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Tax and Regulate

California Law Enforcers Endorse Proposition 19

Today at press conferences in Oakland and Los Angeles, a group of police officers, judges and prosecutors released the following letter of endorsement for Prop. 19/marijuana legalization signed by dozens of law enforcers from across California.

Law Enforcers Say Control and Tax Cannabis to Protect Public Safety

To the Voters of California:

As police officers, judges, prosecutors, corrections officials and others who have labored to enforce the laws that seek to prohibit cannabis (marijuana) use, and who have witnessed the abysmal failure of this current criminalization approach, we stand together in calling for new laws that will effectively control and tax cannabis.

As criminal justice professionals, we have seen with our own eyes that keeping cannabis illegal damages public safety -- for cannabis consumers and non-consumers alike. We’ve also seen that prohibition sometimes has tragic consequences for the law enforcers charged with putting their lives on the line to enforce it. The only groups that benefit from continuing to keep marijuana illegal are the violent gangs and cartels that control its distribution and reap immense profits from it through the black market.

If California's voters make the sensible decision to effectively control and tax cannabis this November, it will eliminate illegal marijuana distribution networks, just as ending alcohol prohibition put a stop to violent and corrupting gangsters' control of beer, wine and liquor sales.

As law enforcement professionals, we especially want voters to understand that legalization will allow us to do our jobs more effectively and safely. In 2008, there were over 60,000 arrests for simple misdemeanor cannabis possession in California, yet nearly 60,000 violent crimes went unsolved in our state that same year. When we change our cannabis laws, police officers will no longer have to waste time on low-level cannabis arrests; we'll be able to focus on protecting the public from murderers, rapists, drunk drivers and burglars. Cannabis cases will no longer clog up court dockets. And room in our costly, overflowing prisons will be freed up when we stop locking people up just because they tested positive for cannabis while on probation.

Because of all the overhead and administrative savings that legalization will generate, our criminal justice apparatus will have more resources to keep more good law enforcers employed serving the public in this time of fiscal turmoil. Ending prohibition will also put a stop to other crimes and problems caused by the illegal marijuana market, such as robberies, gang warfare, gun-running and house fires caused by underground grow operations.

Controlling marijuana through a regulated system will also reduce its availability to kids. Right now, illegal dealers have no incentive to check IDs or avoid selling to juveniles, given that the market is illegal for everyone. But under adult legalization, licensed cannabis businesses will face penalties and consequences that will effectively deter underage sales. Indeed, a recent study from Columbia University shows that teens currently find it easier to purchase illegal marijuana than age-regulated alcohol.

And, because marijuana is illegal and unregulated, its producers aren’t required to do any quality control or safety evaluation, and sometimes it is adulterated with other drugs or harmful chemicals. While law enforcers understand that every drug has the potential for abuse, making cannabis illegal has made it much more dangerous than it otherwise would be under effective regulation.

Please join us in supporting the sensible solution to California’s failed cannabis policies. Let’s vote to control and tax cannabis this November – for safety’s sake.


MacKenzie Allen
Former Deputy Sheriff, Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept.
Deputy Sheriff, King County Sheriff's Dept. (Ret.)

James Anthony
Former Community Prosecutor, Oakland City Attorney's Office

L. Lawrence Baird
Former Senior Reserve Park Ranger, Orange County

William Baldwin
Correctional Officer, California Department of Corrections (Ret.)

Nate Bradley
Former Officer, Wheatland Police Department
Former Deputy, Sutter County Sheriff's Office

Walter Clark
Deputy District Attorney, County of Riverside District Attorney's Office (Ret.)

Stephen Cobine
Captain, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (Ret.)

William John Cox
Former Officer, El Cajon Police Department
Former Sergeant, Los Angeles Police Department
Former Deputy, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
Retired Supervising Trial Counsel, State Bar of California

Bill Dake
Former Officer, San Francisco Police Department

David Doddridge
Narcotics Officer, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.)

Stephen Downing
Deputy Chief, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.)

Rick Erickson
Officer, Lakeport Police Department (Ret.)

Paul Gallegos
District Attorney, County of Humboldt

Dr. Nina Graves
Former Military Police, Santa Barbara

James Gray
Judge, Superior Court of Orange County (Ret.)

Terence Hallinan
Former San Francisco District Attorney

Russ Jones
Former Narcotics Detective, San Jose Police Department, DEA Task Force

Kyle Kazan
Former Officer, Torrance Police Department

Leo E. Laurence
Former Biker Enforcement Task Force Member, San Diego District Attorney's Office
Former Deputy Sheriff, Missouri

Madeline Martinez
Correctional Peace Officer (Ret.), State of California Department of Corrections

Danny Maynard
Former Yolo County Sheriff’s Office
Former Sacramento Port Police Department

Walter McKay
Former Senior Police Specialist, Police Assessment Resources Center, Los Angeles, CA
Former Detective, Vancouver Police Department

Joseph McNamara
Chief of Police, San Jose Police Department (Ret.)

