Sep 272010

Sunday night update: My brain is still chewing its cud on the import of Saturday’s Prop. 19 debate at the Cow Palace. Opponents have raised numerous concerns that seem to me more fearful than factual, but like any new law the lawyers and judges will have the final say. I only heard part of Richard Lee’s opening statement, because he blurted it out so quickly. Chris Conrad and George Mull gave informed perspectives on Prop. 19’s legal impact, something it’s only fair we debate.

Then there’s Bishop Ron Allen, a Sacramento pastor and former crack addict who has found a new niche as a drug-warrior spokesman. He’s also the same guy who called for the head of the California NAACP to resign for that group’s pro-Prop. 19 stance. Martin Luther King Jr. would “roll over in his grave” to hear of a civil rights group endorsing the legalization of a Schedule I drug, Allen says, and you could almost hear the wheels turning in the minds of the No-on-19 crowd. This guy doesn’t just oppose Prop. 19, he’s opposed to people getting high, period.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, the No-on-19 campaign co-chairs, would have brought a law enforcement perspective to the debate. Maybe they didn’t get the memo. Maybe they weren’t invited. Maybe they thought it best to avoid getting heckled while the cameras were rolling (Richard Lee and Chris Conrad weren’t quite so lucky). So give Allen props for showing up, for walking into the proverbial lion’s den. It’s what came out of his mouth when he got there that concerns me.

Coming this week: New videos of panel presentations from the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo.


I’ve just finished posting a half-pound or more of video excerpts from today’s Prop. 19 debate at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo. It was billed as a debate, at least, but I took debate in high school and I don’t remember it going down quite like that. It was part circus, part political theater and — if you listened closely over the shouts and catcalls — a decent primer on the major Prop. 19 issues. In the morning I may try to make more sense of it all … or not. A few hundred vocal souls in the Cow Palace won’t decide this election, not with 17 million registered voters in this state.

What I can share at this late hour is a sense of patience and perspective. Politics is a contact sport, whether it’s Prop. 19 or the races for governor and attorney general. Today’s debate was difficult to watch at times, but encouraging in a broader sense. Whatever happens Nov. 2, we’re all witnessing history in the making. Yes, the debate gets noisy, but the mere fact we’re having it is cause for celebration. Here are two of my favorites:

Yes on 19

Chris Conrad’s resume is too long to list, sorta like the list of reasons the cannabis consultant has for voting yes on Prop. 19. In this clip, he says everyone should have the right to smoke marijuana, with or without an annual doctor’s recommendation. Says Conrad, “Thanks, MediCann, but no thanks!”

No on 19

Attorney George Mull speaks on the No-on-19 panel during Saturday’s Prop. 19 debate at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo. He heads the California Cannabis Association and also represents medical marijuana dispensaries affected by recent raids in Butte County. In this clip he addresses sales transactions, the Achilles’ heel of both Prop. 215 and Prop. 19 because sales aren’t explicitly authorized. Mull recommends legislative action to correct this; he has more faith in the state Legislature than I do.

To see more debate videos, go to the YouTube channel.

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