I received the following email from NORML on February 17th and have been in an ongoing conversation with some intern at email@example.com in Washington, D.C. The kid I’m communicating with sounds like a future congressman. In other words, an apprentice liar.
Following are highlights of the conversation. People should know that WA I-502 is going to HURT legal medical marijuana users, and that NORML is pushing for its passage, which goes against all the principles they supposedly stand for.
Personally, I have no idea what’s driving NORML, but whatever is, I don’t like it. Nor do I have any idea whom he’s referring to at the very bottom of this post, when he refers to “elite billionaires,” and I don’t think he does either. But that doesn’t stop him from praising their efforts.
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 10:57:04 -0500
Subject: Endorsed: NORML Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Washington State
Dear NORML supporters in Washington,
The importance of Washington potentially becoming the first state where the voters send a loud and clear message to both state and federal government “Please end the failed policy of Cannabis Prohibition and replace it with logical alternative public policies like tax-n-regulate” can’t be overstated.
The in-state organizers of Initiative 502 have done a remarkable job lining up the most formidable, respected and famous citizens in Washington (such as NORML Advisory Board member and best selling author/TV host Rick Steves) as the lead public proponents for this ground-breaking initiative that can most certainly have positive national implications for ending the country’s now 74-year-old Cannabis Prohibition.
Check out the NORML endorsement:
Please become an active supporter of Initiative 502 by visiting the webpage below:
[NAW link removed]
With 50% of the US now supporting cannabis legalization, please help lead the rest of the country out of eight decades of Reefer Madness by passing Initiative 502 this fall in Washington!!
-Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director
NORML Washington, D.C. www.norml.org
This was my reply to the bulk email above:
Dear Mr. St. Pierre:
As a licensed medical marijuana patient in Washington State, I have to take major issue with your support of this incredibly unfair initiative. I-502 would also make it illegal to drive with blood THC levels equal to or greater than 5 nanograms per milliliter. Medical marijuana experts are concerned that this will lead to medicinal marijuana users being convicted of DUI despite current legislation giving them the right to drive. I’ve been a supporter of NORML since Frank Fioramonti founded it.
But many legalization advocates are concerned about the impact on authorized medical-marijuana patients of the DUI provision, which defines impairment as 5 nanograms of active THC per ml. in the bloodstream based on 2005 research.
Since THC is stored in body fat, and I’ve unfortunately got plenty of that, I’d still be legally DUI over a week AFTER my last dose! The only way around this would be to go back to opiates like oxycodone or hydrocodone – Percocet or Vicodin – which make me physically ill (unlike mmj) but which are presumably out of my system a lot quicker. That would be stupid and self-destructive. I’m not going back to prescription opioids!
<Blogger’s note: I clipped and pasted the following from a couple of recent articles.>
Although I-502 specifically does not preempt the state medical-marijuana law, activists believe the DUI provision would apply to existing patients.
Dr. Gil Mobley, who runs a Federal Way clinic catering to medical-marijuana patients, said he recently tested several patients and found they passed cognitive tests even with THC concentrations of up to 47 nanograms. Nearly four hours after one patient medicated, they still tested at 6 nanograms.
“I told them they’d be legally unable to drive if this law passes,” said Mobley. “It’s philosophically, morally and legally wrong.” Nora Callahan, who has campaigned for drug-law reform since 1997, said she supports regulating legalized marijuana, but says I-502 would be “continuing prohibition.”
So, given all of the above, I don’t understand why you support this initiative. Can you explain?
I received the following reply from an intern at The NORML Foundation:
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2012 11:45:49 -0500
Re: Endorsed: NORML Supports Marijuana Legalization Initiative in Washington State
Thanks for contacting NORML and having a keen interest in NORML’s longstanding pro-reform advocacy efforts. [bullshit and doubletalk removed] Your email was forwarded to me for a reply.
NORML’s board, which voted unanimously (13-0; two not present), including two members from Washington… supports I-502 in the same manner that it supported the clearly flawed medical cannabis initiative in WA in 1998…. They, like WA, all have components of their initiatives that are objectionable (and) that has led to Washington having semi-sanctioned medical cannabis dispensaries in one city, but not another….
When initiatives–like the flawed cannabis initiative LeMar in 1972 in CA right straight through to today’s Initiative 502 in WA–substantively reform cannabis laws beyond what otherwise recalcitrant legislatures and the timid judiciary (which largely defers to legislative and executive intent) will deign, it behooves cannabis consumers and other taxpayers alike to support and vote for these reform initiatives.
To the extent there are serious flaws or defects with cannabis law reform initiatives that pass voter muster, activists historically have sought effective relief in amending legislation after the fact. (emphasis added)
Much is the same and expected with WA where state legislators have already crafted legislation addressing the concerns of some activists and consumers regarding DUID standards.
