by David Downs
A new national campaign to legalize adult use of cannabis launched yesterday called 'Just Say Now.' The DC-based group intends to turn out the youth vote this November in states where marijuana is an issue, including California, where Prop. 19 is on the ballot. 2010 is a midterm election, meaning a significant drop-off in the liberal voters who elected Obama in 2008, but Just Say Now aims to counter that trend by unleashing the group Students for Sensible Drug Policy on college campuses, backed by popular progressive political blog FireDogLake, which claims more than 100,000 readers per day.
Just Say Now is also allied with Bruce Fein, a former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan; as well as former police chiefs; federal judges; and prosecutors. Jane Hamsher, founder of Just Say Now, says, “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."
Indeed, weed may be a wedge issue that turns out youth voters in states where it matters, says This Is Your Country on Drugs author Ryan Grim on the Huffington Post this week. Additionally, Congressman Barney Frank told the New York Times that national decriminalization/legalization is less than five years away.
Just Say Now notes "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."
They also state: "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."
Just Say Now also intends to light a fire under the Obama administration with a petition to the president to "end the war on marijuana." The president has said legalization is not in his "vocabulary," and has laughed off similar petitions in the past.
Perhaps a sign of the time, NORML was allowed to buy this Times Square ad yesterday: