There once was a very brave attorney named Letitia Pepper, who stood up to an entire pot movement hell-bent on ramming through a monopolistic California marijuana legalization initiative called “Prop 19”.
She provided the only clear analysis of the parts of Prop 19 that would have threatened to eliminate medical marijuana growing rights. She was later vindicated by attorney Bill Panzer on the eve of the election. To make a long story short, a ballot initiative that I thought had some serious problems failed to get a majority in 2010. Thanks, in no small part, to Letitia Pepper’s efforts, California did not remove a half-decent medical marijuana model and replace it with an indecent monopolistic marijuana model. At that time, Letitia Pepper was my hero.
I don’t know what happened since then, but that rational, reasonable, careful Letitia Pepper went away somewhere, and was replaced by a very confused Letitia Pepper.
Marijuana for medicinal use IS legal; marijuana for recreational use CANNOT be legalized while marijuana is a Schedule I drug. End of debate, end of efforts in California to legalize recreational use. [Letitia Pepper, Mar 29, 2011]
It is clear to anyone paying attention to current events regarding medical marijuana in the United States that it is under attack.
It is dangerous to ignore this fact and limit one’s drug-peace armor to a fifteen-year-old medical marijuana model that has clearly failed to protect anyone. Not that 215 was a waste of time – obviously, Prop 215 unleashed a genie out of a bottle – but the genie wasn’t big enough to avoid capture and avoid being stuffed inside that bottle again. Clearly, the movement needs a bigger (and more powerful) genie. And clearly, Ms. Pepper needs to drop her personal agenda and support the initiative most likely to provide that genie.
Ms. Pepper refers to “Schedule 1” as the thing that prevents marijuana from being legalized recreationally. To be a Schedule 1 drug, the substance is defined as having “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States”.
So by being in Schedule 1, marijuana cannot be “medical”. This runs contrary to Ms. Pepper’s assertion that “Marijuana for medicinal use IS legal; marijuana for recreational use CANNOT be legalized while marijuana is a Schedule I drug.” The fact is that marijuana for recreational OR medicinal use cannot be legalized FEDERALLY while marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug. I’ve pointed this out to Ms. Pepper repeatedly and she has failed to respond to this point.
It appears that she maintains this fiction so that she can then draw a distinction between “legalization” – which she claims is impossible – and “decriminalization” – which she claims is the only desirable option:
Why “legalize” (tax, control and regulate) when you can de-criminalize instead? [Letitia Pepper, Apr 2, 2011]
But a careful examination of the terminology of “repeal” and “decriminalization” reveals the two things are not identical – or even similar. “Repeal” denotes a removal of all punishment entirely. “Decriminalization” indicates only that there will be no criminal punishments associated with the activity that is decriminalized. Under decrim, there may be “non-criminal” punishments every bit as horrific as the criminal punishments. In fact, if you inspect closely every version of decrim, you will find that most versions involve “net-widening” and an increase in the amount of punishment being handed out.
Ms. Pepper has ignored this fact and continues to this day to use the term “decriminalization” to describe repeal efforts. She has also ignored the glaring problems of the repeal initiative that she has publicly endorsed, the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act (RCP), while at the same time ignoring the clear advantages of the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act (RMLW), namely, that
1) There is a glaring omission in RCP that would leave everyone vulnerable to arrest, that
2) RMLW would repeal felony convictions for minors and replace felonies with fines instead. RCP would not, that
3) Only RMLW would prohibit local jurisdictions from banning or taxing dispensaries or instituting discriminatory licensing practices. RCP would not, that
4) Only RMLW would explicitly prohibit the monopolization of the cannabis industry with a prohibition on Genetically Modified cannabis. RCP would not, and that
5) Only the model represented by RMLW enjoys over 62% support in California polls
Ms. Pepper says she is against getting “caught up in the trap of careless use of language” (Apr 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM). She should immediately stop confusing repeal with decriminalization.
And you don’t even have to falsely claim that “marijuana is like alcohol!” in order to do so! [Letitia Pepper, Apr 2, 2011]
Clearly, marijuana is not like alcohol in it’s toxicity, it’s overdose-death potential, it’s withdrawal symptoms, it’s connection to violence, or vehicular mayhem or hangovers.
But marijuana is like alcohol in that both have long-standing sacramental and medicinal histories, both are massive sections of the California economy, both have had movements behind them to re-legalize them as a result of prohibition, both can impair bodily functions and judgment (especially among novice users) and both can put the fear into anxious parents who, for the most part, insist on their children abstaining from use – at the very least until their mid teens, and often until they become 21.
It is this last set of similarities that has no doubt resulted in polling for “regulation” to be at 62% and “legalization” at 46%:
Regulation offers anxious parents the controls they wish to see, and it’s the anxious parent demographic that looks like it may make the difference between success and failure at the polls. Again, I have put these facts to Ms. Pepper and receive nothing in return.
Though she has agreed in the past to debate me on the subject, she now says she will only debate me in person and not online. Of course, she knows I am not allowed into the United States due to my arrest record for herb crimes and democracy-related offenses and revealed as much in this statement:
Re David Malmo Levine’s offer: “Should you wish to debate me in public, I will make myself available.” It’s easy to offer to debate in public when you can’t cross the Canadian border into the US. [Letitia Pepper, May 22, 2011]
There are many examples of great online debates, including four about Prop 19 from the online radio show Time 4 Hemp. The offer still stands.
If we did debate, I would ask her why she has claimed the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act:
1) “Won’t let people grow and use medical cannabis like zucchini or produce recreational marijuana like wine” [Letitia Pepper, Oct 10, 2011] – when it doesn’t alter medical marijuana rights at all and clearly will allow people to produce marijuana like wine.
2) “is intentionally written in a way to open the door to cultivation of GMO cannabis.” [Letitia Pepper, Oct. 8, 2011] – when it contains clear, direct language that bans all “experimentation, development, research, testing, cultivation, sales or possession of genetically-modified (GMO) marijuana, hemp and it’s seeds”.
3) will “redefine medical marijuana as having less than 1 percent THC” [Letitia Pepper, Oct 10, 2011] – despite being unable to point to the language in the initiative where this is done.
4) will “still not legalize any non-medical use of marijuana [Letitia Pepper, Oct 10, 2011] – despite language all over the initiative that will do exactly this.
5) will make it possible that “a kid could be fined more than $9,000 for possession of pot!” [Letitia Pepper, Oct 10, 2011] – here she confuses a “Minor In Possession” of tobacco infraction, which can be compounded by 270%, with a “Minor In Possession” of marijuana civil fine which cannot be compounded.
I guess if Ms. Pepper continues to refuse online debate, readers will just have to attempt to figure out what she is trying to say about the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act and then compare it with the language of the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act and see which language is clearer and more compelling.
And if Ms. Pepper changes her mind and wants a debate, I will be happy to oblige her. Any time, anywhere on the internet.
Read more about the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act.
If anyone has any questions about the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act, I would be happy to answer them. My email address is: [email protected]