Archive for Friday, March 26, 2010

Pot vote isn’t just hippies versus cops

March 26, 2010


— Now that a proposal to legalize pot is on the ballot in California, well-organized groups are lining up on both sides of the debate. And it’s not just tie-dyed hippies versus anti-drug crusaders.

So far, the most outspoken groups on the issue are those affiliated with California’s legal medical marijuana industry and law enforcement officials who vehemently oppose any loosening of drug laws.

But the campaign that unfolds before the November election could yield some unusual allies: free-market libertarians joining police officers frustrated by the drug war to support the measure, and pot growers worried about falling prices pairing with Democratic politicians to oppose it.

Others believe legalizing and taxing the drug could improve the state’s flagging economy.

“We spend so much time, our police do, chasing around these nonviolent drug offenders, we don’t have time anymore to protect our people from murders and child molesters,” said Jack Cole, president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group that plans to champion the California proposal between now and the election.

The initiative, also known as the “Tax Cannabis Act,” received enough signatures this week to qualify for the November ballot. If it is approved, California would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults.

The measure would also give local governments the authority to regulate and tax pot sales.

According to campaign finance records, nearly all of the more than $1.3 million spent on the campaign to qualify the question for the ballot came from businesses controlled by the proposal’s main backer, Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee.

Lee operates a medical marijuana dispensary and cafe in downtown Oakland and is the founder of Oaksterdam University, which trains people to run their own medical marijuana businesses. According to the school, more than 5,000 students have completed their programs.

The largest donations from an individual not connected to the marijuana business came from George Zimmer, founder and chief executive of the men’s clothing chain Men’s Wearhouse.

Television viewers know Zimmer as the Fremont-based company’s longtime pitchman in commercials. But he is also known as a longtime supporter of efforts to liberalize the nation’s drug laws.

Opponents contend that the legalization effort will pit a few wealthy individuals against regular Californians who will provide the groundswell needed to defeat the measure.

“You have rich dilettantes who want to legalize drugs and ordinary people who consider the ramifications of legalization on their communities and their families,” said John Lovell, a lobbyist representing several law enforcement groups opposed to the initiative.

Lovell pointed to the lopsided defeat of a 2008 ballot issue that would have pushed treatment instead of prison for drug offenders as a sign of voters’ leanings. Supporters of the measure heavily outspent opponents, but it was defeated 59 to 41 percent.

The anti-legalization campaign has not reported any contributions yet, but workers are reviewing what they believe are major flaws with the ballot initiative. They say the proposed law would allow pot to be grown in public parks and fail to prevent people with prior drug convictions from selling pot.

Meanwhile, some well-known liberals have come out against it, including the state’s presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Brown, who was seen in the 1970s as an icon of California’s counterculture, told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month that he was “not going to jump on the legalization bandwagon.”

“We’re going to get a vote of the people soon on that, but I’m not going to support it,” he said.


phoggyjay 4 years ago

Finally... a smart sensible solution to battle a state's deficit.


Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

If this passes, there are going to be a lot of people moving to California, I'm sure!

And, they won't pay taxes on just the weed, they're also going to pay California state income tax.


malcolmkyle 4 years ago

Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

By its very nature prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model - the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous, ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved.

Many of us have now finally wised up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation, which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco --two of our most dangerous mood altering substances. But for those of you whose ignorant and irrational minds traverse a fantasy plane of existence, you will no doubt remain sorely upset with any type of solution that does not seem to lead to the absurd and unattainable utopia of a drug free society.

There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody 'halfway bright' and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem; it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand.

No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, diminution of rights and liberties, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

If you still support the kool aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.

The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation!


lawthing 4 years ago

Good thing kansas dont have a State Budget crisis!

Our revenue is so on track we not only dont need the millions of tax dollars that would be made from Marijuana sales





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