|Photo: Nilo Radio
|NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre: “This is the generation that’s going to be at the vanguard of legalization”
Marijuana initiatives will likely be on the ballot next year in at least four U.S. states — California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“I think these states are going to try to pass initiatives in 2012,” St. Pierre told about 80 attendees at a University of Central Florida NORML meeting Wednesday night, reports Katie Kustura at the UCF student newspaper, Central Florida Future
However, St. Pierre warned, if they don’t reach the “magic number” of 58.5 percent in favor and maintain that support for at least six months, any initiative — marijuana related or not — will not succeed.
One of the reasons that probably led to the failure of California’s Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana there, is the fact that it was “too detailed” and left proponents open to attack from the opposition, according to St. Pierre.
“In initiatives, you basically want to get an up-and-down vote,” St. Pierre said, adding that regulatory issues should be left to the regulatory agencies and politicians.
Since that’s the case, St. Pierre said it’s important to get the people who are already medically or illegally in the marijuana business to recognize that the right thing to do is legalize it and not just try to squeeze another five or 10 years of profit out of it.
“Even the dumbest person in the world can make a fortune selling cannabis just because of the market the government has created, but in the real world you have to have production costs with a little bit of profit and a little bit of taxes,” St. Pierre said.
The biggest anti-drug campaigns, such as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, have had no impact on the number of people buying, selling, or using marijuana, according to St. Pierre.
“We have been smoking marijuana since the beginning of time it seems like,” said junior anthropology major Indiria Santana, who attended the speech but is not a NORML member. “It just doesn’t really make sense to me personally why there are so many laws against it.”
“The thing that makes these meetings and, really, the chapters so important is that they build community and they remove the shame and the stigma, which I think if the government has done nothing else successfully in 74 years, it’s been to build a stigma against marijuana,” St. Pierre said, “so much that whether you’re left-minded, right-minded or in the middle, you feel embarrassed, even in the cases of people who don’t use marijuana, to come out and speak in favor of it.”
“This is the generation that’s going to be at the vanguard of legalization,” St. Pierre said.