The notion that greater reforms will be easy to make if the initiative loses but hard if Prop 19 wins is naïve and self-destructive. I don’t know who Dragonfly is and so I apologize in advance if I hurt her feelings, but she is hurting our movement, so my tone may seem curt.
People have asked me to respond to her “Stoners” argument. Let me start by noting that she builds her case by piling misinformation onto falsehoods. It’s fear mongering propaganda, that’s all. She has a couple interesting points, but the vast majority of her attack on the initiative is pure rot. Prop 19 DOES legalize adult cultivation and possession. There are NO new felonies in it. It is ALREADY a misdemeanor to furnish to people below age 21, etc. Nobody ever said that progress will be perfect, but we can work Prop 19 out like we did Prop 215 and SB420.
In short, it is way too late to keep up an internal debate about the initiative. It’s on the ballot and need’s all the votes we can get. Unless you are a total skeptic about the ballot language, I would skip reading this email and go out right now to register as many possible new voters, volunteer and donate and organize a phone tree and a local get out the vote drive to get everyone you know to Vote Yes on Prop 19. It’s going to be great when we win.
However, if you were affected by Dragonfly’s arguments, please read the following analysis below that provides context and explains the flaws in fact or logic and recognizes and explains some of the necessary compromises in the drafting of the initiative.
Here’s the deal: Read over California’s marijuana laws:
Then read Prop 19:
When you compare the two, you will see the light and Vote Yes on Prop 19.
Also, Russ Bellvue of NORML has a good analysis posted at NORML.org
STONER BEWARE: this initiative is NOT what you think it is. if you are passionate about marijuana and legalization, read this blog and see what the initiative really says. then just vote KNOW.
Conrad Responds: If you vote ignorant, you will vote for prohibition. If you vote KNOW, you will Vote YES on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: WHY PRO-POT ACTIVISTS OPPOSE THE 2010 TAX CANNABIS INITIATIVE: 18 REASONS TO VOTE KNOW
“People think it’s legalization, it’s being sold as legalization-even though it’s the opposite of legalization.” – Dennis Peron, author of Prop. 215 that legalized medical marijuana in California
Conrad Responds: Dennis Peron** is completely mistaken about this and almost everything I have heard him say about Prop 19. He can’t see the nose on his face. Here it is in Prop 19: “11300 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be a public offense under California law for any person 21 years of age or older to: (i) Personally possess, process, share, or transport not more than one ounce of cannabis, solely for that individual’s personal consumption, and not for sale.” Then it goes on to allow communities to regulate sales. That is legalized marijuana. ** BTW, it was George Soros and other financial backers who put up the money that got Prop 215 on the ballot and legalized MMJ in CA, so you should be thanking Soros and a lot of other people for Prop 215, not just Peron. Listen to Peron debate Lynette Shaw onTime4Hemp.com, then vote yes on Prop 19.
by Dragonfly De La Luz
Conrad: Who is Dragonfly de la Luz? Just curious.
D-Fly wrote: When most marijuana activists, growers and consumers first heard about an initiative that would legalize cannabis in California, they thought it was a pipe dream come true. To many, legalization implied that it would no longer be a crime to possess, consume or distribute marijuana. Cannabis consumers rejoiced at the idea of being able to buy from their neighbors or at parties-just as they already do-with no legal retribution. Small-time growers envisioned being free to sell their product to those who sought them out, with no legal repercussions. Marijuana activists thought it meant that people would stop getting arrested for pot, and that the drug war would finally be over.
Conrad: Maybe Dragonfly had a pipe dream, but some of us have worked through the political process for the past 20 years can tell you that it is a long, incremental, step by step process of advances, defeats, compromises, shifting advantages, tactical adjustments, alliances and more advances. We’re changing the real world, but you can still have your pipe dreams. They will come true a lot sooner, though, if you Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: But now that the initiative is headed to ballot, many pro-legalization supporters are coming out against it. Why?
Conrad: You’re hanging out with the wrong people, that’s all; most of the activists and general public I’ve spoken with are enthusiastic supporters. Our insurgents fall into three camps: 1) People filled with idealism and good intentions who don’t understand the initiative or are afraid of it; 2) People who are seduced by Dennis Peron’s propaganda, and; 3) Growers and dealers who want to keep pot illegal for their financial self interest. Narcs hate it, of course. There are also lukewarm supporters who don’t like some details of Prop 19 but will “hold their nose and vote for it.” But by and large, activists love it and they are thrilled and lining up to Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Simply put, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative does not reflect most people’s ideas of what legalization would be. The media often incorrectly reports that this initiative calls for “full legalization” of marijuana. It does not. In fact, it reverses many of the freedoms marijuana consumers currently enjoy, pushes growers out of the commercial market, paves the way for the corporatization of cannabis, and creates new prohibitions and felonies where there are none now. Apparently, to be pro-legalization and pro-initiative are two different things entirely.
