NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - March 12, 2009

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - March 12, 2009
Posted by CN Staff on March 12, 2009 at 15:08:04 PT
Weekly Press Release
Source: NORML
Decreasing Marijuana Penalties Does Not Increase Pot Use, Study Says March 12, 2009 - Seattle, WA, USASeattle, WA: The enforcement of criminal penalties against marijuana possession is not associated with a reduction in cannabis use, availability, or potency, according to a new report by the University of Washington and commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
"Increasing marijuana arrests does not achieve the stated goals of marijuana prohibition," the study found. "Despite recent increases in marijuana arrests, the price of marijuana has dropped; its average potency has increased; it has become more readily available; and marijuana use rates have often increased during the decade of increasing arrests."The authors reported that marijuana arrests comprise nearly 50 percent of all of the drug-related arrests in the United States since 1992. Of those arrested, African Americans are over-represented compared to the marijuana-using population."The enforcement of marijuana laws entails many social costs. ...These include the use of controversial policing tactics, the erosion of civil liberties, court over-crowding, the diversion of treatment dollars (when recreational marijuana smokers are required to participate in mandatory drug treatment programs), racial inequity in the application of the law, [and] ... a loss of faith in the judicial system" among those charged with pot-related offenses.By contrast, authors reported that eliminating criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses does not lead to an increase in cannabis use or other drug-related problems."There is no evidence that the decriminalization of marijuana by certain states or the deprioritization of marijuana enforcement in ... municipalities caused an increase in marijuana use or related problems," the study concluded. "This conclusion is consistent with the findings of numerous studies indicating that the increasing enforcement of marijuana laws has little impact on marijuana use rates and that the decriminalization of marijuana in US states and elsewhere did not increase marijuana use."A Washington state proposal, Senate Bill 5615, which seeks decrease marijuana possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction, is now before the Senate Rules Committee.For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the report, "The Consequences and Costs of Marijuana Prohibition" is available online at: Institute Of Medicine Report On Medical Marijuana Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary Next WeekMarch 12, 2009 - Washington, DC, USAObama Administration "should heed the advice" of the IOM, and "remove federal legal restrictions so that states can regulate marijuana like other accepted prescription medicines," NORML saysWashington, DC: Next Tuesday marks the ten-year-anniversary of the publication of a National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine report that recommended Congress allow for the clinical investigation and use of medical marijuana.Investigators from the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) released their findings, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," on March 17, 1999. The White House Office of National Drug Control commissioned the 267-page report shortly after voters in California passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which legalized the medical use of cannabis under state law.The IOM report affirmed that marijuana and its constituents possessed numerous therapeutic properties, including the ability to control pain, nausea, and anxiety, and to stimulate appetite."There are patients with debilitating symptoms for whom smoked marijuana might provide relief," the study concluded. "Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications."Commenting on the ten-year-anniversary of the report, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that interest into the therapeutic properties of cannabis is far greater today than it was ten years ago. According to a search on the PubMed website, there were 427 scientific studies or reviews on cannabis published in 1999. In 2008, there were over 2,100 studies published.Armentano further noted that the focus of medicinal cannabis research has changed dramatically over the past decade. He said: "Ten years ago, researchers primarily assessed cannabis' ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms. By contrast, scientists today are exploring the role of cannabis to treat actual disease, including the spread of cancer and the progression of multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease."Armentano also said that scientists have now discovered alternative ways to safely, effectively, and rapidly deliver pot’s therapeutic properties to patients via the use of vaporizers – devices that heats the active ingredients in marijuana to a temperature where cannabis vapors form, but below the point of combustion. In 2007, investigators at San Francisco General Hospital assessed vaporization technology. "Vaporization of marijuana does not result in exposure to combustion gases, ... and [was] preferred by most subjects compared to marijuana cigarettes. ... The [vaporizer] device is an effective and apparently safe vehicle for THC delivery," researchers concluded."Today, the only practical impediments regarding the legal use of medical marijuana are political hurdles," Armentano concluded. "The Obama administration should heed the advice of the Institute of Medicine and initiate clinical trials regarding the medical use of cannabis, and it should remove federal legal restrictions so that states can regulate marijuana like other accepted prescription medicines."For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul or Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.DL: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: March 12, 2009Copyright: 2009 NORML Contact: norml Website: NORML Archives 
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on March 15, 2009 at 10:14:53 PT
Hi Lucas!
Hey Lucas I don't blame you for not trusting the politicians, I sure don't! It will be a wait and see for me.Paul Armentano is one of the good guys, Lucas. In fact we are fortunate to have the well written, well spoken voice and pen of this talented man on our side. Maybe look into him a little further?You might be speaking of Tom Ammiano who introduced the bill to the house. Their names are similar. 
