Ending Marijuana Prohibition in 2013

Rob Kampia

Executive director, Marijuana Policy Project

 

Unless people have been hiding under a rock this past couple months, they know that more than 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana on November 6. As a result, many people have grand expectations of how we’re going to get closer to ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S. this year.

Here is what I think we can reasonably accomplish by the end of 2013:

1. Decriminalize Marijuana in Vermont: Gov. Pete Shumlin (D), a strong supporter of decriminalizing marijuana, partially campaigned on the issue and easily won re-election on November 6 with 58% of the vote. The Vermont Llegislature is poised to pass the bill he wants, so this legislation could become law by this summer.

2. Legalize Medical Marijuana in New Hampshire: Incoming Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is a strong supporter of medical marijuana, so we expect her to sign a medical marijuana bill similar to those vetoed by former Gov. John Lynch (D) in 2009 and 2012.

3. Build Support for Legalization in the Rhode Island Legislature:
We successfully legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island in 2009 and 2012, respectively. There is now considerable momentum to tax and regulate (T&R) marijuana like alcohol, so we need to ensure that Rhode Island’s state legislature becomes the first to do so.

4. Increase Support for Legalization in California, Maine, and Oregon: There will be a sincere effort to pass T&R bills through the legislatures in these three states. Should they fall short, MPP and its allies will pursue statewide ballot initiatives in November 2016, at which time all three will be expected to pass.

5. Build Our Base of Support Online: People have said that the Internet is marijuana legalization’s best friend, and this could not have been more evident than it was last year. Campaigns mobilized their supporters, organizations raised funds, and the public was able to follow the progress in real time. Prohibitionists, who have depended on the government for its largess for years, are now at a disadvantage. Private citizens simply do not want to donate to them, and most information about marijuana is now reaching the public without being run through their filter.

6. Continue the Steady Drumbeat in the Media:
National and local media outlets are covering the marijuana issue more than ever before. Communicating to voters through news coverage is the most cost-efficient way to increase public support for ending marijuana prohibition, so we need to keep the issue in the spotlight.

7. Build Support for Medical Marijuana in Congress: There are already approximately 185 members of the U.S. House who want to stop the U.S. Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on raiding medical marijuana businesses in the 18 states (and DC) where medical marijuana is legal. We want to reach 218 votes on this amendment, thereby ensuring the amendment’s transfer to the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote.

8. Build Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition in Congress: Last year, the first-ever bill to end the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana attracted 21 sponsors. Our goal is to expand the number of sponsors to more than two-dozen during the 2013-2014 election season.

Looking outside our borders, we’re also seeing progress in Colombia, Uruguay, and Chile, which have all been steadily moving away from marijuana prohibition. Although this is good news, most members of the U.S. Congress do not care much about what South American countries think on marijuana policy, so we should temper the wonderful developments south of the U.S. border with limited expectations of what will happen in our nation’s capital.

Ultimately, the U.S. is the primary exporter of prohibition around the world. If we can solve the problem here, the rest of the world will have far more freedom to conduct their own experiments with regulating marijuana.

FOLLOW POLITICS

Ending Marijuana Prohibition in 2013

Rob Kampia

Executive director, Marijuana Policy Project

 

Unless people have been hiding under a rock this past couple months, they know that more than 55 percent of voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana on November 6. As a result, many people have grand expectations of how we’re going to get closer to ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S. this year.

Here is what I think we can reasonably accomplish by the end of 2013:

1. Decriminalize Marijuana in Vermont: Gov. Pete Shumlin (D), a strong supporter of decriminalizing marijuana, partially campaigned on the issue and easily won re-election on November 6 with 58% of the vote. The Vermont Llegislature is poised to pass the bill he wants, so this legislation could become law by this summer.

2. Legalize Medical Marijuana in New Hampshire: Incoming Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is a strong supporter of medical marijuana, so we expect her to sign a medical marijuana bill similar to those vetoed by former Gov. John Lynch (D) in 2009 and 2012.

3. Build Support for Legalization in the Rhode Island Legislature:
We successfully legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island in 2009 and 2012, respectively. There is now considerable momentum to tax and regulate (T&R) marijuana like alcohol, so we need to ensure that Rhode Island’s state legislature becomes the first to do so.

4. Increase Support for Legalization in California, Maine, and Oregon: There will be a sincere effort to pass T&R bills through the legislatures in these three states. Should they fall short, MPP and its allies will pursue statewide ballot initiatives in November 2016, at which time all three will be expected to pass.

5. Build Our Base of Support Online: People have said that the Internet is marijuana legalization’s best friend, and this could not have been more evident than it was last year. Campaigns mobilized their supporters, organizations raised funds, and the public was able to follow the progress in real time. Prohibitionists, who have depended on the government for its largess for years, are now at a disadvantage. Private citizens simply do not want to donate to them, and most information about marijuana is now reaching the public without being run through their filter.

6. Continue the Steady Drumbeat in the Media:
National and local media outlets are covering the marijuana issue more than ever before. Communicating to voters through news coverage is the most cost-efficient way to increase public support for ending marijuana prohibition, so we need to keep the issue in the spotlight.

7. Build Support for Medical Marijuana in Congress: There are already approximately 185 members of the U.S. House who want to stop the U.S. Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on raiding medical marijuana businesses in the 18 states (and DC) where medical marijuana is legal. We want to reach 218 votes on this amendment, thereby ensuring the amendment’s transfer to the U.S. Senate for an up-or-down vote.

8. Build Support for Ending Marijuana Prohibition in Congress: Last year, the first-ever bill to end the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana attracted 21 sponsors. Our goal is to expand the number of sponsors to more than two-dozen during the 2013-2014 election season.

Looking outside our borders, we’re also seeing progress in Colombia, Uruguay, and Chile, which have all been steadily moving away from marijuana prohibition. Although this is good news, most members of the U.S. Congress do not care much about what South American countries think on marijuana policy, so we should temper the wonderful developments south of the U.S. border with limited expectations of what will happen in our nation’s capital.

Ultimately, the U.S. is the primary exporter of prohibition around the world. If we can solve the problem here, the rest of the world will have far more freedom to conduct their own experiments with regulating marijuana.

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White House: “We’re in the Midst of a Serious National Conversation on Marijuana”

by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 8, 2013

 

 

Ohhhh So Beautiful

In October of 2011, the White House issued an official response to a petition NORML submitted via their We the People outreach program on the topic of marijuana legalization.

 

Despite being one of the most popular petitions at the site’s launch, the answer we received was far from satisfactory. Penned by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, the response featured most of the typical government talking points. He stated that marijuana is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment and that its use is a concern to public health. “We also recognize,” Gil wrote, “that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.”

Well, just over a year later, the White House has responded again to a petition to deschedule marijuana and legalize it. The tone this time is markedly different, despite being penned by the same man.

Addressing the Legalization of Marijuana
By Gil Kerlikowske

Thank you for participating in We the People and speaking out on the legalization of marijuana. Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.

At President Obama’s request, the Justice Department is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington, given differences between state and federal law. In the meantime, please see a recent interview with Barbara Walters in which President Obama addressed the legalization of marijuana.

Barbara Walters:

Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

President Obama:

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.

…this is a tough problem because Congress has not yet changed the law. I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal.

When you’re talking about drug kingpins, folks involved with violence, people are who are peddling hard drugs to our kids in our neighborhoods that are devastated, there is no doubt that we need to go after those folks hard… it makes sense for us to look at how we can make sure that our kids are discouraged from using drugs and engaging in substance abuse generally. There is more work we can do on the public health side and the treatment side.

Gil Kerlikowske is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

No tirade about protecting our children. No alarmist claims about sky rocketing marijuana potency and devastating addiction potential. Just a few short paragraphs stating we are “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana” and deferring to an interview with the President where he stated arresting marijuana users wasn’t a priority and that the laws were still being reviewed. While far from embracing an end to marijuana prohibition, the simple fact that America’s Drug Czar had the opportunity to spout more anti-marijuana rhetoric and instead declined (while giving credence to the issue by stating it is a serious national conversation) it’s at the very least incredibly refreshing, if not a bit aberrational. We can only hope that when the administration finishes “reviewing” the laws just approved by resounding margins in Washington and Colorado, they choose to stand with the American people and place themselves on the right side of history.

“We the People” are already there.

CONTINUE READING….

TO ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT TOTAL REPEAL OF PROHIBITION IS IMPOSSIBLE… I SAY

By:  Rev. Mary Thomas-Spears

 

 

 

APPARENTLY YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND LAW OR YOUR CONSTITUTION

NOR DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT, NOTHING IS AS IT APPEARS TO BE

MOST THOUGHT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE… FOR ME TO BEAT 6 FELONIES FOR TRAFFICKING IN A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, WHEN I NEVER DENIED MY GUILT. THOUGH I WAS CONVICTED OF ONE FELONY IN THAT CASE… I MADE U.S. LEGAL HISTORY FOR BEING THE ONLY DRUG TRAFFICKING FELON TO NEVER SERVE ANY SIGNIFICANT TIME ON A SENTENCE, WHILE I FLUNKED EVERY DRUG TEST GIVEN BY THE COURTS FOR THC.

