A Strange Celebration of Freedom

Just a few short weeks ago, I officially became part of a hotly debated statistic when the state of Montana sent me a “Medical Marijuana Card” in the mail.

But I am not a cancer patient or even a person that is deathly ill–instead, I am one of the hordes of people who got the card for the infamous reason of “chronic pain.”

Many of the recent ‘news’ articles I’ve read from mainstream newspapers throughout the state (almost entirely owned by one Lee Enterprises..) have made the assumption that I, because of my age and stated reason for using the drug, am abusing the system in order to “get high.”

The reality is they is right:  I want the right to use cannabis because of the effects it has on me.  Seriously, is there any other reason that people would smoke an herb other than to obtain the feared/dreaded/ridiculed/envied/despised/whatever.. “high” they get from it?

You could argue that someone smoking it in order to eat food has nothing to do with the “high”, but the person is only able to eat after they ingest the herb (a.k.a., get high!)

The point of this article, however, is not to argue the merits or technicalities of the “medical marijuana” laws in my state and others.  It is obvious that a whole lot of people are currently using cannabis for legitimate medical reasons, and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

My goal in writing this article, first and foremost, is to inform people that the accepted medical use of cannabis prevents it from being considered a “schedule I narcotic” by the federal government.  The infamous memo said to ignore this part of reality, while simultaneously citing accepted medical use as a reason to permit the limited use of “medical marijuana.”

Furthermore, there is more than enough scientific evidence to prove that recreational use of cannabis is far safer than alcohol for both the user and society (if you take away the effects of prohibition.)

These easily proven facts mean the federal government is going directly counter to the written letter and (hopefully) intent of our current Controlled Substances Act.  By attempting to prevent American citizens from making the healthier choice of cannabis instead of alcohol, our government has put the health of its citizens at far greater risk of illness and/or death.

But this is about much more than the relative safety of these two particular drugs.  For more on that subject, I highly recommend reading Marijuana is Safer:  so why are we driving people to drink?

The real culprit, the one responsible for funding both the terrorists and the cartels at our doorstep, is a prohibition our current President once called an “utter failure.”  A prohibition which spawned a Prison Industrial System that rivals the size of its big brother–the Military Industrial Complex…

What does any of this really matter?

Most people are well aware that our drug war has been a complete and utter failure, yet many seem afraid that regulation would make the situation worse.  Fear-based propaganda has proven itself to be quite effective in some cases, but even still the majority of people have clearly lost hope in our current justice system (no doubt in part because of our failed drug war..)

This sentiment is apparently shared by our elected leaders in Washington, particularly Senator Jim Webb–the author of legislation which intends to do a thorough examination of our entire criminal justice system, starting with our failed drug policies.

Although the legislation has yet to be voted on in the Senate, it recently got an overwhelming endorsement from the House of Congress.  Below is a quote from Webb on the reasons for implementing change:

“… Drug offenders, most of them passive users or minor dealers, are swamping our prisons. … Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. … African-Americans — who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population population — accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison.

It is incumbent on our national leadership to find a way to fix our prison system.

Click on the above text for an excellent article discussing the legislation, which is apparently being held up due to inaction by the Senate.

Luckily, the article provides a link to a pre-formatted message that can easily be sent to your respective state’s senators.  Even if you never have any interest in using any mind-altering substances whatsoever, it’s a good (if not strange) way to celebrate your freedom and remind your elected leaders exactly who they are working for–and what they need to be doing with our hard-earned money.


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