10 Lessons Learned from Marijuana Election Defeats

Results of 2010 Election added to our Marijuana Laws Map

Marijuana supporters nationwide awoke on November 3rd to find they had been defeated in all four statewide initiatives on the ballot. While losing these battles is not good news for our movement, the lessons we’ve learned and coalitions we’ve formed will help us win the war even sooner.

California’s Prop 19 received 3.4 million votes for legalization, which represents 46.1% of the voters.  This is the best a statewide marijuana legalization measure has ever done, besting Nevada 2002 (39%), Alaska 2004 (44%), Colorado 2006 (41%), and Nevada 2006 (44%)

What turned Westerners' 58% support for legalization into just 46% of the vote in California? Details.

The most recent Gallup Poll showed 58% support among Westerners for “legalization”.  That means there are 12% of our supporters who dropped their support for legalization once the details are spelled out.  What lessons have we learned from the loss?  I believe there are ten main lessons we need to learn to succeed in 2012.

1. We must explicitly protect medical marijuana rights.

During the campaign some on our side were surprised by the emergence of the “I Gots Mine” crowd, the so-called “Stoners Against Legalization”.  But the fact is that in a medical marijuana state, especially California, what they “gots” is pretty amazing.  Moving forward, any legalization measure in a medical state must include the following three explicit points:

a) This legalization bill will not affect your medical marijuana rights in any way.

b) Your medical marijuana rights will not change in any way once legalization passes.

c) If you are concerned about your medical marijuana rights, please see points a) and b).

I’m being somewhat facetious, but the point better be taken.  No legalization bill is going to succeed unless the current medical marijuana smokers believe it makes their lives better or at least doesn’t threaten to change their lives.

Now, I know as well as anyone that Prop 19 wouldn’t have affected medical rights, but it got lost within the Purposes and Intents and buried in a cloud of “notwithstandings” and “excepts”.  The next initiative needs to have an explicit declarative paragraph protecting medical rights. And it has to be written in such a way that it is perfectly clear to even the most unlikely, naive, and uneducated voters, which leads me to…

You can't win with legalization that criminalizes part of the largest group of marijuana smokers

2. We must remember that people 18-25 are our biggest group of stakeholders and we cannot over-penalize them to appease our opponents.

The theme that Prop 19 would be creating a crime out of 21-year-olds passing joints to their 18-20-year-old friends resonated among every toker who first smoked a joint with an older friend or sibling.  I even heard from people aged 18-20 who thought Prop 19 made them a felon.  The new crime was created to soothe the soccer moms, but I think people realized it would be as ineffective at stopping young college kids from toking as the 21 drinking age stops frat keggers, so that all we’d accomplish is creating new criminal records for young people.  The next initiative needs to retain the 21+ age (18 just won’t pass when alcohol is 21) but leave the punishment for furnishing to 18-20-year-olds the $100 ticket it is now… or at least don’t make it more punitive than the law for alcohol.

I understand the “make it like alcohol” motivation of punishing someone who furnishes to minors, but the punishment called for by Prop 19 was akin to the punishment for one who furnishes to a teen who then causes serious injury to self or others.  The minimum punishment for merely furnishing alcohol, absent injury, is a misdemeanor, a $1,000 fine and 24 hours community service.  Thus we were portraying marijuana as far more harmful than alcohol (see point 5 below) by implication.

When Humboldt County is voting against legalization, there is a problem.

3. We must find a way to integrate the current illegal growers into a new legalized market.

The results from the so-called “Emerald Triangle” – defeats for legalization in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties – show us that legalization has to be framed to appeal to small time marijuana growers.  Putting aside the immorality of profiting from the misery of prohibition, the fact is that many small time growers are paying their mortgage and feeding their families from profits on illegal marijuana.  Nobody is going to vote to reduce the price of weed from $300/oz to $60/oz when that takes food out of their kids’ mouths.  The next initiative needs to create a level playing field for small businesses to compete in marijuana cultivation. By emphasizing small, local grows, we can increase the grower vote while also soothing pot smokers worried about “WalMartization” and non-tokers worried about pot becoming as ubiquitous as alcohol they see advertised daily nearly everywhere.

Until Americans see the guys standing up as more dangerous than the ones lying down, we can't win

4. We cannot win until people are more scared of prohibition than they are of legalization.

People resist change.  In order to shake things up, they need to find the status quo unacceptable and the alternative a moral good.  Early on, many of our messages focused on what good would come from legalization, such as tax revenues (see point 6 below) and prioritization of police resources.  While these things are good, they don’t tell the story of why it is so critical to change the status quo.

It’s not that legalization must be approved, it is that prohibition must be ended.  LEAP speakers made the point that every test on a baggie of pot for a $100 ticket means a crime lab test of a rape kit has to wait, but it came too late to make a commercial out of that point.  We need commercials with high school weed dealers in parking lots and hallways, dealing without any regulations or ID checks.  We need commercials with indoor marijuana grow factories taking over suburban neighborhoods because there are no legal commercial grows.  We need commercials with illegal outdoor grows polluting our state parks.  We need commercials of SWAT teams breaking down doors over a pot plant, abusing families, while the rapist, murderer, and thief escape detection.  (We need billionaires to kick in big dollars sooner in the campaign so we can get these commercials on air.)  All these commercials that would use scenes prohibitionists use against us need to be used against them in an act of rhetorical judo that shows those evils to be the result of the prohibitionary status quo, not the proposed marijuana legalization.  The next initiative campaign needs to scare people about the out-of-control prohibition situation we have now. Which leads to the corollary…

To some, this just means we're arresting too many blacks, not that the arrest itself is wrong.

5. We must stop painting the marijuana as a bad thing that needs to be controlled.

We did a great job with exposing the racially disproportionate nature of marijuana law enforcement.  We’ve shown how much money is spent enforcing marijuana laws and how the cost of doing so is diverting police resources.  We’ve illustrated the violent nature of the drug trade, particularly in Mexico.

None of that really matters, though, until we honestly address the social disapproval of “smoking pot”.  The underlying premise of prohibition is that we are forbidding adults from an activity for all of our own good.  Without addressing the morality of marijuana, the flaws we point out in prohibition are just kinks in the system that need to be improved, not an indictment of the reason for the system.  We’re locking up too many blacks and Latinos?  We’ll just try to be more fair about arresting all races equally, then.  We spend a lot of money going after pot?  How much is too much to spend to keep your kids safe?  Gangsters are violent in the marijuana trade?  That’s why we need to arrest people, so they’ll stop smoking pot.  See how that works?

The next initiative campaign must do more pro-active positive portrayals of marijuana for adults. It is not enough to campaign against the bad guy (prohibition), you have to have a story arc for the good guy (legal marijuana use).  People need to question why we bother arresting bright, successful, educated people and break up their loving families just because they prefer sensimilla to a six-pack or a cigarette.  However, as we tell the good guy’s story…

When you put up a number, you'd better be ready to defend it. When it's a number from a different bill, you're sunk.

6. We must be realistic about what legalization can and cannot accomplish.

As marijuana activists, we’re already starting with a deficit in the public trust column.  So when we make our case, we have to be diligent about never over-promising what good can be realized by ending prohibition, especially if we attach hard numbers to those promises.  It is too easy to become characterized as the glassy-eyed idealists who believe too much in the magic wonder herb when we supply targets that are so easily shot down.

Both the primary offenses in messaging can be traced to some honest mistakes.  First was the claim that Prop 19 would raise $1.4 billion in taxes for California.  This arose from the legislature’s legalization bill, AB 390, which proposed a statewide $50/ounce tax.  Then the California Board of Equalization crunched the numbers and announced that $1.4 billion could be realized.  Then AB 390 failed and Prop 19 took over, but never distanced itself from the $1.4 billion tax revenues and in a few instances, co-opted the $1.4 billion for internet forums and print.  When Prop 19 instituted no required taxes and any taxes would be local, not statewide, everyone, even Prop 19’s supporters, knew that far less than $1.4 billion would be raised.  Then when the Attorney General vowed to aggressively pursue anyone who opened up a Prop 19 shop, we all knew there would be even less taxes raised.

Next was the implication that Prop 19 would be a significant blow to Mexican drug cartels.  Part of this owes to misinformation from the drug czar’s office, which had publicized the stat that 60% of the Mexican cartel income is raised from marijuana.  But Prop 19 advocates could be faulted for accepting a drug czar’s word on anything, as well as not knowing their home state marijuana market well enough to realize nobody in California is smoking much Mexican brick weed.  Combined with the “billions in taxes” saving the state, the “cripple the cartels” message was easily debunked and left us looking like we’re bullshitting the voters.  The next initiative must be careful about promises and always return the focus to any modest gains from ending prohibition being more than what we’re getting now.

