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Feature: Marijuana Reform Approaches the Tipping Point

Sometime in the last few months, the notion of legalizing marijuana crossed an invisible threshold. Long relegated to the margins of political discourse by the conventional wisdom, pot freedom has this year gone mainstream.
Is reason dawning for marijuana policy?
The potential flu pandemic and President Obama's 100th day in office may have knocked marijuana off the front pages this week, but so far this year, the issue has exploded in the mass media, impelled by the twin forces of economic crisis and Mexican violence fueled by drug prohibition. A Google news search for the phrase "legalize marijuana" turned up more than 1,100 hits -- and that's just for the month of April.

It has been helped along by everything from the Michael Phelps non-scandal to the domination of marijuana legalization questions in the questions, which prompted President Obama to laugh off the very notion, to the economy, to the debate over the drug war in Mexico. But it has also been ineffably helped along by the lifting of the oppressive burden of Bush administration drug war dogma. There is a new freedom in the air when it comes to marijuana.

Newspaper columnists and editorial page writers from across the land have taken up the cause with gusto, as have letter writers and bloggers. Last week, even a US senator got into the act, when Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) told CNN that marijuana legalization is "on the table."

But despite the seeming explosion of interest in marijuana legalization, the actual fact of legalization seems as distant as ever, a distant vision obscured behind a wall of bureaucracy, vested interests, and craven politicians. Drug War Chronicle spoke with some movement movers and shakers to find out just what's going on... and what's not.

"There is clearly more interest and serious discussion of whether marijuana prohibition makes any sense than I've seen at any point in my adult lifetime," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "It's not just the usual suspects; it's people like Jack Cafferty on CNN and Senator Jim Webb, as well as editorial pages and columnists across the country."

Mirken cited a number of factors for the sudden rise to prominence of the marijuana issue. "I think it's a combination of things: Michael Phelps, the horrible situation on the Mexican border, the state of the economy and the realization that there is a very large industry out there that provides marijuana to millions of consumers completely outside the legal economy that is untaxed and unregulated," he said. "All of these factors have come together in a way that makes it much easier for people to connect the dots."

"Things started going white hot in the second week of January," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "We had the fallout from the Michael Phelps incident, the marijuana question to Obama and his chuckling response, we have the Mexico violence, we have the economic issues," he counted. "All of these things have helped galvanize a certain zeitgeist that is palpable and that almost everyone can appreciate."

"The politicians are still very slow on picking up on the desires of citizens no matter how high the polling numbers go, especially on decriminalization and medical marijuana," said St. Pierre. "The polling numbers are over 70% for those, and support for legalization nationwide is now at about 42%, depending on which data set you use. Everything seems to be breaking for reform in these past few weeks, and I expect those numbers to only go up."

"It feels like we're reaching the tipping point," said Amber Langston, eastern region outreach director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. "I've been feeling that for a couple of months now. The Michael Phelps incident sent a clear message that you can be successful and still have used marijuana. He's still a hero to lots of people," she said.

"I think we're getting close now," said Langston. "We have moved the conversation to the next level, where people are actually taking this seriously and we're not just having another fear-based discussion."

"There is definitely momentum building around marijuana issues," said Denver-based Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation), which has built a successful strategy around comparing alcohol and marijuana. "Yet we still find ourselves in a situation where change is not happening. Up until now, people have made arguments around criminal justice savings, other economic benefits, ending the black market -- those things have got us to where we are today, but they haven't been enough to get elected officials to act," he argued.

"The problem is that there are still far too many people who see marijuana as so harmful it shouldn't be legalized," Tvert continued. "That suggests we need to be doing more to address the relative safety of marijuana, especially compared to drugs like alcohol. The good arguments above will then carry more weight. Just as a concerned parent doesn't want to reap the tax benefits of legal heroin, it's the same with marijuana. The mantra is why provide another vice. What we're saying is that we're providing an alternative for the millions who would prefer to use marijuana instead of alcohol."

With the accumulation of arguments for legalization growing ever weightier, the edifice of marijuana prohibition seems increasingly shaky. "Marijuana prohibition has become like the Soviet Empire circa 1987 or 1988," Mirken analogized. "It's an empty shell of a policy that continues only because it is perceived as being huge and formidable, but when the perception changes, the whole thing is going to collapse."

Still, translating the zeitgeist into real change remains a formidable task, said Mirken. "It is going to take hard work. All of us need to keep finding ways to keep these discussions going in the media, we need to work with open-minded legislators to get bills introduced where there can be hearings to air the facts and where we can refute the nonsense that comes from our opponents. Keeping the debate front and center is essential," he said.

Mirken is waiting for the other shoe to drop. "We have to be prepared for an empire strikes back moment," he said. "I predict that within the next year, there will be a concerted effort to scare the daylights out of people about marijuana."

Activists need to keep hammering away at both the federal government and state and local governments, Mirken said. "We are talking to members of Congress and seeing what might be doable. Even if nothing passes immediately, introducing a bill can move the discussion forward, but realistically, things are more likely to happen at the state and local level," he said, citing the legalization bill in California and hinting that MPP would try legalization in Nevada again.

Part of the problem of the mismatch between popular fervor and actual progress on reform is partisan positioning, said St. Pierre. "Even politicians who may be personally supportive and can appreciate what they see going on around them as this goes mainstream do not want to hand conservative Republicans a triangulation issue. The Democrats are begging for a certain degree of political maturity from the reform movement," he said. "They're dealing with two wars, tough economic times, trying to do health care reform. They don't want to raise cannabis to a level where it becomes contentious for Obama."

