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The Marijuana Legalization Movement Takes Aim at 2012 [FEATURE]

Disappointed yet emboldened by Proposition 19's eight point loss a week ago, state and national marijuana legalization leaders are already planning to push for initiatives in as many as five states in 2012. Meetings in California and Colorado in the past few days are laying the groundwork for legalization initiatives there, and similar efforts are being talked about for Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Rep. Tom Ammiano will get even more attention now.
With election post-mortems already yielding to pre-planning the next campaigns, the legalization movement smells victory in the air not too far down the road. And the Yes On 19 campaign team is hitting the ground running.

"I just got out of a meeting where we're trying to put together an all-star team to be the board for a 2012 campaign," said Richard Lee, the Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur behind the Prop 19 campaign. "We're hoping to have a formal announcement Thursday, but we'll see how that goes."

If it happens, though, don't count on Lee to be kicking in a million-plus dollars again. "Part of the reason for building this coalition is that I'm tapped out," said Lee. "But I think we got our money's worth, we got a $100 million worth of free media."

The meeting Lee mentioned was of the group's steering board, said activist team Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, who were there. "We're exploring another initiative run in 2012, and it's looking pretty likely because we achieved so much with this campaign, especially with the coalitions we built to support this effort," said Norris.

"There is a real interest in making sure the activist base is included," said Conrad. "We want to try to avoid the divisiveness of this campaign," he added, alluding to intramural attacks from some growers, the Stoners Against Prop 19 types, and elements of the medical marijuana community. "But people feel they have to have a certain thing, and how can you achieve unity like that? People have to be able to compromise," he said.

National reform groups are also feeling optimistic about 2012. "Even though we lost in California, Richard ended up doing a good thing for the movement," said NORML founder Keith Stroup. "When you look at what went on in the last six or eight months, I don’t think legalization was ever taken seriously by politicians and the press until now. It was probably worth the three or four million spent on that to force marijuana legalization into the national and international spotlight."

Despite this year's loss, "the big picture is Gallup polls showing support higher than ever," said Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mike Meno. "Even some Californians who voted against Prop 19 believe it should be legal. On the central issue, it seems the public is increasingly on our side and heading for a majority."

Prop 19 brought the issue center stage, Meno said. "This year, we had more mainstream press coverage than ever, the debate is out in the open, and many Americans are now for the first time in their lives really thinking seriously about legalizing marijuana."

"There seems to be a consensus around working toward 2012," said Meno. "It's a presidential election year, and there will be more young voters. If the polls continue to trend up, there's no reason not to optimistic that states like Colorado or Washington couldn’t pass something like Prop 19. We're looking at strategically supporting a pair of legalization initiatives in Colorado and California. Support is high, and we have two more years to build on that."

"If I were a betting man, I'd say there's a better than 50-50 chance we'll see initiatives in California and Colorado, said Drug Policy Alliance head Ethan Nadelmann. "It's hard to say about the other states at this point."

Nadelmann saw three possibilities for 2012 initiatives. "First is that badly drafted initiatives get on the ballot and then lose badly," he said. "But my hope is that well-drafted initiatives get on the ballot with strong majority support, and that inspires wealthy donors to provide backing. The third possibility is that well-drafted initiatives get on the ballot notwithstanding the fact they have less than 50% going in. The challenge in that case will be to ensure that even though they are likely headed for defeat, they move the ball forward like Prop 19 and Colorado in 2006."

Initiative campaigns will focus on a number of themes, said Nadelmann. "You have the continuing nightmare in Mexico, you have the surveys showing young people saying it's easier to buy pot than alcohol, and you have the continuing indictment of the failures of prohibition," he said. "And evidence that decriminalization is not enough. Decrim in California and New York did not prevent massive increases in arrests in the past 20 years and the racial disproportionality that accompanied them. Legalization may have its risks, but it's preferable to the status quo.

There are a few cautionary voices when it comes to another legalization initiative in California. "Another initiative here in California might be a good idea, but it's premature to say that," said Dale Gieringer of California NORML. CANORML supported Prop 19, but Gieringer from the beginning voiced doubts about its prospects for success. He has doubts again about 2012 in California.

