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Monday, May 19, 2014

Free The Weed 38 by John Sinclair

    Highest greetings from Detroit, one of the many cities in Michigan where weed has now been freed from the clutches of the law and citizens are free to possess and smoke it whether we’re sick or just need to get high.

    Michigan smokers have suffered dearly, like much of our citizenry, since the economic nosedive of 2008 and consequently lack sufficient resources to fund a proper state-wide legalization initiative like those that have been successful in the states of Colorado and Washington.

    So for the past several years Michigan’s legalization warriors, led by the indefatigable Tim Beck, fellow activists Chuck Ream, Justin Soffa, David Cahill and their cohorts in the Coalition for a Safer Michigan, have sharply focused their efforts on pointed decriminalization initiatives in particular cities where voters can be mobilized with a minimum of expenditure and maximum immediacy of effect.

    First Detroit in 2011, then Flint, Grand Rapids, Ypsilanti and Kalamazoo the next year, then Lansing, Ferndale and Jackson in 2013 have decriminalized marijuana in their municipalities and placed their cities at odds with the drug policies of the state of Michigan and the federal government.

    In fact, the Coalition for a Safer Michigan has targeted up to 18 cities in the 2014 elections, including Saginaw, Port Huron, East Lansing, Mt. Pleasant, Grosse Pointe, Oak Park, Berkley, Hazel Park, Lapeer, Utica, Clare, Frankfort, and Onaway. This is an ambitious undertaking, but in the 13 contests entered to date, the Coalition has won every one.

    The idea is to demonstrate on a city-by-city basis that the citizens of Michigan no longer want the police to be able to interfere with nor insinuate themselves into the private activities of marijuana smokers. Soon the legislative authorities should be able to get the message loud and clear: the voters want marijuana legalized, and we want it now.

    The municipal victories also highlight the hypocrisy and senselessness that characterize the existing marijuana laws and the idiots who enforce them. With the citizens of city after city weighing in on the side of legalization, the State’s refusal to embrace the will of the people and the cause of plain good sense stands out as more and more ridiculous, and the confusion that arises from the legal conflict between the many cities on the one hand and the State on the other makes the citizenry even more desirous of resolving the issue once and for all.

    In an electoral system where the candidates for office are owned by the people who pay for their campaigns and the whole process seems to be increasingly out of control, the marijuana legalization campaign in Michigan is a stellar exercise in participatory democracy by means of which our citizens are learning about their power as voters and their ability to take political issues into their own hands and bring about the desired results without having to beg their elected leaders to do the right thing.

    It’s important to remember that the entire weight and force of our draconian anti-marijuana laws are founded in the belief that the vast majority of Americans oppose recreational drug use and are comfortable with arresting and imprisoning people for getting high. Politicians of both parties have forever been convinced of this basic truth, and they’ve built up an incredibly vast anti-marijuana apparatus dedicated to enforcing and shoring up this belief despite any scientific or moral evidence to support it.

    Now that more than half of all Americans have come out in support of legalization, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the law enforcement community to maintain its dominant position. State after state has approved medical marijuana, Colorado and Washington have fully legalized the weed and are actually dealing with creating and monitoring effective distribution systems, and in Michigan city after city has rejected the status quo and removed weed smokers from the clutches of the police and courts.

    The priorities of legalization have been clear from the beginning: First, get the police off our backs and the courts and their auxiliaries out of our lives. No more marijuana arrests. No more rehabilitation programs for weed smokers. No more drug tests. No more driving arrests for people in possession of weed. Get rid of the entire ridiculous apparatus of the War On Drugs and dismantle the gigantic machinery of persecution and incarceration. Free The Weed!   

    Of course this is not so easy as it sounds. The proponents of the War On Drugs and their enforcement mechanism are deeply entrenched in our social order and have in fact transformed America into the kind of police state it has become. Repeal of the marijuana laws demands that this situation must be turned around and the extraordinary powers granted to the drug war forces must be completely and utterly rescinded. The millions of drug police, special prosecutors, drug court judges, prison wardens and jailers, probation and parole officers, treatment program operators, drug testers, propagandists and other factotums of the War On Drugs must be removed from power and their bailiwicks dismantled.

    This is not going to happen overnight, but it has to happen. They aren’t going to like it one bit, and they’re going to fight tooth and nail against it, but their day is over and it’s time to clear the stage for the next act. The savings in public spending will be enormous, and the filthy cloud of repression and oppression of marijuana smokers will be blown out to sea. That will be a beautiful thing.

    But while the good fight is carried on in our own cities and states, the final obstacle to legalization is the federal government. As Attorney General Eric Holder recently pointed out, “It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change,” because Congress has long determined that marijuana is a Schedule I drug with a “high potential for abuse.”

    General Holder revealed during a House Appropriations Committee hearing in early April that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to take marijuana off the list of what the federal government considers the most dangerous drugs. “We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled,” Holder said, “and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made.”
 
    Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could make research into marijuana’s medical benefits—now not allowed—much easier and allow marijuana businesses to function as legal entities, open bank accounts, take tax deductions, and generally conduct their business without being stigmatized as criminals.
    Of course, any move to reschedule marijuana would doubtless face resistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the most deeply entrenched of all War On Drugs bureaucracies, which is overseen by General Holder. DEA chief Michele Leonhart said recently that the growing acceptance of marijuana only makes her agents “fight harder.”

    That’s what we’re up against, and that’s why we have to keep fighting harder too. But we’re winning in the court of public opinion, and the politicians are soon going to have to follow the will of the electorate or become ex-Senators and former Representatives.

    And speaking of which, how about ex-Attorney General William Schuette?

—Detroit
April 21, 2014

© 2014 John Sinclair.
All Rights Reserved.

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