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Washington DC Residents Need Your Help To Regulate Marijuana

By: Monday April 7, 2014 2:30 pm

Call your member of Congress today and tell them to let Washington DC make its own decisions when it comes to regulating marijuana.

Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray recently signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana possession and reduce penalties from arrest to a small fine. This is an important step forward for a city that arrests one person for marijuana possession every two hours on average: the highest per capita marijuana arrest rate in the country.

But because of Washington, DC’s unique status as a federal district, Congress can veto local laws like this one. This is especially unfair considering that the people of DC do not have any representation in Congress.

That’s why Just Say Now activists from around the country are calling their representatives and asking them to pledge to permit the people of Washington, DC to reform their local marijuana laws without interference.

Can you please call and ask your member of Congress to pledge not to interfere with DC’s local marijuana laws?

Congress has previously worked to stop marijuana reforms in its hometown for over a decade and we can’t let that happen again. In 1998, Washington DC residents voted overwhelmingly in support of Initiative 59, which would have regulated medical marijuana in the nation’s capital. But Congress intervened and passed the ‘Barr Amendment,’ which blocked the legislation — and any future law that would ”decrease the penalties for marijuana or other Schedule I drugs” in the city.

Times have certainly changed since 1998, so much so that Bob Barr himself cheered on the repeal of his eponymous amendment in 2009. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again. Medical marijuana is finally taking root in the city, and advocates are working to collect signatures to put full legalization on the November ballot. As my colleague Jon Walker noted, DC’s likely next mayor Muriel Bowser supports legalization. With numerous reforms facing the city in short order, we need to begin asking our members of Congress to pledge to let the city make its own decisions.

Washington, DC badly needs this reform. According to a report put out by the ACLU just last year, DC not only has the highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession, but also has one of the highest rates of racial disparity in arrests. Washington DC’s black residents are over 8 times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts for the same crime. By reducing penalties for possession, we can take significant steps towards fixing this gross injustice.

So long as your member of Congress doesn’t act to block this bill, we will see real reform come to Washington, DC.

Call your member of Congress today and tell them to let Washington DC make its own decisions when it comes to regulating marijuana.

LIVESTREAM: Rhode Island State Legislators Introduce Bill to Legalize Marijuana

By: Wednesday February 12, 2014 9:32 am

Live streaming video by Ustream
Regulate Rhode Island will livestream the press conference, which is slated to begin sometime between 3 and 3:30pm ET

Rhode Island Assemblywoman Edith Ajello and Senator Josh Miller will introduce a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol at a 3pm ET press conference today.

Rhode Island’s Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act is similar to laws recently passed in Colorado and Washington and would finally end the failed drug war policies that have ravaged families, the economy and the rule of law in communities across the state.

Ajello and Miller are currently looking for other members of the legislature to co-sponsor this critical bill, and the Just Say Now campaign is organizing activists in the state to reach out to their legislators in support.

If you live in Rhode Island, please click here to contact your representatives in the state assembly and senate and ask them to co-sponsor The Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act.

If passed, The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would:

  • Allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana
  • Permit individuals to grow up to two plants in an enclosed, locked space
  • Establish a tightly regulated system of licensed retail stores, cultivation facilities and testing facilities
  • Enact a special 10% sales tax to generate revenue for the state
  • Require the Department of Business Regulation to establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements.

We’re excited to spend the coming weeks and months working with you to dismantle prohibition in Rhode Island and replace it with a safe, common sense regulatory system. For more information, be sure to follow Just Say Now and Regulate Rhode Island. Thanks in advance for your support.

Jon Walker Discusses New Book, ‘After Legalization,’ With Medical Marijuana Radio

By: Monday December 9, 2013 9:50 am

Firedoglake’s Jon Walker had a great talk with Medical Marijuana Radio over the weekend to discuss his upcoming book, After Legalization: The Future of Marijuana Policy. Jon talked about the impetus behind writing this book, what lessons we can learn from the end of alcohol prohibition and his thoughts on where the movement to legalize marijuana is headed next.

We have just 7 days left to reach our $5,100 goal to fund the editing, publishing and promotion of this book on Kickstarter. Please consider pledging your support to this great project if you have not already.

Jon’s interview begins around 21:50 below.

Just Say Now’s Jon Walker: Marijuana Legalization Following Same Curve as Marriage Equality

By: Wednesday March 27, 2013 12:59 pm

Check out this video of Firedoglake’s senior policy analyst Jon Walker discussing the growing national support for marijuana reform on Current TV’s “The War Room” with Michael Shure this week. Jon discusses the evolution of public perception on legalizing marijuana, drawing parallels to that of marriage equality.

Just Say Now and the 2012 Election

By: Monday November 12, 2012 9:19 am

Washington State and Colorado made history this year by ending their prohibitions of marijuana, sounding a powerful rebuke against the colossal failure that is our nation’s War on Drugs.

Both Initiative 502 and Amendment 64 mount serious challenges to the federal government’s posture on marijuana, and while the country watches to see what happens next, Just Say Now and our movement of committed activists is preparing to protect legalization from intervention at all costs and push for new reforms across the United States.

