Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tickets On Sale Now for 'Route 64': A Special Marijuana Legalization Discussion and Event

by Nick Miller
Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 12:51 PM

Want to learn more about the finer details of Proposition 64, the ballot measure that would legalize adult-use marijuana in California?

Of course you do. That's why, on Tuesday, October 11, the Express will host a very special panel discussion of Prop. 64 at Berkeley's David Brower Center.

Tickets are on sale now. Admission comes with drinks and light snacks afterward, and an opportunity for further discussion with panelists and guests.

More details coming soon, so check back here or RSVP at our Facebook event page!

Email Nick Miller at with questions.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Maryland Medical Marijuana So White, Meetings To Be Held

by David Downs
Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 11:47 AM

About a third of Maryland residents are Black, but not a single one of them have obtained a golden ticket to dispense medical marijuana in the state’s new system.

That is cause for an upcoming meeting between the state’s medical marijuana commissioner and the attorney general, The Baltimore Sun reports Thursday.

Medical marijuana law in Maryland specifically allows officials to consider applicants’ race when doling out licenses. But the state’s attorney general said race-aware licensing would be unconstitutional, so the state’s licensing commission never tried it.

That’s a deep irony, given Maryland’s long history of race-based policing, The New York Times reported in 2015. “Racial profiling continues despite the fact that it is against the law of the United States; it’s against Maryland law,” one source told the Times.

None of the 30 companies handpicked to be in Maryland’s medical pot system are led by Blacks, the Sun reports. The remaining 811 applications for up to 94 dispensaries are being reviewed without regard to race, the Sun reports.

Maryland’s medical marijuana law is one of the few that specifically states regulators should “actively seek to achieve" diversity.

The Maryland Attorney General’s office agrees “the commission could have done more to achieve racial diversity,” the Sun reports. A legal challenge from the Legislative Black Caucus could loom.

In contrast to California’s relatively wide-open medical marijuana law of 1996, subsequent state systems have become increasingly restrictive — sometimes requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars on-hand to qualify for application review. East Coast dispensaries are often chaired by local power brokers, like retired police chiefs, and relatives of politicians.

Good faith efforts to ensure lawful operators often act as a barrier to less wealthy, less connected applicants, who may have a past conviction from the pot trade, critics note. 

In related news, Berkeley officials considered race when they awarded the city's most recent new dispensary permit.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Study: War on Weed Is A War on Women

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 9:29 AM

On Monday, local radio station KQED devoted an episode of Forum to the potential economic benefits of California cannabis legalization, noting that a $6.5 billion industry could exist in a few years.  Proposition 64 could also generate $1 billion per year in taxes and tens of millions of dollars in court savings.

What the episode failed to account for was the untold cost of ongoing cannabis prohibition, which critics say has ruined countless lives without decreasing cannabis use or availability.

Now, a new report helps detail some of those costs — especially as it pertains to women and children.
In a new report “Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform,” the group Safety and Justice Challenge notes that the war on weed has been an unprecedented war on women.

Since 1970, when President Richard Nixon declared a war on (some) drugs, the number of women in jail nationwide has increased fourteen-fold, from less than 8,000 to nearly 110,000, the report finds.

“Once a rarity, women are now held in jails in nearly every county—a stark contrast to 1970, when almost three-quarters of counties held not a single woman in jail.”
  • Today, nearly a third of women in jails are there for nonviolent drug offenses.
  • Between 1980 and 2009, the arrest rate for women possessing drugs tripled, while it only doubled for men. 
  • Nearly two in three women in jail are black or hispanic, making them vastly over-represented in the system.
  • And nearly 80 percent of women in jails are mothers, who are, by and large single parents, solely responsible for their young children.
About 700,000 Americans will be arrested this year for pot, including roughly 20,000 Californians. The cost in terms of lost jobs, shattered families, and diminished life trajectories is immeasurable.
“Once incarcerated, women must grapple with systems, practices, and policies that are designed for the majority of the incarcerated population: men. With limited resources, jails are often ill-equipped to address the challenges women face when they enter the justice system. As a result, many women leave jail with diminished prospects for physical and behavioral health recovery, with greater parental stress and strain, and in even more financially precarious circumstances than before becoming caught up in the justice system.”
The report is one of a series from the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and the Safety and Justice Challenge—a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation initiative to reduce over-incarceration in America. The purported “land of the free” has more men and women in cages than any regime on Earth — with five percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

The reports offers some solutions — like increased "cite and release" for low-level offenses like possession of marijuana. Prosecutors can also decline to prosecute citizens for certain low-level offenses like pot, the report states.

“In October 2014, the City of Philadelphia decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. During its first year in effect, the new law resulted in police officers issuing 1,012 civil citations, compared to 3,686 arrests made during the previous year for the same infractions.”

(h/t California NORML)

Friday, August 26, 2016

California Legalization Proposition 64 Raises $11.45 Million

by David Downs
Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 10:17 AM

Proponents of a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in California, Proposition 64, have raised $11.45 million in donor support, reports.

That’s 61 times the amount of campaign cash as the opposition, who has raised $185,870.

Cannabis legalization supporters report raising $11.45 million in California. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • Cannabis legalization supporters report raising $11.45 million in California.
Private donors and groups — not the medical marijuana industry or pot users — are providing almost all the funding for legalization, records indicate.

Major donors include billionaire philanthropist Sean Parker ($2,303,965), the New Approach PAC ($1,500,000), the non-profit Drug Policy Action ($1,250,000), the pot shop listings site Weedmaps ($750,000), Drug Policy Action ($500,000) and Nicholas Pritzker ($250,000).

By contrast, the No on Prop 64 team has raised $185,000 from anti-pot group Smart Approach to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) ($64,510), plus $25,000 from the CA Teamsters Public Affairs Council, $25,000 from the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, $12,500 from the California Police Chiefs Association $10,000 from a Los Angeles County lobby, and $10,000 from the California State Sheriffs' Association.

No on Prop 64 spokespeople have stated the legalization measure is a bid to enrich cannabis capitalists.  Both WeedMaps and Pritzker work in the state's medical marijuana industry, which generates about $2 billion in revenue each year.

The Yes on 64 disputes this claim. “[Sean] Parker supports the initiative as a social justice priority, but has no personal financial interest in the marijuana industry, nor will he invest in it in the future,” Yes on 64 spokesperson Jason Kinney told the Sacramento Bee today. Other major groups like DPA have spent decades fighting to end America's war on some drugs.

No on 64 is funded by groups who stand to lose money on legalization, reports indicate. The Teamsters stand lose lucrative pot distributor contracts if Prop. 64 passes, insider say. The state’s police chiefs and sheriffs benefit from billions of dollars in federal anti-drug grants, as well as asset forfeitures related to pot.

An analysis by the Los Angeles Times’ columnist Robin Abcarian finds Prop. 64 is likely to pass.

“These days, you can’t really find anyone who dismisses cannabis as intrinsically evil. You don’t even hear the “gateway drug” argument very much,” Abcarian reports.

Correction: This story previously reported that Project Smart Approaches to Marijuana has ties to the makers of OxyContin and Vicodin, according to The Nation. That is incorrect.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Politifact: Sen. Feinstein Spread 'Mostly False' Information About California Legalization

by David Downs
Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 9:40 AM

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is fibbing when she says kids are going to see pot ads on television if California legalization measure Proposition 64 passes. At least according to Politifact, which on August 5 rated the aforementioned Feinstein claim “mostly false,” though it promises to be widely advertised among voters through Election Day.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein made 'Mostly False' statements about Prop 64, Politifact concludes.
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein made 'Mostly False' statements about Prop 64, Politifact concludes.
If passed by voters, Prop. 64 would end California's century-long policy of cannabis prohibition — which opponents say hasn’t worked, and has cost the state untold billions of dollars. Prop. 64 allows adults 21-and-over to possess up to an ounce of pot in public and grow up to six plants on their property, as well as regulates the commercial growth, distribution and sale of cannabis.

It’s opposed by some in law enforcement as well as Feinstein, who stated in a July press release that Prop. 64 "allows marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers."

Feinstein should know better, experts say. Federal law prohibits the advertisement of federally illegal drugs like cannabis on federal licensed broadcasts. There are no pot ads on TV in other states, Politifact notes. It would be equivalent to broadcasting ads for heroin.

“If Prop. 64 passes, nothing will change in terms of what radio and television stations can legally broadcast," Joe Berry, president of the California Broadcasters Association, told Politifact. "The federal government licenses the radio and TV stations in California. The federal government’s position is that marijuana is an illegal substance. So, it’s illegal to advertise that substance."

Stations that air pot ads could lose their license, and they would be promptly turned in by their local and regional competitors — all of whom are in a cutthroat competition for viewers.

“We rate her claim Mostly False,” Politifact stated.

Still the No on 64 plans to use it heavily citing a poll that shows support for Prop 64 dips when they mention pot ads on TV.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Weed Talk at OMCA Saturday: "Perspectives on Legalizing Marijuana"

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 8:56 AM

The Oakland Museum of California keeps its hot season of cannabis programming rolling with a Saturday event “Perspectives on Legalizing Marijuana” featuring some of the brightest minds on the subject.

More …

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

9th Circuit Smacks Down Rogue Pot Prosecutors: Dispensaries’ Legal Shield Holds Up in Federal Appeals Court

by David Downs
Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 5:07 PM

United States prosecutors broke federal law if they went after lawful, state-legal medical pot shops since December 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in a historic precedent, published today.

Circuit Judges Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, Barry G. Silverman, and Carlos T. Bea settled ten pending federal appeals, vacating lower court rulings. That could result in freedom for several pot shop owners. Any other lawful medical cannabis actors in the 37 states with related laws on the books cannot be interfered with by DEA agents.

More …

Thursday, August 11, 2016

DEA Fails To Reschedule Marijuana: Five Things You Need To Know

by David Downs
Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 9:38 AM

Marijuana will remain officially among the most dangerous drugs in the world, as per a decision by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced this morning.

The DEA has formally denied two petitions to “re-schedule” pot down from its place atop the list of the world’s most dangerous drugs, stating that there’s not enough science to prove pot has some medical use or a lower potential for abuse than they thought.

Keeping an eye on the green. - D.E.A.
  • D.E.A.
  • Keeping an eye on the green.

Instead, the DEA promised to end its monopoly on the only supplies of pot deemed worthy of research. Up until now, the DEA only allowed one government-licensed medical pot farm, at the University of Mississippi.

Under the new rules, many more licensed farms could exist, and provide researchers the weed they need to get pot rescheduled once and for all.

John Hudak with Brookings put together a great explainer on how more research pot farms could accomplish marijuana law reformers’ goals, just at a more incremental pace. Here’s five things to know:

1) Rescheduling Isn’t Salvation or Damnation
Changing pot’s official federal status changes little on the ground in the now 37 medical pot states, who are going their own way.

“All those who believed rescheduling would be manna from Heaven, or the devil incarnate tossing the cannabis industry into eternal flames, exaggerated a minor administrative action.”

2) Ending the Monopoly on Research Weed is a Big Effing Deal
The DEA has been under broad, bipartisan and even State Department pressure to end its stranglehold on so-called research weed. After decades of opposition — they’ve caved. It’s historic.

“The government was complicit in holding science back and the monopoly was largely to blame. While the result was not a malicious effort from the grower(s) charged with administering the monopoly, the results of the policy were dangerous for the empirical study of cannabis, nonetheless.”

