Posts Tagged ‘marijuana legalization’

Cartel kingpin “El Barbie”

As Election Day creeps closer, the rhetoric against Proposition 19–California’s marijuana legalization measure–is getting louder, weirder and more successful.

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows Prop 19 trailing 49% to 44% among likely voters, proving once again if you shout lies loudly and often enough, people will eventually begin to believe them.

WTF

It’s hard to tell which tidbit of misinformation has scared California voters the most. I suppose employers aren’t comfortable with the idea that Prop 19 would protect raging dope fiends from being fired, as the anti-19 forces would have them believe. The notion that taxing marijuana sales will miraculously fail to produce any revenue for California or its cities is also a bit of a disappointment, I would imagine. But, I’ll bet the fear has something to do with kids and marijuana’s logic-defying reputation as the “gateway drug.”  Because every junkie started with pot, the warning goes, legalizing cannabis will make it easier for your kids to buy and smoke the stuff, and in no time at all, those sweet little lads and lasses will become smack vampires who will drop out of school, steal from your purse and not show up at Thanksgiving dinner. Of course, by that logic, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and polio vaccine are also gateway drugs, but there is no monetary incentive in banning those drugs, so they remain legal.

The Great Slogan Search

In this blog’s daily stats and  “Search Terms Used to Get to Your Site,” I’d been noticing a dramatic increase in search terms, like “best anti-prop 19 slogans” and “what are the slogans for no on prop19?”

At first, I was surprised that the searches led readers here; Craving Sense is a pro-19 blog. It indicated folks were having trouble finding slogans for the campaign to defeat Proposition 19. But every campaign has slogans, I thought. Was the “No on Proposition 19” drive the only wrongheaded campaign in modern history to go the distance without even trying to come up with a nice, punchy line that would thoroughly confuse and mislead people into voting “no”?

Then it hit me. Of course the Anti-19 people are having slogan trouble; the reasons for opposing Prop 19 are so convoluted and complex it would be difficult to convert them into snappy, vote-getting one-liners suitable for banners, buttons and posters. Slogans like “You won’t be allowed to discipline a stoned employee if Prop 19 passes,” and “Proposition 19 is a badly written law with lots of loopholes and stuff” just don’t have the zing to compete with pro-19 slogans, like “Just Say NOW!” and the right-on-point, “Legalize, Regulate, Educate, Medicate.”

Even though the latest polls show the Anti-19ers are doing just fine without them, I knew there had to be some “No on Proposition 19” slogans somewhere. But finding them meant I would have to go where the Forces of Darkness congregate. I would have to use phrases like “marijuana cigarette” and “taking the pot” just to blend in.

Off I went though, looking for the catchiest and most heartfelt “No on Proposition 19” slogans out there. Truth be told, they were not easy to find. It seems most of the organizations and corporations financing the “No on Prop 19” drive prefer to stay in the shadows—no lawn signs in front of Coors corporate offices, for instance. But, dammit, I wasn’t about to let my readers down, so I kept hunting and finally found…

The 5 Very Best No on Prop 19 Slogans

From the California Prison Guards Union:

KEEP OUR PRISONS FULL…AND OUR TREASURY EMPTY.  NO ON 19! [found on baseball caps worn by patrons of Ronny’s Booze  and Broads, favorite watering hole for guards and other prison workers at nearby San Quentin State Prison]
 

From the National Association of Beer Breweries:

DON’T TRUST A DRUG THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU WANT TO BEAT UP YOUR WIFE.   NO ON 19! [discovered on cocktail napkins at the organization’s Annual Convention Dinner]
 

From the Greater Mexico Association of Drug Cartels:

NO VOTAR POR LA PROPOSICION 19. ¡VIVA EL STATUS QUO! [carved into the chest of drug-related murder victim number 28,001–La Ciudad Juarez]
 

From the United Group of Southern Baptist Ministers:

EVERY UNITARIAN STARTED WITH MARIJUANA: NO ON PROPOSITION 19! [delivered during opening benediction by group’s president at monthly Bible Study and Gun Show]
 

From the Republican National Committee:

NO ON EVERYTHING (including 19)! [found on Republican Rep. Darryl Issa’s lawn sign–next to sign reading “Get Government out of Our Lives!”]

*

This opportunity to bring a touch of sanity to the miserable failure that is “The War on Drugs” will not come again soon. Hell, I don’t even smoke the stuff, but every day my life is adversely affected by this counterproductive, cruel charade. As I slalom around the growing number of potholes in our roads, I think of the sheer waste of public money spent on enforcing this prohibition.  I look at our crumbling schools that manage to graduate half of their students, while teachers–the ones who still have jobs–spend their own money on class supplies, and I think about the revenue that a regulated and taxed marijuana would produce.

Most importantly, I think about the tyrannical chutzpah of a state deciding for its residents which substances are OK to get high on, and which aren’t.

Then, of course, there’s that ever-present queasiness I feel about my tax dollars being used to lock people up for growing and smoking a substance that is proven to be less harmful than tobacco and alcohol.

Proposition 19 looks like it’s headed for Nice Try-ville. The only thing that can possibly save it is your vote.

Post-Mortem

Well, as everyone knows by now, Prop 19 did indeed wind up in Nice Try-ville. In the end, the prohibitionists prevailed 53% to 46%. To celebrate 19’s defeat, I’m sure they all went out and had a nice, legal alcoholic beverage or a few milligrams of highly-addictive, prescribed Valium, or any number of buzz-producing substances that make corporate manufacturers lots of money.

Take heart, though; weed will become legal in the not-too-distant future. According to a Pew study, American support for the all-out legalization of the stuff has grown from 12% in 1969 to 41% in 2010–a major shift of public opinion. I suppose that’s part of what makes this loss so damned frustrating. In the meantime, pot smokers and personal-use growers will continue to be fined, arrested and jailed, Mexico will continue its devolution into murderous anarchy, and the Prohibition Sluts who financed 19’s defeat, will continue to prosper from this nonsensical restriction on Californians’ personal freedom.

Maybe the main problem was Proposition 19’s official name, “The Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act,”

If it had been called, “The Personal Freedom, Kick the Cartels’ Asses & Help End our Tragically Futile War on Drugs Act,” Proposition 19 might have fared a little better.

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Cartel kingpin “el Barbie” knows Prop 19 would be bad for business

The current political climate in California is enough to make you fire up an industrial strength bong, and smoke yourself into oblivion. But don’t…at least not on November 2nd.

There is only one hope for Proposition 19. On election day, every regular user and casual toker of the devil-weed must drop that doob, and get to the polling place. In addition, every single Californian who believes the War on Drugs has been–and continues to be–a colossal failure, must make their disgust known to the “tough-on-drugs” vote mongers in Sacramento and Washington by pushing that chad (all the way through) for a big fat “Yes” vote on 19. Without the “smoker” and “fed-up” voters charging to its rescue, Prop 19 is doomed.

If that doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of the personal liberty-minded, remember, this chance to bring a touch of common sense to our government’s lunatic drug policy will not come again anytime soon. While such prohibition profiteers as beer bottlers, prison guards unions and booze distilleries have anti-pot war chests bulging with dollars, pro-legalization groups like California NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance simply don’t have the resources to launch major political campaigns every election cycle. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Oakland Pot pioneer Richard Lee’s initial dollars and efforts, Prop 19 would probably be gathering dust in political Palookaville.

Enthusiasm

With energized Republicans smelling blood in the water, and dejected Democrats sitting in a corner, preemptively licking their wounds inflicted by the predicted Republican massacre, California polling places will be teeming with people who think the movie Reefer Madness is a powerful documentary.

But, if every Californian who believes this prohibition is wrong gets to his or her polling place, Prop 19 would sail to victory by such a wide margin, politicians from Modesto to Manhattan would be forced to take notice. Who knows, they might even start applying a little common sense to America’s drug problem.

