TAKE ACTION" Tell Arnie to pump it up and sign SB1449

California Action Alert: Schwarzenegger Must Decide Marijuana

Infraction Measure Next Week!
September 23, 2010
By Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has until  Thursday, September 30, to decide the fate of Senate Bill 1449 –  which would reduce adult marijuana possession charges from a criminal  misdemeanor to a civil infraction. That gives reformers one final week to lobby for this sensible reform. If you have not yet contacted the Governor in support of this historic legislation, please do so today.

Senate Bill 1449 amends the California Health and Safety Code so that the adult possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana is classified as an infraction, punishable by no more than a $100 fine – no court appearance, no court costs, and no criminal record.

Passage of bill would save the state millions of dollars in court costs by keeping minor marijuana offenders out of court. The number of misdemeanor pot prosecutions has surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008. Adults who consume marijuana responsibly are not part of the crime problem, and the state should stop treating them like criminals.

Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has vetoed several different marijuana law reform bills in the past. Therefore, if you live in California, it is vital that you please e-mail or call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office and urge him to sign SB 1449 into law.  For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to the Governor when you visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ Center here. http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=16364941

Arnold’s offices at are http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact

Governor’s Office:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

District Offices:
Fresno Office
2550 Mariposa Mall #3013
Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: 559-477-1804
Fax: 559-445-5328

Los Angeles Office
300 South Spring Street
Suite 16701
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: 213-897-0322
Fax: 213-897-0319

Riverside Office
3737 Main Street #201
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: 951-680-6860
Fax: 951-680-6863

San Diego Office
1350 Front Street
Suite 6054
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-525-4641
Fax: 619-525-4640

San Francisco Office
455 Golden Gate Avenue
Suite 14000
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-703-2218
Fax: 415-703-2803

HuffPo: David Borden questions the coalition against 19

Prop 19 Would Help — Not Hurt — Medical Marijuana Patients

David Borden

Executive Director, StoptheDrugWar.org.

Are they misinformed or deliberately lying? I don’t know anymore.

A group of medical marijuana dispensaries organized as the California Cannabis Association has come out against Prop 19, California’s “Tax and Regulate Cannabis” initiative to legalize marijuana.

The coalition claims that Prop 19’s provisions giving local jurisdictions the power to regulate cannabis sales, including the right to choose whether to allow commercial or other outlets, would enable them to prohibit the sale of medical marijuana to patients, something that under California they currently can’t do. In the words of Cascade Wellness Center head Amir Daliri, quoted in the Associated Press, “The people who would be most affected are the sick, the elderly – patients who cannot grow their own and cannot travel to pick up a prescription.”

The claim is completely false. As attorney J. David Nick explained in a widely disseminated legal analysis exhorting people to get on board and support the initiative, section 2B of the Prop 19 text explicitly guards against that:

Section 2B presents the controlling and relevant purposes for understanding what Prop. 19 can and cannot do. This section EXPRESSLY excludes the reach of Prop. 19 from the CUA and MMP. Sections 2B (7 & 8) specifically state that the purpose of this initiative is to give municipalities total and complete control over the commercial sales of marijuana “EXCEPT as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.”

Even without that protection, Nick further explains, it would be virtually impossible for the courts to interpret Prop 19 as allowing cities or counties to gut the state medical marijuana law, because of the rules of statutory construction:

Although extrinsic materials (such as legislative committee memos or voter pamphlet arguments) may not be resorted to when the legislative language is clear, courts may never ignore the purpose of the legislation. Every interpretation a court gives a statute must be consistent with the purpose of the legislation. This is why statutes have long “preambles” which explicitly state the purposes of the legislation.

