Regulate Marijuana like Wine



Dear Fellow Libertarian,

At the last meeting of the Libertarian National Committee in December, we endorsed the California ballot initiative to “Regulate Marijuana as Wine” by a vote of 14-0 (with 2 abstentions). While most Libertarians would rather have no regulation on marijuana, we believe that this is an incremental step in the right direction. Please read the below message from the sponsors of this initiative.

Yours in liberty,

Mark Hinkle,
Libertarian National Committee


The new year is in motion, and Libertarians are set for huge advances toward liberty at every turn. The opportunities are there. We just have to reach out and grab them!

I’m writing to tell you about one of those opportunities, a victory for freedom that’s going to rock the very foundations of federal overreach and help us put Washington back in its place … if YOU will help us seize that victory.

That coming victory — a major Libertarian win in the War on Drugs, with 10th Amendment implications in nearly every area of government policy — is California’s Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative

It’s exactly what it sounds like: A new law that gives use, possession and sale of marijuana exactly the same legal status as drinking a glass, cellaring a bottle, or selling a case of Napa Valley White Zinfandel.

I know you’ve heard the hype before: A silver bullet that will make all your Libertarian dreams come true. That’s not what I’m trying to sell you here. This initiative won’t end the war on drugs all by itself. It won’t restore the Constitution on one fell swoop. It’s a beginning, not an end.

But what a beginning! With one electoral stroke — and for less than the cost of even a single congressional campaign — we can immediately and dramatically increase the freedom of 38 million Californians, set the stage for a nationwide expansion of that new freedom, and put an overbearing federal government on the DEFENSIVE!

California led the way on medical marijuana back in 1996 with Proposition 215. Since then, 15 more states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana legislation, bringing much-needed legal relief to the millions of patients (including me!) who rely on cannabis to relieve chronic pain, restore appetite and suppress the nausea associated with cancer chemo and AIDS medications, and even to outright keep them alive.

We’ve learned a lot in the last 15 years. Prop 215 was an incredibly successful template for winning more freedom, but as one of its early proponents and long-time beneficiaries I’ve learned over time that it has its weak spots.

Prop 215 left too much discretion to local and state officials in California. Since its passage, we’ve had to fight time and time again to force police and prosecutors to honor the intent of the law instead of re-interpreting it in ways that let them punish medical marijuana patients, arrest producers and shut down dispensaries. We’ve been quite successful in those fights, but they’ve been costly and time-consuming.

Prop 215 also made it too easy for those same police and prosecutors to collude with federal law enforcement at a “profit,” by turning state non-crimes over to DEA and other alphabet-soup agencies, then raking in a share of asset forfeiture proceeds. California cops keep the feds on speed-dial, knowing that with one phone call they can turn a fruitless traffic stop into a pay raise or a new patrol car, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

We’ve tweaked the Prop 215 template to eliminate those weaknesses make the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative even more successful, not just in California but in the post-California national adoption phase.

Regulate Marijuana Like Wine specifies the EXACT scope of police and prosecutorial powers and the MAXIMUM fines and punishments which can be levied for infractions. It repeals all previous laws that might be used as hooks to hang a prosecution on. No more latitude for creative interpretations. No more loopholes to “up-charge” infractions so as to increase the penalties. Under this new law, smoking a joint will be treated EXACTLY like drinking a glass of merlot, traveling with an ounce of marijuana in your car will be treated EXACTLY like driving home with a bottle of chablis, and selling marijuana will be treated EXACTLY like running a liquor store.


–Retired Superior Court Judge and Libertarian National Judicial Committee Member James Gray

We’ve also done a very nice bit of political ju-jitsu with the issue of federal intervention. Get this:

Instead of leaving California cops, prosecutors and political officials free to sic the feds on those whom state law bars them from persecuting, or to throw up their hands and say “sorry, this is out of Washington, nothing we can do,” Regulate Marijuana Like Wine FORBIDS California cops and prosecutors to enforce conflicting federal law and OBLIGATES the state of California to defend the new law against federal challenges.

That last part is key to turning this initiative into a national wildfire that spreads even faster than medical marijuana has, with implications far beyond marijuana law alone.

We’ve watched non-profit legal foundations, with little funding or support, take on the feds and win on constitutional issues. Watch what happens when the full legal and political resources of the world’s sixth largest economy are mobilized to give the 10th Amendment teeth again!

This is ultimately no more about marijuana than the Boston Tea Party was about Tea. It’s about FREEDOM.

We’re going to knock down some walls, folks. Not just marijuana laws, not even just the War on Drugs. Think “health insurance mandates.” Think “gun laws.” If there’s not an enumerated federal power in the Constitution for it, it’s going down. The case law generated by Regulate Marijuana Like Wine will eradicate it and sow salt in the earth where it once stood.

THAT is the power of Regulate Marijuana Like Wine: A new birth of freedom in America, radiating out from California until it encompasses the whole of America, from sea to shining sea.

But first, we have to get the initiative passed.

Polling tells us that 62% of Californians are ready and willing to vote for it, but they can’t do that until we get it on the ballot by collecting 500,000 valid signatures from registered California voters (which means more like 800,000 “raw” signatures).

I’m coming to you, my fellow Libertarians, for the “seed money” to get this thing rolling. Ultimately it’s going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million, and that money WILL come … IF we can raise $100,000 to get a full-on, professional petition drive launched and in motion.

As Thomas Paine once wrote, “it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”

How highly do YOU rate freedom?

I bet there are at least a hundred members of the Party of Principle who think it’s worth $1000 or more to lift a yoke of tyranny from the necks of 38 million people.

I’ve been to our party’s national conventions, and I’m absolutely sure there are at least a thousand of us who’d find $100, somehow, to put the Tenth Amendment back into operation.

Over my years in the party, I’ve seen my fellow Libertarians kick in $10, $25, $50 … whatever they can afford, and until it hurts … when they see an opportunity to win the day for liberty in any way, big or small.

Now I’m asking you to do it again. This is a big one, folks. Whatever you can afford, it WILL make a difference.

Let Freedom Grow,

James P. Gray – Chief Proponent
Steve Kubby – Campaign Manager
Bill McPike – Chief Counsel
Stephen Collett – Treasurer

(and to get your Thank You gifts!)

The Libertarian Party
Gov. Gary Johnson
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
Kenny Loggins
Judge James P. Gray (ret.)
LAPD Deputy Chief S. Downing (ret.)
Assemblymember Chris Norby
Lt. Diane Goldstein (ret.)
Ed Rosenthal
NORML Founder Keith Stroup
Thomas Chong
Rick Steves
Vivian McPeak Seattle Hempfest
Lynnette Shaw Marin Alliance
Alice Huffman President California NAACP
Rob Kampia, MPP
Norm Stamper, former Seattle Police Chief
Craig Beresh, California Cannabis Coalition
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment Healing)
LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)