Despite Proposition 19's loss at the polls this month, marijuana-legalization advocates in California are already working on their comeback plan for 2012 and are almost giddy about their prospects. They see the election as a trial run that could lead to a campaign with a better message, a tighter measure and more money. Both the winning and losing sides say California's voters rejected this specific initiative but remain open to legalizing the easily obtainable drug.
The new conservative Dutch government wants to force the country's marijuana cafes to become "members only" clubs, a move that would effectively block foreigners from buying the drug. If the idea ever becomes reality — it would be legally complicated and politically divisive — it would be the latest of the country's liberal policies to be scrapped or curtailed as the Dutch rethink the limits of their famed tolerance. While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold openly in designated cafes for decades, and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.
Imprisoned cannabis farmer Bernard Rappaz has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days in protest at a prison sentence he considers too high. Doctors have refused orders from the authorities to force feed him. In the latest twist to the story, the Federal Court rejected Rappaz' appeal for his imprisonment to be suspended. Rappaz, who is well known as someone who has fought for the legalisation of cannabis, received a prison sentence of five years and eight months for violating the federal drugs law.
Drug use and abuse are social and pubic health issues. But these drug laws started as purity laws in a progressive effort to stop pharmaceutical companies from addicting their unknowing customers to substances like heroin and cocaine added to common products like cough medicine and soft drinks. We have lost sight of these original goals.
One might have expected the principals of the Proposition 19 campaign to partially decriminalize marijuana possession and use to be a little chagrined in the wake the initiative's 54-46 loss after it had maintained a narrow but reasonably steady lead in the polls until a couple of weeks before Election Day. But in two teleconferences in which I participated after the election, they were remarkably upbeat, celebrating Prop. 19 as the proposal that finally brought marijuana legalization into the mainstream, garnering mostly favorable news coverage worldwide that significantly advanced the debate over marijuana legalization.
By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have given their OK to legalized medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases. The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to approve a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states and Washington, D.C., have followed suit.
Proposition 19, which would have legalized in California, received more votes than the Republican nominee for governor. It also received untold news coverage, bringing the debate a new level of legitimacy in the eyes of many supporters. And while it lost — with 46 percent of the vote — its showing at the polls was strong enough that those supporters are confidently planning to bring it back before voters in California, and perhaps other states, in 2012.
A U.S. federal appeals court judge says the United States should consider legalizing marijuana. Judge Juan Torruella tells a law school audience in Puerto Rico that experimenting with legalization of marijuana and perhaps other drugs is a better way to reduce drug abuse and crime.
Despite Proposition 19's loss at the polls last week, marijuana legalization advocates in California are already working on their comeback plan for 2012 and are almost giddy about their prospects. They see the election as a trial run that could lead to a campaign with a better message, a tighter measure and more money. Both the winning and losing sides say California's voters rejected this specific initiative, but remain open to legalizing the easily obtainable drug.
Colorado marijuana activists, undaunted by California’s failure to legalize the drug, said last week they are launching two separate campaigns to legalize marijuana for adults in 2012. The groups announced their intentions even as voters in more than two dozen Colorado municipalities decided last week to ban medical marijuana centers. But advocates who want to legalize the drug see hope in Colorado, one of 14 states where medical marijuana is legal, and where Denver voters approved an ordinance making marijuana possession the “lowest law-enforcement priority.”
Voters in more than a dozen state legislative districts backed dramatic expansions to legal access to marijuana in Tuesday’s elections, and advocates plan to use the results to press lawmakers to loosen restrictions on the drug. Advocates placed 18 advisory questions on Tuesday’s ballot to get a sense whether voters would support another overhaul of marijuana laws.
Supporters of legalizing marijuana in California spent the day after the election laying the groundwork to rebound from their 54%-to-46% defeat and return to the ballot in two years. "We have a debate that was just heard around the world, and the conversation has only just begun," said Dale Sky Jones, a spokeswoman for the Proposition 19 campaign. Although California voters did not buy the argument that marijuana should be legalized like alcohol, many agreed that it should be taxed like it. Voters in 10 cities overwhelmingly approved taxes on sales of medical and recreational pot.
California voters rejected Prop. 19, but a post-election poll found that they still lean toward legalizing marijuana for recreational use and, if young voters had turned out as heavily on Tuesday as they do for presidential elections, the result would have been a close call. "It is our view, looking at this research, that if indeed legalization goes on ballot in 2012 in California, that it is poised to win."
California voters weren't high on a ballot measure aimed at legalizing marijuana and appeared to heed warnings of legal chaos and a federal showdown when they defeated the initiative to make the state the first in the nation to allow the recreational use and sale of pot. Supporters of Proposition 19 blamed Tuesday's outcome on the conservative leanings of older voters who participate in midterm elections. They acknowledged that young voters had not turned out in sufficient numbers to secure victory but said they were ready to try again in two years.
The campaign's message was, win or lose, the initiative has stimulated widespread debate and shown that the nation's ban on marijuana is destined to fall. "Millions of people will vote for Proposition 19," said Stephen Gutwillig, the California director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "We will never go back to a time when marijuana reform was outside the realm of thinkable thought."
The traditional Dutch tolerance of the sale of small amounts of marijuana through licensed "coffee shops" is under severe strain. On 14 October a new coalition government was sworn in. Part of the coalition agreement stipulates that coffee shops "will become private clubs". In other words, no tourists.