Firedoglake DISMANTLES Drug Czar Rhetoric

Firedoglake is becoming such a powerful voice in this battle for cannabis freedom. In a response to the infamous BS the Drug Czars just put out, FDL smashes their twisted logic and makes real sense of the situation. I cannot thank these folks enough for taking this battle to the mainstream and forcing America to question its collective consciousness on this important issue…

CA Prop 19: Drug Czars’ Latest Anti-Marijuana Propaganda is Easily Refuted

By: Jon Walker

Gil Kerlikowske, the current director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, i.e. the “Drug Czar,” along with several former Drug Czars, is out with a new op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. This latest bit of professional propaganda argues against the passage of California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

As expected, the Drug Czars seem to have no other choice than to resort to absolutely ridiculous arguments against the ballot measure. From the op-ed:

Law enforcement officers do not currently focus much effort on arresting adults whose only crime is possessing small amounts of marijuana.

This is such twisted logic that I feel I have disappeared down the rabbit hole. Part of their actual argument for maintaining our current marijuana policy is that cops have basically given up trying to enforce our current marijuana prohibition laws. In effect, they are fully acknowledging that our current policy prohibition against marijuana is an abject enforcement failure. Yet, somehow, they manage to twist this failure into an argument against changing the current policy:

This proposition would burden them with new and complicated enforcement duties. The proposition would require officers to enforce laws against “ingesting or smoking marijuana while minors are present.” Would this apply in a private home? And is a minor “present” if they are 15 feet away, or 20? Perhaps California law enforcement officers will be required to carry tape measures next to their handcuffs.

Now this is truly crazy. They are saying that because enforcing marijuana prohibition has proven to be such an impossible task that officers have given up, asking them to enforce sensible legal marijuana regulation would be an equally impossible new enforcement “burden.”

In fact, the vast majority of our laws are regulations. You are allowed to park ten feet from a fire hydrant, but not two feet from a fire hydrant. I personally don’t think our law enforcement officers are brain dead simpletons. They will be able to use their judgment to enforce basic regulations on marijuana use like they do for almost every other part of their jobs, including many regulations on where you are permitted to drink alcohol.

Their argument that a tax on legal marijuana would raise almost no money is just plain silly.

Regarding the supposed economic benefits of taxing marijuana, some comparison with two drugs that are already regulated and taxed — alcohol and tobacco — is worth considering. People don’t typically grow their own tobacco or distill their own spirits, so consumers accept high taxes on them as retail products. Marijuana, though, is easy and cheap to cultivate, indoors or out, and Proposition 19 would allow individuals to grow as much as 25 square feet of marijuana for “personal consumption.”

Why would people volunteer to pay high taxes on marijuana if it were legalized? The answer is that many would not, and the underground market, adapting to undercut any new taxes, would barely diminish at all.

I guess the Drug Czars have never heard of convenience before. Most people don’t actually like dealing with criminals or drug dealers. They would rather buy their vodka or marijuana from the liquor store down the street than spend their time tracking down some shady criminal smuggler to save a few bucks on taxes. The end of alcohol prohibition is in fact the perfect test case for this insane theory that legalization would result in almost no decrease of the black market. The reality was an almost immediate destruction of the black market for alcohol. Do you or any of your friends or family currently get liquor on the black market? I doubt it.

To deal with the other huge logical fallacy in this paragraph, it is important to note that tobacco, like marijuana, also is just a plant. It is as easy to cultivate as marijuana and it is currently legal to grow on your own property with no 25-square-foot restriction. Yet, as they admit, very few people grow their own tobacco. As an active home brewer, I can assure you that producing beer at home is both easy and cheap, yet home brewers produce an almost immeasurably tiny percentage of the total beer in this country. While it is both easy and cheap to avoid the tax on tobacco and alcohol by producing your own, very few Americans actually do.

This is what makes the fight to end our war on marijuana so difficult. The other side is not interested in an honest policy debate. Instead of honest argument, they rely on half-truths, distortions, twisted logic, ridiculous statements and naked propaganda. Sadly, America, this op-ed from Kerlikowske and friends is your wasted tax dollars at work.

Radical Russ SMASHES Dragonflies…again

Every time I read Russ Belville’s TOSSED SALAD pieces I find myself smiling. Thanks Russ for not letting these blasphemous bullshitters go unanswered. Dragonflies is a dangerous person and NOBODY can vouch for her in any way before 2 years ago when “the Universe gave her her name.” If you ask me “the Universe” sounds a lot like the feds, but that is just me. We have seen this type of infiltration before in other social justice movements. One has to question where people came from and why they are now some sort of authority on a subject. If you ask me, there has never been a more questionable motivation for opposing Prop. 19 than the ongoing gibberish Dragonflies puts forth. I am still waiting for ANYONE to step up and vouch for this girl’s bona fide’s prior to mid-2009. I am waiting…

YES. I am paranoid. that happens when the feds follow you around for two years. I met their confidential informants who also claimed to be do-gooders in the movement, so you can call me paranoid. I will call it AWARE of my surroundings.

Tossed SALAD: Dragonfly de la Luz supports misdemeanors for 80% of California’s cannabis consumers

By: Radical Russ Belville

Yet more Tossed SALAD (Stoners Against Legalization Article of the Day), this time from “professional stoner”Dragonfly de la Luz.

