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10 Lessons Learned from Marijuana Election Defeats

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 8, 2010

    Results of 2010 Election added to our Marijuana Laws Map

    Marijuana supporters nationwide awoke on November 3rd to find they had been defeated in all four statewide initiatives on the ballot. While losing these battles is not good news for our movement, the lessons we’ve learned and coalitions we’ve formed will help us win the war even sooner.

    California’s Prop 19 received 3.4 million votes for legalization, which represents 46.1% of the voters.  This is the best a statewide marijuana legalization measure has ever done, besting Nevada 2002 (39%), Alaska 2004 (44%), Colorado 2006 (41%), and Nevada 2006 (44%)

    What turned Westerners' 58% support for legalization into just 46% of the vote in California? Details.

    The most recent Gallup Poll showed 58% support among Westerners for “legalization”.  That means there are 12% of our supporters who dropped their support for legalization once the details are spelled out.  What lessons have we learned from the loss?  I believe there are ten main lessons we need to learn to succeed in 2012.

    1. We must explicitly protect medical marijuana rights.

    During the campaign some on our side were surprised by the emergence of the “I Gots Mine” crowd, the so-called “Stoners Against Legalization”.  But the fact is that in a medical marijuana state, especially California, what they “gots” is pretty amazing.  Moving forward, any legalization measure in a medical state must include the following three explicit points:

    a) This legalization bill will not affect your medical marijuana rights in any way.

    b) Your medical marijuana rights will not change in any way once legalization passes.

    c) If you are concerned about your medical marijuana rights, please see points a) and b).

    I’m being somewhat facetious, but the point better be taken.  No legalization bill is going to succeed unless the current medical marijuana smokers believe it makes their lives better or at least doesn’t threaten to change their lives.

    Now, I know as well as anyone that Prop 19 wouldn’t have affected medical rights, but it got lost within the Purposes and Intents and buried in a cloud of “notwithstandings” and “excepts”.  The next initiative needs to have an explicit declarative paragraph protecting medical rights. And it has to be written in such a way that it is perfectly clear to even the most unlikely, naive, and uneducated voters, which leads me to…

    You can't win with legalization that criminalizes part of the largest group of marijuana smokers

    2. We must remember that people 18-25 are our biggest group of stakeholders and we cannot over-penalize them to appease our opponents.

    The theme that Prop 19 would be creating a crime out of 21-year-olds passing joints to their 18-20-year-old friends resonated among every toker who first smoked a joint with an older friend or sibling.  I even heard from people aged 18-20 who thought Prop 19 made them a felon.  The new crime was created to soothe the soccer moms, but I think people realized it would be as ineffective at stopping young college kids from toking as the 21 drinking age stops frat keggers, so that all we’d accomplish is creating new criminal records for young people.  The next initiative needs to retain the 21+ age (18 just won’t pass when alcohol is 21) but leave the punishment for furnishing to 18-20-year-olds the $100 ticket it is now… or at least don’t make it more punitive than the law for alcohol.

    I understand the “make it like alcohol” motivation of punishing someone who furnishes to minors, but the punishment called for by Prop 19 was akin to the punishment for one who furnishes to a teen who then causes serious injury to self or others.  The minimum punishment for merely furnishing alcohol, absent injury, is a misdemeanor, a $1,000 fine and 24 hours community service.  Thus we were portraying marijuana as far more harmful than alcohol (see point 5 below) by implication.

    When Humboldt County is voting against legalization, there is a problem.

    3. We must find a way to integrate the current illegal growers into a new legalized market.

    The results from the so-called “Emerald Triangle” – defeats for legalization in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties – show us that legalization has to be framed to appeal to small time marijuana growers.  Putting aside the immorality of profiting from the misery of prohibition, the fact is that many small time growers are paying their mortgage and feeding their families from profits on illegal marijuana.  Nobody is going to vote to reduce the price of weed from $300/oz to $60/oz when that takes food out of their kids’ mouths.  The next initiative needs to create a level playing field for small businesses to compete in marijuana cultivation. By emphasizing small, local grows, we can increase the grower vote while also soothing pot smokers worried about “WalMartization” and non-tokers worried about pot becoming as ubiquitous as alcohol they see advertised daily nearly everywhere.

    Until Americans see the guys standing up as more dangerous than the ones lying down, we can't win

    4. We cannot win until people are more scared of prohibition than they are of legalization.

    People resist change.  In order to shake things up, they need to find the status quo unacceptable and the alternative a moral good.  Early on, many of our messages focused on what good would come from legalization, such as tax revenues (see point 6 below) and prioritization of police resources.  While these things are good, they don’t tell the story of why it is so critical to change the status quo.

    It’s not that legalization must be approved, it is that prohibition must be ended.  LEAP speakers made the point that every test on a baggie of pot for a $100 ticket means a crime lab test of a rape kit has to wait, but it came too late to make a commercial out of that point.  We need commercials with high school weed dealers in parking lots and hallways, dealing without any regulations or ID checks.  We need commercials with indoor marijuana grow factories taking over suburban neighborhoods because there are no legal commercial grows.  We need commercials with illegal outdoor grows polluting our state parks.  We need commercials of SWAT teams breaking down doors over a pot plant, abusing families, while the rapist, murderer, and thief escape detection.  (We need billionaires to kick in big dollars sooner in the campaign so we can get these commercials on air.)  All these commercials that would use scenes prohibitionists use against us need to be used against them in an act of rhetorical judo that shows those evils to be the result of the prohibitionary status quo, not the proposed marijuana legalization.  The next initiative campaign needs to scare people about the out-of-control prohibition situation we have now. Which leads to the corollary…

    To some, this just means we're arresting too many blacks, not that the arrest itself is wrong.

    5. We must stop painting the marijuana as a bad thing that needs to be controlled.

    We did a great job with exposing the racially disproportionate nature of marijuana law enforcement.  We’ve shown how much money is spent enforcing marijuana laws and how the cost of doing so is diverting police resources.  We’ve illustrated the violent nature of the drug trade, particularly in Mexico.

    None of that really matters, though, until we honestly address the social disapproval of “smoking pot”.  The underlying premise of prohibition is that we are forbidding adults from an activity for all of our own good.  Without addressing the morality of marijuana, the flaws we point out in prohibition are just kinks in the system that need to be improved, not an indictment of the reason for the system.  We’re locking up too many blacks and Latinos?  We’ll just try to be more fair about arresting all races equally, then.  We spend a lot of money going after pot?  How much is too much to spend to keep your kids safe?  Gangsters are violent in the marijuana trade?  That’s why we need to arrest people, so they’ll stop smoking pot.  See how that works?

    The next initiative campaign must do more pro-active positive portrayals of marijuana for adults. It is not enough to campaign against the bad guy (prohibition), you have to have a story arc for the good guy (legal marijuana use).  People need to question why we bother arresting bright, successful, educated people and break up their loving families just because they prefer sensimilla to a six-pack or a cigarette.  However, as we tell the good guy’s story…

    When you put up a number, you'd better be ready to defend it. When it's a number from a different bill, you're sunk.

