Sunday, June 5, 2005

Medical Marijuana and a Government That Does What It Wants

The front-page lead article with the big headline on Friday in my local paper, the Sierra Sun, was all about local response in Nevada and Placer Counties to medical marijuana dispensaries. It may require free registration to read, but do it. It's interesting, but the point for this post is a federal government that bends the rules to get what they want:
Federal vs. state law

Federal law and California law butt heads on the medical marijuana issue, and it remains unclear which statute takes precedent. A Supreme Court case, Raich v. Ashcroft, is expected to resolve this conflict.

The crux of the Supreme Court case is whether medical marijuana cultivation and distribution is considered "interstate commerce", which falls under federal jurisdiction.

The federal government argued that even if marijuana is cultivated and given away for free it still constitutes interstate commerce. The plaintiffs said that marijuana that is cultivated and consumed in a single state, and is not bought or sold, is subject only to state law.
(my emphasis)

The Supreme Court finished hearing arguments on the case last year and is currently formulating a decision.

"When that decision is handed down it will eliminate much of the murkiness surrounding the enforcement of medical marijuana uses", said Sgt. Ron Ashford of the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

"In the legislation there is a lot of room to move there - a lot of leeway", Ashford said.

Meanwhile, patients and operators of the marijuana dispensaries wait for the court decision that is expected to either endorse or criminalize the distribution of medical marijuana.

"We have a ton of patients that are terrified," said Lincoln, from her job at the Colfax marijuana dispensary. "If we get taken away they will not know what to do."

I won't go into the use of marijuana here. Those of us who know, know that the biggest danger users face is twofold: 1) You might gain weight, which is actually helpful in AIDS cases, for instance. Not so helpful at Krispy Kreme maybe, but plenty fun; and 2) Getting caught with it makes you a criminal for nothing more than smoking an herb that God, yes, the same God that Republicans like, put on the planet for our use, but they'll never cop to that!

We all know that marijuana was basically legal to use until 1937, when Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) needed padding for his statistics against truly dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine and lumped this roadside weed in with them, against the advice of professionals who knew it to be relatively harmless.

We also know there is a racist element to the prohibition against some drugs: cocaine was made illegal to suppress Negroes, and marijuana to suppress Mexicans. Then, as now, non-existent, manufactured fear was used to justify action. This has been a tried and true government tactic for a long time, but it's used more by this administration, in all areas, than by most others.

Marijuana isn't actually illegal to possess per se, merely to possess without a tax stamp, which cannot be obtained without presenting proof of possession, such as a baggie-load, which is illegal to possess without the tax stamp, etc., etc., which is the catch-22. There are no tax stamps anyway. Pretty clever, damn their eyes.

There is also the Puritan fear that someone, somewhere, is having FUN!

Add to those the fact that medicine is the focus of great profit for the pharmaceutical industry and they haven't yet figured out how to make huge profit off of something that you can grow for free in your bathroom or closet. When they get that one right, the rest may be a moot point, but they don't want to rock the boat.

The federal government is pretty securely in Big Pharma's hip pocket, and the prison and law enforcement industries rely on marijuana and other drugs to provide employment, clientele, and -wait for it- FUNDING! Are we starting to get the picture, boys and girls?

This really is all about money and power: CEO's, employees, stockholders, pharmacists, cops, lawyers, judges, prison guards, prison-building contractors, huge government agencies and all who stand to profit or gain power from prohibition, all stand to have their livelihoods, and their multi-billion dollar industries and fifedoms diminished, if all of a sudden they are forced to reverse years of building fear of and dominion over a harmless fuckin' roadside weed by the WILL OF THE PEOPLE which they don't much give a shit about. They do fear the people's voice, however, and suppress it whenever they can, lest actual Democracy upset the applecart.

So, since the people have voted for the use of medical marijuana, the best the Fed can do is to bring up Interstate Commerce as a justification to stick its nose into a state matter because they don't like the way it's going? Pathetic.

Here's my solution, at least for California: California is the world's sixth largest economy. Marijuana is California's number one cash crop. You'll have a hard time getting our ag dept. to cop to that, but it's documented and they know it.

I propose -are you listening, Ah-nold?- that we simply refuse to pay any more federal taxes and instead, pay them to the State of California. Tell the Feds to get fucked. Since we only get back about a third of what we send the Feds, we'll have a lot more money and our budget problems will go away.

We will be in the forefront of the legalization of harmless, holistically useful plants as well. We've already voted to legalize medical marijuana. In that, the people have spoken, as they have in many other states.

If this sounds like a call to secession, hey, what we got right now ain't working very good, so let's try it. Maybe we could get other progressive states to go along.

And what of all the states in Jesusland that depend on the rich, populous states for their existence? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Who gives a shit? Get a job or die, motherfuckers!

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