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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

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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

Willie Nelson Endorses Gary Johnson for President

Legendary country music singer and avowed marijuana user Willie Nelson and his Teapot Party have endorsed the pro-legalization presidential bid of Republican candidate Gary Johnson, the Johnson campaign announced in a press release Tuesday. The endorsement came after Nelson and Johnson met last week and marks the Teapot Party's first foray into presidential politics.

They should have quit messin' with Willie! Now, he's mobilizing the weed-lovin' masses. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
"I am truly gratified to have the endorsement of such a legendary entertainer and champion for individual rights as Willie Nelson," said Johnson. "Not only is Willie a superstar talent but, he is a strong advocate for social change, as seen through his tireless work on behalf of family owned farms and hard working Americans. People across this country are demanding the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams without interference from a heavy-handed government, and Willie and I stand together to lend our voices to those demands."

Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, could use the help of some non-traditional GOP primary voters that Nelson could help deliver. The conventional wisdom gives him only an outside shot at the nomination, with the nomination poll aggregator Real Clear Politics not even including him on its lists of candidates declared and undeclared.

Johnson made his effort official last month, declaring his candidacy at the New Hampshire State House. Johnson has made a critique of drug prohibition a central tenet of his platform and is straightforwardly calling for marijuana legalization. As he put it during last week's Fox News Republican presidential candidate debate: "I advocate legalizing marijuana -- control it, regulate it, tax it."

That works for Willie and the Teapot Party, a phenomenon that began last fall after the Red Headed Stranger's most recent encounter with the pot police and now boasts 66,000 Facebook members. Marijuana legalization is its goal.

"The purpose of the Teapot Party is to vote in people who believe in what we do and vote out the ones who don't," said Nelson.

And Gary Johnson wins his first celebrity endorsement.

(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.)

They Marched for Marijuana, Against the Drug War [FEATURE]

From Amsterdam to Arequipa to Auckland, from Anchorage to Albuquerque to Austin to Amherst, from one end of the country and the planet to the other, the worldwide cannabis nation took to the streets Saturday for the 2011 Global Marijuana March. At the same time, in Mexico, marchers trekked from Cuernavaca to Mexico City, and gathered in other Mexican cities as well, to plead for an end to the drug war violence that has killed more than 37,000 people in the past four years.

Jodie Emery addresses the crowd in Toronto (Image courtesy Jeremiah Vandemeer, Cannabis Culture)
Events were scheduled in some 262 cities around the world. They ranged from handfuls or dozens of people in small American and Canadian towns and remote global outposts, to hundreds or thousands in larger cities around the planet. A few places saw even more.

In Toronto, tens of thousands of people came out for the Freedom Fest. A haze of pot smoke hung over Queens Park as revelers were treated to an afternoon of bands and speakers, including Jodie Emery, wife of imprisoned Prince of Pot Marc Emery. The Toronto march may have been this year's largest.

An estimated 25,000 people marched in cities across Argentina, including at least 1,000 in Rosario and 15,000 in the capital, Buenos Aires. Marchers there demanded that the government move further down the path of decriminalization and harm reduction.

"The march in Rosario was great," said Silvia Inchaurraga of the Argentine Harm Reduction Association (ARDA). "In the first march we organized here in 2002, there were only a handful of people, and now we have more than 1,000," she told the Chronicle. "We don't need more speeches from politicians, even progressive speeches, we need a new drug law and a new drug policy. Despite the Supreme Court rulings of 2009 [decriminalizing marijuana possession], the old drug law is still in effect and drug users are still arrested and punished, and harm reduction is not the official policy of the National Secretary on Drugs."

In Jakarta, Indonesia, the number of marchers may have been small, but their audacity was great, and their action sparked preemptive warnings from police and Reefer Madness-style denunciations from people who should know better.

Police first warned that the march was illegal, but then announced they would only arrest people breaking the drug laws. The day before the march National Narcotics Agency spokesman Gen. Indradi Thanos said the group behind the march should "stop their campaign to legalize marijuana because the substance was defined as an illegal addictive drug in the narcotics law." Indradi added somewhat ominously that the agency would hold talks with the network activists to determine if there were "vested interests" backing them," according to the Jakarta Post.

But on Saturday, the Nusantara Marijuana Network (LGN) led some 50 or so people on a march to the Tugu Tani monument in central Jakarta. Unlike Western marchers, most were dressed uniformly in white t-shirts with green ribbons. But like Western marches, posters of Bob Marley bedecked a pick-up truck leading the parade.

