Cops Lie, Voters Listen

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 27, 2008

    One of NORML’s primary functions is to educate the public. Day in and day out NORML’s staff and affiliates work tirelessly to promote factual and scientific information about cannabis — information that in an ideal world would be provided to the public by drug educators, health providers, and police, were not all three entities directly involved in supporting the continuation pot prohibition.

    Why does NORML work so diligently to provide this information to the general population? We do so, in large part, because we know that our politicians opponents — including many members of the before-mentioned groups — have no qualms lying about pot in order to stifle our reform efforts. We also know that the mainstream media rarely takes the time or effort to challenge their disinformation.

    Unfortunately, as we are seeing in Massachusetts, lies unduly influence voters — particularly when those doing the lying are those the public trusts.

    Since September, a coalition consisting of the state’s 11 district attorneys, along with numerous members of law enforcement, have campaigned vociferously against Question 2 — a proposal to reduce minor marijuana possession to a fine-only offense — falsely claiming that the measure will increase adolescent drug abuse, permit large-scale marijuana trafficking, endanger workplace safety, and sharply increase traffic fatalities. (Reality check: If passed, Question 2 would equalize Massachusetts pot penalties with those of neighboring Maine, which last time I checked, isn’t suffering from any such pot-related catastrophes.)

    A recent statewide poll conducted by Suffolk University indicates the extent to which our opponents’ lies are influencing the public. Support for Question 2 has dipped precipitously since the launch of the D.A.s’ campaign (though it still remains above 50 percent), with the greatest loss of support occurring among those age 65 and older. (Support among this voting block fell from 70 percent in August to just 40 percent in October.)

    This drop, though troubling, is hardly surprising. Those older Americans who typically lack first-hand experience with cannabis and may be unaware of NORML’s efforts are most susceptible to the lies politicians and police spew about pot.

    Conversely, support among younger voters in Massachusetts (those defined by pollsters as 45-years-old and younger) has held above 60 percent despite the cops’ smear campaign. In large part, this is also to be expected. After all, these voters are, statistically, most likely to possess first-hand knowledge of cannabis (or still be current users) and are arguably more familiar with NORML’s educational efforts. As a result, they are more likely to be dismissive of the D.A.s’ cynical rhetoric — as they should be.

    Will the D.A.s’ disinformation campaign ultimately be responsible for the defeat of Question 2? We’ll know in eight days, but I remain cautiously optimistic. Previous law enforcement led propaganda campaigns designed to defeat statewide medicinal marijuana initiatives have almost universally failed. That said, it can be argued that older voters — the voting block that has the potential to tip Question 2 one way or the other — more readily identify with the medical use issue than the recreational aspects of pot.

    One thing is for certain, our opponents’ smears and scare-tactics have made this battle too close to call — and once again revealed that those who support (or whose livelihoods are based upon) pot prohibition will do or say anything in order to keep our community in cages.

    24 responses to “Cops Lie, Voters Listen”

    1. FreeOurselvesFreeMJ says:

      I just recently looked at the state laws regarding MJ posession on this website and found that WEED is LEGAL in Alaska!! A state law that openly defys a federal law……People in Mass. might argue that Alaska’s population is so small and people are so spread out that marijuana use wouldn’t have the potential for harm there that it would in a larger state…..Well frankly that doesn’t have anything to do with the issue. The issue is our constitutional rights. Mass. was established by patriots who fought the oppression of a government that was out of touch with the people……I remember hearin about a tea party in boston where the people stood together against an oppressive government concerned with money and not the people who it represented. The ones who fought for our freedom would not have stood by while a government took away their right to persue happiness. As for disinformation…..what difference does it make? If we can’t see the shredding of the constitution…THE CONSTITUTION WHICH OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON!!!!!! that is happening right in front of our faces everyday……then nothing any activist can say will overturn the disinformation. Even/ especially 65 and older people should be concerned when we give up rights afforded to us by the ones who made us.

    2. Kelly Maddy says:

      Excellent analysis on this polling. As Keith always says, “we’ll just outlive the bastards!” lol. j/k There is serious work to be done on this front regarding older Americans. We must continue to put our issue in front of them while encouraging discussions. Local candidate forums are an excellent way to discuss these issues with such an audience. Great post!

    3. Jake Conrad says:

      Where are these statistics being taken from? The last I heard, Question 2 was up by 20%, but that was over a month ago.

