FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pot and the Right to Pursue Happiness

During his tenure as the Fort Lauderdale Police Chief, the late Ron Cochran was one day asked how he relieved the stress of his tension-filled job:  “Like everyone else” he quipped, “I smoke a joint.”

“Only kidding”, he quickly added to the reporter.

Well, I’m not kidding. And neither are twenty million Americans every day. They use marijuana medicinally and recreationally, but the bottom line, is ‘Weeds’ is more than a TV show on HBO. It is a way of life for good and decent people who openly inhale without apology.

Marijuana may be the second-largest cash crop in America. But we will never know until all the farmers who grow can openly distribute it. I can guarantee you this. When the day comes that the weed can be legally grown, openly marketed, and its revenue streams can be lawfully traced, we will have a new growth industry in America that rivals corn. Hemp has multiple uses. Heck, it was used as rope for our paratroopers in World War II. If it worked for George Bush, it can work for you.

In our free marketplace, where there is a demand there shall be a supply.  When the late William F. Buckley recommended legalizing marijuana twenty years ago, he framed it in economic terms: “A profit of 2,000 percent is a powerful engine to try to stop in a free society.” When financial gurus were called into California last year to seek out new ways to generate income streams to prevent the imminent bankruptcy of the state, it’s no surprise that one of the recommendations postured to state legislators was the legalization and taxation of marijuana growth and distribution. Why fight what you cannot stop? Why not employ a tempered truce instead of a useless war?

The crusade to ban marijuana is unquestionably harmful.  You criminalize an innocent portion of the population.  You turn politicians into hypocrites. You lay the foundation for corruption in law enforcement.  You deny the reality that an informed public can make educated decisions about substance abuse. You ignore the scientific truths that marijuana has historically had socially redeeming qualities and medical value.

In support of its pogrom against decency, we watch helplessly as our Government denies students scholarships and mothers welfare. Law enforcement conducts invasive aerial dragnets and unconstitutional searches which trespass on fundamental American privacy rights. We provide for courts to sanction feudal-like forfeitures of personal property for carrying some weed in your car or growing it on your own. And we justify it in the name of a law that should be off the books anyway.

The routine police pronouncements of major pot seizures involving millions of dollars and thousands of plants are reminiscent of Vietnamese war body counts, where the Government sold a bill of goods to the public while our generals promised ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.  That same fraud today inaccurately suggests that drugs are evil, and criminality evolves from the use, misuse, and abuse of those drugs.  The real abuse however, comes from the enforcement mechanisms our government has improperly created and wrongfully maintained.  Now the government has become the criminal, and its judicial system ratifies injustice.

I am not content, though, with saying pot should be legalized because the Government’s activities are a far more criminal than they are just.  I am not content with saying taxing weed today is our way of balancing budgets tomorrow. I am for legalizing marijuana because it is responsible and just legislation that preserves the dignity of the human being while maximizing individual liberty.

Pot users don’t smoke reefer anymore because they want to rebel, turn on, tune in or drop out.

Pot smokers don’t get high because marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, though it is.

Pot smokers don’t light up because they want to dis their parents, challenge their government, or need to make a political statement.

Pot smokers smoke in the privacy of their own home, or in their backyards, or on their porches at night, simply to enhance their spirit and enjoy their lives. Some use it to relieve pain, ease stress, and tame diseases which were not of their own making. For some it is recreation, others medication. What matters is that the choice is theirs, the right ours.

Our government protects many rights, and our country was born with a bill of them. The first of these is a right to pursue happiness, one our courts have somehow forgotten to guard or jealously protect.

As NORML gathers in California this weekend, let us reaffirm the principle that ‘Yes We Cannabis’ because it is perfectly normal to consume marijuana. And after 30 years we have shown there are responsible users, from Presidents to police chiefs to your neighbors next door.

NORM KENT, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, publishes The Broward Law Blog, www.browardlawblog.com

 

 

More articles by:

Norm Kent, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NORML.

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail