Paul Armentano breaks it down on cannabis fear mongering

July 31, 2010 in Legalization

Pot’s detractors use fear, not facts

Published By Times Herald

Editor’s note: The author is the co-author of the book “Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?”

The latest screed by ex-law enforcement officer Lyndon Lafferty (“Don’t let the marijuana myth live on,” July 25) epitomizes novelist Upton Sinclair’s famous quotation, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

Contrary to Mr. Lafferty’s allegations, I neither claimed that marijuana is harmless nor that its consumption is appropriate for young people. Rather, I have asserted repeatedly that cannabis ought to be legalized and regulated. I come to this conclusion precisely because marijuana is a temporarily mind-altering substance and ought to be controlled accordingly.

After all, society doesn’t tax and regulate alcohol — a substance that objectively poses far greater risks to the users and to society than pot — because it’s innocuous. It does so because we recognize that booze temporarily alters mood and behavior and thus should be regulated accordingly — complete with common sense controls regarding who can legally produce it, who can legally distribute it, who can legally consume its, and under what circumstances is its use lawfully permitted. Mr. Lafferty’s fear-mongering aside, there’s no logical reasons why these same principles ought not to apply to cannabis.

The present prohibition of marijuana provides California law enforcement and state regulators with no legitimate market controls. It is this absence of state and local government control that jeopardizes, rather than promotes, public safety. For instance, Mr. Lafferty alleges that marijuana is a “gateway” to the public’s use of other, more dangerous substances. Yet, in truth, studies of the subject have consistently concluded that “environmental circumstances,” not the preceding use of a drug itself, is the primary reason why a minority of people transition from the use of pot to harder drugs. One such study from the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands explains the phenomenon like this:

“As for a possible switch from cannabis to hard drugs, it is clear that the pharmacological properties of cannabis are irrelevant in this respect. There is no physically determined tendency towards switching from marijuana to harder substances. Social factors, however, do appear to play a role. The more users become integrated in an environment (‘subculture’) where, apart from cannabis, hard drugs can also be obtained, the greater the chance that they may switch to hard drugs. Separation of the drug markets is therefore essential.”

To put it another way: If U.S. policymakers legalized marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol — thereby allowing its sale to be regulated by licensed, state-authorized distributors rather than by criminal entrepreneurs and pushers of various other, hard drugs — the likelihood is that fewer, not more, marijuana consumers would ever go on to try any another illicit substance. In short, it is cannabis prohibition, not the use of cannabis itself, that presently fosters any potential “gateway” to the use of harder drugs.

Bottom line: Those like Lyndon Lafferty who remain wedded to today’s pot prohibition are little different than the “flat Earthers” of yesteryear. Golden State lawmakers criminalized the possession and use of marijuana in 1913. Yet right now in California the federal government reports that approximately 10 percent of people annually consume about 1.2 million total pounds of pot. Further, among young people, some 85 percent report that marijuana is “easy” to obtain, and according to a 2009 Columbia University report, adolescents now have easier access to black market marijuana than they do regulated alcohol.

Self-evidently, cannabis is here to stay. Let’s address this reality and stop conceding control of this market to unregulated, untaxed criminal enterprises, and put it in the hands of licensed businesses. It’s time to end the “reefer rhetoric” and move forward with a sensible policy that acknowledges marijuana’s relative risk while also recognizing the gross failure of prohibition.

Paul Armentano

Vallejo

From: http://www.timesheraldonline.com/opinion/ci_15647438

Chris Conrad Responds to Dragonfly's Delusions on Prop. 19

July 30, 2010 in Legalization

CW: So here is the much needed response to the now infamous blog-o-fallacy that Dragonfly De La Luz posted that has been the talk of the water-cooler for the past couple of weeks. Court Qualified Cannabis Expert and life-long activist Chris Conrad breaks down why D-Fly’s assessment is speculative, naive, and in some areas just downright false.  Dragonfly does a column called “Gettin’ High with Dragonfly” which is not my cup of tea but the kids enjoy it. LOL. Needless to say it is a shame to see those who would call themselves cannabis activists working so dilligently to regurgitate the arguments of law enforcement and the conspiracy theories of a few who only can see the bottom line of a more competitive market for legalized cannabis. I would like to thank Chris (and Russ) for taking the time to educate us all. Spirited debate is one thing. Half-truths and deceptive tales of oppression and anger do nobody any good. Please stop the madness and redact your falsehoods Ms. De la Luz. Those of us who have given our freedoms for your rights would appreciate it and we would appreciate your YES vote on Prop 19. Thanks.
Chris Conrad: Legal adult marijuana is going to be one of the greatest things to ever happen to California when it passes. It could well pass Nov 2 unless the reformers founder rather than sail to victory by organizing and voting Yes on Prop 19.

The notion that greater reforms will be easy to make if the initiative loses but hard if Prop 19 wins is naïve and self-destructive. I don’t know who Dragonfly is and so I apologize in advance if I hurt her feelings, but she is hurting our movement, so my tone may seem curt.

People have asked me to respond to her “Stoners” argument. Let me start by noting that she builds her case by piling misinformation onto falsehoods. It’s fear mongering propaganda, that’s all. She has a couple interesting points, but the vast majority of her attack on the initiative is pure rot. Prop 19 DOES legalize adult cultivation and possession. There are NO new felonies in it. It is ALREADY a misdemeanor to furnish to people below age 21, etc. Nobody ever said that progress will be perfect, but we can work Prop 19 out like we did Prop 215 and SB420. 

In short, it is way too late to keep up an internal debate about the initiative. It’s on the ballot and need’s all the votes we can get. Unless you are a total skeptic about the ballot language, I would skip reading this email and go out right now to register as many possible new voters, volunteer and donate and organize a phone tree and a local get out the vote drive to get everyone you know to Vote Yes on Prop 19. It’s going to be great when we win.  

However, if you were affected by Dragonfly’s arguments, please read the following analysis below that provides context and explains the flaws in fact or logic and recognizes and explains some of the necessary compromises in the drafting of the initiative.

