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The Libertarian Party, born in Colorado 50 years ago, still seeks elusive mainstream acceptance

The United States’ third-largest political party — what its main founder considered “the last, best hope for freedom in America” — took root a half-century ago in a living room in Westminster. The TV flickered on, David Nolan would later recall, as the then-28-year-old advertising executive and his wife gathered in their duplex with three friends […]

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The Election is Finally Here


Although early voting has been going on in certain states since September, the single day where the majority of voters will cast their ballots is here.  Enthusiasm is high as many pictures have been taken of long lines at polling sites.  Whether you are voting for President Obama, Governor Romney, Governor Johnson, or another candidate, it is simply unacceptable that voting has become a test of endurance.  Our country has previously been an example to the rest of the word for handling our elections in a fair way.  It appears, we have entered the one of the first periods  in U.S. history where voting has become more difficult.

President Obama and Mitt Romney have been frantically traveling to many swing states in the last minutes of campaigning.  Even though most people seem to have made up their minds as to who they will be voting for, we decided to highlight some of the candidates below.  For marijuana reformers, this election may not have touched on the key issues you wish to see dealt with, but we will provide any information available about the candidate’s positions.  Below check out a brief description of the candidates and a brief description of their policy positions:


-President Barack Obama (Democratic Party)

Our 44th president was born and raised in Hawaii.  He would eventually move to Chicago and in 2006 he was elected to the United States Senate.  His significant accomplishments as President include ending the War in Iraq, passing the Affordable Health Care Act, and giving the order to Seal Team Six to kill Osama Bin Laden.  Critics have been upset with a stagnant economic recovery and his handling of medical marijuana which includes raids on dispensaries and very little difference in the handling of The War on Drugs.  Many marijuana reform advocates are hoping a second term for Obama would be starkly different for both the War on Drugs and medical marijuana.


-Governor Mitt Romney (Republican Party)

The Republican nominee for president of the United States was born in Michigan.  He also spent significant time in Utah before moving to Massachusetts.  In 1994 he challenge Senator Ted Kennedy but ultimately lost the election.  In 2002, he took over the leadership role for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, which was in dire financial straits.  Mr. Romney is credited with turning the situation around and ensuring that the Olympics would be a success.  He would eventually run successfully for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002.  As Governor, his chief accomplishment was reforming Massachusetts health care program.   After serving one term as Governor, Mr. Romney decided to run for president.  He lost out to John McCain in 2008 but finally received the nomination in 2012.  Mr. Romney has not addressed marijuana often, but did say several months ago that he would fight medical marijuana “tooth and nail”.


-Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party)

The former two term Governor of New Mexico was born in North Dakota.  While attending the University of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson paid his way through school by working as a handyman.  He would eventually start Big J Enterprises, and grow his company into one of the largest construction companies in New Mexico.  In 1994 he successfully ran for Governor of New Mexico.  He was re-elected in 1998 and still remains one of the most popular figures in New Mexico politics.  The Governor was previously a Republican but has since fallen from good graces with the party.  Many analysts believe his support for Libertarian causes such as marijuana reform and same sex marriage created a rift between Mr. Johnson and the GOP.  Mr. Johnson is now officially the Libertarian candidate for president and continues to serve as one of the most high profile advocates for marijuana decriminalization and reform.


-Jill Stein (Green Party)

The Green Party’s candidate for the United States Presidency was born in Chicago and raised in Highland Park Illinois.  She graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1979.  Jill Stein has been on the forefront of environmental issues across the country for decades.  She has testified numerous times in front of Government panels.  Ms. Stein has advocated what she calls “ The Green Deal”.  She sees it as a modern version of FDR’s “New Deal”.  In her deal, there would be a 30% reduction in military spending, higher tax rates for the wealthy while directing the additional money toward new age green jobs that would put America back to work while simultaneously working to reduce climate change.  Jill Stein has been a marijuana supporter for a long time and less than two weeks ago said that “marijuana is not dangerous at all” in a recent third party debate. encourages everyone to get out there and vote.    If you see long lines, please do not be discouraged.  We hope you stay engaged and make sure elections are conducted properly in the future.  The candidates are very different from one another so we encourage you to support the candidate you feel most closely represents your interests.  Additionally check back with us as we provide updates on the many ballot initiatives that are on the books.  Three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) have their residents voting on measures that will legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.  We will be conducting extensive follow up on the election all week.

