CA Prop 5 Loses, But Marijuana Reform Measures Run Strong Nationwide

November 4, 2008 - On a successful night for marijuana reform initiatives nationwide, Californians roundly rejected Prop. 5, the Non-violent Offenders Rehabilitation Act, by 40-60%. NORA would have diverted non-violent drug possession offenders to treatment instead of prison and would have lowered small-scale marijuana possession to an infraction from a misdemeanor.

Prop 5 lost in the face of a tough opposition advertising campaign funded by the state's prison guards, who profit by imprisoning more Californians. Opponents argued that the measure's complicated and extensive provisions were not clearly understandable by the voters. Voters did turn down Prop. 6, which would have increased spending on law enforcement and enhanced certain drug penalties, by a margin of 30-70%.

In a local measure, Berekeley voters approved a medical marijuana ordinance, Measure JJ, by 62-38%. The measure, which was backed by patient advocates, makes it easier for MMJ cooperatives to operate in the city and repeals fixed limits on the amount of medicine patients can have.

Elsewhere in the country, marijuana advocates scored major victories in Massachusetts, which voted 65-35% to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, and Michigan, which became the nation's 13th state to approve medical marijuana by 63-37%.

On Hawaii's Big Island, an initiative to make small marijuana busts lowest priority won by 52%-39% (8% blank votes)

Fayetteville, AK, similarly voted 66-34% to make marijuana possession lowest police priority.

Marijuana advocates are hopeful that the victory of Barack Obama will mean a change in federal policy. California NORML is calling on the President-elect to honor his pledge to end DEA medical marijuana raids.

In a message to Patients Out of Time, the Obama campaign affirmed his position as follows:

>Subject: Response to your message to Obama for America
>
>Dear Friend,
>
>Thank you for contacting Obama for America to inquire about the
>Senator's position on allowing severely ill patients to use marijuana
>for medical purposes.
>
>Many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush
>Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these
>facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law
>enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many
>violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no
>sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is
>president.
>
>Thank you again for contacting us.
>
>Sincerely,
>
>Obama for America

California NORML is calling for:
- an end to federal DEA medical marijuana raids and arrests
- an amnesty for medical marijuana prisoners
- federal recognition of Prop 215 and other state medical marijuana laws
- an end to federal restrictions on marijuana research such as those blocking the proposed U. Mass research garden and a vaporizer study proposed by Cal NORML and MAPS
- favorable review of a marijuana rescheduling petition filed in 2002 and supported by NORML and other groups
- and the federal decriminalization of marijuana, as proposed by the 1972 presidential commission on marijuana and Rep. Barney Frank's current decrim bill, HR 5843.

- D. Gieringer, Director California NORML