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on March 13, 2009 at 11:54:23 PT
Tom Ammiano 
Is the name Lucas is confusing with Paul Armentano's. I suspect.Paul Armentano is a hardworking, brilliant man and he puts himself out there in wide open public every day, and has for a long time, trying to improve our situation... and there's nothing fake about him.
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Comment #6 posted by JoeCitizen on March 13, 2009 at 09:25:40 PT
What do you mean, Lucas?
If you are referring to the bill which Paul Armentano mentioned (AB 390), it's not his bill in any sense. He didn't write it or introduce it. It was introduced by Assembly member Montanez (I believe that is Cindy Montanez from the 39th district, but I could be mistaken about that.)Furthermore, I didn't really appreciate the tone with which you spoke to or about Paul Armentano. Paul has done good work at NORML, carrying on in the tradition of Keith Stroup before him. NORML is not the pet project of rich men like MPP is, so they struggle along with limited resources. They have to rely more on volunteers. And as former chapter leader of a NORML local branch, I can tell you that stoners are not easy to work with. More of them than I would like to admit are not much different than the stereotype, i.e., lazy and unfocused.  Those who are together enough to remember talking points and be good representatives on camera are frequently fearful about the consequences of being identified as a cannabis user.  The medical patients who make the best spokespeople have an unfortunate tendency to die or be hospitalized when you most need them to speak.  Hardly their fault, but it can be a disaster for the organization.NORML has always been a voice for the truth about cannabis. In the days before the internet, they were one of the only available and reliable sources for accurate cannabis info.  A generation of cannabis activists learned their facts from NORML. I am one of them, and I appreciate the work they have done.  I just wish they had more money, volunteers, and political clout to accomplish their goals.So from where I sit, NORML has done a lot for the cause of cannabis users everywhere. What have YOU done, Lucas?Joe Citizen
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Comment #5 posted by Lucas on March 13, 2009 at 07:32:03 PT
The Armentano bill is fake
It only implements IF and WHEN the Federal Govt. Legalizes Marijuana.dont hold your breathA bill like Armentano's is like Marinol, it gives them a chance to say there are alternatives to illegal "drugs", when in fact its just a ploy to prevent another bill that might actually do something with states rights, from getting traction because "we already have a bill for recreational cannabis."All this talk about what it would do for the budget, but NO Mention of the fact it all depends on Federal Legalization..Mr. Armentano is High on Martinis
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 12, 2009 at 16:41:49 PT
I Liked That Video
Let marijuana be the test. I think that is an excellent idea.
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Comment #3 posted by paul armentano on March 12, 2009 at 16:13:57 PT
Congresswoman says Calif. should legalize pot
You can watch the video here: Congresswoman on CNN: Contemplates Legal Cannabis “Pilot Program” In CaliforniaMarch 12th, 2009 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director 
      Politicians these days just can’t seem to stop talking about pot — and for the first time in decades, this is a good thing!No longer are lawmakers’ marijuana-centric conversation based upon the notion of penalizing cannabis consumers. Today, an unprecedented number of politicians are contemplating a society that is no longer bound by the chains of marijuana prohibition.Speaking live on CNN this morning, California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez cited the west coast’s majority support for regulating cannabis like alcohol — as acknowledged by NORML’s recent Zogby poll — and called for a statewide “pilot program” to objectively assess the impact of cannabis legalization upon adult society.“Well, certainly, I have seen in my own state of California, people over and over voting … [on] the whole issue of marijuana,” Sanchez said. “So maybe it would be a good pilot program to see how that regulation of marijuana might happen in California since the … majority of Californians believe maybe that should happen.”Sanchez’s comments come two weeks after the introduction of proposed state legislation, AB 390: the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, which seeks to tax and regulate the adult sales of cannabis in California. So far, thousands of members of the cannabis community, as well as several pundits from the mainstream press, have voiced their support for AB 390. Are lawmakers listening?U.S. Representative Sanchez most certainly is — and she’s not alone.If you are reading this blog, then you already know that cannabis prohibition is a fraud and a failure. You know these facts, but today millions of your friends and neighbors — and even many of your elected officials — are just now waking up to these truths. And they, like Congresswoman Sanchez, are becoming more and more outspoken in their criticisms of prohibition.Let’s encourage them to keep talking.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 12, 2009 at 15:41:27 PT
Phelps Talks To NBC About Marijuana Pipe Photo
Excerpt: The interview will air Friday morning on "Today" and Sunday night on "Dateline."URL:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 12, 2009 at 15:20:38 PT
Bailouts and Bull on ABC's 20/20 Friday
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