Posts Tagged: Marijuana

Oct 10

Emerging 2012 strategy for Democrats: Marijuana

“Moving forward, these kinds of initiatives could have a coattail effect for Democratic candidates.”

I’ve been trying to tell you that it’s time to get out in front of this issue. And now … it’s too late. Some pollsters and party officials say Democratic candidates in California are benefiting from a surge in enthusiasm among young voters eager to back Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in certain quantities [...]

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Oct 10

Democrats’ Secret Weapon in 2012: Marijuana?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Democratic strategists “are studying a California marijuana-legalization initiative to see if similar ballot measures could energize young, liberal voters in swing states for the 2012 presidential election.”

“Democratic strategists liken the marijuana effort to the 2004 ballot drives to ban gay marriage in Ohio and 10 other states. Whether those measures helped then-President George W. Bush win that year remains a point of debate, as turnout was high even in states without the issue on the ballot. But many conservatives say the measure drove thousands to the polls in Ohio, the election’s central battleground, where Mr. Bush won by just two percentage points, or about 118,000 votes.”

“Now, some Democratic strategists say marijuana legalization could do the same for their party.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Oct 10

As Newspapers Inhale Cash From Medical Marijuana Ads, NY Times Skips Usual Ethics Questions

Medical marijuana is an evergreen (pardon the pun) topic for alternative weeklies, along with the return of vinyl records. The recent loosening of federal regulations under Obama have pushed the issue into the mainstream, with one surprising side effect — a huge boost in ad sales for alternative papers and even some mainstream dailies, as medical marijuana businesses like "Happy Buddah" and "High Mike’s" attempt to entice customers, er, patients.

But the New York Times, usually hypersensitive to how corporate advertising affects coverage of industry-related issues, didn’t spot any potential conflicts in this case, even as a newspaper executive lamented how a tightening of a state law on medical marijuana could adversely affect his newspaper ad sales.

Reporter Jeremy Peters’ report from Colorado Springs, "New Fuel for Local Papers: Ads for Medical Marijuana," on Tuesday’s front page, failed to question whether such massive advertising for a controversial product could influence a newspaper’s journalism. By comparison, the Times banned tobacco cigarette ads from its pages in 1999, and tobacco companies have long been prohibited from advertising their products on television and radio.

When it hit the streets here last week, the latest issue of ReLeaf, a pullout supplement to The Colorado Springs Independent devoted to medical marijuana, landed with a satisfying thud.

Forty-eight pages in all, it was stuffed with advertisements for businesses with names like Mile High Mike’s, Happy Buddah and the Healthy Connections (which enticed potential customers with promises of "naughty nurses" to tend to patients’ needs).

A full-page ad in ReLeaf costs about $ 1,100, making the publication a cash cow for The Independent, which has used its bounty from medical marijuana ads this year to hire one new reporter and promote three staff members to full time.

Peters dismissed policy concerns in a single sentence, and quoted no dissenting voices.

What would happen in the many communities now allowing medical marijuana had been a subject of much hand-wringing. But few predicted this: that it would be a boon for local newspapers looking for ways to cope with the effects of the recession and the flight of advertising — especially classified listings — to Web sites like Craigslist.

But in states like Colorado, California and Montana where use of the drug for health purposes is legal, newspapers — particularly alternative weeklies — have rushed to woo marijuana providers. Many of these enterprises are flush with cash and eager to get the word out about their fledgling businesses.

Even the L.A. Weekly, an alternative paper which relies heavily on such advertising, has been more critical of medical marijuana than the Times, noting in November 2009: "Critics see [a medical marijuana store] as an illegal, moneymaking, cash machine that buys weed from black-marketeers, as do scores of dispensaries in L.A. About 70 percent of the visitors entering dispensaries observed by the Weekly in November were young men — corroborating D.A. Cooley’s claim that the real market for all this activity is everyday users, not people suffering serious disease."

Peters added that mainstream papers like the Denver Post were "taking advantage of the boom and making no apologies."

Newspaper publishers saw an opening for medical marijuana advertising after the Obama administration said last fall that it would not prosecute users and suppliers of the drug as long as they complied with state laws. Though many states have made legal allowances for medical marijuana for nearly a decade (the total now is 14 and the District of Columbia), that decision freed more people to market and sell it as a medical product.

Peters didn’t comment on this spectacle of a Montana newspaper executive breaching the barrier between advertising and journalism by openly worrying about how stricter regulation of medical marijuana laws would affect his newspaper’s bottom line.

In Colorado Springs, where liberal marijuana policy has run head on into the city’s active community of social conservatives, voters will decide next month on a ballot initiative that would ban medical marijuana sellers in unincorporated areas of El Paso County. In Montana the Legislature is expected to take up proposals to more strictly regulate medical marijuana use, including limiting the amount of the drug a patient can buy each month.

At The Missoula Independent, where medical marijuana advertising now makes up about 10 percent of the paper’s revenue, there is concern that the spigot may soon tighten.

Matt Gibson, The Independent’s president, said marijuana businesses have helped carry the paper through a rough recession. "It’s been stressful for us for several years," he said. "There’s no question that they’ve been good for our business. And we’re worried about 2011, if the state revises the statute, which it appears is all but certain." - Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Oct 10

California Decriminalizes Marijuana

Via the San Francisco ChronicleState downgrades pot possession to infraction

Citing the need to reduce spending on prosecution and courts, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure that makes marijuana possession an infraction, on par with traffic and littering tickets.


“In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket,” wrote Schwarzenegger, who opposes Proposition 19, the marijuana initiative.

The law, which takes effect immediately, reduces possession of up to an ounce of marijuana - enough for about 30 joints - from a misdemeanor to an infraction. Already, marijuana possession was the only misdemeanor under California law that didn’t allow for jail time.

Quite frankly, this makes fiscal sense given the previous state of the law:

The penalty for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana was already limited to a $ 100 fine and potential, court-mandated treatment.

Really, why expend the money for court appearances and other related costs?

Beyond that, however, this is clearly indicative of an ongoing shift towards marijuana use.

The immediate political implications is how it will effect voting on Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana outright in CA.   On the one hand the new measure further destigmatizes marijuana usage  to some degree, yet on the other it removes one of the arguments for Prop 19, i.e., that it would help reduce the costs associated with marijuana prosecutions.

In regards to Prop 19 itself, see:  On Legalizing Marijuana in California.  That post underscores the conflict between state and federal laws on this subject.  Such a contrast is quite relevant because any real change to the true fundaments of the drug war on marijuana has to come from a national change in policy, not state-level reforms.  And there are powerful fiscal arguments for doing so at that level as well.

Outside the Beltway

Oct 10

California reduces possession of marijuana from misdemeanor to “infraction”


It’s a budgetary measure. These days, isn’t everything? A month before California voters decide the fate of a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that essentially puts those caught possessing small amounts of the drug on the same level as those caught speeding on the freeway… “The only [...]

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Sep 10

Not So Fast On Marriage And Marijuana? Ctd

A reader writes:

I don’t buy that a backlash is waiting in the wings if Prop 19 passes.  For starters, if polling is at 44% in favor of a prohibition-type issue, there’s likely a Bradley Effect that makes it a near coin-toss.  As for the 54% opposed, that doesn’t mean 54% that would take to the streets with signs and pitchforks.  Many of those opposed are likely stating a simple preference when asked, but in the end would just go about their days and lives if marijuana was legalized.

Furthermore, a lot of conservatives would find themselves in a trap.  How can the Tea Party crowd make noise about an issue of increased liberty and state sovereignty without appearing like complete hypocrites? 

If they take the side of prohibition it will split their ranks.  If they accept it (or support it), you will find that Boehner and company will just want to avoid the issue altogether.  I suppose the religious right would perhaps mobilize a bit, but it really isn’t a God issue and my hunch is they feel they have bigger battles to fight.

I’m very interested to see it play out, because a lot of conservative libertarians are going to have to walk the walk.  I live near Atlanta, in Neal Boortz country, and he has claimed a pro-legalization stance for years.  By proxy, my otherwise conservative Republican in-laws have claimed the same.  I’m curious to see if it’s a position they’re actually willing to see carried out, or if it was just a stance of association.  I think for a lot of people this will be a moment of rubber meeting the road, and like the increase in support for gay marriage after Iowa, New Hampshire, et al, people will come to the realization that frogs will not rain from the sky.

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Bradley Effect - New Hampshire - Neal Boortz - Cannabis - Atlanta

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Sep 10

Not So Fast On Marriage And Marijuana?

Tyler Cowen predicts a future backlash on both fronts:

On issues such as drug legalization and gay rights, I see a more cyclic than melioristic pattern.  We will see marginal improvements but we won't enter a new age of reason, in either the public sector or the private sector.  The Netherlands is backing away from its very liberal social policies, including on drugs, and the cause of gay rights could as easily fall back as progress.  I believe that many people are broadly programmed to be prejudiced in this area.

But the polling on both issues in America do not seem to be cyclical to me. The polling on marriage equality has been going up (with a couple of bumps) since it arrived on the national discourse. Here's the now-famous phallic graph of public opinion on marriage equality from the beginnings of its emergence as a public issue:


I see nothing cyclical there - just tumescent. And here is Gallup on the other question

Do you think the use of marijuana should be legal or not?


Now I do see a small backlash from 1978 - 1986 in the Reagan era.

But a forty year reduction in support for prohibition from 84 percent in 1970 to 54 percent in 2009 and an increase in support from 12 percent to 44 percent overwhelms any of the bumps along the way. Moreover, on both issues, support is much higher among the young than the old, suggesting to me that, unless legalization of marriage equality and marijuana lead to the social disintegration the social right claims, these trends will continue and even accelerate. I do think it will be vital to enforce legal marijuana laws effectively, and to make strenuous efforts to keep it away from the under-18s, as Prop 19 pledges.

