It Could Happen to You…A Message from DPA.

August 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

How would you react if a large group of men in camouflage and combat boots came bursting through your front door with machine guns pointed at you? Helen Pruett, a 76-year-old woman who lives alone in Polk County, GA, suffered a heart attack when her house was mistakenly stormed by about a dozen local and federal agents looking for suspected drug dealers. Militarized police units are used every day to conduct drug raids and it is getting out of control.

CW: Yes. Armed gunmen raiding homes for cannabis is simply unacceptable. I definitely have PTSD and am always paranoid after being assaulted by government military thugs…

Tell Congress to put a stop to these dangerous home invasions.

The Polk County raid is not an isolated incident, and it’s not a result of rogue police officersoverstepping their orders. There are more than 100 SWAT raids in America every day, most commonly to serve drug warrants. When police invade homes in riot gear with machine guns and flash bang grenades, they’re following standard procedure.

What’s even more disturbing is that these raids can happen anywhere, to anyone, no matter how minor the offense. Sometimes a crime hasn’t even occurred. Police raid the wrong house or act on information from untrustworthy informants, and completely innocent people wake up in the middle of the night to armed men breaking down their front door.

Congress’s funding of the war on drugs has allowed police excess to escalate out of control. Federal drug war grants for SWAT team equipment and drug task forces create incentives for local police to militarize. Local squads even have access to weapons from thePentagon’s surplus arms stock. Demand an end to federal funding for this misuse of police resources.

The war on drugs isn’t just an ideological battle.  It’s a real war, with real weapons and real casualties, waged against American civilians. These dangerous raid tactics show just how far it’s escalated — they’re the end result of the drug war’s militarization of local law enforcement.

Paramilitary raids should not be happening daily in our neighborhoods.  They should not be happening when no threat to public safety exists.  Police should be keeping the peace instead of treating our communities like war zones.

CW: No shit…

It’s time to push back on politicians who let these raids continue.  Urge your members of Congress to stop supporting SWAT raids for nonviolent drug law violations.


Bill Piper
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance

Kirk Tousaw breaks down the opposition to Prop. 19 and "Notwithstanding"

August 22, 2010 in Legalization

Prop. 19 Analysis,

Does Prop. 19 supersede Prop. 215? What does “Notwithstanding” really mean?

CW: Does notwithstanding mean the same thing in Canadian?

by Kirk Tousaw

Much of what has been written by an anti-prop 19 advocate  proceeds from the assumption that Prop 19 supersedes Prop 215.  But that assumption is far from certain.

One thing is certain:  Prop 19, if it passes, will lead to litigation just like Prop 215 has been the subject of litigation since it passed more than a decade ago.  The end result of that litigation will tell the tale.  Another thing is certain:  if Prop 19 does not pass the headlines the day after the vote will be “California says no to marijuana legalization” not “California medical marijuana users saved”.

Let’s examine the primary assumption:  That Prop 19 supersedes Prop 215.  Note that anything said on this topic is a personal opinion, not a legal opinion upon which any individual person may or should rely.  I am not licensed to practice law in California or, currently, any US jurisdiction.

The supersedes argument relies mainly on the use of the phrase ”nothwithstanding any other provision of law” in certain sections.  This is a fairly typical phrase used in law to mean “despite other already-existing laws”.  It does not mean “all existing laws on this topic are null and void and this new set of laws totally replaces them.”

I went into it at length in a previous post in relation to Prop 19′s new section 11300 which legalizes possession, sharing, transport and cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption.  My primary point was that the effect of Prop 19 will come from what Prop 19 does – not the use of “notwithstanding”.

I should also point out that in the “Purposes” section of Prop 19 the following three sections are critical (my comments in bold) to the interpretation to be given to what Prop 19 does and is intended to do:

6. Provide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes.

- If the anti-19 people are correct, this “purpose” of Prop 19 will be negated.  It is hard to see how making access harder by restricting Prop 215 can be held to be one of the legislative intents of Prop 19 when the goal is “easier, safer access.”

7. Ensure that if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal, but that the city’s citizens still have the right to possess and consume small amounts, except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.

- The final clause of this section specifically exempts Prop 215 (which is Health and Safety Section 11362.5).  So the purpose is to ensure that if a city does not tax/regulate sales then (a) buying/selling is illegal; (b) citizens can still possess and consume small amounts; and (c) anything legal under Prop 215 remains legal.

