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How a Sneaky GOP Congressman Will Try to Block DC Marijuana Decriminalization

By: Wednesday June 25, 2014 4:39 am

Rep. Andy Harris, a physician, says “Marijuana is not safe or legal. There is more evidence every day that it is not safe.”

Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) has announced he will attempt to block Washington DC from implementing the marijuana law recently passed by the DC City Council and signed by DC Mayor Vincent Gray, which lowers the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a misdemeanor.

How does he plan to do it?  Harris sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and says he plans to propose an amendment to an upcoming Financial Services and General Government funding bill (PDF).  Since DC exists as a neo-feudal state that does not have elected congressional representatives, the US Congress has appointed themselves overlords of the district and reserve the right to approve or disapprove anything they do — including passing a budget.

According to a congressional staffer, Harris’s amendment would strike the word “federal” from a spending measure currently before the committee, which would prevent the district not only from spending federal funds to change drug-related penalties, but its own funds as well.  It could also prevent DC from expanding its access to medical marijuana.

Harris was also a vocal critic of the Rohrabacher amendment that passed last month, which prevented the DEA from raiding marijuana dispensaries legally approved by the state they are in.

“Marijuana is not safe or legal. There is more evidence every day that it is not safe,” said Harris, who is a physician.  What exactly that evidence is, he did not say.

Congress pulled a similar stunt ten years ago when it blocked DC from starting a medical marijuana program.

Harris’s move is ironic, because in his home state Governor Martin O’Malley recently signed a bill making possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense rather than a criminal one.

“The Constitution treats the District of Columbia and Maryland differently,” says Harris.

So much for state’s rights.

Sheldon Adelson Bankrolls Florida Anti-Medical Marijuana Campaign With $2.5 Million Donation

By: Wednesday June 11, 2014 9:03 am

Legendary purveyor of Las Vegas vice takes a stand against medical marijuana

This, I have to say, is a little weird.

Sheldon Adelson, billionare Las Vegas mogul and veteran of the Scissor Sheldon campaign, has decided to take a stand against medical marijuana in Florida — an issue that has 70% support among likely Florida voters in the November election.

Legendary purveyor of vice Adelson made his donation to a group called the Drug Free Florida Committee, headed by veteran Republican fundraiser Mel Sembler.  “Its top donors have been primarily Republicans” according to the Miami Herald.  You don’t say.

The Florida Sherrif’s Association has also joined the (I kid you not) “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” coalition:

“This amendment as a matter of fact is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

He warned that the proposed amendment is “cleverly-written” for “use and abuse,” will lead to children legally obtaining marijuana and predicted crime rates will soar.

“You will pay more taxes because it’s going to take more policing,’’ he said.

Now none of these things have come true in any state where recreational marijuana has already been legalized, let alone medical marijuana.

So why would a carpetbagger like Adelson decide to take a stand in Florida?  Why not Washington or Colorado where actual legalization was on the ballot, and the issue polled a lot closer?

Just taking a wild-arsed guess here, but it may have something to do with the fact that Adelson is “a heavy contributor to Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election effort.”

Adelson’s contribution “not only juices the anti-marijuana movement, it effectively brings the medical marijuana debate into this year’s governor’s race” says the Herald.

There has been some evidence that having marijuana legalization on the ballot can drive young voter turnout, and Rick Scott’s campaign may well be worried that the medical marijuana initiative could translate into people who otherwise wouldn’t vote showing up and voting against him. Although I don’t know that it’s ever been proven that having medical marijuana on the ballot has made a significant difference.

Regardless, the country as a whole is overwhelmingly supportive of medical marijuana legalization across all parties, races and age groups.  And even though polling tends to narrow as election time draws near,  Sheldon’s $2.5 million will have to make a huge dent in that 70% support level to have any chance of success.

On the other hand, it might just be a way to spur turnout among older voters who are more likely to vote for Scott, and tend to be less supportive of medical marijuana — having endured a lifetime of demagogurey on the subject.

Meanwhile, in other weird news, Democratic Florda Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is being targeted in ads and by donors because she doesn’t support the medical marijuana initiative.  Which seems a whole lot more reasonable, considering the overwhelming popularity of the initiative with voters in the state.

