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Mexico and the War on Drugs: Time to Legalize

Mexico and the War on Drugs: Time to Legalize
Tuesday, October 18, 12:00 p.m.

Mount Vernon Place • Undercroft Auditorium
900 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.


Featuring Vicente Fox, Former President, Mexico; moderated by Ian Vásquez, Director, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute

About the event - The drug war has led to a rise in corruption and gruesome criminality that is weakening democratic institutions, the press, law enforcement, and other elements of a free society. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox will explain that prohibition is not working and that the legalization of the sale, use, and production of drugs offers a superior way of dealing with the problem of drug abuse.

Date: 
Tue, 10/18/2011 - 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: 
900 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

WA State Dems Endorse Marijuana Legalization

The Washington state Democratic Central Committee Saturday endorsed a marijuana legalization initiative, throwing the party's weight behind the effort to put the measure on the ballot for the November 2012 election.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/downtown_seattle.jpg
downtown Seattle
The Central Committee voted 75-43 for a resolution supporting Initiative 502, which would legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and allow for its sale through pot-only stores regulated by the state liquor control authority. Initiative sponsors New Approach Washington estimate that marijuana legalization under its model would generate more than $200 a million a year in tax revenues, with more than half of that earmarked for public health programs.

The Democrats cited, among other things, law enforcement costs of marijuana prohibition and the revenues that could be gained with legalization. They noted that marijuana possession arrests, with mandatory 24-hour jail stays, accounted for half of all Washington drug arrests. 

I-502 is controversial among some segments of the marijuana legalization and medical marijuana communities because it also includes a per se driving under the influence provision. The initiative sets a blood THC level of 5 nanograms per millileter above which drivers are presumed to be impaired, but some activists argue that such a provision will result in the arrest and conviction of pot-accustomed drivers who are not actually impaired.

That didn't seem to bother the Democratic Central Committee too much, though. The committee included that provision in its long list of "whereases" in support of the initiative, noting that "this per se limit will not apply to the non-psychoactive marijuana metabolite carboxy-THC that can appear in blood or urine tests for days or even weeks after last use."

I-502 is supported by the ACLU of Washington, whose Alison Holcomb has taken a leave of absence to spearhead the campaign, and has been endorsed by prominent Washington figures, including former US Attorney John McKay (the man who prosecuted Marc Emery, ironically), Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, and travel writer and TV show host Rick Steves.

Organizers have until next July to gather 241,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. But I-502 is an initiative to the legislature, meaning that if it passes the signature-gathering hurdle, it would then go before the state legislature in the upcoming session. If the legislature refuses to act, the initiative would then go before the voters in November 2012.

Bellingham, WA
United States

Three Marijuana Legalization Initiatives in Oregon [FEATURE]

Activists in Oregon are serious about legalizing marijuana. There are currently three different marijuana legalization initiative campaigns aimed at the November 2012 ballot underway there and, this year, there are signs the state's fractious marijuana community is going to try to overcome sectarian differences and unify so that the overarching goal -- freeing the weed -- can be attained.

The three initiatives are in varying stages of advancement, with one already engaged in signature-gathering, one just approved for a ballot title, and the third trying to obtain the 1,000 signatures necessary to be granted a ballot title and be approved for signature-gathering.

The initiative currently furthest down the path toward the ballot box, is the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 2012 (Initiative Petition #9), sponsored by veteran activist and medical marijuana entrepreneur Paul Stanford. It would allow adult Oregonians to possess and grow their own marijuana. It would allow Oregon farmers to grow hemp. And it would license Oregon farmers to grow marijuana to be sold at state-licensed pot stores. An earlier version of OCTA failed to make the ballot last year.

OCTA has been approved for signature-gathering, and OCTA spokespersons said it had so far collected more than 30,000 signatures. It needs some 87,000 valid voter signatures to make the ballot, so OCTA's goal is to gather about 130,000 to have a comfortable cushion to account for invalid signatures.

The initiative next in line is a proposed constitutional amendment (Initiative Petition #24) to repeal the state's marijuana laws sponsored by the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative, which is supported by numerous in-state groups. "Except for actions that endanger minors or public safety, neither the criminal offenses and sanctions nor the laws of civil seizure and forfeiture of this state shall apply to the private personal use, possession or production of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older," the amendment says. "The State may enact laws and regulations consistent with this amendment to reasonably define, limit and regulate the use, possession, production, sale or taxation of marijuana under state law."

Because it is a constitutional amendment and not an initiative, the OMPI must climb a higher hurdle to qualify for the ballot. Instead of 87,000 valid signatures, it needs 114,000.

The initiative still in the initial phase of qualifying for a ballot title is from Sensible Oregon, a coalition formed this year that includes Oregon NORML and a variety of other groups. The Sensible Oregon initiative "would remove existing civil and criminal penalties for adults twenty one years of age, who cultivate, possess, transport, exchange or use marijuana" and require the legislature to come up with a regulatory scheme.

The Sensible Oregon initiative has gathered about 400 of the initial 1,000 needed to win a ballot title. Activists are gathering them on a volunteer basis.

"We don’t have any paid petitioners; we're working strictly as volunteers," said Oregon NORML board member and Sensible Oregon spokesperson Anna Diaz, who added that it is difficult to obtain funding at this early stage. "When we talk to various funding sources, we need to wait for the ballot title before anyone will take us very seriously. Once we do that, our hope is that we can go after some big funding."

Funding is also an issue for the OCTA campaign, said campaign spokesperson Jennifer Alexander. "We had to stop our signature gathering effort because we need to do some major fundraising," she said. "We have some volunteers, but we're trying to raise about $150,000 to fund the rest of the signature drive. If we can raise the money, we can do it in eight or ten weeks."

OCTA will be the initiative "most accepted by the public," Alexander said. "It also addresses hemp, which would be a huge economic and environmental boon to the Oregon economy, and it provides the regulatory structure that Oregonians are most familiar with, similar to how we handle alcohol. You can grow your own or you can buy it from the store, and the money goes back to the state, which generates revenue and a regulated environment."

Last year, Oregon NORML supported OCTA, but it is going down a different path this year. "Paul Stanford has been trying to pass some form of OCTA for about 20 years, and we didn't want to do the same thing and get the same results," said Diaz. "At the same time, the Sensible Washington people had come forward with the idea of removing all criminal penalties, and we decided that would be more appealing to voters and a better model to attempt," Diaz said. "While we are not disparaging Paul or his efforts, OCTA has just failed one too many times for us."

Doug McVay, a long-time activist now (again) working for Voter Power, the group behind Oregon's successful 1998 medical marijuana initiative, said Voter Power supports any and all of the initiatives, but is concentrating its limited resources on the OMPI constitutional amendment and a second initiative that would create a state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary system.

"In Oregon, we have three chances to make history, and that's exciting," he said. "All of them or any of them could create a ripple, hell, a tidal wave across the country. I will be working to help them make the ballot and working to make their passage a reality."

Factionalism and in-fighting has been the bane of the marijuana movement in Oregon, as in so many other places, but this time around, there is a lot of talk about unity and supporting whatever will work.

"We will get behind other initiatives if ours doesn't work out," said Diaz. "There is also talk about all three initiatives doing polling to see which would really fly, and all of us jumping on that. Surprisingly, this is one time where I'm hearing proponents of every proposed initiative suggesting we should all support each other. It's not a matter of competing against each other."

"We're all trying to end prohibition and these are just different models to do so," said OCTA's Alexander. "I love that we have so many going to the ballot. We have all pretty much agreed that whichever one makes the ballot, we will support it. There have been a lot of people picking apart the different initiatives, but we have to get behind each other and work for the common goal."

