Category Archives: Drug Policy

Vote for AZ Candidates Who Support Marijuana Legalization

By The Downtown Dispensary, Tucson, AZ.

One of the most effective ways to fix federal marijuana laws is to elect candidates who share the same values as those of us who realize that marijuana is the actual solution to the opioid crisis and that the right to choose an alternative medicine is not something that people like Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have a say in. One of the most likely bills to begin solving the problem is the STATES Act that would recognize the legalization of cannabis. However, we need to elect officials who will help make it law.

We must also have a Governor and state administration who support access to cannabis. As some of you are still waiting on sending in your early ballots and with the election just 11 days away, we ask you to review the information below on some of the candidates in Arizona’s 2nd congressional district and the Arizona Governor’s race. We do not believe the 1st Congressional District and 3rd Congressional District will see a change in representation and wish Congressman Grijalva and Congressman O’Halleran the best of luck.

Thank you for exercising your right to vote!
Primary Election – August 28, 2018
General Election – November 6, 2018

ARIZONA CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 2

Billy Kovacs – DEMOCRAT

“I fully support medical marijuana. We need to end the federal prohibitions on medical marijuana and allow the possession, production, and distribution of medical marijuana in states with established marijuana laws.”

According to Billy’s ads in the Tucson Weekly and the Arizona Daily Star, he supports the legalization of marijuana for adult use at the federal and state level.

SOURCE:  Billy Kovacs for Congress | Arizona Daily Star – Candidates

Ann Kirkpatrick – DEMOCRAT

Ann Kirkpatrick has voted to protect the rights of medical marijuana patients and dispensaries in 2015 but she does not support the legalization of marijuana according to statements she made at a candidate forum in Green Valley earlier this year.

SOURCE: Arizona Daily Star Vote Results – Roll Call (Rohrbacher-Blumenauer Amendment)

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Democratic Candidate Sharon Stinard offers “Service Above Self” for the residents of LD 16.

LD 16 Democratic State House Candidate Sharon Stinard

At the Starbucks at Broadway and Power in Mesa, second time State House Democratic Candidate Sharon Stinard offered a pragmatic progressive vision for the residents of LD 16 as she prepares to go potentially against out of touch reactionary zealot Kelly Townsend and another Republican (to be determined after the primary) because the other current incumbent decided not to run in the November elections there is an “open seat” opportunity in November. In a district that includes parts of Maricopa and Pinal County, Ms. Stinard is running on a platform that emphasizes education, healthcare, infrastructure, and strategic economic development (including tax reform) and job growth.

LD 16 includes parts of Eastern Maricopa county and Northern Pinal. Parts or all of Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, and Youngberg are within its boundaries. The district has been reliably Republican in recent elections. Ms. Stinard and Cara Prior lost to incumbents Kelly Townsend and Doug Coleman in 2016.

Believing that local politics is the “foundation of our republic” and we cannot let “one side have all the oxygen in the room,” Ms. Stinard believes LD 16 voters deserve a strong voice in the legislature to advocate for economic opportunity and an equitable share of available resources,” Ms. Stinard believes, with the open seat and Ms. Townsend becoming increasingly radicalized with her positions (opposition to Invest in Ed and Medicaid Expansion) and out of touch with the people of the district (she rarely interacts with them according to Ms. Stinard), that there is an opening for her pragmatic progressive vision for LD 16.

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Julie Gunnigle pledges to fight corruption as a State Representative for LD 15

LD 15 Democratic State House Candidate Julie Gunnigle

In what has become the designated meeting place for Legislative District 15 Democratic Candidates, the Starbucks at Tatum and Paradise Parkway, Julie Gunnigle ardently relayed why she would be the best candidate to work for the district’s constituents as one of the two State House Representatives after the November elections.

Ms. Gunnigle is one of three Democrats running for two State House seats in LD 15. The others are Jennifer Samuels and Tonya MacBeth. In what is a likely result of the prevailing political winds (The Trump Administration, the reactionary state Republican Legislature, and Governor beholden to Dark Money-Koch Interests), this is the first time in recent memory more than one Democrat is running to secure at least one of the State House seats.

