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Marijuana Legalization: California Tax and Regulate Has Eight-Point Lead in Latest Poll, But Still Under 50%

According to a Los Angeles Times/USC poll released Tuesday, the California Tax and Regulate Cannabis initiative has the support of 49% of voters, while 41% are opposed, and 10% are undecided. The figures are in line with other recent polls. Two weeks ago, an internal campaign poll had support at 51% and another public opinion poll had it at 49%.

The bad news for initiative supporters in the latest poll is that it needs 50% plus one vote to win, and it isn't there yet. The good news, however, is that the initiative only needs to pick up one out of five of those undecided voters to go over the top.

Or, as Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh institute of politics put it: "The good news for proponents is that they are starting off with a decent lead. The good news for the opposition is that initiatives that start off at less than 50% in the polls usually have a hard time."

The poll also questioned voters about their marijuana use histories, finding that 37% had tried pot and 11% had smoked it within the last year. Not surprisingly, those who had smoked within the last year favored the initiative by more than four-to-one (82%).

This latest poll, like previous ones, points to women, especially married women, as a key demographic. While men favor the initiative, women are split, and among married women, 49% oppose the initiative while 40% are in favor.

Pollsters also asked about some of the key arguments made by supporters and opponents of the initiative. When asked whether they thought legalization of marijuana could raise a billion dollars in revenue, 42% said yes, while 38% said that figure was wildly exaggerated. Voters in Los Angeles, where dispensaries spread like wildfire in the last half of the last decade, were most likely to believe that such revenues could be generated.

When asked whether legalizing marijuana would worsen social problems, voters were similarly split, although such concerns especially resonated with those who oppose the initiative. Of that group, 83% think freeing the weed would increase crime and teen marijuana use. Fifty-five percent of married women also think that.

Attitudes toward legalization diverge sharply by age, with support much higher among younger voters. A 52% majority of voters 65 and older oppose legalization. Among voters between 45 and 64, 49% support it. But among those 30 to 44, 53% are in favor, and that rises to 61% among those 18 to 29.

The next five months are going to be very interesting. But if the tax and regulate initiative is to emerge victorious at the polls come November, it has its work cut out for it. And it looks very much like the path to victory is going to have to go through Mom.

Marijuana Legalization: California Tax and Regulate Has Eight-Point Lead in Latest Poll, But Still Under 50%

According to a Los Angeles Times/USC poll released Tuesday, the California Tax and Regulate Cannabis initiative has the support of 49% of voters, while 41% are opposed, and 10% are undecided. The figures are in line with other recent polls. Two weeks ago, an internal campaign poll had support at 51% and another public opinion poll had it at 49%. The bad news for initiative supporters in the latest poll is that it needs 50% plus one vote to win, and it isn't there yet. The good news, however, is that the initiative only needs to pick up one out of five of those undecided voters to go over the top. Or, as Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh institute of politics put it: "The good news for proponents is that they are starting off with a decent lead. The good news for the opposition is that initiatives that start off at less than 50% in the polls usually have a hard time." The poll also questioned voters about their marijuana use histories, finding that 37% had tried pot and 11% had smoked it within the last year. Not surprisingly, those who had smoked within the last year favored the initiative by more than four-to-one (82%). This latest poll, like previous ones, points to women, especially married women, as a key demographic. While men favor the initiative, women are split, and among married women, 49% oppose the initiative while 40% are in favor. Pollsters also asked about some of the key arguments made by supporters and opponents of the initiative. When asked whether they thought legalization marijuana could raise a billion dollars in revenue, 42% said yes, while 38% said that figure was wildly exaggerated. Voters in Los Angeles, where dispensaries spread like wildfire in the last half of the last decade, were most likely to believe that such revenues could be generated. When asked whether legalizing marijuana would worsen social problems, voters were similarly split, although such concerns especially resonated with those who oppose the initiative. Of that group, 83% think freeing the weed would increase crime and teen marijuana. Fifty-five percent of married women also think that. Attitudes toward legalization diverge sharply by age, with support much higher among younger voters. A 52% majority of voters 65 and older oppose legalization. Among voters between 45 and 64, 49% support it. But among those 30 to 44, 53% are in favor, and that rises to 61% among those 18 to 29. The next five months is going to be very interesting. But if the tax and regulate initiative is to emerge victorious at the polls come November, it has its work cut out for it. And it looks very much like the path to victory is going to have to go through mom.
Location: 
CA
United States