Chris Conrad, court-qualified cannabis expert and consultant
www.chrisconrad.com
______________________________

Here’s the deal: Read over California’s marijuana laws:

http://www.chrisconrad.com/expert.witness/calmjlaws.html

Then read Prop 19:

http://www.taxcannabis2010.org/index.php/pages/initiative/

When you compare the two, you will see the light and Vote Yes on Prop 19.

Also, Russ Bellvue of NORML has a good analysis posted at NORML.org
http://votetaxcannabis2010.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-pro-pot-activists-oppose-2010-tax.html

D-Fly wrote: Stoners Against the Prop. 19 Tax Cannabis Initiative this blog takes an intelligent approach to evaluating the 2010 tax cannabis initiative proposed for california’s november ballot.

STONER BEWARE: this initiative is NOT what you think it is. if you are passionate about marijuana and legalization, read this blog and see what the initiative really says. then just vote KNOW.

Conrad Responds: If you vote ignorant, you will vote for prohibition. If you vote KNOW, you will Vote YES on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: WHY PRO-POT ACTIVISTS OPPOSE THE 2010 TAX CANNABIS INITIATIVE: 18 REASONS TO VOTE KNOW
“People think it’s legalization, it’s being sold as legalization-even though it’s the opposite of legalization.” – Dennis Peron, author of Prop. 215 that legalized medical marijuana in California

Conrad Responds: Dennis Peron** is completely mistaken about this and almost everything I have heard him say about Prop 19. He can’t see the nose on his face. Here it is in Prop 19: “11300 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be a public offense under California law for any person 21 years of age or older to: (i) Personally possess, process, share, or transport not more than one ounce of cannabis, solely for that individual’s personal consumption, and not for sale.”  Then it goes on to allow communities to regulate sales. That is legalized marijuana. ** BTW, it was George Soros and other financial backers who put up the money that got Prop 215 on the ballot and legalized MMJ in CA, so you should be thanking Soros and a lot of other people for Prop 215, not just Peron. Listen to Peron debate Lynette Shaw onTime4Hemp.com, then vote yes on Prop 19.

by Dragonfly De La Luz

Conrad: Who is Dragonfly de la Luz? Just curious.


D-Fly wrote: When most marijuana activists, growers and consumers first heard about an initiative that would legalize cannabis in California, they thought it was a pipe dream come true. To many, legalization implied that it would no longer be a crime to possess, consume or distribute marijuana. Cannabis consumers rejoiced at the idea of being able to buy from their neighbors or at parties-just as they already do-with no legal retribution. Small-time growers envisioned being free to sell their product to those who sought them out, with no legal repercussions. Marijuana activists thought it meant that people would stop getting arrested for pot, and that the drug war would finally be over.

Conrad: Maybe Dragonfly had a pipe dream, but some of us have worked through the political process for the past 20 years can tell you that it is a long, incremental, step by step process of advances, defeats, compromises, shifting advantages, tactical adjustments, alliances and more advances. We’re changing the real world, but you can still have your pipe dreams. They will come true a lot sooner, though, if you Vote Yes on Prop 19.

CW: Couldn’t have said it better….

D-Fly wrote: But now that the initiative is headed to ballot, many pro-legalization supporters are coming out against it. Why?

Conrad: You’re hanging out with the wrong people, that’s all; most of the activists and general public I’ve spoken with are enthusiastic supporters. Our insurgents fall into three camps: 1) People filled with idealism and good intentions who don’t understand the initiative or are afraid of it; 2) People who are seduced by Dennis Peron’s propaganda, and; 3) Growers and dealers who want to keep pot illegal for their financial self interest. Narcs hate it, of course. There are also lukewarm supporters who don’t like some details of Prop 19 but will “hold their nose and vote for it.” But by and large, activists love it and they are thrilled and lining up to Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Simply put, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative does not reflect most people’s ideas of what legalization would be. The media often incorrectly reports that this initiative calls for “full legalization” of marijuana. It does not. In fact, it reverses many of the freedoms marijuana consumers currently enjoy, pushes growers out of the commercial market, paves the way for the corporatization of cannabis, and creates new prohibitions and felonies where there are none now. Apparently, to be pro-legalization and pro-initiative are two different things entirely.

Conrad Responds: Prop 19 is exactly what most Californians hoped legalization would be: Regulated, legal access for adults 21 and above — something like beer or wine, so adults can make some for themselves or to share, but if you’re going to distribute it you need to follow the law and pay your taxes.

It is absolutely false to say that it creates new felonies. There are no new felonies. That is a fabrication; a lie.

The felonies in the initiative have been on the books for decades. Why have Dragonfly and Peron done nothing to get rid of them in all these years? If the initiative loses, they are still on the books. It won’t help to vote no, so let’s all Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: The late-Jack Herer, legendary marijuana activist known as the father of the legalization movement, vehemently opposed the initiative. In the last words of his impassioned final speech, moments before the heart attack that would eventually claim his life, he urged people not to support it.[1]

CW:What he said was he “didn’t want to give one fucking dime of taxes…” For the record I don’t either, but that is part of “freedom.” LOL.

Conrad Responds: I think Jack Herer’s last words onstage before his heart attack were “I’ll see you next time.” He also vehemently opposed Prop 215 until just before it made the ballot. Jack said Dennis Peron didn’t want marijuana legalized, and warned everyone that if we passed Prop 215 we would be stuck forever with medical marijuana only, because once they had theirs, patients and activists would stop working for legalization. Jack’s had taxes in the initiative he co-authored and promoted. Listen to the debates on Time 4 Hemp, then vote yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Proposition 215 author, Dennis Peron, likewise denounced the initiative, saying it is not legalization, but “thinly-veiled prohibition.”[2]

Conrad Responds: Dennis thinks that marijuana is already legal and if you tell a cop “hey, all use is medical” he has to leave you alone. Maybe that’s true in Dragonfly Land, but not in California.

CW: LOL. I will just say I will agree to disagree with DP on this issue…

D-Fly wrote: Compared to the present status of cannabis in California, many marijuana activists see this initiative as a giant leap backward. Ironically, it appears that marijuana is more “legal” in California today than it would be if this initiative were to pass.