Miss de la Luz writes a blog called “Stoners Against the Prop. 19 Tax Cannabis Initiative“.  She’s been telling everybody how she’s got hers (Prop 215) and Prop 19 would ruin it.  Yes, her thesis is that Prop 19 legalizing a small garden and all its harvest, possession of an ounce away from the garden, and local option for commercial regulation of cannabis for 100% of the 3 million adults who smoke pot in California will somehow lead to some of the 10%-20% of Californians smoking pot under Prop 215 going to jail.

In her latest article she attacks court certified cannabis cultivation expert Chris Conrad and his rebuttal of her thesis:

Prop. 19 would actually make it ILLEGAL to possess marijuana if it was purchased anywhere other than a licensed dispensary:

Section 3: Lawful Activities: Section 11301: Commercial Regulations and Controls: (g):

PROHIBIT AND PUNISH through civil fines or other remedies THE POSSESSION, sale, possession for sale, cultivation, processing, or transportation OF CANNABIS THAT WAS NOT OBTAINED LAWFULLY FROM A PERSON PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION OR SECTION 11300.

Absolutely correct. If you purchase marijuana from a guy illegally selling marijuana on the street, you can be punished. The whole point of creating a system of legal sales of cannabis is to make sure adults are carded in a store like alcohol or tobacco.

However, the scare that you couldn’t possess any marijuana is ludicrous.  Note this section is regarding commercial regulations and controls.  As far as personal regulations and controls go, Prop 19 says:

Section 3: Lawful Activities
Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, commencing with section 11300 is added to read:
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.

So after Prop 19, you’re walking around with an ounce in your pocket.  A cop stops you and somehow he finds out you have an ounce on you.  How does he prove where that ounce came from?  Since you can hold an ounce of your own supply and since your ounce looks and smells like a dispensary ounce or a street ounce (a concept the Supreme Court calls “fungibility” – marijuana is marijuana is marijuana), unless they catch you in the act of buying that street ounce, any ounce you hold has to be assumed to be your personal ounce.

de la Luz’s main argument, one made consistently by the “I Gots Mine” crowd:

Nowhere in my article do I claim that marijuana is more legal when it’s decriminalized. I said it is more legal now because it IS legal now. Marijuana has been legal in California since 1996.

Really, I’ll have to mention that to the 78,514 Californians arrested in 2008 for marijuana offenses.  In fact, marijuana IS NOT legal in California and since 1996 a handful of Californians have only been exempted from criminal prosecution under Prop 215 (except, of course, Eugene Davidovich, Donna Lambert, James Stacy, Jovan Jackson, Felix Kha, and a whole bunch of other people who thought they were legal under Prop 215 yet still ended up in a courtroom and behind bars for a time).

Specifically in Prop 215:

…patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.

Which means that criminal prosecutions and sanctions for marijuana still exist.  Shorter: it ain’t legal.

de la Luz also agonizes over whether the definition of “space” is being too vague…

Prop. 19 prohibits smoking “in any space while minors are present.” But what is meant by “space” and “present”? If you light up on the back patio and kids happen to be playing soccer next door, are you in the same “space” while minors are “present”? Is “present” the same house? The same room? Wafting distance? Yes? No? Maybe? Depends?

I’m always amused by folks criticizing Prop 19 for being too vague, when Prop 215 was one of the most vaguely-worded initiatives ever passed by the people of California.  Fourteen years later it is still unclear whether dispensary sales outside of collective participation is legal under Prop 215 and SB 420.

While I understand the need of medical marijuana patients who may be parents to be able to medicate when their kids are around, I’m flustered by adults criticizing legalization on the grounds they might not be able to toke up around kids.  Remember, de la Luz says “marijuana is legal”, the implication being that even recreational pot smokers – not just medical marijuana patients – can get a Prop 215 recommendation.

If you’re suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, sitting in your wheelchair medicating on the patio while your kids play soccer next door, I seriously doubt anybody will want to prosecute that, especially since under Prop 19, there would be no probable cause for a cop to investigate that pot smell wafting up from your back yard.

When an initiative is vague, one has to go to the purposes and intents to determine what the wording means.  ”Space”, literally defined, is “the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur.”  Minors are present in space, therefore Prop 19 makes all pot smoking anywhere in the universe illegal, right?

Of course not, because the purpose of Prop 19 is to legalize most adult use of cannabis, not eliminate it.  So how far would cops and courts go in defining “space” and “present”?  Let’s check Prop 19′s Ballot Summary:

Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old.

And the Purposes:

Regulate cannabis like we do alcohol: Allow adults to possess and consume small amounts of cannabis.

Implement a legal regulatory framework to better police and prevent access to and consumption of cannabis by minors in California.

And the Intents:

This Act is not intended to affect the application or enforcement … relating to possession on school grounds … relating to minors … relating to contributing to the delinquency of a minor…

Since the Purposes tell us we’re treating it like alcohol, what are the “space” rules for alcohol?  In bars, taverns, casinos, and restaurants where alcohol is served, either minors aren’t allowed in the building or they are limited to where they can be (like, in the restaurant but not the bar).  At an outdoor festival, often there is a “beer garden” where minors can’t get in and adults wear a wristband.

Since the Purposes tell us we’re trying to keep kids from getting access to and consuming cannabis, it seems to me that “space” would have to be defined as a reasonable proximity to the cannabis that might allow access by minors.

