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Medical pot advocates oppose Calif. legalization

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4/5,
  1. Balzafire
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A coalition of medical marijuana advocates came out Tuesday against a California ballot initiative that would legalize the drug for recreational use and tax its sales.

    Proposition 19 would inadvertently harm the most vulnerable patients by allowing local governments to prohibit the sale and purchase of marijuana in their jurisdictions, California Cannabis Association members said.

    At a gathering outside the Capitol, the group predicted many cities and counties would impose such bans if voters approve the initiative, leaving local medical marijuana users with few options.

    "The people who would be most affected are the sick, the elderly — patients who cannot grow their own and cannot travel to pick up a prescription," said Amir Daliri, president of Cascade Wellness Center, a medical marijuana dispensary north of Chico.

    Supporters of Proposition 19 said it explicitly protects the rights of patients and would provide them with safer and easier access to the drug by creating a strictly controlled, clearly defined legal system for pot cultivation, distribution and sales.

    "Proposition 19 is actually going to further clarify that sales of medical cannabis are legal in this state," said Dale Sky Jones, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 19 campaign. "The intent of our law is to protect medical cannabis patients and their rights."

    If Proposition 19 passes in November, California would become the first state to legalize and regulate recreational pot use. Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug.

    Supporters have targeted two areas of concern for voters: the economy and crime. Legalized pot would bring much-needed revenue to the state and reduce the influence of drug cartels, they said.

    The measure was endorsed Tuesday by the largest labor union in the state. The Service Employees International Union, which has 700,000 members, said revenue generated by the initiative would help California preserve jobs and avoid cuts to key services such as education and health care.

    The union represents workers in health care, building services and state and local government.

    Critics question the economic effects and contend the initiative will simply serve to boost marijuana usage and drug-related crimes.

    A Field Poll released in July found 48 percent of likely voters opposed the measure, while 44 percent supported it.


    By ROBIN HINDERY (AP)
    09/21/2010
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h6W7KC63V4xxIsSnUT7zLcWc6upwD9ICIP4O0

Comments

  1. Erumelithil
    Are there any details about why legalisation for recreational use would be harmful to those who already use marijuana on medical grounds?

    The first two paragraphs seem like a contradiction, saying that marijuana would be both legalised and prohibited!
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ Prop 19 has many problems- one of which is it allows local governments to opt out. It also restricts growing to 25square feet - far less then what is generally allowed under medical marijuana laws (although the CA courts recently struck down those limits in favor of the even more vague "what is medically necesary" . Also the age limitations are different, are as the amounts that can be legally possessed. It is unclear how, or if, the courts will reconcile the differences- but clearly could put medical users at increased risks until it is sorted out.

    There is also an underlaying current of animosity and distrust- the backers of prop 19 are those that have made millions from medical marijuana (despite the laws requirement that it be non-profit), and is seen by many of the long time medical marijuana proponents as a power grab by those who already perverted the spirit and the letter of the law for pure profit.
  3. veritas.socal
    swim swas wondering if prop 19, if passed, and if swims county opted out(like "dry"counties in the south, ie madison county, nc) would his prop 215 rights be squashed?

    swim found this:
    Does Prop. 19 undercut Prop. 215? Some say yes

    Legalization, Medical marijuana, Politics

    Aug 252010

    The Canna Care medical marijuana dispensary has a truck driving around Sacramento with a sign telling people to vote “no” on the state ballot initiative that would legalize pot for recreational use.
    George Mull, a lawyer for several Northern California pot shops, is fighting Proposition 19 on claims it threatens protections put in place for medical pot users with the 1996 passage of California’s medical marijuana law.

    And a Humboldt County dispensary operator complains that the new pot measure simply isn’t needed. “They say they’re legalizing marijuana,” said Stephen Gasparas, who runs the iCenter pot dispensary in Arcata. “It’s already legal. All they’re doing is taxing it.”

    California’s landmark initiative to legalize marijuana use for adults over 21 and permit local governments to tax retail pot sales is backed – and bankrolled – by leaders in California’s medical cannabis movement, Peter Hecht reports in the Sacramento Bee.

    And yet some of its more stubborn opposition comes from a vocal segment of the same community who worry their dispensary operations may be negatively affected.

    “I’m against this because I feel patients have been sold a bill of goods that is going to take their freedom away,” said Lanette Davies, who runs Canna Care.

