Tag Archives: California Proposition 19

NORML: Give Thanks And Praises!

We do not celebrate Dec. 25th as any kind of special day for reasons I would be glad to elaborate upon for anyone who cares to ask. That said I wanted to include this letter since Allen St. Pierre speaks to a number of things that will offer hope and encouragement to those who were disappointed by the loss of Prop 19 in California in the November elections. (Ed)

December 24, 2010

Dear NORML Members and Supporters,

Social change doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen. This is the message we took away from the November 2010 election, an election that will influence NORML’s work in 2011 and beyond.

California Legalization Initiative: Prop. 19
I’m sure that by now you know the news. Forty-seven percent of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 19, which made the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis lawful for adults. No legalization initiative in any state has ever received so much voter support, nor has any effort generated such positive national discourse. In fact, by the end of the campaign even our staunchest opponents had to concede that America’s present criminal prohibition is an unequivocal failure. They recognize that the question is no longer, ‘Should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’ but, ‘How should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’ This marks a monumental shift in the public and political debate over marijuana policy.

But that’s not all. Let us remember one of the tangible and significant victories of the campaign: The signing into law of Senate Bill 1449 reducing the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a noncriminal infraction, punishable by a $100 fine—no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record. Passage of this law, which arguably would not have happened if it were not for advocates’ stepped up lobbying efforts regarding Prop. 19, will spare tens of thousands of Californians from criminal prosecution in 2011 and beyond.

Am I disappointed we failed to gain the support of 50 percent of California’s electorate?

Of course.

But I am proud of the progress we made, and of the broad coalition of political and civil rights organizations who endorsed our efforts, including the California NAACP, The Latino Voters League, the SEIU (one of America’s largest unions), and the Black Police Officers Association. That is why I remain confident that we can – and will – bring about the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults in California in 2012, and that is why I believe that we can extend these same freedoms to the citizens of other states in the years to follow.

Elections Matter; Threats Ahead
Yet when I view the ever-changing political landscape nationwide, I recognize there are many significant hurdles before us. This fall’s resurgence of Republican-elected officials in both Washington, DC, and throughout the nation threatens to undermine many of our recent gains. As I write to you today, U.S. Senators are in the process of confirming Michele Leonhart – who has ordered more than thirty raids of state-sanctioned medical marijuana providers – to head the Drug Enforcement Administration, and House members are likely to promote Texas Republican Lamar Smith – arguably the most reefer-mad member of the U.S. Congress – to head the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

At the statewide level, New Mexico’s newly elected Gov. Susan Martinez has threatened to repeal the state’s three-year-old medical cannabis law, which so far has licensed 17 dispensaries to produce and provide marijuana to nearly 3,000 authorized patients. In Michigan, incoming Attorney General Bill Schuette has also pledged to roll back the state’s popular medical cannabis law, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2008. And in Montana, lawmakers are planning an all assault upon the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana law, despite its passage with over 60 percent of the vote.

Drug warriors are emboldened by the statewide initiative defeats of medical cannabis proposals in Oregon (regarding the regulation of state-licensed dispensaries) and South Dakota (regarding the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes), and advocates’ razor thin margin of victory in Arizona (which became the fifteenth state to authorize the medical use of marijuana since 1996), but NORML remains unbowed. We will continue to forge ahead with our push for full legalization in states like Colorado, Washington, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Rest assured, we have not lost our momentum, and we do not intend to let our opponents roll back even one of the many statewide victories that we – and all of you – have worked so hard to achieve.

“What Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger”
In fact, according to the most recent Gallup national public opinion poll, momentum in favor of adult legalization and regulation has never been stronger. According to the October survey, a record 46 percent of voters nationwide now support making marijuana legal, and only 50 percent support prohibition (an all-time low.) To put these percentages in proper perspective, consider this. A decade ago, fewer than 30 percent of Americans said that they backed ending cannabis prohibition and a whopping 70 percent supported it.

This is why our opponents are running scared, and it is why they have targeted 2011 as the year they strike back. They have no other choice. They are aware, just as we are, that public opinion is moving exponentially in favor of marijuana law reform, and that this trend shows no signs of abating. We may have lost a battle in November, but we are clearly winning the war – and the drug warriors know it.

NORML: Putting The ‘Grass’ Into Grassroots Since 1970
As we approach 2011, our prohibitionist opponents are keenly aware that they have lost the hearts and minds of the electorate, and they are preparing to wage one final stand. We plan to meet them head on – and defeat them. Will you support our efforts? Your continued financial support will assure that we hold the line in 2011, and it will allow us to continue the national dialogue that is turning a record number of Americans toward cannabis liberation. Victory is at a hand, but only if we keep the pressure on – and only if we have the resources to fight back when necessary.

Supporting NORML and NORML Foundation is both simple and rewarding. If you want your donation to be employed for political purposes, such as for lobbying state and federal policy makers, please direct your donation to NORML. If you’d prefer a tax-deductible donation, which will be used for education, litigation, advertising and social organizing, please direct any cash or stock donations to the NORML Foundation.

Many of NORML’s members and supporters generously donate to both!

Social change doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen, and it is happening. That is why NORML needs your support now more than ever. 2011 promises to be a battle, but with your continued financial contributions I know that we will emerge victorious.

NORML @ 40-Years-Young
Lastly, as the collective calendar is turned, NORML—a remarkably enduring and resilient hub for a now sprawling social justice movement and medical cannabis industry—embarks upon it’s 40th year of representing the interests of cannabis consumers by, among other services, providing legal assistance and moral support to the many tens of thousands of consumers, growers and sellers (our brothers and sisters) arrested and incarcerated annually because of our nation’s antiquated Cannabis Prohibition laws.

NORML provides both in-office and 24/7 online support services formedical cannabis patients; citizens facing drug testing concerns; the victims of civil forfeiture; studentsresearching papers; also, NORML’s staff provides over 3,000 local, State, national and internationalmedia interviews annually. On thetightest budget in the drug policy reform movement, NORML produces the most popular cannabis-centric conferences, as well as the most popular cannabis-related webpageand daily podcast on the Internet.

None of this is possible without thesupport of thoughtful and engaged citizens like you!

Again, your end-of-the-year donations to either NORML or NORML Foundation is proof positive of your stakeholdership in a really important 40-year-old Washington, D.C. institution among public interest organizations.

Here’s to a safe and hemp-filled holiday and New Year to all! Thanks, as always, for caring and sharing!

Cannabem liberemus,

Allen St. Pierre
Executive Director
NORMLNORML Foundation

*Have you seen some of the unique ‘thank you’ gifts for members and donors?

 

 


Prop. 19 Goes up in Smoke

 

Mises Daily: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 by

[Watch the interview with Mark Thornton on Prop. 19.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Proposition 19 in California would have legalized marijuana, but it fell short. Victory seemed almost a foregone conclusion for many; after all, it is California. For millions, both in California and across the country, news of Prop. 19’s failure came as a major disappointment. However, it should be considered a great victory for such a radical measure to get 46 percent of the vote in open defiance of federal law, especially considering the intense opposition. Plans are already in the works to put the initiative back on the ballot for the 2012 election, which is expected to have higher turnout from young people. But in order for the ballot initiative to succeed, we must first understand why it failed.

The Opposition

In order to understand the depth and strength of the opposition, it is necessary to understand what Prop. 19 is really about. This legislation would be in open opposition to federal law as well as to a United Nations treaty that supports the drug war. It would be a law passed by the people, not the legislature. Most importantly, it would demonstrate that in the absence of marijuana prohibition, society can survive and thrive.

This example would give other states the idea that they could also effectively repeal marijuana prohibition. It might even create a national effort to repeal marijuana prohibition. It might even give people the idea to repeal other silly and harmful federal laws. This would open a can of worms for federal authority and bring back the idea of a people’s nullification.

So as you can see this was a critical victory for federal authority. It is not just that some potheads forgot to register to vote. Lots of money was spent, lots of lies were told. This was the equivalent of a goal-line stand for federal authority.

Bruce Yandle created the “bootleggers and Baptists” model of politics to describe how special-interest groups who normally oppose each other work for a common goal. With alcohol prohibition, Baptist preachers teamed up with bootleggers and moonshiners to make and keep alcohol illegal. Today we see the shared interests of environmental groups and established oil companies, who both want drilling restricted.

Those opposing Prop. 19 included everyone from marijuana dealers to megachurch preachers. All the powerful politicians, candidates, pot smokers, and even the California Beer and Beverage Distributors Association joined the team. The ancient proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” perfectly describes the relationship of these seemingly unlikely bedfellows.

Politicians

Politicians lined up solidly against Prop. 19, as you would expect. Gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman opposed it. US Senate candidates Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina opposed it. California senator Dianne Feinstein opposed it. California representative and speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi opposed it. Both candidates for attorney general opposed it.

In an attempt to dishearten supporters of Prop. 19, US attorney general Eric Holder issued a statement that he would vigorously enforce federal law in California even if Prop. 19 passed. In a similar vein, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill making possession of small amounts of marijuana a minor violation punishable by a maximum fine of $100. This was a last-ditch effort to undermine support for Prop. 19 by giving the impression that marijuana was de facto a legal drug.

Even Mexican president Felipe Calderon and Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos vocally opposed Prop. 19 — not surprisingly, given that Mexico and Columbia receive a great deal of money from the United States to fight the War on Drugs, and both countries generate substantial incomes from the sale of illegal drugs. Legal pot in California would have been a big blow to both marijuana and cocaine sales from south of the border.

Bootleggers

There is good evidence that those who currently grow and sell illegal marijuana opposed Prop. 19. The “Emerald Triangle,” consisting of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, is the major marijuana-growing region in Northern California. According to Mother Jones, those three counties voted to defeat Prop. 19:

“There’s a large movement up here of people who realize that their self interest lies in keeping marijuana illegal,” says Hank Sims, the editor of the North Coast Journal, based in the Humboldt town of Eureka. Growers in the Emerald Triangle’s rugged hills and foggy redwood groves are shielded from the snooping eyes of the DEA, but that advantage would become a handicap if pot could be openly cultivated in California’s warm, flat, agribusiness-dominated Central Valley. North Coast ganja growers “have got government-sponsored price control in the form of busts,” Sims explains. “So I think a lot of people kind of cynically voted their pocketbook and voted to keep it illegal.”

There was even a group called “Stoners against Legalization,” but it turns out that it was headed up by a drug-law attorney who would have lost a great deal of her business had Prop. 19 passed. Likewise, medical marijuana shops have come out against Prop. 19 on the ludicrous notion that legalization would reduce patient access to marijuana.

Baptists

Segueing from bootleggers to Baptists, we find this headline from the East Bay Express: Stoners against Legalization Team Up with Ex-Crackhead Priest. Of course, the priest was joined by fundamentalist Christians as well. The East Bay Express reports,

Backed by the California Beer and Beverage Distributors, no on 19 group “Public Safety First” employed the powerful Christian fundamentalist organization Vision to America. [T]he anti-gay rights group asked its hundreds of thousands of believers nationwide to “help us get the word out about our campaign to defeat legalized recreational marijuana in schools.”

The California Beer and Beverage Distributors, who would be hurt by lowe r marijuana prices, teamed up with church-based Vision to America — talk about bootleggers and Baptists in action — to raise money, run advertisements, and mislead the public debate. They claimed that Prop. 19 would lead to allowing truck drivers, nurses, and students to get high before driving, nursing, and going to school. The Chamber of Commerce also aired some blatantly misleading advertisements.

The truth, of course, is that students, nurses, and truck drivers can be prevented from getting high before showing up, just as they are prevented from getting drunk. The truth is that businesses can prevent customers and employees from smoking pot on their property, and insurance companies would not go along with businesses that let their employees get high and operate heavy machinery or fly planes. In fact, marijuana is saferthan alcohol and is probably only the 10th-most-problematic recreational drug.

Given the powerful forces opposing Prop. 19 — along with their lies and trickery — the forces of liberty and prosperity should not be disheartened by this initial defeat. We now have a copy of their playbook — politicians, pot growers, and medical-marijuana dealers oppose legalization, while Christian organizations, beer distributors, and drug lawyers spread lies to protect their self-interests.


Mark Thornton is a senior resident fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and is the book review editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is the author of The Economics of Prohibition, coauthor of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, and the editor of The Quotable Mises, The Bastiat Collection, and An Essay on Economic Theory. Send him mail. See Mark Thornton’s article archives.

Comment on the blog.

You can subscribe to future articles by Mark Thornton via this RSS feed.

You can receive the Mises Dailies in your inbox. Go here to subscribe or unsubscribe

.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Hemp Biofuel Blazes Competition

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

gizmag

By Grant Banks

21:44 November 8, 2010

Researchers at University of Connecticut have found that industrial hemp has properties that make it attractive as a raw material for biofuel production

While the food versus fuel debate continues to put crop-based biofuel production on the back burners it might just be Cannabis sativa that blazes the competition. Researchers at University of Connecticut have found that industrial hemp has properties that make it viable and even attractive as a raw material, or feedstock, for producing biodiesel. Hemp biodiesel has shown a high efficiency of conversion (97 percent) and has passed laboratory’s tests, even showing properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market.

The plant’s ability to grow in infertile soils also reduces the need to grow it on primary croplands, which can then be reserved for growing food according to Richard Parnas, a professor of chemical, materials, and biomolecular engineering at UConn.

“For sustainable fuels, often it comes down to a question of food versus fuel,” said Parnas, noting that major current biodiesel plants include food crops such as soybeans, olives, peanuts, and rapeseed. “It’s equally important to make fuel from plants that are not food, but also won’t need the high-quality land.”

Cannabis sativa is known for it’s ability to grow like a “weed” in many parts of the world, needing little fertilizers, or high-grade inputs to flourish. But the seeds, which house the plant’s natural oils, are often discarded. Parnas points out that this apparent waste product could be put to good use by turning it into fuel.

“If someone is already growing hemp they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm with the oil from the seeds they produce. The fact that a hemp industry already exists means that a hemp biodiesel industry would need little additional investment,” he said.

Although growing hemp is not legal in the U.S., Parnas hopes that the team’s results will help to spur hemp biodiesel production in other parts of the world. And while the Proposition 19 ballot in California to legalize Marijuana was defeated last week, the pathways have been opened for more discussion on Cannabis sativa production in the U.S..

As for other industries that utilize Cannabis plants, Parnas makes a clear distinction between industrial hemp, which contains less than one percent psychoactive chemicals in its flowers, and some of its cousins, which contain up to 22 percent.

“This stuff,” he pointed out, “won’t get you high.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dedicated Pot Crusaders Already Licking Their Chops for the Next Opportunity to Legalize

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


AlterNet / By Steven Wishnia

California’s pot-legalization initiative went down to defeat last night, but 46 percent of the vote tells advocates like Richard Lee that the future is bright.
November 3, 2010 |

OAKLAND—California’s pot-legalization initiative went down to defeat last night, but supporters say it came close enough to try again.

The Proposition 19 ballot initiative won 46 percent of the vote. It would have regulated and taxed marijuana under rules similar to those for alcohol, albeit with a lot more dry counties and odd blue laws.

Ironically, the proposal failed to carry the “Emerald Triangle” of Humboldt and Mendocino counties, the state’s most fabled ganja-growing region. Prop 19 got only 47 percent there, according to “semi-official” returns posted on-line by California’s Secretary of State.

