Cannabis is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only booze and tobacco), and has really been used by almost 100 million Americans. Based on government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked cannabis in the last year, and much more than 14 million do so often despite rigorous laws against its use. Our public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it.
Cannabis is much less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Around 50,000 people die each year poisoning. Likewise, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, cannabis is cannot and nontoxic cause death by overdose.
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NORML supports the adoption of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can purchase cannabis for private use from a legal source that is safe. This policy, usually referred to as legalization, exists on various levels in some of European nations such as The Netherlands and Switzerland, and was embraced by voter initiative in Washington (I502), Colorado (A-64), Oregon (Measure 91), and Alaska (Ballot Measure 2), the first states to do so in the United States.
In Washington, DC, voters approved Initiative 71, which removes civil and criminal fees concerning the grownup possession of up to two ounces of cannabis or the growing of up to six plants. Unlike legalization measures in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, I71 will not create a regulatory framework for the management of a commercial cannabis marketplace.
NORML also supports the removal of all penalties for the private possession and responsible usage of cannabis by adults, including casual nonprofit transfers of small numbers, and growing for personal use. This policy, called decriminalization, removes the consumer — the pot smoker — from the criminal justice system.
More than 30 percent of the U.S. population resides under some type of cannabis decriminalization, and according to authorities and academic studies, these laws haven’t given to an increase in cannabis consumption nor negatively affected youth attitudes toward drug use.
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Applying marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers an estimated $10 billion per annum and results in the arrest of more than 693,000 people per year — much more than the absolute amount of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including homicide, robbery, rape and aggravated assault.
US Marijuana Arrests
Of those charged with marijuana violations, around 88 percent, about 609,000 Americans were charged with possession only . The remaining people were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a group which includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. Recently enacted changes in law in Washington and Colorado resulted in about 16,000 fewer cannabis arrests in those states in 2013.
NORML supports the ultimate development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase cannabis for private use from a legal source that is safe. This policy, usually referred to as legalization, exists on various levels in some of European nations such as The Netherlands and Switzerland, each of which enjoy lower rates of teen cannabis use in relation to the U.S. Such a system would reduce a lot of the issues at present linked to the prohibition of cannabis, for example, offense, corruption and violence related to a “black market.”
To find out more, see About NORML.
Cannabis Medication Bottle
Cannabis, as it’s more appropriately called, or marijuana, has been part of humankind’s medicine chest for nearly as long as history was recorded.
Of all the negative effects of marijuana prohibition, none is as tragic as the refusal of medicinal cannabis to the tens of thousands of patients who could reap the benefits of its therapeutic use.
Modern research indicates that cannabis is a valuable guide in the therapy of an extensive variety of clinical uses. These include pain relief — especially of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage) — nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Grass is, in addition, a strong appetite stimulant, particularly for patients afflicted by HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research indicates that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some forms of tumors that are malignant and are neuroprotective.
Now, more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations support allowing patients immediate legal access to medicinal cannabis under a doctor’s oversight.
See our Medical Use section to find out more.
Driven by the Drug War, the U.S. penitentiary population is six to ten times as high as most Western European countries. America is a close second only to Russia in its rate of incarceration per 100,000 individuals. In 2013, more than 693,000 individuals were detained in this state for cannabis-related violations alone.
Cannabis prohibition causes more difficulties than it solves, and destroys thousands more lives than it allegedly attempts to save. The NORML Legal Committee provides aid and legal support to casualties of the present cannabis laws. NORML also tracks developments in state and national law, and files appellate and amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in cases that might impact the interpretation of present cannabis laws, or which will, hopefully, alter them.
See our Legal Problems section to find out more.
Hemp is a different variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. that contains minimal (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in marijuana. This is a tall, slim, fibrous plant similar to kenaf or flax. Various portions of the plant may be used in the making of fabrics, paper, paints, clothes, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed and other products.
Hemp requires few pesticides and generates a greater yield per acre than do common replacements like cotton. Additionally, hemp has an average growing cycle of just 100 days and leaves the ground nearly weed-free for the following planting.
The hemp plant is now picked for commercial purposes in more than 30 countries, including the European Union, Japan as well as Canada. Even though it presents no public health or security hazard and grows across much of America, hemp is still typically uprooted and destroyed by law enforcement. Every year, about 98% of all of the grass removed by the DEA’s “Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program” is really hemp.
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