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Group Calls on Elected Officials in Texas to Stop Taking Alcohol Money Until Marijuana Is Legalized (Press Release)


CONTACT:  Craig Johnson, 469-733-6769,

DALLAS, TX Dec. 2, 2010 -- With Texas politicians collecting a significant percentage of their campaign contributions from the alcohol industry after the November election, the Safer Texas Campaign (a project of is renewing its call on elected representatives to stop accepting such money until Texas passes legislation allowing the regulated use and sale of marijuana as a safer alternative to alcohol.

According to campaign records provided by the nonpartisan, nonprofit, the five Texas politicians who have received the largest contributions from the alcohol industry are Governor Rick Perry, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, and Attorney General Greg Abbott, all have so far received a total of $1.4 million during the 2010 election cycle.

Governor Rick Perry and the Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 1199 in 2003, a bill that made it significantly easier for alcohol industry groups to pass sales initiatives in "dry" cities.  Despite the tremendous social and economic cost of alcohol use on families and communities, the legislation received no opposition from law enforcement or substance abuse prevention organizations.

Since HB 1199 took effect, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission reports at least 391 local alcohol sales initiatives have passed statewide (compared to only 71 initiatives approved by voters during the eight years prior to HB 1199), and the number of "dry" counties has dropped from 51 to 26.

Studies show that alcohol use contributes to aggressive and risk-taking behavior potentially leading to acts of violence, whereas marijuana use does not.  The US Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey reported that two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor and that drinking is a factor in 75 percent of domestic violence incidents involving spouses.  A Harvard School of Public Health study reported in 2004 that 72 percent of college rapes nationwide occurred when the female was too intoxicated by alcohol to resist/consent. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of alcohol poisoning deaths in the United States is shockingly high, consistently between 300 and 400 each year; whereas, there are no records of deaths from marijuana poisonings. 

The recent California effort towards legitimate regulation of the marijuana market, Proposition 19 (also known as the Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act), was opposed by the state's largest alcohol industry group, California Beer & Beverage Distributors.

The Safer Texas Campaign states that it is not anti-alcohol, nor does it advocate the use of marijuana.  "Our campaign works to address increasing public safety concerns that our state laws prohibiting the marijuana market are sending a dangerous message to the public that alcohol is more acceptable than marijuana," said Craig Johnson, coordinator of the Safer Texas Campaign.  "Every objective study on alcohol and marijuana has shown marijuana is a much safer substance than alcohol to both the user and to society, so our legislators should not be driving more Texans to drink by prohibiting the safer alternative of marijuana."

More info online at

United States

GOP Presidential Hopeful Johnson Wants Pot Legalized

Gary E. Johnson, a former New Mexico governor and marijuana legalization advocate, is putting out Florida feelers in a possible bid for the presidency in 2012. Johnson's reasons for wanting to legalize marijuana: It's is less harmful than alcohol and the cost of locking up pot smokers exacts too much of a toll on civil liberties and on taxpayers. "I don't drink. I don't smoke pot. But I've drank and I've smoked pot...The big difference between the two is that marijuana is a lot safer than alcohol," said Johnson, an accomplished tri-athlete who once scaled Mount Everest.
Miami Herald (FL)

Medical Marijuana Foe Concedes in CA AG Race

Los Angeles County prosecutor Steve Cooley has conceded victory to San Francisco County prosecutor Kamala Harris in the race for California attorney general. Cooley had led on election day, but Harris moved ahead during the late vote count and, according to California secretary of state's office, now leads 46.0% to 45.5%. Although the results are not yet official, Harris leads by 54,000 votes with only a few tens of thousands left to count.

California's next attorney general, Kamala Harris (Wikimedia)
Cooley was strongly opposed by medical marijuana supporters because of his record as LA county prosecutor. He condoned dozens of SWAT-style raids on dispensaries, collaborated with the DEA, aggressively prosecuted patients and providers, and argued that any medical marijuana sales by dispensaries were illegal. He was backed by the California Narcotics Officers Association, which has called for the "eradication" of dispensaries.

Harris, on the other hand, has consistently supported the state medical marijuana laws. As San Francisco prosecutor, she also oversaw one of the first dispensary regulation ordinances in the country.

"A defeat for Steve Cooley is a tremendous victory for patients," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access. "Not only will we have an ally in Kamala Harris to be able to advance civil rights protections for patients, but we have also shown that medical marijuana advocates are a powerful political force. This race shows that medical marijuana patients cannot be marginalized without a political consequence," Sherer concluded.

