Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Nine for Nine - A Clean Sweep for Reform

By Kevin B. Zeese, President, Common Sense for Drug Policy

The 1998 election was a watershed event for the reform movement; a clean sweep of electoral victories for medical marijuana and broader drug policy reform. Along with the initiative victories, Dan Lungren the arch enemy of California's Proposition 215, lost in a landslide. Lungren garnered only 38% of the vote in his gubernatorial race.

The election highlights show that the voters are ahead of politicians when it comes to recognizing that the drug war has become too extreme. As a result of this election it is fair to say that medical marijuana is now a mainstream political issue. Perhaps the best examples of how out of step the politicians are comes from the results out of Oregon and Arizona.

In Oregon, last year the two-thirds of the legislature voted to recriminalize marijuana possession. On election day, two-thirds of the voters rejected recriminalization and kept marijuana decriminalization a policy that has existed since 1973.

In Arizona, the state legislature passed legislation undercutting Proposition 200, which passed in 1996. This year voters restored both medical prescription of all drugs and the reform of criminal laws so that incarceration is no longer an option in drug possession cases.

The Arizona vote on prescription availability of all drugs is noteworthy in particular. When voters went to the voting booth, the ballot said that a "no" vote will result in "allowing doctors to prescribe Schedule I drugs, including heroin, LSD, marijuana and analogs of PCP, to seriously and terminally ill patients without the authorization of the Federal Food and Drug Administration or the United States Congress." Over 57% of Arizonans voted for the measure.

Not only are drug war politicians out of step with the voters­­they know it.

Drug warriors fear public votes on reform issues. In Washington, D.C. representatives of Congress went so far as to threaten members of the Board of Elections with criminal contempt of Congress if they reported the results of the election. In Colorado, even though the proponents of the initiative demonstrated they had collected enough signatures, the courts without comment, upheld the state's decision to keep the vote from counting. Drug warriors are so zealous that they are willing to undermine democracy in an effort to prevent the seriously ill from using medical marijuana.

This election should be a wake up call to appointed drug war bureaucrats as well as elected officials. General McCaffrey, despite his billion dollar advertising budget, his grant program for grassroots drug war advocates, and the ease with which public officials get their message out, failed to have any impact on these elections. No doubt, the conservative wing of Congress will take him to task for this failure. McCaffrey has already angered the progressive wing of Congress, particularly the Black Caucus who sought his resignation after he opposed needle exchange. The General will be on very weak ground on Capitol Hill in 1999.

Elected officials should heed the example of Dan Lungren. A career politician with a long record of successful elections, first to Congress then Attorney General, was defeated in a potentially career ending, electoral landslide. He upset many Californians when he did not take steps to implement the 1996 vote on medical marijuana. His handling of medical marijuana clearly showed he was too mean to govern California. Lungren was ready to put the health of seriously ill Californians at risk and undermine a democratic vote by not implementing Proposition 215. The character flaws exhibited are manifest with other drug war politicians, and they may pay a similar price as Lungren. The days of shouting "Drug War" and getting elected may be coming to an end.

Other politicians who recognize that the drug war has failed, but have been afraid to say so publicly, should take heart from these elections. The public is saying you can be in favor of drug policy reform and get elected.

The message to reformers is that we can win. The message is not that we have won. We have a long, long way to go before we can claim victory, even with medial marijuana. Hard work, professional campaigning and getting our message out works. The elections are a sign of hope that America's nearly-century old drug war, which has caused so much harm to so many, can be ended.

Election Returns:


Proposition 8. Allows the medical use of marijuana (Yes is the reform position)

YES -111,166 - 57.75% REFORM WINNER
NO - 81,319 - 42.25%


Proposition 300 Allows medical use of all Schedule I drugs (No is the reform position)

YES - 385,014 - 42.6%
NO - 517,876 - 57.4% REFORM WINNER

Proposition 301 Prevents incarceration in drug possession cases (No is the reform position)

YES - 427,348 - 48.3%
NO - 456,631 - 51.7% REFORM WINNER


Initiative 19 Allows the medical use of marijuana (This vote was counted, but will not count unless ordered by a Federal court) (Yes is the reform position)

YES - 118,352 - 57% REFORM WINNER
NO - 89,614 - 43%


Question 9 Allows the medical use of marijuana (Yes is the reform position)

YES - 241,463 - 59% REFORM WINNER
NO - 170,234 - 41%


Measure 57 Recriminalization of possession of marijuana (No is the reform position)

YES - 161,651 - 33%
NO - 325,915 - 67% REFORM WINNER

Measure 67 Allows the medical use of marijuana (Yes is the reform position)

YES - 270,787 - 55% REFORM WINNER
NO - 220,944 - 45%


Initiative 692 Allows medical Use of marijuana (Yes is the reform position)

YES - 826,689 - 58.70% REFORM WINNER
NO - 581,743 - 41.30%


Initiative 59 Allows the medical use of marijuana (Yes is the reform position.)

NOTE - Congressional action has prevented results from being published. An independent exit poll conducted for Americans for Medical Rights found:

NO - 31% (assumed)

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact