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She formed the U.S. Marijuana Party in 2002; ran for Alabama governor in 2006 on a platform to legalize pot; created the Alabama Compassionate Care group to fight for use of marijuana for treatment of disease; and in 2010 was named by the magazine Skunk as one of the top 100 most influential women in Cannabis…


Pushing for legalization: Alabama housewife to marijuana activist

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By Kent Faulk | kfaulk@al.com
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on March 29, 2017 at 7:31 AM, updated March 29, 2017 at 10:20 AM

Loretta Nall remembers the first time she smoked marijuana.

“I was about 12 years old at a Ratt/Queensreich concert at the BJCC (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex),” Nall, who grew up in the east Alabama town of Ashland, said in an interview with AL.com.

That was 30 years ago and since then Nall has become one of the most outspoken advocates for the legalization of pot in the nation.

She formed the U.S. Marijuana Party in 2002; ran for Alabama governor in 2006 on a platform to legalize pot; created the Alabama Compassionate Care group to fight for use of marijuana for treatment of disease; and in 2010 was named by the magazine Skunk as one of the top 100 most influential women in Cannabis.

Nall says she wasn’t always an activist and there were periods when she didn’t smoke weed – particularly when she was pregnant with her two children.

Until 2002, Nall had been a housewife and mother with only a few minor traffic violations, hadn’t thought about running for office, and wasn’t public in her outcry for the legalization of pot. But two things happened that year that would change that.

It was in 2002 that she connected online with Marc Emery, dubbed Canada’s “Prince of Pot.”

Nall said that in 2002 Emery asked her to come up to Canada and meet. “Within a week of my returning I had helicopters buzzing my house and (police on) ATVs in my yard,” she said.

Law enforcement told her they saw marijuana growing on her property, Nall said. But there wasn’t any, she said.

Nall believes that law enforcement converged on her property because she had visited Emery, who she said was near the top of federal drug agents’ watch list.

At that time, however, police didn’t try to search her house – at least not right away.

Soon after the raid, Nall sent a letter to the editor at The Birmingham News pushing for legalization of pot. It was titled: “Going to pot, and so what?” She wrote that not all marijuana users fit the “stereotypical stoner-without-a-clue image.”

Lobbying against sin: Baptist leader ready to fight marijuana

The Rev. Joe Godfrey is Alabama’s point man when it comes to lobbying against sin.

“We are not criminals who rob, steal or otherwise cause harm to the fabric of society, and it is time to stop treating us as if we were,” Nall wrote in 2002, long before states began to break with federal prohibitions on recreational marijuana. “It is time to demand an end to cannabis prohibition and the harsh drug laws that do more harm to society than the drug itself will ever do. It is time for change.” 

Six days after that letter to the editor appeared police returned with a search warrant, finding rolling papers, a scale and 0.87 grams of marijuana inside her mobile home.

“I think I was the first one to get the media’s attention (for pot legalization),” Nall said. “They (police) turned me into an activist by raiding my home and trying to take my children and violating my first amendment rights.”

Loretta Nall: Alabama Marijuana Advocate

A Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s investigator who had secured the search warrant for Nall’s home denied after the raid that the warrant was based on Nall’s letter to the editor. “Of course, it didn’t help her out any,” said the investigator, who would not say where the information for the search warrant did come from.

Nall was arrested and convicted of misdemeanor charges of possessing marijuana and paraphernalia.

She appealed and in April 2007 a judge dismissed her conviction because prosecutors failed to respond to Nall’s motion to suppress evidence seized in the 2002 raid.

Police used her letter to the editor in The Birmingham News as reason for the search, Nall says.

She became a guest host for segments on Emery’s online Pot TV show for about 2 1/2 years. The role included making trips around the country to cover pot-related news.

“She got all fired up,” Emery said of Nall in a recent interview with AL.com. “She has always been an advocate for legalization in a very inhospitable state.”