Supporters claimed a moral victory and a tactical advance. The vote, they said, was close enough to put marijuana legalization on the national map as an issue to be taken seriously.

“It’s not a debate about if or when. It’s a debate about how,” said Prop 19 “coproponent” Jeff Jones, a longtime medical-marijuana activist. Jones’ Oakland cannabis dispensary was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s first medical-marijuana case.

“It hurts, but no matter what, it’s a victory,” said Danielle Schumacher, 28, a volunteer from Berkeley. “”We got a big percentage of the vote, and that’s something to build on.”

“The more we talk about it, we win,” said Aaron Houston of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, which organized scores of volunteers for the initiative. “We’ve had 40 years of Reefer Madness propaganda that’s said it’s not OK to talk about it. That’s what changed this fall.”

The proposal won almost two-thirds of the vote in San Francisco, and also carried Oakland and most of the Bay Area. It lost badly in the Central Valley, getting only 37 percent in Fresno, and it did only a few points better in the “Inland Empire” east of Los Angeles.

“It was an uphill battle in an off-year election; with an older, smaller, and more conservative electorate, it’s a hostile environment for marijuana-law reform,” said Stephen Gutwillig of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles office.

If the initiative had passed, cannabis users, growers, and dealers would still have been vulnerable under federal law. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in late October that the federal government would continue to enforce laws against sale, cultivation, and possession. The measure began to slip in the polls after that, and some activists call Holder’s announcement a turning point.

The Leaders

Seeded by a $1.4 million contribution from Oakland medical-marijuana magnate Richard Lee, the initiative was opposed by most of the state’s political establishment, but it drew a dedicated volunteer force and a coalition that activists called “unprecedented.” On Election Day, volunteers at Yes on 19’s Oakland office made more than 50,000 get-out-the-vote calls.

Prohibition endorsers included governor-elect Jerry Brown and his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman; the state Chamber of Commerce; the state associations of prosecutors, police chiefs, sheriffs, and narcotics officers; and both candidates for California attorney general.

People in the cannabis world say a victory for the Republican attorney-general candidate, Los Angeles prosecutor Steve Cooley, would do more damage than Prop 19’s loss. Cooley has argued that the state’s medical-marijuana law does not permit sale, and threatened to close every medical-pot dispensary in the state. He narrowly trailed Democrat Kamala Harris as of noon Wednesday.

Prop 19 also “forged an unprecedented coalition for marijuana-law reform,” says Stephen Gutwilliger. It won endorsements from groups outside the cannabis-culture and drug-policy worlds. It was backed by the state branches of the NAACP, the Latino Voters League, the Service Employees International Union, the Northern California district of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.

“We’ve never been in rooms with union leaders, with minorities, with Democrats,” said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “In 1996, we were trying to convince the country that medical marijuana wasn’t a farce.”

The UFCW began backing the initiative in earnest after workers at Oakland’s medical-marijuana dispensaries joined the union earlier this year. Legal marijuana might bring “60,000, 70,000, 80,000 sustainable, single-earner jobs to California,” says Dan Rush, Local 5’s special-operations director. “It’s a growth industry for my union for the next ten years.”

The jobs pay well, he says—up to $35 an hour with benefits—-so legalization is also about “bringing dignity to the industry,” he adds, treating cannabis retail or agricultural workers like they’re meatcutters or grocery-store workers instead of like drug dealers.


Opposition Within the Ranks

A surprising amount of opposition came from pot-smokers themselves—-its significance conceivably shown by the results in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, where cannabis farming is a mainstay of the economy. Many growers fear that legalization would make prices drop so low that it would slash their income, or that big corporations would squeeze them out.

“It’ll exclude us little guys,” said an East Bay grower. He said the semi-legal status of medical marijuana has stabilized the market, and he doesn’t want to mess things up.

“There are mixed feelings within the industry,” said one of his companions, another grower. Indoor growers might be able to find a market for high-quality herb similar to that for microbrewery beer, but he also feared a “green rush” of new growers who would flood the market with mediocre herb and bring prices down too low for farmers to make a living.

Other stoner opponents said that anyone who really needs cannabis can get a medical-use certificate.

Still, voting against legalizing marijuana because you yourself are relatively safe might seem to be an extraordinarily hypocritical act for a pot-smoker—-or conceivably racist, as recently released studies by the Drug Policy Alliance have found dramatically higher arrest rates for pot possession among black and Latino people in California, especially young men.

“The growers (mostly all white) never talk about the War on Drugs and all the youth of color rotting behind bars in California and everywhere for small amounts of marijuana!” said a disgruntled hippie-era Mendocino County grower before the election.

Others objected to the age restrictions in the proposal. It would have set a smoking age of 21, and increased penalties for a person over 21 providing non-medical pot to someone under 18.

There were also plenty of conspiracy theories floating around California’s cannabis world. Philip Morris and/or R.J. Reynolds had bought 200,000 acres of foreclosed property up north, waiting for the day they could bulldoze into the marijuana market. Monsanto was waiting in the wings with ganja genetically engineered to be ultra-potent. Billionaire George Soros, who contributed $1 million to the initiative, was using Richard Lee to corner the market.