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Arizona Continues Crusade Against State Residents

arizona arresting residents

It is truly a shame when a disagreement cannot be worked out and the only discourse to solve a problem is within the confines of a stuffy courtroom.  Unfortunately, we see it every day as families are unable to come to an agreement and take their affairs before a judge.  A similar situation is going on in Arizona, as once again disputes between a lawmakers and medical marijuana patients.

Although Arizona’s medical marijuana program was voted on and approved by residents, Governor Jan Brewer and other officials have directly challenged the will of the people.  After an embarrassing court showing the Governor dropped her most recent lawsuit against the people of her state.  However, there still has been echoing voices in the background of Arizona’s government to keep up the fight against its own sick residents.

While the Governor has been staying somewhat silent on the issue recently, apparently her police officers have taken the ball and started running.  In a raid of state legal medical marijuana patient Charise Voss Arfa’s home, police seized a tincture bottle.  After taking the bottle police charged her with a felony narcotics arrest, even as marijuana and its tincture extracts are supposed to be covered in the state’s medical marijuana laws.  Now the state will have to deal with a lawsuit challenging the legality of the arrest.

Many critics are upset about the recent direction of Arizona law, especially as officers have not proved their competency.    Arizona is known some “unique” laws that range from the silly, to the absurd (click here for a list).  However, in recent years they are also known for passing laws that create tension and division within its residents, most notably the law that requires residents to “show me your papers” should they match a particular profile.  Additionally these new directives are placing officers out of their comfort zone.  They are trying to uphold the marijuana laws but are not familiar with a tincture.  The immigration laws obviously lend themselves to even more problems as officers must make a determination on the fly based only on physical observation.

While this kind of political grandstanding may help to motivate political bases, it is extremely short sighted.  The electorate has changed and this can clearly be seen in this year’s U.S. Senate race.  In a state that traditionally elects Republican candidates, Democratic challenger Richard Carmona looks to have a very realistic chance of winning the Senate seat.  While old guard tries to wring the people dry through infringing on civil rights and turning to the courts, a new generation of patients, non whites, and the compassionate will remember, like any scorned family member, that officials choose the courts over listening to the will of the people.

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Medical Marijuana Industry News October 5, 2012

city council

Los Angeles Patients and Activists Score Huge Victory as they Force City Council To Repeal Dispensary Ban…

The decision by the Los Angeles City Council to drop their current efforts in banning marijuana dispensaries is a huge lift for many concerned patients.  While we at have posted the story already on our page, we thought it was important to bring more focus to the issue.  The city wanted the ban as they have proved unable to come up with an adequate system of regulation.  Instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty, they decided the work would be too difficult and tried to brush the issue under the rug.  A dispensary ban would have likely lead to a resurgence of unregulated gang related marijuana sales on the street level.  This week’s victory shows how the voice of the people still matters and how great things can be accomplished.  Americans for Safe Access was able to collect the over 27,000 signatures needed to block the ban.  After the signatures were collected the City Council had the option of repealing the ban themselves or putting the vote to the people.  Many analysts expected the issue to go to a vote.  While we have been hard on how the City Council has handled the situation, we would like to applaud them in this decision.  As it was becoming more clear that there was enough voter support to repeal the ban in the City Council decided not to drag out the inevitable.


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Synthetic Marijuana Linked to Kidney Failure in Oregon Residents…

Over the course of the past year fears have grown over synthetic marijuana use.  Most state governments and the federal government have outlawed its production.  Many health complications have been linked to synthetic cannabis use with kidney failure now emerging as the newest problem.  In Oregon, 6 cases of kidney failure have been linked to use of popular products such as “Spice” and “K2”. 
State Public Health Division Director Mel Kohn, M.D., M.P.H, said “People need to know that synthetic or designer drugs like ‘spice’ or ‘synthetic amphetamines’ are chemicals that are not safe, can contain dangerous contaminants, and may cause serious harm to users – even death, If you become ill after taking a designer drug, seek medical attention immediately and bring the drug in so it can be tested.”

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Republican Senate Candidate in Washington State Endorses Marijuana Legalization Initiative…

Bi-partisan has become a dirty word in Washington D.C. as neither party seems willing to give the other credit.  Hopefully in Washington State this can be corrected.  Many people may associate marijuana reform with Democrats, but many Republicans, especially those who favor state rights seem to moving toward supporting marijuana.  This is the case in Washington State as Republican Senate hopeful, Michael Baumgartner, has endorsed Initiative-502.  This ballot initiative will be voted on by residents of the state and would create a system of regulating, taxing, and distributing marijuana in a similar way that alcohol is handled.  In actuality, the marijuana industry will be handled by the states Liquor Control Board.  Mr. Baumgartner explained his support of Initiative 502 by saying “It’s taking a different approach to a very expensive drug war, and potentially a better approach.  They’ve checked all the boxes as far as what you would want to see happen in terms of provisions to keep it away from children and limiting access in the public space. I’ve just been impressed with the initiative and the people running it.”  While he may be a longshot to unseat U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, he may be successful in motivating the already high support for the bill.


