Proposition 19

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 27, 2010

    As first reported yesterday afternoon on SouthFloridaGayNews, Google’s YouTube has decided to censor the well done and catchy pro-Prop. 19 musical parody by entertainer Steve Berke after less than 48 hours of the Eminem and Rihanna music video parody going viral on the Internet—garnering over 108,000 views after NORML highlighted the video this past Monday.

    NORML protests YouTube’s removal of a non-controversial, political advertisement that encourages California citizens who’re voting on Tuesday to come out en mass to vote ‘yes’ on the country’s most important cannabis legalization initiative to date.

    Well…if the overlords of public discourse at YouTube didn’t like Mr. Berke’s creativity and support for Prop. 19, what will they do with country music performer Colt Jackson’s video in support of cannabis legalization?

    Or, short filmmakers Fordy Shoor’s and Garth Von Ahnen’s Reefer Madness inspired sci-fi narrative that takes a mocking opposition to Prop. 19. Will YouTube’s censors get the comedy and sense of irony, and build a password wall around it, or allow it to stay up misunderstanding that the animation does not support Cannabis Prohibition?

    Away from YouTube’s prying eyes, comedian and cannabis law reform supporter Rob Cantrell’s new Pro-Prop. 19 video spoofs US Army legend General Patton as ‘General Potton’?

    How about Funny or Die’s Pro-Prop. 19 video? Again, off of YouTube’s system, creative artists don’t have to fear censorship and can address a political concern.

    NORML encourages other like-minded citizens and organizations to contact YouTube and tell them to stop censoring Steve Berke’s ‘Should Be Legalized’ video and let it—along with all other pro-cannabis law reform videos—continue to gather public attention and support for the underlying political message: Let’s end 74-year of Cannabis Prohibition in America!

    YouTube, LLC

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    YouTube Censors Pro Prop 19 Political Campaign, Comedian’s Video Supports Pro Pot Legalization Drive

    Miami Beach, FL (Oct 26th, 2010) Last week, comedian Steve Berke launched an online political campaign in support of Proposition 19 in California with the recent release of his latest music video, “Should Be Legalized”, a political commentary on Eminem’s music video “Love The Way You Lie.”

    The campaign, supported by NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) was generating huge internet buzz, and had amassed 108,000 views within 2 days, when YouTube flagged it for being offensive, thus requiring users to login to view the video, killing the video’s chance at becoming viral.

    “We were on pace to reach 1 million views within a week, and our video was rallying supporters of Prop 19 and decriminalization in every state that had it on the ballot.  Then YouTube flagged us for being offensive and killed any chance we had at reaching our potential audience.   Their censorship of this video is similar to the Internet censorship that takes place in repressive countries like North Korea and China.”

    YouTube failed to give any reason to Berke for flagging the video and it is presently inaccessible to the vast majority of worldwide. “The flagging system does not have a system of recourse and re-review,” stated Berke.

    Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent, on the Board of Directors at NORML, is among those who are outraged.  “We will not let YouTube squash a vibrant political campaign the week before the historic November 2nd elections.

    Videos of rapper Snoop Dogg smoking marijuana are not flagged as offensive, but a song that merely names him as a marijuana user is? YouTube is effectively freezing a viral political movement as it gains momentum in time for a critical vote. They must remove the flag. If they do not, we will pursue the matter further until they do.”

    NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre adds, “YouTube’s building a wall around Steve Berke’s video makes no sense in light of dozens of other videos that depict normal cannabis use.  YouTube, whether it means to or not, is stifling legitimate political discourse regarding an important initiative vote in California next week that seeks to legalize and tax cannabis.”

    “I just don’t understand it,” said Berke.  “People smoking marijuana in videos on YouTube go unflagged, but our video, that involves actors merely pretending to smoke marijuana as political satire, is flagged immediately.”

    “In Eminem’s video, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, arson and murder are all prevalent and the video is not censored in any way. In fact, YouTube runs ads against it, not only profiting off the video, but also making it viewable to all ages at all times,” Berke added.

    The link to Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” is here.

    The link to Berke’s “Should Be Legalized” is here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 25, 2010

    The campaign to pass Proposition 19, the California ballot measure to legalize the private adult use and cultivation of cannabis, released a television ad today featuring former San Jose police chief Joseph McNamara, who makes a strong public safety case for ending the current prohibition laws.