8. Ensure that if a city decides it does want to tax and regulate the buying and selling of cannabis (to and from adults only), that a strictly controlled legal system is implemented to oversee and regulate cultivation, distribution, and sales, and that the city will
have control over how and how much cannabis can be bought and sold, except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and
11362.7 through 11362.9.

- But if a city does tax and regulate it can set up a tight regulatory scheme to do including controls on how much can be bought and sold…except as permitted under Prop 215.  In other words, the city can’t restrict the rights granted by Prop 215 when setting up its regulatory scheme.

Now let’s examine 11300 (dealing with personal possession/production) in full with my comments again in bold:

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:
-Ok, so here the proposition says that certain activities will be
lawful.  So far so good.  Nothing here can be read as restricting the
category of existing lawful activities.

(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.

(iv) Possess objects, items, tools, equipment, products and materials
associated with activities permitted under this subsection.

-  Now we know what has been made lawful.  Still nothing restricting
any other lawful activity.

(b) “Personal consumption” shall include but is not limited to
possession and consumption, in any form, of cannabis in a residence or
other non-public place, and shall include licensed premises open to
the public authorized to permit on-premises consumption of cannabis by
a local government pursuant to section 11301.

- This is an important definitional section as it sets out what
“personal consumption” means.  Personal consumption is the linchpin of
what is legalized by Prop 19 in this section of the law and also
relates to certain powers granted to cities in the next section
(dealing with commercial production/sale).

(c) “Personal consumption” shall not include, and nothing in this Act
shall permit cannabis:

(i) possession for sale regardless of amount, except by a person who
is licensed or permitted to do so under the terms of an ordinance
adopted pursuant to section 11301;

(ii) consumption in public or in a public place;

(iii) consumption by the operator of any vehicle, boat or aircraft
while it is being operated, or that impairs the operator;

(iv) smoking cannabis in any space while minors are present.

- Ok, here are the exemptions from what “personal consumption” is and, therefore, what is made lawful by this section.  I think it is here
that some of the anti-19 concerns arise.  Note, however, that this section simply sets out a range of activities that are not “personal
consumption” and therefore are not made lawful by Prop 19.  It does not specifically restrict any other activity nor does it make any
other currently-lawful activity illegal.  It is a modification to what is being legalized, not a restriction on what is already legal.  Remember, this section of the statute begins by adding categories of lawful conduct, not restricting anything.

Now lets untangle it a bit.  What has happened?

1.  Possessing and consuming cannabis for medicine is already legal.
2.  Cannabis for “personal consumption” has also become legal.
3.  But “personal consumption” doesn’t include consuming in the presence of minors, public consumption, etc. so the category of newly-lawful conduct does not extend to consuming in the presence of minors, public consumption, etc.

The exemption relates to the category of things legalized by Prop 19, not the category of things that had already been legal.  I believe that it takes a very strained reading of 11300 to conclude that it (a) applies to medical cannabis at all; and (b) applies to it in such a way as to restrict it to only the situations set out in Prop 19.

Next up is the commercial section which permits but does not require municipalities to license production and distribution facilities.  I agree that certain sections of this law (section 11301) are less than perfectly clear.  I will try to write more on this later today or next week.  But I suggest that everyone interested read the Proposition and try to parse out the language themselves.

Finally, a lot of the stuff below is irrelevant.  For example that Long Beach already charges dispensaries more than booze joints is irrelevant to Prop 19 – it is by definition already happening under 215.  Nobody that I know of is arguing that it is illegal to consume booze “in sight” of minors.  It obviously isn’t.  And Prop 19 doesn’t make it illegal to consume cannabis “in sight” of minors either. Sidewalk cafes are not “public” places they are private businesses. Cities are not proposing taxes on dispensaries to protect them from being shut down by Prop 19 – nothing in Prop 19 requires cities to tax any cannabis sales outlets though it does permit the imposition of taxes on such locations.  I think it is at worst an open question whether that includes medical dispensaries and will try to expand on that in a later post dealing with the tax section.

About Kirk:

Kirk is barrister and social justice advocate based in Vancouver, BC. He operates his own law practice, focusing primarily on criminal and constitutional litigation, and is also an associate of Conroy & Company, Barristers and Solicitors based in Abbotsford, BC. Kirk began practicing law in 1998 in the United States and has a background in business litigation, criminal defence and social justice advocacy pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has been a practicing member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 2005.

