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Alert: California Marijuana Legalization Needs Your Help NOW

Dear drug policy reformer,
You may have read about me this week on My family and over 60 employees in California produce the best-selling natural brand of soap in the United States. Last week I made a personal $75,000 donation for a statewide "Yes We Cannabis" student fire truck tour of campuses throughout California, registering voters and getting people to the polls to pass Prop 19 and legalize cannabis this Election Day. You can read about why I decided to do this here.

I'm writing because and the Prop 19 campaign need your help. Polls show Prop 19 in the lead, but it's close, and voter turnout in this midterm election year could make or break it. There are important initiatives in Arizona, South Dakota and Oregon too. Whether you live in one of these states or not, there are thins that you can help with:
  • Register to Vote: Click here to print a form out that you or your friends can submit to your local election office. You have to register by the 18th to vote in California this year.
  • Phone Bank: Call people in California to get them out to the polls: Sign up to phone bank using email or Facebook or  Twitter. Join the Group on the site. Watch the Prop 19 phone bank training video. Go to the dashboard (between noon and 11:59 EST) and choose California or one of the other initiative states. (Make sure you've watched the video.) Then start calling voters. (Don't forget to invite more people to join the effort too.)

I'm grateful to Richard Lee for putting Prop 19 on the ballot with $1.5 million of his own money, and I'm proud that I could do this for Prop 19 too. Now it's your turn: The time members spend at home or a friend's home or a coffee shop with your cell phone, could literally be what makes legalization happen this year. So please sign up and volunteer today!


David Bronner, President
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

P.S. Voter registration in California ends on Monday, a few days from now. So please don't wait -- please volunteer today!

New Study Says Legalizing Marijuana Will Hurt Drug Cartels

RAND is known for publishing speculative analysis that appears to be aimed at undermining marijuana reform, but this passage from their latest study is pretty strong:

We believe that legalizing marijuana in California would effectively eliminate Mexican DTOs’ revenues from supplying Mexican-grown marijuana to the California market. As we elaborate in this chapter, even with taxes, legally produced marijuana would likely cost no more than would illegal marijuana from Mexico and would cost less than half as much per unit of THC (Kilmer, Caulkins, Pacula, et al., 2010). Thus, the needs of the California market would be supplied by the new legal industry. While, in theory, some DTO employees might choose to work in the legal marijuana industry, they would not be able to generate unusual profits, nor be able to draw on talents that are particular to a criminal organization.

That's a powerful argument for regulating and taxing the industry, unfortunately RAND didn't exactly emphasize this finding in their press release. By focusing instead on the obvious fact that cartels would continue to generate substantial revenue from other markets and other drugs, RAND was able to generate headlines like these:

Legalizing marijuana in California would not curtail Mexican drug organizations, study says
Los Angeles Times

Study: Legalizing Pot Won't Hinder Mexican CartelsNew York Times

Study: Calif. Pot Measure May Not Hurt Drug Cartels

This is how the media describes a report stating that Prop 19 would "effectively eliminate" drug cartels' marijuana profits in California. It's yet another definitive example in the long history of media outlets missing the point by failing to actually read the marijuana research they're reporting on. This confusion couldn't have come at a worse time, although the timing is hardly coincidental.

In a few short weeks, we'll find out whether coordinated attacks like these are enough to derail Prop 19, which has generally been polling well despite no shortage of rabid opposition from the usual prohibitionist peanut gallery of police, politicians, and the press. Despite this week's high-profile attempt to refute one of our lead talking points, it will be up to the voters to decide, and the measure's impact on drug trafficking is only one dimension of the issue among many. Moreover, it's also possible that increased focus on the drug trafficking issue could end up amplifying our argument in spite of the media spin.

Only a few weeks remain, and one thing you can count on is the growing desperation of our opposition and the inevitable mindless appeals to fear and paranoia that they're certain to deploy. We are entering the late stages of the most significant marijuana legalization debate in modern history, and we'll soon learn what sort of malicious nonsense remains in their arsenal. Enemies of reform have always been known more for stubbornness than creativity, so I'm not expecting to hear anything new, but we'd be foolish not to expect their very worst.

Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 28,000 people, the government reported in August. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war.
Culiacan Cathedral, Sinaloa
Thursday, October 7

In Tijuana, President Calderon said that California's ballot measure to legalize marijuana represents hypocrisy in US drug policy. "For me, it reflects a terrible inconsistency in government policies in the United States,"  he said, referring to US demands that Mexico and other countries clamp down on production and trafficking.

Saturday, October 9

In Oaxaca, the mayor-elect of a small town was shot and killed . Antonio Jimenez Banos, 47, was due to become the mayor of the small coastal town of Martires de Tacubaya. He was shot in the head and chest as he returned home to his small farm. Eleven sitting mayors have been assassinated in Mexico this year, as well as several candidates and representative-elects.

In Ciudad Juarez, 12 people were killed in several incidents. In one incident, two prisoners inside the city’s main prison were killed during a prison riot between the rival Azteca and Mexicles gangs, which work for the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, respectively. At the same time, another riot occurred in a municipal prison. Soldiers responding to the incident confiscated an unknown quantity of weapons and drugs.

Sunday, October 10

In Ciudad Juarez, six people were killed. In one incident, a group of armed men shot dead three people outside an emergency room hospital. The three men were apparently attempting to flee and hide from the gunmen, but were gunned down just outside the building.

Monday, October 11

In Sinaloa, eight police officers were killed after their convoy was ambushed by gunmen. The officers were patrolling a highway about 50 miles outside of the state capital of Culiacan when they were attacked by a convoy of gunmen traveling in three or four vehicles and wielding automatic weapons. Mexican news sources have reported that three other officers were wounded in the attack. Sinaloa has long been at the heart of Mexico's drug trade. Marijuana and poppy is grown in the area and large-scale meth labs have been known to operate in the area.

In Ciudad Juarez, 14 people were killed across the city. The murders occurred despite immensely tight security in the city due to the arrival of President Calderon and a security summit with Mexican governors.

Tuesday, October 12

According to a Zapata County Sheriff, a Mexican investigator working on the recent Falcoln Lake shooting incident was beheaded. Rolando Flores was a member of the State police based in the city of Miguel Aleman, and was part of the team investigating the shooting of David Hartley, who has been missing since September 30th. Flores' head was reportedly found in a suitcase left outside a Mexican Army installation.

Total Body Count for the Week: 85

Total Body Count for the Year: 8,390

Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.


In Washington State, A Majority Say Legalize Marijuana

A majority of Washington state residents favor legalizing marijuana, but support levels are not as high in Oregon and Idaho, according to a new tri-state poll. Some 55% of respondents in Washington supported legalization, with 34% opposed, while in Oregon, it won a narrow plurality (45% to 43%), and in Idaho, opposition was at 52%, with only 37% in favor.

Mt. Hood, northern Oregon
The poll results are from a survey of the three Northwest states' residents conducted by the polling firm Davis, Hibbitts, and Midghall (DHM) for the Northwest Health Foundation and public radio stations across the region. The poll results have not yet been posted, but DHM's Adam Davis shared preliminary results with Drug War Chronicle during a phone interview Monday.

Davis said full results would be posted at DHM "in a day or two."

The survey asked four generic marijuana-related questions: Has your attitude toward marijuana changed over time (and if so, in what direction); do you support state laws permitting medical marijuana; are you comfortable with a medical marijuana dispensary in your neighborhood; and do you support the legalization of the purchase and possession of marijuana?

While majorities in all three states said their attitudes toward marijuana had remained the same over time, those who said their attitudes had changed broke two-to-one toward more tolerant attitudes.

Davis said support for medical marijuana was at 64% in Oregon, with 30% opposed. Compared to Oregon, "Washington was more supportive and Idaho less so," said the pollster. "There is pretty strong support, generally speaking. It leads almost two-to one."

But having a medical marijuana dispensary in the neighborhood didn’t fare nearly as well. Only in Washington were a majority (52%) comfortable with a local dispensary, with that figure dropping to 43% in Idaho and, surprisingly, only 40% in Oregon.

That last figure could have immediate real world ramifications. Oregon voters will decide next month on Measure 74, which would allow for a regulated dispensary system. This poll finding, while isolated, suggests that voters could turn away from the initiative next month. Get to the polls, Oregon medical marijuana supporters!

