MPP Launches New Billboards Urging Adults to Be Responsible With Marijuana Products


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The Marijuana Policy Project  is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.

The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”

The “Consume Responsibly” campaign made national headlines when it launched in September with a billboard that alluded to columnist Maureen Dowd’s infamous marijuana edibles experience and urged adults to exercise caution when consuming them.

“Now that states are taking a smarter approach to marijuana policy, it’s time for a smarter approach to marijuana education,” said MPP’s Mason Tvert. “Issues such as over-consumption and accidental ingestion are not unique to marijuana, and a lot can be learned from how we handle other legal products. These problems can be addressed by raising awareness and informing adults about steps that should be taken to prevent them.”

CR_Adult_Snacks_Billboard_1_SMALL

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Super Bowl Ads Call on NFL to Stop Punishing Players for Marijuana


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UPDATE: MPP posted new billboards in response to anti-marijuana billboards posted near the Super Bowl.

On Tuesday, MPP unveiled a series of billboards surrounding MetLife Stadium, site of the upcoming Super Bowl, that have been getting a lot of attention. These ads highlight the fact that marijuana is objectively safer than both alcohol and football, and call on the NFL to stop punishing players for using the safer option.

This is especially noteworthy this year, as the two teams playing in the Super Bowl are the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, both of whose home states made marijuana legal for adults in 2012.

Here’s a pictureBillboard of one of the ads from the ground, and you can view the rest on our website.

On Wednesday, MPP’s Mason Tvert presented a Change.org petition calling on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to get rid of the policy of punishing players for using marijuana. The petition currently has more than 12,000 signatures.

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Show Percy Some Mercy


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Mercy: Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one’s power

Media outlets reported yesterday that the Minnesota Vikings are trading all-pro wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. Based on Harvin’s history, it is almost as if fate is telling the NFL it is time to change one of its most unjust and irrational policies.

Percy Harvin
Percy Harvin (AP)

It’s no secret that Percy Harvin has used marijuana. Percy tested positive for marijuana at the 2009 NFL combine, which was the reason why he was selected late in the first round instead of being a high pick. It’s also no secret that Percy – like many of us – suffers from severe migraines. Many have speculated that Percy used marijuana to treat these notoriously untreatable and unbearable headaches. In fact, Percy missed significant game and practice time with the Vikings due to migraines once he was forced to abstain – due to NFL rules (PDF) – from using marijuana as a treatment option. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seattle Seahawks Beat Washington Redskins: Coincidence?


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On Nov. 6 of last year, the state of Washington made the possession and use of marijuana legal for adults. Marijuana remains illegal in Washington, D.C., the home of the Redskins. Last week, the District of Columbia ranked ninth on a list of America’s ‘25 Drunkest Cities,’ while Seattle, home of the Seahawks, didn’t even make the list.

Is it a coincidence that the Seahawks handily beat the Redskins this past Sunday?

Perhaps. (Nevertheless, it is worth noting that both the Seahawks and the Denver Broncos have yet to lose a game at home since their respective states made marijuana legal.)

But we have to wonder why the NFL continues to prohibit marijuana use by players during the off-season, even in states that have made it legal, while simultaneously promoting alcohol use at every game. Moreover, the league continues to prohibit players in those states from using marijuana for medical purposes, despite its proven ability to ease chronic pain – a condition that affects many players.

Perhaps allowing professional athletes to make the choice to use marijuana instead of painkillers could make a difference in their performances. And so could allowing them to use marijuana instead of alcohol when they are relaxing or socializing with friends. Regardless, it is bad policy to continue punishing these athletes simply for making a safer choice.

Photo by Mark Gail/MCT
Photo by Mark Gail/MCT
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Volunteers Needed for Seattle Hempfest


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MPP is excited to be cosponsoring the 2011 Seattle Hempfest on Friday, August 19, through Sunday, August 21, and we’re looking for volunteers to help us out!

We need people to help us staff our table, as well as people to sign Hempfest attendees up for our free e-mail alerts.  Everyone who volunteers will receive a free MPP t-shirt and get to meet lots of great supporters, all while enjoying the world’s largest marijuana-policy-related event. As an added bonus, the person who collects the most email sign-ups on each day will receive a special gift from MPP!

This is the 20th anniversary of Seattle Hempfest, and promises to be one of the most memorable to date. All across the country, people are reconsidering their marijuana laws, and the wind is finally at our backs. This year’s festival is a great opportunity to celebrate the progress we’ve made as a movement, and to build the relationships and tools necessary for continued victory.

Would you please volunteer a few hours of your time on Friday, August 19, through Sunday, August 21, to help us spread the word about the important work MPP is doing to reform marijuana laws across the country?

If you would like to help, please e-mail me here with the following information:

•               Your name

•               Your phone (home and/or cell)

•               Days you’re willing to volunteer (Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday)

•               Time slots you are available (scheduling to follow based on availability)

 

For more information on Hempfest, visit http://www.hempfest.org/.

Thank you for your interest, and we hope to see you there!