Like many other national cannabis law reform organizations and activists in Washington, NORML readily expressed the concerns it had with the proposed initiative language to the [sic] I-502’s backers. However, just like these other cannabis law reform groups–namely Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, SAFER, Marijuana Policy Project, ACLU; along with NORML’s chapters in WA–national NORML too is supporting WA’s Initiative 502 to substantively reform cannabis laws and therein challenge the federal prohibition.
In conclusion, while supporting the broad intent and substantive reforms created by the passage of Initiative 502, NORML however does not endorse the imposition of per se laws for drivers who test positive for THC or THC metabolites in blood without additional demonstrable evidence of psychomotor impairment. Further, NORML supports amending legislation post the passage of Initiative 502 (emphasis added) to 1) enact legal protections via legislation for those citizens—notably medical cannabis patients—who are most disproportionately at risk of being adversely impacted by such standards, and 2) to allow consumers and patients to privately cultivate cannabis for personal use.
Kind regards, thanks again for your interest and support,
Casey, NORML Foundation intern, Washington, D.C.
And so they revealed their game plan for us (since it doesn’t involve them); specifically to get the bill amended AFTER it passes. He fails to explain what guarantees are in place until that presumably happens. My reply:
Hi, and thanks for your reply.
That’s what worries me; that I’ll lose the right to grow my own if this passes (until it’s presumably amended), and that I’ll end up in jail for DUI when I can drive circles around most everyone else (I’ve driven in half a dozen Presidential and Vice Presidential motorcades).
I don’t want to get screwed by some overzealous cop who thinks he’s Gil F–king Kerlikowske, the child-killer of the Seattle WTO protests. America’s answer to Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, the child-killers of Tiananmen Square.
Anyway, whatever they end up doing, there are going to be serious repercussions against the medical marijuana community, whether it’s by taxing, or fining, or prohibition, or some other major life-inconvenience, but that’s our payoff for getting attacked on 9/11, right? I’m so tired of my personal rights being violated, I don’t even get on a goddamn airplane anymore.
This is why I live within walking distance of Canada.
Now, as you can see, I’m beginning to get frustrated with this misinformed little twit who’s probably not even old enough to get an MMJ permit. His answer:
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 10:02:15 -0500
Hello again Mr. Levine,
Thanks for your reply email.
Your fear of medical cannabis, notably cultivation, becoming illegal under I-502 is not founded in the proposal or in the strategy of the organizers.
In fact, the very group of funders and WA activists that brought the medical cannabis initiative in 1998 to WA are the exact same ones trying to pass this initiative.
Do you think they’re trying to undo their previous work?
Hardly. They’re building upon it.
Re the DUID, the state already has a 90% conviction rate on DUID charges. If the initiative passes, what is the real consequence here…an effective 95% rate of conviction.
And for this you’d vote against a legalization initiative that effectively stops the arrests, prosecutions, incarcerations, civil forfeitures and overall harassment of the vast majority of cannabis consumers, be them [sic] for medical or recreational purposes. Also, if the initiative passes, other states will follow suit quickly, and the federal prohibition will continue to be turned on its head.
If I were a WA state resident, including if I was a patient, I’d vote for I-502 as readily as I’ll take my next breath. In my view, the opportunity for serious state reforms in WA and impact on the federal prohibition is too great not to fully embrace. (Blogger’s note: How many different tenses does this kid include in the first sentence? I’m counting three.)
Thanks again and regards, Casey
This was my reply to him:
Not too long ago, Christine Gregoire was forced by the feds to back off issuing business licenses for dispensaries in WA. These people can’t even use a bank account anymore. There are millions of dollars in cash floating around, AND we undoubtedly lost some of our legitimate tax base. So the feds drove the dispensaries underground, at least as far as being a legal entity is concerned, by threatening State workers with federal crimes.
Further to the tax base, I don’t want to see a 25% tax every time a plant changes hands. Grower to distributor, distributor to dispensary, dispensary to customer. Three 25% taxes (whether or not they’re cumulative) is insane unless the prices are controlled. Which we also don’t want to see. (Blogger’s note: Here I cut & pasted directly from I-502.)
NEW SECTION. Sec. 27. (1) There is levied and collected a
marijuana excise tax equal to twenty-five percent of the selling price
on each wholesale sale in this state of marijuana by a licensed
marijuana producer to a licensed marijuana processor or another
licensed marijuana producer. This tax is the obligation of the
licensed marijuana producer.
(2) There is levied and collected a marijuana excise tax equal to
twenty-five percent of the selling price on each wholesale sale in
this state of useable marijuana or marijuana-infused product by a
licensed marijuana processor to a licensed marijuana retailer. This
tax is the obligation of the licensed marijuana processor.
(3) There is levied and collected a marijuana excise tax equal to
twenty-five percent of the selling price on each retail sale in this
state of useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products. This tax
is the obligation of the licensed marijuana retailer, is separate and
in addition to general state and local sales and use taxes that apply
to retail sales of tangible personal property, and is part of the
total retail price to which general state and local sales and use
(4) All revenues collected from the marijuana excise taxes imposed
under subsections (1) through (3) of this section shall be deposited
each day in a depository approved by the state treasurer and
transferred to the state treasurer to be credited to the dedicated
(5) The state liquor control board shall regularly review the tax
levels established under this section and make recommendations to the
legislature as appropriate regarding adjustments that would further
the goal of discouraging use while undercutting illegal market prices.
You’re probably right about medical users being able to cultivate. From my research, it seems only recreational users are prohibited from cultivating. But I’m not a lawyer. Do I understand correctly that for medical users, the personal possession and cultivation limits are to be unchanged from the present RCW 69.50 et al? (Blogger’s note: the little shit didn’t even address this question.)
As for the ridiculous, unscientifically-based, and completely arbitrary blood-content limit, it’s easy for you to be so flip about it because you’re not in my shoes. The new limit will mean that every time I drive my car, I’ll be committing an arrestable offense. This is the WORST part of this ill-advised and sloppily-written law.
What we REALLY need is shitheads like Gil Kerlikowske out of the business of busting harmless marijuana smokers; and we need to get the goddamn FDA, DEA, WTF-ever, to DECLASSIFY marijuana, because it has NOTHING in common with addictive, destructive opiates.
So, this time I WAS pissed off, but here was his reply, which I read this morning:
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 17:40:01 -0500
The primary reason why most all Governors back off from the feds is because it is still a violation of the CSA and International Treaties to sell govt-sanctioned, regulated and controlled cannabis (unless it is highly controlled for medical use). No words have changed re cannabis in the CSA since the inception in 1970. Indeed, in some parts of the country people’s attitudes, along with economic conditions nationally, have created an amazing patchwork of grey are laws (ie, despite clearly being against both state/federal laws, King County is mostly allowing retail sales…at the same time cities on the eastern slope, like Spokane, retail access to medical cannabis is still aggressively prohibited).
Geography is the biggest contributing factor, right down to the neighborhood, that largely determines if retail medical cannabis is ‘legal [sic] or not.
Thankfully, policymakers in other states (CO, NM, ME and AZ), sometimes overriding their Governors’ concerns, have effectively challenged the feds to stop them from taxing and regulating medical cannabis.
NORML’s staff thinks the real legal Armageddon is if and when the feds go after one of these current medical cannabis retail states, or, subsequently a legalization initiative state like WA/CO/CA (the states most likely to pass a ‘legalization’ initiative first).
This has not happened yet, but seems inevitable, again, with no changes in federal law being made by the Congress that technically only allows 5 patients to be in a closed federal program (Compassionate IND) that provides them 300 joints per month, 15 CSA Schedule I researchers and law enforcement (who, when deputized and acting in accordance with the law, are made immune from CSA laws), meaning that other than these very small communities, no one else in America can even touch cannabis.
So every dispensary in WA, and in all other states—blessedly good for humanity as they are–are demonstrably illegal under the still controlling CSA.
So, at some point, absent major legal changes to the CSA by Congress (and none currently are politically viable or supported by either party), it looks like some state sooner than later is taking a legal rocket ride to SCOTUS. (Blogger’s note: How fucking insane!!! The radical right-wing activist Supreme Court is, as a group, more dangerous to our individual rights than the Republican-controlled Congress.)
Re the DUID, NORML has already written and submitted the amending legislation at the behest of WA legislators Dickerson and Welles. If I-502 passes, amending legislation will very likely pass and be signed into law.
All of these cannabis law voter initiatives are flawed in one form or another, for one reason or another, but after the ‘big’ work to get through the Prohibition Rubicon is done by the people—as compared to timid policymakers—then what if any important details can be addressed by concerned parties in later legislation, that both amends and affirms the major changes achieved.
Indeed, medical cannabis users should not feel too much of a [sic] overtly negative impact save for potentially those charged with DUID pre-amending legislation, and youthful medical cannabis users, who could face harsher penalties if they can’t prove their medical approval.
If NORML had funded and written the initiative, virtually none of this contentious stuff would be in it, but, ironically, ALL of the pro-reform initiatives since 1996, including WA’s, have been funded by elite billionaires who choose NOT to work with (or fund) grassroots organizations like NORML.
Casey, NF intern