Since the Intents tell us we’re not trying to allow adults to contribute to the delinquency of a minor, it seems to me that a minor would have to be “present” in your “space” within reasonable distance that you could contribute to their delinquency.

So the notion that “space” is going to mean the soccer field next door to your patio seems a stretch, as does the notion presented by another anti Prop 19 site claiming it could be the same apartment building.

But could it mean the same room or same house?  Probably the same room.  Maybe the same house.  So you might have to go to your bedroom or out on the patio to smoke your joint if you have kids.  That slight inconvenience, which most non-Prop 215 pot smokers are already doing (guess what, most of us don’t like to smoke pot in front of kids, Dragonfly,) is why you would support keeping 80% of California’s cannabis consumers subject to a misdemeanor?

We also have to address the reality of policing.  How exactly are the cops going to bust you if you’re sitting in your living room chiefing a joint in the presence of your kids?  Remember, after Prop 19, the sight and smell of marijuana, cannabis plants, and paraphernalia are no longer probable cause for a search and investigation.

de la Luz continues by criticizing the California NAACP’s support of Prop 19:

What my article says, for those who have not read it, is that the NAACP’s belief that Prop. 19 will keep young black people from getting arrested over a joint is erroneous. Because the only people—of any ethnicity—who can get arrested over a joint are the ones selling it. And because Prop. 19 keeps personal distribution illegal, Prop. 19 will in no way keep anyone out of jail for selling a joint. (Nor will it keep anyone out of jail for having a joint, as decriminalization has already achieved this.)

This is word-parsing at its most disingenuous.  What “decriminalization has already achieved” is actually making minor marijuana possession the only misdemeanor in California for which you cannot be arrested.  To call it “decriminalization” is a bit of a misnomer, because you still get that misdemeanor conviction for a marijuana crime, so you are, in fact, treated as a criminal with a drug record for the rest of your life.

de la Luz is correct in that only sales of a joint get you arrested.  But the way police use marijuana’s criminalization to harass minorities is well documented.  For example, you don’t need to actually sell the joint to get busted for intent to sell the joint.  You can be busted for intent to distribute if you are carrying two eighths in separate baggies.  Just the sight or smell of your marijuana is probable cause for police to get you out of your car, pat you down, and bring K-9 units in to sniff around you and your car.

When marijuana is legal, these probable causes for police to use to harass minorities in the first place are gone.  Will some people still be busted trying to sell joints in a park?  Sure, but no more than are busted now and probably less of them since probable cause no longer exists.

Next up for de la Luz, the eeeevil corporations that might (*gasp*) make a profit after legalization!

But the fact that the people behind the initiative are businessmen with corporate aspirations speaks for itself. It is obvious that big business is written all over this initiative. Perhaps if Conrad had actually ever read my article, he would know that Jeff Wilcox, CEO of cannabis corporation AgraMed—which just received Oakland’s first commercial cultivation license—is on the steering committee for Prop. 19, and now expects to make $59 million annually through this corporatization of cannabis.

Somehow a businessman legally making money after marijuana is legalized for 100% of California adults is a nefarious aspiration for legalization.  But the current businessmen legally making money off of running dispensaries that sell weed for $300/ounce to 20% of California’s pot smoking adults or medical recommendation referral services that sell you a doctor’s permission for $100 to buy that weed have the purest motives in fighting for the status quo that maintains the weed price, requires the weed recommendation, and defines 80% of pot smokers as criminals.

de la Luz then complains that even though the risk premium and middlemen associated with illegal sales would disappear and that the RAND Corp estimated prices might fall to $30/ounce, marijuana would still cost $300 an ounce.

To expect that licensed dispensary owners—who already know that the public will pay $300+ for an ounce, and who, in the case of Oakland’s four licensed dispensaries combined, currently enjoy gross sales of $28 million per year—will pass that “savings” on to the cannabis consumer is unrealistic at best.

OK, so because the price might not change, we should continue to treat 80% of California’s cannabis consumers as criminals?

Here we have to believe that when you can legally grow your own small garden and when all your friends can grow their own small garden, you’re still going to pay $300 per ounce.  We have to believe that only Oakland will have legal sales to non-patients – no other city would legalize sales, or if they did, they’d have to adopt Oakland’s regulations.  We have to believe that competition in a market legalized for 100% of consumers wouldn’t lead to lower prices, even as de la Luz promotes the fact that “a pound has already fallen to $2,000″ because of competition in “our current market” for the 20% of medical users.

Then de la Luz resurrects the corpse of Jack Herer to defame Prop 19:

Jack Herer practically died telling us to vote against it. He was explicitly and vehemently against Prop. 19. This is an undeniable fact.

This is the despicable rhetoric of a few who translate Jack’s idealism into a call to vote for the continued criminalization of cannabis.  Since de la Luz says Jack “practically died” warning us about Prop 215, I believe she’s referring to Jack’s final speech at Hempstalk (I was there) where he said:

I don’t want to f**king give the United States government one f**king dollar of taxes. I think that they should go to f**king jail for getting you and me and 20 million people getting arrested for pot. It is the safest thing you can do in the universe. And that is what we are going to do in California. Okay? Come over to my booth, over there, and I will see you next time.”

Got that? United States Government. Jack is addressing the federal prohibition of marijuana and saying we shouldn’t reward the federal government with our tax money for arresting people for pot.  Then he is saying “it” – smoking pot – is the safest thing you can do in the universe.

Now when he says “that” is what we are going to do in California, is he referring to “taxing”, thereby opposing Prop 19 as it gives “one fucking dollar of taxes” to the California (not United States) government?  Or does “that” refer to “the safest thing in the universe” which Prop 19 would legalize?  Or does “that” refer to something else Jack mentioned in his Hempstalk speech?

Let’s check out the rest of Jack’s speech for context:

Jack Herer Hempstalk

“Some of these people know me from 1984, I came up here to Wa… Oregon… and Washington… we went [sic] an initiative over and over and over and over again.  We bought a store, we put on the store over and over and over again and we put on the ballot and we brought 1980… 98, that we passed the initiative [Oregon Medical Marijuana Act], we went out and got the fucking signatures, and we passed the initiative.

“Now I’ll tell ya, we told that once a little bit of rain will fall, but it’s OK, because we got us our medicine.  We… in the year before that [actually, two years] we got it as medicine in California in Dennis Peron and me went down there to get 750,000 signatures and we got it on the ballot for medicine.  And we got it all over the fuckin’ state except with ‘rednecked’ areas like San Diego (heh heh heh).  Fourteen years after we passed the law that’s still going on.

“I’m going to tell you there’s nothing fucking better for the human right [?] than having marijuana morning, noon, and night.  (Cheers)  You live two years longer than people that don’t smoke and don’t drink, and eight to twenty-four years later than people that do!  You gotta be out of your mind not to smoke dope!  (Cheers.)

“Once you know this, [unintelligible] two years longer if you smoke it, if you eat the seeds … of three million seeds… on foodstuffs on earth [best I can make out]… The number one thing for the whole world is hemp from one to a hundred before you get to soybeans.  One to a hundred!  The first, second, third, fiftieth, ninetieth, a hundred things of everything on earth!  And the number one thing to a hundred is hempseed, and that’s against the law.  We didn’t know it public school, high school, and college.  I didn’t know that 98% of all food and clothing in the whole world was hemp!  It is the best thing the world has ever had.

I don’t want to fucking give the United States government one fucking dollar of taxes. I thought that they should go to fucking jail for getting you and me and 20 million people getting arrested for pot. It is the safest thing you can do in the universe. And that is what we are going to do in California. Okay? Come over to my booth, over there, and I will see you next time.”

Graf #1 = We worked hard to get an initiative on the ballot and passed it

Graf #2 = We worked hard to get an initiative on the ballot and passed it, but it still gets ignored in ‘rednecked’ areas.

Graf #3 = Marijuana is really, really good for you.

Graf #4 = Marijuana is the best thing this planet’s ever had.

Graf #5 = Fuck the US Government for arresting us for smoking pot!

So since the entire speech is based on the premises of getting initiatives on the ballot to legalize medical use because marijuana is such a great thing…

And since Jack is belittling the ‘rednecked’ areas that don’t recognize medical legality…

And since Jack is denouncing the federal government for getting 20 million of us arrested for pot…

…it seems crystal clear to me that “that is what we are going to do in California” refers to getting an initiative on the ballot to legalize marijuana and passing it because marijuana is the best thing on the planet.

Please, Miss de la Luz, read the statement from the Herer Family, which asks:

Unfortunately, Jack passed away before Prop 19 made the 2010 ballot; so many people think he would still oppose it. We don’t believe that, and we ask that everyone stop saying he would cling to that position as we move toward the Nov. 2 vote.

As his family, we want the world to know that the last thing Jack Herer would want is for Californians to vote to keep Cannabis illegal. He was smart and had the political savvy to know that once a measure is on the ballot, the time for bickering has passed. That is why he campaigned for Prop 215 despite its shortcomings. That is why, were he able, he would now be telling voters to rally around and Vote Yes on Prop 19.

Miss de la Luz, you are welcome on my show anytime you like to discuss why you think I should remain a criminal.  Just email me at stash ‘at’ and we’ll set up an interview time.  I will be fair and respectful, but I will be as tough with you as I am with any prohibitionist who wants to keep my pot smoking a criminal act.

Related posts

Legalization could curb drug violence. Prohibition failure.

To continue to allow violence to erupt over the drug trade is unacceptable. We continue to empower the lowest common denominator because of our fear of legalizing drugs, particularly cannabis. We create the problem that we then attempt to eliminate. It is cowardice for our society to not face the problem and quit trying to enforce public health policies with guns and jails. With guns and jails come crime syndicates and violence. If you make drugs a major crime then the only people willing to be in the trade are MAJOR CRIMINALS. This is the market we see now and the fact is the IT IS NOT WORKING….


by Jahann Hari on HuffPo

To many people, the “war on drugs” sounds like a metaphor, like the “war on poverty.” It is not. It is being fought with tanks and sub machine guns and hand grenades, funded in part by your taxes, and it has killed 28,000 people under the current Mexican President alone. The death-toll in Tijuana — one of the front-lines of this war — is now higher than in Baghdad. Yesterday, another pile of seventy mutilated corpses was found nearSan Fernando — an event that no longer shocks the country.