Unfortunately, the press has largely given the group a pass. In the press mentions I could find of the story, LA WeeklyCapital Public RadioKTVU and the aforementioned AP piece, campaign spokeswoman Dale Sky Jones is quoted making the opposite claim, that the initiative actually would clarify and improve protections for medical marijuana patients. But that important information appears toward the end of the articles, and the casual reader is left with the impression simply that different activists are saying different things, not necessarily knowing what to believe. I think the media professionals covering this should have taken the extra few moments needed to glance at the initiative text, or better yet spoken with a qualified attorney or legal analyst about it. They then could have verified that the campaign quotes were right and the opposition’s wrong, and reflected that in their reporting.

Fortunately, only some medical marijuana people are so shortsighted as to oppose this historic and important measure.Harborside Health Center in Oakland, and the Berkeley Patients Group are among the top quality groups lending their support to Prop 19. But it’s still worth asking, why are some other medical marijuana providers opposing it?

Famed Canadian Marc Emery, from his US prison cell offered the obvious explanation: money. I’ve been charitable about this in saying that there’s a little more to it than that. The medical marijuana providers have by and large created a good and wholesome environment, bringing dollars in for sure, but providing high-quality, compassionate services for their clientele. They’ve risked a lot to do it — Daliri’s center is among those to suffer raids on their operations — and they don’t want to see the world they’ve brought into being fall into nothingness in the face of the hugely increased competition that legalization of marijuana for anyone will surely bring. I happen to think that legalization will bring more opportunities for everyone in the industry, including the current medical marijuana providers, but I could be wrong. Maybe they will be put out of business.

But that’s not a reason to allow the continued mass law enforcement campaigns against marijuana users and sellers to continue — more than 61,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in California in 2009 alone. And these people were smart enough to start and maintain successful businesses, therefore they’re smart enough to accurately understand the Prop 19 legislation, if they want to, so I say enough is enough. Whether they are doing it deliberately, or out of deliberate ignorance, they should stop spreading misinformation about Prop 19. Shame on the California Cannabis Association. And YES on PROP 19!

Another medical cannabis collective shut down. Owner charged with FELONIES.

We continue to see more stories like this where collective operators are being shut down and charged with crimes for providing medicine to patients. We can be sure to see more situations like this if there are not added protections given for cannais users. This is another reason to establish Prop. 19 and add another layer to the onion.

Novato woman charged with multiple marijuana felonies, conspiracy

Solano County prosecutors have charged a 42-year-old Novato woman who runs two medical pot clubs with multiple marijuana felonies and conspiracy.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office arrested Cindy Elizabeth Harris last Thursday and raided her Tree of Life medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Venetia and Fairfield with help from other agencies.

Prosecutors have since charged her with five counts of transporting or distributing marijuana, one count of possessing marijuana for sale and one count of conspiracy, the Solano County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. Bail was set at $68,332.

Authorities also arrested Harris’ son, 24-year-old Chad Grimm, at his Sebastopol home and charged him with possession of marijuana for sale and conspiracy, prosecutors said. Grimm’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Jennifer Ryan, was also arrested at the home.

It wasn’t clear whether authorities believed Harris and Grimm were selling pot to people other than medical marijuana patients, and the sheriff’s office and the deputy district attorney handling the case could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Harris’ defense attorney, Omar Figueroa, also could not be reached for comment.

But Kim Pelham, who managed the Going Green dispensary in Corte Madera and is a close personal friend of Harris, said both Harris and Grimm were released after posting bail Tuesday.

She said detectives also raided Harris’ parents’ home in Mendocino County last week, as well as her Novato apartment and a warehouse. At the time of her arrest, Harris was waiting for the Fairfield Planning Department to approve a permit for her dispensary and had paid the city about $17,000, Pelham said.

Meanwhile, it remained unclear whether Tree of Life’s Santa Venetia shop would reopen.

“The understanding was under the bail agreement, she is not allowed to sell medical marijuana in Solano County but Marin was not included in it,” Pelham said.

Source: http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_16147435

Just Say Now: Marijuana Legalization Facts

Why Legalize Marijuana?

Support Law Enforcement and Prison Reform

  • Since Ronald Reagan began his war on drugs in 1982, the US prison population has quadrupled: The US only has 5% of the world’s population, but we now have 25% of its prisoners — more than China. In 2007, arrests for marijuana possession alone totaled 775,138, greatly exceeding arrests forall violent crimes combined.
  • There is no evidence that decriminalization of marijuana has increased use: In studies that compare rates of marijuana use in states that have decriminalized vs. states that haven’t, most of the evidence suggests that decriminalization has had no effect. European countries with less draconian drug laws have lower rates of use. And though it is purely anecdotal, it is nonetheless true that following the end of alcohol prohibition, consumption of alcohol actually went down.

Solve our Border Crisis

  • Border security and immigration hysteria is being fueled by money going to drug cartels from marijuana smuggling: Contrary to popular belief, the shooting at the Mexican border which triggered the recent draconian Arizona search law was precipitated by a shooting over marijuana smuggling, not undocumented workers. To solve the border crisis, legalize marijuana.
  • Ending marijuana prohibition could cut the profits of Mexican drug cartels by 60%, money that has enabled them to threaten the stability of Mexico: Recently outgoing head of the CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden, warned that drug cartels “threaten … the well-being of the Mexican people and the Mexican state.”

Driving Young Voter Turnout

  • Drug arrests deny young people access to educational and other opportunities: A 1998 law denies financial aid to any student convicted of even a misdemeanor drug offense. The arrests produce a permanent criminal record, easily accessed on the internet, that can also keep applicants from getting a job, a loan or even an apartment. Over 200,000 students have lost their access to student loans over marijuana arrests.
  • The issue of marijuana legalization is overwhelmingly popular with young voters: After the 2008 election, President-elect Obama conducted three rounds of voting on his official Transition Team Web site, asking users to submit ideas and vote on them. In all three rounds of voting questions related to taxing and regulating marijuana were the top vote getters.
  • Marijuana legalization on the ballot is a strong incentive for young voters to turn out: A recent poll by AmericaVotes found that 47% of “surge” voters were more likely to turn out to vote in the midterm if marijuana legalization were on the ballot.

Billions in Tax Revenue

  • Regulating marijuana like alcohol could generate significant tax revenue: According to a report authored by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron and endorsed by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman it would produce $40 billion a year in taxes. The California’s State Board of Equalization estimated legal, regulated, and taxed marijuana would generate $1.4 billion for the state annually. Prosecuting marijuana offenders contributes significantly to the current state budget crisis: Currently, one in every 15 dollars in the states’ main pools of discretionary money goes to corrections.

Grown Ass Man

I was discussing the new prospects of the medical marijuana landscape with a good friend and longtime activist and was enlightened.  The clear and decisive argument he made was too incredibly logical to ignore.  He stated,”Medical marijuana should be a given. What kind of asshole would let someone suffer.  What we are talking about is ADULT USE.” His argument was this.  Opponents of cannabis always want to use “the kids” as an excuse to demonize a plant and criminalize society.  He pointed out that if you go to any 7-11 there is gas that kids cannot use to drive, cigarettes they are not allowed to smoke, beer they are not allowed to drink, and porn they are not allowed to read, yet we do not tell kids to stay away from 7-11s.  The kid argument falls on the lap of the parents and that just like all of the other ADULT USE items that we entrust our parents to steer their children clear of, cannabis is no different. DUH!!

A light bulb went on in my head and I wondered if I had been fighting the medical marijuana battle for so long that I had lost sight of the bigger picture. That, yes I am a patient, but first and foremost I was a grown ass man.  Why should I have to settle for a doctor to sign off on my cannabis use.  Cannabis is safe and I, as an adult, should be able to make that decision without having to make an appointment with my physician.  I am tired of being treated like a criminal or lesser part of society because I choose cannabis over booze and porn.  It is retarded and non-sensical and we must begin to expose this for what it is, a fraud.  Cannabis prohibition is wrong, period.  It is hypocritical and the law does more harm than the plant ever could.  The “illegal ” aspect of cannabis makes it dangerous, as it invites in the dregs of society to capitalize off of the “illegality” of it all.  What a joke.

