L.E.A.P. CAMPAIGN FOR PROP. 19 SWEEPS INTO THE IMPERIAL VALLEY
By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.
San Diego â€“ Hillcrest former deputy sheriff, D.A.â€™s office
Hundreds of college students and Rotarians in Imperial Valley heard my fiery lectures on the close campaign supporting Proposition 19 on the Nov. 2nd statewide ballot.
Nearly two billion dollars in new revenues will flood local and state treasuries if Prop. 19 passes, and that figure comes from our official state tax agency, the California Board of Equalization.
â€œOne reason youâ€™ve got this campus fired up is because your lectures are reliable and credible, and they are based on official facts,â€ said Imperial Valley college student Jonathan Rodriquez in an interview on the campus, which is located near El Centro.
With my .38 snub-nose holster strapped to my belt, I explained to four college classes and one Breakfast Rotary Club meeting (with the police chief there) that our cash-starved local and state governments would get nearly two billion dollars to help with costs on their Imperial Valley campus.
L.E.A.P. is an international organization of current and former law-enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and a governor who seriously supports Prop. 19.
Prop. 19 Does This
Prop. 19 was carefully drafted to regulate, tax, and control the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry that flourishes in California, which was specifically written to help education and local governments. Nearly two billion dollars in new revenue will flood into our governments, funding more teachers and filling the potholes in our streets!
Under current state law, the possession, cultivation or distribution of â€œgrassâ€ is generally illegal with the exception of medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in â€˜96. Since â€˜09, federal prosecutors have not been going after marijuana patients or providers whose actions are consistent with the law. And while possession of less than an ounce has been a misdemeanor (and sales, a felony); the governor recently signed a bill that reduces that misdemeanor to an infraction, similar to a traffic ticket with no jail time.
Prop. 19 will allow persons 21 or older to possess, cultivate, process, share, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana. Use will be restricted to a residence or non-public place (not inside a vehicle). They will also be permitted to cultivate cannabis at home and possess any equipment associated with those lawful activities. However, the possession must be solely for an individualâ€™s personal consumption at home and not for sale. Also, state and local law enforcement agencies will not be allowed to seize or destroy marijuana from persons in compliance with this state law. Under Prop. 19 employers will retain existing rights to address marijuana consumption that actually impairs an employeeâ€™s job performance. Smoking cannabis in the presence of minors – anyone under 21 – will be unlawful, as will driving under the influence and possession on the grounds of an elementary, middle, or high school. And existing laws imposing serious penalties for furnishing grass to a minor under 14 will remain.
Official Statements:Â $$$ MILLIONS
The Legislative Analystâ€™s Office (L.A.O) in Sacramento provides the governor and legislators with official analysis of ballot initiatives. The L.A.O is an independent, non-partisan office that usually takes a rather conservative approach.
The L.A.O reports, â€œTo the extent that a commercial marijuana industry develops in the state, we estimate that the state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenue,â€ under Prop. 19. Our stateâ€™s taxing agency, the Board of Equalization, pushes that estimate of new revenue up to nearly two billion dollars!
This initiative could also result in huge savings to state and local governments by significantly reducing the costs of holding marijuana offenders in county jails and state prisons. â€œThose savings could reach several millions of dollars annually,â€ the official L.A.O report states, which is reprinted in the Official Voter Information Guide provided to every voter. Prop. 19 could also significantly reduce the costs of the stateâ€™s current Medical Marijuana Program, according to that same report.
After Prop. 19 passes, the lawful marijuana has to come from somewhere other than the limited, home-grown product. Under the initiative, local and state governments will be allowed to authorize, regulate, and tax commercial, marijuana-related activities. The state could also authorize the commercial production of hemp, a type of cannabis plant used to make products like fabric, paper, and heavy-duty rope (especially useful in maritime activities).
When I was a deputy sheriff, sometimes while interviewing a criminal suspect, I would ask questions that I already knew the answers to. If they lied on one answer, their credibility was questionable.Â If they lied several times, I would question all of their statements. Usually a district attorney is very careful to be accurate in making public statements. But, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis went wild and published several false statements in the San Diego U-T (formerly the Union Tribune). In her published statement, the district attorney said, in part:
1. â€œThe truth is, Prop. 19 does not regulate, does not control, and does not tax marijuana as its name implies.â€ FALSE! Apparently, she had not read her ballot statement or the official L.A.O report.