United States

Election 2010: Races Still Undecided and Odds and Ends

It ain't over 'til it's over, and in a trio of races of interest to drug reformers, it ain't over. There are also a handful of other races of interest that we haven't mentioned yet. Here's a post-election roundup:

In California, in a race critical to the state's medical marijuana industry that is still close to call, Republican attorney general candidate Steve Cooley Saturday retook the lead from Democratic candidate Kamala Harris. Cooley is a determined foe of the existing dispensary system and has said he believes any dispensary sales of marijuana are illegal. As of Thursday morning (11/11), with only some absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted, Cooley has 45.9% of the vote to Harris's 45.7%. The Greens got 2.6% of the vote, the Libertarians got 2.5% of the vote, and the Peace and Freedom Party got 1.6% of the vote. As of this writing, Harris trails by about 22,000 votes.

In Arizona, in a race that is still too close to call, the medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 203, trails by slightly more than 5,000 votes out of 1.5 million cast, but with fewer than 130,000 mail-in and provisional votes yet to be counted. As of Wednesday night, Prop 203 trails with 49.9% of the vote, compared to 50.1% opposed. 

In Washington state, drug reformer and incumbent state Rep. Roger Goodman is leading narrowly in a race that probably won't be called until December 2, the last day for the secretary of state to certify election results. Goodman, the head of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, a national organization affiliated with the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project that Goodman founded, leads challenger Kevin Haistings by a margin of 51.2 to 48.8%.

Only 60% of the votes were counted election night, and Goodman was down by 500 votes then. Since then, the percentage counted is up to 91%, and Goodman has pulled ahead by more than 1,200 votes. For Haistings to pull it out, the late vote trend would have to dramatically reverse.

Also in Washington state, a drug law reforming candidate for Snohomish County prosecuting attorney, Jim Kenny, failed in his bid to win office. Kenney got only 30.03% of the vote, compared to 68.76% for his opponent, Mark Roe. Both ran as Democrats.

In Florida, drug reformer Jodi James was defeated in her bid to be elected state representative in District 31. Running as a Democrat, James got 37.81% of the vote, while Republican candidate John Tobia won with 62.19%.

In New York, Rockefeller drug law reformer Eric Schneiderman was elected attorney general. He won 54.9% of the vote, beating Republican candidate Dan Donovan, who had 43.7%. Also in New York, anti-prohibitionist candidates Randy Credico and Kirsten Davis picked up 0.6% and 0.5% respectively in their races for US senator and New York governor.

In Vermont, pro-marijuana decriminalization Democrat Peter Shumlin eked out a narrow victory over Republican Brian Dubie. Shumlin got 49.24% of the vote to Dubie's 47.46%.

Late Mail-In Ballots Favor Medical Marijuana Turnaround in Arizona (Update: Or Possibly Not)

[Update: Prop 203's numbers have dropped back down again after further counting of late ballots.]

Drug policy reformers were all but reconciled late Tuesday night to a zero-out-of-four year for statewide marijuana initiatives. Along with a moral victory but electoral defeat for California's Proposition 19 legalization measure, medical marijuana initiatives lost decisively in South Dakota and Oregon, and a medical initiative in Arizona, Proposition 203, was down by the frustratingly slim margin of 50.3%-49.7%, with most precincts reporting. Prop 203's support rose to 49.74% later in the night when the remaining precincts were reported.

Lily Rose, cancer survivor and Prop 203 proponent
As an email from Prop 203's main funder, the Marijuana Policy Project, pointed out Wednesday afternoon, though precinct reports had been completed, 290,000 late mail-in ballots (mailed at the last minute or dropped off in their mail-in envelopes at the polls Tuesday) remained to be counted, as did 84,000 provisional ballots (accepted at the polls but with the voters' eligibility in question), according to a press release from the Arizona Secretary of State's office. MPP pointed out that a 52%-48% split in favor of Prop 203 among those late-counted ballots would make up the roughly 7,000 vote difference between the yes and no vote counts.

The question then for Prop 203 partisans was whether those late mail-in and provisional voters are representative of the state as a whole (e.g., the equivalent of a random sample of Arizona voters, in which case one would expect the same statewide split on the initiative), or whether they differ demographically from the state as a whole, in ways that affect that split. A late Thursday afternoon update on the Secretary of State's web site suggests good news for the measure on that front, with an improved 49.86% voting yes on 203, 65,718 additional votes having lowered the vote difference to 3,870. Assuming those votes were mail-ins or provisionals, not additional precinct reports, Prop 203 at that rate could reach 50.4% or even 50.5%.