Conrad Responds: Prop 19 is exactly what most Californians hoped legalization would be: Regulated, legal access for adults 21 and above — something like beer or wine, so adults can make some for themselves or to share, but if you’re going to distribute it you need to follow the law and pay your taxes.
It is absolutely false to say that it creates new felonies. There are no new felonies. That is a fabrication; a lie.
The felonies in the initiative have been on the books for decades. Why have Dragonfly and Peron done nothing to get rid of them in all these years? If the initiative loses, they are still on the books. It won’t help to vote no, so let’s all Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: The late-Jack Herer, legendary marijuana activist known as the father of the legalization movement, vehemently opposed the initiative. In the last words of his impassioned final speech, moments before the heart attack that would eventually claim his life, he urged people not to support it.
Conrad Responds: I think Jack Herer’s last words onstage before his heart attack were “I’ll see you next time.” He also vehemently opposed Prop 215 until just before it made the ballot. Jack said Dennis Peron didn’t want marijuana legalized, and warned everyone that if we passed Prop 215 we would be stuck forever with medical marijuana only, because once they had theirs, patients and activists would stop working for legalization. Jack’s had taxes in the initiative he co-authored and promoted. Listen to the debates on Time 4 Hemp, then vote yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Proposition 215 author, Dennis Peron, likewise denounced the initiative, saying it is not legalization, but “thinly-veiled prohibition.”
Conrad Responds: Dennis thinks that marijuana is already legal and if you tell a cop “hey, all use is medical” he has to leave you alone. Maybe that’s true in Dragonfly Land, but not in California.
D-Fly wrote: Compared to the present status of cannabis in California, many marijuana activists see this initiative as a giant leap backward. Ironically, it appears that marijuana is more “legal” in California today than it would be if this initiative were to pass.
Conrad Responds: ‘It’s more legal to be illegal than to be legal?’ That’s not just ironic, it’s idiotic. That kind of comment gives “stoners” a bad reputation, so the smart stoners support Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: The initiative itself is a hazy maze of regulations and controls, some of which are ambiguous and confusing even for those well-versed in marijuana law.
Conrad Responds: Is Dragonfly a lawyer? Peron is not. Nor am I, but I was involved in writing SB 420 and have been quoted by the California Supreme and Appeals courts and testified in more than 215 marijuana cases. The initiative is clear, detailed law and well written with the input of activists, attorneys, political consultants, constitutional lawyers and election lawyers. It is very good law and will stand up to the challenges that it will likely face.
D-Fly wrote: Understandably,many who have entered the discussion seem to have bypassed the initiative altogether and gone straight to their own assumptions of what an initiative that claims to legalize marijuana might entail, injecting the debate with as many misconceptions as facts. But for an issue that would have such a direct and unprecedented impact on our daily lives, it’s crucial to decide your vote based on knowledge, rather than assumption.
Conrad Responds: Then stop posting misconceptions and calling them facts.
D-Fly wrote: To clarify a few of the most glaring myths about the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative, I have compiled this guide to help you VOTE KNOW!
Conrad: You can’t clarify an issue by throwing BS on it. Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Myth #1: The initiative will end the War on Drugs and substantially reduce marijuana arrests, saving millions in prison costs.
Fact: Hardly. The federal drug war will continue to drone on, of course, and growing or possessing any amount of marijuana would still be illegal under federal law. Anyone growing or possessing cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation would still be subject to arrest and seizure by the federal police-although on the bright side, the Obama administration recently announced it will no longer raid individuals who are operating in compliance with medical marijuana law.
Conrad Responds: No one has ever said the initiative will end the Drug War, Dragonfly. Prop 215 doesn’t change federal law, so I presume Dragonfly opposed that too? Obama’s policy affects medical only and will be in place with or without Prop 19 and it could cover non-medical marijuana as well, given the Raich decision that said there is no such thing as medical marijuana under federal law. And maybe marijuana busts have ended in Dragonfly Land, but not here in California where we voters live. Close to 70,000 people are arrested in California every year for marijuana. To avoid arrest, they’ll have to follow the rules of legalization. Currently people are often arrested and charged with intent to sell for having under an ounce in more than one bag, but with the initiative, under an ounce will be out and out legal. Under Prop 19 thousands fewer Californians will be arrested for marijuana, untold thousands of people might well be spared prison for parole violations, and the probable cause for a search warrant over the odor of marijuana or signs of cultivation will be harder for police to assert, as well. Moreover, once the stigma of being a criminal is removed, social attitudes will change. Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Contrary to popular assumption, the drug war in California will not end, nor will it be impacted much by the initiative. This is because the initiative doesn’t call for full legalization; it proposes to legalize possession of only up to one ounce. And in California, there is no “drug war” being fought against possession of up to one ounce, because marijuana is already decriminalized.