"California voters don’t really like to have the same issue revisited in successive elections," he said. "There have been a bunch of issues that have failed under those circumstances," he recalled, ticking off parental concept for abortion, eminent domain reform, and a school voucher initiative. "I can't think of a case where people have been able to flip the vote in two years," the student of California politics said.

Gieringer also raised another potential problem. "Who is going to fund it? Richard Lee said he doesn’t have the money to do it again. You need a million dollars to get on the ballot," he pointed out. "If I were a major funder, I'd be looking at a less expensive state," he said.

Still, Gieringer said, CANORML would be holding a statewide conference in January to try to begin to see if there is a consensus that can be reached among the state's complex and fractious pot community.

It doesn’t have to be an initiative. There is the legislative process, and this year, Rep. Tom Ammiano managed to get his legalization bill through the Assembly Public Safety Committee. He'll be back at it next year.

"We will be reintroducing our bill to tax and regulate at the beginning of the next session," said Ammiano spokesperson Quintin Mecke. "We'll be looking at any possible changes between now and then."

Mecke credited Prop 19 with moving the issue forward. "I think Prop 19 has put marijuana firmly in the mainstream conversation and the public policy conversation is now being debated at the highest levels of government. People can't just make jokes about it anymore. We are getting close to challenging this notion that we can deal with marijuana simply through law enforcement."

And it doesn't have to be California.In Colorado, SAFER (Safe Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation) and Sensible Colorado last Thursday announced that they were pushing ahead with a legalization initiative for 2012. And Saturday, a statewide conference brought national movement figures including SSDP head Aaron Houston, Drug Policy Alliance head Ethan Nadelmann, Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, and Prop 19's Jeff Jones to Denver to help lay the groundwork. The Saturday summit was also the scene of the announcement of a second initiative campaign, Legalize It 2012, a Jack Herer-style "freedom based" measure, led by Laura Kriho of the Boulder-based Cannabis Therapy Institute.

"There is a great deal of interest in a 2012 statewide initiative to regulate marijuana and start treating it like alcohol," said SAFER's Tvert.  "I think we're poised to make this happen. We've seen support go up dramatically over the past five years and internal polls had it at about 50% this year. Attitudes here have reached a point where this is very realistic," he said.

"The folks in Colorado are determined to go forward even if the polls are not promising," said Nadelmann. "We are committed to trying to make this as smart and tight an initiative as possible, even though it will be difficult to raise money."

"We need to get a lot of folks opinion on this, particularly the medical marijuana industry here, where we have hundreds of licensed medical marijuana centers," Tvert said. "We hope to work with them to pass a law that will benefit everyone. There is no specific language yet, but that is what we are beginning to get together."

Tvert said he hoped the community would coalesce around one initiative. "People are doing polling and seeing what language will work," he said. "I hope in the end we will go forward with one initiative that will be the best law possible."

As noted above, similar efforts are underway in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The marijuana reform movement thinks it is can go over the top in the next election cycle. Only 103 weeks until we find out if they're right.

Poll: Majority of Californians Still Support Legal Marijuana

Localização: 
CA
United States
California voters may have rejected Proposition 19 last week, but a poll released after the election shows that a majority of California voters still believe marijuana should be legal in principle, and that our current laws do more harm than good.
Publication/Source: 
eNews Park Forest (IL)
URL: 
http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/19753-poll-majority-of-californians-still-support-legal-marijuana.html

Marijuana Legalization Advocates are Undeterred by the Defeat of Prop. 19

Localização: 
CA
United States
Despite Proposition 19's loss at the polls last week, marijuana legalization advocates in California are already working on their comeback plan for 2012 and are almost giddy about their prospects. They see the election as a trial run that could lead to a campaign with a better message, a tighter measure and more money. Both the winning and losing sides say California's voters rejected this specific initiative, but remain open to legalizing the easily obtainable drug.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/07/local/la-me-marijuana-prop19-20101108

Californians Still Want to Legalize Marijuana, Despite Prop 19 Results

California voters rejected Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, by just under eight percentage points, but a post-election poll has found that they still favor legalizing pot. The poll also suggests that if youth turnout had equaled that in 2008, the campaign to free the weed would have ended in a dead heat.

According to the poll, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, 52% said marijuana prohibition does more harm than good. And 49% said marijuana should be legalized, with 41% opposed and 10% undecided.

"There’s a fair amount of latent support for legalization in California," said Anna Greenberg, the firm’s senior vice president. “It is our view, looking at this research, that if indeed legalization goes on ballot in 2012 in California, that it is poised to win."

So why didn't Prop 19 win? One quarter of those who opposed Prop 19 had considered voting yes and 31% of the no voters said they believed marijuana should be legalized or have penalties reduced, but objected to some aspect of the initiative.

The poll did not ask those respondents specifically what was wrong with the initiative. It would have legalized the possession of up to an ounce of weed for people 21 and older and it would have allowed them to grow up to 25 square feet and keep the resulting harvest. It would also have given cities and counties the ability to permit, tax, and regulate commercial marijuana sales and cultivation.

The poll did find, however, that Prop 19's provision making it difficult for employers to fire workers just for testing positive for marijuana may have hurt. Voters said by 50% to 44% that employers should have the right to fire workers who test positive even if they are not impaired.

This issue isn't going away.

CA
United States

Despite Prop. 19 Loss, Marijuana Debate Still Aflame in Mexico

Localização: 
Mexico
While some Mexicans expressed relief that California’s Proposition 19 was defeated in Tuesday’s election, others felt that the fight in Mexico was just beginning. The proposition, which essentially would have legalized marijuana in California, had a renewed sense of urgency south of the border, where the body count in the government’s crusade against drug trafficking organizations continues to rise.
Publication/Source: 
New America Media (CA)
URL: 
http://newamericamedia.org/2010/11/after-prop-19-marijuana-debate-still-aflame-in-mexico.php

Time for Latin America to Reconsider Prohibition (Opinion)

Localização: 
Erika De La Garza, program director of the Latin American Initiative at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice, and William Martin, the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy at the Baker Institute, opine on the general failures of drug prohibition and what direction Latin America should go.
Publication/Source: 
The Houston Chronicle (TX)
URL: 
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/7280128.html

Just Say Now: Tell Us What You Think

We lost on Tuesday, but we're
determined to celebrate next time.
And we can't do it without you.

 Tell us what you think: how did we do, and where do we go from here to legalize marijuana?

Dear friends,

Prop 19 was defeated at the polls, 54% to 46%. Medical marijuana initiatives in Oregon and South Dakota lost as well, with votes still being counted in Arizona.

It’s fine to say “we’ll do better next time,” but if “next time” is just more of the same, we’re destined to repeat the same mistakes and suffer the same outcome. And when people are putting their hearts and their money and their time toward ending prohibition, that’s just not good enough.

If we learned one thing during this election, it’s that the marijuana reform movement needs to embrace the grassroots, to stop preaching, and to start listening. The top-down strategy of the marijuana reform movement up until now has failed, and must not be repeated.

So we want to hear from you. We want to know how we did in this election, and where you think the marijuana reform movement should go. Can you tell us what you think?

Tell us what you think: how did we do, and what can we do better next time? Click here to let us know.

http://action.firedoglake.com/justsaynowsurvey

We promise to read every word you write, and to report back on what we hear. Because one thing we know for sure: we can’t do this without you.

Your efforts to help Prop 19 and other initiatives were incredible, and unmatched. The Just Say Now campaign was launched less than 90 days before the election, and accomplished some amazing things during that time:

  • You made more than 50,000 calls to California voters, and thousands more to the other states. 
  • With your support, we built new sites for two campaigns, and rescued Prop 19’s site after it crashed on Election Day.
  • We transformed the marijuana debate, and have shown that it’s possible to run real, bottom-up campaign to legalize marijuana.

The successes of the Just Say Now campaign were your successes.

But we can do better. We want to do better. We want to be worthy of working with you to build a movement that finally brings about an end to marijuana prohibition in this country once and for all. And we never want to write another one of those “well, we fought the good fight” letters again.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the time and energy you put into this election. But next time around, we determined to be celebrating the day after.

Take our survey and share your thoughts on this election and the future of the marijuana reform movement. Click here:

http://action.firedoglake.com/justsaynowsurvey

Thank you for everything you did for Prop 19 and other marijuana initiatives, and for taking the time to let us know how we can do better next time.