Observers have speculated that Republican voters may have disproportionately voted early by mail, due to the higher level of motivation prevailing among conservatives this year. More Democrats, by contrast, may have put off voting but responded at the last minute, prompted by get-out-the-vote efforts or the deadline. If so, that would bode well for Prop 203 -- as well as for candidates favored by reformers, such as California Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris, slightly leading arch-opponent of medical marijuana Steve Cooley; or Washington State Rep. reelection candidate Roger Goodman, slightly behind Police Sgt. Kevin Haistings but also closing the gap.

Provisional Arizona voters have until Tuesday, November 9, to bring qualifying identification to their county election offices. Click here for further information of qualifying ID types, or call (602) 542-8683 or (877) THE-VOTE for further information, or (602) 255-8683 for TDD for the hearing impaired.

United States

Some Good News from New York

Some good news from New York: State Senator Eric Schneiderman, legislative leader of the partially successful effort to repeal the state's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, has cruised to a solid victory in the race for New York Attorney General.

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor-Elect, was extremely active in the Rockefeller repeal campaign for several years, though he didn't do much if anything about it as AG, and during the campaign he opposed medical marijuana. Still, that doesn't mean he'll actively oppose it as governor, and having Cuomo and Schneiderman as governor and attorney general seems like it should be helpful.

United States

Insane Drug Warrior Wins Senate Seat

Well, Democrats have held the Senate, so enjoy being in the minority party, Sen. Kirk.

Medical Marijuna Industry Contributes Thousands to State Candidates

United States
In the first general election since the boom of the state's medical marijuana industry, cannabis supporters are making their voices heard the old-fashioned way: with money. Colorado medical marijuana business owners and advocates have made thousands of dollars in contributions to state candidates this year. Dispensary owners have teamed up to form a political action committee. And activists last month went so far as to host a fundraiser for attorney-general candidate Stan Garnett.
The Denver Post (CO)

Cuomo Opposes Medical Marijuana, Paladino Says Let the People Decide

New York Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he opposes legislation to allow for the use of medical marijuana in the Empire State. Cuomo's remarks came in response to a question prompted by a statement by Republican nominee week Carl Paladino a week earlier that the subject should be put to a popular vote.

Cuomo as Attorney General
New York does not have a voter initiative process, but that didn't stop the Tea Party-supported Paladino from suggesting public referendums on a number of hot button issues, including gay marriage, enacting tougher immigration laws, and medical marijuana. "Let the people decide," Paladino said at a Taxpayer Party forum in Middletown when asked about medical marijuana.

The irascible arch-conservative Palodino, an upstart upstate candidate, trails badly in the polls. According to Real Clear Politics, in the average of all polls on the race, Paladino gets trounced 58% to 31%. The most recent poll, taken over the weekend, has Cuomo winning 60% to 37%.

But even that huge lead wasn't comfortable enough for Cuomo, who in past years lent strong support to the campaign to repeal New York's Rockefeller Drug Laws, to take a similarly progressive stance on medical marijuana. Nor is evident support for medical marijuana among key Cuomo constituencies enough to budge him. According to a March poll, 50% of New Yorkers supported medical marijuana. The figures were higher for liberals (72%), young voters (62%) and Democrats (55%).

When asked by reporters Sunday about medical marijuana, Cuomo said he opposed a medical marijuana bill that had passed the state Assembly. "I think the dangers outweigh the benefits," he said. "I understand the benefits. I understand that it's been tried in other places. I think the risks outweigh the benefits."

When asked about possible revenues from taxing medical marijuana, Cuomo refused to bite. "A lot of things could raise revenues," he said."Legalizing prostitution could raise revenues. I'm against that, too."

And speaking of prostitution, it's worth noting that Paladino isn't the only option for marijuana reformers. Former madam Kirsten Davis is running on a marijuana and prostitution legalization platform on the Anti-Prohibition Party ticket, though her support is too small to show up in the polls. In the Senate race, long-time drug reformer Randy Credico has emphasized anti-prohibitionist and other drug reform positions in his independent campaign taking on Chuck Schumer.

The positions taken by the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New York are yet another indication that good drug policy reform positions are the exclusive domain of neither major party.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

United States

Pot and the GOP: Is the Party of ‘Just Say No’ Morphing Into the Party of ‘Just Say Grow’?

The Republican Party is a long way from becoming the Pot Party. Nonetheless, conservative attitudes are changing at the grassroots level. The percentage of Republicans in favor of legalizing marijuana has risen quickly since 2005, jumping 7 points. And as their constituents have moved on the issue, more Republican candidates and lawmakers are refusing to toe the party line.
Newsweek (NY)

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