Who is Julie Gunnigle?

 A native of LD 15, Ms. Gunnigle graduated with a Law Degree from Notre Dame University and served as a Cook County Prosecutor in Illinois (where she participated in the indictment of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Cook County) before moving back with her family in 2011 to practice education (special needs including gifted), midwifery, veteran’s affairs, and reproductive rights law. Some of her work (veteran’s law for example) is performed on a pro bono basis. She also taught at Summit Law School and has been a member of the Arizona Association Advocating for the Gifted and Talented, advocating for special needs children and restoration of funding for them in front of the Arizona State Legislature for three years. She is also a wife and mother.

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#ICYMI: Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

LD9 House incumbent Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) organizes and hosts debates for all elections in which at least one Clean Elections candidate is running. In Legislative District 9, three of the five people running for office are Clean candidates: Jim Love, Victoria Steele and me. The other two people who are running for house– Rep. Randy Friese and J.P. Martin– are running traditional.

Since early ballots for the August 28 primary election will be mailed on August 1, the CCEC has been hosting many debates in the past month. On July 19, the LD9 candidates had their debate.  (The LD9 video link is here and the embedded video is below. To watch other CCEC debates go here.)

CCEC debates include some questions that are asked of all candidates and other questions that are asked of specific people. I have annotated the debate with time stamps– in case you want to focus on particular topics. Since there were several audience questions about guns in schools, the environment and prison reform, I have grouped those questions and answers.

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Joel Feinman’s Simple Solution to Ending Mass Incarceration


Lynching in America continued from the 1920s up to 1980, according to Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman.

Arizona incarcerates a higher percentage of the population than South Africa did during apartheid. “We are not the land of free and home of brave as long as that statistic is true,” said Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman.

He spoke recently at a program on mass incarceration sponsored by the Arizona Ground Game (TAGG), a grass-roots Progressive organization that encourages active citizenship through neighborhood building.

“Mass incarceration is a long and ugly story, a bloody and racist tour of where we’ve been,” he said. “The good news is that mass incarceration is actually one of easiest political problems to solve.”

Plea bargains

Part of the problem is the universal use of plea agreements to end criminal cases. In 2013, 97% of criminal cases in the federal system were resolved by plea bargains.

“The average sentence for federal narcotics defendants with a plea agreement is  5 years,” Feinman said. “For defendants who went to trial, the average sentence was 16 years — more than 3 times the years in prison because they chose to exercise their constitutional right under the 6th amendment to have a trial by jury.”

Plea bargains are an unfair contract, where the prosecutor (the Pima County Attorney) has all the bargaining power and the defendant has none. “The criminal justice system is more interested in moving cases along than dispensing justice,” he said. “As a result, you get the highest incarceration rate and the highest number of people in prison. The judge is not the most powerful person, not the jury, not our state representatives or congress people — it is your local prosecutor. They are by far the most powerful person in the criminal justice system.”

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Anita Malik hopes to defeat embattled Representative David Schweikert for the Congressional Seat in District Six this November.

Congressional District Six Democratic Candidate Anita Malik

In November, voters in Arizona and across the nation will go to the polls to elect new members to the House of Representatives and a third of the United States Senate. In this first election after the contest that thrust popular vote loser Donald Trump into the White House, Democrats will seek to build on the Congressional gains they achieved in 2016 and reach out to a surging group of enthusiastic voters who want a new direction for the country.

Needing 25 Representative seats, Democrats see this election as a major opportunity, with clear majorities rejecting the Republican program and Trump in particular, to gain control of the House for the first time since 2010. One of the seats Democrats hope to “flip” is the one occupied by Arizona Congressional Six Incumbent David Schweikert. Congressional District Six in Arizona includes all or parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Carefree Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Glendale, and Phoenix. Currently embattled in a political scandal that has seen the departure of his chief of staff, three Democrats are vying this year to be the candidate to defeat him this November. They are Anita Malik, Heather Ross, and Garrick McFadden.

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