“If you can have it, why are you fighting so hard for other people to have it?” shouted Bill Benjamin, 28, of Oakland, one of a knot of men loudly picketing Oaksterdam University, Lee’s “cultivation college,” on Election Day. Most wore crudely printed “No on 19” T-shirts and claimed to be irate medical users.

“I have nephews in high school, and they don’t need to be smoking that shit,” said another protester.

Benjamin, who said he uses marijuana medically for insomnia, said he opposes changing the law because “recreational users already go to jail” and risking that is their choice. He also argued that if pot were legal, billionaires would buy out everyone else in the business.

“Marlboro’s not going to grow medical marijuana or marijuana, because it’s still federally illegal,” responded Jeff Jones when they confronted him. He dismissed the protesters as “ignorant, like Tea Partiers.”

Others see a more sinister hand at work. Enraged monologues about impractically omnipotent corporate conspiracies aren’t rare in the weed world, a persecuted subculture that can be somewhere between isolated and secretive and has plenty of urban legends. But belligerent rants in the phraseology of prohibitionist talking points, instant-scruff two-week beards, and crudely trying to pick fights with activists by calling them “faggots” remarkably resemble the tactics used by Vietnam-era agent provocateurs.

The Future

“We’re gonna be back in 2012,” Jeff Jones said at Yes on 19’s closing-night gathering in Oakland, speaking on video to the press and lower-level volunteers out in the parking lot.

Was the off-year campaign premature? Maybe, said Dale Gieringer of California NORML two days before the vote, but “we’re finally looking at the only thing that solves the problem of marijuana prohibition.”

The odds are good for a 2012 campaign that has more resources and has learned from this year’s mistakes. Some groups may try California again. Others are looking at Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and Alaska, which have all voted for initiatives to legalize medical marijuana. Revised versions might try to mollify intra-movement critics by including protections for small farmers and establishing a clear statewide regulatory system instead of a patchwork of local options.

It was “absolutely” better to have the vote now rather than wait, Aaron Houston said after the returns came in. “We have to have this conversation. Thirty thousand people have died south of the border.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


US Nearing 50% Supporting Marijuana Legalization, Poll Finds

*

by Phillip Smith, October 28, 2010, 05:58pm, (Issue #656)

Though the fate of California’s Prop 19 remains unknown for a few more days, majority support in the US for marijuana legalization appears to be just a few days away. An all-time high of 46% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. The number opposed to legalization dropped to an all-time low of 50%. Support increased from 44% last year, continuing an upward trend in the past decade.

time is on our sideSupport for legalization was at 12% in a Gallup poll in 1969 and climbed to 28% in 1978, then stayed flat at about 25% throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s. By 2001, support had climbed to 31%, by 2004 it was at 34%, by 2006 it was at 36%. Since then, support has grown by 10 points to 46%.

“If the trend of the past decade continues at a similar pace, majority support could be a reality within the next few years,” Gallup noted in its discussion of the poll results.

Pot legalization scored majority support among liberals (79%), 18-to-29-year-olds (61%), Westerners (58%), Democrats (55%), independents (54%), men (51%) and moderates (51%). It did least well among Republicans (29%), conservatives (30%), and people over 65 (32%)

Support varied among regions, from the West’s high of 58% to 47% in the East, 42% in the Midwest, and 41% in the South.

The poll also asked about support for medical marijuana and found that 70% of Americans supported it. But that figure is down from 75% in 2003 and 78% in 2005.

The poll was based on live cell phone and land line interviews conducted October 7-10 with a random sample of 1,025 adults. Each question was asked of a half-sample of approximately 500 respondents. The margin of sampling error was +/-5 percentage points.


Latino Police Officers Endorse Prop 19

*

by Phillip Smith, October 27, 2010, 06:41pm, (Issue #655)

The National Latino Officers Association (NLAO) endorsed Proposition 19 Wednesday, citing a new report that found Latinos are disproportionately arrested for simple marijuana possession in California. Latinos are arrested at two to three times the rate of whites, the report found, even though they use marijuana at a lower rate than whites.

Prop 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 or older and allow them to grow up to 25 square feet of pot and possess the resulting harvest. It would also allow cities and counties to permit, regulate, and tax the commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana.

“As police officers sworn to protect public safety and the well-being of our community, NLAO is proud to endorse Proposition 19,” said the group’s Manuel Rodriguez at a Wednesday press conference. “Prohibition is dangerous and deadly. Keeping marijuana prohibition has allowed a lucrative black market and threatened public safety in our community and the USA,” he said. “Instead of making our streets safer, we’re spending that money incarcerating tens of thousands of people, including many Latinos.”

While Latinos are more likely than whites to be arrested for pot possession in California, they are also arrested at rates disproportionate to their numbers in the state. In Irvine, for example, Latinos make up 9% of the population, but account for 20% of all pot possession arrests. Similarly, in San Jose, Latinos account for 30% of the population, but 55% of all pot possession arrests, the report found.

California is home to some 14 million Latinos, who account for 37% of the state’s population. But because many Latinos are foreign nationals, they account for only 21% of the state’s electorate. Still, Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the state, and nearly two-thirds of them are registered Democrats. Support for Prop 19 among Latino voters has varied widely in polls, and Wednesday’s press conference and endorsement were designed to bring this key demographic over to the “yes” side.

