Backers of an effort to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use in Washington state submitted more than 340,000 signatures Thursday to try to qualify their initiative, a move protested by some legalization supporters who say the proposal would hurt medical-marijuana patients. About a dozen protesters carried signs that read "Legalize, not penalize," and shouted as members of New Approach turned in signatures for Initiative 502 to the Legislature.
The youth vote helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency, but that enthusiasm has declined sharply. One issue might reignite youthful enthusiasm: marijuana — partly its medical use, but especially the right to recreational use free of potential arrest. Police arrest youth for marijuana possession by the hundreds of thousands, threatening life prospects for a young man or woman saddled with a permanent "drug arrest" record that's easily located by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks. Small wonder that 62 percent of young Americans (ages 18 to 29) now favor legalizing marijuana, as a Gallup poll reported.
King County authorities and the Washington State Public Stadium Authority have agreed to stop harassing people collecting signatures outside the Seahawks football stadium for an initiative that would legalize and tax recreational marijuana in the state. One of the collectors, Benjamin Schroeter, was arrested Nov. 13 after he refused an order to stop collecting signatures for Initiative 502 in a public area outside the stadium where fans were tailgating.
While it is allowed in some form in 16 states and Washington, DC, Colorado is the leader in trying to make medicinal pot a legitimate business. It has been legal since a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution in 2000, but the for-profit side only took off two years ago after the legislature allowed individual counties and towns more flexibility in interpreting the rules. Over a hundred have done so.
As proponents of a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana near the deadline to turn in signatures, they face a puzzling picture of the electorate. An independent poll this summer found a slender majority of Coloradans support legalizing cannabis. But whenever marijuana has actually appeared on the ballot in Colorado in recent years — most commonly as measures to ban dispensaries and other marijuana businesses — it has generally fared poorly.
An effort to decriminalize and tax recreational marijuana sales for adults in Washington state has won some high-profile endorsements — including from two former Seattle U.S. attorneys and the former head of the FBI here — and its sponsors are well on their way to collecting enough signatures to place the measure before the Legislature. But even if backers gather enough signatures for Initiative 502 and the measure ultimately becomes law, the effort is a gamble because, in the event of a conflict with federal statutes, the feds would trump.
According a recent CBS News poll conducted at the end of October, a slim majority of 51 percent continues to think that marijuana use should be illegal. But support for specifically allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for serious medical conditions - or legalized "medical" marijuana - is far stronger: 77 percent Americans think it should be allowed.
I-502 has about 230,000 signatures and almost certainly will qualify for the November 2012 ballot. If I-502 were to pass, the state Liquor Control Board estimates that about 445,000 people — 10 percent of the adults over age 21 — would use marijuana. The analysis estimates that 95 percent of users would consume two grams a week, and the remaining 5 percent would smoke 2 grams a day. Based on those estimates, I-502 would make marijuana a top-five agricultural product in Washington, with gross receipts of nearly $582 million. With a 25 percent tax at each link of the production, distribution and retail chain, I-502 would generate $215 million a year, with nearly two-thirds of it earmarked for research and addiction prevention.
A former federal prosecutor and two former judges who have not only observed but also enforced marijuana laws at the federal, state and local levels ask that these laws be changed. It is time for a different, more effective approach. That's why they endorse Initiative 502, which would decriminalize marijuana in our state and make a long-overdue change for the better in public policy.
GOP presidential candidate Gary Johnson drew headlines earlier this month when he said he would issue a full presidential pardon for anyone serving a prison sentence for marijuana. He elaborated on that promise adding that it's only a matter of time before marijuana is legalized. "Clearly it is when, not if," he said of legalizing cannabis. "When 50 percent of the population says to the other 50 percent, 'You belong behind bars for your actions,' that's not good law, that is just not good law at all."
The California Medical Association made news when it became the first state medical association to recommend the legalization and regulation of cannabis. The CMA's Council on Scientific and Clinical Affairs noted in its recommendations that there is an increasing body of evidence that marijuana may be useful in the treatment of a number of medical conditions, but research to determine both risks and benefits is hampered in the United States because marijuana still is classified as an illegal drug.
Most of us can agree that current drug policy in North America is a disaster. The global war on drugs can’t be won. Locking up addicts in jail is both futile and inhumane. We’re squandering billions on policies that hurt people and don’t work. Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, thinks our current policies are a disaster. But he also thinks the legalizers are just as misguided as the hard-liners with their fantasies of a drug-free world. His information-packed new book, Drugs and Drug Policy, is full of inconvenient facts that demolish both the hawks and the doves.
Many Americans continue to believe that marijuana should be legalized, but are not supportive of making other drugs readily available, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found. In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,003 American adults, 55 per cent of respondents support the legalization of marijuana, while 40 per cent oppose it.
The bulk of the marijuana consumed in the United States used to come across the border from Mexico, Canada and elsewhere. Now, more than half of it is believed to be home grown in California, where an enormous black market has emerged under the cover of the state’s medical marijuana law. With more than a third of all states now experimenting with some form of legalization and decriminalization — and several California counties attempting to openly regulate pot production — Frontline and the Center for Investigative Reporting team up to investigate the country’s oldest, largest and most wide-open marijuana market. Is the federal government now moving to shut it down?
A new marijuana legalization ballot measure was cleared Monday to start seeking petition signatures. But its proponents aren't affiliated with the Oakland-based backers of last year's Proposition 19, who intend to mount a 2012 initiative of their own. The state attorney general's official summary says the measure, named by its proponents as "The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012," would decriminalize marijuana sales, distribution, possession, use, cultivation, processing and transportation by people at least 21 years old.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
06 July 2011
Let's be clear: HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, proposed by Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul, does not "legalize drugs" or even so much as legalize marijuana. Rather, this legislation removes the power to prosecute minor marijuana offenders from the federal government and relinquishes this authority to state and local jurisdictions.
The bipartisan measure -- H.R. 2306, the 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011' and sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank and Texas Republican Ron Paul prohibits the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess personal use amounts of marijuana by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
The bill introduced today would allow states to determine their own marijuana laws -- not just medical marijuana laws -- without federal interference. The bill would also remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Since Congress and President Nixon placed marijuana in the strictest of five schedules in 1970, marijuana has been in the same category as heroin.
It's been forty years since President Nixon declared a "war on drugs." And we're not winning. In local communities, Black and Latino men are being singled out unfairly and fed into the prison system for minor drug offenses; in Mexico, an unspeakably brutal drug war continues with no signs of cessation; sick people continue to be denied legal access to medical marijuana that could ease their pain. But there are signs that things are changing.