3) More Research Farms = More Pressure on DEA
Hudak confirms cannabis policy is trapped in a "Catch-22" where researchers are not allowed to prove cannabis should be allowed to be researched.

“Ending the DEA-mandated NIDA monopoly will mean that better, more careful, more precise, more theoretically-driven research can be conducted. That means better, more convincing answers to one of the central questions in this policy space: does marijuana have medical value.”

4) 'Schedule 1' Marijuana Remains Doomed
Widely considered a farce by both physicians and lawmakers, cannabis’ Schedule 1 status is more about bureaucratic lag than scientific validity. About 60 percent of Americans support legalizing pot, including a majority of doctors. A super-majority supports medical use. Hundreds of studies attest to both its medical efficacy and low potential for abuse.

“The days of prohibition, the days of public fear of marijuana, and the days of a public agreeing that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin or LSD have come to an end. In the process, policies like marijuana’s Schedule I status have adopted a very short shelf-life,” Hudak writes.

5) DEA Rejection Is A Windfall for Legalizers
A bigger DEA victory could have been used to take wind out state-level legalization efforts. The argument being, 'why rush ahead at the state level when the feds are coming around?' Instead, marijuana law reform groups could seize on the DEA's overt rejection of science, reason, public and doctor opinion to energize reform efforts over the next 88 days until the election. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Anti-Legalizers Sue California Over Prop 64 Ballot Language

by David Downs
Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 10:06 AM


Time for some legalization lawsuit tit-for-tat, folks.

Supporters of cannabis prohibition sued the California Secretary of State on August 4, alleging voters could be misled about legalization initiative Proposition 64.

The ballot arguments for and against the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will go to the courts this week.
  • The ballot arguments for and against the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will go to the courts this week.

No on 64 alleges that Yes on Prop. 64's ballot arguments are false and misleading for two reasons: 1) TV advertising; and 2) pot delivery services.

When voters get their sample ballots, Prop. 64’s arguments in favor state that: “Nothing in 64 makes it legal to show marijuana ads on TV. Federal law prohibits it!”

The Prop. 64 arguments also state that: “Sale of nonmedical marijuana will be legal only at highly-regulated, licensed marijuana businesses, and only adults 21+ will be permitted to enter.”

But opponents of the measure — which allows adults 21 and over to carry one ounce in public and grow six plant at home — are saying those statements are false.

“The first statement is false and misleading because the initiative specifically contemplates TV advertising.  In fact, although Prop 64 includes an exhaustive list of advertising prohibitions – it does NOT include television broadcast.  In addition, the measure even spells out exactly how the television piece would work:

‘Any advertising or marketing placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital communications shall only be displayed where at least 71. 6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data.’

No on 64 says the second statement about where legal sales can occur is false and misleading because “Proposition 64 does much more than allow sale of marijuana in brick and mortar retail stores.  Proposition 64 also authorizes sale by delivery service.”

But on its face, both of No on 64’s lawsuit claims seem to lack merit.

Regarding the first claim, Prop 64 cannot make it legal to show pot ads radio or TV, which are federally controlled. If the feds suddenly legalize pot, Prop 64 actually protects consumers by saying where the ads could run.

The second disputed claim is factually accurate: “sale of non-medical marijuana will be legal only at highly-regulated, licensed marijuana businesses”. It in no way implies those businesses are only brick-and-mortar, in an era where Americans get literally everything delivered.

Here is the link to the No on Prop. 64 lawsuit.

Earlier last week, Yes on 64 started the legal challenges by filing suit alleging No on 64 was making false and misleading arguments on the ballot.  That lawsuit has much more merit. Led by Sen. Diane Feinstein, the No on Prop. 64 ballot arguments state that the law will expose children “to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.”

In reality, Prop. 64 prohibits pot products “designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods," the law states Prop. 64 has four explicit separate child protection provisions.

