THE GRASS ON THE OTHER SIDE
Releaf Magazine June 2012
Just as young children look to their parents for their rules and guidelines, we have been brainwashed as adults into thinking our government must provide us with the same type of authority. Instead of telling the government how we want to live our lives and the rules they must follow, we look to them to decide if our actions are right or wrong. This is apparent as our Bill of Rights and the Constitution continue to wither away in front of our eyes. It is also blatant in the prohibition of cannabis. 17 states have enacted a medical marijuana program, 15 states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis, while over 50% of the country supports legalization of cannabis. While these numbers seem encouraging and may show progression in the cannabis movement, it also shows the power we give up by letting the government decide how cannabis should be regulated. It places Americans in a position where they must settle for less than they deserve and still fall victim to the mercy of a cannabis monopoly. In dry states, the DEA has and will continue to control the monopoly. The free enterprise of the California medical system has been viewed by some as the ‘wild west,’ leading to tighter regulation in other states that implement medical marijuana programs. The leniency of the California program allowed for many California residents to realize large financial gains by starting new businesses and engaging in cannabis related commerce. Wait….Americans making a living for themselves off of the land, growing plants that can heal and provide for self sufficiency? In today’s society it seems too good to be true, and unfortunately it will be for many states moving forward. That’s not what we are lead to believe though, just look at the picture that is being painted. Most states considering medical legislation immediately see opposition from those referencing the “flaws” in the California system. This has lead to private interest groups finding a backdoor into the driver’s seat of a cannabis monopoly. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Massachusetts which has multiple bills calling for medical marijuana being legal for its citizens. The bills that have no support are the bills that give patients the rights to provide for themselves, or appoint their own caregiver to provide for them. The bill that has support from the “for profit” patient’s organization is backed by a corporate giant with interest in keeping growing rights away from patients and put directly into the hands of corporations. I will say this as clearly and as blunt as I can: when you grow your own medicine for yourself, no one makes money from it. Sure, you may be better off as an individual, but as stated earlier, the government tells us how, what and when we can chew, rather than we pick out our own piece to chew on. So, to those living in a state without a medical marijuana program ready to support any bill that offers legalization, I will offer the following advice: the grass might look greener on the other side, but check to see if its fertilized with bullshit.
The Urban Alchemist
Ohio billionaire bankrolling Mass. marijuana question
Money over common sense, the American way. -UA
BOSTON - A proposed ballot question that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in Massachusetts is being bankrolled almost entirely by an Ohio billionaire who has backed similar efforts in other states.
According to state campaign finance reports, Peter Lewis, chairman of the board of the auto insurer Progressive Corp. contributed $525,000 to the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, which is supporting the question.
That accounted for virtually all the $526,167 raised by the group in 2011.
Lewis has also backed pro-marijuana efforts in Ohio and Washington.
The Massachusetts ballot question would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis to get permission from their doctors to use marijuana.
The plan also calls for the state to register up to 35 nonprofit medical treatment centers around the state to distribute the marijuana.
A public relations firm representing the Committee for Compassionate Medicine said the goal of the question is "to ensure that Massachusetts patients have the same access to the necessary medical resources to fight debilitating diseases that are available in sixteen other states."
"Peter Lewis and others have provided the initial funding to ensure the Committee for Compassionate Medicine qualified for the November 2012 ballot and to establish a grassroots political organization and fundraising infrastructure for that effort," the statement said.
With that financial boost, the group is hoping to draw thousands of supporters to help convince voters to approve the measure if it reaches the November ballot.
Critics of medical marijuana initiatives say weakening the prohibition against the drug could send the message to young people that smoking pot is no big deal, ultimately encouraging more teens to experiment both with marijuana and harder drugs.
Under the ballot question, the new treatment centers would be authorized to acquire, cultivate, possess and process marijuana, including the development of related products such as food, tinctures, aerosols, oils, or ointments.
Those patients allowed to possess marijuana would be issued registration cards by the state Department of Public Health after a physician determines in writing that they have one of the qualifying medical conditions.
Nothing in the ballot question changes state laws against driving under the influence, forces health insurers to cover the expense of the marijuana, or requires employers to allow for on-site medical use of marijuana.
The bulk of the money contributed by Lewis - $350,000 - went to hire professional signature gatherers to collect the tens of thousands of signatures needed to guarantee the question a spot on the November ballot.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts also received $9,000 in consulting fees, according to the records with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
It’s not the first time Lewis has waded into the debate about expanding access to marijuana.
Lewis is helping fund a campaign in Washington state to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use.
That question - which would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and impose a 25 percent excise tax on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana - appears headed for the November ballot in Washington.
And in his home state of Ohio, Lewis said last year that he was seeking proposals for a medical marijuana ballot issue for 2012.
Last month, backers of a ballot question to legalize medical marijuana were given the OK by the Ohio attorney general’s office to begin collecting signatures to put it on the November ballot.
The amendment to Ohio’s constitution would also allow those with a debilitating medical condition - including cancer, AIDS, glaucoma and Crohn’s disease - to use, possess, produce and acquire marijuana and paraphernalia.
It would also authorize vendors to make and distribute the otherwise illegal drug and set up a state oversight commission.
If the Massachusetts question lands on the November ballot it won’t be the first time that voters here have been asked to change state law regarding the drug. Generally they have been receptive.
In 2008, Massachusetts voters overwhelming backed a 2008 initiative which decriminalized the possession of an ounce of less of marijuana. The law instituted a $100 civil fine instead.
Then in 2010, advocates placed 18 nonbinding advisory questions on local ballots in communities across the state to get a sense whether Massachusetts voters would support another overhaul of marijuana laws.
Nine of the questions supported the use of marijuana for medical reasons while another nine backed legalizing the drug outright, allowing the state to regulate and tax it.
Voters responded to the questions with a resounding "yes." Support ranged from 54 percent in some districts to up to 70 percent in others.
Medical marijuana project moves along, while Lewis proposals on hold: Whatever Happened To ... ?
The Plain Dealer catches up with local stories published in 2011 in a year-end series of "Whatever happened to . . . ?" articles running through Jan. 3. The weekly edition of the feature, which appears on Mondays and updates stories from the previous year and beyond, will resume Jan. 9.
Whatever happened to the movement to legalize marijuana in Ohio?
A legalization push started in May by billionaire Peter B. Lewis has since stalled.
But another advocacy group has made progress in its effort to let voters decide whether medical marijuana should be legal in Ohio.
Lewis, chairman of Progressive Corp. and a well-known supporter of the cause, sought proposals to run a legalization campaign. The goal was to get the issue on the 2012 ballot.
But there has been no significant progress for such a campaign in Ohio, Graham Boyd, an adviser to Lewis, said recently. Boyd said several proposals were submitted but "we haven't really made an affirmative decision one way or another."
"We are just waiting and watching to see how things develop," Boyd said.
Meanwhile, another advocacy group is moving ahead with its own ballot initiative.
In October, the Ohio Ballot Board certified petition language submitted by the Ohio Patient Network for a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana.
The amendment would allow qualified adult patients to possess up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana. Under the amendment, patients would be qualified if they have certain medical conditions -- including glaucoma, Parkinson's disease, cancer, HIV and AIDS -- or if their condition causes severe pain, severe nausea or other symptoms.
With certification from the ballot board, the Ohio Patient Network and its supporters can begin collecting the 385,245 valid voter signatures required to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. The network would have to collect those signatures by early July to get the issue on the 2012 fall ballot.
"We've started the process, and right now we're looking for volunteers to help us gather signatures," said Tonya Davis of the Ohio Patient Network.
Davis, 48, of Kettering, said she suffers from calcium deposits on her brain that can cause brain damage, dementia and other health problems. She said legalized medical marijuana would help her avoid treating her problems with prescription narcotics.
"I want to utilize what life I've got left in a dignified manner," she said.
An April 2009 Ohio poll, conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, found that 73 percent of Ohio adults favored allowing medical marijuana.
-- Joe Guillen
Billionaire May Try to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Ohio
Fifteen states, according to the request for proposals, have made marijuana legal for qualified patients, most through the passage of similar voter initiatives. The first was California in 1996.
Now Lewis is considering pushing it through in his home state of Ohio. That’s where Progressive (nyse: PGR), the auto insurer founded by his father and run by Lewis for many years, is headquartered. Lewis, who now spends much of his time in Florida, gave up his CEO role in 2000 but remains chairman. About 90% of his net worth is held in shares of Progressive.
“Of the states that continue to prohibit medical use of marijuana, Ohio stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support,” stated the RFP, “This provides an opportunity to enact a new law that will directly help patients and to do so in a manner that will serve as a model for other states.” The goal of the proposals, due May 15, is not just to pass a voter initiative legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio but to design a campaign that could create a model for future campaigns in other states. Funding will be based on whether someone can make a convincing case that Ohio is the best state in which to win.
“You shouldn’t take it as a given that there will be a ballot initiative this campaign,” said Graham Boyd, Lewis’ lawyer and adviser, “But we want to see proposals.” He would not comment on whether Lewis is considering conducting similar ballot initiatives in other states.
Lewis has already given millions to the reform group, Marijuana Policy Project including $900,000 in 2010. He also gave $200,000 in support of California’s Proposition 19, the bill that sought unsuccessfully last November to legalize marijuana in California. Other billionaires who gave money in support of that bill include George Soros and Facebook billionaires Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker.
Lewis may have personal reasons for being so passionate about medical marijuana. He was once arrested for cannabis possession in New Zealand; his lawyer told the court he uses the drug to combat pain from a partial leg amputation.
Thanks to Alan Johnson, a reporter at the Columbus Dispatch, who first tipped me off to this story. Here is his piece.
- BUY PROGRESSIVE INURANCE!!!!
Progressive Insurance executive seeks proposals for Ohio medical marijuana ballot measure
It seems nice, but I always question the m.o. of big business.....-UA
Billionaire Peter Lewis is the chairman of Progressive Corp., based in the Cleveland suburb of Mayfield Heights. The request put out through his attorney notes that voters in 15 other states have passed ballot issues making pot legal for qualified patients. Lewis' call for proposals says the goal is to create an Ohio law that would serve as a model for other states.
The advocacy group NORML tells The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that Lewis has contributed up to $60 million toward the medical marijuana cause since the 1980s.
A spokesman for Ohio's House speaker tells the newspaper a medical marijuana bill in the Legislature is not a high priority.