Kirk is the Chair of the Drug Policy Committee of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and is a member of its Board of Directors. Kirk is a member of the NDP Executive of both the federal riding of Vancouver-Quadra and the provincial riding of Vancouver-Quilchena.

He has written and spoken extensively on issues related to drug policy, privacy, religious freedom and criminal justice policy. In addition, Kirk has had the privilege of testifying several times before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the House of Commons and also before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Kirk is the executive director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture.

NFL Receiver denied medical cannabis for migraines. Forced to suffer.

August 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

One begs to ask themselves, Why on earth would we rather have a gifted and talented person suffer needlessly to support failed drug policies, such as using cannabis. Mr. Harvin had a phenomenal rookie season in the NFL and now has his career put in danger because we continue to make policy on political fear rather than scientific reality. It saddens me to think that hundreds of thousands of people suffer needlessly every day because our government refuses to address the reality that cannabis can help with many afflictions. It is unfathomable that they sent this kid to the hospital when all he needed to do was some some cannabis. The fleecing of a Nation, the NFL, and those who continue to beat the drum of prohibition have people’s real life pain and suffering on their hands. This must stop…

Vikings WR Percy Harvin Sidelined; Can’t Use Medical Marijuana

By Mike Meno

The idiocy of our country’s approach to medical marijuana was on full display for all to see at the Minnesota Vikings training camp yesterday.

Since the age of 10, Percy Harvin, a Vikings wide receiver, has suffered from chronic, debilitating migraines. Luckily, later in life, Harvin found a therapeutic substance that not only relieved his migraines effectively, but also allowed him to play football. It was marijuana.

But during last year’s NFL combine, Harvin, a promising prospect, tested positive for marijuana, and was subsequently drafted much lower than expected. The Vikings finally picked him 22nd overall, reportedlyafter a long talk about his marijuana use, and specifically, how it needed to stop if he wanted to keep playing.

CW: For the record Mr. Harvin probably lost tens of millions of dollars because of his place in the draft. How is that for BS economics…

Harvin complied, and the migraines didn’t seem to be a problem for much of his breakout rookie season. “Questions about his ability as a receiver seem silly now,” Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated wrote at the time. “The only thing that has slowed him is migraines.” Toward the end of last season, the migraines got worse, and Harvin was sidelined. Except now he wasn’t able to use marijuana to treat them, and nothing else seemed to work.

On Monday, after another stint in the hospital, Harvin was finally back in uniform at Vikings training camp. Cindy Boren of the Washington Post describes what happened next:

Harvin, who has battled migraines since he was 10 and sought treatment last year at the Mayo Clinic, had not practiced for two weeks because of migraines, returning to the field only Monday.Suffering another attack Thursday, he managed to return to the field and looked up to the sky to field a punt. He doubled over, vomited and seemed momentarily unresponsive and was taken to the hospital. The scene was so disturbing for players that the rest of practice was called off.

If medical marijuana were legal in the United States, and treated like any other legitimate medicine by the NFL, then Harvin could consult with a doctor about the best way to use marijuana to help relieve these awful migraines. (And anyone who is a migraine sufferer knows just how awful they can be.) More importantly, the Vikings could have a productive wide receiver. Instead, they’re forced to stand by idly as their $1.04 million investment is carted off the field in an ambulance, overcome by pain that could easily be relieved by a safe, non-toxic medicine.

How’s that for sensible marijuana policies?


So we send a person to the hospital and make him continue to suffer in pain to protect society from the evil cannabis plant. I am so ashamed of the world I live in at times like this…

LOL. Doonesbury takes on Oakland Mega-Grow Permits

August 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Sunday Morning HWJW Reminder

August 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Just a friendly reminder that if you are going to church this morning, or walking past a church in your neighborhood on the way to get coffee- PLEASE PRINT OUT SOME FLYERS AND DROP THEM OFF. We will win this thing one voter at a time, so if you can reach a few this morning by simply dropping some flyers in a lobby or on some car windshields, it would be much appreciated.

TO download and print the flyer to hand out at churches, religious functions, to neighbors of faith, or to put on car windows at 10:30 am on a Sunday morning visit here: 7ReasonsJesusWouldVoteYeson19

For a file that can be used to make stickers in your area go here: HWJV.sticker

Getting your Hempfest on….

