Canada: Licensed Provincial Operators to Begin Retail Marijuana Sales This Week

Legislation permitting the possession, use, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis takes effect this Wednesday, October 17.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri is hailing the policy change. “We applaud Canada for showing legislators in the United States what can be accomplished with true leadership and dedication to sound public policy,” he said. “America’s leaders would be wise to learn from our neighbors, and similarly replace our archaic and failed marijuana prohibition laws with a regulatory scheme that is largely evidence-based and that reflects cannabis rapidly changing cultural status.”

Canada is only the second country in the world to explicitly legalize cannabis production and sales nationwide.

The Act, Bill C-45, permits those age 18 and older to legally possess (up to 30 grams) and grow cannabis (up to four plants of any size per household). Individual provinces possess the authority to enact additional regulations with respect to distribution, such as raising the legal age limit to purchase cannabis or by restricting home grow operations.

The Act also federally licenses commercial producers of cannabis and certain cannabis-infused products, while permitting provinces to regulate retail sales in public (government operated) and private stores, subject to local rules. Online cannabis sales will also be permitted in certain provinces.

While fewer than 200 total retailers are anticipated to be operational on day one of the new law, additional facilities are anticipated to be operational in the near future. Cannabis-infused edible products are anticipated to be regulated and available at retail stores early next summer. The new social use regulations do not amend Canada’s existing medical marijuana access laws, which have been in place since 2001.

The enactment of the new law fulfills a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised shortly after taking office to legalize and regulate the marijuana market. Prime Minister Trudeau, who formerly opposed legalization, cites a 2012 meeting with NORML members as the impetus for changing his position on the issue.

In anticipation of the law change, the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection Agency published a memorandum in September affirming that those Canadians either involved or invested in the legal cannabis industry may be barred admission into the United States. The agency later updated their policy directive on October 9, 2018, acknowledging: “A Canadian citizen working in … the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the US for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the United States. However, if a traveler is found to be coming to the US for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

NORML criticized the agency for its stance. NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Those thousands of Canadians participating in the legal cannabis industry pose no threat to the US and should not face discrimination or additional scrutiny,” he said. “At a time when public opinion and the culture surrounding marijuana is rapidly shifting, not just in the United States but around the world, it is inane for US border officials to maintain such a backward-looking policy.”

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 10/12/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

This week, The U.S. House bill to respect state medical cannabis laws (CARERS Act) got two new cosponsors, for a total of 30.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a clarification to a policy many feared would prevent Canadians who work or invest in marijuana businesses from entering the country, indicating that “A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

At the state level, The working group appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to draft NY’s leglaization legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October, and you can submit your own comments by clicking here, or you can email comments to [email protected]

New Hampshire’s Commission to Study the Legalization Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana will deliver its final report to Gov. Chris Sununu by Nov. 1. The commission includes legislators, law enforcement officials, state regulators, and law and medical professionals. The report will include recommendations for a legal marijuana market if legalization legislation were to pass, ranging from regulatory framework, to licensing processes, to tax rates and revenue projections.

New Jersey lawmakers discussed the finer details of pending marijuana legalization legislation. The forthcoming bill addresses taxes, regulations and eligibility to operate a marijuana business. It also includes provisions to address racial inequities in marijuana arrests, and to provide for expungement.

Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo signed a bill into law allowing medical cannabis home cultivation.

At a more local level, a Green Bay, Wisconsin City Council committee voted to delay consideration of a proposed ordinance to lower marijuana possession penalties, and the Lawrence, Kansas City Commission is considering a proposal to lower marijuana penalties.

Following are the bills from around the country that we’ve tracked this week and as always, check http://norml.org/act for legislation pending in your state.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as these bills and more move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

Priority Alerts

Federal

End Prohibition: Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) have introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 1227, to exclude marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus leaving states the authority to regulate the plant how best they see fit.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” eliminates federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing the plant. This legislation gives states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference.

Click here to e-mail your Representative and urge them to support this important legislation

Pennsylvania

House Bill 928 was carried over from last year, seeking to reduce minor marijuana possession penalties.

HB 928 amends state law so that first and second marijuana possession offenses (up to 30 grams) are reduced from misdemeanor offenses to a summary offense, punishable by a fine only.

Update: HB 928 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on 10/9 at 9:30am, then approved by the committee after shooting down a proposed amendment that would have barred local jurisdictions in the state from imposing their own decriminalization policies.

PA resident? Click here to email your representatives in support of decriminalization

That’s all for this week!

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As Canada Prepares To Go Legal, Never Forget That A Single Interaction Can Make All The Difference

This Wednesday, Canada will become the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of cannabis. The new law marks the culmination of an effort led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who promised in 2015, shortly after taking office, to legalize and regulate the marijuana market.

But PM Trudeau was not always in favor of adult use legalization. In fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML advocates in 2012.

Speaking with the Huffington Post in 2013, Trudeau acknowledged that he reversed his position after speaking with NORML members. “[Their] line of argument did a long way towards convincing me,” he admitted.

Here is how the Toronto Star reported the event:

Five short years ago, Trudeau was not a fan of legalized pot. As he wandered around the 2012 Liberal policy convention in Ottawa — the same one in which a majority of party members voted in favour of legalization — Trudeau was a dissenting voice.

… By the end of 2012, a lot of things had changed for Trudeau — beyond his appearance. He had changed his mind about running for Liberal leader, officially launching his campaign in October, and he was also starting to see that legalization was better than the decriminalization option he’d long favoured.

Today, Trudeau and his advisers trace the shift to a meeting with two women in his office in November of that year, who armed him with some of the pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today — now, as prime minister. The two women were Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs, then representing what was known as the women’s alliance of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Coulter, who now lives in Victoria, remembers the meeting well, and is heartened to hear that Trudeau traces his conversion to this encounter.

“I actually saw the ‘aha’ moment,” Coulter says. It had been an emotional meeting in Trudeau’s tiny Parliament Hill office; the three of them talked about their own personal experience with marijuana. Trudeau talked about his mother using pot, and his brother, Michel, who had been charged with possession not long before he died. (Trudeau has subsequently told the story publicly of how his father used connections to get the charges dropped so that his son didn’t have a criminal record.)

Coulter told Trudeau flatly that decriminalization would not keep gangs and organized crime out of the marijuana business. “Al Capone would have loved it if alcohol had only been decriminalized,” she said — a line she often used when talking to politicians.
“I saw the light go on in his eyes,” Coulter said. “He was seeing this as a politician, realizing ‘I can sell this,’ ” she recalled.

Trudeau could see how this argument would blunt Conservative attacks on him as being soft on crime; with legalization, he could simultaneously seem liberal about marijuana but conservative about gangs and criminals. It helped persuade Trudeau that legalization, would be the best way for the government to regulate its use and keep it safe, especially for kids.

The lesson here is clear. Never forget that change begins with a single step, and that significant policy reforms can be inspired by a single interaction with lawmakers. Or, as we like to say at NORML, “The more we’re talking about ending prohibition, the more we’re winning.”

Let’s keep the conversation going.

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North Dakota: Let’s Make History

Can you believe that we are less than four weeks away from Election Day? This year, the stakes have never been higher.

North Dakotans on November 6th have the unique opportunity to end the state’s failed experiment with marijuana prohibition and to cease arresting adults for marijuana-related offenses. By voting “yes’ on Measure 3, you will be voting to end the needless discrimination of our fellow citizens for their use of a plant that is objectively less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

Today, North Dakota ranks near the top of all US states in annual marijuana arrests per capita. Each of these arrests represent police hours and resources that are not being allocated toward more serious criminal activity, such as targeting violent criminals. And vote for Measure 3 is a vote to end wasteful spending, to reprioritize our limited resources, and to defend individual liberty.

LEGALIZE ND LAUNCHED A NEW WEB AD, “MAKE HISTORY” – WATCH IT HERE:

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Data from other marijuana legalization states shows that ending marijuana prohibition significantly impacts the opioid crisis. Numerous studies find that opioid-related abuses, hospitalizations, and deaths decrease significantly following cannabis legalization. This is good news for North Dakotans. In 2016, more than three times as many North Dakotans died from opioid overdoses than from homicides. Passage of Measure 3 can reverse this trend.

Measure 3 Helps Patients Too

Although North Dakotans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a state-regulated medical marijuana access program in 2016, lawmakers have done their best to restrict and delay its implementation. For example, did you know that, as amended, it would difficult to impossible for individuals suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or depression to obtain legal access to medical cannabis? This is particularly important to our honored military veterans. A recent poll from the American Legion revealed that an estimated one in four veterans currently utilize marijuana to treat a mental or physical ailment. Locked out of the medical program, we are forcing those who put their lives on the line for this country to become criminals for simply choosing a safe and effective treatment. Measure 3 will protect our veterans, and tens of thousands of others. Thirty days after its passage, no adult will be arrested again in North Dakota for possessing or using marijuana — period.

