This year saw California NORML active on multiple fronts while we undertook preparations for a 2016 legalization initiative with the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (ReformCA.com).
An event to kick off the 2016 campaign will be held on Friday, January 9, 2015 from 12:30-6:30 PM at the Waterfront Hotel at Jack London Square in Oakland. Seating is limited; read more and RSVP by January 5.
You can read more about our year and our plans below. Please join Cal NORML, renew your membership, or make a year-end donation to help us with our work in 2015!
For the third consecutive year, we were able to derail an ill-conceived “zero-tolerance” DUI bill that would have criminalized all drivers with detectable traces of THC in their system—a population that includes most daily users. NORML experts provided key expert testimony against the bill, and our e-list subscribers sent over 2,100 messages of opposition to legislators.
Cal NORML continued to work with other medical marijuana advocates in lobbying for a uniform state regulation system for the medical marijuana industry along similar lines as Colorado so as to thwart threats of federal intervention. For the third year in a row, the legislature failed to come through, defeating a bill that we favored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, and failing to pass another by Sen. Correa, sponsored by law enforcement and the League of California Cities. Although we were successful in negotiating improvements to the Correa bill, we ended up opposing it due to unacceptable flaws. We expect to deal with this issue more in 2015.
The session witnessed landmark breakthroughs in Congress, as the House of Representatives approved an amendment by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Sam Farr (D-Monterey) blocking funds for the Department of Justice to interefere with state marijuana laws. Although the bill didn’t reach the Senate, another bill legalizing the production of hemp for research purposes was passed into law. Cal NORML expects to lobby for further reform bills in 2015, and will be alerting our members to support them via our e-lists and website www.CaNORML.org.
E-CIGARETTES AND VAPORIZERS
Cal NORML continued to lead the fight for cannabis vaporizers and e-cigs, a technology that we helped demonstrate as an effective smoke harm reduction tool in lab studies, but which has come under fire from the state’s powerful anti-tobacco lobby. After derailing a statewide bill to ban e-cigarettes in non-smoking areas last year, Cal NORML testified against similar bans in several cities. We expect this fight to continue next year.
RESPONDING TO THE GOVERNOR
In March, Governor Brown went on “Meet the Press” and said California shouldn’t legalize marijuana because ”potheads” are unable to compete in the modern workforce. In response, CalNORML launched an advertising campaign highlighting high-functioning “potheads” that was distributed by the Brownie Mary Democratic Club and NORML Women’s Alliance at the state Democratic convention.
FIGHTING LOCAL GROW BANS
On the cultivation front, Cal NORML sponsored a suit by attorney Joe Elford challenging the Maral decision, wherein an appellate court allowed the city of Live Oak to completely ban cultivation of medical marijuana even for personal use. Sadly, the California Supreme Court voted 5-4 not to review this decision, leaving the door open for the city and county of Fresno to issue a similar ban. We continue to be on the lookout for a case to try in a different appellate district against this glaring breach of Prop. 215 and we’re working at the local level with groups who are standing up against bans.
In another lawsuit filed by Elford, Cal NORML joined Lake County plaintiffs in challenging warrantless medical marijuana raids by the county sheriff, winning an injunction from US District Judge Thelton Henderson blocking further warrantless raids.
Cal NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp traveled to various counties to work on local cultivation measures, including Tuolumne County, which tabled an ordinance that would have banned dispensaries and outdoor cultivation. Komp and Cal NORML board member Dr. Frank Lucido testified against a proposed outdoor cultivation ban in Martinez, winning a compromise allowing for greenhouse grows. Cal NORML also testified against cultivation bans in Sacramento County, defeating an indoor ban and winning assurances from local officials to work with Sacramento NORML towards a compromise. Cal NORML also assisted in less successful campaigns against cultivation restrictions in Lake, Shasta, and Butte counties. In Santa Ana, Orange County NORML led a ballot campaign for regulated dispensaries, culminating in the approval of a city-sponsored measure that will open up Orange County to legal dispensaries.
HELPING PAIN PATIENTS
Our phone rang all year with complaints from pain patients who were being denied their prescription medications because they use medical marijuana. Together with Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, we issued a Veterans’ Day press release publicizing the plight of veterans who are being told by their VA doctors that they must choose between their prescription pain medications or medical marijuana. This is another front we’ll be continuing to fight on in 2015.
ENDING THE 100-YEAR WAR ON POT
In September, we commemorated the disastrous legacy of the war on marijuana with a press conference at LA City Hall marking the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first “marihuana” raid in Los Angeles. We are working to end the 100-year war in 2016.
Cal NORML’s goals for the initiative include: legalizing personal-use cultivation; allowing for licensed sales to adults over 21; strengthening the state’s medical marijuana laws to ensure truly safe and affordable access to all patients in medical need; de-felonizing minor marijuana offenses; providing for on-site consumption in licensed clubs and cafés; and establishing a uniform, competitive, statewide regulation system for commercial cannabis producers comparable to that for alcohol, designed to be fair, economical, environmentally responsible, and compatible with California’s existing industry.
An event to kick off the campaign will be held on Friday, January 9, 2015 from 12:30-6:30 PM at the Waterfront Hotel at Jack London Square in Oakland. Seating is limited; read more and RSVP by January 5.