Election 2012

Three Shots at Marijuana Legalization This Fall


The Drug War Chronicle has a helpful run-down of the drug policy initiatives that will appear on state and local ballots in November. The highlight: Voters in three states—Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—will decide whether to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana. All three states already allow medical use of the plant, but the new initiatives would go further, allowing production and distribution for recreational use. Under Colorado's initiative, Amendment 64, the state would license growers and retailers, and adults 21 or older also could grow their own (up to six plants at a time) as well as possess up to an ounce of usable marijuana. Oregon's initiative, Measure 80, would establish a seven-member Oregon Cannabis Commission to license and regulate producers of marijuana, which would be sold in stores run by the commission. The initiative is called the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which seems not strictly speaking accurate, since the revenue it generates would come not from taxes but from growers' licensing fees and pot smokers' purchases at state-run stores. But the name is (perhaps intentionally) ironic, since the 1937 law that effectively banned cannabis at the federal level was called the Marihuana Tax Act. Washington's ballot measure, Initiative 502, calls for private stores regulated by the state liquor commission, with sales subject to a 25 percent tax; it would not allow home cultivation, except by medical marijuana users. It would establish a cutoff for driving under the influence of marijuana: 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

Four other 2012 initiatives deal with medical marijuana. Initiatives in Arkansas and Massachusetts would legalize medical use of marijuana and authorize distribution by state-licensed nonprofits. A Montana initiative would overturn restrictions enacted by the state legislature last year that effectively banned medical marijuana dispensaries. A North Dakota initiative legalizing the distribution and use of marijuana for medical purposes also may qualify for the ballot.*

Another initiative, California's Proposition 36, does not deal with drug policy directly, but it would allow the release of many people who received life sentences for minor drug offenses under that state's "three strikes" law. Proposition 36 would require that a third strike, the conviction that triggers a mandatory life sentence (with parole possible after 25 years), be a "serious or violent" crime. Under current law, only the first two strikes have to fall into that category, while the third strike can be any felony, including "wobbler" offenses that are often charged as misdemeanors. The upshot is that someone who has already served time for two different burglaries can go to prison for the rest of his life after being caught with stolen property or even a bag of marijuana. "There's a shocking number of people whose third strike is simple possession," says Stanford law professor Michael Romano, co-author of Proposition 36.

Under Romano's measure, about 3,000 inmates who are serving life terms for nonviolent offenses could be resentenced, provided a judge determines that doing so would not pose an "unreasonable risk to public safety." Prisoners who had previously been convicted of rape, murder, or child molestation would not be eligible. Those two safeguards make the initiative more politically palatable than a 2004 reform measure that lost by about five percentage points. That initiative also would have reclassified some burglaries as nonviolent crimes and modified the rules for enhanced sentences that apply after the second strike.

Romano says the narrower approach has paid off, winning "the support of some of the highest-ranking law enforcement officials in California," including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. A July survey by the California Business Roundtable found that 72 percent of voters were inclined to vote yes on the initiative, which Romano says "would restore what was the original intent of the three-strikes law."

*Update: As an alert reader, Rob Port, pointed out, the North Dakota initiative did not make the ballot. Due to fraud allegations against paid petition circulators, 7,559 signatures were rejected, bringing the total to 12,533, which was 919 fewer than needed. 

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  1. Washington’s ballot measure, Initiative 502, calls for private stores regulated by the state liquor commission, with sales subject to a 25 percent tax

    So this is the sop to the fucking scumbag liquor store employees, their union, and the commission. Why do they even exist any more now that I can buy Crater Lake gin at Metropolitan? Fucking parasites, they never go away. Never.

    1. Chill, Epi. When the feds swoop in and bust down the doors of these stores and seizing their property for selling illegal pot, we might finally start getting the shit storm it’s going to take to turn the country towards the path to liberty.

      1. Well, that’s the one positive note: if this passes, and the feds bust it, they’re busting state employees, which should get the governor good and pissed off. Still, it took this long to get the state out of the liquor business, and now we’re going to set the same precedent for MJ?

        1. I agree with you about the sales, but this is just too good to not hope it passes. Purely for the reaction it will set off with the Feds. And you can be damn sure the Feds will be showing up. Nothing could be much better for Liberty than to get more people and even entire states good and pissed at the Feds.

        2. Best circumstances would be straight up legalization, where it can be treated like sod or flowers (not using corn or wheat as an example because of the disgusting existence of subsidies), but it is at least a small step in the right direction.

          And the feds will probably have a harder time getting the ok to bust a state run system rather than a totally private one, as sad as that is.

    2. Fucking parasites, they never go away. Never.

      You have to follow the instructions on the shampoo TO THE LETTER.

  2. Please, please, puleazzzzzzeee let at least one of these measures pass. Then maybe when King Obamney sends in the goon squads to start kicking around the citizens of the state with their jackboots, maybe, just maybe some more of our idiot populations brains will become active and they will start to aid in the fight for liberty.

    The greatest chance ever to boost the cause for liberty in this country is right here in these initiatives passing and the ensured goon like and disgusting response of our federal government.

    1. Currently, a lot of pro-marijuana activists in Washington are against 502, and the organizers at Hempfest were essentially non-committal.

      The force is not strong with liberty.

      1. They can’t see the forest because of their trees. They may be against this initiative because really all they want is to sit around stoned and be taken care of by the government. But I have different ideas about how this plays out and if I was a resident of any of these states, I would vote yes, and I don’t smoke pot.

        1. Typically, the Washington pot-smoking community is “concerned” about the commercialization of their product.

          Imagine, if you will, the pro-government pep rally known as The Occupy Movement were put in charge of food production for the entire nation. Yeah, you get the idea.

        2. I’m the same way. Especially the CO one. The idea that people could grow their own? Crazy!

          I don’t, and wouldn’t smoke anything, but I will fight for peoples rights to do so, as long as I don’t have to breathe it.

  3. It would establish a cutoff for driving under the influence of marijuana: 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

    I’m unaware of how they would test for this. Is this a straight up blood test? some sort of breathalyzer? piss test? What the turn around time on that sort of test?

    Are they testing for actual THC or the metabolites that result from THC in your system? And since THC is stored in your fat cells and can be detectable for weeks after you smoke, how reliable are those test in determining when you last smoked?

    Anyone have any answers?

    1. I don’t have the answer, but it is a damn important question. As far as I know, THC can be detected days or weeks after consumption. Which would make testing a farce.

      Won’t matter much anyway when DHS sets up road checks and then the DEA swoops in and hauls you off to prison for possession of a class 1 controlled narcotic, now will it?

      1. It’s the metabolites that are detected after consumption, not THC.

        So the test would have to differentiate between active THC and what’s left after the body metabolizes it.

      2. But you’re not arguing that alcohol prohibition was better than what we have now with alcohol, are you?

        1. Are you asking this question to me or to sarc?

          1. Anyone, really.

            I certainly don’t disagree with the points being made, but I haven’t seen one that convinces me that the initiatives aren’t better than the status quo.

            1. Its better than the status quo in that your everyday smoker wont be getting harassed, thrown in jail, and/or have a tarnished record for possessing something that comes from the ground.

    2. I for one would be willing to pee directly on a cop’s face so that he could test the level of THC in my urine.

      1. Not sure how much worse a wet taser is, but if you can get that on your cell phone and post it on you tube, I will be giving a look.

      2. Hugh: captain Golden Showers. I had no idea you were such a watersports guy.

        1. I’m into all sorts of sports. Baseball (I mostly catch, but I’ve been known to pitch occasionally), football (I play tight end), or just doing squat thrusts in the gym.

          1. “Why don’t you two go down to the gym and pump each other.”

        2. Pissing in the pool. The golden gateway to future perversions.

          1. “He likes the warm feeling but he’s tired of all the dehydration”

  4. Washington’s initiative sucks. I think I actually agree with that state’s med mj crowd in opposing it. The Colorado initiative sounds good, unless it is a felony to grow 7+ plants or possess 1.00001+ of an oz.

    1. The Med MJ crown opposes it because it will cut into their profits.

      I’m all for profits, but not when they exist simply due to shitty laws.

  5. Are other states like Colorado using age 21? Just curious if there are any states setting the age limit of 18 like tobacco (or other countries for that matter) for proposed recreational or medial use

    1. In Amsterdam it’s 18.

      It was fucking hilarious watching, as I sat by the door smoking from the vaporizer, a group of American teens being turned away because they were underage. They couldn’t have been any younger than 17 either. So close, yet so far away.

