 percent experienced significant benefits – including pain relief and sleep enhancement.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5286

#8:  Feds’ Can’t Sanction Docs For Recommending Medical Pot
The federal government may not sanction doctors who recommend marijuana therapy to their patients, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in October.   Writing for the Court, Chief Judge Mary Schroeder opined: “The government’s policy in this case seeks to punish physicians on the basis of the content of their doctor-patient communications.  … Such condemnation of particular views is especially troubling in the First Amendment context.”  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5451

#9:  Supreme Court Approves Extraordinary Expansion Of Suspicionless Student Drug Testing
The Supreme Court approved 5 to 4 in June an Oklahoma school district’s policy mandating drug testing for all students who wish to participate in extracurricular activities, including the chess club, the Honor Society and the marching band.  (Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 [OK], et al v. Lindsay Earls et al, No. 01-332)  The decision overturned a previous ruling determining the policy to be unreasonable, and has prompted the drug testing industry to court school administrators to adopt similar policies.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5322

#10:  Mid-Term Election Results Provide Mixed Bag For Reformers
November’s election results brought both good and bad news to marijuana law reformers, as a trio of widely publicized statewide initiatives to liberalize marijuana penalties failed, but a number of local reform proposals roared to victory. Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5454