“[I]t is provably false to suggest children will in any way be exposed to advertisements promoting marijuana gummy candy or brownies,” Prop. 64 states.

No on 64’s lawsuit goes to a hearing on Friday at 11 a.m. in Superior Court in Sacramento County.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Marijuana Legalization Proponents Sue Sen. Dianne Feinstein Over Proposition 64

by David Downs
Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 8:04 AM

Lying about the potential impacts of marijuana legalization is often par-for-the-course for law enforcement, but this election season reformers are calling foul.

Time is not on her side: "DINO" Sen. Dianne Feinstein
  • Time is not on her side: "DINO" Sen. Dianne Feinstein
The proponents of California legalization initiative Proposition 64 announced Thursday a lawsuit against their opposition for making false and misleading statements to the public.

The official “Arguments in Opposition to Prop. 64” contain false and misleading statements regarding advertising and consumer protections, according to Prop. 64 supporters.

“Defenders of the failed war on marijuana are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts,” stated Jason Kinney, spokesperson for Yes on 64, in a release. “More so than any I’ve seen in recent memory, the ballot arguments submitted with a straight face by the opponents fundamentally and factually misrepresent this ballot measure and are riddled with obvious falsehoods. These aren’t evidence-based arguments – they are scare tactics – and they’re sadly reminiscent of the ‘reefer madness’-style disinformation campaigns that subverted honest dialogue around this issue for decades.”

“California’s voters demand and deserve better – and I have every confidence that an objective legal authority will reject these false and misleading statements out of hand,” he stated.
Prop. 64’s lawsuit demands that the official “Argument Against Proposition 64 or the Rebuttal to the Argument in Favor in Proposition 64” be rejected, deleted, or substantially amended.

Prop. 64 is a marijuana decriminalization and regulation measure that would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of bud in public and grow six plants. The multibillion-dollar cannabis industry would be subject to first-ever consumer protection regulations and licensure.

Prop. 64 is one of the most endorsed legalization initiatives of all time, with support from the California Academy of Preventative Medicine; the California Medical Association; sitting California Lt Gov. Gavin Newsom; bipartisan elected officials including Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu and Jared Huffman and Republican U.S. Rep Dana Rohrabacher; and an unprecedented coalition of environmental, business owners, small farmers, civil rights, public safety and social justice groups. 

According to campaign-finance reports, The No on Prop 64 is primarily comprised of groups affected by the end of the war on weed — such as prison bosses, police chiefs, rehab clinics, prescription drug makers and alcohol interests — who stand to lose billions of dollars on legalization's shift away from arrests, prison, pills and booze. About 20,000 Californians will be arrested and adjudicated for pot this year, at a cost of about $100 million in tax dollars, state officials report.

The Prop. 64 lawsuit names opposition leader Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other argument authors. In the argument against, Feinstein says Prop. 64 will expose children “to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.”

In reality, Prop. 64 prohibits pot products “designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods," the ballot initiative states. Prop. 64 also bans weed ads aimed at people under 21.

“[I]t is provably false to suggest children will in any way be exposed to advertisements promoting marijuana gummy candy or brownies,” Prop. 64 states.

Prop. 64’s foes also misstate the initiative would “repeal countless consumer protections,” when in fact “it builds on those laws and protections.”

Opponents of prohibition’s end also argue Prop. 64 “rolls back the total prohibition of smoking ads on TV.” That’s false, since multiple federal laws, not state laws, control advertising on television stations, which are federally licensed.

Opponents of marijuana law reform have begun to lean heavily on "what about the children" arguments.

Pro-cannabis groups are also claiming to speak for children. Moms United To End the War on Drugs states that the "country's failed drug policies" have wrecked havoc on the American family.

"Over 30,000 people are in prison in California for a drug offense; two-thirds for a possession offense," Moms United noted.

The No on 64 campaign is currently paying for targeted Google ads stating, that Prop 64: "Legalizes smoking ads on TV in CA."


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