Arizona Legislature to Consider Bills to Legalize and Decriminalize Marijuana


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CARDENAS
Rep. Mark Cardenas

MPP believes legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over is a more sensible approach than continuing failed prohibition policies, and so does Arizona state Rep. Mark Cardenas. He recently introduced HB 2007, a bill that would treat marijuana like alcohol, similar to the laws of Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. If you are an Arizona resident, please take a moment to contact your state senator and representative and voice your support.

Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition, and both national and Arizona polls now regularly show support for a better approach. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Regulating it would replace the underground market, and law enforcement officials’ time could be more effectively directed to addressing serious crime.

Rep. Cardenas has also introduced HB 2006, which would establish a $100 civil penalty for the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. In addition to the four states that have legalized marijuana for adults, well over a dozen states have lowered criminal penalties with sensible alternatives to putting people in jail for choosing a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Please support these important bills, and pass this message on to friends, family, and supporters in Arizona!

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Uruguay’s President Fights Back Against United Nations


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Jose Mujica angry
Pres. Jose Mujica

Jose Mujica is not a man who compromises his beliefs. Before he became President of Uruguay, he was shot six times and spent fourteen years in a dungeon-like military prison. Now he lives a modest lifestyle, donates most of his income to social projects, and resides in a one-bedroom farmhouse with his wife, Congresswoman and former acting President of Uruguay, Lucia Topolansky. President Mujica, once known as the world’s poorest President (a nickname he is not fond of), is becoming known for something else – regulating marijuana.

Now that President Mujica’s bill has been made law, Uruguay is facing international opposition. Last week, the United Nations released a statement explaining its position – that Uruguay has violated a U.N. drug convention and not considered the facts about marijuana. Unfortunately, the U.N.I.S. statement is riddled with misconceptions and, as President Mujica would say, lies.

Not only has the International Narcotics Control Board shown ignorance to the science of marijuana usage, but also it has lied about Uruguay’s willingness to work with the U.N., according to President Mujica.

“Tell this old guy not to lie,” Mujica told reporters, according to Colombian daily El Espectador. “Any guy in the street can meet with me. Let him come to Uruguay and meet with me whenever he wants… He thinks that because he’s in an international position, he can tell whatever lie he wants.”

The INCB president said on Wednesday he was “surprised” that the Uruguayan government “knowingly decided to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed legal provisions of the treaty.

But Mujica dismissed the criticism as a double standard, pointing out that the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington have already legalized weed and that both of the states’ populations individually exceed Uruguay’s 3.4 million inhabitants.

“Do they have two discourses, one for Uruguay and another for those who are strong?” Mujica asked.

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25 Days Until Portland Considers Making Marijuana Legal for Adults


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In just 25 days, Portland, Maine could become the first East Coast city in the nation to legalize marijuana for adults.

On November 5,25 days voters will decide whether to approve a local ballot initiative that would make the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older.

MPP is part of a coalition that’s backing the local initiative (which is known as “Question 1″), and we recently made national headlines when we launched a series of ads on Portland buses and bus shelters that highlight the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol. Virtually every major media outlet in Maine covered the campaign, and when critics demanded that the ads be taken down, the state’s largest newspaper defended our right to display them.

We’ve made no secret of our plans to support a statewide initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Maine in November 2016 (unless the state legislature does so first). Passing Question 1 in the state’s most populous city will build an incredible amount of momentum and send a message that broader reform will soon come to the entire state.

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Surprise! Joe Biden Says Something Dumb


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Our vice president has a long and storied history of eyebrow-raising and indecipherable comments – “Bidenisms” as they’re known – and he had another doozy to offer yesterday. Speaking to a group of Latin American leaders, who have grown increasingly emboldened in their calls for legalization of marijuana and other drugs due to the deaths of tens of thousands of their citizens at the hands of powerful, murderous drug cartels, Biden offered this: “It warrants a discussion. It’s totally legitimate for this to be raised. It’s worth discussing … but there is no possibility that the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy on legalization.”

Huh? Why bother having the discussion if you’re only going to listen to your half of it? That’s like a judge presiding over a criminal trial even though he’s already sentenced the defendant. Call off your research and pack up your “totally legitimate” policy arguments, this administration won’t be listening to any of it. For an administration that claims it wants to put science before ideology and politics when it comes to drug policy, this seems to indicate there is “no possibility” there will be a change in policy no matter how much scientific research is done. At least legalization is in his vocabulary, I suppose.

Of course, what’s important here is that, whether the administration is listening or not, this conversation is happening. More and more people, including influential heads of state, are joining our side and calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. Voters in Colorado and Washington state will have a chance to join them this November, and if the polls are right, the administration will hear them loud and clear.

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Tony Bennett Calls for Drug Legalization Following the Death of Whitney Houston


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A day after Whitney Houston’s unexpected death, singer Tony Bennett, music icon and winner of 17 Grammy Awards, paid tribute to the award-winning star at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. He took this opportunity not only to honor her life and accomplishments and sing a song in her memory, but also to advocate for the legalization of drugs.

