Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Press Release: Nationwide "Just Say Now" Campaign to Legalize Marijuana Launches Today

For Immediate Release: August 3, 2010                                        

Contact:  Tom Angell - 202-557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc
Trevor Fitzgibbon - 202-406-0646


Nationwide Just Say Now Campaign to Legalize Marijuana Launches Today

Poll Shows Legalization Among Youth a Strong Voting Issue

Will Mobilize for Midterms and in 2012 Presidential Battleground States

Campaign Led by FDL and SSDP Brings Together Former Police Chiefs, Prosecutors, Judges, College Student Groups, Bloggers, Musicians to Form Trans-partisan Alliance

A new national campaign, Just Say Now, launched today to mobilize millions of young voters nationwide in support of legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana.  Organizers aim to drive turnout for the mid-terms to support marijuana initiatives on the ballot especially in Arizona, Oregon, California, Colorado and South Dakota, as well as aiming to get initiatives on the ballot in 2012 Presidential battle-ground states.

The campaign combines the strong readership of FireDogLake, with the grassroots organizing capacity of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and has united a powerful group of strange bedfellows, including: Bruce Fein, the former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan; former police chiefs; federal judges; prosecutors; drug reform and student groups; musicians and blogs.

"We're delighted to be joining with SSDP to launch this campaign, and bringing together a trans-partisan coalition of support,” said Jane Hamsher, founder of Just Say Now. “Young people want marijuana to be legalized in overwhelming numbers: young voters are not just excited to support legalization, but are much more likely to turn out to vote if marijuana is on the ballot. We’re delighted about organizing legalization supporters and getting them to the polls on Election Day."

Draconian United States laws on marijuana negatively impact American life in many ways.  A slew of problems currently facing America can be traced to illegal marijuana use and trafficking.

The recent fury around border security and immigration laws stem from one source: Mexican drug cartels using marijuana as a cash crop to fund any number of illegal activities. Meanwhile, America has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prisoners.  Since the war on drugs began in 1984, the American prison population has quadrupled.  Marijuana arrests are at an all-time high -- nearly 800,000 in 2007, more than the total of all those arrested for violent crime.

"As a police officer, I can tell you that the 'war on marijuana' has done nothing to reduce marijuana use," said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a 33-year veteran cop who ran anti-narcotics task forces for the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department. "But this failed prohibition policy has achieved some results: far too many cops killed in action, billions of tax dollars wasted, powerful and well-funded drug cartels and out-of-control violence in our cities. When my good friend Ed Toatley was killed in the line of fire during an undercover operation, Maryland lost one of the best narcotics cops in our state's history. It is in his honor, and in the names of all the good cops whose lives have needlessly been lost in this failed 'drug war,' that I now work to change these deadly laws."

Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana at the state level, just like alcohol, will put money that is going into the pockets of the drug cartels back into the American economy.  Legalization has the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenue:  A report authored by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron and endorsed by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman it would produce $40 billion a year in taxes.

“This is a fundamental issue of states’ rights,” said Bruce Fein, former associate deputy Attorney General, “Marijuana should be treated just like alcohol – regulated and taxed – there could be a windfall for the US economy.”

A recent poll by America Votes has shown just what an important issue legalizing marijuana is for young voters:  47% of young voters would be more likely to vote if the issue were on the ballot in the midterms.

"I am thrilled to be partnering with FireDogLake at an historic moment in the marijuana legalization debate,” said Aaron Houston of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “Our coalition will serve as a long-needed cooperative effort that will marry expert political minds with an enormous grassroots network of students and activists around the country.  Together, we'll get the message out that we can cut off 70% of the cartels’ profits if we tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol."       

As part of the campaign, Just Say Now is launching a petition to President Obama to "end the war on marijuana."

Sign our petition to President Obama:

The war on marijuana is a failure. The government wastes billions of dollars fighting drug cartels that thrive on marijuana prohibition. Thousands of people are killed, police officers lives’ are put in risk, and taxpayer dollars are wasted for nothing.

With states on the verge of legalizing marijuana, it’s time for a reality check. The federal government should drop its active opposition to marijuana legalization.

It's time to end the war on marijuana.

Advisory Board Members:

Bruce Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan and is the author of The American Empire: Before the Fall. He writes weekly columns for The Washington Times and Politico.com, and is frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and other major national publications.

Norm Stamper

Norm Stamper, Ph.D., was a police officer for 34 years. He served as chief of the Seattle Police Department from 1994 to 2000. “The major police corruption scandals of the last several decades have had their roots in drug enforcement.” As a cop dedicated to protect and serve, Norm believes the war on drugs has done exactly the opposite for people. He explains that statement in his new book, Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing

Glenn Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and is currently a contributing writer at Salon.com. He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest, and In These Times. He is the author of two New York Times bestselling books: How Would a Patriot Act (a critique of Bush executive power theories) and A Tragic Legacy (examining the Bush legacy). In 2008, he authored a study, commissioned by the Cato Institute, on the implications of Portugal’s 2001 law decriminalizing all drugs.

