Today is Wednesday, October 3rd. In less than five weeks Americans will be voting candidates for President, Senate, the House of Representatives, their local statehouse representatives and senators, state attorney-generals, and their Mayor, City Council, sheriff, county commissioners, and possibly dozens of other elected offices at the state, county and local level. And then there are ballot initiatives that seek majority support for state laws legalizing possession of marijuana (Washington, Oregon, Colorado), medical marijuana (Arkansas, Massachusetts), and other proposed legislation.
Only about 20 states allow initiatives (also known as Propositions and Questions). In Canada, only British Columbia allows initiatives – and the signatures needed, about 400,000 voters in 90 days, are a daunting requirement. Nonetheless, my great friend and long-time activist Dana Larsen has undertaken this heroic task with his Sensible BC organization to get a marijuana possession decriminalization statute on a September 2014 ballot. Check out www.SensibleBC.ca for information about that campaign.
Canadians have no experience with the numerous options on a ballot that Americans face each November. When Canadians go to vote, it’s for one office and that’s it. In British Columbia, a person votes for City Council on mid-November Saturday every three years. For the provincial legislature (the equivalent of the statehouse), in BC we vote for one person on the second Tuesday in May every four years. For the federal Parliament (similar to Congress), Canadians vote for their one representative from their district every four years, sometimes a bit sooner if no one party controls the majority of seats. In Canada, the federal parliament has five parties in it, compared to the two parties in the US Congress.
My wife Jodie Emery, and Jeremiah Vandermeer, editor of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV, will be at the New Approach Washington headquarters in Seattle on November 6th streaming live the results of the marijuana legalization initiative I-502 as they come in (as well as bringing in affiliates from Colorado and Oregon to broadcast the results of their state legalization votes). New Approach Washington (www.NewApproachWA.org) is the organization that has done all the work writing up this proposed legislation, getting the necessary 247,000 signatures of Washington voters to put it on the ballot, and have raised millions to promote the initiative on television and in other media. Be sure to go to www.CannabisCulture.com and www.Pot.tv for the livestream, and share the experience with thousands of others on that historic night!
I am thrilled Jodie, Jeremiah, and his long-time girlfriend Carina will be at the epicenter when history is being in America – that is, when Washington State becomes the first US jurisdiction to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. The same legislation also sets up a state cannabis distribution system through all state licensed liquor stores, and although the federal government may try to interfere with that aspect of the legislation, there is little the US federal government can do in regards to negating the provision allowing all adult persons to carry and possess (and thus consume) marijuana, at least up to an ounce of it at a time.
The Washington state initiative is polling a much wider margin of success than similar initiatives in Colorado and Oregon; I attribute this to a very prescient organization in Washington state. This is not an initiative that percolated from the cannabis community. I-502 was done by organizational professionals who largely are more interested in aspects of civil liberty, reducing the pernicious effects of prohibition, and putting forth a practical legislative proposal that takes into account the concerns of the conservative straight voter who is likely to show up on voting day. People who show up to vote are usually those with a long-term stake in the community, usually with children or family as concerns. So when they are asked to legalize possession of marijuana, and these voters in the main don’t partake, they need to know that the community safety – and specifically, that of their family – is built into this kind of legislative proposal. New Approach Washington did just that. They raised and spent millions in advertising promoting that aspect of the legislation, and are being rewarded with the best polling results of the three legalization initiatives.
I do hope the initiatives in Colorado (YES on Amendment 64!) and Oregon (YES on Measure 80!) pass too (check out www.RegulateMarijuana.org and www.Vote80.org). Mason Tvert, one of the principal forces behind the Proposition 64 in Colorado, with his group SAFER, has over a decade of tremendous work in Colorado, first getting a Denver initiative passed way back in 2007 – see more about that at www.saferdenver.saferchoice.org. Colorado already is a medical marijuana state. Polling in Colorado suggests the vote will be close, but is winnable. Oregon is walking a tightrope, and lacks funding to promote the initiative there, but Paul Stanford has done a very admirable job gathering the signatures with his group to get the legalization question on the ballot there, and Russ Belville has been working hard promoting it too.
These efforts will be in urgent need of your campaign dollars and your vote on Tuesday, November 6th. Perhaps the most important votes in the lifetime of anyone in the cannabis culture in those three states will be Tuesday, November 6th. Imagine your elation when you awake on Wednesday, November 7th, and marijuana possession is legal in your state – somewhere in your country! – and you helped make it happen! But don’t just dream it, you’ve got four weeks to make sure this dream becomes your reality!