      Of curse they were probably all pissed off about it because “I can get it in 5 seconds in school where pot is illegal, but where it’s legal I’m being turned away.”

  6. Licensing. Always fucking licensing. Yes I’ll say Colorado’s six plant rule looks the best. I’ll be damned if someone doesn’t cross a Cannabis with a fucking Sequoia to produce a fucking huge mother-ass grove of shit with just count-em’ six plant-cum-trees. Maybe we can light the Nation’s Christmas Tree some day and all of NannyCentral will chillax for a second off of the ginormous contact high.

    1. “He’s not melting. He’s chillaxin’. If you can’t speak the language, go back to Mexico. Where you were born, and are from.”

    2. Regulate us! Tax us! Set us free!

      1. You’re not truly free until you can’t do anything without first asking permission.

    3. Yeah but that would probably require genetic modification and well…. I think you know where this is going.

    4. cross a Cannabis with a fucking Sequoia to produce a fucking huge….

      You do know those Sequoias take centuries to get so big, right?

      1. Just sounds like a lot of stem to me…

  7. I refuse to hope that people will do or vote for anything that expands or even sustains liberty. I’ve been hurt too many times.

    1. I understand your point, but these initiatives wouldn’t expand liberty. They would restore liberty.

    2. If you want to further the cause of Liberty, prepare to be hurt a lot more, a lot. This ain’t no disco.

    3. I take it for granted that I can accurately predict the outcome of an election by taking the inverse of my ballot.

      1. Let’s test you on this. Who wins in November, Obamney or Obamney?

        1. I’m voting for GJ.

          1. My family member (who is gay) is voting for Obama because Romney will persecute gays. I mentioned Gary Johnson. Her response: “Who’s that?”

            1. because Romney will persecute gays

              That’s just dumb.

              1. Tell me about it. And we think Obama is going to lose. He’s so locked in for the win, you couldn’t burn him out with a cigarette.

                1. I know my state’s going blue.
                  We’ve got a Republican governor, and a lot of pissed off people with “61%” (he won with only 39% of the vote) bumper stickers on their cars, only because a of couple Independent spoilers in the last election.

                  1. On the other hand, I did see my first (FIRST… as in , the only… onliest one I’ve ever seen) Romney/Ryan bumper sticker.

                    So that represents a 100% increase in the number of Romney supporters in my area.

                    One thing that intrigues me is that while I do see my share of Obama 2012 stickers, I see a lot of Obama 2008 stickers. A lot.

                    1. I’ve only seen one as well. The car was from Virginia. Surprisingly enough, though, I have only seen a handful of Obama stickers and I live in Maryland! Probably because Obama voters are too lazy to put stickers on, they are waiting for the government to come over and put on their free stickers.

                    2. One thing that intrigues me is that while I do see my share of Obama 2012 stickers, I see a lot of Obama 2008 stickers. A lot.

                      Those things are a pain in the ass to remove.

                    3. One thing that intrigues me is that while I do see my share of Obama 2012 stickers, I see a lot of Obama 2008 stickers. A lot.

                      Those things are a pain in the ass to remove.

                      Removing an Obama 2008 sticker automagically makes you a racist, ya big dummy.

                    4. I drove across the country about 6 months ago and saw maybe one Romney sign and probably 10 – 20 Ron Paul signs.

                      There’s just no reason to get excited about Romney. The Daily Show did a bit where they found the one guy who was all jazzed about Romney. It was pretty funny.

                    5. There’s just no reason to get excited about Romney.

                      I appreciate your effort to get me to vote for Romney, but it’s not sufficient.

                      Seriously, all things being equal, I’d prefer a President that no one would get excited about. Better than another God-Emperor that people let assassinate people with drones because “he’s so smart and we trust him to make the right choices.”

                    6. *another wannabe-God-Emperor

                  2. I live in one of the redder counties in a red state. I could vote for Kodos and/or Kang for all the good it would do.

                    1. Well, if you want to do good, you’d probably do better to spend your time helping old people or something.

              2. “That’s just dumb.”

                Maybe he’s going to cock-block them.

          2. You need to go into politics yourself immediately, you just ducked my question!

            1. I’ve got waaaaaay too many skeletons in my closet to ever stand up to a political dirt digging mission.

              1. “Closet” being the operative word.

                1. You wish.

              2. Try something new and embrace your skeletons, while reminding everyone that everyone has skeletons in their closet (last 3 presidents smoked weed) and that you’re open about them because you care that your constituents know the truth rather than whatever fabrication you think will win.

                1. Some of my skeletons might cost me my marriage, which I value much more than any non-existent political aspirations.

          3. Let’s test you on this. Who wins in November, Obamney or Obamney?

            I’m voting for GJ.

            where GJ is the inverse of the major party offerings. The math works out guys.

  8. From August 31st to September 2nd, PPP conducted a survey of 1,001 likely Colorado voters and found the majority of them continue to support marijuana legalization. When polled on direct ballot language, 47% of Coloradans state they are supporting Amendment 64, with only 38% opposed and 15% undecided. This is unchanged from polling released last month. When simply asked if marijuana should be legalized, 49% responded yes, 43% were opposed, and 9% remained unsure.

    Looking good, Billy Ray.

    1. I would say that a national vote would be pretty close at this point. I think it might even pass. Of course that isn’t going to happen(DEA), but if there was a vote nationally, I think it would pass.

      1. You assume that lazy stoners would make it to the polls.

        Cue Dr Hook

  9. and not so fast on that excise tax in CO’s Amendment 64:

    This measure requires that the state legislature enact an excise tax. The current Colorado Constitution forbids a member of the state legislature to be bound to vote for or against any bill or measure pending or proposed to the state legislature. Because of this inherent conflict, the excise tax outlined in this measure might not be imposed. Additionally, this issue may result in significant litigation.

    Legalize w/o the excise tax. Nothing but good.


    1. Whenever someone says to me legalize it and tax the hell out of it. I ask them why. I have yet to get a good answer.

      1. I think the idea is that you could tax the hell out of it and still sell it for less than it goes for on the black market.

        Not that I think that’s a justification for high taxes, but I think that’s part of the mentality.

        1. Real progress takes time. To actually get legalization in a state is a HUGE step forward.

          It will eventually get to where they can’t stop people from growing small amounts for their own consumption and trading it among one another. That isn’t exactly going to kill the commercial growers. I mean most people have neither the space, the patience, or the skill to produce a top quality herb.

          You can make your own beer and I haven’t heard of anyone have their home brewing operation confiscated.

          Not sure why these people think that it being regulated and taxed is an unacceptable step as compared to getting thrown in prison.

          1. That’s because home brewing is 100% legal. Yeah, there’s a yearly max on quantity, but it’s retarded high (200 gallons or something?) and because of such, there is no way for the pigs to leverage your homebrew against you, so they don’t.

            That’s the thing. When caveats and retarded rules are put into “legalization”, it becomes the tool for the power hungry to beat you with. Take away the retarded rules, and as you pointed out, there is no abuse. No one is ever given shit for homebrewing, ever.

            1. That’s what I’m saying, Epi. Make it legal and there soon will not be any fucking around with folks who just want to grow some righteous stuff and share with friends. I don’t see what these people are so worried about.

              1. But no one is proposing making it just straight up legal like beer. Every single proposal has caveats and restrictions up the ass. Medical MJ, as we have seen, has been a fucking disaster. It gets raided by the feds, creates an entrenched class of suppliers who don’t want any further legalization because that creates competition for them, and allows local pols to fuck with people they don’t like who try to run a MJ business.

                We do not live in a time where there is any possibility of something being sanely legalized. We just don’t; the government is far too large and someone in it will fuck with sanity because they see an opportunity for power or profit (for themselves).

                1. But no one is proposing making it just straight up legal like beer.

                  No one proposed making beer straight up legal when alcohol Prohibition ended. Homebrewing remained illegal until 1978. The Amendment making alcohol legal explicitly let states continue to ban it, and many counties continue to do so, or otherwise have byzantine regulations.

                  I agree that I’d rather not have all the restrictions, but what’s been proposed is actually much more similar to what happened with alcohol than you’re pretending.

