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Prop 19 Down in Two New Polls

[Update: Two more polls showing Prop 19 trailing came out after this issue of the Chronicle went to bed. Read about them here. Then volunteer (you don't need to be in California, all you need is a phone), because it's complicated and there's only one poll that counts, the one on Election Day.]

Two polls released Tuesday show Proposition 19, the California tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, in trouble. This follows mostly (but not entirely) bad polling news late last week, including an LA Times poll finding the initiative's worst numbers yet. Whether Tuesday's million dollar gift to the campaign by financier George Soros can make a difference in the final days, or whether a postulated "Reverse Bradley Effect" is causing support for the initiative to be unreported in polls conducted by live interviewers, will be seen next Tuesday.

marijuana plants (wikimedia.org)
The latest poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows declining support for Proposition 19, California's tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative. That poll has the measure losing, with 48% opposed and only 45% in favor.

A PPP poll in July had Prop 19 winning 52% to 36% and a PPP poll in September had it leading 47% to 38%. Tuesday's poll continues the downward trend line.

A new Suffolk University poll also has Prop 19 losing, 55% to 40%. That poll showed majority support for the measure only among voters under 35, 58% of whom said they would vote for it. All other age groups opposed it. The poll also showed Prop 19 losing even in the San Francisco Bay area, with support there at only 44%.

The Suffolk University poll was a statewide poll of 600 likely voters conducted by live telephone interviews and has a 4% margin of error. Prop 19 has come out ahead in automated polls, leading some observers to suggest that respondents are less likely to respond honestly about supporting marijuana legalization in polls with live polltakers. The putative phenomenon has been dubbed the "Reverse Bradley Effect," after former LA Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost a statewide election despite leading in the polls. Observers suggested that people were reluctant to tell pollsters they were voting against a black candidate.

The Prop 19 campaign recently released its own internal poll, which showed the measure passing 56% to 41% when people were robo-polled and leading 48% to 45% when automated and live poll data were combined.

Stay tuned. There will be at least two more polls released before election day, one by PPP and one by the Field Poll. But the only poll that counts is the one voters head to last week.

CA
United States

George Soros Kicks in a Million Dollars for Prop 19

Billionaire investor George Soros has donated $1 million to support Proposition 19, a campaign spokesman told the Chronicle Tuesday. The donation came the same day Soros penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying he supported the marijuana legalization initiative.

George Soros (wikimedia.org)
The donation was made to the Drug Policy Action Committee to Tax and Regulate Marijuana, a pro-Prop 19 fund controlled by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), said Tom Angell, a spokesman for YesOn19. Tony Newman, a spokesman for DPA confirmed the donation.

It is unclear how the money will be spent, but both proponents and opponents of the measure have begun limited TV and radio ad buys as the clock ticks down toward election day.

The measure would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 or over. It would also allow them to grow up to 25 square feet of pot and possess the resulting harvest. Cities and counties would have the local option of permitting, taxing, and regulating marijuana sales and cultivation.

The race is very close. The Talking Points Memo Polltracker, based on the average of all polls taken on Prop 19 this year, now has the measure trailing by one percentage point. Last minute ad campaigns and get out the vote efforts could make the difference between victory and defeat.

CA
United States

Multibillionaire Investor George Soros Backs Proposition 19

Location: 
CA
United States
George Soros, the multibillionaire investor who helped bankroll three initiatives to change drug laws in California, endorsed the marijuana legalization initiative and plans to make a major financial contribution to the campaign. "Proposition 19 already is a winner no matter what happens on election day. The mere fact of its being on the ballot has elevated and legitimized public discourse about marijuana and marijuana policy in ways I could not have imagined a year ago," Soros wrote.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/10/multibillionaire-investor-george-soros-backs-proposition-19.html

Yes On 19 Campaign Releases TV Advertisement: Former San Jose Police Chief Says Marijuana Initiative Will Improve Public Safety Law Enforcement Supporters to Hold Teleconference for Reporters on Tuesday (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 25, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or tom@YesOn19.com
                 Amber Langston - (573) 239-8149 or amber@YesOn19.com

Yes On 19 Campaign Releases TV Advertisement 

Former San Jose Police Chief Says Marijuana Initiative Will Improve Public Safety

Law Enforcement Supporters to Hold Teleconference for Reporters on Tuesday

OAKLAND, CA -- The campaign to pass Proposition 19, the California ballot measure to control and tax marijuana, released a television ad today featuring former San Jose police chief Joseph McNamara, who makes a strong public safety case for ending the current prohibition laws.