It’s always tough to advocate for legalization in a red state and particularly in the Bible Belt, Emery added. But, he said, “at no point does the Bible advocate against cannabis,” he said.

In 2010, Emery pleaded guilty to federal charges in the United States. He was sentenced to five years for manufacturing marijuana. Among the  allegations were that he shipped marijuana seeds over the border into the United States. He was released in 2014. And two months ago he was arrested by Montreal police after opening six illegal marijuana dispensaries around that city, according to the Toronto Sun newspaper. His trial is pending on that case.

“They turned me into an activist by raiding my home and trying to take my children ..” – Loretta Nall

Meanwhile, Canada this spring will likely consider legislation to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide.

In 2002, when Nall formed and became the first president of the U.S. Marijuana Party, recreational marijuana was banned in all states. Today eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. More than half the country has legalized marijuana for medical use and surveys show most Americans believe marijuana should be legal.

Nall’s party has also expanded with the changing attitudes. Today the group lists active chapters in 17 states. Yet Alabama isn’t one of them.

Nall left the group in 2004 but she said she still acts as an adviser. She later entered the race for Governor of Alabama in 2006 with the Libertarian party. Her top platform issue was legalization of marijuana.

Nall ran a colorful campaign that got national attention. Campaign materials included a photo of the woman displaying her ample cleavage above the words ”More of these boobs.” Below were photos of other candidates, including Gov. Bob Riley, and the words ”And less of these boobs.”

Her campaign sold bosomed-themed T-shirts, ”stash boxes,” and ”anti-state” thong underwear.

Nall, however, couldn’t get her name on Alabama ballots because the Libertarian Party couldn’t get the required 40,000 signatures. So she ran a write-in campaign. She said she got about 2,500 votes of the write-ins that were counted.

After the election Nall continued to write for Cannabis Culture magazine (a Marc Emery publication) and briefly branched her activism into another issue. In 2007, after Alabama outlawed the sale of sex toys,  Nall started a “Sex Toys for Troy King” drive that included her sending an inflatable pig to the then Alabama attorney general’s office.

Nall also started the Alabamian Compassionate Care group and pushed the Alabama Legislature for the passage of the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act in 2010. After that failed she pushed for it again in 2012.

That act was designed to protect from arrest and prosecution physicians who recommend marijuana and patients who use marijuana as medicine, Nall wrote in a 2012 op-ed piece for The Birmingham News.

Nall noted that other laws allowing limited medical use of marijuana were approved by state legislators in recent years. Carly’s Law and Leni’s Law, approved in 2016, allow people with seizure disorders or other debilitating medical conditions to use cannabidiol, a product derived from marijuana plants.

“Anything like that is progress,” Nall said. But, she said, “there are lots of people that doesn’t apply to that can’t get any help.”

Still, Nall hopes one day the state will legalize recreational use of marijuana in Alabama. “We’re still way behind,” Nall said.

“I’m still in favor of the legalization of marijuana … Retail sales. The whole nine yards, like has been done in (other states),” Nall said. “You ought to be able to grow at home like you do tomatoes.”

Nall, however, agrees that there needs to be age limitations on it use.

Only when voters make state legislators change direction or the legislators see the tax money that’s to be had will Alabama ever get recreational pot, Nall said. “My money’s on the money,” she said.

By legalizing pot, it might keep people from getting addicted to opiates and other harder drugs. “Going to drug dealers (for pot) exposes them to harder drugs,” she said.

Alabama also could see an increase in taxes from the legalized sale of pot, Nall said. That money could be spent by the state on issues such as prison reform and Medicaid funding, she said.

Nall noted Colorado’s collection of millions of dollars in taxes on marijuana sales.

Licensed and regulated marijuana stores in Colorado sold nearly $1 billion worth of recreational and medical cannabis in 2015, according to a story from The Cannabist, an offshoot publication of The Denver Post.

Colorado collected more than $135 million in marijuana taxes and fees in 2015, of which more than $35 million was earmarked for school construction projects, according to The Cannabist.

