Obama's Marijuana Prohibition Acid Test

Obama's Marijuana Prohibition Acid Test
Posted by CN Staff on January 13, 2009 at 19:28:09 PT
By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
Source: Columbus Free Press
USA -- The parallels between the 1933 coming of Franklin Roosevelt and the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama must include the issue of Prohibition: alcohol in 1933, and marijuana today. As FDR did back then, Obama must now help end an utterly failed, socially destructive, reactionary crusade.Marijuana prohibition is a core cause of the nation's economic problems. It now costs the U.S. more than tens of billions per year to track, arrest, try, defend and imprison marijuana consumers who pose little harm to society.
The social toll soars even higher when we account for social violence, lost work, ruined careers and damaged families. In 2007, 775,137 people were arrested in the U.S. for mere possession of this ancient crop, according to the FBI’s uniform crime report. Like the Prohibition on alcohol that plagued the nation from 1919 to 1933, marijuana prohibition (which essentially began in 1937) feeds organized crime and a socially useless prison-industrial complex that includes judges, lawyers, police, prison guards, prison contractors, and more. A dozen states have now passed public referenda confirming medical uses for marijuana based on voluminous research dating back 5,000 years. Confirmed medicinal uses for marijuana include treatment for glaucoma, hypertension, arthritis, pain relief, nausea relief, reducing muscle spasticity from spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, and diminishing tremors in multiple sclerosis patients. Medical reports also prove smoked marijuana provides relief from migraine headaches, depression, seizures, and insomnia, according to NORML. In recent years its use has become critical to thousands of cancer and AIDS sufferers who need to it to maintain their appetite while undergoing chemotherapy. The ban on marijuana has been extended in the U.S. to include hemp, one of the most widely used agricultural products in human history. Unlike many other industrial crops, hemp is extremely prolific in a natural state, requiring no pesticides, herbicides, extraordinary fertilizing or inappropriate irrigation. Its core uses include paper, cloth, sails, rope, cosmetics, fuel, supplements and food. Its seeds are a potentially huge source of bio-diesel fuel, and its leaves and stems an obvious choice for cellulosic ethanol, both critically important for a conversion to a Solartopian renewable energy supply. Hemp was grown in large quantities by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and many more of the nation's founders, most of whom would likely be dumbfounded to hear it is illegal in the United States (based on entries in Washington's agricultural diaries, referring to the separation of male and female plants, it's likely he and his cohorts raised an earlier form of "medicinal" marijuana as well). The growing of hemp was mandatory in some circumstances in early America, and again during World War II, when virtually the entire state of Kansas was planted in it. The current ban on industrial hemp costs the U.S. billiions of dollars in lost production and revenue from a plant that can produce superior paper, clothing, fuel and other critical materials at a fraction of the financial cost and environmental damage imposed by less worthy sources. In 1919, fundamentalist crusaders help pass the 19th Amendment, making the sale of alcohol illegal. The ensuing 14-year Prohibition was by all accounts a ludicrous failure epitomized by gang violence and lethal "amateur" product that added to the death toll. Its only real winner was organized crime. FDR's support was critical to passing the 22d Amendment repealing Prohibition. It ended a period of gratuitous social repression and gave the American economy a substantial boost. Marijuana prohibition has escalated substantially since Richard Nixon's 1970 declaration of the War on Drugs. There was a brief reprieve when Steve Ford, the son of President Gerald Ford appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone barefoot and claiming that the best place to smoke pot was in the White House. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s last year in office, only 338,664 were arrested for marijuana possession. Following Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush recorded a low of 260,390 marijuana possession arrests. Ronald Reagan renewed the War on Drugs and declared his “Zero Tolerance” policy, despite his daughter Patti Davis’ claim the Gipper smoked weed with a major donor. This utterly failed reactionary crusade has resulted in millions of incarcerations costing billions of dollars with, again, whose only real beneficiaries have been organized crime and the prison-industrial complex that is its twin. On a percentage basis, more American high school students (who report virtually unlimited access to marijuana and a wide range of other drugs) smoke more pot than students in Holland, where it is legal. Because so many Americans use it, and it is so readily available, marijuana prohibition can only be seen as a virtually universal assault on the basic liberties of our citizenry. In a 2005 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey, more than 97 million Americans admitted to having tried pot, like Barack. Barack Obama has made it clear in his book Dreams From My Father, he has smoked---and inhaled---marijuana (he is also apparently addicted to a far more dangerous drug, tobacco). In the long run, marijuana should be taxed. Like alcohol and tobacco, a minimum age for legal access should be set at 21. The War on Drugs as a whole has been a catastrophic failure. The violence and repression it continues to impose on the American public need to be ended. No part of that war is more destructive or less defensible than the marijuana laws. Like FDR, Obama needs to demonstrate the courage and good sense to end this insane, absurd legal disaster. Along with ending the war in Iraq, there are few single steps Obama could take toward restoring prosperity and sanity to American society than ending the war on this age-old medicinal herb.  