MOST THOUGHT IT IMPOSSIBLE…  FOR ME OR ANY ONE TO SET OUT TO DECRIM THIS PLANT HERE IN KENTUCKY 20 YRS AGO…

YET, TODAY, IT IS A TICKET-ABLE OFFENSE UP TO 8 OZ’S OR 4 PLANTS AND THEY NOW OFFER A TAX STAMP FOR ANY QUANTITY OVER THAT AMOUNT {NOT THAT I SEE THE TAX AS A GOOD THING, YET, THEY MUST FIRST RECOGNIZE SOMETHING AS LEGAL TO REGULATE IN ORDER TO TAX IT.}

STILL UNCONSTITUTIONAL WHEN IT COMES TO MY PERSONAL RIGHT TO UTILIZE OR GROW

MOST THOUGHT IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE… FOR ME OR US {EVEN THOSE FEW OF US WHO TOOK ON THE TASK, KNEW THE ODDS WEREN’T IN OUR FAVOR} TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT THE "LEGALIZE = LEGAL LIES" AND HOW THEY USE IT TO GAIN CONTROL OVER THE PLANT TO GMO… THAT WE’D BEEN BASICALLY LEAD BY THE NOSE… AND FEEDING THE MONSTER… HELL THEY NEVER THOUGHT WE’D GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT GMO HEMP/CANNABIS/MARIJUANA [.]

TODAY THERE ARE ENTIRE ORGANIZATIONS SET UP IN OTHER AREAS IN THE COUNTRY TO WATCH FOR GMO CANNABIS/MARIJUANA/HEMP AND TO CERTIFY PRODUCTS GMO FREE…

HELL I THOUGHT I WAS FIGHTING A LOOSING BATTLE FOR A MINUTE WHEN… I TRIED TO SHOW THIS SAME INFORMATION TO  GATEWOOD GALBRAITH FREEDOM FIGHTER AND DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE HERE IN KENTUCKY… AND HE SCREAMED AT ME, WHEN I CAME TO HIM WITH THIS ISSUE, RESEARCH AND INFO. NEARLY 7 YRS AGO, AT WHICH POINT HE TOLD ME, "LEAVE IT ALONE MARY!!! LEAVE THAT ISSUE IN CALI!!!…"

SO I DID, AND SO I SUGGESTED TO RON K., WE SHOULD TAKE THE INFO TO JACK HERER WHO WE BOTH KNEW… SO THEN RON KICZENSKI AND MYSELF, TOOK THE INFO WE HAD GATHERED TO JACK HERER {RON LIVING NEAR HIM, WHILE I ONLY SPOKE WITH HIM BY PHONE AND E-MAILS..} AND ASKED HIM TO EXAMINE IT AND NOT TO BELIEVE US, BUT TO DO HIS OWN RESEARCH AND IF HE AGREED WITH US TO REWRITE CALI’S LAWS, WITH A NEW INITIATIVE, THAT WOULD END PROHIBITION THROUGH REPEAL AND PROTECT THE PLANT FROM GMO MUTATION AND SO HE DID. AFTER WHICH, HE WROTE THE JACK HERER INITIATIVE NOW DUBBED CCHHI2012, WHICH WE {RON AND MYSELF} HELPED HIM TO WORD AND WHICH IS CURRENTLY GATHERING SIGNATURES FOR THE BALLOT IN CALI TODAY.

AN INITIATIVE WHICH WE HAD PLANNED ALL ALONG TO PIT, AGAINST ANY OTHER LEGALIZATION LEGISLATION AND THEN CAME PROP. 19, SO WE DID WHAT WE HAD PLANNED… AND AGAIN, WHAT MOST EVERYONE SAID WAS IMPOSSIBLE… AND WE STOPPED PROP. 19 {WHICH WOULD HAVE LEGALIZED CANNABIS FOR EVERYONE AND HAD MUCH SUPPORT THERE IN CALI… } FROM PASSING JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME IN MY OPINION TO SAVE THE PLANT AND THE PEOPLE FROM THE CORPORATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS COMPLETE OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL.

AT WHICH POINT MY HERO, MY ATTORNEY, MY MENTOR, MY FRIEND,… GATEWOOD GALBRAITH, WHO COULD NOT HEAR ME WHEN I SAID IT TO HIM… AND SCREAMED AT ME TO LET IT GO THEN WROTE ON ANOTHER WEBSITE ON THIS ISSUE,

Gatewood said…

I am an out-of-state observer who may have a hand in writing the future marijuana laws of Kentucky.