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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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Prediction: Washington State Will End Marijuana Prohibition in 26 Months


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I’ve just returned to my home in Washington, D.C. from a trip to the “other Washington” — specifically, Seattle. My two visits to Seattle in the past month have convinced me that Washington state will probably be one of the first two states to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

In mid-August, I attended Seattle’s Hempfest for the sixth time in seven years. For those who don’t know, Hempfest isn’t your run-of-the-mill marijuana rally. In fact, if it were, I wouldn’t attend. This year’s Hempfest, which was the 19th in 20 years, was the largest yet, with an estimated 300,000 people visiting Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront over two days. Each year, Seattle Hempfest is literally the largest marijuana-related event in the world.

And bigger is better; there’s safety in numbers. For two days each August, using, possessing, and transferring marijuana for no remuneration (passing a joint) is legal in the park. For a few years, this policy was an informal understanding between the Seattle police and the 100,000+ people they were serving and protecting. But, in recent years, the higher-ups in the police department have actually directed their rank-and-file not to arrest people at Hempfest for marijuana (unless someone is selling it or pushing it on children).

What events preceded this normalization of marijuana?

In 1998, 59% of Washington state voters passed a medical marijuana initiative; then, in 2007, the Washington legislature instructed the state Department of Health to define a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. In 2008, the Department of Health defined a 60-day supply as up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana and 15 plants at any stage of growth.

On a separate track, in 2003, 59% of Seattle voters passed a local initiative to make marijuana possession the lowest arrest priority for local police. After that, the number of arrests within city limits plummeted, and, in January of this year, the city attorney for Seattle announced that his office would no longer prosecute people for marijuana possession.

Seattle Hempfest both led to — and benefited from — the local 2003 initiative victory, for which my organization, the Marijuana Policy Project, provided substantial funding. For two days each year, Hempfest attendees see what it’s like for the public use of marijuana to be legal: There’s no violence (alcohol is prohibited during the event), and there’s good company and music and speeches. And the police see the same thing — especially the no-violence part.

The police and non-police leave with these observations and tell their friends and colleagues. Over the course of the last two decades, perhaps 1.5 million people — most of whom live in Washington — have witnessed this phenomenon. Quite simply, Hempfest has changed the local culture around marijuana. So it’s no wonder that the 2003 initiative passed, which then led to a more formal policy change with respect to marijuana arrests at Hempfest … and then the whole city year-round.

And now, support for making marijuana legal has broken the 50% threshold in the state. The three most recent statewide polls show that 56% of adults support “making marijuana possession legal” (January 2010), 54% of adults support “allow[ing] state-run liquor stores to sell and tax marijuana” (January 2010), and 52% of registered voters support “removing state civil and criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana” (May 2010).

The 52% figure is probably the most accurate, because it’s important to survey registered voters — as opposed to all adults — when you’re thinking about supporting a statewide initiative, as MPP is considering doing in Washington state for the November 2012 ballot.

Because there are many supportive young people and independent voters who vote only in presidential elections, it’s vitally important to place difficult-to-pass marijuana initiatives on presidential-election ballots. Indeed, MPP’s initiatives have passed by surprisingly large margins in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Montana during presidential elections, while both of our initiatives in Nevada lost during midterm elections.

If we can agree on an initiative that’s drafted to appeal to swing voters (meaning it can’t be too radical) and it’s placed on the November 2012 ballot, I predict that marijuana will be made legal in Washington state in just 26 months.

And this would be a particularly sweet victory, since Gil Kerlikowske, the White House drug czar, is the former police chief of … Seattle.

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Marc Emery Goes to Prison While His Former Prosecutor Denounces Prohibition


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Last week, a federal judge in Seattle sentenced prominent Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery to five years in U.S. prison, after Emery pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. For years, Emery ran a marijuana seed-selling business, the profits from which he donated almost entirely to marijuana policy reform efforts. For that reason, his prosecution by U.S. law enforcement has been viewed by many as purely political, a charge officials have since denied.

But in 2005, then DEA-head Karen Tandy touted Emery’s arrest as “a significant blow” to the movement to end marijuana prohibition, saying “hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.” Such a statement should provide some insight into why U.S. officials have spent so many resources targeting (even extraditing) Emery over the years.

But of course that’s old news, and not surprising. Instead, what really raised some eyebrows was this op-ed written earlier this month by John McKay, the former U.S. attorney who first indicted Emery in 2005. Writing in the Seattle Times, McKay now says that marijuana prohibition is a failure,  is based on “false medical assumptions,” and that a new, science-based approach toward marijuana policy is desperately needed:

As Emery’s prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I’m not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety. […] We should give serious consideration to heavy regulation and taxation of the marijuana industry.

How’s that for evidence of the changing political atmosphere surrounding marijuana policy?

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Seattle’s New City Attorney Will Dismiss All Marijuana Possession Cases


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Pete Holmes, the newly elected Seattle city attorney, is already making good on his campaign promise to dismiss any marijuana possession charges that come through his office, the Seattle Times reported last week. Holmes dismissed two marijuana-related cases on his first day on the job, and several others are about to be dismissed, including cases taken up by the previous city attorney.

According to the Times, Holmes’ predecessor, Tom Carr, had continued to prosecute low-level marijuana arrests even after city voters passed a referendum in 2003 making marijuana the lowest law-enforcement priority for local officials.

This is just the latest in a whole string of good news coming out of Washington state in recent weeks.

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