America’s Weed Rush

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Editors Note: Todays lead story is part of the project titled “America’s Weed Rush,” produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project involving top college journalism students across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

It is increasingly an issue facing city councils across Orange County. This is part one of a multi-part series.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocacy groups have poured millions of dollars into legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana in states across the country.

One of the most powerful and influential groups – Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project – was behind successful recreational measures in Alaska and Colorado, two of four states that now allow recreational use. MPP organizers hope to replicate those efforts in five other states during the 2016 elections, an undertaking they say will – if successful – prove significant for the effort to end marijuana prohibition.

One of them, Arizona, is a state that conservative icon Barry Goldwater called home. It frequently makes national headlines for controversial measures on immigration and gay rights. Voters passed the state’s medical marijuana program by the barest of margins in 2010.

“Out of the five campaigns that we’re running nationwide, Arizona’s definitely going to be the most heated, the most active,” said Carlos Alfaro, the Arizona political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. He plans to win voters by inundating the airwaves, unveiling billboards, organizing rallies and hosting debates.

It’s all part of the well-funded, well-organized machine that’s driving the effort toward ending prohibition nationwide. Proponents have found so much success because they have learned how to secure financial backing, take advantage of changing attitudes and address fears about legalization. The Marijuana Policy Project aims to add California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine to its portfolio of ballot initiative successes in 2016, along with Arizona.

Legalization efforts – many backed by other groups – could appear on the ballot in about a dozen states next year. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., already allow for medical marijuana use. Four states – Washington and Oregon, in addition to Colorado and Alaska – and the District of Columbia allow adults to smoke pot recreationally.

In Congress, lawmakers have started to take positions on pot and more have supported state medical marijuana laws. Both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are talking about how they would deal with marijuana if elected. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has even courted the legal marijuana industry for campaign donations.

Leaders in the pro-legalization movement said the question is no longer whether the federal government will treat marijuana like alcohol – but when. They say the question is no longer whether the states will legalize, regulate and tax marijuana sales – but how.

“I think we’re past the tipping point,” said Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, another major player in the pro-legalization effort. “There are all kinds of signs that people have figured out that prohibition is coming to an end. They may not be thrilled about it, they may not be a cheerleader for it, but when they recognize that, they begin to say, ‘OK, if we’re going to legalize marijuana, how do we do it in a responsible manner?’”

But legalization opponents don’t plan to concede any time soon.

“I don’t think that legalization is inevitable,” said Alan Shinn, the executive director of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii. “The pro-marijuana people will say that it’s just a matter of time before marijuana is legalized. I think there’s other alternatives to legalization. We should really be taking a public health approach to this, especially with our youth.”

And that’s still a sticking point. The federal government classifies marijuana as one of the most dangerous drugs, “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The disparity between states that have liberalized their marijuana laws and the decades-old federal prohibition of its sale and use has caused confusion in law enforcement and tension in the business world. Pro-legalization groups said that’s their ultimate goal: Put so much pressure on the federal government by legalizing state by state that they can finally end the discrepancy.

“I actually consider 2016 to be what I call the game-over year because there’s a good chance that a bunch of states will legalize marijuana,” said Bill Piper, the director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs. “We’re reaching the point where the federal government is going to have no other choice than to change with the times.”

Strategic With Resources

Advocacy groups have led ballot initiatives across the country, lobbied state legislatures and tried to convince members of Congress that leaving marijuana regulation to the states makes sense.

In the 1970s, NORML led the fight for marijuana law reform. Now, two other national organizations help run multimillion-dollar campaigns and station staff members across the country to support state measures that allow medical marijuana, decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug or fully legalize adult use.

The Marijuana Policy Project, founded by former NORML staffers in 1995, has emerged as a political powerhouse with its robust fundraising, effective campaign messaging and expertise in drafting ballot initiatives and legislation. The Drug Policy Alliance was founded in 2000 to end the “War on Drugs.” The group claims that marijuana arrests disproportionately impact racial minorities and drain law enforcement resources.

The groups and their state-level campaigns have benefited from billionaire philanthropists like Peter Lewis, the head of Progressive Insurance who died in 2013, and George Soros, the founder of Soros Fund Management. Both have donated millions of dollars to changing drug laws across the nation over the last 20 years.

