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Weighing in on California

bullet image Drug Czar Ducks on California Pot Measure

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said he wouldn’t speculate on what the Obama administration would do if California voters approve a ballot initiative that would make marijuana legal for consumption but subject it to regulation. […]

When pressed, Kerlikowske said Thursday that a number of responses, including lawsuits to litigate the differences in state and federal drug laws, could spring up if California voters legalize marijuana.

“You can envision a lot of different things,” he said.

You can envision a lot of different things? Now there’s a definitive statement.

bullet image The California Republican Party has already made up its mind.

The California Republican Party just made it official: They are opposed to the effort to leg-a-lize and tax cannabis that is coming to the November ballot. No, we’re not stopping the presses. […]

Republican Party chair Ron Nehring said Wednesday that “The last thing California needs is hundreds of thousands of more people getting high, and the costs to society that would come from widely expanded drug use.”[…]

“Whatever ‘taxes’ dope smokers would pay would not come even close to covering the societal costs of hundreds of thousands of more Californians getting high, the accidents and health problems they would cause, and other societal costs.

“California Republicans will fight this and any other measure to expand drug use in California. When it comes to this kind of legislation, there’s a reason they call it ‘dope.'”

Yep. Accidents and health costs seem to be the preferred boogie men to be used by the prohibitionists, even though they have no evidence (other than anecdotal) to support their case. Interesting that for years they’ve been complaining that medical marijuana evidence is only anecdotal, that it doesn’t have the rigorous evidence to support it (despite the existence of tons of evidence). Now they’re falling back on absurd* anecdotal evidence with absolutely nothing to back it up.

bullet image California Democrats aren’t expected to weigh in until July. Since I don’t expect them to endorse it, seems to me they’d do best just to stay out of it.

bullet image Scott Morgan notes this embarrassing grammar mistake in the main slogan on the website of CALM (Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana):

Our children’s future are in your hands…

Scott thinks it’s a typo. I’m not so sure — they may actually believe it’s correct. Let’s hope that the future isn’t going to be in the hands of CALM.

*Talk about anecdotal evidence… Check out the lead story on the CALM site:

Man Crashes 13 Times – Says He Was High on Pot

Temecula, San Diego – A man who admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana caused at least 13 crashes yesterday afternoon, police said. The spree ended when he hit a vehicle head-on, disabling the 1998 Nissan Pathfinder he was driving.

Over 100,000,000 Americans have smoked pot, and this idiot is supposed to be representative of its effects?

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29 comments to Weighing in on California

  • claygooding

    SPIN,SPIN,SPIN. Remember,they are preparing the water too ask congress for the money to buy those marijuana usage detectors from Motorola.

  • mikekinseattle

    This is exactly the type of ‘smear and fear’ campaign that can be expected from the other side. We’ll be hearing about dope crazed rapists before long. And stories about 12 year old marijuana addicts. As politicians know, you can win elections by stoking fear in the minds of the uninformed. Clearing away the fear smokescreen is going to be crucial if the initiative is going to pass. Plain old common sense won’t do it. Otherwise, we’d have been smoking legal weed for decades.

  • kaptinemo

    The Republicans have just committed political hara-kiri in a State where they need support. In all but a few political enclaves (Orange County comes to mind) they’re outvoted by the very people they hate and fear…most of whom are for the legislation.

    If this keeps up, the symbol for the Republicans might well switch from elephant to ‘bubble boy’. They’ll wind up just as isolated as such unfortunates born without immune systems are.

  • Carol

    Slightly off the issue: This seems a really important time to make known one’s support for cannabis law reform. Would attending the Cannabis March (on May 1, I believe) be a good means to show support do you think?

  • mikekinseattle

    I am referring to the CALM website (which is anything but calm). It’s total reefer madness. Check out the crime section. Who are these people?

  • Ed Dunkle

    I’d love to see the Democrats invoke the “states rights” argument. But unless the proposition is winning big in the polls I doubt that their position will be much different than the Republicans’.

    The Dems seem terrified of another 1994 backlash and will probably continue to lean to the right up to the November elections. Watch how conservative Barbara Boxer will become in the next six months.

  • claygooding

    I went to The Hill and posted in the blog about the drug czar and wondering where stopping drugs begins and bureaucratic self-protection begins since his $15 billion dollar budget is justified mostly by marijuana law enforcement,they posted it.

  • Ever heard of the “caffeine psychosis” case of a man driving like a maniac and mowing down pedestrians?

    http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/sirens/2010/mar/11/caffeine-psychosis-defendant-stand-trial/

    And caffeine is legal. This is quite possibly the best rebuttal to CALM’s anecdotal evidence.

  • DavesNotHere

    Silly Republicans, everyone knows guns are more dangerous than cannabis. Try this.

    The California Republican Party just made it official: They are opposed to the effort to keep and bear arms that is coming to the November ballot. No, we’re not stopping the presses. […]

    Republican Party chair Ron Nehring said Wednesday that “The last thing California needs is hundreds of thousands of more people getting GUNS, and the costs to society that would come from widely expanded GUN use.”[…]

    “Whatever ‘taxes’ GUN OWNERS would pay would not come even close to covering the societal costs of hundreds of thousands of more Californians getting GUNS, the accidents and DEATHS and KILLINGS they would cause, and other societal costs.

    “California Republicans will fight this and any other measure to expand GUN use in California. When it comes to this kind of legislation, there’s a reason they call it ‘assault weapons.’”

    They can put that logic in their pipe and smoke it.

    The California Democratic Party is pretty obviously opposed to cannabis legalization and they will actively campaign against this. You can’t believe anything they say publicly. They will hand out their sample ballots to hundreds of thousands or millions with the NO marked on this referendum and their Democrat sheep will march in line to the voting booth and baaaaaa.

    CA Democrats can’t and won’t stay out of it. They have to do something on those sample ballots and someone is going to give them money to tell them what to do on those sample ballots and they will probably be government union employees with the money opposed to this referendum. If we haven’t already bought off the CA Dems to our side, it is probably too late. They are remaining silent right now so they can shake the money loose from our opponents by making them sweat for a bit and motivating them to buy the Democrats stance on this issue.

    If we want the sample ballots blank we are going to have to match the money from the government employee unions. If we want a YES on the sample ballots, it’ll cost twice as much. Democrats aren’t idiots and they are just as greedy and selfish as Republicans.

    Another thing about CA, is that we are going to have to get the very motivated and active TEA baggers on our side. That isn’t going to happen because the progressive snobs and liberal elitists are too busy portraying TEA baggers as terrorists, berating them and name-calling. They are the most motivated voting bloc right now and this doesn’t stand a chance without their support.

    My prediction. This fails 56% no to 44% yes if the vote were today. We’ll just see how hard each side works to change that.

  • Chris

    They always act as if personal responibility is unrthinkable and that responsible use of drugs doesn’t exist. It does.

  • science faxtion

    i think the republicans in california must actually be pro-legalization and are playing the part of the patsy here. they will get owned at the voting booth if they are anti re-legalization.
    no bureaucrat in their right mind would be against the re-legalization movement if they had any hopes of winning an election. this is a gigantic issue and Americans want their cannabis and they know the difference between scientific facts and government propaganda when it comes to the safety and efficacy of the herb.
    it seems that the last thing the government or at least republicans want is for people to not get that “paranoid” feeling when they smoke. as long as they have 1/3 of all americans scared and feeling like criminals and low-lifes at night, it will be that much easier to bully and herd them around like mindless animals during the day.
    hopefully, come Nov. 2nd, the tax and regulate act will win by a landslide and this evil war we have been having with our citizens will take a step towards peace. when the drug war is over, i will be as optimistic about the positive future of america as someone who just arrived in america after the end of the revolutionary war. there will be the smell of hope and intelligence and reason and liberty in the air again .

  • denmark

    Politicians say one thing behind closed doors then when they’re in the public’s eye say something different.

    The difficult part in all this is not knowing which way it’ll go right now. The anticipation, and hopes of a favorable outcome, can be overwhelming. And at the same time it’s definitely exciting for those of us who understand and see the folly of the drug war.

    Carol: If it’s a large march I’d go, if it’s a small number of people, personally, I’d avoid it. We’re between a rock and a hard place and need to be cautious, not paranoid, just cautious.

  • Price

    Silly Republicans…Like the people who WOULD be smoking aren’t ALREADY smoking…but better that your daughter give the money to the murderers and thugs. These guys want BACK in office?

  • sceptic

    curious, who here thinks that if it were legal people would agree to spending 50$ for the same amount of weed they used to buy for 25$? and who also thinks that cartels would just give up and go legit while the Government rapes them with taxes? just dont think its that simple. not trolling, seriously looking for an answer. My prediction is that people will still buy the illegal stuff, and the government will go even more broke, if that were possible.

  • kaptinemo

    Sceptic, in answer, I’d say that, in the end, the market forces will ultimately determine the actual cost of legal cannabis…tax included.

    Nicotinists have no choice: buy their favorite poison or suffer withdrawal.

    Cannabists have the option of literally taking it or leaving it. So the end cost of legal cannabis will inevitably have to drop to the level of, say, name brand cigarettes. The illegal dealers you posit, just like illegal distillery operators, would be servicing a vastly smaller economic niche, and will become just as ephemeral to most consumers.