(Photo Credit: AP)

In spite of the fact that there is speculation that Houston’s death was drug-related, given her history with drug use (including marijuana), Bennett bravely spoke up about what so many already know: the war on drugs is a failure and is more harmful to society than the drugs themselves. For marijuana offenses alone, there were over 850,000 arrests in 2010, and 88% of those were for simple possession.

Watch this video of Tony Bennett speaking up for change. He gets it, and he had the courage to say so.

(Author’s Edit: Original video was taken down by YouTube user. New video links to CNN’s coverage, with Tony Bennett’s comments, as well as a panel discussion including Arianna Huffington, who echoed Bennett’s sentiments that the war on drugs has failed.)

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Public Support for Marijuana Legalization Highest Ever


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In a poll released today, the Pew Research Center reports that more people support marijuana legalization than ever before. Supporters are not yet the majority, but the numbers have been trending our way slowly but surely every year:

The public is divided over whether the use of marijuana should be legal or not; half (50%) oppose legalization while nearly as many (45%) favor legalizing marijuana. Support for legalizing marijuana is up slightly since March, 2010; and over the past 40 years – drawing on trends from Gallup and the General Social Survey – support for legalizing marijuana has never been higher.

Young people under the age of 30 favor legalizing the use of marijuana by a 54%-42% margin. Opinion is divided among those in middle age groups. Those 65 and older are broadly opposed to legalization (66% illegal, 30% legal).

Given that the number of people who agree with legalization has been rising by about 1% per year, the message here is clear:

We need to keep talking about this issue with everyone we know. If we continue to educate our fellow citizens, many of whom still buy into the Reefer Madness propaganda of yesteryear, support for ending marijuana prohibition will be the majority opinion sooner than we think.

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Drug Czar upset with hometown paper’s pro-legalization editorial


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On Friday, February 18, The Seattle Times ran an editorial endorsing HB 1550, a bill introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson that would tax and regulate marijuana in the state of Washington. The editorial was thoughtful, reasoned, and logical. Apparently, the Office of National Drug Control Policy doesn’t appreciate this kind of rabble-rousing.

As reported today in The Stranger, The Seattle Times received a call immediately after they ran their editorial from Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, who wanted to fly out to the Emerald City and personally meet with the entire editorial board. This meeting will take place on Friday. Please join us in requesting The Seattle Times live-stream their important and unprecedented meeting with the Drug Czar.

Beyond the obvious chilling of First Amendment rights implicated by an executive official making such a request, one can only assume that Czar Kerlikowske is making the cross-country flight on the American taxpayer dime. At the very least, Czar Kerlikowske will be ‘bullying’ the editorial board on the clock, meaning the taxpayer is paying for him to do this. Considering we’re paying for his flight and his meeting, we should at least be able to sit in via the Internet! In the interest of a transparent government, please join us in requesting that this meeting be streamed live via the World Wide Web.

Oh, and you’ll be pleased to know that The Seattle Times is not backing down in their support of HB 1550 in light of Czar Kerlikowske’s request.

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Drug Czar Struggles With Big Words. Again.


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Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has stated on many occasions that his vocabulary does not include the word “legalization.” Now today, we learn that our nation’s top drug warrior doesn’t know the meaning of the word “prohibition” either.

Sadly, I’m not making this up.

In an online video interview today with the Washington Post, Kerlikowske says the Obama administration is “very much opposed” to taxing and regulating marijuana because—get this—he says the taxes paid on alcohol do not make up for the “criminal justice, health care, [and] social costs” of alcohol consumption. Oh, and he just assumes taxes on marijuana wouldn’t either, though he doesn’t bother to mention the billions of dollars we could save on law enforcement, prison, judicial and environmental costs by calling for an end to the futile and unwinnable war the government wages against our country’s largest cash crop and the millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans who use it.

This bizarre answer prompts Post editor Fred Hiatt, the interviewer, to ask an obvious question: “So … are you looking at the prohibition of alcohol?”

The drug czar chuckles. “No,” he says, “we’re not exploring prohibition.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Another Milestone in the Golden State


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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a first-of-its kind hearing on the “legalization and regulation of marijuana,” held in the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety. The three-hour hearing included testimony from experts who told the legislature that arresting adults for marijuana is a gross waste of police resources and that the only way to control marijuana is to end prohibition and institute regulations for its sale.

Witnesses advocating for reform included retired superior court judge James P. Gray and former San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan – both of whom have seen the futility of marijuana prohibition firsthand from inside the criminal justice system. Read the rest of this entry »

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New at MPP TV: Tax & Regulate Marijuana


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MPP-TV just released this excellent video highlighting the need to tax and regulate marijuana. This piece is especially relevant now that California is considering groundbreaking reform legislation that has triggered a national discussion about the wisdom of marijuana prohibition.

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