Source: Columbus Free Press (OH)Author: Bob Fitrakis & Harvey WassermanPublished: January 13, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Columbus Free PressContact: truth freepress.orgWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on January 15, 2009 at 21:31:35 PT
We watched Dr. Zhivago on DVD. I always loved the movie but hadn't seen it for many years. I wanted to watch it this time more for the reason for the Revolution then the beautiful love story. It showed me that ideals can still work out wrong. Animal Farm showed me the same thing. Idealistic people can be very bullheaded. I want all the people to be represented and that's why I think Obama will be good. It's about 5 below here so I'm calling it a day. 
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Comment #13 posted by Celaya on January 15, 2009 at 21:22:29 PT
Yes. It is a pattern followed almost universally. I wish I could travel to an alternate universe where Kucinich or Nader won the election. 8^)
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on January 15, 2009 at 06:24:35 PT
That's interesting you mentioned power corrupts. Yesterday I said the same thing to our friend from Kentucky. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
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Comment #11 posted by Celaya on January 14, 2009 at 22:03:11 PT
I hope you're right. The only thing that nags at me is the old saying -- "Power corrupts."Hopefully, Obama's heart is true, and hopefully, he will resist the siren song of power.If so, we could actually save this little spinning ball.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on January 14, 2009 at 21:27:27 PT
When I first heard Obama speak at the DNC in 2004 and he talked about red and blue America and and then said we are the United States of America I knew he would be President someday. Obama said he is inclusive not exclusive. He has a Gay Minister and an Evangelical doing something during the Inauguration. He seems to be able to see more then his own views so he has an open mind. If we don't push the man to a point of tuning out he might do something for us I believe. I don't expect this to be at all high priority with the condition of the economy but in time if we can recovery he will listen I think.
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Comment #9 posted by Celaya on January 14, 2009 at 21:16:50 PT
I have hope, too. But it's a tenuous hope. A hope that doesn't settle anywhere yet, lying mostly in the fact that things are chaotic. While chaos is dangerous, there is at least an increase of possibilities.Mostly, Obama is the giant question mark. Many are angry that he did not say something favorable about the marijuana question at his poll. It disturbs me too, along with his appointees, and his backpedaling on reform in the campaign. But there is something... Maybe Obama plans to do the right thing, but he cannot reveal his hand until the proper moment. He hasn't even taken office yet. Perhaps I'm foolish, but I'm hoping that once he gets his political machine up and running, things will be different. I may be Charlie Brown going to kick the football, but I still want 'change I can believe in.'
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on January 14, 2009 at 17:50:40 PT
It is interesting that you mentioned Robin today. We had a friend from Kentucky drop in today to see us while he was up in this area on business. We told him the story of Robin.
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on January 14, 2009 at 17:28:06 PT
"it's me, mbc" 
I was reviewing old emails today when I happened upon 3 emails from mai bong city AKA Robin Prosser. It was a sad journey on a sad winter morning. Excerpts follow:"it's me, mbc" Monday, August 28, 2006 { all i can tell you is that i have to get out, i just
can't tolerate this situation anymore - i need
cannabis and it's all i have to treat this
illness..... i've changed state law and still i can not get what
i need to live. at this point i just need to
survive....i am on disability, so it's hard for me to
afford very much and also get the medicine.... }"anywhere but here" Tuesday, August 29, 2006 { i'm in montana now..... i would go anywhere in
canada that will have me, truthfully - i have a decent
car, not much else, and can just walk away pretty
easily with a suitcase or two. my social security
gets automatically deposited.....i had tried to find
out about citizenship a few years back, but because i
am sick i have nothing to contribute, it seems - i am
not really getting much in the way of medical care
now, the only help i have is cannabis when i can get
it and afford it, which is never at this point.
