|The Thrashing of a Dying Dinosaur's Tail
Posted by CN Staff on September 22, 2002 at 07:52:34 PT
By Vin Suprynowicz
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
On Sept. 5, fearless federal drug warriors raided the farm of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana about 15 miles north of Santa Cruz, Calif., handcuffing the owners and taking chainsaws to 160 plants -- the farm's entire fall crop.
Valerie and Michael Corral were arrested on federal charges of intent to distribute marijuana, though it's unlikely they'll ever face trial. Who were these particular hardened drug lords?
The Corrals helped write the provision in California's Proposition 215 that allows patients and their caregivers to cultivate their own medicine. The Corrals "work with local authorities to grow and distribute their pot to people with doctors' recommendations to use marijuana," explains The Associated Press.
"Valerie has been very open and very consistent in what she's doing up there and how the marijuana is handled," local sheriff's spokesman Kim Allyn told USA Today.
Valerie Corral is the movement's ''Mother Teresa," explains Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and her group is seen as a model nationally.
Ms. Corral, who suffers seizures from a head injury incurred in a car accident, began smoking marijuana after conventional drugs failed to control her symptoms. "Her disorder is responsive to marijuana and not to other things," says her doctor, Arnold Leff, who served as a deputy director of the White House drug abuse office during the Nixon administration. "This is a very safe herbal product. So if it works, it ought to be used."
The nonprofit WAMM dispenses only marijuana it grows organically. Marijuana is free to its 250 members who contribute labor to the co-op. About 85 percent of the members are terminally ill cancer and AIDS patients.
USA Today now puts the number of recent DEA "medical marijuana" raids at eight, including one in which they hauled away the records of 5,000 medical marijuana users from a doctor's office near Sacramento.
(Chalk up doctor-patient confidentiality as yet another casualty of this ever-expanding, always inspiring War on Drugs.)
What federal officials are trying to do, of course, is put back into its bottle the genie of Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use on a doctor's recommendation.
We were all taught in high school civics class that, "If you don't like the law, the solution is to get the majority of your neighbors to vote to change it." Californians have done that. In 1992, 77 percent of Santa Cruz voters approved a measure ending the medical prohibition of marijuana. Four years later, Golden State voters approved Proposition 215, allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have since followed suit.
It would be tempting to say federal drug warriors have taken leave of their senses, walking into a public-relations nightmare by singling out marijuana being grown specifically for the terminally ill under the supervision and with the approval of local authorities. But that would imply the drug warriors ever had a firm grip on reality -- or a concern for the opinion of decent folk -- in the first place.
In fact, these bizarre weed police enforce edicts enacted in the 1930s based on uncorroborated testimony by redneck Southern sheriffs that marijuana, cocaine and opium facilitated the seduction of white women by oversexed Mexicans, Negroes and Chinamen, while giving these minority Lotharios "the strength of 10." And the "federal supremacy" they claim to be defending was abrogated and overruled by the 10th Amendment, which specifies that any powers not specifically delegated to the federal government remain with the states.
Does the Constitution grant to the federal government any power to restrict the commerce in any drug or medicine? Of course not. That's why -- when the federal government last legitimately (albeit disastrously) attempted a drug prohibition, from 1919 to 1933 -- it had to win ratification of a constitutional amendment banning the manufacture and sale of alcohol.
''My hope is this bust represents the federal government pushing too far, the overreach that shocks the conscience of a lot more people, especially those in Washington who have seemed so callous to date,'' comments Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Indeed, that "level of outrage" may finally be surfacing.
In a letter to chief federal drug weasel Asa Hutchinson and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer condemned the bust as a waste of law enforcement resources and a cruel step against a group that presents minimal danger to the public, dubbing such raids "punitive expeditions."
By Sept. 17, The AP was reporting: "Cutting ribbons, making declarations, passing out marijuana to sick people, it's all in a day's work if you're the mayor of Santa Cruz." DEA spokesman Richard Meyer said he was "appalled" as Mayor Christopher Krohn and his colleagues on the Santa Cruz City Council announced plans to help hand out pot to medical marijuana users at City Hall that day.
An unidentified helicopter hovered over City Hall while the big marijuana hand-out was underway -- but no federal official dared to actually roll in and bust the mayor.
Although it may be small comfort to the current victims, there's a good chance what we're seeing here are the spastic thrashings of a dying dinosaur's tail.
"Unexpected chinks are appearing in the once seemingly insurmountable legal wall the government has erected against marijuana," writes J.D. Tuccille, a senior editor of The Henry Hazlitt Foundation's Free-Market.Net, in the Aug. 22 Review-Journal.