That would be a very good thing. A marijuana movement unified around a legalization initiative would be able to concentrate on real opposing forces instead of having to defend itself from sniping from within. We don't want to see a repeat of last year's experience in California, where "Stoners against Prop 19" types had initiative organizers looking over their shoulders to fend off attacks from within the ranks even as they tried to confront the organized opposition.

OR
United States

WA Man Refuses Marijuana Fines, Chooses Jail

Enough already! That was the message Olympia, Washington, resident Dana Walker sent to the Thurston County Superior Court last Friday when, in an act of civil disobedience, he refused to pay fines for past marijuana offenses and demanded to be sent to jail instead. He got his wish and is currently behind bars awaiting sentencing, but the local criminal justice system is going to be out several thousand dollars, and Walker is going to be able to look himself in the eye and know he didn't back down before the pot prohibition laws.

Could this man be the Rosa Parks of the marijuana legalization movement? (Image: Dana Walker)
Walker has been arrested on marijuana charges on numerous occasions and has served time in the federal prison system for pot. After finally being freed from the feds' leash, he told supporters on a Dana Goes to Jail! Facebook page he set up for the event that he had had enough.

"Have you ever wanted to go into a courtroom and honestly tell the judge and prosecutor what you think of their marijuana laws?" Walker wrote. "I have a golden opportunity to do just that and I plan to take full advantage. Those of you who personally know me know I am fully capable of turning righteous indignation into an entertaining show, and I plan to pull out all stops on this one," he explained.

"I owe Thurston County over $3,000 for a marijuana charge from back in 1997," he said. "I am currently unemployed, I am not a fan of hot weather, and I wouldn't mind at all spending a few weeks in jail just for the opportunity to tell a court where they can stick their laws."

Walker said that if enough other people followed his example, they could clog the gears of the drug war punishment apparatus.

"If everyone throws a few shovels full of dirt into the cogs of the Machine then the Machine can't function," he explained. "If even a relatively insignificant number of criminal defendants demanded full jury trials and court-appointed attorneys and then refused to pay any fines then the entire prison-industrial complex would implode.

His action was also for his own good, he said.

Dana Walker outside the Thurston County Jail wearing a "Stop Snitchin'" shirt. (Image: Dana Walker)
"I am also fulfilling a psychological need to take back control of my life," Walker said. "I highly resent the fact that I have been forced by circumstance to kiss their evil asses for over a decade and I will now have my say. I am a keen patron of irony and I LOVE the fact that I am going to reclaim my freedom by going to jail."

Last Friday morning, Walker did have his say. Here is his statement, which was read into the record, in its entirety:

"I am an active and contributing member of my community and I have earned the respect and admiration of large numbers of the people in my community and I hate to admit it as it goes against my 'outlaw' image, but I even obey the traffic laws.

"In spite of all this I now have four felony convictions and three misdemeanor convictions, all for marijuana; I have spent over six years of my life incarcerated in a federal prison and four years on federal probation over marijuana, and Thurston County now wants me to pay a fine of $2,010 for marijuana plus $1,754 in interest on that fine that was accrued as I sat in a federal prison all those years.

"Since I have been smoking marijuana on a regular basis for over 40 years now and suffered no ill effects of any kind whatsoever that I am aware of, since I consider this state's marijuana laws to be an unacceptable, unconstitutional, and outrageous infringement upon my personal liberty, since I love smoking marijuana and I intend to continue smoking marijuana at any time that I darned well please, and since making someone like me into a criminal over marijuana is insane and stupid; then today I am placing the State of Washington on notice that from this point forward I will not only never again pay the state to prosecute me for marijuana but that I intend to make it as expensive to prosecute me for marijuana as I possibly can -- and since I have been in the system for a long time I know how to do that.

"I would also like to point out that the feds had me under their thumb for over 10 years and they did not break me -- and as of a few days ago I am no longer under that thumb. And so today I am celebrating and reclaiming my freedom by informing the state that since I will no longer pay your fines and since I no longer fear your jails then -- as far as marijuana goes -- you no longer have any power over me and that in fact the stick is now in my hand."