August 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Most of the industry is walking the cool shores of the Seattle Waterfront winding their way through the maze of Hempiness that is Myrtle Edwards pPark right now. This evening there MAY be a party or two, but none like the Tainted days. Still, Seattle Hempfest is a time of year I usually look forward to and am saddened that the actions of our Federal Government have left me homebound for this year. Oh well…life goes on. I will say that to those of you who are reading this and probably are not there either, do yourself a favor and put it on the calendar for next year. Even donate to the World’s Largest Cannabis event at It is one of the most worthy causes in this industry and for years has been a beacon of hope and legitimacy for the movement. Looking out over a sea of people from the Main Stage at 4:20 on Saturday afternoon reinforces the fact that WE ARE WINNING THIS WAR. Multitudes of like-minded people gather in honor of the cannabis plant and its many uses. Vivian McPeak continues to direct this event to huge success and his army of volunteers all deserve our gratitude. So Hempfesters and the like, I WILL SEE YOU NEXT YEAR…I HOPE. If you are in the area, go, and give them money too. Olympia Hempfest and Portland Hempstalk are on the horizon as well, so go get your festival on and have a fair day….

Montel in the Mix for an Oakland Cultivation Permit. Really? Okay. Whatever.

August 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

I can see it now….Montel gets raided by the DEA and Geraldo is in tow with a whole film crew to cover it. It is interesting when celebrities venture off the beaten path into the cannabis production realm of the game. I think it is great PR and on paper, probably seems like a good deal, but it begs to question why a man with so much to lose would want to gamble on Eric Holder’s wishy-washy promises and Oakland’s misguided ordinance. But hey….stranger things have happened. The entire movement is becoming a surreal picture of bright eyed and bushy tailed go-getters. Where were all of these people when Bush was in office. I mean c’mon Montell- would’ve been nice to hear from you while armed agents were storming my house and rifling through my wife’s underwear because I made food-based medicines for patients like you. Why now? Nothing has changed from a legal perspective. You can still go to prison…..even for research. Don’t get me wrong- I appreciate the interest from a big time TV star personality like yourself. I read your book and your story touched me. Maybe you have the best intentions. Truth be told, I wish you all of the luck in the world, because it is hard for the DEA to justify busting the rest of us who have been on the front lines for many years. If you want to use your celebrity for something how about starting with the US Pardon Attorney and get all of the people who are doing years in prisons and living their lives as convicted felons clemency for doing what it is you are trying to do right now. That would be sweet….Let me know if you need a hand hanging the lights in the new place if it works out….

Montel Williams stops by to talk about medical pot

By Angela Woodall
Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — Emmy award-winning former talk show host Montel Williams was in town Tuesday for a second time seeking information about opening a medical cannabis facility here.

He met with Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who said Williams was interested in applying for one of the city’s pot permits to grow refined strains of medical cannabis that he uses to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1999. He has since become a vocal proponent of medical marijuana.

Williams did not respond to requests for comment. But in 2004, he promoted the benefits of medical cannabis on his popular “Montel Williams Show.”

He has said that medical marijuana has been more effective in treating the pain, depression and sleep disorders caused by the life-threatening, degenerative disease than pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to him.

Kaplan said that Williams visited in May and again Tuesday because he wants to open a facility to produce and research specific strains of medical cannabis.

Williams told CNN in 2009 that he has a medical marijuana ID card in two states. He has also publicly supported a recent bid to make medical marijuana legal to patients in New York, where he lives with his family. The New York bill would also put the distribution in the hands of pharmacies and define the ailments for which cannabis can be prescribed more narrowly than California laws.

Williams’ talk show ended in 2009. He

ounded the Living Well with Montel Health Association and Montel Williams MS Foundation. He became a spokesman for the pharmaceutical industry sponsored Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which helps low-income patients apply for free or reduced-priced prescription drugs.

His plans for the facility are indefinite in part because Oakland has yet to finalize plans to issue permits for growing medical marijuana, Kaplan said.

“But Oakland is definitely his first choice,” she said.

The City Council approved large-scale facilities last month but details are still being worked out, including permits for small- and medium-size growers.


Ending the drug war may be closer than we expect…

August 20, 2010 in Legalization

CW: I think we all see a little light at the end of the tunnel. When large news organizations such as Reuters begin asking the same questions as a hardcore cannabis activist like myself, the end is near. Hopefully the light is not an oncoming train of prohibition nutcases….

In drug war, the beginning of the end?

By Bernd Debusmann

WASHINGTON, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Between 1971, when Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs, and 2008, the latest year for which official figures are available, American law enforcement officials made more than 40 million drug arrests. That number roughly equals the population of California, or of the 33 biggest U.S. cities.

Forty million arrests speak volumes about America’s longest war, which was meant to throttle drug production at home and abroad, cut supplies across the borders, and keep people from using drugs. The marathon effort has boosted the prison industry but failed so obviously to meet its objectives that there is a growing chorus of calls for the legalization of illicit drugs.

In the United States, that brings together odd bedfellows. Libertarians in the tea party movement, for example, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of former police officers, narcotics agents, judges and prosecutors who favor legalizing all drugs, not only marijuana, the world’s most widely-used illicit drug.

In Mexico, President Felipe Calderon has proposed a debate on the legalization of drugs – an implicit admission that the war he launched against his country’s drug cartels in 2006 cannot be won by force alone. (The death toll has just risen above 28,000 and keeps climbing). Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, followed up by declaring that since prohibition strategies had failed, Mexico should consider legalizing “the production, sale and distribution of drugs.”

It’s difficult to see how that could work without parallel moves in the United States, the main market for Mexican drugs, and it’s equally difficult to imagine Congress or state legislatures signing off on the regulated sale of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.

But there is growing acceptance that marijuana should be treated differently. Support for less rigid policies spans the political spectrum and has come from unexpected quarters. Sarah Palin, the darling of the American right, recently stepped into the debate on marijuana by describing its use as a “minimal problem” which should not be a priority for law enforcement.

That’s a view widely shared. Last year, a blue-ribbon panel chaired by three former Latin American presidents (Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil) published a report that rated the drug war a failure and urged governments to look into “decriminalizing” the possession of marijuana for personal use.


“Taking all this together, there is reason to believe that we are at the beginning of the end of the drug war as we know it,” says Aaron Houston, a veteran Washington lobbyist for marijuana policy reform.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But how many people in the late 1920s, at the height of the government’s fight against the likes of Al Capone, would have foreseen that alcohol prohibition would end in just a few years? Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 and is now considered a failed experiment in social engineering.

Alcohol and marijuana prohibition have much in common: both in effect handed production, sales and distribution of a commodity in high demand to criminal organizations, both filled the prisons (America’s population behind bars is now the world’s largest), both diverted the resources of law enforcement, and both created millions of scoff-laws.

According to government estimates, up to 100 million Americans have tried marijuana at least once and the list of prominent citizens who admit having smoked it at one point or another is impressive. It includes President Barack Obama, his predecessor, George W. Bush, Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator John Kerry, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Vice President Al Gore. Not to forget Bill (I didn’t inhale) Clinton.

The argument for making marijuana legal is straightforward: it is thought to account for around 60 percent of the profits of international drug cartels, estimated at up to $60 billion annually. Take almost two thirds of that business away and the cartels’ power to corrupt and confront the state, as they do in Mexico, will decline sharply.

How close (or far) the United States is to an end to marijuana prohibition will become clear on November 2, when voters in California decide on a ballot initiative known as Proposition 19. Its official title, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, reflects what marijuana reform advocates around the country have long campaigned for – treat it like alcohol and tobacco.

The act would allow Californians over 21 to own, cultivate or transport up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. This is distinct from marijuana for medical purposes, which is already legal in California and 13 other states, as well as the District of Columbia.

Public opinion polls on the proposition so far give no clear picture. A yes vote would be virtually certain to hasten changes elsewhere — California is not only America’s most populous state, it also has a long track record for setting trends. (You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters) (Editing by Kieran Murray)

ASA calls for help to defeat Steve Cooley

August 20, 2010 in Uncategorized


Do you remember California eight years ago? I do. I remember being a patient who had to buy my medicine in parking lots. I remember when there wasn’t safe access and law enforcement did not respect patients’ rights. Unless we stop Steve Cooley in his bid to be our next Attorney General, on November 2nd we may be forced to relive that memory.

Steve Cooley, the frontrunner in the California Attorney Generalrace, reminds us every chance he gets what will happen to medical marijuana if he wins. He will ban the sale of marijuana putting dispensing collectives out of business, send the bureau of narcotics enforcement (BNE) to bust cultivators, file amicus briefs against us in all our cases, and lobby against our anti-discrimination bill that is works to protect patients’ employment rights.

