Law Enforcement Against Prohibition 2


By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, San Diego

Nearly two billion dollars will flood the treasuries of San Diego and other local governments, including our cash-starved state government if Proposition 19 is passed, which will regulate, tax and control cannabis.  However, the impact of the Conservative Tea Party Movement is unknown and could threaten passage.  Some local politicians and candidates are steering clear, refusing to even discuss it.  Yet, key community leaders aggressively support Prop. 19.

“I absolutely support it,” said respected San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Ramirez Murray in a recorded interview.  “I think we should legalize marijuana!  It would be a great thing for this city’s budget and I hope it happens.  The taxes on it would be outstanding,” Murray stressed.  “There is a strong case to be made for Prop. 19,” said State Assembly Democratic Candidate Tony Atkins; a former city councilwoman. “As a voter, I’m going to support it,” Atkins added in a taped interview.  Yet, some San Diego politicians still do not support it, and won’t even talk about it.  Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio declined to even discuss it in an interview, saying only that he “was just focusing on local races and not taking positions on statewide issues.”

Another young and local politician, San Diego’s City Councilman Todd Gloria, a democrat, refused to support Prop. 19.  He claimed to question the official estimate by the state’s tax collector (the Board of Equalization), which states that the taxes and fees from the initiative would bring in at least $1.4 billion dollars to local and state governments.  A democratic candidate for a county-wide office declined five times to discuss Prop. 19, saying he would only discuss medical marijuana issues before the San Diego City Council.

“CNN recently reported that studies show that marijuana will help more people, not just the seriously ill with painful cancer or AIDS,” City Commissioner Murray said, challenging these wayward politicians.  “It will help people with headaches and backaches, also. This was a very serious, credible report on CNN. Let’s be honest, we have everyone from Obama to George W. Bush; everyone, admitting that they have smoked it,” Murray reported.  “It’s not a dangerous drug. I would hope that (councilman) Todd (Gloria) changes his mind.”

The number of young people registering to vote in San Diego County, and actually voting, has been rising significantly in the last decade, according to the county’s Registrar of Voters.  Younger voters, who are often missed by the polls, are the key to passing Prop. 19 if they register and vote.  An average of five independent statewide polls of likely voters shows that Prop. 19 still has only a slim 50/50 chance of passing on the November 2nd ballot.  Opposition is growing slightly, according to a KABC poll in Sacramento; though the initiative to regulate, tax and control marijuana remains in the lead.  The KABC poll showed 47% of likely voters say they will definitely vote “yes” on Prop. 19.  That is down an insignificant 3% from August.  43% said they would vote “no,” while a full 10% remained uncertain and could become the “deciders.”  That KABC poll showed solid support among men and younger voters.  Opposition, however, may come from the emerging popularity of the so-called “Tea Party;” the loose coalition of loud and radically-right conservatives and republican-voting independents.  When voting for their Tea Party favorites, they might vote conservatively “against” Prop. 19.

Their influence on the Nov. 2nd election could be overcome by Prop. 19 supporters using Facebook, Twitter and other online networks to turn out large numbers of younger voters.  But, that depends on grass-roots organizing by young people in San Diego, which has so far been minimal on this issue.  Because of the increased popularity of mail ballot voting in California, the real campaign may be over by late October.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.), a nationwide organization of current and former law enforcement officers, is vigorously speaking out in favor of Prop. 19.  Even a former Republican governor is taking an aggressive stand with L.E.A.P.  “Half of what the U.S. spends on law enforcement is drug related,” says the former Republican and two-term governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.

“Based on solid evidence from Holland, Portugal and elsewhere, legalization will greatly reduce marijuana use among adults and youths.”
Because Prop. 19 will wipe out a huge source of revenue for the violent Mexican drug cartels; Prop. 19 will hit them hard.  An estimated 64% of their revenue comes from marijuana.  Cannabis cultivation in México soared by 36% last year, which is the highest in nearly two decades, according to the U.S. State Department.  “It tends to be the cash-cow for the cartels,” says David T. Johnson, an Assistant Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.  Legalizing marijuana will strip cartels of a lot of that money, “which is the workhorse of their violent operations,” according to a faculty expert at the University of San Diego.  In addition to flooding nearly two billion dollars of new revenue into local and state governments, passage of Prop. 19 will also save about $200 million in costs of law enforcement, prosecutions and prison operations in the failed “War on Drugs.”  The U.S. has about 5% of the world’s population, but 26% of its prisoners; some incarcerated for possession of a single joint, and typically people of color.

Official Analysis of Prop-19
The Legislative Analyst’s Office (L.A.O) in Sacramento exists to provide in-depth, independent research to state legislators on pending legislation and statewide initiatives on the ballot.  L.A.O stated in their official opinion released on July 12th, “Under Prop. 19, persons age 21 or older generally may (1) possess, process, share and transport up to one ounce of marijuana, (2) cultivate marijuana on private property in an area up to 25 sq. ft. per private residence or parcel, (3) possess harvested and living marijuana plants cultivated in that area, and (4) possess any items or equipment associated with those activities.  We estimate that state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenue,” which is conservatively consistent with the estimates of the state’s Board of Equalization.

The initiative could also result in huge savings to state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana offenders in state prisons and local jails.  The official L.A.O report states, “These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars annually.”   The measure could also significantly reduce the cost of the state’s current Medical Marijuana Program.  The L.A.O’s analysis continues to say, “State and local law enforcement agencies could not seize or destroy marijuana from persons in compliance with the measure.  In addition, no person could be punished, fined or discriminated against for engaging in any conduct permitted by the initiative, if it passes.”

Existing prohibitions similar to alcohol will remain.  For example, the smoking of marijuana in the presence of minors will not be permitted.  Impaired driving under the influence of marijuana will remain unlawful as with alcohol, as will possessing it on school grounds or providing it to minors.  The initiative allows local governments to authorize, regulate and tax various commercial, marijuana-related activities.  The state could, on a statewide basis, regulate the commercial production of cannabis.  It could also authorize the commercial production of hemp, a type of marijuana plant that can be used to make products like fabric and paper.

We are sooooo close to winning passage of Prop. 19, but the impact of the fiery, neo-conservative, Tea Party Movement is unknown.

If young people register to vote, and actually vote, the probability of its passage will rise significantly, especially if online campaigning occurs on Facebook, Twitter and other online sites favored by young people.

Contact the writer, Leo E. Laurence of L.E.A.P. at (619) 757-4909 or at He’s available to speak to San Diego organizations on short notice.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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