The window of opportunity for presidential action is four years down the road, St. Pierre suggested. "If Obama doesn't do anything next year, they will then be in reelection mode and unlikely to act," he mused. "I think our real shot comes after he is reelected. Then we have two years before he becomes a lame duck."

But we don't have to wait for Obama, said St. Pierre. "We expect Barney Frank and Ron Paul to reintroduce decriminalization and medical marijuana bills," he said. "I don't think they will pass this year, but we might get hearings, although I don't think that's likely until the fall."

It's not just that politicians need to understand that supporting marijuana legalization will not hurt them -- they need to understand that standing its way will. "The politicians aren't feeling the pain of being opposed to remain," St. Pierre said. "We have to take out one of those last remaining drug war zealots."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Impetus without initiative

I see, in this essay, a lot of impetus to organize and inspire a movement to a new level of reform activism and achievement. But I see very little initiative from leaders to actually carry forward this unique critical mass into greater more inspired political ends.

I see very little creative thinking about ways to capitalize on the momentum that we all see in the issues.

And I see even less in the way of articulate thinking about the vital issues that should not be tied to a recreation drug argument. Scott Morgan's article on Afghanistan and the efforts of this group to discuss the Afghan Mexico border national security issues should be getting much greater usage in the reform community. These are imminent threats to the national security of America. I have never had a prohib offer me a significant counter argument to the national security issues. Yet Obama gets a pass from much of the reform movement on this STUPID new Afghan initiative.

I firmly believe that we need to be out in the streets taking advantage of the momentum already happening and expanding the debate with front page news stories of anti drug war protest rallies.





May 2, 2009
PhillyNORML - 2009 Global Cannabis March

The 2009 Global Cannabis March, or Philadelphia Cannabis Festival, will be taking place on Saturday May 2, 2009. The event is still being planned, so more information will be posted as it becomes available. The GCM is an annual event that brings out hundreds of supporters, patients, and onlookers. It's an excellent opportunity to show just how popular legalization is, and to have a lot of fun. In 2008 we had our biggest one yet with over 400 people. This year we hope to top 1,000. Check back often for updates!

Saturday, May 2, 2009
Meet at Broad St. and South St. at 3:30 - 4:00pm
March towards Headhouse Square at 4:20pm
Arrive at Headhouse Square by 5:20pm
Speeches - done by 6:30pm

But we don't have to wait for Obama...

Funny, we can't count on Obama... so we continue to rely on libertarian guys like Ron Paul to fix this injustice...

Potheads can be funny... Diss 'em then kiss 'em!

Truth is treason in the kingdom of lies - Ron Paul

hell yea

Ron Paul the only guy who knows what the people want

and for fuck sake why do hardly any voting americans know who he is well id be willing to bet that its because he dont have zillion dollar campaigns its all about money :-(

"the love of money is the root of all evil"


I think NORML and Tommy Chong on their advisory board are excellent authorities on political maturity.

Great getting active, boo on the negativity

Not trying to sound like a supportive social worker here, but why deride the movement by saying there has been very little creative thinking. Then my 'irony sense' went off after you made that accusation, but then revealed a planned march. (I hope you've filed the appropriate paper work making it legitimate) Creative thinking usually comes up against a huge brick wall when it comes to things of a sensitive nature. Marijuana legalization is one of those. I advocate hand-holding the opposition until they realize the fallacy of their ways.

I think that talking about health care is the best method to do this. We need healthcare reform. This encompasses a compassionate stance on marijuana policy with clear objectives: 1) helping serious patients satisfy their medical needs 2) lowering the risk of using pharmaceuticals and their cost, 3) lowering costs associated with treatment of illicit drug users via utilization of more rehabilitation and less punitive measures.

If you get people agreeing with you they are less likely to rebut you. However, marching (especially one not officially registered with the appropriate administration) is one way to have the people we are trying to convince put up their 'blinders' to our reasoning.

I support your advocacy and wish that you would not look upon facets of the movement which you believe to be less than creative.

Hoam Rogh

I see

a lack of creative thinking and initiative among too many reform group leaders in taking advantage of the critical mass and new found momentum that is the topic of the essay. There seems no sense of grasping the immediacy of the momentum. Momentum continues only when fed. Momentum grows only increased initiative.

We have momentum, but not critical mass

The problem is that there is just not enough support yet for legalizing marijuana. When we start seeing lots of polls coming out showing that more than half of Americans support legalizing marijuana, then we'll see a lot more momentum in our law making bodies to get that done. Most politicians are not going to go out on a limb on marijuana legalization unless the majority of the voters they count on to get reelected are for it. And if they have higher aspirations in national politics they probably won't go out on a limb for marijuana legalization even if the majority in their districts are for it because the majority of Americans are still against it.

These are some pretty exciting times for those of us who want to see marijuana legalized. Polls are showing that more than 40% of voters are for it and it seems that the percentage is increasing faster than before. We have a lot of people in the media coming out for legalization and more and more politicians coming out for it. The momentum is definitely going in the right direction, but critical mass is something we do not have yet.

I've been saying for a long time that I think marijuana will be legalized sometime between 2020 and 2030. By then we'll most likely have a pretty solid majority for it and our senior lawmakers will be people who grew up after marijuana became popular. Right now the most powerful lawmakers still tend to be people who grew up before marijuana use took off here and the old farts who have never smoked pot tend to be the ones who are most afraid of it and most opposed to legalizing it.