Joe Miller
Deputy Probation Officer, Mohave County Probation Department
Police Officer, Needles Police Department (Ret.)

John O'Brien
Sheriff, Genesee County, MI (Ret.)
University of Phoenix, Southern California campus

John A. Russo
Oakland City Attorney

David Sinclair
Former Deputy Sheriff, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

Mike Schmier
Former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles
Former Administrative Law Judge California State
Former Federal Labor Prosecutor San Francisco

Jeffrey Schwartz
Senior Deputy District Attorney, Humboldt County (Ret.)

Lyle Smith
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (Ret.)

Norm Stamper
Executive Assistant Chief of Police, San Diego Police Department (Ret.)
Chief of Police, Seattle Police Department (Ret.)

Jeff Studdard
Former Reserve Deputy Sheriff, Los Angeles County

All agency affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Election Day not far away
Election Day not far away

SurveyUSA: Prop 19 Ahead 48% to 44%

The battle of the Proposition 19 polls continues, with a new SurveyUSA poll showing it with a four point lead, but still under 50%. Now, every vote is going to count.

Fox News Poll: Prop 19 Marijuana Initiative in Dead Heat

The Prop 19 campaign is going down to the wire. A new Fox News poll has it losing by one point, but that's well within the statistical margin of error. It still leads by nearly four points in the average of all polls.

House Committee Decides Marijuana Regulation Proposal is ‘Too Much, Too Soon’ for NH (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

Oct. 13, 2010

House Committee Decides Marijuana Regulation Proposal is ‘Too Much, Too Soon’ for NH

Committee Members Say They Prefer to Focus on Passing a Medical Marijuana Law and Decriminalizing Personal Possession

CONTACT: Matt Simon, NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy…………………(603) 391-7450

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee concluded its interim study process on HB 1652, which would tax and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, and passed on the opportunity to recommend the bill for next legislative session.  Rep. David Welch (R-Kingston) said he felt the proposal was simply “too much, too soon,” a phrase that was echoed by several other committee members over the course of a nearly hour-long discussion.

            Matt Simon, executive director for the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy (NH Common Sense), described the interim study process as “very positive and productive overall.”  He commended legislators for considering the proposal “objectively and with open minds” before reaching their decision.

            “When we first pitched the idea of making marijuana legal for adults back in 2007, many members of this committee scoffed at the idea,” Simon explained.  “It’s very encouraging to see the committee now appear to be split between outright support for the issue and concern that it may be ‘too much, too soon.’”

            A four-member subcommittee conducted the interim study and produced a report recommending that the bill be reintroduced.  The subcommittee voted 2-2 on its positive report this morning, which sent the report forward to the full committee for consideration.  After failing to reach consensus, the committee voted 15-2 against explicitly recommending future legislation on the subject.

            In a Feb. 11 vote, the committee voted 16-2 in favor of HB 1653, a bill that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. That bill passed the House 214-137 but failed to gain traction in the Senate following a veto threat from Gov. John Lynch.

            When the committee first voted on HB 1652 Jan. 27, members nearly passed the bill in an 8-10 vote before agreeing (16-2) to refer the bill for interim study.  Of the bill’s eight supporters, four were Republicans and four were Democrats. 

            The bill, sponsored by Reps. Calvin Pratt (R-Goffstown), Joel Winters (D-Manchester), Timothy Comerford (R-Fremont), and Carla Skinder (D-Cornish), would have made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.  It also created a framework by which the production and sale of marijuana could be regulated and taxed by the state.  Advocates contrasted this vision with the current state of affairs, in which the lucrative marijuana marketplace is left entirely in the hands of criminal gangs and cartels.

            Advocates for marijuana regulation will now turn their attention to California, where voters will decide whether or not the Golden State should legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.  In all, 5 state legislatures across the U.S. considered bills in 2010 that would have regulated and taxed marijuana similarly to alcohol.  It was the first year in which bills of this nature have ever been seriously considered by state legislatures.

            “Some New Hampshire legislators have expressed concerns about what the federal government’s response would be if this passed,” Simon observed.  “If California voters pass Prop 19 in November, we may all have an answer to that question very soon.”

            Advocates said they would “take a step back” and observe new developments nationally before reintroducing the bill, but they did not view this vote as a setback.

            “There’s no question -- a bill like this will be reintroduced in a future session,” Simon concluded.  “New Hampshire is quickly reaching the conclusion that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and once that is understood, there is no good argument left for continuing the expensive, futile prohibition of marijuana.”


Booze Lobby Funding the No on 19 Campaign

The California Beer & Beverage Distributors disclosed it donated $10,000 to defeat Prop 19 — which would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. The alcohol lobbyist's funds will help spread the lie that employers must tolerate stoned employees, and the talking point that 'California doesn't need another legal, mind-altering substance.' The move echoes the tobacco and alcohol industry's help creating leading drug war group Partnership For a Drug-Free America.