Mexico today is a place where the severed heads of police officers are found week after week, pinned to bloody notes that tell their colleagues: “This is how you learn respect.” It is a place where hand grenades are tossed into crowds to intimidate the public into shutting up. It is the state the US Joint Chiefs of Staff say is most likely, after Pakistan, to suffer “a rapid and sudden collapse.”

Why? When you criminalize a drug for which there is a large market, it doesn’t disappear. The trade is simply transferred from off-licenses, pharmacists and doctors to armed criminal gangs. In order to protect their patch and their supply routes, these gangs tool up — and kill anyone who gets in their way. You can see this any day on the streets of a poor part of London or Los Angeles, where teenage gangs stab or shoot each other for control of the 3000 percent profit margins on offer. Now imagine this process taking over an entire nation, to turn it into a massive production and supply route for the Western world’s drug hunger.

Why Mexico? Why now? In the past decade, the US has spent a fortune spraying carcinogenic chemicals over Colombia’s coca-growing areas, so the drug trade has simply shifted to Mexico. It’s known as the “balloon effect”: press down in one place, and the air rushes to another. When I was last there in 2006, I saw the drug violence taking off and warned that the murder rate was going to skyrocket. Since then the victims have ranged from a pregnant woman washing her car to a four year-old child to a family in the “wrong” house watching television to a group of 14 teenagers having a party. Today, 70 percent of Mexicans say they are frightened to go out because of the cartels.

The gangs offer Mexican police and politicians a choice: plata o plomo. Silver, or lead. Take a bribe, or take a bullet. President Felipe Calderon has been leading a military crackdown on them since 2006 — yet every time he surges the military forward, the gang violence in an area massively increases. This might seem like a paradox, but it isn’t. If you knock out the leaders of a drug gang, you don’t eradicate demand, or supply. You simply trigger a fresh war for control of the now-vacant patch. The violence creates more violence.

This is precisely what happened — to the letter — when the United States prohibited alcohol. A ban produced a vicious rash of criminal gangs to meet the popular demand, and they terrorized the population and bribed the police. Now a thousand Mexican Al Capones are claiming their billions and waving their guns.

Like Capone, the drug gangs love the policy of prohibition. Michael Levine, who had a thirty year career as one of America’s most distinguished federal narcotics agents, penetrated to the very top of la Mafia Cruenza, one of the biggest drug-dealing gangs in the world in the 1980s. Its leaders told him “that not only did they not fear our war on drugs, they actually counted on it… On one undercover tape-recorded conversation, a top cartel chief, Jorge Roman, expressed his gratitude for the drug war, calling it ‘a sham put on the American tax-payer’ that was ‘actually good for business’.

So there is a growing movement in Mexico to do the one thing these murderous gangs really fear — take the source of their profits, drugs, back into the legal economy. It would bankrupt them swiftly, and entirely. Nobody kills to sell you a glass of Jack Daniels. Nobody beheads police officers or shoots teenagers to sell you a glass of Budweiser. And after legalization, nobody would do it to sell you a spliff or a gram of cocaine either. They would be in the hands of unarmed, regulated, legal businesses, paying taxes to the state, at a time when we all need large new sources of tax revenue.

The conservative former President, Vicente Fox, has publicly called for legalization, and he has been joined by a battery of former Presidents across Latin America — all sober, right-leaning statesmen who are trying to rationally assess the facts. Every beheading, grenade attack, and assassination underlines their point. Calderon’s claims in response that legalization would lead to a sudden explosion in drug use don’t seem to match the facts: Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs in 2001, and drug use there has slightly fallen since.

Yet Mexico is being pressured hard by countries like the US and Britain — both led by former drug users — to keep on fighting this war, while any mention of legalization brings whispered threats of slashed aid and diplomatic shunning.

Look carefully at that mound of butchered corpses found yesterday. They are the inevitable and ineluctable product of drug prohibition. This will keep happening for as long as we pursue this policy. If you believe the way to deal with the human appetite for intoxication is to criminalize and militarize, then blood is on your hands. How many people have to die before we finally make a sober assessment of reality, and take the drugs trade back from murderous criminal gangs?

To support the right side in the referendum to decriminalize cannabis in California this November — one of the most important moves on drugs in the world at the moment — please donate or volunteer for the campaign here.


Hempcon catching flack for quacks…..

Apparently I am not the only one not impressed with the folks at Mega productions and the army of morally challenged physicians who were signing medical cannabis recommendations on the trade show floor. This was the least of my complaints about this poorly executed “Con.” But it does beg to question- why would a Doctor think seeing a patient at a CannaCon was a good idea? The word HUCKSTERS come to mind. Anyway- THIS WAS THE WORST EVENT EVER, regardless of the boatload of quacks that were signing $40 recs to anyone with a pulse. No wonder the medical movement is so marginalized and has a hard time breaking through to real legitimacy. Another reason to VOTE YES ON 19. Put the quacks out of business so the REAL cannabis Doctors like Dr. Frank can get back to business and not have to defend their legitimate practices against drivel like this.

East Bay Express Article:

HempCon Blasted for Cheap Medical Pot Doctoring

David Downs —  Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Doctors, patients, and industry are bashing the organizers ofHempCon, which took place August 6-8 in San Jose, for running a de facto medical marijuana prescription mill out of the trade show. Eyewitnesses noted long lines of young adults without medical records quickly processed by seven or eight doctors for $40 per person.

“I would consider one doctor a prescription mill. This was seven or eight. My best way to describe it was a price war,” said attendee Bob Katzman.

HempCon organizers Mega Productions — noted for running tattoo andporn expos out of Los Angeles — declined to comment.

The Medical Board of California tells doctors to treat marijuana like they would any other drug, and recommend it only after a good faith examination. According to noted physician Dr. Frank Lucido, that would include looking at the patient’s history, coming up with a treatment plan with objectives, and discussing side effects. Such an exam can take 30 to 45 minutes, a much slower tempo than what was apparent at HempCon.

“What you saw was a thousand people holding clipboards and forms, moving in and out of line so fast it was hard to imagine [the doctors] were doing a proper job. I just really don’t,” said Jeremiah Schimp, spokesperson for and a HempCon visitor.

“There’s a likelihood that it skirts acceptable medical guidelines set out by the state medical board,” said Kris Hermes, spokesperson for medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access. “Arguably, they’re making a mockery of their own role in the medical profession and the medical cannabis community may suffer as a result of these specialists cutting corners.”

No one is getting hurt by loose recommendations, counters Pierre Werner, cavalier operator of Dr. Reefer out of Las Vegas. He thinks evaluations should get easier across the country.

“There’s no real reason you should have a full check-up,” Werner says. “It’s no different than your doctor recommending you eat well, have a good diet, and get plenty of rest.”

Werner’s an ex-con who says cannabis helps control his bipolar and schizophrenia symptoms. He employs a couple doctors in Vegas who see patients for five to fifteen minutes, at $200 per patient. Warner charges an extra $100 if a customer lacks medical records, with the added cost going to a physical examination.

Dr. Reefer physicians make $4,000 for eight hours of work and business is booming. Werner is setting up remote locations where his doctors can work via web conferencing software Skype.

Back in California, Lucido says, “I don’t think much of that.” Cannabis might never kill a patient, but a lax diagnosis can.

Lucido recalls a male in his twenties who sought a marijuana recommendation to treat asthma and anxiety. Lucido listened to his heart and lungs, and noted a thyroid mass on his neck. He gave the patient a three-month recommendation for cannabis and requested his primary doctor feel his thyroid. The thyroid mass turned out to be cancer that had spread to the lungs.

“No one has been killed by marijuana, but when you’re prescribing marijuana for the wrong thing you could be missing something more serious,” Lucido says.

Generally, people hate going to the doctor, and a weed-driven visit is a chance to engage in preventative medicine. The ASA recommends that patients who want medical marijuana broach the topic with their primary doctor. Hermes says even some Kaiser doctors have recommended it.

But Lucido recommends the opposite. Don’t bring up marijuana with your primary care physician, he says, and if you do, ask to “go off the record” first.

“Sometimes you get patients asking their doctor for a recommendation of cannabis and the doctor will turn around and write ‘cannabis user’ in their files,” Lucido says. “As long as there’s a drug war going on, patients have a valid reason not to have cannabis mentioned in their records.”

That confusion may be driving business to fly-by-night recommendation mills. Such mills are increasingly operating out of convention spaces and contributing to a collapse in the price of recommendations, says HempCon attendee Katzman.

Katzman is a businessman who runs the well-reviewed International Cannabis & Hemp Expo. There’s at least fifteen weed expos in California this year varying in quality from some that are borderline academic conferences to others that are little more than weed fairs.

Doctor’s recommendations have dropped in California from over $200 a few years ago to $100 to $150 today, he says. Katzman’s Expo will support one doctor who charges $99 per visit, and they take the doctoring seriously.

“Otherwise it makes the whole movement seem invalid,” Katzman said. “There’s a lot of people who question the actual legitimacy of medical cannabis.”

Allergic to opioids, cancer survivor and activist Angel Raich uses cannabis to deal with excruciating pain as she recovers from major head surgery. Raich says HempCon erodes gains by patients and contributes to the suffering of people who actually need the plant.

“It’s definitely not helping anybody and it shouldn’t be happening,” Raich says. “It makes all us real patients look like a joke and that makes me mad.”

Mega Productions plans to include marijuana evaluation services at another HempCon in Southern California on September 10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.


LOS ANGELES says only 41 collectives are legal. Sends out letters to all others.

DAMN! When is the last time LA had 41 collectives? Are there 29 permits now available if the city wins? And the beat goes on. This should become ridiculous…really.

LA: Only 41 Medical Pot Dispensaries Can Stay Open

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles officials said Wednesday that only 41 medical marijuana dispensaries can stay open under a city ordinance, and letters were sent to 129 clinics notifying them that they may be shut down.

The city attorney’s office said it expects a slew of lawsuits and will file a countersuit asking a judge to determine that the city’s strict process in interpreting the law was appropriate. The city said it won’t seek to close any clinics before a court ruling.

”We’re trying to be proactive,” Jane Usher, a special assistant city attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. Usher said the small number of eligible dispensaries was ”a surprise.”

Nearly 30 lawsuits have already been filed challenging the procedure the city council adopted Jan. 26 to limit the number of dispensaries. Owners must undergo a background check, their stores must be 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other gathering sites, and their pot must be tested at an independent laboratory.

Most of the dispensaries that have sued are among more than 400 ordered to shut down.

Usher said the city’s suit will be filed Thursday before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mohr, who is presiding over all the lawsuits. He has set a Sept. 21 hearing on constitutional issues.