With the way things have been going now, I think we might possibly see marijuana legalized before 2020. Within five years we are likely to see polls coming out showing that more than half of all American adults are for legalizing marijuana. What will be important to polioticians then is where the older voters stand because older voters tend to actually exercise their right to vote a lot more than younger voters. That's just a fact of life. Old people actually vote and young people often don't. A few politicians are jumping on the legalization bandwagon now. A lot more will when the polls show more than 50% of the voting public support it. Others who are for it but too afraid to come out publicly for it will wait until the polls show a good bit more than 50% support with fairly high support from older voters before they jump on the bandwagon.

We're several years away from legalizing marijuana still. it's going to happen, but there is no way it will happen before a mojority of voters are for it, and it's likely to take a few years after we see majority support for it.

In the mean time we should need to keep pushing on. We need more states to decrminalize. We need more states to pass medical marijuana laws. We need to keep up the pressure so that our opponents see the writing on the wall and start to join us. We want them to realize that it is going to happen anyway and get them talking in terms of what would be the best way to set the whole thing up, rather than just fighting us at every turn.

If it happens in the next decade it will be sometime in the latter part of the decade. It will be because the government is swimming in debt and it looks like it is only going to get worse because the baby boomers have started retiring and collecting Social Security and Medicaid benefits. The problems with Mexican organized crime are not likley to be resolved and the people are starting to figure out that these organizations make the lion's share of their profits from marijuana sales and their existing marijuana distribution networks are perfect conduits through which they move their other far more dangerous drugs.

Economic arguments will gain even more traction, as will arguments that point out the similarities between the prohibition of alcohol and marijuana prohibition. We need people to understand that black market for drugs is mostly just a black market for marijuana and that taking marijuana away from organized crime will hurt them severely. It's the backbone of the illegal drugs trade. In the coming years were going to bring a lot of people on board who are dead set against legalization today. They just need to see that we are doing more harm than good with our laws.

Organizations like NORML and the MPP are doing good work. They don't have magic wands. They can't make the powers that be come out for full legalization. All they can really do successfully now is push for incremental changes. I fully expect to see more states decriminalize and more get medical marijuana laws in the next few years and this will in large part be due to the efforts of these organizations. I think a good part of the increase we've seen in support for legalization among the voting public has come as a result of the seeds they've planted in the media over the years and I hope they'll still be active in newspapers, on television and on the Internet. The lobbying and attempts to shape public opinion are slowly but surely paying off. We can't expect them to change things overnight or to change things without an awful lot of help from the rest of us.

Be patient. We’ll get there.

I started writing a response

to this filibuster but there are simply too many things that I vehemently disagree with.

You have no concept of anything that I am talking about.

Old thinking is not creative...

Old thinking is not creative... especially when you've already determined the sick to be more 'exceptional'... and somehow more worthy... of their constitutional rights.

Authoritarian Exceptionism is the disease... and the constitution is the cure... and despite what the authoritarians teach these days... the constitution remains the supreme law of the land!

I support war on all fronts because all wars have many fronts!

But claiming exclusivity and exceptionism only furthers authoritarian intrusions into our privacys by the purveyors of gods and gov'ts!

How about this?

How about we all look at this mess in a new way? The best reason to legalize, is simple, to take control of the drug trade away from the criminals. What in the hell is so hard to understand? The drug trade is here and has been for nearly forty years, and it is controlled by criminals, ie: street gangs, cartels, even the Taliban. If I hear one more "official", talk about not legalizing to protect the children, I will ask him/her, do you trust criminals to watch over your kids? And the amount of money that these outlaws gather tax free, is in the billions. So our "war on drugs" becomes a full employment act for criminals. Come on America, our politicians are supporting an ongoing criminal enterprise. The conservative right wingnuts, were voted out in November, demand that the ones that are left, do our bidding, and stop supporting the criminals.

Californians: Make Your Voice Heard

A new Field Poll released yesterday found that 56% of California voters favor legalizing (recreational) marijuana and taxing the sales. This is what California Assembly Bill 390 proposes to do.

If you live in California and favor legalizing marijuana for adults, YOU can make it happen. Tell your state representatives to support California Assembly Bill 390. It's easy. Visit

Not only does AB-390

propose to legalize but the act of its introduction, I am sure, served to add momentum to this more favorable public opinion poll. As it added momentum to the movement across the country.

We need more actions like this across the nation.

"Not only does AB-390

"Not only does AB-390 propose to legalize but the act of its introduction, I am sure, served to add momentum to this more favorable public opinion poll. As it added momentum to the movement across the country.

We need more actions like this across the nation."

That's very true. I doubt that bill passes, but it does wonders for the debate. People are starting to see that there is a real chance that marijuana will be legalized sometime in the coming years. They're arguing about how we should do it if we do it. They're arguing about taxing schemes and that sort of thing. They're starting to become cognizant about the enormous amounts of marijuana being consumed in this country and the enormity of the money being made, often by organized crime. Eventually the main focus of the debate will shift from whether we should legalize to how we should do it. Then we'll know we're getting close to seeing it legalized.

We have the momentum

And we have Obama to thank for pissing off reformers and getting them into a more activist mode.

Sen. Webb's S-714 could have reform of the entire drug war on the table by the next election cycle. If your senators support it write to them and thank them. If your senators don't yet support it badger, cudgel, browbeat and beg them to support it. The drug warriors are putting up their own bill to counter S-714 so the fight for ending the war on drugs is actually going on in the United States congress as we speak.

Write letters to newspapers. Participate in newspaper forums about drug related news stories. Get people together to hold street rallies at the offices of state and national legislators. And support only organizations that seem to grasp the momentum and are working with it instead of denying it.