If Cooley wins, you won’t be able to purchase or safely growyour medicine. If you get arrested or unfairly loose your job, you won’t be able to defend yourself.

Cooley will set California back a decade. Every stride we’ve made, every protection we’ve gained, every step forward this movement has taken, will be wiped away in 83 days if Steve Cooley is elected Attorney General.

ASA has a strategy to win. Cooley is just 3 points ahead in this race and with over 400,000 patients in California and a base of over one million voters, we can swing this election; but campaigning costs money and if ASA doesn’t come up with it, no one will. We need to raise $150,000 by November to win, and we need you to help us get there.

Your donation today will help us launch a ‘Get Out the Vote Campaign’ to mobilize all medical cannabis patients, their friends and families. When you donate today, you will be keeping California safe from its biggest threat in over a decade.

Ask yourself: how important is preserving the political space we have created, how important is living in a state with safe and legal access to medicine? Now, YOU must join me and make this campaign your #1 priority for the next 83 days. And then, click here, and donate that amount, because without your donation, we won’t win. It’s that simple and that scary.

In Solidarity,

Steph Sherer

ASA Founder

This picture may be from 10 years ago….Don’t kill me, Steph. LOL.

Radical Russ: Killing them softly…..

August 20, 2010 in Legalization

I have become a big fan of Radical Russ’s writing and his on-the-mark analysis of the anti-19 crazy farm. This is a great piece dispelling the common hyperbolic BS that is stirring on the opposition front.


by Radical Russ Belville of NORML

I’ve Collected the Eight Craziest Claims About a Post-Legalization State of California Predicted by Opponents of Prop 19.

As California gets set to vote on Prop 19 – an initiative to legalize marijuana statewide – some people’s minds are being completely blown, man. But it’s not the people smoking the stuff, it’s the people trying to keep it banned.

I’ve collected the eight craziest claims about a post-legalization state of California predicted by opponents of Prop 19. Stunningly, three of these crazy predictions come from people who do use marijuana, proving once again that with enough repetition and scaremongering, you can convince a certain percentage of any group to vote against their own best interests.

8. The federal government will pull all its contracts with California businesses because they won’t be able to drug test employees!

This is a favorite of the California Chamber of Commerce. The idea is that since the federal government has a Drug Free Workplace Act, when California law no longer allows employers to discriminate based on pee, all these California companies wouldn’t be able to comply and the feds would pull all their contracts and grants.

Never mind that these same opponents predicted the same dire consequence when California was considering Prop 215, the initiative that legalized medical marijuana fourteen years ago, and we haven’t seen any contracts or grants pulled since. The plain fact is that the Drug Free Workplace Act doesn’t actually require workplace pee tests. This from “ Your Employment Law Resource” (emphasis mine)…

…employers must certify that they will provide a drug-free workplace. The law doesn’t require alcohol or drug testing, but testing is implicitly authorized as a means to maintain a drug-free workplace.

So what does it mean to provide a “drug-free workplace”? Certainly that must mean that even if they don’t have to drug-test, they couldn’t comply because Prop 19 would allow employees to possess marijuana, right? Wrong.

Employers whose companies fall under this category must have a policy prohibiting the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance in the workplace and specifying what actions will be taken in the event of violations.

When Prop 19 passes, possession of marijuana, up to an ounce, is no longer unlawful. There is no basis to claim a California company was allowing “unlawful possession”, so they could still maintain an “(illegal) drug-free workplace” and therefore, give no reason for the federal government to pull any contracts or grants.

7. Legalizing marijuana for healthy people will end medical marijuana for sick people!

Try to wrap your mind around the idea that allowing everyone to grow a 25 square foot garden means sick people will not get their medicine. Then imagine that a court will decide that a public that voted for legal marijuana for healthy people really meant to end medical marijuana for sick people. If you can manage that, you’ve entered the mind of J. Craig Canada.

Canada’s analysis rests on this bit of Prop 19′s language:

Provide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes.

The courts will determine that this means Prop. 19 is intended to amend and supersede California’s medical marijuana laws; Proposition 215 (H&S 11362.5) and SB 420 (H&S 11362.7-H&S 11362.9).

Then Canada goes on to criticize the next two paragraphs in the initiative, which provides cities the right to tax and regulate marijuana for adults, “except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.”

