An opinion piece I submitted to a local blog….

October 26, 2010 in Legalization

Why you should vote YES on Prop. 19 to control, tax, and regulate cannabis in our community.

By Mickey Martin

On Election Day we will have a serious choice to make that could change the course of California, the Nation and most likely the World, as we know it. I am not talking about any of the ego-driven races for Governor or Senate that have plagued the airwaves for what seems an eternity. No- I am talking about voting for a plant- marijuana to be exact. Proposition 19 is on the ballot, which would make using marijuana a lawful activity in the State of California. This moment could be a paradigm shift in drug policy that awakens the Nation to a failed war on its own citizens.

On November 2nd we have an opportunity to change course and take a new approach to the War on Drugs that will allow for responsible adults to use marijuana as a safer and more reasonable enjoyable recreation. We can vote to end the madness of decades of intolerance, in which we have made our neighbors and families into criminals for their choice to use cannabis. Currently we arrest over 800,000 people a year for marijuana related offenses in this Country. That is a staggering number of people that are treated like second-class citizens and criminals for their choice to use a substance that is far less dangerous than alcohol- a substance that we literally shove down the throats of people as a way to relax and enjoy themselves.

Why are we driving people to drink? As a person who does not enjoy alcohol and the effects it has had on my life, I know first-hand the differences between the effects of cannabis and booze. Booze is dangerous for me. I am what I like to refer to as “allergic” to its effects and it makes my world a chaotic and dangerous place to live. Whereas using marijuana has had zero negative effects on my life; besides being made to feel like a criminal for my choice to use it.

A powerful new ad will begin to run today where retired San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamera questions the failed policies of the status quo and asks you to make the right decision and vote YES on Prop. 19.

Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_oIpIyZRu0&feature=player_embedded

Video Embed:

Chief McNamera states clearly, “Like an increasing number of law enforcers, I have learned that most bad things about marijuana – especially the violence made inevitable by an obscenely profitable black market – are caused by the prohibition, not by the plant.”

What does a decorated Police Chief with over 35-years of law enforcement experience know about our failed policies on marijuana enforcement? A lot it would seem. He has spent decades watching us arrest, prosecute and make criminals out of our citizens in the name of cannabis prohibition. He has seen our prison complex grow by leaps and bounds; while cannabis has become more readily available than ever. And now he calls on you to put a stop to the insanity.

How can we keep making the same mistakes over-and-over and expect different results? We cannot. Marijuana prohibition has failed, and it has failed miserably. We have done nothing to protect our community from danger in the process, but have continually made criminals out of tens of thousands of Californians every year. We have not been successful in keeping marijuana out of the hands of our youth, as most report that marijuana is much easier to get than alcohol or even tobacco. We have wasted innumerable resources policing non-violent marijuana crimes, while other crimes have gone unsolved and our community’s economic health has deteriorated. How can we justify wasting time and money arresting and prosecuting marijuana crimes when we are laying off teachers and watching our infrastructure crumble? How can we continue to allow cannabis to thrive in a black market where no taxes are collected and criminals are in charge of its distribution? The answer is the WE CANNOT.

Voting YES on Prop. 19 will allow us to take the first rational step towards ending these failed policies and will allow responsible adults to use cannabis without fear of being treated like criminals. We will begin to collect billions in tax revenues from cannabis; and more importantly, free up our law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes we face in our community. We will take marijuana out of the hands of low-level street dealers and put it in the hands of responsible outlets that are required to check ID before selling it.

In the final week leading up to the election there will surely be ads attacking the merits of Prop. 19 and cannabis legalization. They will show you graphic images of school buses flipped on their side and ask you if you want the nurse in charge of your healthcare to be too stoned to work. They will use standard fear mongering tactics and the same old hyperbolic propaganda that has fooled us since the days of “Reefer Madness” into believing cannabis users are dangerous. They will attempt to convince you that marijuana is a dangerous substance that will create chaos in the streets and seduce your kids into a life of inhibition. Do not believe the hype. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is that nothing will change in the workplace. People are not allowed to come to work impaired now and they will still not be allowed to do so after Prop. 19 passes. Kids will have less access, not more, as we take the distribution from drug dealers that do not care what age a person is and put it in the hands of responsible storeowners who have legal obligations to ensure that a person is of age before selling it to them. Our community will be a safer place, as we give people a safer alternative to alcohol. We will generate much needed tax revenue and quit wasting valuable resources on futile enforcement procedures that criminalize our family and neighbors for their choice to use cannabis as responsible adults.

Yes, this may be the most rational vote that is before you this Election Day. It is your duty as an informed voter to make the right decision and make using cannabis a lawful and taxable activity, rather than continuing to make more criminals out of responsible adults. It is up to you to decide if we can afford to continue down the path of failure; or if it is time to change direction and regulate, control, and tax cannabis like we do alcohol. Do not be fooled by those who would have you believe marijuana prohibition is working. IT IS NOT. It is one of the most failed social experiments in the history of our country. We have seen cannabis use rise, not fall, as we have continued to make criminals out of young people and have disproportionately used these laws to arrest minorities at alarming rates. The danger of cannabis is not in its use or possession; it is in its prohibition, which allows for the black market to thrive. We can end this madness and make a sensible choice to vote YES on Prop. 19.

This vote could change the landscape of the Drug War and begin to change the World as we know it. The United States has less than 5% of the World’s population, but has 23.4% of the World’s prison population. This astronomical figure is a direct result of our nation’s failed drug policies. We can begin to put and end to this disparity on November 2nd by sending a clear message to the Nation and the World that Californians no longer see cannabis prohibition as a valid option. As goes California, so goes the Country. Join me in this historic effort to change direction and begin establishing more sound and sane policies for our future. We can end this insanity with our vote and make marijuana use boring again. Join me in making marijuana less exciting and desirable and vote YES on Prop. 19. Our future depends on it.

The following is a list of persons and organizations that support Proposition 19 and a change in our policies regarding the use of cannabis:

Law Enforcement
• National Black Police Association
• San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara (Ret.)
• Seattle Police Chief and San Diego Deputy Police Chief Norm Stamper (Ret.)
• Former Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Stephen Downing
• Former Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant and Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney William John Cox
• Former Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff David Sinclair
• Former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff MacKenzie Allen
• Former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Jeff Studdard
• Former Sutter County Deputy Sheriff Nate Bradley
• Former Yolo County Resident Deputy Sheriff Danny Maynard
• Humboldt County Sheriff’s Captain Stephen Cobine (Ret.)
• Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Gray (Ret.)
• San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan (Ret.)
• Former Senior Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney and Prosecutor Jeffrey Schwartz
• Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and California Administrative Law Judge Mike Schmier
• Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Walter Clark (Ret.)
• Former Orange County Senior Reserve Park Ranger L. Lawrence Baird
• Oakland City Attorney John Russo
• Former Community Prosecutor James Anthony, Oakland City Attorney’s Office
• Los Angeles Police Department Narcotics Detective David Doddridge (Ret.)
• Former San Jose Police Department Narcotics Detective Russ Jones
• Former Los Angeles Senior Police Specialist Walter McKay
• United States Air Force Security Forces Officer John Darker, Anderson, CA
• Former United States Military Police Officer Dr. Nina Graves, Santa Barbara, CA
• United States Navy Officer and Intelligence Specialist Larry Talley (Ret.)
• California Correctional Peace Officer William Baldwin (Ret.)
• California Correctional Peace Officer Madeline Martinez (Ret.)
• Mohave County Deputy Probation Officer Joe Miller (Ret.)
• Former Lakeport Police Officer Rick Erickson
• Former San Francisco Police Officer Bill Dake
• Former Torrance Police Officer Kyle Kazan
• Former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General John Amabile, Tisbury, MA
• Atlanta, Georgia State’s Attorney Jay Fisher
• Former American Samoa Attorney General’s Office Chief Prosecutor and Municipal Prosecutor for Washington Cities Jim Doherty
• New Jersey State Police Detective Lieutenant Jack Cole (Ret.)
• New Hampshire State Police Officer Paul MacLean (Ret.)
• Retired Bristol, Vermont Police Chief and Saint Albans, Vermont Police Chief Tim Datig
• Former Deputy Sheriff Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Central Missouri
• Former Reserve Deputy Sheriff and Corrections Officer Dwayne Sessom, Lawton, Oklahoma
• Former Davis County, Utah Deputy Constable Bret Black
• Retired Washington Superior Court Judge David Nichols
• Retired Police Captain Peter Christ, Syracuse, New York.
• Former Spokane, Washington Police Department Narcotics Investigator Jay Fleming
• Former Corrections Official Michael Gilbert, San Antonio, Texas
• Former Department of Corrections Sniper and K-9 Narcotics Dog Trainer Rusty White, Bridgeport, Texas
• National Black Police Association Executive Director and former Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Officer Ronald Hampton
• Former Baltimore Police Officer Peter Moskos
• Burlington, Ontario, Canada Law Enforcement Officer Alison Myrden (Ret.)
• Law Enforcement Officer Tony Ryan (Ret.), Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Physicians and Doctors
• United States Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, MD (Ret.)
• Dr. Larry Bedard, Former President of the American College of Emergency Physicians*, Sausalito, CA
• Dr. Newton Harband, Retired Oncologist, Past President, Stanford Medical School Alumni Association*, San Rafael, CA
• Dr. Daniel Susott, MD, MPH, Medical Director, World Family Foundation*, San Francisco, CA
• Dr. Floyd Huen, MD, Board of Trustees, Alameda County Medical Center, Oakland, CA
• Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany
• Dr. Lester Grinspoon, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Norfolk, MA
• Dr. Julie Holland, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, New York
• Dr, Leonard Krivitsky, MD, DD, Addiction Medicine Specialist, Philadelphia, PA
• Dr. Frank H. Lucido, MD, Family Practitioner, Berkeley, CA
• Arthur M. Strosberg, Ph. D., Pharmaceutical Industry Consultant, Foster City, CA
• Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, MD, PhD, Seattle, WA
• Dr. Christopher Fichtner, MD, Hemet, CA
• Stephen Frye, M.D., Psychiatrist, Las Vegas, Nevada
• Economists and Business Leaders
• Peter Lewis, Chairman of the Board, Progressive Insurance
• Jeffrey Miron, Harvard Economist
• Dustin Moskovitz, Co-Founder, Facebook
• Sean Parker, Co-Founder, Facebook
• Michael D. Whitty, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco School of Business and Management

Elected Officials
• Congressman Pete Stark (CA-13)
• Congressman Dan Hamburg (CA-1) (Ret.)
• Congressman Pete McCloskey (CA-11) (Ret.)
• California State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (Ret.)
• California State Senator Mark Leno
• California State Senator Tom Hayden (Ret.)
• California State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano
• California State Assemblymember Hector De La Torre
• California State Assemblymember Mary Hayashi
• California State Assemblymember Jared Huffman
• California State Assemblymember Kerry Mazzoni (Ret.)
• Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley
• Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey
• Mendocino County Supervisor John Pinches
• San Francisco Supervisor David Campos
• San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
• Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates
• Fairfax Vice Mayor Larry Bragman
• The Berkeley City Council
• The Oakland City Council
• The West Hollywood City Council
• Arcata City Councilmember Shane Brinton
• Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington
• Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore
• Hayward City Councilmember Bill Quirk
• Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
• Oakland City Councilmember Jean Quan
• Oakland City Councilmember Pat Kernighan
• Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid
• Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel
• West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran
• Windsor Town Councilmember Debora Fudge
• Palm Springs Unified School District Board Member Justin Blake
• AC Transit Board President Rocky Fernandez
• East Bay Municipal Utility District Board President Doug Linney
• Water Replenishment District of Southern California Director Rob Katherman
• Modoc County Democratic Central Committee Chair Thomas Romero
• Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member Edie Irons
• California Republican Party Delegate David LaTour
• Humboldt County Board of Supervisors

Organizations
• California NAACP
• California Libertarian Party
• California Green Party
• Peace and Freedom Party of California
• California Young Democrats
• Progressive Democrats of America
• Republican Liberty Caucus
• ACLU of Northern California
• ACLU of Southern California
• ACLU of San Diego
• California 16th Assembly District Democrats
• Alameda County Democratic Party
• Butte County Democratic Party
• Los Angeles County Democratic Party
• Madera County Democratic Party
• Modoc County Democratic Party
• Monterey County Democratic Party
• Orange County Democratic Party
• Placer County Democratic Party
• San Francisco Democratic Party
• Siskiyou County Democratic Party
• Sonoma County Democratic Party
• Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley
• Sonoma Progressive Democrats of America
• Latino Democrats of Stanislaus County
• Progressive Democrats of Stanislaus County
• Desert Stonewall Democrats of Palm Springs
• Castro Valley Democratic Club
• Culver City Democratic Club
• West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic Club
• West Los Angeles Democratic Club
• Irish American Democratic Club of San Francisco
• Democratic Women’s Forum of San Francisco
• San Francisco Young Democrats
• District 3 Democratic Club
• Richmond District Democratic Club
• Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club
• Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
• Potrero Hill Democratic Club
• Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club
• Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
• Valley Progressives
• Libertarian Party of Orange County
• Libertarian Party of Riverside County
• Courage Campaign
• CREDO Action
• Calitics
• The Greenlining Institute
• Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights
• San Francisco for Democracy Political Action Committee
• San Francisco Women’s Political Committee
• The LA Gay & Lesbian Center
• NAACP Congress Against Racism & Corruption in Law Enforcement (CARCLE)
• Color of Change
• William C. Velasquez Institute
• Latino Voters League
• A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing)
• Bay Area Chapter of Education Not Incarceration
• Idriss Stelley Action & Resource Center

Labor
• Service Employees International Union (SEIU) of California
• United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Western States Council
• International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), Northern California District Council
• Central Labor Council of Butte-Glenn Counties (AFL-CIO)
• Communications Workers of America (CWA), Local 9415
• Instituto Laboral De La Raza
• Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), San Francisco Chapter
• Sign Displays, Local 510
• Michael Hardeman, Business Representative, Sign Displays, Local 510
• John Roe, UFCW, Local 5*
• Dan Rush, UFCW, Local 5*
• Brian Webster, Staff Assistant, Instituto Laboral De La Raza

Faith Leaders
• California Council of Churches IMPACT
• Progressive Jewish Alliance
• Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Action Network
• Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative
• Karen Gilman, Women of Temple Israel of Hollywood*
• Rev. Bryan Griem, Pastor of Montrose Community Church*, Montrose, CA
• Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, Clergy Against Prohibition*
• Jane Marcus, Ph.D., Board Member, Women of Reform Judaism*, Palo Alto, CA
• The Rev. Canon Mary Moreno Richardson, Episcopal Diocese of San Diego*
• Curtis D. Robinson, Sr., President, Girls Inc, WCCC*, Richmond, CA
• Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director, California Council of Churches IMPACT, Sacramento, CA
• Dennis Shields, Minister, The Religion of Jesus Church*, Captain Cook, HI

Professors of Law
• Jonathan H. Adler, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, Ohio
• Ty Alper, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Berkeley, CA
• Hadar Aviram, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA
• W. David Ball, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Randy Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC
• Tom W. Bell, Chapman Law School, Orange, CA
• Steve Berenson, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA
• Eric Berger, University of Nebraska, College of Law, Lincoln, NE
• Douglas A. Berman, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
• David E. Bernstein, George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, VA
• Ash Bhagwat, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA
• Richard Boldt, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD
• Connor Bridges, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, Ohio
• Pamela Bridgewater, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC
• Christopher Bryant, University of Cincinnati College of Law, Cincinnati, Ohio
• Sande Buhai, Loyola University School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
• Paul Butler,George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC
• Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine, CA
• Gabriel J. Chin, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Tucson, AZ
• Marjorie Cohn, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA
• Mary Culbert, Loyola University School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
• Angela J. Davis, Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC
• Alan M. Dershowitz, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
• J. Herbie DiFonzo, Hofstra Law School, Hempstead, NY
• Steven Duke, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
• Elizabeth Price Foley, Florida International University College of Law, Miami, FL
• Eric M. Freedman, Hofstra Law School, Hempstead, NY
• David Friedman, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Mary Ellen Gale, Whittier Law School, Costa Mesa, CA
• Pratheepan Gulasekaram, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Casey William Hardison, University of Idaho School of Law, Moscow, ID
• Bill Ong Hing, University of San Francisco School of Law, San Francisco, CA
• Paige Kaneb, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Madeline June Kass, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA
• Alice Kaswan, University of San Francisco School of Law, San Francisco, CA
• Alex Kreit, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA
• Ellen Kreitzberg, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• David Levine, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA
• Jerry Lopez, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
• Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine, CA
• Erik Luna, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, VA
• Michael Madow, Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, NY
• Leigh Maddox, University of Maryland, School of Law, Baltimore, MD
• Charles Marvin, Georgia State University College of Law, Atlanta, GA
• Lawrence C. Marshall, Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA
• David N. Mayer, Capital University Law School, Columbus, OH
• Tracy L. McGaugh, Touro Law Center, Central Islip, NY
• Andrew P. Morriss, University of Alabama, School of Law, Tuscaloosa, AL
• Christopher Newman, George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, VA
• Michelle Oberman, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Tamara R. Piety, University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, OK
• Ascanio Piomelli, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA
• David G. Post, Beasley School of Law, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
• William Quigley, Loyola University School of Law, New Orleans, LA
• Jenny Roberts, Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC
• David Rocklin, University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, OR
• Cesare Romano, Loyola University School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
• Margaret Russell, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Barbara Stark, Hofstra Law School, Hempstead, NY
• Barry C. Scheck, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, NY
• Steven Semeraro, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, CA
• Steven Shatz, University of San Francisco School of Law, San Francisco, CA
• Jonathan Simon, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Berkeley, CA
• Eric S. Sirulnik, George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC
• David Sloss, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Abbe Smith, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC
• Ilya Somin, George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, VA
• Clyde Spillenger, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
• Edward Steinman, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Mark Strasser, Capital University Law School, Columbus, OH
• Robert N. Strassfeld, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, Ohio
• Nadine Strossen, New York Law School, New York, NY
• Gerald F. Uelmen, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Alexander Volokh, Emory Law School, Atlanta, GA
• Keith Wingate, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, CA
• Eric Wright, Santa Clara Law, Santa Clara, CA
• Richard W. Wright, Illinois Institute of Technology, Kent College of Law, Chicago, IL