Marijuana Test
We have a drug test here at NORML... "Do you recognize this leaf?"

7. Legalize first, then deal with the drug testing issue.

You won’t find anyone who hates drug testing more than me.  It’s inaccurate, unscientific, ineffective, and a disgusting invasion of our right to privacy.  And I was thrilled to see non-discrimination language regarding drug testing in Prop 19.  But tackling the drug testing issue along with the legalization issue presents too many conflicts for most voters.

Again, it’s about the good guy and the bad guy.  The good guy is drug test that protects us at work from the bad guy, the whacked-out druggies.  Many people are fine with you smoking a joint and getting whacked-out at home, but want to be sure you’re not smoking a joint at work or while driving.  The drug testing language gave opponents a wedge to separate business owners, managers, and responsible workers from supporting us.

The next initiative needs to remain focused on the sole issue of ending the criminalization of people who smoke and grow pot. Once marijuana use is legal, and as the image of marijuana use becomes mainstreamed, the drug testing issue will be easier to work out.  It would be considered ridiculous in most circumstances to have a work policy that accepted only teetotalers and punished someone for having a drink Friday night because he’d be dangerous on Monday morning.  When marijuana is legal, soon those policies for pot will seem as ridiculous.  Now, speaking of drug testing…

Objects in mirror may be fatter than they appear.

8. You can’t “treat it like alcohol” unless you can test for it like alcohol on the roadside.

We often use the phrase “treat it like alcohol” to get through to voters with little knowledge of marijuana (indeed, if they were educated, they’d realize treating cannabis like alcohol is an insult to cannabis.)  But every time we do, we activate many long-held frames about alcohol, and one of those is “shit-faced drunks who drive”.

The “stoned drivers” scare is one of the few effective bits of rhetoric our opponents have left, along with “what about the children”?  We insisted that Prop 19 didn’t at all change the cops’ ability to bust a stoned driver, but I believe this just did not overcome a gut feeling for most people that it would, because we could offer them no new tools for law enforcement to watch over stoned drivers while creating a more lenient state for marijuana users.

The next initiative must work with the “treat it like alcohol” frame by providing a “breathalyzer” equivalent for the stoned driver. This is the hardest part for me to write, because I so loathe drug testing and even the breathalyzer, which really does not prove anyone’s actual impairment.  All any drug test proves is that you’ve used drugs, alcohol included.  Some alcoholics can drive fine at a 0.12 BAC; some lightweights are a danger at 0.04 BAC.  But since the public believes in the breathalyzer as a magical scientific instrument than can detect and help punish drunk drivers, and since we’re engaging them in the “treat it like alcohol” frame, they need something more tangible than “we’ll just bust them like we do now”, which rings hollow when the general public knows we bust the stoned driver (impaired or not) now just for having weed in his pocket or a roach in the ashtray.  There are technologies available – blood testing, cheek-swab saliva testing, epocrine gland (armpit) sweat testing – that can show recent use of marijuana within four hours.  That, along with a “no burnt cannabis / no used paraphernalia” in the car rule to match the alcohol-equivalent “no open containers” would go a long way toward negating the “stoned drivers” scare.

People barely trust their city council to be able to handle potholes on Main Street, much less regulating the third most popular recreational substance

9. Commercialization must be handled with consistent statewide regulation.

Prop 19 designed its commercial regulations to be opt-in, with cities and counties each deciding if they wished to have regulated sales and how they would regulate them.  The reasoning for this is sound, as the proponents wanted the commercial regs to stand up to federal court scrutiny, the theory being that since Prop 19 didn’t explicitly tell the state to allow marijuana commerce in violation of federal law, the commercial regs might not violate the Commerce Clause.

However, as a rhetorical piece to convince voters, it was lacking.  Most people don’t trust their city government or believe it to be ineffective.  Opponents were able to conjure a future where there were hundreds of different pot regulations across the state.  This becomes troubling in a crowded Southern California where driving down one strip of road can pass you through multiple city jurisdictions that are visually indistinct from one another.  Am I in City of Industry that allows me to have 2 ounces in personal possession or am I in La Puente that only allows one?  How will our stores in Torrance collect their 10% marijuana tax when just up the road in Gardena they only charge 5%?

The next initiative must establish a statewide commercial regulatory framework.  It will probably be squashed by the federal courts, but it will be better to have legal marijuana first and fight those commercial battles in court than to have prohibition and no chance in court.  Once people have the legal right to possess, use, and grow marijuana, the commerce will inevitably follow (see: medical marijuana everywhere.)

Most people don't think of medicine in the same context as getting an ear piercing

10. Medical marijuana has reached its peak and is now inextricably linked to legalization.

In California, the people are already accustomed to a fairly open marijuana policy, where anyone who wants to toke can get a Prop 215 recommendation and buy it from many dispensaries.  In the North it’s a well-regulated system that is contributing to clean neighborhoods and city tax revenues.  You can see by the county results map above that most of the support comes from the Bay Area where cities and counties put together regulations and ordinances and created a healthy system.  Why wouldn’t people vote for more of that?

But in the South it’s a “Wild West” system with tent after tent of “pot docs” on Venice Beach that can’t spell “cannabis” and carnival barkers pushing the “4-gram eighth”.  This is the fault of the local officials who refused to put forth any sort of regulations, but that’s lost on the average voter.  All they see is that what they have now is pot run wild.  Why would people vote for more of that?

While legalization support has increased in eleven years, medical marijuana has declined.

In South Dakota, a medical marijuana initiative failed in 2006 with 48% of the vote.  In 2010, South Dakota’s support for medical marijuana dropped to 36%.  In Arizona they passed a flawed medical marijuana initiative (it used “prescription”, not “recommendation”) with 65% in 1996.  In 2010, it got just below 50% of the vote.  In Oregon a measure to create medical marijuana dispensaries lost with 42% of the vote in 2004.  In 2010, the dispensaries measure gained slightly with 43% of the vote.

This is reflected in Gallup polls on both medical marijuana and marijuana legalization.  In 1999, support for legalization was just 29%, while support for medical use was 73%.  It’s fair to say that people who believe in legalization would naturally support medical use, so the difference of 44% in 1999 would represent those who believe in medical use but think people who just want to get high should be punished.  By the mid-2000s, medical marijuana support reached 75%-78% and legalization reached 34%-36%, meaning those who support medical-only dropped to 31%-32%.  Now in 2010 we have legalization support at 46% while medical support has fallen to 70%, leaving only 24% who believe in medical-only.

Similar initiatives in Arizona, Oregon, and South Dakota for medical marijuana declined while the second Prop 19 for legalization in California increased.

The reason for this 20-point decline in medical-only support is that the public is beginning to feel hoodwinked on the medical marijuana issue.  They completely support the cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma patients getting their medications, but have seen too many dispensaries, too many healthy-looking young people, too many huge marijuana gardens, too many large volume busts, and too many patients overall to believe that medical marijuana is anything but thinly-veiled legalization.  Now that California, the first medical state, has gone forward with legalization, and since the previous legalization attempts were also in medical marijuana states (Nevada, Colorado, Alaska), the two issues are linked.  This means the next medical initiatives and bills will have to be even more restrictive to convince the doubters who cry “Trojan horse!”

The next initiative needs to highlight the second-class-citizen nature of medical marijuana laws that can only be solved by full legalization. The legalization campaign needs to bring forth those same medical marijuana patients who played to public sympathy to get medical marijuana and show how even with medical marijuana, they are still harassed, arrested, tried, and convicted because they’re swept up in the overall battle law enforcement must engage with healthy marijuana smokers.  People need to see the patients who lose housing, lose scholarships, lose child custody, suffer home invasion robberies, can’t travel outside the state, and hear from the patients themselves that medical marijuana just isn’t good enough.

And one thing we don’t need to do?  Change the word “marijuana” to “cannabis”. I’ve heard this suggestion a few times, but I think it actually works against us.  You and I know that “marijuana” is a Mexican slang term initially used for racist reasons to confuse and frighten the public.  But now “marijuana” is the familiar brand name everyone knows.  When we run from “marijuana” and only say “cannabis”, “marijuana” is emphasized by its absence.  Why won’t they say “marijuana”?  What are they trying to hide?  What’s wrong with marijuana?  It’s like when liberals go out of their way to call themselves “progressives” or when conservatives felt the need to emphasize “compassionate”; it’s distancing yourself from your own brand – if you don’t like it, why should anyone else?

The next initiative needs to just be honest: The Marijuana Legalization Act of 2012.  There is nothing wrong with that linguistically or even ethically, as the laws on the books that this would repeal are “marijuana laws” – they use the term “marijuana” (or sometimes “marihuana”) in the statutes.  We can, and should, pepper in the word “cannabis” as we explain the act, using it as the proper name of the plant species, but not be afraid to talk about “smoking marijuana” when the public brings it up.  By now, people know the plant by the name “marijuana” and that name, in and of itself, doesn’t denigrate it in their minds any more than the less-familiar “cannabis” promotes it.

147 thoughts

  1. As long as you keep the age limit 21 I will oppose your measure. I prefer an age limit of 16 but can live with 18.

    I am well over 21 too so let me stop any paternalist bullshit accusations before they are posted. Damn the pot people who cater to such discrimination against young people. I and many other people will never support an age limit older than 18 years of age and will vote against the measure until the age limit is lowered to at least 18. 17 would be better.

    [Russ responds: I’d personally prefer an age limit of 18 for everything; you’re an adult or you are not. However, for every vote of yours we’d gain for an 18-limit, we’d lose ten votes of parents with high school-aged children who know there are 18-year-olds in the halls as high school seniors.

    So your stance essentially means: if we’re going to criminalize 18-year-olds, we ought to just keep criminalizing everyone of any age.

    As long as alcohol’s age is 21, we’re never going to pass anything that treats marijuana less stringently. I can live with legalizing for 21+, then as society begins to accept that and learn that marijuana is so much less harmful than alcohol (currently only half of Americans believe that way), we can work toward lowering the age limit.

    Of course, if 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds ever bothered to vote in numbers matching their support for legalization, maybe an 18-year-old limit could be passed.]

  2. “The next initiative campaign needs to scare people about the out-of-control prohibition situation we have now.” This is by definition, terrorism. The coercion by means of fear. Never ever word it this way. Say “We need to make people aware of the dangerous reality of prohibition instead. The reality itself should be scary enough. As a medical marijuana patient here in the Southwest, I am PRO legalization! Being from a VERY RED state (Indiana) where a SEED can get you jail time and probation, I’ve always thought it quite ABSURD to have such a crusade against this flower.

    [Russ responds: Semantics. We both agree that people need to see the scary reality of prohibition.]

  3. HEMP

    HEEEEEEEMMMMMMMMMMPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!
    TALK ABOUT HEMP MORE!!!!!!!!!!

    I felt that too much of the debate was focused on the rights and freedoms of people who smoke.

    If we focus on industrial hemp more, I think this will bring a new demension to the pro-legalization side.

    [Russ responds: I think you’re wrong. Focus on hemp and we end up with legal hemp and still illegal marijuana (see: Canada, China, Australia, etc.) Focus on legal marijuana and hemp is legal by default.

    The only focus on hemp should be that keeping marijuana illegal keeps hemp illegal. There’s no doubt we can move many minds with hemp’s benefits, but we must be careful to ensure that’s a means to the end of prohibition.]

  4. One of the excuses I heard of why some voted against prop 19 is that there were pot smokers that were afraid marijuana produced in the state for recreational sale would become weaker in potency. Maybe that’s just propaganda but I heard someone call into a radio show and say that’s what their friends that are pot smokers thought is that the pot available to the public would be weak in THC.

    Anyone could have argued that thought by telling the people that if they can grow their own marijuana they can grow their own potent strain or maye have the bill be clear that marijuana potency will not become weaker although they could say they will sell weak strains and potent strains to the public. Just like selling beer to the public or whiskey to the public.

    The next time around for these bills allows for changes in the bill and to make it more clear to the people.

  5. Russ,

    Thank you for pointing out the immorality of profiting off of prohibition’s misery.

    Friend of Leap,

    I completely agree. Back when this was less mainstream, poking fun at the cops was fun, in a juvenile way. We need to take pointers from Nelson Mandela, and bless those that persecute us.

    Russ, could NORML give Iowa a little more press? I’m going to be filing the paperwork to make Iowa Patients a legal non profit here soon, and Carl Olsen’s work with Iowans for Medical Marijuana and the Iowa BOP stimulated a national discussion. Iowa taking this issue seriously helps balance out the prohibitionists fear mongering of “medical marijuana abuses” in Cali…just a thought.

    Thanks!

    Jason Karimi

    [Russ responds: I’m a bit amused that an off-hand fat cop joke has gotten so much attention. The cop in the picture isn’t even fat! But the point is noted – I probably didn’t need to go there. Sometimes suffering a hundred-thousand pot pun headlines will make a guy act out…]

  6. In the meantime

    Battering Ram Raid Of Legal Seattle Patient By Machine Gun-Toting Officers Results In Review

    http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2010/11/08/McGinn.jpeg

    http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2010/11/botched_raid_mayor_to_meet_with_cops_about_pot_enf.php

    “Is it our job to compromise the investigation to give the benefit of doubt to people?” Whitcomb whined. You know, when your potential pot raid targets could be chronically or terminally ill patients — as is required by Washington’s medical marijuana law — I’d say maybe that is your damn job, Officer Whitcomb.”

    I Wonder about my only soul

  7. We need to show people the link between the drug war and bigger government. That would have helped tremendously in the 2010 elections. There are now more people afraid of bigger government than the evil weed. The last thing they should want is a bigger government telling them what they can and cannot put into their own bodies.

  8. I also strongly agree that hemp should be included in the next initiative! All potential uses and benefits of the plant should be legal.

    [Russ responds: I disagree. Keep the initiative to one subject: Should we continue to lock people up for use and cultivation of cannabis?

    Now if you pass that legalization for cannabis that has psychoactive levels, haven’t you just legalized the non-psychoactive hemp as well? Hemp doesn’t even need to be mentioned; legalizing pot legalizes it for all uses – medical, spiritual, and industrial.

    Putting hemp in there just creates a side discussion that distracts from the focal point of ending prohibition. It’s not that I don’t agree about hemp’s importance; I just don’t want to give opponents the opportunity to cull the hemp-only supporters from our herd.]

  9. Keep running the economy into the ground. Republicans are going to slash government programs to save money, but saving money doesn’t necessarily lead to jobs if there are no new ideas for new products or new industries that CAN NOT be outsourced to cheaper production source. They’re going to keep running the country into the ground, IMHO. If I had money and wanted cannabis legalized, I’d hold off until I got what I wanted, too. The U.S. drug war is used too much as an excuse to go to war and to marginalize entire societies and races of people–the new Jim Crow.

  10. and HOW did these election defeats show you that medicinal marijuana hit its peak?

    oh, it DIDN’T. you’re just holding onto that idea to move forward without even considering how beneficial medical marijuana has been to the movement. so this is you NOT learning.

    [Russ responds: Uh, let’s see…

    South Dakota medmj 2004 = 48%
    South Dakota medmj 2010 = 36%

    Oregon dispensaries 2004 = 42%
    Oregon dispensaries 2010 = 43%

    Arizona medmj 1996 = 65%
    Arizona medmj 2010 = 49.75%

    Gallup poll medmj support 2005 = 78%
    Gallup poll medmj support 2010 = 70%

    Of nineteen states with medmj bills, how many passed their legislature last session? = 0

    You should also take a look at this: http://stash.norml.org/medical-marijuana-trends-for-2010%5D

    you’re also NOT learning anything by trying to add the Breathalyzer thing. that won’t entice any non-smokers to vote for it any more than taxing it hasn’t.

    [Russ responds: You weren’t listening to any of the Prop 19 telephone town halls. I heard numerous questions from undecided voters about “what’s the legal limit for stoned drivers?”]

    you didn’t learn again. you should have learned that bending over & taking the extra unfair taxes won’t convince anybody. and if you’d learned that you’d know that adding things to entice non-smokers just doesn’t work. all it does is screw over smokers.

    [Russ responds: Marijuana smokers only make up, at most, 10% of the population of any state, and that’s including the once-a-year-for-a-special-occasion tokers. So any legalization that is going to pass must appeal to non-tokers. Even if everyone who smoked pot in California went to the polls and voted yes, that’s only 3.3 million votes, vs. the 4 million that turned out to vote NO.

    By the way, the tax marijuana measures that were on the ballots in numerous California cities passed overwhelmingly. Part of what may have harmed Prop 19 is that it didn’t have mandatory taxes included in it.]

    and this is why i voted NO on Prop 19. i want legalization, but GOOD legalization. keep adding things like a breathalyzer and keep saying that medical marijuana has peaked & i will continue to urge everybody i know to vote no on any propositions that have garbage like this.

    right now, medical marijuana IS an alternative. & honestly it’s as legal as i personally need it to be, and honestly ANYBODy can get a prescription legally. this is the way to move forward: cultivate support among more actual users. and the best way to do that is through medical marijuana for the time being.

    prop 19 has severely impacted the good messages that medicinal marijuana has been sending. and medicinal marijuana has JUSt been picking up momentum in california in the last year or 2. how can you say it’s peaked?! you are doing yourself & everyone else a disservice by dismissing the medical marijuana movement.

    medical marijuana has been the MOSt successful in changing hearts & minds. & thats’ what you need most.

    [Russ responds: I agree, medical marijuana from 1996-2008 did more to change people’s minds in favor of cannabis than any reform before. However, even in California you can see how medical marijuana has peaked in the restrictions you see coming in Los Angeles regarding dispensaries, the raids that continue with state support, and soon, your new Attorney General Cooley who thinks ALL cash sales of marijuana are illegal, period.

    While you may think medical marijuana in California is sending “good messages”, activists in non-medical marijuana states would disagree with you. New Jersey and Pennsylvania lawmakers specifically note California in expressing objections to medical marijuana, leading further restrictions and cuts.]

  11. re; ‘notwithstanding existing law’

    definition; ‘notwithstanding’ means in spite of, or without regard to

    -so it means it overrules / superscedes any / all existing laws.

    so ALL WE NEED for FULL legalization is;

    “notwithstanding existing law, MARIJUANA / CANNABIS / HEMP IS HEREBY LEGAL for adults to grow, buy, sell, posess, gift, share, and use, for recreational, medical, industrial, and religious uses, and cannot be patented.”

    PERIOD.

    it doesn’t need to be more complicated that.

    (this also proves prop 19 would have overruled 420/219 rights and limits)

    [Russ responds: Not quite. You don’t quite have “notwithstanding” correct. It means “just because we’re making this thing legal it doesn’t mean that other things that are illegal or legal change in any way.

    David Nick put it this way:

    For example, a law making skipping in front of a school illegal would be overturned by a law which says “notwithstanding other laws, skipping is legal.” If the word “notwithstanding” was not there, then skipping in front of a school would still be illegal even though skipping itself would be legal at any other location.

    See http://stash.norml.org/prop-19-is-the-best-thing-to-happen-to-medical-marijuana-patients-since-prop-215 for the full explanation of “notwithstanding”.]

  12. Beautiful article. Exactly what needs to be done it seems. I would of voted for Prop. 19 if i could of (different state), but I did see how it tried to win over some people with the strict penalties. In doing so, lost some support from people smoking the night before. I will be donating to the 2012 effort. California will set the groundwork for the rest of us. Seems like 19 was rushed. We’ve got plenty of time to fine tune it.

  13. I think the title was all-important, and that was definitely the first mistake. I agree with most of your top 10. We don’t need to “soothe socker moms” or anyone else. Being honest, brief and to the point. Don’t get bogged down in “what-ifs”. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Cannabis/Marijuana must be legalized fully first and foremost, because we MUST stop sending people to prison for this. We don’t have to label it “recreational”. Why must we use this term? I understand Dennis Peron’s objection… to the purist, any use of cannabis IS medicinal. This is how I feel about it also. I don’t mind how people think about it, but calling it recreational demeans the remarkable medicinal power of cannabis. As a practicing community herbalist, I don’t view medicine as some kind of entertainment or amusement. This, I believe, you address by focusing on the pure legalization issue. Keep it simple.

  14. Small note: the map you have of the states says that this years initative in CA took place in 2004.

    [Russ responds: Thanks for catching that. It’s fixed now.]

  15. Also just wondering but why has every legalization measure taken place in a midterm year? CA in 10, AK CO NV in 06 and NV again in 02?

    [Russ responds: AK was 2004. But yes, why try in midterm elections, which traditionally have lower youth turnout?]

  16. Money is what we need utilize the opportunity and do the right thing for the government. Wisdom is right.

  17. Right I think the Prez election could give you a huge boost in fact i’m pretty sure with the 08 demographics prop 19 would have passed.

  18. Awesome article, with many valid points.

    Except this one:
    “3. We must find a way to integrate the current illegal growers into a new legalized market.”

    Current illegal growers (whether the ‘family’ business is run by a mom’n’pop or a cartel) will have to suffer the same fate as all other Prohibition Profiteers – a decrease in income or a change of employment.

    No legalization bill should be bound by the prerequisite that ANYONE currently benefiting from Marijuana Prohibition have their preferred means of employment protected. Not police & prison guards, not drug-testers & drug-sellers, nor the many makers of any food, fiber or fuel which would compete with Hemp. And not those within the now well-established ‘Medical’ Pot industry.

    Just because this new stakeholder in the War against Marijuana USERS claims to support legalization (while actively campaigning against it) does not mean it is a part of any legitimate movement to free PEOPLE.

    This is not about their POCKETBOOK, or even the PLANT itself – but about the PERSONS benefited by it, and the PERSONS harmed by it’s prohibition.

    Many Growers up north, in cooperation with many Dispensary owners/workers and Doctors – who make up a very small segment of California’s Cannabis USERS, much less the country’s and the world’s – poisoned the first & best chance at legalization we’ve had in a long time. Scaring patients and other users alike to vote against their own best interests, these ‘I got mine’ Gray Market masters have weakened our long-term struggle for their short-term gains. Period.

    “The results from the so-called ‘Emerald Triangle’ … show us that legalization has to be framed to appeal to small time marijuana growers.”

    You cannot please all of the people all of the time. Instead of appealing to them (as only money does), we can discount them. Be prepared for the same arguments next time from a possibly even more numerous and entrenched group – unless their influence can be countered starting now. Perhaps you’ve softened your view since Nov. 2nd, but I do believe boycotts are the most effective way to send a message to those who think only in terms of money.

    “Putting aside the immorality of profiting from the misery of prohibition …”

    This cannot be put aside. It is the crux of the matter, and it is what separates the sides in this war.

    “… the fact is that many small time growers are paying their mortgage and feeding their families from profits on illegal marijuana.”

    Looks like they picked the wrong place and time to live off of an illegal commodity. ‘Cannabis farmers’ will be no worse off than any other farmers and workers in this country after legalization – in fact, they may well be in the best position to capitalize on the hemp revolution to follow.

    “Nobody is going to vote to reduce the price of weed from $300/oz to $60/oz when that takes food out of their kids’ mouths.”

    Exactly. So why would we trust them to do it the second time around when these same results can be expected, no matter how it’s ‘framed’?

    “The next initiative needs to create a level playing field for small businesses to compete in marijuana cultivation.”

    What corporate/political/legal fantasy-land is that going to happen in? ‘Level playing field’? I’m sorry, for a second there I thought that the Marijuana Legalization effort was SEPARATE and DISTINCT from reforming the Corporate and Economic realities in which we live, or that holding it up for these even less attainable goals is dangerous, foolish and wrong.

    “By emphasizing small, local grows, we can increase the grower vote while also soothing pot smokers worried about ‘WalMartization’ and non-tokers worried about pot becoming as ubiquitous as alcohol they see advertised daily nearly everywhere.”

    By all means, emphasize and sooth. But know that no bit of legal mumbo-jumbo will do much to counter the free-market ways of our non-free nation. And no soothing will come to the willfully ignorant through footnotes and references – that will happen AFTER legalization, not before.

    Finally, everyone should recognize that no Company, Government or Religion has ever succeeded in removing Cannabis from the planet or keeping Marijuana from the mind of man. Walmart weed may come to be, but I and many others would gladly pay a premium for the best … it seems a true grower would know that, and just keep supplying it.

    [Russ responds: Very well written. To an extent, I agree with you. What I’m trying to get at is that legalization initiatives need to be careful written not to directly antagonize the existing grower network and work to get them on the side of legalization for their own benefits as well. When I say “putting aside the immorality” I don’t mean to ignore it or forgive it, I mean to put it aside as we look at the cold hard numbers of getting votes.

    It could be that we just ignore the Emerald Triangle if we can flip Los Angeles County.

    You’ve given me plenty to think about – thanks for taking the time.]

