Pot Debate Should Stay Away from National Money

Pot Debate Should Stay Away from National Money
Posted by CN Staff on March 13, 2005 at 16:45:01 PT
By Tony Messenger
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune
The whisperer wanted me to ask a question. It was a good question, but I ignored him.We were standing outside the Boone County Courthouse on a frigid Friday morning listening to Columbia police Officer Sterling Infield announce a petition drive to try to overturn the marijuana decriminalization ordinance that voters overwhelmingly approved in November.
The whisperer was one of those who helped pass the ordinance last fall. The law refers all adult pot possession cases of fewer than 35 grams to municipal court rather than state court. In effect, it says to the police we donít think this crime is a big deal. The police, or many of them anyway, disagree. About 15 cops from Boone County police organizations stood behind Infield on the courthouse steps to show their opposition to the law that Columbians have voted on twice in the past few years. The first time it lost. Last year it passed.And what will happen this time?That depends on the answer to the whispererís question.The question the man wanted me to ask Infield was whether his group of anti-pot cops had been in touch with the Department of Justice. The implication, of course, is that big bad anti-pot feds are going to interfere with our electoral process in Columbia.Thatís what happened in 2003 when assistant White House drug czar Scott Burns came to Columbia to talk about the dangers of pot. I happened to agree with Burnsí message. Pot is a gateway drug, and decriminalizing it does a disservice to our city. Itís worth taking a stand and teaching young people smoking dope isnít a harmless affair. But like many others, including the whisperer, Iím assuming, I was offended by Burnsí attempt to say that his visit wasnít directly tied to the impending election.This is a common federal trick. Bureaucrats and elected officials use their bloated budgets to swoop into local jurisdictions under the guise of "previously scheduled" trips or constituent visits to use their rather significant influence to sway voters.I donít know whether Burnsí visit affected Columbia voters in April 2003.But I know the whisperer and his cohorts used the same trick last year.In winning huge support for the pot ordinance in November, the pro-pot crowd depended on $50,000 in donations from the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. The whisperer didnít mention that fact when asking me to make a point for him at Fridayís news conference.Whatís good for the goose is good for the gander, I suppose. In fact, the pot debate is just another in a long line of national agendas being pushed on places such as Columbia by forces outside Missouri. Itís no different than the anti-smoking debate or similar debates about gay marriage, abortion or tort reform. Powerful national interests with money to burn and lawyers on retainer target cities such as Columbia and states such as Missouri to build support for their cause. Money matters in elections, so in a case such as pot, money and national influence talk. That was true in 2003 when the issue failed, and it was true last year when it passed.This year, we ought to agree to a fair fight. Ordinance supporter Eleanor Wickersham, a member of the League of Women Voters, told me at the news conference Friday that she was "disturbed" by the process Infieldís group has mapped out, and yet the cops are merely using the same process the pro-pot forces used last year. They smartly showed up Friday in civilian clothes, not wearing their publicly supported uniforms or badges or guns. Theyíre holding a petition drive. Theyíll present that petition to the council. The council will likely vote against them, and if they have enough signatures on their petitions, city charter will call for a citizen vote.The whisperer will allege that vote will be unfair if there are outside influences, and on this point I agree, as long as the rules apply to both sides.Infield believes the vote would have been different in November if his group wasnít "caught sleeping." Theyíre awake now, and I believe theyíll get the signatures they need to force a vote. Letís make this one stick. Neither side can decide for national groups how theyíre going to spend their money, but they could agree to not accept money from any group or citizen who doesnít live in the state of Missouri. They also should agree to separate the decriminalization issue from the medicinal issue that helped carry the vote in November. Leaders on both sides of the issue should meet on the courthouse steps again and vow together that, this time, Columbia decides on its own whether or not we want pot crimes to be taken seriously.What do you say?Letís let local voters decide and leave the whisperers behind.Tony Messenger is a columnist at the Tribune. His column appears on Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday. Complete Title:  Round 3 of Pot Debate Should Stay Away from National Money Source: Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)Author:  Tony MessengerPublished: Sunday, March 13, 2005Copyright: 2005 Columbia Daily TribuneContact: editor tribmail.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Marijuana Policy Project Launch Petition Drive Against Pot Law Police Group Seeks To Alter Cityís Pot Law Seeks To Penalize City for Marijuana Laws
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Comment #11 posted by fearfull on March 15, 2005 at 06:32:43 PT
 ""The police force is a voluntary organization funded by the city for enforcing the law, NOT for promoting a political agenda.""what is that little phrase you so often hear comming out of polices officers mouths?.....oh yeah, "we don't make the laws, we just enforce them"More Hypocrites!
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on March 14, 2005 at 08:56:12 PT
"prohibitionists look so incredibly pitiful!"
Mayan, they don't look pitiful to me. They look like raving, torch bearing lunatics! They ARE the same lunatics who pushed witch burnings and the Inquisition!
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Comment #9 posted by unkat27 on March 14, 2005 at 06:27:40 PT
Wrong Messenger
Messenger says, "I happen to agree with Burn's message. Pot is a gateway drug and decriminalizing it does a disservice to our city."Oh, Tony, you are sooo cooool. You really know how to reach us man. Now, do us all a favor and go find some brains. You are so wrong about this Tony there isn't a responsible pot-suing adult in the world who would agree with you. The disservice is not decriminalization it is criminalization, because, Tony, the only reason why pot is a gateway drug is because it is NOT legal and NOT in the hands of legal regulation. It IS in the hands of black marketeers, and THEY don't give a damn how many other DRUGS they sell to your snot-nosed kids. IOW, illegal drug dealers like to turn your kids on to cannabis, and use it as a gateway to sell them harder drugs. If cannabis were legal, it would be regulated like alcohol or tobacco, and those who sold it would not be selling crack cocaine and heroin (which, btw, are much easier to smuggle and much more profitable than cannabis). Do us all a favor, Tony Messenger, and get some brains. Put all the facts together, not just the ones you and your buddys at the DEA designed to keep pot illegal and continue your fascist demonization and destruction of good people everywhere who prefer more legal alternatives to alcohol, tobacco, and those pills we're all sold by the pharmacists that do nothing for us but steal our money.
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Comment #8 posted by mayan on March 14, 2005 at 06:18:43 PT
Caught Sleeping?
Theyíll present that petition to the council. The council will likely vote against them, and if they have enough signatures on their petitions, city charter will call for a citizen vote.There was already a citizen vote! The citizens of Columbia have already spoken. This is just another win/win situation for us. The whole ordeal is making these prohibitionists look so incredibly pitiful! They don't know how to fight when put on their heels and they don't know when to "cut and run". Even if they do manage to overturn the will of Columbia's voters they have thoroughly exposed themselves as fasict pigs. Infield believes the vote would have been different in November if his group wasnít "caught sleeping."Were the voters of Columbia "caught sleeping"?They were wide awake when they cast their votes!It's all relative...Let's reconsider marijuana laws: trade moves east: Under Pressure to Get Tough on Grow-ops: tax law seen more as novelty than crime fighting tool: 
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Comment #7 posted by goneposthole on March 14, 2005 at 06:12:43 PT
all that money is misspent foolishness
The voters of Columbia got to vote and the police don't like the results. The feds are flying by the seat of their pants and are the hooligans that are blowing all of the smoke.The will of the rulers is different than the will of the people.All is fair is drug love and drug war.
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on March 14, 2005 at 04:34:53 PT:
Ignorance and bias openly displayed
If Mr. Messenger is writing editorially, then the question is if the newspaper is supporting his position of cannabis being a 'gateway drug' (an unfounded accusation ignoring governmental studies concluding otherwise that reach back decades). If it is, then the Columbia Daily Tribune is promoting a prohibitionist agenda and deserves public censure for doing so; it can hardly present itself as a neutral voice in the matter, based upon Mr. Messenger's incorrect claims.Mr. Messenger denigrates the concerns of 'the whisperer' while lightly glossing over the fact that what he has sketchily detailed on the anti-referenda actions of the prohib forces are nothing less than gross violations of the Hatch Act - which should set the hounds of the media baying in full throated pursuit. Instead, he airily waves it off. Which only goes to prove my earlier assertions the mainstream media have become inherently lazy, as this would be 'meat on the table' for any MSM type to investigate...but they don't. They're content to swallow uncritically any pre-digested pap from prohib sources...and disseminate such pap in the media with equal thoughtlessness.If he is so concerned about whether the public is served by competing groups attempting to forward their agendas and using 'outside money' (my, how insular we are), if Mr. Messenger truly wants a 'level playing field', then he should be amongst the first to demand 1) A moratorium on BOTH sides to cease spending ALL monies used in advertising and lobbying efforts in his State. ('Sauce for the goose', Mr. Messenger.) That would hurt the Fed and State prohib efforts much more than it could ever hurt reformers.2) A public debate between cannabis law reformers and governmental 'experts' moderated by a genuinely neutral party. Let's see just how serious he is about his convictions...