Photo by the7eye.org under Creative Commons license

Celebrate Washington State Legalized #Marijuana Today with #JustSayNow Avatar

By: Thursday December 6, 2012 7:24 am

Today is the first day since 1937 that marijuana has been legal for recreational use anywhere in the United States. As Jon Walker writes, Colorado was technically the first state to approve legalized marijuana, but Amendment 64 won’t go into effect for a few more months.

Brian Sonenstein created this terrific avatar for Facebook to honor the event, and those who worked hard to make this happen. Feel free to share it and celebrate.

Click on this link to make the image your Facebook or Twitter avatar.

An End to Marijuana Prohibition is Just a Phone Call Away

By: Thursday October 25, 2012 12:22 pm

You wouldn’t know it from following the 2012 presidential campaign closely, but three states are poised to make history this year by ending their prohibition of marijuana.

Ballot initiatives in Colorado, Washington and Oregon could be the beginning of the end to an important pillar in the war on drugs: the criminalization of marijuana.

Neither candidate for the highest office in the land will discuss a policy favored by a solid majority of the American public — putting them both well outside the confines of popular opinion on the subject. Colorado, a hotly contested swing state and home of the first presidential debate this year, also happens to be home to Amendment 64 which would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. Somehow, neither candidate was asked about or spoke of the initiative while in Colorado, and has barely spoken of it if at all since.

For this and other reasons, many voters feel very left out of this election. Here in America, our choice is between candidates who are committed to talking over us rather than listening, refusing to address the concerns of the average citizen while instead projecting solutions for the ‘problems’ of their big donors on the rest of us. To them, this election is about meeting the needs of those who maintain their power, while finding ways to placate the rest of us just enough to stave off civil unrest – so if we want an end to prohibition, we’ll have to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves.

Unfortunately, because neither candidate supports marijuana reform, and both oppose it with varying degrees of tenacity, the path forward on drug reform will not mirror that of movements for LGBTQ equality, which were able to rest election year concessions from the president by threatening to withhold their support. To the contrary, growing support among the public for marijuana reforms have been me with relatively no change in courage from the policial classes, which has in-turn forced marijuana reformers to make their appeals directly to voters.

Put simply and without exaggeration, an end to the prohibition of marijuana lays squarely in your hands, regardless of the state in which you reside.

If you live in one of the states bravely seeking to strike down prohibition this year than your mission is clear: you need to get every registered voter you know to cast their vote for reform — friends, family, colleagues. Just Say Now has the information you need to volunteer for the campaigns in these final weeks, whether it be calling neighbors, handing out flyers or sharing info online. If you’d like to volunteer, you can reach us at justsaynow@firedoglake.com.

If you don’t live in these states and want to see marijuana reform in your own community, make no mistake: this is your time to act. If we can break the seal and legalize marijuana in at least one state this year, the impact on the 2014 election could be monumental — it could inspire other states to employ similar models and campaigns to strike down their own prohibitions, and build a challenge to the federal posture on marijuana laws (and other drug laws) that have destroyed lives and communities for over 30 years.

In the past month, Just Say Now has logged over 2,000 calls to voters in Colorado and Oregon, and will continue to push for the end to prohibition featured on several ballots throughout the nation. If we fail in these final weeks to reach out and speak to voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon, it could be a serious set-back for the movement. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for the marijuana movement; please help us do more by RSVPing to call voters, or by making a few calls right now in support of legalizing marijuana.

Jon Walker and Radical Russ Discuss Facebook’s War on Weed

By: Thursday August 9, 2012 9:58 am

Veteran drug warriors like Rahm Emanuel may be changing their tune on marijuana, but the uber-hypocrites at Facebook are still trying to keep the conversation in the closest.

Just Say Now’s Jon Walker discusses the upcoming marijuana ballot measures on Radical Russ Belville’s radio show, and they both scratch their heads at how out of step with popular opinion the elite drug warriors at Facebook are.

Tell Facebook To Stop Censoring the Marijuana Legalization Debate


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