Buying Initiatives 

††Buying Initiatives 

Posted by CN Staff on May 21, 2003 at 16:28:57 PT
By Daniel Forbes†
Source: †

A House committee is marking up a bill on May 22 that could strike at the heart of ballot initiatives nationwide, significantly undermining the efforts of drug policy reformers. A little-known segment of a bill reauthorizing the mission of the nation's anti-drug agency could give the drug czar authority to use taxpayer dollars to pay for media campaigns directly targeting state ballot measures. If the bill passes, and agency chief John Walters uses public funds to hammer initiatives the administration opposes, it would run counter to the whole purpose of ballot initiatives, establish a disturbing precedent for federal electioneering and hobble advocates pushing for saner alternatives to the War on Drugs. 
The Office of National Drug Control Policy already advertises extensively, but is currently not allowed, at least not technically, to campaign specific initiatives that would soften the punitive federal stance on drugs on the airwaves. While the drug czar's mission is to "take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form)" that is a Schedule 1 drug such as marijuana, the portion of ONDCP law that governs media prohibits advertising "for partisan political purposes." The new changes would bring media under the former mission, prior strictures on partisan political purposes be damned. Moreover, the ONDCP would no longer have to identify itself as the sponsor of the messages, reversing an FCC ruling and making the ads potentially much more effective as propaganda tools. That is, the legislation specifically exempts the media campaign from the Communications Act of 1934, tossing aside the principle that, as the FCC ruled in 2000 regarding anti-drug messages that the White House basically paid TV networks to insert into shows, viewers "are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded." ONDCP head John Walters could begin using whatever portion he sees fit of over $2 billion in total media time and space to try to swing state and local drug-reform ballot elections starting as early as this fall. Should the reauthorization pass in its current form, Walters could dish out public funds to oppose ballot measures on issues from medical marijuana (already passed in nine states, eight by ballot initiatives) to marijuana legalization -- a ballot measure Walters himself campaigned against in Nevada last year. The issue unites liberals and conservatives. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) finds the legislation worrisome. "The media campaign should be used for its intended purpose in reducing demand for illegal drugs among youth," he said. "It should not be used to influence elections on ballot initiatives or candidates for public office, or to influence the consideration of legislation. Tim Lynch, director of the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice, agrees. "That ONDCP is trying to deprive voters and taxpayers of knowledge of what they're doing is bizarre and disturbing," he said. "Now the federal government will put its finger on the scale of a political question. And they're trying to hide that because if the public becomes aware, it'll cause a real backlash." Along with freeing the White House's hand, the reauthorization would add a couple of cards to its current hand, since the reauthorization boosts FY 2004's spending to $195 million, up from FY 2003's $150 million. That's followed by another $195 in FY 2005, and $210 million slated for each of the following three years. The program's projected five year cost now totals $1.02 billion, a nifty increase over the program's initial five-year funding of $930 million. That means ONDCP could run hundreds of millions of dollars of stealth advertising to swing elections, using taxpayer-funded messages to sway the votes of those who pay for them. "These new provisions are a blatant attempt to... put the entire media campaign in [Walter's] arsenal against the drug-reform movement," says Steve Fox, director of government relations at the Marijuana Policy Project, the sponsor of the Nevada marijuana legalization initiative. House Committee on Government Reform press secretary David Marin, a Republican staffer, insists the drug czar has long had the authority to "use the media campaign to oppose the legalization of drugs." He acknowledges that some might interpret the bill's language otherwise. "Nothing in the language allows the media campaign to be politicized," he says. Though one might imagine such a sea change in how the government seeks to influence citizens' thinking would be pondered long and carefully, in fact H.R. 2086 -- which charts the course for ONDCP's entire operation, not just the media campaign -- was introduced May 14 and voted out