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Peter Tosh Family Endorse Prop. 19. Legalize IT!

October 30, 2010 in Legalization, Video

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Billy Gartside

October 30, 2010 in Funny Stuff, Legalization

Thanks for this gem:

Debating Prop.19 with a prohibitionist is like playing chess with a pigeon. They knock over the pieces, shit on the board and then fly back to their friends claiming that they’ve won.

-Bill Gartside

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Amanda Rain: An open letter to Stoners Against Legalization

October 30, 2010 in Legalization

DO NOT LET PARANOIA GET THE BETTER OF YOU!

I understand paranoia. After working for a dispensary that was under the watchful eye of the DEA, having called out undercovers that were at a dispensary operator meeting getting them to leave, and years of training medical marijuana patients how to handle police encounters to prevent being arrested and stay out of jail, I get how the imagination of the unknown can play tricks on a person, especially when they’re involved with a questionably legal activity. I also get that there is great mistrust of government in our community, and broadly for good reason. However, there are limits to what is probable, reasonable or viable, and it’s important to separate fear from what is real.

To help clear the haze and bring some grounded sobriety into this debate, I’ve addressed some of the biggest fears I’ve heard below. After that I speak to my own experience of this issue, the story of my full-back tattoo (with pic:), and why I’m moved to vote yes, Yes, YES on Prop 19. I close with some commentary on Richard Lee as someone who personally works for Oaksterdam University in LA.

My beautiful community, I ask for your consideration, open mindedness and imagination (absent the paranoia;) as you read my offerings…I consider you some of the most creative, inventive people I know. If anyone can turn the fear into hope and the unknown into infinite potentiality, it is you! I believe in you!

At the same time, I believe in Prop 19. I also feel strongly with all the passion within me (and those who know me you know that’s a LOT! ;) that Prop 19 is in our highest good. For those who know the growth process intimately, sometimes transitions are scary, unknown and maybe even a little uncomfortable for a moment, but you also know that once you’re through to the other side you’re freer, lighter and better off than before, and in the case of Prop 19, safer and more protected.

1. It’s hard to watch the cannabis community divided against itself, especially with people like Steve Cooley running for Attorney General. A wise woman once told me, “If to be divided is to be conquered, than to be separated is suicide.” Instead of having a concerted effort to make sure that we defeat Cooley, which takes getting out into the general populous and swaying their votes, some within the community are focusing their voices and efforts on defeating Prop 19. When patients on a daily basis are still getting arrested down here in Southern California for small amounts, large amounts and everything in between, it’s as if these dissenters, while some long time activists I’ve spoken to call these people traitors, are taking their privilege of residing in more accepting liberal areas and leaving the rest of us without shelter. People in the North may be more prone to believing that medical makes you legal because local authorities there are more accepting, but that illusion down South is costly. Cooley says that all sales of cannabis are illegal, medical or not doesn’t matter to him. If elected, he will work to dismantle medical marijuana as we know it. What’s been happening in Los Angeles would then be happening statewide. For those concerned with what Prop 19 would do to the medical market, imagine if Cooley succeeds in “eradicating medical marijuana dispensaries” – those are his words, not mine. Prop 19 would put it on the law books that sales of cannabis are legal under state law, which would take the wind out of Cooley’s sails, because if you can regulate for adult use, why not medical – this will benefit the activists in more hostile areas in their lobbying efforts with their local governments to get regulations, and thus greater protection from law enforcement, to protect patients, cultivators & providers.

2. While SB 1449 makes it a civil infraction for under an ounce while it leaves sharing cannabis (not sales – that’s still a felony) as a misdemeanor. Moreover, most of the incarceration for cannabis happens because of sales, or intent to distribute, which can be having a good sum of money with a small amount of cannabis or other combination, that is filling our prisons. While Prop 19 doesn’t legalize all sales between just anyone for any amount, it is a huge step in the right direction. The amounts that people will be able to grow, accumulated over time, will amass to a significant amount of cannabis, as per Attorney J. David Nick’s analysis (which I came to myself from my experience training people on how to deal with cops and the legal knowledge that comes with that). People will have an affirmative defense in court for amounts larger than an ounce for adult use (medical is exempted). Considering that Prop 215 doesn’t make you fully legal (see #4), we’ve still been able to win many freedoms from having an affirmative defense in court. The affirmative defense from Prop 19 will advance legal precedent for the freedom of cannabis consumers that much more.

3. Medical laws are exempted. Not that it’s even necessary in that adult use is separate/different than medical use, to make absolutely sure there’s no confusion, Prop 19 exempts Prop 215 and SB 420, which are Health & Safety Code 11362.5 and 11362.7-9, in Purposes 7 (personal use) and 8 (cultivation & distribution). Letiticia Pepper, the attorney that is cited as saying otherwise on the SAL blog is not credible. Every attorney in the cannabis industry knows that H&S 11362.5 & 11362.7-9, while she insists that medical is not exempted and will be affected. Even the “official” opposition to Prop 19 say that medical won’t be impacted by Prop 19, in addition to the Legislative Analysts Office (LAO) which does non-partisan analysis of propositions for elections. Credible leaders within the medical movement all agree that Prop 19 will not impact medical status, limits or otherwise.

