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2009: The Year In Review – NORML’s Top 10 Events That Shaped Marijuana Policy

#1 Obama Administration: Don’t Focus On Medical Marijuana Prosecutions
United States Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum to federal prosecutors in October directing them to not “focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The directive upheld a campaign promise by President Barack Obama, who had previously pledged that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7998.

#2 Public Support For Legalizing Pot Hits All-Time High
A majority of likely voters now support legalizing marijuana, according to a national poll of 1,004 likely voters published in December by Angus Reid. The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll results echo those of separate national polls conducted this year by Gallup, Zogby, ABC News, CBS News, Rasmussen Reports, and the California Field Poll each of which reported greater public support for marijuana legalization than ever before. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8054.

#3 Lifetime Marijuana Use Associated With Reduced Cancer Risk
The moderate long-term use of cannabis is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer, according to the results of a population-based control study published in August by the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Authors reported, “After adjusting for potential confounders (including smoking and alcohol drinking), 10 to 20 years of marijuana use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.” Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7944.

#4 AMA Calls For Review Of Marijuana’s Prohibitive Status
In November, the American Medical Association resolved that marijuana should longer be classified as a Schedule I prohibited substance. Drugs classified in Schedule I are defined as possessing “no currently accepted use in treatment in the United States.” In a separate action, the AMA also determined, “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8020.

#5 California: Lawmakers Hold Historic Hearing On Marijuana Legalization
State lawmakers heard testimony in October in support of taxing and regulating the commercial production and distribution of cannabis for adults age 21 and older. Additional hearings, as well as a vote on Assembly Bill 390: the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, are scheduled for January 2010. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8002.

#6 Maine Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Measure; Dispensaries Coming To Washington, DC In 2010
Voters in November decided in favor of a statewide measure that allows for the state to license non-profit facilities to distribute medical cannabis to qualified patients. The vote marked the first time that citizens ever approved a statewide ballot proposal authorizing the creation of dispensaries. In June, Rhode Island lawmakers enacted a similar measure. In December, Congress lifted federal restrictions to allow for the DC City Council to implement provisions of a ten-year-old medical marijuana law that would allow for the use and distribution of medicinal cannabis in the District of Columbia. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8011.

#7 Oakland: Voters Approve First-In-The-Nation Medical Marijuana Business Tax
In July 80 percent of municipal voters approved Ballot Measure F, the nation’s first ever business tax on the retail sales of cannabis. The tax, which takes effect on January 1, imposes an exclusive tax for “cannabis businesses” of $18 for every $1,000 of gross receipts. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7937.

#8 Rasmussen Poll: Majority Of Americans Say Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol
More than half of American adults believe that alcohol is “more dangerous” than marijuana, according to the results of a national telephone poll of 1,000 likely voters published in September by Rasmussen Reports. Fifty-one percent of respondents, including a majority of women, rated the use of marijuana to be less dangerous than alcohol. Only 19 percent of those polled said that cannabis is the more dangerous of the two substances. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7965.

#9 Many Teens See Medical Cannabis As Alternative Treatment Option
Some one-third of adolescents view their use of marijuana as therapeutic rather than recreational, according to survey data published in May by the journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy. Teens most commonly reported using cannabis therapeutically to counter symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), physical pain, and sleeplessness. In November several mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times and Good Morning America, featured stories on adolescents using marijuana as a medicine. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7864.

#10 Oregon NORML Opens ‘Cannabis Café,’ Media Frenzy Follows
In November Oregon NORML opened the state’s first café catering to state-authorized medical marijuana patients. Unlike conventional marijuana dispensaries that operate in states like California and Colorado, medical cannabis is not sold on the premises, nor is the primary function of the café to dispense marijuana. “This is not a medical marijuana dispensary with a café; this is a café for medical marijuana patients,” said Madeline Martinez, Oregon NORML Executive Director. The Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, The New York Times, and Democracy Now were among the hundreds of media outlets that covered the story. Read the full story at: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=8024.

Many people have high hopes for 2010.

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