I am a grown man and should be able to make that decision and the cops should not be telling me I can’t.  Who are they to tell me that I cannot have some herb while they suck down a six-pack of Pabst and abuse their family or beat their dog.  All I want to do is enjoy a joint in peace for a fucking minute without the worries of some law enforcement officer asserting himself into my life.  Is that too much to ask?  Granted it will be a minute before I smoke anything, medical or not, as my commitment to the US Probation department does not allow for that, but such is life. Hopefully by the time I am done with this the term “ADULT USE CANNABIS” will be household terminology.  We need to begin the bigger picture battle and begin addressing the hypocrisy of the current situation.  “Recreational Use” is an adolescent term and does not describe the true intentions of what reformists believe.  Adults should be able to use cannabis if they choose.  No one is saying fourteen year olds should have access to cannabis, but an ID saying you are an adult should be enough to use cannabis safely without fear of being an outlaw.  Hell.  If an eighteen year old kid can pack up and fly to the middle east to shoot people for freedom then he should be able to fire up a joint at the end of his long day if he chooses.  I am on the ADULT USE bandwagon.  Thank you for the wake-up call.

This piece was first published in march 2009 before the 19 debate ever began, but i think it is quite relevant to the discussion.

Radical Russ's guide to dealing with the No on 19 Lunatic Fringe

How to Debate Marijuana User Who is Anti-Prop 19

Opinion by NORML

By “Radical” Russ Belville

You won’t find the word “legalization” in Prop 19… but you will find “It is LAWFUL to possess and cultivate marijuana”

After viewing the Prop 19 “debate” at HempCon and battling many of these Stoners Against Legalization online, I’ve come up with some simple rhetorical tools for dealing with these terribly misguided individuals.  Unfotunately, I feel like the YES campaign is making a mistake Democrats make in elections: depending on facts, logic, reason, and people voting for their own best interests.

This is an emotional issue and the NO side is doing a good job stoking fear, confusion, and anger.

They’re playing right out of Karl Rove’s handbook – demonize the opponent (“millionaire Richard Lee!”, “corporate megagrows in Oakland!”) and obfuscate the issues.  Our side is fighting within the opponents frames of “Prop 19 vs. Prop 215″ and “corporate control of cannabis” instead of defining the issue as legalization and improvement over the Jim Crow aspects of Prop 215.

Here are my suggestions for attacking the anti-Prop 19 side, fighting their emotion with more powerful emotion, attacking their strengths and using it against them, and redefining the frames.

Begin any question you have for Anti-Legalizers with “I’m a healthy adult without a Prop 215 recommendation; can you tell me why…?” and then ask.  For example:

I’m a healthy adult without a Prop 215 recommendation; can you tell me why I should vote against being able to carry an ounce of marijuana on my person?”
— “I’m a healthy adult without a Prop 215 recommendation; can you tell me why I should vote against being able to grow marijuana in my house?”
— “I’m a healthy adult without a Prop 215 recommendation; can you tell me why I should vote to keep the risk of getting a criminal misdemeanor record for smoking pot?”

Almost all of their complaints come from the “Prop 19 destroys Prop 215″ myth they’ve been pushing.  So hamstring that by pointing out you’re not a Prop 215 patient and neither are 80%-90% of California’s cannabis consumers.

Next, when the Stoner Against Legalization goes into the thicket of “Under Prop 215 this and that is legal and Prop 19 will make it illegal…” you simply respond with:

“Wow, those sound like powers that (LA District Attorney) Steve Cooley and (San Diego District Attorney) Bonnie Dumanis would love to have… so how come they’re asking people to vote NO?”

Hammer on the point that a NO vote on Prop 19 allies you with the cops, prison guards, drug dealers, drug traffickers, enemies of Prop 215 like Cooley, Trutanich, Dumanis, Brown, and Feinstein.  ”If Prop 19 does everything you say to Prop 215, why doesn’t Steve Cooley support it?”

