23 February 2009

Urge Your Legislatures to Support Marijuana Reform

This morning, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced groundbreaking legislation that would remove state-level penalties for responsible marijuana use in California. The bill, A.B. 390, would not only allow personal use and cultivation of marijuana but would also set up a legal system to tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol.

Urge your state legislators to support this bold legislation!

Using MPP’s online action center, writing your state representatives is easy. Just visit the site, enter your contact information, and send your e-mails to your state assembly member and state senator. You can use one of our pre-written messages, or you can write your own.

Just last week, the legislature approved a budget that significantly increases taxes for almost every Californian and makes deep cuts across many vital services. With the state’s imperiled economy, the need to end the costly and ineffective policy of arresting marijuana users and to instead begin taxing California’s largest cash crop is extraordinarily obvious.

This is the first time that legislation calling for marijuana regulation and taxation has been introduced in California’s state capitol. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of California history by supporting A.B. 390!

You can read more about this bill on our blog. Please forward this alert to as many like-minded Californians as you can so that they too can take action. Thank you for supporting MPP and sensible marijuana policy in California.


Aaron Smith signature

F. Aaron Smith
California Policy Director
Marijuana Policy Project

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NOTE: Consequently, this brave legislature inspired me to write to my own NY state senators, congressman & assemblymen & encourage those not living in California to do the same. Below is a copy of my letter. Feel free to use any of the information. Of course, the Wall Street Wanker-Banker's comment is NY specific, but true nonetheless. You can find your representatives through project Vote Smart HERE.

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Dear Assembly member / Congressman / Senator _________:

As I type California Assemblyman Ammiano has introduced the marijuana regulation bill, A.B. 390. California schools are facing deep budget cuts and teachers are losing their jobs while the state’s biggest cash crop is untaxed. A.B. 390 will correct this disparity by taking marijuana out of the criminal-controlled underground market and place it in a well-regulated and taxed system. This sensible legislation will raise billions in new state revenue and save precious law enforcement resources.

NYC has the largest public school system in the United States and our children's education is suffering greatly. I'm writing today to strongly urge you to introduce similar marijuana regulation legislation on behalf of NY.

According to research done in 2006, marijuana is contended to be the number one cash crop in the United States. A new Rasmussen Reports in a national telephone survey, that 40% of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. 55% of Americans believe possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be treated as a criminal offense and 78% support making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering. It should be no surprise to learn then, that the World Health Organization estimates 42% of Americans have tried marijuana – indeed, the highest usage level in the 17 countries profiled. That's over 100 million Americans, with 15 million reporting to use monthly!

In fact, every comprehensive objective government commission examining the marijuana phenomena over the previous 100 years has recommended that adults should not be criminalized for marijuana use. Yet, federal government figures indicate that there are more than 41,000 Americans are in state of federal prisons on marijuana charges right now - not including those in county jails. This represents more than the number imprisoned on all charges combined in eight individual European countries! With so many convicted felons, who will be left to vote for you?

Three Nobel Prize winners - including Milton Friedman - were among the more than 500 economists who endorsed a 2005 Harvard study concluding that legalization of marijuana “Would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.” Not surprisingly, these statistics are fiscally conservative. According to more realistic estimates by one of the Harvard University economists, Jeffrey Miron, replacing the current failing marijuana prohibition system with one of taxation and regulation would save between $10 and $14 billion per year in reduced government spending, and increased tax revenues. Still another researcher recently estimated that the revenue lost from our failure to tax the marijuana industry could be as high as $31 billion!

Even congressman Ron Paul - perhaps the most conservative, grandfatherly man to ever be admired by America's marijuana enthusiasts - agrees the "War of Drugs" isn't working. Speaking live from Clute, Texas, on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher, the libertarian-leaning Republican did what few other members of Congress will and openly called for the United States' War on Drugs to be abolished. He elaborated further stating, "I don't like pot, but I hate the drug war, so I would repeal all of prohibition. But, I wouldn't even bother taxing it. People have the right in a free country to make important decisions on their own lives. If they want to make mistakes, they can. They just can't come crawling to the government to get bailed out or taken care of if they get sick. I believe in freedom of choice in all that we do, as long as the individual never hurts anybody else. So that means I would get rid of all the federal laws. I would dispose with the drug war. We're spending tens, if not hundreds of billions of dollars on this, then (we) march into places like California, override state laws, arrest sick people and put them in prison. It makes no sense whatsoever," he insisted.

Isn't it time we start making sense for a change? Whether the savings is $2.4, $7.7, or $31 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement, any of these numbers should be incentive enough. You've already got some pretty heavy-hitters on your side - three Nobel Laureates, 497 economists and Ron Paul. Do you seriously believe you're more intelligent than these men?

Just think of the boon in tourism a measure like this would bring to the city of NY, not to mention the small business growth. Have you ever been to Amsterdam? It resembles none of the ilk of "Reefer Madness". In fact, Americans already smoke more marijuana as those who can do so legally in the Netherlands. So, why not give people some peace of mind, save copious amounts of money in the process, and inject some much needed revenue into our failing schools? This is a win-win scenario. Perhaps if the wanker-bankers of Wall Street's preferred drug were marijuana, rather than cocaine, we'd be in an entirely different scenario?

Yet, here we are. And where is here, exactly? Someone is arrested for a marijuana offense in America every 36 seconds and 89% of these are for marijuana possession — not for sale or manufacture. In the U.S., there are more arrests for marijuana possession each year than for all violent crimes combined. The "War on marijuana" is clearly not working. However this be decided, we need to shake off the clearly outmoded puritanical shackles, and start getting real. Our nation is in deep you-know-what. FDR was sensible enough to repeal prohibition, what's stopping you, Mr. Assemblyman? Try this site for some hard-hitting research.

Most sincerely,


Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember: TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

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