I immediately felt great hope when I first heard about the "legalization" forthcoming in Nov. in

California but when I heard that my good friends Jack Herer and Dennis Peron opposed its

passage, I was greatly intrigued. Now I thoroughly understand their positions. Thanks for your

exhaustive effort. I can sympathize with having such a burden lifted. Gatewood Galbraith

July 15, 2010 7:06 AM

IN RESPONSE TO, "WHY PRO-POT ACTIVISTS OPPOSE PROP. 19: 19 REASONS TO VOTE KNOW"

http://votetaxcannabis2010.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-pro-pot-activists-oppose-2010-tax.html

HELL THE DOCTORS HAVE BEEN TELLING ME I AM FIGHTING A LOOSING BATTLE FOR MANY YRS… YET, I AM STILL HERE AND WALKING, WHEN THEY SAID, I WOULDN’T BE.

SO………

I KNOW THAT NOTHING IS, AS IT APPEARS TO BE…

AND THAT DESPITE HOW THINGS MIGHT APPEAR… NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WHEN IT COMES TO THIS ISSUE OR MOVEMENT.

AND IT ONLY TAKES A FEW OF COMMITTED PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE TRUTH.

"PROTECT THE PLANT THAT PROTECTS THE PEOPLE"

CHANGE YOUR LEGISLATION TO READ "NO GMO’S" AND RETURN IT UNTAXED TO OUR GARDENS TODAY!

SO I WILL CONTINUE IN MY EXHAUSTIVE EFFORTS, FOR ALL THOSE WHO WRITE TO ASK ME? WHY I HAVEN’T STUCK A GUN IN MY MOUTH YET OR WHY I HAVEN’T REALIZED THAT I AM FIGHTING A LOOSING BATTLE THAT GOES AGAINST THE TIDE.

Weird: Medical Marijuana Advocates Oppose Legalization Bids

image

Submitted by Reason Foundation on Apr 16, 2012

By Mike Riggs

Members of the medical marijuana industry have come out against ballot initiatives in two states that would allow consumers over the age of 21 to legally purchase and consume small quantities of marijuana for recreational use.

Washington State’s Initiative 502 and Colorado’s Amendment 64 would regulate pot similarly to alcohol and tobacco, according to their backers. In Washington, even home growers producing for personal use would have to seek a license from the state liquor board, and consumers would be allowed to possess only an ounce at a time. Colorado’s initiative would have the same possession limit, and would allow home growers to have up to six plants.

The bills, in other words, don’t treat pot exactly like alcohol, of which a consumer can own as much as he likes and brew at home without a license, but they’re being sold by their proponents as better than the status quo. For some medical marijuana activists, better than the status quo is not good enough.

Here’s what Washington’s I-502 would do, in the words of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and former U.S. Attorney (and drug warrior) John McKay, who are the initiative’s most well-known proponents:

This measure would remove state-law prohibitions against producing, processing, and selling marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board; allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged twenty-one and over; and impose 25% excise taxes on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for purposes that include substance-abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare.  Laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include maximum thresholds for THC blood concentration.

Gil Mobley, a Washington physician who owns a medical marijuana clinic, created Patients Against I-502 to oppose the initiative. The name has since been changed to No on I-502. It sums up its opposition to the bill simply: "I-502 is not legalization."

It simply creates a legal exception for possession of an ounce and a few other minor cannabis related crimes. Under this initiative it would still be illegal for individuals to grow any amount. In addition, hemp would still not be explicitly legal, passing a joint would still be felony distribution, and a new form of prohibition will be introduced that will cause cannabis consumers to be wrongfully convicted and imprisoned (the per se DUID mandate). People under 21 have the potential to be convicted of a DUID simply for being in the presence of cannabis smoke for an extended period of time. Beyond this, the entire distribution system will be federally preempted (rendered invalid in court) due to the fact that it creates a positive conflict with our federal Controlled Substances Act (you can’t force a state to accept taxes from a federally illegal substance).

Mobley and his allies received a drubbing last week when The Stranger’s Dominic Holden criticized No on I-502 in a New York Times op-ed, writing, “I haven’t found a single scientific study showing that even the heaviest of pot users would exceed the five-nanogram [DUI] cutoff after 24 hours. And the civil liberties attacks are simply dishonest. The rules would remain the same as they currently are for medical marijuana—no registration requirements and no database.”