Conrad Responds: ‘It’s more legal to be illegal than to be legal?’ That’s not just ironic, it’s idiotic. That kind of comment gives “stoners” a bad reputation, so the smart stoners support Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: The initiative itself is a hazy maze of regulations and controls, some of which are ambiguous and confusing even for those well-versed in marijuana law.

Conrad Responds: Is Dragonfly a lawyer? Peron is not. Nor am I, but I was involved in writing SB 420 and have been quoted by the California Supreme and Appeals courts and testified in more than 215 marijuana cases. The initiative is clear, detailed law and well written with the input of activists, attorneys, political consultants, constitutional lawyers and election lawyers. It is very good law and will stand up to the challenges that it will likely face.

CW: Dragonfly De La Luz IS NOT a lawyer. Her arguments sound like those of a law enforcement person than an attorney for the cause.

D-Fly wrote: Understandably,many who have entered the discussion seem to have bypassed the initiative altogether and gone straight to their own assumptions of what an initiative that claims to legalize marijuana might entail, injecting the debate with as many misconceptions as facts. But for an issue that would have such a direct and unprecedented impact on our daily lives, it’s crucial to decide your vote based on knowledge, rather than assumption.

Conrad Responds: Then stop posting misconceptions and calling them facts.

CW: Tru Dat…

D-Fly wrote: To clarify a few of the most glaring myths about the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative, I have compiled this guide to help you VOTE KNOW!

Conrad: You can’t clarify an issue by throwing BS on it. Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Myth #1: The initiative will end the War on Drugs and substantially reduce marijuana arrests, saving millions in prison costs.
Fact: Hardly. The federal drug war will continue to drone on, of course, and growing or possessing any amount of marijuana would still be illegal under federal law. Anyone growing or possessing cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation would still be subject to arrest and seizure by the federal police-although on the bright side, the Obama administration recently announced it will no longer raid individuals who are operating in compliance with medical marijuana law.[3]


Conrad
Responds: No one has ever said the initiative will end the Drug War, Dragonfly. Prop 215 doesn’t change federal law, so I presume Dragonfly opposed that too? Obama’s policy affects medical only and will be in place with or without Prop 19 and it could cover non-medical marijuana as well, given the Raich decision that said there is no such thing as medical marijuana under federal law. And maybe marijuana busts have ended in Dragonfly Land, but not here in California where we voters live. Close to 70,000 people are arrested in California every year for marijuana. To avoid arrest, they’ll have to follow the rules of legalization. Currently people are often arrested and charged with intent to sell for having under an ounce in more than one bag, but with the initiative, under an ounce will be out and out legal. Under Prop 19 thousands fewer Californians will be arrested for marijuana, untold thousands of people might well be spared prison for parole violations, and the probable cause for a search warrant over the odor of marijuana or signs of cultivation will be harder for police to assert, as well. Moreover, once the stigma of being a criminal is removed, social attitudes will change. Vote Yes on Prop 19.

CW: End the Drug War? I wish….That is some rubber tree shit right there….

D-Fly wrote: Contrary to popular assumption, the drug war in California will not end, nor will it be impacted much by the initiative. This is because the initiative doesn’t call for full legalization; it proposes to legalize possession of only up to one ounce. And in California, there is no “drug war” being fought against possession of up to one ounce, because marijuana is already decriminalized.

The penalty for carrying an ounce is a mere citation and maximum $100 fine.[4] Moreover, possession of one ounce is on its way to being downgraded from a misdemeanor to an infraction, because the state Senate voted in June to reclassify its status. [5] No one goes to jail for having an ounce or less in California, and no one gets arrested, because it is not an arrestable offense.

Conrad Responds: Dragonfly seems to think this initiative was written to end the entire drug war but it’s just about adult marijuana use. Most people only have an ounce or less at any given time. If you need more, get your Prop 215 doctor’s note, as preserved by Prop 19.

Possession of less than an ounce is an arrestable offense if the person has no ID or has it in a few bags. It is a special class of misdemeanor that does not carry jail time but has all the other negative effects of being convicted as a criminal. “Decriminalized” means you ARE charged with a misdemeanor, you ARE convicted of a misdemeanor, you DO get a criminal record, it DOES affect your job, housing and educational benefits, your parental rights, etc. This happens to thousands of our fellow Californians each year, but why should Dragonfly care? It’s not her, it’s those other people, typically Black or Latino. Dragonfly might think that’s fine, but Richard Lee, myself and a lot of Californians don’t want that to keep happening.

And why does Dragonfly suddenly want a half step like decrim or infraction? A minute ago she would accept nothing short of unlimited legalization. You can be hypocritical in your values, or you can Vote Yes on Prop 19.

CW: I smoke a lot of cannabis (when I can)but I have never less the house with an ounce and felt like I was going to be short for the day. If that is an issue, bring a friend?

D-Fly wrote: One often-quoted statistic in the initiative debate is that misdemeanor marijuana possession
arrests reached 61,388 in 2008.[6] However, it is important to note that this statistic does not refer to any arrest demographic that the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative would affect. This statistic refers only to possession of more than one ounce, possession by minors and possession on school grounds -offenses which the initiative will not legalize. It does not refer to nor does it include marijuana arrests for possession of one ounce or less, because this is not an arrestable offense. Therefore, the initiative would have no impact on reducing these arrests rates.

CW: STRAIGHT WRONG…I was just in a halfway house that out of 200 people dozens were there for violations concerning simple testing dirty for THC. People’s whose kids had to visit them in a Halfway House because they smoke a joint. It happens EVERY DAY!

Conrad Responds: The mere odor of marijuana is now probable cause for a search, a single non-medical plant is a felony, and targeted people are pulled off the street by cops who don’t like the way they look, harassing them, searching them, finding a joint, claiming intent to sell and arresting them. That could never happen in Dragonfly Land, but it happens many times every day in real California, and when the cop don’t find pot they just harass people.

