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California Chamber of Commerce in Anti-Prop 19 Radio Attack Ad Campaign

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #655)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

The California Chamber of Commerce has begun a $250,000 radio ad campaign against Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative. The first ads hit the airwaves last Friday, the business group announced in a statement.

Here is the Prop 19 language that has the Chamber so bestirred: "No person shall be punished, fined, discriminated against, or be denied any right or privilege for lawfully engaging in any conduct permitted by this Act or authorized pursuant to Section 11301 of this Act. Provided however, that the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance by an employee shall not be affected."

The Chamber wants employers to continue to be able to fire workers for failing a drug test for marijuana, even though such test do not measure actual impairment, but only the presence of metabolites in the body. Those metabolites can remain for days or even weeks after the psychoactive effects of marijuana have worn off.

"Imagine coming out of surgery and the nurse caring for you was high or having to work harder on your job because a co-worker shows up high on pot," intones a woman's voice in the ad. "It could happen in California if Proposition 19 passes. Prop 19 would do more than simply legalize marijuana.  Prop 19 is worded so broadly is would hurt California's economy, raise business costs and make it harder to create jobs."

The Chamber has prepared a legal analysis that argues that Prop 19 would create a "protected class" of pot-smoking workers, and "expose workers to increased risk of injury, jeopardize federally funded projects and jobs, and add more liabilities and costs to already overburdened employers." 

"The employer impacts and workplace safety concerns highlighted in CalChamber’s legal analysis have been prominently featured in the many statewide editorials opposing Proposition 19," said Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce. "We want to be sure we reinforce the facts with voters so they understand that this measure will undermine the ability of employers to ensure a safe work environment and create higher costs for those who provide and create jobs."

In addition to the Reefer Madness-style fear-mongering already cited, the Chamber ad falsely claims that "employees would be able to come to work high, and employers wouldn’t be able to punish an employee for being high until after a workplace accident," when the initiative clearly states they can sanction actual impairment.

It's the final stretch in the campaign, and big business has begun the mud-slinging.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Cann_Do (not verified)

Why are the Pro Prop 19 campaigns not getting radio ads? Am I just missing them, or the news on it?

Are they going to fritter away those last-minute big contributions from the Facebook/Napster Dudes and the Progressive Fellow and everybody else?

Start spending Pro-Prop 19ers! In California you need some sort of media campaign... Counter the misinformation from The Chamber.


Vote YES on Prop 19 to restore integrity to government and policing.

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 8:40am Permalink

DISCLAIMER: I don't smoke pot. I haven't touched the stuff since my nineteenth birthday - August 16, 1977 - which, coincidentally, was the day that Elvis Presley died. I always tell people that Elvis and I quit drugs at the very same time, the only difference being that I did so voluntarily.

Having said that, let me say this:

Nearly three-quarters-of-a-century after it was made illegal; half-a-century after it was proven to be practically harmless - why is it still a crime to possess and smoke marijuana?

Here is a list of ten famous people - heavy smokers all - who died as a result of nicotine abuse:

Humphrey Bogart
Edward R. Murrow
Nat King Cole
George Harrison
John Huston
Noel Coward
Betty Grable
Walt Disney
Gary Cooper
Peter Jennings

Here is another list. Ten famous people who died from alcoholism:

Tennessee Williams
Jack Kerouac
Truman Capote
Lorenz Hart
Veronica Lake
Bix Beiderbecke
Montgomery Clift
Dylan Thomas
John Barrymore
Errol Flynn

Now I'm going to ask you to name for me one celebrity who has died from too much grass.

Go on, I'm waiting.....

You couldn't do it, could you? No, neither could I. Not only have I never heard of anyone dying in that matter, I am not aware of it happening in all recorded human history! Why, in 2010, are we still having this stupid conversation?

Is it a "gateway drug" as they never tire of reminding us? Yeah, it probably is. But so is Pabst Blue Ribbon. Let's get a grip here.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 8:51am Permalink
Anon (not verified)

I can't believe that with all the pot smoking celebrities in California we have not seen something like a "Live Aid"  or "Farm Aid" type event?  A Prop pot concert tour (Which by the way would have made huge money) would have overwhelmed The LA Times, the Chamber, the anti-pot politicians, everybody!  WTF happened in California?

After thinking about it over and over, trying to understand why so many people could be so stupid, I've come to the conclusion that the only reason the CA public is not overwhelmingly supportive is because these people are basically snobs.  I think that the powerfully elite in CA don't want some hillbilly, Richard Lee, being the father of legal cannabis in CA.  Plus CA already has a pretty lenient medical marijuana program and really nobody that lives there goes without pot.  These two reasons are keeping this thing from going over the top.  If this Prop 19 was happening in WA, OR, or CO we would see a sweeping victory.  After all the whole world(!) is rooting CA on right now; and only CA would have the gall to turn their noses up.

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 10:57am Permalink
James Frolov (not verified)

In reply to by Anon (not verified)

Wow. What a bunch of drivel. You make so many broad statements you must have used a paintbrush to write them with. Some of us are working damn hard to get this done, and your armchair quarterbacking is not helping. We in California are facing a larger budget shortfall than the budgets of some countries. That makes people a little nervy. Also, we are facing an opposition movement from within our own crowd by some medical cannabis providers looking to keep their cash cow intact. Then there is the fact that the feds are threatening to come after us, which is also having some affect, which was the whole point of that statement that was put out. A far as the " Whole world rooting for us" why don't you try opening your wallet and putting your money where your mouth is? This campaign is being opposed by some very wealthy people and they have a lot of money for advertising.  If you don't like the way things are going here in California, GET OFF YOUR ASS and do it in your own state. I would love to see sweeping victories in WA, OR, and even CO. Why wait for us to be the first? Get after it there chief.

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 8:53pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by James Frolov (not verified)


I don't know how I got on this OR rep's email list, but I received an email from him the other day in which he lays out all the measures on OR's 2010 ballot and informs his "constituents" of his thoughts on these issues.  Most of them I have no interest in, not being a resident of OR, but this one does interest me, and will interest all of you, too, since it is an issue close to all our hearts.

[email protected] states:

I have received many inquiries asking for an analysis of the 2010 General Election Ballot Measures.  Although every voter must make his or her own determination on these important issues, for what it is worth, here are my observations on each measure.

Measure 74. 
Negative.  On October 1, 2009 there were approximately 14,000 medical marijuana cardholders.  Today, just one year later, there are 37,000 cardholders with an additional 5,000 applications pending.  In short, Oregon’s medical marijuana laws, which were intended to provide inexpensive pain relief to patients suffering with chronic pain, are now providing a “do not go to jail” card for nearly anyone who wants to grow or smoke “weed.” 

All that is necessary to obtain an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) card is to visit a doctor who distributes OMMP cards and pay the doctor’s fee.  M-74 promotes further availability of marijuana to users while increasing the difficulty for police officers to enforce Oregon’s marijuana laws. 

If you support the legalization of marijuana in Oregon, vote for M-74; it takes Oregon one step closer to that end.

If you oppose legalizing marijuana without a direct vote by the people on that issue, consider the following:

M-74, in my opinion, is a “bait & switch” ballot measure.   It focuses on one issue, establishing non-profit dispensaries of marijuana for those who do not grow their own or have someone growing it for them, while doing another, establishing State sponsorship of marijuana research and distribution.  Consider the following provisions of M-74:

A.   Section 3 creates new provisions to expand distribution of marijuana, but does not limit in any way the current growing rights of cardholders or their designated personal growers.

SECTION 3. (1) The Department of Human Services shall establish a regulated medical marijuana supply system. [BUT, see the fine print in subsection 3.]

(3) …The system shall not infringe on a [cardholder’s] ability to produce the [cardholder’s] own medical marijuana or to designate a person [to grow it for the] cardholder.

B.  Section 4 says that after passing M-74, Oregon’s Department of Human Services must implement a program to promote distributing marijuana to low-income and needy users.

SECTION 4. (1) The Department of Human Services…shall develop and adopt rules to implement a program to assist low-income and needy registry identification cardholders in obtaining medical marijuana.

C.  Section 5 is quite devious.  It intentionally creates a legal ambiguity that will require agency or judicial interpretation.  Note, the underlined words in Section 5 (1), indicates DHS “may conduct” research, provide grants and determine quality control, purity and labeling of marijuana.  Then contrast the discretionary use of “may” with the underlined, compulsory wording in Section 5 (2).  By stating in subparagraph (2) that DHS is “required” to conduct the research referred to in subparagraph (1), a conflict in terms is created.  This ambiguity of terms will enable proponents of legalizing marijuana to argue in court that Oregon voters intended that DHS must pursue such research, financial grants and marijuana “quality control.”

SECTION 5. (1) The Department of Human Services may conduct scientific research into the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana used by registry identification cardholders of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

(a) The purpose of the research is to assist physicians and patients in evaluating the risks and benefits of using medical marijuana and to provide a scientific basis for future policies.

(b) The department may provide grants to persons in this state to conduct such research.

(c) Research may include developing quality control, purity, and labeling standards for medical marijuana dispensed through the system.

(2) The department shall report the results of the research required under subsection (1) of this section to the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana established under ORS 475.303.  

Voters should be wary of any attempt to trick them into voting for one thing, while deceptive wording of the measure or law will accomplish something quite to the contrary. 

Sun, 10/24/2010 - 2:30am Permalink
Anon (not verified)

In reply to by James Frolov (not verified)

No I am not kidding.   I don't even live in CA and I have donated money to the Prop 19 cause.  So go f yourself!  I have put my money where my mouth is.  

