NORML's Interview With Kandice!

August 2012: NORML is pleased to announce that our 2012 Chapter of the Year Award recipient is Orange County NORML!

Orange County NORML’s founder and executive director Kandice Hawes agreed to sit down with NORML and shed some light on the secret to her chapter’s longevity, as well as provide some survival tips to other activists.

9 Reasons Why Sanjay Gupta Changed His Mind About Marijuana
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, says he was wrong to ignore marijuana's medical potential when he wrote an opinion piece in 2009 called "Why I would Vote No on Pot." Gupta filmed a documentary that aired on CNN on Sunday, August 11, and earlier this week wrote an editorial on in which he admitted that the research for the movie changed his mind about the drug and its medicinal effects. After traveling the world, meeting with medical experts and medical marijuana patients, Gupta concludes "we have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."

Here are Gupta's reasons for his change of stance:

1. Marijuana laws are not based on science. Gupta wrote: "Not because of sound science, but because of its absence, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 substance" at the urging of Assistant Secretary of Health, Roger Egeberg in 1970.

2. Gupta notes that marijuana doesn't have a "high potential for abuse" and it doesn't lead people to use other drugs. "We now know that while estimates vary, marijuana leads to dependence in around 9 to 10% of its adult users." Cocaine, classified as a (less addictive) schedule 2 substance, hooks 20% of those who use it. Around 25% of heroin users and 30% of tobacco users become addicted.

3. In some medical cases, marijuana is "the only thing that works." Gupta met with one woman in Colorado who used marijuana to cut the number of seizures she had from 300-per-week to two or three per month.

4. It's safer than a lot of prescription drugs: Someone dies from a prescription drug overdose every 19 minutes in the United States, but Gupta could not find a single person who died from a marijuana overdose.

5. Other doctors believe in it: Seventy-six percent of physicians surveyed would prescribe marijuana to ease the pain of women suffering from breast cancer.

6. While quitting marijuana can produce some withdrawal symptoms, like insomnia, anxiety and nausea, it is still nowhere near as bad at drugs like heroin or cocaine, or even booze. "I have seen the withdrawal from alcohol, and it can be life threatening," Gupta said. Not so with marijuana.

7. Medicinal plants (including marijuana specifically) aren't a new idea: The medical and scientific communities have been studying medical marijuana since the 19th Century, and marijuana was actually used to treat neuropathic pain until 1943.

8. Only 6% of research on marijuana published in the last year analyzed benefits. The other 93% are designed primarily to investigate harm. "That imbalance paints a highly distorted picture," Gupta said.

9. The system is biased against research into medical marijuana's benefits. First, you have to get the marijuana for your study from one government-approved farm, and you have to get approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is tasked with studying and preventing drug abuse, not the medical benefits of drugs.

In general, Gupta says he listened a bit too closely to medical marijuana opponents and skeptics, and he "didn't look hard enough, until now. I didn't look far enough. I didn't review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis."

News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Author: Robert Ferris
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The NORML Women’s Alliance:
Highlights of Women Making History

The NORML Women’s Alliance would like to honor all of the female NORML Directors who are paving the way toward rational cannabis policies and are setting a wonderful example as women who have actively taken on leadership roles (this year and last) within the NORML family. Thank-you ladies, you are making history:

NORML Women Chapter Leaders

  • Dawn Dunlap • Central Ohio NORML - (OH)
  • Terri Zeman • Greater St. Louis NORML - (MO)
  • Trena Moss • Hillsdale County NORML - (MI)
  • Elizabeth Brandt • Iona County NORML - (MI)
  • Apryl Coleman • Kent County NORML - (MI)
  • Carol Reed • Macomb County NORML - (MI)
  • Kim Schmidt • Ohio NORML - (OH)
  • Norma Sapp • Oklahoma NORML - (OK)
  • Kandice Hawes • Orange County NORML - (CA)
  • Madeline Martinez • Oregon NORML - (OR)
  • Lori Duckworth • South Oregon NORML - (OR)
  • Melissa Posecznick • Tennessee NORML - (TN)
  • Lacey Viviano • Upstate NY NORML - (NY)
  • Linda Adler • US Virgin Islands NORML - (USVI)
  • Melody Karr • Wexford County NORML - (MI)
  • Dee Duffy • Virginia NORML - (VA)
  • Cheryl Shuman • Beverly Hills NORML - (CA)
  • Emily Busalacchi • Mile High NORML - (CO)
  • Christeen Landino • Michigan NORML - (MI)
  • Sarah Zenk-Blossom • Minnesota State University NORML - (MN)
  • Anne Davis • New Jersey NORML – (NJ)
  • Ruth Liebesman Martiniuk • Empire State NORML - (NY)
  • Crystal Caudebec • Hudson Valley NORML - (NY)
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NORML Foundation

