By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 7:46 am
California voters favor legalizing pot for recreational use, strongly support the existence of medical marijuana dispensaries and want the feds to butt out of the California cannabis business.

In a California Field Poll released today, voters – by a 54 to 43 percent margin – say they want California to legalize marijuana beyond medical use with regulations similar to alcohol.

In the state with America's largest medical marijuana industry, the poll found that 67 percent of voters oppose an ongoing crackdown by the state's four U.S. attorneys on businesses selling pot for medicinal use.

The statewide poll was conducted little more than three months after voters in Washington and Colorado each passed measures to legalize marijuana as a mere pleasurable pursuit – upping the stakes in America's marijuana debate.

The poll results indicate continued strong support for medical marijuana as the stateSupreme Court is deliberating on whether scores of California cities and counties can ban marijuana dispensaries.

Meanwhile, California voters across party lines seem to be taking issue with federal threats, raids and prosecutions involving medical marijuana businesses.

The state's four U.S. attorneys have brought criminal cases against some medical marijuana providers and growers and sent letters threatening seizures of properties of others.

While all marijuana use is illegal under federal law, U.S. prosecutors assert California's medicinal cannabis industries have been "hijacked by profiteers" violating both state and federal laws.

In the poll of registered voters in early February, 68 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of independents said they oppose the federal crackdown.

"It's certainly not winning over the hearts and minds of Californians," state Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said of voters' reactions to federal enforcement efforts. "The getting tough policy by the feds is not impacting public opinion in a positive way."

Poll respondent Stewart Hintz, 47, a Republican from Rocklin who doesn't smoke marijuana, said the federal crackdown was inevitable because dispensaries appear to be drawing numerous people with little or no medical need. But Hintz said, it's time for pot to be legal – and for the government to back off.

"Once (alcohol) prohibition was repealed, the feds pretty much took their hands off – and I think that's the best model," he said.

Some 58 percent of Field Poll respondents also said they favor allowing medical dispensaries in their cities or towns, with the stores strongly supported by voters in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County and modestly supported elsewhere in Southern California.

"I haven't seen any substantive negatives" about dispensaries, said Patrick Cole, an independent voter in Butte County who last tried marijuana in college nearly four decades ago. "The executive branch gets on its high horse about how insidious this is and how it's corrupting our neighborhoods. Yet there is a liquor store on every corner."

The poll results drew a spirited response from the director of California's largest medical marijuana dispensary.

"This poll … heartens me and makes me feel validated," said Steve DeAngelo, whose Harborside Health Center dispensary in Oakland is being targeted by federal prosecutors who have sued to seize the property.

He said the poll results also suggest that California politicians opposing medical marijuana and its distribution "are going to see serious consequences" at election time.

Richard Lee, who led Proposition 19, the failed ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana in California in 2010, said poll results give momentum to advocates backing an initiative to legalize nonmedical use in 2016.

"I think it shows that it's going to win in 2016, and it's just a matter of writing the best law that we can."

Bishop Ron Allen of Sacramento's International Faith Based Coalition, a member of Californians Against Legalizing Marijuana, said the poll results show that "we have to do a better job of educating the community about the harms of marijuana."


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/02/27/5220454/field-poll-california-voters-favor.html#storylink=cpy


 
 
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~I love that William Lacy Clay signed a bill in 2008 "accidentally" but it ended up being a good thing for him politically! ss

By Chris Goo
@c_good
Follow on Twitter


Feb 8, 2013 4:31pm
Image credit: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

A new effort is under way in Congress to legalize marijuana.

After Colorado and Washington became the first two states to approve the sale and use of pot, marijuana advocates are turning their eye toward the federal government – something they don’t often do.

Members of Congress will introduce between eight and 10 bills to roll back federal marijuana restrictions and levy new taxes.

The first two were introduced this week by two liberal members of Congress. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., on Monday rolled out a pair of bills that would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, while still allowing states to ban it.

Polis’s bill, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, would remove marijuana from the list of banned substances under the Controlled Substances Act and regulate pot under a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms. Marijuana growers would have to buy permits to offset the costs of federal oversight.

Blumenauer’s bill, the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would levy a 50-percent excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, typically from growers to processors or sellers, plus annual “occupation taxes” of $1,000 and $500 on marijuana growers and anyone else engaged in the business.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., meanwhile, plans to introduce another marijuana bill sometime soon. He’s the only Republican to formally support either Polis or Blumenauer as a cosponsor.

Blumenauer’s office confirmed that a slew of bills are on the way.

“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” Blumenauer said in a prepared statement on Monday.

He may be right. Marijuana legalizers enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, hitting on their two major legalization initiatives at the state level in Colorado and Washington. Since then, bills have been introduced to roll back marijuana restrictions in Hawaii, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

It’s unlikely Congress will legalize pot anytime soon, despite polls showing broader public acceptance of pot. In December, 64 percent of Gallup respondents said they don’t want the federal government stepping in to prevent pot legalization in states that allow it. In November, another nationwide Gallup poll showed that 48 percent think marijuana should be legal, while 50 percent think it shouldn’t be.

But Polis’s bill only has 11 cosponsors and must make its way through the Republican-controlled House Agriculture Committee.  Blumenauer’s has two and must make its way through the GOP-controlled House Ways and Means Committee.

What’s significant about the new push, however, is that it comes on the heels of actual state-level policy change. State and federal laws now thoroughly conflict on the topic of marijuana, and never before has Congress considered legalization in that context.

In fact, Congress rarely considers marijuana legalization at all. The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project considers a 2011 effort by then-Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, to have been the first serious effort to end marijuana “prohibition” at the federal level. That bill went nowhere. Before that, Frank pushed a bill in 2008 that mostly decriminalized marijuana federally. In a Democratic Congress, that bill died in committee. One of its seven cosponsors signed on by accident.

The present effort appears more coordinated. Along with their bills, Polis and Blumenauer released a 20-page white paper on the history of marijuana’s illegality. It’s the first time pot legislation has been introduced in such a multi-bill wave.

For decades, marijuana advocates have pushed medical-pot laws and decriminalization measures through state ballot initiatives and state legislatures. The federal push, unlikely as it may be, represents a new prong in their strategy.


 
 
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By: Betty Aldworth



Phoenix, AZ – In a poll conducted January 9 and 10, Public Policy Polling found that 59% of Arizonans support the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and 59% would vote “yes” on a future initiative to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The poll of 600 Arizona voters was commissioned by the National Cannabis Industry Association. View the results at http://thecannabisindustry.org/AZ-survey-011113.pdf.

Despite multiple delays caused by governmental inaction and meritless lawsuits, the strictly controlled non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries mandated by 2010’s Proposition 203 are beginning to operate. Aaron Smith, Executive Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, stated "Allowing seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana demonstrates compassion, but supporting a well-regulated medical marijuana system also benefits the broader community by allowing patients to obtain their medicine through safe and legal dispensaries rather than the criminal market. State officials should see this survey as a mandate to fully implement the law rather than continuing to waste taxpayer money on futile obstructionism.”

Smith highlighted the benefits of regulated marijuana sales, which include redirecting law enforcement efforts toward violent and serious crimes, creating sustainable jobs, generating tax revenues, and better restricting youth access to marijuana, noting that “It's no surprise that nearly six out of ten voters support regulating the state's entire marijuana market in order to keep marijuana behind the counter at licensed, tax-paying facilities rather than on the streets and under the control of violent drug cartels.”






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