United States

Medical Marijuana Question to Appear on Massachusetts Ballot

United States
The question whether Bay State residents be allowed to use, grow and buy marijuana for medical use will be on the ballot next month. The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition is behind the public policy question.
New England Cable News (MA)

Facebook Billionaires, Dr. Bronner's Kick in on Prop 19 [FEATURE]

The campaign to pass California's Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, is seeing some good-sized late donations, including contributions from Facebook co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker. Meanwhile, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps heir David Bronner has kicked in tens of thousands more for a get out the vote effort in the campaign's final weeks. And they're not the only ones making sizeable late donations.

"Yes We Cannabis" fire truck tour supporting Prop 19
Prop 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of pot by adults 21 or older. It would also allow adults to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana and possess the harvested results. It would give cities and counties the local option to allow, tax, and regulate commercial marijuana sales and cultivation.

The initiative holds a four-point lead in the Talking Points Memo Polltracker average of the 13 polls taken on it so far this year. Prop 19 has 47.4% in the poll average to 43.2% against, with less than 10% undecided. Only three of the 13 polls have shown it losing, but with support under 50%, voter turnout and the undecideds will be critical in achieving victory.

Moskovitz has now contributed a total of $70,000 to Prop 19, while Parker has given $100,000 to a pro-Prop 19 fund controlled by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). David Bronner is giving $75,000 to Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) for a tour of college campuses designed to energize student turnout, and Washington, DC, activist and entrepreneur Adam Eidinger of Capitol Hemp Clothing and Accessories kicked in another $25,000 for the campus tour.

Those aren’t the only big contributions to the cash-strapped campaign, which, despite having raised more than $2.1 million so far, only had $67,000 in the bank as of September 30. But according to late filing reports, in the first few days of this month the campaign got $20,000 from Oakland cannabis entrepreneur Jeff Willcox, a $50,000 donation from Tiburon retiree Stephen Silberstein, $5,000 from Prescription Vending Machines, Inc., and $75,000 from Encino TV producer Kevin Bright. Not counting the Bronner, Eidinger, Parker, and Moskovitz donations, Prop 19 has raised $180,000 so far this month.

"More than any other initiative out there, Prop 19 will stabilize our national security and bolster our state economy," said Moskovitz in a statement explaining his support. "It will alleviate unnecessary overcrowding of nonviolent offenders in our state jails, which in turn will help California residents."

"These donations mean that these guys get it," said Stephen Gutwillig, DPA California director, referring to the Facebook cofounders. "They are members of a generation that has a consensus that the drug war is a massive failure and will never work. These donors have the means to do something about it. We're really thrilled that they're stepping up in the middle of this crucial campaign that is a bellwether in the struggle to create an exit strategy from this disastrous war on marijuana," he said. "Sean Parker and Dustin Moskovitz are pivotal to this work in this election cycle, and we hope in years to come."

DPA will use the money for get out the vote efforts, said Gutwillig. "We'll be focusing on getting young and black and Latino voters to the polls," he explained. "We don't have enough money to mount a TV ad persuasion campaign aimed at undecided voters -- that takes millions of dollars in California. But this is enough money to participate in getting reform-minded voters to the polls, reminding them that Prop 19 is on the ballot and making sure they vote between now and November 2."

If the pro-Prop 19 forces don't have the money for a TV ad campaign, they can take some solace in knowing that the opposition doesn't, either -- at least not yet. The main opposition group, Public Safety First, reported only $54,000 in the bank as of September 30. But the Prop 19 forces are waiting for -- not hoping for -- the other shoe to drop. A late, well-funded negative ad campaign in 2008 helped to defeat a sentencing reform initiative that had been leading in the polls up to that point.

"I'm calling up businesses like ours that I know are socially and environmentally conscious with a simple message, 'Just Say Now;' now is the time to step up support," said Bronner. "Prop 19 will free up police for fighting real crimes and stop renegade cannabis cultivation by gangs that are destroying our national parks. Cannabis prohibition, not the herb itself, has been ruining productive and upstanding citizens' lives with courts and jails for decades," he said.

