November 2, 2010 in Legalization
How Prop 19 can help Roger Christie, Aaron Zeeman and the other 12 facing federal charges in Hawaii?
A “Yes Vote” on prop 19 will signal to the Federal Government and the world that people are ready to end MARIJUANA PROHIBITION, to end this failed drug policy that targets cannabis users.
If prop 19 passes, politicians will take notice and some may feel the courage to take a stand. Marijuana legalization will take center stage as the Feds most likely assert their power and attempt to stop it.
The media and the public will have ample time to listen to listen to marijuana advocates dispel years of marijuana propaganda.
All this could trigger the day when a United States Representative to the United Nations will walk into the UN and declare that it is time to amend the Single Narcotics Treaty of 1961, to once again recognize the medicinal benefits as of cannabis, and to make the necessary changes that will allow federal law to change and end the 70+ year prohibition. This is important for all users, medical or not.
IT IS TIME for the United States and other nations to be free to loosen up their cannabis laws. It is time to end prohibition. The significance of prop 19 goes far beyond the issue of personal use, or possession of an ounce. This is the first initiative to make the ballot in 70 years of prohibition that eliminates criminal sanctions for any adult use of a small amount of cannabis. It would be irresponsible not to vote YES on 19.
Roger Christie, Aaron Zeeman and 12 others are facing prison because of pot politics. YOUR VOTE MATTERS. IT REALLY IS THE LEAST THAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP THE THOUSANDS OF CANNABIS PRISONERS IN THE US PRISONS TODAY, AND THE THOUSANDS MORE FACING TRIAL.
Roger Christie, leader of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry is a longtime marijuana activist. For over 15 years he has been active in reforming marijuana law in Hawaii. Aaron Zeeman has been active in marijuana politics for at least ten. In the 90′s Christie worked to end the harassment of personal growers. In 2006 both Roger Christie, Aaron Zeeman and many others fell short of the needed signatures to get a “lowest police priority” initiative on the ballot. They failed to gain enough signatures, but they did attract the attention of the federal authorities. The Feds placed wire-taps on Roger’s church, home and cell phone lines to gather evidence on his ministries daily operations.
Roger and others were instrumental in getting a Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Cannabis Ordinance’ pass by 34,957 votes on November 5, 2008. Law enforcement could then be freed up to deal with dangerous issues instead of going after marijuana users.
Move to 2010 where Roger Christie sits in a federal prison, being held without bail for being a danger to society for marijuana related charges. Roger has had 4 bail hearings. All attempts to have Roger released before his trial have failed.
And what about the 13 other people arrested with Roger? Many are facing mandatory minimum prison sentences of 5-10 years for minor amounts of marijuana. How? The federal government has charged them with conspiracy. That means they worked together to provide for each other and share their collective cultivation efforts. All 14 are charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 284 marijuana plants, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum of 40 years. Several homes are at risk of being lost in asset forfeiture proceedings. Many of the people, including Aaron Zeeman below did not have or posess any marijuana plants during the raids.
Aaron Zeeman is a single father and lives a very simple life in Hawaii raising his ten year old daughter. He has been a registered medical marijuana patient for many years. Surviving on social security Aaron struggles with health problems. With all this, Aaron has been a working force in marijuana advocacy and worked on the measure with Roger to get Ballot Question #1 (the lowest law enforcement priority ballot initiative) that won on Hawaii’s Big Island. He had been a “member” of the church for over a decade. Aaron did not know how Roger found him when he will ill, but he was thankful for his ministry in his time of need.
HOW CAN VOTING YES ON PROP 19 in California help people like Roger Christie and Aaron Zeeman? Because their will be a ripple effect of media coverage and federal involvement on this issue that may help trigger the end of 70 years of marijuana prohibition.
November 1, 2010 in Legalization
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Yes on 19! The last four days of the campaign will be the most critical for reminding people to vote and making sure we get a big enough turnout for the win!
Starting Saturday, October 30th, and going through Tuesday, November 2nd, we will have hundreds of volunteers handing out literature, knocking on doors, calling voters and walking people to the polls.
Please fill out the form below to sign up to get out the vote. One of our team leaders will be in touch with you.
FOR MORE INFO GO TO: YES ON 19 VOLUNTEER PAGE
November 1, 2010 in Legalization
To Tax and Regulate Cannabis
The Compromise That Goes Into Legalizing Cannabis for Adult Use
Legalize it. What could be simpler than that? Ask Richard Lee. Since he began his effort to pass an initiative that would legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adult use he has experienced resistance from all angles. The progressives think it is too conservative and the conservatives think it is too radical. It is a process that is continually evolving, as he tries to weigh and balance all of the different viewpoints that he has come across since the inception of the Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 ballot initiative hoping to legalize up to an ounce of cannabis for personal use and allow for the creation of a system for adults to legally obtain cannabis.
It is not as if Richard agrees with every aspect of the initiative, but he also wants it to pass. He is confident in the measure passing if there is an all out effort for it. He definitely thinks it is a better time than ever before in the history prohibition to push a measure like this forward. Rich believes that it is sort of like the primary season of an election and although many activists have expressed concern and have outright threatened not to support it, he thinks they will come around and be united for the general election aspect of it. He has sought the advice of the cannabis community, but he also has to weigh that with the input from highly skilled political consultants who know what it takes to pass an initiative.
There are some obstacles to overcome on many fronts regarding the wording and content of the initiative. Richard says he appreciates the enthusiasm of those who have expressed opinion on the matter and is pleased by the dialogue it has created within the community. “We are lucky to have so many diverse viewpoints in the reform community,” he says. Some matters he has had to confront from activists are the one-ounce limit proposed, whether or not to have a provision for releasing prisoners that have been convicted of marijuana crimes, the decision to allow counties to have the option of not participating, and the 21-and-over age limit it imposes.
His response to those who say possession of an ounce is too little and that it enables law enforcement the ability to still jail and arrest users is that it is a simple matter of politics. “An ounce is the current decriminalization amount that has been used for 30 years in California,” says Lee. “An ounce is equivalent to about two packs of cigarettes, which is reasonable for adult use needs. It is just a starting point. After it is more (federally) legal then it will not be an issue, like alcohol, there will be no limits because there are no issues of resale or diversion. It is not perfect, but it is a start.”
The issue of writing in a provision that releases prisoners is a more tricky matter, and somewhat of a political hot potato. Remember Willie Horton? It was a smear campaign against Michael Dukakis that painted him as weak on crime because a bill he signed as Governor released a prisoner that ended up committing more horrific crimes after being released. Dukakis lost the election handily after not rebounding from this crack in his armor. Richard Lee does not want to give ammunition to those who are sure to oppose him and he is not even sure if it is legal to include releasing prisoners. “According to the attorneys I am working with an initiative cannot retroactively go back and change people’s sentencing, but it can make it so if the law is changed prisoners can petition for their release,” says Lee. Many activists agree that adding a “release of prisoners” aspect to the initiative is an easy way for law enforcement and opposition groups to scare the bejeezus out of the public and will make it much more difficult to get passed.
When asked about the provision allowing counties to opt out of the measure, he says there are two reasons. One is you cannot force a county or city to break federal law. “You cannot pass a law that says you must break federal law,” he says. The other reason is political reality. “Look at the medical cannabis situation. Some cities allow for it and others do not. You cannot force a horse to drink,” say Rich. “Progressive areas like Oakland and San Francisco will thrive. Remember after alcohol prohibition not all states legalized it right away. Mississippi did not legalize it until 1966. It also gives jurisdictions choices on how they will implement it as well, whether it be coffee shops, retail establishments, pharmacies, or whatever.”
His reasoning for the 21-and-over is that it gives it a better chance to pass. It is another simple political reality. The initiative does leave the option open for the legislature to adjust that if they see fit, but he believes it is an easier sale to voters to let them compare it to alcohol in that sense.
Hemp cultivation being allowed is a major issue that could help bring some rural voters around. “It will make California the 8th state to allow for hemp cultivation. In some ways it does not need an explicit paragraph to allow for hemp. It would stand to reason that if you could grow high THC cannabis that it would be given that you could grow low THC cannabis plants,” he says. “But we did put a paragraph to ensure that it was covered though.”
He hopes that medical marijuana supporters will also get behind legalization to help clear up some of the confusion created by the medical laws and their implementation. “We need to get law enforcement to quit playing doctor and allow for sensible use by adults with no judging if they are sick enough to use cannabis,” Lee states. “They need to know that we will never give up. That we will continue to demand that people be allowed to use cannabis.” He understands that it is an uphill battle, but he also understands that doing nothing is not an option. Rich believes that people are sensible enough to pass a reasonable initiative that is balanced and provides compromise, without selling out all of our rights.
The initiative is a bold step in the right direction. It is actually one of many bold steps in the right direction, as two other cannabis legalization initiative efforts have also been filed with the Attorney General’s offices. The two other initiatives are much more loosely controlled and worded and have some ideal concepts in them both. The question is if we can afford to base an initiative on our community’s ideals and risk losing at the ballot box because we tried to do too much. This is the great compromise of it all. It does not matter what any of us think unless we can convince over 50% of California to follow our suit. It will be interesting to see how the initiatives all play out in the signature gathering and support stages of their development.
It is inevitable that this effort will not please everyone. Heck. It may not please anyone. But it may just transform the cannabis debate and open a Pandora’s box of freedom. It could also carry some unintended effects that we should all think about, as well. What does legalization look like if it does pass? How can we avoid corporate greed, governmental takeover, and strict regulatory issues that could take everything that is special about cannabis and morph it into an industry we no longer recognize? It is a discussion that is worth having, so I strongly encourage you to become more involved in the debate. No matter what happens, Richard Lee will have to accept that the definition of compromise is two people being unhappy rather than just one, or in his case many people being unhappy than just a few. In the end, we can only hope that the California voter sees the sensibility in legalizing cannabis and that Richard’s first step is a good one for everyone involved. We must have an open mind and civil conversation about what legalization looks like in the community? The way we want to see that look may give us great insight as to what we need to do to get there and what compromises will be necessary along the way.
November 1, 2010 in Legalization
My new hero…
October 31, 2010 in Legalization
by Kit O’Connell
My friend Michael Watts of Michael’s Rant recently asked me to write something for his blog about the use of cannabis (marijuana) and the upcoming vote in California over Proposition 19. Without naming names, I am aware that he recently witnessed the effect this drug had on a loved one of his with a chronic pain condition. As a basically healthy person who does not partake, I think he was surprised at how effective it was in alleviating his friend’s discomfort. Since I am fairly outspoken about the effectiveness of cannabis on my Fibromyalgia, I am happy to write a bit more about it here.
Writing about this is a bit of a daunting task however — I have spent much of my adult life educating myself about the drug war in general and cannabis in particular, since it is both illegal where I live and the most effective, sustainable treatment I have found for my illness. It’s hard to know where to begin, assuming I am writing for a novice. Do I talk about the potential health benefits it has for people with scores of illnesses? The ways in which its risks have been inflated out of proportion by the agents of the drug war? Should I give examples of how other countries have fared in the wake of decriminalization? Complain about the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration‘s continued use of the Justice Department and the DEA to oppose state-level marijuana laws?
I will start, instead, by talking a little about how it has helped me and why I wish I could legally make use of it. My condition, Fibromyalgia, is poorly understood but causes intense, chronic pain as well as related issues like difficulty sleeping. At one time — when I had a shiny, private health plan — I took as many as 6 different pharmaceutical drugs multiple times a day. Each one had its own side effects which, when mingled with my already debilitating condition, made my life even worse. I had prescriptions to help me deal with the side effects of other prescriptions! Worst of all, people with Fibromyalgia seem to develop a rapid tolerance to many pharmaceuticals — especially painkillers — so eventually I’d be feeling just the side effects and not the benefits at all.
By contrast, cannabis creates minimal tolerance, and what tolerance it does create goes away quickly after a break. Though I am rarely completely pain free, a few tokes can on many days make the difference between productiveness or a day spent laying in bed in pain. While I can’t pretend that I do not enjoy the more recreational side effects — certainly they are far more pleasant than the ones I suffer from pharmaceuticals — with regular use in moderation I find that I am not ‘too stoned’ to function. Though I don’t have concrete scientific evidence to back it up, I believe that my body is using cannabis to supplement for the painkilling effects of its own endogenous cannabinoids, and therefore there is less available to create the euphoric “high” that purely recreational users experience.
Which brings us to the topic of recreational vs. medicinal use. Many people, especially those against legalization, argue that the medical marijuana issue is a false one, designed to draw attention away from the real goal of legalization. I agree — I believe that everyone should have the right to decide what substances to put in their bodies without fear of arrest, especially when it comes to a substance that is arguably safer than alcohol. While it certainly has negative potential just like any mind-altering substance, I have seen cannabis bring people closer together, open minds to new ideas, and aid in the creation of beautiful art. The truth is that I believe almost everyone is potentially a medical user, whether for chronic health conditions or everyday aches and pains — let’s not forget to point out that once upon a time cannabis was part of every doctor’s pharamacopia and could be easily obtained in tincture from neighborhood drugstores.
Proposition 19 builds on the publicity created by California’s successful (though federally persecuted) medical marijuana program by actively legalizing possession and sale under certain conditions. Since I can’t afford to move to California, I don’t think I’ll ever benefit from it directly except on my rare visits to the state. However I applaud this proposition as a step in the right direction, as a first step in reclaiming our society from the harmful effects of the drug war. If Proposition 19 passes, I believe the people of California will see an economic benefit, a reduction in crime and the percentage of the state population in prison, and a less stressed police force who will be freed from pursuing harmless drug users instead of real criminals.
There are many sources for information on the drug war and cannabis on the Internet — some of them linked above in this article — but I wanted to close by pointing readers to Firedoglake‘s Just Say Now, a new transpartisan alliance dedicated to supporting efforts toward saner drug policies throughout the United States.
I hope this brief introduction has offered some new ideas or information; I am happy to answer questions in my comments.
October 31, 2010 in Legalization
Prop 19 is a regulatory approach we can live with. The purpose is to mainstream marijuana thru limited adult legalization and local control. That means cities and counties can decide their own rules regarding taxation.
The state-wide policy will be that adults can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a 25 sq ft garden of plants. That is the floor for outright protection and no locality can lower the threshold below those minimums.
Anything over one ounce and 25 sq ft allows localities to choose whether or not to develop their own policies for regulating cultivation and sales and collecting taxes (similar to alcohol prohibition, where policies were determined locally).
The following are 19 reasons to support Prop 19, Tax Cannabis 2010.
1) The most important reason to support 19 is to break the irrational and unenforceable marijuana prohibition logjam we’ve lived with for 3/4 of a century, with all its injustice and inequality.
Marijuana prohibition effectively organizes crime, corruption and violence, extending back to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (which ended prescription access). The Marijuana War is the longest most protracted war in US history.
Prop 19 is a sea change in direction away from prohibition. The genie could never be put back into the bottle, once the benefits of legalization are experienced. A New York Times ad entitled “Appeal for a new international drug policy,” signed by former public officials Joycelyn Elders, George Schultz, Willie Brown, among others, stated: ”We now believe the global war on drugs is causing more harm than drug abuse itself.”
2) Prop 19 protects all adults from bogus vehicle searches and bogus structure searches based on alleged smell. There must be probable cause of a crime and aroma is not grounds for a crime.
3) Prop 19 will not dilute or restrict Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act. There is neither initiative content nor legislative intent that would allow that.
4) Prop 19 prohibits discrimination against cannabis users. Workplace policies must be applied equally.
5) Prop 19 creates a defense in court for personal use possession and cultivation, similar to Prop 215 for medical use.
6) Prop 19 would significantly reduce the disproportionate burden of the marijuana laws on the African-American community. 850,000 people are arrested annually in the US for marijuana violations, the majority for possession of small amounts. A recent study shows that cannabis arrest rates for African Americans in Los Angeles is more than 300% higher than that for whites, even though the US Dept of Health & Human Services has data showing that young blacks are less likely to use cannabis than whites. They are also more likely to suffer disproportionate sentences than whites, on top of more frequent arrests.
Racism was a big factor in getting the marijuana laws passed in the first
place. Prop 19 would start the process of correcting that intolerable historical
injustice. 1 out of 3 (?) African American men are caught in the clutches of law
enforcement for minor drug offenses. The government spends more on prisons than on post-secondary education, largely to lock up the poor and people of color in the drug war. Legalizing possession of one ounce will surely reduce the number of people victimized for being “black in public”. That alone is worth a Yes vote.
7) Prop 19 is lined up against the entirety of law enforcement associations, the US Attorney General, virtually all politicians and leading corporations, including the alcohol, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries, which are all spending big money to prevent Prop 19s limited personal use legalization. Why? Because cannabis is an effective medical alternative to all three. A victory for Prop 19 will be a blow against big pharma, alchohol and
tobacco as well as law enforcement’s entrenched powers, with vast unlimited marijuana war resources at their disposal year after year.
8) Prop 19 would rearrange how taxpayer money is being spent to prosecute marijuana in California, which has been estimated at up to $1.9 billion. It is also estimated that the yearly California underground market in
cannabis is estimated at $14 billion and that $1.4 billion in new tax revenues annually could be generated. The legalization movement aims to redirect the flow of these dollars from violent drug cartels to government coffers to stabilize local economies and prevent economic collapse. 478 cities and 58 California counties need the annual sustainable revenue stream marijuana legalization would provide. Only amounts over the minimum would be subject to tax.
9) Prop 19 would be a huge gain for vast numbers of marijuana users, who would no longer have to fear being victimized by having small amounts on their person or in their garden. Anything under an ounce or a garden within 25 sq ft would be legal. No crime. No infraction. No penalty. No ticket. No violation. No nada. The beginning of a new start.
10) Prop 19 allows localities to develop their own policies that respond to local concerns for regulating cultivation, sales and taxes, as long as it is above the 25 sq ft minimum. According to the Orange County Register which editorially endorsed Prop 19, ”The beauty of local option is that the experience of different cities will serve as a laboratory of policy alternatives from which policy students and other city councils
can learn what works and what doesn’t. The local option grew out of the experience of the cities implementing medical marijuana policies. Prop 19 allows local jurisdictions to make the choice.”
11) A clause in Prop 19 allows the Ca Legislature to make initiative changes without voter approval, unlike Prop 215. There are undesirable parts of the proposition that can be deleted or revised thru the normal legislative process, such as penalties for use around minors.
12) Prop 19 comes up against the Supremacy Clause under federal law which prohibits marijuana for all use. One plant is a felony. But that doesn’t mean the Feds will win.
Former San Jose police chief, Joseph McNamara, wants to take on the challenge of federal marijuana prohibition. He says, “It takes the states to push the federal government to change policies.”
In the words of ACLU’s Allan Hopper: ”If the Federal Government goes into court to stop 19 based on pre-emption under the Supremacy Clause, they will lose. The Feds cannot force California to leave state marijuana laws on the books or force California to use state law enforcement personnel and resources to enforce federal marijuana prohibition.”
An example is the People v Kha Return of Property case, successfully litigated by Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access. The Government took the California Appeals Court Return of Property ruling favorable to patients to the US Supreme Court for review to have it overturned as a violation of federal law. The Supremes refused to review it, let the Appeals Court decision stand and told state law enforcement to return the property and that it was not their job to enforce federal law.
13) Prop 19 will open up California to the benefits of legalization, saving billions in enforcement expenditures, gaining a revenue stream of billions in taxes. In the words of Dr Carol Wolman of the Green Party, ”My guess is that legalization will greatly expand the market and prices will be stable.”
14) Prop 19 will release the creative cultural/social/spiritual energy that has been bottled up for three generations by oppressive laws.
15) Prop 19 will usher in a plant-based, food-based, medicine-based value-added economy, revitalizing whole communities thru economic localization and distribution.
16) Prop 19 will reduce civil liberties’ and constitutional rights’ violations, by removing law enforcement’s tool of aroma as probable cause to enter patients’ vehicles, homes and other structures.
17) Prop 19 will set a higher bar protecting personal use possession and cultivation, trumping the era of misdemeanor penalties and infraction possession with tickets and fines for small amounts (Leno bill signed by Gov Schwartzenegger).
18) Prop 19 will open up an evolution in consciousness by recognizing the cannabis plant as a valuable and viable dimension in our modern world, medicinally, economically and culturally.
19) Prop 19 has opened a serious unprecedented marijuana legalization discourse throughout the country, which will help move the issue to other states’ ballots and ultimately to Congress, where prohibition can be ended with hearings and a vote.
Marijuana is an ancient physical and spiritual medicine used for thousands of years by hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life and religions the
world over, without there ever being a single death attributed to its use. That qualifies cannabis as the safest medicine on earth.
Going back further, 600 million years ago the first 2-celled hydra sponges emerged with an endogenous cannabinoid system that allowed the cells to communicate with one another. That cannabis is known culturally as an ice-breaker and a peace-maker, starts here.
The inter-cellular cannabinoid system has followed an evolutionary pathway through multiple species from hydra to human, where millions of cells communicate and interact through an endo-cannabinoid signaling system that modulates biological processes.
Endo-cannabinoid modulating action stimulates digestion or quiets inflammation or mutes pain.
It runs the gamut from the endocrine, immune, circulatory
and reproductive systems to mother’s milk and the digestive system. Cannabinoids enable the child’s ability to suckle and absorb the nutrients. Suckling is a necessary function of eating and drinking. Evolution favors it. It’s called the “munchies”. It’s insanity to outlaw the munchies. It goes against nature.
With the discovery of 70+ cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc) and internal receptor
sites which cannabis molecules bind to, we can see more clearly now what the science is teaching.
1) The human brain has a natural endo-cannabinoid system that regulates all
of human physiology.
“Everyone cultivates marijuana in their own brain whether they know it or
not” (Dec 2004 Sci American).
2) Science is affirming that cannabis and human beings have a symbiotic
devised by Mother Nature for survival and evolutionary purposes.
3) Such a natural and necessary healing plant should be enabled, not
through scientific research, labeling, testing for toxins and a local legal regulatory system everyone can live with.
Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board
MMMAB steering committee endorsed Prop 19
October 31, 2010 in Legalization
FROM Toke of the Town. Please visit www.tokeofthetown.com
Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann has endorsed California’s Proposition 19 to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.
“I smoke marijuana and I’m not a criminal; please vote YES on 19,” Kreutzmann said.
“Jerry Garcia would have voted Yes on 19,” Kreutzmann added of his former bandmate.
The famed rocker made the endorsement on The California Marijuana Report radio show.
The California Marijuana Report, with former Westwood One news reporter and current screen actor Eric Brenner, broadcasts every Sunday at 6 p.m. on KRXA AM 540 Monterey.
This ground-breaking show focuses on legalizing marijuana in Calfiornia.
“We are strongly promoting YES on Proposition 19,” Brenner said. “We go beyond the headlines and interview elected officials, marijuana law experts as well as profile California residents currently incarcerated or being prosecuted for marijuana offenses. We also showcase celebrities who continue to endorse the right to use this remarkable substance and call for the immediate release of all marijuana prisoners in California.”