Monday, September 28, 2009


NORML tackles crime and money

Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Posted: 09/27/2009 01:24:13 AM PDT

Marijuana advocates further discussed the possibility of legalization
Saturday at the 38th annual National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws, emphasizing arguments for its positive side effects on
crime and California's poor economy.

With panels on Mexican drug cartels and using marijuana legalization as
a source of revenue for the government, NORML members discussed wasted
law enforcement resources and the benefits.

Former NORML Director Richard Cowan estimated that 90 percent of the
Mexican drug trade involves marijuana.

Drug Policy Alliance Director Ethan Nadelmann said the best way to deal
with the violence of the Mexican drug cartels would be to end the
prohibition of marijuana.

"Mexico would more or less be removed from this business," he

Other panelists agreed, saying that ending prohibition will also stop
the institutionalized corruption within law enforcement that is related
to the drug trade.

"I don't know any police department in any part of the county that
has not had been tainted by at least one case," said Norm Stamper,
former Seattle police chief and now a member of the NORML advisory

CA NORML Director Dale Gieringer said the role of law enforcement as
well as the creation of a new revenue stream is what will spark the
interest of citizens who don't smoke pot themselves.

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who proposed the tax on
medical marijuana in Oakland that passed earlier this year, said she
thinks the measure passed because people saw how much money could be
made off the taxes.

"People want to make nonsense claims about stoners being irrational,
but what could be more irrational than throwing away billions of dollars
each year?" she said.

Gieringer said the amount of money that could be made through statewide
taxes is still unclear. While the Board of Equalization estimated that
the passing of Tom Ammiano's bill on legalization could generate nearly
$1.4 billion in revenue, Gieringer said the results of the several
statewide initiatives are still unknown.

At a breakout session on the law reform and activism plans in
California, members discussed the mobilizing of several groups,
including Americans for Safe Access; Drug Policy Alliance; Students for
Sensible Drug Policy; the West Coast Leaf, a newspaper focused on
cannabis news; and the newly created Medical Cannabis Safety Council, a
nonprofit that hopes to become the industry regulator.

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or e-mailed at
dtam@times-standard .com

http://www.times- standard. com/localnews/ ci_13432306

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