Hundreds of dispensaries appeared across the city when officials failed to enforce a 2007 moratorium on medical pot clinics.

When the city council passed the January ordinance, it estimated that about 130 dispensaries might qualify to stay open. Under that law, if the number of eligible dispensaries dropped below 70, additional clinics would be chosen in a lottery. The total number of dispensaries in the city would then be capped at 70.

City officials said 170 dispensaries applied to be allowed to remain open, but 129 failed to meet the criteria. The city clerk’s office mailed letters Wednesday to each dispensary notifying it of its status and also posted the list on the office’s website.

Great piece on Alternet about how 19 has already won

This is exactly what I have been telling everyone. Prop 19 has ALREADY won by moving the dialogue so far to the front of a volatile election year that the entire nation and the world have to stand up and take notice. For that we should all be thankful. But do not get me wrong, I WANT IT TO PASS! Yes on 19!!!!

California’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative is Already a Winner

By Tony Newman and , AlterNet
Posted on August 23, 2010, Printed on August 25, 2010

Californians have a chance to make history in November when they vote onProposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for adults over 21. Polls collectively show voters split but leaning toward this momentous stand against failed marijuana prohibition. Ten weeks from Election Day, it’s clear how much Prop. 19 has already accomplished for the drug policy reform movement.

Conventional wisdom about changing marijuana laws previously called for waiting until at least 2012. It was assumed waiting would allow the reform movement time to build more support for the issue and to rely on the larger, younger electorate that inevitably accompanies a presidential election. Sensing the time was right this year, Oakland-based medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee ignored that conventional wisdom. He brought together a top notch team to carefully draft an initiative, put up his own money to collect signatures, built an impressive campaign, and took Prop. 19 to the people.

Today, Richard Lee already appears remarkably prescient.

Prop. 19 is arguably the highest profile voter initiative in the nation and has unleashed a torrent of global interest. The initiative has generated thousands of international stories, explicitly discussing this alternative to our disastrous policies. In particular Prop. 19 has radically accelerated the public’s understanding of the relative harms of marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol, validating the widespread suspicion that a fundamental hypocrisy lies at the heart of the outright ban on marijuana — as evidenced by the endorsement of former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

Prop. 19 has inspired an unprecedented coalition in support of reforming our futile and wasteful marijuana laws. Students for Sensible Drug Policy and organized students, law-enforcement, libertarians and progressives to launch their“Just Say Now” campaign. The California NAACP, the state ACLU affiliates, and the National Black Police Association all endorsed Prop. 19 specifically citing the chilling racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana laws. Latino leadership, starting recently with Assembly Member Hector De La Torre and the Latino Voters League, has just begun to weigh in as well. Finally, organized labor — from longshoremen to food to communications workers — for the first time offered endorsements because controlling and regulating marijuana will mean jobs and revenue that the state currently cedes to criminal cartels and the black market.

This coalition signifies that serious people take regulating marijuana for adults seriously. Prop. 19 is now at the heart of spirited debates at kitchen tables, in college classrooms, and in halls of power that once assumed the inevitability of the status quo. In fact, former Mexican president Vicente Fox just endorsed marijuana legalizationprecisely to address the prohibition-related bloodbath in Mexico that has taken 28,000 lives in a little over three and a half years.

In this country Prop. 19 has truly sped up the political debate on marijuana policy overall, one that was previously dominated by medical marijuana issues. The major candidates for statewide office in California generally oppose Prop. 19. However professional politicos, including California Democratic Party chair John Burton, already identify marijuana legalization as a potential game-changing issue to drive Democratic turnout among younger, progressive voters in this and future elections. That’s precisely why Lieutenant Governor nominee and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, with a potentially long future in state politics, publicly agonized over hisdecision to not endorse Prop. 19 (“I’m frustrated with myself on this one, to be truthful.”). Even the California PTA has acknowledged these shifting winds by taking a neutral rather than opposing position, signaling the historic debate that must have occurred within its venerable ranks.

All of us who have worked for years to educate and mobilize against the failed drug war owe thanks to Richard Lee and the Prop. 19 campaign. The initiative has created opportunities that conventional wisdom simply couldn’t have predicted. Anyone sick and tired of our disastrous marijuana prohibition has been handed a chance to make history. California voters should not only go to the polls but to talk to friends, family, and neighbors about Prop. 19.

Prop. 19 is already a winner. Imagine when we make this the vote heard around the world.

Sign the petition for Just Say Now and let Facebook know we want our WEED LEAF!!!!

Cannabis powers UNITE! Post this to your FACEBOOK, Twitter, and email lists. Let Facebook know we are tired of being treated like second class citizens. We DEMAND they allow the world to see the beauty of the cannabis leaf. What a bunch of ignorant losers. Don’t they get that the campaign is to end the BS that they themselves are now a major contributor to. I definitely feel a change coming on. Front page of the Huffington Post reads right now REEFER MADNESS 2.0! I love it….

To draw attention to the need for ending marijuana prohibition, SSDP teamed up with Firedoglake for our Just Say Now campaign. The campaign has been gaining international media coverage but just yesterday, Facebook banned our ads that support marijuana legalization.

The social networking site says we can no longer advertise our campaign for marijuana legalization using our Just Say Now logo, because it has a pot leaf.

