Over the past months the national media have stumbled upon the fact that the Great American Prohibition of cannabis has some pretty nasty consequences for regular ‘folks’, as the president likes to refer to us. Perhaps you have followed the stories of the knowing and on-going aggressive application of our nation’s antiquated and unjustly applied local, state and federal laws regarding cannabis.
The national press has reported on how the war on cannabis harms our sick citizens. There has been sympathetic reportage of the plight of families who have become medical refugees, forced to up-root their lives and other parents who have chosen to break the law so their suffering children can get the medical treatment they need in America.
There have been stories about patients who, because they work for institutions that receive federal funding, have to choose between being employed and using medicine. And the press commendably understands the nature of the disturbing threat of our Veteran’s Administration to refuse medical care to veterans who use cannabis to treat their battle injuries and symptoms of post-war-fighting-stress.
In bizzaro America, as even the milquetoasty left media are finally reporting on the failure that is our disastrous war on drugs and how it has been based upon years of self-serving lies, amped up local coppers, go-getter prosecutors, an amalgam of frenzied state and federal agencies, rigor mortis judges and even private gun-wielding helicopter anti-cannabis posses are still hunting prey as our dry-doper politicos duck their heads and kick the cannabis can down the road until they are safely retired.
I know that the ‘we got to respect law enforcement’ crowd pulls out the ol’ “well, it’s still illegal, ain’t it?” dodge when the press reports on aggressive enforcement actions taken by politically motivated prosecutors and bigoted officers to justify prosecuting small time cannabis users – so I want to remind that police and prosecutors are never required to take the most aggressive action allowed under the law and are given tremendous leeway to make prosecutorial decisions. End-of-cannabis-prohibition arrests and ambiguities really don’t need to happen.
An example of this capacity to apply discretion is contained in the letter that the Department of Justice sent to all US Attorneys in 2009 advising that they should make “efficient and rational use of (the Department’s) limited investigative and prosecutorial resources” and should use their “plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters” in situations involving cannabis, reminding US attorneys that they are “invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion” in the exercise of their authority.
That makes sense to most Americans, but our cowardly federal politicians still hide behind deceptively deployed medical research and the intentionally stoked fears of propagandized voters to take no action on the federal legalization of recreational and medical cannabis.
We are put by self-interested politicians in a position of having to live in an America with a barrier that has been erected to support the failed war against cannabis – a barrier that separates us from one another.
We know, for example, that political inaction on cannabis legalization has created a permanently stigmatized class in our country – 600,000 cannabis arrestees or more added every year. 18 million of our fellow citizens over the course 30 years, the vast majority of whom are African and Latino Americans. This is only one way the war against cannabis harms all of us.
In our attempts to end this fixable travesty we are stymied by self-serving politicos who are fearful of angering constituencies, and who must, therefore, ‘evolve’ on the issue before taking the logical, compassionate and equality enhancing step of legalizing cannabis.
We all know of the unfair application of justice now.
We all know that the sick can be treated using cannabis today.
As long as this war against cannabis exists, as long as this barrier of political inaction is permitted to stand, it is not only the casualties of the war; patients, young African and Latino Americans, our students – our brethren, who are consigned to lives marked by unfairness and suffering, but it is all Americans, at least all Americans who care.
We are barricaded from stepping together hopefully into post-prohibition America.
Mr. Obama, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, if you seek liberalization, consider this barrier.
Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!
cross posted at mLaw