Sun, 10/24/2010 - 3:26am Permalink
Anon (not verified)

In reply to by James Frolov (not verified)

Also, IMHO, this is opposition is more about Richard Lee than you realize.  The big stink with your greedy medical growers is certainly Lee.  All I read from this crowd is about how Oaksterdam wants to take over.  Mr. Lee is an honest man and had done an excellent job with Prop 19.  These people are making shit up (or misrepresenting Prop 19) just to ruin this for him.  That is why these people are pushing so hard for 2012.  The funny thing is 2012 might be a different climate and a new Prop may not be so well received world wide.

Then you got Hollywood today.  What Glover and couple others came out?  Why didn't CA entertainment promoters have some sort of comeback to all this anti-pot big money you are talking about?  The biggest money is CA smokes POT!

No my friend, "stoners against Prop 19" and these Medical freaks are all about getting in the way of Richard Lee.  As for the rest of the CA population they go where the money goes.  And you know pot is not spending.

Sun, 10/24/2010 - 4:02am Permalink
Anon (not verified)

In reply to by James Frolov (not verified)

Oh, and by the way.  This time, IMHO, I think the Feds are on our side.  The more I consider the Holder memo, the more I think that the Obama camp knew it would be bunk, so they released it.  They had to say something to quiet the prohibitionists, something these people would buy but the public would see through.

No, if CA loses, it is it's own fail.

Sun, 10/24/2010 - 5:26am Permalink
Anti-Prohibitionist (not verified)

I think all it takes is a little common sense to understand how this will work.


You will have an impairment test instead of a drug metabolite test.  If someone is suspected of being impaired they get the impairment test.  An example of one is the roadside sobriety test where they have you walk the line and touch your nose among other things.  No need to wait until after the impairment has caused a problem.  Does the chamber of commerce really think the only way to prove job impairment is by an accident?

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 11:34am Permalink
newageblues (not verified)

In reply to by Anti-Prohibitionist (not verified)

Yes, that's it, nicely put. Does such a test even exist? Considering how many millions of people have been arrested for mere possession over the last 70+ years, it's suspicious as hell that they haven't developed a widely used test to show when you are too impaired to drive or work. I think their problem is that cannabis impairment, even after consuming a large quantity, is so much less dangerous than alcohol impairment that the result of any attempt to create a scale of cannabis impairment would be most acutely embarrassing to our adamantly alcohol supremacist rulers. 

Meanwhile, we are treated to the spectacle of states having the gall to pass laws that state you are guilty of drugged driving if you have cannabis metabolites in your system from doing weed yesterday or last week, and feckless state Supreme Courts which have the gall to say this crap is constitutional, and scientists and other professionals who know very well that this is ludicrous but are too apathetic, or bigoted, or paid off, or intimidated to call the politicians on it.


Does the  Chamber of Commerce have any information on specific serious work accidents they believe were caused by cannabis? If they don't they should be called down hard on it, if they do that would still in no way justify denying to cannabis users what is permitted to alcohol users. There is utterly no comparison of the dangers to life and limb from alcohol and cannabis, if the Chamber of Commerce really does not already know that, I suggest they consult the scientific literature on alcohol vs. cannabis.

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 1:11pm Permalink
Buzzby (not verified)

In reply to by newageblues (not verified)

People have been getting busted for DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) for many, many years without anything similar to a breathalyzer to determine whether or not a driver is impaired.  For that matter, people were getting busted for drunk driving for many years before the development of the breathalyzer.

How did this work?  The officer would ask the suspect to perform a number of tasks that could not be completed successfully if the driver was impaired.  These could include walking a straight line, touching your finger to your nose with your eyes closed, standing on one foot, and reciting the alphabet backwards (which I couldn't do cold sober).

Impairment tests at job sites could include tasks that are a normal part of the job.  They could test both physical and mental impairment.  There is no need for the equivalent of a breathalyzer to test for impairment.  Breathalyzers don't test for impairment.  They test blood alcohol level and the standard (0.08%) is entirely arbitrary.  Some lightweights might be drunk at 0.04% and people with a high tolerance might not be drunk at 0.08%.

Thu, 10/28/2010 - 5:21pm Permalink
JohnL (not verified)

In reply to by Anti-Prohibitionist (not verified)

I read a few years back a trucking firm was using a video game type test to check drivers before they went out. I found it quoted in an article at Erowid on drugged driving.

Sat, 10/30/2010 - 7:15pm Permalink

Maybe it's too obvious to mention but Prop 19 would take a largely illegal industry and turn it into a legal one. Shouldn't the Chamber of Commerce be supporting efforts to allow for legal commerce and the creation of businesses and jobs? Instead they are supporting the status quo. (And with hysterical fear mongering to boot.)