Feature: California Marijuana Initiative Has Slim Lead

According to two different polls released Wednesday, the Tax Cannabis California marijuana legalization initiative is ahead but not by much, making the path to victory in November a rough one. Both polls show the initiative winning, but just barely, and both polls show the initiative hovering around 50% support. On the other hand, polling also shows remarkably high support for the concept of marijuana legalization in some form -- especially when the word legalization is not used.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/richardlee2.jpg
initiative proponent Richard Lee, working with a student at the Oaksterdam University medical marijuana school
In an internal campaign poll, when voters read either the ballot measure's title or the attorney general's summary of it -- all voters will see when they cast their votes -- the initiative garners 51% and 52%, respectively, with opposition at 40%. In a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll, 49% approved of the initiative, while 48% opposed it.

The standard wisdom among initiative veterans is that campaigns should begin with support around 60%. They argue that once a campaign begins, opponents will find ways to shave off percentage points, and if you are starting with only half the voters on your side, losing any support means you lose.

With such a tight margin, expect both proponents and opponents to be energized in the six months between now and the November vote. Initiative organizers have to be concerned with the narrowness of their lead, especially given that attacks on the whole notion of pot legalization in general and on specific provisions of the initiative will only mount between now and then.

The initiative would tax and regulate marijuana much the way alcohol is now. It would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and allowing the growing of a 25-square-foot garden throughout the state, but would give counties and municipalities the local option of whether to allow taxed, regulated marijuana sales or not.

Additional findings from both polls provide further detail on where the initiative does -- and does not -- have support, and offer hints of where the campaign is going to have its work cut out for it. Among the PPIC poll's other findings:

  • Majorities of Democrats (56%) and independents (55%) favor legalization. Thirty-four percent of Republicans are in favor.
  • Most San Francisco Bay Area residents (56%) are in favor. Residents in other regions are either divided or opposed.
  • Most Latinos (62%) oppose legalization. A majority of whites (56%) are in favor.
  • Men (54%) are more likely to be in favor. Less than half (42%) of women favor legalization.
  • Support for legalization decreases with age. 56 percent of adults aged 18-34 are in favor, compared with 42 percent aged 55 and older.

The additional findings from the initiative's internal poll are the surprising ones:

  • 76% say marijuana is already being used in the state and ought be regulated.
  • 74% say marijuana ought be regulated like tobacco and alcohol.
  • 69% say the initiative will bring the state needed revenue.
  • 61% say marijuana is easier for minors to obtain than alcohol.
  • 60% say it will save the state money.
  • 57% say it will put police priorities where they belong.

These number will provide the initiative campaign with a number of promising avenues of attack in the coming months, but they also speak to the disconnect between attitudes favorable to marijuana legalization in the abstract and actually voting for a concrete measure. To win, the campaign is going to have to close that gap, convincing voters that the initiative will do what voters themselves suggest they want.

"This is further evidence that voters remain eager to replace a failed policy with a more honest, commonsense solution that will control and tax marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes, generate critically needed revenue, and reduce crime by putting police resources where they belong, while ending the black market," campaign spokesman Dan Newman told the Chronicle.

"The numbers reflect what I've said all along -- it's going to be a tough battle," said Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML. "It's going to take a lot of work to maintain a lead. There is a tendency for voters to vote no on initiatives, and this is a nasty year with a nasty turnout of angry right-wingers not inclined to support these things. It's also an off-year, when students and progressives are less likely to vote."

"Depending on how Richard Lee is doing building a campaign organization, building support, and raising funds, this has a real chance," said long-time drug reformer Eric Sterling. "It would have a profound impact if it wins. It will have extremely important political consequences. It upsets the international treaties, it completely changes what the US can say to its foreign partners about drug policy," he argued, making the case for getting behind the initiative.

"Anyone who works in drug policy and underestimates the long-term impact of a victory makes a mistake," Sterling said. "People should really think about committing themselves to making monthly contributions by credit card and encouraging everyone they know to get on the list. This is really worth it. If activists all around the country committed themselves to raising some money for the campaign and started having bake sales and pot lucks and the like, that pool of money could be like the kind of contributions that brought Obama an electoral victory. It is certainly doable."

Democrats would be well-advised to embrace the campaign, said Sterling. "With the polling showing that Democrats and young people support this, it seems to me that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee interested in getting Sen. Boxer reelected and the National Democratic Governor's Association interested in getting a Democrat elected governor and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would be interested in issues that appeal to Democrats and young people. They need to mobilize some fraction of the electorate that voted for Obama two years ago," he argued. "If they don't, they won't have the turnout and the success they seek."

