In just 25 days, Portland, Maine could become the first East Coast city in the nation to legalize marijuana for adults.
On November 5, 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.