    Now, if governments become too greedy, they’ll suffer the same consequences as what happened in Canada a few years back, when the tobacco tax was made too high and people started bootlegging tobacco products. The tax was lowered. The problem shrank again. Lesson learned.

    But nobody but the most affluent would purchase legal weed at present prices unless it was the absolute gold-standard of cannabis…and that would really have to be something special, given all the knowledge skills and abilities of American growers to already produce kick-ass, sit-down-before-you-fall-down product.

    I wouldn’t worry about the dealers after legalization. Many of them will wind up as weedtenders in bars, and as for the rest, well, they should take classes on resume writing, as they’ll need them…

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mmot_bot: #mmot Weighing in on California – Drug WarRant (blog) http://bit.ly/d174DK

  • permanentilt

    sceptic-

    Even after the taxes, marijuana will be cheaper than it is now.

    Like kap says, once legalized the price of marijuana will fall. This is because the price is artificially high due to prohibition. For instance, an ouce of schwagg weed that the cartels deal costs a mere $2.00 to grow which they then sell for $40-60 here in South Texas. This mark-up is only because of the costs of smuggling and funding a criminal enterprise. The taxes on marijuana would not simply be added to the current cost, the price would fall greatly.

    As for cartel members cleaning up their act and going straight, remember that cartel members are only there for the MONEY. They do not join the cartels, generally, because they are “evil” people. They join because they have families to feed and drug dealing is the most lucrative job in Mexico these days. If legalizing marijuana will take away %70 of cartel profits (probably even more because marijuana profits hedge other activities as well), there is just no way the cartels can continue to be as lucrative.

    Just like any corporation, they would have to lay of %60+ of their staff because they could not pay them. At that point they would be much easier to manage by police and the army (who they also could not afford to pay off).

  • claygooding

    If the government had the sense to just leave marijuana alone,no taxes and only law enforcement concern that you did not have more plants than the limit,the market would settle out after a year or two,just because there would be so many people trying to sell pot that the market would be flooded. Between the commercial producers and people selling off their excess from their homegrown,I estimate that you would be lucky to get $10 or $15 an ounce for it.
    And the economy would receive plenty of stimulation when those billions of dollars are not leaving this country buy buying more manufactured goods and the products we need slling to recover from this last financial crunch.
    I have alreadt read that CA is planning on a $50 an oz tax and that is more than I pay now,if I can afford a
    pound. We don’t need the government to make the price go up,and their greed will just keep the green market going.

  • Jack

    The debate/campaign to legalize medical marijuana fails in bringing to attention the fundamental moral and ethical principles to which our civil society and its governments are based. In chapter 5 of the Second Treatise of Government by John Locke, the issue of property is presented. Basically, he states that everybody has a right to what nature provides for their sustenance and revelation, provided they are not greedy and they leave a place in a state for the next person to enjoy. That people own their own bodies, so it is reasonable to deduce that through their labors, something becomes their own property. Prior to this, people only knew of the “Devine Rights of Kings”.

    Marijuana is no different to the lettuce and tomatoes grown in the back yard garden and its market a Laissez-faire one. Why this campaign encourages government intervention is beyond me, keep it real, it is just a plant.

    Read the treatise here: http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=28217&pageno=7

    • Jack — you’re absolutely right, but you can be completely right and lose.

      Unfortunately, nobody has ever won an election appealing to the fundamental moral and ethical principles to which our civil society and its governments are based. (It’s likely that the Bill of Rights would be voted down if offered in a referendum.) You win elections by figuring out who is going to vote, and how to press their buttons. Then you hope that if it passes, maybe once people get accustomed to it, you can make some positive changes later.

      Sure, pot should be like tomatoes, and I bet that most people who would already vote for legalization would agree with you. But that doesn’t get you to a majority of votes.

      I personally think that the 21 age limit is stupid. (I went to college once.) But I support it grudgingly because I know that it probably increases the chance of getting legalization passed and striking a blow against prohibition and all its negative effects.

      It’s not a very good system, but it’s what we’ve got to work with.

  • Tim

    Now, if governments become too greedy, they’ll suffer the same consequences as what happened in Canada a few years back, when the tobacco tax was made too high and people started bootlegging tobacco products. The tax was lowered. The problem shrank again. Lesson learned.

    Kapt, no they didn’t. The price is now back up above $10 per pack, and instead of the same brand smuggled through Upstate New York and back again, we have native reservations where you can pay $8-12 for a ziplog baggie of 200 cigarettes. Which taste like ass and have all kinds of contiminants — bug eggs, twigs, etc.

    Instead of losing revenue they how have a ‘bathtub gin’ product out there. High sin taxes are just as bad as prohibition sometimes.