During that time, the groups have honed their strategies.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the MPP, said his organization targets states based on their history with marijuana law reform, the makeup of the state legislature, the governor’s position and the level of support from local advocacy groups.

And they must carefully decide where to put their money and resources.

When Rob Kampia, the group’s executive director, spoke at a National Cannabis Industry Association policy symposium in Washington, D.C., in April, he called efforts to legalize marijuana in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio “outlier initiatives” because they’re less likely to pass. He said in particular, the campaign to legalize marijuana in Ohio this fall was “premature.”

A Message That’s Worked

Allen St. Pierre, who succeeded Stroup as executive director of NORML a decade ago, said advocates for marijuana law reform have drawn from the tactics of the social movements for women’s rights, civil rights and gay rights.

“We’re not trying to hardly do anything different than those groups did,” St. Pierre said. “We organized. We petitioned our government peacefully for grievances. We went to the courts and asked for relief. We’ve used science and language to cajole, persuade and effectively win what is called in the military a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign.”

But it hasn’t been easy.

The MPP’s Tvert, who was a co-director of the campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado, said that while the public had become more accepting of medical marijuana and supportive of removing criminal penalties for using the drug, there was still “this fear surrounding marijuana for fun.” Several ballot measures to legalize recreational use failed between 2002 and 2010.

At that time, Tvert said, activists had tried to sell one main message to voters: Marijuana prohibition is a government failure that forces marijuana into the black market, contributing to drug trafficking and violence. They argued that a legal market would allow for more control and would generate tax revenue.

That didn’t cut it.

“That just wasn’t enough,” Tvert said. “Ultimately, people were still not OK with it because they just thought it was too dangerous of a substance. You can tax anything. You can tax murder for hire. Doesn’t mean that people are going to think it should be legal. They think it’s not good for society.”

Survey results inspired legalization advocates to change tactics: Several MPP polls indicated that people were more likely to support marijuana legalization if they thought pot was less harmful than alcohol. And that became the argument behind the campaign supporting Colorado’s measure to legalize recreational marijuana, Amendment 64, which passed in 2012 with 55 percent of the vote.

Colorado became a model for the MPP’s efforts in other states, which have all taken the campaign name “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.” And the lawyer who wrote Colorado’s initiative also helped draft a proposed ballot measure in Maine, said David Boyer, the group’s political director for the state.

But the Maine campaign also made tweaks to its initiative, like lowering the tax rate, to make it more appealing to voters there.

Battling With Local Campaigns

Different groups advocate for legalization throughout the country, and they don’t always agree on the methods or details. In fact, some local groups have started to view the MPP as an unwelcome outsider.

In Maine, the organization’s proposal competes with one backed by a local group, Legalize Maine. Both would legalize marijuana possession for those at least 21 years old and would allow home growing. But the two campaigns have failed to compromise on several differences.

Legalize Maine’s proposal would put the state’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in charge of regulation, while MPP’s would make the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations responsible.

Paul McCarrier, the president of Legalize Maine’s board of directors, said the two groups tried to negotiate for three months. But McCarrier said MPP’s initiative did not focus enough on farmers.

“I think that they’re looking at Maine as just another notch in their belt that will help push their national agenda,” McCarrier said. “While the Marijuana Policy Project has done a really good job at starting a conversation about marijuana legalization here in Maine and trying to push the ball around the field nationally, when it comes to marijuana legalization, they are completely out of touch with normal Mainers.”

Falling Dominoes

Stroup said liberalization of marijuana laws has followed a general trajectory. The Western states lead the way – reducing penalties for marijuana possession, allowing residents to use medical marijuana, or eliminating all penalties for marijuana use and creating systems for regulating pot sales. Then momentum builds on the East Coast. Progress is slower in the Midwest, and movement in the South has proven most difficult.

The increase in medical marijuana programs across the country has helped to overcome the stigma surrounding marijuana, Stroup said. More than three-quarters of people support medical marijuana use, according to a 2014 National Public Radio-Truven Health Analytics poll. But only 43 percent support legalization for recreational purposes.

