Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pot Advocates Think Legalization Is Nearer

The 38th annual national convention for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws wraps up today at the downtown Grand Hyatt, and groups of medical marijuana users have been casually passing joints on the outdoor patio. It’s probably what some visitors from Des Moines were afraid would happen when they landed in the marquee city of the Left Coast.
But NORML delegates, basking in the glow of their Barack Obama themed-convention motto - “Yes We Can-nabis” - are convinced this isn’t a fringe issue any more.

“There is no doubt that today, Sept. 25, 2009, is the moment of genuine zeitgeist to decriminalizing marijuana in America,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML. “This conference represents that we are at that tipping point.”

Maybe in the Bay Area, but I doubt voters in conservative Orange County will be thrilled to vote for the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.

The cannabis act was endorsed Friday by Oakland mayoral candidate and former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. Perata was supposed to appear at the conference, but was ill and was not available for comment.

The act would make it lawful for anyone over the age of 21 to “possess, share, or transport not more than one ounce of cannabis.” The act is currently gaining signatures in a petition drive to make the ballot, but it seems more like a first step than a popular vote winner.

The same can be said about State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s bill, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, which he says could raise as much as $1 billion. Ammiano insists that even right-wingers will see the benefits of legal pot.

“It’s not the wedge issue it once was,” he said after speaking to hundreds of delegates at the NORML morning session. “When they see that the sales of pot to adults is financing a health clinic, they will see why it will work.”


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