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Colorado Residents Appear Ready To Legalize Marijuana

regulate marijuana like alcohol

Many states have now joined the marijuana reform movement and it appears more on the way.  At one point, certainly 12 years ago, passing legislation to allow for the use of medical marijuana was a much more controversial move.  With only a handful of states previously legalizing medical cannabis, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20 and officially altered the state’s constitution.

This November, Colorado residents will have another controversial choice when they enter the voting centers.  Thanks to the efforts of many residents and groups such as Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, Colorado residents may take the next logical step in providing relief and adopting new progressive strategies for a struggling economy and new age safety measures.  If residents pass amendment 64, they will effective legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana even for recreational use.  While the usual detractors have and will continue to dust off the same decades old talking points memo, many want to see a different approach.  Amendment 64 even has the support of many parents who would rather see safety mechanisms in place to prevent their teens from purchasing marijuana as opposed to just hoping they do not seek out street vendors.

A similar bill was voted on in 2006 and narrowly failed.  However, in the previous six years Colorado has seen its demographics change considerably.  While this can be measured by Census figures, it only takes a copy of the 2008 electoral map, and current polling data to show Colorado has changed drastically in the political arena and now appears to be a lean Democrat or at the very least a toss-up state.  Other than Bill Clinton in 1996, no Democrat has won Colorado in a modern election besides Obama.  A new poll seems to highlight the shift and now shows that Colorado residents are leaning heavily toward enacting Amendment 64.  The poll was conducted by The Denver Post and shows that Colorado residents are in favor of the bill by a margin of 51-40% (with 8% undecided).

Even if passed it does not guarantee that Federal agents will not interfere.  However, now many more tax dollars and jobs will be at stake should the Feds decide to demonstrate their legal authority.  However, if that fear governed Colorado residents before, they would not have persevered through the last 12 years.  With more national support that ever, and certainly than in 2000, Colorado residents again seem poised to bring about major change.

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Medical Marijuana Industry News September 14, 2012


New Bills In Congress Would Allow States to Decide Medical Marijuana…

As detailed often on, one of the biggest concerns for the medical marijuana industry is that is in a state of legislative limbo.  Patients are often left to wonder if they will have access to their medication.  Additionally, dispensaries face many difficulties operating in under the current system.  For the most part they are prevented from utilizing bank accounts or credit unions.  This results in high levels of marijuana and cash on premises, and dramatically increases the likelihood of being robbed.  Additionally, these businesses cannot benefit from the tax code or deduct expenses, making their survival challenging.  Several new laws in Congress have been introduced that would actually address these concerns.  Three different bills, HB 1983, HB1984, and HB1985, would allow dispensaries to take advantage of electronic banking, tax deductions, and would allow states to decide if they wish to permit medical marijuana by re-scheduling marijuana.  While similar bills have failed previously, there seems to be more bi-partisan support than ever for re-hauling the government’s approach toward medical marijuana.  While support was previously higher from Democrats, they have now been joined by fiscally conservatives who no longer want to see funds wasted on DEA raids.  Additionally, there is a growing call for returning many rights back to the states.


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Two Marijuana Dispensaries to Open in Vermont…

The federal crackdown and raids on marijuana dispensaries may not be producing the intended outcomes, especially in the Northeast.  In recent months, Connecticut has approved a measure to permit medical marijuana and even under the well known Republican Governor, Chris Christie (who does not support the program) New Jersey is close to dispensing marijuana to patients.  There is momentum across the country as Detroit, the state of Washington, Colorado, and Oregon will see their residents vote to regulate and legalize even recreation marijuana use.  A successful ballot initiative has also given residents of Arkansas the opportunity to vote on enacting a medical marijuana program.  In Vermont, two marijuana dispensaries have been given the green light to open.  One of the dispensaries will be located in Burlington while another will open its doors in Waterbury.  Vermont legalized medical marijuana in 2004 but patients are responsible for growing and cultivating their own medicine.  Patients in Vermont can possess up to 2 ounces and own 3 plants.  Last year Vermont lawmakers passed a new law that would allow up to 4 dispensaries to open.  The two dispensaries are expected to open in 6 months with additional applications to fill the other 2 openings under review.


