First You Need to
Learn How to Dance
The importance of working within the political process to further marijuana legalization and access cannot be underestimated. Since marijuana was outlawed 80 years ago with the marijuana tax act, the choice by elected officials on all levels of government has been to make it as unavailable as possible through criminal and civil sanctions from imprisonment to confiscation of assets. Progress will now only come when our LOCAL elected officials chose to put in place policies that further safe, reliable, local and affordable legal access to marijuana.
The changeover from unavailability to availability has come mostly come from the passage of voter-approved initiatives forcing elected officials to make it available. Although many elected officials in favor of continuing to ban products that people want and try their best to impede the directives issued by voters in passing these initiatives, we do have courts that generally uphold the laws passed by voters as long as these initiatives do not violate constitutional mandates.
Marijuana advocates and consumers have been very successful instituting reforms legalizing marijuana and setting up distribution systems on the state level, but have been far less successful on the local level. Although California voters passed a marijuana legalization initiative setting up a specific distribution system and the state legislature through the passage of SB 94 has codified this system with licenses and regulations, most Californians will not have local access as their local city and county governments are passing bans on any kind of commercial cultivation, manufacture and distribution in their communities.
It is now imperative that marijuana advocates and consumers turn their attention from the state level to the local level. It is not a new game but it is a new deck of cards and requires a lot of new players. Working on the state level required a lot of hands on deck but the hands were usually concentrated in large urban areas coordinating efforts aimed at statewide political action.
Not so for local. People working in Los Angeles or San Francisco will have little effect on political actions in Fresno or Eureka. If safe and reliable access is to be obtained on the local level, it will be done by people like you who are willing to put forth the effort to get involved in their local communities to bring about the local access they want and their communities need.
A functioning game plan has been developed that can serve as a blueprint to help achieve that most wanted local access in your community and make it possible for you to get a business license where you live. It has been implemented successfully in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties and it can be implemented where you live. It is not that difficult and you don’t have to be a political wonk to do it and be successful.
Let me stress that although the example I present here is what I have done through the Democratic Party, there is no reason that this cannot – and should not – be done through the Republican Party as well.
Granted the Republican Party is generally hostile to marijuana law reform but that is not uniformly true. Polls show that 40% of Republicans favor legalization – not a majority but close and getting closer every year - Sessions and Trump notwithstanding. Although expecting anything to come out of Republicans on the federal level borders on delusional, that is not true on the local level. I truly hope that those of you who are Republican will follow through on the local level with what I am about to present.
Yes, yes and yes - I know there are other political parties like Libertarians and Greens, but unfortunately (and I really do mean unfortunately) there are very few elected Libertarians or Greens to influence who are serving on local city councils and county boards. I encourage you to work with the few of them that are as they will most likely be more than willing to implement the laws needed to make marijuana available in your community.
OK here’s the plan . . .
In March almost 80% of Los Angeles voters approved Measure M, which established a licensing, taxation and regulatory structure for cannabis businesses in Los Angeles. With such overwhelming support, LA voters rightfully expected a robust and compliant implementation of the requirements of Measure M but got a cop-out limited immunity from prosecution instead of a regulated licensing system which is required by state law. The members of the Los Angeles City Council needed to be reminded that they are elected to serve and implement the will of the voters and not to capitulate to the saber-rattling of Trump and Sessions.
With fourteen Democrats and just one Republican serving on the LA City Council, a forceful and stern reminder from the Los Angeles Democratic Party is what was needed for them to develop the backbone and intestinal fortitude to put in place a reasonable and complaint licensing system.
Local political parties play a major role in providing support for local candidates helping with fundraisers and most importantly in the all-important get-out-the-vote campaigns so important to any candidates’ success. Consequently local elected officials pay attention to the concerns of their local political party.
With that in mind, the Brownie Mary Democrats introduced a resolution at the August meeting of the Los Angeles Democratic Party calling on “the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to implement full licensing for cannabis businesses in Los Angeles as promised by Measure M and as dictated by state law.” To read the full text of the resolution CLICK HERE.
The resolution was passed unanimously by the LA Democratic Party on August 8 and is now being distributed both by mail and personal delivery to the offices of the fourteen Democratic members of the LA City Council and to Mayor Garcetti. Even before it was passed, word of the resolution had spread too many members of the City council leading to conversations and even statements in support of the resolution to drop the limited immunity cop-out and to provide for full and state compliant licensing for all marijuana businesses.
The same is now being done in Riverside County where the County and most of the cities are jumping at close to the speed of light on the bandwagon of bans on the commercial cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana as allowed under Prop. 64. To reverse these bans and stop the introduction of bans in cities that have not banned them yet, the Riverside County Democratic Party passed a resolution on August 14 that “encourages the county of Riverside and the cities within the county to cease banning and to enact ordinances regulating the commercial cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana.” To read the full text of the resolution CLICK HERE.
As was done with Measure M in Los Angeles, this resolution will be presented to the two Democratic supervisors on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors and to every elected Democrat sitting on a city council in Riverside County.
With many, if not the majority of local elected officials in Riverside County and a significant number of other counties belonging to the Republican Party, marijuana advocates and consumers who are Republicans should especially take note and get involved on the local level with their county Republican Party. Granted the fight will be more uphill than it would be with the Democratic Party, but this is California where marijuana is now legal.
Whether Democrat or Republican or whatever, marijuana advocates and consumers need to get involved on the local level. If you are not affiliated with either the Democrats or Republicans, then jumping into party politics as described above is problematic, but perhaps you have friends or family members who are and through them you will be able to accomplish the same.
You might even consider registering in one of the big two parties in order to engage in getting the parties to work for us. You can always “unregister” after you have accomplished what you set out to do, but I bet you won’t. Some of you might even find it challenging and empowering and continue to stay involved. We desperately need the marijuana community involved.
If you are thinking this is something you might want to get involved in, please feel free to contact me at any time with questions or for additional information. Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 760-799-2055.
No matter how successful we have been on the state level, it is all-for-naught if those accomplishments are not available on the local level. Are you willing to step-up not just for yourself, but for your community?
Some of you might be thinking I am ignoring the seven ton elephant in the room i.e. the feds and the saber rattling by AG Sessions and the apparent support by President Trump for his saber-rattling. Yes I am concerned but at the present time it doesn’t look like Congress is in the mood to allow Sessions to do much more than rattle his saber.
With an on-going FBI investigation and more people being beheaded then on Game of Thrones, the Executive Branch is in state of seemingly unending disarray. Not to be outdone, Congress is up to its neck in alligators with the federal budget bill and the need to raise the debt ceiling occurring almost simultaneously this September.
Not to imply that there is no reason to be concerned, but frankly it doesn’t seem likely that much will happen related to marijuana on the federal level – good or bad. This gives us more time to secure our rights to safe, reliable and local access to legal marijuana on the state and local level. The more we accomplish on the state and local level, the more difficult it will it be for the prohibitionist federal agencies and police to put our genie back in the bong.
Canceled in Palm Springs & Joshua Tree
WILL BE HELD IN MORENO VALLEY WED. SEPT. 6
Due to the Labor Day weekend holiday, the meetings of MAPP in September in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree will be not be held, but the meeting on Wed. Sept. 6 in Moreno Valley will take place. The next newsletter will have information on that meeting, the subjects to be discussed and the featured speaker.
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