MPP prefers to run ballot-initiative campaigns as opposed to pushing bills through state legislatures.

But Stroup identified the legalization movement’s next big turning point: Build enough political support to push the first full legalization measure through a state legislature. It’s an important step because about half of the states allow citizen-initiated ballot measures.

“We have to just simply work it every year, every chance we get, bringing in good witnesses, provide elected officials with the best information, and over a period of time, as they become more comfortable with the concept, then we’ll be winning it with state legislatures,” Stroup said.

But legislative measures have drawbacks as well.

“The version of legalization we win through legislatures will necessarily be more restrictive than the versions we win by voter initiatives because with an initiative, you don’t have to compromise,” Stroup said.

Tvert said that in 2016, Rhode Island and Vermont could become the first states to legalize marijuana through their state legislatures. A majority in both states support legalization, according to internal and independent polls conducted this year. Both state legislatures adjourned this year before acting on bills to legalize and regulate pot.

Public Opinion on the Movement’s Side

Time could be the legalization movement’s greatest ally. Sixty-four percent of those between 18 and 34 years old say they support legalization, compared to 41 percent among those 55 and older, according to Gallup.

“Demographically, we knew years ago we were going to win this because young people were on our side,” Stroup said. “We used to laugh, in fact, that if necessary we had a fallback strategy. And that was we would outlive our opponents. Well, I think to some degree that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

But advocates still need to convince a significant number of Americans to support recreational legalization.

“Despite the fact that the polls make it seem like it’s really split down the middle, there is a huge group of people who are kind of fishy on it,” said Sarah Trumble, senior policy counsel at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C.

Third Way refers to this group as the “marijuana middle.” Many in this group support legalizing marijuana for medical use but not for recreational use.

“On this issue, like all others, values are really what drive them,” said Trumble, who specializes in reaching moderates on social issues. “There’s a compassion value that ties into medical marijuana, and that’s why so many people support medical marijuana.”

She said she expects that as more states legalize, more Americans admit that they have used marijuana and the drug becomes less stigmatized, public opinion will continue to shift toward legalization.

“We’re going to have to see really how those ballot initiatives go because if you run strong campaigns and pass laws and states do a good job of regulating marijuana, that will be the first stepping stone to other states having it,” Trumble said. “But if a state, for example California, passes marijuana legalization for recreational and then does a poor job of regulating it, that could really set everything back.”

Letting the States Experiment

NORML’s Stroup said he hopes the Obama administration will remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of the most dangerous drugs. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance, which means it is a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.

Stroup said he’d like to soon see marijuana reclassified as a Schedule II or Schedule III drug, which wouldn’t make it legal to possess, sell or grow, but would make it easier for researchers to access. Other advocates have called for removing marijuana from the scheduling system completely.

The president has spoken about using marijuana himself as a young man, and he has said he does not believe marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. He’s recently focused on criminal justice reform, calling for shorter sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.

“At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana,” Obama said during an interview with Vice in March. “But I always say to folks, legalization or decriminalization is not a panacea.”

A 2013 Justice Department memo stated that the federal government would only interfere under certain circumstances: if state or local law enforcement failed to prevent distribution of marijuana to minors, revenue from marijuana sales went to gangs or marijuana crossed into states where it remains illegal.

While Obama’s administration hasn’t interfered in states that have legalized, a future president could. That’s why Stroup wants federal law to leave marijuana regulation to the states, “so it doesn’t matter who’s president. States are free to experiment.”

Mario Moreno Zepeda, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the White House remains “committed to treating drug use as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice problem. The federal government opposes drug legalization because it runs counter to a public health and safety approach to drug policy.”

“This administration’s position on enforcement has been consistent: While the prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, targeting individual marijuana users – especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers – is not the best allocation of limited federal law enforcement resources,” Zepeda said.

From ‘Unthinkable’ to ‘Mainstream’

Michael Correia, the director of government relations for the trade group National Cannabis Industry Association, said that years ago, members of Congress took no positions at all on marijuana. Now, they are beginning to support research and allowing state medical programs to continue operating.

Still, he said marijuana issues haven’t become a major priority in Congress, especially among the leadership.

“Marijuana is not global warming. It’s not abortion. It’s not guns. So it’s not really high up on their radar screen, but it is an intriguing issue, and people need to get educated on some of the issues before they can form an opinion,” Correia said.

Dan Riffle joined the MPP in 2009, and worked as a state legislative analyst for three and a half years. Now the group’s director of federal policies, he said that in Congress, marijuana “is an issue that’s gone from being an untouchable, unthinkable, third-rail issue to a legitimate, mainstream topic of debate.”

“It’s gone from a place where we struggled to have (Congress members and staffers) take meetings with us, to have our phone calls returned, to now people reach out to us and ask us to come in and brief them and use us as a resource,” Riffle said.

Riffle tailors his message to his audience. If he meets with a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, for example, Riffle talks about the disparity in arrests between blacks and whites. If he sits down with a Republican who has libertarian tendencies, he drives home the argument that smoking pot is an individual decision.

Riffle said Congress is grappling with federal law that prohibits marijuana and state laws that allow its use. He said some lawmakers have tried to “address symptoms of that disease” with bills that would allow marijuana businesses to use banks, or permit Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana for veterans who live in states where it’s legal.

“But then you’re going to have other folks who say, ‘Look, rather than passing seven, eight, 12 different bills depending on what the issue is, let’s just grapple with the underlying problem,’ which is the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws,” Riffle said.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act – introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. – would do that by amending the Controlled Substances Act. It would change the federal law to protect anyone producing, possessing, distributing, dispensing, administering or delivering marijuana in states where those actions are legal. The bill has 14 co-sponsors, including six Republicans.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., a longtime champion of marijuana law reform, said he anticipates the federal government will treat marijuana like alcohol within a decade.

“My judgment is with a new administration, with several more states legalizing, with public opinion solidifying, and with more and better research, I think in the next administration and the next Congress or two, we’ll be in a position to just basically say, ‘States, do what you want to do,’” Blumenauer said.

News21 reporter Anne M. Shearer contributed to this article. She is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow. Brianna Gurciullo is the Kathryn Green Endowment and Stephen Holly Bronz Endowment Fellow.

  • Forrest Anderson

    VICTIMS OF UFCW REPRESENTATIVE DAN RUSH contact: danrushvictims@yahoo.com
    Because a tainted voice is no voice at all!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKARXRqChK0

  • Ltpar

    As with alcohol, marijuana is just another crutch in the tool box of idiots who can’t deal with the everyday problems of life. it is much easier to smoke a joint or two, feel mellow and not think about the turmoil of life each of us must deal with? The only problem is, when you wake up tomorrow, the problems are still there. The feel good society is just another step in the decline of a once great nation. The inmates are now running the asylum.

    • Brian Kelly

      Lptar,

      What we certainly don’t need are anymore people who feel justified in appointing themselves to be self-deputized morality police.

      We are very capable of choosing for ourselves if we want to consume Marijuana, a far less dangerous choice over alcohol, and we definitely don’t need anyone dictating how we live our own lives.

      We can’t lock up everyone who does things you don’t personally approve of.

      If I were you and worried so much about “saving all of us” adults from ourselves, well then, I’d begin with the deadliest drug. Which causes more broken homes, domestic violence, and traffic fatalities than all other drugs, combined. That most dangerous and deadly drug is alcohol.

      Yet alcohol remains perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised, even glorified as an All American pastime.

      Why doesn’t the much more prevalent, more widely abused, use of alcohol concern you much more than marijuana which is a relatively benign drug when compared to all other ones?

      Protesting the legality of booze should be your number one priority if you are truly so concerned about “saving us all” from ourselves.

      • Brian Kelly

        Lptar,

        Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

        Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

        The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

        If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

        Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

        Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

        • Brian Kelly

          “Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

          http://rt.com/usa/234903-marijuana-safer-alcohol-deadly/

          “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

          “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

          Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

          Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/23/marijuana-may-be-even-safer-than-previously-thought-researchers-say/

          “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”

          http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/02/scientific-reports-weed-114-safer-alcohol

  • Paul Lucas

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billStatusClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB266

    AB-266

    Lead Authors:

    Bonta (A) , Cooley (A) , Jones-Sawyer (A) , Lackey (A)

    Principal Coauthors:

    Coauthors:

    Chiu (A)

    Topic:

    Medical cannabis.