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 11:34am Permalink
Madalaine (not verified)

It sickens me knowing the kind of misinformation that swing voters are getting bombarded by at such a crucial time.

Do prohibit doctors and nurses and schoolteachers from drinking alcohol? Would we fire them for failing an alcohol test a morning or two after they had drank, long after intoxication had worn off? People know that because you drink alcohol doesn't mean that you will be drunk on the job, and if you were drunk on the job, you could get fired for that. But you wouldn't get fired for drinking on the weekends or in the evenings, because you're sober by the time you work.

But if people are allowed to smoke marijuana, then that automatically means they will be high on the job.

Why can't people get any kind of clear logic pattern down?

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 3:27pm Permalink
Buzzby (not verified)

Now that Peter Lewis has thrown some money to the campaign, why isn't YESon19 running radio ads to counter this network of lies?

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 7:14pm Permalink
Abraham Lincoln (not verified)

"Prohibition . . .  goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), U.S. President.
Speech, 18 Dec. 1840, to Illinois House of Representatives

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 10:23pm Permalink
marvin monroe200 (not verified)

Bottom line: the danger of marijuana is FAR GREATER due to the fact that it is illegal, rather than from any possible biological effects. Your kid's life can be ruined--loss of scholarship, student loans, employment and public housing opportunities--simply because pot is illegal.

By the way, contrary to what many "reporters" have written, there is no conflict with federal law: if prop 19 mandated people to smoke pot, then there would be a conflict. Prop 19 simply eliminates state law regarding small amounts of pot. If prop 19 passes, state law enforcement has no basis for prosecuting people for small amounts of pot. Just because the Feds got it so wrong is no reason for the states to go along as well.

Prop 19 isn't perfect, but is a huge improvement over the status quo. Vote YES on 19!

Sat, 10/23/2010 - 11:47pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

Thanks to the traitorous usurpers in the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, determining who donated the $250,000 that ended up in the coffers of the star-struck Chamber to help preserve prohibition is difficult if not impossible to determine.

According to the Chamber, the reason for keeping donors anonymous is:

"The major supporters of us in health care last year were confronted with protests at their corporate headquarters, protests and harassment at the C.E.O.'s homes," said R. Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist at the chamber, whose office looks out on the White House. "You are wondering why companies want some protection. It is pretty clear."


Sun, 10/24/2010 - 1:27am Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

Refer people who are against CA's Prop 19 and OR's M-74 to this:

Vices are NOT crimes!  Indulging in a vice is not an act worthy of anyone else's attention, let alone incarceration!  Do these people call the cops on a neighbor who has a couple of beers during his backyard BBQ?  Or on the housewives who get together for a coffee klatch?  Or the retired couple who enjoy a cigarette on their porch?  Or the neighbor kid who eats too much candy or drinks too many soft drinks?  These acts are all vices, too, and they all affect the brain in ways that could be construed as a high or intoxication, some milder than others.  What makes use of any so-called "illicit" drug any different?  Some of the "illicit" drugs won't get you anywhere near as wasted as a couple too many drinks of alcohol.  

The other best argument is "My body, my choice!", each of us own our own bodies, society does not own us and neither does the government (although those who have power in government seem to think they do).  If we allow government to restrict what we may ingest in the way of drugs, they'll soon be telling us that we may not ingest other substances like fats and sugars and salt . . . oh, wait . . . guess it's too late for that one, eh?

Sun, 10/24/2010 - 4:39pm Permalink
malcolmkyle (not verified)

While bullets fly into El Paso and bodies pile up in the streets of Juarez, and thugs with gold-plated AK-47s and albino tiger pens are beheading federal officials and dissolving their torsos in vats of acid, here are some facts concerning the peaceful situation in Holland. --Please save a copy and use it as a reference when debating prohibitionists who claim the exact opposite concerning reality as presented here below:

Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 -- roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.

In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here’s a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation

Now let's look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy
Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its so called successful drug policy.

Here's Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:

The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.

The Dutch justice ministry announced, last year, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There's simply not enough criminals

For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands:
or go to this page:

Mon, 10/25/2010 - 5:09am Permalink
Sean S (not verified)

What is the point of civil discourse when the opposing side is willing to lie about anything to get what they want. We can't let the Chamber of Commerce get away with these selfish, blatantly false, and justice obstructing lies. Educate your friends, spread the damn truth!

Thu, 10/28/2010 - 5:30am Permalink
Master (not verified)

Legalization of cannabis will significantly impact the governments ability to imprison a large segment of the race that formerly served as slaves to American prosperity, placing them on equal ground with the true founders, a totally unacceptable act.  Vote no on Proposition 19!  Keep America on the  wh righ-t e path!!!!

Thu, 10/28/2010 - 12:07pm Permalink

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