Yesterday, New Hampshire’s Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send HB 481, the legalization and regulation bill, to “interim study.” This unfortunate outcome has been expected for several months, and advocates have already turned their attention to new legislation that will be considered in 2020.
Sadly, two members of the committee were quoted in The Union Leader saying that New Hampshire “isn’t ready” for legalization. This inaccurate perception persists in the Senate, despite polls showing that legalization is more popular than any politician in New Hampshire.
Please email your elected officials today and encourage them to support the 2020 bill to end cannabis prohibition in New Hampshire! Then, please share this message with your family and friends and urge them to do so as well.
According to surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration use among people 50 and older who report using marijuana in the prior year went up from 1.9 percent in 2002 to 2.9 percent in 2008. Marijuana use among 55- to 59-year-olds has more than tripled during that same time period (1.6 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent in 2008).
Among the group of seniors who now use marijuana is 67 year old Perry Parks, a retired Army pilot who suffers from crippling pain from degenerative disc disease and arthritis. He has tried all sorts of prescription drugs, but found little success. However, he found relief two years ago after using something he tried in college, marijuana. He says by using marijuana he realized he “could get by without the narcotics,” referring to prescription painkillers. Parks says he is now “essentially pain free."
Will the nation’s 78 million baby boomers stand up against the status quo one last time and lead the effort to end this country’s failed war on marijuana? We sure hope so.
There is a great article in today’s Washington Post about the momentum behind marijuana policy reform. You can read the full version on their Web site.
We need to encourage the media to produce fair and balanced coverage of this issue -- something they haven’t always done but are slowly beginning to. Please share this article with your friends and family or vote for it on digg.com:
While we’ve seen higher numbers in the past, and the level of support varies from poll to poll, this recent number shows a trend that’s undeniable: Americans are quickly realizing that taxing and regulating marijuana is preferable to prohibition.
The chart below shows the change in attitudes among various groups. Notice that all of them have increased since 2005.
Yesterday marked the first time in history that a nationwide poll showed majority support for taxing and regulating marijuana (at 52%). The poll, conducted by Zogby International at the end of April, was also one of the largest sample sizes of any national polls on the subject, with almost 4,000 respondents and a margin of error of +/- 1.6%.
This poll, in combination with recent trends, is further evidence that Americans are quickly realizing the value of taxing and regulating marijuana. Congress, however, is often slow to keep up. If you want to push Congress to act, visit mpp.org/federal-action, where MPP's online system makes it fast and easy to ask your member of Congress to end 70 years of failed marijuana prohibition.
Looking beyond the top-line level of majority support to the cross tabulations, where support and opposition are shown among numerous variables, we can build a helpful profile of marijuana legalization supporters:
Age: Taxing and regulating marijuana enjoys majority support across every age group except for the over-65 crowd, which registers 44% support.
Region: Voters in the East (52%) and West (60%) are more likely than voters in the South (48%) or the Midwest (48%) to support taxing and regulating marijuana.
Culture: Those who never shop at Wal-Mart (72%) are more than twice as likely to support marijuana legalization than regular Wal-Mart shoppers (35%). NASCAR fans (38%) are significantly less likely to support it than non-fans (54%).
Religion: Jewish voters (76%) were more likely than Catholics (47%) or Protestants (45%) to support legalizing marijuana. Voters who consider themselves “born again” (33%) are far less likely to support it than voters who are not “born again” (55%).
Party affiliation: Democratic Party members are the most likely to support legalizing marijuana (68%), with Independents showing strong majority support (54%). Liberals (79%) are the most likely to support it, with moderates (58%) trailing by 21 points and conservatives (25%) trailing fully 54 points behind liberals.
Presidential election: Those who voted for President Obama (69%) were much more likely to support legalizing marijuana than McCain voters (30%).
After MPP passed the medical marijuana ballot initiative in Michigan and the marijuana decriminalization ballot initiative in Massachusetts -- both on November 4 -- I thought the MPP staff might get a little downtime to regroup for the 2009-2010 election cycle. Not so.
In the last four months, the MPP staff and our allies have been working almost nonstop to respond to -- and take advantage of -- the many opportunities that have been presenting themselves across the country. I've never seen so much evidence of positive change in such a short amount of time ...
1. MARIJUANA THE BIGGEST ISSUE: Two huge surveys of citizen activists across the country -- one on Change.gov on December 12 and one on Change.org on January 15 -- showed that the number-one issue on people's minds is ending the government's war on marijuana users.
2. BONG HIT SEEN AROUND THE WORLD: On February 1, the world learned that Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps had used marijuana a few months before, demonstrating yet again that using marijuana is compatible with being wildly successful in our society. When Kellogg's dropped its endorsement contract with Phelps -- and MPP and other organizations responded by calling for a boycott of Kellogg's -- the public's perception of Kellogg's took a nose dive.
3. EL PASO RESPONDS TO MEXICAN VIOLENCE: Responding to the prohibition-caused violence just over the border in Mexico, on January 6 the El Paso City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for "an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics," which drew the ire of some Texas politicians but also sparked a great deal of positive media coverage nationwide.
4. NATIONAL POLLING HIGHEST EVER: Between January 11 and February 14, three different national polls indicated that either 40%, 41%, or 44% of the American people now support ending marijuana prohibition. This is the highest level of support since marijuana was first prohibited in 1937, with support having risen by 1% a year since 1995.
5. REVOLT IN LATIN AMERICA: On February 12, a commission led by three former presidents from Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico released a long-awaited report that blasted the U.S. drug war and called for the decriminalization of marijuana.