Just Say Now activists played a critical role in the passage of this year’s historic reforms. Here’s a look at what our netroots GOTV campaign was able to accomplish in one month’s time:

  • Called 10,500 voters across initiative states
  • Registered over 1,280 voters
  • Recruited 2,000 grassroots volunteers
  • Ran ads to 685,000 people
  • Raised $12,000 to get out the vote

Our volunteer phone bank was home to some of our most dedicated activists of the campaign, some of whom made over 1,000 phone calls eachfor marijuana legalization. This year’s top 5 callers are:

  • Jim Johnson – 1,720 calls
  • Henry Rauchweld – 1,711 calls
  • Patrick Ellis – 702 calls
  • John Roark – 228 calls
  • Amanda Rain – 218 calls

A big thanks to everyone who joined our call campaign and spoke to voters about marijuana reform — you helped lead us to victory by taking the time to speak with someone directly about the importance of ending prohibition.

What’s next for marijuana reform?

The next phase for our movement is to protect our gains while organizing to end prohibition in other states in 2014 and beyond.

As Just Say Now predicted when we launched in 2010, marijuana legalization was realized with the overwhelming support of young voters. Our Senior Policy Analyst Jon Walker noted that young voters were largely responsible for pushing Washington and Colorado over the top; in Washington, the youth vote jumped from just 10% to 22% of the electorate from 2008 with legalization on the ballot. This rapidly growing segment of the voting public will undoubtedly carry marijuana reform to states across the nation and will become more influential over drug policy with time.

But there is no reason to believe the war on marijuana is anywhere near over. The Drug War Industrial Complex is far too entrenched in so many areas of life and governance, from the Justice Department to local law enforcement to private prisons, the FDA, defense contractors and beyond. This struggle will necessarily involve dismantling the myriad economic and social incentives that make up the lifeblood of the Drug War, and ending marijuana prohibition is only the beginning.

Some former government officials have wasted no time issuing threats, assuring the public that the President will intervene in no time. Kevin Sabet, former adviser to Obama’s drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, led the charge by telling reporters, “This is a symbolic victory for (legalization) advocates, but it will be short-lived. They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of … presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition.” Unfortunately for Mr. Sabet and his colleagues, while the road will certainly be tough-going for reformers such as ourselves, it is the Drug Warriors who are on the wrong side of history and face an uphill battle in blocking the implementation of a policy more popular among voters in Colorado than both President Obama and Governor Romney.

Despite having majority public opinion on our side, we will need to be cautious and aggressive in our defense of legalization. We can no longer allow the public to be intimidated by the show of brute force we expect from the federal government, and demonstrate that their voices cannot be browbeaten into submission. A loud, united front against intervention must be brought to the court of public opinion if we hope to stop the Obama administration from dismantling legalization.

Where will the next fight against prohibition take place? Activists are looking to California to legalize it in 2014 after a close but ultimately disappointing attempt with Prop 19 in 2010. Massachusetts, which passed medical marijuana with 63% in support, could be a perfect place to end prohibition that year as well. New Yorkers may find a medical marijuana campaign taking root in their state over the next few months. Wherever movements to reform our unjust marijuana laws take place, Just Say Now will be there to encourage them and organize activists in their support.

We will also continue organizing activists in support of rescheduling marijuana so it can be prescribed by doctors nationally and end this insane state-by-state prohibition that leaves so many patients helpless and stigmatized. While successful legalization may be a ‘new frontier’ for reform, we cannot and will not forget the many thousands of patients who suffer under the grip of prohibition either.

Just Say Now will work hard to promote the benefits of legalization as they make themselves known in Washington and Colorado, and we will work even harder to protect those benefits from federal intervention. We will also continue our efforts to work with marijuana reform campaigns to pass ballot initiatives in states across the country just as we did in Colorado, Washington and Massachusetts this year.

Why we fight: the Drug War and mass incarceration

It’s important – especially after victory – that we reflect on why we are doing this in the first place. For Just Say Now, marijuana legalization is about much more than an individual’s right to use, sell or purchase marijuana; it’s about the decades of irrational “tough on crime” politicians, policies and institutions that have put more black men behind bars today than were enslaved in 1850. Despite the Drug War’s best efforts, marijuana use continues to grow at a steady rate each year, and the majority of those using it — whites — almost never come in contact with the laws they are breaking.

The fact is that the Drug War is not very good at stopping people from using marijuana or weakening drug cartels, but is incredibly good at locking people up and excluding them from society as felons. One could reasonably argue, based solely on its results, that America’s longest war may not actually be about combating drugs after all, but about the efficient mass incarceration of minorities instead — what’s becoming known as the “New Jim Crow.”

The war on marijuana is a war on the people, and Just Say Now was started to fight against this gross injustice tooth and nail. But ending marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs will take a lot more than just passing ballot initiatives each election cycle. We need to dig deep and change laws and legal structures at the federal, state and local levels and remove the gargantuan financial incentives that keep this hideous system of control plodding relentlessly forward. The various parts that make up the Drug War and have fueled mass incarceration have done nothing for America but tear apart our communities and turn what’s left against one another.

If this year’s victories are any indication, we’re on track for a better world if we keep working together. From the entire Just Say Now team, thank you so much for your inspiring level of determination and support, and we look forward to having you on our side for the struggle ahead. We could never have done this without you.

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