When a Stoner Against Legalization tells you about some terrible prediction of life after Prop 19, you can respond with “So that’s why we need to keep arresting and locking people up for marijuana, then?”Never let them off the hook on any of their points without forcing the audience to reconcile the point that a NO vote means “I am voting to keep myself a criminal.”

The Stoner Against Legalization may then try to steer the debate to the “But marijuana is virtually legal in California under Prop 215″ area.  There are two quick replies to that notion.  First:

“So why, exactly, have 77,000 Californians been arrested, tried, and convicted on marijuana charges in 2009 if marijuana is legal”

A side argument here from the Stoners Against Legalization is that the California legislature has passed a bill to downgrade possession of an ounce to a simple misdemeanor.  The Anti-Legalizers will say, “it’s not even going to be a crime to possess an ounce anyway, it’s just a ticket like ‘flipping a U-ey’”.  The proper response to that is, “So I should vote NO so I get a $100 ticket for an ounce and a felony for a plant, rather than making both of those things absolutely legal with no tickets or criminal record?”

Another response to the “marijuana is legal under Prop 215″ line is to use their own cause célèbres against them.

“So if Prop 215 makes medical marijuana legal, what were Felix Kha, Jovan Jackson, Donna Lambert, Eugene Davidovich, Charles Lynch, Craig X Rubin, et al doing in a California courtroom, losing their businesses, their net worth, and in some cases, their families?”

This pivots to the discussion that after 14 years of Prop 215, there still isn’t a definitive right to buy and sell cannabis.  But you have to be careful here, because there is a huge emotional investment by Californians in Prop 215.  The best way is selling Prop 19 as an improvement, not a replacement, for Prop 215.  They’ll wail about the mentions of Prop 215 being in the Purposes and Intents and how those parts aren’t “codified into law”, but that’s easy enough to dismiss:

“The Purposes and Intents ARE used by the legislature to determine how the laws shall be interpreted.  So if the intent says ‘Provide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes’ it’s not going to possible for lawmakers to reconcile an interpretation that makes medical access more difficult and dangerous.”

Another place they’ll go to is talking about how wicked evil Oakland is licensing megagrows with $211,000 fees or how Rancho Cordova is planning on taxing grows at $600 per square foot.  The solution here is to point out that’s happening NOW regardless of Prop 19, so a NO vote still means expensive grows in Oakland and Rancho Cordova, but without carrying an ounce and growing at home being legal.

“Prop 19 does not overturn or supersede Prop 215.  #1) Its Purposes and Intents are to make medical access safer and easier.  #2) It’s loaded with “Notwithstanding any other provision of law” clauses that mean “except where another law already makes something more legal” – like Prop 215.  #3) All powers over cultivation given to localities specifically mention “commercial” purposes.”

This is especially important for the Rancho Cordova line.  Hammer away at that one by pointing out that renegade pot-hating cities will try to tax grows out of existence and that is easier for them to do when you don’t have an explicit right to home grow.  What they pass and what stands up after inevitable court challenges are two different things.  Prop 215 activists will hit that $600/sqft as an unconstitutional infringement on medical rights and Prop 19 activists will hit it by pointing out Prop 19 only gives cities power to regulate commercial grows while explicitly defining the right to personal consumption and the right to grow 25 sqft for personal consumption.

The corollary of this point on the Stoners Against Legalization side is that none of the cities that hate dispensaries are going to approve retail sales once Prop 19 passes.  ”Do you think San Diego, which doesn’t even believe in medical distribution, is going to allow recreational?” I’ve heard one of them say.  The simple response:

“You mean like now?  So because 1 or 2 or 12 or 40 cities might ban commercial marijuana, we should keep it like it is now where all 478 cities ban commercial marijuana?”