The penalty for carrying an ounce is a mere citation and maximum $100 fine. Moreover, possession of one ounce is on its way to being downgraded from a misdemeanor to an infraction, because the state Senate voted in June to reclassify its status.  No one goes to jail for having an ounce or less in California, and no one gets arrested, because it is not an arrestable offense.
Conrad Responds: Dragonfly seems to think this initiative was written to end the entire drug war but it’s just about adult marijuana use. Most people only have an ounce or less at any given time. If you need more, get your Prop 215 doctor’s note, as preserved by Prop 19.
Possession of less than an ounce is an arrestable offense if the person has no ID or has it in a few bags. It is a special class of misdemeanor that does not carry jail time but has all the other negative effects of being convicted as a criminal. “Decriminalized” means you ARE charged with a misdemeanor, you ARE convicted of a misdemeanor, you DO get a criminal record, it DOES affect your job, housing and educational benefits, your parental rights, etc. This happens to thousands of our fellow Californians each year, but why should Dragonfly care? It’s not her, it’s those other people, typically Black or Latino. Dragonfly might think that’s fine, but Richard Lee, myself and a lot of Californians don’t want that to keep happening.
And why does Dragonfly suddenly want a half step like decrim or infraction? A minute ago she would accept nothing short of unlimited legalization. You can be hypocritical in your values, or you can Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: One often-quoted statistic in the initiative debate is that misdemeanor marijuana possession
arrests reached 61,388 in 2008. However, it is important to note that this statistic does not refer to any arrest demographic that the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative would affect. This statistic refers only to possession of more than one ounce, possession by minors and possession on school grounds -offenses which the initiative will not legalize. It does not refer to nor does it include marijuana arrests for possession of one ounce or less, because this is not an arrestable offense. Therefore, the initiative would have no impact on reducing these arrests rates.
Conrad Responds: The mere odor of marijuana is now probable cause for a search, a single non-medical plant is a felony, and targeted people are pulled off the street by cops who don’t like the way they look, harassing them, searching them, finding a joint, claiming intent to sell and arresting them. That could never happen in Dragonfly Land, but it happens many times every day in real California, and when the cop don’t find pot they just harass people.
Here is a stated purpose of Prop 19: “10. Stop arresting thousands of non-violent cannabis consumers, freeing up police resources and saving millions of dollars each year, which could be used for apprehending truly dangerous criminals and keeping them locked up, and for other essential state needs that lack funding.” Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Statistically, the demographic that accounts for nearly one-quarter of total arrests for marijuana possession in California happens to be those in the 18-20 age group. But because the initiative explicitly makes it illegal for even adults age 18-20 to possess marijuana, these arrests will not decrease, and the drug war against young adults will rage on.
Conrad Responds: So the initiative will stop about three quarters of these tickets. Prop 19 is specifically for people 21 and above, so it will still not be legal for 18-20 year olds, that is true. So your plan is to hold out until voters are ready to make it easier to furnish pot to minors. That’s some plan, Dragonfly: we can keep it so nobody ever has any legal access to non-medical marijuana at any age. Or people can do what I do and Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Furthermore, since the initiative would keep possession of amounts greater than one ounce illegal and likewise maintain the illegality of private sales of any amount, the overall impact that the initiative would have on ending the drug war, reducing arrest rates and saving on prison costs would be negligible, at best.
Conrad Responds: Wrong again. “11304 (c) in a criminal proceeding a person accused of violating a limitation in this Act shall have the right to an affirmative defense that the cannabis was reasonably related to his or her personal consumption.” The savings are uncertain, but they certainly are not negligible. And what about the savings to people’s lives that will be screwed up if the initiative loses? Oh, that’s right, in Dragonfly Land it doesn’t matter about that because it’s all a pipe dream. Here in California, it is important, however, so Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: As an example of how highly misunderstood this initiative and its potential impact on the drug war is, the California NAACP recently pledged their support for the initiative based on the belief that it will put an end to the disproportionately high number of African-American youth going to jail “over a joint.”  But in reality, the initiative will have no impact on this phenomenon whatsoever. As it is now, the State of California does not jail people for having a joint; it is not an arrestable offense.