4. Medical patients are NOT legal under Prop 215 & SB 420. What it does is give patients, cultivators & providers an affirmative defense in court. That means that if caught, it’s up to the cop’s discretion how to handle each individual case. Just the other week I spoke with a college student who is a “legal” patient that had her recommendation essentially ripped up by the cop who then arrested her for a small amount of concentrated cannabis. We call this legal?! Under the status quo of Prop 215 & SB 420, patients, cultivators & providers are guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around. Cultivators are the least protected under the law, the most likely to get busted and most likely to do time for it, which I personally find unacceptable. I feel our growers deserve greater protections from going to jail or prison for pot! While Prop 19 doesn’t take us all the way there, it opens the door and makes it legal under CA law, clearly and explicitly, that growing cannabis can be regulated and thus legal (and licensing fees and business costs are still cheaper than court and better than incarceration). Since most of the enforcement happens at a local level, having local laws regulating cannabis sales means that cops will have to back off! I’m personally tired of listening to police & politicians indict the medical movement as a farce because people who don’t need it medically are getting it and using it (they also use this as justification to ban dispensing collectives), when there’s really little we can say to refute that. Prop 19 will mean that everyone over 21 can have pot legally (in the truest definition of the word legal – innocent until proven guilty); then cops & politicians alike won’t be able to play doctor anymore.

5. Right now, under Prop 215 & SB 420 (CA Health & Safety Code 11362.5 & 11362.7-9), ALL sales are in a complete gray zone. Still, cities & counties already have the legal authority to set rules on cannabis dispensation and over 40 cities and counties already have for medical purposes. And yes, cities and counties get to regulate the “health, safety, morals, and general public welfare” whether we like it or not. (Side note: it’s interesting to me that some people involved in the cannabis industry are so accustomed to the lawlessness of it that when they get a chance to become legal, they seem to prefer to stay criminals for profit margins, which I ultimately find rather disturbing considering how unspeakably awful jails and prisons are, and that paying licensing fees and taxes would still be less than having to defend oneself in criminal court to prove their innocence and medical status.) Some localities are also already taxing medical cannabis in addition to what the State Board of Equalization takes from sales taxes. The many cities and counties that have banned often cite the vagueness and lack of clarity in the law under Prop 215 and SB 420 and when faced with regulating what they see as questionably legal, they opt out. Prop 19 will make it clear and put it on California’s law books that sales are legal and give patients, growers & providers the opportunity to work with their local government (where they have the strongest influence vs. the state and federal level where corporations play politicians like puppets hanging on their purse strings). I’ve seen the political process work on a local level. Also, considering the acceptance of cannabis, the significance of the industry on the economy of Northern California, and that people are already well established in their relationships with their political leaders, there will be a willingness amongst politicians in the North to make Prop 19 work for their communities.

6. Big business isn’t going to come in and take over. Corporations will not take the legal risk of doing something federally illegal, period. I don’t care how big a conspiracy theorist you are, think about it for a minute. Do you really think that a large American corporation will risk losing their assets to the feds through asset forfeiture? They have too much to lose. That’s why we’ve not seen RJ Reynolds in medical, nor will we see them in cannabis until it’s federally legal. New York ended their state prohibition on alcohol 10 years before the federal law was repealed. Since we can’t even get the feds to reschedule cannabis for medical use, we’re likely at least another 10 years off from adult use being legal countrywide (while I do look forward to seeing that day!). That means, in real world terms, the people who are currently leading the way in medical (Steve DeAngelo, Chris Conrad, Jeff Jones, Richard Lee, Rob Raich, Debby Goldsberry, etc. etc. etc.) will have the opportunity to shape how adult use evolves. All the cities I’ve seen interviewed on this have said they want to see cannabis dispensed to adults out of a similar venue as medical – specialty places dedicated to cannabis – not the corner 7-11 or heaven-forbid Wal-Mart. AND large-scale grows are already happening under medical – imagine these grows coming into being without the additional market of adult users (and tourists:) to add more demand to keep up with production. Whether you like it or not, Oakland has already approved 4 warehouse sized grows for medical purposes. This is happening with or without Prop 19. That is not a reason to vote against Prop 19. In addition to the new/increased auxiliary businesses that will be created, the adult-use commercial market is going to be slow to establish itself similar to Prop 215 (passed in 1996, explosion of dispensaries didn’t happen until 10 years later). Lastly, I will say that if you don’t like the way business is done in America, that is a separate issue that needs to be addressed in its own right – that is not a reason to vote against Prop 19. Since Prop 19 leaves it to local governments, that means we have time to organize and work with our local authorities before big business will be willing to enter the market (after it’s federally legal – still a number of years off). That means in real-world terms and analysis, what we have before us with Prop 19 is the opportunity to shift the way business happens in America by shaping how cannabis sales occur in California. That’s HUGE!!!! That is the forest beyond the trees…

7. While it is possible a decrease in profit margins may occur over time, it won’t be immediate since Prop 19 has to be implemented on the local level. The only immediate result is that adults over 21 won’t be a criminal for small amounts of pot, smell won’t be probable cause anymore (WOW that thought makes me excited as that’s the hardest thing to manage!), and cops & politicians won’t be able to play doctor with patients anymore! The commercial regulation part of Prop 19 is most likely to be challenged by the feds if a challenge occurs, while the individual rights will remain (and medical is exempted, so adult use limits WILL NOT apply to patients with doctor’s recommendations). If commercial regulation survives, I don’t think the bottom will completely fall out of the market, nor will the niche market of high quality cannabis disappear. Just as with wines, the high-end wines still have a market, still bring in a high dollar amount, and plenty of mid-size wineries exist. There’s no reason (besides stoner paranoia) to think high end cannabis will lose its reverence and value within our community. And I have to say, we have more power than we own, more voice than we share, and more ability to shape our world that we exercise. We can act like the “default world” doesn’t exist all we want, but that doesn’t make it disappear, and that won’t bring us to the solution we want to see for our highest evolution. I keep thinking of how the Kennedys were bootleggers back in the day, then they become legislators, policy-makers that have shaped our world. I happen to know some pretty amazing people involved with cannabis and think they would be great as politicians, especially those with pro-environment stances. Another great possibility with this is that people will become inspired to engage in the political process to shape our future, which is a critical endeavor in this time of transition, and make our world a better place to live in.

8. Any impact of Prop 19 will not be immediate and the market won’t bottom out the way Rand predicted. Their study was based on Tom Ammiano’s bill of $50/ounce tax, not Prop 19. Also, it doesn’t account for increased expenses that are the cost of doing business, like health insurance, licensing fees, payroll taxes (like ‘em or not, unpaid taxes can land you in jail/prison :/). I’ve continually been impressed with our community’s ability to reinvent itself and stay ahead of the curve; I think Prop 19 will be no different. I whole heartedly believe that we can both thrive and turn the possibilities that are before us with Prop 19 into game changing win-win scenarios that are mutually beneficial for our community and the country/world at-large. And for those who still want profits over legality (or freedom as I like to call it), there are 49 other states they can sell their cannabis to.

9. The other complaint lodged against Prop 19 is that it creates a new law affecting 18-20 year olds. What Prop 19 did here was model the law that currently exists for providing alcohol to people 18-20 year olds. However you feel about kids and drugs, even 18-20 year olds, the ability of youth to use illicit drugs legally will never pass a vote of either the people or state legislators. Remember, the drug war is for the kids after all, mmmkay? Or at least that’s what they want us to believe, but that still has resonance with the soccer moms who are the swing voter in this election. Keep in mind that those who are medical patients will still be medical and therefore protected under Prop 215. Prop 215 stands and cannot be amended by Prop 19, so anything that is currently legal, illegal, or in a gray zone under 215 will remain the same. That said, you should know that under the medical laws, as it currently stands under Prop 215 & SB 420, you can have your kids taken from you by CPS. Sadly, it happens all the time.

10. Some are complaining about the size limits of Prop 19 for personal use, while cumulatively over cycles of growth in 5×5 spaces, that will add up to much more than 1 oz, all of which is legal to possess (not travel with per se, but possess). This means that adults over 21 will have an affirmative defense in court for amounts greater than the limits Prop 19 sets. Again, medical is exempted and guaranteed under Prop 215, so if people want/need more for medical purposes, they can have that.

11. There’s a fundamental lack of understanding of legal language. Purpose 13, for example, is written in standard legal language and asserts the right of California to care for the “health, morals, public welfare and safety within the State,” thus reasserting California’s right, not the Feds, to enact the initiative as part of its duty for this care. This is the States’ Rights provision that claims our ability to regulate cannabis despite federal law. Still, some activists have needlessly looked at this provision with fear and skepticism. And for those who say that medical is going to be impacted, I have to wonder if the piece that’s missing for them is that Prop 215 and SB 420 are the equivalent to CA Health & Safety Code 11362.5 & 11362.7-9. The other side of the fears in the medical community are from those who are currently profiting from it and fear losing some of their pie instead of seeing the forest beyond their trees and that there will be enough fruit to fill even more pies than they could ever possibly eat.

12. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often. The last time California had this chance was 1972. The way that politics works is that people only fund that which they think will win. Donating money to political campaigns is not a tax write-off, making it less attractive to large funders. Future initiatives and efforts are likely to be impacted by our vote on Prop 19.

13. Prop 19 has a provision within it to allow it to be amended at a later time by either a future voter referendum or state legislation, which means that unlike Prop 215 that has challenges we are forced to live with because we can’t amend it, we can change things that don’t work in Prop 19. Considering the last time legalization was on the ballot was 38 years about, and it only took 7 years to get SB 420 passed about Prop 215, I’d much rather take my chances passing Prop 19 and fixing it later, than wait another 20+ years to free this crucial plant for our health, environment and well-being. Just Say NOW!!!!!

14. When we look at who is against Prop 19, we see cops, prosecutors, the prison lobby, the feds, etc. To vote against Prop 19 is to align with those who would rather see us in prison than be productive members of society. It is personally beyond me how anyone who is a friend to cannabis and cannabis consumers (patients or not) can in good conscious vote against a bill that would bring us a step closer toward being fully legal and protecting those in our community who take the most risks.

In addition to my belief that Prop 19 is well written, taking into account the historically conservative political climate that is mid-term elections, the potential for a federal challenge (a big reason for local regulation and not mandated throughout the state – the feds get to regulate commerce), and the need for change now (who knows what 2012 will bring, we’re ripe for change now with failing economies and low approval rates for politicians who are against legalization), the following is what is truly at the heart of my advocacy. Cannabis, and cannabis policy specifically, is what woke me up from my conditioned slumber, the prison industrial complex is what will keep me working on ending the drug war until I take my last breaths… here’s why…

The War on Drugs has been an abject failure, succeeding at one thing – turning the land of the free into the world’s leading jailer. I cannot support the prison industrial complex, I cannot vote alongside the prison guards and prosecutors, I cannot support the continuation of this drug war that has devastated our inner cities, entire countries in South America and people’s lives the world over. Even while Prop 19 won’t resolve everything, it is an important next step in dismantling the War on Drugs, of which cannabis is a cornerstone issue. Our prisons are modern day slavery and every step toward bringing justice to the injustice is an important one that I whole heartedly embrace. The 13th Amendment that abolished slavery has an exception clause in it: “except as punishment for a crime for which one has been duly convicted.” Then we have disproportionate enforcement adding up to more Blacks (prosecuted at 4-10 times more than whites) and Hispanics (prosecuted at 3 times as much as whites) filling jails and prisons while there are more white people who use drugs. It is for the selling of drugs that most people are incarcerated. We criminalize the market (sales) around cannabis yet overlook the use, while enforcement is largely targeted toward underserved communities. I believe that our children are going to look back at our time and wonder why we didn’t do something, similar to the way we wonder how people could even think to enslave a human now. Today, prisoners are moved around the way slaves were traded then. They also work for pennies for our corporations to have commissary. We can’t even keep drugs out of prisons, who are we fooling that we can get them off our streets?

If you ask me why I’m voting for Prop 19, it’s because the injustice has to end. Opportunities like Prop 19 don’t come around every day, or even every few years for that matter (77 years of prohibition and 38 years since our last opportunity for legalization on the state level). Politics is based on momentum as much as it is centered around money. Each piece of change builds upon the next. I know Prop 19 won’t resolve our prison crisis; however, every step toward that direction will build the momentum toward a tipping point that will allow us to reform our prisons, and cannabis being the cornerstone of the drug war with the greatest use among the populous, it is significant and will have far reaching impacts beyond our imaginations, beyond our personal situations, and bring us into a time of personal responsibility, reason in our laws and sanity in our policies.

In 2003-2004, I tattooed my back, my full back, in dedication to this sacred plant, and its resurrection to help heal humanity and the Earth. The wisdom and strength of the dragon rooted in history and tradition that dates beyond our written memory of time takes the scroll that reads Tai Ma (Great Hemp) in Chinese and passes it off to the Phoenix that Ma can rise from the ash of oppressive prohibition and criminality to be born again in fullest glory and beauty for the betterment of humanity and the collective experience of life on Earth.

I ask you to join me in voting Yes on Prop 19 that this Dream become reality, not just for ourselves, but for our children and their children into the next seven generations, that they may have a world worth inheriting. In my fullest of hearts, I believe freeing the cannabis plant is key to that Dream unfolding, becoming and actualizing in its fullest potential.

Some commentary on Richard Lee… As someone who worked for Don Duncan with Americans for Safe Access from 2005-2006, I can say that the explosion of dispensaries came before Oaksterdam University even existed (founded in Nov. 2007). The explosion in LA was well under way by then (2006) and the only other state that OU has been is Michigan, while Colorado is the other state that has experienced explosive growth. As someone who works for Oaksterdam University in Los Angeles, I can say that our goal isn’t to explode dispensaries all over the country. It’s to teach people to be safe and responsible in the cannabis industry, something I can tell you from my days with ASA is seriously needed! Many people get into this industry not knowing anything about business, politics, or even the laws around cannabis in California, yet they get into it anyway. I can also say from personal experience that many people that come through our program leave less willing to get into the industry than they were before they came. Richard is a Republican, and hence a businessman, however, he’s not looking at taking over or monopolizing the state’s industry. If he were, one would think he would have already expanded his dispensary business into other areas, which he has not done and the only reason OU is anywhere but Oakland is that other competent people stepped up to make it happen. I personally think that someone putting the money where their mouth is to the extent that Richard did is admirable…I saw a report that said he earned $1.5 million from OU, which happens to be the same amount he put up to get Prop 19 on the ballot. Putting all the money earned back into advancing the industry it was earned from, to create greater safeguards from prosecution and arrest, to freeing this versatile plant from generations of reefer madness, is more than I can say for most people involved in the cannabis industry.

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SNOOP says get out the vote and says he is VERY HIGH on 19

October 30, 2010 in Legalization, Video

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DPA running YES on 19 ads on Comedy Central to get the vote out

October 30, 2010 in Legalization, Video

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NOT COOLEY video of the day…

October 29, 2010 in Legalization, Miscellaneous, Video

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Inspiration for the movement to legalize cannabis

October 29, 2010 in Funny Stuff, Legalization, Video

CW: As we head into the final days of this huge moment in history, we all need a little inspiration to remind us what is at stake and why we get up and fight this battle everyday…FREEDOM! Get out the vote!

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Mikki Norris breaks it down on Pepper and wide-spread support for Prop 19

October 28, 2010 in Legalization

Unfortunately, if you have been following her screeds, Letitia Pepper appears to be delusional and behaving like an agent provocateur.

She moved in on the movement in these last few months just in time to undermine or reverse decades of good work by the hard-working activists and all the major reform organizations who brought us to where we stand today – and from which she is benefitting (if she truly is a patient).  Yet she sows discord, spews personal attacks, and uses scare tactics, distortion, deception and false or twisted logic to trick people out of voting Yes on Prop 19, the next logical step in our struggle for social justice and equality. She is working to obstruct real change from happening and blocking us from our goal of legalization.

Why does Pepper want to keep prohibition locked in? Why would anyone even believe or trust her? What has she done to promote our freedom and rights? All she does is misinterpret the laws, the court rulings and this initiative, and spend money of unknown origin to spread falsehood and stir up opposition. She comes from a law firm that works to shut down dispensaries. She never says anything against attorney general candidate Steve Cooley, who wants to shut down the dispensaries. It’s all very suspicious.

Sure, people fear change and the unknown, and there are vested interests in keeping marijuana illegal (people benefitting from high-priced cannabis, those who think cannabis is so dangerous only patients should be able to use it with a doctor’s note, growers who don’t want to go above-board and earn an honest living in a regulated market; narcs, cartels, and other prohibitionists whose paychecks depend on keeping it illegal, etc). Look at who’s funding and endorsing the No campaign. She sides with the narcs and a federal government intent on keeping us second-class citizens and, given all the arrests and dispensary raids going on in California, doesn’t even respect patient rights or access.

We stand at a moment of unprecedented support for our movement and quite possibly at a tipping point.  Prop. 19 is written in a manner that has generated tremendous support and endorsements from a variety of sources never seen before. This opportunity to change the paradigm should not be missed – there is no guarantee that we will have a another chance to make major steps forward any time soon. The great support it has will be there if we pass it. Prop. 19 has already benefited our movement, as the campaign has concentrated on building coalitions that will help us implement it. Whatever the outcome, we need to hold together as a movement and maintain these new coalitions and connections.

Prop. 19 has the support of the CA NAACP, the Latino Voters League, and ACLU of Northern California, Southern California and San Diego, because they recognize how important it is to end discrimination that marijuana prohibition perpetuates. Prohibition is racist in application, makes criminals out of good people,  and prevents people from getting jobs, benefits, custody of children, etc. If it passes, you can rest assured that they will be there to help implement it and end the abuse.

Prop. 19 has the support of many unions, like the SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers because it opens the door to a new, legal industry with the potential for good-paying jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

Prop.19 has the support of physicians like the Former Surgeon General of the US Joycelyn Elders and Dr. Larry Bedard, Former President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, because they know that cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco and that the consequences of prohibition are more harmful to people than cannabis ever could be.

Prop. 19 has the support of 75 law professors who signed a letter endorsing it. (See http://yeson19.com/endorse/lawprofessors/text ) They say that marijuana prohibition is an ineffective and bankrupt policy and understand that Prop. 19 will enable the courts to concentrate on prosecuting and incarcerating serious and violent criminals, rather than non-violent marijuana offenders. It will end useless and harmful arrests and incarcerations.

Prop. 19 has the support of Moms United Against the Drug War because it will do a better job of keeping kids from getting cannabis with a regulated and controlled market, and keep more people from getting future-crushing criminal records than the current system.

Prop. 19 has the support of the National Black Police Association, the National Latino Officers Association, LEAP and other law enforcement groups who have experience in the field and know that it is a racist, failed policy, that it wastes law enforcement resources, and that it will put a dent in the cartels operations and the subsequent problems they create. They see it as enhancing public safety. (See Former Police Chief Joe McNamara’s TV ad at www.yeson19.com)

Prop. 19 has the support of faith leaders and groups like the California Council of Churches IMPACT
Progressive Jewish Alliance, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Action Network, and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative because there is a moral imperative to end the discrimination against good people who use cannabis and they believe that compassion should lead our drug policy. Of course, they support compassionate use, but they also realize that it’s wrong to criminalize healthy people in the process.

Prop. 19 has the support of reform organizations like NORML, MPP, Drug Policy Alliance, DrugSense, DRCNet, the Cannabis Consumers Campaign, Safe Access Now, the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and nearly all of the leaders in the cannabis movement, because they know that medical marijuana is protected, and see Prop. 19 as a major step forward from the status quo. These groups and individuals have been working for reform for years or decades and understand that it makes sense strategically to address the concerns of the greater population, while advancing our cause of social justice, compassion, and human rights. Prop. 19 is on the ballot and a win will send a message heard around the world that it is time to legalize cannabis, the “Berlin Wall” of Prohibition that causes so much harm to our community is coming down, and that people who use cannabis deserve to be treated equally under the law.

Prop. 19 is about the future of cannabis and of the movement. Do we want to constrain marijuana and keep it medical, or are we ready to extend equal rights to all adults over 21? Do we want to develop the cannabis industry to help generate jobs, create more products and access to good quality, lower-priced cannabis along with revenue for the common good, or do we submit to prohibition-subsidized, inflated, underground prices and sacrifice non-medical cannabis providers to criminal penalties? Do we want the lack of quality controls and prosecutorial whims of law enforcement to continue? Do we cower to fear mongering by people like Letitia Pepper, or do we make a stand? I say it’s time to challenge the powers that be with a message sent straight from the California voters: Cannabis is good and we, the people, want it to be legal.

I have been working on this issue for 22 years now, and I am proudly voting for Prop. 19. I am not afraid of the future possibilities for cannabis, and I ask you to stand with me and all these wonderful supporters who believe that criminalization of good people who use cannabis is wrong and should be a thing of the past. We are the people who have worked so hard to bring reform to the level it is now with Prop. 215 and SB 420, and we know that our work will not be done if it passes. We know that we will have to be vigilant to make sure that our rights are implemented as intended — to allow patients and non-patient adults alike to use, grow, share, buy and sell cannabis just like we do with other legally, regulated, taxed and controlled products. We are the people who want freedom, justice, and equal rights for all cannabis consumers. Please join us in telling everyone you know to vote No on Steve Cooley and Yes on Prop. 19.

MikkiUnfortunately, if you have been following her screeds, Letitia Pepper appears to be delusional and behaving like an agent provocateur.

She moved in on the movement in these last few months just in time to undermine or reverse decades of good work by the hard-working activists and all the major reform organizations who brought us to where we stand today – and from which she is benefitting (if she truly is a patient).  Yet she sows discord, spews personal attacks, and uses scare tactics, distortion, deception and false or twisted logic to trick people out of voting Yes on Prop 19, the next logical step in our struggle for social justice and equality. She is working to obstruct real change from happening and blocking us from our goal of legalization.

Why does Pepper want to keep prohibition locked in? Why would anyone even believe or trust her? What has she done to promote our freedom and rights? All she does is misinterpret the laws, the court rulings and this initiative, and spend money of unknown origin to spread falsehood and stir up opposition. She comes from a law firm that works to shut down dispensaries. She never says anything against attorney general candidate Steve Cooley, who wants to shut down the dispensaries. It’s all very suspicious.

Sure, people fear change and the unknown, and there are vested interests in keeping marijuana illegal (people benefitting from high-priced cannabis, those who think cannabis is so dangerous only patients should be able to use it with a doctor’s note, growers who don’t want to go above-board and earn an honest living in a regulated market; narcs, cartels, and other prohibitionists whose paychecks depend on keeping it illegal, etc). Look at who’s funding and endorsing the No campaign. She sides with the narcs and a federal government intent on keeping us second-class citizens and, given all the arrests and dispensary raids going on in California, doesn’t even respect patient rights or access.

We stand at a moment of unprecedented support for our movement and quite possibly at a tipping point.  Prop. 19 is written in a manner that has generated tremendous support and endorsements from a variety of sources never seen before. This opportunity to change the paradigm should not be missed – there is no guarantee that we will have a another chance to make major steps forward any time soon. The great support it has will be there if we pass it. Prop. 19 has already benefited our movement, as the campaign has concentrated on building coalitions that will help us implement it. Whatever the outcome, we need to hold together as a movement and maintain these new coalitions and connections.

Prop. 19 has the support of the CA NAACP, the Latino Voters League, and ACLU of Northern California, Southern California and San Diego, because they recognize how important it is to end discrimination that marijuana prohibition perpetuates. Prohibition is racist in application, makes criminals out of good people,  and prevents people from getting jobs, benefits, custody of children, etc. If it passes, you can rest assured that they will be there to help implement it and end the abuse.

Prop. 19 has the support of many unions, like the SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers because it opens the door to a new, legal industry with the potential for good-paying jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

Prop.19 has the support of physicians like the Former Surgeon General of the US Joycelyn Elders and Dr. Larry Bedard, Former President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, because they know that cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco and that the consequences of prohibition are more harmful to people than cannabis ever could be.

Prop. 19 has the support of 75 law professors who signed a letter endorsing it. (See http://yeson19.com/endorse/lawprofessors/text ) They say that marijuana prohibition is an ineffective and bankrupt policy and understand that Prop. 19 will enable the courts to concentrate on prosecuting and incarcerating serious and violent criminals, rather than non-violent marijuana offenders. It will end useless and harmful arrests and incarcerations.

Prop. 19 has the support of Moms United Against the Drug War because it will do a better job of keeping kids from getting cannabis with a regulated and controlled market, and keep more people from getting future-crushing criminal records than the current system.

Prop. 19 has the support of the National Black Police Association, the National Latino Officers Association, LEAP and other law enforcement groups who have experience in the field and know that it is a racist, failed policy, that it wastes law enforcement resources, and that it will put a dent in the cartels operations and the subsequent problems they create. They see it as enhancing public safety. (See Former Police Chief Joe McNamara’s TV ad at www.yeson19.com)

Prop. 19 has the support of faith leaders and groups like the California Council of Churches IMPACT
Progressive Jewish Alliance, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Action Network, and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative because there is a moral imperative to end the discrimination against good people who use cannabis and they believe that compassion should lead our drug policy. Of course, they support compassionate use, but they also realize that it’s wrong to criminalize healthy people in the process.

Prop. 19 has the support of reform organizations like NORML, MPP, Drug Policy Alliance, DrugSense, DRCNet, the Cannabis Consumers Campaign, Safe Access Now, the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and nearly all of the leaders in the cannabis movement, because they know that medical marijuana is protected, and see Prop. 19 as a major step forward from the status quo. These groups and individuals have been working for reform for years or decades and understand that it makes sense strategically to address the concerns of the greater population, while advancing our cause of social justice, compassion, and human rights. Prop. 19 is on the ballot and a win will send a message heard around the world that it is time to legalize cannabis, the “Berlin Wall” of Prohibition that causes so much harm to our community is coming down, and that people who use cannabis deserve to be treated equally under the law.

Prop. 19 is about the future of cannabis and of the movement. Do we want to constrain marijuana and keep it medical, or are we ready to extend equal rights to all adults over 21? Do we want to develop the cannabis industry to help generate jobs, create more products and access to good quality, lower-priced cannabis along with revenue for the common good, or do we submit to prohibition-subsidized, inflated, underground prices and sacrifice non-medical cannabis providers to criminal penalties? Do we want the lack of quality controls and prosecutorial whims of law enforcement to continue? Do we cower to fear mongering by people like Letitia Pepper, or do we make a stand? I say it’s time to challenge the powers that be with a message sent straight from the California voters: Cannabis is good and we, the people, want it to be legal.

I have been working on this issue for 22 years now, and I am proudly voting for Prop. 19. I am not afraid of the future possibilities for cannabis, and I ask you to stand with me and all these wonderful supporters who believe that criminalization of good people who use cannabis is wrong and should be a thing of the past. We are the people who have worked so hard to bring reform to the level it is now with Prop. 215 and SB 420, and we know that our work will not be done if it passes. We know that we will have to be vigilant to make sure that our rights are implemented as intended — to allow patients and non-patient adults alike to use, grow, share, buy and sell cannabis just like we do with other legally, regulated, taxed and controlled products. We are the people who want freedom, justice, and equal rights for all cannabis consumers. Please join us in telling everyone you know to vote No on Steve Cooley and Yes on Prop. 19.

Mikki Norris

Weed Activist

THIS IS DISGUSTING! Seattle cops raid patients over 2 plants.

October 28, 2010 in Legalization, Local Regulations, Miscellaneous

CW: This story is the epitome of what is wrong with the war on cannabis users…Another person who is owed a big fucking apology. Another person a law like Prop. 19 could have helped. This is the stupid probable cause drug war mentality bullshit that we are looking to end. Save money. Save time. Save some plants. And knock off the macho door buster shit over cannabis. Fucking idiots!

From Toke of the Town:

Machine-Gun Toting Cops Raid Legal Pot Patient For Two Plants

By Steve Elliott

Seattle Police officers brandishing submachine guns broke down the door of a 50-year-old medical marijuana patient Monday night and pushed him face down to the floor. His offense? He waslegally growing two tiny cannabis plants.

Will Laudanski, a military veteran who was an Airborne Ranger in Desert Shield, wasn’t even breaking the law. As an authorized medical marijuana patient in the state of Washington, he’s allowed to grow up to 15 plants and possess 24 ounces of cannabis.

But Seattle Police have shown they are willing to treat the smallest of pot cases — even in cases where the marijuana is legal — as if they were raiding the biggest crack house or meth lab in town.

Just before 9 p.m. Monday officers at SPD’s East Precinct held a briefing about a complaint of marijuana at a four-unit apartment building in the Leschi neighborhood, reports Dominic Holden at The Stranger.

A week earlier, officers had applied for a search warrant from King County Superior Court, sent an officer with a drug dog to sniff at the door, “confirmed the scent of marijuana,” and started planning their big SWAT style drug raid.

​A gung-ho SWAT team of officers decked out in all their Rambo-esque raid equipment — between six and nine officers — ran up the stairs, some carrying MP5 submachine guns, and one guy with a battering ram. They pounded on Laudanski’s door and said it was the police.

“I was tying my robe,” said Laudanski, who had just stepped out of the bathroom. “I said ‘I am opening the door,’ but before I could get my hand to the door, they busted it open and then rushed me.”

Laudanski told The Stranger his door now “has cracks running right down the middle. I can’t really bolt it.”

“During the entry to this apartment, the locking mechanism to the front door was possibly damaged,” the official incident report drily notes.

“I was trying to comply,” Laudanski said. “Then they pushed me down to the ground and just basically got me positioned in a corner of the kitchen with my face on the floor.”

As officers began to tear up the place while he was face down on the floor, Laudanski told them he was an authorized medical marijuana patient and directed them to his paperwork in the other room. ”Do you want to see it?” he asked the officers.

Laudanski “had paperwork in the room declaring his marijuana grow was for medical purposes,” the police report acknowledged.

As officers ransacked the apartment, they discovered two small marijuana plants in the bedroom, each growing in pots.

“They were able to see the full extent of my pathetic grow,” Laudanski said. “There were four little nuggets of bud the size of your pinkie on one and five on the other. They’re about 12 inches high.”

Police didn’t take the plants.

“Clearly, in this case, there was no law violation that was discovered,” admitted Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb.

But Whitcomb adds, “Our mission is to enforce the law. We do that by gathering information of any evidence of any criminal violation. And I’d go on to say that had the officers known that, they would have spent their tune diubg something else. However, unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury.”

But officers do have the luxury of speaking the English language, don’t they? Couldn’t they have, like, knocked on the goddamned door and asked about the marijuana, especially given the fact that Washington is a medical marijuana state?

Well, it turns out that “knock-and-talks” aren’t the protocol for “drug cases” — even small pot cases, Whitcomb said.

Well, heaven forbid you should go against your fucked-up protocol just because medical marijuana is legal, officer! By all means, feel free to break down doors, rough up sick people, and trash their homes! No need to make sure they’re breaking the law first; that would violate protocol!

Laudanski said he hasn’t done anything to attract the cops’ attention. And he doesn’t know why so much force was necessary.

“I came from a perspective that was pro-police,” said Laudanski, who worked in New York as a paramedic. “But I still think this was very, very wrong what they did. I feel that higher-up people who ordered this, they are wasting our time and our money and they are putting innocent people in danger.”

Source: http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2010/10/machine-gun_toting_cops_raid_legal_pot_patient_for.php

Weed Activist

JOHN SINCLAIR: A Brief History of the Movement to Legalize Marijuana

October 27, 2010 in Legalization

GETTING NORML

A Brief History of the Movement to Legalize Marijuana

Looking ahead to next month’s long-anticipated popular vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California, it seems like a million years ago when I went to the West Coast in 1972 to campaign for the original Proposition 19 – the first California Marijuana Initiative.

Out of prison for only a few months and still celebrating the reversal on appeal of my conviction for possessing two joints that had forced me to serve 29 months of a 9-1/2-to-10-year sentence in the Michigan prison system, I had been recruited by my friend Mike Aldrich to join him on the board of directors of a pioneering marijuana legalization organization called Amorphia: The Cannabis Cooperative.

Amorphia was spearheading the campaign to repeal the state’s laws against adult use, possession and cultivation of marijuana, and Aldrich was assembling a team of activists to tour the state’s college campuses, give press conferences, and speak publicly on behalf of Proposition 19.

So, at his behest, I joined Keith Stroup, a young lawyer from Washington, D.C., who headed another fledgling organization called NORML – the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws – and a number of local luminaries to drum up support for CMI. As I recall, Keith and I went on to make appearances in Phoenix, Ariz., and Santa Fe, N.M., on the same legalization tour, had a ball, and became fast friends for many years to come.

Amorphia had been established in 1970 by Blair Newman to manufacture and sell Acapulco Gold brand rolling papers to raise money for a marijuana legalization movement that would include a media campaign, a news service, a speakers’ bureau, court tests of pot laws, and funding expert witnesses to appear before state legislatures to lobby for legalization.

Further, Newman was convinced that when marijuana was legalized (by 1980, he projected), Amorphia could produce high-quality marijuana on communal farms and import the best foreign marijuana, then market its products under the Acapulco Gold trademark and use the expanded profits for social change.

Newman “estimated that the legal marijuana market would be about $3 billion a year,” Patrick Anderson points out in High in America: The True Story Behind NORML and the Politics of Marijuana. “If Amorphia could control one sixth of that, it would gross $500 million a year and should have a profit of $30 million a year to put into social action.”

“Let It Grow!” was Amorphia’s battle cry as the Cannabis Cooperative took its first steps under the banner of “free legal backyard marijuana,” and soon Newman brought in Dr. Michael Aldrich, head of Buffalo LEMAR and publisher of Marijuana Review, to join him in San Francisco as co-director of the ambitious little organization.

Already known as Dr. Dope and shortly to become founder of the FitzHugh Ludlow Memorial Library, Aldrich quickly teamed up with law professors Leo Paoli and John Kaplan to organize the 1972 California Marijuana Initiative as the first full-scale attack on America’s insane drug laws. Their efforts led to placing Proposition 19 on the ballot by means of a genuine grassroots, all-volunteer organizing drive, and the initiative attracted a remarkable 33 percent of the vote – more than twice the predicted size. The movement was greatly encouraged by the election results and looked forward to fighting on to ultimate victory.

But Amorphia was already starting to stagger under the weight of what had turned out to be a very bad business decision: trying to develop the first hemp rolling papers for U.S. distribution, a proposition that eventually swallowed up all available funds and sent Amorphia’s legalization activities into a tailspin.

The momentum generated by the surprising level of public support for Proposition 19 was picked up by Stroup and NORML, whose concept of correct strategy differed fundamentally from the approach adopted by Newman and Aldrich and their associates at Amorphia.

The groups had attempted to co-exist and work together during the CMI campaign and thereafter – Blair Newman had even moved to Washington, worked out of Stroup’s basement office, and called himself co-director of Amorphia and deputy director of NORML – but Amorphia’s business problems drove the legalization organization farther and farther from its chosen course of action in the political arena.

In the end, NORML prevailed and, finally, in 1974, Amorphia was folded into the NORML structure and reconstituted as the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The next year, California NORML successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass the Moscone Act of 1975, which “decriminalized” marijuana possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, with a maximum $100 fine for 1 ounce or less. At this point, spirits were at an all-time high among the proponents of legalization, and the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 after the eight long years of darkness drawn down over America by Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford raised our hopes even higher.

Stroup became intimate with the Carter administration and its drug policy director, Peter Bourne, and it seemed that NORML would lead the nation into a bright new future where the recreational use of drugs would no longer be a criminal matter.

But the legalization movement foundered on the shoals of a major scandal when Bourne, Stroup and their pals were exposed in media reports as snorters of cocaine at White House parties, and the carefully cultivated image of marijuana as a harmless, even benevolent recreational substance deserving of decriminalization at least was smeared with the brush of “hard” drug use. People in the government who had been leaning toward legalization began to back away from the issue, and the prospect of progressive marijuana legislation now being passed was effectively dead in the water.

The White House cocaine controversy also clashed severely with NORML’s lawyerly, socially conservative “decriminalization” image and the illusion of American “normalcy” it was meant to project, seriously undercutting the efficacy of the organization in terms of effecting real changes in the law.

For the next 20 years, the marijuana legalization movement remained at a virtual standstill while NORML was basically relegated to a place where you could be referred to a lawyer who would arrange a plea bargain with the prosecution to keep you out of jail but otherwise fully within the confines of a system that viciously persecuted millions of Americans who liked to get high on weed.

With all due respect, the NORML regime remained fully in control of the issue for a quarter of a century yet failed to take legalization even one step further than the Moscone Act of 1975. It wasn’t until the Medical Marijuana movement led by Dennis Perrone in San Francisco and Scott Isler in Los Angeles mobilized AIDS patients and other medicinal marijuana users in 1996 to succeed in exempting this segment of the populace from the draconian punishments meted out by the generals of the War on Drugs.

Since then, 14 states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize medical marijuana despite the unrelenting opposition of the government and its storm troops. While most of us may qualify as patients, the principle of liberation for the recreational user has gone begging until just now, and the moment of truth is finally at hand.

By the time my next column appears, we’ll have our answer – and, hopefully, the true dawning of a new age.

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