CalNORML Vigilant for Our Rights Again in 2013

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December 2013 – Cal NORML kicked off 2013 with a successful conference in January marking the 100th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in California this year and setting goals for ending it. Over 300 people from across the state attended the conference in San Francisco, which hosted 56 speakers.

Then it was off to Sacramento, where we worked to derail a bill that would have made it an automatic DUI to have any amount of THC in drivers’ blood. Over 3500 NORML supporters wrote in against the bill and Cal NORML testified in hearings with sound science.

Cal NORML took on the absurdity of drug testing in a free society with the publication of our new Guide to Drug Testing, based on two of our most popular webpages. Cal NORML deputy director Ellen Komp got an oped placed on the topic in the Wyoming Star Tribune in answer to a drug testing company oped. We made the booklet available to chapters across the country, and have had orders for it from several states.

In May, ASA and Cal NORML protested the appearance of A.G. Eric Holder in Berkeley with a plane carrying a banner saying: “Holder: End RX Cannabis War.” Two months later, Holder and the DOJ announced a shift in policy on mandatory minimums and marijuana, including opening up bank accounts to marijuana businesses, as we proposed in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and committee chair Patrick Leahy.

In June, we released a report tallying the number of years medical marijuana patients have been sentenced to in federal cases – nearly 500 years. The report was released in conjunction with an ASA report tallying the costs of enforcement.

In July, CalNORML director Dale Gieringer attended a worldwide summit on legalization in Mexico with former Mexican president Vicente Fox. Dale’s suggestion that Mexico conduct research into medical marijuana met with approval from Mr. Fox and others at the meeting.

Also in July, we joined a lawsuit with the Electronic Freedom Foundation and other groups against NSA wiretapping of Verizon phones. The announcement got international press.

Meanwhile, we got the news that another bill sought to make it illegal to smoke e-cigs or vape pens in any no-smoking area. Cal NORML met with the bill’s sponsor and organized a letter-writing campaign to stop the bill, which was meant to target nicotine e-cigs, on behalf of patients who need to use vaporizers to medicate with cannabis. We’re now working against local ordinances with similar aims in across the state.

For the August anniversary of California’s century-long war on pot, we landed a front-page feature article in the L.A. Daily News and Dale had an oped on the Huffington Post. We’re planning to co-produce a conference in LA in September 2014 for the 100th anniversary of the first marijuana bust in California (on Olivera Street).

Right up until September 2013, we worked on bills in both houses of the state legislature that would have better regulated medical marijuana, so that the feds could keep their promise to leave states with “safe and effective” laws alone. A bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and another made it through the Senate, but both met with heavy opposition. We expect similar bills to be introduced next year.

Cal NORML has been working many hours on strategy and language with the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) towards a ballot initiative and legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California and better regulate medical marijuana. In October we attended a swanky and successful CCPR fundraising party at Bill Maher’s home in the Hollywood Hills.

Responding to an increasing number of home explosions due to butane oil, Cal NORML issued a health and safety warning on BHO in October. Dale spoke about the topic at the Drug Policy Alliance meeting in Denver, and we continue to research and engage on the topic.

Throughout the year, Cal NORML has provided testimony to county supervisors and city council members all over the state about pending medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation ordinances. As 2013 came to a close, the an appellate court decision was published upholding the city of Live Oak’s total ban on medical marijuana cultivation. CalNORML will be challenging that decision and this will be a major focus of fundraising efforts in 2014.

In 2013, CalNORML brought literature tables to two INTCHE shows, the High Times Cannabis Cup, Reggae on the River and the Slightly Stoopid concert in Berkeley, reaching out to thousands of Californians. With CCPR, we tabled at the state Democratic convention in April, where acting Governor Gavin Newsom announced his support for legalization. Ellen spoke at a Rancho Cucamonga protest in October that grabbed all the press away from a law enforcement confab held there. Her slide show, Women and Weed: A 2000-Year Herstory, was well received at the First Annual Women’s Cannabis and Healing Conference in Wilton in November. Dale also spoke at the Humboldt Hempfest in November and the Emerald Cup in December.

We operate a hotline and answer countless emails for those with legal questions, making hundreds of referrals for callers with child custody, housing, employment issues, and others. Our (constantly updated) website gets over 3 million visitors yearly. Our Facebook page has nearly 4,275 “friends” and our Twitter feed has over 2,000 followers. In addition, we regularly send out email alerts to Northern and Southern California lists, as well as to lists of attorneys, doctors, collectives and the media. We also publish a quarterly newsletter that is sent to our members.

Recent polling shows that 60% of likely voters in California support marijuana legalization. This is the magic number we have been waiting for and we expect by 2016 to have marijuana legalized in California in a way that benefits all the citizens of our state.

Cal NORML is member supported, and we rely on our donors’ generosity.

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