"As a first step, we call on the government to provide objective information about marijuana," LGN chair Dhira Narayana said. "People need to be informed that marijuana can be used to cure cancer. Marijuana is also no more addictive than coffee or tea," he added.

In Tijuana, protestors call for drug legalization and US agents out of Mexico (Image courtesy Rocky Neptun via indybay.org)
One self-described non-smoker, Soraya Cassandra of the network's education team, hit the hemp angle. "There is a lot of biased information about marijuana and this is the reason why much of the public does not understand the substance," she said. "The cannabis plant can be used to produce paper. This will save a lot of trees because the cannabis plant can be harvested three times a year," she added.

The Jakarta march certainly sparked a reaction. The Indonesian Child Protection Commission announced it rejected pot legalization because it could have negative effects on children. "Children's brains will be damaged, as will their future, commission head Arist Merdeka Sirait told Tempo.

The National Narcotics Agency and University of Indonesia psychiatrist Dadang Hawari also rejected legalization. Dadang told Tempo that marijuana leaves don't kill, but have ill effects on the brain, including long-term mental and behavioral disorders. Marijuana was appropriately categorized as a narcotic, Dadang claimed.

And also reacting was former Vice President Jusuf Kalla. "We cannot legalize marijuana because at certain doses it is unbelievably dangerous to health," he told the Jakarta Post.

The work of cannabis education has clearly only just begun in Indonesia, but at least it has begun.

In Mexico City, where the work of cannabis education has been underway for some time, thanks to groups like the Mexican Association for Cannabis Studies, hundreds gathered Saturday downtown to demand decriminalization. They chanted and cheered for musical actors and speakers, including the association's Leopoldo Rivera.

"We consider it prudent to be informed on this topic. People who consume are not necessarily criminals or ill, it could be any regular person who is a productive, contributing member of society," Rivera said.

But in Mexico, it wasn't just about freeing the weed -- even at the Global Marijuana March. "We are lobbying for the decriminalization of marijuana as a way to reach peace. Currently, the number of dead in Mexico is 40,000, and it is due in big part to drug trafficking," said environmentalist Arnold Ricarde.

Rosario, Argentina (via Silvia Inchaurraga)
That the horrid violence of the Mexican drug war is overshadowing other drug reform issues there was made clear the next day, as more than 100,000 turned out in Mexico City to greet the hundreds of marchers who had set out from Cuernavaca, 60 miles to the south, on Thursday to demand "no more deaths, no more hate, no more blood."

Led by poet and essayist Javier Sicilia, whose son and six others were found murdered in Cuernavaca in late March, presumably at the hands of the Pacifico Sur cartel, by the time the march arrived at the Zocalo, Mexico's City's gigantic central plaza, it had morphed into a mass of humanity crying out for an end to endless cycle of violence.

"We don't want any more death because of this growing mess," said Sicilia, from a platform in Zocalo... "No more deaths, no more hate. We've come out to walk these streets with dignity and peace... violence will only bring us more violence," he added.

A manifesto for the march called for the government to solve the killings and disappearances, address social ills, fight corruption, impunity, and money-laundering, and drop its "war strategy" in favor of a focus on citizen safety.

Sicilia's crusade has brought a sharp focus to the growing disenchantment with President Felipe Calderon's decision to take the battle to the cartels in December 2006. Despite the deployment of some 45,000 federal troops, the violence has not diminished, but intensified. The government has to change its strategy, the protestors said.

"We've had it with this terrible government that goes unpunished. We want peace," said Araceli Vazquez, 60, as he held up an improvised placard with his demands.

On Monday, President Calderon offered to meet with protest leaders, a clear sign that their voice is being heard. But he was not backing away from his insistence on a military solution to the cartel problem. "We can agree to disagree," he said.

The somber multitudes of Mexico City are a world away from the happy tokers of Toronto, but whether it is marijuana legalization or ending the drug war paradigm that has produced the murderous Mexican madness, drug prohibition is the underlying cause that unites them.

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 36,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing 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:

Drug prohibition funds the mayhem in Mexico. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Tuesday, April 26

In Tamaulipas, two gunmen were killed after shooting at an army convoy that was patrolling the highway between Nueva Ciudad Guerrero and Ciudad Mier.