    Another opponent, Don Johnson, who operates the Unity Non-Profit Collective in Sacramento, said he worries about contradictions between California’s medical marijuana law and Proposition 19.
    For example, Johnson’s marijuana store can legally serve an 18-year-old who has a physician’s recommendation. He wonders how that squares with Proposition 19, which restricts recreational pot use to people over 21.

    “It seems to me there will be a double rule on the books,” Johnson said. “It’s mass confusion.”
    Proposition 19 supporters say they are puzzled over the opposition and argue the initiative will protect tens of thousands of Californians from arrest and generate a windfall in taxes.

    In Sacramento, for example, voters will consider a companion measure to Proposition 19 that would levy a 2 to 4 percent gross receipts tax on existing medical pot dispensaries and a 5 to 10 percent tax on new retail pot outlets.

    “Proposition 19 will have zero, zilch, nada impact on the current legal rights granted to patients, caregivers, doctors, collectives and cooperatives under California’s existing medical cannabis laws,” said Dan Newman, a spokesman for the Yes on 19 campaign.

    But Mull, a Sacramento attorney, said he believes the initiative will undercut ongoing legal fights in numerous cities on behalf of pot shops.

    Some 140 California cities ban marijuana dispensaries. Pot shops argue they have a right to operate under the state’s 1996 medical marijuana law and follow-up legislation from the state. Mull says Proposition 19 provisions that authorize cities to tax, regulate – and also ban – retail pot shops could empower cities to target medical pot outlets.

    “They (cities) basically are expressly given a right they are claiming – that local governments can control things within their borders, notwithstanding Proposition 215,” Mull claimed. “All of the things that I have been arguing for in court, I lose.”

    The nation’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, is taking no position on Proposition 19. But Don Duncan, the organization’s California director, said the group does not think the initiative would undercut the rights of medical users.

    Proposition 19 has been funded largely by Oakland marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, operator of the city’s Coffee Shop Blue Sky dispensary and a marijuana trade school, Oaksterdam University.
    It also has gotten financial support from a major Bay Area dispensary, Berkeley Patient’s Group Inc., and political backing from Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center, an Oakland outlet billed as the largest dispensary in the world. DeAngelo, who initially thought this was the wrong year to put the measure on the ballot, now strongly advocates its passage.

    “If it wins, you’re going to see a major shift in the political dynamic for cannabis,” DeAngelo said. “And I think politicians who thought there was a downside to supporting cannabis will receive a wake-up call.”

    Harborside, a nonprofit network that handles $26 million in marijuana transactions annually, may be well-equipped to convert into a retail operation that serves both medical and recreational users.
    “I don’t think there is any reason we wouldn’t be able to serve any qualified person who wants to purchase cannabis providing the city of Oakland licenses us to do so,” DeAngelo said.

    Still, Yamileth Bolanos, a cancer survivor who runs the Purelife Alternative Wellness Center in Los Angeles, has mixed feelings.

    Bolanos plans to vote “yes” on 19. But she worries legalizing recreational pot could create shortages of high quality marijuana for medical needs and stir a frenzy in cities trying to figure out the new law.

    “They can’t even get medical marijuana right,” Bolanos said. “How are they going to open up these places for recreational use? Is it just going to be bedlam
    it was on a site about cannabis
  4. Erumelithil
    Mass confusion? Seriously? That seems patronising in the extreme. It reckon that people would manage to accept it if a person who was under 21 years of age, smoked some pot, in the extreme circumstance that they qualified for it medically.
  5. Terrapinzflyer
    Actually- I am aware of quite a number of cases of those as young as 15 with valid prescriptions (they still must be accompanied by a parent to a dispensary). We are talking seriously ill - chronically ill or cancer patients here- NOT joe blow getting a script because they "have a sore back" after work. And prop 19 is such a horribly written bill that there are very valid concerns both for serious medical marijuana patients, and even for regular users.
  6. SamanthaRabbit
    California measure shows state's conflicted link to Pot

    SAN FRANCISCO — California has a long history of defying conventional wisdom on the issue of marijuana, including its embrace of the drug in the 1960s and its landmark medical pot law 14 years ago. So it may not be all that surprising that a November ballot measure to legalize the drug has created some odd alliances and scenarios.