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor was not amused. "If I had known what you were going to say, I wouldn't have let you make the statement," he said. "Once you got started I didn't want to be rude and interrupt you."

He then ordered Walker handcuffed and sent to jail pending sentencing. That was supposed to happen this week, but there is no word yet.

Thanks to Toke of the Town for the heads up.

Olympia, WA
United States

Prince of Pot Marc Emery Catches "Superbug" in US Prison

Canadian marijuana legalization activist Marc Emery has contracted a "superbug" while serving a US federal prison sentence for selling marijuana seeds, his wife, Jodie, told local media Sunday. Emery has been diagnosed with MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aurea), a painful infection that appears on the skin.

MRSA is widespread among US jail and prison populations with hundreds of reports of outbreaks being reported in the past decade. Some cases develop into necrotizing fasciitis, also known as "the flesh-eating disease." The US Bureau of Prisons has released guidelines for the management and control of the disease, which does not respond to many common antibiotics. For more information on the disease in the American gulag, visit the MRSA Infections News and Information web page on MRSA in jails and prisons.

Ironically, Technology Review reported last fall that chemicals found in marijuana plants "could soon outshine conventional antibiotics in the escalating battle against drug-resistant bacteria. The compounds, called cannabinoids, appear to be unaffected by the mechanism that superbugs like MRSA use to evade existing antibiotics," the Review noted, citing recently published scientific research.

Jodie Emery said Emery's MRSA problem began when he was bitten by a brown recluse spider while serving time at a Georgia prison, and the bite took months to heal. He was treated with antibiotics, but developed a painful boil while being transferred by bus to another prison in Mississippi. When prison doctors tested the boil, they discovered the MRSA infection.

"I was worried sick to hear it," she said, adding that he was forced to fight the bug without medication. The infection has stabilized, but Emery is still infected, she said. "I'm still very concerned. He has to be extra vigilant with any cuts or scrapes."

Emery, who made a small fortune selling pot seeds but gave most of it away to legalization activists in Canada and around the world, was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2010 after being extradited from Canada. A recent bid to serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country was rejected by prison authorities. He can try again in a little under two years.

In a Monday interview with the magazine he founded, Cannabis Culture, Emery said that while his infection was "definitely a concern," he was currently healthy and feeling fine.

New Washington State Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed

A high-powered coalition of state and local elected officials, public figures, and attorneys filed a marijuana legalization initiative with Washington state officials June 22. Known as New Approach Washington, the group is aiming to put the measure before voters in the November 2012 elections.

The initiative is distinct from the Sensible Washington initiative campaign, which had hoped to put its measure before voters in November 2011. The Sensible Washington initiative now appears unlikely to make the ballot because with little more than a week left until it must turn in signatures, it has less than half the required amount and little money to pay signature-gatherers.

Key features of the New Approach Washington initiative include:

  • Distribution to adults 21 and over through state-licensed, marijuana-only stores; production and distribution licensed and regulated by Liquor Control Board (LCB).
  • Severable provision (e.g. provision would stand if courts invalidated other provisions) decriminalizing adult possession of marijuana; possession by persons under 21 remains a misdemeanor.
  • Stringent advertising, location, and license eligibility restrictions enforced by LCB.
  • Home growing remains prohibited; except, initiative does not affect Washington's medical marijuana law.
  • Estimated $215 million in new state revenue each year, with roughly $40 million going to state general fund (B&O and retail sales tax) and $175 million (new marijuana excise tax) earmarked for youth and health programs and marijuana education programs.
  • THC blood concentration  of 5 ng/mL or higher is per se Driving Under the Influence.

Among the backers of the initiative are Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, former US Attorney for the Western District of Washington (and prosecutor of Marc Emery, ironically) John McKay, travel program celebrity Rick Steves, state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), and ACLU of Washington drug policy honcho Allison Holcomb, who is stepping down temporarily to run the campaign.

