Tax and Regulate

Candidate for Oregon Governor Says “It Might Be” a Good Idea to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

April 30th, 2010 43 Comments Kate Zawidzki

In a live televised debate Wednesday night between Oregon’s two Democratic candidates for governor, one — former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury — said he thinks “it might be” a good idea to legalize and tax marijuana like we do alcohol. While his complete statement didn’t come off as a whole-hearted endorsement for marijuana policy reform, Bradbury’s answer was much more promising than that of his opponent, former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who said plainly, “I do not support legalizing marijuana or taxing it as a form of income to support schools and other important public services.” Read the rest of this entry »

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More than 22,000 dead: Ex-drug czar’s hallmark of success?

April 28th, 2010 38 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The L.A. Times recently reported that more than 22,000 people have been killed in cartel-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown after taking office in late 2006. Now, after reviewing 20 years of scientific literature on drug-related violence, researchers at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy issued a report finding that increased violence is the predictable result of a crackdown.

The former drug czar, John Walters, disagreed with their conclusion, claiming violence is a result of the cartels getting weaker. The Associated Press reports Walters “said the researchers gravely misinterpret drug violence. He said spikes of attacks and killings after law enforcement crackdowns are almost entirely between criminals, and therefore may, in a horrible, paradoxical way, reflect success.”

Walters himself has estimated that 60% of cartel profits come from marijuana. Yet while no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, it’s clear that many thousands have been killed in prohibition-related violence. And despite billions of dollars in expenses each year, the trail of bloodshed, and 800,000 arrests per year, more than 80% of high schools seniors still report each year that marijuana is very easy or fairly easy to get. I guess John Walters and I have different definitions of success.

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Athletes Highlight Absurdity of Marijuana Laws

April 27th, 2010 42 Comments Kate Zawidzki

In breaking news out of North Carolina today, four members of the NC State football team were cited on “drug charges” for hanging out in an apartment smoking a little marijuana. Apparently, an off-duty police officer working in the apartment building smelled marijuana and decided he needed to protect the community by busting in and arresting as many people as possible.

Three of the four players were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. All four, including one who apparently did not possess the marijuana but resided in the apartment with the other players, were charged with “maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of using a controlled substance.” Are they kidding? Do the police believe they specifically rented that apartment so that it would be a drug den?

Let’s review what was found on the premises:

[Police Sergeant R.E.] Hoffman said he found two homemade bongs, a multi-colored glass bong, three clear sandwich bags containing approximately six grams of marijuana and a blunt cigar containing marijuana in the apartment, according to the warrant. The warrant also stated the finding of Bryan’s BlackBerry, which contained images of a marijuana plant in growth.

Quite the drug den.

The article noted that the four players “were” expected to play substantial roles on the team next season. But their status may be in jeopardy because of this situation.

Here is the most troubling part of this story. We are only hearing about it because these individuals are college athletes. There are more than 800,000 marijuana arrests in the U.S. every year. Every single day in this country otherwise law-abiding citizens have their worlds turned upside-down because they made the rational decision to use a substance less harmful than alcohol one night. This is as absurd as our law gets.

Reversing this madness is the mission of MPP.

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Medical Marijuana

UPDATE: Court Orders Bail for New Jersey’s John Wilson

April 27th, 2010 15 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The multiple sclerosis patient in New Jersey who was sentenced to five years in prison for growing marijuana plants and has been incarcerated since March may be released today while he appeals his case.

A state appellate court ruled yesterday that John Wilson, who says he used marijuana to treat his condition, should be released on bail.


“Family and supporters were optimistic, but pointed out that John spent three weeks in the Somerset County Jail, then a week in a Trenton [transfer] facility and had just been moved to a state prison complex in southern New Jersey. Some were growing concerned over his health.”

Two state senators have asked New Jersey’s governor to pardon Wilson, in part because the state passed a medical marijuana law during the course of his trial.

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Medical Marijuana

‘Does it make sense to lock up a man in a wheelchair?’

April 26th, 2010 30 Comments Kate Zawidzki

I got a call last week about this absolutely tragic story in Florida, which is as good an example of the senseless nature of our nation’s marijuana laws as any I have ever seen.

John Haring, 45, is a quadriplegic who suffers daily from chronic pain, arthritis, spasm attacks, and depression. He uses marijuana to treat his condition, and after two marijuana arrests in two years, he’s now heading to jail for 90 days, after which he’ll be forced to undergo three years of probation and drug testing. If he tests positive for marijuana in just one of those tests, he could face up to five years in jail.

Haring and his relatives say legal prescription painkillers left him “drugged, depressed and in an angry stupor.” Using marijuana, on the other hand, “allowed him to live his life,” according to the St. Petersburg Times. “He could drive his pickup and earn extra money hauling boats and classic cars. He had relationships again. Five years ago, he had children of his own.”

