What Does President-elect Obama Need To Know About Marijuana ?
This is the last week for submissions to NORML’S VIDEO AD CONTEST. There is $10,000 in cash prize money waiting for the America’s best answers to the above question.
By George Rohrbacher, NORML Board of Directors, medical marijuana patient
America has witnessed the unfolding of a series of unprecedented historic events that portend great change for war on cannabis. The federal war against the plant entered into its 71st year this fall, from the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, to Nixon’s invention of the ‘war on weed’, to Bush’s expanded war against cannabis and the sick and dying that has being playing out in the dispensaries and patient coops of our country’s medical marijuana states—for generations, our federal government has used every means short of public hangings to deter Americans from using cannabis, and it hasn’t worked.
This war on the cannabis plant and its consumers has been a complete and utter failure.
Over 100 million Americans have used cannabis in their lifetimes, including our new President-elect, and about 20 million Americans used pot just this last week. The perverse nature of ‘pot prohibition’ is that it guarantees that marijuana is easily available to our children, the very group of citizens we say we are trying hardest to protect.
In early October 2008, America made its 20-millionth marijuana arrest, topping a record 872,000 arrests in 2007, 90% of which were for the possession of a small amount of pot. Vast sums of taxpayer’s money continue to be wasted every day in America’s failed cannabis prohibition efforts. A simple, but revolutionary change to a tax and regulate posture on cannabis a from to our current “war on weed” policy could have a combined net positive effect on our increasingly strapped federal and state budgets by as much as $50 billion annually to the good. And, to top this off, America’s cannabis users want to be taxed!!! We want to be treated normal. We are pleading for it!
As it has been long said, all politics is local. Well, politics is personal, too. I, like the rest of America, had the opportunity, for the first time in my life, to vote for a highly qualified black man for President. In casting my vote for Barack Obama, I helped set right something that happened to my family when I was a little kid in grade school—there was a cross burned on our lawn. We lived in Auburn, Alabama during the Montgomery bus boycotts and my dad (a research scientist) and the rector of our church had been talking to “the wrong people”, the Klan wanted us to stop. I’ve been waiting for about a half-a-century for the proper way to say, “fuck you”, to those racist cross-burning crackers and the slave owning culture that spawned the attitude. In casting my vote for President on Nov. 4th, the wonderful catharsis I felt in that act of voting told me this was a perfectly elegant way of doing just that.
In this last election, all across the nation, marijuana, too, got down and personal, winning 9 out of 10 electoral contests, including the stunning, nearly 2-to-1 medical marijuana victory in Michigan, and the huge decriminalization initiative win in Massachusetts. ‘The People’ are way out ahead of their elected officials on marijuana issues. Politics are tidal— and the tide is coming in on the issue of marijuana law reform.
These are very unusual times for the topic of marijuana and media recognition. For many years now, they’ve had a deaf ear to us, or worse yet, spouted the prohibitionist party line. About the only way the media would touch the marijuana topic was a Rambo/SWAT Team piece about the takedown of a grow op with helicopters, night vision goggles and the works—and saying virtually nothing about us, the Market, us, the tens of millions of Americans using cannabis to make our lives better.
But things have changed in a big way just these last few months. Marijuana is now a hot topic!
Stories with in-depth coverage are popping up everywhere. What just happened? Has this current financial meltdown given us a moment of clarity?
Has it not been made plain to practically everyone that we all secretly recognize that marijuana is about the only chronic public ‘problem’ our government can fix almost instantly—something we can readily turn from a people-destroying budget liability into a huge tax-generating asset, simply by a change in the law?!
That’s one reason, I think, marijuana legalization is on Change.org’s top ten things that the public thinks need fixing. That’s a reason, I think, Allen’s St. Pierre’s marijuana blogs on RollCall/The Hill generated more responses than any other blog they’ve ever run, ever. National Geographic has just released a very popular hour-long piece on marijuana. And the parade of mainstream media programs slated for broadcast this January should continue to well educate (probably shock) the general public about the costs and horrors of not cannabis, but, more importantly, cannabis prohibition.
Well, dear NORML supporters (and presumed lovers of liberty), you’ve got one week left—so, get out your video cameras or flash animation programs, enter NORML’s contest, take a swing at $10,000 in cash prizes, and help us make our case to the incoming Obama administration.
Just imagine a world without marijuana prohibition…all the taxes collected and patients cared for, farmers cultivating and industry accessing American-grown industrial hemp, prohibition’s failed and cruel people-destroying program cancelled with its recourses re-directed to rebuild this country (a progress that is called “good governance”). So, where do we start on this process of changing America’s ganja laws?
1) President Obama needs to appoint a marijuana study commission, a Shafer Commission 2.0, to gather the evidence needed to support the required final vote on law reform.
2) The first marijuana decriminalization bill introduced In Congress in 28 years was before the last Congress and a new bill is pending! Congressional hearings on marijuana law reform are coming!
3) When the decriminalization bill is re-introduced into this 111th Congress, then it is up to all of us to effectively lobby for the necessary number of votes to finally change this damn law, and bring home some of the real change America voted for this last November.
NORML’s “What President Obama should know about marijuana?” Ad Contest ends on January 15. The videos will be posted to www.norml.org (as well as to NORML’s Facebook and MySpace pages) January 20 until midnight, Monday, January 26 allowing the public to “vote” for their favorite video ads. January 10, 2009