Best,

Michael
JustSayNow.com

Localização: 
CA
United States

We'll Be Back, Prop 19 Proponents and Allies Vow in Press Conference [FEATURE]

According to final numbers from the California secretary of state, Proposition 19 picked up more than 3.4 million votes even as it lost 46.1% to 53.9%. At a teleconference Wednesday, Prop 19 backers were declaring victory even as they acknowledged they hadn't gone over the top this year. And they announced that they weren't going away.

Dale Jones speaks with reporters Tuesday night
"We won," said former Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray. "The implementation of Prop 19 will be delayed, but the ultimate outcome is not in doubt. I'm encouraged that the end is in sight. Let's get at it!" he declared.

"The l-word has become acceptable," said former LAPD Deputy Chief Steve Downing. "You saw and heard a public debate the likes of which has never been heard in California or the nation. Change requires both compassion and enlightened self interest. The campaign has a good measure of both. Cannabis prohibition is an unjust law, it does more harm than good, and we have finally debunked prohibitionist scare tactics to the point all they had left was to attack the mechanics of the initiative itself," Downing said.

The initiative was attacked by opponents on the right as poorly written and leading to "chaos" because it allowed cities and counties to decide whether to permit, tax, and regulate marijuana in their jurisdictions. It was also attacked within the marijuana movement itself for a number of reasons, though most drug policy reformers regarded the reasons as spurious or reflecting self interest by persons in the medical marijuana trade.

"We have a path forward to make this happen and we will continue this coalition," said Dale Sky Jones, spokesperson for Yes on 19. "I'm very excited about the results from Prop 19. We have a tremendous electorate behind us. This is a matter of not if but when, and we are looking forward to working with state officials to craft new language. We want to bring the opposition to the table," she said. "We are looking for their plan, and we will hold them accountable."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) played a prominent role in the Prop 19 campaign, and former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper was on the teleconference to assure listeners that LEAP will continue to work with Prop 19 proponents in the future.

Election Night proponents gathering, Oakland
"Police are on the front line of the war on cannabis and are paying a large price in terms of strained police-community relations," he said. "I will encourage them and politicians to say out loud what they have been whispering, that it is time to end marijuana prohibition. They know that the drug war has failed and that cannabis prohibition in particular is a costly absurdity. I will encourage them to move forward from whispered support to full-throated support for ending this prohibition," Stamper vowed.

"I was among those who tried to discourage Richard Lee a year and a half ago from going forward in 2010," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, whose political action committee raised more than a million dollars for the campaign. "But he was right. Even if this did not prevail on Election Day, the transformation of the public dialogue nationally and internationally has been stupendous. It has provided an opportunity for leaders in Latin America to say we need a discussion. There has been a transformation in the public dialogue and media coverage unlike anything before. Prop 19 got more votes than Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina. This is a major, major victory," he declared.

It is on to 2012, said Nadelmann. Marijuana legalization initiatives could be on the ballot in up to five states, he said.

"California looks good in 2012, and so do Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada," Nadelmann prognosticated. "We will go forward where more than 50% of the population support it. The defeat at the polls was a mere bump in the road compared to the positive discussion and the opening up of the debate on marijuana."

Separately, California NORML, which endorsed Prop 19, agreed that legalization is just a matter of time, but that obstacles remain. "It's not a question of whether marijuana will be legalized, but when and how," said CANORML coordinator Dale Gieringer.  "The Prop 19 campaign deserves credit for putting legalization on the map, and for attracting important new allies to the movement.  This campaign has shown there is an emerging majority for legalization in California.  However, it remains to be seen whether an initiative can be written that could attract majority support given the obstacles of federal opposition."

If the California legislature fails to act, marijuana legalization will be back on the ballot, most likely in 2012. Proponents are already working on crafting new language based on the election results, and there are plenty of ideas out there. At least four initiative proposals were floated for this year's election. Now, it's a matter of uniting the movement for the best language possible and crafting language that blunts the opposition's most effective messages.

Oakland, CA
United States

No Marijuana Legalization in California This Year

California's Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, has been defeated. A little over two hours after the polls closed at 8 pm Pacific Time, the measure is trailing 44% to 56% with 25% of the votes counted, but even the campaign is conceding the loss.

As the polls closed, Oaksterdam waited
"We appreciate the tremendous victory in pushing this issue forward," said Dale Jones, Yes on 19 spokesperson. "We've taken this further than ever before. It's just a matter of taking the next step forward," she told the crowd inside Oaksterdam University, with the video also being projected onto the university's great wall for a crowd of hundreds outside. "We made this happen. This the debate heard 'round the world," she said.

