By Sarah Lovering
On Thursday of last week, I represented the Marijuana Policy Project in a historic press conference in Los Angeles, joining fellow panelists Melissa Etheridge, Danny Glover, Hal Sparks, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and LEAP representative Steve Downing to endorse California’s Proposition 19, the measure to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. This was the first time world-renowned celebrities have spoken out in favor of Proposition 19, decrying the failed policy of prohibition.
Melissa Etheridge, a breast cancer survivor and medical marijuana patient, called on the federal government to authorize further research of marijuana’s medical applications. Danny Glover talked about the prisoners he has seen, in the course of his lifetime of activism, who are locked up for non-violent marijuana offenses. Gary Johnson cited our nations’ culture of incarceration, locking up more of our own people than any other industrialized nation.
At one point, a reporter asked the celebrities if they had been paid by the Proposition 19 campaign to deliver their endorsements. They each replied “no” but then Hal Sparks offered this caveat, “I will benefit financially if Proposition 19 passes, in that my tax dollars will no longer be wasted on a policy that doesn’t work.” So true! The whole state will benefit to the tune of at least a billion dollars a year, the amount California currently spends enforcing marijuana prohibition. (And that doesn’t include the tax revenue that would be generated!)
I closed my own statement by reading a quote from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Let’s be that courageous state. Vote yes on Proposition 19!