    6. We must be realistic about what legalization can and cannot accomplish.

    As marijuana activists, we’re already starting with a deficit in the public trust column.  So when we make our case, we have to be diligent about never over-promising what good can be realized by ending prohibition, especially if we attach hard numbers to those promises.  It is too easy to become characterized as the glassy-eyed idealists who believe too much in the magic wonder herb when we supply targets that are so easily shot down.

    Both the primary offenses in messaging can be traced to some honest mistakes.  First was the claim that Prop 19 would raise $1.4 billion in taxes for California.  This arose from the legislature’s legalization bill, AB 390, which proposed a statewide $50/ounce tax.  Then the California Board of Equalization crunched the numbers and announced that $1.4 billion could be realized.  Then AB 390 failed and Prop 19 took over, but never distanced itself from the $1.4 billion tax revenues and in a few instances, co-opted the $1.4 billion for internet forums and print.  When Prop 19 instituted no required taxes and any taxes would be local, not statewide, everyone, even Prop 19’s supporters, knew that far less than $1.4 billion would be raised.  Then when the Attorney General vowed to aggressively pursue anyone who opened up a Prop 19 shop, we all knew there would be even less taxes raised.

    Next was the implication that Prop 19 would be a significant blow to Mexican drug cartels.  Part of this owes to misinformation from the drug czar’s office, which had publicized the stat that 60% of the Mexican cartel income is raised from marijuana.  But Prop 19 advocates could be faulted for accepting a drug czar’s word on anything, as well as not knowing their home state marijuana market well enough to realize nobody in California is smoking much Mexican brick weed.  Combined with the “billions in taxes” saving the state, the “cripple the cartels” message was easily debunked and left us looking like we’re bullshitting the voters.  The next initiative must be careful about promises and always return the focus to any modest gains from ending prohibition being more than what we’re getting now.

    Marijuana Test

    We have a drug test here at NORML... "Do you recognize this leaf?"

    7. Legalize first, then deal with the drug testing issue.

    You won’t find anyone who hates drug testing more than me.  It’s inaccurate, unscientific, ineffective, and a disgusting invasion of our right to privacy.  And I was thrilled to see non-discrimination language regarding drug testing in Prop 19.  But tackling the drug testing issue along with the legalization issue presents too many conflicts for most voters.

    Again, it’s about the good guy and the bad guy.  The good guy is drug test that protects us at work from the bad guy, the whacked-out druggies.  Many people are fine with you smoking a joint and getting whacked-out at home, but want to be sure you’re not smoking a joint at work or while driving.  The drug testing language gave opponents a wedge to separate business owners, managers, and responsible workers from supporting us.

    The next initiative needs to remain focused on the sole issue of ending the criminalization of people who smoke and grow pot. Once marijuana use is legal, and as the image of marijuana use becomes mainstreamed, the drug testing issue will be easier to work out.  It would be considered ridiculous in most circumstances to have a work policy that accepted only teetotalers and punished someone for having a drink Friday night because he’d be dangerous on Monday morning.  When marijuana is legal, soon those policies for pot will seem as ridiculous.  Now, speaking of drug testing…

    Objects in mirror may be fatter than they appear.

    8. You can’t “treat it like alcohol” unless you can test for it like alcohol on the roadside.

    We often use the phrase “treat it like alcohol” to get through to voters with little knowledge of marijuana (indeed, if they were educated, they’d realize treating cannabis like alcohol is an insult to cannabis.)  But every time we do, we activate many long-held frames about alcohol, and one of those is “shit-faced drunks who drive”.

    The “stoned drivers” scare is one of the few effective bits of rhetoric our opponents have left, along with “what about the children”?  We insisted that Prop 19 didn’t at all change the cops’ ability to bust a stoned driver, but I believe this just did not overcome a gut feeling for most people that it would, because we could offer them no new tools for law enforcement to watch over stoned drivers while creating a more lenient state for marijuana users.

    The next initiative must work with the “treat it like alcohol” frame by providing a “breathalyzer” equivalent for the stoned driver. This is the hardest part for me to write, because I so loathe drug testing and even the breathalyzer, which really does not prove anyone’s actual impairment.  All any drug test proves is that you’ve used drugs, alcohol included.  Some alcoholics can drive fine at a 0.12 BAC; some lightweights are a danger at 0.04 BAC.  But since the public believes in the breathalyzer as a magical scientific instrument than can detect and help punish drunk drivers, and since we’re engaging them in the “treat it like alcohol” frame, they need something more tangible than “we’ll just bust them like we do now”, which rings hollow when the general public knows we bust the stoned driver (impaired or not) now just for having weed in his pocket or a roach in the ashtray.  There are technologies available – blood testing, cheek-swab saliva testing, epocrine gland (armpit) sweat testing – that can show recent use of marijuana within four hours.  That, along with a “no burnt cannabis / no used paraphernalia” in the car rule to match the alcohol-equivalent “no open containers” would go a long way toward negating the “stoned drivers” scare.

    People barely trust their city council to be able to handle potholes on Main Street, much less regulating the third most popular recreational substance

    9. Commercialization must be handled with consistent statewide regulation.

    Prop 19 designed its commercial regulations to be opt-in, with cities and counties each deciding if they wished to have regulated sales and how they would regulate them.  The reasoning for this is sound, as the proponents wanted the commercial regs to stand up to federal court scrutiny, the theory being that since Prop 19 didn’t explicitly tell the state to allow marijuana commerce in violation of federal law, the commercial regs might not violate the Commerce Clause.

    However, as a rhetorical piece to convince voters, it was lacking.  Most people don’t trust their city government or believe it to be ineffective.  Opponents were able to conjure a future where there were hundreds of different pot regulations across the state.  This becomes troubling in a crowded Southern California where driving down one strip of road can pass you through multiple city jurisdictions that are visually indistinct from one another.  Am I in City of Industry that allows me to have 2 ounces in personal possession or am I in La Puente that only allows one?  How will our stores in Torrance collect their 10% marijuana tax when just up the road in Gardena they only charge 5%?

    The next initiative must establish a statewide commercial regulatory framework.  It will probably be squashed by the federal courts, but it will be better to have legal marijuana first and fight those commercial battles in court than to have prohibition and no chance in court.  Once people have the legal right to possess, use, and grow marijuana, the commerce will inevitably follow (see: medical marijuana everywhere.)

    Most people don't think of medicine in the same context as getting an ear piercing

    10. Medical marijuana has reached its peak and is now inextricably linked to legalization.

    In California, the people are already accustomed to a fairly open marijuana policy, where anyone who wants to toke can get a Prop 215 recommendation and buy it from many dispensaries.  In the North it’s a well-regulated system that is contributing to clean neighborhoods and city tax revenues.  You can see by the county results map above that most of the support comes from the Bay Area where cities and counties put together regulations and ordinances and created a healthy system.  Why wouldn’t people vote for more of that?

    But in the South it’s a “Wild West” system with tent after tent of “pot docs” on Venice Beach that can’t spell “cannabis” and carnival barkers pushing the “4-gram eighth”.  This is the fault of the local officials who refused to put forth any sort of regulations, but that’s lost on the average voter.  All they see is that what they have now is pot run wild.  Why would people vote for more of that?