"I was hoping to trigger more giving with our donation, and the Facebook guys helped, too," said Bronner. "This is just such an important moment; there is so much at stake. It's about being able to promote and get our message across. It's about cannabis, but it's also about freedom," he said.

"This has been pretty under-funded," said Bronner. "Richard Lee put in enough money to get on the ballot, and now it comes to getting out the youth vote. SSDP is well-positioned to drive that and already had a game plan. We're just powering that up," he said.

Late last week, Bronner and SSDP announced the "Sound the Alarm to Vote Yes on Prop 19" tour of California college campuses, complete with Dr. Bronner's promotional fire truck, now known as the "Yes We Cannabis Fire Truck." The tour kicked off in San Diego last weekend, and will crisscross the state in the three weeks until Election Day -- this weekend it will be in the Bay Area for SSDP's regional conference in San Francisco.

"Young voters are the primary victims of the drug war and logically the largest group of supporters of Prop 19," said SSDP executive director Aaron Houston. "We plan to register thousands of students in the next 10 days and help many first time voters develop plans for Election Day. Meshing good old fashioned one-on-one on college campuses with mobile alert technology sums up our strategy to turn out young voters," he added.

SSDP had already planned a get out the vote effort in conjunction with Firedoglake's Just Say Now campaign, but will now expand that effort thanks to the Bronner and Eidinger donations. "We are ramping up our outreach to even more students thanks to the surprise support," Houston said.

It's just three weeks from Election Day. The race is tight. The final push is on, the energy level is high, and late donations can help make the difference.

United States

California Democrats Bet on Bong War

United States
Seizing on new independent polling data, proponents of Proposition 19 — the Golden State ballot measure that would make possessing and growing marijuana legal — argue the measure is going to drive younger-voter turnout in such a way that it will benefit the Democrats statewide, from gubernatorial retread Jerry Brown to Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Politico (VA)

Students Across California Mobilize to Control Marijuana Like Alcohol

SSDP letterhead

October 6, 2010

Students Across California Mobilize to Control Marijuana Like Alcohol
Students to Rally with Yes We Cannabis Fire Truck to Sound Alarm For Prop 19

SAN DIEGO, CA –Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP),announced plans today to mobilize student voters in support of Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.  SSDP, the nation’s largest student drug policy group with over 150 chapters nationwide, will rally an army of student canvassers at its regional conference to be held at San Francisco State University October 16-17. Many eventshave been scheduled between now and the election on campuses up and down the state.  With a massive fire truck touring California, the students will ‘Sound the Alarm to Vote Yes on Prop 19.’ (See schedule below.)  Members of the media are invited to tour with the Yes We Cannabis Fire Truck.

“Young voters are the primary victims of the drug war and logically the largest group of supporters of Prop 19,” says Aaron Houston, SSDP’s Executive Director. “We plan to register thousands of students in the next 10 days and help many first time voters develop plans for Election Day.  Meshing good old fashioned one-on-one on college campuses with mobile alert technology sums up our strategy to turnout young voters,” adds Houston.

SSDP already planned a massive canvass in Northern California months ago, but last week the group received a surprise $75,000 dollar donation from David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and another $25,000 from Capitol Hemp Clothing and Accessories. “We are ramping up our outreach to even more students thanks to the surprise support,” says Houston.

Dr. Bronner’s is providing the company’s promotional fire truck to ‘sound the alarm’ on college campuses across California before November’s election.  A California based company, Dr. Bronner’s buys 20 tons of hemp oil for their soaps from Canada each year.  For ten years the Bronner family has financially supported bringing back non-drug industrial hemp farming in the US as an environmentally sustainable crop that can be made into a wide variety of products including food, cosmetics, clothing, building materials and much more. Traditionally Dr. Bronner’s has publicly supported ‘hemp only’ advocates; however Mr. Bronner is now publicly calling for the end of cannabis prohibition entirely in light of the bloody conflict being fueled in neighboring Mexico and the enormous waste of California taxpayer and police resources in the current budget crisis.

Mr. Bronner stated:  “I’m calling up businesses like ours that I know are socially and environmentally conscious with a simple message, “Just Say Now, now is the time to step up support.”  Prop 19 will free up police for fighting real crimes and stop renegade cannabis cultivation by gangs that are destroying our national parks.  Cannabis prohibition, not the herb itself, has been ruining productive and upstanding citizens’ lives with courts and jails for decades.”