The greed of our lawmakers will result in legalization!

When I heard that my state legislature was supporting legalization something Ive been working for for well over thirty years I knew we were going to win. Unfortunatly its the greed for more money to piss away on wasteful causes is the impetus for this change but if the end justifys the means then im ok with it. It didnt take long once the state started collecting taxes from our medical dispenseries for the legislature to start seeing dollar signs. I can see the day in the not to distant future where our state is advertising Calif. Marijuana like they advertise the lottery now. Smoke California Marijuana it's good and it's good for our state! or maybe a parody of Arnold's advertisements for tourism California Marijuana How soon can you Start? I believe Mr. Obama is not going to take a stand on the issue but people like Barney Frank and Ron Paul who are in my view politically fearless will continue to carry the banner what ever their motivation. I have long been of the view point that if everyone who smoked
would get out and vote and let their feelings be known we would have had legalization long before now but due to the stigma of using the evil weed and since we all need to work people wont come out and stand up for legalization. I'm as guilty as many others due to my employment situation i cant come out in the open and protest but I can fight for legalization on the internet and writing letters to all my representatives and lobby constantly outside my work place for legalization. I encourage others to do the same let our representatives know how you feel you use marijuana you vote you are a gainfully employed taxpaying American who doesn't appreciate being made into a criminal for using a natural substance that is surely less harmfull than alcohol. I honestly believe the government really has no idea how many of there really are and the kind of revenue that will generated by legalization.

The knowledge that prohibitionists are serial murderers/with an

infant to elderly aged mind controlled sex slave racket will make the drug war and the war and terror it funds ends. The prohibitionists have always been the cartel;maybe even worse than the cartel. MK Ultra and project paperclip prove it!

It may not even matter what California legislators think

if support for cannabis legalization in CA is at 56% in the polls. If they won't act, a referendum can settle it just as well. If we work hard enough 2010 will mark the official beginning of the end for alcohol supremacism.
There was a poll from Washington Post yesterday that had national support for cannabis legalization at 46%, about the same as those opposed, those they didn't specify the % opposed. The surge in support for cannabis legalization is amazing. This news was fairly well buried in a story mostly about changing attitudes on gay marriage, and focused on the reduced significance of 'social issues' as a wedge issue for the Repubs.
Keep up the pressure!

"There was a poll from

"There was a poll from Washington Post yesterday that had national support for cannabis legalization at 46%, about the same as those opposed, those they didn't specify the % opposed."

It was 52%. See question # 45:

We're getting there. In a few more years we'll see poll after poll coming out with more people for legalization than against it. Things should really start to heat up then.

In a few more years

I'll be dead of old age.

The momentum is there NOW.

Momentum is not enough. If

Momentum is not enough. If most of the politicians and the majority of voters are against legalization, it's not going to happen. We'll get there, but it is still going to take several years. If you are going to die soon and you are staking your all your happiness on marijuana legalization, you're likely to die a very bitter person. If I die tomorrow I'll die knowing marijuana will be legal in the not so distant future, and I'd be content with that.


vehemently disagree!

Sell your Democratic

Party line to someone else. I am not a Democrat. I do not have to subscribe to their rock the boat submissive masochism.

I'm not a Democrat either.

I'm not a Democrat either. I'm just a pragmatic person who understands the realities we are faced with. You want something that is just not going to happen. You want a government that is against legalizing marijuana to do it over the objection of the majority of the people. It ain't gonna happen. You need to take an injection of reality here.

You are right about the momentum. It's picking up steam in our favor. We do need to keep the pressure up. It's just entirely unlreasitic to expect marijuana to be legal in the next couple of years. The momentum is in our favor and that isn't likey to change. As the years go on more and more people will be for legalizing marijuana. We'll hit a majority in a few years and a lot more politicians will come on board with us. We'll get international law changed to allow for countries to legalize marijuana without facing sanctions for violation of treaties and conventions on drugs. We'll see lot's of other countries legalizing it and we'll eventually legalize it. It's just not going to happen overnight. Screaming and kicking and eating our own isn't going to change that.

You have no

concept of how public opinion moves. Or how democracy works.

You incessantly put the cart before the horse. Do nothing until the public opinion rises to the cause. that is both stupid and backassward.

Public opinion moves on instigation and inspiration. Motivations that are compelled by ever more visible support for something.

The reason that so many things are happening now is because reformers have been pushing the issue and forcing the Democrats to take stands. As Obama is pushed to take stands contrary to reform positions he inspires more support for reform. The louder reform is the more other politicians become conflicted between Obama's drug war crap and the growing public support.

The louder we get, the greater our show of support because more people are willing to stand up as they see larger and larger crowds.

You "claim" to not be Democrat but you are arguing a Democrat status quo position that I have heard for GENERATIONS. A status quo position that drove me out of the Democratic Party. And that is driving me away from the reform organizations of today that seem bent on following your DO NOTHING perspective.

"Do nothing until the public

"Do nothing until the public opinion rises to the cause." "And that is driving me away from the reform organizations of today that seem bent on following your DO NOTHING perspective."

All I'm saying is that you have to be realistic and not expect marijuana to become legal in the next couple of years. I am not at all suggesting that we do nothing. We need to do more than ever. We do need to take advantage of the momentum. I think we are going to see a lot of progress in things we can get done now, things like decriminalization in a another state or two and medical marijuana in more states in the next few years. We'll see public support for legalization growing and more politicians coming on board. We should not expect this to happen automatically. We need to push for it.

I'm tired of this discussion because you aren't going to be happy unless we can get marijuana legalized in the next couple of years. I can't tell you that is going to happen because I know it won't, the support isn't there yet. If people from NORML or the MPP say something along the same lines, you get mad at them. If they can't force our government that is against legalization to do it over the objection of the majority of voters they are do nothing losers. That's an irrational and unreasonable position to take, but that's where you are. You want them to pull a magic wand out and make everything all better or you are going to be mad at them.

We're all on the same team here and I wish we could be on the same page because we'd be a lot stronger united than divided. We should be supporting the organizations that are fighting for our cause instead of tearing them down. You won't support them though unless they meet your unreasonable and impossible demands.

You said something earlier about being dead within a few years, and maybe why you are so adamant that marijuana must be legalized in the next couple of years. You're desperate and desperate people are often irrational. If you are sick and don't have long to live I am very sorry about that. I wish I could make you better. I wish I could tell you marijuana will be legalized in the next couple of years. The reason I won't do that is because I know it is not possible. We just don't have enough support for it yet among voters or within the government. We still have a lot of work to do, a lot of minds to change. It may take ten or fifteen years to get it legalized, maybe even a little longer. Maybe we'll see it happen within five or six years, but that's a long shot. There is no way it's going to happen in the next couple of years, not without a miracle. Two years from now we still probably won't have a majority of voters supporting legalization and we'll still have most of the same old anti-marijuana lawmakers in power who wouldn't go for legalization even if a slight majority were for it.

I'm pretty damned

tired of this conversation too. You have not read a word I have written. You simply repeat your tired status quo defensiveness.

Masturbation never won a revolution.


In the famous words of Peter O' Toole in Lawnrence of Arabia: "Who is to say what can or can't be done?"



Is a majority, not a huge majority but it's still more than the percentage of eligible voters who voted for Obama. I think aahpat is right, and you are missing the point he's making.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

The Zogby poll with 52%

The Zogby poll with 52% support just came out. It's the first poll ever where a majority supported legalization. Personally, I don't trust Zogby polls, but if we see some other polls coming out with similar results that would really be something. It would be a major milestone that will make legalization come that much quicker.

I don't really disagree with aaphat about much at all. We were having a pretty stupid argument. He thought I was advocating that we do nothing, that we just wait because there isn't enough support to legalize. I'm not sure why he thought I was saying that. I was really just trying to say that people shouldn't get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away and there was nothing unreasonable about the reform organizations talking about how it will likely take several years to finally get marijuana legalized. They aren't saying we should do nothing until we have enough support to legalize. No one is saying that. What people are saying is that we need to work harder than ever now.

I'm not making light of dying, but....

I'm not making light of dying, but....if you know you're terminal do the rest of us a favor and take some of the prohibitionists with you!

I can hardly wait for my terminal disease... woe to the fuckers on my list of prohibitionists criminals!

Fuck going quietly into the night... time to go medieval on their criminal asses!

Pot more popular than congress

Another part of this poll shows that Democrats in Congress have a 45% approval rating. the Republicans have a 30% approval rating. For the second time this year polls have come out showing that marijuana legalization is more popular than the United States Congress that prohibits the legalization of marijuana.

Get this fact into the media and the congress will turn around real fast.

Alcohol 5 Times Deadlier than All Illegal Drugs Combined!

Let’s do the Math!

Annual Causes of Death in the United States

Tobacco -435,000
Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity - 365,000
Alcohol - 85,000
Microbial Agents - 75,000
Toxic Agents - 55,000
Motor Vehicle Crashes -26,347
Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs -32,000
Suicide - 30,622
Incidents Involving Firearms - 29,000
Homicide - 20,308
Sexual Behaviors - 20,000
All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect - 17,000
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin - 7,600
Marijuana - 0

(This Table and all Table Sources are found at: Drug War Facts)

First we’ll look at two of the Legal Drugs - Alcohol and Tobacco:
Total Alcohol and Tobacco Deaths per Year (U.S. Only): 520,000 deaths – over one-half million dead Americans.

Ok, let’s look at “All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect” Deaths per Year (U.S. Only): 17,000 deaths
All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect (yes, this would include Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Crack, Heroin, etc. - all hard drugs and soft drugs - all illegal drugs) deaths compared to the annual deaths caused just by Alcohol and Tobacco. 17,000 (All illegal drugs) / 520,000 (Alcohol & Tobacco) = 0.03269. This means that all illegal drug use put together is less than 03.27% as harmful as Alcohol and Tobacco use. Wow!

Deaths per year caused by the two legal drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, are over 30 times more than all illegal drugs combined! Even with 30 times the total number of hard drug users in the U.S. the death rate would still be lower than the annual U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco death rate!

Now let’s look at just the deaths due to Alcohol: 85,000 deaths. 17,000 (All illegal drugs) / 85,000 (Alcohol) = 0.2. This means that all illegal drug use combined is only 20% as harmful as Alcohol use.  So - Alcohol accounts for 5 times more deaths per year than all illegal drugs combined! Wow again! - Put that in your beer mug and drink it!  So when you hear a Drug Warrior say that “Legalizing Cannabis sends the Wrong Message to our children” – “The Message” that they are really telling our children is that (when the children reach legal age) they will NOT be allowed to use a safe recreational drug like Cannabis but they Will be allowed to use Alcohol as a recreational drug, even though legal alcohol kills 5 times more people per year than Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Crack, Heroin and all of the worst illegal drugs combined!  But - Alcohol is Legal, therefore it is ok! – Duh!

Now let’s look at Cannabis.
For those who do not know, Cannabis is the genus name for the very common plant that Harry Anslinger called “Marijuana”, so that he could confuse/trick the public into thinking that Cannabis was some new type of dangerous drug as well as to use racism in quest for criminalization back in the 30’s. (I refuse to use Harry Anslinger’s derogatory terminology)

Total Cannabis Deaths throughout All of Recorded History (Worldwide): 0!!!. Usage of Cannabis (Marijuana) has never killed anybody – ever!
Hmm, we can’t even get a percentage of Cannabis Deaths (0) compared to Alcohol and Tobacco Deaths (85,000) since Cannabis has never ever killed anybody can we?

So - Alcohol and Tobacco kill over a half million Americans in one year and Cannabis has never killed anybody (in the whole world – ever), yet we allow the U.S. Government to support the Alcohol and Tobacco industry while they arrest us, put us in cages and steal our homes/cars/money for using Cannabis - a safe alternative to Alcohol?

The Pharmaceutical Industry also “pushes” many extremely deadly poisons that could easily be replaced by Cannabis and Cannabis Derived Drugs. I am not going to spend much time on the comparison of Pharmaceuticals to Cannabis here other than to say that - “Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs” kill around twice as many people per year as “All Illicit Drug Use Combined” – and that Cannabis use has never killed anyone!

I wonder how many people die yearly from Alcohol and Tobacco who would prefer Cannabis instead? Cannabis is a completely safe alternative to Alcohol. Alcohol almost killed me. I would love to use Cannabis as a substitute for the deadly drug Alcohol! The problem is that I live in a country where Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is NOT possible – I live in the United States of America - Freedom is NOT an option here. The American public is completely terrorized by the U.S. DEA.

Terrorism is, most simply, policy intended to intimidate or cause terror. It is more commonly understood as an act which (1) is intended to create fear (terror), (2) is perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a materialistic goal or a lone attack), and (3) deliberately targets (or disregards the safety of) non-combatants. (Wikipedia)
Second general definition of terrorism: "A policy intended to strike with terror those against whom it is adopted; the employment of methods of intimidation; the fact of terrorizing or condition of being terrorized." (Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition 1989)

Therefore, the U.S. DEA, who break into peoples homes, incarcerate people for exercising their Constitutional Freedom to use Cannabis as a safe alternative to Alcohol (or even as medicine), revoke student aids, separate families, cost people their jobs, take their driving privileges, take their homes, take their right to vote, and kill family pets, are indeed Terrorists!

The U.S. - with 5% of the world’s population - cages 25% of the world’s population caged population. Notice that I didn’t say 25% of the world’s criminals. Many of the people who are kept in cages should not be. Many people who are forced to live in cages and suffer the brutality of the American Prison System are otherwise law abiding citizens who have simply exercised their Constitutional Right of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It is up to us – “We the People” to change this horrible condition that has been inflicted upon us by our own government! We need to join together and force our government to allow us the freedoms that our forefathers promised us in the Constitution. We need our government to dismantle the U.S. supported and funded American Terrorism Group also known as the U.S. DEA. We the People are PAYING for our own Terrorization! We support this horror with our own taxes! We want to support the U.S. with our taxes, but we do NOT want to fund government-supported American Terrorist Groups such as the DEA.

There are a multitude of other great reasons to Legalize Cannabis…
A few of these reasons are:
Medical – Replacing dangerous pharmaceuticals with a safe alternative.
Fiber – Rope, Clothing, Paper, etc. (there are many entries on this list!)
Nutrition – Hemp seeds are very nutritious and can be used in/with many foods. It is also one of the best bird seeds known.
Chemical – Fuel, Paints, etc.
Ecological – Cannabis can grow anywhere, is a good CO2 extractor, and is good for the soil that it grows in. Cannabis can totally end Deforestation!
Recreational – Let’s not leave this one out! – Cannabis is the SAFE ALTERNATIVE to Alcohol. It does not cause violence and reckless behavior like Alcohol does. And don’t forget – Cannabis has No Death Rate whatsoever!
Taxation – Once Cannabis has been legalized, the taxation from Cannabis will bring in Billions of dollars to the U.S. Government. Add that to the Billions of dollars saved from not persecuting Cannabis users and we are talking a great deal of money. Remember that decriminalizing Cannabis, even though it would be a wonderful first step, will NOT bring in the Billions of taxation dollars – Cannabis must be legalized to make this happen. Legalization is also mandatory to properly regulate Cannabis. Once Cannabis is legal, and purchasing it is made legal, then controls can be put into place so that only adults can purchase it (like Alcohol today). If a product is illegal, then it must be purchased by illegal means and can not be regulated.

Inform Yourself!

There are many internet sites that can help you to educate yourself on this topic. Here are a few: Norml, Marijuana Policy Project, Drug WarRant, Cannabis News and LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Also, please read Jack Herer’s Book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. “The Emperor” is a wealth of information concerning how this country was duped into making Cannabis illegal.

Please support the Legalization of Cannabis!
Please don’t hide – come out of the closet – we need you!
Be Active – Be Vocal – do not let the terrorists win – We Can Do This!

Legalize Cannabis Now!

Billions of MORE dollars to the US government


I think the source for your

I think the source for your numbers is probably a little bit one sided, but hey, this web site cracks me up, what people wont go through to get high... who cares about the hundreds of thousands of people oppressed by the producers and farmers of just this crop, whatever, lets get doped!

Window of oppurtunity?

The window of opportunity for presidential action is four years down the road, St. Pierre suggested.