It would be good politics for Democrats, Sterling said. "They need to encourage their candidates to support it when they can and think about their strategies to tamp down the opposition. They can make the necessary warnings that they're not pro-drug, but trying to regulate it and protect children and bring revenue into the public coffers."

But Democrats aren't known for their backbone on this issue, said Gieringer. "Democrats should like this on the ballot because it encourages turnout by young Democratic and liberal voters, so there is a lot of support in Democratic quarters for that reason," Gieringer said. "But the Democratic Party of California has never even endorsed medical marijuana; they are scared of the drug issue and scared of the crime issue. Anti-crime measures do very well here, and a lot of Democratic elected officials, like a lot of the public, regard the initiative as a 'pro-crime' measure," he pointed out.

The organized opposition, consisting of law enforcement groups, anti-drug community groups, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving coalesced into an anti-initiative coalition called Public Safety First, was quick to go on the attack. "These numbers certainly suggest a great deal of voter skepticism out there," noted group spokesman Tim Rosales in a Wednesday news release. "This is before voters have received any information about this measure's truly numerous flaws."

Citing the initiative's poll findings that large majorities want pot regulated like alcohol and tobacco and that the initiative would bring in needed revenue, Rosales continued his broadside, previewing opposition arguments likely to be fined honed by November. "Those numbers basically show that this measure cannot pass, once voters know what it does and doesn't do," said Rosales. "This measure doesn't regulate marijuana, it does just the opposite. Furthermore, the initiative specifically forbids the state to tax marijuana, so they are basically giving voters a huge reason to vote 'No.'"

In fact, the measure gives cities and counties the option of taxing and regulating marijuana sales. While leaving taxation and regulation to local authorities will not help the state government address its perpetual budget crisis, it will help cash-strapped local governments who desperately need increased revenues to avoid service cuts and lay-offs.

That the opposition is organized and ready to put up a fight is clear. What is less clear is the support the initiative will receive from California's large and multi-faceted marijuana industry. "Marijuana users are overwhelmingly in favor of the initiative, but most of the money in the marijuana lobby at the moment is in medical marijuana, and those folks are happy with things as they are and are not exactly jumping to open up competition like this. And some growers are seriously worried, so there are important parts of the movement that are not necessarily excited," the veteran California activist said.

We're less than six months from Election Day. Victory is in grasp, but so is defeat. These next few months are going to be very interesting indeed.

NEW LOCATION: Reformers to Call for New Approach TODAY at Marijuana Eradication Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

MAY 10, 2010

Reformers to Call for New Approach TODAY at Marijuana Eradication Conference

Location Changed for Today’s Press Conference; Former Law Enforcement, Clergy Members, Other Advocates Will Call for End to Wasteful, Ineffective Eradication Campaigns

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California policy director …………… [email protected] or 707-291-0076

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA — At a press conference today, reform-minded advocates will make the case for ending the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), which, since 1983, has inarguably failed to achieve its stated goal: reducing marijuana use and availability by eradicating illegal grow sites.

            Today through Wednesday, local, state, and federal law enforcement officers will gather at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego to begin organizing this year’s eradication campaign, the wisdom of which has been increasingly called into question as Californians prepare to vote on a November ballot initiative that would end the state’s prohibition on adult marijuana use.

         “It’s time to stop this insanity of repeating the futile exercise of CAMP and instead replace marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for MPP, who is leading Monday’s press conference.

         Today’s press conference was originally planned to be held in the same hotel as the CAMP conference, but organizers were informed at the last minute and without explanation that they would not be able to hold the event in the same hotel. 

         NEW LOCATION: Westin Gas Lamp Quarter Hotel, Coronado Room, (3rd floor), 910 Broadway Circle, San Diego, CA 92101

         WHAT: Press conference to call for an effective marijuana policy and an end to eradication campaigns

         WHEN: Monday, May 10, at 11:00 a.m.

         WHO: Speakers who will question the wisdom behind CAMP will include:

Leo Laurence, a retired deputy sheriff and former legal researcher for the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The Rev. Canon Mary Moreno-Richardson, an Episcopal priest and coordinator for Hispanic Ministries at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego, who has worked extensively to prevent violence in the community and help at risk youth.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
San Diego, CA
United States

Press Release: Reformers to Call for New Approach at Annual Marijuana Eradication Conference Monday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                 

MAY 7, 2010

Reformers to Call for New Approach at Annual Marijuana Eradication Conference Monday

At Monday Press Conference, Former Law Enforcement Officers, Clergy Members, and Other Advocates Will Call for an End to Ineffective, Wasteful Eradication Campaigns

CONTACT: Aaron Smith, MPP California policy director …………… [email protected] or 707-291-0076

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA — From May 10 to May 13, local, state, and federal law enforcement officers will gather at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego to begin organizing this year’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), which, since 1983, has inarguably failed to achieve its stated goal: reducing marijuana use and availability by eradicating illegal grow sites. On Monday, at a press conference at the same hotel, advocates will call on officials to end this wasteful policy, the wisdom of which is being increasingly called into question as Californians prepare to vote on a November ballot initiative that would end the state’s prohibition on adult marijuana use.

         “These so-called ‘eradication’ efforts have had zero effect on marijuana use, availability, or price, but once again, California law enforcement agencies are perfectly content to throw more tax money down the CAMP rabbit hole. It’s time to stop this insanity of repeating the futile exercise of CAMP and instead replace marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for MPP, who is leading Monday’s press conference. “Only then will we be able to eliminate the clandestine marijuana plantations — just as the repeal of alcohol prohibition did away with the bootleggers of that era. It’s no coincidence that drug cartels don’t plant vineyards or hops fields in our national forests.”

         WHAT: Press conference to call for an effective marijuana policy and an end to an eradication campaigns

         WHEN: Monday, May 10, at 11:00 a.m.

         WHERE: U.S. Grant Hotel, Sycuan Parlor, 326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

         WHO: Speakers who will question the wisdom behind CAMP will include:

Leo Laurence, a retired deputy sheriff and former legal researcher for the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The Rev. Canon Mary Moreno-Richardson, an Episcopal priest and coordinator for Hispanic Ministries at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego, who has worked extensively to prevent violence in the community and help at risk youth.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

####

Location: 
CA
United States

Feature: Two Oregon Marijuana Initiatives -- Legalization and Medical -- Aim for November Ballot

Oregon, the first state to decriminalize marijuana in the modern era and one of the first to approve a medical marijuana law, could become a battleground for marijuana reform again this year. Two separate initiatives, one aimed at improving the state's existing medical marijuana program, and one that seeks to legalize and regulate marijuana and hemp, are campaigning to be certified for the November ballot.

The medical marijuana initiative, I-28, would create a system of state-regulated dispensaries and state-licensed medical marijuana producers. Dispensaries would have to be Oregon nonprofits, and pay a $2,000 license fee and a 10% tax on gross sales. Licensed producers would have to pay a $1,000 license fee and the 10% tax. Patients registered under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program would be able to buy their supplies at any dispensary, and dispensaries would be able to buy from any licensed producer.

I-28 would not stop patients from growing their own, nor would it impede them from resorting to a caregiver, as they can do currently.

"Our medical marijuana law lacks an effective supply system," said John Sajo of Voter Power, the group behind both the passage of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in 1998 and the current initiative to reform it. "The law is pretty good on keeping patients from getting arrested, but has produced very mixed results in terms of actually getting patients their medicine. A supply system that relies on patients producing their own medicine is primitive. Instead, we'd like to do it like California, where they can go to a dispensary and have myriad choices," he said.

The current system, which does not allow for medical marijuana sales, results in thousands of patients begging their medicine from other patients, Sajo said, and leaves thousands more with without an adequate supply or with no supply at all. "The law works well for you if you live on a farm or have good social skills, but if you're terminally ill in a hospice, you might be out of luck," he said.

But the California dispensary system is often criticized in Oregon as little more than money-grubbing capitalism at odds with Oregon values that exploits patients. The Oregon medical marijuana community contains a sizeable contingent that holds to beliefs and values that might seem quaint or unusual in the rest of the country, especially in light of the recent debate over health care reform: that patients should not have to pay for their medicine and that no one should be profiting from sick patients.

"We face a barrage of criticism that we will be exploiting patients and selling medicine at top dollar, but we've done everything we can to structure the system to avoid that," said Sajo. "We will be taking the best from California and avoiding the worst. There are places there, like Harborside and the Berkeley Patients Group, that are excellent members of the community, that fund social services, that provide high-quality labeled medicine. I think our Oregon dispensary system, with its uniform statewide regulation, will tend to create a system like that rather than one like in Los Angeles, with its fly-by-night dispensaries."

Competing with I-28 for the interest and dollars of the marijuana community, as well as national reform groups, is the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) initiative campaign, which would legalize and deregulate hemp production, provide for licensed marijuana cultivation with the crop to be purchased by the state, and provide for sale to adults through a system of state stores. Its ballot summary reads as follows:

"... Measure replaces state, local marijuana laws except medical marijuana and driving under the influence laws; distinguishes 'hemp' from 'marijuana'; prohibits regulation of hemp. Creates agency to license marijuana cultivation by qualified persons and to purchase entire crop. Agency sells marijuana at cost to pharmacies, medical research facilities, and to qualified adults for profit through state stores. Ninety percent of net proceeds goes to state general fund, remainder to drug education, treatment, hemp promotion. Bans sales to, possession by minors. Bans public consumption except where signs permit, minors barred. Agency to regulate use, set prices, other duties; Attorney General to defend against federal challenges/prosecution. Provides penalties. Effective January 1, 2011"

The charge for OCTA is being led by Oregon NORML. The time is right, said Oregon NORML executive director Madeline Martinez. "Our position is that our initiative is the right initiative at the right time," said Martinez. "We are emphasizing the Oregon cannabis control commission and the industrial hemp angle. With hemp, we can get some green jobs going."

"Paul Stanford is funding a lot of this effort," said Martinez, referring to the medical marijuana entrepreneur who operates clinics in four states -- Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Michigan -- under the auspices of The Hemp Cannabis Foundation. Stanford also heads the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH), a political action committee, which will be helping to fund the initiative effort.

But while signature gathering for I-28 is well underway, OCTA has yet to begin signature gathering -- and the clock is ticking toward a July 2 deadline. OCTA has been delayed by a last-minute challenge to its ballot title, which the Oregon Supreme Court just resolved yesterday. That leaves I-28 much better positioned at this point to actually make the November ballot.

"Oregon law requires that we turn in signatures gathered by paid signature gatherers monthly," said Sajo. "We turned in 60,000 signatures in January, 7,000 more in February, 8,000 more in March, and an additional 15,000 signatures gathered by volunteers. That means we've collected over 90,000 signatures, and since we only need 82,000 to qualify, now we're working on the buffer. We are aiming at 120,000 to 130,000. If we turn in signatures by May 21, the state will verify those we've turned in and tell us how many are valid, and we will still have until the July 2 deadline to collect any more that we need."

"We have a little over 90 days to gather all the OCTA signatures, and that will put a squeeze on us, but our campaign is ready and we've got everybody at the starting gate ready to run out and gather them once we get the go-ahead," said Martinez. "We are still confident about our prospects."

"We are currently in the process of collecting pledges from people who really want to sign the petitions," said OCTA director of field operations Kyndall Mason. "Our ballot title was challenged, and that's being deliberated on the fast-track by the state Supreme Court, but this delay is not helpful. Still, we've been laying low and building grassroots support."

It's not just grassroots support. In addition to the dollars coming from Paul Stanford, OCTA can also count on some out-of-state support, including a series of six concerts by musician John Trudell, and appearances by national NORML officers. NORML founder Keith Stroup has already been out campaigning, the organization has committed to a small campaign donation, and NORML will hold its annual conference this year in Portland, or "Potland," as some Oregon activists are referring to it.

And OCTA activists continue to seek support. "We're in the process of outreach to national groups," said Mason. "We're getting individual donations, and we have some house parties lined up, but thanks to Paul Stanford we have a lot of funding right now."

Like I-28, OCTA needs 82,769 valid signatures by July 2 to make the November ballot. But because of the ballot title challenge, OCTA is going to have to collect them in a compressed time period.

"We think we'll start signature gathering in mid-April, and we're pretty confident we will be able to turn in enough to qualify. We want to collect 125,000 signatures to have that margin of comfort," said Mason. "We don't see any reason to postpone this at this point. All of us really agree that now is the time to capture the momentum that is out there."

As with OCTA, money is a concern for I-28, too. Voter Power is taking on the bulk of responsibility for financing the campaign, said Sajo. "We did get a Marijuana Policy Project grant and we just got a small grant from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), but otherwise, we're just raising money from small contributors and from our medical marijuana clinics."

"Our grants program approved $25,000 to help I-28 qualify for the ballot," confirmed DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann. "We've done our due diligence, and our sense is that this initiative is a winner. It will help resolve a bunch of issues with the Oregon medical marijuana program."

Voter Power operates four clinics in Oregon, said Sajo, but he also noted that the medical marijuana business has become more competitive. "Our market share is declining at the same time we are trying to fund this political effort," he said.

There is some tension between the two initiative campaigns -- OCTA supporters accuse an I-28 advocate of doing the last-minute ballot title challenge that has delayed their signature-gathering -- and leaders of both campaigns are striving to minimize them, but haven't quite mastered that old adage about "if you can't say something nice..."

"Oregon NORML doesn't take a stand on I-28," said Martinez, but couldn't resist adding: "Dispensaries are so '90s. There is such a small segment of Oregonians who could create revenue from the dispensaries in comparison to the 357,000 Oregonians who consume cannabis. If we're looking at this from a revenue perspective and we're serious, it's only logical to look at the larger population, and that's cannabis consumers, not medical marijuana patients."

"We haven't taken a formal position on OCTA," said Voter Power's Sajo. "Informally, we'd like to see something like that happen, but we're not sure the timing is right to do it this year. We do support taxing and regulating marijuana, and we'll vote for it if it qualifies, but in terms of strategies for our movement, trying to do two initiatives at the same time divides our resources and creates confusion. We don't think OCTA is ready for prime-time."

But for many Oregon activists the internecine sniping is beside the point. "We absolutely support both initiatives," said Melanie Bariskis of Southern Oregon NORML, "but the problem is that OCTA is not yet ready for circulation. Right now, we are pushing I-28 and gathering signatures for it. We support OCTA philosophically, and we will support it with signature gathering when it is ready."

We will know by early July whether either, neither, or both initiatives make the November ballot. Perhaps by then, Oregon's medical and recreational marijuana communities can take those rifles they're using in their circular firing squads and begin aiming them at their real foes.

Feature: California Will Vote on Marijuana Legalization This Year!

Californians will be voting on whether to legalize marijuana in November. The California Secretary of State's office Wednesday certified the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 initiative as having handed in enough valid voters' signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ventura-dispensary.jpg
Will California take the next step? (photo courtesy wikimedia.org)
The initiative is sponsored by Oaksterdam medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee and would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults and allow for personal grows of up to 25 square feet. It also provides for the taxed and regulated sale of marijuana by local option, meaning counties and municipalities could opt out of legalized marijuana sales.

Some 433,000 valid signatures were required to make the ballot; the initiative campaign had gathered some 690,000. On Tuesday, state officials had certified 415,000 signatures as valid, but that didn't include signatures from Los Angeles County. Initiative supporters there Wednesday handed in more than 140,000 signatures. With an overall signature validity rate of around 80%, that as much as ensured that the measure would make the ballot.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the California Secretary of State's office made it official. Its web page listing Qualified Ballot Measures now includes the marijuana legalization under initiative approved for the November ballot. The 104,000 valid signatures from Los Angeles County put it well over the top.

"This is a watershed moment in the decades-long struggle to end marijuana prohibition in this country," said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Banning marijuana outright has been a disaster, fueling a massive, increasingly brutal underground economy, wasting billions in scarce law enforcement resources, and making criminals of countless law-abiding citizens. Elected officials haven't stopped these punitive, profligate policies. Now voters can bring the reality check of sensible marijuana regulation to California."

"If passed, this initiative would offer a welcome change to California's miserable status quo marijuana policy," said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which recently endorsed the initiative. "Our current marijuana laws are failing California. Year after year, prohibition forces police to spend time chasing down nonviolent marijuana offenders while tens of thousands of violent crimes go unsolved -- all while marijuana use and availability remain unchanged."

Proponents of the measure will emphasize the fiscal impact of taxing marijuana -- the state Board of Equalization has estimated that legalization could generate $1.3 billion in tax revenues a year -- as well as the impact that regulation could have on reducing teen access to the weed. They can also point out that by now, California has lived with a form of regulated marijuana distribution -- the medical marijuana dispensary system -- for years and the sky hasn't fallen.

Opponents, which will largely consist of law enforcement lobbying groups, community anti-drug organizations, and elements of the African-American religious community, will argue that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and that crime and drugged driving will increase.

But if opponents want to play the cop card, initiative organizers have some cards of their own. In a press release Wednesday evening, they had several former law enforcement figures lined up in support of taxation and regulation. "As a retired Orange County Judge, I've been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working," said retired Superior Court Judge and former prosecutor James P. Gray. "Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business."