6. ENDING THE DEA's RAIDS IN CALIFORNIA: On February 25, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the DEA would no longer be raiding medical marijuana clinics in California and the 12 other states where medical marijuana is legal.
7. MEDICAL MARIJUANA BILLS MOVING: MPP's medical marijuana bills are moving through the Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York legislatures, and the Drug Policy Alliance's similar legislation is moving in New Jersey. We have a real chance of making medical marijuana legal in four of these six states this year and -- in the meantime -- it's very possible that Montana and Rhode Island will expand their existing medical marijuana laws, too.
8. BROADER MARIJUANA BILLS MOVING: California shook the nation when a bill to tax and regulate marijuana was introduced on February 23. And even before that happened, the Hawaii, Montana, Vermont, and Washington legislatures had already begun considering bills to decriminalize marijuana.
9. MPP DOMINATING ON YOUTUBE: As of today, MPP's channel on YouTube.com is the 10th most subscribed of all nonprofit channels, and MPP's videos are consistently in the top 10 most-viewed of all nonprofit videos in any given week. (And our 65,000 friends on MySpace.com place MPP among the top 10 most popular nonprofit organizations there, too.)
10. ONGOING MEDIA EXPLOSION: According to the weekly reports we get from Google, MPP has been getting its message into the news in the last month at 10 times the volume of previous months. And four different national TV specials are tentatively scheduled to look at marijuana over just a two-month span: CNBC looked at the marijuana industry in northern California on January 22, NBC's "Dateline" covered the Rachel Hoffman tragedy in Florida on January 23, ABC's "20/20" with John Stossel will be looking at medical marijuana on March 13, and MSNBC with Al Roker will be looking at the multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry on March 15.
Thank you for anything and everything you've done to help bring all this attention and success to our movement. If you'd like to help even more, please make a donation today so that we may continue with the onslaught of work that continues to pile up on our plates.
Good news for people who don't like their local governments wasting time and money challenging laws they don't like in futile court battles: For the second time, a California court -- in this case, the Fourth District Court of Appeals -- has tossed challenges to the state's medical marijuana laws by the counties of San Diego and San Bernardino.
San Bernardino taxpayers had already footed the bill for about $60,000 in salaries alone for this misguided legal adventure when it got tossed the first time way back in December 2006.
San Diego has refused to offer any idea how much they've spent on this boondoggle, but according to a January 2006 Evans/McDonough random poll of 500 likely San Diegan voters MPP commissioned, 80% of telephone respondents agreed the Board of Supervisors was wasting money on the lawsuit.
Theoretically, they could take the case to the state Supreme Court, but wouldn't be nice if they just obeyed the law, issued the required medical marijuana I.D. cards to qualifying patients, and stopped throwing tax dollars down the sewer?
The New York Senate adjourned yesterday, effectively ending this year's legislative session, but that will come as no relief to seriously ill New Yorkers who rely on medical marijuana to ease their suffering.
The senators went home without considering a bill that would have allowed people like Burton Aldrich, a Kingston quadriplegic who needs medical marijuana to control his spasms and constant pain, to use the drug with a doctor's recommendation without fear of arrest.
It's difficult to explain the lack of enthusiasm in the Senate for protecting patients who wish to use a proven safe, effective medicine to ease their suffering after other options had failed.
It shouldn't have been fear that voters would disapprove of their compassion and common sense: 76% of New Yorkers said they supported a medical marijuana bill in a poll conducted in 2005. The Senate's counterparts in the Assembly didn't appear to suffer any political catastrophes after passing a similar bill last week, 89-52, or last year, 92-52.
The press, with several notable exceptions, often appeared more interested in the horserace aspects of the bill's chances rather than its merits. Paradoxically, members of the press often saw the Senate's reluctance to take the bill seriously as a reason not to take it seriously themselves. I was told more than once by reporters that as long as it appeared unlikely that the Senate would take up the medical marijuana bill, their editors weren't inclined to give it much coverage.
The real story was the patients who were counting on the Senate to protect them. Many of them risked their health to advocate for the bill, going to Albany to talk to their senators, writing letters to their local papers, and granting interviews to the media.
I don't know if their efforts ever got the attention they deserved, so I'd like to thank some of them here: Bruce Dunn of Otsego County, who suffers chronic pain from a vehicle accident in 1988; Barbara Jackson, a cancer survivor from the Bronx who was arrested for using marijuana to treat dangerous appetite loss; Richard Williams of Richmondville who has battled HIV for 20 years and also has hepatitis C; Joel Peacock of Buffalo, a Conservative Party member who suffers chronic pain from a 2001 car accident; Glenn Amandola, a medically retired New York City police officer who suffers from chronic pain and a seizure disorder after being injured on the job; Jeannine Zagiel of Oneonta, who was disabled in a work injury in 2001; Dr. Kevin Smith, a Saugerties psychiatrist who suffers from a painful genetic defect that causes his immune system to attack his spine and hips as though they were foreign bodies; and Sherry Greene of Cedarhurst, who suffers from fibromyalgia.
There are many, many more.
They will spend this next year as they spent the last: in pain, frustrated by a ridiculous law that makes them criminals if they try to get better. Even so, many will be back next year to fight for their right to make their own health care decisions with their doctors.
Some, however, won't be around to fight next year. For them, the Senate's lack of urgency will mean spending their last days in avoidable pain.
Then again, many of New York's senators may not be back next year either. Like the suffering patients they ignored, they too may find themselves on Election Day wishing they'd had the courage and good sense to pass this bill when they had the chance.