The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is a California ballot proposition which will be on the November 2, 2010 California statewide ballot. It legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties. In March 2010 it qualified to be on the November statewide ballot. It requires a simple majority in order to pass. Yes on 19 is the official advocacy group for the initiative.SSDP is the lead student organization working with the Yes on 19 campaign.

The following is a tentative schedule for the Yes We Cannabis Fire Truck Tour and is subject to change.  To confirm exact times of events email Adam Eidinger at



San Diego State University

5500 Campanile Drive

San Diego


University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Dr.

La Jolla


University of California, Irvine

University of California- Irvine



University of California, Los Angeles

405 Hilgard Ave.

Los Angeles


University of Southern California

1540 Alcazar Street

Los Angeles


California State University, Northridge

18111 Nordhoff Street



Pitzer College

1050 North Mills Avenue



San Bernardino Valley College

701 Mount Vernon Ave

San Bernardino


San Francisco SSDP Mobilization Tour

Various Locations

San Francisco


Sacramento State University

6000 J Street



Golden Gate University

536 Mission Street

San Francisco


University of California, Hastings

200 McAllister St.

San Francisco


San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue

San Francisco


Mills College

5000 MacArthur Blvd



University of California, Berkeley

2198 University Avenue



California State University, East Bay

25800 Carlos Bee Blvd



San Jose State University

One Washington Square

San Jose


University of California, Santa Cruz

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz


University of California, Merced

5200 Lake Road



College of the Sequoias

915 South Mooney Boulevard



Azusa Pacific University

901 East Alosta Avenue



Santa Ana College

1530 West 17th Street

Santa Ana

To arrange interviews contact Adam Eidinger at For further information please visit our website at

United States

"Stoners Against Prop 19" Debunked in New Video

Last week we reported on the forces lined up for and against California's Prop 19. A surprising element found in the "against" mix are portions of the cannabis reform community. Some of them are clearly self-interested medical marijuana sellers, and we believe that all of them are thoroughly mistaken or misguided. It's a loud group of people, but one whose actual size and significance is unclear.

I did not closely follow the evolution of the "Stoners Against Prop 19," but one event that's said to have given it steam was a video interview by California medical marijuana patient KC Kimber with Dennis Peron, the father of medical marijuana in California and sponsor of the Prop 215 medical marijuana initiative, who regrettably has opposed Prop 19. (I'm having trouble find the video, hence no link.) Kimber discovered later that Peron had fed him a lot of disinformation, and has been campaigning since then for Prop 19's passage. Yesterday he released an interview with cannabis expert and Prop 19 proponent Chris Conrad which debunks Peron's claims.

We hope that common sense (perhaps with some help from our reporting) has already made it clear to our readers that Prop 19 is a legalization initiative (albeit the first stage of legalization with more work to be done); that it will help, not hurt, medical marijuana patients (as I've gone into on Huffington Post); and that any compromises it makes are small and necessary ones and that we'll be far better off, now and in the continuing effort, if it passes. We don't want to contribute an exaggerated sense of the importance of the "Stoners Against Prop 19" movement by focusing too much attention on them, but because the vote is likely to be close, and because some of their claims have made it into the mainstream media, we are posting the video here just in case. If you want more information on this subject, we recommend Chris's Prop 19 Fact Check and Rumor Control page.

Regarding Peron, we see him as a hero for what he did to bring medical marijuana into being in California, work without which Prop 19 might not even be possible today. We've heard that he's ill, and we wish him well. Prop 19 is too important to hold back on, and so even Dennis Peron cannot be let off the hook when he spreads false information about it, at least not until the election's done.

Taiwanese Animated Report on Prop 19 Marijuana Initiative

This video more or less speaks for itself. I doubt that marijuana smoking would be allowed in some of the public places where it depicts people doing that, but they were trying to present the arguments being made by both sides. One commenter on the video noted that they presented the stoned driver as going too slowly, not fast and recklessly, an insightful detail.

 As an east coaster it took me a few moments to remember this, but the bear is a symbol for the state of California.


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