The group will have until December 30 to gather 241,153 valid voter signatures to put the issue before the legislature. The legislature could then approve the measure or send it to voters in the November 2012 election.

It's starting to look like marijuana legalization will be on the ballot in at least three, and possibly four, states next year. Efforts are already underway in California, Colorado, and Oregon.

WA
United States

Dakta Green Jailed for New Zealand Cannabis Club

One of New Zealand's most prominent and aggressive marijuana legalization advocates will spend the next eight months in prison. Dakta Green was sentenced Tuesday after being found guilty on three marijuana charges earlier this year.

Dakta Green jailed in New Zealand for the herb. (daktagrower.blogspot.com)
For two and half years, Green had operated The Daktory, a west Auckland club where marijuana could be freely bought and sold. He was charged following police raids on the club in January 2010, after he went public with plans to expand operations and open pot clubs nationwide.

The protests of dozens of Daktory supporters outside the courthouse could be heard inside the courtroom as Green objected to the sentence. But Judge Phil Gittos said the sentence was more lenient that than sought by the Crown and that the "law must be upheld."

It's not the first time Green has been jailed for the herb. He spent a year in the Chester County (Pennsylvania) Jail in 1999 and nearly three years in prison in New Zealand beginning in 2002. But those experiences only strengthened his activism. He legally changed his name from Ken Morgan to Dakta Green in 2008, was a candidate in a regional election for the Aotearoa Legalize Cannabis Party in 2009, and is a regional director of New Zealand NORML.

Green shut down The Daktory to its 2,000-plus members after he was convicted. Its motto was "Live like it was legal."

Auckland
New Zealand

85% of Grandparent Respondents Favor Marijuana Legalization, According to GRAND Magazine Reader Poll (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2011

CONTACT: Rosa Mangiardi at (415) 728-2113

85% of Grandparent Respondents Favor Marijuana Legalization, According to GRAND Magazine Reader Poll

Online Magazine for Grandparents Releases Response Results to Op-Ed Question Posed in its March/April Issue


St. Petersburg, FL. (PRWEB) Attitudes about the criminalization of marijuana may be changing among the elders of our society, as the more than 70 million of the baby boomer generation, one to widely experiment with recreational drug use, have and will become grandparents.

GRAND Magazine, the online magazine for today's grandparents, released today results from their poll question which appeared in the March/April issue. It asked readers if it was time to legalize marijuana. 85% responded that they agreed it was.

The reader respondents who are pot proponents argued in their responses that it is hypocritical to outlaw pot when cigarettes, alcohol and fat-laden foods are legal but account for so many health issues among our population. They point out that marijuana is used to treat medical symptoms such as pain and nausea, and that in some states it is legal for shops to dispense medical marijuana. The billions that are spent in the U.S. on policing and courts related to this issue could be spent on better schools or infrastructure.

Grandparents who are part of the baby boomer generation (those born from 1946 to 1964)(1) have a unique perspective on marijuana, having come of age during a time when pot use became mainstream. 21st century grandparents are a group with a significant influence on the country’s youth as they are the primary caregivers for more than 6 million children(2). In fact, approximately 75 percent of all non-parental care of children is provided by a grandparent(3), representing a large shift in family dynamics. Now it seems that as they guide and influence new generations, they view marijuana use increasingly as a harmless indulgence rather than a gateway to a lifetime of drug abuse.

Among the reader response comments were:

“I am a grandparent strongly in favor of decriminalization. I would much rather my grandkids smoke pot than use cigarettes or alcohol. I expect I will need cannabis for my health soon and don’t want (it) to be illegal. The whole charade needs to stop; we are blowing far too much money on the drug war and have no positive results to show for it. The whole approach is counterproductive,” said D.W., Guysville, OH.

“I am a grandparent of a 17 year-old granddaughter who has been struggling with drug addiction since she was 14 years old. I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug and it has always been her reluctance to give up pot that has brought her back again and again to more dangerous drugs. I understand that the same arguments that have been used for years with the responsible adult consumption of alcohol apply to responsible adult use of pot. … I would vote against legal sale of marijuana…,” said A.C.