“This report documents very significant and widespread disparities in arrest rates for low-level marijuana possession,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Alliance, which sponsored the report. “Latinos have been arrested at double and triple the rate of whites in the past few years. There has been an extraordinary escalation in arrests for small amounts of marijuana in the past 20 years,” Gutwillig added, noting that pot arrests have tripled to more than 60,000 annually since 1990.

The big increase in marijuana possession busts has come as arrests for all other crimes, including other drug offenses, have dropped dramatically in the state, Gutwillig noted. “At the heart of the dramatic increase in arrests have been substantial race-based disparities, specifically targeting Latinos and African-Americans, and especially young African-Americans and Latinos.”

Since federal arrest data does not include a specific category for Latinos, marijuana arrests rates for the group are substantially undercounted, Gutwillig said. Disproportionate minority arrest rates are not the result of racist cops, but a systemic problem, he added. “The disparities documented in this report are the result of routine, pervasive police practices,” he said. “This is a statewide phenomenon.”

Also at the press conference was Diane Goldstein, a retired lieutenant commander with the Redondo Beach Police Department and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “The current war on drugs has not just failed,” she said, “but is a policy disaster. We need solutions that deal with our communities’ drug problems. We believe that through regulation, control, and taxation, we will actually decrease the likelihood of the youth in our community using marijuana,” she said. “Drug abuse is a health problem, not a law enforcement matter. It is time for us to overcome our fears and and honestly assess the results of a drug war against our youth. Proposition 19 is a step in the right direction.”

Police have other, more pressing priorities than nickel and dime pot busts, said Rodriguez. “We as the NLOA are backing California on this so we can concentrate on crimes that are violent,” he said. “We’ve got worries about terrorists and explosions and two wars going on. We can concentrate more on terrorism instead of going into communities and locking up Latinos and African-Americans. We can use that money from marijuana revenues for schools and education,” he said.

Proposition 19 spokesperson Dale Sky Jones also addressed the press conference. “We’ve found  in California and across the country that currently policy has failed,” she said. “We have an opportunity to take cannabis and its profits out of the hands of criminals and to put it in the hands of those who will control and regulate and tax it. Prop 19 was written to protect our kids, and we have an opportunity to create tens of thousands of green, sustainable jobs for households.”

It’s less than a week from election day, the vote for Prop 19 is going to be very close, and every endorsement counts. Now, the campaign has one more law enforcement group on its side.

CA  

United States
See map: Google Maps


From NORML

This Week’s News from NORML

Voters Nationwide To Decide On Marijuana Legalization Measures Tuesday
Share This Article Share This Page on digg Share This Page on Reddit Share This Page on del.icio.us Share This Page on Stumble Upon Share This Page on Facebook Share This Page on Twitter

In California, voters will decide Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which legalizes the adult possession of limited quantities of marijuana for adults in private, and allows local governments to regulate its commercial production and retail distribution. If passed, the measure would be the most expansive modern law ever enacted regarding the adult use, production, and distribution of marijuana.

Learn more about Prop. 19 here: http://yeson19.com.

In Arizona, voters will decide Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which permits state-registered patients to obtain cannabis legally from licensed facilities. Authorized patients who do not have a state-licensed dispensary in their local area (defined as within 25 miles of their residence) would be permitted under the law to cultivate their own cannabis for medicinal purposes. Other patients would not be allowed to grow their own marijuana.

Learn more about Proposition 203 here: http://stoparrestingpatients.org/home/.

In South Dakota, voters will decide Measure 13, the South Dakota Safe Access Act, which exempts state criminal penalties for state-authorized patients who possess up to one ounce of marijuana or six cannabis plants. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana laws since 1996; ten have done so by voter initiative.

Learn more about Measure 13 here: http://sdcompassion.org/.

In Oregon, voters will decide Measure 74, The Oregon Regulate Medical Marijuana Supply System Act of 2010, which creates state-licensed not-for-profit facilities to assist in the production and distribution of marijuana to qualified patients. Oregon voters initially authorized the physician-authorized use of marijuana in 1998. Several states, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Maine, have enacted statewide regulations licensing the production and dispensing of medical cannabis.

Learn more about Measure 74 here: http://coalitionforpatientsrights2010.com/.

In Massachusetts, voters in 73 cities and towns will decide November 2 on non-binding public policy questions regarding the taxation of the adult use of marijuana and the legalization of the physician-supervised use of medical cannabis. Approximately 13 percent of the state’s registered voters will be weighing in on the questions. The results will likely influence the language of a proposed statewide, binding ballot measure in 2012.

Learn more about this campaign here: http://www.masscann.org/.  

NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1600 K Street NW, Suite 501, Washington DC, 20006-2832
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org

Are California’s Cops Donating Money to Keep Targeting Minorities?

Morgan Fox

by Morgan Fox
October 22, 2010

A new study released today shows conclusively that in California’s largest cities African-Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at much higher rates that whites. In the 25 cities profiled, African-Americans were arrested at four to 12 times the rate of whites, despite much higher use rates among whites.

This horrifying disparity is one reason Proposition 19 has earned the support of civil rights groups, including the California NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens of California. These numbers make it clear that removing penalties for marijuana possession would eliminate a tool that has been used to institute a system of pervasive racism in the Golden State. Given that even a single possession charge can result in severe economic and social consequences, the fact that arrests are focused so disproportionately on minority communities is an overwhelming argument for reform on November 2nd.

Some folks disagree, namely the majority of California’s law enforcement community. Several law enforcement groups have given large sums of money to the campaign against Proposition 19, the most recent being the California Police Chiefs Association, who donated $20,000 to No on Prop. 19.

Throughout the public debates on this issue, law enforcement groups (other than those backing Prop 19) have said that reformers need to prove why marijuana should not be illegal. It seems much more reasonable to expect the burden of proof to be on the other side, especially when marijuana prohibition results in such obvious racial persecution. Yet law enforcement does not rise to this challenge, probably because there is no justification for such practices in a civilized society.

Could it be that some California cops actually like targeting minorities?

If Proposition 19 passes, they will lose their easiest way to do so.

Interestingly, the largest law enforcement group supporting Proposition 19 is…

…the National Black Police Association.

 


Marijuana Two Minute Truths

Gateway Myth

The Addiction Question

Did you hear that? Marijuana is about as addictive as COFFEE. Scary!

 

Marijuana and the Brain

Doesn’t Cause Lung Cancer

Marijuana “Overdose”

Thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project

 

 


Marijuana Drug War Victims-This Needs To Stop!

Come on folks these people have, in some cases, had their lives ruined and even died as a result of having a small amount of marijuana or even just a pipe. Scripture says we are to stand up against injustice. If anything in our society is unjust it is the, so called, war on drugs. One person arrested for marijuana every 38 seconds. 100 BILLION dollars a year spent on this. Come on, Wake up.

Pay Attention here. The Government is taking peoples homes and even taking their children away. The founding fathers would have called this tyranny. This is EVIL

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS MADE SOMETHING ILLEGAL DOES NOT MAKE IT WRONG!

California: Study Say Blacks Disproportionately Arrested For Minor Marijuana Crimes

Yet another reason why legalization is necessary (E)

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 14:29:35  By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

From 2006 to 2008, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession offenses in California’s 25 largest cities at at four, five, six, seven and even twelve times the rate of whites, according to a report released today by researchers at the Queens College, City University of New York and Shenandoah University in Virginia.

Among some of the California cities profiled:

* The City of Los Angeles, with ten percent of California’s population, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at seven times the rate of whites.

* San Diego, the second largest city in California, arrested blacks for marijuana possession at nearly six times the rate of whites.

* In Pasadena, blacks are 11% of the population but 49% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Pasadena arrested blacks at twelve and a half times the rate of whites.

* In Sacramento, the state capitol, blacks are 14% of the city’s population but more than 51% of all the people arrested for possessing marijuana.

* San Jose, the third largest city in California, is only 2.9% African American. But San Jose arrested blacks for marijuana possession at more than five times the rate of whites. San Jose arrested 619 blacks per 100,000 blacks compared to 121 whites per 100,000 whites.

* The City of Torrance, with a population of 140,000, had the highest racial disparity of the 25 cities. Blacks are only 2% of the population but they made up almost 24% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. Torrance arrested blacks at over thirteen times the rate for whites.

These racially-biased marijuana arrests were a system-wide phenomenon, occurring in every county and nearly every police department in California,” the report states. “The substantial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates of whites and blacks cannot be explained by their patterns of marijuana use. … U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young whites.”

From 1990 through 2009, police departments in California made 850,000 criminal prosecutions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and half a million marijuana possession prosecutions in the last ten years, the report found.

Today’s report is a follow up to a June 2010 study commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance which determined that from 2004 through 2008, in every one of the 25 largest counties in California, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at double or triple the rates of whites.

Full text of today’s study, “Arresting Blacks for Marijuana in California Possession — Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-08,” is available online here.


Former U.S. Surgeon General Supports Prop. 19 in California

Joycelyn Elders

Image via Wikipedia

(CNN) — Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told CNN Sunday she supports legalizing marijuana.

The trend-setting state of California is voting next month on a ballot initiative to legalize pot, also known as Proposition 19. The measure would legalize recreational use in the state, though federal officials have said they would continue to enforce drug laws in California if the initiative is approved.

“What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people. And we use so many of our excellent resources … for things that aren’t really causing any problems,” said Elders. “It’s not a toxic substance.”

Supporters of California’s Prop. 19 say it would raise revenue and cut the cost of enforcement, while opponents point to drug’s harmful side-effects.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter, obtained by CNN Friday, that federal agents would continue to enforce federal marijuana laws and warned Prop. 19, if passed, would be a major stumbling block to federal partnerships between state and local authorities around drug enforcement.

His letter was a response to an August letter from several former directors of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration urging the White House to block Prop. 19 if it’s approved next month.

Elders stressed the drug is not physically addictive and pointed to the damaging impact of alcohol, which is legal.

“We have the highest number of people in the world being criminalized, many for non-violent crimes related to marijuana,” said Elders. “We can use our resources so much better.”


Debunking false fears about Prop. 19

Published: Oct. 18, 2010
Updated: 10:19 p.m.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER Editorial

Given that it was written partially in response to opinion polls, rather than as an exercise in pure theory, Proposition 19, which would legalize the possession and use of up an ounce of marijuana (cannabis) for adult Californians, contains provisions that an advocate of pure devotion to liberty might not have included. Some of these provisions have raised questions, some justified and some exaggerated out of any relation to reality. We thought it appropriate to deal with some of these issues, chiefly the reasons for having a “local option” for sales and cultivation and the possible implication this proposal would have on the ability of employers to discipline people who are impaired at work due to cannabis use, and of police to handle drivers similarly impaired.

Prop. 19 would establish a statewide policy, to wit: adults may possess up to an ounce of cannabis and may cultivate a patch of plants amounting to 25 square feet. But it contemplates that there will be a demand to purchase cannabis, as well, so it allows localities to develop their own policies for regulating cultivation and sales (and collecting taxes on them) or to prohibit any sales or cultivation beyond the 25-square-foot limit.

Article Tab : image1-
Critics argue that it may be too much to ask of city councils to develop sensible regulations in an unfamiliar area. There is also a fear that there will be so much variance from city to city that it will be just too confusing for law enforcement officials, and some marijuana users might get caught in compromising situations as they travel from city to city.

The local option plan grew out of the experience of so many cities at implementing (or not implementing) medical marijuana policies in response to Prop. 215 in 1996. It became obvious that some city governments would prefer to have no medical marijuana dispensaries, while others seemed to welcome them, or at least to accommodate their regulations to the policies endorsed by voters. Prop. 19 allows local jurisdictions to make that choice.

“It’s funny,” Joseph McNamara, a Hoover Institution research fellow and former police chief of San Jose, told us. “When I was a police chief, local officials complained constantly about mandates, most of them unfunded, from Sacramento. Now many of these same people object to a proposition without a mandate on local government. If it had included a mandate the outcry would have been louder. I suspect it’s a matter of stretching to find a reason to oppose Prop. 19.”

In fact, different cities have different policies toward the sale of liquor (within the framework of state laws), different zoning regulations, and different policies on a wide range of issues. Developing regulations that respond to local concerns within the framework of state and federal laws is what city councils and other arms of government are supposed to do. The beauty of local option is that the experience of different cities will serve as a laboratory of policy alternatives from which policy students and other city councils can learn what works and what doesn’t.

As for employment policies, Prop. 19 specifically states that “the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance shall not be affected.” However, that clause is preceded by one that says “No person shall be punished, fined or discriminated against, or be denied any right or privilege for lawfully engaging in any conduct permitted by this Act.” Critics have contended that this creates a “protected class” of marijuana smokers who are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.

This is an incorrect inference. Prop. 19 reinforces laws against driving while impaired, makes it illegal to smoke in front of minors, and makes it illegal to smoke in public places. Cannabis users under Prop. 19 will be subject to all the constraints imposed on other citizens and some unique to them.

The reason for prohibiting discrimination against cannabis users is simple. Existing testing methods can detect metabolites of cannabinoids for up to a month after cannabis use – long after any intoxication or impairment has disappeared. Employers can’t fire an employee for getting drunk on Saturday night so long as he or she shows up Monday able to perform satisfactorily. A similar policy should apply to marijuana and will apply if Prop. 19 passes.

A similar policy will apply to driving while impaired. A complication is that there is no simple roadside test for marijuana use. The responsibility of police will be to look for signs of impairment, as is the case now.

Legalizing marijuana use for adults is a significant step away from nanny-state policies and all the crime, corruption and violence that accompany marijuana prohibition, so some caution about such an important move is understandable. But the impact on employment polices, driving laws and the responsibilities of local government are not sufficient to justify rejection of this proposal.


BILL TO DECRIMINALIZE MINOR POT POSSESSION OFFENSES SIGNED BY GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER

From: http://www.canorml.org/news/1449signed.html

Posted October 1st, 2010 by canorml_admin

Sacramento, Sept 30th: A bill to downgrade the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill, SB 1449 by Sen. Mark Leno, will spare petty pot offenders the necessity for a court appearance and criminal arrest record while saving the state millions of dollars in court and prosecution expenses. The bill treats petty possession like a traffic ticket punishable by a simple $100 fine and no arrest record.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger deserves credit for sparing the state’s taxpayers the cost of prosecuting minor pot offenders,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer, “Californians increasingly recognize that the war on marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources.”

The new law, which takes effect on Jan 1, 2011, will have an effect even if Californians vote to legalize marijuana by passing Prop 19. Prop 19 leaves misdemeanor possession penalties in place for public use and smoking in the presence of kids; under SB 1449, these offenses would be simple infractions.

In his signing statement, the Governor said he opposes decriminalization of recreational use of marijuana and opposes Prop 19, but “in this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors defense attorneys, law enforcement and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources” prosecuting petty pot offenses.

Misdemeanor possession arrests in California have mounted to new highs in recent years, reaching 61,164 in 2009.

California NORML originally called for making petty possession an infraction when the state passed its landmark decriminalization law in 1975, but the legislature made it a minor misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $100 fine. This marks the first time in 35 years that penalties for non-medical use of marijuana have been reduced in California.

Text of SB 1449


%d bloggers like this: