August 25, 2011

NORML Life: Marijuana Laws 101

NORML is an organization created many decades ago as lobby representation in Washington DC for responsible adult marijuana use. Since prohibition began in the late 30’s, Americans have paid billions of dollars to prosecute and jail marijuana users. NORML’s website notes an estimated 10 million citizens are arrested annually. Many Americans feel the time has come to reverse these destructive laws and have worked tirelessly to bring change on State, Local and Federal Levels.

1937 Marijuana Tax Stamp
The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 made it illegal to grow marijuana if you did not have a Marijuana Tax Stamp. The government did not produce the stamp or offer it to farmers, so essentially growing marijuana became illegal. This happened just after a very well known propaganda campaign, Reefer Madness, essentially vilified the cannabis plant in the minds of general public. 

Since then, millions of people have been jailed for possession and personal use of marijuana costing the taxpayers billions of dollars. According to the NORML website 6.5 million people have been jailed in the last decade. NORML Website: War Against Marijuana Consumers
One marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds in the United States according recent FBI statistical reports. For more information on annual arrests in the United States visit NORML’s page Arrest Statistics page.  NORML Website: Annual Marijuana Arrests in the US

Medical Marijuana laws are very complicated and somewhat difficult to understand. NORML helps tremendously keeping a large library of medical marijuana laws for the public to use as reference when trying to navigate the information including history, science and court cases. The first part of grasping the big picture is understanding the different ideas of legalization being debated in today’s think tanks. 

Although the use of Marijuana for medicinal purposes is against Federal law, many States have passed voter driven initiatives that lessen penalties and provide a layer of protection for patients being prosecuted on State levels for cultivating and using the plant. NORML’s website has a complete list of States with such laws in place and a directory showing which States currently have active initiatives on the voter ballots. 

Decriminalization means carrying small amounts of marijuana for adult personal use is considered a misdemeanor and treated similar to a traffic violation. A complete list of States who have decriminalized can be found here: NORML Website: States with Decriminalization Initiatives in Place
Click on the individual State links for more information on the initiatives and laws in place. 

Tax and Regulate allows the production and distribution of marijuana to be regulated by State and Local agencies and taxed for the benefit of the community. There are 16 States with active tax and regulation laws in place plus the District of Columbia. Complete List from NORML website: 
Click on the individual states for more information on regulations and patient programs in each area. 

Most Americans do not know 20 States in the United States currently use a system of taxation for possession of illicit drugs. After a person is arrested and processed through the court systems, they are additionally charged for tax evasion for not purchasing a Tax Stamp legally required to be affixed to contraband. Defendants are taxed by weight of the confiscated marijuana and penalized for non payment. For a list of States with Tax Stamp laws in effect and more information on penalties visit:NORML Website: States with Tax Penalties in Place

Legalization means the plant is completely legal to grow, distribute, buy and sell with no restrictions whatsoever.  Currently, there are no initiatives this extreme, however, there are groups advocating for the immediate and full legalization of the cannabis plants for all its uses. The MERP Model is one such example: MERP Model

Currently, The United States Federal Government has Marijuana in the Schedule 1 category, reserved for drugs with no medicinal benefits such as mescaline, heroin and lysergic acid. Rescheduling Cannabis to a less restrictive class would allow a broader range of businesses and individuals to work with cannabis as a medicine without the special permitting requirements necessary for schedule 1. NORML has been working with other activist organizations to reschedule the plant for decades. In 1972, NORML filed a petition and was not granted a hearing until 1986. That petition was eventually denied in spite of recommendations from court staff and industry experts to do so. Subsequent petitions have been filed since then including the most recent effort in May of 2011. For more information on NORML’s part in rescheduling cannabis, please visit their website. NORML Rescheduling Efforts

Many people are looking at the fiscal policies behind prohibition and wondering if we have the money to prosecute non violent marijuana users who would otherwise be responsible tax-paying citizens. States are starting to calculate the amount of tax revenue possible from a booming industry seemingly transcending a crashing World economy. NORML as an organization stays well ahead of the movement, supporting grass roots efforts at every level. They keep individuals updated on current issues, motivated with action items and show unwavering support to both recreational and medicinal users.  NORML chapters exist in most areas of the United States. Find a complete listing here: NORML Chapters

If you do not see a Chapter listed in your area, there is no affiliated group currently working there. Consider starting a Chapter! 

