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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Free The Weed 16 by John Sinclair


A Column by John Sinclair

Highest greetings from London, where I’m resting up from my little tour of Ireland, Scotland and the UK with Mr. Nice called Breathin’ Air with Howard
Marks & John Sinclair and smoking some tasty locally-grown medicine while I’m here. I intend to be back in Amsterdam by the time you read these words and cashing in my new Dutch prescription for 10 days worth of cannabis at a gram a day, as well as enjoying recreational marijuana over the counter at the 420 Cafe.

I’ll pick up my eye-witness coverage of the attempted adulteration of the Dutch coffeeshop culture in my next column, but this week the good news is all coming from the States, where a new Angus Reid Public opinion poll reveals that fully two-thirds of American adults believe that the drug war is failing and a majority says that marijuana ought to be legalized.

According to the poll, only 10 percent of respondents believe that the so-called “War on Drugs” has been successful, while 66 percent deem it a "failure." Pollsters also found that 52 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, versus 44 percent opposed. This is the fourth consecutive survey conducted by Angus Reid to report majority support among Americans for legalizing marijuana.

I’m not clinging to a lot of hope for the success of the 2012 Michigan Marijuana Initiative because of the severe underfunding of the effort, but there’s very encouraging news from several other fronts in the U.S.A.

In Colorado a recent Rasmussen Reports poll of likely state voters found that 61 percent favor legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, while only 27 percent opposed the concept. This bodes well for the chances of the passage in November of Amendment 64, the ballot initiative aimed at eliminating civil and criminal penalties for the limited possession and cultivation of cannabis and regulating the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers.

Widespread support for Amendment 64 includes NORML, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado, SAFER, Sensible Colorado, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Marijuana Policy Project.

And finally moving from the voters’ initiative route to legislative action on
medical marijuana, on June 1st Connecticut became the 17th state since 1996 to legalize the limited use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, and New Hampshire lawmakers have sent Senate Bill 409, which allows for the personal possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, to Governor John Lynch for his signature.

Governor Lynch, a Democrat, has opposed SB 409—passed by more than two-thirds of House members—and previously vetoed similar legislation in 2009. The 13 to 9  Senate vote in favor is two votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority necessary to override the governor’s expected veto this time.

Republican Senator Jim Forsythe, the bill's prime sponsor, said that he would continue lobbying to gain the two additional votes to insure an override of the anticipated veto. "Most senators now agree we have a moral obligation to protect seriously ill patients from being arrested in our state," he said. Amen to that!

The news from the federal front, however, is not at all encouraging, as Tara Culp-Ressler from Think Progress summarizes: Justice Department Targets Medical Marijuana Despite Increasing Support For Legalization. Despite the fact that medical marijuana may be legal in up to 24 states and the District of Columbia by the end of this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to crack down on medical marijuana on the federal level.

Federal prosecutors have been pressuring the landlords of medical marijuana shops in California to either shut down their shops or risk losing their property under a civil statute originally designed to allow the government to seize drug-trafficking organizations’ assets.

The Obama administration has continued to restrict medical marijuana despite the fact that 3/4 of the American public believes the federal government should back off enforcement against medical marijuana in states where the drug is legalized.

What is with our president? Last month a new biography drew a vivid portrait of young Barry Obama as a wigged-out college pothead sometimes known as The Interceptor for his practice of jumping his place in the toking order and seizing the joint in progress prior to appointed turn.

As a candidate for president in 2008 Obama promised to leave state-approved medical marijuana alone, but since taking office his so-called Department of Justice has continued and extended the insane anti-marijuana policies of the Bush administration.

For example, as Angela Lee reports in AlterNet, the number of drug offenders in prison and jail, or on probation and parole, continues to skyrocket. During 2009, the first year of the present administration, almost 337,500 people were incarcerated for drugs in the United States, nearly twice as many as the 179,070 being held in 1990—only 20 years

Even more alarming is the number of drug offenders in federal prisons, which has exploded from 30,470 in 1990 to almost 100,000 in 2009. (In 1980, there were only 4,900 prisoners housed in federal facilities for "drug" offenses, less than 5% of the present number.) The conviction of "drugs" means that possession or sales of an illegal drug was the person's most serious offense, even if he or she were convicted of multiple offenses.

Ms. Lee points out that this analysis omits counts for "drug" offenders in local jails, even though these facilities housed an estimated 767,434 inmates in 2009.

Anthony Gregory, a research assistant at The Independent Institute, wrote an impassioned plea in the Huffington Post for an end to this madness, arguing that “The entire drug war is a monstrosity, a crime against the Bill of Rights, the greatest contributor to gang violence, a wholesale attack on our civil liberties and the right of individuals to control their own bodies.

“Characterizing drug problems as a criminal justice issue has been an unmitigated failure, except for serving law-enforcement special interests, growing the bureaucracy, and deepening the pockets of drug kingpins who profit off this madness…. No result of legal cannabis could be as bad as what we have now.

“Since October 2009, the Obama administration has executed over 170 SWAT raids of dispensaries. But right now, 3/4 of Americans—including 2/3 of Republicans—want these federal raids against state-legalized medical marijuana dispensaries to end.

“If ever there was an issue where a president was out of touch with the American people, especially with those in his own party, the war on marijuana is it.

“The war on pot is hypocritical and immoral. It needs to end. Unfortunately, the prison and police lobbies want to keep this calamitous crusade going, because the war on pot is a lynchpin for the rest of the drug war. The DEA and Drug Czar require marijuana to be included in their data on illicit substances, which they use to make the drug problem appear as big as possible.”

Gregory concludes with a serious challenge to all of us: “If the American people want to end the misery of the war on pot, it will take more than a casual opposition to the laws. We must rally against the entire prohibitionist mindset and the cult of absolute power.”

June 17-18, 2012

© 2012 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

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