Thursday, April 28

In Tamaulipas, six gunmen were killed during a fierce clash between suspected members of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel in the towns of Aldabas and Arcabuz. According to some accounts over 40 SUVs full of gunmen participated in the clashes, in which the army eventually intervened.

In Sinaloa, seven people were killed in a series of fire fights which began after an attack on a police station in the town of Guamuchil. Nobody was killed or wounded in the initial attack, which was carried out by a convoy of five vehicles. The convoy later left the bodies of four men who had been abducted earlier on the road, but was then ambushed by a group of rival gunmen. Three members of the convoy were killed and several vehicles were later found abandoned.

Friday, April 29

In Toluca, Mexican authorities handed over former Tijuana-cartel kingpin Benjamin Arellano-Felix to US Marshals to be extradited to the United States. Arellano-Felix has been in prison in Mexico since 2002. His three brothers have all been captured or killed. The cartel is no under the leadership of his nephew Fernando, but is thought to pay the Sinaloa Cartel for the right to the points of entry into California.

In Ciudad Juarez, a massive arsenal was found hidden in a home gym in an upscale neighborhood. The stockpile included three anti-aircraft weapons, dozens of assault rifles and grenades, 50 military uniforms, bulletproof vests and 26,000 rounds of ammunition.

Monday, May 3

In San Antonio, Texas, former Mexican president Vicente Fox said that the only way to end the violence in Mexico is for the United States to legalize drugs. "As a country, we are going through problems due to the fact that the United States consumes too many drugs," he said.

In the Ciudad Juarez area, four people were murdered. Eight people have been murdered in the area in the first three days of May, and 808 have so far been murdered in 2011, according to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy.

Tuesday, May 4

In the city of Cuautitlan Izcalli, near Mexico City, five headless bodies were discovered on the backseat and in the trunk of an abandoned BMW.

In Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, six men were gunned down by heavily armed gunmen. Among the victims were 56-year old Moises Chavez, his two sons, and an unidentified neighbor.

[Editor's Note: We believe our body count is seriously understating the actual number of people killed. Mexican officials this week put the number of dead in April alone at 1,402. We will continue to try to find an accurate way of compiling these numbers.]

Total Body Count for the Week: *34

Total Body Count for the Year: *2,308

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx): 4,300

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

Mexico

Ohio Billionaire Seeks Medical Marijuana Vote

Cleveland-based billionaire Peter Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance, wants Ohioans to vote on becoming a medical marijuana state. Through his attorney, he has put out a request for proposals for an Ohio medical marijuana initiative that will "create a model for future campaigns in other states."

Could Ohio be next? Peter Lewis would like to make it happen. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Lewis has given millions of dollars to drug reform campaigns across the country, including $900,000 last year to the Marijuana Policy Project and another $200,000 for Proposition 19 in California. Now, his drug reform funding is channeled through his attorney, Graham Boyd of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.

Ohio "stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support," the request said. It seeks proposals that include drafting ballot language, qualifying for the ballot, building a campaign organization, communicating with voters, and raising money -- although it is probably safe to assume Lewis would kick in a substantial sum himself.

But it's not a done deal yet. "You shouldn't take it as a given that there will be a ballot initiative this campaign," said Boyd told Forbes on Tuesday. "But we want to see proposals."

Lewis's interest in marijuana reform is personal. He was arrested for pot and hash possession in New Zealand in 2000, but got the charges dropped by making a generous donation to a local drug treatment center.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but only one of them, Michigan, is in the Midwest. In Michigan, it won through a voter initiative; if someone is on the ball in the Buckeye State, Ohio could be next.

Cleveland, OH
United States

Progressive Chairman Peter B. Lewis Aims to Put Medical Marijuana on Ohio's 2012 Ballot

Location: 
OH
United States
Peter B. Lewis -- the billionaire chairman of Progressive Corp. and well-known medical marijuana advocate -- is seeking proposals to run a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. The issue would go on the ballot in 2012. While Democratic lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to pass medical a marijuana law in Ohio, Lewis' latest inquiry represents a different tack. By going directly to voters through a ballot initiative, Lewis and his supporters could circumvent a GOP-controlled legislature and a Republican governor who likely would oppose such a law.
Publication/Source: 
The Plain Dealer (OH)
URL: 
http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2011/05/progressive_chairman_peter_b_l.html

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