Find information on starting a local chapter here: Start a NORML Chapter

NORML Life, just released by Cinema Libre Studios to DVD explores the culture of an organization working to end the prohibition of the Cannabis Plant including interviews with activists, doctors, patients and providers. 

"NORML or National Organization of the Reform for Marijuana Laws has long advocated the decriminalization of cannabis for over 40 years. Its founder, current leaders and nationwide chapter representatives describe the patchwork of state and municipal laws that allow medical marijuana, while the federal government still regards cannabis as a dangerous narcotic. Voters in the US are increasingly recognizing the positive aspects of accepting and controlling medical marijuana in their communities for its medicinal benefits, as well as for its potential to generate needed tax revenue.

BONUS FEATURES: Ray Manzarek, co-founder of The Doors, speaks about his experiences with The Doors and marijuana."

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Purchase your copy of NORML Today! Puchase NORML Life 

Cinema Libre Studios is a full service production and distribution company serving independent filmmakers Worldwide. For more information on their movies and services, please visit their Website. 

August 17, 2011

NORML Life: Origins of the NORML Women's Alliance

In 2009, Marie Claire published an article about young women working in stressful corporate positions unwinding with marijuana after work instead of alcohol. Read Original Marie Claire Article Here Very soon after, the Today show aired a segment with Joanna Coles, Editor in Chief and Dr. Julie Holland a psychiatrist at the NYC School of Medicine following up the story with a surprising number. In a recent study, 8 Million women had admitted to choosing cannabis over alcohol as a way to relax and lower their stress levels.

Sabrina Fendrick at NORML read the article and was inspired by the power of the female voice in the movement to end cannabis prohibition. Immediately, she posted a follow – up article, Because Women are NORML, too. Read Original Article from NORML's Blog Here In it she states the following: “The normalizing of recreational cannabis consumption is not just happening with men, which is what most people think of when they think of pot smokers.  Women, who are not necessarily left out of the movement, are rarely recognized as a major demographic that is essential for the reform effort to push forward in a truly legitimate fashion.” Recognizing the power women had in the movement, the initial plans for the NORML Women’s Alliance were laid out and a new NORML chapter was written.

Georgia Edson, Sabrina Fendrick, Stacia Cosner, Kyndra Miller and Diane Fornbacher
Sabrina called prominent female activists in the movement together to create the NORML Women’s Alliance including NORML Foundation chair and film producer Ann Druyan, attorney and political activist Jessica Corry, editor Shelby Sadler, best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich, Beverly Hills NORML director Cheryl Shuman, NORML Foundation board member Jeralyn Merritt, Esq., cannabis activist and author Mikki Norris, Cannabis Action Network and Berkeley Patients Group founder Debby Goldsberry, NORML board member and director of Oregon NORML Madeline Martinez, law professor Marjorie Russell, and former ACLU president Nadine Strossen. Together they created a mission statement citing the following as direction for the alliance: “These diverse women will bring a contemporary approach to the public policy debate, and will proudly represent the interests of modern, mainstream women who believe that the negative consequences of marijuana prohibition far outweigh any repercussions from marijuana consumption itself.” NORML Women's Alliance Mission Statement

They followed up with a list of positions held by the Women’s Alliance called the NORML Women’s Alliance Declarations which include statements against cannabis prohibition citing wasteful fiscal policies policing private behavior, the blow to civil rights caused by a government overstepping its boundaries and the lack of truthful information when presenting the issue to the youth of America as consequences of failed drug policy. NORML Women's Alliance Declarations
Since its inception, the NORML Women’s Alliance has and continues to expand to include more chapters and new members of NORML inspired by these women to get involved and be heard. The alliance has added new programs to inspire activist recruitment like the Sister to Sister program coupling seasoned activists with new activists to establish big sister, little sister relationships for mentoring and The Speakers Bureau, a group of female activists on the forefront of the movement ready to make statements or be interviewed on issues related to marijuana for media.
Sabrina is a featured activist in NORML Life, being released to DVD August 16 by Cinema Libre Studios. NORML Life explores the issues surrounding the marijuana plant with interviews from NORML founders, patients, providers and activists working to end prohibition. Order your copy today here: Purchase NORML Life Here 