Got it? Canada says the first paragraph will supersede – that is, eliminate – California’s Prop 215, and then moves on to the next two paragraphs that specifically provide exceptions under Prop 215. So I guess Prop 19 makes Prop 215 moot… except when it doesn’t.

6. Legalizing marijuana will never raise any money because the social costs would outweigh any fiscal benefits… look at alcohol and tobacco!

Forget for a moment that in this country, we don’t determine people’s rights based on whether it makes a buck or not. (I mean, we shouldn’t.) It doesn’t matter whether legalizing marijuana will make a dime; it is simply wrong to lock up adults for smoking pot. Proponents of Prop 19 have floated the idea that legalizing pot would raise tax revenues for the state and the opponents, like San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, who is acting president of the California Police Chiefs Association, deny that advantage of the proposition by pointing out that alcohol and tobacco taxes bring in less than what alcohol and tobacco cause in health and safety costs

This is one of the instances where figures don’t lie, but liars figure. Indeed, the taxes we collect from alcohol and tobacco don’t come close to covering the social costs from those substances. Lung cancer, cirrhosis, emphysema, drunk driving, cigarette breaks, domestic violence, after a while the costs of smoking and drinking add up… because smoking and drinking are toxic and addictive.

Marijuana is neither toxic nor addictive. A Canadian study found that a tobacco smoker cost the country $800 per year, each drinker cost $165, and each toker cost $20, and half of that was laundry costs for Cheetos stains (I kid!). Also, it is not as if nobody is smoking pot now and post Prop-19 we’ll be overrun with tokers. People are smoking pot now and we’re taking in zero dollars in taxes and we’re spending a billion dollars in California failing to stop it.

5. Big Tobacco will buy up great huge tracts of land in Northern California and mass produce lousy joints pumped full of toxic addictive chemicals!

This is one of the complaints by the people making money growing marijuana now, mostly in Northern California, who have long claimed that “Philip Morris is buying up 400 acres of land in Humboldt County in case legalization passes” and “RJ Reynolds already has the trademark on such names as ‘Acapulco Gold’, ‘Maui Wowie’, and ‘Panama Red’ for their joints once legalization passes”.

These urban legends have been around as long as there have been hippies. Any in-depth search of news archives from Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity, and Del Norte counties in California will fail to find the great Philip Morris land buy – you can imagine that would make for an above-the-fold headline in a local “Emerald Triangle” newspaper. Another search on the US Patent & Trademark Office finds all sorts of interesting trademarks for pot names, but none owned by a cigarette company.

But let’s suppose Big Tobacco wants to get into cannabis production. Prop 19 gives individuals the right to grow their own marijuana and share it with friends. This isn’t tobacco, where cigarette companies have a captive audience for an addictive substance with proven toxic results from repeated use. If Big Tobacco makes a bunch of toxic schwaggy joints, who’s buying them? They’ll have to produce a product that’s a better deal than growing and rolling your own.

4. Today’s pot is fourteen times more powerful than Sixties weed and will lead to more crack babies!

Credit Los Angeles Bishop Ron Allen for this bit of reefer madness. “It’s going to cause crime to go up. There will be more drug babies,” he warned the LA Times. The New York Times reported on Allen describing marijuana as “the most sinister drug,” and asking that “the demonic spirits be cast back into hell.” The good Bishop should know, because he was a former crack addict and the first illegal drug he used was marijuana.

The logical problem with Bishop Allen’s gateway theory is that while nearly all crack addicts have smoked pot, very few pot smokers have ever smoked crack. The only commonality between marijuana and crack is that they are both illegal drugs (even then, marijuana is more illegal; it is in Schedule I while cocaine is in Schedule II). Marijuana doesn’t make people smoke crack any more than alcohol or tobacco makes people smoke crack, at least according to the US Institute of Medicine.

I’ve been following the US government’s Potency Monitoring Project for years (yes, there is a federal agency using your tax dollars to prove just how diggity dank your chronic is). The most potent weed seizure I recall was 37.2% THC. So if Bishop Allen was smoking weed that was 14x weaker than that, he was smoking 2.65% THC weed, or a grade somewhere between ditchweed and feral hemp at best! Since the average weed seizure tests at 8.52%, Bishop Allen was smoking the equivalent of a hemp t-shirt.

The Project has shown average potency to have doubled, which means nothing since THC is non-toxic, can’t cause overdose, and is self-titrating, which is a fancy way of saying you smoke til you get stoned then you stop, whether it’s one regular joint or one-quarter of a potent joint.

