Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes Proposition 19, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but he offered a consolation Thursday by signing a bill that would downgrade possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor to an infraction. SB 1449 was written by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who said it will keep marijuana-related cases from going to court-clogging jury trials, although the penalty would remain a fine of up to $100 but no jail time.
A new law makes possessing up to an ounce of marijuana in California no more serious than getting a speeding ticket - a development both sides battling over a marijuana legalization ballot measure hope to exploit with the vote just a month away.
We investigate how the legalisation of cannabis in California could impact the economy and the criminal justice system.Cannabis is California's number one cash crop. This fall, voters will decide whether or not to fully legalise the drug and transform US drug policy.
Legalizing marijuana in California will not dramatically reduce the drug revenues collected by Mexican drug trafficking organizations from sales to the United States, according to a new RAND Corporation study. The study calculates that Mexican drug trafficking organizations generate only $1 billion to $2 billion annually from exporting marijuana to the United States and selling it to wholesalers, far below existing estimates by the government and other groups.
Proposition 19 has a chance of winning mainly because Californians have become rather relaxed about weed. Back in 1972 a proposition to legalise the drug was defeated almost two-to-one. These days, fully half of Californians tell pollsters they favour legalisation, and almost as many admit to having smoked marijuana themselves, which probably means that a big majority have actually done so.
If California votes in favour of legalisation, Mexico would be wise to follow suit (the bottom would anyway fall out of its marijuana business). The drug gangs would still be left with more lucrative cocaine and methamphetamines. But it would become easier to defeat them. The idea of going back to a tacit bargain that tolerates organised crime, favoured by some in Mexico, is inimical to the rule of law, and thus to democracy and a free society. The sooner Mexico turns its new-found sense of urgency into a more effective national policing and law-enforcement strategy the better.
The leaders of several Latin American nations on the front lines of the battle against drugs said Tuesday that a California ballot measure to legalize marijuana would send a contradictory message from the United States.The Nov. 2 election in California was a key topic as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hosted the presidents of Mexico and three other countries at a one-day summit.
Just say no, the slogan says. But on November 2, California has the chance to say yes, at least to marijuana. Proposition 19 would legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis, abolishing an ineffective and socially damaging prohibition on a substance with fewer health risks than alcohol and tobacco. The Golden State should vote to legalise dope.
What was Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos smoking? Colombia has long been an obedient lieutenant in the U.S.-led war on drugs, yet there was Santos musing out loud — at a presidential summit, of all places — about the possibility of exporting bales of marijuana to California dopers. "I would like to know," he said on Oct. 26, "if the eighth-largest economy in the world and a state that's famous for high technology, movies and fine wine, will permit marijuana imports?"
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."
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.
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.
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.
After an annual survey of teen drug use nationwide found that marijuana smoking is on the rise among eighth- through 12th-graders, Kerlikowske attributed the uptick to California's Proposition 19 and other states' initiatives to legalize medical marijuana. "Mixed messages about drug legalization, particularly marijuana, may be to blame," he said in a news release. "Such messages certainly don't help parents who are trying to prevent kids from using drugs."
The West Coast is a different world when it comes to progress on drug policy reform. Three of the four states most likely to see strong pushes for marijuana legalization in the next couple of years are on the West Coast (the other being Colorado). And medical marijuana is a fact of life from San Diego to Seattle. But it's not just pot politics that makes the West Coast different. The region has also been a pioneer in sentencing reform and harm reduction practices, even if countervailing forces remain strong and both policy areas remain contested terrain.
California lawmakers are looking at a range of bills to expand, contract or change state marijuana laws. Legalization proponents say it reflects a political disconnect on an issue much of the public considers mainstream. Lawmakers took steps recently to ban pot shops from residential neighborhoods and give local governments the authority to shut down problem operators. They also rejected proposals to reduce penalties for illegal pot cultivation and protect medical marijuana patients from workplace discrimination.
"The war on drugs has failed," said a recent report compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which comprised a former UN secretary-general, former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, a former US Secretary of State and a host of public intellectuals, human rights activists and politicians.
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.
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?