Right now people who are arrested in Alabama for marijuana possession are often placed in drug courts where they have to pay high court costs and fees and prevent people from keeping a job, Nall said.

Personal issues have kept her out of the spotlight over the past five or so years, Nall said. That has included shedding an opiate addiction, she said.

Her addiction began after she had a “pretty bad” broken foot in 2007, Nall said.

After foot surgery, she was given the narcotic Percocet for pain. “All I can tell you it was a love affair from day one,” she said.

Nall said she has been “clean” for two years now from the opiate addiction.  

Nall wants the public to know that her use of marijuana wasn’t to blame for her opiate addiction. “I didn’t start opiates because I smoked weed. I started because I broke my foot,” Nall said.

“Suboxone and marijuana helped me recover from opiate addiction,” Nall said.

Nall, 42, is currently working as a 24-hour a day care-giver in the small Coosa County town of Kellyton, which is near Alexander City.

Asked if she was concerned that giving an interview might bring more trouble for her, she replied: “There’s no one on earth who doesn’t know I smoke weed.”

CONTINUE READING…

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The Push For Legal Marijuana In Illinois


smoking  and eating cannabis

 

If a group of state lawmakers have their way, Illinois will become the eighth state in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana. State Senator Heather Steans joined State Rep. Kelly Cassidy to propose the bill in Springfield on Wednesday. Illinois has just begun getting medical marijuana grown and distributed to patients, and the possibility of recreational use has excited growers and activists. Recreational and medical use of the drug are still illegal on the federal level, and states may face crackdowns under the new Trump administration. 

But Illinois lawmakers are forging ahead, arguing that legalization could help reduce crime and raise revenue at a time when the state is in dire financial straits. 

Morning Shift talks to State Senator Heather Steans about the proposed bill and answers listeners’ questions about marijuana in Illinois.

CONTINUE READINGThe Push For Legal Marijuana In Illinois

(IL) Illinois lawmakers propose legalizing recreational marijuana


Illinois recreational marijuana

 

Robert McCoppinContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Lawmakers are proposing to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois but say the legislation probably won’t come up for a vote until next year.

Sponsors on Wednesday introduced bills that would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow and buy limited amounts of marijuana.

The state would license and regulate businesses to grow, process and sell the plant, and it would establish safety regulations such as testing and labeling requirements, sponsors said.

The measure would also allow residents to possess up to 28 grams of pot, or about an ounce, and to grow five plants.

The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce wholesale, plus the state’s standard 6.25 percent sales tax.

Based on sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group, estimates sales in Illinois could generate about $350 million to $700 million per year.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan reserved judgment, as they typically do with new bills. But the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police opposes legalization, saying marijuana poses a threat to public health and safety, and causes potential enforcement problems because it conflicts with the federal prohibition on marijuana.


Illinois declines to expand medical marijuana conditions list

Illinois declines to expand medical marijuana conditions list

Robert McCoppin

Illinois will not expand the list of conditions that qualifies people to get medical marijuana, Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s administration announced Friday.

The announcement came despite pleas from patient advocates and medical marijuana business owners who say they need more patients to make the industry…

Illinois will not expand the list of conditions that qualifies people to get medical marijuana, Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s administration announced Friday.

The announcement came despite pleas from patient advocates and medical marijuana business owners who say they need more patients to make the industry…

(Robert McCoppin)


The co-sponsors, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Democrats from Chicago’s North Side, said they don’t plan to call the bill for a vote this session but will hold hearings to get feedback and see whether some version of a legalization bill can get support next year.

“If we bring this out in the open, we can generate revenue legally rather than for the black market,” Steans said.

Cassidy said marijuana prohibition creates far more problems than it prevents. “Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer,” she said.

Eight states have allowed the sale of the drug, generally by referendum. But in Illinois, it’s very difficult to get a binding vote on the statewide ballot, so it probably would take legislative action to change the law.

