Marijuana Advocates Discuss Growing Public Support

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  Marijuana Advocates Discuss Growing Public Support

Posted by CN Staff on September 27, 2009 at 06:04:39 PT
By Donna Tam, For the Times-Standard 
Source: Times-Standard 

San Francisco -- Citing a worsening economy, high profile support and greater education through the Internet, marijuana advocates say the public is more open to marijuana legalization than ever before. On the second day of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws 38th annual conference Friday, marijuana activists said America is ready to talk about legalization, largely due to a “sea change” in the way the public sees marijuana smokers, and a growing recognition that marijuana is a cash crop.
”It's certainly connected to California's economy, which is in the toilet,” said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano during the day's opening remarks. Ammiano, who introduced California's first marijuana legalization bill earlier this year, called the current political environment “the perfect storm” for marijuana law reform. ”I got a lot of hallway conversations -- 'This is great'; 'man, I smoked this (stuff) when I was in college'; 'we should tax the hell out of it,'” Ammiano said. Ammiano said despite the warm private response, elected officials would not be ready to support the bill publicly until they polled their constituents. Ammiano said he will be holding an informational hearing on the bill within the next month and hopes to have a constructive conversation about marijuana. ”It's not going to be 'marijuana's good, or marijuana's bad,'” he said. “It's going to be about all the intricacies you have when you have a public policy.” NORML members say support from high-profile people like Ammiano is helping to sway public opinion. In a presentation on the ebbs and flows of public opinion since the 1970s, NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville outlined stereotypes that marijuana smokers have been burdened with, as well as examples of how these stereotypes are inaccurate. A popular reference throughout the conference, Belville played an audio clip of President Barack Obama admitting to “inhaling,” and used the story of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps being caught on camera taking a bong hit, as examples of how the stoner stereotype has been broken. ”You'll be an unmotivated loser, you'll be a slacker, you'll never get anything done,” Belville said about the stoner stereotype. “And that all changed this year.” Other NORML leaders agreed. Keith Stroup, who founded NORML in 1970 and jokingly calls himself “the world's oldest marijuana smoker,” said marijuana legalization has reached its tipping point. ”We are literally witnessing the end of marijuana prohibition,” he said. Dale Gieringer, the director of California NORML and a member of NORML's board of directors, said there are still many issues that need to be worked out in terms of legislation. He said there needs to be more definitive answers to questions about age limits, tax levels and where and how much people can grow, as well as who would be allowed to cultivate. Gieringer said the public may not be ready to actually legalize. ”I don't think there's enough wisdom anywhere that can win 50 percent of the vote,” he said during a panel discussion on legalization. “However, I think we are in the position where we can develop such a proposal in three to five years.” Stroup said he believes the recently proposed initiatives regarding legalization in California will be able to garner enough support to help move the cause forward, and encourage those stoners who are “in the closet” to come out publicly in support of legalization. ”More of them need to come out of the closet,” he said. “Put an end to the lie that we're not good citizens.” Advocates recognize that the economy is also a huge factor. Denver-based public policy analyst and political strategist Jessica Correy said as a pro-life, Republican mother of two, she does not fit the stereotype of a marijuana advocate. Although not an active marijuana smoker, Correy said she is more concerned with the government wasting law enforcement resources. ”We're talking about a multi-billion dollar war we can't win,” she said, adding that it is important to her to be able to raise her two young daughters without the government stepping in. Correy was scheduled to be a panelist on a discussion about pot and parenting. ”I'll teach my kids to respect themselves and their bodies, but when they go to college, I'd rather have them next to a pot smoker than someone hopped up on vodka shots,” she said. NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said it is a demographic consisting of parents with teenage children where support for legalization is usually lost. As a parent himself, he said he understands the fears of exposing children to something seen as harmful. He said he is not trying to advocate any kind of drug abuse, but parents have to realize that teenagers will have access to marijuana whether it's legal or not. Armentano said the key is being able to teach children about the dangers of substance abuse in general. ”I think we've got to be really open and honest with kids,” he said. Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)Author: Donna Tam, For the Times-StandardPublished: September 26, 2009Copyright: 2009 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: editor times-standard.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 

