Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Will weed make the ballot?

Far out, man.  The Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis is seeking signatures to place an initiative to legalize marijuana on the ballot.  The petition filed with the Secretary of State is posted below.  The group issued this statement yesterday:

Fellow Mississippians,

There are so many times when we speak around each other. We argue political bullet points and never delve into the substance of an issue. At the moment, few debates are so widely misunderstood as those surrounding the decriminalization of cannabis. We would like to explain why we support this idea. If you will take the time to listen, we will do the same. And, against all expectations and media provocation, we could simply have an adult conversation about how this issue affects our state.

Many of us in Mississippi want to allow cannabis for medical use, particularly as a supplement for cancer patients going through chemotherapy. But this part of the ballot initiative is not the purpose of this message. Let's talk about the real issue, decriminalization.

First, we are not looking to introduce anything into the state that is not already here in abundance. I would bet that if you wanted to, you could think of someone right now you could call who could get you marijuana. It's everywhere and has been for quite some time. Decades of prohibition have not made marijuana go away. Actually, it's quite the opposite.

What we want, and here we should both just accept the fact that there are radical arguments on both sides that don't reflect the rationale of the majority of either side, is a system that regulates marijuana and treats it like alcohol. We believe that people are going to buy it either way. As it is, they avoid the law and buy from drug dealers. These dealers don't care how old their buyers are, and they don't know if the product they sell has been doused with harmful chemicals. They are disconnected from the source of their product, and every new purchase is a gamble for the buyer.

If marijuana were regulated like alcohol, users would have to show ID and be 21 to buy it. They would know that the product they're getting is what they expect it to be, not something grown in Mexico, sprayed with insecticides and smuggled into this country. Also, just because marijuana is decriminalized (and it already is in small amounts) does not mean that users can get behind the wheel after using it or do anything they could not do after consuming alcohol.

A common response in opposition to decriminalization is that doing so would encourage more young people to use marijuana, or that using marijuana would encourage more people to seek "harder" drugs. As stated above, putting an age limit on the purchase of marijuana is more likely to stop juveniles from getting their hands on it than prohibition. It is naive to think that teenagers would never otherwise figure out where to buy marijuana. At least requiring them to show ID would have a chance to stop them.

But the single greatest benefit of decriminalizing marijuana and bringing it from the black market into reputable places of business is this: it takes power and money out of the hands of drug dealers. The "gateway" argument is strongly related to the fact that prohibition pushes users into the proximity of drug dealers, and these dealers are not limited to marijuana. Purchasing marijuana at a designated store is no more likely to put the consumer into contact with crack dealers than buying alcohol at a liquor store.

Another major aspect to this debate is the cost of prosecuting non-violent marijuana users and the harshness of sentencing. As stated above, first offense with a small amount of marijuana is not a criminal offense. In all other circumstances it is. A person in possession of 10 pounds of marijuana can be given a life sentence. This is an extreme case, but according to Mississippi law, severe possession charges can carry a higher penalty than rape or manslaughter. Even if we ignore the phenomenal costs of long-term imprisonment, this asymmetry in our law just seems wrong to us.

This is a complicated issue, and this isn't the place to lay out our entire case for Proposition #48. But we are not in this because we want to encourage everyone to use marijuana. Many of us involved in this effort are not users. We just want to see a more balanced and reasonable approach to marijuana. We don't consider this a Democratic or Republican issue. Our supporters span the political spectrum.

We are happy to respond to any questions or comments. All we want is a rational dialogue about this issue.

Kingfish note: Rational? You want rational in Mississippi? What do you think of this initiative?


Anonymous said...

Names, please. If it's such a great advance in human relations, surely these folks don't mind identifying themselves.

Bill Dees said...

Where can I find one of these petitions so I can sign?

Anonymous said...

High Time we added marijuana intoxicated to the highways and interstates of our state. This will increase accidents and human causalities by 25%.

Anonymous said...

10:17 your 25% claim is a completely made up figure. You think people aren't already smoking while they drive? Marijuana doesn't impair you like alcohol and for many users they drive better. I know I'd much rather someone that is a little stoned get behind the wheel than someone a little drunk or someone on prescription pills (the real problem).

The problem with this issue is so many people are uninformed and only believe what our fine government has told them about marijuana.

Anonymous said...

10:35. Your half truth is also half false. Yes, there are people already on the roads that are smoking. Yes, you might 'prefer' someone 'a little stoned' than someone 'a little drunk'. (Both kinda like being 'a little pregnant, but I digress.)

But the choice doesn't have to be one or the other. Just because you happen to think MaryJoe is preferable, why invite an additional possibility.

The 'half false' side of your comment is the "marijuana doesn't impair you like alcohol and for many users they drive better'. Just like you call out the earlier post as a made up figure, I call you out on both parts of that statement - completely made up.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 10:17. What a shill you are. It's OK to smoke and drive because people are drinking and driving? Now THERE'S an intellectual solution if I ever heard one.

Anonymous said...

Marijuana doesn't impair you like alcohol and for many users they drive better.


Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in seeing before & after crime and traffic accident stats from states that have had legal pot for a few years.

I'm not arguing either way. The first step in this discussion would be to look at some objective data.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about making MJ completely legal however I am certain it should be decriminalized for possession of amounts under a couple of ounces. Its been obvious for some time that it is here to stay and we continue to make criminals out of young people (and some older) for recreational use without making a dent in the large scale suppliers. Some law enforcement see it as a money source, seizures of autos, etc while others realize it is a waste of resources to make arrest for small amounts. By the way never smoked but would certainly consider it if it were medically approved for old "arthur".

Anonymous said...

Too many people watched too much of the movie "Reefer Madness" and still believe what was purported to be true. The decriminalization of weed is the train you can't stop. Why not make it legal, regulate, and tax it. Prohibition has not stopped anyone from smoking the stuff. Prohibition didn't stop ANYONE from drinking whiskey.....

Anonymous said...

funny how quickly conservative "limited government" types want to jump on any liberties they disagree with.

Anonymous said...

"Why not make it legal, regulate, and tax it."

Because it is a drug, stupid shit.

Anonymous said...

@12:04 - The University of Colorado did a study in 2014 on driver's testing positive for marijuana before and after the legalization. The Abstract is at the link below.

Since "marijuana became commercially available and prevalent" in 2009, Colorado has seen an increase in the trend of drivers in fatal crashes testing positive for marijuana. This trend has not been echoed in states where marijuana is not legal. There was also no change in alcohol involvement in Colorado or elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

"Marijuana doesn't impair you like alcohol and for many users they drive better. "

Prove it - citation, please. Otherwise, bullshit.

Anonymous said...

"Wow, 10:17. What a shill you are. It's OK to smoke and drive because people are drinking and driving? Now THERE'S an intellectual solution if I ever heard one."

The concept of "sarcasm" is totally foreign to both of your brain cells, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

"High Time we added marijuana intoxicated to the highways and interstates of our state. This will increase accidents and human causalities by 25%."

The Mississippi Organ Recovery Association thanks you for your contribution to our cause :-)

Anonymous said...

12:31 - So is alcohol, stupid shit.

Anonymous said...

The petitions are available at any Taco Bell, after midnite.

Anonymous said...

I don't smoke, but I say free the weed. Who gives a s#$% if some folks toke up and we tax it.

Anonymous said...

Alcohol is a legal drug. Why shouldn't marijuana be treated the same way?

Anonymous said...

I, for one, trust Richard Nixon's deep CV on pharmacology, so if he said "dope" = bad 40+ years ago, it had to be right.

How could that guy have been wrong?

Anonymous said...

2:35 and 2:36 are spot on. And it'll probably create jobs too. That can't hurt.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't smoked it you don't have a damn clue as to how it effects you. I bet you 'bullshit' commenters don't have a clue.

Anonymous said...

All this talk has given me the munchies....

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's "regulate" it like alcohol. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/deadly-drink-alcohol-kills-six-americans-day-n280756

Anonymous said...

Prohibition has been the rationale behind almost every action our government has taken to gut the Constitution. It would be worth legalizing just to get our rights back.

Besides, we legalized gambling oh so long ago. Talk about socially destructive activities...

Anonymous said...

1:53. Alcohol is NOT a drug....Stupid shit.

Anonymous said...

6:04, please tell us the chemical difference between alcohol & "drugs".

Anonymous said...

6:04 probably thinks nicotine isn't a drug either.

Anonymous said...

12:04, the crime rate in Colorado reduced significantly after the state decriminalized pot. For example, Denver saw a 60% reduction in homicides. I don't have traffic statistics. Also, they are collecting $34 million in tax revenue per month, most of it going to education. In my opinion, this is such a no-brainer that there is no way in hell the thirty hissing possums will do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I haven't toked up in over 10 years.Making weed legal would definitely motivate me to bring out of deep storage the homemade bamboo Bong "circa 1979" that gave me and friends great service and many an enjoyable buzz. Hey man,let me hold a dollar.

Anonymous said...

Legalize it. In a saner world it would be marijuana that was legal and alcohol that was illegal.

Anonymous said...

I don't have traffic statistics.

Of course you don't because they don't bolster your argument. LOSER.

Anonymous said...

8:18, do you have anything to bolster your argument other than name-calling and vitriol? Are you the same person calling people "stupid shit" while claiming that alcohol is not a drug?

KaptKangaroo said...

I'm for it.

My father died of Pancreatic Cancer. The stigma prevented him from living a day or two, or maybe a month, or maybe long enough for medicine to catch up and him see his Grand Daughter as a whole person. In full disclosure, he did see her, as a bag of bones.

We had 3 month diagnosis with no successful outcome - whipple was not an option. It was a game of staying alive.

Use could have, would have stimulated hunger. You didn't see my dad, he starved to death. He was cancer free in the pancreas when he died.

Had Marinol, the stigma prevented him from taking this prescribed medicine. I honestly don't understand the cold calculation of the anti-movement. I'm certain we can all appreciate the medicinal use.

Anonymous said...

It's not a drug. It's foliage. It's a plant. It's a leaf. It's not a drug. There's nothing that has to be chemically added or altered in any way.

It was put here for us to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Any of you guys ever heard of a stoned person starting a barfight?

Anonymous said...

10:17, you must have been absent in junior high English class the day the teacher explained that in order for sarcasm to be effective, it has to be obvious. (See 3:27) Yours was neither obvious nor effective. I think you're just using an excuse for writing an ignorant post.

Anonymous said...

I think I'll enjoy some right meow.

'ere said...

'Taco Bell after midnight'. LOL. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

I'm certain all those who want weed to remain illegal favor the outlawing of alcohol and tobacco.

Stupid redneck hypocrites.

Victor Fleitas said...

KF, thanks for posting this story.

After reading the post and comments, I offered to volunteer to secure signatures to place this matter on the ballot for 2016. Until this matter is placed on the ballot, this is all just talk.

Reasonable people can disagree on the merits. So be it.

There are more than enough people in this state to place this measure on the ballot with just a little outreach.

By 2016, when the vote is actually taken, if the drive is successful, the voter demographics in Mississippi and developments in other states may make this ballot initiative a reality.

If you care to see this happen one day, volunteer now and help make it happen. Direct democracy is in painfully short supply nowadays. Here's an opportunity to participate directly in the process about something you may actually care about.

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