Ending the 100-Year War on Marijuana in California

See video of the press conference, from Harm Reduction Productions

September 8, 2014 - The disastrous legacy of the war on marijuana will be addressed at a press conference to mark the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first “marihuana” raid in LA’s Mexican Sonoratown neighborhood (pictured) on Thursday, Sept 11 at 10 am. at LA City Hall, Spring Street Steps.

The raid was the opening shot in a hundred years’ war that has seen over 2.7 million Californians arrested for victimless marijuana crimes, with a disproportionately great impact on minorities.

The press conference is hosted by California NORML and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, a statewide coalition dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in California in 2016.

Speakers will include:

• Former LA councilmember Bill Rosendahl
• LA City councilmember Paul Koretz
• West Hollywood councilmember John Duran
• Attorney General candidate Ron Gold
• GLACA (Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance) director Yami Bolanos
• Judge James Gray
• DPA (Drug Policy Alliance) spokesperson Armando Gudiño
• William C. Velasquez Institute president Antonio Gonzalez
• South LA Reintegration Council director Nyabingi Kuti
• Cheri Sicard, LA County NORML's Women's Alliance
• LA NORML director Bruce Margolin
• California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) Director and CCPR board member Dale Gieringer
• and others to be confirmed.

Participants will address the failed marijuana policy that has cost California billions of dollars in arrest, prosecution and prison expenses; fueled an illegal black market and lined the pockets of violent narcotrafficantes; promoted environmentally damaging trespass grows on public and private lands; and blocked access to useful medicine, all while failing to stem drug abuse in the state and depriving it of billions in tax dollars from a legitimate industry.

According to the California Attorney General’s office, Hispanics are the most-arrested ethnic group for felony marijuana offenses in the state, followed by whites and by blacks, who are incarcerated at a rate of nine times more than whites. Hispanics were also the target of the state’s first marijuana raids, as reported in the LA Times (Sept 10, 1914), at a time when “marihuana,” the Mexican word for cannabis, was virtually unknown. The raids were led by the California State Board of Pharmacy, which had secured passage of a pioneering law prohibiting “Indian hemp” as part of a broader anti-drug campaign. Ironically, only after being made illegal did marijuana become popular, eventually being used by millions of Californians, including an estimated 750,000 patients who use cannabis for medical purposes under Prop. 215.

Participants will be calling for an end to the war on cannabis so that its full potential can be realized as a medicine, an agricultural crop, a legally regulated industry for adult enjoyment, and a source of tax revenues for drug treatment, education, health care and other needed services.

“Now that Colorado and Washington have legalized adult use and sales of marijuana, and Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia are poised to do so in November 2014, California will do well to re-examine its long, unproductive war on the marijuana plant and enact laws to regulate it for the benefit of all,” said Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer.

Spanish language interviews will be available at the press conference.

Entrevistas en Español: Armando Gudiño, Drug Policy Alliance 562-413-9003

See background flyer and backrounder press release.

More on the history of cannabis in California

LA Daily News story

SF Weekly story

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California NORML is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to reforming California's marijuana laws. Founded in 1972, its mission is to establish the right of adults to use cannabis legally. See www.CaNORML.org

The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform is a non-profit coalition— including California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), DPA (Drug Policy Alliance), ASA (Americans for Safe Access), LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), MPP (Marijuana Policy Project), CCIA (California Cannabis Industry Association), EGA (Emerald Growers’ Association), UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) and NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)—dedicated to ending prohibition in California by legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis in 2016. See www.ReformCA.com