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Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition

A television ad in support of a bill to reduce marijuana penalties in Texas will begin airing Friday, just days before the state House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure. It can be viewed here.

The 30-second spot features Nick Novello, an active duty police officer and 23-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and Heather Jackson of Houston, an ovarian cancer survivor who was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in El Paso in 2007.

“Arresting people for marijuana possession does not make our communities any safer,” Novello says in the ad. “It’s a terrible waste of police resources.”

Jackson notes that she was found with less than one gram of marijuana and spent a total of four days in jail. She was initially jailed for two days. She was forced to spend an additional two days in jail because she violated the terms of her probation by traveling from El Paso to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“It has affected so many different things in my life,” Jackson says in the ad. She now has a criminal record that has prevented her from getting a teaching job.

The ad concludes by urging viewers to tell their legislators to support HB 81, a bipartisan bill that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. A fourth offense would result in a misdemeanor punishable by only a fine. The measure passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last month and is expected to receive a full vote in the House next week.

The ad is scheduled to air through Monday in Austin and through the weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.

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Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Launches TV Ad Campaign

The Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana released a new television ad this week, produced by the Marijuana Policy Project, featuring Vermont’s former top law enforcement official. The ad began airing statewide on Tuesday and will appear on WCAX, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC through Sunday.

VT commercial screenshot

In the ad, titled "Time to End Prohibition (Again)," former Vermont Attorney General Kimberly Cheney points out that "marijuana prohibition has caused a lot of the same problems" as Alcohol Prohibition. The ad ends with Cheney urging viewers to contact their state senators and tell them, "It’s time to end prohibition and start regulating marijuana in Vermont."

In a news release, MPP's Montpelier-based New England political director, Matt Simon, said:

“Mr. Cheney decided to appear in this ad for the same reason he served as the state’s top law enforcement official. He cares strongly about the safety and wellbeing of Vermont citizens. 

“There are a lot of current and former law enforcement officials out there who support ending prohibition and regulating marijuana. It’s important that citizens and lawmakers hear from them.”

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MPP's Mason Tvert Discusses Marijuana Education With MSNBC's Chris Hayes

Last week, an article by columnist Maureen Dowd highlighted the need for educating marijuana consumers, particularly those who are inexperienced with the substance. In the legal marijuana market, edible products are heavily regulated and labeled, but consumers occasionally ignore the warnings on the packaging, sometimes with dangerous results.

MPP's Mason Tvert discusses the issue further here on MSNBC:

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MPP's Mason Tvert Discusses Marijuana Tax Revenue in Colorado

Earlier today, MPP's Mason Tvert appeared on MSNBC to discuss the recent revelation that Colorado collected more than $3.5 million  in tax revenue from adult marijuana sales in January alone.

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National Black Police Association Endorses Prop 19

The National Black Police Association yesterday became the latest group to endorse California’s Proposition 19, the November ballot measure that would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. From the Los Angeles Times:

The National Black Police Assn., which has about 15,000 members, is the second African American organization to back the measure. The California NAACP has also endorsed it, citing the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of African Americans caught with marijuana.

Ron Hampton, the police association’s executive director, said he decided the group should get behind the measure because it would eliminate laws that have a negative impact on the black community.

“It means that we will be locking up less African American men and women and children who are using drugs,” said Hampton, a retired Washington, D.C., police officer with 25 years experience. “We’ve got more people in prison. We’ve got more young people in prison. Blacks go to jail more than whites for doing the same thing.”

Hampton said that the money being spent on the war on drugs could be better spent on education, housing and creating jobs. “It just seemed like to me that we have been distracted in this whole thing,” he said. “We can take that money, and focus and concentrate on things that really make a difference in our community.”

For more, watch LEAP executive director Neill Franklin discuss the endorsement on MSNBC:

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Gary Johnson on Ending Marijuana Prohibition: 'It's Gonna Happen'

Aug 19, 2010 Kate Zawidzki

Gary Johnson, MSNBC

Check out former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R) -- an expected 2012 presidential contender -- discussing the need to end marijuana prohibition last night on MSNBC.

“I think it is at a tipping point, and people are ahead of the politicians on this one, and it’s still gonna happen. It’s gonna happen. I think statistically we’re about two and half years from 50 percent of Americans actually understanding this. From my own experience it’s really thin ice. With just a little bit of knowledge on this issue, people seem to move on this issue. People seem to be embracing this notion of, ‘Gee, it’s not working, we really have to do something different.’”

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