Imagine walking into a neighborhood store to buy beer, wine, liquor and cigarettes. But on your way home you make one more stop – to buy marijuana, legally. That's the vision Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, will outline at a press conference at Portland City Hall, when she introduces LD 1453: An Act to Legalize and Tax Marijuana. The bill would legalize and regulate marijuana much the same way the state regulates the alcohol and tobacco industries. It would allow adults over 21 to cultivate, possess, purchase and use marijuana within certain limits.
Marijuana prohibition is more than a practical failure; it has been a misuse of both taxpayer dollars and the government's authority over the people. As the steward of reduced prosecutorial dollars, I am the first Seattle city attorney to stop prosecuting marijuana-possession cases and to call for the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana for adult recreational use.
Some anniversaries provide an occasion for celebration, others a time for reflection, still others a time for action. This June will mark forty years since President Nixon declared a "war on drugs," identifying drug abuse as "public enemy No. 1." As far as I know, no celebrations are planned. What's needed, indeed essential, are reflection -- and action.
This week’s Economist-YouGov poll contains some exciting news for devotees of the weed. A huge majority of Americans, more than two to one once don’t knows have been excluded, support the legalisation and taxation of marijuana. Even without excluding the don’t knows, a clear majority favours treating the drug equivalently to tobacco and alcohol. The data (see chart) reveal some interesting patterns. In every age group, more people favour than oppose legalisation. If our poll is right, then it can only be a matter of time before laws start to change, at least in the more liberal states.
The campaign for Proposition 19, which lost 54% to 46% in November, wants to start drafting a new initiative in the spring and to complete it by July, turning then to the expensive and time-consuming task of building support and qualifying it for the November 2012 ballot. Prop. 19 lost support of defense attorneys and medical marijuana distributors; its backers hope to write a legal pot initiative with wider appeal. All sides agree it'll be a complicated endeavor.
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."
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.
Assume for a moment that California voters approve Proposition 19 on Nov. 2. The state will have just enacted a process for legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana use that no one else in the world has ever attempted. But Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama’s top law-enforcement officer, has said the administration will “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws in the country’s most populous state regardless of the vote. For all the trails that approving Prop 19 would blaze, much of its impact would depend on the extent to which Holder follows through on that threat.
Even if Californians vote next month to legalize marijuana, possession of the drug will still be a criminal offense under federal law, which trumps state law almost every time under the U.S. Constitution. But crackdowns on users and small-scale growers could decrease if Californians pass Proposition 19, the ballot measure proposing to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
In a dramatic shift of sentiment, nearly half of California's likely voters now want to legalize marijuana use in the state, according to a new Field Poll. Forty-nine percent of those likely voters now support Prop. 19, with 42 percent opposed. In a July poll, 48 percent of those surveyed planned to vote against the ballot initiative, with 44 percent backing legalization.