3. People who smoke marijuana in the same apartment building as a child will be arrested! (Not that your landlord will let you grow pot anyway.)

There are some marijuana smokers who think that an ounce of cannabis and a 25 square foot garden just aren’t enough. They’ve taken to sifting through the initiative for every possible flaw, misinterpretation, and slippery slope to muddy the conversation. Take this 2am-stoned-to-the-gills contemplation of “space”.

…consuming cannabis would be illegal in the same “space” as a minor. Police and judges are free to interpret the word “space” to mean the same room, house, or entire apartment complex.

Well, I suppose police and judges are free to interpret the word “space” to mean the Cosmos, and since there are children in the universe, the vote to legalize marijuana means nobody can smoke pot anywhere!

If that wasn’t enough to dissuade you, renters would have to (*gasp*) ask their landlord’s permission to grow marijuana! I can’t imagine why property owners would be apprehensive about that…

While growing your own supply is fun as hell, it can also be messy, dangerous, and can easily cause damage if done improperly. (Not to mention homeowners insurance is likely to rise and homes containing cannabis could face seizure by the federal government.)

So, to sum up, you should vote no on being able to grow weed and hold an ounce, even if you own your own home, because some renters wouldn’t be able to grow (but could still hold an ounce) and you couldn’t smoke around kids.

2. Legally home-grown marijuana will lead to outbreaks of toxic deadly molds!

It’s fascinating to me the little niches some prohibitionists stake out. Canada’s Barbara Kay works the “pot causes schizophrenia” angle (it doesn’t). Calvina Fay likes to put quotes around “medical” marijuana. But for sheer 50′s sci-fi horror predictions about legalization, nobody can touch Alexandra Datig of and her dire warnings of toxic mold…

Aspergillus & Stachybotrys Next Health Nightmare If Marijuana Legalization Takes Place?

In 1996, there was a study of 10,000 cases of Aspergillosis with treatment costs of $633 Million. That means on average, just to try and treat (not cure) the problem, each case accrued average costs of roughly $63,300.

If the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 passes, 1/3 of California will be at risk of serious BLACK MOLD CONTAMINATION as well as Aspergillus exposure. And how will anyone be able to control the contamination when anyone can cultivate marijuana in their home or backyard at any time without supervision? …Well? …Anyone?

Aspergillus is a toxic mold and yes, it does grow on marijuana (if you’re a lousy grower). It grows on carpets, trees, and drywall, too. It killed 261 people in 2004 for a death rate of 0.88255 deaths per 1 million people. You are more likely to die from appendicitis (371 deaths) than aspergillus.

Still, it might be scary until you realize that people are growing marijuana indoors now and because it is illegal, do it in ways that are more likely to cause an outbreak of mold.

1. Workplaces would be overrun by workers smoking marijuana on the job!

We opened up with the California Chamber of Commerce, so it is only fitting we end with their most apocalyptic pronouncement to date:

Imagine a workplace where employees show up to work high on marijuana and there is nothing you can do about it. That’s what employers can look forward to if Proposition 19 passes.

Employers would have to permit to employees to smoke marijuana at work.

Prop 19 does nothing of the sort. It specifically retains “the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance by an employee shall not be affected.” Nobody is going to be working blazed with no fear of being fired – California is an “at will” employment state, anyway.

The Chamber’s real fear – and they’re not even shy about saying so publicly – is that management won’t be able to discriminate against workers who might smoke pot off the job:

Employers would be prohibited from discriminating against marijuana users by taking marijuana use into account when deciding whether to hire an applicant.

When it comes to legal analysis, I prefer the non-partisan California Legislative Analysts Office take on Prop 19 and the workplace:

State and local law enforcement agencies could not seize or destroy marijuana from persons in compliance with the measure. In addition, the measure states that no individual could be punished, fined, or discriminated against for engaging in any conduct permitted by the measure. However, it does specify that employers would retain existing rights to address consumption of marijuana that impairs an employee’s job performance.

So that’s it – if you vote to legalize and tax pot in California, the state will lose all federal contracts, end medical marijuana, cost billions, create toxic addictive schwaggy joints, lead to crack babies, eliminate smoking in the Cosmos, overwhelm us with toxic mold, and fill the workplaces with blazed wastoids.

And they say smoking pot will make you crazy. Seems like legalizing it makes some people crazier.

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