    31st Day in Print:

    03/13/15

    Title:

    An act to amend Sections 2220.05, 2242, and 2264 of, to add Article 25 (commencing with Section 2525) to Chapter 5 of Division 2 of, and to add Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) to Division 8 of, the Business and Professions Code, to amend and repeal Section 11362.775 of the Health and Safety Code, to add Sections 147.5 and 3094 to the Labor Code, and to add Section 2402.5 to the Vehicle Code, relating to medical cannabis.

    • Brian Kelly

      Paul Lucas,

      You STILL have not answered my questions:

      Are you for or against the legalization of marijuana?

      2) Do you believe marijuana is less dangerous than perfectly legal alcohol?

      3) Please tell us how citizens somehow have more rights concerning
      marijuana under marijuana’s current prohibition and the crimilization of
      marijuana users than when marijuana is legalized?

  • Paul Lucas

    The problem with MPP CCRP ASA NORML et al, is that they are not seeking legalization they are seeking a monopoly which legalizes ONLY FOR THEM and criminalizes everyone else by removing the most fundamental protections enshrined in prop 215 and sb 420. Do not support these briefcase mafiosos.

    • Brian Kelly

      The average citizen and end consumer DOES NOT care who profits as long as marijuana consumption is legalized.

      The ONLY people against this measure are:

      1) Disgruntled would-be growers and sellers who are excluded from profiting under this measure.

      2) Desperate, angry, bitter prohibitionists who will use ANY excuse to keep marijuana illegal.

      Which are you?

      Why would the average citizens and end consumers care who profits as long as marijuana consumption is legalized?

      • Paul Lucas

        Im a patient who cares because the legislation being advanced by the groups you are praising is in fact prohibition for everyone but them In fact it states right in the first section of ab 266 to take away the enumerated rights given to the general public with regard to cannabis, and only bestows those rights onto the monied groups seeking to sell in an environment that is ALL but legalization. Hence the reason its supported by Lou Correa who is taking money from these groups and individuals to run for congress, along with John Lovell, the Police Chiefs assctn, Drug Free America et al are heavily supporting ab 266 because it bestows profits onto them as well as gives them the green light to go cracking heads again over cannabis. You got alot of catching up to do son if you want to challenge my cred on this issue.
        In fact it appears to me you are one of those prohibitionists or just a selfish monopolists stoner whos dumb enough to get suckered or just dont care about the real patients who will suffer under the regime you are championing.

        • Brian Kelly

          Paul Lucas,

          So, again:

          Please explain to all of us in great detail how the current prohibition and illegality of marijuana somehow gives us greater rights concerning marijuana consumption than a measure which legalizes marijuana consumption?

          You are saying we have more rights to consume marijuana when marijuana is currently prohibited and it is illegal to consume marijuana?

          .

          • Paul Lucas

            The laws that are being put forth, AB 266, will remove your right to grow and consume cannabis. This law would make you have to acquire your cannabis from a select few dispensaries who have gained their permits via nefarious methodology; case in point the Terre Tech group who just got 4 dispensary permits in Las Vegas via a UFCW official who was gaming the system. This new approach at the legislative level is attempting to reign in the wild nature of cannabis and put it in the hand s o few who now have vested interest. To it, the LEOs will now be doing the bidding of a few barons who hold the keys to the kingdom so to speak. So yes, we have more rights now then what they are trying to put forth.

      • Paul Lucas

        You see the problem is this; Graning the freedom to vend ior grow cannabis to only those who had the gold to write the rules for themselves making all others criminals outside of the law when they have had the sweat equity in the game for decades and granting that privalege to only those who can buy our democracy is not legalization or reform or freedom. It is consolidation of power into the hands of a few who in turn will have immense influence on our legislative processes. This in turn grants the law enforcement agencies their wish to continue the gravy train of drug war racketeering by going after those who did not have the money to buy the influence or have the integrity to not be such a greedy troll. They would have complete control over our LEO orgs to attack the small family business and grower by way of changing the revenue streaks for their drug war activities. What you call legalization is nothing less than privatizing the drug war. and the public pays the price. And that in a nut shell is wrong.

