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Actually, Lee used to be a stage-lighting tech for Aerosmith and started out as an activist with a hemp store in Texas. He's taught more than 10,000 people how to grow cannabis and open dispensaries through his Oaksterdam University. He was instrumental in passing several drug law reform measures in Oakland.
Dragonfly erroneously says growers who want to legally cultivate will have to pay $211,000 a year to do so. "Obviously there's no space for the mom-and-pop small-time farmer who have been living off marijuana legally since 1996."
But only Oakland has considered charging $211,000 for a large-scale cultivation permit, and the city would still allow rather large personal grows (32 square-feet, or no more than 72 plants, and 3 pounds of dried processed medical cannabis) without a permit. Prop 19 also allows for individuals to grow for personal use. Furthermore, an independent RAND Corporation study concluded that cities that erect stiff barriers to entry for commercial growers and cultivators could be undercut by cities that don't, creating a competitive growing climate statewide.
Dragonfly says she's aligned with Prop 215 activist Dennis Peron, who also has come out against Prop 19. Peron has said publicly that he should be allowed to give pot to kids without fear of legal repercussion. Dragonfly and Peron support a different ballot initiative that failed to get enough signatures in 2009 called the Herer Initiative, named after Herer, who died this year. Its 2012 prospects are also politically dead in the water.
The so-called Herer Initiative calls for throwing open the jail and prison gates and pardoning all drug offenders. It would allow people to possess twelve pounds of pot, and limits taxation to $10 per ounce rather that Prop 19's suggested $50. It caps the cost of a commercial license at $1,000 and states no tax revenue could go to law enforcement.
Even Soares believes there is no way the Herer Initiative would pass. And the family of Jack Herer has also asked people like Dragonfly to stop using his name.
"Jack 'wanted it all' and Prop 19 is just part of that dream," wrote son Dan Herer in a letter to members of the cannabis community. "Unfortunately Jack passed away before Prop 19 made the 2010 ballot; so many people think he would still oppose it. We don't believe that, and we ask that everyone stop saying he would cling to that position as we move toward the Nov. 2 vote. He was smart and had the political savvy to know that once a measure is on the ballot, the time for bickering has passed. That is why he campaigned for Prop 215 despite its shortcomings. That is why, were he able, he would now be telling voters to rally around and Vote Yes on Prop 19."
Dragonfly wants to end prohibition without mainstream regimes like taxation, regulation, and business, but at least she tries to back up her point of view. Some of her peers are proving just as capable of outright lies as Prop 19's standard enemies on the right.
Sitting in the audience at Soares' coming-out panel was a shadowy group of around ten medical cannabis users who have launched an anonymous attack web site called Stop19.com. The site clearly indicates a need to put down the bong.
The site says "the Prop 19 Cartel" has large-scale growing permits in Oakland. The only problem is, Oakland has not issued large-scale cultivation permits to anyone.
The site also erroneously claims, "large tobacco companies have purchased land and strain trademarks in anticipation of Prop 19 passing. Nothing will stop tobacco companies from supplying low-quality cannabis laced with additives at any price they choose."
Actually, federal interstate commerce laws prevent tobacco companies from entering the market, according to Lee and NORML. "Getting involved in California marijuana would poison them," said Dale Gieringer, spokesperson for California NORML.
"It's all urban myth," Lee added. "None of it is true. They call me a crazy, insane millionaire, but I spent it. Politics is an expensive habit. Lee says he drives a '97 Pontiac Bonneville and has lived in a one-bedroom apartment near Lake Merritt for ten years.
Stop19.com uses a domain-by-proxy company to hide the identity of its owners, and has a disclaimer on its site saying none of the contents can be considered true. Reached via e-mail, Stop19 said "Our anonymity has no bearing on the facts." And "Just about every web site on the Internet has a standard 'we don't make warranties on the accuracy' disclaimer."
A recent Sacramento Bee/Field Poll indicated that the race for Prop 19 is close. While 47 percent of respondents want to regulate pot like alcohol, 4 percent want to "legalize marijuana so it can be purchased and used by anyone." Could that 4 percent be the swing vote that sends Prop 19 down in defeat?
Soares says widespread support from all mainstream reformers like NORML and even groups like the NAACP and various California unions may neutralize the far lefts. "That has to help," she said.
Dragonfly de la Luz hopes Prop 19 loses, and says the mainstream drug law reformers are locked in groupthink and gripped by fear. "They feel that now that the momentum is building we can't go against it now because it would hurt the movement in some way or fragment the movement," she said. "I'm hopeful that it doesn't win and it's not that I'm anti-legalization. Obviously I'm pro-legalization, but apparently being pro-legalization and being pro-Prop 19 are two different things entirely."
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