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on March 14, 2005 at 03:46:33 PT
It's a plant, dude. 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on March 14, 2005 at 00:35:35 PT
Enforce the leash laws.
Nevada is having to deal with police types almost the same way.It is mind boggling, to think:"More than 80,000 people signed the petitions" in NV. (That's a lot.) US NV: Law Enforcement Turns Out to Oppose Legalizing PotTHCUMore people signed that petition than there were cops who turn out to oppose the will of the people.Citizens should turn out to oppose law enforcement.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on March 13, 2005 at 19:52:01 PT
How many cities have voted for Cannabis ticketlaws
alert ---- all towns and cities that have passed ticket laws for Cannabis report all stats to Columbia MO. please Norml and Mpp--arethese numbers known do we have the right to find how many tickets or is Normls latest figures only for arrests. Hash Bash is coming up if anyone has the number of tickets given out in the last 34 years in the city of Ann Arbor MI. send to Ann Arbor has been listed in the top 10 cities for years as the place to raise a family. the med community has proven the med value of Cannabis over 34 years ago -- thus the ticket law as no lawmaker could vote for keeping such harsh and unjust laws that completly outlaw possession of Cannabis and gives the arrestee a brand that will not come off. Allow students to get loans.
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Comment #2 posted by runderwo on March 13, 2005 at 17:39:14 PT
"Pot is a gateway drug, and decriminalizing it does a disservice to our city. It’s worth taking a stand and teaching young people smoking dope isn’t a harmless affair."Such logic really baffles me. How can someone make a statement like this? First of all, if it were about "teaching young people", pot would be illegal for under-21's. But it's illegal for everyone. Second, the only reason it isn't a "harmless affair" is because your life is over if you're caught. But is that the fault of pot, or of the failed policies of well-meaning moralists such as this fellow?Also, what this guy seems to miss is that the MPP is a voluntary organization funded by donations that are to be used to promote that agenda. The police force is a voluntary organization funded by the city for enforcing the law, NOT for promoting a political agenda. I'd only be okay with this if the officers could show that they were campaigning using external funds, not their city salaries.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on March 13, 2005 at 16:55:27 PT
The same system... 
US: Burned by the SystemPubdate: Sun, 13 Mar 2005Source: Newsday (NY) Robert Polner, Staff WriterImmigrant Caught With $10 Worth of Pot Served 8 Days at Rikers in 03 but Since Has Been Held by Feds and Now Faces Deportation In the end, Linden Corrica lost his freedom and his life in New York over $10 worth of marijuana. Before his arrest, he had a good life, an apartment in Bushwick that he shared with his wife, Carol McDonald, and their daughter, Natasha, 7. Together, the couple had risen from poverty in their native Guyana to come to New York a decade ago. But 18 months ago, Corrica, a Rastafarian, was picked up with two nickel bags of pot in his pocket. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of marijuana sale, in return for a sentence of 20 days in jail. He spent eight days there in September 2003, his wife said. "Eight days and he's back with us - it seemed a fair price to pay," said McDonald, 44, a U.S. citizen. But Corrica has been barred from returning to his home and his family - a penalty much worse than he or his wife ever imagined possible. Upon completing his sentence on Rikers Island, Corrica was sent to an immigration detention facility in northern New Jersey, then to a federal facility in Oakdale, La. He has remained a detainee tagged for mandatory deportation ever since. 
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