Moving Us Forward

Winning in North Dakota will have profound implications for the fight for sensible marijuana laws nationwide. When this measure is approved, North Dakota will become the tenth state to end the arrest of adults for marijuana possession. Think of the message this will send to politicians and voters throughout the nation — those who say “North Dakota is too conservative,” “North Dakota will never end prohibition,” “North Dakota is too ‘red.’” With your support, we can show them North Dakota isn’t too “red” (or even “blue”). Rather, North Dakota is a “green” state that is fed up with failed marijuana policies and is ready to take a new approach that favors legalization over prohibition and incarceration.

I’m going to level with you, this will be a close and difficult fight. Our opponents have more money than we do and they have more resources than we do. Thankfully, we have something they don’t: YOU. When ordinary Americans come together and fight back against unjust laws, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

 

IF YOU LIVE IN NORTH DAKOTA, I’m asking you to take 5 minutes out of your day to get us another step towards that victory.

Make a plan to vote: Do you know where your polling place is? Do you need an absentee ballot? Want to vote early? You can learn everything you need to know HERE. (Don’t forget, North Dakotans do NOT need to register to vote. Just show up at your designated polling place on Election Day with a valid North Dakota ID that has your current address on it and you are good to go.)

Commit to vote: LegalizeND has a great “commit to vote” tool. This tool helps the campaign keep supporters informed on the latest efforts and allows them to provide voters with important information and reminders about the upcoming election. It takes seconds to sign. Please, do so if you have not already and, if you have, SHARE on your social media channels and encourage your friends and family to join you. Click HERE to commit to vote for Measure 3.

Donate to the campaign: All campaigns need resources and if you are able to, please contribute what you can afford to the campaign today. They will need all the help they can get in the lead up to the vote to educate and contact voters. Can you spare $ 5, $ 20, $ 50 for ending North Dakota’s prohibition? Click HERE to donate.

Volunteer: The campaign also needs a grassroots army of volunteers. Can you spare an evening or weekend knocking on doors, making phone calls, or providing assistance with other campaign needs? Click HERE to sign up as a Measure 3 volunteer. There is also a easy to use volunteer kit with all the tools you’ll need to help advocate for Measure 3 available HERE.

NORML is doubling down on our efforts in support of Measure 3. Will you? We need your help these final weeks in order to assure victory this November. Together, we will win.

Stay tuned to the NORML blog for our Election 2018 Coverage over the next few weeks, we will take an in-depth look at all the marijuana related initiatives on the ballot across the country.

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New York State’s Marijuana Working Group is Taking Public Comments on Legalization Legislation

A listening session was held Thursday evening in Rochester, New York to get feedback about what the community wants to see in the legislation currently being drafted to legalize cannabis for adult use in NY. See the full list of listening sessions happening state-wide here.

The legislation being drafted is set to pass next April with the budget, and there were many issues from both sides brought up during the session. Overall, the consensus in the room seemed in line with the polling of the state; most people in the room were in favor of legalizing for adult use, while a considerable amount of people are still opposed to the topic due to a mere lack of education.

Mary Kruger, Executive Director of Roc NORML, the Rochester, NY chapter of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws, shown in this interview, testified during the session to advocate that restorative justice be on the forefront of the legislation, including: sealing of records and resentencing for low-level marijuana possession related offenses, developing a diverse and inclusive industry with priority licensing that promotes small business growth, and community reinvestment grants.

The police chief shown in the interview also testified during the session, on behalf of the Monroe County Association Chiefs of Police, in which they indicated their opposition to legalizing cannabis for adult use because “we don’t need another drug on the street.”

The work group drafting the legislation is taking public comments on this initiative until the end of October at the email address listed below. In your email, make sure to include the following before your testimony:

Session Location: Rochester

Organization: As applicable and/or Roc NORML

Your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email

Send emails to [email protected] with the subject line “NYS Regulated Marijuana Listening Session Comment”, or  click here to fill out your contact information and send testimony instantly.

Roc NORML will also be holding their October Monthly Meeting at which a summary of the session will be provided and volunteers will be available to help the community submit their own testimonies. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details coming soon, or click here to sign up for Roc NORML’s mailing list.

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The Marijuana Midterms are Heating Up in Nevada

With the help of the newly established “Cannabition Cannabis Museum,” Nevada’s state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, along with its local affiliate Las

Vegas NORML, welcomed the National NORML Board of Directors to Las Vegas with a “Smoke the Vote” voter rally.

Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene, Jj Walker, NORML Founder Keith Stroup, Aaron Esparza, NORML Board member Beverley Moran, David Hofstein, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, and Sen. Tick Segerblom in front of Hunter’s Shark at the Cannabition Cannabis Museum in Las Vegas

On Friday, members of National NORML, as well as state chapter leaders from around the nation, spent time activating voters from Nevada’s Canna

bis community. The Executive Director of Nevada NORML, Madisen Saglibene, led a press conference announcing the launch of NORML’s “Smoke the Vote” tool; a comprehensive guide highlighting the voting records of state and federal politicians on issues pertaining to marijuana law reform.

Nevada NORML worked diligently over the past several months to solicit candidates’ responses to NORML’s survey about marijuana consumer protections. While only 60 of the 150 total state-wide candidates responded, it became evident this midterm cycle that cannabis reform is more nonpartisan than ever before. Candidates from around the state took the time to record their positions about trending issues like housing and employment discrimination, home grow, and criminal justice reform.

Friday’s press conference brought out several candidates from the Libertarian Party, as well as the only non-partisan Assembly candidate running in the state of Nevada, Daniel Hofstein. Alongside these individuals was State Senator, and Nevada Cannabis Champion, Tick Segerblom. Candidates discussed the importance of exercising citizens’ rights to vote, and how not voting has consequences — especially when it comes to marijuana policy. Nevada has reached a time in which constituents have a choice to endorse candidates who support changes to both medical and recreational programs. It was exciting for Nevada normal during their first election season to be able to find allies that can remain resources if elected into office.

Amongst members of the Las Vegas Community were NORML Pioneers of Legalization that provided support to the Nevada NORML chapter during their first election cycle. NORML founder Keith Stroup was also in Vegas to inspire the community, and his positions made an impact. Both the Nevada and Las Vegas chapters were honored to be able to host a mixer following the voter rally, continuing the conversation between their new chapter leaders and National leaders like Dale Gehringer and Dan Viets, that have been with NORML for decades – making them credible mentors and motivators. Vanderbilt University Professor of Law and NORML Director, Beverly Moran, spoke during the Nevada event to remind attendees about the vitality of voting in midterm elections. Executive Director of National NORML, Erik Altieri, acknowledged the Clark County Commission candidate, Tick Segerblom, as an instrumental ally for the legalization movement over the decades.

Closing out the event with an emphasis on voter registration and restoration of voting privileges, NORML volunteers alerted attendees about the Nevada voter registration deadline of October 18th.

If you are already involved with a local NORML chapter, or wish to be, please be aware that an incredible system of support exist for you.

NORML encourages voters to visit vote.norml.org to learn more about your 2018 marijuana friendly candidates.

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Survey: Cannabis Use Becoming Common Among Older Adults

The use of cannabis is relatively common among those over the age of 65 who reside in a legal marijuana state, according to data published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Investigators from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus anonymously surveyed older adults at a pair of ambulatory geriatric primary care clinics in Colorado.

Thirty-two percent of respondents reported having used cannabis following legalization, and 16 percent reported that they were current users. Subjects were most likely to report using cannabis to mitigate symptoms of pain, anxiety, and depression, or to stimulate appetite.

Authors concluded: “[O]ur survey of ambulatory older adults from Colorado demonstrated that marijuana use in this population was common. Respondents reported using recreational marijuana to target a variety of medical symptoms and conditions with few reported adverse effects. Thus, it is prudent for primary care providers of older adults to inquire specifically about marijuana use before considering prescription changes or additions.”

Separate studies find that self-reported cannabis usage among older Americans is rising dramatically, and that many seniors reduce their use of prescription medications, particularly opioids, following their marijuana use. According to clinical data assessing seniors’ long-term use of cannabis, consumption is safe and is associated with a “significant improvement” in subjects’ “overall quality of life.”

Commenting on the new study, NORML Political Director said that the results were not surprising. “This is a population that, in many cases, had firsthand experience with cannabis during their young adulthood, and have now returned to cannabis in older age,” he said. “Seniors are turning to cannabis as a potential option to provide symptomatic relief while potentially avoiding the dramatic side-effects associated with other medications and impproving their quality of life.”

The abstract of the study, “Characteristics and patterns of marijuana use in community-dwelling older adults,” appears online here.

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Pew Poll: 62 Percent Of Americans Want Marijuana Legal

Sixty-two percent of US adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to national survey data compiled by the Pew Research Center. The percentage is the highest ever reported by Pew, which has been tracking Americans’ views on the subject of marijuana legalization since 1969.

Support was strongest among Millennials (74 percent), Democrats (69 percent), and Independents (68 percent). Support for legalization was weakest among Republicans (45 percent) and those born between the years 1928 and 1945 (39 percent).

Since 2000, public support in favor of legalization has nearly doubled, Pew reported.

“One of the greatest benchmarks of the success of legalization is the simple fact that public support for this policy change has only grown in the years since states began enacting it,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “The public has spoken and it is time for leaders in both parties to come together and amend federal law in a manner that comports with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status.”

The Pew data is consistent with those of other national polls, including those conducted by Gallup (64 percent) and Quinnipiac University (63 percent).

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Weekly Legislative Roundup 10/5/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

Three U.S. House bills gained new cosponsors this week. One to shield federal employees from being fired for state-legal marijuana (Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act) use got two new cosponsors, for a total of seven. The one to respect state medical cannabis laws (CARERS Act) got one new cosponsor, for a total of 28. And another to require the licensing of more cannabis cultivators for research (Medical Cannabis Research Act) got one new cosponsor, for a total of 43.

At the state level, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill into law facilitating the review and expungement of hundreds of thousands of past marijuana convictions.

But he vetoed bills that would have allowed schools to adopt policies for parents to administer medical cannabis to students, let businesses give away free medical cannabis, and allowed safe injection facilities for illegal drugs.

Michigan lawmakers sent Gov. Rick Snyder (R) a bill to ban marijuana-infused alcoholic beverages. Separately, the House Agriculture Committee is considering an industrial hemp bill.

Utah medical cannabis supporters have reached an agreement with opponents on compromise legislation, which they expect to be considered during a special session in November. All sides said they will “de-escalate” efforts to campaign around the ballot measure and instead focus on the legislation.

Mississippi activists have so far collected more than 5,000 signatures in support of a proposed 2020 medical cannabis ballot measure.

A bit outside the bubble, but Guam senators approved legislation to allow home cultivation of medical cannabis.

At a more local level, the Superior, Wisconsin City Council approved a marijuana decriminalization ordinance. And a medical cannabis tax proposed by Phoenix, Arizona’s mayor was unanimously defeated by the City Council.

As far as specific pieces of legislation go, none have moved this week, as most states’ legislative sessions are adjourned for this year. But be sure to check http://norml.org/act for any legislation still pending in your state and the federal level.

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list and we will keep you posted as bills move through your home state legislature and at the federal level.

Your Highness,
Carly

 

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Vote for Cannabis Friendly Candidates in North Carolina this November

In North Carolina there is only one way we will be able to achieve any level of cannabis reform at the state level, that way is through our legislators in Raleigh.

Currently, the amount of legislators in office that are supportive of cannabis reform is pretty much nil. Zero. Nada. There are few representatives that are supportive currently but they can’t do anything by themselves. They need other supporters in Raleigh with them.

Click Here to View NORML’s  North Carolina Voter Guide

How do we achieve this goal of cannabis reform that we all supposedly hold so dear then if there isn’t anyone willing to change the laws from the inside for us? The answer is, and you’re gonna hate it, vote. We MUST vote, one district at a time, to increase the amount of legislators in Raleigh that support cannabis reform from just a handful of legislators to an abundance of legislators.

This isn’t going to happen “overnight”, or in one election cycle. This is going to take years to evolve but we must start now. There is nothing we can do about the past and how organizations like ours have tried to get the reform we want, but we can make an assertive effort to change the future.

I use this analogy all the time when I refer to the reform efforts here in North Carolina; this movement is like a car that’s ran out of gas. In order for us to get the car running and to get where we want, we have to push the car to the gas station. It takes a lot of effort to initially get the car moving, but once it gets rolling it goes faster and gets easier to push. Up till now, I think many separate organizations and activists looked at the car in the past and couldn’t figure out how to get it to the gas station. However, now I feel we have a path towards victory.While its not an easy path, there is only one way we can do it.

Voting the right candidates in and increasing the number of allies in the Legislative Building in Raleigh starts with this year and starts getting the car rolling. Lobbying efforts in-between elections help keep the car rolling. Then, every election year we can increase our allies through the elections which helps the car pick up speed and helps us “get gas”. Getting favorable numbers in Raleigh will be like finally getting gas in the car in which we can start the car, and drive the rest of the way to the finish line.

Click Here to View NORML’s North Carolina Voter Guide

The bottom line is, cannabis reform in North Carolina starts with this election, continues through lobbying efforts in “off-election years”, and then builds speed through every election from here on out. Get out and vote for cannabis friendly candidates every single election and we will get the reform we all need, it’s that simple. It’s a long process but it’s simple.

For more info about cannabis law reform efforts in North Carolina, please visit http://ncnorml.org/ or email [email protected]. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

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