United States: Your Voice, Your Vote - Oregon Cannabis Tax Act
By Ms. Sylence Dogood, Hemp News Correspondent
Those who continue to debate the issue of marijuana legalization in support of its prohibition by using false propaganda created in the 1930's to manipulate voters by fear, only succeed in talking themselves deeper into a hole, because research has shown that propaganda to be mostly lies. By educating yourself on the merits of the cannabis plant for its medicinal and industrial properties, you will learn that all of the wasted money thrown into the war on drugs must stop, and as a global community we should be harnessing the benefits to our community and our economy by openly allowing the growth, use and sale of industrial hemp and medical and recreational cannabis.
According to Paul Stanford, Chief Petitioner of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 in the attached video from KATU Channel 2 News "Your Voice, Your Vote" debate, "We want to take the stigma out of marijuana and allow it to be a real medicine that doctors can prescribe through pharmacies." Taking the stigma from marijuana is a matter of education about cannabis and telling the truth rather than spouting propagandist lies.
Wasting Our Tax Money
Some cannabis prohibitionists in the state of Oregon would lead you to believe that Oregon police forces are not wasting time with cannabis offenders. They would tell you that it is a low priority and so there is no reason to legalize. Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis says, "We're not spending our resources on it now."
Marquis goes on to say, "I could probably re-pay you right now with a ten dollar bill for the amount of money that I spent prosecuting personal marijuana consumption in Clatsop County and pretty much the other counties." Never mind practiced rhetoric, actual statistics show, according to "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition" by Visiting Harvard Professor Jeffrey A. Miron (2005), in the group of years studied, Oregon law enforcement arrested 6,336 people for simple possession alone, and spent 61.5 million dollars of the Oregon police, judicial and corrections budget on the prohibition of marijuana. That seems like a little more that a ten dollar bill.
We're Not Looking
Despite the statistics to the contrary, indicating that there exists a "turn a blind eye" mentality, law enforcement officials are only serving the illegal black market dealers who are thriving, in the same way the bootlegging, Tommy gun toting gangsters of the alcohol prohibition era thrived by controlling access to the liquor.
An interesting point is that Marquis seems to desire the re-prohibition of alcohol. He states, "If I could wave a magic wand, I would get rid of alcohol. It's probably way more dangerous than marijuana." By taking a teetotaler's stance and implying that all alcoholic or otherwise intoxicating substances should be outlawed, you are advocating prohibition of the alcoholic beverage industry, the tobacco industry – and well, "big Pharma" is out, too. There are too many chances for someone to be irresponsible for themselves. The general population should never be relied on to make wise decisions.
Yes, sometimes people go to extremes. It happens in anything, as we are so readily exposed to so many addictions via reality television. With anything from intervention to rehab, one might reason that American’s are nothing but a bunch of irresponsible addict-consumers, sheep to be told how and what to do with their lives. However, that’s not me. That’s not my cohorts. We think for ourselves and take responsibility for our actions and resent being told that we can’t make choices for ourselves.
When people choose to back the drug war by spouting the string of “bad boys” like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine – lumping an unprocessed plant of cannabis in with a group of processed and man-made chemical creations, this masks a valuable and beneficial plant to our ecosystem and our society in a devil’s cloak and falsifies the true nature of what cannabis truly embodies: calm healing, pain relieving, anxiety easing and appetite stimulating.
An Herbal Remedy
Walk through your local home and garden section where the seed packets are displayed and you will find the ability to grow a good garden of healing herbs. Naturopathic practitioners have touted the benefits of plant-based remedies for millennia. Chamomile, Rosemary, Ginseng, Echinacea, Dandelion Root, Green Tea…the list is endless of plant based healers. Some even have intoxicating properties. Chamomile calms. Does this qualify as intoxication? How far does one have to take the theory to the extreme?
In the last pharmaceutical commercial I saw, one of the side-effects was possible death. Possible death and they are advertising it as an option for you and to ask your doctor about it. The amount of deaths contributed to the cannabis plant over the years is zero. Yes, zero. So many deaths contributed to its prohibition, but to its actual use, zero, like tea.
People who use cannabis do not go on rampages. Some traffic officers could likely tell us that impaired drivers are not generally solely high on cannabis, and if they do admit to using marijuana, there is usually alcohol or some other intoxicating factor contributing to the reason the driver was stopped. In fact, according to several different studies, in less than 4% of traffic accidents reviewed was cannabis the only drug detected.
Scare tactics are false and overblown. There is not a line of people who are only waiting to start smoking pot when it becomes legal. If grown adults want to partake in cannabis, they probably already are – and though they may be law-abiding citizens by day, ultimately because they enjoy cannabis, they are forced to the black market for its purchase. Allowing cannabis back into our economy and regulating its sale to adults takes it away from the street corner punk who has not only marijuana but probably some other options, like Vicodin or meth, and he doesn’t check ID.
Our Ignorance Harms Others
Until the United States wakes up to the reality of the ineffectual drug war, the global community will continue to lose. Mexican and South American leaders are beginning to realize the enormous sacrifice their own people are making in the name of cannabis prohibition. They have reached their limits and know that the first key to reduction in the hold the drug cartels have over the streets is to allow legal regulated marijuana. Live in a lie if you choose, but they are producing and we are consuming and whether we like it or not, cartels are in power because of United States marijuana consumption. So take it away from cartels and put it into our own struggling economy.
According a recent NY Times OP-ED by Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), "It is time to reduce violence by taking away a vital funding source from organized crime just as we did by ending alcohol prohibition almost 80 years ago."
Franklin goes on to say, "While some fear that legalization would lead to increased use, those who want to use marijuana are probably already doing so under our ineffective prohibition laws. And when we stop wasting so many resources on locking people up, perhaps we can fund real public education and health efforts of the sort that have led to dramatic reductions in tobacco use over the last few decades — all without having to put handcuffs on anyone."
Speaking on a struggling economy, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act will also allow the farming of industrial hemp, which was outlawed along with the smokeable cannabis back in 1937. The United States is the world’s largest consumer of hemp products and imports millions of pounds of hemp fiber and food products every year. Countries around the world have thriving hemp economies. By allowing farmers to expand their options into the hemp market, we would give them the benefit of participating in the healthful and natural products derived from the hemp plant.
My truth as an American citizen is the fact that I’ve been a cannabis user for about fifteen years. I have a college degree, a full time and respectable career in a thriving small business, a mortgage payment and a good life. I have not wasted away into the false image of “stoner” life. My truth is that the stoner image portrayed in television and movies is not at all reminiscent of who I am and what I believe. I am not an idiot in boxer shorts doing nothing but puffing on a bong all day. I am a tax-paying citizen and I should be allowed to spend my personal time as I choose. I am not a criminal.
I know that I am well-respected amongst my friends, family and business associates and that is my truth. Cannabis has not ruined my life, it has enhanced it. Cannabis expands my world view and I feel more connected to those around me.
The People’s Truth
The fact of the matter is that money is being spent and wasted by our government to prohibit cannabis, and yet according to an October 2011 Gallup Poll, a record 50% of citizens surveyed are in favor of marijuana legalization. While it may be partially true when Marquis states, "There is really no stigma attached to the use of marijuana in the state of Oregon,” we still fight against the prejudices and pre-conceived notions that many have about people who enjoy marijuana, and we must stand up for what we believe in by our vote.
Stanford says, “I believe marijuana is a bellwether issue for the future of freedom. If the government can prohibit this harmless substance then future freedom is indeed dire.”
Cannabis is not the evil that its prohibitionists declare, and if you take the time to learn for yourself by reading more about cannabis’ potential uses in our society, we can move toward more healthy options of regulation for our world.
Paul Stanford is the Executive Director of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation and has spent the past 30 years working toward his goal of legalized cannabis for industrial, medicinal and recreational use.
Neill Franklin, a 32-year law enforcement veteran, retired from the Maryland State Police in 1999. During his time on the force he held the position of commander for the Education and Training Division and the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement.
Josh Marquis was appointed District Attorney by the Governor in 1994, elected later that year and then reelected in 1998, 2002 and 2006. Previously he was the chief deputy district attorney for Deschutes and Lincoln counties.
Photo Source: http://www.norml.org