We need to fight back against Facebook’s political censorship. Can you sign our petition protesting Facebook’s unfair policy against legalization ads? We’ll send the petition to Facebook and tell the media about the site’s censorship of this popular political issue.

Click here to add your name.

Share the image to the right and make it your Facebook profile picture.

Facebook’s decision is actually a flip-flop: the Just Say Now ads appeared more than 38 million times before Facebook issued a new policy banning them.

Our ads show marijuana leaves as part of a political campaign to change public policy. It’s like telling a political candidate for office that it’s unacceptable to show the candidate’s face in advertising.

Sign our petition to Facebook and protest censorship of marijuana legalization.


Jonathan Perri

SSDP Associate Director 

After our ads with the Just Say Now logo of marijuana leaf ran more than 38 million times, Facebook flip-flopped and banned all images of marijuana from its ads.

Marijuana Censored by Facebook: Help Us Fight Back!

Facebook Censors Marijuana - Sign the Petition

After our ads with the Just Say Now logo of marijuana leaf ran more than 38 million times, Facebook flip-flopped and banned all images of marijuana from its ads.

Sign our petition to Facebook to protest this censorship:

Marijuana legalization is a critical issue facing our country. Clear majorities in states across the country support legalizing marijuana.

By censoring marijuana leaves, Facebook is banning political speech. This is unfair, and unacceptable.

Facebook should reverse its decision and allow the free discussion of US drug policy that the country is ready for.

Add your name to the left. We’ll send the petition to Facebook and let the media know how strongly people feel about this important issue

The ad Facebook doesn’t want you to see

Just Say Now, our campaign for marijuana legalization with Students for Sensible Drug Policy, ran ads promoting our campaign that showed our logo, which uses a marijuana leaf.

Despite the ad running more than 38 million times, Facebook flip-flopped and started censoring our ads and our political speech.

Donate to SSDP


Colorado Loves Cannabis Cash…

CW: So he was against it before he was for it. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is the latest in a long line of flip-floppers that have somehow seen the light on medical cannabis if it can save their ass on budget shortfalls. I would defer to San Jose, Oakland, and any other number of municipalities and even the CA B.O.E. as prime examples of cannabis cash making a difference. I understand many patients are upset over these types of revenues being put forth on their medicine. Truth be told, I wish it were different. But results are results. Many doors have opened not out of the goodness of anyone’s heart, but because of the opportunity cannabis can afford. Many patients and organizations are willing to prime the pot (no pun intended) a little to gain greater acceptance. This may in turn result in some higher prices for medicines in some areas. Hopefully these organizations are considering the plight of the low income patients in their models and offering reasonable priced and complimentary medicines to offset the costs….

Medical Marijuana Helping Budget Deficit, Colorado Gov. Says

DENVER — Gov. Bill Ritter is using $9 million from medical marijuana registrations to help the state meet a $60 million fiscal emergency.

The state anticipates ending the year with 150,000 applicants for medical marijuana cards, up from 41,000 in 2009. A marijuana card costs $90 per year.

Backers of medical marijuana legislation in a number of states and cities have touted revenue from possible taxes and other fees as a selling point at a time of tight fiscal funding.

A victory lap….

My personal thoughts on Prop. 19…a reflection of truth…

Is Prop. 19 ideal? Of course not. But it sure beats the hell out of the current situation and clearly defines that the people of CA and eventually the Nation want REFORM. It is not the end all. It is the next wise chess move in a long a drawn out game that began before I was born. So we can continue to argue over the petty logistics of the initiative or we can work on passing it and fighting the next battle in the long journey towards total cannabis freedom. If you are happy with the way things are then great. When Steve Cooley comes in office and decimates SB420 and makes all sales illegal and shuts down the medical infrastructure as we know it and you are not so free to do you life’s work anymore, DON”T COME CRYING TO ME….

Prop. 19 only further legitimizes the medical movement by removing the stigma that most people are somehow cheating the system. You may argue within the movement, but I spend A LOT of time on non-cannabis local blogs arguing the merits of the current system, and i will tell you that MOST of the non-cannabis world is NOT IMPRESSED with the current implementation of the medical system. MOST believe we are a bunch of charlatans who use the medical excuse to get high. Those are the facts. No matter what YOU think, most in your community think your medicine is a JOKE because the current legal situation forces those who wish to use cannabis legally to often stretch their medical need to accommodate the law. Prop. 19 removes this elephant in the room and separates the REAL medical process from the people who obtain recommendations simply to not go to jail for using cannabis.

DAs and official all over the state are fed up with the current system and one can be sure an eventual backlash will be coming, especially if Cooley is elected, which he is leading in all polls. Other States use the system in California as an example of what is wrong with medical cannabis because on some levels the system has become a joke. In turn, these States are passing much more restrictive laws and patients across the nation are being denied access because of some in CA’s bad behavior. Once again, i am not endorsing this line of thinking, but just acknowledging that these are the facts of the current situation and if you believe that the “grey area” will be grey forever then i have some swampland to sell you in Florida…

SO….I believe Prop. 19 will ENHANCE the real medical system by more clearly defining who is a patient and who just likes weed. In turn, the real patients will be able to explore further REAL research and legitimacy by not always having to defend the fact that many in the medical movement are pushing the boundaries of legitimate illness…