    While legalization support has increased in eleven years, medical marijuana has declined.

    In South Dakota, a medical marijuana initiative failed in 2006 with 48% of the vote.  In 2010, South Dakota’s support for medical marijuana dropped to 36%.  In Arizona they passed a flawed medical marijuana initiative (it used “prescription”, not “recommendation”) with 65% in 1996.  In 2010, it got just below 50% of the vote.  In Oregon a measure to create medical marijuana dispensaries lost with 42% of the vote in 2004.  In 2010, the dispensaries measure gained slightly with 43% of the vote.

    This is reflected in Gallup polls on both medical marijuana and marijuana legalization.  In 1999, support for legalization was just 29%, while support for medical use was 73%.  It’s fair to say that people who believe in legalization would naturally support medical use, so the difference of 44% in 1999 would represent those who believe in medical use but think people who just want to get high should be punished.  By the mid-2000s, medical marijuana support reached 75%-78% and legalization reached 34%-36%, meaning those who support medical-only dropped to 31%-32%.  Now in 2010 we have legalization support at 46% while medical support has fallen to 70%, leaving only 24% who believe in medical-only.

    Similar initiatives in Arizona, Oregon, and South Dakota for medical marijuana declined while the second Prop 19 for legalization in California increased.

    The reason for this 20-point decline in medical-only support is that the public is beginning to feel hoodwinked on the medical marijuana issue.  They completely support the cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma patients getting their medications, but have seen too many dispensaries, too many healthy-looking young people, too many huge marijuana gardens, too many large volume busts, and too many patients overall to believe that medical marijuana is anything but thinly-veiled legalization.  Now that California, the first medical state, has gone forward with legalization, and since the previous legalization attempts were also in medical marijuana states (Nevada, Colorado, Alaska), the two issues are linked.  This means the next medical initiatives and bills will have to be even more restrictive to convince the doubters who cry “Trojan horse!”

    The next initiative needs to highlight the second-class-citizen nature of medical marijuana laws that can only be solved by full legalization. The legalization campaign needs to bring forth those same medical marijuana patients who played to public sympathy to get medical marijuana and show how even with medical marijuana, they are still harassed, arrested, tried, and convicted because they’re swept up in the overall battle law enforcement must engage with healthy marijuana smokers.  People need to see the patients who lose housing, lose scholarships, lose child custody, suffer home invasion robberies, can’t travel outside the state, and hear from the patients themselves that medical marijuana just isn’t good enough.

    And one thing we don’t need to do?  Change the word “marijuana” to “cannabis”. I’ve heard this suggestion a few times, but I think it actually works against us.  You and I know that “marijuana” is a Mexican slang term initially used for racist reasons to confuse and frighten the public.  But now “marijuana” is the familiar brand name everyone knows.  When we run from “marijuana” and only say “cannabis”, “marijuana” is emphasized by its absence.  Why won’t they say “marijuana”?  What are they trying to hide?  What’s wrong with marijuana?  It’s like when liberals go out of their way to call themselves “progressives” or when conservatives felt the need to emphasize “compassionate”; it’s distancing yourself from your own brand – if you don’t like it, why should anyone else?

    The next initiative needs to just be honest: The Marijuana Legalization Act of 2012.  There is nothing wrong with that linguistically or even ethically, as the laws on the books that this would repeal are “marijuana laws” – they use the term “marijuana” (or sometimes “marihuana”) in the statutes.  We can, and should, pepper in the word “cannabis” as we explain the act, using it as the proper name of the plant species, but not be afraid to talk about “smoking marijuana” when the public brings it up.  By now, people know the plant by the name “marijuana” and that name, in and of itself, doesn’t denigrate it in their minds any more than the less-familiar “cannabis” promotes it.

    147 Responses to “10 Lessons Learned from Marijuana Election Defeats”

    1. Shinji Ikari says:

      Its to my belief that in order to ensure victory we must target those who are to be the future citizens. IF we play the same games the DARE program and other after school specials and TRUTH campaigns is that fear motivates more than anything. The Average child watches close to 1700 minutes of television while spending close to 50 minutes per week in meaningful conversations with their parents. Showing the real evils of prohibition could help them realize this. There are a slew of real world examples of people who had a future and lost it all; scholarships, Jobs, Proper medication because of prohibition. Why do we only hear these pleas in court when trying to pass a bill? What is needed is exposure on a mass scale. Partners who will work with us on the legal and monetary front. And proper targeting of the topline supporters to reach out and virally spread the word that we are here and were not giving up our freedom cause we are scared. What should be feared is a world where doctors and Businessmen and Engineers are not being blockaded by the limitation of Marijuana, but the law itself that prohibits them.

    2. pfroehlich2004 says:

      I agree that we would do better dropping the anti-drug-testing component (much as I hate to do so).

      May I suggest NORML help organize a consumer boycott of companies which urine test their employees? If even a quarter of pro-19 voters participated this would have a big effect on companies’ bottom lines.

    3. jsknow says:

      RE: Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator Says:
      November 9th, 2010 at 2:52 pm
      “I think many commenters are missing the point regarding the roadside sobriety testing for cannabis.
      I’m not saying it’s good, accurate, or necessary for public safety. I’m saying if we’re going to say “treat it like alcohol” the public is going to answer “where’s the breathalyzer”.
      My point about “don’t treat cannabis as the harmful thing” still applies. It’s driving under the influence of cannabis which is proven to be impairing and leads to higher incidence of collisions. If we try to play the “driving high is no big deal” game, we are sunk before we’ve begun.
      Get pot legal first. Once it is legal, we can tear down drug testing and reap industrial hemp. That’s the point.”
      —————

      Russ,

      The point we need to address with brutal honesty when stating our case for legalizing marijuana and discussing driving is: What’s the real life truth about driving under the influence of marijuana? Can we approach this question with irrefutable proof that marijuana use DOES NOT cause danger for the user or those around them?

      When we destroy the myth that marijuana CAUSES dangerous driving, we win, end of conversation. Anything less invites no-good, inaccurate, unnecessary for public safety, privacy invading, unconstitutional, drug testing for marijuana.

      If we say “treat it like alcohol” we are shooting down our own legalization efforts! What we must say is the brutal truth, “the effects of marijuana are nothing like the effects of alcohol and MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING”.

      You are exactly right when you say “don’t treat cannabis as the harmful thing”. Based on many well documented studies and the observations of virtually everyone that has observed users over long terms and those that have long term personal use experience, marijuana is SLIGHTLY IMPAIRING but IT DOES NOT LEAD TO HIGHER INCIDENCE OF COLLISIONS or higher incidence of ANY injuries to the user or those around them.

      Anyone that’s read even a few marijuana studies will come across a couple of common threads. 1. Marijuana does cause users to be SLIGHTLY impaired. We all know that but the ONLY thing that matters when discussing driving is: Does that SLIGHT impairment lead to accidents or any real danger on the roads? Clearly it DOES NOT! The 2nd common thread you will find is “UNLIKE the effects of alcohol, marijuana users are well aware that they are SLIGHTLY impaired and they ADEQUATELY COMPENSATE by slowing down a little and being a little more cautions! This is the brutal factual TRUTH that we need to stand absolutely firm on!

