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Proposition 19: Russian reefer madness

Besides George Soros,  the marijuana legalization measure on California's Nov. 2 ballot has won itself few friends in high places. The Obama administration's position is nay,  and just about every Democrat and Republican running for statewide office -- including both U.S. Senate candidates -- say the ballot measure deserves defeat. Despite the occasional histrionic over drug legalization (the No on 19 campaign website currently has an image of a nearly totaled car on its splash page), the opposition, including The Times' editorial page,  has made its case mainly by considering the legal ramifications: What happens if federal and state law are in complete opposition to each other? Is the initiative too lax about regulating and taxing marijuana, as it would permit cities and counties to set their own rules?

In short, the debate over Proposition 19 has been uncharacteristically ... adult. Opponents, instead of raising irrational fears over the drug, wonkishly say the law is poorly written. This kind of legal beard-scratching isn't what you'd expect in a debate over decriminalizing the country's most popular illegal drug in the country's most powerful and populous state.

Comes now Russian drug czar Viktor Ivanov, who flew in and injected a bit of old-fashioned reefer madness into the debate. As only someone from the land of double-speak  can put it, Ivanov warned of "psychiatric deviations" should California pass Proposition 19. Foreign Policy reports:

Viktor Ivanov, a former KGB officer and prominent member of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's inner circle, even took the unusual step of going to Los Angeles earlier this week to "conduct a campaign against legalizing marijuana in California," as he said in the interview. He also came to Washington this week to meet with U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and U.S. Afghan envoy Richard Holbrooke to discuss anti-poppy measures in Afghanistan and call for an intensified program of aerial eradication.

He warns California, sternly:

"I'm afraid that the consequences of [legalization] will be catastrophic. Even the Netherlands, where they sell marijuana legally in coffee shops, they are now reversing on this. Because there, and everywhere, drug addiction is becoming stronger and the people who are addicted develop psychiatric deviations. They say, 'What does God do when he wants to punish a person? He deprives him of his mind.' "

The aptly titled Russian czar does speak with some authority, as his country does have a drug problem of its own.  But I'm not sure that support from Ivanov -- whose own government has an elastic definition of personal freedom -- is an endorsement the anti-19 forces will embrace.

-- Paul Thornton


Comments () | Archives (25)

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There you go! A KGB agent has endorsed the opposition to Prop. 19. That should tell you something.

get up, stand up


People are afraid that if it passes, Prop. 19 will: (1) encourage kids to use pot; (2) create more pot use in general; and (3) create a rise in highway fatalities.

These concerns are ALL UNFOUNDED.

(1) it's easier for kids to buy weed than alcohol or cigarettes because dealers don't card.

(2) pot use in California won't rise - anyone who wants to smoke is already doing it - AND - prohibition has had no effect on drug use or it's availability - see Time Mag article http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/07/prop-19-analysis-will-marijuana-legalization-increase%C2%A0use/

(3) Prop. 19 does NOT change the law regarding DUI - and it will free up police resources to arrest people who are driving while intoxicated (on anything!)



KGB says vote no on prop 19. These people have no business influencing California voters! Now my mind is made up: I am voting yes!


Do something about your country's alcohol problem, you Joker, Russia of all countries can't afford to worry about far safer cannabis. But thanks for your likely to backfire effort to interfere.


Ahhh, ignorance. Those who support the proposition seem to have all-too-much of it.

Supporters don't want legalization, they want MONEY. Cash. The almighty dollar.

Section 4 is titled, "Prohibition on Furnishing Marijuana to Minors" without even defining a minor. Under this act, is a minor a person under the age of 18, or 21? Shoddy legislature at best.

Read the legislature yourself before you even read articles like this. Those who so much as talk about the initiative statute without even reading it thrive on ignorance, and it makes me sick to realize how harsh of a reality this is.

Richard Saunders

Ahhh, yes. Very good point my kind sir. Below is the attached piece of said legislation



Seems like LA times is embarrassed that their viewpoint on prohibition is shared with communist Russia and rightly so. Prohibition is in fact a limitation of liberty, a communist concept. Everybody should have the right to pursue their own individual happiness and if that is found while smoking some plant, let it be so. It shouldn't be anyones right to impose their drug morals on someone else. If you impose your morals on someone else, you are a tyrant.

If something happens because you were under influence just like with alcohol you should be punished accordingly and this is currently the case. But we can't just ban it from everyone because a minority (that can already get their hands on marijuana) could --maybe-- do something stupid.

Vote 'YES' on proposition 19.

- don't let more communism enter the country.


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No one have ever died from marijuana usage, in all of recorded history.
The cannabis plant is so diverse it could become a product in nearly economic field, from textiles to medicine, from food to fuel, and primarily, medicine.

Even recreationally, cannabis invokes positivity in nearly every aspect of my life.

Vote "YES" on Proposition 19, if I lived in California, I would.

It could invoke a domino effect of state-wide legislation, and nationwide legalization to whereas even the federal government has no choice but to repeal the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

We're counting on you, Californians.

Brazilian Guy

Be a sofisticated example for the world, vote YES!!!


Sounds like the merging of American and Russian mercenaries, to go after a bunch of addicts, the real problem is Prohibition, that is where most of the violence comes from, if you have a regulated flow of drugs like pharmaceuticals, and under medical supervision, that would eliminate most of the violence and incarcerations. Switzerland has done a wonderful study of heroin treatment that worked very well, treatment works not incarceration and destitution.

puff daddy


The text below is cut and pasted from the proposition. It seems clear to me unless you want them to be more specific by saying earth years...