"The Control and Tax Initiative is a welcome change for law enforcement in California," said Kyle Kazan, a retired Torrance Police officer. "It will allow police to get back to work fighting violent crime."

Jeffrey Studdard, a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, emphasized the significant controls created by the Control and Tax Initiative to safely and responsibly regulate cannabis. "The initiative will toughen penalties for providing marijuana to minors, ban possession at schools, and prohibit public consumption," Studdard said.

But the three leading contenders for the California governorship, which is also up for grabs this year, were quick to stake out positions opposing the initiative. "I've already indicated that that's not a provision I am likely to support," state Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Sacramento Wednesday. "I've been on the side of law enforcement for a long time and you can be sure that we will be together on this November ballot."

Republican candidate Meg Whitman is "absolutely against legalizing marijuana for any reason," said spokeswoman Sarah Pompei. "She believes we have enough challenges in our society without heading down the path of drug legalization," she said.

"Like electing Jerry Brown, the idea of legalizing drugs is one more bad idea from a bygone era," said Jarrod Agen, communications director for GOP candidate Steve Poizner. "Steve Poizner feels we need an across-the-board tax cut to reignite our state's economy, not an attempt to smoke our way out of the budget deficit," he said.

The campaign should be a nail-biter. Legalization polled 56% in an April Field poll, and initiative organizers say their own private research is showing similar results. But the conventional wisdom among initiative watchers is that polling needs to be above 60% at the beginning of the campaign, before attacks on specific aspects of any given initiative begin to erode support. But despite the misgivings of some movement allies, who cringe at the thought of defeat in California, this year's legalization vote is now a reality.

"California led the way on medical marijuana with Prop. 215 in 1996," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Now it's time again for California to lead the way in ending the follies of marijuana prohibition in favor of a responsible policy of tax and regulation."

It's Official! California Marijuana Legalization Initiative Qualifies for the November Ballot

Californians will be voting on whether to legalize marijuana in November. The California Secretary of State's office Wednesday certified the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 initiative as having handed in enough valid voters' signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The initiative is sponsored by Oaksterdam medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee and would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults and allow for personal grows of up to 25 square feet. It also provides for the taxed and regulated sale of marijuana by local option, meaning counties and municipalities could opt out of legalized marijuana sales. Some 433,000 valid signatures were required to make the ballot; the initiative campaign had gathered some 690,000. On Tuesday, state officials had certified 415,000 signatures as valid, but that didn't include signatures from Los Angeles County. Initiative supporters there Wednesday handed in more than 140,000 signatures. With an overall signature validity rate of around 80%, that as much as ensured that the measure would make the ballot. Late Wednesday afternoon, California Secretary of State's office made it official. Its web page listing Qualified Ballot Measures now includes the marijuana legalization under initiative approved for the November ballot. The 104,000 valid signatures from Los Angeles County put it well over the top. "This is a watershed moment in the decades-long struggle to end marijuana prohibition in this country," said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Banning marijuana outright has been a disaster, fueling a massive, increasingly brutal underground economy, wasting billions in scarce law enforcement resources, and making criminals of countless law-abiding citizens. Elected officials haven’t stopped these punitive, profligate policies. Now voters can bring the reality check of sensible marijuana regulation to California." "If passed, this initiative would offer a welcome change to California’s miserable status quo marijuana policy," said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which recently endorsed the initiative. "Our current marijuana laws are failing California. Year after year, prohibition forces police to spend time chasing down non-violent marijuana offenders while tens of thousands of violent crimes go unsolved – all while marijuana use and availability remain unchanged." Proponents of the measure will emphasize the fiscal impact of taxing marijuana—the state Board of Equalization has estimated that it legalization could generate $1.3 billion in tax revenues a year—as well as the impact of regulation could have on reducing teen access to the weed. They can also point out that by now, California has lived with a form of regulated marijuana distribution—the medical marijuana dispensary system—for years and the sky hasn't fallen. Opponents, which will largely consist of law enforcement lobbying groups, community anti-drug organizations, and elements of the African-American religious community, will argue that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and that crime and drugged driving will increase. But if opponents want to play the cop card, initiative organizers have some cards of their own. In a press release Wednesday evening, they had several former law enforcement figures lined up in support of taxation and regulation. "As a retired Orange County Judge, I've been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working," said Retired Superior Court Judge James Gray. "Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business." "The Control and Tax Initiative is a welcome change for law enforcement in California," said Kyle Kazan, a retired Torrance Police officer. "It will allow police to get back to work fighting violent crime." Jeffrey Studdard, a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, emphasized the significant controls created by the Control and Tax Initiative to safely and responsibly regulate cannabis. "The initiative will toughen penalties for providing marijuana to minors, ban possession at schools, and prohibit public consumption," Studdard said. The campaign should be a nail-biter. Legalization polled 56% in an April Field poll, and initiative organizers say their own private research is showing similar results. But the conventional wisdom among initiative watchers is that polling needs to be above 60% at the beginning of the campaign, before attacks on specific aspects of any given initiative begin to erode support. But despite the misgivings of some movement allies, who cringe at the thought of defeat in California, this year's legalization vote is now a reality. "California led the way on medical marijuana with Prop 215 in 1996,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Now it’s time again for California to lead the way in ending the follies of marijuana prohibition in favor of a responsible policy of tax and regulation."
Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Regulation, Not Prohibition is Key to Reducing Teen Marijuana Use