    Says McNamara in the ad (view below):”Let’s be honest: The war against marijuana has failed. I know from 35 years in law enforcement. Today, it’s easier for a teenager to buy pot than beer. Proposition 19 will tax and control marijuana just like alcohol. It will generate billions of dollars for local communities, allow police to focus on violent crimes, and put drug cartels out of business. Join me and many others in law enforcement. Vote YES on Proposition 19!”

    McNamara served as San Jose’s chief of police for 15 years.

    The ad begins airing on televisions stations throughout California, with a specific emphasis on southern California, tomorrow. (Interested parties who wish to donate to the ad campaign can do so by going here.)

    McNamara also has a commentary on today’s Huffington Post, which you can read here:

    Let’s Be Honest: The War Against Marijuana Has Failed

    [Excerpt] For 70 years, we have prohibited marijuana in this country, each day expecting different results. But as William F. Buckley once said: “Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

    We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year arresting people for marijuana possession, sending them to trial, and incarcerating small-time offenders.

    And yet, despite our war against it, marijuana is so freely available that anyone who wants it in California can get it.

    … On my watch as police chief in San Jose, the city was named the safest large city in the country, despite having the fewest police per capita. That’s because we policed intelligently. And between smart policing and sound policy we can make our streets safe, instead of paying lip service to the failing war on marijuana.

    California cannot afford to continue the same failed policies of the past. … That’s why I am asking you to join me and many others in law enforcement by voting YES on Proposition 19.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 8, 2010

    C-Span TV: Marijuana Legalization and California Ballot Initiative Prop. 19 To Be Debated and Discussed This Saturday; NORML Director Allen St. Pierre vs. Former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson

    Update: Watch today’s program here. The 45 minute discussion on legalizing cannabis starts at the 2:19:30 mark. Like the many current commentators’ lament, I too wish more questions were directed to the reform side and/or allowed some rebuttal to any number of Mr. Hutchinson’s misdirections and contradictions. However, unlike AM radio or cable TV news shows, guests on C-Span are encouraged not to talk over each other, keeping answers short, and to try to take as many calls as possible from viewers.

    As noted, as has been the case every single time I’ve appeared on C-Span, most of the callers are critical of the current policies and favor law reform.

    I’ve been invited back to C-Span to debate and discuss the topics of cannabis legalization, and specifically California’s upcoming vote on Prop. 19, a measure that if approved by the voters will effectively legalize cannabis in America’s most important state politically and economically.

    Former Drug Enforcement Administration chief and Republican congressman from Arkansas Asa Hutchinson has stepped up to argue in favor of the status quo and continuing into a ninth decade of Cannabis Prohibition.

    The live interview is scheduled to broadcast Saturday morning (10/9/10) on C-Span TV, 9:15am – 10:00am (eastern…sorry west coasters!).  Like most C-Span shows, the public is invited to ask questions or make short commentary.

    This C-Span interview is likely the result of the Wall Street Journal publishing an unprecedented jointly signed letter earlier this week by every previous DEA administrator predictably calling for the Obama administration to actively oppose politically viable cannabis legalization voter initiatives in places like California  (just the way they did).

    Is the body politic (and the mainstream media that has so aptly aided and abetted these technocrats’ blatant disregard for democracy, science, compassion and common sense) really, really nervous about the cataclysmic blow that California voters are about to level on a self-evidently failed federal government public policy—another ‘war’ lost by government?

    As one overexposed, former half governor is known for saying all too frequently: Youbetcha!

    See you on the Groove Tube!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 17, 2010

    A majority of Californians continue to voice their support for Prop. 19 — which would eliminate penalties for the private possession and use of marijuana by adults, and allow local governments to regulate retail cannabis production and sales.

    According to the most recent Survey USA poll (conducted August 9-11), 50 percent of likely voters in California say they are certain to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 19 versus 40 percent who say that they will vote ‘no.’ These totals are the same as reported by Survey USA one month ago, and indicate that voters’ support is holding steady despite increased attacks and propaganda from our opponents. (NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville has just posted an excellent rebuttal to many of our opponents’ more outrageous claims here.)

    According to the latest polling data, voters age 35 to 49 are most likely to back Prop. 19, and African Americans and self-reported Democrats are more likely to support the measure as compared to other groups. (To read why self-proclaimed ‘conservative’ voters ought to vote yes on Prop. 19, please see my recent op/ed in the Orange County Register here.) On Friday, leaders from the Latino Voters League held a press conference in Los Angeles announcing their support for Prop. 19, joining the state NAACP which had previously announced their ‘unconditional support’ for the measure in June.

    Predictably, many members of law enforcement continue to speak out against the measure. Yet, as you can see in my recent rebuttal to three Bay area police chiefs, their rhetoric rings hollow. In fact, even those in the media who oppose Prop. 19 are beginning to question the rhetoric and tactics of LEOs.

    Fortunately, editors at several prominent California papers are giving ample editorial space to getting out the facts regarding Prop. 19. Recently, I’ve had op/eds published in the San Jose Mercury News (“Critics of Prop. 19 on marijuana rely on fear, not facts“), The Los Angeles Times (“Feinstein’s misguided opposition to marijuana legalization“), and The Ventura County Star (“Media’s coverage of report spurs reefer madness“) setting the record straight.

    Bottom line: The status quo in California for non-medical patients is an abysmal failure. California lawmakers criminalized the possession and use of marijuana in 1913 yet right now in California, the federal government reports that one out of 10 people annually use marijuana and together consume about 1.2 million pounds of it. Self-evidently, cannabis is here to stay. Let’s address this reality and end the practice of arresting 70,000+ Californians each year for minor marijuana possession and/or cultivation charges, and lets stop ceding control of the commercial marijuana market to unregulated, untaxed criminal enterprises and put it in the hands of licensed businesses. Proposition 19 is a first, significant step in this direction.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator August 9, 2010

    Our California NORML Coordinator, Dale Gieringer, has penned an informative viewpoint for the Sacramento Bee, addressing the one of the only two arguments against legalization of marijuana that still have any traction with the people: “Marijuana Mayhem on the Freeways!” (the other being: “My God! What About the Children!?!”)

    As usual, the prohibitionists’ stark warnings about the peril of stoned drivers after legalization only makes sense if you believe nobody is smoking pot now.

    Studies on marijuana and driving safety are remarkably consistent, though greatly under-publicized because they fail to support the government’s anti-pot line. Eleven different studies of more than 50,000 fatal accidents have found that drivers with marijuana-only in their system are on average no more likely to cause accidents than those with low, legal levels of alcohol below the threshold for DUI.

    The major exception is when marijuana is combined with alcohol, which tends to be highly dangerous.

    Several studies have failed to detect any increased accident risk from marijuana at all. The reason for pot’s relative safety appears to be that it tends to make users drive more slowly, while alcohol makes them speed up.

    Thus legalization could actually reduce accidents if more drivers used marijuana instead of alcohol, but it could also increase them if there were more combined use of the two.

    Nobody is saying “toke up and get behind the wheel”; our Principles of Responsible Use firmly states “The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while impaired by cannabis”. However, it would be naive to think every cannabis consumer uses responsibly.

    Geiringer addresses this by pointing out that California, the state with the easiest access to medical marijuana, has only the 14th-highest rating of states with marijuana-related accidents, while states like Indiana and South Carolina, some of the most hostile states with respect to marijuana, have far more marijuana-related accidents.  Within California, two of the most liberal cities for pot access, San Francisco and Santa Cruz, had zero marijuana-related accidents in the past year of record.

    US accident rates in general have been declining steadily since the 1960s, even as marijuana use reached its greatest rates in the late 1970s.  Even in the 1980s when marijuana legalization was at its lowest levels of support and throughout the 1990s and 2000s as medical marijuana spread from state to state, the highway accident rates have continued their steady decline.  It seems that whether marijuana is popular and legal or not, it makes no difference in roadway safety.

    Besides, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in California now and Prop 19 does nothing to undo that.  Californians can and have been arrested for drugged driving over the past fourteen years, even with legal medical marijuana.  Whatever cops are doing now to arrest pot-smoking drivers for DUID will still be done after Prop 19 passes.

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