*

Benefits of Legalization

As a casual observer (non-pot smoker) I look at the benefits of Proposition 19:

  • A potential windfall for state and local California governments that currently can barely afford to buy staples. An estimated $1.4 billion in state taxes [CA Board of Equalization estimate] that can be used on jobs, education and our deteriorating infrastructure
  • Less time and money spent by law enforcement on the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of people for using and growing a substance proven to be less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.
  • Ending the state’s totalitarian chutzpah of legislating its residents’ morality–a golden opportunity for people to let government know what they think of the destructive farce known as “the War on Drugs”
  • No more ruining people’s lives for growing and smoking a substance used and enjoyed by millions of Californians
  • New industry—new jobs. Tourism, Amsterdam-style coffeehouses, marijuana trade schools, designer roach clips and “limited edition” rolling papers–the possibilities are endless.
  • Fewer bureaucratic hoops to jump through for medicinal users
  • No appreciable increase in usage caused by legalization [found by many studies, including a recent study by the National Research Council, and reinforced by Portugal’s decriminalization of all drugs with no resultant spike in overall use]
  • [Last, but certainly not least] A major setback to the psychopathic, all-powerful narcotraficantes who are on the verge of destabilizing Mexico with money and guns from trafficking in marijuana–estimated to be 16% to 50% of their illicit drug revenue.

Downside of Legalization

Then I forage through the misinformation — that Prop 19 will… “lead to more pot addicts,” “prevent employers from disciplining stoned employees,” “not provide revenue for state and local governments” (because…well, just because) —  and I look for the honest-to-goodness negatives if the personal recreational use and cultivation of marijuana becomes legal in California… and I look, and I look, and I…

The new Reuters/Ipsos poll has Prop 19 going up in, uh, smoke. With 53% opposing the measure, and 43% in favor. Historically, when a proposition goes into October with those kinds of numbers, things generally turn out very badly for that proposition in November.

The Republican Factor

With all their time spent opposing mosque-building, the Employee Free Choice Act, and every decent proposal that comes up before Congress, I figured Republicans had finally used up their lifetime allotment of “No”.

How wrong I was.

According to the poll, two out of three California Republicans are saying “no” to Prop 19. Though Democrats favor the plan 54% to 45%, it is nearly impossible to rise above those Republican numbers.

Though there are more Democrats than Republicans in California, the GOP’s unity in lunacy always proves to be a formidable opponent to Democrats’ raging confusion–I mean, “diversity of opinion.”

It appears the “Party of Small Government,” wants a government small enough to deny extended unemployment benefits to onetime members of the once thriving middle class, but big enough to keep homosexuals from being married, women from controlling their reproduction, and everyone from smoking marijuana.  I guess Republicans actually belong to the Party of Situational Small Government.

Call to Action

When November 2nd rolls around, let’s ignore the depressing realities of California politics. Let’s pretend that Meg Whitman was unable to purchase her current neck-and-neck position with Jerry Brown, as the latest polls suggest. In fact, let’s pretend that Republicans are as clinically depressed as Democrats.

Let’s energize ourselves into believing that our votes–the pot-smoker votes, the had-it-up-to-here-with-the-Drug War votes, and the fiscally responsible votes–will come together and save the day.

California has millions of regular users of cannabis. Who knows how many social tokers there are out there? Toss in the Common Sensers, and you’ve got a potential voting bloc that would make Jerry Falwell jealous.

Proposition 19 can win, friends. All we have to do is vote.

[originally published in OpEd News]
Actually, there is no pat meaning or definition for the phrase “family values.” Like obscenity, I guess you just know it when you see it. 

Often used by social conservatives to conjure up a mythical America of yesteryear, the phrase evokes an era when everyone’s lawn was green, thick and well manicured, kids were obedient, and “Lassie” had no genitalia—long before liberals turned us into gay, pot-smoking abortionists, before minorities and women got so noisy and before movie stars said naughty words on screen.

Today many Republicans use the term as a weapon against same-sex marriage, legal abortion, the decriminalization of marijuana and a zillion other issues they find unacceptable.

To clarify our terms, I suggest we define “family values” as “valuing the American family.” “Republicans” will mean “the movers and shakers of today’s dynamic GOP.”