of the Criminal Justice subcommittee by voice vote the next day. And why not, since it was co-sponsored by subcommittee chairman Mark Souder (R-Ind.) along with the full Government Reform committee's chairman, Tom Davis (R-Va.). One of Souder's claims to fame is the Higher Education Act provision that rules out federal student loans for any college student convicted of possessing even a single joint. Regarding whether the proposed use of government funds to impact initiatives is legal or not, as Gary D. Bass, executive director of government watchdog OMB Watch, put it, "The bottom line is Congress can do whatever it wants." Bass explained that initiatives and referenda are, technically speaking, legislative activity, and federal agencies and executive branch departments are normally prohibited from using federal funds to influence them without legislation permitting otherwise. H.R. 2086, of course, is just such legislation. Bass could think of one real-world example of such legislation: the use of federal funds, by statute, to both lobby and litigate on behalf of the disabled. But when citing the example of medical marijuana, Bass said, "I think it's quite unusual in the context of an ideological point of view -- a policy expressing the perspective of this administration. It would be most unusual for Congress to authorize government money to advocate a position one way or the other." Having been made aware of the questionable provisions in the law, a committee minority staffer said the Dems would probably introduce amendments on May 22 addressing them; Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the Government Reform committee's ranking minority member, will also likely join that effort. With the Republicans controlling the committee 24 to 19 (with one Independent), it remains to be seen if such an amendment stands a chance. Whether a government agency can use public funds to directly weigh on referenda and ballot initiatives should be a decision that Congress deliberates openly and candidly. When a back door is opened for an agency to quietly slip through and challenge historical precedents on federal electioneering, someone has to blow the whistle. It's disturbing that the bill has gotten this far without a voice of protest: This bill should be halted and discussed, and should not breeze through the markup process.Note: Daniel Forbes writes on social policy and has testified before both the U.S. Senate and the House about his work. Source: Author: Daniel ForbesPublished: May 21, 2003E-Mail: editor tompaine.comWebsite: Article & Web Site:Marijuana Policy Project GOP Targets Medical Marijuana States Medical Marijuana Archives 

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Comment #19 posted by FoM on May 22, 2003 at 10:20:08 PT
2Spooky and Jose
Thanks for the suggestions. 
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Comment #18 posted by Virgil on May 22, 2003 at 10:12:36 PT
The big ax about to fall on advance of democracy is the upcoming vote on June 2nd by the FCC commissioners that will consolidate conglomerate power at the media table. It so happens that has an interview with one of the commissioners that have not gone over to the Dark Forces- Copps: Thatís what Iíve said. We shouldnít be changing these rules without a national dialogue and without an adequate record, and we have had neither. The record is inadequate. The record that is there, I think, doesnít justify a great loosening of the rules of consolidation. 
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Comment #17 posted by 2Spooky on May 22, 2003 at 07:24:21 PT
FoM and Mowing
Mow the way I do...Big sprayer of your favorite herbacide applied over the entire lawn ;)Then put in raised flower beds and a vege pen or three :)
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Comment #16 posted by Jose Melendez on May 22, 2003 at 04:09:03 PT
allergic? build up resistance with bee pollen!
If he is not allergic to bees, try starting with 1 grain, double dose daily, to about 1/2 teaspoon. Caution: overdosing sometimes increases aggression. DON'T do this if you are allergic to bees, unless close to a hospital.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on May 21, 2003 at 21:44:51 PT
I will tell him. He has bad lungs. He always did. He can't take being around pollen at all now. He had pneumonia many time as a child and has terrible breathing problems. The doctor just shakes his head when he checks his lungs. He gets sick like a HepC episode and is down for a few days. Can a person get sick like the flu from mowing that has allergic reactions? I don't know. He has been doing very well for a long time now and that makes me happy. I constantly use essential oils to help with breathing problems. I don't think either of us could stand to be without using them anymore.
