Legal Issues

Driven by the Drug War, the U.S. prison population is six to ten times as high as most Western European nations. The United States is a close second only to Russia in its rate of incarceration per 100,000 people. In 2006, more than 829,000 people were arrested in this country for marijuana-related offenses alone.

Marijuana prohibition causes far more problems than it solves, and results in the needless arrest of hundreds of thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens each year. The NORML Legal Committee provides legal support and assistance to victims of the current marijuana laws. NORML also monitors developments in state and federal law, and files appellate and amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in cases which may affect the interpretation of existing marijuana laws, or which will, hopefully, change them.

In 2001, NORML filed an amicus curiae brief in a case before the Supreme Court which involved patient support groups (“buyers’ clubs”) that provide medical marijuana to seriously ill patients in California. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision was not favorable to the buyers’ clubs, and now tens of thousands of seriously ill patients who use marijuana to relieve their pain and suffering will no longer have a safe and secure source for their medical marijuana.

In 2002, NORML filed another amicus curiae brief in support of students at an Oklahoma public high school who did not wish to be drug-tested prior to participating in extra-curricular activities such as the chess club, the marching band, and Future Farmers of America.

This section of NORML’s website provides important information for the marijuana consumer: state-by-state laws on marijuana penalties; alphabetical and state listings of attorneys on NORML’s Legal Committee; a detailed description of your rights, including a NORML Foundation Freedom Card you may print out and carry with you; and information on drug testing and presenting a medical necessity defense.

If you need legal assistance, or have any questions regarding the legal material on this site, please contact the NORML Foundation, at 202-483-8751.

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