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Comment #6 posted by Hope on September 27, 2009 at 09:39:17 PT
Comment 1
From that article about that artist, "Epilepsy medication causes a loss of appetite for both of them, so marijuana helps them to eat. Panzer said marijuana also helps to calm her down after a seizure or in stressful situations that can induce seizures, and keeps her optimistic while facing her reality of a life with seizures."That's certainly one of those amazing beneficial "side effects" that can happen from the right cannabis. Warning: This product may induce or unlock a spirit of hope or positive thoughts in some people. 
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on September 27, 2009 at 09:12:29 PT
All the fine young Gangsters...
When cannabis is legalized all the good young men who style themselves "Gangsters" will have to lay down that particular charm as a memory. Suddenly they aren't that power... that doctor... that magic man... that generator. That pot they smoked yesterday won't keep them from getting a job or that education or training or even going legally and responsibly into the line of business they perhaps enjoyed as part of the supply chain of a fine cannabis product that people will benefit from and buy again. They may have to work a little differently and lose a mystique they like, but they will be free and have a country... a wider world. They will have a wider community and broader horizons than when they found themselves being outlaws and gangsters.They may even find they have desires and options they hadn't considered before and they might decide they could get off their behinds and accomplish something good with days and years they have left. What were they "Rebelling" and "Slacking" about anyway? They can smoke, collect paraphernalia, and get a job, go into business... do something... and still get to enjoy that joint they enjoy so much at appropriate times and settings. And they will be able to actually understand the term, "Appropriate times", because they don't have to lay low and smoke like they might not get anymore until God knows when. That enjoyment of cannabis will likely groove more and not conflict with so much in their lives. They will have to find something else to rebel against and be angry about. They will be free. Gangsterism will fade and we will all be better off.They will be able to freely, when they are old enough, score some major weed for themselves, their lady, or those "Bro" they cherish. They'll go to or order at the Pot Shop, and from a real selection of a known quantity and quality cannabis at a reasonable price, without worrying, or not, something so bad is fixing to go down. Just like everyone else. Prohibition has created a world for them that should never have existed. A world where they find themselves being outlaws so easily.When those shops open... like liquor stores, I think, Gangsterism will lose so much of it's cool and appeal. They can lay down need of being a gangster. Not so dang many people will need them or their help when it's all aboveboard. They don't have to be so tribal. They don't have to be so angry, resentful, spiteful, paranoid, hateful and dangerous. Maybe they won't find themselves dead or in chains or prison for so small a transgression as wanting to smoke a little weed. Maybe they won't feel so doomed.They, when they've reached the age of certain responsibilities and expectations, they can decide for themselves what they want to consume and what they don't want to consume. It will be their body... their life... their choice. Other people can attempt to influence, but they cannot be the self appointed deciders of how another person lives as long as he's not assaulting another or impeding another. If you're doing your job well, you won't lose it because of that smoke you had last weekend or last night.The "Gangsters" will lose a certain tension that they had to carry before. That particular rebellion will be over... because they have regained their freedom, their choice, their decision. Many will decide, in their freedom, to be just men... maybe good men doing the best they can in all things during their days alive and maybe even leave some good or good will behind when they leave their mortal coil. Maybe they will accomplish good things through their freedom when they are free and free of the thread of "Gangsterism" that prohibition... especially of cannabis... has run through their lives.With that dark and dangerous thread pulled out of the loom of their days... their lives, they might accomplish some peace and good and respect somewhere... sometime... somehow. Maybe.Freedom is risky in some ways sometimes... but it bears sweeter fruit than slavery and subjection and unnatural boundaries and rules.
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on September 27, 2009 at 08:09:49 PT

California Dreamin'
When California legalizes cannabis it will give the state a huge economic boost. There will be an increase in economic activity from the farms to the retail outlets. Tens of thousands of visitors will come to partake of this new freedom and spend a lot of money on hotels, food, sightseeing, entertainment, and cannabis products. I can see people coming back home wearing “I smoked pot legally in California”, or “California, the land of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, t-shirts with cannabis leaves printed on them. Then there will be all of the festivals and conventions coming to the state bringing in even more money. I won’t even mention the money saved on cannabis prosecution. Everybody wins on this.

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on September 27, 2009 at 06:38:14 PT

Chances are High Pot Measure Will Pass
September 27, 2009URL:
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on September 27, 2009 at 06:30:17 PT

Updated Article From The Times Standard
NORML Tackles Crime and MoneySeptember 27, 2009URL:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on September 27, 2009 at 06:09:04 PT

Artist Lends Her Talents for NORML Conference
September 27, 2009URL:
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