Posts tagged ‘California’

Obama’s ‘Change’ Not So Different from Bush Polices

Today, a federal judge sentenced Charles Lynch to one year and one day in prison (366 days).

Mr. Lynch legally distributed medical marijuana under state law in California. However, because he violated federal law, he was tried in a federal court. In court, he was barred from presenting the key evidence: distribution of medicinal marijuana in California is legal.

A few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that the Obama administration would only target those who violate both federal and state law. Lynch’s trial began over a year ago, and Holder did not specify the fate of those whose sentences were still pending.

If the polices have shifted, what is the point of keeping Lynch in prison? In the future, people like Mr. Lynch will never even have to stand trial, let alone be sentenced (assuming the Obama administration honors this promise). Therefore, Obama should pardon Mr. Lynch,  just as Ford pardoned Nixon, relieving him from any criminal record or time in prison.

Call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 and tell Obama that you expect him to pardon Charles Lynch outright. Sample script below:

Hello. My name is ________ and I am calling because Attorney General Holder previously stated that the Obama administration would not punish individuals who distribute and use medical marijuana legally under state law. Charles Lynch was sentenced today to a year in prison for this very charge. While his arrest occured before Obama took office, I expect Obama to pardon Mr. Lynch to demonstrate his dedication to this change in policy.

(Note: While I respect NORML’s request that commuting the sentence would be acceptable, I disagree. Commuting just saves Lynch the prison time, but it does not acknowledge that conviction should never have happened in the first place. Therefore, I expect nothing less than a full pardon for Mr. Lynch).

June 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Governator Doesn’t Believe Information on Marijuana is Available

In a mind-boggling political swerve, Governor Schwarzenegger of California says that he is ‘open to debate’ on legalizing marijuana, ‘if information is available’ about it and countries that have legalized it. (See video, circa 6:00 into the stream).

Ignoring the technicality that no country has legalized marijuana outright (The Netherlands technically still outlaws marijuana in theory, but it is effectively legalized in practice). Countries (and states) that have relaxed their marijuana laws have all experienced success with these policies.

It’s not a matter of the data not being available. Plenty of studies from very reputable sources have analyzed the data and come to the same conclusion: relaxing marijuana laws is the way to go. It’s just a matter of getting our politicians to listen.

May 27, 2009 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Governator Supports Marijuana Legalization Debate

In an official press release, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed support for open debate of California’s marijuana policy:

QUESTION:              A recent Field Poll came out showing a majority of Californians support legalizing and taxing marijuana use. Especially with the money problems the state is having, is it time for the state to start legalizing and taxing marijuana use? 

GOVERNOR:           No. I think that it’s not time for that, but I think it’s time for a debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues, I’m always for an open debate on it. And I think that we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs, what affect it had on those countries, and are they happy with that decision. Or, like for instance in Austria, I’ve heard that they are unhappy with that and they want to roll back some of the decisions that were made in European countries. I’ve had dialogue with experts over there where I was born. So I think that one ought to look at all that. And it could very well be that everyone is happy with that decision and then we can look at that. And if not, we shouldn’t do it. But just because of raising revenues, we have to be very careful not to make mistakes at the same time. 

Coming down on the heels of Tom Ammiano’s introduction of the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act (Assembly Bill 390), this begs a critical question: Does this mean that the governor supports legalizing marijuana? Allen St. Pierre , the Executive Director of NORML, appears on CNN to debate this very point with Kevin Sabet. You decide:



May 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Mexico May Decriminalize Marijuana

On Tuesday, the Mexican Senate passed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana,  as well as of certain other drugs. Felipe Calderón, the President of Mexico, sponsored the bill, which means that he will certainly sign the bill if it passes through the lower house. The Mexican Congress already passed a similar bill in 2006; however Vicente Fox (then-President of Mexico) vetoed the measure.

This bill would send low-level drug dealing cases to state courts, making the offfenses no longer federal crimes.

If passed, this law could provide a new incentive for the federal government – or even especially state governments in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – to adapt local laws in order to make the drug trade from Mexico less profitable. (Hint: one way to do that would be to provide a legal market for drugs within those states!) One of those states is already ahead of the curve with Assembly Bill 390, introduced by Assemblyman Ammiano.

May 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm 1 comment

California Hearing on Marijuana Postponed

The hearing on Assembly Bill 390, which seeks to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in California, has been postponed. This is good news; it gives activists more time to contact officials and urge them to support the bill.

As stated before, this bill could prove to be a landmark in the quest for drug policy reform. Make the most of this added time to ensure that your legislators support the bill.

March 29, 2009 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Marijuana Tops Open for Questions Again

Open for Questions is open again, and you can ask Obama questions directly. Voting ends tomorrow morning at 9:30, and he will answer the questions at 11:30.

It should come as no surprise that marijuana is an important topic. Fifteen questions about drug policy reform are in the top ten of their category. That is, the top two questions under ‘Green Jobs and Energy’, the second question under ‘Jobs’, the top four questions under ‘Financial Stability’, and the top seven questions under ‘Budget’. 

Clearly, people understand that marijuana policy reform is important for a variety of reasons. Make sure Obama receives this message so loudly that he cannot brush the question off again. Vote now.

The current top questions per category:

Budget:

  1. “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?”
  2. “Mr. Obama, Thank you for allowing us to ask our questions to you, unfiltered. What is your stance on legalizing marijuana federally, taxing it and regulating much like alcohol and tobacco? I believe that the Drug War has failed, and needs overhaul.”
  3. “I am not a marijuana user, but I do believe that making marijuana legal could provide some relief as to it could be heavily taxed and regulated. Legalization of marijuana will also be a detriment to the drug cartels in Latin America.”
  4. “Have you considered legalizing marijuana and taxing/regulating it like alcohol? Marijuana is America’s largest cash crop. The tax revenue from marijuana sales would provide a massive source of new revenue and cut the insane costs of the “Drug War.””
  5. “Mr. President, we the people continue to ask you this general question, please do not fail to respond: Will you allow science and common sense to reign and end this failed WAR ON DRUGS starting with the legalization and taxation of Marijuana?”
  6. “Should the recreational use of marijuana be legalized and taxed if it will help California reduce its budget deficit? How will you and the federal government respond if such a law is passed by the California legislature?”
  7. “Are you willing to seriously consider the idea of curtailing the failed & expensive drug war in favor of a fair, responsible policy of decriminalization? With Mexican gangs, drug-related disease, & addicition going unchecked we need another solution.”

Green Jobs and Energy:

  1. “”Will you consider decriminalizing the recreational/medical use of marijuana(hemp) so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?””
  2. “Has your administration given any serious thought to how legalizing marijuana could help solve the economic crisis? We could tax this green product and create an influx of cash while reducing violence created by the war of drugs & illegal trafficking”

Financial Stability:

  1. “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”
  2. “Has the administration given any thought to legalizing marijuana, as a cash crop to fuel the economy? Why not make available, regulate, and tax something that that about 10 million Americans use regularly and is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.”
  3. “Growing up I have noticed many around me always talk about legalization of marijuana, and I always thought, why not put a tax stamp on it. If marijuana was legalized it could really change a lot of things. America had the same problem with Alcohol.”
  4. “Could legalizing marijuana and laying a tax on it, given restriction allow the government make back some of the glaring debt considering it’s inelasticity and the history of economics of prohibition?”

Jobs:

  1. “As a student, who like so many others works full time and attends school full time, only to break even at the end of the month. What is the government doing to make higher education more affordable for lower and middle class families?”
  2. “What are your plans for the failing, “War on Drugs”, thats sucking money from tax payers and putting non-violent people in prison longer than the violent criminals”

March 25, 2009 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

California Hearing on Marijuana Legalization Approaches

One week from today, the Committee on Public Safety and Health will hear testimony surrounding Assembly Bill 390. The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act (as it is known) would allow people over 21 to purchase legal marijuana in California. (The existing medical marijuana policy in California would not be affected, and medicinal marijuana would not be taxed).

Contact your representatives and urge them to support the measure. (This is especially important if he or she serves on the committee). A letter or phone call takes only a few minutes and could allow this bill the chance to be put to a vote – and even enacted. A sample letter is available through NORML’s automated feature, and an alternative sample letter/call script is below:

 

Dear Assemblyman/Assemblywoman _____________:

I am writing to ask for your support on Assembly Bill 390. The bill, also called the  Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, would regulate and tax marijuana while restricting its availablity to adults over the age of 21.

If passed, the taxes would raise over $1.3 billion dollars in revenue every year, according to reports by the State Board of Equilization. It would also limit access to those over 21, which would reduce use by children. Finally, it would allow law enforcement to focus on more serious and dangerous crimes, improving public safety.

Prohibition wastes taxpayer money at a huge cost to public safety, whereas a legal source of regulated, taxed marijuana would eliminate the illegal marijuana trade. For these reasons and the huge tax benefits in these economic times, I urge you to vote “yes” on Assembly Bill 390.

Sincerely, 

___________

 

The act is indeed seminal; Massachusetts has already introduced two similar bills (SB 1801 and HB 2929). If this passes, it would be a monumentous step forward in drug policy reform. Please help ensure that it passes by contacting  legislators.

March 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm 1 comment

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