Clean Slate Act To Seal Records Introduced To Congress

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) announced the Clean Slate Act, HR 6669, along with 22 original cosponsors, to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.

The Clean Slate Act is important legislation that would ease the burden felt by those unjustly suffering the collateral consequences resulting from cannabis prohibition.

Individuals saddled with a marijuana possession conviction are disproportionately either people of color or at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, and it is essential that they are not held back from being able to obtain employment, housing, access to higher education, and all of the other necessities of being an active participant in their community. Having been arrested for mere marijuana possession does not make one a bad person, but rather a victim of a cruel public policy.

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress in support of the Clean Slate Act.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

NORML Responds To Steve Cook Addressing Marijuana Policy At The Department Of Justice

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: In response to the Department of Justice detailing Steve Cook to address marijuana policy, Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML stated:

“Steve Cook and Jeff Sessions are advocating for the failed policies of the “Just Say No” era — policies that resulted in the arrests of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens who possessed personal use amounts of marijuana. At a time when the majority of states now regulate marijuana use, and where six out of ten votes endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or cultural perspective to try to put this genie back in the bottle. It is high time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

The Cole Memo, a Justice Department memorandum, authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

During a Q and A with reporters in Richmond, VA in March, Jeff Sessions  said “The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,”

But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, state politicians are taking action. Recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

“Given that Sessions has recently reiterated that the Cole Memo is valid, Steve Cook would be wise to maintain the current interpretation and not interfere with the right of states to set and enforce their own marijuana policies,” concluded Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML.

Allen St. Pierre Joins Freedom Leaf As New VP Communications & Advocacy

NEVADA: Allen St. Pierre, long time NORML Executive Director, has joined Freedom Leaf as Vice President of Communications and Advocacy following his resignation from The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws after 25 years with the world’s leading and oldest marijuana reform organization. Mr. St. Pierre will be formally joining Freedom Leaf on July 18th.

Freedom Leaf CEO, Cliff Perry, announced, “In his new position, Mr. St. Pierre will remain in Washington, DC, where he will devote time to advocacy and use his relationships with business and political leaders to drive Deal Flow to Freedom Leaf as well as to the company’s media, advertising & merchandising platforms. These actions will increase revenues and value for our Shareholders.”

Over the past 25 years, Mr. St. Pierre has been the most frequently interviewed person in history on the matter of marijuana policy, averaging an astonishing two thousand interviews annually. Since 1991, Mr. St. Pierre has been interviewed by most every major international, national and regional media outlets well over forty thousand times in print, radio and television always professionally representing the concerns and interests of cannabis consumers and the now exploding legal cannabis industry in America. On a daily basis, media, political and business leaders contacted him about the state of Marijuana legalization and what has now become the emerging Cannabis industry. Mr. St. Pierre maintains extensive relationships with many members of the Press as well as business and political leaders. Hundreds of companies entering into the Cannabis Industry have contacted him and he manages to maintain a relationship with many of them. Mr. St. Pierre has lobbied local and state governments nationally, Congress and the Executive Branch of the United States and he will be using those contacts to further the reputation of Freedom Leaf, The Marijuana Legalization Company™.

Freedom Leaf co-founder, Richard C. Cowan, met and hired Mr. St. Pierre in 1992, when Cowan was NORML’s Executive Director. Cowan stated, “I am enormously pleased that my old friend will be bringing to Freedom Leaf his incomparable knowledge of the issues pertaining to the legalization of marijuana and the industry as well as all the relationships with political leaders, the press and those leaders in the Industry. There is simply no one else in the world who knows the issues… and the burgeoning marijuana industries, as well as Allen.”

Thousands Expected At Global Marijuana March In Fort Worth

TEXAS:  A global march for marijuana rights takes place tomorrow – and one of the largest rallies in the Southwest United States will be in downtown Fort Worth.

Organizers are expecting about 5,000 people to converge in downtown Fort Worth at noon Saturday to call for changes in marijuana laws.

Shaun McAlister, the Executive Director of the DFW chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says too many people are being treated as criminals for possessing marijuana.

Q&A With WA NORML Executive Director Kevin Oliver

WASHINGTON: As the so-called long session begins in Olympia, all eyes in Washington’s cannabis turn toward possible tweaks to I-502 licensed businesses and the future of medical marijuana.  MJ News Network asked Washington NORML’s Executive Director Kevin Oliver to give his predictions on what the coming year portends for Washington’s cannabis community.

Q: Many I-502 licensees complain both about the high tax rates on marijuana, and the special burdens of an excise tax. Can we expect any relief in the upcoming legislative session?

A: The legal adult possession and use of marijuana, as well as the taxed and legally regulated production, processing and sale of marijuana by WSLCB licensed businesses, will continue to roll out at an increased pace as protocols are streamlined and bugs in the licensing processes ironed out. Additionally, the legislature could collapse the current tax rate from a three tier system to one tax and in so doing lower the overall tax burden to marijuana businesses. Also, there seems to be a broad base of support to change the definition of the tax from an excise tax, (which disallows it being deducted from income on federal taxes), to a sales or trust fund tax, thereby allowing marijuana businesses to deduct state taxes from federal taxes.

Q: What is the future for Washington’s hundreds of unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries?

A: It is very apparent that the current iteration of medical marijuana dispensaries – unlicensed and unregulated – are not viewed as legal or necessary by law makers or law enforcement. This will become increasingly clear as the legislature decides the best course of action for unlicensed commercial marijuana operations. The sick and dying deserve affordable access to quality marijuana, and it is my feeling that the legislature will take steps to ensure that access is provided in a legally regulated market.

Q: And what will that mean for the patients who depend on medical cannabis?

