Rebel of the Week: Marijuana EnthusiastsNovember 21st, 2012
This week we’re going to celebrate all those Rebels out there fighting for marijuana decriminalization, legalization, medical use or even just advocating a much needed injection of sanity in this country’s drug policy. And we’ve seen a lot of Rebels out there this year, from some unexpected places. So, here’s a review of some of the highlights, just in time to work up some munchies before your Thanks-toking day celebrations.
The 8 States who voted on marijuana legalization initiative sand the 2 who passed them
California proposed regulating marijuana like wine, and dismissing pending court cases for possession. Michigan proposed a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to include that majiuana use is no longer prohibited in any manner for adults 21 or over, even for personal or religious use. Missouri proposed regulating cannabis like alcohol and beginning to farm industrial hemp. Montana proposed a constitutional amendment stating that adults have the right to “responsibly purchase, consume, produce and possess marijuana.” Nebraska proposed removing all laws regulating private noncommercial use, and taxing commercial use. Oregon proposed legalizing and taxing marijuana and industrial hemp.
The proposals didn’t pass, but they certainly foretell a groundswell of support for marijuana legalization and represent the tireless efforts of countless Rebels for the cause. But the greatest legislative success was achieved by the two states who passed their propositions, making them the first states to fully legalize marijuana use.
In Washington State they passed Initiative Initiative-502 to license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over 21, to remove civil and criminal penalties for its use, and to tax marijuana sales.
In Colorado they passed constitutional Amendment 64, the so-called “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012” which does just that, making adult use of marijuana legal, and establishing a system of regulation and taxes similar to alcohol, and allows for the use of industrial hemp.
Now, obviously I don’t condone any form of taxation on marijuana, but it’s a far cry superior to imprisonment. But we’re just getting started. Here’s an interesting one.
The Seattle Police Department
After Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 with a 55% majority the Seattle Police Department realized that marijuana enthusiasts would probably be a little hazy on the specifics of the new pot laws, so they published a marijuana smokers guide titled “Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle.” The guide explains the basics of the new law, and answers questions like “What happens if I get caught with marijuana before the law takes effect on December 6th?” or “SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back?” Sadly the answer is “no,” but it’s still progress, and credit where it’s due to these officers for doing their part to protect and serve.
Let’s move on
In New Jersey Ed Forchion, the so-called “NJWeedman” was arrested for fourth degree pot possession, a felony that could mean 18 months in jail. The NJWeedman fought the charges all the way to jury trial, demanding nothing less than a full acquittal. Forchion publicly advertised his intention of using a jury nullification defense, and the judge tried to shut him down, but the jury gave him his acquittal
In New Hampshire, Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian was charged with marijuana cultivation. In this case it was the Judge, James O’Neil who instructed the jury that proving the elements of the offense did not require them to find the defendant guilt, and they could rule according to their conscience, not the law. Prosecutors offered Darrell a series of increasingly lenient plea deals, but Darrell turned them all down, refusing to admit wrong doing when marijuana use was a religious sacrament for him. And the jury gave him his acquittal.
In Montana a man was arrested for possession of 16th of an ounce, but his case never went to trial. During pre-trial interviews, before potential jurors knew anything about the case, the judge could not fill the jury box, because juror after juror openly refused to convict for marijuana possession regardless of the facts of the case.
Jury nullification was a critical strategy in ending alcohol prohibition. This is no different. But in closing we have some unlikely suspects.
That’s right folks… even a handful of conservatives are coming out in favor of legalizing marijuana. And I’m not talking about libertarians infiltrating the Republican party. I’m talking about good o’ boy blue blooded neo-con dinosaurs. For example:
Fox News blowhard, Shep Smith is reported to have said, “If there’s a war on drugs, it’s lost. Bring everyone home, because the war on drugs is over… End the war. This is stupid. This is a stupid war, isn’t it?
TV Bible thumper, Pat Robertson, who famously suggested Hurricane Katrina killed 1,800 people as God’s punishment for America’s abortion policy, said in a recent interview, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
And finally, our least likely of Rebels, GOP presidential wingman, Paul Ryan. During the campaign he was asked about Colorado’s legalization initiative on KRDO-TV and he said that states should have the right to choose whether or not to legalize marijuana stating “it’s up to Coloradans to decide.” And as we already showed above… that’s legalization.
So move over drug warriors. These may be some unlikely Rebels. But when you’re losing Republicans and Evangelicals, losing jury trials and losing state sanction the war on marijuana is not long for this world. So congratulations to all the marijuana enthusiasts out there who have made this possible.
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