Valuing the Family… the Republican Way

To be fair, I think Republicans do value families — but only their own. Everybody else’s family is either trying to stay in the country illegally, getting rich and lazy on welfare, undeserving of a living wage, a terrorist cell, or immorally trying to become a family while being gay.

Though many Democratic leaders share the blame in the Great Stacking of the Deck Against American Families, these Democrats tend to be of the sneaky, corporate shill variety who are often at odds with American families’ wishes and their own party’s positions (see Public Option). Republicans, however, are very open about their willingness to throw the American family under the bus in the name of big business, bigotry, big business, bad judgment and big business.

There is really no reason—or enough room on my hard drive—to go into all of the sordid, headline-grabbing family values hypocrisies of such Republican pillars of wholesomeness as Sen. David “Escort Service” Vitter and Sen. Larry “Strokin’ in the Boys Room” Craigs. Though these indiscretions do highlight the dilemma of a party that professes to love America but can’t tolerate how Americans live, they are not the result of official party policy, as far as I know. Rather, it’s the official, loudly-touted policies of today’s lockstep GOP leadership that amply demonstrate the party’s disregard for the majority of American families.

With the possible exception of a proposed Wendell Willkie postage stamp, every major item on the GOP wish list would prove disadvantageous or downright devastating to most American families if ever put into effect.

Here are a few:

Deregulation

As homeless shelters burst at the seams with newly impoverished families, and old folks wonder how on earth they’re going to get through their golden years now that their 401(k) is in tatters and their home is worth borscht, Republicans are clamoring to let the Wall Street robber-barons who drove our economy into a ditch continue to speed along with even fewer rules of the road.

Rather than offering to commit public seppuku for creating the Reagan-Gramm deregulation free-for-all that made the Wall Street greed orgy and collapse possible, Republican enablers like Sen. Mitch McConnell and others call Obama a socialist for wanting more governmental oversight of the industry, whining in chorus that such intrusion into the private sector would kill jobs and stifle innovation.

Yeah, we saw the kind of “innovation” Wall Street is capable of.

By the way, whenever you hear a sentence containing any form of the words “job” and “kill” spoken by a Republican, remember who was steering the ship of state when the jobs began to die. You’ve got to admire Republican testicular strength, though—if nothing else—for even mentioning “deregulation” and “jobs” in the same sentence.

Anti-Unionism

For the last thirty years Americans have watched their wages shrivel while CEOs have increasingly taken home salaries and bonuses that would make the Sultan of Brunei blush. According to a University of California Santa Cruz study, the top 20% of households owned 85% of all privately held wealth in 2007—leaving the rest of us 80% to divvy up the remaining 15%.

Oddly enough, it was also during this time that Republican policies, votes and propaganda made it more difficult for workers to unionize. Organized labor has gone from representing one-third of America’s workforce in 1950 to just 11.9% in 2010. Union membership in the private sector is down to a feeble 6.9%. It’s no coincidence that Americans’ earning power accompanied that decline. Where did America’s middle class go? It committed suicide in the voting booth.

Yet Republicans continue to paint unions as enormously powerful bogeymen and have even ramped up their union bashing. Why? As organizations of and for working Americans, unions tend to favor Democrats. Republicans know if they can get rid of unions completely Democrats will lose the financial support and organizational strengths unions have historically given to Democratic politicians and issues. In the end, Republicans would have the support of Big Business and all the votes corporate money can buy while Democrats would be out on the street with a hurdy-gurdy and a monkey.

Incredibly, Republicans have managed to get a surprising number of American workers—low skilled through professional—to swallow this anti-union codswallop. For these Americans, the image of collective bargaining has morphed from Woody Guthrie rousing a union hall with his guitar into Vito Corleone spraying the room with a sub-machine gun.

Apparently, these Americans have forgotten where living wages, worker safety, tolerable conditions and decent hours came from in the first place. Those who think these advances for American workers and their families came from the goodness of corporate hearts should be made to write “British Petroleum” 100 times on the blackboard, or at the very least, read this little heart-warmer about two high-level Massey Energy executives and their descent into the Upper Big Branch coalmine immediately after the mine’s deadly explosion. Heroic rescue attempt or an attempt to destroy evidence and rescue themselves from criminal indictments and billions in fines and civil judgments?

Anti-Same-Sex Marriage

By attempting to end these families before they’ve even begun, this Republican position affecting a large number of our countrymen and women may be the hands-down champ of blatant, Republican anti-family-ness. Good lord, fellas, I know this issue whips your Tea Party pals into a white-hot lather, but sometimes, reason, fairness and the U.S. Constitution must win over political expedience…mustn’t it…sometimes?

I really don’t think anyone with the power to reason still believes that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, a  naughty experiment or juicy flaunting of our moral code. No one really thinks that teenagers choose to be slammed into lockers by lettermen clubs, or look happily forward to the day they will tell their parents to “forget about grandchildren from me.”

So, what we have here is a major political party attempting to punish and marginalize a large segment of the American population by trying to prohibit them from doing what comes naturally: fall in love and get married. As gays and lesbians try to lead their lives despite cruel prejudice and religious dogma that holds approximately the same modern relevance as stoning your son to death for being a gluttonous drunkard (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), the Grand Old Party does its level best to keep anti-gay bigotry loud and alive by demanding prior restraint on would-be families with its Marriage Protection Amendment to the Constitution.

Lifting the Assault Weapon Ban

What can anyone say about this Republican wish and its potential effect on American families, other than “Lift the assault weapon ban?

Come November

The Republican Party’s long tradition of siding with big business over the American family continues to chip away at the average American’s earning power and standard of living. However, the damage a Republican controlled Washington could further inflict on American families isn’t limited to economics. When you toss in other family-unfriendly Republican positions on global warming, preemptive and continual war, education, reproductive rights and family planning, and their new jaw-dropper regarding unemployment insurance creating  “lazy” Americans, it’s not too difficult to figure out which party’s policies and worldview promote “family values.”

The truth is, until special interest money is removed from our electoral system, neither party will truly be the champion of the American family. Sadly though, with the Republican majority of the Supreme Court opening the corporate spigots wide with its Citizens United ruling, that heavenly day is likely to be a long, long way down the line.

Forced to choose between the two parties, however, the American family would be wise to go with the Democrats. The Grand Old Party is too darned busy trying to keep people from voting, selling American families to the highest corporate bidders, undermining the Obama presidency at the country’s expense and coming up with new and better ways of converting Americans’ lesser angels of fear and bigotry into political power to even care about how American families are doing.

For a scary trip down the Republican rabbit hole:
2012 Texas Republican Platform: A Frightening Look Inside the New Republican Brain

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According to the L.A. Times, the most recent survey shows that opposition to California’s marijuana initiative is growing, putting the nays ahead of the yeas for the first time since Proposition 19 qualified for the November ballot.

The Field Poll showed 48% of likely voters are now against the initiative with 44% in favor. “History suggests that chances aren’t good when you start out behind,” poll director Mark DiCamillo told the Times.

Surprisingly, attitudes about the initiative seemed to break along ethnic lines, with white males evenly divided and Latino, African and Asian Americans opposed. “There just might be greater concerns within the ethnic community about the social effects,” DiCamillo said.

Women also oppose the measure by 9 points.

How I See It

Yes, yes, I confess; like a zillion other Californians, I have been under the influence of pot…and hated every dry-mouthed, fearful, migraine-producing moment of it. I discovered early on that cannabis and I were never going to be friends so I hung up my roach clip for good a long time ago. Considering today’s prices, I’m glad we never hit it off.

But a number of my chums, who were introduced to marijuana at roughly the same time as I, found pot to be an enjoyable way to relax and have a good time. Truth be told, I was a wee bit jealous and secretly thought their lack of paranoia while high was an indictment of my comparatively dysfunctional brain.