Here is a stated purpose of Prop 19: “10. Stop arresting thousands of non-violent cannabis consumers, freeing up police resources and saving millions of dollars each year, which could be used for apprehending truly dangerous criminals and keeping them locked up, and for other essential state needs that lack funding.” Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Statistically, the demographic that accounts for nearly one-quarter of total arrests for marijuana possession in California happens to be those in the 18-20 age group. But because the initiative explicitly makes it illegal for even adults age 18-20 to possess marijuana, these arrests will not decrease, and the drug war against young adults will rage on.

Conrad Responds: So the initiative will stop about three quarters of these tickets. Prop 19 is specifically for people 21 and above, so it will still not be legal for 18-20 year olds, that is true. So your plan is to hold out until voters are ready to make it easier to furnish pot to minors. That’s some plan, Dragonfly: we can keep it so nobody ever has any legal access to non-medical marijuana at any age. Or people can do what I do and Vote Yes on Prop 19.

CW: Right. I mean the logic that if people 18-20 can’t have it then no one should is ridiculous. Yawn…

D-Fly wrote: Furthermore, since the initiative would keep possession of amounts greater than one ounce illegal and likewise maintain the illegality of private sales of any amount, the overall impact that the initiative would have on ending the drug war, reducing arrest rates and saving on prison costs would be negligible, at best.

Conrad Responds: Wrong again. “11304 (c) in a criminal proceeding a person accused of violating a limitation in this Act shall have the right to an affirmative defense that the cannabis was reasonably related to his or her personal consumption.” The savings are uncertain, but they certainly are not negligible. And what about the savings to people’s lives that will be screwed up if the initiative loses? Oh, that’s right, in Dragonfly Land it doesn’t matter about that because it’s all a pipe dream. Here in California, it is important, however, so Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: As an example of how highly misunderstood this initiative and its potential impact on the drug war is, the California NAACP recently pledged their support for the initiative based on the belief that it will put an end to the disproportionately high number of African-American youth going to jail “over a joint.” [7] But in reality, the initiative will have no impact on this phenomenon whatsoever. As it is now, the State of California does not jail people for having a joint; it is not an arrestable offense.

Conrad Responds: Let me explain. Blacks and Hispanics get stopped and searched more often than whites. Getting caught with a joint can lead to some very bad consequences, etc. It can lead to a parole revocation, a body or vehicle search where more than an ounce of marijuana may be found, evidence of cultivation, a warrant to search a home, arrests for multiple felonies and sometimes a beating by the cops and charges of resisting arrest. Do you really believe, despite all the statistical data and common practice and lawsuits, that police never target minorities or hippies disproportionately? Oh, that’s right, in Dragonfly Land perfect things happen magically. I keep forgetting because — I live in real California and will Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: And, as mentioned above, possession of up to one ounce is on its way to being reclassified from a misdemeanor to an infraction-which carries no criminal-record stigma. The state does, however, incarcerate people for selling small amounts of marijuana.
And since this initiative keeps private marijuana sales illegal, no matter the quantity, there will be no decrease in the number of African Americans-or anyone else-arrested for selling a joint.

Conrad Responds: So you’re plan is for us to not legalize pot, but instead wait for the legislature to maybe someday make an ounce of pot or growing a few plants an infraction so the governor can veto it and we can keep getting arrested same as now. Will Arnold sign the bill; will Meg Whitman if she’s the next governor, or will voters be more likely to permanently legalize reasonable amounts of marijuana for adults and Vote Yes on Prop 19.  

D-Fly wrote: Not only does the initiative do little or nothing to end the drug war, but ironically, it could in fact expand the drug war, because it imposes new felonies and prohibitions against marijuana that do not exist currently.

Conrad Responds: Stop lying, Dragonfly. The initiative removes three misdemeanors, and one felony from the code and does not add even a single misdemeanor. It does make the misdemeanor more serious for selling or furnishing non-medical to people aged 18-20, but it also empowers the legislature to reduce those penalties, so I suggest that Dragonfly should launch a political campaign to reduce that penalty after we all Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Contrary to the belief that it will keep people out of jail for marijuana, this initiative actually creates new demographics of people to incarcerate. (See Fact #2 and Fact #3) It is difficult to see how the government would save on court and imprisonment costs if the initiative merely shifts arrests from one demographic to another.

Conrad Responds: See my refutation of False Claim #2 and False Claim #3, note that the CA NAACP says it will reduce the targeting of blacks and latinos, and vote Yes on Prop 19. Remember that the onus and stigma against cannabis will be less after it is legal than it is now that politically and legally non-medical adult use is considered a criminal pastime, whatever we may personally feel about it. The goal of the initiative is to integrate cannabis demographics into mainstream society; to go from a counter culture to an over-the-counter culture.

D-Fly wrote: Myth #2: The initiative will keep young adults out of jail for using marijuana.
Fact: This initiative would put more young people in jail for pot. If it becomes law, any adult 21 or over who passes a joint to another adult aged 18-20 would face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. [8] (NORML’s Web site reports that the current penalty for a gift of marijuana of 1 oz. or less is a $100 fine.[9])

Conrad Responds: It’s currently a misdemeanor offense with an arrest and a criminal record for an adult to pass a non-medical joint to anyone of any age. If the initiative passes you can legally share with other adults but it will be a more serious misdemeanor to share with minors. In either case, if you share with an underage person you can also be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, reckless endangerment, intent to sell, depending on the circumstances how bad a mood the police officer feels.

Polls find much less support for legalizing at age 18, when people are still in high school. Californians by and large want do people to get into trouble for selling pot to teens or giving it to them, and this initiative compromises on that point by not creating a new offense but by adjusting the penalty from being an 11360(b) misdemeanor with a $100 fine to being a standard misdemeanor with a penalty that is analogous to furnishing alcohol to a minor. It allows the legislature to reduce or eliminate that penalty, so Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Myth #3: You’ll be able to light up freely in the privacy of your home.
Fact: That depends. Under the initiative, even adults consuming marijuana in the privacy of their homes could face arrest if there are minors present (not something one would expect from an initiative that claims to treat marijuana like alcohol and tobacco)[10] .

