by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced. - Albert Einstein
- WASHINGTON: Initiative 502 legalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and over, but does not allow for personal cultivation, except by or for medical marijuana patients. It will license marijuana cultivation and retail and wholesale sales, with restrictions on advertising. Regulation will be the remit of the state liquor control board, which will have to come up with rules by December 2013. The measure creates a 25% excise tax on marijuana sales, with 40% of revenues dedicated to the general fund and 60% dedicated to substance abuse prevention, research, and healthcare. It also creates a per se driving under the influence standard of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
- COLORADO: Amendment 64 allows adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or six marijuana plants, three of which can be mature. It will create a system of state-licensed cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities and state-licensed retail stores. Local governments would have the option of regulating or prohibiting such facilities. The amendment also requires the state legislature to enact legislation governing industrial hemp cultivation, processing, and sale, and to create an excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales. The first $40 million of that annual revenue will be dedicated to building public schools.
Millions of voters will decide on Election Day in favor of ballot measures to legalize and regulate the use of cannabis by adults. Voters in three states — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — will decide on statewide ballot measures to legalize the possession and distribution of cannabis for those over 21 years of age. Voters in three additional states — Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Montana — will decide on measures to allow for the therapeutic use of cannabis by patients with qualifying ailments. In Michigan, voters in four cities – totaling over a million people – will decide on municipal measures to legalize or depenalize the adult use of cannabis.
Ballot measures in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington remain favored among voters, according to the latest statewide polls.
Since 1996, 17 states have enacted legislation to allow for the limited possession of cannabis when a physician authorizes such use. In ten of those states, voters enacted medical cannabis legislation via the statewide initiative process. But to date, no statewide proposal to remove criminal and civil penalties for the broader, personal possession and use of marijuana by adults has succeeded at the ballot box. This reality is likely to change tomorrow.
A summary of this year’s more prominent statewide and local ballot measures appears below.
ARKANSAS: Voters will decide on Measure 5, The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act of 2012, which allows authorized patients to possess up to two and one-half ounces of cannabis for various qualifying medical conditions, including cancer, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The measure also allows state regulators to establish not-for-profit facilities to produce and dispense cannabis to approved patients. Individual patients will also be permitted to privately cultivate limited amounts of cannabis (up to six flowering plants) if they reside further than five miles from a state-authorized dispensary.
COLORADO: Voters will decide on Amendment 64, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those persons age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. Voters in the state approve of the measure by a margin of 50 percent to 44 percent, according to the latest Denver Post survey.
MASSACHUSETTS: Voters will decide on Question 3, which eliminates statewide criminal and civil penalties related to the possession and use of up to a 60-day supply of cannabis by qualified patients. It would also require the state to create and regulate up to 35 facilities to produce and dispense cannabis to approved patients. Individual patients will also be permitted to privately cultivate limited amounts of cannabis if they are unable to access a state-authorized dispensary. Voters in the state approve the measure by a margin of 55 percent to 36 percent, according to the latest Suffolk University poll.
MICHIGAN: Voters in four cities – totaling over a million people – will also decide on Tuesday whether to legalize or depenalize the adult use of cannabis. Voters in Detroit will decide on Proposal M, which removes criminal penalties pertaining to the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over age 21. In Flint, voters will decide on a citizens’ initiative to amend the city code so that the possession on private property of up to one ounce of marijuana or cannabis paraphernalia by those age 19 or older is no longer a criminal offense. Grand Rapids voters will act on Proposal 2, which seeks to allow local law enforcement the discretion to ticket first-time marijuana offenders with a civil citation, punishable by a $25 fine and no criminal record. In Ypsilanti, voters will decide on a proposal to make the local enforcement of marijuana possession offenses the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.
OREGON: Voters will decide on Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which provides for the state-licensed production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. The measure does not impose state-licensing or taxation requirements upon those who wish to cultivate cannabis for non-commercial purposes.
WASHINGTON: Voters will decide on I-502, which regulates the production and sale of limited amounts of marijuana for adults. The measure also removes criminal penalties specific to the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. Voters in the state back the measure by a margin of 56 percent to 37 percent, according to the latest KING 5 poll.
Legalize It 2012
The Colorado Marijuana Initiative 2012 (Colorado)
YES on WA’s Marijuana Initiative 502 (Washington)
Cannabis Tax Act (Oregon)
VOTE YES on Question 3 (Massachusetts)
Arkansans for Compassionate Care (Arkansas)
Marijuana Policy Project
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Fuck Yeah Drug Policy
Under the plan backed by President Jose Mujica’s leftist administration, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana and only to adults who register on a government database, letting officials keep track of their purchases over time. [In a radio interview on Thursday, Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro seemed to backtrack, saying the registry “sounds a little authoritarian and perhaps we should avoid it,” according to the WSJ.]
Profits would reportedly go toward rehabilitating drug addicts.
“It’s a fight on both fronts: against consumption and drug trafficking. We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself,” Fernández Huidobro told reporters late on Wednesday.
Fernández said the bill would soon be sent to Congress, which is dominated by Mujica’s party, but that an exact date had not been set. If approved, Uruguay’s national government would be the first in the world to directly sell marijuana to its citizens.
Obama Wimped Out On Weed
Bill Maher discusses the recent raid on Oaksterdam University.
“Obama is on pace to conduct more raids against medical marijuana dispensaries than George W. Bush.”
The former U.S. district attorney who prosecuted B.C. marijuana activist Marc Emery in a cross-border sting is calling for the legalization and taxation of pot in Canada and the U.S.
John McKay, a former U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington State, was joined by Emery’s wife Jodie and former B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant at a lecture in Vancouver on Wednesday.
McKay said he did not regret prosecuting Emery because he broke U.S. law, but he believes the war on pot has been a complete and total failure. He said the laws keeping pot illegal no longer serve any purpose, but allow gangs and cartels to generate billions in profits.
“I want to say this just as clearly and as forthrightly as I can, marijuana prohibition, criminal prohibition of marijuana is a complete failure,” McKay said.
In a historic meeting in Antigua, Guatemala, Saturday, three Central American heads of state attended a regional summit to discuss alternatives to the current drug prohibition regime, which has left their countries wracked by violence. No consensus was reached and three other regional leaders failed to attend, but for the first time, regional leaders have met explicitly to discuss ending the war on drugs as we know it.
“We have realized that the strategy in the fight against drug trafficking in the past 40 years has failed. We have to look for new alternatives,” said the host, Guatemalan President Oscar Pérez Molina, a former army general who first called for such a meeting last month, shortly after taking office. “We must end the myths, the taboos, and tell people you have to discuss it, debate it.”
According to the Associated Press, Pérez Molina said that drug use, production, and sales should be legalized and regulated. He suggested that the region jointly regulate the drug trade, perhaps by establishing transit corridors through which regulated drug shipments could pass.
[…] US-backed drug policies in the region have in recent years brought a wave of violence to the region, which is used as a springboard for Colombian cocaine headed north to the US and Canada, either direct or via Mexico. Mexican drug cartels have expanded their operations in Central America in the past few year, perhaps in response to the pressures they face at home.
High levels of poverty and the strong presence of criminal gangs, particularly in El Salvador and Honduras, have combined with the cartel presence to make the region one of the world’s deadliest. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, along with Jamaica, have the world’s highest murder rates.
[…] Pérez Molina suggested that, barring legalization and a regulated drug trade, consumer countries should be taxed for the drugs seized in the region on their behalf.
“For every kilo of cocaine that is seized, we want to be compensated 50% by the consumer countries, he said, adding that the has a “responsibility” because of its high rates of drug use.
While Saturday’s summit produced no common platform or manifesto, it is an important step in the fight for a more sensible, effective, and humane response to drug use and the regional drug trade. Leading US drug reformer Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Drug Policy Alliance lauded its occurrence as “significant” and “remarkable.”
“The rapid evolution of this debate is nothing short of remarkable,” he said. “It has progressed in just a few years from the advocacy of activists and intellectuals, to distinguished former presidents, and now to current presidents demanding that all options, including decriminalization and legalization, be seriously evaluated and debated,” he noted.
“The significance of this meeting cannot be overestimated, notwithstanding the fact that no one expects a consensus to emerge from this meeting on alternative drug policies,” Nadelmann continued. “Virtually no one would have predicted” that such a meeting could take place “with the support of presidents in Mexico and Colombia, to discuss drug policy options including decriminalization and legalization. What was once taboo is no longer. The discussion will continue next month at the Summit of the Americas — in Cartagena, Colombia — with President Barack Obama and virtually all other heads of state from the region in attendance. At this point it is no longer possible to put this genie back in the bottle.”
Peter Hitchens is a Mail on Sunday columnist and author, and Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks.
Peter Hitchens: Taking drugs is itself wrong, and that is why they are illegal. One of the reasons we don’t address this is because of the extreme selfishness of our society in which so many people imagine that their own pleasure trumps everything else. Julian Assange said that he was sovereign over his own body. Well, maybe he doesn’t have anybody who cares about him. But if your family has to put up with you after you have destroyed your mental health or in some other way deeply damaged yourself by taking drugs, then you and they will discover that you are not an island and that you have responsibilities to other people. If there is no other force apart from the law which will deter you from taking that semi-suicidal step, then the law needs to be there.
Moderator: Julian Assange, what do you make of Peter Hitchens’ statement?
Julian Assange: Well, I was just about to say, I couldn’t believe that you gave that twat the last word.
There’s a certain form of Calvinism about the different types of drugs that we see. For example, nicotine [and coffee], which make one work harder and work faster and burn out faster, are perfectly legal. But those drugs which make one relax or make one more imaginative, those drugs are made illegal. And that’s Western European Calvinism. Of course, we can all see the problems with severe heroin addiction, [and that] the solutions so far have not worked. So we need a time of sensible, scientific, regulatory experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Watch the debate here
Louise Arbour is President of the International Crisis Group and Geoffrey Robertson is a leading human rights lawyer.
