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  The End of Prohibition
Posted by CN Staff on November 02, 2009 at 18:06:00 PT
By Jacob Weisberg 
Source: Slate  

cannabisnews.com USA -- "I think this would be a good time for a beer," Franklin D. Roosevelt said upon signing a bill that made 3.2-percent lager legal again, some months ahead of the full repeal of Prohibition. I hope Barack Obama will come up with some comparably witty remarks as he presides over the dismantling of our contemporary forms of prohibition—laws that prevent gay marriage, restrict cannabis as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, and ban travel to Cuba. "You may now kiss the groom," perhaps, or—a version of the comment he once made about smoking pot—"I inhaled—that was the point."

Prohibition now is different from Prohibition then. When the 18th Amendment went into effect in 1920, it was a radical social experiment challenging a custom as old as civilization. Its predictable failure—the gross insult to individual rights, the impossibility of enforcement, the spawning of organized crime—came to an end when Utah, of all places, became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment in 1933. Today prohibition is a byword for futile attempts to legislate morality and remake human nature.

Our forms of prohibition are more sins of omission than commission. Rather than trying to take away longstanding rights, they're instances of conservative laws failing to keep pace with a liberalizing society. But like Prohibition in the '20s, these restrictions have become indefensible as well as impractical, and as a result are fading fast. Within 10 years, it seems a reasonable guess that Americans will travel freely to Cuba, that all states will recognize gay unions, and that few will retain criminal penalties for marijuana use by individuals. Whether or not Democrats retain control of Congress, whether or not Obama is re-elected, and whether they happen sooner or later than expected, these reforms are inevitable—not because politics has changed but because society has.

A few reference points: In April, Obama lifted restrictions on travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans. Last month, the Justice Department announced that it would no longer prosecute cases involving medical marijuana in the 14 states where it is now permitted. Same-sex marriages are recognized in six states and counting. In a larger frame, loosening restrictions and lax enforcement reflect evolving social norms. Since Bush left office, American tourists no longer worry about being prosecuted for visiting Havana without a Treasury license. Gay unions have been celebrated on the New York Times "Weddings" page since 2002. And have you been to Los Angeles recently? You need only tell an on-site doctor at a cheerful, walk-in pot emporium that you've been suffering from anxiety to walk out with a perfectly legal bag of Captain Kush.

The chief reason these prohibitions are falling away is the evolving definition of the pursuit of happiness. What's driving the legalization of gay marriage is not so much the moral argument but the pressures from couples who want to sanctify their relationships, obtain legal benefits, and raise children in a stable environment. What's advancing the decriminalization of marijuana is not just the demand for pot as medicine but the number of adults—more than 23 million in the past year, according to the most recent government survey—who use it and don't believe they should face legal jeopardy. What's bringing the change on Cuba is not just the epic failure of the 48-year-old U.S. embargo, but the demand on the part of Americans who want to go there—whether to visit their relatives, prospect for post-Castro business opportunities, or sip rum drinks at the beach.

For similar reasons, there is not likely to be any retreat on the basic legal status—as opposed to tinkering around the margins—of the right to have an abortion or own a gun. Conservatives would be wise to give up on the one, liberals on the other. In each of these cases, popular demand for an individual right is simply too powerful to overcome. The Internet has been a crucial amplifier of all such claims. With pornography, and gambling, the Web itself became an irrepressible distribution tool for indulgences that were once perforce local. When it comes to gay marriage, the Web has accelerated the recognition of a new civil right by serving as an organizing tool and information clearinghouse. More broadly, the freest communications medium the world has ever known has raised expectations of personal liberty. In a world where everyone has his own printing press, restrictions on private behavior become increasingly untenable.

Republicans face a risk in resisting these new realities. Freedom is part of their brand; if the GOP remains the party of prohibition, it will increasingly alienate libertarian-leaners and the young. But the party as presently constituted has very little capacity to accept social change. Democrats face a danger in embracing cultural transformations too eagerly. Nearly four decades after George McGovern became known as the candidate of amnesty, abortion, and acid, cultural issues are still treacherous territory for them. Why get in front of change when you can follow from a safe distance and end up with the same result?

Jacob Weisberg is chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group and author of The Bush Tragedy.

Follow him at: http://twitter.com/jacobwe

Newshawk: charmed quark
Source: Slate Magazine (US Web)
Author: Jacob Weisberg
Published: October 31, 2009
Copyright: 2009 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC
Contact: letters@slate.com
Website: http://www.slate.com/
URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2234017/

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Comment #8 posted by Canis420 on November 03, 2009 at 17:42:40 PT:

Cannabis Felons
I am not a convicted cannabis felon but I commited many cannabis felonies in the last 35 years...proudly!

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #7 posted by Hope on November 03, 2009 at 12:19:22 PT
A must read.
http://blog.mpp.org/tax-and-regulate/police-focus-on-marijuana-a-danger-to-public-safety/11032009/

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #6 posted by Hope on November 03, 2009 at 11:31:38 PT
This is a very interesting page
I ran on to while searching for some information about felons owning businesses.

There's a place to ask lawyers questions and some are supposedly on line.

I haven't tried it yet. But it's interesting.

http://www.webanswers.com/legal/crime-criminal-law/can-a-felon-parole-out-to-her-own-home-and-or-a-rental-house-in-her-name-0eeaa6

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #5 posted by Hope on November 03, 2009 at 11:15:24 PT
I may be wrong about this
but it seems like a remember something about felons not being able, by state laws, to freely own just about any kind of business.

I can't imagine where that idea came from. I need to do some research on it.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 03, 2009 at 11:05:43 PT
Cannabis Felons
Should be allowed. Look at the history of the Kennedys with alcohol.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #3 posted by ripit on November 03, 2009 at 10:46:07 PT
yeah kinda stupid
i still don't see how being a felon should be an automatic disqualification from doing everything they can think of.theytoo many useless/pointless restrictions on felons as it is.there shouldn't be anymore regulation on cannabis than any store that sells beer,wine or tylenol!

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #2 posted by EAH on November 02, 2009 at 21:30:38 PT:

Fairness
"I don't want felons operating these marijuana stores,"

A cruel irony of this is the alarm at the possibility that a cannabis felon might open a dispensary. As a cannabis "felon" I consider myself more qualified to operate a dispensary than do just about anything else. My 30 years of involvement would be considered vast experience in any other line of work. A distinction should be made between nonviolent cannabis felons others.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 02, 2009 at 18:59:43 PT
Medical Pot Issue Discussed By Denver City Council

November 2, 2009

DENVER (CBS4) ― A Denver city councilman calls medical marijuana dispensaries one of the fastest growing industries in the region and says it's time the city got some control over the explosion.

Councilman Charlie Brown said Monday the new marijuana dispensaries should have licensing requirements similar to those in place for businesses like bars, restaurants and liquor stores. He says "cannabis capitalism" is growing out of control.

Many of the dispensaries just starting out don't want any government regulation, but some of them say it's needed to clear the air about who's providing a medical service and who's just selling weed to street-corner stoners.

"I'd limit dispensaries from being in school zones, college campus areas, near churches; just general respect for other people," said Andy Cookston with Cannabis Medical Technology LLC..

"This is the largest growing industry in our city," Brown said. "I talked to someone this morning who's going to sign a lease tomorrow to open up in Cherry Creek North."

Brown says the dispensaries need to be licensed and need to pay the city's tax rate of 3.62 percent. He says regulation will also make them safer from the potential crime targets they are right now.

"This really opens up to robbery; to people going in, not only stealing money, but also grabbing plants and product," Brown said.

Brown also wants criminal background checks on dispensary operators.

"I don't want felons operating these marijuana stores," he said. "I don't want the Mexican cartel controlling them."

"I think it'd be fine to pay some type of regulation tax on a general product or a licensing fee," Cookston said. "This clarifies the guys who are legal as well as not legal. That's the starting point of it."

Brown took his suggestions to Denver City Council on Monday just to get feedback on any proposed new city ordinance.

Some politicians want the state legislature come up with regulations in January, but Brown says the current growing season for dispensaries needs to be nipped in the bud.

"We need input from the neighborhoods; input from the people in the business; some input from the patients as well; input from law enforcement; but we need to go ahead and move on this in my judgment," Brown said.

Some City Council members are not only against regulation, but openly in favor of legalizing marijuana.

There is a public hearing scheduled before the council's Public Safety Committee on Nov. 18 at the Denver City and County Building where all parties with an interest will be invited to weigh in.

Copyright: MMIX CBS Television Stations, Inc.

URL: http://cbs4denver.com/consumer/medical.marijuana.meeting.2.1287663.html

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