Conrad Responds: Let me explain. Blacks and Hispanics get stopped and searched more often than whites. Getting caught with a joint can lead to some very bad consequences, etc. It can lead to a parole revocation, a body or vehicle search where more than an ounce of marijuana may be found, evidence of cultivation, a warrant to search a home, arrests for multiple felonies and sometimes a beating by the cops and charges of resisting arrest. Do you really believe, despite all the statistical data and common practice and lawsuits, that police never target minorities or hippies disproportionately? Oh, that’s right, in Dragonfly Land perfect things happen magically. I keep forgetting because — I live in real California and will Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: And, as mentioned above, possession of up to one ounce is on its way to being reclassified from a misdemeanor to an infraction-which carries no criminal-record stigma. The state does, however, incarcerate people for selling small amounts of marijuana.
Conrad Responds: So you’re plan is for us to not legalize pot, but instead wait for the legislature to maybe someday make an ounce of pot or growing a few plants an infraction so the governor can veto it and we can keep getting arrested same as now. Will Arnold sign the bill; will Meg Whitman if she’s the next governor, or will voters be more likely to permanently legalize reasonable amounts of marijuana for adults and Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Not only does the initiative do little or nothing to end the drug war, but ironically, it could in fact expand the drug war, because it imposes new felonies and prohibitions against marijuana that do not exist currently.
Conrad Responds: Stop lying, Dragonfly. The initiative removes three misdemeanors, and one felony from the code and does not add even a single misdemeanor. It does make the misdemeanor more serious for selling or furnishing non-medical to people aged 18-20, but it also empowers the legislature to reduce those penalties, so I suggest that Dragonfly should launch a political campaign to reduce that penalty after we all Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Contrary to the belief that it will keep people out of jail for marijuana, this initiative actually creates new demographics of people to incarcerate. (See Fact #2 and Fact #3) It is difficult to see how the government would save on court and imprisonment costs if the initiative merely shifts arrests from one demographic to another.
Conrad Responds: See my refutation of False Claim #2 and False Claim #3, note that the CA NAACP says it will reduce the targeting of blacks and latinos, and vote Yes on Prop 19. Remember that the onus and stigma against cannabis will be less after it is legal than it is now that politically and legally non-medical adult use is considered a criminal pastime, whatever we may personally feel about it. The goal of the initiative is to integrate cannabis demographics into mainstream society; to go from a counter culture to an over-the-counter culture.
D-Fly wrote: Myth #2: The initiative will keep young adults out of jail for using marijuana.
Fact: This initiative would put more young people in jail for pot. If it becomes law, any adult 21 or over who passes a joint to another adult aged 18-20 would face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  (NORML’s Web site reports that the current penalty for a gift of marijuana of 1 oz. or less is a $100 fine.)
Conrad Responds: It’s currently a misdemeanor offense with an arrest and a criminal record for an adult to pass a non-medical joint to anyone of any age. If the initiative passes you can legally share with other adults but it will be a more serious misdemeanor to share with minors. In either case, if you share with an underage person you can also be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, reckless endangerment, intent to sell, depending on the circumstances how bad a mood the police officer feels.
Polls find much less support for legalizing at age 18, when people are still in high school. Californians by and large want do people to get into trouble for selling pot to teens or giving it to them, and this initiative compromises on that point by not creating a new offense but by adjusting the penalty from being an 11360(b) misdemeanor with a $100 fine to being a standard misdemeanor with a penalty that is analogous to furnishing alcohol to a minor. It allows the legislature to reduce or eliminate that penalty, so Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Myth #3: You’ll be able to light up freely in the privacy of your home.
Fact: That depends. Under the initiative, even adults consuming marijuana in the privacy of their homes could face arrest if there are minors present (not something one would expect from an initiative that claims to treat marijuana like alcohol and tobacco) .
Current marijuana law contains no such restrictions. Thanks to Prop. 215, which legalized marijuana for medicinal use, cannabis consumers have been legally free to smoke in the privacy of their homes since 1997. This initiative seeks to undermine that freedom, making it absolutely illegal to smoke marijuana if there are minors present. (The initiative is ambiguous with regard to whether “present” means being in the same room as the consumer, the same house, the same apartment building, or within wafting distance-apparently leaving this up to the interpretation of judges.) There is no exception for medical marijuana patients or for parents consuming in the presence of their own children.
