FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Marijuana Prohibition Acid Test

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 many of the nation’s economic problems. It now costs the U.S. tens of billions per year to track, arrest, try, defend and imprison marijuana consumers who pose little, if any, 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 1920 to 1933, marijuana prohibition (which essentially began in 1937) feeds organized crime and a socially useless prison-industrial complex that includes judges, lawyers, police, 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 U.S. ban on marijuana extends to include hemp, one of the most widely used agricultural products in human history. Unlike many other industrial crops, hemp is powerful and prolific in a natural state, requiring no pesticides, herbicides, extraordinary fertilizing or inappropriate irrigation. Its core products include paper, cloth, sails, rope, cosmetics, fuel, supplements and food. Its seeds are a potentially significant 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 (based on entries in Washington’s agricultural diaries, referring to the separation of male and female plants, it’s likely he and his cohorts also raised an earlier form of “medicinal” marijuana).

Hemp growing 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 the financial cost and environmental damage imposed by less worthy sources.

On January 16, 1919, fundamentalist crusaders help pass the 18th Amendment, making the sale of alcohol illegal. The ensuing 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 and the prison-industrial complex.

In 1933, FDR helped pass the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition, which ended a costly era of gratuitous social repression and gave the American economy—and psyche—a tangible boost.

Marijuana prohibition was escalated with 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, 338,664 were arrested for marijuana possession.

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. Following Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush recorded a low of 260,390 marijuana possession arrests, but the numbers climbed again under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both of whom are reported to have smoked it themselves (though Clinton claims not to have inhaled).

On a percentage basis, at least as many American high school students smoke pot than students in Holland, where it is legal. In the midst of the drug war, U.S. students report virtually unlimited access to a wide range of allegedly controlled substances, including pot. Because so many Americans use it, and it is so readily available, the war on marijuana 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 marijuana at least once. President-elect Obama makes it clear in his book Dreams From My Father that he has smoked—and inhaled—marijuana (he is also apparently addicted to a far more dangerous drug, tobacco). His administration should tax marijuana rather than trying to repress it. Like alcohol and tobacco, a minimum age for legal access should be set at 21.

As a whole, the violent, repressive War on Drugs has been forty years of legal, cultural and economic catastrophe. Like FDR, Obama must end our modern-day Prohibition, and with it the health-killing crusade against this ancient, powerful medicinal herb.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, available at http://freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! is at http://harveywasserman.com.

This article was first published by http://freepress.org.

 

 

 

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, which are at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.solartopia.org, along with his SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH.

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail