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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Fight is Far From Over - by Citizen Jay

     Welcome to 2016 my fellow travelers! As we reflect on our last rotation around the Sun there are a few salient Cannabis points to 2015 that must not go unmentioned.  The road ahead is clear.  Our task, unfinished as yet, is clearer still.  The full legalization of Cannabis for all adults (and those special children in need) across this nation and indeed the World is our ultimate goal. 

     Of all the people that deserve to be noticed and mentioned this year, Jeff Mizansky comes first to mind.  That Mr. Mizansky survived more than 20 years behind bars for little more than possessing an eighth of Cannabis is remarkable in itself.  He spent a third of his life there.  It is not the cruelty that he endured at the hands of our “injustice system” that leads us all to admire the man. It is the rallying cry that grew up around him that is so distinct.  It is a singular thing when the people stand up to their government and cry for a man’s freedom.  That cry went out across the entire web.  There were billboards.  There were stories.  There were petition drives.  And finally, there was reason.  REASON. 

     There was a reason to let this man out of jail—namely, that there was no reason for this man to be incarcerated in the first place.  And finally, Governor Nixon saw the truth of the matter and commuted Mizansky’s sentence.  Today, Jeff is FREE.  And WE did that.  So thank you, Jeff Mizansky, for enduring for all of us.  For becoming a symbol of FREEDOM!  Of REASON!  Of JUSTICE!  And for showing us that together we can accomplish miracles.

     2015 saw the country inch closer to the halfway mark with the entrance of Alaska, Oregon, and Washington in to the legal Cannabis fray.  With their entry there are 23 states that have legal Cannabis programs.  Twenty three, almost half.  Plus the District of Columbia—but that gets its own paragraph.  It seems that we’ve been waiting to get to that halfway mark for a while with a purpose.  For there is a common myth that when half of the states take up an issue the U.S. Congress must then act on that issue.  But in reality, our Congress has already acted on the issue.  So it seems we’re waiting for nothing in particular.  Still, the tally of states leading towards legalization continues to grow even as the Prohibitionists try their utmost to thwart our efforts.   I think it is pretty clear that the tide is turning most assuredly in our favor.

     So what about Congress?  Well, they just passed the next big spending bill and just like last year’s “Cromnibus” this year’s budget renews the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was designed to prevent the Justice Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from spending federal dollars to conduct raids and prosecute those medical Cannabis businesses and patients conforming to state laws.  Great news for sure, except it hasn’t really stopped the bully prosecutors and the DEA from twisting its meaning and taking people down. 

     And they still won’t let D.C. have any money to regulate its own nascent Cannabis community.  Can’t call it an “industry” yet because without regulations there’s no way to entertain commerce.  So in D.C. it’s the Cannabis Community that does it all.  That is to say, no one is doing anything.  Right? (wink wink)
     Congress totally dissed our Veterans with this one too.  Apparently they failed to see the value in an amendment that would have prevented Department of Veterans Affairs’ physicians from punishing vets for taking part in their own state-approved medical Cannabis programs.  This measure, which passed last month in the U.S. Senate, was designed to inhibit VA doctors and clinics from barring patients from receiving prescription drugs and other services merely because they used medical Cannabis under the conditions of their respective state programs.  While more of our vets come home in need of care, our Congress—so willing to send them to die in the first place—can’t seem to grasp the necessity of seeing to their care upon their return.   And we as a nation are disgraced by their actions, or lack thereof.

     While here in Colorado we saw another year pass without the sky falling even a little bit from the passage of Amendment 64, our brederen down the yard in Jamaica celebrated real change as their country enacted the decriminalization of Cannabis.  With this change High Times announced it would hold its first World Cup in Negril, Jamaica, which it did this past November.  While the turn out may not have been as large as everyone had hoped, the addition of another international hot spot to embrace Cannabis freedom fueled plenty of speculation that more folks would attend in the years to come.

     If the Cannabis Industry is going to ultimately succeed, it’s going to need reliable banking.  We almost got there this year with both Congress and the State of Colorado agreeing to the necessity.  But just as we all thought it was a done deal, the Federal Reserve in Kansas City decided to nix the whole thing.  They can do that because although their name has the word “federal” in it, the Federal Reserve is not actually a part of our government.  It’s a private entity…and it said, “No.”  The one chance for a legit credit union in Colorado, the Fourth Corner Credit Union, is now suing the Fed over that decision.  

     It’s a sign of the times to see this kind of in-fighting over the Cannabis issue.  It means we’re on the cusp.  The issue is being discussed.  And as we well know, once a reasonable discussion about Cannabis ensues, we win every time.  Not that I want to pay much attention to presidential politics, but almost all of the candidates have admitted to using Cannabis.  And to their credit two of them are actually calling for an outright end to the senseless war on the sweet Sensi: Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders—the last two hopes of saving our outdated, if not absolutely suspect, two-party system.  Without taking sides here, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, these are the folks you should be paying attention to if you care about our freedom to finally enjoy Cannabis without fear of prosecution.  [Side note: unless you are one of those Green Party folks; then just keep doing what you’re doing.]

     It can be done too.  Just look at what happened in Canada this year.  Justin Trudeau and the Liberals took it all despite the main stream media predicting Harper and the Conservatives would easily hold onto their power.  How did it happen?  In a word, the internet.  Social media is a powerful force in the world today and the younger Trudeau was able to take full advantage of this.  We will see how this plays out in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.

     The main stream media seems to be clueless when it comes to Cannabis as well.  Just look at what happened in Ohio.  Ultimately, the people decided to throw off the yolk of oligarchy and said no to a bad law that would have placed the vast wealth of an entire industry into the hands of just a few privileged people.  Monopoly, it would seem, when not played on a two-dimensional cardboard field is somewhat anathema to the people of Ohio.  Let’s hope they’ve set a good precedent for the rest of us to follow.

     If there is one last thing that needs to be noted for 2015 it is the momentous decision to come out of the Supreme Court of Mexico just last month.  The court decided that making it illegal to personally produce, possess, and consume Cannabis violated the rights of Mexicans to develop their own unique personalities. Their decision was not based on public health issues or impacts to incarceration rates, rather it was based on the fundamental human right of self-expression—the constitutional doctrine of “the free development of personality.”   

     The plaintiffs successfully argued that using Cannabis was one way that they were able to effectively differentiate themselves as individuals.  The Mexican constitution protects a person’s right to be unique and independent.  As such, they argued, the state cannot violate that right because the consequences of Cannabis use—whether positive or negative—only affect the person who chooses to use it. “The imposition of a single standard of healthy living is not admissible in a liberal state, which bases its existence on the recognition of human uniqueness and independence,” the plaintiffs argued. In other words, the state can’t stop you from overeating a bunch of greasy Luther burgers just because they’re bad for your health.
     To be certain, this ruling sets an important international legal precedent; but it only applies to the four plaintiffs.  Out of a nation of 125 million people, they are the only ones who can legally use Cannabis as a result of this ruling.

     As we stand here on the precipice of a new and most promising year we are fortunate to have come this far.  I was told time-and-again that I would NEVER see legalized Cannabis in my lifetime.  I am a living testament to the foolishness and shortsightedness that spawned that statement—for we DO see legal Cannabis in this great nation of ours!  And the fight is not yet over!

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