Louise Arbour: This is a made-up war. I think it’s absolutely clear. It looks very real because it’s now fought in many countries as a real war, but the rhetoric of the war on drugs discloses a completely failed policy. If you have a war, presumably, at some point, you should be able to determine that you’ve won it, possibly some kind of exit strategy. When is it going to be won, this fifty year old war? When we have a drug-free world? That’s not going to happen in my lifetime, or in my children’s lifetime, or in my grandchildren’s lifetime.
Geoffrey Robertson: And does the notion that it’s a war give the police a kind of license to go after people?
LA: Of course. It’s all this rhetoric. In war times, you can have emergency measures and all kinds of extraordinary law enforcement powers. And of course there are two sides, so the other side are the bad guys, these ‘terrible’ people. The rhetoric cannot be underestimated. But it seems to me that what we also have to recognize is that it’s an objective that is unattainable. There is a gigantic appetite for all kinds of psychoactive substances: alcohol, tobacco, use of prescription drugs. I don’t think we need to make the case that we will eliminate that.
GR: You heard [the other side’s] argument, and [it is that] you need these laws, you need the threat of prison stigma in order to make treatment work. As a former chief prosecutor, does that argument work with you?
LA: You don’t need to treat everybody. Not everybody is an alcoholic. A lot of people have a drink. Not everybody is an addict. Those who are, are in very profound distress, and to link them to this criminal underworld only adds to their predicaments…You can’t make the argument that you need both treatment and a big stick of imprisonment.
Watch the debate here
Moderator: You heard from Sandeep Chawla (Deputy Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) that drug use would go up as a result of an end to the war on drugs. Can you [respond]?
Russell Brand: I suppose it’s kind of obvious that if something is more freely available, more people would do it. If we all lived in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, perhaps we would eat more chocolate. But what I’m saying is, the situation they’re describing is the one that currently exists. There is already prohibition against drugs, and it candidly, palpably, obviously isn’t working. And also, there’s no problem with people taking drugs if they’re not drug addicts. If people don’t have a drug problem, let them take drugs. The problem is some people have defective personalities, like me, that if they take drugs, it’s problematic…If we fundamentally categorize those people as criminals, that’s the wrong way of addressing it…We need to approach people altruistically and lovingly, not treat them as criminals. Because the inevitable social and criminal problems that come from drug use are a result of their criminalization. That’s the problem.
Watch the debate here
Don’t Legalize Weed!
Be careful what you wish for.
On a cable-news show seen by millions, a white-haired host declared that although the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, it detains a quarter of the world’s prisoners. “I just think it’s shocking to see how many of these young people wind up in prison,” he said. “And then they get turned into hard-core criminals because they have possession of a small amount of a controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.”
It’s a sensible position. Strikingly, it came from the host of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” — right-wing icon Pat Robertson. He went on to say that mere possession of pot should be decriminalized.
“If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?” Robertson asked a New York Times reporter recently. He went on to say that imprisoning people made it more it more difficult to reach their hearts with a Christian message.
Robertson’s previous drug warrior mentality is drastically different from his current position on marijuana policy. From Christianity Today:
While this is not the first time Robertson has taken this stance, he ran for president as a hard-liner on drug enforcement. After losing his bid to be the Republican presidential candidate in 1988, Robertson said at the Republican National Convention that the U.S. should be “a city set on a hill … where the plague of drugs is no more and those who would destroy and debase our children with illegal drugs are given life sentences in prison with no chance for parole.”
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SIGN THE PETITION: SUPPORT GUATEMALAN PRESIDENT’S CALL FOR DRUG LEGALIZATION
On Saturday February 11th, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina declared that, following discussions with Colombian President Santos, he will present a proposal for drug legalization in Central America at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas. Guatemalan Vice-President Roxana Baldetti will begin a tour of Central America to discuss the proposal with regional leaders and garner support for it, starting with Panama, Costa Rica and Salvador on February 29th. Unsurprisingly, the move was greeted by a quick rebuke from the US government.
President Molina’s initiative is unprecedented and marks the first time since the launching of the War on Drugs by Richard Nixon in 1971 that a foreign head of state actively challenges the US-led policies of drug prohibition and try to build a coalition against it. A former general of the Guatemalan army, President Molina has impeccable credentials to launch such a move: he was elected in November 2011 on a law-and-order platform, pledging to restore security to the country. Guatemala is on the major transit route from Colombia to the US and drug violence has exploded there over the past few years, turning this already impoverished and unstable country into one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
We all need to show our support to President Molina and his potential Latin American allies. We also need to put pressure on the Obama administration to ensure that it doesn’t stall Molina’s proposal, and that it allows a truthful debate to take place at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas and beyond.