Cops Lie, Voters Listen

One of NORML’s primary functions is to educate the public. Day in and day out NORML’s staff and affiliates work tirelessly to promote factual and scientific information about cannabis — information that in an ideal world would be provided to the public by drug educators, health providers, and police, were not all three entities directly involved in supporting the continuation pot prohibition.
Why does NORML work so diligently to provide this information to the general population? We do so, in large part, because we know that our politicians opponents — including many members of the before-mentioned groups — have no qualms lying about pot in order to stifle our reform efforts. We also know that the mainstream media rarely takes the time or effort to challenge their disinformation.
Unfortunately, as we are seeing in Massachusetts, lies unduly influence voters — particularly when those doing the lying are those the public trusts.
Since September, a coalition consisting of the state’s 11 district attorneys, along with numerous members of law enforcement, have campaigned vociferously against Question 2 — a proposal to reduce minor marijuana possession to a fine-only offense — falsely claiming that the measure will increase adolescent drug abuse, permit large-scale marijuana trafficking, endanger workplace safety, and sharply increase traffic fatalities. (Reality check: If passed, Question 2 would equalize Massachusetts pot penalties with those of neighboring Maine, which last time I checked, isn’t suffering from any such pot-related catastrophes.)
A recent statewide poll conducted by Suffolk University indicates the extent to which our opponents’ lies are influencing the public. Support for Question 2 has dipped precipitously since the launch of the D.A.s’ campaign (though it still remains above 50 percent), with the greatest loss of support occurring among those age 65 and older. (Support among this voting block fell from 70 percent in August to just 40 percent in October.)
This drop, though troubling, is hardly surprising. Those older Americans who typically lack first-hand experience with cannabis and may be unaware of NORML’s efforts are most susceptible to the lies politicians and police spew about pot.
Conversely, support among younger voters in Massachusetts (those defined by pollsters as 45-years-old and younger) has held above 60 percent despite the cops’ smear campaign. In large part, this is also to be expected. After all, these voters are, statistically, most likely to possess first-hand knowledge of cannabis (or still be current users) and are arguably more familiar with NORML’s educational efforts. As a result, they are more likely to be dismissive of the D.A.s’ cynical rhetoric — as they should be.
Will the D.A.s’ disinformation campaign ultimately be responsible for the defeat of Question 2? We’ll know in eight days, but I remain cautiously optimistic. Previous law enforcement led propaganda campaigns designed to defeat statewide medicinal marijuana initiatives have almost universally failed. That said, it can be argued that older voters — the voting block that has the potential to tip Question 2 one way or the other — more readily identify with the medical use issue than the recreational aspects of pot.
One thing is for certain, our opponents’ smears and scare-tactics have made this battle too close to call — and once again revealed that those who support (or whose livelihoods are based upon) pot prohibition will do or say anything in order to keep our community in cages.

0 thoughts

  1. I just recently looked at the state laws regarding MJ posession on this website and found that WEED is LEGAL in Alaska!! A state law that openly defys a federal law……People in Mass. might argue that Alaska’s population is so small and people are so spread out that marijuana use wouldn’t have the potential for harm there that it would in a larger state…..Well frankly that doesn’t have anything to do with the issue. The issue is our constitutional rights. Mass. was established by patriots who fought the oppression of a government that was out of touch with the people……I remember hearin about a tea party in boston where the people stood together against an oppressive government concerned with money and not the people who it represented. The ones who fought for our freedom would not have stood by while a government took away their right to persue happiness. As for disinformation…..what difference does it make? If we can’t see the shredding of the constitution…THE CONSTITUTION WHICH OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON!!!!!! that is happening right in front of our faces everyday……then nothing any activist can say will overturn the disinformation. Even/ especially 65 and older people should be concerned when we give up rights afforded to us by the ones who made us.

  2. Excellent analysis on this polling. As Keith always says, “we’ll just outlive the bastards!” lol. j/k There is serious work to be done on this front regarding older Americans. We must continue to put our issue in front of them while encouraging discussions. Local candidate forums are an excellent way to discuss these issues with such an audience. Great post!

  3. Where are these statistics being taken from? The last I heard, Question 2 was up by 20%, but that was over a month ago.
    I think it’s disgraceful that the police will go to such lengths to lie about this, and also disgraceful that the public is willing to accept it blindly.