"We are going to keep fighting," Richard Lee said. "We made big breakthroughs with this campaign, with all the allies we've gotten on board," before thanking those arrayed on the stage behind him, including Dan Rush of the UFCW, LEAP, the Drug Policy Alliance's Steve Gutwillig and Ethan Nadelmann, East Bay activist couple Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, NORML's Allen St. Pierre, a pair of phone bank volunteers, campaign figures Jeff and Dale Jones, and even his mom and dad.

"We have a coalition moving forward, you have not seen the last of the group that brought you Prop 19," Jones said.

"We are going to stay here and keep building," said Rush. "We are going to continue this fight together and across the nation. Next time we're going to take Colorado and Michigan. We're going to keep riding this train.

"This is a watershed moment in a very long struggle to end the decades-long failure of marijuana prohibition in this country," said DPA's Steve Gutwillig. "Tonight was an enormous step in placing this movement in the mainstream of American politics. That's what happened tonight."

Gutwillig vowed that two to five legalization initiatives will be on the ballot in 2012. "Marijuana prohibition is going down," he said.

Maybe in 2012.

CA
United States

Statement from Richard Lee, Prop 19 Proponent

OAKLAND, CA -- In response to the voting results on Proposition 19, the California ballot measure to control and tax marijuana, Prop. 19 proponent Richard Lee released the following statement:

"The fact that millions of Californians voted to legalize marijuana is a tremendous victory. We have broken the glass ceiling. Prop. 19 has changed the terms of the debate. And that was a major strategic goal.

"Over the course of the last year, it has become clear that the legalization of marijuana is no longer a question of if but a question of when. Because of this campaign, millions now understand it's time to develop an exit strategy for the failed war on marijuana. Across the state our opponents, including many newspaper editorial boards that failed to properly understand Prop. 19, repeatedly stated that their quibbles were not with legalization in general. When we come back with a new initiative in 2012, there will be a seat at the table for all of these new stakeholders. And we will be coming back, stronger than ever.

"With limited resources this time around we were able to build an enormously powerful coalition of cops and moms, law professors and civil rights leaders, liberals and libertarians, conservatives and unions; all hungry for change. For the first time we were able to unite in favor of legalization. Groups like the National Black Police Association, the National Latino Officers Association, the California Council of Churches IMAPCT, California NAACP, SEIU of California, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, members of the U.S. Congress, local Democratic party committees, state legislators and many, many individual law enforcers, faith leaders, civil rights activists, students, professors of law and business leaders said it's time for a new beginning. This coalition will only continue to grow in size and strength as we prepare for 2012.

"Even the establishment was divided. While Senator Dianne Feinstein lent her name to the opposition, others, realizing that legalization is on its way, got in front of the message. When Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB 1449, the bill reducing marijuana offenses to an infraction, a few weeks ago, it was a clear concession to the power of the legalization movement and a recognition of the obvious failure of our marijuana laws. This singular change in law, brought about by the momentum of our campaign, will protect tens of thousands of Californians from arrest each and every year. It will save California taxpayers money, and it will make our streets safer. But it's only a start, and there's much more work to be done.

"And the American public will help bring about this change. A Gallup poll released just a few days ago found record support for legalization across the country, with 46 percent saying they think marijuana use 'should be made legal.' That's a bigger result than Gallup has ever recorded in its 40-year history asking this question.

"The issue is generational. Fully 70 percent of 18-29 year-olds are in favor of legalization. And, many of the biggest contributors to the campaign were younger and based in Silicon Valley, representing a changing of the guard of political influence and leadership. With the help of our coalition, many of these new leaders are going to bring about the change that is now inevitable. Inspired by the momentum we've generated with Prop 19 here in California, we're beginning to see other states gearing up for legalization efforts, both via ballot initiative in states like Washington, Nevada and Colorado, and in the state legislature in places like Rhode Island.

"And so, while we didn't bring in enough votes tonight to pass Prop. 19, we know that we have achieved an enormous moral victory, and that there are millions of people across the country who are prepared to help finish the job they started here today when we come back to the polls stronger than ever in 2012."

Localização: 
Oakland, CA
United States

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