Drug War

Springtime for Potheads: Notes From Day 1 of NORML's Annual Conference


Next Signal: FREEDOM

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is holding its 39th annual conference in beautiful downtown Portland, Oregon from today through Saturday. I'm haunting the freedom-smelling halls of the Governor Hotel, and thought I'd share a few notes:

* Tipping Point Watch: If a room full of gray ponytails can be said to have a spring in their collective step, September 2010 is that moment for drug policy activists. As NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre put it, we are "at the observable tipping point between medical cannabis and legalization." Many references to more progress being made over the past cupla years than in the three decades preceding them. Polls inching toward and even beyond the magical 50% level for the first time in history. Nouns like "opportunity," and "momentum"; multiple chants of "Just Say Now!" California's legalize-it Prop. 19 has been portrayed by nearly every speaker as the single most important bit of potential lawmaking since the Golden State's groundbreaking Proposition 215 in 1996. "We are never going away; prohibition is!" and etc.

Yes you are

* Prop. 19 Update: According to Michael Whitney, of FireDogLake's impressively splashy new Just Say Now campaign, a full 49 of California's 53 Congresstards oppose Prop. 19, as do future governortards Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, plus Senatortards Boxer and Feinstein. In fact, DiFi is heading up the opposition! Which suggests what I think would be an unbeatable ad campaign:

Every single member of California's political class is against Prop. 19. Any questions?

Just close your eyes and think of Mother Austria

* Arnold Agonistes: An important piece of decriminalization legislation is sitting on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's lame-duck desk. SB 1449 would reclassify simple pot possession as a ticketable infraction, rather than a misdemeanor. Supporters say that would eliminate some 60,000 totally pointless exercises in paperwork, while keeping people's criminal records appropriately clean. MR. GOVERNATOR, SIGN THAT BILL!

* The Revolution Is Outpacing the Revolutionaries: Multiple panelists have remarked that Prop. 19 and other ballot-box insurrections this year are happening not because of, but maybe even in spite of the three most famous Daddy Warbucksi of the legalization movement: George Sorors, Peter Lewis, and John Sperling. Since no one here in the largely Republican-unfriendly crowd will probably say it, I certainly will: Isn't it interesting that these were among George W. Bush's biggest haters and Barack Obama's biggest donors? The financial crisis and the public surge toward decriminalization has created a moment more revolutionary than certainly professional Democrats are going to do a damned thing about. Which is another reason to appreciate the pressure being applied by progressives like FireDogLake. Though there's also some worry that the pro-pot youth vote will be too depressed this November to turn out. To which I say: Blame Obama!

* Sobering Moment: Someone asked for a show of hands on who had tangled with the criminal justice system over pot. About half went up.

* Keeping it Real: I am sure it's an ancient joke, and no longer intended for laffs, but "Wanna medicate?" is really one of the greatest questions in the English language. Also, all afternoon sessions are scheduled to end at 4:20, and there's a dessert bar!

You can watch events unfold live at the NORML site. I'll be speaking tomorrow on a panel about California at 2:30 left coast time, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson will be giving a lunchtime keynote.


NEXT: Stupid Pastor Finished With Stupid Publicity Stunt

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  1. Every time I see or think about Arnold inhaling after besting Serge Nubret, Lew Ferigno and Dr. Franco Columbo in Pretoria to capture his 6th Mr. Olympia, I am reminded that his hypocrisy meshes so well with the line Ben Richards uttered to Killian, “I am a quick learner.”

    1. “Sub Zero — now Plain Zero!”

      That movie is actually kinda badass.


  3. +10 for the DiFi alt text that finishes a visual thought.

  4. Don’t hold your breath for pot legalization.

  5. As Lanny Swerdlow said at a recent benefit for raid victims, it’s not just medicine, it’s a *supplement* 🙂

  6. Unfortunately, what Prop 19 will do is submit marijuana to taxation and regulation on a local level, creating a crazy quilt of new laws, taxes and regulations. It would be insane for a Libertarian to support this proposition, which promises to *increase* the reach of government… so naturally, the CA LP continues its streak of endorsing the wrong side on major ballot measures by supporting Prop 19.

    1. Yes. Jailing people is so much better.

    2. It would be insane for a Libertarian to support this proposition, which promises to *increase* the reach of government

      Uhhh, prohibition. Ever heard of it?

      1. Taxation and regulation by the government is no tradeoff for prohibition. The state is still in our lives either way.

      2. “Prop 19 is just a gateway law to more legalization and taxation.”

        I’ll take it anyway.

    3. The reach of government is never as long as when it grabs you and throws you in jail.

    4. What is it about libertarians and autistic-spectrum disorders?


      2. The fucking really sad thing is, I don’t think he was kidding. He really doesn’t see what a colossal change this could be for the country. He’s just worried about some fucking dick taxes that might be applied by the county.

        Hey Adamson, wake the fuck up. Seriously, wake the fuck up. Legalized marijuana. The beginning of the end of prohibition. An end to sending hundreds of thousands of innocent people to prison. Wake up, asshole. Wake the fuck up.

        1. Preach it. Just like a (baked) penguin in bondage, boing.

        2. Well, no er, you see, um, if we stop locking people up, uh, well, we’ll be less motivated to work towards freedom. So, uh, let’s ramp up the drug war – for liberty’s sake.

          Seriously, look at the medical MJ laws – CA started the ball rolling. Many other states are now experimenting with similar, but different, laws inspired by CA. Sure, CA’s legalization proposal may suck, but what about the future legalization proposals in other states which will be emboldened to pursue them?

          1. I admit – I am a god damn pussy. I have tears in my eyes because I cannot believe people can be this fucking stupid. A once in a lifetime chance to start an end to the fucking insanity that is the War on Drugs, and some fucking imbeciles refuse – because they might have a tax.