As we went on with our lives, some of my pals gave up reefer because of the legal risk. Others, however, continued to buy and use marijuana for two simple reasons: they liked it, and they weren’t about to tolerate an arbitrary, pointless intrusion into their personal lives by moralists—or worse, by prohibition profiteers like cynical “tough on crime” politicians, the prison guards lobby and booze distilleries. I understood their point, but quietly wondered if the risks they were taking were worth it. Remember, not long ago it was a serious crime to be in simple possession of the stuff, and “felony arrest and conviction” does not look good on a resumé. But, even after marijuana laws were liberalized in 1975 it was still illegal to use it, and still criminalized enough to produce nearly 75,000 arrests in 2007 alone.

Gradually, I came to admire my more stubborn friends for sticking to their guns. I mean, why was it that I could go to the liquor store and legally buy a fifth of cirrhosis and two packs of lung cancer, while my buddies had to synchronize watches and arrange secret trysts to purchase a much less harmful substance? Though I’ve known a number of people who have run into life-changing problems with alcohol, not one of my pot-smoking buddies has ever lost his or her marriage, career or health to out-of-control marijuana use. As with all mind-altering substances, I’m sure it happens; it just didn’t happen to any of my friends. Their freedom, however, was threatened every time they lit up.

Wishful Thinking

Call me naive, but I thought Californians had had enough of this cruel, silly proscription. I really believed the numbers would improve as November approached. I thought Prop 19 would have solid bipartisan support—that conservatives crying for less government intrusion and progressives alike would consider Prop 19 a golden opportunity to strike a blow for personal freedom while bringing some much-needed revenue to our state—not to mention the added benefit of damming a major tributary of the drug cartels’ cash and weapons flow.

But, these new numbers are worrisome. They indicate that the well-crafted misinformation being tossed around is doing its job. Against all reason and experts’ findings, the anti forces tell us Prop 19 will lead to an increase in crime and addiction. I’m not really sure what “crime” they’re referring to (with pot legalized), and no credible study has found that Prop 19 would lead to more reefer fiends. Jeesh.

This is It

This chance to carve a little sanity from the miserable lunacy that is the “War on Drugs” will not come again soon. Unlike the moneyed opposition, pro-Prop 19 organizations like California NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance do not have the resources to mount major political campaigns every election cycle. If Prop 19 is defeated in November we will all continue to pay the price for many years to come. Our state will lose the opportunity to develop a significant new source of revenue; We will continue to dump $170 million per year for the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of marijuana offenders, and for the foreseeable future, millions of regular users (and countless “social tokers”) will be forced to choose between sneaking around like thieves in the night or involuntarily changing their lives by government fiat.

[originally published as “Califonia’s marijuana initiative in trouble: Stop pot on top for first time]

Though Californians will decide in November whether their state will be the first in the nation to legalize recreational use of marijuana, the three leading candidates in California’s gubernatorial race have already made up their minds on the issue.

According to the Sacramento Bee, this is what they had to say about legalization of the devil-weed:

Republican Meg Whitman (by spokesperson): “absolutely against legalizing marijuana for any reason. … She believes we have enough challenges in our society without heading down the path of drug legalization.”

Republican Steve Poizner (by spokesperson): “feels we need an across-the-board tax cut to reignite our state’s economy, not an attempt to smoke our way out of the budget deficit.”

Democrat Jerry Brown to a meeting of law enforcement officials: “I’ve already indicated that that’s not a provision I am likely to support, I have been on the side of law enforcement for a long time, and you can be sure that we will be together on this November ballot.”

Finally, a point of bipartisan agreement.

Something Missing

Another thing all three statements have in common is the complete avoidance of any substantial reason for their opposition.

Meg Whitman’s “we already have enough challenges” approach assumes that personal freedom granted to a large number of California pot smokers would be a problem. Somehow, the reduction in taxpayer spending on incarceration, the courts and law enforcement–plus the huge dent in the dope cartels’ cash stream that legalization would create adds up to a “challenge” by Whitman’s reckoning.

