Proposition 19, the measure to tax and regulate cannabis for adult use in California, which initially looked doomed, is now registering more than 50 percent support in one major poll -- and Eva Enns of the Women's Marijuana Movement wants to build on that momentum with events today in Denver and twenty-plus locations nationwide. In her view, the support of women for marijuana legalization is key to its success in Cali and beyond.
"We want to empower women to be more vocal in their support of legalization," says Denver-based Enns, who's also outreach director for SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), fronted by prominent marijuana advocate Mason Tvert. "Marijuana is the second-most popular recreational drug, but there's a large disparity between the level of usage and women's level of support for legalization. So we're encouraging them to shed their fear and speak up for legalization."
Why does Enns feel women don't publicly back legalization in greater numbers?
"Traditionally, women are seen as nurturers, caretakers, mothers," she maintains. "They have the role of being protectors, and marijuana is currently an illegal substance despite the fact that it's far safer than alcohol. And there are consequences to breaking the law."
At the same time, though, "marijuana isn't associated with things like sexual assault, personal injury, domestic violence," she continues. "October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and alcohol is often associated with that. And if marijuana was available as a legal alternative, there would be fewer incidents of domestic violence. That's something women need to consider and understand."
Another reason more women don't support marijuana legalization, Enns feels, is their fear that decriminalization would cause more children to smoke. In her view, the opposite would be true.
"Drug dealers don't ask for ID," she says. "They're not going to card a twelve-year old or refuse a young person service if they want marijuana. But a regulated retail store would ask for ID and would limit access to children -- and eliminate that element of the black market. And currently, there's the unfortunate reality that if someone goes to a drug dealer specifically for marijuana, he may have access to harder drugs. But taking marijuana out of the black market would not only restrict children's access to marijuana, but also to those harder drugs."
In addition to expressing support for Proposition 19 at the Denver event, taking place at noon at the Wellington Webb Municipal Building , 201 W. Colfax Avenue (see full details below), Enns and other speakers will also be laying the groundwork for a similar Colorado measure likely to be placed on the 2012 ballot. If Prop. 19 passes, she believes it will help boost efforts here.
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"The whole country is watching California, not only to see if it wins, but also to see if there are going to be any major problems associated with its passage if that happens," she says. "I don't predict any major problems -- and that will be very important for the whole country, including Colorado to see. This would be the entire population of a state saying they do want to see marijuana taxed and controlled and regulated in a manner that's similar to alcohol. And that sends a very powerful message."
Page down to see the Women's Marijuana Movement release about today's Denver event, complete with a schedule for cities in California, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, New York and more.
Women in Colorado Join Others Nationwide to Speak Out in Support of Marijuana Reform and California Legalization Initiative -- "It will make us SAFER"
Group to hold news conference at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5th in front of the Wellington Webb Municipal Building
Group will launch effort to organize and educate women voters who will make the difference when Colorado votes on marijuana legalization statewide in 2012
DENVER -- On Tuesday, October 5, women will gather in Denver for a news conference at which they will speak out in support of Proposition 19, the California ballot measure that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, and announce plans to begin organizing women to work toward a 2012 initiative in Colorado. Women in cities across the nation -- including moms, grandmothers, young professionals and college students -- are participating to show their support for marijuana legalization.
The event is being coordinated by the Women's Marijuana Movement -- http://www.WomensMarijuanaMovement.org -- along with local women's organizations and activists nationwide.
"For too long, women's voices have not been heard during the debate over marijuana policy," said Eva Enns, coordinator of the Women's Marijuana Movement. "But women will make the difference in this debate -- and this election -- so it is time for us to take the lead.
The events coincide with the first week of early voting in California, as well as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Women will be highlighting the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and discussing how alcohol is a major contributing factor to incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other acts of violence, whereas marijuana is not.
"Women from across the state of California and across the nation are standing up tomorrow for more sensible marijuana policies," Enns said. "They are unified in their belief that it is illogical to punish adults who make the rational choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol. They know that alcohol causes more health problems and is far more frequently associated with acts of violence, including date rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse. They are simply fed up with law enforcement officials who know these facts yet embrace and defend laws that literally drive people to drink."
In California, some women will target offices of key law enforcement officials who are opposing Proposition 19, including Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, and San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Women will call on these officials to explain why they would prefer to keep alcohol the only legal intoxicant and prohibit adults from making the safer choice to use marijuana instead. They will also deliver the officials copies of the book, "Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?" (Chelsea Green, 2009).
"We need to advocate for sensible regulations that actually enhance public safety rather than undermine it," Enns said. "We want our young people to be carded before they can purchase marijuana. We want marijuana removed from the criminal market so teens are not exposed to harder drugs if they happen to seek marijuana. And we want our sons and daughters to grow up in a world where they will not be punished if they make the sensible choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol. These are the kinds of issues that led me to join the Women's Marijuana Movement and I am excited to be a part of this important effort."
Event Times, Locations, and Contacts
In front of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca's office, 4700 W. Ramona Blvd., Monterey Park
* Women will deliver Sheriff Baca a copy of "Marijuana is Safer" *
In front of of Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
Redlands -- University of Redlands
Hunsucker Plaza, University of Redlands, 1200 E. Colton Ave., Redlands
In front of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis's office , 330 W. Broadway, San Diego
* Women will deliver District Attorney Dumanis a copy of "Marijuana is Safer" *
San Jose -- San Jose State University
Inside the Student Union, 1 Washington Square, San Jose
Santa Ana (Orange County)
In front of Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens's office, 550 N. Flower St., Santa Ana
* Women will deliver Sheriff Hutchens a copy of "Marijuana is Safer" *
In front of the Wellington Webb Municipal Building , 201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver (corner of Colfax & Bannock)
Colorado Springs -- University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
Time and location TBA
Ft. Lauderdale -- Florida Atlantic University
In front of the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale
NE corner of Bruce B Downs Blvd. and E. Fowler Ave., Tampa
In front of The Grove Plaza (Front St. & 8th Street)
Columbia -- University of Missouri
Spiva Park in front of The Globe
Liberty Memorial , 100 W. 26th St., Kansas City
NW Corner of the Higgins Street Bridge (near the Wilma Theatre), Missoula
27th and O St., Lincoln
72nd and Dodge, Omaha
In front of the New Jersey State House Building, 125 W. State St., Trenton
Town Center, Corner of Lake and Broadway, near the police station, courthouse, and Skidmore University
Pioneer Square at SW 6th & Broadway
In front of the Texas Pioneer Woman Monument, Texas State Capitol Grounds , 1100 Congress Ave.
College Station -- Texas A&M University
In front of the Sul Ross statue by the Academic Building, Texas A&M University campus
In front of the fountain on the east side of Tarrant County Courthouse, 100 E. Weatherford St., Fort Worth (corner of Weatherford and Commerce)
Discovery Green Park, 1500 McKinney St., Houston