NORML Responds To Jeff Sessions Being Confirmed As Attorney General

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Despite historic opposition to a nominee for Attorney General, today Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL) has been confirmed to assume the role of our nation’s top law enforcement official.

“Jeff Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country. Our elected officials, now more than ever, know that marijuana policy is at the forefront of the minds of American voters and that we are willing and able to mobilize for it,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, “We will never stop fighting for further marijuana reforms at the state level and much needed federal policy changes. With Americans throughout the country organizing and taking action, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.”

Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s.

In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements including: “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” and ” cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

 

Jan. 6 National Press Club Newsmaker Explores How Acts of Civil Disobedience Will be Used To Challenge The Trump Administration

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Civil disobedience has been an important part of the fabric of this country and key to social change from the earliest days of the country’s development, through the Vietnam War protests, to the work of the civil rights movement and beyond.

As a new administration is set to begin its work within a divided country, acts of civil disobedience are on the horizon – some being organized now to be held before, during and after the inauguration of President Trump.

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In a large country with a clutter of messages and a widening mix of media, are acts of civil disobedience even more relevant today?  Will civil disobedience be used to disrupt a new administration that sees itself as disruptive? When is civil disobedience morally justified? Does the means justify the ends? Can it go too far?

A panel of activists at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference will discuss these and other issues at 10 a.m.Fri., Jan. 6, in the club’s Zenger Room.

Speakers at this news conference include panelists who have been directly involved in acts of civil disobedience, including the co-founder of Occupy Wall Street, Micah White; Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a non-profit constitutional rights legal organization that has litigated landmark free speech matters, works towards the elimination of discrimination and prejudice, and challenges government and police misconduct; and Adam Eidinger, local D.C. activist who has led civil disobedience acts related to the International Monetary Fund, genetically modified food and the legalization of marijuana.

The National Press Club is located on the 13th Floor of the National Press Building at 529 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C. Like all Newsmakers events, this news conference is open to credentialed media and NPC members, free of charge. No advance registration is required.

 

Some State Leaders Challenging Marijuana Election Results

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Political leaders in several states are threatening to thwart the implementation of voter-approved initiatives specific to the regulation of marijuana.

“Voters spoke clearly on election day. They believe that cannabis should be legal and that its sale ought to be regulated accordingly,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. “Politicians should respect these outcomes, not undermine them.”

In Massachusetts, where voters decided 54 percent to 46 percent on election day to legalize the cultivation, use, and retail sale of cannabis by adults, politicians have suggested amending the law and delaying its implementation. Specifically, lawmakers have called for pushing back the date when adults may legally begin growing cannabis from December 15, 2016 to an unspecified point in time. Legislators have also called for delaying retail sales of cannabis until late 2018, and have proposed increasing marijuana-specific sales taxes.

In Maine, where voters narrowly approved a similar ballot measure, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has said that he will seek federal guidance before moving forward with the law’s implementation. Governor LePage, who adamantly opposed the measure, said that he “will be talking to Donald Trump” about how the incoming administration intends to address the issue, and pronounced that he “will not put this (law) into play” unless the federal government signs off on it.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson made similar statements following voters’ decision to legalize the medical use of cannabis. “I don’t like the idea of implementing laws in Arkansas that violate federal law,” the Republican Governor and former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration said. “This does not call for a state-by-state solution, it calls for … a national solution.”

During the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump voiced support for the authority of individual states to impose regulatory policies specific to the use and dispensing of medical cannabis, but was somewhat less clear with regard to whether he believed that state lawmakers ought to be able to regulate the adult use of cannabis absent federal interference. His nominee for US Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, strongly opposes any liberalization in cannabis policy, stating in April, “[M]arijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.”

In 2013, the Obama administration issued a memorandum directing US prosecutors not to interfere with statewide marijuana legalization efforts, provided those efforts did not undermine specific federal priorities – such as the diversion of cannabis to non-legal states. According to Gallup pollsters, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that states should be allowed to decide their own cannabis policies.

Voters in eight states – Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota – approved statewide ballot measures this November regulating marijuana for either medicinal or social use.

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

Is Donald Trump More Sensible Than Hillary Clinton on Marijuana?

As his poll numbers continue to rise in the Republican primary, Donald Trump remains a focus of media attention. Building on his popularity among Republicans, the business magnate multiplies media appearances, giving journalists the opportunity to question him on his political positions on a variety of issues. Most of the discussion around Trump’s platform relates to his views on subjects like the economy and immigration reform, but many of us have been eager to find out where he stands on marijuana policy.

In more ways than one, Donald Trump appears unlikely to support major marijuana reform in the United States. Trump portrays himself as adamantly pro-police and “presented himself Saturday as the ‘law and order’ candidate in the 2016 presidential race, pledging to ‘get rid’ of gangs and give more power to police officers.” Like some early drug warriors, Trump is also known to hold views that some consider racist against immigrants from Mexico, whom he described as “rapists” in his announcement speech. And while he knew in 1990 that legalization is “the only answer” to the failing War on Drugs, he has opted to support prohibition anyway during his presidential bid.