Archive for the ‘Proposition 19’ category

Oaksterdam University Raided

April 2nd, 2012

UPDATE: Not many more details have emerged regarding the purpose of yesterday’s raids. From the Oakland Tribune:

Authorities refused to provide details about the raids carried out by U.S. Marshals and agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency and Internal Revenue Service. Lee was briefly detained in his home, but not arrested, supporters said. Two protesters were arrested as agents seized marijuana plants and other materials from Oaksterdam’s downtown Oakland locations, all of which remained closed Monday.

Thankfully, the gunman at Oikos University in Oakland that murdered seven people and wounded several others while this was happening turned himself in to authorities. With law enforcement wasting time and resources on targeting state-legal educational businesses and legal medical marijuana patients, who knows how long he could have been at large? No one else was hurt by this person, but things could have gone very differently.

The political nature of the targets chosen by the feds has not escaped lawmakers or the marijuana reform community, either. While protestors turned out in large numbers to decry the attacks, legislators from five medical marijuana states were sending a letter to the federal government, asking it to end its interference with state medical marijuana programs.

Americans for Safe Access and other supporters of medical marijuana rights will be holding a press conference today, Tuesday, April 3 at 11:00 a.m. on the steps of City Hall located at 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Place in San Francisco. If you are in the Bay Area, let the federal government feel your presence.


ORIGINAL (4/2/12 AT 12:47pm EST): For the last several hours, agents from the U.S. Marshals, DEA, and IRS have been conducting a raid on Oaksterdam University and other businesses associated with Proposition 19 proponent Richard Lee. Lee was the primary financial supporter of the attempt to make marijuana legal in California in 2010, and his marijuana businesses in Oakland helped revitalize that area of the city.

Reports are still coming in, but it seems that several people have been arrested in the raids and more are being detained at the scenes.

Supporters of medical marijuana patients and the marijuana reform community were quick to respond in defense of Oaksterdam, which is an industry leader in cannabis science education. Protesters have flooded the area, and there are unconfirmed reports that several have been arrested as well.

While law enforcement has been busy knocking over a pillar of the community, a shooting was taking place at the exact same time at a nearby Christian university. At least eight people have been injured, and as of a few minutes ago, the suspect is still at large.

This is a tragic day for the residents of Oakland. Their public servants need to be using every resource at hand to deal with real problems, not persecuting legitimate, peaceful businesses and medical marijuana patients.

Pat Robertson Backs Legal Marijuana

March 11th, 2012

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has become the lightning rod for a fresh, national dialogue over legal marijuana. He says the government’s war on drugs has failed and so marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol.

“Folks, we’ve gotta do something about this. We’ve just got to change the laws. We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom,” he said last week as host of “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network based in Virginia Beach, Va.

Marijuana advocates, not surprisingly, are applauding the move while antidrug groups are attacking Mr. Robertson’s credibility, saying he has made several “strange remarks” in the past five years about prayer, tornadoes, and homosexuals.

Robertson’s status as a high-profile conservative, however, makes his remarks symbolically important and indicative of wider shifts, say some academic observers.

“He’s wrong about many things, but the fact that he is someone who usually represents the extreme conservative point of view makes the coming legalization debate more wide open now,” says Robert MacCoun a professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, who follows marijuana laws.

Noting that Colorado and Washington have ballot measures this fall that would allow people under 21 to possess a small amount of marijuana and allow for commercial pot sales, Professor MacCoun says the Robertson comment helps break up polarized discussions.

“We can now have a more grown up discussion about what are the tools in the tool box – rather than just hyperlatives hurled at each side from the extremes,” he says.

That could include current politics.

“It will be interesting to see how the tea party and presidential candidates will treat what Robertson is saying,” says Robert Langran, a political scientist at Villanova University in Philadelphia. “Depending on what Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum say and do, this has the potential of creating another rift in the Republican Party.”

Noting that America makes up 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of jailed prisoners, Robertson said: “We’ve said, ‘We’re conservative, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney. It’s costing us billions and billions of dollars. We need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties.”

Antidrug groups take issue with Robertson’s judgment.

“Clearly he is ill-informed about the drug war,” says Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. She says in 1978, 58 percent of high school seniors had used an illicit drug in the past year, compared with 28 percent in 1992 – more than a 50 percent drop.

The numbers have crept back up to 40 percent, a trend she attributes both to the 16 states and Washington, D.C., which have legalized the medical use of marijuana, as well as the big push in California last fall to legalize recreational use through Proposition 19.