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Comment #14 posted by Sam Adams on May 21, 2003 at 21:23:10 PT
mowing the lawn
FOM - when I was a kid I had big problems with asthma & allergies. I tested positive to most allergens, and grass was a big one. Mowing the lawn or even being outside while a neighbor was cutting their grass was against the rules. Sounds like your husband is allergic as well.It actually didn't bother me that much, I was eventually able to run the lawnmower with a dust mask. But it's one of the worst ways to get exposed to an allergen, my docs said many people get severe reactions from it. Your husband could try a mask - I just used the cheap white ones that you use for woodworking & stuff.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on May 21, 2003 at 21:00:33 PT
I sent you an email with a few ideas.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on May 21, 2003 at 20:39:29 PT
Thanks Richard
Would you be a bouncer for it for me! LOL! Might as well call it what it is because I know you are fair and experienced with problems that pop up from time to time. 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 21, 2003 at 20:36:32 PT
Macros in Word? I don't know what macros or word is or are. I can make a web page and I know a little html but that's about it. I use notepad to do my setting up for news articles and type in what I need like copyright and links etc. If you mean the program with the cute little clip in the right corner then I know what Word is. I looked at it and went no no no no I don't understand and that was that! LOL!
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Comment #10 posted by Richard Lake on May 21, 2003 at 20:35:51 PT:
FoM, email me about setting up the email list
Matt does not need to get involved in setting it up, only when you want to set up a sign up page here and wherever, which I think even others of the DPC gang can do.Doug Snead will set the list up for you. We have a superb majordomo web based password protected interface for our list owners. I will gladly guide you thru learning it, as it is fairly easy to learn, for sure.Basically all I need to get things rolling now is what you want it called; i.e., what is the little list indicator going to be, like MAP: in the maptalk subject line.Short is best. I suggest CNEWS: But it is your call, FoM.We will need a welcome message that goes automatically to folks when they sign up for the list. I can get you samples. Part of the message is standard, about signing on and off, but part is yours to say what the list is about.Oh, you will need to decide if folks can sign up on thier own, which is called open+confirm (that is they must respond to a message to prove they are who they say they are from a sign up page)Or, closed, meaning that you would have to approve each person signing up.I think that about covers it well enough for now.Richardp.s. Dan did another good job of telling it like it is, for sure. He is such a nice guy to work with.
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Comment #9 posted by RevHappy on May 21, 2003 at 20:34:23 PT:
So This Means
This bill is an admission that when ever the taxpareys dollars have been use to fight voter initiatives, a law has already been broken.Two examples in Michigan Are the PRA and CNDCP petitions,
and the Arizona and Ohio Inits.As I see it, since this bill legalizes it, it must have been illegal before this law passes.It is a call to continue pushing for justice I guess...
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Comment #8 posted by Virgil on May 21, 2003 at 20:30:31 PT:
FoM, If it is not too hard
You know I am a simple man with limited knowledge. I have time and would contribute time to build communications for reform against the goddamned fascist. I will remind you I have never even figured out how to macro "Schedule One Lie" with the and my learning curve sags in places. On that game show stuff. I think it could cover individual grades but I mean it as cumulative, so that to graduate high school the information could come from any of the grades. College would go medical with knowing CB1 for brain CB2 for pain lesson #1. By junior year a person should be able to beat Richard Cowan with the right generation of questions. You would have to be a doctorate to be his equivalent. Richard Cowan says he would like to do video. Cannabis Truths with Richard Cowan now on pot-tv. Today's contestant includes the prohibitions Randy White he will be competing with Steve Tuck and Michelle Kubby. Live, from beautiful and free British Columbia, from the studios of pot-tv in Vancouver, Cannabis Truths.I tell you what FoM, let me test my karma and see if I can figure out macros in Word. I have a learning disk and need to overcome some inertia. If I could macro "cannabis prohibition" and "prohibition/hoax" and some other things it would free up some time. But I really need to know what is involved.
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Comment #7 posted by ekim on May 21, 2003 at 20:21:57 PT
no i like it Virgil
keep flexen those brain cells we like em.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on May 21, 2003 at 19:57:27 PT
When I get me email group if that's what it's called would you help me with it since I can't do much more then I am. I spent hours mowing today and I'm tired. My husband gets sick when he mows and we don't know why so I have taken it over. Richard said a group like I assume CMAP or SSDP and others. Heck I get really good lists thru Mapinc and to have one of our own and try to make it an extension of the best news on the Net from different sources updated just so often might be a good idea. If you are interested think about it. No rush because I know Richard's son just had surgery and Matt is having computer problems so we can't do much until things return to normal particularly for Matt. Just think about it and don't feel bad if you don't want to because I would understand.