Cinema Libre Studios is a full service production and distribution company serving Independent Film Makers. For more information on their services or to explore their extensive library, please visit their website. Cinema Libre Studios Website

August 03, 2011

Sexism in Media: Representative of Society or Corporate Interests?

Recently, I have seen many conversations go in the direction of accused sexism in the heat of political and conversational debates. Sexism has and continues to be an effective war tactic for anyone wanting to derail their opponent, usually used when one has no argumentative defense. I have seen lots of men attacked lately, some more deserving than others, accused of hating women. I think it is more important to recognize the subliminal destructive nature of these images and videos being played in front of us for many hours of the day, than to debate the sexist nature of media.

This image shows a man with selfish interests violently attacking a woman who is assumed to have pushed him to the edge with her nagging. When considering this image, do you consider yourself to be well represented as a man or a woman?
Both men and women are unfairly represented in media today. Television shows and commercials often depict men as lazy, choosing to sit on the couch over eating and drinking beer while their wives are left with every day chores. Fathers are shown in situations where they are confused and incapable of interacting with their children, clueless on how to change diapers, etc.  Often times, Father - child relationships are strained, cynical or uneasy as if men are not connecting correctly. If the men in media represented the population of men in reality, we would assume all men function on nothing more than carnal instinct, driven only by the need for food, sex, sports and video games. No intelligent thought exists. 

This picture insinuates all men are crazy and unwilling to commit. It shows women as unsatisfied with every single man out there as if no man in our society is capable of making commitments.
Women are all over the scale as far as media representation. According to some media, women are over powering, nagging, busy bodies hell bent on making their men miserable, others are timid and weak. Women are represented as sex objects. Lesbians are man haters, with raging cases of penis envy and spiked hair. Housewives are mettlesome, over scheduled, uptight child taxis living out their dreams vicariously through their children. Their kids are placed into beauty pageants and sports events they wish they could have starred in themselves. Single women of all ages are either gold diggers, looking for shallow, rich men to take care of their every whim or career obsessed she bitches, taking the corporate World by force with no prisoners of course.

I personally do not believe society is really how it is represented by the companies and political organizations releasing the media for the purpose of increasing shareholder or personal profits. Media portrays how these entities want us to think and behave based on their research. Case in point: The next video is a discussion by The Young Turks talking about a new Got Milk Ad. The man is shown anxiously handing his woman multiple half gallon containers of milk to cure her PMS symptoms. The ad implies women are raging bitches during their monthly cycles and the men see being with a woman as a negative thing, as if this is all they have to look forward to when partnering with the opposite sex. 

The discussion proposes the question, “Is this ad sexist?” It doesn’t matter if the ad is sexist, the ad is not correctly representative of reality. Do women really have men rushing to the store to buy milk because an ad says it helps with PMS symptoms? Seriously, if women were to drink a gallon and a half of milk, they would have more problems to deal with than the uncomfortable symptoms of PMS. They would be so constipated, the days after their period would hold worse symptoms than during their actual cycle.

Media goes so far as to create issues and then shows situational comedy depicting the issues from the other side. Case in point, women are often shown as sex symbols and the media is known to cause low self esteem. Women feel the need for constant reassurances from their men leading to competitive feelings, jealousy and eating disorders. The media helped create a problem for men and women by playing on people’s subconscious emotional response. Men are then seen in situational media poking fun at the woman’s need for constant reassurance. Where then, does the cycle stop? 

This popular Super Bowl commercial shows a man pushing his wife out of the car to save himself from having to give up his car tires to road warriors. 