Holden went on to say that “it’s more than a little strange to defend the status quo, in which nearly 10,000 people are arrested in Washington for possession each year, on civil liberties grounds. And it’s not as if voters would accept a law that didn’t include restrictions on smoking and driving.” His op-ed also featured an appearance by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ Allen St. Pierre, who said, “The medical marijuana industry is driven by profit…It’s not driven by compassion anymore. It is driven by the need to make money.”

(St. Pierre expressed a similar sentiment earlier this year when he wrote that “Cannabis consumers…want good, affordable cannabis products without having to go through the insult and expense of ‘qualifying’ as a ‘medical’ patient by paying physicians and/or the state for some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. How intellectually honest is all of this?”)

I reached out to a Washington-based marijuana activist about opposition to the bill. He was at odds with both St. Pierre and No on I-502:

Of course there are some bad apples that only care about profit, but they are usually weeded out (no pun intended) by patients themselves and market forces. Others are able to turn a tidy profit while still providing a valuable service to their patients. This is America. What is wrong with wanting your business to make money? As long as no one is being exploited, particularly patients, who is getting hurt? This is the only industry that is being punished by the federal government for being too successful.

When people lump all members of the industry together, it makes it that much easier for prohibitionists to dismiss calls for policy change and gives the feds carte blanche to shut them all down because they are just ‘greedy drug dealers’.

In terms of politics, I would have to say that when it comes to the opponents of I-502 within the marijuana industry, there are certainly some that are looking out for their own financial interests, while others don’t necessarily understand the initiative. Still others simply don’t care about full legalization and are convinced that they will lose their driving privileges, or think that this initiative is too restrictive in one way or another.

It is unfortunate that some within the industry do not realize that the best way to ensure safe and affordable medical access for patients is to remove criminal penalties for all adults, or that they will continue to be able to make a living under a taxed and regulated legal framework. That does not make the whole industry a sham.

In Colorado, medical marijuana dispensaries opposed to Amendment 64 are less organized, and less concerned with how the bill will affect users who drive. Here’s a sample complaint voiced last month:

Although he supports adult recreational marijuana use, Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher said legalizing pot for all Colorado adults could jeopardize the business model he and other state dispensary owners have worked hard to create. Specifically, Fisher said he’s concerned approval of a system that permits recreational marijuana use would lead to increased federal intervention in Colorado.

“While we support adult access to cannabis in any form, we’re not sure supporting this initiative is right at this time,” Fisher said last week.

Fisher said the state’s medical marijuana industry has come a long way in a short time. He didn’t want anything to jeopardize his business, which now employs 40 people.

“We still have plenty of growing pains on the medical side on the local, state and federal levels,” he said. “Moving forward with the retail model for recreational use, I’m not sure where we sit. I don’t want to go to federal prison."

The sense I get from some activists is that internecine fighting over the best way to make marijuana fully legal at the state level is a) limited to big-time activists and players in the medi-mari industry, not medical or recreational users; and b) bad for the movement. 

And yet it seems as if the reform movement can’t progress until it addresses opposition from protectionists in the medical marijuana community, as well as people who want better protections for recreational users and home growers. A failure to address that first concern led growers in Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties to vote against California’s Prop 19 in 2010, and the inability of I-502 advocates to thoroughly address No on I-502’s complaints—the DUI aspect, the penalties for sharing marijuana—may seal the initiative’s fate long before November.

"Every recent poll except one has shown most Washington voters are now ready to pass the initiative," Holden writes in his op-ed. "But support has slipped since last fall, down to only 51 percent, according to SurveyUSA. The flagging enthusiasm correlates with the escalating effort to stop the initiative."

Your morning jolt: Pat Robertson endorses legal marijuana

9:40 am March 9, 2012, by jgalloway

Gov. Nathan Deal has found an unlikely ally in his push to refigure who we lock up in Georgia: The Rev. Pat Robertson, who now backs the legalization of marijuana. From the New York Times:

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview …. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

Mr. Robertson’s remarks echoed statements he made last week on “The 700 Club,” the signature program of his Christian Broadcasting Network, and other comments he made in 2010. While those earlier remarks were largely dismissed by his followers, Mr. Robertson has now apparently fully embraced the idea of legalizing marijuana, arguing that it is a way to bring down soaring rates of incarceration and reduce the social and financial costs.

“I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up,” he said.

Here’s a YouTube clip of remarks Robertson made along the same line last year, caught by CNN:

***

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2DRk5JVTRE&w=448&h=252&hd=1]
Pat Robertson discusses legalizing marijuana

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