To read additional reader responses, click here

The link to the page in the GRAND magazine March/April online edition op-ed reader poll that asks, ‘Is it time to legalize marijuana?’ is: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/grand/20110304_v3/index.php#/51/OnePage

GRAND Magazine
GRAND magazine is an online bi-monthly magazine that serves the more than 70 million U.S. grandparent market. It is delivered exclusively in digital format. It is published by GRAND Media, LLC, which was established in 2004. For more information about GRAND magazine visit: http://www.GRANDmagazine.com.

1. U.S. Census Bureau
2. American Community Survey, 2007, U.S. Census Bureau
3. State Fact Sheet for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children, 2007, AARP Foundation, Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, and Generations United

###

Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Filed in Colorado [FEATURE]

A coalition of Colorado and national drug reform groups Friday filed eight initiatives designed to amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana. It was the opening move in an effort to put the question to Colorado voters on the November 2012 ballot.

The first steps have been taken toward letting any Colorado adult grow six of these legally. (Image courtesy the author)
The groups lining up behind the initiatives are SAFER, Sensible Colorado, the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, as well as prominent Colorado marijuana attorneys and members of the state's thriving medical marijuana industry.

While the initiatives vary slightly from one another -- part of a bid by organizers to ensure they come up with the best language and pass the scrutiny of state election officials -- they all have as their core the legalization of the possession of up to an ounce by adults over 21, the legalization of the growing of up to six plants and possession of their yield, and the creation of a system of regulated commercial marijuana production and sales. (See the draft language for the base initiative here.)

The initiatives do not allow for public consumption. Nor do they protect "stoned driving" or protect workers from being fired by employers who object to their marijuana use.

"This is basically eight variations on a single initiative," said SAFER's Mason Tvert. "One version has industrial hemp, one doesn't. One version has specific language dealing with Colorado tax law, one doesn't. But otherwise, there is virtually no difference."

The initiatives now head to the state's Title Setting Review Board, which will determine whether they meet the state constitution's single-subject requirement and come up with titles for the initiatives. The initiatives could be revised based on issues and concerns that might arise during review with board staff, Tvert said.

"We want the best possible ballot title," he said. "They will create a draft title, and then we will be able to submit what we think, then there is a hearing to determine what the title should be. This is the very beginning of a long process. If one or two get shot down, we still have other possibilities. If one gets a ballot title we don't like, we still have the ability to re-file something else."

"We starting drafting this back in January," said Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente. "We've seen a historic and unprecedented coalition of every major drug policy reform group involved in the drafting. I'm not aware of anything like that before. And SAFER and Sensible Colorado have been active in reforming marijuana laws full-time since 2004 and 2005, respectively. We have a giant network of collaborators on the ground."

But not everybody is happy. In an ominous harkening back to last November's election, a "Stoners against Prop. 19"-style opposition has already emerged. The Boulder-based Cannabis Therapy Institute (CTI), which is working on its own Relegalize 2012 initiative, came out swinging in a press release last Friday. Calling the coalition behind the initiatives "a conservative faction of national and local drug policy reform groups," the institute's Lauro Kriho said their initiatives would "attempt to undermine" advances by the marijuana movement in the state.

She criticized the initiatives on a variety of grounds, saying they did not provide protection to workers, tenants, or marijuana users who drive. She said the initiatives "appeal to law enforcement" and criticized versions that included a 15% excise tax. She also complained that the initiatives had been filed without broader feedback.

"I'm not sure why they did this without telling anybody," said Kriho. "Even the legislature gave us more notice to comment on their proposed legislation than they did. It really shows their bad faith."

But both Tvert and Vicente said that Kriho had been sent a draft of the base initiative a week before they filed it. A copy of the draft is available on the CTI web site.

