Nationally, the Department of Justice has recently been in the news updating their stance on cannabis and criminal justice issues. It started with Mandatory Minimums. Attorney General Eric Holder announced during a speech before the American Bar Association that the Justice Department will no longer list drug quantities in indictments of certain low-level drug offenders, allowing defendants who lack ties to gangs, violence and large-scale drug trafficking organizations to avoid harsh mandatory minimums. Click here to view and read more about his statement. Then in a memo to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole directed federal prosecutors to focus on eight areas of enforcement rather than spending time targeting individual users in states that have legalized cannabis use. Those aims include preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, stopping the growing of marijuana on public land, keeping pot from falling into the hands of cartels and gangs, and preventing the diversion of marijuana to states where it remains illegal. Click here to read the memo. Additionally, as this newsletter is being written, during a briefing a senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official said that Financial Institutions and other enterprises that do business with marijuana shops which are in compliance with state laws are unlikely to be prosecuted for money laundering or other federal crimes that could be brought under existing federal drug laws. This is a reversal of their previous guidance. Click here to read more.
Locally, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo supports Holder’s change of stance on mandatory minimums. “I think that if you talk to a lot of my colleagues around the country, most of us feel that addicts who are addicted to drugs, that are users, but aren’t the ones poisoning our kids by being the big dealers on the street that we are better served trying to get them treatment, break that cycle of addiction,” Acevedo said. Acevedo says his priority is violent crime. “I’d rather not tie up an officer with somebody with a small quantity of marijuana. In the meantime somebody’s hiding in their closet, they broke in. I’d rather free them up to deal with that imminent threat to public safety,” Acevedo said. Click here to view and read more on the coverage. In addition, Texas NORML’s Legal Counsel, Jamie Spencer was recently on the news to discuss the new DOJ Policy and prison overcrowding. Click here to see his interview.
In other big news, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Rob Kampia had some local coverage. “It’s inevitable that we’re going to win,” Rob Kampia said from his new apartment complex in Austin. “We’re going to look at this Texas project as a multi-year plan.” He said his organization’s goal is to end marijuana prohibition in Texas by the 2017 legislative session. We agree and look forward to working together to make it happen! Click here to view the news coverage. Texas NORML has partnered with MPP and other groups to hire a lobby firm and organizers to prepare for and ensure our success. A California donor has pledged $100,000 to help legalize in Texas and we are set to help in matching those funds! Please check out the link below to view the announcement at our August meeting.
We also recently started our own Texas NORML YouTube Channel. Click here to check it out and become a subscriber.
Events and Activities
TXNORML Monthly Open Meeting – FREE – Wednesday, September 4th – 8pm – Flamingo Cantina, 515 East 6th Street, Austin. We will be discussing what has been going on in Cannabis News around the nation, enjoying some stand up comedy and live reggae from the Mau Mau Chaplains. ASL interpreters will be provided. Click here for more information on the meeting. Please make sure to invite and share the Open Meeting with your friends and family. Did you miss the August Open Meeting? Click here to view a recording of the meeting and our guest speaker, Rob Kampia, Executive Director of MPP.
Austin Pride Rainbow Run 5K – Saturday, September 7th – 8:30am – 211 West 4th St., Austin – A Team Hope through Cannabis (THC) of Texas NORML event. Please join our athletic group, Team THC, in the Austin Pride Rainbow Run, spreading awareness of and support for marijuana policy reform! Wear your THC, NORML or cannabis gear, or something green! The idea is to show that cannabis consumers are regular, NORML members of society and do not deserve to be persecuted or prosecuted. Let’s break some stereotypes! Click here for more information on the event. Want to learn more about THC? Email our Athletic Coordinator, Greg, at THC@texasnorml.org or visit the THC Facebook page.
XXVII Border Legislative Conference – Saturday, September 7th – 8 am – El Paso, TX. Cheyanne Weldon – Executive Director of Texas NORML – will be speaking on the “Overview of Marijuana Initiatives and Legislation” panel. Please join her if you are in the area! Click here to view our invite. Click here to visit the Border Legislative Conference Website.
Meetup to Start El Paso NORML – FREE – Saturday, September 7th – 1-3pm – La Terraza Mexican Restaurant, 11250 Montwood, El Paso. Please join us for lunch and a discussion of the statewide strategy for legalization in Texas! Texas NORML’s Executive Director, Cheyanne Weldon, will be in town and hopes to meet with people interested in forming and supporting a NORML chapter in El Paso. We desperately need a presence in all areas of the state in order to affect change. Please come out, bring your friends and family, and share this event with anyone you know in the area. Click here for more information on the event.
TXNORML Strategy Meeting – FREE – Wednesday, September 18th – 6:30-8:30pm – HomeField Grill, 2000 S IH 35 Round Rock. After such an educational 2013 Legislative Session and previous successful strategy meetings, we want to continue to get together across the Greater Austin Area to have group discussions and make plans for how we can and WILL change laws in Texas. Come get seriously involved! Click here for more information.
Stay tuned for more information next month!