  • claygooding

    We now have a black market for cigarettes in the US because of the sin tax on them. It has not gone to a violent stage yet,but it hasn’t been around long enough
    nor is it controlled by any large group of criminals.
    A Tube of snuff in Tx is $18.50,while across the state line in Ok,at the Indian smoke shop,it is $12.50. That creates a black market, And many are going on the internet and buying cigarettes online from Russia and other countries that don’t have sin taxes. It takes a couple of weeks to get them but Marlboro’s are about $28 a carton from them. How does that compare with your states prices?
    And the Marlboro’s are made by the same company that makes them here,but the only word I recognize on the pack is the name and there is no surgeon generals warning on them.

  • Max

    Intriguing that of all the things he could have said, Kerlikowske instead declines to comment. I think that’s about as strong an endorsement Tax Cannabis could hope to get from Obama’s office. If the initiative does pass, it would not surprise me at all to see no resistance whatever from the DEA.

  • “Unfortunately, nobody has ever won an election appealing to the fundamental moral and ethical principles to which our civil society and its governments are based.”

    pete, an entire nation was built doing exactly that. we live here, remember? all we need to do is act like we really believe in all that horseshit and actually live it in practice.

    one of the big problems we face is that everyone forgets we’re spinning in circles on a merry-go-round. we are going to lose in california, just as we did in the mid to late 70’s unless we can come up with a different approach than what has consistently failed us in the past.

    the majority of the country is totally pissed at what the extremist harpies from the ends of the political spectrum have done to our nation. they are pissed and want genuine change. we need real leadership in both the political and reform arenas. assuming that those who have failed to accomplish what we need to get done will somehow magically make things different is ludicrous!

    our side still has no simple coherent message to present. instead the self-proclaimed “leaders” have only succeeded in stratifying and busting us into tiny pieces scattered to the winds.

    i’ve said it before, and i will continue to say it: no matter what your personal reason is for joining the fight, every single one of us needs to get on the total repeal wagon – and quick! if you think you can defend any single thing about prohibition, then go away — you’re on the wrong side of the battlefield.

    the clock is ticking in california, but i have yet to see a damn thing coming out of dpa, mpp and norml to indicate they have any intention of working together to build a coherent strategy and making it work. i already know what they will do: the same things they do year after year, decade after decade.

    the moral and righteous appeal to freedom and liberty for all is the one approach that has yet to be attempted.

    it is fundamentally wrong to destroy people’s lives (and more horrifyingly, those of completely innocent others) in the name of “preventing them from harming themselves.”

    anybody disagree?

  • Max

    it’s an admiral sentiment, Brian. but remember that Tax Cannabis is an independent campaign – not connected to NORML or MPP, and nominally backed by DPA but still with its own operating budget, directors, advisors, etc. looking at it that way i don’t know that it should be as troubling not to see broad cooperation between the organizations you’re listing.

  • denmark

    NORML and DPA, along with TaxCannabis2010 may well cooperate with each other, (don’t know for certain), however, MPP is laced in scandal with Kampia’s disgusting actions, not to mention the questionable history behind Kampia’s leaving NORML and stealing membership information when he left. At one time I was a staunch supporter of MPP but with the latest turn of events and a man who thinks he’s too hot to handle, leave me out of their organization please. In addition, before the Kampia stuff broke I was becoming disappointed with some of MPP’s written legislation in states where Medical MJ was being initiated.

    Don’t know where SSDP stands on all this, not a student and really don’t care to be involved. LEAP has said it’s jumping into the fray.

    It’s going to be a guessing game filled with sickening outright lies to prevent legalization. Guess the movement needs to be as dirty and underhanded as Prohibitionists.

  • claygooding

    “It’s going to be a guessing game filled with sickening outright lies to prevent legalization. Guess the movement needs to be as dirty and underhanded as Prohibitionists.”

    Lies are what started the prohibition and the refusal of proponents to resort to the prohibitionists could be the
    factor that wins over the uneducated masses,unfamiliar to the last 40+ years of lies. When we expose their lies,it makes everything they say suspect.

  • claygooding

    prohibitionist tactics,,,,oops

  • realist

    every one has this idea that you can just compare things, like alcohol is bad and its legal, yea alcohol is terrible, so every other thing that is bad maybe not quite as bad in some ways, but still bad, is ok! thats a lame brain way of thinking, I smoke a little pot and the last thing I would do is drive or try and work, and you know that more people would drive and work, and the legal ramifications are worse for offenders if you read the small print, yes read. and the ramifications to the economy will be far greater than any small gains the state might make after paying its administration costs, the state knows this, I cant see the state wanting this, to take the money out of the pockets of the people and waste it on red tape, and the people that gain the most are the people that are sponsoring this prop, its a money grab if you ask me, just read.