During Proposition 19 there was a lot of negative emotions stirred up, and there was a lot of back and forth going on. Not just between NORML and Prop19 opponents, but I also had some serious online conflicts with Anti-Prop19 activists as well. Some of these exchanges included insults, threats and very unbecoming behavior. Of which, when things like this occur I use my screen shot software to document it. (see the bottom of this video for some of these examples)
But when NORML started receiving criticisms about I-502 and their recent endorsement of this initiative, Russ Belville and other NORML board members and employees have made such claims as opponents of I502 as being “enemies”, during his show on 2/24/2012 titled “Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War” this was the theme. I called in on the second hour of that show, and despite being promised an uninterrupted 2 minutes to explain my opposition to I-502, I was interrupted after only getting one minute and three seconds (uninterrupted), and I got repeatedly interrupted by Russ and eventually at the end of the show Russ hung up on me.
Shortly after that show, I had Jon Hamm aka GanaJon attack me on facebook with some silly insults and what seemed to me like a personal threat.
Russ would say that people like me are on the fringes of the legalization movement, and that my opinion is inconsequential to what is really going on.
He may not care much about what I think. But I am a stake holder in Washington, and I have served time in jail for simple possession of marijuana.
This is a documentary that I made about my call into the NORML Live show.
This is a video that I made about another Radical Russ broadcast about I-502 from a few days before where Russ replied to a few of my comments:
Needless to say, I felt that this article from Sensible Washington addressed this issue really well:
NORML Loses Its Cool
February 29, 2012
Allen St. Pierre should have seen it coming.
After all, the Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), was asked by Steve Bloom if celebstoner.com could publish an email St. Pierre had written about medical marijuana being a “legal farce”. It had been submitted by a disaffected attorney in Colorado seeking to discredit St. Pierre.
Politically, St. Pierre’s points had some validity, but without proper context it appeared as though St. Pierre had gone out of his way to slam patients. The reaction was anything but positive.
And then, in February, NORML went all in on I-502. NORML’s unconditional endorsement of the controversial initiative really got the waters boiling. Forced to respond to criticism, St. Pierre shared his hope that opponents of the measure would “step aside and take no public position”.
Unsurprisingly, activists are struggling with the about-face on what St. Pierre himself calls “arbitrary, unscientific, and unnecessary” per se DUI standards. What happened to founder Keith Stroup, who famously pledged to never vote for anyone who would seek to make him a criminal? What about Deputy Director Paul Armentano’s unambiguous report that there is currently no evidence showing a clear correlation between an individual’s impairment and THC in the blood?
We have long depended on the unparalleled work by NORML Show Live’s Russ Belville to provide us with the facts we need to make informed decisions, but now that the money has started pouring in from Progressive Insurance CEO Peter Lewis and travel guru Rick Steves, the weather has taken a turn.
If you had a million dollars to reform our drug laws, what would you do with it? Supporters of I-502, notably St. Pierre, are hell-bent to 1) put a victory on the board (with another legal farce), 2) generate an election-day headline (look for that on page A13), and 3) argue the Supremacy Clause before the Supreme Court (the squash heard ’round the world).
Of late, Belville has been taking aim at opponents of legalization on an almost daily basis. In his 2/21 show, he professed a desire to remain respectful, yet spoke of “scurrilous lies” and referred to Steve Elliott’s site as “Tool of the Town”. Not long ago, Belville had pledged to tone down the rhetoric he used during the Prop 19 debate. But in his 2/24 show, he leveled a with-us-or-against-us ultimatum, and declared opponents of I-502 to be his enemies in a rant aimed “Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War”.
Et tu, NORML?
Clearly, there’s too much disrespect on both sides of the debate. Personal smears and intentional distortions among the reform community only serve the good of prohibition. The worst mistake any of us can make is to denigrate the contributions of another volunteer. Hyperbole only sets us back, whether it comes from The Stranger‘s Dominic Holden calling opponents of I-502 “high-pocrites”, or opponents of I-502 equating it with the apocalypse. That said, anyone who’s receiving payment as part of a legalization effort can afford to buy tougher skin.
With support for full legalization rising in every demographic, it is time to take St. Pierre’s point to heart: the time to pursue full legalization is now. Prohibition must be removed at the taproot. Meanwhile, Belville portrays efforts in California too underfunded and Colorado’s recently certified initiative too unlikely to pass. What a self-fulfilling prophecy that would be.
On Belville’s 2/29 show, he described the opposition to I-502 as “a select tiny few people…out in force.” And despite a heavy-handed attempt to turn an online survey about I-502 into a push-poll, Belville still found roughly a third of his followers inclined to vote no.
To quote Upton Sinclair, as Belville is fond of doing: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.”