2. â€œIt means zero revenue for the state of California.â€ Again, FALSE!
3. â€œIt allows passengers in a vehicle to smoke marijuana.â€ FALSE!Â Strike three.
4. â€œIt means your childâ€™s school bus driver, a San Diego trolley conductor, or the driver next to you on the interstate can be high while driving.â€ FALSE!
5. â€œThe proposition would prohibit an employer from firing an employee who is under the influence.â€ Again, FALSE!
6. â€œEmployers would be unable to maintain a smoke-free environment.â€Â Yet again, FALSE!
7. â€œProperty values would go down.â€ Also, FALSE! (7th error) Apparently, the D.A. thinks that everyone will begin growing marijuana at home.Â But, although itâ€™s legal to grow vegetables in a home garden, very few do so.
Why does the opposition have to blatantly lie to oppose Prop. 19? â€œMaybe itâ€™s because they have no other arguments that make sense,â€ said a student at Imperial Valley College. While speaking to the Rotary Club, an older woman opposing the initiative said she worked with hard-core drug users. â€œAll of them had once used that stuff,â€ she complained. â€œHowever,â€ I responded, â€œif everyone who is shot in the heart dies, that doesnâ€™t mean that everyone who dies was shot in the heart.â€
There is a strong opposition by the Tea Party that some anticipate may not exist. Indeed, many in that fiery movement support Prop. 19.
â€œProp. 19 is not a partisan issue,â€ said Justin Price, 26, who lives and works in conservative El Cajon. He had questioned my article in the October issue of this popular magazine where I wrote that â€œTea Party conservatives may threaten passage of Prop. 19.â€ Apparently, many Tea Party supporters favor Prop. 19. â€œConservative support for Prop. 19 might be stronger than you think,â€ Price told me. â€œMany in the Tea Party smoke a joint in front of their TV at night,â€ he added candidly.
Gary Johnson, the former two-term republican governor of New Mexico, took the podium at Glenn Beckâ€™s 9/12 Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., to talk about economic issues. Then he dropped a bomb! â€œHalf of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts, and our prisons is drug related,â€ he preached. â€œI suggest we legalize marijuana and make this country a better place. You will find more republican candidates right now espousing legalization of marijuana than you do democrats,â€ Gov. Johnson told the huge rally.
According to the respected Pew Research Center, a whopping 61% of republicans support legalizing cannabis for medical uses (as 14 states have already done). Pollsters in California have seen similar support among republicans for Prop. 19, according to published reports.
When I recently lectured four individual classes at Imperial Valley College, the student and faculty support was overwhelming. The energy and diversity of the questions convinced me that hundreds of students and many professors at the college were strongly in favor and were pushing their friends to vote on Election Day.
The countyâ€™s Registrar of Voters reports that the number of young people registering – and actually voting – has risen significantly in the past five years. With the influence of Facebook, Twitter, and other online networks, the support of young people to get-out-the-vote supporting Prop. 19 could be determinative. One college student revealed to me that she smoked, but it was largely to experience the thrill of getting away with something that was illegal and also felt good, but was not dangerous like boozing. â€œBut, if it becomes legal, that weird thrill will be gone and I probably wonâ€™t smoke or at least not nearly as much. I know a lot of my classmates feel and think the same way, so the number of those taking a hit of a joint may drop if Prop. 19 passes,â€ she explained.
HURTING DRUG CARTELS
While serving as a bombero (firefighter) in Tijuana, I managed to get inside the elegant home of a boss of one of the Mexican drug cartels.Â It was a rich palace of BIG money. An estimated 64% of revenue for the drug cartels comes from marijuana. Cannabis cultivation in MÃ©xico soared by 36% last year, the highest in nearly two decades according to the state department. â€œIt tends to be the cash-cow of the cartels,â€ said an assistant secretary of state in Washington, D.C. Passing Prop. 19 and drying up the HUGE California market would hurt the cartels, big-time. The Mexican government of MÃ©xico City even considered issuing a statement to the news media supporting the initiative, but declined after our state department reportedly intervened.
With more young people voting, Prop. 19 has a good chance of passing and flooding our local and state governments with nearly two billion dollars, improving everything about our economy.
Call author Leo E. Laurence, J.D. of â€œLaw Enforcement Against Prohibitionâ€ at cell: (619) 757-4909 or at email@example.com