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Seattle’s Children’s Alliance Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative…

Supporting marijuana reform was previously career suicide in the public arena. Over the past few years there have been surprising supporters of marijuana reform including televangelist Pat Robertson and Progressive Insurance Chairman Peter B. Lewis.  However, an even more surprising group of supporters have revealed themselves.  A Seattle based non-profit group named The Children’s Alliance has come out in support of Initiative 502, which if passed by Washington State residents, would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in a way that is similar to how alcohol is handled.  The group’s main focus is on protecting children’s futures.  Although whites and African Americans consume marijuana at similar rates, non whites are significantly more at risk for being arrested for it.  Often these arrests are of teens and having a criminal record can seriously jeopardize their ability to get a job, housing, or gain college acceptance.  Jon Gould, Deputy Director of The Children’s Alliance said “The status quo is not working for children, particularly children of color. Public policy ought to move us further toward racial equity and justice, and Initiative 502 is one step forward to that.”


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Marijuana Reform Moving Past Red vs. Blue States

electoral mapConventional Wisdom regarding “blue” and “red” states is no longer holding water.  Momentum for marijuana reform has moved south and inland with more than just the coastal states seeking change.   Medicine, relief, and happiness known no particular religion or political alliance.  Efforts in two new states give advocates and patients so much hope. Oklahoma for …continue reading

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World Renown Economists become newest Marijuana Advocates


A generation of Americans have grown tired of watching taxpayer dollars being diverted toward fighting a plant, when Americans are sick, in debt, and can use a new approach to governing.  A generation of Latin Americans have grown tired of witnessing violence, being controlled by a growing Cartel, and policies of the United States that have only increased the problems.  No dollar value can be put on the lives of those lost or impacted during the failed 40 year war on drugs.

There are many areas where a dollar value on outdated marijuana laws can be assessed.  Three hundred of the world’s leading economists have signed a petition that urges President Barack Obama and Congress to consider marijuana legalization.  The petition cites Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron’s recent letter which describes the possibility of tens of billions being saved and generated if marijuana were properly regulated.  The article and the economists are also concerned with how many lives have been ruined because of incarceration linked to marijuana charges.

It is interesting to see that the conversation has changed and commenting on marijuana reform is no longer a political death sentence.  Even Nancy Pelosi was willing to address the issue last week as she expressed concern over medical marijuana raids.  Even if our elected officials are trying to run from it, marijuana is becoming a tremendous political issue.  Similar to prohibition, if politicians keep running from addressing the issue head on, it will only avalanche into an uncontrollable situation.  Now the old page of talking points will not properly satisfy a new generation where statements can be watched over and over again on youtube.  There are no issues to run from and there are no offhanded comments any longer.

This country is full of pundits who fight about which economic recovery plan will work the best.  Of course, in an election year that conversation has degenerated into inaudible arguments taking up the same talking points.  All we hear is a few arguments from Democrats on corporate tax rates and tax rates for the wealthy while Republicans respond by saying raising any of these will slow job growth.  These decades old arguments can truly use a new perspective, and marijuana legalization will not cost anything, in fact it will save billions while simultaneously generating billions.  Are we to believe the politicians talking into the camera, or the world renown economists who are experts on how to fix America’s financial problems?

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Colorado Lawmakers Appear set to Enact Marijuana DUI Law

colorado general assembly

As the discussion of medical and legalized cannabis continues, our focus is often on why the federal government has stubbornly not made any changes to marijuana law.  Surely, if they could just move marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II substance, then the debate would be over.  While many of us wish that were the situation, it may not be quite that simple.  Many legal analysts feel that authorities are unsure of how to enforce “smoking and driving” limits.

So far there has not been any uniform way to determine if drivers are fit to drive after marijuana use.  One key point is that because of tolerance and other issues, cannabis does not impact everyone in the same manor.  Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill that will set parameters for how much THC a driver can have in their system.  This bill would set the legal limit at 5 nanograms of THC in order to legally be able to operate a moving vehicle.  The vote was close and only passed by a slim 18-17 margin.  The bill will now face the state senate but is expected to pass there as well by a wider margin.   Those who passed the bill are not necessarily advocates of marijuana.  The deciding vote was cast by state Republican Sen. Nancy Spence who said “I’m just sick of the abuse that the state of Colorado has taken from the medical marijuana industry.”  However, we must question if the tides have turned when staunch opponents have accepted that medical marijuana is here to stay and would rather regulate the industry instead of eradicating it.

