Forget about what’s happening in the partisan battle for control of Congress and statehouses across the country. The single-most important issue that will be decided on November 2 is California’s Proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would legalize the cultivation, consumption, and sale of marijuana and allow municipalities to regulate and tax the stuff.
I understand paranoia. After working for a dispensary that was under the watchful eye of the DEA, having called out undercovers that were at a dispensary operator meeting getting them to leave, and years of training medical marijuana patients how to handle police encounters to prevent being arrested and stay out of jail, I get how the imagination of the unknown can play tricks on a person, especially when they’re involved with a questionably legal activity.
SAN DIEGO, CA — At first glance, Gretchen Burns-Bergman doesn’t seem like the type of person who would support the legalization of recreational marijuana. The mother of two lives in Rancho Santa Fe and works as fashion producer. But years ago Burns co-founded Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing (PATH). She’s also part of Moms United, a group of California parents who support Proposition 19. “It’s time to change the way we’re dealing with this,” said Burns. “I don’t see why we are treating people who use these drugs like criminals, particularly marijuana.”
She’s been called “the female Obama” by some media, and the president even paid her a visit this week to help her political fortunes. Like Barack Obama, she aspires to a lot of firsts. Kamala Harris is the daughter of a father from Jamaica and a mother from India, and she’s seeking to be the first black woman attorney general of California.
October 26th – it’s one week until Election Day – 2010. Because of Proposition 19 in California, this year’s elections will be as important to the cause of marijuana legalization like no other year since 1996 when Proposition 215 passed in California – the beginning of the modern era of medical marijuana. Much of the mainstream news media has been running stories focusing on Proposition 19, and the voices for legalization have been both widespread and respectable. The feeling in the air is that as a culture we are starting to move across the line from prohibition to some form of legalization and regulation for marijuana.
With eight states looking to legalize medical marijuana through legislative initiatives or ballot measures this November (Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Dakota)(1), I wanted to review some of the pros and cons, as I see them, of marijuana use and abuse.
The push to legalize marijuana in California has borne witness to a bevy of strange sleeping arrangements. Medical marijuana dispensaries are now bedfellows with unions; retired law enforcement officers have linked arms with longhairs; and Democrats like Sen. Barbara Boxer have ditched their progressive stances on personal freedom in order to appear tough on crime, even as one of Boxer’s own staffers was arrested on Capitol Hill for possessing weed.
ANN ARBOR — Should Ann Arbor require medical marijuana dispensaries to be set up as nonprofit organizations that give back to the community? Should the city require inspections for dispensaries, enforce “purity standards” and require all pot to be “locally grown”? Those were among the questions asked by city officials Monday night as the Ann Arbor City Council took up a new medical marijuana ordinance for the first time.
My mind’s been consumed by pot lately. No, I’m not smoking it, but the conversation around Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults, is being debated about, sung about, and questioned enough to ignite and split California voters down the middle.