Excuse me? This is the same bullshit reasoning always dished out by the Democrats. We can't do what the people want because there is still some opposition. What are they waiting for -- polls that show 80% support, 90%, 95%, 99.9999%.

What needs to happen is more of the tactics that MPP and the Libertarian party have use to target drug warriors in their districts. That is what got rid of Bob Barr in Congress and ultimately lead to his "road to Damascus" conversion experience. He now works with the MPP and the LP.

This change of heart probably wouldn't happen with the most intransigent of the "slow learners", but they should be kicked out on their ear. I say start with the Democrat fence sitters, the lets-wait-four-more-years-or-more crowd. Let them know that THEY will be targeted for all of the negative anti-marijuana hysteria they promote. We won't have to wait four years for that.

And has for convincing people that it isn't dangerous, how about gutting the ONDCP -- totally de-funding it and their propaganda smear campaigns. We can't afford it anyway.

As the essay makes clear

Both the window of opportunity and the momentum are there and now. Not in another four years.

The Democrats are always promising reform during campaigns and then stalling, doing nothing until after the next campaign. I was a third generation Democrat. I got up with their endless stringing along bullshit back in 1996 after supporting the Democrats since the 1960's.

Fortunately, the state level NORML people are activists who are not co-opted by the Democrats like the national office appears to be.

...still some opposition?

There is a little more than just some opposition. The majority of Americans are still opposed to legalizing marijuana. It's not going to happen until the politicians see that a majority support legalization. And 51% probably won't cut it because the politicians will look at the demographics of those for and against and will see that most of the support is among younger voters and most of the strong opposition is from older voters. They're a lot more afraid of the older voters than the younger voters because historically older voters are far more likely to actually go to the polls and vote than younger voters. We may very well have to wait until more than 60% of voters support legalization before we see a major push in our federal law making bodies to allow for it. These guys pay very close attention to the numbers and they analyze them carefully to try to determine what they will mean in the voting booths.


That's the percentage that thinks that medical marijuana is a no-brainer.

And the percentage of adults that are in favor of decrim is probably not too different. The problem is all of the polls ask "are you in favor of TAXING AND REGULATING marijuana"?


I am all for decriminalization, but giving the shitty State MORE money to squander the way it already does is a nonsensical idea. So you have all of these marijuana supporters who would like it to be treated sort of like tomatoes but they don't get counted.

The assumption (falsely made) is that more support will be garnered by pandering to the pro-taxation crowd. That crowd is dwindling.

The revenue stream

is what will bring many status quo politicians over to reform. They perceive pot as costing society in problems. A revenue stream gives them something that they can believe will cover the costs that they fear.

Taxes are the bribe to the politician so that they know there will still be government union jobs to dole out.

Funny -- I thought they worked for us

It would make more sense to get different politicians.

"I am all for

"I am all for decriminalization, but giving the shitty State MORE money to squander the way it already does is a nonsensical idea. So you have all of these marijuana supporters who would like it to be treated sort of like tomatoes but they don't get counted.

The assumption (falsely made) is that more support will be garnered by pandering to the pro-taxation crowd. That crowd is dwindling."

Marijuana has already been decriminalized in several states. You can possess a small amount and all you get is a ticket. Sales are still illegal, as is growing it. That's decriminalization. You can possess a small amount without the feear of going to jail, but they'll take it from you if they catch you with it and write you a ticket. Is that really what you want.

It sounds to me like what you really want is absolute legalization with no regulation. You want it sold like tomatoes. That's not decrminalization. That's fantasy land. Marijuana will end up being legalized someday, but there is no way it won't be regulated at least as much as alcohol. Regulation costs money. It is reasonable to pay taxes to fund the regulation. And the reality is that the government will try to do a lot more than just try to fund the costs of regulating the industry, they'll try to make money from it. That's just a fact of life. If we want legal marijuana, we have to accept the fact that it will be taxed.

The "pro-taxation" crowd is not dwindling. It's growing by leaps and bounds. The government is broke and buried under debt. People are looking at wasteful programs to cut and ways for the government to bring in more revenues. More and more are seeing marijuana prohibition as a huge waste and are saying we should regulate and tax marijuana instead.

It really wouldn't be that bad. Marijuana prices will end up dropping through the floor. We'll see big business getting involved. Large corporate farmers will be growing it, along with some smaller operations. Mass production and competition will drive production costs down to almost nothing. All the huge extra costs from prohibition will be gone. There will be all sorts of room for taxes before it statrts costing anywhere close to what it costs today. We could very well have high taxes and still pay a good bit less than what we are paying.

About Decriminalization

If the state can take it from you then possession is still a crime. It may not be punishable by jail time, but fines and forfeiture are proof that it is still a crime.

Don't get suckered by false decriminalization talk. What was recently passed in Massachusetts as "decriminalization" is no more that than the "Free Trade" agreements pushed by Republicans and Democrats were free trade. Clearly "decriminalization" where confiscation and fines remain is a sham.

As for tomatoes, are they Legal? Does the State grant us permission to plant them in our gardens?

What sort of fantasy world do YOU live in?

There are NO laws that govern what vegetables I may plant. Marijuana should be no different. It should not be a tool for enhancing state revenues any more than anything else I plant and use for my own consumption or to share with my family and friends.

That is the way it should be. That is the way it will be. Let us work towards that not enhancing the bottom line of a State that is fundamentally a fools paradise.