A: I do not believe that patients will suffer from regulation, indeed, every patient I know has, at one time or another, purchased moldy or buggy pot from a dispensary. That is not to say that some dispensaries are not on par with the best practices of quality control and selection that come standard to legal retail stores. It is only to say that, presently, dispensaries have as much liability and regulation as lemonade stands.

And, patients will always get their marijuana – especially here in WA. Marijuana, whether regulated or not, is ubiquitous to any state and almost every country in the world. It always has been and always will be. So, it seems rather elitist for dispensary owners and their suppliers, who either didn’t win a sweepstakes for a retail storefront or opted out of the license application process altogether, to suggest that the estimated 103,000 patients with a valid doctors recommendation in this state, (only a percentage of whom actually use dispensaries), will not be adequately serviced without them –especially when another few hundred legally licensed retail stores are going to be opened up this year with tons of high quality marijuana stocking their shelves.

Presently, there are proposals in the legislature that would allow the WA Department of Health to certify retail stores to sell marijuana as medicine to those patients with a valid recommendation.

Q:   Will we see new legislation this session addressing the local zoning and moratoria that have effectively banned legal marijuana operations in 40% of the state?

A: Legislatively, in regards to zoning and moratoria, a line item could be added to the law, as the AG has suggested, forcing those rogue municipalities that have decided to ban or put a moratoria on state licensed marijuana businesses to comply with the voter approved state law.

Additionally, some of those municipalities are lobbying for revenue sharing of I-502 taxes, therby competing with the state general fund for those revenues which were earmarked for the state sponsored health care program that was replaced by the Affordable Health care Act.

There is also a bill to disallow, statewide, any marijuana business on property zoned R-5. That designation may be logical for residential zones, but certainly are not necessary in rural zones that presently allow other forms of commerce.

Q:   How will 2015 set us up for the 2016 national elections?

A: From a national perspective, 2016 looks to be a game changer for marijuana reform. First of all, this year (2015), California will have at least one successful citizen proposition qualify for the ballot. It will win, as it will be tailored conservatively (relative to CA) to get the largest percentage of voters possible, much like I-502. And as California goes, so goes the country.

Second, 2015 will see some movement in the US congress, probably in regards to the issue of banking. On the front lines of that is WA’s own Denny Heck, who, as a freshman Representative last year, took the lead to sponsor the marijuana banking act. We can anticipate similar legislation this year and hopefully, with the addition of Oregon and Alaska (not to mention D.C.) along with several more states bound to legalize in the next few years, we will see a banking bill get traction.

Finally, it is entirely possible that President Obama could re-schedule marijuana after the 2016 election, which would allow pharmaceutical companies to market patented cannabinoid products within the frame work of modern western medicine.

WANORML Gets Slightly Stoopid

WASHINGTON: For years, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been working hard to establish pot smokers as, well, normal.

So what’s the Washington chapter of the venerable organization doing sponsoring the ‘Slightly Stoopid’ tour?  Is this a smarter sponsorship than the appellation might suggest?  MJ Headline News asked Executive Director Kevin Oliver to explain, “WANORML is involved because of Slightly Stoopid’s advocacy as consumers themselves and their commitment to supporting NORML and the reform of marijuana laws and policies. Besides, it will be a fantastic night to celebrate the opening of Washington’s legal recreational marijuana retail stores.”

The reggae roots tour is part of the Marymoor Park Concerts presented by Swedish Medical Center Redmond. Slightly Stoopid will perform with Stephen “RAGGA” Marley, G. Love & Special Sauce, Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 – 5:30PM


Legalize PA Brings Pittsburgh Musicians Into The War Over Marijuana

PENNSYLVANIA:  Pittsburgh musicians enter the discussion on the legalization of marijuana Saturday at Mr. Smalls and — guess what — they’re all for it. Even if they don’t use it themselves.

Hanger Jam: Legalize PA, which features the diverse lineup of Good Brother Earl, BEAM, Truth and Rites, Josh Verbanets and Jasiri X, was initially conceived as a benefit for the gubernatorial campaign of John Hanger.

The former state environmental protection chief, who was endorsed by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), advocated a three-step plan that would begin with the legalization of medical marijuana and make recreational use legal by 2017. He dropped out of the race in March, failing to match the war chest of other candidates, including frontrunner Tom Wolf, a York businessman who contributed $10 million to his own campaign.

New York Will Be The 22nd State To Legalize Medical Marijuana

NEW YORK:  Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to make New York the 22nd state to legalize the use of cannabis for qualified patients.  The Gov. is expected to use his State of the State address on Wednesday as a platform to announce the legalization of medical marijuana at 20 hospitals in New York and for limited diseases, such as cancer and glaucoma.

Some news agencies are reporting that New York makes 20, others insist that the real number is 21.  MJNN decided to go to the authority, NORML, to double check the tally. According to NORML, New York will indeed be the 22nd state with medical marijuana legislation. Add the District of Columbia, and the count jumps to 23. [Read more…]

John Hanger Endorsed For PA Governor By NORML

PENNSYLVANIA: Is it possible that pot will play a role in the Democratic race for governor?

Hershey’s John Hanger sure hopes so.

Hanger was endorsed Wednesday by NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Hanger wants to legalize medical marijuana immediately and within a few years decriminalize its recreational use, and tax it. [Read more…]

John Hanger Endorsed For PA Governor By NORML

PENNSYLVANIA: Is it possible that pot will play a role in the Democratic race for governor?

Hershey’s John Hanger sure hopes so.

Hanger was endorsed Wednesday by NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Hanger wants to legalize medical marijuana immediately and within a few years decriminalize its recreational use, and tax it. [Read more…]