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Blog Posted in avatar   Leonard Krivitsky's Blog

THE BERLIN WALL OF MARIJUANA PROHIBITION

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By Leonard Krivitsky
Posted Apr 26, 2010 in Politics
On November 9, 1989, unable to resist any longer the popular revolution that was spreading like a wildfire all across the Eastern Europe, the Communist regime of East Germany lifted the travel restrictions for its citizens, and the Berlin Wall, a grim symbol of repression, a place where hundreds of people lost their lives trying to reach freedom, finally came down. The fall of the Berlin Wall was one of those moments in history which showed with monumental clarity that when people rise for freedom, the most powerful tyrannies fall to the ground. There was no longer such a thing as to negotiate who could cross into the West and who couldn't, and for how long, and under what conditions. The concept of "partial freedom" was rejected, and only the total destruction of the "Iron Curtain" was the slogan and the "battle-cry" of the day. There have been many "Berlin Walls" in human history, the walls that had as their purpose the restriction of human liberty, and all those walls fell sooner or later because freedom is one of those aspirations of the human soul that can be temporarily suppressed, but never completely destroyed.
The "walls" that the tyrants erect to impose their will and to limit the human freedom do not have to be physical entities, but they do have to be barriers limiting the happiness of many for the sake of maintaining the power and domination of the few. One of such "walls" was the so-called "Marijuana Tax Act" of 1937, enacted by the racist prohibitionist Harry Aslinger. As the "basis" for the Act, marijuana, which had previously been completely legal, was denounced as a substance causing black men to "go crazy" and to "rape white women". These ridiculous fabrications served as "justification" for the marijuana prohibitionists to inflict cruel punishments and boundless suffering on anyone who dared to disobey the prohibition and to "possess" or to grow this natural plant that humans had been using for thousands of years for medicinal and recreational purposes. The important scientific truths about the plant were not only thoroughly concealed from the public, but turned into something that could only be compared with with expressions of "heresy" during the Dark Ages. In other words, any positive characterization of marijuana plant was "verboten". It is now difficult to say just exactly how many people were dispossessed of property, tortured in "chain-gangs" or fired from their jobs for possession of miniscule quantities of cannabis or testing "positive" for the substance on random "drug tests".
But the "genie" could not be kept in the "bottle" any longer. The medicinal properties of cannabis are too pronounced, too striking to be hidden from the public or modern scientific eye forever. In 1996, despite an all-out campaign of intimidation and disinformation, the brave citizens of California were first in the Nation to say "Yes" to medical cannabis in a State-wide Referendum. Unfortunately, referendums are not something that appeal to tyrants as an inducement to end the repression. Even after the Will of the People was heard and recorded in California in 1996, the Bush Administration and its DEA henchmen continued their brutal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries destroying property, burning the plant and arresting sick people and their suppliers. This anti-democratic outrage continued well into the Obama Administration which, true to its campaign promises, and being far more responsive to public opinion than Bush's regime, finally took steps to comply with the wishes of people of California and few other States that cared enough about their citizens to legalize the plant for medicinal use.
But still, the repression continues. As late as in 2004, the Washington, DC quadriplegic man by the name of Jonathan Magbie was sentenced to 10 days in the city jail for a minor marijuana possession, and then died in custody. Just within the last couple of months, in March of 2010, a woman who is a California citizen, was arrested in Idaho for possession of medical marijuana, practically robbed of all her belongings and left penniless and stranded by the Idaho authorities simply because she had with her the medicine legally authorized in her State of residence. Only a month later the Oregon Supreme Court decided that medical marijuana patients don't have any job security if they use the marijuana medicinal plant, even if such use is authorized by the State law. Rev. Eddy Lepp, a Vietnam veteran, languishes in Federal prison at this very moment for cultivation of medical marijuana. As far as I am concerned, the Rev. Lepp is the post-Soviet Era prisoner of conscience. These incidents demonstrate that, as shown by history again and again, the freedom cannot be partial, it can, just as any other thing, material or not, either be or not be. This is the Law of Logic, and it applies universally.
And once again, just like in 1996, the State of California is leading the Nation. Armed with firm scientific knowledge, a scientific knowledge that simply cannot be denied, a scientific knowledge that, among other things rightfully insists that alcohol is much more dangerous than cannabis, the citizens of California will vote in November 2010 on the Initiative to Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis. Yet again, just like in 1996, the "opponents" are coming out with their stale fear-tactics, with all kinds of claims that have absolutely no scientific basis, the intimidation techniques that prey on the timid and uneducated and have no justification in terms of objective knowledge. One of such claims is the so-called "gateway drug" theory which is by now completely discredited by the science of addiction medicine, but which, nevertheless, continues to be touted by some politicians as if it were valid. What these individuals would want us to believe is that a substance like alcohol which is well-known for creating severe dependence, physical withdrawal and overdose deaths is actually "safer" than marijuana that has none of these effects. These "experts" want the rest of us to be fools so that the system of repression could be preserved. But the people are not fools. The people see that the same individuals and entities that advocated against medical marijuana in 1996 are on the forefront of opposition to decriminalize the limited possession of cannabis by responsible adults. The people see that they've had a fairly positive experience with medical marijuana over the last 15 years, that the violent crime has been decreased, and that thousands of patients have been effectively helped. The people of California know that hundreds of millions of dollars that the responsible cannabis use will generate for the State, will end up helping communities with improved education, infrastructure and the environment where these funds will find a better use than making the drug cartels rich, the prohibitionists appeased and the jails full of people whose only "crime" was to possess the natural medicinal plant that has been helping humans for centuries....
P.S. November 2, 2010, 11:30 pm Eastern Time. The CNN and other news networks have just made a projection based on 10% of the votes counted: THE INITIATIVE TO REGULATE, CONTROL AND TAX CANNABIS IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA WILL PASS...

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