(b) The retail sale of not more than one ounce per transaction, in licensed premises, to persons 21 years or older, for personal consumption and not for resale.
(c) Appropriate controls on cultivation, transportation, sales, and consumption of cannabis to strictly prohibit access to cannabis by persons under the age of 21.
(d) Age limits and controls to ensure that all persons present in, employed by, or in any way involved in the operation of, any such licensed premises are 21 or older.


Wow, the garbage just keeps coming from the LA Times on this issue. Now they have dredged up some lost Russian! What a sad and pathetic joke. Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York times, has a piece today advocating legal pot. The times have changed, people have woken up, but the LA Times is still living in the distant past. Or maybe it's alcohol advertising dollars that is swaying their view. Given all the lies and myths they have thrown at this issue, one wonders if it is someone else's money talking. It sounds like it to me. Problem for the LA Times though, is that they are on the wrong side of history, and will eventually be proven to be horribly wrong.

Eric Field


NY Times Nicholas Kristof endorses Prop. 19.

LA Times: Will you reconsider?

Emerald Laughter

Just another reason, I'll be voting YES on 19. Foreign leaders have no business getting involved in California politics. These folks are concerned about the money they'll lose when their monoploy on the drug trade slips away.

It will be interesting to see if cold war conservatives embrace the endorsement of a Russian KGB officer.


This is only a sign of how desperate the LA Times is at this point. Where are the prominent Americans speaking out against this issue? Have to switch to the imported models? Pathetic. Anything mentioned against pot can multiplied by a 100 times or more for alcohol - which is infinitely more deadly and dangerous. Where is the LA Times on the alcohol issue? Hypocrisy - how do we spell thy name?
LA Times.

Emerald Laughter

There has been yet another endorsement to Vote No on 19. This morning Chicken Little issued the following statement: "If Proposition 19 passes, THE SKY WILL FALL!!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

Emerald Laughter

When the Russians get their national alcoholism under control, then maybe they'll have a leg to stand on. Oh, and square away all those Civil Rights issues. You know what, forget it, Russia, America doesn't need your advice.

Paul Pot

We really have to thank prop 19 for drawing the line in the sand. It has drawn out the opposition and forced the best arguments they have, just ludicrous rhetoric. And who are they, the establishment, the elite of police enforcement. And who are the people trying to bring about reform, the people. It's us against them, the government against everyone else. Even foreign police officials fear any reform anywhere in the world because they know their argument is untenable. As soon as enough people begin to chorus that the Emperor is naked then prohibition the world over will collapse as fast as the Berlin wall. Even if prop 19 does not pass it will not stop the repeal of prohibition, attitudes are changing but a yes on Nov 2 would definitely speed things up. Please Californians vote, to end the war on us. Yes on prop 19.


Just curious. Who is funding the opposition to prop 19? People who want pot to stay illegal? Like those who are selling it now? Legalization would provide revenue for california, provide those who are going to use with a safe place to purchace, and deprive the criminal element of a valuable source of cash. So I guess the real question is, are you going to let people whose real concern is their own pocket book scare you into voting with your fear and not your mind.


Shut up, stoners.


Hashpipe...silence is golden when it comes to your opinions

malcolm kyle

While bullets fly into El Paso, bodies pile up in the streets of Juarez, and thugs with gold-plated AK-47s and albino tiger pens are beheading federal officials and dissolving their torsos in vats of acid, here are some facts concerning the peaceful situation in Holland. --Please save a copy and use it as a reference when debating prohibitionists who claim the exact opposite concerning reality as presented here below:

Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 -- roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.

In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here is a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation

Now let's look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy

Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its so called successful drug policy.

Here's Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:

The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.

The Dutch justice ministry announced, last year, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There's simply not enough criminals

For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-soft-drugs-netherlands
or go to this page: http://www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/Soft-drugs

malcolm kyle

May I ask you all to please consider the following very carefully: It wasn't alcohol that caused the surge in crime and homicide during alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, it was the prohibition of alcohol. That's why many of us find it hard to believe that the same thing is not happening now. We clearly have a prohibition fueled violent crime problem. A huge number of these violent crimes are perpetrated by criminal syndicates and gangs who use the proceeds from the sales of illegal substances to further even more of their criminal activities.

The second biggest business during prohibition in Detroit was liquor at $215 million a year and employing about 50,000 people. Authorities were not only helpless to stop it, many were part of the problem. During one raid the state police arrested Detroit Mayor John Smith, Michigan Congressman Robert Clancy and Sheriff Edward Stein.

The Mexican cartels are ready to show, that when it comes to business, they also like to be nonpartisan. They will buy-out or threaten politicians of any party, make deals with whoever can benefit them, and kill those who are brave or foolish enough to get in their way.

If you support prohibition you've helped to prevent the sick and dying from obtaining safe and effective medication.

If you support prohibition you've helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

If you support prohibition you've helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

If you support prohibition you've helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

If you support prohibition you've helped to escalate Murder, Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

If you support prohibition you've helped escalate the number of people on welfare who can't find employment due to their felony status.

If you support prohibition you've helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them; the concept of a "Drug-Free Society" is a neurotic fantasy and Prohibition's ills are a product of this psychotic delusion.

Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, corrupt, criminally insane or a KGB agent.

distance measurement

Let us all have a "NO" vote for Proposition 19.



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