      The only reason we are “sunk before we’ve begun” by playing the “driving high is no big deal” “game” is IF we buy into the misinformation drug war propaganda that claims driving under the influence of marijuana “leads to higher incidence of collisions”. Unfortunately many (most I’d say) in the legalization movement have been brainwashed into believing marijuana causes accidents and dangers on the road. I have this discussion often with pro-legalization activists but after they get over the “truth shock” virtually all of them admit that they have driven safely for years under the influence of marijuana ONLY, with NO accidents or even close calls. The fact is MARIJUANA MAKES PEOPLE MORE CAUTIOUS NOT MORE DANGEROUS. Be honest with yourself and think about marijuana use ONLY, not marijuana use combined with alcohol or any other drug(s) and I will be very surprised if you don’t come to the same conclusion.

      If we kill the “marijuana CAUSES dangerous driving” myth, we win, hands down. I’m not a person that spreads misinformation or tries to win an argument based on untruths or distortions. What I am saying here are honest facts, please don’t shy away from the truth, that helps promote the lies of the drug war. When you do that you hurt our movement and you hurt it severely because you have a loud voice that reaches many. Our movement has a bad habit of being “the nice guy”. We give concessions that we should not give. The nice guy finishes last scenario has proven itself over and over when it comes to marijuana policy reform. We must kick this bad destructive habit and kick it immediately or we are going to be living under marijuana prohibition forever!

      Think about how ridiculous we all know marijuana prohibition truly is. Think about WHY marijuana prohibition really is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous because marijuana is nontoxic and its use does not cause harm to marijuana consumers or anyone else. No one, of any age, in all of recorded history, anywhere on planet earth has ever died from the ingredients in marijuana and they NEVER will! Yet we tolerate marijuana prohibition, allow unconstitutional laws to trash our lawful Constitutional rights, allow paramilitary SWAT teams to kick in our doors, kill people, take our children, even though the children are in NO DANGER WHATSOEVER and a host of other illegal actions that I’m sure you’re more familiar with than I am.

      Marijuana prohibition will NEVER end if we buy into ANY of the drug war propaganda lies and try to be the nice guys/girls in an effort to win over the ignorant. The ONLY way we will win this war is by standing on the BRUTAL truth and using the BRUTAL truth to educate the masses of ignorant voters. We must get in their faces like we have never done before. We must disprove the lies over and over again until the majority accepts the honest FACTS about marijuana.

      You said: “Get pot legal first. Once it is legal, we can tear down drug testing and reap industrial hemp. That’s the point”. I use to think along those same lines but during my work to try and help get proposition 19 passed I came to understand that the arguments of some of those that said they were pro-legalization yet against 19 should be considered and included in future legalization efforts. Especially if we found ourselves, as we did, in a post November 2nd world still living (at least at the state level) completely under marijuana prohibition.

      It will take far more than twice the time, money and effort to train the public wrong and then try and train them right later. Why not kill the beast all at once instead of one toe at the time? The strongest arguments for prohibition are public safety (particularly regarding driving and the workplace) and “what about the kids”, both of which we need to address head on with brutal facts. We’ve just about killed the kid card by proving that marijuana is nontoxic (even for children), that arrest is far less effective than proper parenting and far more harmful and by pointing out that illegal dealers don’t ask for ID. A large number of marijuana ignorant voters still need to be educated but as always, the facts, science and history are all on our side.

      The last real stronghold of legalization resistance lies in the ignorance about driving and working under the influence of marijuana. Don’t feed the beast and don’t try to subdue the beast by shooting it in the toe! Go for the death shot!… right between the eyes! State the brutal truth straight out! MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING OR DANGERS IN THE WORK PLACE! Then back up your statement with facts that are well documented in numerous studies and by those with long term “real life” marijuana working and driving experience and through the observations of non marijuana consumers, who when they stop and thoughtfully consider their personal observations virtually always admit that they have never seen anyone under the influence of marijuana alone cause any danger to their self or others.

      Regulations about driving and working safely must be based on impairment levels NOT drug tests. We’re in for a needlessly prolonged war if we dilly dally around and try to make ignorant people feel safe because of drug tests. We’ll be far better off all the way around to confront the safety issue head on with brutal facts and kill the fear mongering about safety once and for all!

      The proof is overwhelming, MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR ON THE ROAD, AT WORK OR ANYWHERE ELSE! Marijuana CAUSES people to be more cautious and while under the influence marijuana consumers constantly, consistently and adequately compensate for their SLIGHT impairment by slowing down a little and being a little more cautious.

      I included a few links from the first page of a Google search for “marijuana driving study”, which showed “about 2,010,000 results”, read until your heart and mind are content, consider the sources, compare what you read with your own experiences and observations and please SHOUT THE TRUTH LOUD AND CLEAR… MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGEROUS DRIVING OR DANGEROUS EMPLOYEES.

      http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2010/jun/04/marijuana_study_finds_minimal_ch
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990325110700.htm
      http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2010/05/study_marijuana_doesnt_affect_driving_performance.php

      Notice how the results of the same study are twisted into fear mongering and the ever present need for “more studies”. http://www.wfsb.com/health/23818577/detail.html

      To further illustrate my position I offer the statements below, which can be found on this page: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/misc/driving/dot78_1g.htm and are excerpts from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION DOT HS 808 078 NOVEMBER 1993 MARIJUANA AND ACTUAL DRIVING PERFORMANCE CONCLUSIONS:
      * Drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to over-estimate the adverse effects of the drug on their driving quality and compensate when they can; e.g. by increasing effort to accomplish the task, increasing headway or slowing down, or a combination of these.
      * Drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to under-estimate the adverse effects of the drug on their driving quality and do not invest compensatory effort.
      * The maximum road tracking impairment after the highest THC dose (300 ug/kg) was within a range of effects produced by many commonly used medicinal drugs and less than that associated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08g% in previous studies employing the same test.
      * It is not possible to conclude anything about a driver’s impairment on the basis of his/her plasma concentrations of THC and THC-COOH determined in a single sample.
      Now take a look at this NIDA sponsored so called “research”. Notice the blending of alcohol into the equation and the many other obvious distortions of the true effects of marijuana alone. THE LINK BELOW REPRESENTS PURE ANTI-MARIJUANA, TRUTH DISTORTING PROPAGANDA AND FEAR MONGERING! THE BRUTAL TRUTH BLOWS THIS NONSENSE RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER EVERY TIME! http://archives.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol11N1/Marijuana.html

      I hope you will reply to this post Russ and let me know if I have swayed your plan of action at all. I hope I have caused you and many others to take a drastically different approach about marijuana and safety. If not, I have wasted my time.

      [Editor’s note: NORML has been publishing credible information and science concerning cannabis and driving, as well as cannabis in the workplace, for decades. You don’t need to convince anyone at NORML about the comparable safety of cannabis to that of alcohol use in regards to the operation of a motor vehicle. However, it is beyond foolish to believe that elected officials are ever going to sanction impaired driving or impairment in the workplace regardless of the drug–legal or not.

      Cannabis law reformers and consumers have to accept the fact that if the basic grievance of cannabis consumers is that they’re not treated legally like alcohol consumers, then they have to accept similar rules and regulations to that of alcohol and pharmaceutical products on the road and in the workplace.]

    4. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      JUST GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTTS, AND VOTE. Don’t lay around thinking that enough people will be voting, so you don’t have to, YOU DO HAVE TO. I got out and voted, and I have stage 4 prostate cancer, diabetes, emphysema, skin cancer, high blood pressure, and I’m 66yrs old. Just what the hell is so wrong with you that you didn’t?

    5. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      The police, and employers need a accurate way to test for impairment. They need to stop testing for metabolites, and find a way to test for THC in a persons system at the time tested. When they have that it should be fairly easy to determine the amount of THC that impairs the average person. As I have said before “If I had the choice of driving on the highway with 1 drunk, or 100 stoners, I would take the 100 stoners every time” The truth of the matter is that I would realy prefer that everyone on the highway was stone cold sober, but I’m afraid that would only happen in a perfect world, and we don’t live now where near perfect. I have no problem with drug testing as long as it’s done properly, and that alcohol is pursued just as zealously. Alcohol is after all the most lethal drug in the country, and that’s official.

    6. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      Stoned driving, and medical marijuana. I have a script for Hydrocodone 10. If I have to consume so much of that medication that it impairs my driving, then I am endangering lives, and deserve to be treated like ANYBODY who drives while impaired. The warning on the label tells me not to drive, or operate heavy machinery while taking it. I’ll have to go to the store and check, but is there such a warning label on alcoholic beverage labelsss? If not, WHY NOT?

    7. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      I can stick my finger with a tiny needle, and using a machine determine my blood sugar. Extremely simple procedure, and almost painless. I can simply place my finger in a small machine, and determine the oxygen saturation level in my blood. Extremely simple procedure, and utterly painless. I can buy a simple home drug test kit, but it only test for metabolites which give no proof of impairment, only use within the last 30 days. The closer we get to full legalization, the more frightened the medical comunity, and especialy the cancer treatment comunity gets. It’s not just the fed that may be dragging its feet.

    8. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      jon you speak of bringing illegal growers into the legal market, but say that everybody should be able to grow, and sell as much as they want. There goes your legal market. People can make alcohol as much as they want, but can’t sell a drop without a license. I think it should be the same for cannabis. You speak of Hemp, and this bit of fed crap is realy hard to explain. They like to say that they keep it illegal because it looks like the evil killer weed marijuana, and they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Just exactly what kind of IDIOTS are they. Do they really believe that a farmer with a thriving industrial hemp farm is going to risk loosing it because of the obscene profits he could make from selling a few killos of recreational grade cannabis, that is legal already? He might be better served if he started making illegal beer, and stood on the street corner trying to sell it. When is the last time you saw ANYBODY standing on the corner trying to sell a six pack of beer? There would no longer be any obsene profits from cannabis because it’s LEGAL. I don’t believe we keep electing these same people back into office every time they come up for re-election. Just how far over do they have to bend you before you learn?

    9. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      Supplying, or selling cannabis to anyone below the age of 21yrs who does not have a medical recomendation. This should be the same as the law regarding the same infraction. The only entities that can sell cannabis to a patient below 21yrs should be a medical cannabis dispensary.

    10. Brian says:

      Thank you so much for this thoughtful and proactive blog post Belville. Whether other NORML editors agree with me or not, I am a realistic libertarian (that is, not a full libertarian anarchist nut, but a mixture of D and R with a limited government). The fact of the matter is that we need to be convinced that a legalization bill will not give too much control to the state where a “tobacco” type industrial government-sponsored oligopoly ensues.

      Now I have NO INFORMED OPINION on prop 19 because I am not a resident of California, and I was busy with my graduate studies and researching NH politics, where I reside. But it is my suggestion that my concerns be addressed for the next initiatives. I am not saying they weren’t for prop 19 necessarily. Us libertarian-hybrid youth might not be anywhere near a majority, but we are a swing vote.

      That said, your blog was very well thought out and restored a lot of my faith in your organization. I just wanted to thank you.

      Lastly, as a relatively impartial observer of prop 19, who understands the arguments of both “sides,” I do not understand why anyone who is pro-legalization voted NO, unless you directly profit from the continued psuedo-prohibition in California. If you just simply disagreed with the written language of prop 19, you should have abstained from that single vote, while still voting for your legislatures. Voting NO was a vote FOR the prohibitionists. There is a HUGE difference between not voting on prop 19 in protest and voting NO.

    11. Longtime Puffer says:

      Re 100,

      Hey Cire,I doubt you will get an answer from the pro-prohibitionist bunch on this postboard. I’ve rarely gotten answers from most of them on direct questions–only more rhetoric.

      I was myself quite naive in my original belief that Prop 19 was defeated by old conservatives. While I do believe that a huge percentage of old conservatives did in fact vote against Prop 19, I now understand that there were others responsible for its failure.

      I read with shock and anger, on another website, right after the vote, the extent to which many of the Med Clinics and growers fought against Prop 19. I hadn’t realized that until I saw it on that other website. The notion that our cause–Legalization!!!–was in large part defeated by OUR OWN, other smokers, really bothered me. Many of these same type of people we have seen on this website, those who bleat on and on about “freeing the plant,” and “freedom from govt,” etc etc etc., are the very ones who sided with the government prohibitionists and cops–and stabbed us in the back.

      Obviously, despite all their rhetoric, they are more beholden to the almighty buck–and their own greed and selfishness–than any true notion of “freedom.” “Freedom” is a word they bandy about readily; but now I understand that to many of them it is in fact nothing more than a “word.”

    12. Kevin says:

      You have touched onto one of my pet peeves that nobody seems to have picked up on.

      We always hear about how the $50 per ounce tax proposed by Tom Ammiano would raise $1.4 billion based on $14 billion in sales. Do the math! That is only 10%, and the $1.4 billion is simply normal 10% sales tax.

      Let me start by saying that $50 per oz. is much too high and invites noncompliance. However, based on $50 per oz., that means that the tax on 1 lb. would be $800 per lb. California produces 8.3 million lbs. of cannabis per year. Multiply 8.3 million by $800 per lb., and I get $6,880,000,000.

      If I’m wrong, tell me why.

    13. wash-voter says:

      Expose more lies in the media. This is working and will finish them off.
      The entire country is going broke. Expose the truth in the media about how local law enforcement agencies are stealing money from us to use against us. They get grants from the feds, based on how many “drug busts” they make. This grant is based on how much money the “bust” was worth (here is where law enforcement can leagally lie). The locals can claim the value on any marijuana plant (seedling/male/ditchweed), no mater how small, is worth the value of the biggest possible plant, as if were the most potent plant available, and claim it at street (per gram) value (almost as much as medical value including taxes). So something you couldn’t give away on the street is worth “millions” to your local law enforcement efforts. BTW if any buisness pulled this type of accounting they would be criminal. Even if your local area does not want marijuana laws enforced, the local cops are out searching your woods for grows in the fall beacuse they know they can get federal dollars for their local job (this seems ok to some people beacuse “someone else is paying the bill” but this is why we’re going broke). So during the grow season while theft is on the rise because everyone knows the cops are in the woods every fall looking out for themselves, remember we want them on the street looking out for us. That’s what we pay them for.

    14. wash-voter says:

      Expose more lies in the media. This is working and will finish them off.

      Expose the reality around work-place “drug” testing. Has the billions of dollars we are spending on work-place testing made my office a safer place to work (really)?
      Does the general public know that the only “drug” they can find on Monday is Marijuana, but it’s too late for finding narcotics, the test only proves past use for pot (maybe when that person was on vacation in a place where it’s perfectly legal).

      Another reason we’re going broke.

    15. wash-voter says:

      Expose more lies in the media. This is working and will finish them off.

      Show some real live testing of peoples’ ability to perform physical and mental tasks while “impared”. I love the guy who challenged a friend to a competition where the other guy had to drink too much while the challenger had to smoke too much (we all know that’s impossible, but…). They both had to go mow the lawn…if you don’t know the rest, the “pothead” finishes his half and the drunks half after the drunk passed out.

    16. wash-voter says:

      Expose more lies in the media. This is working and will finish them off.

      Show people like Bill Reilley the Columbia Missouri SWAT video, live, and then ask him “what about the children?”. Did we save the 15 yr old in the video?
      What about the child, Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, who was killed in an informant (read: plea bargan, to be forced into dangerous posision without the creature comforts that the real cops get (bullet-proof vests etc.) sting gone bad.

      How many children do we need to kill to save them from “drugs”?

    17. wash-voter says:

      More exposure to the corruption that has crept into every aspect of our everyday life, maybe by design.

      It’s OK if I search your car, isn’t it? You have nothing to hide right? The next generation won’t know this is against their rights.

      If you act as an informant for us (read: plea bargan, to be forced into dangerous posision without the creature comforts that the real cops get (bullet-proof vests etc.) we MIGHT reduce the charges. Unless it’s a mandatory minimum sentince then your screwed but hey, we just enforce the law…

      Speaking of mandatory minimum sentencing. The brilliant “hard on drugs” era made us do this stupid stuff. Even if no-one cares about possesion (there are no unicorns in jail) there are still laws on the books, like here in Washington State, that require (cannot be reduced by a judge) a mandatory minimum sentence of one day in jail for possesion of pot. To make room for these harmless potheads to serve their minimum, some other criminal must be let out or at least the child-predator-with-a-ankle-bracelet-in your-neighborhood thing.

      Automatic inferences to manufacturing, dealing if you accidentally have over a certain amount of pot. This is so that law enforcement can:
      -Take your property and sell it for their personal gain.
      -Claim exagerated value again (see above where law enforcement is out in the woods every grow season looking to increase their grant money from the feds).
      -Force the rest of us to pay for a longer stay in jail/prison for the poor bastard that got caught with half a gram too much. We all know it’s still a unicorn.

      Zero tolerence, unless you have a badge. How many schools are in your area? How close together are they? Is there any legal spot for a dispensary even if they are legal? Of course not. By design the distance from any school to where a unicorn is makes john laws job way more profitable.

      I could go on 4ever.

    18. Smokey says:

      Fox News is the key. FoxNews is the most watch news network. While it has Judge Napolitano, Hiraldo Rivera, and John Stossel believing in our cause, it has the morning crew scoffing at it and making jokes and snarky comments. MOST of America watches this program while getting ready for work.

      We need to educate the conservative right, through the Tea Party, and I am one of them, of what individual freedom and states rights means. We need to educate them on the costs of running this war, the inverse affect it has caused versus what it is supposed to do, and who we are. They need to understand that we are normal people who work and pay taxes. We are your Lion’s Clubbers, your Freemasons, your Rotatians, your (insert build a better community male or womens club). We are your Jews, Baptists, Catholics, (insert your religion here.) You will find out election votes spread across all parties. We need to educate them on what doctors do and what police do and urge them to stop listening to medical advise from police. We need to educate them that you can’t stop the flood of illegal aliens without ending all prohibition and allowing with regulation the product internally. We need to educate them that this IS the big government issue and if they want a smaller, less intrusive government they need to end the DEA. And we need to educate them that this federal war against our citizens is unconstitutional.

    19. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      You know I have to laugh a bit. When billions of $$$$$ are involved just exactly what did you expect the MMJ people would do when a yes vote would take away a great deal of that money? I am a drug manufacture. I manufacture Penicilin. You are going to make it legal for people to buy Penicilin over the counter, you are even going to make it legal for them to manufacture thier own Penicilin. NO YOU ARE NOT. I will fight you tooth and nail to put an end to your attempt. Every time you try for full legalization the MMJ people will fight hard to stop you. Politics, and compromise will soon become second nature to all of you. Have Fun.

    20. Bene says:

      If medical marijuana/cannabis is inextricably linked with legalization as it is in 14 states, why isn’t the work of researchers from around the world published instead of legal versus illegal? The findings of real science only support the validity of consuming it while the discussion of legal versus illegal only plays into the federal scheduling game where they hold all the cards. Schedule I is defined as having no medical value. The only stories we read are negative. It’s up to us to show the other side, the real side of the value of this plant and the people it helps and get beyond the politcs, the game we can’t win.

    21. Richard Steeb says:

      18 years old MUST be the legal age. Tobacco sales are legal to 18 year olds– we can save lives by allowing the healthy alternative.

      Cannabis, Hemp, Ganja, pot. Whatever you call the noble herb, its prohibition is THE crime. Abolish it.

      -Richard Paul Steeb, San Jose California

    22. TheFarmerInTheSky says:

      We, as a movement, cannot afford to lose our momentum. I believe that on April 20, 2011 everyone who wants pot-hibition to be repealed should wear an armband with the image of a cannabis leaf on it. In Nazi Germany Jews were required to weara Star of David and Homosexuals wore a pink triangle. If, literally, millions of us do it the media will not be able to ignore it. It will also send a clear message to the politicians that the time has come to repeal prohibition. Local groups could make and sell these at a minimal price and still be raising funds to do their work with. Please join me in getting the word out to as many people as we can. If each of us contacts 5 people there will be millions of us on 420.”

    23. […] the post-election output on Prop 19 has been stunning. Russ Belville of NORML has 10 Lessons Learned from Marijuana Election Defeats, while the Christian Science Monitor has Three Reasons Prop 19 Got the Thumbs Down (federal […]

    24. jsknow says:

      Thank you for your “Editor’s note to comment #103 but it looks like NORML is missing my point. NORML DOES publish credible information and science concerning cannabis and driving and workplace use but unfortunately, NORMAL (as well as most other pro-legalization organizations and activists) fails to directly, loudly and clearly confront and debunk the drug war propaganda lies, which claim marijuana causes dangerous behavior. The science and facts proving the safety of marijuana are presented but then NORML and most other activists kill the safety argument by supporting unnecessary regulations and drug tests.

      I don’t believe I need to convince NORML of the SAFETY of marijuana while driving or working. Comparing marijuana to alcohol, proving the vast degree of marijuana SAFETY, then recommending that marijuana be regulated as if it was JUST AS DANGEROUS as alcohol is what I am trying to get NORML and ALL other pro-legalization activists to STOP doing.

      Since marijuana DOES NOT cause people to wreck their cars or have accidents in the workplace, why in the world do legalization activists act as if it does? In this article Russ was exactly right about proposition 19 and the same will be true for ALL future legalization efforts, if we continue to make the MISTAKE of acting like marijuana causes dangerous behavior and penalties and drug tests are warranted. Russ: “The drug testing language gave opponents a wedge to separate business owners, managers, and responsible workers from supporting us.”… That’s EXACTLY MY POINT!

      In comment #91 Russ said: “It’s driving under the influence of cannabis which is proven to be impairing and leads to higher incidence of collisions.” I submit that driving under the influence of marijuana is SLIGHTLY impairing but because drivers adequately compensate by slowing down a little and being a little more cautious, their slight impairment DOES NOT cause higher incidence of collisions and from what I have read, most driving studies back up my statement.

      Just because someone has an accident and traces of marijuana show up in their system, that no more proves marijuana use caused the accident than the same person having many other substances in their system, which are known to cause slight impairment, (many with far stronger impairment than marijuana) yet they have been proven not to cause danger on the roads.

      Even Rx MORPHINE has a warning on the label that says “ don’t drive or operate dangerous machinery until you determine how this drug effects you”. Why do legalization activists promote marijuana consumers being drug tested and restricted more than users of Rx morphine and other far more mind altering substances? Educate the public correctly about marijuana SAFETY and the fear of marijuana use dies and so does the resistance over safety concerns from every voter you educate.

      If NORML (or anyone else in the marijuana policy reform movement) believes elected officials are ever going to end marijuana prohibition without the public demanding it, that is being foolish. Safety issues MUST be addressed just like we address every other anti-marijuana platform… with HONEST PROVEN WELL DOCUMENTED SCIENCE AND FACTS.

      Impaired driving and working that is slight enough not to be a danger to others or the impaired person is common and routinely accepted for other substances, why should marijuana be any different?

      We The People are the driving force behind what laws we will tolerate and which ones we will not. Elected officials are put in office to represent the will of the people. They are not our masters, they are our employees. Educate the majority of voters about the SAFETY of marijuana and the laws will change but if we keep acting like marijuana is “the killer weed”, why should we expect marijuana prohibition to ever end?

      The basic grievance of cannabis consumers should be that cannabis has no business being treated as if its slight impairment causes dangerous results! Prove how much SAFER marijuana is than alcohol and then demand that it be regulated like substances with similar impairment and danger levels. Suggest that it have a warning that truly fits the facts: ‘don’t drive or operate dangerous machinery until you determine how this drug effects you”. Promote IMPAIRMENT testing for drivers and workers and point out the futility of conventional drug tests.

      Educate the public about the HONEST FACTS! When drug policy reformers act like marijuana is dangerous the public believes us because we are sending the exact same message as the prohibitionists.

      Think about how many ignorant people would have been educated properly forever about marijuana SAFETY while proposition 19 was getting all the media attention it did, if we had been saying, “MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE DANGER ON THE ROAD OR IN THE WORKPLACE” and then backing up that claim with well documented facts.

      Because we tried to make the ignorant feel safe when they had nothing to fear, we wasted millions of dollars worth of free advertising that could have educated the public to the truth and we are much worse off because of that mistake.

      If you want to see marijuana prohibition end in 2012 then don’t shy away from the HONEST SAFETY FACTS and don’t train the public wrong and think you can fix it later! If you continue to do that you will be living under marijuana prohibition forever!

    25. CloudyAlaska says:

      Why did the picture of the stoner getting held at gunpoint by SWAT NOT make it to a Pro-Cannabis bilboard? Maybe you could’ve thrown in a mother and a child, or a wounded dog or something… It’s all been done before; the advertisement wouldn’t even be an exaggeration.

    26. wally says:

      There have been at least two studies that looked at the effects of driving while under the influence of cannabis. Both said that it made little difference, other than that the drivers drove slightly more slowly and more cautiously. Why do we keep having to cede the driving argument? We need to push for more studies. It’s ridiculous.

      here is one link: http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2010/jun/04/marijuana_study_finds_minimal_ch

      “minimal change in driving performance.” Think about all the times you were late for work, angry at something, distracted, or tired, and driving. These are all worse than “minimal change”.

    27. vc says:

      2 problems, one is logistic – the pro 19 people do not vote because of various reasons, work, school, unaware of where the voting booth is, cant get there, not registered, etc.
      we need a move to register and recommend MAIL IN Ballots for these people, we need to start now and do this for the next two years, we need to go to existing pro 19 people who either did or did not vote and get them to do a mail in ballot, it is much easier
      other problem, we need a computer technician like Obama had to flood the internet with pro legalization emails now, with enormous circulation, for the next two year
      case in point – if we could do internet voting it would probably pass

      Eric Holder and successors need to be cut off at the pass, with the voters, using good evidence to diffuse them

    28. Paul says:

      “The ‘stoned drivers’ scare is one of the few effective bits of rhetoric our opponents have left, along with ‘what about the children’?”

      Too true. And unfortunately, this is a problem fomented by truly irresponsible users of marijuana. And they both come from the same people, in my experience. Those most likely to drive stoned are also those most unconcerned about exposing children to the stuff. I myself, on more than one occasion, have seen people give marijuana to their kids. All the times I’ve seen this, I’ve raised objections only to be met with hostility until I found a strategy that always worked. Just explain to the kids sitting right there that they don’t have to smoke the stuff if they don’t want to. This always works, given the option, the kids always turn the stuff down and there’s nothing their parents can object to. However irresponsible they are, they are not going to force their kids to smoke pot. Their arguments for doing this are always a response to the fact that they are outlaws for smoking the stuff themselves. Since they are criminals and they are obviously not doing anything wrong — and they aren’t really, of course — then giving it to their kids must be OK too. Legalization puts it all the right perspective. These same people, as foolish as they are, would never have given their kids alcohol and express shock at the suggestion. The hysteria against marijuana drives a lot or irresponsible behavior.

      The same problem incites a lot of people to drive stoned. But confronting this is even easier than the childhood exposure issue. Nobody who smokes pot will tell you that there is no such thing as smoking too much pot. Everyone will tell you that there is such as a thing as overconsuming marijuana. They have to admit that there is a point where it is possible to be too stoned to function to do anything. The comparison with alcohol is what elevates marijuana to a safe drug to use while driving. You drink to much and you pass out and get sick and this can happen behind the wheel of a car. But smoke too much pot, and what happens? This deserves some exposure and this would do a lot to tame the arguments of prohibitionists who simply have no perspective on what marijuana is or does to you and what its risks for consumption are. Pot smokers who struggle for legalization need to confront what limits on consumption are to show that responsible consumption is possible and it is possible to police behavior when you go over the limit.