      I think it’s disgraceful that the police will go to such lengths to lie about this, and also disgraceful that the public is willing to accept it blindly.

    4. PSYOP says:

      I listened to these ads today, and they were at once sickening and hilarious! I would think such ads would tend to backfire, in a similar manner that ONDCP’s ads have actually increased cannabis use among teenagers. These ads are so over-dramatic, anyone with half a brain would see them for what they are: propaganda, and very poorly done propaganda at that.

      Just to pick one lie to dispel, how about that “Prop. 2 will permit large-scale marijuana trafficking?” Right, that would happen, because it certainly isn’t happening now! Drug dealers are very respectful of the law, and they are just waiting for voters to give them the go ahead to start making huge black-market profits. I swear, these Prohibitionists are some of the most idiotic people this world has ever known.

      I, too, am optimistic that Prop. 2 will pass. It’s not full legalization (which is the ONLY logical and acceptable ultimate goal), but it’s a step in the right direction. Once it passes, we’ll then have to wait and see how much the police and DA’s will actually respect the law. We know what’s happening with medical cannabis in San Diego, with the police picking and choosing which laws they feel are reasonable and thus, which they will or will not support (the will of the voters be damned)! I’m guessing there will be some repeats of that in Massachusetts.

    5. Cherokee Fred Hussein aka Stupid old man says:

      Got my fingers grossed hoping people will see the truth and QUIT PUTTING GOOD PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR EXERCISING FREE CHOICE!!!

    6. jhm says:

      Part of the reason that you (and I assume all of us) are frustrated in our efforts to combat ignorance is the Backfire Effect:

      Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration’s claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.

    7. Asemili says:

      NORML, what can your supporters and website viewers do to help push Q2 in MA the final few yards? Do you need a website built to reply to the police? I can help you there, as could hundreds of your members. Do they need phone calls made? Flyers mailed? Donations? What do they need? Call your supporters to action, and give us specific ways we can make a difference. You know the response would be tremendous.

    8. RED says:

      “Greatest loss of support in those aged over 65”, why is this so? Possibly because they have been conditioned by the propaganda for longer.Thus more easily swayed. I guess it did’nt work on me.Curious,how someones job (law enforcement) dictates how they respond(lie).

    9. Considering all the pro cop propaganda on TV I am not surprised that the populus is gobbling up the crap and lies perpetrated by law enfarcement (Mis-spelled on purpose) Over a month ago a local trooper was shot and the local ABC affiliate couldn’t do enough reporting about trooper B, and more about trooper B and on and on. Recently his premature son also passed away and trooper B again was in the spotlight for days on end, called a hero and insane amounts of time were spent glorifying one who died on the job. State cops turned out in uniform and by the truck load to lay the infant son to rest as if the toddler had been a trooper himself. Propaganda and police glorification at its finest, brought to us as “news”. Add to this the incessant TV fare from Cops to Law and Order with all its franchises, law enfarcement is so highly publicized and glorified that it is no wonder anything these public dis-servants say is perceived as gospel. Add to this the lies coming from Pinocchio Walters and the amerikan industrial prison complex along with spineless legislators who refuse to even allow fact based discussion I am not surprised that this retarded war on a plant has been allowed to continue for as long as it has. Now would be the best time to legalize marijuana as we face a financial crisis and start saving taxpayers money, rather than wasting it on potheads while at the same time raising revenue by levying a FAIR tax on pot!
      >>…is charged with manufacturing a 3.5-foot marijuana plant and possession of numerous pipes and rolling papers, according to the arrest warrants. Hensley was released under $6,000 unsecured bond.
      …charged with possession of stolen vehicle and driving while impaired. His bond was set at $1,000.
      …charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and second-degree trespassing. His bond was set at $5,500.<<
      The above is a copy from the local propaganda rag, Asheville Citizen Time and just look at the bail amounts! One pot plant justifies more bail than cocain posession with intent to distribute!
      My former home town of San Diego, CA where I proudly collected petitions to get medical cannabis on the ballot in 1969 is another example of government trying to disregard state law and the people’s will. As Jakov Smirnoff used to say; “What a country!”
      this link takes you to the above article:

    10. oop! typo, my bad! I typed on the ballot in 1969 of course that should have been 1996, sorry!