"This opposition from within the movement is certainly frustrating, and we don't want to see the movement fractured," said Tvert. "We hope that anyone who supports ending marijuana prohibition will be comfortable with this initiative and be part of this broad coalition moving forward. We've reached out extensively to various groups in the community, including marijuana business leaders and organizations, and including CTI."

It's difficult to tell how much support Kriho and her critique have in Colorado's marijuana community, but Vicente seemed more bemused than concerned about it.

"I think the Colorado marijuana community is generally quite united," he said. "Most people are very supportive of this effort. We made an incredible outreach to different communities and solicited comments from grassroots activists, lawyers, and elected officials, and did our best to incorporate their concerns in the draft language. We're still requesting suggestions and we could still change the language," he said.

In the meantime, organizers are preparing for a signature gathering drive to begin toward the end of June. They will have six months to gather 85,000 valid voter signatures, and they say their goal is to hand in 130,000 or more.

And they are beginning to look for money. "We're certainly hoping to raise money, but we haven't pursued significant funding until we have an initiative in place," said Tvert. "We haven't received any significant money, but we haven't been soliciting it yet, either."

Still, the SAFER/Sensible Colorado initiative effort appears to have enough support to make it onto the ballot in 2012. Other initiative efforts, such as CTI's, can also try to make the ballot. It looks like it's going to be an interesting next 18 months in Colorado pot politics.

Denver, CO
United States

Willie Waffles on Johnson Endorsement

It was nice while it lasted, but it didn't last long. On May 17, in a pair of press releases (here and here), Willie Nelson's Teapot Party and the campaign of Republican presidential contender Gary Johnson announced the Teapot Party's endorsement of Johnson. The next day, Willie changed his mind.

"The more I get into politics, the more I realize I'm a guitar player." (Image via Wikimedia.org)
In a Teapot Party blog post, Steve Bloom of Celebstoner.com, who had played a key role in setting up a meeting between Nelson and Johnson ten days ago and who played a similar role in getting the campaign and the party to announce the endorsement, explained what happened. After the Texas meeting, Willie sent an email to Bloom saying, "I think we ought to endorse him."

That email was the basis for the twin announcements Tuesday. But when Bloom sent the press release and media coverage links to Nelson, he got a surprise.

"My position is it too early for me to endorse anyone," Willie responded. "And I think everyone should vote their own conscience."

Bloom replied, reminding Willie that he had okayed the endorsement.

"I know I said that," Nelson responded. "But I think I will wait and see where he stands on other things. My bad. Sorry. I still think he is a good guy, but so is Dennis [Kucinich] and if he decided to run I would personally vote for him. If it came down to either him or Gary I'm already committed to Dennis. They both have said they support legal pot."

When Bloom replied, reminding Nelson that the Johnson endorsement was only for the Republican nomination, Willie again demurred.

"The Teapot Party is millions of people," he replied. "It's not me. I jokingly said after I got out of jail in Texas that there is a Tea Party and there should be a Teapot Party. The difference between us is we follow our own drummer. No one can tell us how to think. If we back someone, that's us telling them how to vote. I'm not qualified. You can say or do anything you like and I will do the same but let's don't back a political candidate. Let's give our opinions and say what we know about everyone but let's let everyone decide for themselves."

What's next, then? Bloom asked Nelson.

"I still say that the people have the power to change things and they will if they vote," Nelson replied. "The Teapot Party started as a joke but it could still be a way for people to speak out about important things. I am not a criminal. The millions of pot smokers in this country are not criminals. We don't like being treated as such and I for one will stand up for what I believe in and will vote for anyone I choose. You should do the same. We are not ever going to agree on everything and everybody. The best advice I ever got was from my ex father-in-law. He said take my advice and do what you want to. End of story."

Bloom reported one more email from Nelson: "This will blow over and the world moves on. No harm done. We sound like a bunch of pot smokers, that's all... The more I get into politics the more I realize that I am a guitar player."

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

TX
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School

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