The NORML Foundation, the organization's tax-exempt unit, conducts educational and research activities. Examples of the NORML Foundation's advocacy work is a detailed 2006 report, Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis. A comprehensive report with county-by-county marijuana arrest data, Crimes of Indiscretion: Marijuana Arrest in America, was published in 2005.

In October 1998, NORML Foundation published the NORML Report on U.S. Domestic Marijuana Production that was widely cited in the mainstream media. The report methodically estimated the value and number of cannabis plants grown in 1997, finding that Drug Enforcement Administration, state and local law enforcement agencies seized 32% of domestic cannabis plants planted that year. According to the report, "Marijuana remains the fourth largest cash crop in America despite law enforcement spending an estimated $10 billion annually to pursue efforts to outlaw the plant." Recent studies show that marijuana is larger than all other cash crops combined. In 2002, the organization used ads containing New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg quotes on his past use of pot, saying "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it." The mayor said "I’m not thrilled they’re using my name. I suppose there’s that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it," but maintained that the NYPD will continue to vigorously enforce the laws. History

NORML was founded in 1970 by Keith Stroup funded by $5,000 from the Playboy Foundation. Since then, the organization has played a central role in the cannabis decriminalization movement. The organization has a large grassroots network with 135 chapters and over 550 lawyers. NORML holds annual conferences and Continuing Legal Education (CLE)-accredited seminars. Its board of directors has, at times, included such prominent political figures as Senators Philip Hart, Jacob K. Javits, and Ross Mirkarimi. Media and activism

As an advocacy group, NORML has been active in spreading its message to the public.

In early 2009, a petition to President Barack Obama was written asking that he appoint a "Drug Czar" who will treat drug abuse as a health issue rather than a criminal issue and will move away from a "War on Drugs" paradigm. NORML's goal for this petition was 100,000 signatures.

Also in early 2009, when the Kellogg Company dropped its contract with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps after pictures of him using a bong surfaced in the media, head members of NORML began boycotting Kellogg products and urging all members and supporters of NORML to boycott Kellogg, until the company reversed the decision. NORML also suggested that supporters of the cause send emails or letters to Kellogg explaining the boycott and the reasons behind it, even providing a template for emails and letters.

Although Kellogg's profits did not suffer in the first quarter of 2009, consumer ratings polls at Vanno have been cited as indicating that Kellogg's reputation has suffered. Specifically, a small poll of Kellogg's brand reputation at Vanno showed a drop from its previous rank of 9 to 83 after Kellogg decided not to renew its contract with Michael Phelps. It is not clear whether or not NORML's boycott played a significant role in this decline.

On April 20, 2009, NORML released the first national pro-marijuana television advertisement. The PSA, which overtly promotes the legalization of marijuana use, was created by Philadelphia filmmaker Jason Druss as an entry into NORML's annual video contest.

The television commercial was discussed in the April 20, 2009 edition of The New York Times, CBS News, as well as hundreds of blogging and news websites.

On February 15, 2010, a 15 second Flash animation from NORML discussing the potential economic and financial benefit of legalized marijuana was deemed by CBS to be "too political" to display on billboards in New York City's Times Square. This drew criticism in the blogosphere and accusations of hypocrisy on Twitter, since CBS had recently aired an anti-abortion television spot during the 2010 Super Bowl. CBS has since reversed its decision and the ad was debuted on the CBS Times Square Superscreen on Tuesday April 20, 2010.

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