Current marijuana law contains no such restrictions. Thanks to Prop. 215, which legalized marijuana for medicinal use, cannabis consumers have been legally free to smoke in the privacy of their homes since 1997. This initiative seeks to undermine that freedom, making it absolutely illegal to smoke marijuana if there are minors present. (The initiative is ambiguous with regard to whether “present” means being in the same room as the consumer, the same house, the same apartment building, or within wafting distance-apparently leaving this up to the interpretation of judges.) There is no exception for medical marijuana patients or for parents consuming in the presence of their own children.

Conrad Responds: Smoking around minors will continue to have the same penalty as now. Prop 215 is preserved and will have the same force and the same current penalties will remain in place with or without Prop 19. Voting no will not help so you might as well Vote for Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: ong>Myth #4: Under the initiative, anyone 21 or over will be allowed to grow marijuana in a 5′x5′space.
Fact: Not quite. This allotment is per property, not per person. If you share a residence with other people, you’ll be sharing a 5′x5′ grow space, as well. Even if you own multiple acres that many people live on, if it is considered one parcel, the space restriction of 5′x5′ (3-6 plants) will still apply. [11] Plus, if you rent, you will be required to obtain permission from your landlord-which they may be unwilling to grant since doing so will subject them to forfeiture by the federal government.

Conrad Responds: Adults will be able to grow 25 square feet without a doctor’s note. That is not legal now. You just can’t resist making things up, can you Dragonfly; It doesn’t require written consent for renters, it says “Cultivation on leased or rented property MAY be subject to approval from the owner of the property.” Like if you want to get cable in your apartment, you may need to get approval. I guess we should make cable TV illegal until we get the right to install it without the landlord’s okay, right? Wrong. Also, one could still get a doctor’s note and grow your 6 plants, your local guideline amount or a reasonable medical or personal quantity that you are prepared to defend in court. Right now, the law is: no doctor’s note, you’re busted. Period. You’re a patient and the cop doesn’t accept your vote, you’re busted until the courts sort it out. Vote Yes on Prop 19.

D-Fly wrote: Myth #5: Adults 21 and over will be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana without penalty.
Fact: Perhaps the most ironic piece of the puzzle is that the initiative to legalize marijuana actually makes it illegal to possess marijuana if it was purchased anywhere other than the very few licensed dispensaries in the state.[12] So if this initiative passes, better not get caught carrying marijuana you bought off your neighbor, your current dealer, or at a party; you could get arrested. And if you do buy from a licensed dispensary, better keep your receipts, because the burden of proof will be on you. Not only is this inconvenient, but it sets the industry up to be monopolized.

Conrad Responds: That claim is not ironic, it is false. I pasted the initiative text below but would point out that people without a doctor’s note will be able to grow and share their own garden product, keep the harvest, and defend larger amounts in court by an affirmative defense if that becomes necessary. Under current law that is all be illegal.

Prop 19: “Section 3: Lawful Activities:  Health and Safety Code, Section 11300: Personal Regulation and Controls

(a)     Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be a public offense under California law for any person 21 years of age or older to:

(i)     Personally possess, process, share, or transport not more than one ounce of cannabis, solely for that individual’s personal consumption, and not for sale.

(ii)    Cultivate, on private property by the owner, lawful occupant, or other lawful resident or guest of the private property owner or lawful occupant, cannabis plants for personal consumption only, in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence or, in the absence of any residence, the parcel. Cultivation on leased or rented property may be subject to approval from the owner of the property.  Provided that, nothing in this section shall permit unlawful or unlicensed cultivation of cannabis on any public lands.

(iii)    Possess on the premises where grown the living and harvested plants and results of any harvest and processing of plants lawfully cultivated pursuant to section 11300(a)(ii), for personal consumption.” …

“11304 (c) in a criminal proceeding a person accused of violating a limitation in this Act shall have the right to an affirmative defense that the cannabis was reasonably related to his or her personal consumption.”

D-Fly wrote: What’s more, if your city decides not to tax cannabis, then buying and selling marijuana in the city limits would remain illegal. You would be permitted to possess and consume marijuana, but you would be required to travel to another city that taxes cannabis to buy it.[13] This is a move towards decreased, not increased, access.

And since the initiative is so ambiguous that cities are destined to be tied up in a legal quagmire over how to interpret it, many local governments might find it simpler just to opt-out and send its citizens elsewhere. Indeed, 129 cities did just that with medical marijuana, banning it outright, while still others have established moratoriums against dispensaries. In fact, of the entire state, only the city of Oakland has endorsed the initiative. A vote for the initi
ative will therefore not ensure local access to purchase marijuana legally.

Conrad Responds: Or people can grow it or get it from friends or buy off the black market same as now. Currently no city can regulate non-medical sales under state law but after Prop 19 passes that will be allowed. That alone resolves the question once for all about the legality of cannabis dispensaries, which GOP candidate for Attorney General (Vote against him) Steve Cooley says all illegal under SB 420. If Cooley wins and voters reject the initiative we’ll see how bad it gets. If Cooley becomes Attorney General, who knows if any dispensary will survive. He believes that even medical sales are illegal, and he’s shutting down dispensaries in LA every day. So everyone who supports the dispensaries should vote Yes on Prop 19.
CW: D-FLy—YOU’VE BEEN SERVED!!! Now don’t you have some hoola-hooping to get back to or something….

Support Ronnie Naulls.

July 29, 2010 in Miscellaneous

I had the pleasure of conversing with Ronnie a few times during both of our struggles. He has remained steadfast in his approach and it seems as if the Government is, at the very least, not completely fucking him. While the system is far from fair, I know Ronnie is happy to not be looking at a 10 year mandatory sentence, like these bastards try to get a lot of people on.  Ronnie is a father and an all around nice guy. I am glad to hear that his three year emotional roller coaster is coming to somewhat of a conclusion. I wish him and the family the best.

Ronald Naulls was a patient who operated a collective in Corona CA  and was targeted by the DEA.  Ronnie is finally being sentenced after  a 3 year legal battle and needs the support of the medical marijuana community.  Below is some information on his case I hope to see many  of you there.