Steve Poisner’s answer was simply an opportunity to recite the Republican tax-cut mantra—with an inane reference to “smok[ing] our way out of the [State’s] budget deficit” tacked on. I’m not even sure what that means.  Actually, I’m not sure he knows what that mans. But since he brought it up, to completely disregard the tax revenue that would be generated by controlled, taxed, commercial distribution of a very popular drug is a wee bit, well, stupid.

Brown

Then, there’s Jerry Brown. Mr. Brown may be one of the more enlightened of the three (faint praise, I know), but he is also a politician. His “I’m with law enforcement” statement was made to a group of law enforcement officials meeting in Sacramento.  What else would he say? “After careful study of academic, legal and medical reports—and deep reflection on my own personal use of the stuff back in the 60s and 70s, I’ve come to the conclusion that you law enforcement people have been wasting your time and causing untold misery to many decent people for the last 85 years. Marijuana is enjoyed by millions of Californians. To allow the manufacture and distribution of alcohol and tobacco, but draw the line on a substance that has been proven to be less harmful than both of the other substances makes no sense at all, is unconstitutional, and is, in all truth, very, very destructive. And remember, vote for me. Thank you.

Brown also left a little wiggle room with his “not a provision I am likely [italics mine] to support.” Who knows, he may change his tune if the numbers supporting legalization continue to grow.

Wide Support

According to Reuters, legalizing marijuana “appears to have broad support in the state, with some 56 percent of Californians surveyed in an April, 2009 Field Poll saying they favored making it legal for social use and taxing the sales proceeds.”

The most recent polls show support for the initiative has declined somewhat, but no matter how you slice it, a whole lot of Californians think the ban on reefer should be lifted.

Once again, it appears the led are leading the leaders.

Though some California marijuana workers are joining a union, don’t expect medical marijuana bosses to be calling out the “gun thugs” and the Pinkertons anytime soon.

With California voters evenly split on the upcoming initiative to legalize the recreational use of pot, courtship by the 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) could help lend an image of mainstream legitimacy to the pot trade before voters go to the polls in November.

According to the L.A. Times, about one hundred employees at three Oakland medical marijuana businesses became the first pot workers to join a union when they announced Friday that they had become members of UFCW Local 5.

“They want the community to understand them as decent, hard-working people,” said Dan Rush, director of special operations for Local 5.

Richard Lee, owner of a number of medical marijuana businesses and a main sponsor of November’s pot initiative, welcomes the move to organize his employees. “It’s another validation of the idea that the cannabis industry is a legitimate industry that creates taxpaying jobs,” Lee said.

In a further step toward legitimacy, Lee and the Local’s president, Ron Lind, are trying to win an endorsement for the November initiative by the powerful California Labor Federation. “I’m guessing there would be thousands of workers, if it passes,” Lind said.

Lovell Strikes Again

Unsurprisingly, John Lovell, spokesman for various law enforcement groups and über-anti-pot spokesman, sees Lee’s enthusiasm for the organization of his employees a bit differently. “He’s scrambling. He’s trying to do different things. I get that,” Lovell said. “I just don’t think it’s going to be successful.”

According to a Public Policy Institute of California survey taken last week, likely voters in the state now stand at 49% for, and 48% against the initiative. The new move to organize marijuana workers could very well find new support for the initiative from union members in general and members of the UFCW specifically.

So, why does Lovell believe the initiative will fail? Will we voters suddenly remember the wisdom of throwing people in jail for using, growing or selling a substance that is enjoyed by millions and is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol?

Maybe Lovell believes we will consider it a good idea to keep supplying huge revenue streams and guns to violent cartels by continuing to give them the opportunity to black market the stuff.

Perhaps Lovell thinks California voters will choose to show solidarity with those who profit mightily from marijuana prohibition, like prison guards unions, alcohol distilleries and phony “tough on crime” politicians rather than realize the potential of a new tax windfall for our cash-strapped state.

Then again, maybe Lovell is just saying what any good lobbyist for law enforcement would say—and he needs no real explanation.

Originally published at Examiner.com as “California pot workers get smart: Look for the union label”

As always, for the best information on this subject and other drug policy issues, visit the Drug Policy Alliance and NORML