  4. I listened to these ads today, and they were at once sickening and hilarious! I would think such ads would tend to backfire, in a similar manner that ONDCP’s ads have actually increased cannabis use among teenagers. These ads are so over-dramatic, anyone with half a brain would see them for what they are: propaganda, and very poorly done propaganda at that.
    Just to pick one lie to dispel, how about that “Prop. 2 will permit large-scale marijuana trafficking?” Right, that would happen, because it certainly isn’t happening now! Drug dealers are very respectful of the law, and they are just waiting for voters to give them the go ahead to start making huge black-market profits. I swear, these Prohibitionists are some of the most idiotic people this world has ever known.
    I, too, am optimistic that Prop. 2 will pass. It’s not full legalization (which is the ONLY logical and acceptable ultimate goal), but it’s a step in the right direction. Once it passes, we’ll then have to wait and see how much the police and DA’s will actually respect the law. We know what’s happening with medical cannabis in San Diego, with the police picking and choosing which laws they feel are reasonable and thus, which they will or will not support (the will of the voters be damned)! I’m guessing there will be some repeats of that in Massachusetts.

  5. Got my fingers grossed hoping people will see the truth and QUIT PUTTING GOOD PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR EXERCISING FREE CHOICE!!!

  6. Part of the reason that you (and I assume all of us) are frustrated in our efforts to combat ignorance is the Backfire Effect:

    Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration’s claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.

  7. NORML, what can your supporters and website viewers do to help push Q2 in MA the final few yards? Do you need a website built to reply to the police? I can help you there, as could hundreds of your members. Do they need phone calls made? Flyers mailed? Donations? What do they need? Call your supporters to action, and give us specific ways we can make a difference. You know the response would be tremendous.

  8. “Greatest loss of support in those aged over 65”, why is this so? Possibly because they have been conditioned by the propaganda for longer.Thus more easily swayed. I guess it did’nt work on me.Curious,how someones job (law enforcement) dictates how they respond(lie).

  9. Considering all the pro cop propaganda on TV I am not surprised that the populus is gobbling up the crap and lies perpetrated by law enfarcement (Mis-spelled on purpose) Over a month ago a local trooper was shot and the local ABC affiliate couldn’t do enough reporting about trooper B, and more about trooper B and on and on. Recently his premature son also passed away and trooper B again was in the spotlight for days on end, called a hero and insane amounts of time were spent glorifying one who died on the job. State cops turned out in uniform and by the truck load to lay the infant son to rest as if the toddler had been a trooper himself. Propaganda and police glorification at its finest, brought to us as “news”. Add to this the incessant TV fare from Cops to Law and Order with all its franchises, law enfarcement is so highly publicized and glorified that it is no wonder anything these public dis-servants say is perceived as gospel. Add to this the lies coming from Pinocchio Walters and the amerikan industrial prison complex along with spineless legislators who refuse to even allow fact based discussion I am not surprised that this retarded war on a plant has been allowed to continue for as long as it has. Now would be the best time to legalize marijuana as we face a financial crisis and start saving taxpayers money, rather than wasting it on potheads while at the same time raising revenue by levying a FAIR tax on pot!
    >>…is charged with manufacturing a 3.5-foot marijuana plant and possession of numerous pipes and rolling papers, according to the arrest warrants. Hensley was released under $6,000 unsecured bond.
    …charged with possession of stolen vehicle and driving while impaired. His bond was set at $1,000.
    …charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and second-degree trespassing. His bond was set at $5,500.<<
    The above is a copy from the local propaganda rag, Asheville Citizen Time and just look at the bail amounts! One pot plant justifies more bail than cocain posession with intent to distribute!
    My former home town of San Diego, CA where I proudly collected petitions to get medical cannabis on the ballot in 1969 is another example of government trying to disregard state law and the people’s will. As Jakov Smirnoff used to say; “What a country!”
    this link takes you to the above article:

  10. It all begins with old people watching lots of TV and of course on TV they “frame” everything so that (especially on the TV news) it is “shame on you” to say anything negative about law officers who are being praised and hero-fied — there’s always something some good cop did somewhere that we were paying attention to instead of that “allegation” against ones for lying about pot – yeah, we’ll look into that.
    Unfortunately it’s hard to get the oldsters to use a computer, the only place where news and information can be reviewed and interacted with without that “shit-stained lens” the mainstream forms of media cause you to view everything through.
    And of course what do I mean by “shit-stained lens” — well forgive the scatological indulgence there but that’s what I mean by a viewpoint that is framed in the context of “law officers never lie” as opposed to the truth which most of us know is that — especially when it comes to marijuana and drugs in general — that law officers are usually lying when they say anything about it!!!