I think we'll end up

I think we'll end up legalizing it and there's a good chance they'll let people grow it at home if they want like people can brew their own beer. They'd want a tax system set up for marijuana commerce though because they tax everything, and because there will always be marijuana commerce. Most people won't go to the trouble of growing their own. They'd rather just buy it, otherwise these medical marijuana dispensaries in California and the coffeeshops in the Netherlands wouldn't be doing such a brisk business. Marijuana commerce will be regulated, and they will tax it. If they did actually make it legal for people to grow a couple of plants and possess a small amount of pot but didn't allow for a legal market for marijuana, there would still be a black market.

And what you want is legalization. It is not decriminalization. The word "decriminalization" is a term of art. It is is often erroneously used interchangeably with legalization. It's not legalization. If a drug is decriminalized it doesn't make it legal. We'll probably see decriminalization in more states and maybe even at the federal level before marijuana is actually legalized. It will most likely be that "false decriminalization" you don't like though. And it won't stop the black market, even if they make it such that they no longer ticket people or take their plants or their pot.


Cannabis was criminalized many long years ago, prior to that it was neither legal nor illegal, it just was -- like tomatoes and carrots and basil and oregano. Returning cannabis to the position it had before it was criminalized would not be "legalizing" it, it would be "decriminalizing" it -- no fines, no confiscation, no laws governing cultivation, possession, use, or transfer.

The poster above is correct that the so-called "decriminalizing" that is going on here and there around the nation is not truly "decriminalizing" the plant.

I think it is important to know the real meaning of words and to use the correct words, otherwise confusion results, and so does bad law.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

The word "decriminalization"

The word "decriminalization" is pretty useless. It means different things to different people. The logical plain meaning of the word has little to do with most of the decriminalization laws we have seen here and around the world.

Whatever words we use, I don't think we'll see marijuana legal like tomatoes and carrots. Surely it will end up being regulated more like alcohol. They might let people grow some for personal use, like they let people produce some beer or wine at home or grow a small plot of tobacco, but there will be age restriction laws, laws covering things like public consumption that will be similar to alcohol and cigarette laws. Of course commercial production and sales will be regulated. That's just a given, like taxes. Not that I'd complain if we didn't have all those laws, I just can't imagine the goverment legalizing it without regulating it and taxing it. That's just the way our government works.

"Cannabis was criminalized

"Cannabis was criminalized many long years ago, prior to that it was neither legal nor illegal, it just was -- like tomatoes and carrots and basil and oregano"

Neither legal or illegal? If it's not illegal, it's legal. Tomatoes and carrots and basil and oregano are legal. If they were made illegal and we wanted to make the laws like they are today, we'd have to legalize these things. When something is illegal and you want it to be legal, you legalize. Decriminalizing means removing criminal penalties and usually the possibility of a criminal record. It's not a criminal offense to possess something when possession has been decriminalized, but that doesn't mean it's legal to possess it like it's legal to possess tomatoes or carrots. Legalizing means to make something legal. Decriminalizing means to make something not criminal. But just because some act might not be a criminal offense doesn't mean it is legal to do it. It could still be considered a "violation" like a traffic offense or some sort of civil infraction.

"Cannabis was criminalized

"Cannabis was criminalized many long years ago, prior to that it was neither legal nor illegal, it just was -- like tomatoes and carrots and basil and oregano"

Neither legal or illegal? If it's not illegal, it's legal. Tomatoes and carrots and basil and oregano are legal. If they were made illegal and we wanted to make the laws like they are today, we'd have to legalize these things. When something is illegal and you want it to be legal, you legalize. Decriminalizing means removing criminal penalties and usually the possibility of a criminal record. It's not a criminal offense to possess something when possession has been decriminalized, but that doesn't mean it's legal to possess it like it's legal to possess tomatoes or carrots. Legalizing means to make something legal. Decriminalizing means to make something not criminal. But just because some act might not be a criminal offense doesn't mean it is legal to do it. It could still be considered a "violation" like a traffic offense or some sort of civil infraction.

It is important to know the real meaning of words. Words mean what they are generally accepted to mean. I'm not sure that there is a good generally accepted definition of decriminalization. Like the last poster said, it is a pretty useless word. California is said to have decriminalized marijuana, yet possession is still a misdemeanor. There is no threat of jail for simple possessin of a small amount, but you still get a criminal record. I don't see how it can be decriminalized if it is still technically a crime. If it is a misdemeanor or a felony, it is a crime. If it is a civil infraction, it's not technically a crime, even if you might have to pay a civil penalty if you get caught.

Get the polls out of your .....

The polls follow the people. The people do not follow the polls.

Because there is an obvious increasing momentum the organizations should all be designing new more assertive campaigns to build on the momentum. To be doing otherwise is to throw a great opportunity out the window.

"The polls follow the

"The polls follow the people. The people do not follow the polls."

Our politicians follow the polls. They're the ones that have to change the laws. We aren't going to have true legalization until the feds open things up for it. They don't want to do that, and won't until they see a political advantage in doing it. Right now most politicians who suuport legalization are afraid to come out for it because they believe it will cost them votes, get them unlected or prevent them from getting elected in the first place. That's not going to change much until they see more support among the voters for legalization.

"Our politicians follow the polls."

Then the congress should be eager to end the pot prohibition today.

The ABC News Washington Post poll placed pot legalization at 46% favorability. It placed the job favorability of the Democrats at 45% and the favorability of the GOP in congress at 30%.

Pot legalization is more favorable than the congress that prohibits pot legalization.

That is the poll that congress is looking at. It is the poll that we should be hammering into the media. We should be encouraged and inspired to greater action by such numbers to help people to make their decision. but noooo, your too busy kissing Democrat butt and telling reformers to wait... wait.... wait.......

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