Sunday, March 29, 2009

21st Century Prohibition pt4 - Main Street

This series on the 21st Century Prohibition is changing a bit. Due to recent developments and Pres. Obama's unfortunate comments at the Online Townhall meeting, I've decided to change the direction of the discussion here. I had originally meant for this to be about the Legal Eagles, the groups that are providing legal services to those who find themselves in the grip of Johnny Law. That part will be forthcoming as soon as I can get more information. I would hate to link to bad goods on a topic that's so important to the Warriors.

This post is about Main Street. It's your hometown, my hometown, the little berg that has a couple of stores and a post office or a urban neighborhood with ethnic flavors and smells, little old ladies walking to the grocery and the church. This is the residence of Mom and Pop America. They've lived here most of their life. They shop here, worship here, they say hello to Phil at the corner grocery. They go to the clinic for all their aches and pains and dread the day when the doctor tells them the inevitable. They're getting older but they still have their kids.

Their kids are in schools all over the country, trying hard to get that sacred piece of sheepskin. They go from campus to campus learning all about the world and how they'll make their mark in it. They're burning the midnight oil for tests and midterms, studying hard and smoking pot. Lots of pot.

Mom and Pop America may not know about this, they may be sitting in their kitchens drinking tea and coffee, talking about the medical bills, the student loans, the costs of gas and grocery, or the rising price and dwindling coverage of their insurance. This isn't a happy time. Concern about whether their progeny is partaking of the ghanj isn't high on their list. Until, that is, their kids get busted.

Getting busted for a gram of weed can cost a college student his/her student loans. In some states, it could lead to a felony conviction which would severely limit their employment opportunities. A person with a felony conviction can't hold any job that requires bonding or licensing, other than a driver's license. Most government jobs are off the table as are most large corporations. You are required to divulge your conviction on all job applications and if you lie (background checks will rat you out) you'll be kicked to the curb. The best you can do is unskilled or semi-skilled labor or, if you're lucky, go to work for a small business that has a soft spot for you.

Mom and Pop America are getting older. They're getting close to their sunset years with all the aches and pains that go with them. There was a time when you just died if you got cancer or AIDS. Now, you can live longer with the right combination of drugs. Even if they make you sick and puke or lose any semblance of an appetite. In order for these drugs to work, you have to keep your strength up, eat regular and drink lots of water. When your body is healing itself, the last thing you want to do is stop putting food in it. Well, consider the decisions facing Mom and Pop now that Granny or Auntie Em are sick with cancer and need pain relief or won't eat anything. Either you order a pine box for their big dirt nap or you set aside all the bullshit that people like Harry Anslinger, John Walters, or General Nuisance Barry McCaffrey have been selling and take a long, hard look at cannabis. Converts are coming out all over the US.

Drug companies have us by the balls. Insurance companies have us by the throat. Together they're twisting and stretching us every which way but up. They may have had a bad time these past few months but don't think they've seen the light yet. They still exist only to make as much profit as possible, the health and well being of the population be damned. Medical marijuana is bad juju to these goons. Here's a plant that can be grown in the back yard that can alleviate pain and nausea. No processing, no slick advertisement, no fancy packaging that features pretty people with perfect teeth - worse of all, no profit. You can bet your last bar of soap that these industries will be dead set against allowing the legal distribution of medical marijuana.

State legislatures all over the country are taking a new, reasonable look at their marijuana laws. With the advent of the progressive movement's victories in elections all across the country, many lawmakers are taking the chance on changing these outmoded laws and penalties, something not heard of just a couple of years ago. Mind you, there are a lot of hurdles yet to climb and this could all take a turn for the worse but there has never been a better time to defeat 'Reefer Madness' once and for all.

In order to get to the point where we can go to the corner smoke shop and order a qtr 'z' of Purple Spank Surprise, there are certain landmarks that need to be laid out.
  1. Stop the raids on medical marijuana clinics and make a public statement to that effect.
  2. Defer to state laws in all cases of jurisdiction if state laws are more lenient.
  3. Drop Cannabis from the Schedule One list of dangerous drugs.
  4. Legalize the cultivation, distribution and processing of Hemp and Hemp products in the US.
  5. Decriminalize the possession of up to 40 grams of marijuana for personal use.
  6. Legalize the cultivation of up to 15 plants for personal use. (60 plants for medicinal)
  7. Enact legislation that creates a tax code and reasonable mechanisms for taxing the sale and distribution of marijuana.
  8. Legalize the sale and possession of up to 40 grams of marijuana for adults 21 years or older.
  9. Allow special licensing for small homegrown craft growers who would expand the market and allow branding of certain 'vintage' types of cannabis.
Surely, the last few are a long way off, but it pays to dream!

Currently, there is a lot of suffering going on at the border with Mexico. Drug cartels are kidnapping people, sending them across the border into our state parks and national forests to grow marijuana. The marijuana grown there is sold in the cities of the Southwest, perhaps even as far away as Chicago and New York. The profits from those sales are then taken to gun shows and retailers in Texas, Arizona and California where semi-automatic (and in some cases fully automatic) weapons are purchased and smuggled back to Mexico. Once there, the guns are used in the cartels' war with the Mexican government. Try as they might, the Mexican government is outgunned, out financed and outmaneuvered by these drug lords. The MPP has said that 60% of the financing for the weaponry used by the drug lords comes from the sale of marijuana to users in America.

