The term ‘marijuana’ (sometimes spelled ‘marihuana’) is Mexican in origin and typically refers to any part of — or any one of — the three distinctive subspecies of the cannabis plant: cannabis sativa (which tends to grow tall and stalky), cannabis indica (which tends to grow smaller and bushier), or cannabis ruderalis(found primarily in Russia and Eastern Europe.) Grown outdoors, the cannabis plant typically achieves maturity within three to five months. Cultivated indoors under optimum heat and lighting, the plant may reach maturity within as few as 60 days.
Despite almost a century of federal, criminal prohibition, an estimated one in seven US adults acknowledge being current marijuana consumers. NORML opines that our nation’s public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it.
Responsible Adult Use
NORML supports the adoption of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source. This policy, generally known as legalization has been adopted (either in part or in full) in a number of US jurisdictions: Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. At present, Washington state does not permit personal home cultivation, and Vermont and the District of Columbia do not permit retail sales.
In jurisdictions where legalization is not yet achievable, NORML also supports the immediate removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession and responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. This policy, known as decriminalization, removes the consumer — the marijuana smoker — from the criminal justice system, but still maintains civil penalties/fines.
Enforcing marijuana prohibition results in the arrest of more than 600,000 individuals per year, predominantly people of color and young people. This annual total is far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.