So San Diego may not approve recreational marijuana cultivation and sales… just like now.  But you’ll still be able to possess your personal ounce in San Diego.  You’ll still be able to grow your 25 sqft garden at home in San Diego.  And if you really want to, like the Anti-Legalizers always say, you can always go get your Prop 215 recommendation and join a collective just like you can now.

Another facet to the argument is the Anti-Legalizers support of the status quo regarding the “small grower”.  This is a powerful emotional meme because they conjure up the small-time family-man grower, forced by tough economic times to make a living growing and supplying to dispensaries, cloaked in all sorts of rebel-with-a-cause fight-the-man folklore.  They’ll posit that meme vs. the big bad evil corporation meme.

Karl Rove would use his opponent’s strength as their weakness.  Remember Sen. John Kerry, the thrice-decorated Vietnam war hero?  That became his weakness once the Swift Boaters were through with him.  So here’s how you “swift boat” the “pity the small grower” meme:

“Every dollar earned while marijuana is illegal equals some kid getting a misdemeanor, some mom doing jail time, or some dad being shot by a cop.  I support any person who wants to make money growing marijuana, but not at the cost of 77,000 arrests in California every year.  Prop 19 will allow cities – not Sacramento – to create commercial regulations.  Why wouldn’t a city like, say, Ukiah, make regulations that best support their small grower economic base?  That’s the cool thing about something being legal; if it’s not working properly, you can vote in new people and laws to make it work better.  But if you vote no on 19, no city can do anything to support their small growers and Sacramento can still send helicopters and cops after them.”

This may lead to a response of “but the small grower can’t compete with the megagrows / corporations!”  You can point out that Prop 19 allows any of those growers to form their own corporations; they could truly be a commercial collective of small growers big enough to compete with anybody.  They would even have the cache of being “the little guys” and could market their wares as “boutique”, “hand-trimmed”, “home-grown”, “organic”, etc. and charge more than the megagrows.  But if they persist on the “pity the small grower” meme, you can always take it back to:

“OK, so then we need to vote no on legalization and continue to arrest and lock up small growers for felonies because they can’t compete in a open legal market?  Small growers can’t exist unless we subsidize their jacked-up prices by arresting 77,000 Californians per year, is that what you’re saying?”

Some miscellaneous rejoinders:

They say, “We’re for legalization; we’re just against Prop 19.”

“Prop 19 is legalization: it says “it shall be LAWFUL to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal consumption” and you are telling me to vote against that, so you’re against legalization.”

They say, “We should wait until 2012 when a better initiative will be on the ballot.”

“Prop 19 is on the ballot now.  How many legalization votes were on the ballot in the past forty years?  One, back in 1972.  How much money have other legalization initiatives raised for 2012?  Zero.  How much support did these other initiatives get in the past dozen elections?  Not enough to make the ballot.  Besides, if a better initiative can make the ballot in 2012, it still can when Prop 19 passes.  Vote yes on 19 now, and then go ahead and vote yes on the better initiative in 2012!”

They say, “This is written for lawyers and corporations to get rich!”

“Prohibition keeps lawyers in business defending people from marijuana crimes.  And I’d rather see a legal taxpaying corporation making money in a competitive market where I’m allowed to grow my own than to see murderous Mexican drug trafficking organizations making money and cops making money when they bust me for growing my own!”

When they paint the picture that all of Southern California will be forced to drive up to buy from the overpriced megagrows in Oakland, call it out for the ridiculous assertion that it is:

“Yeah, I suppose if Prop 19 passes and Los Angeles refuses to allow commercial sales, everyone will have to drive to Oakland.  That is, if people in LA don’t grow their own.  And don’t have any friends who grow their own and share.  And they don’t get Prop 215 recommendations to buy in dispensaries.  And the black market sales of marijuana completely disappear.  And none of the other 87 cities in Los Angeles County decide to allow commercial sales to beat LA to that thriving tax base and economic windfall.  And all of the other 477 California cities but Oakland decide to forbid commercial sales.  Sure.  But even in that ridiculous worst case scenario, there will still be one legal place in California to buy marijuana and it will still be legal to carry an ounce of it anywhere in the state!”