      • Paul Lucas

        Under the regulations proposed by these organizations we would have less freedom, more drug war, and they will laugh all the way to the bank.

        • Brian Kelly

          Pauk Lucas

          Please explain to all of us in great detail exactly how this marijuana legalization measure will create “less freedom” and more “drug war” than the current prohibition of marijuana?

          We’re all waiting…

          • Paul Lucas

            did that answer your question?

          • Brian Kelly

            No, it didn’t. That’s why I asked it.

            Again:

            Please explain to all of us in great detail exactly how marijuana legalization measures will create “less freedom” and more “drug war” than the current prohibition of marijuana?

            Still waiting for your in depth explanation. Rather than a one liner.

          • Paul Lucas

            What don’t you understand? This bill AB266 and the others being foisted by the same groups take away all yours and my rights with regards to cannabis and gives it all to a very few then criminalizes you if you try to grow your own or d so in a collective manner. Thats recriminalization of everyone and monopolization to a few. How much clearer can I make it Unless you are one of those monopolists.

  • Brian Kelly

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    Legalize Nationwide!

    • Brian Kelly

      There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

      The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

      Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

      Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

      With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do?

      Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

      Legalize Nationwide!…and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

      • Brian Kelly

        Every poll in the nation shows A Solid Majority of Americans favor The Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide!

        “Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana Support surged 10 percentage points in past year, to 58%”
        http://www.gallup.com/poll/165
        “A solid majority of voters nationwide favor legalizing and regulating marijuana similar to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are currently regulated. Most also don’t believe it should be a crime for people to smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own homes”
        http://www.rasmussenreports.co

        “Americans favor making cannabis legal for adults, according to the findings of a CNN/ORC International survey released late Monday. The percentage is the highest ever reported by the survey, which has been tracking public opinion on the issue since 1973, and marks a 12 percentage point jump in support since the last time pollsters posed the question in 2012”
        http://www.hngn.com/articles/2

        • Brian Kelly

          The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

          Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

          The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

          Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

          Even The President of the United States has used marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

          The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

          Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

          Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

          • Brian Kelly

            In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

            In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

            Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

            People who use marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

            Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make us out to be. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

            Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

            Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

            To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

            There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

            So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

            We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

            Has a marijuana user ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force us not to either.

            Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon all of us with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

            Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

          • Brian Kelly

            Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

            Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

            The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

            If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

            Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

            Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

          • Brian Kelly

            “Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

            http://rt.com/usa/234903-marijuana-safer-alcohol-deadly/

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

            Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

            Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/23/marijuana-may-be-even-safer-than-previously-thought-researchers-say/

            “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”

            http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/02/scientific-reports-weed-114-safer-alcohol

          • Ltpar

            Hey Kelly, don’t you have a real job? When do you find the time to write all this crap about legalizing marijuana.? Give us a break will you.

          • Brian Kelly

            Don’t worry about me. My family and I are well provided for. I’ve worked hard my entire life to provide for my loved ones. Like the vast majority of Americans who also favor Legalizing Marijuana Nationwide, I don’t appreciate prohibitionist trying to impose their personal sense of morality upon every other hard-working, tax-paying citizen over this natural, relatively benign plant far safer than perfectly legal booze.

            Name calling and stereotyping. It’s all that prohibitionists have left to offer society since virtually every piece of marijuana propaganda out there has been thoroughly debunked, and completely dismissed by a smarter than prohibitionists thought public.

            Nobody can provide a real reason to continue the “War on Marijuana” because there isn’t one.

            You know, a little live and let live goes a real long way in ensuring a very long, stress and anger free life. If you don’t like marijuana, then by all means don’t use it. Allow others to make their own choices about marijuana.

            The government has no business attempting to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply doesn’t work and has already cost the taxpayers a fortune.

          • Brian Kelly

            A long list of successful people have admitted to partaking in marijuana in their lives, including:

            PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
            “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”

            OPRAH WINFREY
            “To kick things off, [television show host Andy Cohen] asked the last time Winfrey had smoked marijuana. ‘Uh … 1982,’ Winfrey replied. ‘Let’s hang out after the show,’ Cohen joked. ‘Okay,’ Winfrey laughed. ‘I hear it’s gotten better.'”