Of course, if you live in Washington, Oregon, or Colorado, be sure you are registered to vote and go support these history making legalization initiatives. If you are in Massachusetts and Arkansas, get out and vote for their medical marijuana initiatives. And a big thanks to Marijuana Policy Project for providing money and infrastructure to get the Arkansas initiative up and on the ballot for Tuesday, November 6th. MPP has done a terrific job getting statehouses in Rhode Island and Connecticut – this year alone – to pass medical marijuana legislation, and historically have done more to provide the wherewithal to get initiatives on the ballot and legislation in the statehouse than any other group.
Definitely you should make contributions of money – even $10, $25, $50 – to Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, SAFER Colorado, New Approach Washington, the THC Foundation, and any organization making real political change happen. These are the people making history happen in America, and money is an essential lubricant of liberty.
As for voting for President, I cannot say anything positive about Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. I disagree with everything Mitt Romney says he wants to do, and I disagree with everything Barack Obama has done. There is simply nothing to recommend either of them. Both are warmongers, both want to maintain the drug war, both believe in the surveillance state, state secrecy, the Imperial Presidency. They are both the complete opposite of Ron Paul, my hero, who I pray stays healthy and fit to run for President in 2016. As to Ron Paul’s son, Rand Paul, the US Senator from Kentucky is a shadow of his great father, and while Rand Paul is in some ways sympathetic to curtailing the excesses of the drug war (as in the case of mandatory minimums, to his credit), he is not the courageous man of perfect principle that his father is.
There are two perfect candidates running for the job of President and Vice President, and while they have no hope of being elected to those positions, they are the best candidates ever put before the cannabis culture for ending the drug war: Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico and a wonderful, intelligent individual whom I met in 2003; and (California) Judge Jim Gray, a decades-long critic of the drug war whom has met Jodie twice this year. They make up the Libertarian ticket for the White House. They are both articulate and offer the right positions on the military, the drug war, the surveillance state, on the environment, on abortion and female reproductive autonomy, the economy, taxes, the deficit. They are both impeccably honest and very experienced. See www.GaryJohnson2012.com for more information.
There is a Libertarian candidate for virtually every position on the ballot. My recommendation is that you vote for every Libertarian you can, and give a small donation to each their campaign, and help them out, because every Libertarian wants to end the drug war and believes in individual freedom and liberty.
There are a few Republicans running for Congress who oppose the drug war – very few though, and they should be supported. However, many of the Democratic candidates for House of Representatives support some aspect of medical marijuana legislation, or legalization. Only a few Democratic Senators feel this way, alas, and only Rand Paul of the Republicans in the Senate is worth acknowledging in a positive way. You still need to educate your US Representative and US Senator from your district. Write them. Be heard. Watch how they vote in Congress.
Perhaps the greatest essay ever written on the colossal damage the drug war has done was recently published as a blog on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Vivian McPeak, the chief of the Seattle Hempfest. It’s poetic, brilliant, sobering and simply fantastic. I hope reading it – “Happy Birthday Prohibition – Now Die” – inspires you to give some money, your time, your vote and your involvement in the fight to end prohibition. These may be the most important weeks in the history of our movement, when your vote, your donations, and your voice promoting these initiatives makes a critical difference.
It would sure make the 610 days I’ll have remaining in this US federal prison a great deal easier to bear on the morning of Wednesday, November 7th. That the torch of the cannabis culture I tried to carry for decades has been carried on by millions of Americans who will not be, and were not, deterred by their governments’ resistance to justice. The very state of Washington, home of the Seattle federal court that sentenced me to prison for five years – specifically because of my legalization activities and supporting the marijuana movement with millions of dollars and millions of seeds – will have turned the world of prohibition upside down overnight by making I-502 the law, by making marijuana legal for the first time anywhere on earth. And my own prosecutor, who later realized marijuana prohibition is a failure, is working for legalization and campaigning against prohibition with the I-502 campaign. Our movement gains allies every day.
I’ll be locked down in my cell at 7:45pm Washington state (Pacific) time on Tuesday, November 6th. I won’t have heard any results by then, I won’t know if history was made until I get out of my cell at 6:00am sharp Wednesday morning and check my email from Jodie to read what transpired. I pray that Wednesday, November 7th is going to be my favorite Wednesday of my entire life – the day when legalization became more than just a 32-year dream of mine. The day I awoke and the world really changed.
Please do your utmost, if you live in Colorado, Oregon or Washington to make it your best Wednesday ever, too!