As this compelling article goes on to point out, “Prescription drugs kill six Floridians a day … and the number of deaths is increasing at five times the rate of illegal drugs.”

I’d try to boil down the idiocy of laws that punish Haring for using marijuana, a safe drug with proven medical efficacy, and instead push him toward more harmful prescription drugs, but Haring’s lawyer has already done a pretty good job: “They take away from him the one thing that has worked and force him to take something more toxic,” John Trevena told the Times. “There’s no logic to it.”

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Prohibition, Tax and Regulate

Another Poll Shows Legalization Favorable to Californians

April 23rd, 2010 21 Comments Kate Zawidzki

A Bay Area CBS affiliate recently released a poll showing that 56% of California adults believe that the state should legalize marijuana. This finding is consistent with last year’s Field Poll showing the same support for including marijuana reform as part of California’s budget solution.

Age appears to be significantly correlated to support for marijuana legalization. An overwhelming 74% of respondents age 18 to 34 said marijuana should be legal, but only 46% in the 35 to 49 range thought so. Support is at 49% for baby boomers and only 39% for those over 65.

The survey, conducted on April 20, found majority support in every geographic region in California and across all ethnic groups except for Hispanics.

This data underscores the need for a high voter turnout – especially among younger people – for California’s Control & Tax Cannabis initiative on November 2. Young people are disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition; let’s hope they turn out in high numbers to end that injustice.

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton seems to think that the marijuana issue might just be the key to reaching these young voters who are also more likely to vote Democratic during this mid-term election.

A PDF of the Survey USA poll can be downloaded from our website.

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Tax and Regulate

Free Downloads of ‘Marijuana is Safer’ to Be Offered on 4/20

April 19th, 2010 27 Comments Kate Zawidzki

For anyone who hasn’t yet read “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?” tomorrow is your chance.

In recognition of 4/20, Chelsea Green Publishing will be offering free downloads of this important book, which examines the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol and asks why our nation’s laws seek to punish people who make the sensible choice to use the less harmful substance: marijuana. April also happens to be National Alcohol Awareness Month.

“Marijuana is Safer” is co-authored by MPP’s Steve Fox, Paul Armentano of NORML, and Mason Tvert of SAFER. The book will be available for free download on April 20 from 12 a.m. to April 21, 12 a.m. EST.

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Medical Marijuana

Arizona Group Submits Signatures for Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative

April 15th, 2010 42 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Yesterday, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project submitted more than 250,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, all but guaranteeing that medical marijuana will appear on Arizona’s ballot this November. The initiative needs 153,365 to qualify for the ballot.

“Right now, Arizona patients battling cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases face prison for trying to find relief for debilitating conditions,” said Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the MPP-backed AMMPP, who spoke at a news conference in Phoenix yesterday. “By passing the ‘Vote Yes on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act,’ we can stop this cruel and unnecessary policy.”

Once the initiative qualifies, Arizona will join South Dakota in having medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot this November. Upon its passage, qualified patients who have a doctor’s recommendation in Arizona will be given safe access to their medicine through dispensaries, as well as protection from arrest and prosecution.

Read more about the campaign at

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Medical Marijuana

Marijuana Activist Fights to Get Her Son Back

April 14th, 2010 21 Comments Kate Zawidzki

Lisa Kirkman has spent the last two years trying to regain custody of her 12-year-old son, Noah, and have him returned to their home in Calgary, Canada. Her dilemma, according to the Calgary Sun, is “on the verge of becoming an international incident.”

The saga stems from a 2008 trip Noah made to his visit his stepfather in Oregon. Noah, who reportedly suffers from several mental health issues, was stopped by police for riding a bike without a helmet, and through a still unclear chain of events and red tape, ended up being placed in a series of American foster homes.

Here’s the kicker: The reason authorities have been hesitant to give Noah back to his mother is because of her history with marijuana activism and a 2003 conviction for growing medical marijuana without a permit.

“As a result,” the Calgary Sun reports, “the court has forced her to undergo psychiatric evaluations, and parenting tests. Most telling of all, the court says she must swear off drugs before Noah can come home.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Marijuana

New Jersey MS Patient Will Remain Jailed During Appeal

April 13th, 2010 23 Comments Kate Zawidzki

The New Jersey man who was sentenced to five years in prison last month for growing marijuana plants to treat his multiple sclerosis will now remain jailed while he appeals his conviction.

John Wilson has maintained that he grew marijuana for personal use only to treat his illness. Throughout most of his trial, a judge prevented Wilson from mentioning his condition, even after New Jersey became the 14th state in the nation to pass a medical marijuana law. On Friday, that same judge—State Superior Court Judge Robert Reed—ruled that Wilson cannot go free on bail until his appeal is decided.

Two state senators are asking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to pardon Wilson, calling the decision to bring charges against the 37-year-old “cruel, unusual and unnecessary.”

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