  19. Thanks everybody for some great info. I agree that we need to bring hemp into the picture, for all the wonderful things it can do as well, it will give the American farmers another choice in crop rotation. Educating the public should be one of the top priorities, not just about marijuana, but hemp as well. But , I think one of the biggest drawbacks, was personal cultivation, how can you regulate something we are growing at home. I would think regulating the number of growers would appeal more to the general public. They did it with tobacco here in the south, if you didn’t have an allotment you didn’t get seeds, I’m sure most growers out there are cloning but with new strains they will need seeds. With hemp being grown, the cannabis growers would inevitably be forced indoors to prevent cross-pollenization.
    Anyway you look at it our cause and support for legalization is the most beneficial thing we can do for our country and well being, we just have to show the non-believers we are right and they are wrong, and education is the best way to do it. Remember “Ya gotta feed the monkey to watch him shit”

  20. re; #8 The “stoned drivers” scare is one of the few effective bits of
    –rhetoric–
    our opponents have left, along with “what about the children”?
    -(you ‘SAY’ it is rhetoric, but are still willing to SWALLOW it, hook, line, sinker, fishing pole, and the ENTIRE BOAT)

    i guess you forgot to read;
    #5. We must stop painting the marijuana as a bad thing that needs to be controlled.

    smoking pot does not cause significant impairment.

    driving on prescription pills is just as bad,

    and driving while tired is as bad as driving DRUNK.

    unless you advocate EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW, you are 100% wrong.

    as #6 says; “The way to solve the roadside testing problem is to move away from drug testing towards functionality testing. After all it is the ability to drive and not what you are taking that matters.”

    -YOU LAUGH IT OFF AS BEING “incredibly reasonable. Thus, completely unsuited for American political discourse.”

    the pigs did JUST FINE catching drunk drivers, before breathalizers were invented.

    OBVIOUS IMPAIRMENT should be the standard.

    keep the PIGS OUT OF MY BODY. IT IS MINE.
    MY BODILY FLUIDS ARE MY PERSONAL PROPERTY.

    the ” blood testing, cheek-swab saliva testing, epocrine gland (armpit) sweat testing” you advocate
    -GIVES THE PIGS OUR FUC*ING D..N.A., !!!
    AND IS THEREFORE WAY WORSE THAN WHAT WE HAVE NOW.
    THEY CAN’T TAKE D.N.A. without a COURT ORDER, (unless they have a REAL CRIME TO CHARGE YOU WITH, like murder)

    we have allready DEFEATED so many of their LIES, we need to KEEP DEFEATING THEM, NOT GIVE IN TO THEM.

    re; PIGS that say; “what about the children?”

    i have to say “FU*K THOSE PIGS”,
    and “the PIGS NEED TO STOP FU*KING THE CHILDREN”
    -THATS the answer to; “what about the children ?”;
    “the PIGS NEED TO STOP FU*KING THE CHILDREN”

    ALL EVIDENCE PROVES;
    “FU*K THE CHILDREN” is what THEY ARE ALL ABOUT. (ARREST THEM, LOCK ‘EM UP, or their PARENTS, just as harmfull)

    -WE ALL KNOW PROHIBITION HAS BEEN A CATASTROPHY,
    AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER FOR EVERYONE,
    -(except the PIGS and politicians and cartels)
    -ESPECIALLY THE CHILDREN !!!

    repeat after me, as many times as needed;
    1. “PROHIBITION DOES NOT HELP CHILDREN”,
    2. “PROHIBITION DOES NOT KEEP CHILDREN SAFE.”
    3. “PROHIBITION HURTS CHILDREN.”
    4. “IF prohibition helped children, ALCOHOL and TOBACCO would both be PROHIBITED.” goto 1.

    anybody that PLAYS the “what about the children?” card,
    -JUST TO INCREASE THEIR OWN POWER, WEALTH, and for personal AGGRANDISEMENT,

    -with NO ACTUAL REGARD FOR THE CHILDREN,-

    should, IN MY OPINION, be EXECUTED AS A TRAITOR.

    THATS the answer to; “what about the children ?”.

  21. This is an outstanding, well-reasoned analysis. However, is there no reason or room to promote the idea that we refer to ourselves as the Land of the Free? That we have subjugated our precious freedom to a bogus security interest? Inclusion of this rationale for prohibition of prohibition has universal appeal, and even resonates with the TEA partiers among us, who profess a love of liberty and a libertarian viewpoint. Most people are aware that the harms of prohibition exceed the harms of the substance itself; thus, we should ask why, in a nation that extols freedom as the highest virtue, adults cannot partake in a relative harmless diversion without endangering that precious freedom.

  22. I think you have done a good job at finding out why 19 didnt go the distance. My question is what can be done in states that done have the Initiative process to get this on a ballot.
    How do we go about this process when we cant get anything like Initiatives going.
    In Virginia it doesnt take a seed to send you to jail (just an empty bag with residue) is considered paraphanila. Just a question.

  23. re; Russ responds; notwithstanding other laws

    For example, an (existing) law making SMOKING POT in front of a school illegal, would be overturned by a (new) law which says “notwithstanding other laws, SMOKING POT is legal.”
    If the word “notwithstanding” was not there, then SMOKING POT in front of a school would still be illegal even though SMOKING POT itself would be legal at any other location.

    OR;
    For example, an (existing) law (420 / 219) making “99 PLANTS, AND 8 OZ., IN AN UNLIMITED AREA” legal, would be overturned by a (new) law (prop 19) which says “notwithstanding other laws, ONLY A 25 sq. FT. GARDEN, AND ONE OZ., is legal.”

    THANKS FOR THE CLARIFICATION !!

    THANK YOU FOR ADMITTING THAT I WAS RIGHT !!!
    (takes a big man to admit when he is wrong)

    P.S., google it, i did. i gave the legal definition exactly as listed; notwithstanding; In spite of, even if, without regard to.
    -and-
    “Radical” Russ Belville said;
    Standard disclaimer: I am no lawyer… hell, I’m not even a college graduate.

    funny, a national organization can’t get a LAWYER to tell us the meaning of the LAW.

  24. I don’t go along with promoting in body drug tests for drivers or workers! Even the blood and saliva tests are unnecessary, unreliable, privacy violating, unconstitutional warrantless searches of our most private possession, our own body. DON’T FEED THE BEAST! IMPAIRMENT tests make sense and people are plenty smart enough to vote for that if they are given the facts.

    All the facts are on our side, no matter what marijuana issue you want to look at. I tell people all the time that marijuana DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING OR DANGEROUS WORKERS! Even people in the marijuana policy reform movement tend to shy away from that fact. STOP IT! If Rx morphine is safe enough to only have a warning on the label that says, “don’t drive or operate dangerous machinery until you determine how this drug effects you”, then marijuana absolutely should not have more scrutiny than morphine and other far more dangerous legal drugs. If you are too impaired to drive or work safely EVERYONE wants you off the road and out of the workplace. How IMPAIRED someone is, is what matters, NOT how much of something they have in their body, or what they used 45 days ago!

  25. The SAFER CHOICE message is effective because people don’t go along with something that is nontoxic and far less dangerous being illegal. Be sure you say, “the effects of marijuana are NOTHING LIKE ALCOHOL”, then explain the differences. Alcohol is the reference point most people use to compare with, use it to your advantage.

    Would you want a stoned Dr. doing brain surgery on you? YES! If he/she is an experienced marijuana consumer, I would prefer it! Marijuana tends to make people slow down a little and be a little more cautious! It does NOT cause them to be careless or dangerous!

    Speak the truth and don’t be afraid to confront the lies head on! Voter education will end marijuana prohibition but if we in the movement get soft on the facts and try to appeal to the critics, we kill our own arguments. Get tough on prohibitionists. Get tough on untruthful and misleading drug war propaganda and fear mongering! Attack, attack, attack! The truth, science and thousands of years of data are all on our side! You want a cleaner environment? Hemp! You want to end our dependence on far more polluting fuels? Hemp! You want a SAFER substance than alcohol to help you relax or enjoy activities? Marijuana! You want safer medicine? Marijuana!

    Years ago, I talked to all my federal, state and local public servants. It immediately became clear to me that NOTHING good is going to happen until the majority of the voters know the truth about marijuana. They need to know why and how marijuana became illegal. They need to know it is SAFER THAN MANY FOODS WE COMMONLY CONSUME! THEY NEED TO KNOW THE MANY BENEFITS OF HEMP AND MARIJUANA! THEY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HARMS AND WASTE OF THE DRUG WAR! THEY NEED TO KNOW EVERYONE IS HARMED BY MARIJUANA PROHIBITION, NOT JUST THOSE THAT USE MARIJUANA! $70 billion tax dollars are wasted on the drug war every year and Constitutional rights and freedoms for everyone are trashed enforcing this unconstitutional prohibition.

    The more voters that learn the truth the better! After they learn the truth about marijuana and the drug war 80% support rationally regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco instead of prohibiting it. That 80% figure comes from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, consistently, after “LEAP” presentations to law enforcement personnel. That’s cops, judges and others on the front line in the war on drugs supporting legalizing and rationally regulating drugs rather than prohibiting them. If we can win over that many in law enforcement with honest facts, we certainly can do that well or better with the general public! All it takes is getting the truth out loud and clear with no concessions!

    Most homes in the USA have far more dangerous substances than marijuana in their kitchen cabinets and garages, if adults can use those safely and keep their kids safe, then they can certainly do the same with nontoxic marijuana!

    Virtually all the drug war propaganda is nothing but pure lies. Marijuana does not cause aggressive behavior. Marijuana does not cause dangerous driving, Google: MARIJUANA DRIVING STUDY. Marijuana does not cause cancer, brain damage or any serious health problems. Marijuana prohibition does not keep kids away from marijuana, illegal dealers don’t ask for ID. Drug prohibition funds criminals, gangsters and terrorists with hundreds of billions of tax free dollars every year. When you fund something you get more of it. Ending alcohol prohibition is EXACTLY why you no longer see shootouts on our streets between alcohol dealers and all the other harms and corruption that were DIRECTLY CAUSED by alcohol prohibition.

    Anyone that wants marijuana is already getting it, so legalizing and rationally regulating marijuana is not adding another harmful intoxicant to society, legalizing gives people the legal opportunity to make the SAFER CHOICE! Alcohol and tobacco are both deadly, marijuana is not: http://www.saferchoice.org/content/view/24/53/

    The laws prohibiting marijuana are NOT a result of any harm from marijuana. They are the result of racism, lies and greed. Read the well documented proof of that and a lot more marijuana TRUTH in these two articles, “WHY IS MARIJUANA ILLEGAL, Pete Guither” and “MARIJUANA AND HEMP THE UNTOLD STORY, Thomas J. Bouril”, click the links to those articles on the webpage below:
    Internet Explorer web browser: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
    All Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html

    Proposition 19 and the medical marijuana ballot items failed because we got soft on the prohibitionists and their untruthful propaganda. We tried to make the ignorant feel safe about kids, safe on the roads and safe in the workplace, when the truth is, they have nothing to fear from drivers, workers or anyone else that uses marijuana and prohibition makes marijuana easier for kids to get than alcohol or tobacco.

    Hundreds of millions of miles are driven safely and hundreds of millions of jobs are worked safely every year with NO ACCIDENTS OR EVEN CLOSE CALLS caused by drivers and workers engaging in those activities while under the influence of marijuana! I have known hundreds of people that used marijuana while doing dangerous jobs including professional drivers, Dr.’s, lawyers, white collar workers that successfully handle large sums of money and help their clients make sound financial decisions, even hunters with loaded guns! I have known meat cutters, roofers, and a host of construction workers, even several that painted water towers while hanging from ropes, right after using marijuana, no accidents! The fact is, marijuana tends to cause people to slow down a little and be a little more cautious. It does not make people dangerous, stupid or turn them into zombies. Unlike alcohol, people that use marijuana are more cautious, NOT more dangerous. Driving that truth into the heads of the fearful and backing it up with proof will destroy the drug war propaganda fear mongering. If we act like marijuana CAUSES people to be more dangerous we are shooting ourselves and our movement in the head! Just be HONEST and share the brutal HONEST truth across the board. We are our own worst enemy when we try to win the masses by making them feel safe when they have NOTHING TO FEAR and when we propose penalties and drug tests for using something that does NOT cause dangerous behavior! If someone is too impaired to be safe that’s who driving and workplace efforts should be confined to. Proposition 19 hit the nail on the head about workplace Impairment! Impairment is what matters when it comes to driving and working, not drug tests that prove nothing about impairment levels. If we force impairment testing marijuana SAFETY will be self evident.

    http://www.jackherer.com/thebook/chapter-four/
    “In the 1920s and ‘30s, Hearst’s newspapers deliberately manufactured a new threat to America and a new yellow journalism campaign to have hemp outlawed. For example, a story of a car accident in which a “marijuana cigarette” was found would dominate the headlines for weeks, while alcohol-related car accidents (which outnumbered marijuana-connected accidents by more than 10,000 to 1) made only the back pages… This same theme of marijuana leading to car accidents was burned into the minds of Americans over and over again in the late 1930s by showing marijuana-related car accident headlines in movies such as “Reefer Madness” and “Marijuana – Assassin of Youth.”

    The best way to fight this battle is with the truth! Loud and clear! MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR!

  26. While it is true that adjustments need to be made to make legalization more attractive in 2012, I really think wording allowing urine drug testing as a reason to fire someone is a bad way to go. I’m not saying no compromise on the “have to have a reason to test” issue…just the type of test done. Let’s say you look funny to the boss. If there is a test that determines soberness during the last four hours, that could be requested and would by many be considered a valid expectation. If the test routinely produces results that originated prior to an accepted period of time, then it should not be an allowed test. It is not that difficult to set boundaries on the accuracy of a test within defined parameters. Likewise, Bodies of Power should have defined limitations against its citizens.

    Really, employeers just want the option of having the right to request a test. If company policy states one cannot have partaken of MJ in the four hour period before arriving at work, then that is a valid expectation that certainly allows for a defined test if a violation is suspect. After all, how can a person give of themselves to a business if they are being told who they have to employee despite concerns regarding soberness while at work.

    And as for having MJ removed from Schedule 1…I am still trying to solve that puzzle: the component THC is the reason for the classification, or so I am given to understand. Marinol is 100% THC (just like generic drugs, etc., doesn’t matter if it is synthetic or not), which makes me want to say something like, duh! The government also sends MJ cigs to persons, possibly person by now, that a government program began…essentially recognizing its medical value, even if smoked. How can there not be an admission of medical value when those two factors are so public?

  27. re; [Russ responds: Indeed, the debate over whether we pursue medicalization or legalization may be answered by technology; there may be no more medicalization to pursue once Big Pharma gets it.]

    thank you !!!

    this is the soros, mon san toh, corperate-controlled, every-possible-variety-patented, buy more GMO-terminator-seeds every year, sue-you-for-patent-infringement if you don’t buy our insanely overpriced seeds, JUST LIKE IS HAPPENING WITH CORN, con-spiracy theory, that the anti-prop 19 people were worried about,
    -and YOU MADE FUN OF.

    soros is considered an evil villan in england by-the-way…
    he made a fortune, crashing their currency…
    –just sayin’–

    thanks again for your verification and validation !!

  28. re; 3. “We must find a way to integrate the current illegal growers into a new legalized market.”

    answer; full legalization !!

    Q. what does FULL legalization mean to me ??

    A.;
    #1. an ADMISSION that the LIES were just lies.
    and an apology for the lies.
    and a promise they will never again be told by ANY gov’t. agency. (not that i would believe it, but just to get it on the official record)
    #2. SET MY PEOPLE FREE !! release all pot prisoners from jail / probation / forced treatment, and their criminal records cleaned.
    #3. TOTALLY REMOVE POT FROM THE ‘SCHEDULE’ SYSTEM;
    not schedule 2, or 3, or 4, or 5. alcohol is not scheduled, nor is tobacco, so pot has no buisness being on there, either.
    #4. MUST specifically include industrial hemp.
    #5. i can; (or ANY ADULT can)
    grow AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    smoke, (or eat), AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    buy, AS MUCH AS I WANT, (from any grower / source i chose)
    sell, AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    share, AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    possess AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    for recreational / medical / religious use,
    -with NO PENALTY, and no fear of search and seizure or arrest.
    (SALES tax for commercial buisness should be no more than on any other LEGAL product, NO TAX on homegrown or medical. -though i personally think it should ALL be tax free, given that we have overpaid so much for so long. -1,000% or more in $$, plus fear of arrest)

    under LEGALIZATION, ALL POT MUST BE 100% LEGAL !!

    if it is illegal AT ALL, IN ANY WAY, it is not truly LEGAL.

    example; if it is legal under one ounce, BUT illegal over one ounce, that makes SOME POT LEGAL, AND SOME POT ILLEGAL,
    -and the PIGS will STILL have EVERY legal right to stop you, to search you, and to determine WHICH ONE YOU HAVE.

    just like legal medical mj. did not stop all arrests and searches, just because SOME pot was legal.

    the PIGS will NOT give you the PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, -only the PRESUMPTION OF GUILT.
    (presumption of innocence -supposedly- happens in COURT, but nobody is pretending it happens on the STREET)

    when alcohol went from illegal to legal, it was not ‘decriminalized’ in ‘baby steps’, with very low limits, it was INSTANTLY 100% LEGAL.

    and the EXISTING LAW WAS COMPLETELY INVALIDATED,
    -NOT LEFT IN FORCE, with some ‘exemption’ or a ‘work-around’, COMPLETELY INVALIDATED !!

    that’s EXACTLY what we need to shoot for.

  29. Is it really reasonable to expect that growers are going to see any interest in legalization? Wouldn’t it be easier to sell the idea that legalization would actually serve to suppress distribution that is facilitated by the black market? Are there really more pot growers than there are prohibitionists who might be won over if it could be shown that legalization really means the end of the Age of Glamour for cannabis consumption? When you talk about growers, you are talking about organized crime. What good does it do to reconsider a strategy for legalization that includes appeasing organized crime and ignoring the arguments of prohibitionists?

    And by the way, if public perception of “medical marijuana” is changing, then whose fault is that? When was “medical marijuana” anything more than a license to get high? And when does everyone finally realize that medical marijuana has to come from somewhere and that nobody really knows where it coming from? The med clinics are nothing more than legal fronts for more organized crime. Isn’t this a compelling argument to prohibitionists? With legalization comes the end of “medical marijuana”. The minuscule minority of people who really need pot for medical purposes will still be able to get it. Everybody else will flock to the legal outlets, at least everyone who is not growing it themselves or getting it from their neighbors who are growing it themselves.

    I think the prohibitionists can be won over if the pot advocates can confront the reality that once pot is legal, then everybody’s atitudes and consumption habits are bound to change. Smoking pot will just not be as exciting, or daring or adventurous as it once was. Prohibitionists don’t have to worry that it will be become like Budweiser beer. Smoking pot isn’t anything like drinking beer, the most socially stimulating thing about it now is the conspiracy of smokers who dare to do it without getting caught.

    There are those who support medical marijuana and will not support legalization? These are two groups of people. There are the dope dealers who like medical marijuana and know that legalization is the end of their cash cow. And also there are the prohibionists who have been convinced, at one time, that there was some overwhelming need to get marijuana to cancer patients who couldn’t get it otherwise. I know that there are prohibitionists out there that supported the legalization of “medical marijuana”. We can’t sell legalization to the dope dealers. We can sell legalization to the prohibitionists who were duped into supporting medical marijuana. They in turn can sell legalization to the pohibitionists who were smart enough to smell what was going on with “medical marijuana”. The rest who sincerely believe that pot is poison are a small minority of no consequence in the polls.

    Medical marijuan has at least demonstrated one thing. It has demonstrated that people can be turned loose with legally supplied marijuana in large numbers to be used recreationally without it wreaking havoc on society. Sure the clinics are a nuisance, but notice that nobody is complaining about the users. Nobody is running around stoned on a medical license robbing banks or mugging little old ladies. Imagine if crystal meth were available the same way. It would be a nightmare, a real nightmare. But pot deserves to be legalized. It’s working now, it will work. It’s time to cut the black market out of the picture.

  30. The problem is the big brother! If the gov regulates cannabis then it will always be bad for the single cannabis grower that tries to make something for himself on the side when the times are tough. We need one of Us, the unheard small individuals that the bill effects. Why would we take away from the most important part of the economy? The middle class gets harrassed enough for their taxes already and you want to take away our only loop hole? Close the loop holes and write a bill that gives to the growers that put their heart into what they grow. crack down on the “commercial growers” who take away from the small guys while giving a bad rep for all cannabis growers everywhere. If prop 19 can be reformed to help the people rather than the ” save our economy” slogan which everyone knows won’t happen without the support of those small individual growers. The idea that the bill would pass this year was definitely not gonna happen. In order for it to pass you have to give an incentive to both sides. It’s bigger than just trying to make money…it’s about the people who matter most, the honest growers and canna users that aren’t trying to get rich over night. Keep the growing where it should be. In the hills away from the masses of people. Or another way would to have only 1..A single commercial producer per county to supply only the dispensaries within the area. The size of the commercial production should be variated by medical cannabis prescriptions per county. keep cannabis for those who want it and want to use it and make them pay the 100 bucks or whatever. Norml needs to follow those who it would effect the most the people in the north not the chaos of the south……coming from those in the placer foothills where the doorway to the valley of grass is

  31. Alot of good points mentioned, but still I feel it is seriously flawed.

    There seems to be a disparity in the medico-scientific community regarding the facts about Cannabis.

    Ref. The Report. Cannabis: The facts, Human Rights and the Law. (see democracydefined.org)

    This document is written in legal pretence, which collates studies carried out by world-respected academics, scientists, psychologists, sociologists etc., which exonerates Cannabis and vindicates all cultivation, trade, possession and use. It presents irrefutable Legal Grounds for Restoration: Relegalisation, Amnesty and Restitution.

    According to this document, studies have been carried out that prove Cannabis causes NO impairment (in fact it increases your driving ability), something which NORML’s referrenced studies say otherwise.

    As well, it proves and shows studies of Cannabis being prophylaxic, i.e Preventive Medicine for countless ailments and diseases, thereby renedering ALL use of Cannabis ‘Medical’.

    A reason for his could be that (according to The Report) ‘THC’ is not Cannabis. THC is a toxic substance, and it is this substance that has been found to cause impairment and all other ‘harm’ related problems. According to the study, ‘THC’ is not Cannabis just as much as Hydrogen is not Water, and when THC combines with the other substances in the Marijuana plant, we get Cannabis, the benign substance free of all ‘harm’. Perhaps this single factor could be the cause for the disparities in the medico-scientific community regarding the facts around Cannabis.

    Another very important thing The Report brings to light is the CBEE: The Cannabis Biomass Energy Equation.
    According to this Report, Cannabis IS the solution to Global Warming, amongst other things. For all Mankind’s macroeconomic requirements, energy derived from cannabis is cheaper than energy from coal, oil, natural gas, uranium, wind and wave power, geo-thermal, pressed-seed vegetable oils, hydrogen-from-water electrical separation, etc. Cannabis is the most economical resource to fuel and energy known to Mankind. Cannabis-Methanol provides fuel which is pollution-free.

    Besides fuel, products (all fibres, paper, building material, staple food, plastics and other polymers etc.) derived from Cannabis are far superior to almost all products on the market out there today, and when Cannabis is produced solely for the it’s medicinal flower-tops, all these other other things come production free, and the therefore the production of this plant will ameliorate the standard of living for ALL. The CBEE alone will do well to gathering support from the pro-prohibitionists.

    I’m no scientist or lawyer, but after reading this I realised there was a disparity in the Marijuana community regarding the TRUE facts about the plant. With the facts in this book however, I found it uncovered, in a more profound way, how prohibition affects EVERYBODY, and even the most hardened pro-prohibitionists in my circle of friends converted to our side of the cause (full Restoration of the plants former status) after reading the book.

    Please do try to find out about the empirical studies in this book NORML, as I believe it is vital to us achieving the FULL re-legalization of marijuana.

  32. Typo in the 3rd last paragraph*

    When Cannabis is produced solely for it’s medicinal flower-tops, all these other things come production-COST-free.

  33. I have to say I have never been more offended then by the medical movement. I despise doctors and chose to self medicate, therefore total legalization is the only way. I sympathise with the fellow suffering from hypertension. How ’bout suffering from the ignorant masses of nosey lookyloos. this really boils down to if this were a free country more people would mind there own business. I have smoked many types of “weed” since high school “no pun intended” within a vast aray of the social demographic. At one point I smoked with three generations at the same time, the yungest 11 the oldest late 60’s “one family” I’ve heard people try to say it is a gateway drug. Really then why do I refuse to try the dirty brown ” hey ron”. I’ve used cocaine in all its forms, mushrooms, acid, xtc, and every pain pill and muscle relaxer you can imagine. I had no problem not useing with out the help of rehab. How? I like living. My only true addiction is tobacco. I can tell you from experience that marijuana should be the least of our worries.Prohabition is a sham. I can also tell you from experience that nobody, especially polititions, and law enforcement cares about you me or any one but themselves. not doctors, lawyers, or even soccer moms. Of course they claim they do, but they don’t. Not even the preacher cares about our well being before themself. If there is anyone in this whole world that really does care, they are a fire fighter or an EMT. I could make the exception for mother theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and the Dali Llama. In conclusion, Don’t be fooled thinking any one with any power has your best interest in mind. We are all born under the same sun and I don’t believe anyone should have the right to tell anyone what to do with thier life or body if they didn’t squeeze you out of thier vagina. keep fighting the good fight, even if it is for self serving purposes, I’ll help for my own reasons. PS: ever hear of natural selection.

  34. “We’re dealing with an American public that accepts warrantless wiretapping, full-body scanners, and mini-shampoo bottles at the airport to keep safe from the ‘terrists’; it’s gonna be a while before we can get them to accept not drug testing drivers on the freeways.”

    yes, I think the American Public is inured, but that doesn’t mean they would opt to continue it if it were put to a vote: especially if you exposed some truth to it. For example, that study that showed that work place drug testing has basically no effect on work place safety. People would also become very hostile over the idea that companies only implement work place drug testing to get insurance deals, of which the resulting cost savings is not extended to those who have to maintain the cleanliness of their urine.

  35. Jakob Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 4:26 pm
    I also strongly agree that hemp should be included in the next initiative! All potential uses and benefits of the plant should be legal.

    [Russ responds: I disagree. Keep the initiative to one subject: Should we continue to lock people up for use and cultivation of cannabis?

    Now if you pass that legalization for cannabis that has psychoactive levels, haven’t you just legalized the non-psychoactive hemp as well? Hemp doesn’t even need to be mentioned; legalizing pot legalizes it for all uses – medical, spiritual, and industrial.

    Putting hemp in there just creates a side discussion that distracts from the focal point of ending prohibition. It’s not that I don’t agree about hemp’s importance; I just don’t want to give opponents the opportunity to cull the hemp-only supporters from our herd.]

    Wouldn’t Prop 19 only have legalized cultivation of 25 square feet of cannabis? How does that legalize hemp?

  36. cant drop the medical aspect because it exists…because those with serious neuro conditions etc can actually live a life in a bit of peace now and then…you are right, why would a medical user care about the full legalization at this point other than to lower pricing? as it is, the very people messing up the medical side are those who have no reason to be using it as medical marijuana.

    but hey, yeah…blame the people with the major conditions who use this in place of a MAJOR pharm drug.

  37. How about not having Marijuana on the ballot during a mid-term election.

    You really think a bunch of stoned slackers are going to put down the game controller long enough to go out and vote in a mid-term?

  38. I think many commenters are missing the point regarding the roadside sobriety testing for cannabis.

    I’m not saying it’s good, accurate, or necessary for public safety. I’m saying if we’re going to say “treat it like alcohol” the public is going to answer “where’s the breathalyzer”.

    My point about “don’t treat cannabis as the harmful thing” still applies. It’s driving under the influence of cannabis which is proven to be impairing and leads to higher incidence of collisions. If we try to play the “driving high is no big deal” game, we are sunk before we’ve begun.

    Get pot legal first. Once it is legal, we can tear down drug testing and reap industrial hemp. That’s the point.

  39. looks like your showing pennsylvania as a decrimanlized state …being yellow. Although this is not the case. I do think that there are initiatives in philadelphia….care to explain

  40. The war is far from over. It’s just getting started. So the establishment won this time, so what? It always takes people a while to accept what is right. Marijuana is not legal in CA right now because not enough people gave enough $$$ to the cause. It’s that simple. Money makes things happen in this country unfortunetley. You could gather a million good men with good souls and good intentions, and I assure you, the establishment can afford twice as many evil men to shut all the good men up. it’s when good men STAY silent that evil is allowed to take absolute control. We will keep fighting. We will keep fighting for what is right, and we WILL win. No matter how long it takes.

  41. In the not too distant future- Your children, and your children’s children will enjoy mariujana without the fear of being thrown in jail and raped or beaten. Your children will be able to smoke marijuana without fear of having their reputations sabatoged and their futures forfit. For we now all know that marijuana laws do 10 times more harm then the drug THC itself! Prohibition, NOT pot, ruins lives and we’ve had enough. Legal marijuana is coming to America. That is my promise to the establishment. Legal marijuana will be American policy someday. It might take time, but it will happen. It is time for the prohibitionists to lay their arms down and accept what is inevitable. Defeat at the hands of rightous men and women. America belongs to the righteous.

  42. re; #15; workplace drug testing is something everyone has to endure, they all hate it.

    re; #18; warrantless wiretapping, full-body scanners, and mini-shampoo bottles (and INSANE searches) at the airport.

    all of these “leave a bad taste in people’s mouths”, and works in our favor, as more people WAKE THE FU*K UP to the fact that the gov’t. is TOO BIG, TOO POWERFULL, TOO INTRUSIVE, and pays NO attention to the will of the people, at all !!
    -and it doesn’t matter if dems. or reppies are in charge.

    TRUST IN GOV’T. is at an all time low.
    -so they are less likely to keep “buying” the endless lies about pot, and VOTE LEGALIZATION, just to PISS OFF THE POLITICIANS.

  43. re; #88; I also strongly agree that hemp should be included in the next initiative!

    [Russ responds: I disagree. Keep the initiative to one subject: smoked cannabis.

    please remember your history, russ !!

    1. alcohol prohibition was REALLY about preventing home-brewed alcohol from competing with gasoline.

    2. the ‘smoking pot’ prohibition was REALLY about preventing INDUSTRIAL HEMP from competing with OIL-OUT-OF-THE-GROUND based FUELS, PLASTICS, FERTILIZERS, PAINTS, etc., and TREE PAPER.

    3. THE PIGS DON’T CARE !! grow some INDUSTRIAL HEMP, and you will STILL be arrested. current law makes NO DISTINCTION, so why should we ?? keep it simple.

    4. if smoking pot is legal, BUT, INDUSTRIAL HEMP is illegal, that makes SOME ‘POT’ LEGAL, AND SOME ‘POT’ ILLEGAL,
    -and the PIGS will STILL have EVERY legal right to stop you, to search you, and to determine WHICH ONE YOU HAVE.
    -(IF you trust the PIGS to say “you have the legal variety here, you are free to go about your buisness”, go talk to the people who were arrested for having LEGAL medical mj.)

    5. the BASTARDS are REALLY more concerned with keeping INDUSTRIAL HEMP suppressed than keeping ‘smoking pot’ suppressed.
    -BUT OF COURSE, they cannot ADMIT that publicly, without admitting the con-spiracy.

    so, just list ALL 3, SO THERE IS TOTAL CLARITY;

    “notwithstanding existing law;
    -MARIJUANA / CANNABIS / INDUSTRIAL HEMP-
    IS HEREBY LEGAL for adults to grow, buy, sell, posess, gift, share, and use, for recreational, medical, industrial, and religious uses, and cannot be patented.”

    re; Wouldn’t Prop 19 only have legalized cultivation of 25 square feet of cannabis? How does that legalize hemp?

    -it wouldn’t. 25 square feet is WAY TOO SMALL to be worthwhile for INDUSTRIAL HEMP. that is part of why it failed.

  44. RE: Stoned driving, and medical marijuana effects in other states.

    Here in Iowa, our local news went to California, found people on the street “hawking” (as the news put it) marijuana as medical, and winking. They then showed the Iowa Board of Pharmacy stating that California is a model of what goes wrong if medical marijuana programs aren’t strictly controlled.

    As far as stoned driving, regardless of previous DOT findings, a recent study shows that public perception matters. Thomas Fiegan, when he was running for the Democratic bid for US Senate (he lost to Conlin, who lost in the election to Grassley) told me that he would support medical marijuana only when roadside sobriety tests were invented. As I understand it, those tests are in the works but are expensive.

    Anyway, here’s a link to a recent study that shows that, in order to increase support for legalization, the public wants sobriety tests similar to breathalyzers for alcohol…..

    Dangit. I can’t find the study…I just had it pulled up. I’ll post it when I find it again.

  45. I’d like to be a human being please. We should all be sensible adults and realize that if this many people can find a positive use for a plant, than why not legalize? The “nay-sayers” should end their childish games of “who has more money invested where and hemp will cripple me because of it” and understand that people shouldn’t be treated this way.

    On another note, there is no such thing as a political career. This “social madness” should stop.

  46. Hey Russ, thanks for the response. I hope I did not come off as overly antagonistic, at least toward you or your position.

    I respect that what you suggest is the right thing to do now, to get the right thing done later – legalize. But I wonder whether that is what this new ‘faction’ will ever want?

    It boggles my mind that this actually happened. I voted YES on 19; voted for the 1st time @ age 34 on Nov. 2nd; helped my 28 y.o. cousin to do the same exact thing; mutually convinced through discussion with a 40-something co-worker; discovered that my boss of 50-something was voting YES – a wide spectrum of ages, races and stations. This is California. This is 2010. THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN! I just knew it.

    Then I heard about the ‘stoners’ and ‘Pot-preneurs’ AGAINST a beginning to legalization … after almost 100 YEARS of prohibition induced misery and death.

    These persons whom I had just been taken under the ‘care’ of by a ‘doctor’ through some serious marketing were not only charging me prohibition induced prices – a serious financial hardship – but now also encouraging me to help bring down the law that would START the true HEALING process.

    Everyone around the globe that had a stake in this (other than MONEY) was waiting for this to begin now. I don’t want revenge. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again next time.

    Everyone making money off of marijuana DURING PROHIBITION is suspect. Even those within the MedPot Industry made that same basic argument in accusing Richard Lee of getting this off the ground for similar, vested interests!

    Please tell me – anyone – how my 2nd vote will count here if this group keeps getting so much money from myself and my fellow citizens?

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