Posts Tagged ‘pot’

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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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.

It’s dope cop Valhalla in California.  Obama sets ‘em up; the DEA locks ‘em up.

Evidently, the memo sent out by the Department of Justice reiterating Obama’s pledge to keep federal drug enforcement away from state-legal, medical marijuana growers and dispensaries didn’t make it to a number of DEA in-boxes.

According to a story at the Huffington Post , immediately after Obama’s inauguration, the DEA showed Obama what it thought of his no-bust policy with a raid in Lake Tahoe on January 22 (2 days after Obama was sworn in); 5 raids in L.A. on February 5; and1 in Fort Bragg on February 11.

When Attorney General Eric Holder got news of his underlings’ feeding frenzy he “spoke out in late February,” reminding the DEA of his boss’ policy on medical marijuana.

Apparently, Holder’s message had a 5-month sell-by date, because the DEA was back in full flower by August when agents hit a dispensary in Upper Lake, California. Then, in what must have been a spectacular display of watch synchronization and hushed “roger thats,” they helped local law enforcement take down at least 20 San Diego clubs in one day on September 9.

A story out of Colorado further demonstrates the ominous beauty of the government’s double standard on medical marijuana.

According to 9News.com, Colorado-legal pot grower Chris Bartkowicz had been a subject of a Channel 9 News story about medical marijuana cultivation in Denver’s suburbs.

Last Thursday, the station ran a tease featuring Bartkowitz. The next day—before the full story even aired—agents from the Denver branch of the DEA swooped down on Berkowitz’ operation, arresting him and seizing his inventory and growing apparatus.

It’s “good cop-bad cop” on a grand scale. The Obama administration lulled this grower into a false sense of such security that he agreed to do a TV interview about his business. All the DEA had to do was watch the local news to put Bartkowitz in handcuffs and federal, mandatory-minimum territory—a potentially life-destroying place.

Obama’s Dis-joint-ed Response

Did the DEA’s blatant disregard of the President’s policies cause Obama to hit the roof?  Did he rake Holder and DEA commanders over the coals for such blatant displays of poor management and insubordination?

Not quite.

According to Salem-News.com and Change.org, Obama has quietly nominated Bush appointee Michele Leonhart, currently Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division, to become the next head of the DEA.

Leonhart is not just a dope cop. She is a zealot. While she was orchestrating raids on Los Angeles cannabis clubs, she also managed to find time to block top university medical researchers’ requests to determine marijuana’s medical efficacy.

In other words, Leonhart, who has been characterized by the Drug Policy Alliance as “Ashcroft’s Mini-Me,” is not just intent on enforcing federal marijuana laws, she is also dead-set against finding out why those laws may be wrong.

After all the campaign pledges and pro-medical marijuana rhetoric, Obama’s choice to head the DEA is, to say the least, confusing. But, one message is crystal clear: if you sell or grow legal medical marijuana, don’t do TV.