Jane Hamsher is the founder and publisher of Firedoglake.com, a leading progressive blog. Her work has also appeared on The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, AlterNet, The Nation, and The American Prospect. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Al Jazeera, PBS, and the BBC. She is the author of the best-selling book Killer Instinct, and she has produced such films “Natural Born Killers” and “Permanent Midnight.”

Aaron Houston is the executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. His notoriety in DC can be measured by his many television appearances, including a universally coveted guest spot on “The Colbert Report.” In addition to his work in drug policy, Aaron has experience in student organizing, serving as the executive director for the Colorado Student Association in Denver.

Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), is a 33-year police veteran who led multi-jurisdictional anti-narcotics task forces for the Maryland State Police and ran training for the Baltimore Police Department. After seeing several of his law enforcement friends killed in the line of fire while enforcing drug policies, Neill knew that he needed to work to change these laws that cause so much harm but do nothing to reduce drug use.

Michael Ostrolenk

 co-founded and is National Director of the Liberty Coalition, a transpartisan coalition of groups working to protect civil liberties, privacy and human autonomy (2005- present). He is presently the coalition coordinator and public policy counsel for the Campaign for Liberty working on transparency and open government issues. He also sits on the Steering Committee for Openthegovernment.org. Michael is the Executive Director of the Transpartisan Center in Washington DC. He served as President of Reuniting America (2007-2008) as well as Co-Director (2006-2007). He is also a founding member of the Integral Institute. He has written for a wide variety of publications ranging from USA Today to The American Conservative Magazine and speaks frequently about health-care and national security related issues.

Eric E. Sterling is the President of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a private non-profit educational organization that helps educate the nation about criminal justice problems. He helped found a number of drug policy organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, and Forfeiture Endangers American Rights. As a former Assistant Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee (1979-1989), Mr. Sterling was responsible for writing federal drug laws.  He has debated U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, Jr.(D-DE), then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III; and other officials about the “War on Drugs.” In 1999 he was honored with the Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law by the Drug Policy Foundation. Mr. Sterling has also served as an adjunct lecturer on criminal justice, sociology, and drug policy at George Washington University and American University.

Danny Goldberg is president of Gold Village Entertainment, a management company in the music business whose clients include Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, The Cranberries, The Hives, Peaches and Tom Morello. He is author of the books Bumping Into Geniuses and How The Left Lost Teen Spirit, and serves on the Boards of The Nation Institute, Brave New Films, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Americans for Peace Now, and is Chair of the Board of the American Symphony Orchestra.

Bill Adler has devoted the last 25 years to a career in hiphop during which he’s worked as a journalist, critic, publicist, biographer, archivist, label executive, curator, editor, film documentarian, and teacher. As Director of Publicity for Rush Artist Management and Def Jam Recordings he worked with Kurtis Blow, Whodini, Run-DMC, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Stetsasonic, De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, 3rd Bass, and others.

Scott Morgan is associate editor of StoptheDrugWar.org, one of the web's leading resources for drug policy reform advocacy. Scott serves as the primary contributor to the organization's popular Speakeasy Blog and his analysis of marijuana and other drug policy issues has been cited in many of the internet's most popular websites. Scott is also associate director of Flex Your Rights, where he develops and produces innovative know-your-rights educational media. In this capacity, he served as the co-writer and co-executive producer of the highly-acclaimed new film, "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."

Joe McSherry, M.D., Ph.D.

 is a professor and neurologist at the University of Vermont School of Medicine. Dr. McSherry has served on various advisory panels for implementation of Vermont's medical marijuana law, and he also serves as the specialty representative for neurosurgery in the Vermont Medical Society.  He has published several medical journal articles on marijuana, including a 2005 article on applications for Parkinson's disease in the journal Neurology.

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  1. "A report authored by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron and endorsed by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ it would produce $40 billion a year in taxes."

    Some form of estimation/approximation slipped through the editorial cracks here, it appears. ;)

    I feel really pumped about the JustSayNow campaign. It certainly looks promising with its 'transpartisan' approach and focus on the youth vote.
    It is especially pleasurable to watch Jane Hamsher drop the legalization bombshell into television debates about immigration and subsequently to watch the implosion of unprepared pundits who get caught off guard by her excellent rationale. (Not that the argument itself would be new, but the spontaneity of it all just is a must see. :D)

    - Jonas aka 'The Grammar Sheriff')


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