Here are the details for Court this Monday, August 2nd 9 AM.

The government moved to dismiss all drug charges if I plead to filing a false tax return, a felony under IRS guidelines.  We both know that I did not file a false return and used a CPA.  However, since a mmj dispensary is “illegal” under federal law all exemptions and write offs that my CPA made were technically illegal under IRS guidelines.

In a nutshell my attorney said that they wanted to get a pound of flesh and this is their hook line and sinker.  Had I not filed at all with the IRS, then I would be facing tax evasion charges.  A perfect catch 22.  But I digress, they are dropping all mmj charges.

The support is needed because they still want to sentence me to more home confinement, even though I’ve already served 3 years in pre-trial home confinement.  They also want me to pay restitution and fines amounting to over 15K, which I’m also trying to get relieved of because of the assets and forfeiture taken during the raid should. This should arguably offset any sort of restitution or fines the government is trying to impose upon me.

This will most likely be the last Federal mmj case ever prosecuted in Riverside County.  Filling the court seats to capacity sends a strong message to the judge that I provided a service to the community and also have the support of the community.  Community service and support are a strong basis for downward departure.

U.S. District & Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California

Courtroom Judge Virginia Phillips
3470 Twelfth St
Riverside, CA  92501
Monday, August 2nd 9 AM

ASA addresses the hypocrisy of the VA decision to allow for medical cannabis use.

July 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

As usual, Americans for Safe Access is beating down the walls of Federal intolerance of medical cannabis. The day is coming where the Feds will no longer be able to kick in the doors of patients and providers to fuel their misguided war on cannabis. Thanks ASA. As usual, you continue to cut off the head of the dragon and make the world a better place for all of us.

Federal Medical Marijuana Legal Challenge Bolstered by New Veterans Policy Directive

VA policy undermines federal position that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use”

San Francisco, CA — Medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an important legal brief today in a Ninth Circuit case which aims to correct statements by the federal government that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The ASA legal filing points to a policy directive issued last week by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), recognizing medical marijuana and distinguishing it from other illegal controlled substances. In its brief, ASA contends that the VHA directive bolsters advocates’ arguments that marijuana does indeed have medical value.

“Recognition of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits by a federal agency makes it more difficult for the government to argue against marijuana’s medical value,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the notice with the court. “The government’s reasons for maintaining an outdated and harmful position on medical marijuana are running out.” In the July 22nd policy directive, the VHA reversed its position that medical marijuana is no different than other banned controlled substances, and instructed VA physicians that “patients participating in state medical marijuana programs must not be denied VHA services.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel also clarified in a July 6th letter to veteran advocate Michael Krawitz that, “If a veteran obtains and uses medical marijuana in a manner consistent with state law, testing positive for marijuana would not preclude the Veteran from receiving opioids for pain management.” The letter further stated that, “Standard pain management agreements should draw a clear distinction between the use of illegal drugs, and legal medical marijuana.” ASA has received numerous reports of veterans being denied pain medication for refusing to discontinue their use of medical marijuana. In many cases, the therapeutic use of marijuana has significantly diminished veterans’ need for pharmaceutical medication.

ASA filed its lawsuit in February of 2007 in an attempt to correct the government’s position on medical marijuana. After the challenge was denied by the U.S. District Court, ASA filed an appeal in April of 2008 and is still awaiting a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. ASA’s lawsuit was preceded by an administrative petition filed in 2005 under the Data Quality Act, a law passed during the Clinton Administration to ensure that the government bases its policy decisions on sound science and not politics.

According to Krawitz’s group, Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, more than 100,000 veterans, or 27% of veterans treated by the VA, have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Based on reports received by ASA, PTSD is one of the most common medical conditions that veterans treat using medical marijuana.

Further Information:
Veterans Health Administration policy directive issued on July 22nd:http://www1.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=2276
Letter from Department of Veterans Affairs to veteran advocate Michael Krawitz:www.drugsense.org/temp/Undersecretary-Jun6.pdf
Legal brief filed today by ASA:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/DQA_Rule28.pdf
Data Quality Act appeal filed by ASA:http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/DQA_Appeal_Brief.pdf

Ethan Nadelmann and Bill O'reilly Disagree on Drug Policy. Imagine that.

July 28, 2010 in Miscellaneous

Nadelmann vs O’reilly: Why the drug war is a failure….

A Harsh Reality. Conrad on Whittman/Cooley and the demise of cannabis in CA.

July 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Chris Conrad once again makes a lot of sense in this plea for folks to get it together and get the vote out on Prop. 19. I do not mean to focus on Chris, but sometimes when you can’t say it better yourself, then why bother….

Colleagues,

We have powerful enemies in the November election: Meg Whitman and Steve Cooley. Whitman is an avowed enemy of medical marijuana and would have veto power over all our legislation for the next multiple years. Cooley is such an incompetent attorney that he can’t even read law correctly but he thinks SB 420 does not protect patients, he thinks it mandates prison for anyone with more than a few ounces. These people are a threat to everything we have built up as a movement. And yet “reformers” are wasting energy opposing Prop 19?

Let’s get real. SB 420 — which allows collectives, ID cards, immunity from arrest and safe harbor – is not from an initiative. It was legislated so it can be modified or upended at any time, with or without Prop 19. The safe harbor quantities that People v Kelly provides could be dropped to a few grams, and gardens reduced to a couple plants and 10 square feet. Read the People v Urziceanu decision’s evaluation of Prop 215 v SB 420 to get an idea of what losing SB420 means. It’s not pretty.
At this point, a no vote on Prop 19 combined with a Whitman/Cooley victory is a no vote on SB 420, a no vote on safe harbors, a no vote on collectives, and the prohibitionists will litigate like it is a no vote on Prop 215 and a yes vote to send adults to jail for small personal amounts of marijuana. Every bit of energy we spend “debating the merits” of Prop 19 is energy that we give to the drug warriors because none of it matters at all if we lose Prop 19. We must pass it.