                2. I wasn’t referring to medical MJ.

              2. Make it legal and there soon will not be any fucking around with folks who just want to grow some righteous stuff and share with friends.

                Yeah there will. There’s no way they’ll legalize it to that extent.

                It’s about power. It’s about everyone being guilty until they prove their innocence by submitting to a search.

                There is not enough real crime (by real I mean crime with a victim) to justify the police state, so criminals must be manufactured. The drug war does this perfectly. For that reason drugs will never be made legal. Ever.

                1. If they legalize it at all, they will create a situation no different than with alcohol. Of course that won’t happen until after the continued abuse of states by the feds, but eventually the backlash will be too great.

            2. And yet homebrewing was not legalized until the 1970s, long, long after Prohibition ended.

              If we had waiting for insisting on legalization of homebrewing, alcohol prohibition would have lasted longer.

              So by that analogy, exactly what’s wrong with the current strategy?

              1. And yet homebrewing was not legalized until the 1970s, long, long after Prohibition ended.

                Making distilled spirits, even for home use, is still very very illegal, and will stay that way forever.

                1. Making distilled spirits, even for home use, is still very very illegal, and will stay that way forever.

                  Perhaps. Though I think someone would have said that about beer in, oh, 1973, given that Prohibition had been over for 40 years and it hadn’t been legalized.

                  1. In the case of distilled spirits it’s a matter of taxation. Until Prohibition the federal government got close to three quarters of its revenue from liquor taxes. Hence the “Revenuers”.
                    Not allowing alcohol to be distilled without the federal government being paid is a tradition almost as old as the country itself.
                    It’s not going to go away. Ever.

                    1. Yes, but the government gets a much lower percentage from liquor taxes these days.

                      In fact, while rates are higher on liquor by volume, due to volume consumed the Feds collect almost as much revenue from beer as from liquor, and more from beer and wine combined as liquor.

                      Yet beer homebrewing was legalized. Therefore, your tax argument does not preclude the possibility of liquor home distilling legalization, based on the beer precedent.

                    2. Muffed the link, perhaps.

                      ~$4.7B from liquor fed taxes, ~$3.7B from beer fed taxes, ~$1B from wine fed taxes. Varying in different years.

                2. Making distilled spirits, even for home use, is still very very illegal, and will stay that way forever

                  not sure if relevant, but it’s probably less likely that someone will blow themselves up and all their neighbors growing weed as it is having a distillery in your house.

                  1. A small one is extremely manageable. Get away from open flames and it’s no problem. Modern technology is kind of neat that way.

              2. There is nothing wrong with it, JT, I agree with you, one step at a time.

        2. Even if taxing it makes it more expensive, I think people would still be accepting of it just to avoid the life destroying repercussions of being convicted of possession.

          1. Usually, I get a mindless, because it is like alcohjol. But when I tell my stoner ultralib buddy that a simple sales tax like other consumable would make it cheaper, he gets my point.

          2. ^THIS^

            You have to start somewhere, and legalization is a huge step forward. IMHO, anyone opposes legalization is retarded or they have other motives related to illegal profits. Just my 2 cents.

        3. They would be wrong.

          See Amsterdam where weed runs 15+ Euro per gram. It’s about what we pay on the black market, and in some cases a bit more.

  10. Oh, that’s the alt-text of the year, right there. At least in the category of drug war posts.

    It’s both truthy and funny… at the same time.

    1. It should have been something about pretending you play for the Red Sox and your back hurts.

      1. The problem with you, Hugh, is you’re never satisfied.

        I suspect you’re highly successful.

        1. Naw, I just complain a lot.

  11. Someone please explain to me why the FSP picked New Hampshire. The mountain west seems to be where it’s at.

    1. It was tiny. They figured they could move enough people in to make a difference.

    2. Might be related to what IT is. I mean aren’t a lot of these people living in the mountain west just wacko leftist Obama worshippers, and far from being Libertarian?

    3. The New Hampshire House has 400 members for a tiny space, so it’s actually pretty easy to elect at least a few people to spout your opinion.

      New Hampshire Yankees have a tradition of minding their own business while hating you behind your back for being non-conformist.

    4. I don’t know why they chose NH, but it is nice to have some liberty minded folk moving in to offset the Masshole menace.

  12. …and a thousand shots at pet dogs because of it.

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