Drug Law

Big Tobacco Will Not Take Over Pot in California

| by NORML
By "Radical" Russ Belville

Yet another lie from the Stoners Against Legalization goes up in smoke:

(Fresno Bee) Among some determined pot market conspiracy theorists, scattered in marijuana fields of Mendocino or Humboldt or at some urban dispensaries in California cities, one rumor refuses to die:

Big tobacco is coming – and wants to take over the California weed market.

But one of America’s leading tobacco companies says it has no interest going into the pot business – regardless of whether California voters pass Proposition 19 in November to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

In an interview today, Frank Lester, spokesman for Reynolds America Inc., seemed almost apologetic for killing the speculation. But he confirmed that the parent company for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco and the American Snuff Company won’t be adding a marijuana production division.

“Even going back years, I remember hearing that same thing back in the 1970s and 1980s,” Lester said of the Big Tobacco pot business rumors. “We are paying attention to the California initiative just as a political situation. But we’re not preparing to enter into the marijuana trade at all.”

But the Stoners Against Legalization continue to push the notion that Prop 19 means big tobacco takeovers of cannabis production.  The picture above and the one to the right are two examples of their blatant lies still posted on Stop19.com.  They also repeat the lie in their bullet points:

• Do you provide your extra medical cannabis to dispensaries? It will be a crime to do so if Prop 19 passes. In addition, large Oakland growers and tobacco companies will take control of the market and push you out.

We can’t say it enough times:  Prop 19 does not invalidate, change, or supersede Prop 215 in any way, shape, or form! Please see Prop 19 is the best thing to happen to medical marijuana patients since Prop 215 for the full explanation, but the relevant analysis is this:

Anyone who claims that Proposition 19 will restrict or eliminate rights under the Compassionate Use Act (CUA or “Prop 215?) or the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP or “SB420?) is simply wrong.

Section 2B presents the controlling and relevant purposes for understanding what Prop. 19 can and cannot do. This section EXPRESSLY excludes the reach of Prop. 19 from the CUA and MMP.Sections 2B (7 & 8) specifically state that the purpose of this initiative is to give municipalities total and complete control over the commercial sales of marijuana “EXCEPT as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.”

…existing laws cannot be repealed by inference and instead must be EXPRESSLY repealed. A court cannot find that a law, such as the CUA or MMP, was changed by “implication.”

It is contrary to any rational understanding of statutory construction to infer that since Prop. 19 gives cities control over the distribution of non-medical marijuana, that it also gives cities the right to control the medical distribution of cannabis beyond what the CUA and MMP allows.

In other words, Prop 19 is about personal use and Prop 215 is about medical use.  They are two separate systems and the establishment of the former does not alter the latter.  If you’re a patient and you’ve been selling to a dispensary, that does not change, for that all falls under “medical”.  If you’re just a dude who wants to sell to a marijuana store after Prop 19, that will fall under Prop 19′s licensing guidelines.

Just for fun, let’s look at Stop19′s other bullet points full of lies.

How will Prop 19 affect you?• Are you age 18-20? You will not be allowed to consume cannabis legally under Prop 19. Currently, all you need is a medical recommendation to do so.

Are you age 21-115?  You are not allowed to consume cannabis legally now.  After Prop 19, you can.  And for the 18-20s, you can still go get that medical recommendation.  Prop 215 does not go away after Prop 19.

• Do you interact with anyone under age of 21? You will be looking at up to 6 months in jail for passing them a joint. (If the person is under 18 you will be looking at up to 7 years in prison.)

The parenthetical scare sentence is what the law is now if you pass a joint to a minor.  Prop 19 doesn’t create that law.  The new punishment is for people 21+ passing a joint to people 18-20… and if your opposition to legalization for everyone 21-115 years old is that you don’t want to go to jail for smoking pot with teenagers, I cannot reason with you.

• Do you live in the same “space” and a minor? (Space could mean anything from the same house to an entire apartment complex.) You will not be allowed to consume cannabis.

“Space” could mean the entire cosmos!  Once again, if your opposition is that you can’t smoke pot around little kids, I cannot reason with you.  Currently all over America, moms and dads put their kids to bed and step out to the patio or garage to smoke pot and that’s all anyone is asking of you.  Unless you’re a Prop 215 patient, because, once again, that doesn’t change and if you’re using medically around your kids, you’re just as legal as you are now.

• Do you rent your home? Prop 19 will only allow you to grow cannabis if you have permission from your landlord. Due to the risks involved, many (if not most) California landlords do not allow it. How is this legalization?

Uh, because the people who have cool landlords will be able to grow cannabis?  What a reach this is!  Pets are legal, but my landlord can forbid me from having them in my apartment.  Or does your version of “legalization” mean you have an absolute right to install high-voltage indoor lighting, support structures, air scrubbers, and bring pounds of dirt and gallons of water onto someone else’s property?

• Do you grow cannabis with a doctor recommendation? Prop 19 will likely be interpreted by law enforcement and judges to limit your grow space to 5?x5?.

Not likely, not even possible.  (And it’s “25 square feet”, not “5′x5′”.  Nothing mandates that your 25 square feet be actually square.)

• Do you currently have to use your medical cannabis anywhere but home? Prop 19 will prevent patients from using their medicine anywhere in pubic. Which for many people with illnesses is not always possible.


Prop 215 does not go away when Prop 19 passes.  Prop 19 specifically deals with personal, not medical use.  Prop 19 doesn’t allow personal use of marijuana in public.  Prop 215′s medical use allowances will still exist.

• Do you sell your extra medical cannabis to other medical patients? Prop 19 will make this practice illegal. Even if you are only selling it to cover your growing cost.

And now we’re getting to the root of the issue… growing weed in your closet and selling it at grossly inflated prices is coming to an end.  If you want to be in the business of growing and selling marijuana, then we’re going to treat it like a business.

• Do you currently enjoy the use of cannabis free from Government interference? Not only will the Government impose excessive taxes under Prop 19, but the federal government will likely respond with unprecedented action against California cannabis users. “The federal Controlled Substances Act makes it a felony to grow or sell cannabis. California can repeal its own marijuana laws, leaving enforcement to the feds. But it can’t legalize a federal felony. Therefore, any grower or seller paying California taxes on marijuana sales or filing pot-related California regulatory paperwork would be confessing, in writing, to multiple federal crimes.”

This same argument was made with Prop 215 – the feds won’t like it and they’ll crack down on California!  Well, sure, until the feds change their marijuana laws, they aren’t going to like it if the states do.  But remember that federal law enforcement completely depends on local law enforcement to engage in these busts and Prop 19 has language that specifically forbids state and local law enforcement from even “threatening or attempting to seize” lawfully cultivated marijuana.