Finally, deal with their ad hominem attacks – don’t underestimate how vicious lies and false characterizations can sink a campaign (c.f. Sen. John Kerry, 2004; Gov. Michael Dukakis, 1988).  When they set up their attacks on “millionaire Richard Lee”, respond with:

“Wait, I thought you guys were supporters of patients and medical access under Prop 215?  Last I checked, Richard Lee was a disabled patient in a non-motorized wheelchair whose Oaksterdam University and dispensaries have provided more medical marijuana to sick and disabled patients than all of you combined.  Or are profits from medical marijuana only a good thing when you’re making them?”

I also like to throw in “Richard Lee is gambling $1.4 million of his own money to make you legal.  How much of your money have you gambled to make me legal?”, but you need to judge the right audience for that dose of snark.

Source: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/how-to-debate-marijuana-user-who-is-anti-prop-19

An Open Letter to Letitia Pepper, Prop 19 Critic from Mike Gray of Common Sense for Drug Policy

An Open Letter to Letitia Pepper, Prop 19 Critic

Dear Letitia,

A few days ago you and I debated Prop 19 at the HempCon, and while I understand your concerns about the initiative, I believe you’ve missed the point.

First, we agree on a couple of key arguments:

1. Patients with serious conditions like yourself should be allowed to grow whatever they need.

2. Taxing patients for essential medications is outrageous.

But suppose you and I and our fellow marijuana users sat down together and wrote a perfect legalization intiative…   It would never get past the voters. We’ve tried that before and we don’t have time for another pointless exercise.

Prop 19 was not intended to be perfect. It was carefully crafted to calm the fears of the soccer moms and ordinary voters that we have to win over if we are ever going to get rid of this outrageous prohibition.

It’s important to remember that revolutionary intiatives are never perfected in their intial incarnation. You pass what you can and once the voters realize that the sky isn’t falling, you improve it step by step with subsequent amendments. That’s exactly what we did with Prop215.

As I said at HempCon, the first version of Social Security did not include our Black brothers and sisters for purely political reasons. They had to be added later.

And that’s how you get progressive laws on the books. It may be messy but that’s democracy.

It’s essential for all of us to understand that Prop 19 is a game changer. Once it’s on the books, the whole wretched War on Drugs will lose its underpinning. If “Marihuana” is no longer the “Devil Weed” in the State of California, it will quickly spread to the other states just as medical use did after Prop 215.

And when that happens, the federal government will not be able to justify spending $70 billion a year to crack down on the remaining ONE PERCENT of the population that uses hard drugs.

When we pass Prop 19 on November 2, the first amendment we must push through is amnesty for all prisoners now serving sentences under the old prohibition laws, and pardons for those with convictions on their records.

Then we can pass a law to eliminate taxes for medical use.

And then we can move to adjust the restrictions on sales, personal use —  and lower the age limit to 18 so that U.S. soldiers with PTSD don’t lose their benefits from a drug bust.

While I appreciate your concern that Big Tobacco will stage a corporate takeover of the marijuana business, that’s simply not possible. Phillip Morris can’t compete with individual growers. Tobacco cigarettes are a different game altogether. It’s very hard to grow your own tobacco and cure it, prepare it, and roll 20 or 30 cigarettes a day, but Granny can grow her own reefer in a window box. And she only needs to roll 30 joints a month. The only way Big Tobacco can get between her and her garden is if the price is so low and the quality so superior that it’s not worth the trouble to grow your own. And that’s not an attractive corporate business model.

Finally, we are faced with a very real danger that we could lose everything. If Prop 19 fails and Steve Cooley becomes our newAttorney General in November, all the work that you and ASA and the rest of us have done to protect patients may go down the drain. Cooley is an old-school lawman who believes marijuana has no medical use, damages your brain, and should be totally outlawed everywhere.

Dispensaries will be closed all over the state and even patients like yourself will be exposed to constant harrassment because he’s on a mission to make the state “drug free.” He may be nuts but he’s running neck and neck with Camilla Harris.

So the train has left the station. Please get on board and help us pass Prop 19.

I’ll be happy to debate this issue with you and anyone else in private or in public anywhere, any time.

Mike Gray

Chairman, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Gray is the author of “Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out” – avialable free on line at www.libertary.com/book/drug-crazy

Beyond "I gots mine" thinking to false senses of security…

We continue to see attacks on medical cannabis in the state, yet many folks have the theory that because their particular garden, company, or collective has not been under seige, that all is good and that there is no need to pass Prop. 19 to add protection to cannabis consumers. There is no logic or critical thinking and people refuse to see the writing on the wall. Medical cannabis is coming out of the shadows and into the light, as many drones seem to mimic these days, but as it does we begin to see the light get brighter, and cities and counties look for way to tighten the screws down on the industry through regulation and control. But many fail to see where this is heading. Many ignore the calls from lawmakers, law enforcers, and prosecutors to begin to eradicate the free for all that make people currently comfortable with the situation. Them having theirs could deteriorate in a flash if Cooley and Whitmann are elected and decide to roll back or invalidate SB420, and yes, that is a very real possibility.

We see towns like Morro Bay voting on banning access. Countless cities and counties already ban access. Cities making regulations and ordinances these days continue to add regulations and taxes to the mix and prices of medicine continue to stay high. Providers are being raided frequently by STATE officials and in the recent Jovan Jackson case we are seeing the first time a medical provider is being denied a medical defense in court, with the judge even ordering people not be allowed to wear ASA shirts. How is that for “safe access.” But some do not care because this is not happening to them. They are selfish and gredy and refuse to lok past their own comforts to realize that not all is good in the world of medical cannabis, and quite frankly, could deteriorate much quicker than it has developed. But do not worry. You gots yours.

Forget the numerous growers that re losing their income and freedoms to raids. Forget the owners of LA collectives that are under seige by the City Attorney’s office. Forget the folks going to trial with their hands tied behind their backs. Forget the dozens of DA’s and cops that refuse to acknowledge the existence of collectives and safe access. Forget that many lawmakers decided to not issue a directive to the Feds because they think the current medical cannabis system is fraught with abuse and illegitimate use. Forget the many cops everyday who decide to play doctor and decide if you are or are not sick enough to use cannabis. Forget the City Council’s all over the State that see the abuse in the system as reason enough to limit or deny access. Forget the outrage of people in the community who think that the medical system has been hijacked by a bunch of able-bodied young men who just want to get high. Forget all of that. You gots yours.

But remember KARMA is a bitch and when you continue to campaign against prop 19 based on loose fact and speculation and people continue to feel the wrath of a system gone bad while you thrive the karma monster is sure to find you soon enough. I understand many like the way things are. They are making their living, smoking their pot, and not worrying about the many people in their community that are under attack or do not feel like lying to a doctor to be legal. Fuck them, right? I fear for people like you. I think your false sense of security and the indifference of some law enforcers and the acceptance of a few cities have lulled you into believing that this will never change. That your freedom to operate with little regulation will never go away. But you fail to see it already is going away, little by little, and speeding up fast. So when you are sitting there getting yours today, think of those who may not be or those who are getting theirs taken away, limited, or getting busted. If you think the murky and limited freedoms that we now possess will be like this forever then you just simply are not paying attention.

Prop. 19 protects those rights by giving another layer of cannabis freedom to depend on. Medical users will not be affected no matter what the liars try to tell you. But allowing for adult use just may give those who are trying to remove your current freedom something else to focus on and your medicine becomes less of a priority. So you make the choice. You can be happy for now and possibly lose everything very soon, or you can advance the ball down the field and make it more difficult for cops and attorney’s to make cannabis user’s lives hell. VOTE YES on PROP. 19 for freedom….