  11. I think it’s a shame that some of the smartest seniors I know are so naive. They take government jargon and propaganda by the spoonful without question.
    It’s too bad there’s not some super-enticing senior event happening in Massachusetts during the elections. It would be great to keep all the seniors home. Maybe we can leak pot smoke into all the vents at the senior homes. 😀

  12. Asemili,
    Thanks for asking. Obviously, the most important thing once can do is — if you live in Massachusetts — VOTE YES on Question 2 next Tuesday. If you don’t live in Massachusetts, please contact any friends or family you may have in Massachusetts and encourage them to vote yes of 2.
    Also, there are two groups on the ground in Massachusetts supporting Question 2 — MassCann/NORML
    and the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy
    Please contact them and see what last minute help they need.
    MassCann also has an excellent homepage with links to statewide editorials for/against Question 2. Please consider writing letters to the editor in favor of Q 2, but send those letters asap!

    Published: October 28, 2008 05:00 am
    My View: Plenty of good reasons to vote yes on Question 2
    My View
    Steve Epstein
    The election of 2008 holds promise of a sea change in Massachusetts politics with a close vote on Question 1 and a powerfully strong vote on Question 2.
    My research since 1974 into the natural history of cannabis, the scientific name for marijuana, has revealed myriad uses besides its relatively benign effects on perception.
    Its seeds are nutritious. The fibers of its outer stalk are among the strongest found in nature. Early in the 20th century, scientists found its cellulose-rich inner stalk ideal for making paper and thousands of other products that today come from coal, natural gas, petroleum and trees.
    The primary ingredient of most medicines from the mid-18th century to the early 20th, it was effectively outlawed with the passage of the federal Marijuana Tax Act after a racist campaign in which it was given the exotic name “marijuana.” By 1930s standards, the $100-per-ounce tax, an amount that may now be appropriate, was ridiculously confiscatory. In order to aid the war effort during World War II, the federal government suspended the tax so that farmers would grow it again. The government even produced a short film titled, “Hemp for Victory,” to encourage its cultivation.
    Almost every week now brings news from scientists of potentially beneficial uses of chemicals it produces in treating many medical conditions. The news also arrives of studies that reach the same conclusion the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission reached in 1894: Cannabis should be regulated and taxed, but not prohibited.
    Earlier this month, the Beckley Foundation published such a report, concluding the potential health risks associated with cannabis including the more potent strains now available, are less than those associated with alcohol and do not justify the criminalization of the plant or its users.
    The truth about cannabis and my study of law lead me to conclude that the state and federal constitutions do not permit prohibition. They compel regulation and taxation of marijuana as we do tobacco, beer, wine, and hard cider (none of which may be provided to children) as the only policy consistent with securing to the individual the blessings of liberty promised by these great charters.
    Question 2 moves state policy toward constitutionality by replacing the criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana — which opponents say are infrequently imposed to the maximum anyway — with forfeiture of the marijuana and a civil penalty of $100.
    It encourages enforcement by providing that fines are collected and kept by the municipality in which the offender is captured. It ends use and possession of marijuana as grounds for any other penalty, sanction, or disqualification for those merely captured in possession, which is a tiny percentage of the more than 10 percent of residents over 18 in Massachusetts who consume each month and consider their conduct normal.
    Most importantly, it revokes the power, currently exercised arbitrarily, of the police to hold for bail persons possessing an ounce or less of marijuana without evidence of possessing it for distribution.
    As for the children it virtually codifies the current practice of diversion, which Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett claims his office follows. It ensures parental notice and requires offenders under 18 to perform community service and take a course on substance abuse.
    As the parent of three, I have great empathy for the parents who call me when their child is captured. My experience and my wife’s experience as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor who “treats” children diverted to her by the DA’s office, confirms that few of these children are on the road to ruin. For those under 17, who may be on that road, Question 2 leaves intact the provisions of M.G.L. c. 119, s. 21-51F (Protection and Care of Children). Under this law, the court orders children who persistently refuse to obey to receive services needed to become responsible citizens.
    Finally, Question 2 leaves intact existing law concerning operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
    Ultimately, when it comes to the children, we must teach them that using marijuana or alcoholic beverages, like driving a car, voting or running for political office, are activities they must wait to engage in until reaching the appropriate age. We must also teach them to use alcoholic beverages and marijuana in moderation and not at work, or before or while operating a motor vehicle. We must also exercise moderation when punishing them for not waiting.
    Please vote yes on Question 2 and bring our law into conformity with practice, as described by opponents, and with the law in 11 other states, none of which have a higher percentage of users than Massachusetts.
    Criminal defense attorney Steve Epstein resides in Georgetown and is a founder of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.

  14. Example of the typical ‘no on 2’ lies; 30 percent average THC, huh?
    Published: October 28, 2008 04:55 am
    My View: Vote ‘no’ on Question 2 — for health, safety and our children
    My View
    Jonathan Blodgett
    “It should also be noted that the marijuana of today is far more dangerous and addictive than the pot of a generation ago. In the 1970s, the average amount of THC in marijuana was 3 percent. Today, it is 30 percent. Why? Because drug dealers are the ultimate capitalists who want to create more addicts to fuel their business. They care nothing of a child’s health or a parent’s heartache.
    … Before you cast your ballot on Question 2, ask yourself, whom does this benefit? In the view of law enforcement, this initiative benefits no one but drug dealers. In the interests of public health and safety, and for the sake of our children, I urge you to vote “no” on Question 2.”
    Jonathan W. Blodgett is the Essex County district attorney.

  15. Thanks for all that great info Paul. I for one am going to get in contact with at least masscann and at least get a donation out to them today. I hope at least 1 other member takes a few minutes to give even $5 to one of these groups supporting this bill. I live in Texas, and when my state gets a bill like this I sure hope people around the country donate to the groups pushing the reform in my state someday.

  16. “I have listened to parents who have lost their children, who told me how their sons and daughters started with marijuana at young ages. Marijuana use was only the first step on the road to tragic endings. Will everybody who smokes pot become addicted to cocaine or heroin? No. But for many, it is indeed a gateway drug. Do you want to roll the dice on the health and lives of your children?”
    The ‘gateway drug’ card has been played too many times. You want to protect your children from hard drugs? Then think about how children really become exposed to other drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth. Your kid doesn’t try marijuana and then automatically reason that they should take the next step up. The drug-infested environment you’re thinking of is a direct result of prohibition. Black market drug dealers often sell multiple substances, and the chances are VERY high that your child will be exposed to hard drugs when they go to purchase marijuana.
    Now think about how that situation would change as a result of marijuana decriminalization or legalization. The drug dealer who was previously selling your kid cocaine along with marijuana will no longer profit from selling weed because it is freely available. Marijuana, which is practically harmless if used responsibly, effectively becomes separated from hard drugs if you remove it from black market status.
    Look at all the people who use alcohol. Alcohol, a freely available, and potentially harmful/addictive substance is used by millions and millions of people. Do you see the drinkers in this country shooting up heroin or snorting cocaine? Nope. So why try to rationalize that marijuana is a gateway drug…it is scientifically proven to be less toxic and addictive than alcohol. Alcohol is just, if not more, likely to be a gateway drug than marijuana. It is obvious here that the drug is not the gateway, the black market is the gateway.
    If marijuana were to be decriminalized, I would personally feel much better about my child’s decision to smoke marijuana because they would not face legal consequences and their chance of being exposed to a hard drug environment would be drastically reduced.
    Think about it.

  17. Of course the cops and mainstream media are going to propagate lies to the public about marihuana. This is something that has been going on for over 70 years. They used to say that pot would make you want to kill your brother, and now its said that there will be an increase in traffic violations. It is getting ridiculous, and the only way to stop it is to realize the facts and spread them variously to people that live in ignorance and have been succumbed by the lies. Every great change in this country happens due to the people and their voices. It is time for us to establish our voices and put it all on the line for this greater cause. I seriously think that legalizing pot can do wonders for this nation. It really could formulate a solution to the many problems that this country is facing. The great thing about America is the freedom of speech, now is the time to use that freedom and give back to a country that is ran by greedy, manipulative politicians and heartless lawyers and CEOS. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is time to decrimilaze marihuana and recognize it as a personal choice just as cigarettes and alcohol.

  18. If people think the law in Mass. is bad you should check out Florida’s policy towards mary jane.. The most harsh in the United States!!! Penalties for minor possession is ridiculous. These laws in Florida need to change.

  19. It is very true that those of us who are fighting for marijuana legalization face an enormous battle. There are so many individuals, companies, etc. that benefit from marijuana being illegal, and we should not be surprised when things like this happen. But we also cannot give in, and we won’t. The truth is bound to come out – lies can only be propped up for so long.

  20. Older people tend to be more easily swayed by law enforcement and government officials because they’re overwhelmingly conservative. It’s hard to get them to vote for marijuana reform because they still believe marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug. My late father didn’t believe the facts that I read to him from NORML. He thought it was the “drug dealers” lying to me. It’s that kind of ignorance that is prevalent among older voters and unfortunately it is very difficult to change their minds on this issue.

  21. Law enforcement is crooked, plain and simple. There are record numbers of police and prosecutors losing their jobs and going to jail. So it should come as no surprise when they campaign against an initiative on the tax payer’s time. Can these organizations and individuals be sued?
    Anyway, at least they’re burning money and time. We’ll beat their collective heads against this wall until they learn. Stop criminalizing marijuana use!

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