Take away that money! If we were to legalize marijuana, the flow of funds and guns to the cartels would dry up like an old condom. They wouldn't be able to keep up the fight with the Mexican government and would soon be defeated. The only ones who would be adversely impacted by this, besides the drug lords, would be the gun merchants in Texas. Boo freaking Hoo!

So, it comes down to being reasonable. Lord knows, we don't need another vice in our lives and marijuana is one of them to be sure. But if I were to choose which one to have, smoking pot would be far ahead of tobacco (hate the taste and the toxins), alcohol (false bravado, hangovers, puking your guts out in the back yard), gambling (going broke in 15 minutes was never that fun) or sky diving (planes have landing gear for a reason).

The only way we are going to achieve the list I've put out there is by doing it by the numbers. When Mom and Pop America see Auntie Em, whose suffering from her cancer treatments, get relief from pot then we've got advocates. Not the kind of advocates you'd normally see associated with the cannabis issue, but god-fearing hard working folks who just want to see their loved ones treated with dignity and compassion.

Update: I erred in including Oklahoma as a source of illegal guns to the Mexican Cartels. The ATF states that in addition to Texas, California and Arizona have been found to be the source of many of the weapons used by the cartels. More info coming...

Update deux: jeg43 commented that I should take another look at my statement about the flow of guns from the US to the Mexican Drug Lords. I found the error with Oklahoma as I was researching this and changed it above. But as I went across the web, the primary theme from the government (the ATF, the FBI, and the State Dept.) as well as the media on the ground in Juarez, Tijuana, and the US border towns that the evidence of Mexican surragates buying thousands of assault weapons from American gun shows is overwhelming.

Mexican cartels are using assault rifles like the variants of the AK-47 and AR-15 that the ATF traced back to sellers in the United States. According to a Mexican government official and The Brookings Institution, as many as 2,000 weapons enter Mexico daily and fuel an arms race between competing Mexican drug cartels. Since 1996, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has traced more than 62,000 firearms smuggled into Mexico from the United States,and ATF officials estimate that 90% of the weapons recovered in Mexico come from U.S. gun dealers; about 55% of these guns are assault rifles.

An in-depth analysis of firearms trace data by the ATF over the past three years shows that Texas, Arizona and California are the three most prolific source states, respectively, for firearms illegally trafficked to Mexico

My source, with good footnotes: I hope to provide more info later as it comes up. As I said to jeg43, I'm no fan of unregulated gun sales and feel that there are far too many guns in the world. BUT, I acknowledge that the Constitution has a Second Amendment that should be considered as important as the First. No law abiding citizen should be kept from owning a gun if they choose.

So Mote It Be,
David A.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on about 98 percent of your post. Where I find a possible fault is this statement:

"The profits from those sales are then taken to gun shows and retailers in Texas and Oklahoma where semi-automatic (and in some cases fully automatic) weapons are purchased and smuggled back to Mexico."

I am willing to grant that it is possible for some limited traffic in semiautomatic weapons being bought by U.S. citizens for resale to Mexican nationals. Because of U.S. gun laws, a large number of these sales isn't very likely.
All published claims I've read are not supported by fact.

As to sales of automatic weapons in the above pipeline, you can write that one off as hot air. I suggest you research what the Feds require to purchase an automatic weapon. It is not an over-the-counter transaction. Yes, it is possible that both types of weapons can get to Mexico by theft - but I haven't seen any police reports about that either.

I strongly suggest that you not use "U.S. weapons going to Mexico" as a talking point to further the cause of legalizing cannabis.

David Aquarius said...

I'm just going by what I've read in the pro-cannabis journals. I'll try and get more information to back this claim up before I make it again.

I'm not a fan of unregulated gun sales, but I'm not for ditching the second amendment either. I feel there are too many guns out there but that's a personal observation. No law abiding person should be kept from owing a gun.

The MPP has been using the guns for ganja link for months, I'm not sure where they got it. I know from media accounts, law enforcement agencies use it too. Again, I'm not sure where the real info is coming from.

I'll let you know.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I failed to support my point - even failed to state it properly. I dislike the use of "U.S. weapons going to Mexico" as argument to further the cause of legalizing cannabis because it too easily becomes an emotional issue and side tracks what should be based on logic and facts.

I respectfully direct your attention to the following link:
- in which some of the exaggerations in the "U.S. guns going to Mexico because of drugs" issue are addressed.
I further suggest (again, respectfully) that any "facts" released by our government and/or its agencies be checked for "spin" before acceptance.

And again, I do support the legalization of marijuana. And retroactively to boot.

David Aquarius said...

True enough. Using the guns for drugs argument is a paper tiger. We should legalize pot for its own merit not to use it to get around other laws and regulations.

Dealing with the guns to Mexico issue is beyond making pot legal. It involves investigating from both sides of the border how and through which channels the guns are getting into the hands of the cartels.

The US may be a source of assault-type weapons but it isn't the source of the worst of the lot, the military weapons like anti-tank grenade launchers, armor-piercing rockets, shit like that. That shit's coming up from Guatemala and Nicaragua. American officials can put pressure on those channels but it has nothing to do with the pot industry here.

Again, the issue is about taking the money away from the cartels. What they did with the money is another issue that we can't control. Pot is fast money to them but cocaine and heroin are their bread and butter. I included the cartels as another reason to end prohibition. In the early 20's, Al Capone was nothing but a two-bit thug until we outlawed alcohol.

Ending prohibition will stop putting descent Americans in jail, add money to our economy, give sick people another weapon against their pain and take money away from crooks and killers.