How many men out there would choose tires over their family members? Is this really what is happening in our society? 
Are these images real representations of society or an implied direction? Are all men crazy and non committal? Are all women shallow and obsessed? The answer is an obvious no for any optimist. I have met men and women who exist honorably, respecting and loving their families their entire lives. I have met men and women who fit the negative stereo-types. The question for me is – Is current media showing a reflection of real life or are we seeing these images and becoming a reflection of these false ideas? 

Media’s main purpose is to tell you what they want you to be, not what you should be or what would work for you. Their goals are all wrapped up in profit margins. I personally am insulted every time I see media showing negative social situations as reality for both men and women. It’s time to change the way we think about ourselves as a civilization. It’s time to decide who we are collectively and not take media’s word for it. The conversation here does not need to go in the direction of who hates the opposite sex more, but to how we really feel about media’s representation of us as individuals.

Human Beings are meant to be independent thinkers. We are not meant to follow the pack or fall into line just because it’s a popular decision. We should be deciding for ourselves who we are and how we want to be remembered, as strong loving individuals who work collectively for the betterment of the whole.
When I look at media now, I ask myself 2 questions: Where is the money going? and What do they want me to know? In doing this, I have strengthened my filters. I now see beyond the message. I know now, the corporations and governments lining their pockets at the expense of the majority of the human race want us to be stupid, selfish and complacent. They make more money when we are so wrapped up in mixed media messages, we can no longer see truth.
I encourage each of you to question media and have a conversation with your friends and family members. No matter your sex, we should all be asking the same questions: Am I really like the people in the ads and programs seen in media? From there ask ‘How do I want to be represented in media?’ so you can hold the advertisers accountable for the negativity. If these companies were held accountable, the World would be a better place.  Think about it.

August 01, 2011

NORML Life: A Documentary with the Potential to Take Back Public Perception about Marijuana

NORML Releases to DVD August 16, 2011
NORML as an organization was established in 1970 by Keith Stroup as a lobby representation in WA for the responsible use of marijuana. Over the years, NORML has advocated for the decriminalization of cannabis creating a national and eventually international network of local chapters working in each area to change laws at the City and State level, while pushing through legislation and supporting politicians on a Federal level.

Today, NORML has chapters all over the World and more than 1 and 1/2 million members still working to effect legislation and change laws. NORML Life explores medical marijuana from all aspects including testimonies from doctors, patients, providers and activists all working tirelessly on one single goal: To end the senseless prohibition of use of the cannabis plant.

Everyone I have ever met has an opinion about marijuana. As an activist, I have spoken with hundreds of people about the plant, all of them recounting their personal experiences directly and their opinion about the legality of its medicinal use. One of the things I love about NORML Life is the perfect mix of culture and science when presenting the information. NORML Life is an excellent tool to take back public perception, truths taken from society with the Reefer Madness campaigns and anti drug rhetoric over the next several decades, something I see all the time talking to people today.

Featured Activists in NORML Life
Norml life has Dr Frank Lucido explaining why marijuana has 0 deaths on its record, Sabrina from NORML describing the influences behind the creation of the NORML Women's Alliance, lots of images showing the relationship between the endo-cannabinoid system and cannabinoids taken into the body when using as medicine and more, a lot more. I left after watching the movie with an expanded perception of the cannabis plant and I thought I knew a lot.

I encourage all of you to pick up a copy of NORML Life for your libraries. Just as Jack Herer's book, The Emperor wears no clothes served as written confirmation for the cannabis movement, NORML Life has the potential to visually affect public perception. Show it to your friends and family members when they disagree with you while engaging in heated debate cannabis issues.
Cannabis Plant

NORML Life is released to DVD August 16, 2011 and will be available for purchase online. Cinema Libre is accepting pre-orders now. Use the promo code heartbrain during check out in the online store for free shipping. Pre-Order NORML Life here.  

Cinema Libre Studios is a full service production and distribution company serving independent film makers globally. Check out their other titles including Fuel, Gas Hole, The Beautiful Truth and more by visiting their website: Cinema Libre Studios