By Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director
Already Four States Have Marijuana Legalization Bills In Play; Californians To Vote On Legalization in 2010
It can readily be said that 2009 was one of the busiest and most productive years in cannabis law reform since NORML’s founding in 1970. However, it appears as if 2010 is going to be an even busier year–notably marked by the increasing number of actual state legalization bills and a voter initiative in America’s most important state.
Currently, there is legalization legislation pending in California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and a legalization bill was just introduced this week in Washington. Frankly, most of these bills do not have a strong prospect in passing this time out, however the immense public discussion that is generated is crucial for overall reform efforts.
The formula is simple: No public discussion or debate about legalization, obviously equates to no substantive law reforms. This is what regrettably happened in the United States, Canada and Europe from 1980-2000, buttressed by extreme federal anti-marijuanism in the form of the DARE program in the public school, the blitzkrieg of Partnership for a Drug-Free America ads polluting media airwaves and omnibus federal crime bills overloaded with severe and costly penalties (i.e., mandatory minimum sentencing, civil forfeiture, mass drug testing, etc…). However, since the turn of the century, there have been ever-increasing public discussions and debates about marijuana prohibition–principally driven by the creation and implementation of medical cannabis laws in thirteen states–which is leading to greater public support for reform.
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Breaking News: NORML has just learned that the TaxCannabis2010 initiative in California has gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the 2010 ballot and the announcement of such is imminent (like, this week!).
This coming year the following states will have numerous cannabis law reform legislation or initiatives:
State legislation: MN, IL, MO, OH, TN, MD, NC, PA, DE, OH, WI, NY, CT, MA, NH and TX; NJ has a special legislative session going on right now until January 7, 2010 where a pro-reform medical cannabis bill is pending and the outgoing Governor assures a signature to passed legislation.
Voter Initiatives: AZ
State legislation: VT, MA, WA; CA’s legalization bill (AB 390) will kickoff a smoking hot year in cannabis law reform with a series of planned subcommittee hearings and testimonies currently scheduled for the first week in January.
Voter Initiatives: TaxCannabis 2010 appears ballot bound and this means that Californians will have the opportunity on November 9, 2010 to effectively end cannabis prohibition in the United States, and arguably most of the of the civil world. Also, Nevada and Oregon voters may also be voting on cannabis legalization initiatives in 2012.
In a country where one out of eight citizens live in a particularly state, and that state’s citizens democratically vote to end cannabis prohibition and replace it with tax-and-control measures, it is only a matter of time before a number of other states follow suit, then the federal government must end it’s failed three-quarter of a century social experiment of cannabis prohibition.