By Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel
Please allow me to act nostalgic for a moment or two about the wonderful progress we have all seen in recent years, with a majority of the country now supporting and end to prohibition, and the adoption of various forms of marijuana legalization in many states. The political environment was not always so favorable.
When we started NORML in 1970, only 12% of the population supported legalization; 88% supported prohibition. It has been a long, slow and sometimes arduous effort, but we have finally won the hearts and minds of most is our citizens, despite the fact that only 14% are marijuana smokers. They have concluded that prohibition causes far more harm to society than the use of marijuana, and that regulating the sale of marijuana is the better policy.
With our recent spate of victories at the state level, currently 17 states and the District of Columbia (and several major cities) have stopped treating marijuana smokers like criminals; 23 states and the District of Columbia offer legal medical marijuana; and four states have fully legalized marijuana with state-licensed dispensaries. We have reached a tipping point in the decades-long drive to legalize marijuana, and with your continued support, there is no turning back!
And we can already see the benefits: for the fourth year in a row the number of Americans arrested on marijuana charges has declined. And these declines will only increase as we move forward with victories in additional states. We expect full legalization voter initiatives to be approved in 2016 in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine (and perhaps a few others that are only now being organized).
NORML's Work Has Just Begun
In each of these legalized states, the real job of NORML is just getting started. When I founded NORML it was the result of some work I had done with consumer-advocate Ralph Nader, and I envisioned the organization as a Consumers' Union for marijuana smokers. As a consumer lobby, we must work to assure the smokers have access to legal marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. We must demand that the marijuana be tested to assure there are no molds or pesticides, and we need to know the strength of the THC and the CBD, and to know what terpenoids are present. These are basic consumer rights that we could not get when marijuana was only available on the black market, but which we have every right to expect in a legal market.
And to encourage the newly legal marijuana industry to abide by a set of "best practices", we have established the NORML Business Network, to help consumers recognize "consumer-friendly" companies. As in any new industry, there are some whose only interest is to maximize their profits, but many of these new companies feel a responsibility to adopt higher standards. The NORML Business Network will help consumers distinguish between the two.
4 Down - 46 To Go!
We obviously have much work to be done before we totally end marijuana prohibition and stop the arrest of responsible marijuana smokers all across America. But we have made a substantial start, and the public support and political momentum is clearly on our side. With your continued support, we will see this fight through to a successful conclusion, and set a standard for the rest of the world to follow.
Please make a generous contribution to NORML today of $50 or $100 or $1,000 or whatever you can afford. If you wish to make a tax-exempt contribution, make your donation to the NORML Foundation. But please do your part to recognize the tremendous progress we have made over these last four decades, and to assure we continue that progress in the months and years ahead. Donate $50 or more and receive the new documentary DVD called 'EVERGREEN: The road to marijuana legalization in Washington State'.