            I think of the people who have been beaten, raped, and murdered in prison because they happened to have some unacceptable substance while a cop was around. And then someone comes along and says “we can’t accept this legalization, it will allow taxes“.

            FUCK. YOU. FUCK YOU! May whatever God you believe in damn you to hell forever, you worthless pieces of shit.

            1. I love you too – and thankfully, there is no god to damn me to your imaginary hell.

              Sorry, I refuse to consent to give the state any more authority to regulate and tax our lives and our activities.

              Defeat Prop 19 and come back with a measure which legalizes marijuana, period – and I’ll campaign for it wholeheartedly. But, as long as this measure sinks the state even deeper into our wallets, I can’t support Prop 19.

              1. Yes, I don’t believe in God either. This is one of the few times I wish I did.

                The innocent prisoners getting beaten and raped appreciate your stand, I’m sure. Fuck off and die.

                1. Don’t end SWAT drug raids unless police are no longer allowed to visit homes at all.

              2. Do you drink only homebrewed, nontaxed alcohol too? I take it you don’t smoke tobacco either.

                I am fine with consumption taxes, they *are* voluntary, after all; what I’m not fine with is being treated like a fucking criminal, having to deal with *real* criminals, and risking my life and liberty for the pursuit of my happiness. I’ll gladly pay whatever tax to be able to walk into a head shop and buy an ounce of the finest buds ever grown for $100.

                Baby steps, people.

              3. think of it this way man. The tax rate is already infinity. They are going to decrease it to a finite number. So you are in effect arguing against a decrease in taxes. So stop it.

  7. I’ve never been so proud of my state in my life. Which is why they’re going to fuck it up.

    1. just like the decrim [prop, er I mean “drug dealer’s bill of rights.”

      1. FWIW, that neg campaign (Drug dealer’s bill of rights) was horribly inaccurate, but brilliant and it killed the prop.

  8. Matt keep the updates coming, this is good work. It’s nice to actually not want to peel my face off when reading this site.

  9. a full 49 of California’s 53 Congresstards oppose Prop. 19 … Every single member of California’s political class is against Prop. 19. Any questions?

    100% does not mean what you think it does, Matt.

    Use weasel words like “virtually” if it ain’t 100%.

    1. I noticed this too, then decided to read “political class” as not including those few semi-freedom-loving pols.

  10. OT: lulz.

    Somebody’s gonna see that shit and crash into a tree.

    1. I saw the headline for that, and thought it would be something clever like a virtual speed bump that is just an optical illusion, but still gets people to slow down. But no, some level of government is involved, so it had to be something incredibly stupid instead. I should know better by now.

      1. I saw that too and it’s incredibly stupid. It’s in the road, right, so that means you DO have to run over the virtual kid. The stupid is just off the charts.

  11. It’s on the ballot in the biggest state, it’s being seriously considered. Prohibition’s time is numbered, and that is a good thing.

    1. I hope prohibition is ending but we heard that plenty in the late 1970s.

      1. Okay, good. Now, what about Missouri’s recent attempt to defy federal law re: Obamacare?

        1. Declining to mirror federal law is not the same thing as defying federal law. I have no love for individual health care mandates or any of that shit, but the situations are different.

  12. Oh, and lest I repeat myself, Gary Johnson for Prez!

  13. Feinstein is a principled Democrat. Of course she opposes all this reefer madness! As she well should. You libertopidiots could never understand.

    1. Tell that to Charlie Rangel.

    2. William F. Buckley debates Charlie Rangel on drug legalization:


      1. Just noticed Charlie has a lazy right eye. ‘Course, most politicians make me turn the channel immediately when they begin speaking, because, like Rangel, they are lying, snake-tongued POSes.

        1. Tony still hasn’t responded, which must mean that only *some* Democrats are “principled” re: the WoD.

          1. I stand by my statement above.

  14. Marijuana Activists: We’re closer than ever to “legalization”. This is gonna be great!

    Zen Master: We’ll see.

  15. Re “Wanna medicate?”

    Went out for drinks recently with a weed advocate here in D.C. Two GnTs in, he leans across the table, and says, “I’m carrying. Let’s ditch this joint and make the safer choice.”

    1. That’s the best — just a couple drinks before a nice toke. Drink too much and it’s ruined, but a nice mild beer buzz goes great with a bowl and a movie.

      1. This!

  16. Hey, the Flat Earth Society has a song called “Four and Twenty Miles” and it’s from the album “Waleeco”, which was the name of a candy bar. You could buy the record for $1.50 w/ six Waleeco candy bar wrappers.

    That doesn’t sound norml. Hohohohoho.

    Good evening, reason! Peace.

  17. Assuming Prop 19 passes, what will our (California’s) congressional delegation do? Side with the people who gave them clear marching orders? Or suck up to the Federales? Be VERY careful for whom you vote in November. If you vote FOR Prop 19, be sure also to vote for politicians who will honor it.

  18. Here in Portland is the most cheap prices for dank in the USA.I am not for how California is. They sell 8ths for 50 at the clinic. It is a waste might as well buying bags in Brooklyn for the same price. We dont want that .We make enough money here without being greedy! Fuck California and Oaksterdam and that cult. Those people rip off so many! While grow houses still get knocked off and other business are shut down. Oaksterdam and there only stores in Oakland . The rest were shut down. The lawyer and his FBI friends get paid.
    We do not want that greed in Portland.
    I was at the even downtown Portland it was at a nice hotle the grand i believe. But the people from California waiting to make it legal . But if that happens greedy corporate America will step in and the growers and dealers are done. I dont need the number one cash crop in thier hands.
    We do not need another California!

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