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Prop 19 Goes Up In Smoke

LOS ANGELES — California voters declined to make their trendsetting state the nation’s first to legalize marijuana use and sales, heeding warnings of legal chaos and that pot smokers would get behind the wheel and show up to work while high.

The legalization effort was losing by nine percentage points with more than two-thirds of precincts reporting. Backers showed support for the measure by gathering outside the campaign’s headquarters to watch returns come in – some of them lighting up joints to mark the occasion.

Supporters of Proposition 19 blamed Tuesday’s outcome on the conservative leanings of older voters who participate in midterm elections. They also 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.

“It’s still a historic moment in this very long struggle to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Project. “Unquestionably, because of Proposition 19, marijuana legalization initiatives will be on the ballot in a number of states in 2012, and California is in the mix.”

Tim Rosales, who managed the No on 19 campaign, scoffed at that attitude from the losing side.

“If they think they are going to be back in two years, they must be smoking something,” he said. “This is a state that just bucked the national trend and went pretty hard on the Democratic side, but yet in the same vote opposed Prop 19. I think that says volumes as far as where California voters are on this issue.”

The campaign pitted the state’s political and law enforcement establishment against determined activists. Images of marijuana leaves and smashed-up cars and school buses appeared in dueling ads during the campaign.

In a sign of what a tough sell it was, an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press showed opposition cutting across gender and racial lines, as well as income and education levels.

The ballot measure lost in the state’s vaunted marijuana-growing region known as the “Emerald Triangle” of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties. Many in the region feared the system they have created would be taken over by corporations or lose its purpose. Continue reading

Marijuana on the ballot: 6 states moving toward ‘legalization’

While the battle to control Congress is getting most of the pre-election ink, voters in several states will also be deciding how to states handle the touchy issue of marijuana’s legal status. Fourteen states already have medical marijuana laws on the books, and more are likely to vote in doctor-approved pot use this year or in 2012. (Watch a Reason Magazine report about legalization’s consequences.) Here are six states that could take a major step down the path toward decriminalization (or even legalization) on Nov. 2:

California
Passage of Proposition 19 by Golden State voters would create by far the most permissive marijuana law in the nation. The ballot measure would legalize — at the state and local level, anyway — recreational amounts of marijuana and allow local goverments to tax and regulate sales of the drug. The contentious battle over Prop 19 is creating some strange political dynamics, says NPR‘s Mandalit del Barco. For instance, many growers and “stoners” are opposed to the new taxes and government oversight, while some cops and mothers’ groups support Prop 19 as a way to take profits out of the hands of drug dealers and Mexican cartels. None of that may matter, says Nate Silver in The New York Times, since support for the measure appears to be “going up in smoke” as the election nears. Today it stands no better than a 50-50 chance of passing.

Oregon
More than one in every 100 Oregonians already smokes marijuana legally for medical purposes, and Measure 74 would let them purchase their pot from state-licensed growers and nonprofit retailers, or dispensaries (under current law, card-carrying smokers have to grow their own marijuana, or designate someone to grow it for them). The problem with the measure, says The Portland Mercury in an editorial, is it has no regulation mechanism to assure “all pot is safe and legal,” like other medicines. Oregon should learn from the mistakes in California and Colorado, “and do ours better.” But Oregon already “took the main step” of legalizing medical marijuana, says the Albany (Ore.) Democrat-Herald in an editorial, and “if something is legal to use — such as liquor and tobacco — it’s not unreasonable to authorize places where it may be sold.”

Arizona
Proposition 203 would allow Arizonans with a host of diseases to possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot with a doctor’s recommendation. They would be allowed to buy medical marijuana from nonprofit, state-licensed dispensaries, or grow it themselves if the nearest outlet is more than 25 miles away. “Opponents worry it will bring more crime, substance abuse, and corruption to our state,” says Lori Jane Gliha at ABC News 15. But with polls showing it the most popular measure on the ballot, with 54 percent support, “we’ll go out on a limb and say [it] will probably pass” anyway, says Ray Stern in the Phoenix New Times.

South Dakota
Measure 13 is a do-over for South Dakota medical-marijuana proponents, after a similar measure in 2006 fell short by about 15,000 votes, or 4 percentage points. Activists “think they can get over the top this time around,” says Phillip Smith in Drug War Chronicle, with restrictions carefully tailored “to win over a skeptical and conservative prairie electorate” — to wit, the proposed law limits people with specific conditions to one ounce and only upon the recommendation of a doctor with whom they have “bona fide relationship.” But not all skeptics are convinced: “I just think it’s a total scam being done by people interested in legalizing marijuana,” says Yankton County (S.D) Sheriff Dave Hunhoff. “If they want to legalize marijuana… they should just stand up and use that argument.”

Vermont
The Democratic candidate for governor of the Green Mountain State, Peter Shumlin, publicly advocates the decriminalization of marijuana, says Ron Kampia in The Huffington Post. And if he beats Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R), who is “ultra-hostile to decriminalization,” Vermont — which already has a medical-marijuana law — “has a good chance of decriminalizing the possession of marijuana,” too. But Shumlin can’t count on getting every pro-pot vote, says Brad Sylvester in Yahoo News, since he’s also facing Liberty Union candidate Ben Mitchell, whose platform calls for making Vermont into the “Amsterdam of the U.S.”

Massachusetts
In November, 73 Massachusetts towns and cities will vote on a nonbinding ballot measure instructing state lawmakers “to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate the taxation, cultivation, and sale of marijuana to adults” — in short, to legalize pot. Although only 13 percent of the state’s voters will see the ballot initiative, its sponsor, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, says majority approval would lay the foundation for a statewide, binding ballot measure in 2012. State voters have already approved decriminalization, says Michael Cutler in Wicked Local, and “the sky hasn’t fallen.” Full legalization would better limit access to the drug and raise revenue.

Article written by The Week

Weed On The Ballot [video]

From CNN:

EDIT: Video has been removed, sorry.

Oregon and Detroit Both to have Marijuana on the Ballot in Fall

A campaign for a system of medical marijuana supply systems in Oregon turned in enough signatures to put the measure on the November ballot – if the signatures are valid. According to an early turn-in, the initiative for a medical marijuana supply system has gathered 115,404 signatures. It needs 82,769 verified names of registered voters to make the ballot.

The preliminary total only reflects the signatures gathered by paid petitioners through May. The campaign will continue to gather signatures up to the July 2 deadline to give them a cushion for names that have to be thrown out.

Also, a Detroit City Council committee passed today on amending a city ordinance to allow adults in the city to legally possess a small amount of marijuana. Instead voters will get to decide in November.

Brought to you by the Coalition for a Safer Detroit – the same group that successfully got medical marijuana placed on the ballot in 2004 which passed – the ordinance amendment would allow anyone 21-years-old or older to legally possess less than an ounce of marijuana on private property, amending Chapter 38 of the city code regulating controlled substances.

Tim Beck, a registered medical marijuana user who filed the petitions, says the amended ordinance would “free up the police department to pursue crimes with actual victims.”

Dennis Mazurek, assistant corporation counsel with the city Law Department, told the council’s Internal Operations Committee that the ordinance amendment violates state law, specifically, the Michigan Public Health Code, and cannot be enacted. The state only allows registered medical marijuana use.

According to the City Clerk’s Office, the Coalition submitted 5,750 signatures in May; 3,895 were required and 4,598 were validated.

Beck is confident voters will pass the ordinance, as they passed the medical marijuana ordinance in 2004.

“It’s going to win,” he said. “I have no doubt about that.”

Written by: The Weed Blog

Measure to legalize marijuana will be on California’s November ballot

An initiative to legalize marijuana and allow it to be sold and taxed will appear on the November ballot, state election officials announced Wednesday, triggering what will probably be a much-watched campaign that once again puts California on the forefront of the nation’s debate over whether to soften drug laws.

The number of valid signatures reported by Los Angeles County, submitted minutes before Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, put the measure well beyond the 433,971 it needed to be certified. Supporters turned in 694,248 signatures, collecting them in every county except Alpine. County election officials estimated that 523,531 were valid.

The measure’s main advocate, Richard Lee, an Oakland marijuana entrepreneur, savored the chance to press his case with voters that the state’s decades-old ban on marijuana is a failed policy.

“We’re one step closer to ending cannabis prohibition and the unjust laws that lock people up for cannabis while alcohol is not only sold openly but advertised on television to kids every day,” he said. Continue reading

Marijuana Legalization Officially Qualifies for California Ballot

It’s official. Tax Cannabis 2010, the most far-reaching state effort ever, which would legalize the consumption of cannabis for all adults over 21 — and would finally take the industry that serves those consumers out of a legal gray area — will qualify for the November mid-term ballot later today.

The Tax Cannabis campaign gathered just under 700,000 signatures, well over the 434,000 needed to qualify for the California ballot.

For background on the initiative, read my extensive analysis of the campaign, spearheaded by Richard Lee, the pot entrepreneur behind Oaksterdam University in Oakland.

From that article, here’s a primer on what this measure would change, if it were to pass:

The measure does not actually legalize pot as much as it absolutely decriminalizes certain marijuana offenses. (Marijuana has been “decriminalized” in California since 1975, but it still can generate a fine, an arrest and a misdemeanor charge on your record.) Tax Cannabis institutes a one-ounce personal possession limit and allows for limited personal cultivation.

Interestingly, the ballot initiative refers to local control, meaning that cities and counties can decide whether to allow regulated marijuana sales at all, and if so, how that would work. Tax Cannabis allows for the personal consumption, possession and cultivation of cannabis by any adult over 21 throughout the state, but the business of it would be left to local jurisdictions. (A few people suggested Lee was inspired by his home state of Texas’ dry-county, wet-county policy regarding alcohol sales.)

Polling shows that a growing number of people here in California think legalization is the right solution to this particular segment of the drug war. A poll in April showed 56 percent support for legalization. And Tax Cannabis’ internal polling in March found 44 percent support among likely California voters in non-presidential elections. This was followed by an August internal poll that found 52 percent support by likely November 2010 voters.

These slim majorities are not ideal, but that’s why Tax Cannabis is focused on a public-education campaign, and will be targeting their message to fit the different concerns and needs of all kinds of voters across the state.

I still stand behind what I wrote back in January: This is the best chance for marijuana legalization on a state-level yet. And as 13 states have followed California in legalizing medical marijuana, other states could similarly follow it if legalizes cannabis this year. In other words, as goes California, so could go many others.

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