            (Source: Bravo)

            PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
            “I experimented with marijuana a time or two.”

            (Source: YouTube)

            ASSOCIATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE CLARENCE
            “The White House said today that Judge Clarence Thomas, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, had smoked marijuana while in college.”

            (Source: New York Times)

            STEPHEN COLBERT
            “First, [in high school], I smoked a lot of pot…and that’s how I got to know the people ‘half in’ the society of my high school and we waved at each other over the bong. Then I got to know people by making jokes.”

            (Source: San Francisco Chronicle Interview (January 2006))

            JON STEWART
            “Do you know how many movies I wrote when I was high?”

            JOHN KERRY
            “Yes.” [In response to the question: “Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?”]

            (Source: On The Issues)

            GEORGE SOROS
            “He said he had tried marijuana, enjoyed it, ‘but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years.'”

            (Source: Reuters, 2/6/97)

            BILL MAHER
            “Look, I have never made a secret of the fact that I have tried marijuana… About 50,000 times.”

            (Source: YouTube)

            BILL GATES
            “As for drugs – well, Gates was certainly not unusual there. Marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice…”

            (Source: Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry–and Made Himself the Richest Man in America)

            PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
            “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”

            (Source: New York Times)

            GOV. ANDREW CUOMO
            “I did experiment with marijuana when I was a youth.”

            (Source: New York Daily News)

            SEN. RAND PAUL
            (Source: GQ Magazine)

            SANJAY GUPTA
            “I have tried it.”

            (Source: CNN)

            GEORGE CLOONEY
            “The owner of a local cannabis café told reporters George Clooney was no stranger there.”

            (Source: The Weed Blog)

            MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG
            ”You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.”

            (Source: New York Times)

            The list goes on and on.

    • Paul Lucas

      Under the rules proposed by these groups in California MPP, DPA, CCRP, et al, YOU would lose your rights to cultivate at home prop. You would lose your rights to form a collective under sb 420. YOU wold be criminalized if you did no acquire your cannabis at one of the dispensaries owned and operated by ASA, NORML and the above. These people arent advocating for you. they are advocating to criminalize you if you dont get your meds from them. Thats what AB 266 does. AB 266 is written and promoted by these groups. So you are either one of them or you need to pay closer attention to what some people are telling you is legalization.

      Adam You have to write a piece about dan Rush at the UFCW MMJ division who just got arrested for bribery.

      http://m.sfgate.com/crime/article/Oakland-union-official-took-bribes-from-pot-6441534.php

      • Brian Kelly

        Paul Lucas,

        So, question one. Are you for or against the legalization of marijuana?

        2) Do you believe marijuana is less dangerous than perfectly legal alcohol?

        3) Please tell us how citizens somehow have more rights concerning marijuana under marijuana’s current prohibition and the crimilization of marijuana users than when marijuana is legalized?

    • Ltpar

      Your rants sound like you have had a couple of joints too many. Sober up and get in touch with reality.

      • Brian Kelly

        Lptar,

        Your aggression and personal attacks towards me make you sound like you’ve had a couple of shots of whiskey too many. Sober up and get in touch with reality.

        See, two can play the accuse your rival of being impaired game, but it’s really quite silly and childish and is usually reserved only for prohibitionists when they have no valid rebuttal or counter argument to provide.

        Here’s a novel idea:

        Instead of the typical prohibitionist personal attacks, temper tantrums, name calling and stereotyping we’ve all come to expect and laugh at from folks like you, why don’t you astonish us all and prove to us that you are different and more intelligent than all the rest by providing us all your very own in depth argument about Marijuana Legalization Nationwide?

        Just remember to back up any negative claims you make about marijuana with only creditable, meaning non-government and non-anti-drug organizational sources.

        We’re all waiting for that intelligent, rational adult-like argument from you…(and waiting…and waiting…and waiting…*yawns*…zzzZZZZzzzzZZz…lol)

        By providing us an intelligent, adult-like, in depth opinion rather than the typical prohibitionist temper tantrums and personal attacks you might actually earn yourself a little bit of respect and creditably.

        Sound fair and reasonable?

        Still waiting for you to astonish us with your brilliant, in depth opinion…