Today is the deadline for Los Angeles County, CA to turn in their lists of valid signatures for the November elections, and the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult personal use is expected to qualify. It’s the “Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.” pdf here of proposed law: http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachmen…
Look at the statistics quoted here in this Stephen Gutwillig story, and tell me that the continued persecution of marijuana use, isn’t authoritarian right wing make work, waste money, government scheming done because law enforcement needs something to do – because pot is so easy to grow, nobody would have to go without if it were not illegal:
Unthinkable carnage in Mexico has claimed 15,000 lives since the Calderon government declared war on drug cartels three years ago. Our government estimates the cartels generate at least 60% of their profits from marijuana alone. Following the murders of several U.S. consular workers, Secretary of State Clinton returned to Mexico this week, acknowledging that demand in the U.S. dominates these markets. But she didn’t acknowledge that rampant violence is not a byproduct of the cannabis plant itself but of the prohibition that creates a profit motive people are willing to kill for.
With this cultural transition underway, you might think enforcement of our marijuana laws would reflect their unpopularity. Sadly, quite the opposite is the case. Arrests for marijuana offenses have actually tripled nationwide since 1991. In California, which decriminalized low-level possession in 1975, arrests have jumped 127 percent in the same two decades the arrest rate for crime in general fell by 40 percent. Police made nearly 850,000 marijuana arrests across the country last year, half of all drug arrests and more than all violent crime arrests combined. No law in the United States is enforced so widely yet deemed so unnecessary.
Worse still, marijuana laws are enforced selectively with racist results. In California, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for a marijuana offense despite comparable or even lower rates of consumption. An expose by the Pasadena Weekly found that blacks, who represent 14 percent of that city’s population, accounted for more than half all marijuana arrests in the last five years.
The LA Times yesterday, if the issue makes it to the ballot:
That will once again make California the focal point of the long-stewing argument over marijuana legalization, a debate likely to be a high-dollar brawl between adversaries who believe it could launch or stifle another national trend.
The campaign will air issues that have changed little over the years. Proponents will cite the financial and social cost of enforcing pot prohibition and argue that marijuana is not as dangerous and addictive as tobacco or alcohol. Opponents will highlight marijuana-linked crimes, rising teenage use and the harm the weed causes some smokers.
But the debate also will play out against a cultural landscape that has changed substantially, with marijuana moving from dark street corners to neon-lit suburban boutiques. In the months since the Obama administration ordered drug agents to lay off dispensaries, hundreds have opened, putting pot within easy reach of most Californians. Whether voters view this de facto legalization with trepidation or equanimity could shape the outcome.
The measure’s supporters hope that this dynamic will shift the debate, allowing them to persuade voters to replace prohibition with controlled sales that could be taxed to help California’s cities and counties.
“They already accept that it’s out there. They want to see a smart strategy,” said Chris Lehane, a top strategist for the initiative.
What suburban boutiques? We had a faux – Libertarian Republican Neocon run here in CA 04 supposedly in favor of legalizing pot, McClintock, and instead post election all the local Republicans are fighting tooth and nail against siting any medical marijuana dispensaries in the local counties in the district. Oh, wait, he doesn’t live in the district. My county just spent 4 million on a surveillance helicopter. nevermind.
But John Lovell, a Sacramento lobbyist for law enforcement groups, said he believes that voters will reject that argument.
“Why on Earth would you want to add yet another mind-altering substance to the legal array?” he asked.
Because, it’s cheaper, it works, it doesn’t have harmful side effects, and people can grow it themselves without having to pay for insurance, co pays, and prescriptions, which is going to cost them $10,000 a year or more. In 2004, California voters legalized medical marijuana. Since then, a majority of voters (at least 56%) have come around to supporting further freedoms. Because pot is also a multi billion dollar crop, the thought of collecting tax revenues on it if it were legal, when the state is dead broke and throwing college students out of schools for lack of funds, instead of wasting money busting people, during a severe economic recession, is becoming more appealing.
“Bong politics” he called it. Here’s John Lovell. http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Lo… And here’s the groups he lobbies for: http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Lo…
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS 01/01/2009 start date
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH UNDERWRITERS 01/01/2009
CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL SUPERVISORS ORGANIZATION INC. 01/01/2009
CALIFORNIA NARCOTIC OFFICERS’ ASSOCIATION 01/01/2009
CALIFORNIA PEACE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION 01/01/2009
CALIFORNIA POLICE CHIEFS’ ASSOCIATION 01/01/2009
CHARITY FIRST FOR CALIFORNIA, INC. 01/01/2009
EMS CONSULTING 01/01/2009
LOS ANGELES COUNTY POLICE CHIEFS ASSOCIATION 01/01/2009
About those law enforcement clients of Lobbyist Lovell’s …..
Any vote would take place in a state where attitudes toward marijuana border on the schizophrenic. Last year, the state made some 78,500 arrests on felony and misdemeanors related to the drug, up from about 74,000 in 2007, according to the California attorney general.
Seizures of illegal marijuana plants, often grown by Mexican gangs on public lands in forests and parks, hit an all-time high in 2009, and last week, federal authorities announced a series of arrests in the state’s Central Valley, where homes have been converted into “indoor grows.”
Even if each arrest and subsequent legal action only cost $1000 per incident, that’s $78,500,000 or over $78 million the state of CA is throwing away per year. The true number surely must be over a billion dollars, if each arrest and legal fallout cost in total about $12,000. 20% of all prison incarcerations are for drug offenses and the CA average cost per year to keep them there is going over $40,000 per year. http://www.mercurynews.com/bre… No, it won’t fix the $21 billion dollar plus CA budget deficit to legalize pot, but at least it wouldn’t be adding further to the insanity.
As a recreational user of the California State and public forests and parks, why should we be seeing park rangers and maintenance personal hour’s cut, layoffs, hiring freezes, parks shortening their hours, cutting back vital services like restrooms, or even being closed, and the Governor of the state threatening to SELL SOME OF THEM, all to “save money during a budget crisis” just so these law enforcement types can run around playing Horticulture Police State ?
You want to get pot plantings out of public lands ? LEGALIZE IT.
Let’s take a closer look at one of the other groups Lovell lobbies for, Charity First for CA. pdf filing with state http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/PD… Do you know what they do? They lobby for Bingo Parlors.
We can’t have pot and bingo in this state at the same time ?
What is CAHU, the CA Association of Health Underwriters up to, lately ? They are supporting another ballot initiative for non partisan primaries. http://cahucapitolrap.blogspot…
This was written by John Lovell, who says this trade association for the health insurance industry supports screwing up primaries by making them totally open.
With an open primary, party won’t matter. Everyone gets to vote and the top two candidates face off against each other in the Fall. That means that in a safe Democratic district, Republican voters will be the decisive factor in determining what type of Democrat goes to Sacramento. In a safe Republican district, Democratic voters will have a similar influence.
And what this means is that the entire Legislature will move to the center. CAHU does very well when we can speak with centrist Legislators – be they Democrat or Republican.
Earth to Lovell – it’s not all about your clients.