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                     

March 2, 2010

Regulation, Not Prohibition is Key to Reducing Teen Marijuana Use

Unlike drug dealers, licensed merchants in a regulated market would be prohibited from selling to underage customers, be required to check IDs

CONTACT: Kurt A. Gardinier, MPP director of communications …… 202-905-0738 or [email protected]

WASHINGTON, DC — An annual survey released today by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America shows that the number of American teenagers who use marijuana has increased for the first time in 10 years, with 25 percent of teens in grades 9 through 12 saying they’ve used marijuana in the past month, up from 19 percent the previous year.

         “These latest numbers show that our current marijuana policies—which keep marijuana unregulated and in the hands of drug dealers—are clearly not working to help reduce teen use,” said Kurt A. Gardinier, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “But if marijuana were taxed and regulated, and sold only by licensed merchants who would be required to check IDs, we could much better control marijuana and help to keep it out of the hands of teenagers. That’s why cigarette smoking among teens has continued to drop since the early ‘90’s, while teen marijuana use has not. Drug dealers do not check IDs.”  

         In the Netherlands, for example, marijuana is sold in regulated establishments to adults who must show proof of age. As a result, according to a 2008 World Health Organization survey, the overall rate of marijuana use in the Netherlands is less than half what it is in the United States. Additionally, only 7% of Dutch teens have tried marijuana by age 15. In the U.S., as many as 20.2% of teens have tried marijuana by age 15, according to government estimates.

         With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Marijuana: Legalization Bill Reintroduced in California Assembly

Maybe the voters won't have to take things into their own hands this November in California after all. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has reintroduced his marijuana legalization bill, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act (AB 2254).

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/sacramento-jan10-3.jpg
bill sponsor Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, with Dale Gieringer, Stephen Gutwillig and Aaron Smith in background
In a historic first, last session's version of the bill won a 4-3 vote in the Assembly Public Safety Committee -- the first time any legislative committee anywhere in the country has approved marijuana legalization legislation. But the bill failed to get to the floor before the consideration deadline passed.

The bill would "remove marijuana and its derivatives from existing statutes defining and regulating controlled substances" and would instead provide for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to regulate the possession, sale, and cultivation of the herb by people 21 or older. The bill would not affect California's existing medical marijuana law (except perhaps to render it unnecessary).

Under the bill, the ABC would regulate wholesale and retail sales. A special fee would be imposed, with proceeds going to fund drug abuse prevention programs. The bill would also "ban state and local assistance in enforcing inconsistent federal and other laws relating to marijuana."

"It is time to acknowledge that the existing model of prohibition has failed, and that California is long overdue for a public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana that reflects the reality of what is happening in our state," Ammiano said.

Marijuana is California's largest cash crop, with an annual estimated value of $14 billion. In evaluating last session's version of Ammiano's bill, the state Board of Equalization estimated that taxes generated under a legalization and regulation scheme could generate more than $1 billion a year.

"The fact that California's largest cash crop continues to go untaxed and unregulated is astounding, especially in such tough economic times," said Marijuana Policy Project California policy director Aaron Smith in a statement welcoming the bill. "We once again applaud Assemblyman Ammiano on his dedication and leadership on this issue and remain optimistic that 2010 is the year California ends its state's failed marijuana policies."

If the California legislature fails to act this year, it looks extremely likely that the voters will have a chance to vote for legalization in November. Organizers of the Tax Cannabis 2010 ballot measure last month turned in nearly 700,000 signatures, more than 250,000 more than then 434,000 valid signatures needed to make the ballot. That measure awaits certification by state election officials.

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