"Not only are Western voters continuing their efforts to ease access to the drug by people with chronic ailments, there are signs that a more laissez-faire attitude may also be extended to recreational users. Even in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., important questions are being asked about the morality and practicality of the federal government's drug prohibition policies."
At WAMM's co-op overlooking the Pacific, Mike Corral now walks among the bare rows in the decimated marijuana garden, the stumps of once healthy plants protruding from the dirt, and wonders what will become of the co-op, USA Today reports.
"We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope that sometime between now and March we'll be able to replant."
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Ballad of Carl Drega." For information on his books or his monthly newsletter, visit: http://www.privacyalert.us
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Drug Policy Alliance
Pictures From WAMM Protest
Why I'm Fighting Federal Drug Laws From City Hall
Medicinal Pot Issue is About The Sick, Dying
Santa Cruz Defies U.S. On Marijuana
|Comment #3 posted by malleus on September 23, 2002 at 06:53:42 PT
|And even if it were, the problem with being around a dying behemoth is that you can get bit or crushed by it in it's death throes. What's been going on in California is a good example.
Sooner or later, somebody is going to bring this up in a national news conference. Somebody will ask the President why fed agents are running loose chopping down sick people's meds when they are supposed to be 'protecting' us from terrorists.
I don't anticipate any sensible answer from them; we'll get the 'drugs funding terrorists' blah-blah, despite the fact that the WAMM group was non-profit, helped only the terminally ill, and had no connections (unlike our Pres, who hobnobbed with the bin Laden family on a regular basis) to terrorists. And with the incredibly lackluster performance of the majority of the media in not asking all the hard questions about 9/11, I doubt the question would ever be asked as forcefully as it needs to.
(I once read an old Turkish saying that a ruler tames a people the same way one tames a tiger: by masturbation. The Bush Regime has done a good job of taming the media quite well, don't you think?)
No, to kill the dinosaur, there's three ways of going about it. First, you can either blast it to smithereens - or, secondly, land a perfectly aimed shot to it's walnut sized brain. Both methods require a degree of force the movement doesn't have.
The last method is just as tricky, but is more likely to work: trick it into following you into a tar pit. And that's just what the DEA done. Jumped in with both feet into a tar pit - a region of folks who already have plenty of reason to dislike feds because of the high-handed way the feds run their Western lands, telling them what they may or may not do with their own property.
The DEA is now stuck in the tar pit. If they make any more attacks, they just sink more. If they try to justify their actions, they get cat-calls. Blub-blub-blub goes the air bubbles as the monster sinks deeper.
But its teeth and claws are still above the surface, and it can still bite and slash you. It needs to be goaded even further into making stupid moves. And judging from the mental capacity of someone who would do this for a living, that won't be hard.
All the reform people have to do is keep handing out cannabis to the sick and dying until the DEA makes a really dumb move, like shoving a patient on TV. Then the fun really begins.
[ Post Comment ]
|Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on September 22, 2002 at 09:08:22 PT
|Help! I'm overdosing on THE TRUTH! There's so much of it in this article it's shocking my sensibilities. I'm just not used to this much at once!
Finally, we're seeing some isolated instances of the American media doing its job. I've been waiting patiently for the day when words like "outrage" and "coward" show up. In Canada, they show up routinely in the editorial pages of the national papers. Here, they're FINALLY just starting to show in a few local Cali. and Nevada papers. But hey, at least it's a start. This guy even deployed the terms "weasel" and "redneck". Nice work!
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Comment #1 posted by charmed quark on September 22, 2002 at 08:18:33 PT:
|I hope it's true that these raids represent the thrashing of a dying institution. Then maybe there's some balance for all the people being harmed by the DEA's current insanity.
But I wouldn't bet on it. It was a lot like this in the early 70's after Nixon started the drug war. I thought then that the excesses of the drug war would force an end to it in a few years.
But what a great article. If more mainstream papers had editorials like this it would have been all over years ago.
I particularly like them referring to the 10th amendment. Of course, the US government uses the "interstate commerce clause" as justification, although that clause is there to ensure the free flow of goods, not the government restricting goods flow. Although I'm sure the government will argue it gives them the right to control very dangerous substances, such as nuclear materials.
And of course there is no interstate impact with something like the WO/MAN cooperative - all the crop is grown and consumed intrastate. However, I beleive that there have been court rulings that say that even if you grow corn on your farm to feed your cattle, that impacts interstate commerce because by growing it you reduced demand for corn, thus impacting interstate corn commerce. Very nonsensical and I wonder if these DEA raids are more about ensuring that the Fedral Government's raw power grab via the commerce clause is not questioned.
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