One major problem, as it always has been when conceiving of the “one size fits all” marijuana test, is that marijuana is fat soluble and will remain in the blood long after the effects of THC are felt.  As Colorado state Democrat Pat Steadman put it, “Some of these people wake up in the morning and roll out of bed at 5 nanograms.”  If any common sense goes into these laws (our hopes should not get too high for that considering the decades long war on drugs and information suppression on marijuana) then officers will use a series of tests to determine a drivers competency.  In DWI stops an officer typically analyzes the condition of a driver by other methods such as walking a straight line and hand/eye coordination tests before making them submit to a breathalyzer.

This law may not be ideal but the issue of “drugged driving” will always stand in the way of marijuana reform unless it is properly dealt with.  Marijuana DUI laws will hopefully evolve and perhaps even more reliable tests will be utilized in determining and individuals capacity to operate a motor vehicle.  In fact they will likely HAVE to evolve, because as the law stands (5 nanograms is considered a very low amount) anyone who uses marijuana may be prevented from driving legally.  Perhaps insurance and automaker lobbyists will be on the marijuana activist’s side.  In any case, we have accepted that politicians are not equipped with the foresight to legislate in the modern world so, for now the hope may have to be a law that can be tailored in the future.  Additionally, there are studies that show that legal medical marijuana states have experienced a decrease in fatal car accidents, likely due to less alcohol related incidents.  Of course other studies show marijuana increasing the risk for fatal car crashes even if overall accidents are down.  Because of this, a continuing conversation on marijuana and the dangers associated with driving needs to unfold.  However, without this first important step, marijuana reform will likely remain in the legal stalemate it currently suffers from.

As with many social issues that are on the political fringe, change occurs behind smoke and mirrors.  The White House has made it a point to urge states to enact drugged driving programs.  Additionally, President Barack Obama said he could only enforce the laws on the books and placed some blame on Congress in his recent Rolling Stone interview.  While none of this guarantees legalized federal marijuana laws, he may be setting the groundwork for a massive system addressing one of the biggest concerns of those in opposition to marijuana reform.

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Politicians In Oklahoma Send Confusing Messages on Drug Policy

oklahoma capital

We have all had authoritative figures in our lives tell us “I would never ask you to do anything that I was not willing to do myself.”  When we actually believe our parents or employers, it will usually result in a healthy level of respect for that individual.  Conversely, if you do not trust the hollow words, it can actually be antagonistic.

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have been sending confusing messages to residents of the Sooner State.  Oklahoma is known for its harsh stance on any drug conviction.  Low level first offense marijuana possession can result in one year in prison.  Even more baffling was a law passed last year aimed at those who convert marijuana into hash.  Although there have only been a handful of hash production cases in Oklahoma in the past decade, they felt compelled to enact one of the harshest drug laws in United States history.  Even the first conviction for hash production in Oklahoma now carries the potential for a life sentence (minimum 2 year sentence).  With an already overcrowded prison system, many legal analysts have been shocked at Oklahoma’s handling of marijuana and hash laws.

The hash law has created even more confusion.  Was there a hash epidemic we all missed?  In the class warfare we have seen developing over the past several years, it has become a popular idea (started first by Arizona) to target and require drug testing for those receiving government assistance.  These laws typically target the younger welfare recipients, but never require Medicare participants to prove their moral superiority via urine samples.  The whole concept sounds well and good until any financial analysis is performed, which is surprising because the financial guru candidate for president, Mitt Romney, has also championed the idea of drug testing welfare recipients.  However, further analysis shows that since drug tests are not free of charge, that it will actually cost taxpayers far more.

Oklahoma has joined over 20 other states that are considering this new legislative trend.  There was an interesting twist in the case of Oklahoma’s law.  The proposed legislation included provisions to also require anyone seeking public office to pass a drug test.  Democrats opposing the welfare recipient drug testing on the grounds of constitutionality, had added the provision.  GOP Sen. David Holt categorized the action as a “stunt” and removed the language from the bill that would require legislators to submit to drug tests.  Although it may indeed have been a bit of political grandstanding by state democrats, would it not have provided validity to the bill if those who sign it also abide by it?

According to politicians, the only people where drug abuse is a concern is for welfare recipients.  Thankfully no politicians or Medicare eligible members carry the potential for substance abuse.   Even those on welfare have voting rights and politicians work for the people.  If the legislation saved money it would be worth considering, though this still would not preclude it from the constitutionality discussion.  We should no longer allow our politicians to say “Do as I say and not do as I do.”  Elected officials often forget, but they work for us and should be abiding by the same guidelines we do.

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