2008: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

#1 Landslide At The Ballot Box: Election Day Voters Reject Bush War Doctrine
Millions of Americans nationwide voted on Election Day for marijuana law reform, approving nine out of ten ballot measures to liberalize penalties on cannabis use and possession.  In Massachusetts, where 65 percent of voters decided to reduce marijuana possession penalties to a $100 fine, and Michigan, where 63 percent of voters approved legalizing the medical use of cannabis, supporters for pot law reform outnumbered supporters for President-Elect Barack Obama.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7742.

#2 Members Of Congress Demand An End To Federal Pot Possession Arrests
Members of Congress convened a Capitol Hill press conference in July to demand lawmakers enact legislation to eliminate the government’s authority to arrest and prosecute adults who possess marijuana.  Lawmakers called on colleagues to endorse HR 5843, which sought to remove federal penalties for the possession and non-profit transfer of marijuana by adults.  The legislation was the first proposal introduced in Congress in 30 years to eliminate criminal marijuana penalties.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7670.

#3 California Courts Rule: Medical Pot Statutes Don’t Conflict With Federal Anti-Drug Laws
State provisions allowing for the possession and use of medical marijuana do not conflict with federal anti-drug laws, according to a series of California court rulings. In two separate cases, the California Supreme Court refused to hear challenges to the state’s 12-year-old marijuana law – finding that counties are obligated to issue identification cards to qualified patients and that police cannot seize marijuana from state-sanctioned medical pot users.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7678

#4: Marijuana “Exceptional” At Reducing MRSA
The administration of natural plant cannabinoids significantly reduces the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (aka MRSA), according to a study published this fall in the Journal of Natural Products.  MRSA is responsible for over 18,000 hospital-stay deaths each year.  Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7687

#5 Marijuana Arrests For 2007 Reach All-Time High
Police arrested a record 872,721 Americans for marijuana violations in 2007, the highest annual total ever reported by the FBI.  Since 1965, over 20 million Americans have been arrested for violating state or federal marijuana laws.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7698.

#6 Cannabis Determined To Be Less Harmful Than Alcohol
The potential health risks associated with cannabis are less than those associated with alcohol and do not justify the continued criminalization of the plant or its users, according to a report published in October by The Beckley Foundation – an independent British think-tank that analyzes drug use and drug policy.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7723

#7 Teen Pot Use Declines In States With Medical Cannabis Laws
States that have enacted legislation authorizing the use of medical cannabis by qualified patients have not experienced an increase in the drug’s use by the general population, according to a comprehensive report issued in June by the Marijuana Policy Project.  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7638.

#8 Medical Marijuana Use Not Associated With Adverse Side Effects
The medical use of cannabis is not associated with serious negative side effects, according to a meta-analysis published this summer in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ).  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7639.

#9 California Attorney General Issues Guidelines Recognizing Patients’ Medical Cannabis Use
State and local law enforcement should not arrest state qualified patients who possess, cultivate, or travel with medical marijuana, according to guidelines issued in August by the California Attorney General’s office.  The guidelines also permit for the distribution and non-profit sales of medical cannabis is permitted by qualified “collectives and cooperatives.” Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7689

#10 NORML Daily Audio Stash Gains record Listenership
The popularity of NORML’s podcast grew significantly in 2008, topping more than 110,000 downloads in the month of October alone.  Said host Russ Belville, “When it comes to the subject of marijuana, more and more people are turning away from the federal government and away from the mainstream media; instead, they are turning to groups like NORML and the NORML Daily Audio Stash as their most trusted source of information for all things cannabis.”  Read the full story at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7744.