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Comment #5 posted by Virgil on May 21, 2003 at 19:41:21 PT
Do I talk too much? Ekim, isn't that exreme?
It does not sound right to me about like everything else. Why can they not ban songs doing the same thing. The police state cometh, aye.Actually I think it will be list that transform reform communication. For example, I plan to post my top ten cannabis articles for 2003. My favorite article is the Cato Institute. Next year people may post their top ten comments. The top 10 list for students of the cannabis perspective needs to be hammered out.Cnews evolves all along. There may one day be a logo and other features. Maybe spellcheck. It may give us a star for each thousand reads to help people sort the most popular articles. We might get a built in rating system for our own use.Not to ramble, the top 10 for video news or movies could be big. NORML or whoever may have a selection voted on like yahoo videos in Entertainment/music.The Internet is the only chance we have. These list are needed to bring people up to first grade. "A" is for all lies, class welcome to first grade. But to address the video, I think of how the recent cartoon presentation on the Internet that spoofed off of Dicken's Christmas Carol will be animated by someone this summer while on high school vacation or maybe it will be in a much improved computer animation with professional voicing by someone in Film School at NC School of the Arts.But the video I conceive is a Cannabis Trivia Game Show. For someone that reads Jack Herer's book on the Net could have a quiz for the first grade. But animation could easily create a gameshow set and a way of selecting questions from the book. Actually, I think it a better idea for a website. Grade 1 might be Herer and grade 2 might be the movie with Woodie- Grass. I guess kindergarden would be the story of the bat and the origins of the 1937 Prohibition. I may be high. Do I talk too much? 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on May 21, 2003 at 18:58:16 PT
Another action alert that is similar to the last.
In our haste to give you the information you need to stop the DEA from attacking AIDS and cancer patients, we accidentally gave you the wrong bill number.When calling your Members of Congress about this issue, please refer to bill number HR 2086. 
CALL RIGHT NOW - VERY URGENT. Vote is Morning of Thursday, May 22nd.Earlier this week we asked you to call the House Government Reform Committee and urge them to remove provisions from HR 2086 that would allow the White House to use the billion-dollar anti-drug ad campaign for partisan political purposes. Thanks to you, Congress is listening. Your calls have created a firestorm on the Committee that we hope will ultimately lead to the repeal of the propaganda provision.Now, we need your help to take out another bad provision.Buried within HR 2086 is a provision that allows the drug czar to divert over $10 million a year to the Drug Enforcement Administration's campaign of terror against medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. This money will come out of the federal government' s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) budget, which is supposed to go to local and state law-enforcement agencies to aid in their fight against serious drug trafficking. In other words, this provision will allow Drug Czar John Walters to shift federal money away from combating major crime syndicates to arresting medical marijuana patients and their caregivers! Worse still, because the drug czar will have the power to take funding away from local and state law-enforcement agencies, he will have a powerful weapon to punish police that support medical marijuana programs or refuse to assist federal agents in their on-going attack on AIDS and cancer patients. (The text of this dangerous provision is at the bottom of this e-mail)Since your calls to Congress earlier this week made a huge difference, we hope you can spare the time to make calls again. Thousands of AIDS and cancer patients need your help. ACTIONS TO TAKE1) If you're from a state with Representatives on the House Government Reform Committee, CALL THEM ALL TODAY (see list of Committee Members and contact information below). If you get this message Wednesday night, leave a message on their answering machine. The Committee will vote on Thursday, May 22nd at 10am (east coast time) so please call before then.**Tell them you want them to remove the section of HR 7083 that adds a new subsection (m) to Section 707 of the ONDCP Reauthorization Act. **Tell them this provision hurts local and state law-enforcement agencies and will undermine the ability of states to determine their own medical marijuana policies.2) Please forward this action alert to your friends and family. Unless Congress hears from thousands of voters this bill and its dangerous provision could easily become law.GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEECALIFORNIA:Doug Ose (R-3rd)
202-225-5716Henry A. Waxman (D-30th, Rnk. Mem)
202-225-3976Tom Lantos (D-12th)
202-225-3531Diane Watson (D-33rd)
202-225-7084Linda T. Sanchez (D-39th)
202-225-6676CONNECTICUT:Christopher Shays (R-4th)
202-225-5541DC:Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Del.)
202-225-8050FLORIDA: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-18th)
202-225-3931John Mica (R-7th)
202-225-4035Adam Putnam (R-12th) 
202-225-1252GEORGIA:Nathan Deal (R-10th)
202-225-5211ILLINOIS: Danny K. Davis (D-7th) 
202-225-5006INDIANA: Dan Burton (R-5th) 
202-225-2276Mark Souder (R-3rd)
202-225-4436KENTUCKY:Ron Lewis (R-2nd)
202-225-3501 MARYLAND:Elijah Cummings (D-7th) 
202-225-4741Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-8th) 
202-225-5341C.A. Ruppersberger (D-2nd) 
202-225-3061MASSACHUSETTS:John F. Tierney (D-6th)
202-225-8020Stephen F. Lynch (D-9th)
202-225-8273MICHIGAN:Candice Miller (R-10th) 
202-225-2106MISSOURI:William L. Clay, Jr. (D-1st) 
202-225-2406NEW YORK:John McHugh (R-23rd)
202-225-4611Major R. Owens (D-11th)
202-225-6231Edolphus Towns (D-10th)
202-225-5936Carolyn Maloney (D-14th)
202-225-7944OHIO:Steven C. LaTourette (R-14th) 
202-225-5731Michael Turner (R-3rd)
202-225-6465Dennis J. Kucinich (D-10th)
202-225-5871OKLAHOMA:John Sullivan (R-1st) 
202-225-2211PENNSYLVANIA:Todd R. Platts (R-19th)
202-225-5836Timothy F. Murphy (R-18th)
202-225-2301Paul E. Kanjorski (D-11th)
202-225-6511SOUTH DAKOTA:William J. Janklow (R-At Large)
202-225-2801TENNESSEE:John J. Duncan Jr. (R-2nd) 
202-225-5435Marsha Blackburn (R-7th) 
202-225-2811Jim Cooper (D-5th) 
202-225-4311TEXAS:John R. Carter (R-31st)
202-225-3864Chris Bell (D-25th) 
202-225-7508UTAH:Chris Cannon (R-3rd) 
202-225-7751VIRGINIA: Thomas M. Davis III (R-11th), Chair 
202-225-3071Jo Ann S. Davis (R-1st)
202-225-4261Edward L. Schrock (R-2nd)
202-225-4215TEXT OF THE DANGEROUS PROVISIONThe dangerous provision in HR 2083 is the section that adds a new subsection (m), entitled "marijuana enforcement" to Section 707 of the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 1998.The provision reads:`(m) MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT- The Director may direct the reallocation of up to 5 percent of funds available for a fiscal year for the Program, from State and local law enforcement agencies to Federal law enforcement agencies to assist in enforcement of Federal law in high intensity drug trafficking areas containing States where State law permits the use of marijuana in a manner inconsistent with the Controlled Substances Act.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on May 21, 2003 at 18:50:37 PT
where are the video game makers
its time to bring a new level of insite into on to the playing field. the games people should show-- what happens when the people go out and start a reform, then what will happen when uncle goes after it with untold millions. the object of the game is to use the net to transform the descussion into action. this can be about the issue here or the comming renewable fuels industry ect. Wash state is outlawing use of video games which show leos in a bad lite, it is important that the gamers show what will happen if the people are not to come up with more just laws. 
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Comment #2 posted by Virgil on May 21, 2003 at 17:29:30 PT
I will wait again for Dan's next piece 
When you take three months to say something at least we get some facts and does not slant or bend the truth. He is the best we have unless you count RC.I call it a tie except RC is in Canada. Dan you are the best. Now hit them with GWPharma and The Schedule One Lie.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 21, 2003 at 16:30:00 PT

Thank You Daniel Forbes
We need articles like this!
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