    29. Jason says:

      I’m from AZ and prop 203 has passed. As for the growers of the Emerald Triangle and their lack of support, I say treat them as they just asked to be treated. Boycott them. I understand the need to feed your family, I also understand that as a society of semi-free people we need to be morally responsible.

      I’m also wondering what the hell has happened to our country when we are the people serving on a jury. If I’m going to be tried in a court of law I want my jury made up of half supporters of legalization and half not supporting it. I know I would never find someone guilty of smoking as long as they were responsible.

    30. Definate says:

      Good points, keep up the good work at Norml. One question; why do police need a way to test for marijuana during roadside stops? If they smell it in most states, they can search. If not, they can charge the driver with whatever the initial stop was actually for, assuming they had a right to stop the driver for a legitimate offense (as I am sure no one has ever been illegally pulled over without cause…). So in what case do they think a drug test for marijuana is necessary if they do their jobs as intended???

      [Russ responds: *I* don’t think we should have drug tests at all – they tell you nothing about impairment or skills. I believe in testing for impairment. However, this post was about lessons learned to get a legalization bill passed and I suggested that if you’re going to say “treat it like alcohol”, the response from the public will be “where’s the breathalyzer”? Not in so may words, but that’s what we learned from the success of the “Stoned drivers” rhetoric from the other side.]

    31. stopthelies says:

      Ad’s that support cannabis need to be run constantly throughout the year not just near election time. People must be educated constantly or they will all forget very quickly. It’s like everyone has ADD so they need constant reminders. If advertisements were run on a regular basis with pro and educational messages that would be a huge benefit to swaying opinion. I think you are exactly on target with the #4. People are AFRAID of pot. Bottom line.. they still think it turns people into zombies, or makes them lazy, etc.. the propaganda from the DEA and media is still alive. Finally, we should push for some kind of law saying DEA can’t use taxpayers money for propaganda anymore. That’s a waste of taxpayers money only to fuel lies that keep the DEA in power.

    32. Kevin says:

      I think that some special effort needs to be done to show older people that MMJ can help them in their later years, for relief of all kinds of ailments. If they had any idea of what it could do for them, they would be the biggest supporters!

    33. […] Echoing many in the election’s aftermath, Russ Belville, NORML’s national outreach coordinator, argues the proposition’s drafters erred by including provisions that would’ve increased penalties for cannabis use among 18 to 21 year […]

    34. h4x354x0r says:

      One more angle that needs to be hammered on, especially in the Tea Party era: “Government interference in markets causing irrational product values.” And tie all the bad to the irrational product value.

      Even if the value of pot collapses when legalized, the Emerald Triangle is still sitting on a gold mine of tourism. They’re just gonna have to shift gears. If they don’t, they’ll end up losing everything anyway, when they get busted.

    35. wineman says:

      We need positive prohibition commercials depicting a seemingly righteous bust (cops style) first appearing to be catching users and dealers in the act – only to find out it was NOT cannabis, but alcohol they were using and dealing – as if the 18th amendment repealing cannabis prohibition, not alcohol. Cannabis being legal since 1933. Alcohol illegal since Anuslinger needed a job.

    36. Unknown says:

      Just writing to say I’m an avid NORML supporter and preach these topics on a regular basis to all my co-workers and friends. I believe in legalization to be an awesome stride in our own awareness as who we are as a population. We the people control the government and as long as we keep busting the myths and controversy about Marijuana we will eventually make marijuana use legal.

      Marijuana for medical use has a host of benefits to help the prescribed patient in an area the doctor feels is necessary in the treatment process. Not only does marijuana have a positive side to medical treatment, but there are also numerous pros for recreational use as well.

      We need to inform those people who find marijuana to be taboo and instruct them on the real facts about marijuana rather then the myths and controversial information the government and officials want us to think.

    37. TheFarmerInTheSky says:

      Help send out an international call for legalization by re-posting and passing along the following in person.
      In Nazi Germany (before the camps) Jews were required to wear a Star of David and Homosexuals to wear a pink triangle. On April 20, 2011 everyone who wants pothibition to be repealed should wear an armband with the image of a cannabis leaf on it. If literally millions of us are wearing our feelings on our sleeves that day the mass media will not be able to ignore it. The business world will regard us as a financially significant demographic. It will also send a clear message to the politicians that the time has come to repeal prohibition. This will be most effective if you just go on with whatever else you would have been doing, i.e. if you were going to a smoke-in, burn one for us. If you were going to go plant a zillion seeds, go for it! If you were going to work, go. Just be sure you’re wearing an armband with “Legalize Now!” on it. Local groups could sell these armbands at minimal price to raise funds to do their work with.
      50 years ago a gay couple walking down the street holding hands was at serious risk of being physically attacked. Today gay marriage is legal in some places and on the table in others. What brought about this change?
      It was the extreme courage of the many gay folk who risked losing everything they had, including their families, by “coming out.” When the general public learned that who they’d been despising and discriminating against was their neighbors, their friends, and their own families, things changed.
      The Armband Proposal is meant to be a massive coming-out of us–the people who want an end to pothibition. The idea is for everyone to see that we too are their family, their friends, and their neighbors. Be one of the pebbles that starts our avalanche.
      Please help yourself by joining us in getting the word out to as many people as we can. If each of us contacts 5 people there will be millions of us on 4/20 Anything you can think of to help make it clear that wearing wearing the armband only means you want an end to pothibition, not necessarily that you, yourself, are a consumer. http://thearmbandproposal-edu.webs.com/

    38. Nate says:

      Thank you for the time you put into this. Many people I talk to have heard, and liked your show. Thanks for the many valid points you laid out here.

      One correction

      Your post states: ” In Arizona they passed a flawed medical marijuana initiative (it used “prescription”, not “recommendation”) with 65% in 1996. In 2010, it got just below 50% of the vote. ”

      I have good news for you. Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, Proposition 203 did pass by a margin margin of 841,348 in favor to 837,008, or 50.13%.

    39. […] Allen St. Pierre is the executive director of NORML, and Russ Belville is NORML’s national outreach coordinator. The above was adopted from a more comprehensive and graphically intense NORML blog post available at blog.norml.org […]

    40. JustaNormlGuy says:

      smoking marijuana shouldn’t be the only thing addressed in my opinion. the cannabis plant has so many applications to it. this can lead t jobs and even more so… Innovation! if the general public understands this maybe the next law could stand a chance

    41. Steve says:

      I think to properly steer the conversation in that direction we need to not just make advocates aware of everything about cannabis, but to actually educate them about it in the frame of why it should matter to a prohibitionist. The drug war is irrelevant to them as a negative until something really terrible happens to them that cannabis could solve. Whether its cancer treatment, cheap fabric, or taking the fall for someones misplaced stash.

    42. […] population support outright legalization (California, where one out of eight U.S. citizens live, nearly passed a legalization voter initiative last fall, only losing by three percentage points). So it can be asserted with confidence that ‘soft’ […]

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