NORML Executive Director Talks About Marijuana

NORML Executive Director Talks About Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on April 24, 2006 at 08:49:50 PT
By Chris Durant, The Times-Standard 
Source: Times-Standard
San Francisco -- Marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the United States government, but that hasn't deterred the efforts of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML, discussed the changes that have happened in the efforts to change marijuana laws.
”In the year since we have spoken last the city of Denver has passed an initiative that has made the penalty for an ounce of marijuana zero dollars,” St. Pierre said. “And in doing so it has now sparked off a statewide initiative and that is an initiative that we support strongly.” NORML is helping to raise money for the initiative. ”Decriminalization now exists in 12 states,” St. Pierre said. “One in three people in the United States live where marijuana is decriminalized.” Though decriminalization of marijuana is on the rise, so are the arrest rates, according to St. Pierre. ”The arrests don't go down because marijuana is being decriminalized, it just means there's less penalties for the person who gets caught,” St. Pierre said. There's no deterrents for people since there are no fines, St. Pierre said. ”It's not decriminalization, it's depenalization,” St. Pierre said. “That's the in-between step. There's decrim, depenalization and there's legalization.” He also mentioned a movement in another state. ”The voters in Nevada have already qualified an initiative there and they will vote to tax and regulate marijuana,” St. Pierre said. “However, the voters in Nevada, if they do vote in favor of it, will set up an immediate conflict with the federal government.” He said it's not clear what the outcome of that will be, but he referred to a law in Alaska where there's no penalty for 4 ounces of marijuana. ”The federal government has never intervened or tried to stop them,” St. Pierre said. “There hasn't been an increase in federal arrests (in Alaska).” St. Pierre also said that getting the NORML message to more people has gotten easier in the last year. ”Since we spoke last year we have NORML video blogs and podcasting,” St. Pierre said. “Those forms of communication reach tens of thousands of people per day.” NORML has 140 chapters in the United States, adding nine new chapters last year. ”That's a pretty nice pick for a year,” St. Pierre said. St. Pierre credited the Internet for the increase of members and chapters. Next year NORML will be conducting regional conferences as well as it's national conference. He said the West Coast is at the forefront of the reform movement. ”We would love to teach New Yorkers, Bostonians and Miamians what is going on on the West Coast in regards to the medical movement,” St. Pierre said. Complete Title: NORML Executive Director Talks About The Year in Marijuana ReformSource: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)Author: Chris Durant, The Times-Standard Published: April 24, 2006Copyright: 2006 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: editor times-standard.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML Powwow is Cashed Out Chong Addresses NORML Conference
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