The latest Field poll on Prop 19, by the way, shows a 49 - 42 percent majority in favor of legalizing a drug less toxic and anti-social than alcohol. The Public Policy Polling one before that showed 47 percent in favor and 38 percent against. But any initiative polling below 50 percent is vulnerable, and the most striking thing about all the polls is the sharp increase in undecideds since the spring. 

In April only 3 percent weren't sure what they thought; now that number is 15 percent, suggesting that opponents have had some success in sowing doubts about the impact of the change. Men back legalization much more than women; and the generation gap - surprise! - is huge: 74 percent of those under 34 are for it, compared with only 39 percent of the over-65s. African-Americans are the strongest supporters (but not that far ahead of whites); and the biggest backers by party are Independents (followed closely by Democrats). The Republicans, as on marriage equality, are the outliers.

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United States - Legality of cannabis - Drugs - Health - Illegal

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Sep 10

Medical Marijuana and Peer Review Science

Something a little strange about this study.
American Thinker Blog

Sep 10

Marijuana Legalization Initiative Leading In California Polls

California has long been known for unique, and controversial ballot initiatives, but there’s one on the ballot this year that is likely to get a lot media attention over the next five weeks, and even more attention if it passes. Proposition 19 would effectively legalize the possession and sale of marijuana, and would authorize the state and California localities to tax and regulate it in the same manner that they do alcohol. The proposition itself is not all that surprising given California’s history over the past fifteen years of significantly liberalizing the drug laws as it relates to marijuana, starting first in 1996 with Proposition 215, which opened the floodgates on state laws allowing possession of marijuana for medical purposes, and continuing with Proposition 36 which essentially made most people convicted of non-violent drug possession eligible for probation rather than incarceration. On some level then, an effort at complete legalization was the natural next step in a process in California that reflects a general attitude among the populace that marijuana use just isn’t a very big deal.

So far at least, it’s looking very much like Prop 19 will pass:

The ballot initiative Proposition 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in California, still leads by nine points in the latest poll from PPP:

PPP (PDF) (9/14-16)
Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana under California but not federal law. It would permit
local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution, and sale of
marijuana. Will you vote yes or no on Proposition 19?
Yes 47%
No 38%
Undecided 14%

The good news is that Yes on Prop 19 still has that fairly large nine-point margin over No on Prop 19. This is larger than we saw in the most recent SurveyUSA poll, which found it 47 percent yes -43 no.

The one caveat, of course, is that Yes is polling under 50%, which is essentially the same place that the No vote on Proposition 8 was polling in the weeks leading up to the 2008 election. So, it’s still entirely possible that the legalization initiative will fail, and one group is putting a lot of money into making sure that it does:

The California Beer & Beverage Distributors is spending money in the state to oppose a marijuana legalization proposition on the ballot in November, according to records filed with the California Secretary of State. The beer sellers are the first competitors of marijuana to officially enter the debate; backers of the initiative are closely watching liquor and wine dealers and the pharmaceutical industry to see if they enter the debate in the remaining weeks.

The irony of the alcohol industry opposing an initiative to legalize marijuana is, I am sure, not lost on anyone. It is, roughly, the equivalent of the gambling industry opposing the opening of horse tracks and off-track betting, and on some level a recognition of the fact that there really isn’t any functional equivalent between the two products other than the fact that one happens to be illegal.

One of the more interesting things about Prop 19, though, is the fact that it may actually be helping undercut the enthusiasm gap that Democrats are facing in the rest of the nation:

One thing that’s interesting about the marijuana polling is that it really doesn’t break down along party lines to the same extent most of the things we poll do. 56% of Democrats support it to 28% opposed and 30% of Republicans support it with 57% opposed. That’s a lot more division within the ranks of both parties than we’re seeing on a lot of stuff.

A big question to contemplate in California is whether the marijuana initiative is helping to stifle the enthusiasm gap Democrats are dealing with in most other states, particularly when it comes to intended turnout from young voters. We’re seeing a much higher level of interest in this election from voters under 45 in California than in most places and those folks are highly favorable toward Proposition 19, planning to vote for it by a 54/34 margin.

Because of the fact that it is influencing who is going to be a Likely Voter on Election Day, the presence of Prop 19 on the ballot may explain at least in part why Barbara Boxer remains competitive against Carly Fiorina, and why Jerry Brown remains within the Margin of Error against Meg Whitman.

This will be worth watching as the weeks go on, but as it stands now it’s very likely that California will become the first state in the country to completely legalize marijuana. To me, that’s a positive development that will hopefully start a trend.

Graphic Credit: Opposing Views

Outside the Beltway

Sep 10

Obama administration’s quiet reversal on marijuana raids


When Barack Obama took office, his administration promised to revisit the marijuana-enforcement policies of the Bush administration, especially on drug raids in states with limited legalization.  If they have changed anything, it hasn’t been to stop the raids, but they have made one significant change: the Department of Justice has stopped talking about them.  The [...]

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