In October, DRCNet reported on a number of initiatives on state ballots. That report is available online at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/153.html#elections2000.
DRCNet supports the following initiatives and urges citizens to do their civic duty by getting out and voting:
ALASKA -- MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: Ballot Measure #5 would do away with civil and criminal penalties for persons 18 years or older who use marijuana or other hemp products. It also grants amnesties to person previously convicted of marijuana crimes, and establishes a panel to study the question of reparations for those harmed by marijuana prohibition. DRCNet has no position on the panel but supports Measure #5 because of its other provisions.
According to late polls, this measure could go either way.
CALIFORNIA -- SENTENCING REFORM: Proposition 36 would require those convicted of nonviolent drug possession offenses for the first or second time be sent to rehabilitation programs instead of state prison.
DRCNet endorses Proposition 36, with a qualification. Drug treatment is certainly better than prison, and this initiative, if successful, would be a major reversal of drug war-style policies. However, DRCNet does not support coerced drug treatment. Prop. 36 does improve, however, on the drug court model of mandatory treatment, in that defendants maintain important constitutional rights that are current bargained away as a condition of being diverted to drug court.
Overall, Prop. 36 is a significant and politically realistic step in the right direction, which will keep large of numbers of people out of prison who don't deserve to be there. Ultimately, however, coerced treatment is not an acceptable end goal for the drug policy reform movement.
CALIFORNIA, MENDOCINO COUNTY -- MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION: Mendocino County Measure G would allow adults to grow 25 plants apiece, but not for sale. The measure further directs the county sheriff and prosecutor to make marijuana crimes their last priority and directs county officials to seek an end to state and federal marijuana laws.
This measure is partially symbolic, since state and local law enforcement could still prosecute marijuana crimes, but would relieve some law enforcement pressure and help to fuel debate.
COLORADO -- MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Amendment 20 provides for legal medical marijuana use by patients with serious illnesses. Following the Americans for Medical Rights (AMR) template, the measure sets low limits of the quantity of marijuana and limits approved uses to certain specified illnesses or symptoms.
DRCNet doesn't endorse the measure's limits on quantity and conditions which qualify, but supports Amendment 20 because current Colorado has offers no such protections, and some protection for medical marijuana patients is better than none.
MASSACHUSETTS -- SENTENCING AND ASSET FORFEITURE REFORM: Question 8 would divert nonviolent drug offenders from prison to drug treatment. It would also direct forfeited proceeds to a drug treatment trust fund and would require the civil equivalent of a guilty verdict before allowing property to be forfeited, instead of the easier-to-obtain probable cause rulings that suffice currently.
DRCNet endorses Question 8, with the same qualification as stated above for California Prop. 36: mandatory drug treatment is preferable to prison, but not an end goal for drug policy reform. Question 8 would be a major reversal of drug war-style policies and a step in the right direction.
NEVADA -- MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Question 9 is the required second round of popular voting to approve this initiative. Following the Americans for Medical Rights (AMR) template, the measure sets low limits of the quantity of marijuana and limits approved uses to certain specified illnesses or symptoms.
As with the Colorado initiative,
DRCNet doesn't endorse the limits, but supports Question 9 because it offers
some protection for medical marijuana patients, where none exists in Nevada
UTAH -- ASSET FORFEITURE REFORM: Initiative B will hold the state government to stricter standards of proof that property was the proceeds of crime or used to commit a crime. It also bars forfeiture unless the owner of the property is first convicted of a crime involving the seized property. Profits from seized assets will be deposited in the school fund.
So go and vote!