The ad can be viewed online at http://www.YesOn19.com/ad

"Let's be honest: The war against marijuana has failed," Chief McNamara says in the ad. "I know from 35 years in law enforcement. Today, it's easier for a teenager to buy pot than beer. Proposition 19 will tax and control marijuana just like alcohol. It will generate billions of dollars for local communities, allow police to focus on violent crimes, and put drug cartels out of business. Join me and many others in law enforcement. Vote YES on Proposition 19!"

McNamara, who served as San Jose's chief of police for 15 years, is now a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.  He previously served as chief of police in Kansas City and as a beat officer in New York City

McNamara is just one of the many veteran law enforcers who have endorsed Prop. 19. A letter signed by dozens of police officers, judges and prosecutors who support ending prohibition can be read at: http://www.YesOn19.com/endorse/enforcement/text

Several of those law enforcers will be available on a telephone press conference call Tuesday at 11:00 AM PDT.  Reporters who would like the call-in info should contact Amber Langston at (573) 239-8149 or amber@YesOn19.com.

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CA
United States

ACLU Letter to Attorney General Argues There Is No Basis for Challenging California's Proposition 19 (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 25, 2010
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Continued Criminalization of Marijuana Wastes Scarce Resources and Has Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and its three California affiliates today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), arguing that there would be no legal basis for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sue to overturn Proposition 19 should it be approved next month by California voters, and urging the Justice Department to not change its current law enforcement focus on major criminal activity in favor of new enforcement activities against California marijuana users.

The letter asks Holder and Kerlikowske to stop threatening costly litigation and the deployment of federal drug police to arrest individuals who might use marijuana if the state enacts the proposition, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal use and allow cities and counties to regulate and tax commercial sales. The letter calls such rhetoric "unnecessarily alarmist" and says it does little to foster a balanced discussion of a legitimate policy issue.

"Proposition 19 would remove state criminal penalties for certain adult marijuana use," says the ACLU's letter. "The new law would not require anyone to do anything in violation of federal law. There would be no positive conflict."

News reports have indicated that federal officials have not ruled out following a recommendation by nine former Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) chiefs to sue to overturn Proposition 19 under a wrongly-held belief that it would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In a letter to the nine former DEA chiefs made public earlier this month, Holder said he will "vigorously enforce" federal laws against marijuana in California, even if Proposition 19 is approved.

The ACLU's letter argues that states do not have to march in lockstep with the federal government's prohibition of marijuana possession and that California can decide for itself whether it wishes to remove state criminal law penalties for adult marijuana use. An explicit clause of the Controlled Substances Act, passed by Congress in 1970, holds that preemption of state drug laws is limited to a narrow set of circumstances where there is a "positive conflict" between state and federal law "so that the two cannot consistently stand together."

The ACLU's letter also highlights the fact that African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately arrested for low-level marijuana possession in California and across the nation even though their usage rates are the same as or lower than those of whites.
 
"The ACLU took heart from Director Kerlikowske's acknowledgement that the 'war on drugs' has failed," states the ACLU's letter. "But instead of scaling back the rhetoric associated with that ineffective and out-of-date campaign, it appears the administration would resist California's modest attempt to begin dismantling one of the defining injustices of our failed drug policies: that the war on drugs has become a war on minorities."

A new report released last week shows that from 2006 to 2008, police in 25 of California's major cities arrested blacks at four to 12 times the rate of whites.

"The historical and racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws is a primary reason why [the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties] have endorsed Proposition 19," the ACLU's letter reads.

The ACLU's letter to Holder also questions why the federal government's response to the enactment of Proposition 19 should be any different than its approach to the existence in California and 13 other states of laws allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"We commend DOJ's instruction last year to U.S. attorneys that prosecuting medical marijuana patients who comply with state laws should not be a federal law enforcement priority," the ACLU's letter reads. "The very same standards should apply if Proposition 19 is enacted. Regardless of the federal government's disagreement with California's choice to amend state criminal law, it makes no more sense for the federal government to waste scarce resources policing low-level, non-violent marijuana offenses after Proposition 19 passes, than before."

Californians have every right to enact Proposition 19, the ACLU's letter asserts, in an effort to curtail the wasting of criminal justice resources on the policing of low-level adult marijuana offenses and to help end the selective enforcement of drug laws.

"This is about priorities," the ACLU's letter reads. "Given the state of the economy, record unemployment and foreclosure rates, and thousands of troops deployed abroad, should voters enact Proposition 19, we hope the federal government will re-evaluate its priorities and use scarce federal enforcement resources wisely."

A copy of the ACLU's letter to Attorney General Holder is available online at: www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform/aclu-letter-holder-arguing-there-no-basis-challenging-californias-prop-19.The letter is signed by Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU Criminal Justice Legislative Counsel, Jay Rorty, Director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and Allen Hopper, Police Practices Director for the ACLU of Northern California.

Location: 
CA
United States

Crunch time in California! (Action Alert)

It's coming down to the wire in California!

Californians are casting their votes on Proposition 19, the initiative to make marijuana legal and regulate it similarly to alcohol, and the latest polls show it is neck and neck heading down the stretch.  Voter turnout could very well be the deciding factorin this close race, so it's time to crank up the effort to get out the vote.

There are just about 8 days left before Election Day, and regardless of whether you live in California YOU CAN HELP!

Call Women Voters

SAFER and its project, the Women's Marijuana Movement, have teamed up with Just Say Nowto create an on-line phone banking tool that allows female marijuana activists across the country to place phone calls to women voters in California. 

Click HEREor visit http://fdl.me/Prop19Women to find out more and begin placing calls to female voters in California.

Call Young Voters

SAFER allies Just Say Now and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)have set up a system that allows people in any state to contact young voters in California and urge them to get out to vote for Prop. 19.

Click HEREor visit http://tinyurl.com/25xxms8to find out more and begin placing calls to young voters in California.

 

Location: 
CA
United States

What the Feds Can Do About Prop 19

Location: 
CA
United States
Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama’s top law-enforcement officer, has said the administration will “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws in California if Proposition 19 wins at the ballot box. For all the trails that approving Proposition 19 would blaze, much of its impact would depend on the extent to which Holder follows through on that threat.
Publication/Source: 
Newsweek (NY)
URL: 
http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/25/what-the-feds-can-do-if-calif-legalizes-marijuana.html

California Chamber of Commerce in Anti-Prop 19 Radio Attack Ad Campaign

The California Chamber of Commerce has begun a $250,000 radio ad campaign against Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative. The first ads hit the airwaves last Friday, the business group announced in a statement.

Here is the Prop 19 language that has the Chamber so bestirred: "No person shall be punished, fined, discriminated against, or be denied any right or privilege for lawfully engaging in any conduct permitted by this Act or authorized pursuant to Section 11301 of this Act. Provided however, that the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance by an employee shall not be affected."

The Chamber wants employers to continue to be able to fire workers for failing a drug test for marijuana, even though such test do not measure actual impairment, but only the presence of metabolites in the body. Those metabolites can remain for days or even weeks after the psychoactive effects of marijuana have worn off.

"Imagine coming out of surgery and the nurse caring for you was high or having to work harder on your job because a co-worker shows up high on pot," intones a woman's voice in the ad. "It could happen in California if Proposition 19 passes. Prop 19 would do more than simply legalize marijuana.  Prop 19 is worded so broadly is would hurt California's economy, raise business costs and make it harder to create jobs."

The Chamber has prepared a legal analysis that argues that Prop 19 would create a "protected class" of pot-smoking workers, and "expose workers to increased risk of injury, jeopardize federally funded projects and jobs, and add more liabilities and costs to already overburdened employers." 

"The employer impacts and workplace safety concerns highlighted in CalChamber’s legal analysis have been prominently featured in the many statewide editorials opposing Proposition 19," said Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce. "We want to be sure we reinforce the facts with voters so they understand that this measure will undermine the ability of employers to ensure a safe work environment and create higher costs for those who provide and create jobs."

In addition to the Reefer Madness-style fear-mongering already cited, the Chamber ad falsely claims that "employees would be able to come to work high, and employers wouldn’t be able to punish an employee for being high until after a workplace accident," when the initiative clearly states they can sanction actual impairment.

It's the final stretch in the campaign, and big business has begun the mud-slinging.

CA
United States

California Blacks Disproportionately Busted for Marijuana, Report Finds [FEATURE]

In a new report released Friday, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the California NAACP charged that African-Americans have been disproportionately targeted in low-level marijuana possession arrests. The report, Arresting Blacks for Marijuana Possession in California: Possession Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-2008, found that despite lower use rates, African-Americans were three, four, six, or even 13 times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites.

The report's release is timed to give Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization initiative, a boost in the few remaining days until election day. It was released at a press conference where California NAACP and DPA representatives were joined by Prop 19 campaign head Richard Lee, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) executive director Neill Franklin, Hollywood actor Danny Glover, and former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. 

The report found that in Los Angeles, with 10% of the state's black population, blacks were seven times more likely to get busted than whites. In San Diego, the state's second largest city, blacks were six times more likely to get busted. Ditto for Sacramento. In Torrance, blacks were 13 times more likely to be busted than whites.

"This report documents enormous, widespread race-based disparities in the arrests of nonviolent, low-level marijuana possession offenders," said Stephen Gutwillig, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The context is an enormous increase in the number of arrests for low-level possession in the past 20 years. Arrest rates for all other crimes have plummeted, from rape and murder to all other drug possession crimes, but marijuana possession arrests have tripled since 1990, from around 20,000 then to 61,000 last year. This was made possible by the targeting of communities of color, specifically African-Americans and Latinos, and more specifically, young African-Americans and Latinos."

It's not just that blacks are arrested disproportionately to whites. They are also arrested at rates far exceeding their percentage of the population. In Los Angeles, blacks make up 10% of the population, but 35% of all marijuana possession arrests. In Sacramento, it's 14% and 50%.

"These disparities were built from routine, pervasive, system-wide police practices," said Gutwillig. "This is not the result of a few racist cops; this is the way the system works."

"I don't think there is any question this is a civil rights issue," said California NAACP executive director Alice Huffman. "If you don't believe that, you don't believe in justice in America."

"We're spending billions of dollars each year on the war on drugs," said Dr. Elders. "It's been a war on young black males. Wars are supposed to end sometime. It's time to end this war. Proposition 19 is an opportunity to take drugs out of the hands of the drug cartels and put them where they can be controlled and taxed."

"This is not about a right to get high, it's an issue of a policy that does not work and is damaging to our society and most importantly, specifically damaging to people of color," said LEAP's Neill Franklin. "Marijuana prohibition is the most dysfunctional public policy in this country since slavery. The violence generated in our communities is unbelievable and it's because of the criminal market this policy creates. The lives of young African-Americans are being lost every day, and whether they lose their lives to violence or to a prison sentence, both are devastating," he said.

"This is an opportunity for law enforcement to get it right," said the former Maryland narcotics officer. "We spend a majority of our time dealing with low-level drug offenders, mainly marijuana," Franklin said. "In the 1960s, we solved nine out of 10 murders; now it's six out of 10. When you apprehend a murderer, murders go down. But when you take someone off the streets for selling marijuana, sales don't go down, and the violence increases because people are fighting for market share."

"I want to say publicly that I support Proposition 19," said film star Danny Glover. "The current laws do not work; they have failed us," he said. "We know we are arrested disproportionately. This is a civil rights issue," he maintained.

"I'm not a marijuana smoker, although I have tried it in the past, but I don't want to stand in the way of people who want to use marijuana recreationally," Glover continued. "This is a long battle, and we're on the right side."

"I've always seen cannabis prohibition as causing a war between police and citizens," said Lee. "Police are supposed to serve and protect, not wage war on the populace. We need police back protecting us from real criminals, not ourselves."

The Prop 19 campaign and DPA did it again this week, this time with Latino marijuana possession arrest rates. But it's already clear that racial disparities in the enforcement of California's pot laws exist, and simply decriminalizing marijuana possession, as Gov. Schwarzenegger did last month, will not change anything in that regard, at least not directly. Minority youths can still be hassled, harassed, and searched for an infraction, just as they were for a misdemeanor. It will take legalization to end such practices.

Oakland, CA
United States

Prop 19 "Robo-Polling" Shows Majority Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2010

Yes On 19 Internal Poll Shows Majority Support for Marijuana Initiative
Results Reveal Voters More Likely to Voice Support for Prop. 19 in Automated Polls Than to Live Callers

OAKLAND, CA -- The Yes On 19 campaign Friday released an internal poll showing that likely voters support the initiative to control and tax marijuana by a margin of 56-41 when presented with an automated questionnaire but are less likely to state their support to live interviewers.

"As the polling shows, there still seems to be somewhat of a social stigma attached to marijuana and the politics surrounding it," said Dan Newman, a political strategist working with the Yes On 19 campaign. "We're confident that when Californians find themselves in the privacy of voting booths on Nov. 2, they will vote to end decades of failed and harmful marijuana policies. Very few people think the current policy is working."

The results affirm earlier suggestions by New York Times analyst Nate Silver, the blog FireDogLake and others identifying a so-called "Reverse Bradley Effect" indicating that voters may be uncomfortable telling strangers how they would vote on controversial policies.

The Yes On 19 internal poll was conducted by EMC Research on October 13-14 and had a total sample size of 1,403 respondents. The margin of error is +/- 2.6 percentage points. The full results can be viewed at http://www.YesOn19.com/internalpoll.

Taken in context with other recent polls, these results show the race to be extremely close, as it has been throughout the summer and early fall. With the exception of Survey USA, which has consistently shown Prop. 19 to be in the lead, most other recently released polls have been conducted by live interviewers.

Yes On 19 has a team of hundreds of committed volunteers who are spending their free time calling undecided voters to help shore up support for the initiative. In contrast, the No On 19 campaign seems to be a largely top-down operation.

For more information please visit http://www.YesOn19.com.

 

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CA
United States

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