    Pot growers have opposed it. Some police have favored it. Polls show the public is deeply divided. Only politicians have lined up as expected: Nearly all major party candidates oppose the measure. And hanging over the whole debate is the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
    As the Nov. 2 election nears, Proposition 19 has become about much more than the pros and cons of the drug itself. The campaigns have framed the vote as a referendum on everything from jobs and taxes to crime and the environment.

    The measure gained ground in a Field Poll released Sunday, pulling ahead 49 percent to 42 percent among likely voters. The poll also found that Californians have become steadily more permissive toward the drug since pollsters began quizzing state residents about their attitudes 40 years ago.
    Proponents say the measure is a way for the struggling state and its cities to raise badly needed funds. A legal pot industry, they say, would create jobs while undercutting violent criminals who profit off the illegal trade in the drug.

    "I think it's a golden opportunity for California voters to strike a real blow against the (Mexican) drug cartels and drug gangs," said Joseph McNamara, who served as San Jose's police chief for about 15 years. "That would be a greater blow than we ever struck during my 35 years in law enforcement."

    Supporters, including a group of former and current law enforcement officials, have called attention to the failure of the so-called "War on Drugs" to put a dent in pot production in California, and they say police need to pursue more dangerous crimes.

    To pull ahead, opponents will have to convince voters that legalized marijuana will create a greater public safety threat than keeping it illegal.
    "If the price drops, more people are going to buy it. Low-income people are going to buy marijuana instead of buying food, which happens with substance abusers," said Pleasant Hill police Chief Pete Dunbar, who also speaks for the California Police Chiefs' Association, one of many law enforcement groups against the measure.

    As a result, he said, legalizing marijuana would only encourage the cycle of theft and violence driven by people who need money to buy drugs. Opponents of Proposition 19 argue that the wording of the proposed law would compromise public safety by gutting restrictions on driving and going to work while high.

    The state district attorneys' group has come out publicly against Proposition 19, as have many county governments, the editorial boards of the state's biggest newspapers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said the law would make California a "laughingstock."

    Under the proposed law, adults 21 and older could possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use and grow gardens up to 25 square feet.
    The proposal would allow cities and governments to decide for themselves whether to tax and allow pot sales. Opponents say a vague, disorganized patchwork of regulations would ensue and lead to chaos for police and courts.

    There's also the prospect of legal chaos, given the fact that pot will remain illegal under federal law regardless of what happens. Every former Drug Enforcement Administration boss is asking President Barack Obama to sue California if the measure passes on the grounds that federal law trumps state law — the same argument the administration used in suing Arizona over its immigration law.

    Proposition 19 is the brainchild of Richard Lee, an Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur who spent more than $1 million to get the measure on the ballot. Also the founder of a trade school for aspiring marijuana growers and retailers, Lee has pushed legal marijuana as a boon to the state's economy and an important source of tax revenue to help close the state's massive budget deficit. The Service Employees International Union, the state's biggest union, has endorsed the measure as an economic booster.

    But analysts have said the economic consequences of a legalized pot trade are difficult to predict. The state Board of Equalization last year said a marijuana legalization measure proposed in the state legislature could have brought California up to $1.4 billion in tax revenue. On Friday, the agency said Proposition 19, which leaves marijuana taxing decisions to local governments, contained too many unknowns for its analysts to estimate how much the measure might generate.

    In July, the nonpartisan RAND Drug Policy Research Center forecast that legalizing marijuana could send prices plunging by as much as 90 percent. Lower prices could mean less tax revenue even as pot consumption rose, the group said.
    The potential price drop has brought unexpected opposition, or at least suspicion, from rural pot farmers who fear the loss of their traditional, though legally risky, way of life.

    Marijuana has become so crucial to rural economies along the state's North Coast that even some local government officials are working on plans for coping with a pot downturn.

    The state's medical marijuana economy is thriving as hundreds of retail dispensaries across California sell pot to hundreds of thousands of qualified patients. And some medical marijuana supporters have said Proposition 19 could undermine the credibility of the drug as a medical treatment.

    "I'm just against the whole concept of the recreational use of marijuana," said Dennis Peron, the San Francisco activist who was the driving force behind the 1996 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana.


    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h6W7KC63V4xxIsSnUT7zLcWc6upwD9IFURQ80
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