But she adds, “We are still well below the 1978 usage rate, hardly a complete failure.”

For Paul Armentano, deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the recent trends relate to a bigger picture. Polls have been shifting for three decades, showing that voters of all ages and both parties support regulating cannabis like alcohol, he says. At least 70 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, he says.

“When a person like Pat Robertson realizes that the immorality of jailing nonviolent marijuana users, keeping medicine away from the sick, and contributing to murder and mayhem in Latin America is far, far worse that the supposed immorality of using marijuana, we have reached a positive turning point in the debate,” adds Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project in an e-mail. “We are starting to see more people’s moral judgments aligning themselves with the realities of marijuana prohibition.”

Critics, however, worry that Robertson’s comments only hurt antidrug efforts.

“If you work and live in the world of addiction, a world where you have your sleeves rolled up and are dealing with the true impact that drugs have on society, you just may have something to say to people like Pat Robertson, who so cavalierly come out with a statement like this,” says Richard Taite, founder of Cliffside Malibu, an addiction treatment center, in an e-mail.

Adds Robert DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health: “I think he’s acting out of his sense of compassion and thinks he is being reasonable, but that he is drinking the Kool-Aid of the pro-marijuana forces.”

Recently, Robertson said that God could have stopped the tornadoes that swept the Midwest if more people had been praying. He also said in December that homosexual people can “un-acquire” the lifestyle.

Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Author: Daniel B. Wood, Staff Writer
Published: March 9, 2012
Copyright: 2012 The Christian Science Publishing Society

Man Can Get His Pot License Plate

November 23rd, 2011

Nebraska has snuffed out a lawsuit by agreeing to issue a marijuana-themed personal license plate to an activist leading a legalization drive in the state.

The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles agreed Friday to sell the “NE420″ plate to Frank Shoemaker of Holbrook, a lawyer working to put marijuana legalization on the 2012 ballot.  The department previously denied the plate because the number “420″ is associated with “a date and time for people to gather and smoke marijuana/cannabis,” said Beverly Neth, department director.

Shoemaker, with the backing of Nebraska ACLU, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, arguing that the denial infringed on his First Amendment right to free speech.  The lawsuit brought the dispute to the attention of Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who quickly advised the department to issue the plate based on similar federal cases in other states.

“They deemed it was probably a plate that might prevail at a federal level,” Neth said.  “They deemed it was best to go ahead and issue the plate.”

DMV officials based their denial on state law that prohibits messages that “express, connote or imply any obscene or objectionable words or abbreviations.” In addition to its pot connections, April 20 is the birthday of Adolf Hitler and date of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

Staff members review all applications and routinely use the “obscene or objectionable” standard to reject applicants.  Some of Nebraska’s 60,000 message plates have even been recalled after the DMV received complaints from other motorists, Neth said.

While the courts have upheld the authority of states to reject obscene messages on license plates, they have cautioned that blocking plates simply because they offend someone is too broad of a standard, said Amy Miller, director of Nebraska ACLU.

The 8th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case in Missouri in which the applicant wanted “Aryan1″ on her plate.

Missouri officials rejected it because it was offensive, but the court invalidated the decision because it infringed upon constitutionally protected free expression, Miller said.

“The problem with offensive messages is that is simply too vague,” she said.  “Something that is offensive for me on ‘The Simpsons’ is perfectly acceptable for viewing on prime-time television.”

Miller said she was unaware of other plate applicants who have fought denials.  She stressed that both Shoemaker and the ACLU asked the DMV to reverse the denial before moving ahead with the lawsuit.

Proposition 19 seeks to legalize the private noncommercial use of cannabis in Nebraska.  Shoemaker argued that denying his license application was an effort to silence a call to legalize pot.

“No one should have to fear government censorship for his political views,” Shoemaker said Monday in a press release.

Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE)
Copyright: 2011 Omaha World-Herald Company
Author: Joe Duggan

Bill Would Regulate Pot Like Wine

September 7th, 2011
At South Coast Plaza, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels was hosting the opening-night party for her 10th annual Festival of Children, a month-long endeavor to promote the general betterment of the lives of children. In years past, her gala has been themed like an old-fashioned ice-cream social, with the happy sounds of a carousel and children laughing. [...]

MJ Street Fair Fuels Debate Over Legalization

September 4th, 2011
Standing outside a medical marijuana dispensary in southern California, Lucy Baldwin muses on one of the great social and political debates here. “I thought the threat of marijuana acceptance in California was over with the defeat of Prop. 19, but now it seems to be back,” says the single mother of two teens. “I think [...]