Here’s why: If Prop 19 passes, it guarantees that localities can license sales to patients because it allows licensed sales to anyone over age 21 (I know, it sucks for people below age 21, but let’s stay on point here). If Prop 19 passes, it guarantees that patients will be able to have at least an ounce just by virtue of being adults. It specifically lists Prop 215/ HS11362.5 and SB 420 statutes in two places in the purposes, by general reference in the purpose “6. Provide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes.” and “12.   Make cannabis available for scientific, medical, industrial, and research purposes” and by statutes as in “except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.” That would not even have been necessary because it also protects them by _not naming those statutes as being changed anywhere in the newly created statutes. (Remember the Galambos appeals court held that it was illegal to transport medical marijuana because Prop 215 did _not name HS11360 transportation_ as being changed; luckily the legislature passed SB420 to protect it.) It says in the ballot argument that themedical marijuana laws are “preserved.” That alone could be used in court to defend collectives and safe harbor if the legislature turns sour and try to change SB 420.

Without Prop 19, patients and collectives are at greater risk than with it, and if it loses it sends exactly the wrong message to the legislature, namely that Californians don’t want legal marijuana. That will be cited as a pendulum change, and that could bode disaster. Remember, we have in our midst paid agitators and provocateurs who are determined to undermine us and stop Prop 19 from being passed. They prey on your fear. They claim to be our allies, and to be helping, but they are our opponents determined to keep cannabis consumers criminals. Unfortunately, we can’t tell them from the zealots because some people with good intentions are freaked out, running in circles and screaming that the sky is falling, the sky is falling. Well, the sky might well be falling if Prop 19 loses.

Get over it, pull yourselves together and go out to register every voter you can get your hands on and drag them to the polls to vote Yes on Prop 19 and No to Whitman and Cooley on Nov 2, or better yet to vote absentee Yes on Prop 19 and No to Whitman and Cooley.

– Chris Conrad, court-qualified cannabis expert and consultant

Tough Love for Oakland on Medical Cannabis

July 27, 2010 in Local Regulations

I love Oakland. At least I did. Oakland was the place that understood that medical cannabis was not going anywhere, and decided to license collectives and in turn, created a SANCTUARY for patients and providers. Granted,  I think their choice to limit the collectives to 4 back in the day was short-sighted but at the time it was a revolution. Obviously the 4 permits were not enough, but they did provide a structure for legitimizing the industry that was unparalleled at the time. For that reason we always ran Tainted Inc./Compassion Medicinal Edibles from the friendly confines of Oakland. I always made our major purchases, including vehicles, equipment, and every supply for the company in Oakland, to ensure the tax revenues went to a city that put their best foot forward and understood the needs of an evolving industry.

I always loved Oakland’s culture. No matter what a person’s race or religion, as long as they were from “The O” they were part of the family. I ate, breathed, and slept Oakland for a decade. I loved the way the City embraced cannabis culture and worked to meet the needs of the community.

NOW, I am saying that the greed of Oakland City Officials is turning those feelings I had for the city on their ears. The entire process reeks of COLLUSION, GREED, and UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR. Their decision to license 4 mega grows based on a pipe-dream report from a wealthy and privileged land owner and their decision to increase taxes again, just one year after raising cannabis taxes by 1500% is unethical and frankly, DISGUSTING to me. This is not the behaviors of a compassionate sanctuary city. These are the behaviors of a TEENAGER that has spent all of dad’s allowance and is now vying to get more to keep up with the Joneses. It is unacceptable and downright UNETHICAL.

I can tell you this, my affection for Oakland is fading into the night. They are showing that they have no respect for patients, providers, and persons who have dedicated their lives and their freedoms to advancing this cause. They have chosen the almighty dollar over reason and compassion. It is an embarrassment and I believe it will blow up in their face.

I can guarantee that when I reopen my business, in whatever form that may take on, I will most likely not be doing it in Oakland. Why? Because loyalty and respect mean a lot to me. What Oakland has shown is that the only thing they respect are the big money interests and the percentage of dollars they can screw patients and providers out of. Their logic is SO TWISTED that is pains me to hear their irrational justifications for fleecing an entire industry out loud.

I wish you the best Oakland, but your elected officials have made me no longer feel welcome. They have not learned from the past. They continue to travel down the same road filled with flawed logic that removed competition from the industry and created collectives of 50,000 members and $65 eighths of medicine. What have we seen in areas where there are more collectives for patients to choose from?…GREATER VALUE.

In Oakland, many prices are higher than average (Not all. Some organizations still are reasonable), but most are high. What will creating 4 behemoth grows do to the industry? Well first off, it will make these interested parties that are willing to pony up $211,000 the heads of a CONTINUING CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE, punishable by 20 years in prison. Do you hear that Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Mann? I would suggest you reach out to the US Justice Department and see what they think of your 170,000 acre Field of Pipe-Dreams. 2 decades is a long time. Ask Luke Scarmazzo. Maybe write a letter to Eddy Lepp. Do you guys even know who they are?

Secondly, your products will be rejected by US- your “peers.” The patients you wish to serve. You see, we do not like being railroaded by those who know nothing about how we got here, but want to use their cash assets to reap the benefits. I think I speak for a large majority of the industry (including those who you want to buy your product) when I say, “Go fuck yourself.” You can continue to buy people off that you perceive to be intricate parts of the industry, but all you will do is further tarnish their reputations, as well.

The raising of taxes and turning over the industry to the Rich and Famous bring me to the conclusion that Oakland is not the sanctuary city it once was. It is just another money hungry municipality that chooses to pay its bills off the backs of those whose quasi-legal situation makes them easy targets. Thanks for nothing. Watch as you push yet another industry away from your City because your greed got the better of you. Yes, Oakland…I love you dearly and it is a shame that we elected these people that would so selfishly abuse their powers to push good people away from the beauty of your culture. I am sorry. Maybe one day soon I will run for City Council in Oakland and do my best to create the environment and understanding that you so deserve. But for now, I WILL NOT roll over and play dead and continue to allow theses officials to rape and pillage our industry at will.

Hopefully the vote in November will be rejected by the good citizens of Oakland. May the force be with all of them. I know I for one will be voting NO….

Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight.com Breaks Down Prop. 19 Polls

July 27, 2010 in Legalization

The Broadus Effect? Social Desirability Bias and California Proposition 19

by Nate Silver

This November, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for recreational consumption. Six polls have been conducted since the measure made the ballot in March. Three — one from Public Policy Polling and two from SurveyUSA — used automated scripts (“robopolls”) to conduct their interviews. The other three, from Field, PPIC, and Reuters/Ipsos — used live human operators.

The methodologies split in the support they show for the initiative. The three automated surveys all have Prop 19 passing by a double-digit margin. The human-operator polls, meanwhile, each show it trailing narrowly.

Although some of these polls contain incomplete demographic information, the split appears to be driven more by minority voters than by whites. The three automated polls each show the initiative leading by between 28 and 38 among black voters, for instance. But the one traditional poll to break out numbers among African-Americans had it trailing by 12.

Likewise, the traditional polls show Proposition 19 trailing by about 25 points among Hispanics. But the robopolls show support among Hispanics being about even. Even though the margins of error associated with these subgroups are quite large — especially for blacks, who constitute a relatively small portion of California’s population — the differences are highly statistically significant.

These effects are also evident in two recent national polls on marijuana legalization, fromRasmussen (automated) and Pew (human), respectively. Although Rasmussen’s robots posit higher support for marijuana legalization among all racial groups, the differences are much larger for blacks and Hispanics (which Rasmussen lumps into “other” along with groups like Asians).

There are a couple of reasons why these discrepancies might have arisen. One might be that the automated surveys are having difficulty getting a representative sample of minorities. Automated surveys generally have lower response rates, and that impact may be most felt among minorities, who are usually harder to get on the phone.

Nevertheless, this is a relatively highly-rated group of automated surveys, particularly SurveyUSA and PPP, which don’t take as many of the shortcuts that some of their competitors do. And so it raises another possibility:

What if voters are more likely to admit their tolerance for marijuana to an automated script, which may create the feeling of greater anonymity? Marijuana usage remains fairly stigmatized in polite society in America, enough so that even liberal politicians like Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Jerry Brown and Barack Obama have refused to state their support for legalizing the drug. But as most Americans between ages 20 and 55 have smoked marijuana, they may not consider it such a big deal in the privacy of their homes — or the privacy of the ballot booth.

This might also explain why the split is larger among black and Hispanic voters. Marijuana usage is almost certainly more stigmatized when associated with minorities, and drug possession arrests occur much more frequently in minority communities. This is in spite of the fact that rates of marijuana consumption are only a smidgen higher among blacks than among whites, and are somewhat lower among Hispanics. (Although, note that the link I just pointed you to is also based on survey data, and so could be subject to some of the same biases.)

Perhaps this hypothesis is overstated, and drug use does not carry the same stigma in California that it does elsewhere in the country. When I visited San Francisco for four days last winter, I twice saw people quite nonchalantly smoking joints in bars, something you’ll only see once in a blue moon in New York or Chicago (or maybe I’ve just been going out to the wrong places).

Nevertheless, it’s possible that we’re seeing some sort of Bradley effect in reverse, which I’ve reluctantly dubbed the “Broadus Effect” after the given name of the rapper Snoop Dogg, himself a frequent consumer of cannabinoid-rich products.

The original Bradley Effect, named for former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, occurs when respondents in surveys are asked about socially desirable behaviors, such as being free from racial prejudice. Although the racial version of Bradley effect itself isprobably a thing of the past, social desirability bias may manifest itself in other ways. Automated polls have sometimes shown relatively lower levels support for gay marriage initiatives, for instance, in states like Maine and California. Homophobia is fairly common, but has become socially undesirable; the purveyors of the automated polls have sometimes claimed that their respondents are free to be more honest when there’s not another human being on the line. If the theory holds, automated polls might also provide a setting for voters to be more honest about their feelings on marijuana use, another behavior that is probably more widespread (and privately tolerated) than it is socially acceptable. If so, that would be good news for Prop 19.

Great Breakdown on Prop 19 by Radical Russ on NORML blog

July 26, 2010 in Legalization

Here is a brief exceprt of some good points. Read the whole breakdown here: http://stash.norml.org/californias-prop-19-a-word-for-word-analysis
  • the smell of marijuana on your person is no longer probable cause to search you;
  • that joint in your pocket means nothing;
  • the seizure of stems, leaves, and seeds from your trash is irrelevant;
  • a couple of baggies with weed residue in them are just garbage;
  • the sight of that bong on your table visible through the kitchen window isn’t a “welcome” mat for a police search;
  • your utility bills raising a bit for water and lights don’t matter;
  • your neighbors smelling skunky plants is just a nuisance, not the source for an “anonymous tip”;
  • receipts for lights, soil, fertilizer, ballasts, trimmers, and stuff are meaningless;
  • infrared signatures of your home aren’t evidence of anything;
  • marijuana sniffing K-9 units are out of a job; and
  • pre-employment drug testing programs become harder for businesses to maintain for cannabis.

Another long week of City Council Dragonslaying…

July 26, 2010 in Local Regulations

Tonight Oakland. Richmond. San Jose. And the beat goes on…

Seems like this week will be filled with discussion on Death and Taxes. Mostly how I would rather die than pay 10% sin taxes on cannabis on top of the incredibly high sales taxes in CA. Here we go again. While I see the positives of being a tax paying citizen and using some cannabis resources to put a best foot forward in the community, it is the old “give an inch, take a mile” scenario.

Oakland voters approved a tax rate of 1.8% last year. Now the city wants to increase that again, one year later to keep up with the Joneses. Richmond and San Jose seem to want to up the ante an run with a rate of 10% or higher. Amazing really. Way to go. When you are broke where is the best place to raise money? Sick people. Why do I feel a PR nightmare on the horizon for these cities?

Anyway, I am gearing up my armor and heading into battle for what should be another long week of boring ass meetings and contentious argument. Time to map out the taxes talking points…

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