If approved, the plan would make Illinois the first state in the Midwest to allow the general public, including out-of-state visitors, to buy marijuana, though it would remain illegal to transport it across state lines. The proposal also calls for dividing the tax revenue, with half going to the state’s general fund and the rest to schools and drug abuse treatment and prevention.

Legal marijuana sales can generate windfall tax revenues, but the social and health costs are largely unknown, cautioned Rosalie Pacula, a senior economist at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization.

“The tax revenue comes right away,” Pacula said. “The data on emergency room visits, car crashes, graduation rates and absenteeism takes a lot longer.”

As with any new industry, marijuana can be regulated, but there are many variables, such as what pesticides should be allowed, Pacula said, so there should be provisions for new laws to expire or be changed along the way.

For more than a year, Illinois has had a pilot program allowing the sale of marijuana to patients with any of about 40 debilitating diseases, such as cancer or AIDS. But without a broad qualifying condition like chronic pain, as some other states have, the number of patients has been limited to about 17,000, with current retail sales of about $5 million a month.

The proposed new law would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational pot for one year before newly licensed businesses would be allowed to enter the market.

Last year, a new state law also decriminalized the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, punishing it instead with fines.

Police have not noticed any significant problems with either law, according to Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger Jr., who is first vice president of the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association, which opposes legalization. But he said the medical marijuana law is limited, and a lot of municipalities had previously decriminalized cannabis, so the effects were muted.

Kruger cited a rise in emergency room visits for medical marijuana ingestion among children in Colorado and studies showing the drug’s harmful effects on developing brains.

Advocates for legalization say kids are already getting marijuana illegally, but legalization would allow it to be more closely regulated.

“I think this does a good job of being very reasonable,” Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn said. “It’s a realistic approach.”

CONTINUE READING…

In Peru, mothers rouse support for legalizing medical marijuana


Ana Alvarez, a working mother of two in Lima, never imagined being on the frontlines of a fight for marijuana in conservative Peru.

But a police raid on a makeshift cannabis lab that she and other women started to soothe the symptoms of their sick children has roused support for medical marijuana, prompting President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski to propose legalizing it in the latest pivot away from decades-old restrictions on drug use in Latin America.

Alvarez said cannabis oil is the only drug that helped contain her epileptic and schizophrenic son’s seizures and psychotic episodes. She and other women in similar situations formed the group Searching for Hope to seek legal backing as they honed techniques for producing the drug.

“We wrote to Congress, to the health ministry,” Alvarez said from her apartment as her son played in his room. “We got two negative responses.”

But the police bust put the women’s plight on national television, triggering an outpouring of sympathy as they marched with their children in tow to demand police “give us our medicine back.”

“When we saw their reality, we realized there’s a void in our laws for this kind of use” of marijuana, said cabinet advisor Leonardo Caparros. “We couldn’t turn a blind eye.”

It is unclear if the right-wing opposition-controlled Congress will pass Kuczynski’s proposed legislation, which would allow marijuana to be imported and sold in Peru for medical reasons and could permit domestic production after two years.

Kuczynski, a 78-year-old socially liberal economist, once provoked an uproar for saying that smoking a joint “isn’t the end of the world.”

But an Ipsos poll conducted following the raid showed 65 percent of Peruvians favor legalizing medical marijuana, and another 13 percent back legalizing the drug for recreational use.

If the bill is passed, Peru would follow neighboring Chile and Colombia in legalizing the medical use of marijuana. Mexico’s Senate has approved a bill to permit the use of medical marijuana, while Uruguay has fully legalized cannabis from seed to smoke.

In the meantime, Searching for Hope has turned to the black market. Member Roxana Tasayco said cannabis oil had given her terminal cancer-stricken mother her appetite back and calmed her vomiting and nausea.

Also In Health News

“It’s not going to cure her but it’ll give her a better quality of life in her last days,” said Tasayco. “If I have to break a few laws to do that for her I will.”

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

CONTINUE READING…

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