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AZ Approves Medical MJ

7:36 pm in 2010 election, Drug Policy, Elections, Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

After all the votes are counted, it looks like patients in Arizona won their battle for medicine:

Arizona voters have approved Proposition 203, which legalizes marijuana for medicinal use.

The Secretary of State’s unofficial results indicate that the “yes” vote on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act has won by a narrow margin of 4,341 votes, or 50.13 percent of more than 1.67 million votes counted.

This after Maricopa County officials finished counting about 11,000 outstanding ballots Saturday.

The “yes” and “no” votes remained neck-and-neck for more than a week since Election Night, with the “yes” vote trailing behind by at least 3,000 each day. But the “yes” vote picked up traction after election officials started counting provisional ballots and by Friday, it was leading by 4,421 for the first time.

Arizona would be the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana.

The general-election canvass will be held Nov. 29. The Arizona Department of Health Services has 120 days from that day to finalize all rules for implementation. The department is expected to begin reviewing dispensary and patient applications by April 2011.

This means that Just Say Now! wasn’t a total wipeout after all!

Hurray Arizona!

GOP test-markets its next ‘gay marriage’ issue in OK

2:02 pm in 2010 election, Drug Policy, Elections, Judiciary, Just Say Now, Legislature, LGBT, Politics, State Government by Teddy Partridge

It’s no secret that the GOP used ‘gay marriage’ prohibition referenda to great success in turning out their most fundamentalist, right-wing voters in states that mattered to the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign in 2004. But American voters, especially inward-looking, family-oriented fundies, must be constantly re-entertained to be electorally motivated. To that end, the GOP is test-marketing its second-decade turnout-motivator issue in Oklahoma: Sharia law.

Yes, Oklahomans will vote next week whether to prohibit their judges from considering international or Sharia law in their deliberations.

One of 11 ballot initiatives in the state this November, State Question 755, better known as the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment, would prevent courts from using international or Sharia law. The question made it to the ballot by passing the state Senate 41-2 and the House 82-10. In addition to potentially rallying the conservative base to the polls, the initiative, which bans something that is nearly impossible statutorily, is worth watching because the GOP may employ it in swing states two years down the line.

If this works — and why wouldn’t it, given the huge threat Sharia law currently poses to Oklahomans? — it may very well be the ballot issue that supplants ‘gay marriage’ in states the GOP needs to win the presidency in 2012. Look for compliant state legislatures, and some new GOP governors elected next week, to get this pressing issue on statewide ballots in 2012.

‘Gay marriage’ got the fundie preachers’ flocks up and out of the pews to vote in 2004. Eight years later, these preachers will naturally align themselves with such a pro-Christian issue: would you like your next brush with the police to be decided under Sharia law? ‘Sharia law’ is a double-barreled issue, too. It not only has the charming xenophobic resonance of George W Bush’s famous “with us or against us.” It also shuts down debate pretty quickly: “You’re not a terrorist-sympathizer, are you?”

Of course, that Sharia law poses absolutely no threat to American jurisprudence makes no difference whatsoever. Marriage equality hasn’t ended ‘traditional marriage’ anywhere, has it? The logic of the issue isn’t important. In fact, it’s counterintuitive, since anyone who argues against a Sharia law referendum is, by definition, on the side of terrorists.

See?

Suddenly, all that recent braying from disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich about a federal ban on Sharia law begins to make sense. The GOP must get folks scared about Sharia law if they to be asked to vote on it next cycle. If the unresponsive federal government won’t recognize the very real threat of creeping Sharia-ism in our courts, at least states can ban it.

For motivating base voters, 2012 might shape up to be Sharia v pot.

Rand Study: Prop 19 Will Crash Pot Prices, Increase Consumption

11:07 am in Just Say Now, Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Marijuana prices will drop by as much as 80% if Prop 19 passes in California this November, according to a study by the Rand Corporation‘s Drug Policy Research Center. Pot consumption will also increase.

The Santa Monica-based, nonprofit research institute predicted the cost of marijuana, which runs between $300 and $450 per ounce, could plunge to about $38 by eliminating the expense of compensating suppliers for the challenges of operating in the black market.

The researchers were not certain how much that decline in price might spur use, but noted that one typical estimate is that a 10% drop in price increases use by about 3%. Other factors, such as the elimination of legal risks, could also increase usage between 5% and 50%.

Moving pot out of the shadows will crash the price, as there will no longer be an illegality premium. Growers will be able to pay workers a little more than regular nursery workers make — ten bucks an hour — instead of the $25 they must pay now.

Additionally, marijuana ‘idealists’ are likely to be discouraged by the proposal from my Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who would tax pot fifty bucks an ounce. With the Rand-predicted price drop, more of marijuana’s consumer cost would be going to taxes.

The report notes that Ammiano’s proposed tax is about 10 times the rate of state tobacco taxes. That high tax creates an incentive for tax evasion that is more financially rewarding than smuggling marijuana from Mexico to California and it could also encourage smokers to turn to the highest-potency marijuana to get more bang for their buck, the researchers concluded.

Researchers also looked at the estimates of the cost of enforcing marijuana laws in California, which ranged from $200 million to $1.9 billion, and put it at “probably less than $300 million.” They also conclude that it is not possible to determine whether increased use would lead to more drugged driving accidents and to more use of harder drugs, such as cocaine, saying the research is inconclusive.

Ah, the ‘gateway’ — always hard to predict, always hard to measure, even in a world where pot is legal.