NORML: Full Legalization, Full Steam Ahead (Panel Liveblog with Michael Whitney and Neill Franklin)

Click on image for livestream of NORML panel

At the national conference of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) here at the Governor Hotel, in Portland Oregon, our own Michael Whitney is on a panel this morning to talk about the marijuana legalization campaign.

Allen St Pierre Executive Director, NORML, is moderating. Also on the panel are Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; David Nott, Executive Director of the Reason Foundation; and Craig Reinarman, PhD, University of California/Santa Cruz.

I’ll live blog the panel starting soon.

Jane Hamsher and I are selling the wonderful new Just Say Now t-shirts, some featuring the wonderfully soft hemp/cotton blend. We’re gathering signatures, engaging people in the campaign, and premiering the great Just Say Now products.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer is now keynoting up in the main hall, talking about how marijuana legalization and industrial hemp farming can be issues that bridge the gap between the mythology of left and right.

He points out that a constructive conversation about decriminalizing marijuana engages both Barney Frank and Ron Paul.

Panel beginning now.

St Pierre: 800,000 Americans will be arrested this year for marijuana crimes. Yet there are 2400 medical dispensaries. There is a plurality not a majority for legalization.

Introduces Michael of FDL, new player introduced into the legalization effort because our members voted to work on this campaign. Talks about the Arkansas recruitment effort of Bill Halter — calls FDL “fleet of foot” and “unwedded to a top-down membership model.”

Introduces “Reason” as one of the best reads in the United States, where thinkers write.

Neill Franklin, new director of LEAP, one of the most important law enforcement organizations involved in law reform. Very importnat to have trustworthy allies in the law enforcement community.

Craig Reinarman, internationally recognized researcher who keeps good track of the opposition to ending prohibition.

This is a bridge period between medicalization and legalization.

Reinarman: Want to talk about marijuana madness: not the prohibition, the other kind. The arguments that marijuana causes psychosis, being deployed in the anti-prop 19 campaign in California. I suggest that the link is very tenuous; and that we need to take the argument very seriously. This is the latest scare tactic being deployed by folks against us. The electorate is fearful and prone to scapegoating: not just being used in the referendum, but used in the culture wars too.

I was dismissive, as a student of drug scare, I thought this was silly. British colonial overlords worried in India that hemp use was filling asylums; turned out not to be true. reagan drug czar claimed mj made you gay. 200 times the psychoactive dose on monkeys causes brain damage; they had to raise the dose so high in order to “prove” their case.

[Liveblog–with livestream–continues after the jump.]