Conrad Responds: Smoking around minors will continue to have the same penalty as now. Prop 215 is preserved and will have the same force and the same current penalties will remain in place with or without Prop 19. Voting no will not help so you might as well Vote for Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Myth #4: Under the initiative, anyone 21 or over will be allowed to grow marijuana in a 5’x5’space.
Fact: Not quite. This allotment is per property, not per person. If you share a residence with other people, you’ll be sharing a 5’x5′ grow space, as well. Even if you own multiple acres that many people live on, if it is considered one parcel, the space restriction of 5’x5′ (3-6 plants) will still apply.  Plus, if you rent, you will be required to obtain permission from your landlord-which they may be unwilling to grant since doing so will subject them to forfeiture by the federal government.
Conrad Responds: Adults will be able to grow 25 square feet without a doctor’s note. That is not legal now. You just can’t resist making things up, can you Dragonfly; It doesn’t require written consent for renters, it says “Cultivation on leased or rented property MAY be subject to approval from the owner of the property.” Like if you want to get cable in your apartment, you may need to get approval. I guess we should make cable TV illegal until we get the right to install it without the landlord’s okay, right? Wrong. Also, one could still get a doctor’s note and grow your 6 plants, your local guideline amount or a reasonable medical or personal quantity that you are prepared to defend in court. Right now, the law is: no doctor’s note, you’re busted. Period. You’re a patient and the cop doesn’t accept your vote, you’re busted until the courts sort it out. Vote Yes on Prop 19.
D-Fly wrote: Myth #5: Adults 21 and over will be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana without penalty.
Fact: Perhaps the most ironic piece of the puzzle is that the initiative to legalize marijuana actually makes it illegal to possess marijuana if it was purchased anywhere other than the very few licensed dispensaries in the state. So if this initiative passes, better not get caught carrying marijuana you bought off your neighbor, your current dealer, or at a party; you could get arrested. And if you do buy from a licensed dispensary, better keep your receipts, because the burden of proof will be on you. Not only is this inconvenient, but it sets the industry up to be monopolized.
Conrad Responds: That claim is not ironic, it is false. I pasted the initiative text below but would point out that people without a doctor’s note will be able to grow and share their own garden product, keep the harvest, and defend larger amounts in court by an affirmative defense if that becomes necessary. Under current law that is all be illegal.
Prop 19: “Section 3: Lawful Activities: Health and Safety Code, Section 11300: Personal Regulation and Controls
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be a public offense under California law for any person 21 years of age or older to:
(i) Personally possess, process, share, or transport not more than one ounce of cannabis, solely for that individual’s personal consumption, and not for sale.
(ii) Cultivate, on private property by the owner, lawful occupant, or other lawful resident or guest of the private property owner or lawful occupant, cannabis plants for personal consumption only, in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence or, in the absence of any residence, the parcel. Cultivation on leased or rented property may be subject to approval from the owner of the property. Provided that, nothing in this section shall permit unlawful or unlicensed cultivation of cannabis on any public lands.
(iii) Possess on the premises where grown the living and harvested plants and results of any harvest and processing of plants lawfully cultivated pursuant to section 11300(a)(ii), for personal consumption.” …
“11304 (c) in a criminal proceeding a person accused of violating a limitation in this Act shall have the right to an affirmative defense that the cannabis was reasonably related to his or her personal consumption.”
D-Fly wrote: What’s more, if your city decides not to tax cannabis, then buying and selling marijuana in the city limits would remain illegal. You would be permitted to possess and consume marijuana, but you would be required to travel to another city that taxes cannabis to buy it. This is a move towards decreased, not increased, access.
And since the initiative is so ambiguous that cities are destined to be tied up in a legal quagmire over how to interpret it, many local governments might find it simpler just to opt-out and send its citizens elsewhere. Indeed, 129 cities did just that with medical marijuana, banning it outright, while still others have established moratoriums against dispensaries. In fact, of the entire state, only the city of Oakland has endorsed the initiative. A vote for the initi
ative will therefore not ensure local access to purchase marijuana legally.
Conrad Responds: Or people can grow it or get it from friends or buy off the black market same as now. Currently no city can regulate non-medical sales under state law but after Prop 19 passes that will be allowed. That alone resolves the question once for all about the legality of cannabis dispensaries, which GOP candidate for Attorney General (Vote against him) Steve Cooley says all illegal under SB 420. If Cooley wins and voters reject the initiative we’ll see how bad it gets. If Cooley becomes Attorney General, who knows if any dispensary will survive. He believes that even medical sales are illegal, and he’s shutting down dispensaries in LA every day. So everyone who supports the dispensaries should vote Yes on Prop 19.