i truly don't know what to do and i'm getting sicker
and more desperate daily. }"hi" Sunday, September 10, 2006 { i really don't know what to do at this point, i have
a machine and seeds but i lost two crops to fungus and
then a rogue pollination.....what i am able to find
here on the streets is not very decent quality/potency
lately, and that is few and far between, anyway. all i know is that i need cannabis to live, and
somehow then i can have my life - i have no
alternative medicine. nothing else that i can take. 
sometimes it just hurts so much to know that i could
do so many things if i were well enough. i'm stuck in
this now, and am grasping at straws i suppose. [...]peace,
 }We all know here what happened to Robin. She was driven to take her own life because of the merciless hounding of the US federal government and its political pogrom against cannabis activists. Canada had elected a Conservative government, unsympathetic to the concerns of medical cannabis patients. Another sad day, another medical cannabis activist had died because of the war on cannabis. When the truth dawned on the cannabis news community, a wave of sadness flowed over the comments here.The "sick and dying" are not just on "the battlefield," as Richard Cowan once described the situation. They are leading the charge and being targeted by the authorities.Robin said, "i've changed state law and still i can not get what i need to live." How long will this travesty continue? Senator Obama, President-elect Obama, will you make good on your promise to stop the DEA from targeting medical cannabis patients (and their providers)?Rush - Closer To The Heart lyrics.
Words by neil peart and peter talbot,
Music by geddy lee and alex lifeson.{ And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones to start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart }Rush - Closer To The Heart (live - 1998) bless!
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Comment #6 posted by JoeCitizen on January 14, 2009 at 06:54:01 PT
It was the 21st Amendment
Alcohol prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment, not the 22nd.Other than that, it was a good article.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 14, 2009 at 05:35:06 PT
This will be an interesting year. To me it's a brand new day. I don't see the future thru rose colored glasses but I see more hope then I've had for marijuana reform in years.
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Comment #4 posted by unkat27 on January 14, 2009 at 05:14:37 PT
End the DEAth machine
""In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s last year in office, only 338,664 were arrested for marijuana possession. Following Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush recorded a low of 260,390 marijuana possession arrests.""The reduction of arrests during Bush41's administration was not due to any effort to go easier on cannabis users, but can be attributed to the fact that Reagan's war on marijuana did so much damage to it's users and dealers that a majority of those dealers and users turned to cocaine during the 80s, because not only was it easier to smugggle, it also raked in much more profit for the dealers in a much shorter period of time. In the early 90s, crack cocaine was actually more popular than cannabis in the cities and local suburbs. Almost everyone I talked to at that time agreed that crack would not have been so popular if cannabis was legal.The only Americans that don't agree that cannabis should be decriminalized and/or legalized are the vampires and vultures profitting off the war - the DEA and all of its right-wing political and governmental constituents.There is no doubt in my mind that ending cannabis prohibition, legalizing cannabis and hemp could save the US economy and millions of people's lives.
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Comment #3 posted by Celaya on January 13, 2009 at 22:25:30 PT
"That makes re-legalizing cannabis one of the most important issues of Our time."It's funny how we've known that so long. 8^)Like Professor Heicklen said at the smoke-outs of Penn State: "Marijuana is the messenger, not the message. The lit marijuna herb is the torch of freedom!"I hope you all had a great Christmas. This will be a telling year. As the old Chinese curse goes, "May you live in interesting times!"
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on January 13, 2009 at 20:38:27 PT
#1 of the most important issues of Our time.
This issue is tied to just about every other issue that people consider more important than this issue.That makes re-legalizing cannabis one of the most important issues of Our time.
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Comment #1 posted by Celaya on January 13, 2009 at 19:53:35 PT
This then, will be the litmus test to see if Obama's promise of "change you can believe in," was the vow of a visionary, or simply another big lie from a business-as-usual politician.Few have summed it up better than Fitrakis and Wasserman. Until the American Inquisition ends, these words should be tacked on the doors of our "leaders" every day. 
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