Pot Legalization Gains Momentum in California
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Pot Legalization Gains Momentum in California
Posted by CN Staff on October 07, 2009 at 13:24:56 PT
By Marcus Wohlsen, Associated Press Writer
Source: Seattle Times
California -- Marijuana advocates are gathering signatures to get at least three pot-legalization measures on the ballot in 2010 in California, setting up what could be a groundbreaking clash with the federal government over U.S. drug policy.At least one poll shows voters would support lifting the pot prohibition, which would make the state of 40 million the first in the nation to legalize marijuana.
Such action would also send the state into a headlong conflict with the U.S. government while raising questions about how federal law enforcement could enforce its drug laws in the face of a massive government-sanctioned pot industry.The state already has a thriving marijuana trade, thanks to a first-of-its-kind 1996 ballot measure that allowed people to smoke pot for medical purposes. But full legalization could turn medical marijuana dispensaries into all-purpose pot stores, and the open sale of joints could become commonplace on mom-and-pop liquor store counters in liberal locales like Oakland and Santa Cruz.Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, period. After overseeing a series of raids that destroyed more than 300,000 marijuana plants in California's Sierra Nevada foothills this summer, federal drug czar Gil Kerlikowske proclaimed, "Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine."The U.S. Supreme Court also has ruled that federal law enforcement agents have the right to crack down even on marijuana users and distributors who are in compliance with California's medical marijuana law.But some legal scholars and policy analysts say the government will not be able to require California to help in enforcing the federal marijuana ban if the state legalizes the drug.Without assistance from the state's legions of narcotics officers, they say, federal agents could do little to curb marijuana in California."Even though that federal ban is still in place and the federal government can enforce it, it doesn't mean the states have to follow suit," said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who recently published a paper about the issue.Nothing can stop federal anti-drug agents from making marijuana arrests, even if Californians legalize pot, he said. However, the U.S. government cannot pass a law requiring local and state police, sheriff's departments or state narcotics enforcers to help.That is significant, because nearly all arrests for marijuana crimes are made at the state level. Of more than 847,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2008, for example, just over 6,300 suspects were booked by federal law enforcement, or fewer than 1 percent.State marijuana bans have allowed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to focus on big cases, said Rosalie Pacula, director of drug policy research at the Rand Corp."It's only something the feds are going to be concerned about if you're growing tons of pot," Pacula said. For anything less, she said, "they don't have the resources to waste on it."In a typical recent prosecution, 29-year-old Luke Scarmazzo was sentenced to nearly 22 years and co-defendant Ricardo Ruiz Montes to 20 years in federal prison for drug trafficking through a medical marijuana dispensary in Modesto.At his bond hearing, prosecutors showed a rap video in which Scarmazzo boasts about his successful marijuana business, taunts federal authorities and carries cardboard boxes filled with cash. The DEA said the pair made more than $4.5 million in marijuana sales in less than two years.The DEA would not speculate on the effects of any decision by California to legalize pot. "Marijuana is illegal under federal law and DEA will continue to attack large-scale drug trafficking organizations at every level," spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said.The most conservative of the three ballot measures would only legalize possession of up to one ounce of pot for personal use by adults 21 and older - an amount that already under state law can only result at most in a $100 fine.The proposal would also allow anyone to grow a plot of marijuana up to 5 feet-by-5 feet on their private property. The size, Pacula said, seems specifically designed to keep the total number of plants grown below 100, the threshold for DEA attention.The greatest potential for conflict with the U.S. government would likely come from the provision that would give local governments the power to decide city-by-city whether to allow pot sales.Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state already operate openly with only modest federal interference. If recreational marijuana became legal, these businesses could operate without requiring their customers to qualify as patients.Any business that grew bigger than the already typical storefront shops, however, would probably be too tempting a target for federal prosecution, experts said.Even if Washington could no longer count on California to keep pot off its own streets, Congress or the Obama administration could try to coerce cooperation by withholding federal funds.But with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement earlier this year that the Justice Department would defer to state laws on marijuana, the federal response to possible legalization remains unclear.Doug Richardson, a spokesman for the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the office is in the process of re-evaluating its policies on marijuana and other drugs.Richardson said the office under Obama was pursuing a "more comprehensive" approach than the previous administration, with emphasis on prevention and treatment as well as law enforcement."We're trying to base stuff on the facts, the evidence and the science," he said, "not some particular prejudice somebody brings to the table."Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Marcus Wohlsen, Associated Press WriterPublished: Wednesday, October 7, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on October 08, 2009 at 09:23:13 PT
Comment 8
"Restrictions". "Safeguards".I'm so sick of their equivocation, weakness, and pandering to the prohibitionists.It makes me want to kick something... like all the doors that won't open to progress that NEED kicking down.These "war" and "restriction" and "safeguard" freaks are making it hard on even the most peaceful of the peaceful resistors against their cruel idiocy.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on October 08, 2009 at 09:13:13 PT
It is a "Civil War" in this country.
I've always thought it was. The killing, the spying, the huge imprisonment, the seizures, confiscation, and persecution, and punishment. The need for heavy weaponry for the government to be used against the citizen.It's always been one sided... with a heavily armed, intrusive government against common citizens... but it's always looked liked a war within our country by the government against a huge part of the population. Don't try to tell me it's not a war. They have assault plans. They wear helmets and have things to break down peoples' doors. They use bombs and grenades and have military assault vehicles.Of course its a civil war.Merriam Webster's definition of civil war: a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on October 08, 2009 at 05:11:29 PT
N.J. Gubernatorial Candidates Address MMJ
October 8, 2009Excerpt: Q: Where do you stand on the current New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, under which licensed "alternative-treatment centers" would produce the drug for residents with specific diseases?***Corzine: "Id sign that legislation. I want to make sure, as it goes through the Assembly, that it has the right constraints on it but I think were in the zone. I need to actually run through it with my counsel, all of the alternatives, but I think were close. I think we ought to move to this quickly. I think the people who would benefit from it, we would want to get to that sooner rather than later. I dont think this, in any way, should be allowed to be a back-door access to recreational marijuana and well make sure any bill that comes to my desk that gets my signature, were secure in that."Christie: "I do think that we can do a little bit better on the restrictions. I do favor allowing folks who have serious illnesses  in a restricted number of illnesses  to have medical marijuana to alleviate suffering. I do want to make sure that we dont have whats gone on in California, where you have marijuana shops all over the place and people who are not really using it for serious illnesses. The current legislation, I think, is still a little bit weak on restrictions. Id want to see it tightened up a little bit, but assuming that we could do that I would support it. I would take an active part in trying to make it the best bill we could so that Id be able to sign it. Its something that I would like to have be available to people who have significant pain and suffering issues connected with tragic illness."Daggett: "I dont know all the details of the bill. I generally support the use of marijuana for medical purposes as long as it can be done in a way that targets its use by the intended patient and has adequate safeguards against misuse or illegal use. I would be willing to consider being actively involved but I tend to also agree in the separation of various parts of the government. The Legislature will likely want to put its stamp on it in its own way and we need to let that process have its own course."URL:
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Comment #7 posted by EAH on October 07, 2009 at 20:59:39 PT:
Here we go
First, if you are a CA voter, please check out this and support it.
It is the superior proposition to end Prohibition in CA. it passes, there will be two responses from the Feds. One from the Executive branch, the AG, FDA, ATF, etc. They will have to issue policy responses. The other will be Congress, who control Federal purse strings. There will be efforts on the part of freaked out Republicans to introduce resolutions or something to take away Federal funds from CA. They will be trying to coerce the state to re-prohibit cannabis. In this case though they are going to run into a problem. The CA legislature cannot overturn a proposition. If cannabis was legalized by an act of the legislature, Federal pressure might succeed in getting the legislature to overturn itself. A proposition is another story.Powerful forces are going to crank up their lie machine. Get ready to see unbelievable, incredible lies on TV. People will be told to FEAR cannabis and keep it illegal. Cannabis will destroy your children etc. The Pro cannabis forces will need very extensive and responsive ads. They will have to do better than the Gay marriage advocates did attempting to defeat prop 8.
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Comment #6 posted by tintala on October 07, 2009 at 20:29:46 PT:
With shows like COPS and DEA, they even film the actual enforcement of these nazi laws. like nazi gustapos busting in an a jewish family.. cept is nazis busting pot heads doors down and treated just like a war criminal. 
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Comment #5 posted by museman on October 07, 2009 at 17:09:49 PT
Of course it is ! #1,2&4
and just slightly, only a modicum. just a little twist here and there, maybe a bit of lawyering here and there, UNCONSTITUTIONAL!TOTAL REPEAL OF PROHIBITION is the only SANE SOLUTIONLEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on October 07, 2009 at 16:26:01 PT
of course it's civil war
How could it be anything else?When else in human history has a regime used armed men to violently capture 850,000 people per year? Only in wars
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on October 07, 2009 at 16:24:43 PT
I hope we can get a clean election in CA. Imagine all the legions of government employees and what they will do when faced with the direct end of "drug" prohibition as we know it.If one of these makes the ballot and passes it will be huge trouble for all prohibitionists. All the harassment they're doing now with medical MJ would not be possible. They'd have to resort to auditing everyone for tax violations.The beauty of Prop 215 is that everyone will already be used to seeing cannabis stores by November 2010.
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on October 07, 2009 at 13:59:02 PT
"We're trying to base stuff on the facts, the evi
dence and the science," he said, "not some particular prejudice somebody brings to the table."Really?
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on October 07, 2009 at 13:45:29 PT
Subverting the will of the people is treason!
"Marijuana is illegal under federal law and DEA will continue to attack large-scale drug trafficking organizations at every level," spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said.This is civil war plain and simple!
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