Pubdate: Sun, 2 Dec 2007
Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)
Copyright: 2007 Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Carl Hedberg


The Telegraph recently ran an Associated Press story that reported 
that two men, 50 and 47, were arrested in Charlestown for growing 10 
marijuana plants.

They were charged with a felony and released on personal recognizance bail.

The story, fewer than 100 words, provided few other details. Contrast 
that to the way the "Britney Shaves Head!" saga last summer splashed 
across the world media stage for days.

Personally, I'd rather hear more about what motivated those guys in 
Charlestown to grow a controlled substance, what impact our federal 
drug policies are going to have on their families and the rest of 
their lives, and most important, hear some spirited analysis and 
debate on whether the punishment fits the crime.

In New Hampshire, the manufacture or distribution of five pounds or 
more is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $300,000.

On Oct. 6, Mitt Romney turned away from a local guy in a wheelchair 
who was pressing him on whether the candidate supports federal raids 
on state-sanctioned medical marijuana facilities.

A couple of days earlier, Rudy Giuliani told an ailing woman at a New 
Hampshire town meeting that the Food and Drug Administration says 
marijuana has no medical benefits, and that's good enough for him.

At an outdoor gathering in Milton last August, John McCain replied to 
a clinical nutritionist (who works with cancer patients who benefit 
from marijuana) that the drug czar is firmly opposed to the use of 
marijuana for medical purposes, and that's pretty much good enough for him.

Sure, these clips are on YouTube, and the Romney snub made CNN and 
ABC News, but overall, the coverage of how the candidates stand on 
this issue has been pretty sparse.

Ever since last March, when a measure to legalize marijuana for 
medical purposes here in New Hampshire nearly passed, there has been 
an up-swell of interest and activity with regard to legalizing hemp 
and medical marijuana.

Unfortunately, such happenings become news not by virtue of their 
importance, but by how many media organizations are willing to spend 
time and ink on the subject.

The cannabis issue clearly warrants better news coverage during this 
critical electoral cycle, not only because people with ailments are 
being treated like criminals for the offense of seeking relief, but 
because it's is a compelling story with more angles than an Anna 
Nicole Smith post-mortem court hearing.

States' rights, personal freedoms, medicinal properties that have 
been utilized for thousands of years and a failed, half-century-long 
campaign of government-sponsored disinformation does real harm to our 
fellow citizens and squanders billions of our tax dollars.

Similarly, the struggle to legalize hemp provides a rich harvest of 
newsworthy story lines that have a real bearing on our lives: saving 
farms, micro-business opportunities, the obscene costs of prohibition 
and the amazing science behind an ancient, all-natural, 
high-yield-per-acre plant that produces superior fiber for paper, 
cordage and cloth without heavy use of farm chemicals. (Doubters, 
please rent the Australian documentary "Hemp Revolution," 1995).

As residents of one of the key bellwether states in the union, we 
have a unique opportunity to respark the long-smoldering movement to 
free hemp and medical marijuana from our government's expensive, 
destructive and counterproductive war on drugs.

We can begin by asking to see deeper coverage on this issue and hope 
that the media will deliver.

Carl Hedberg


EDITOR'S NOTE: Carl Hedberg is a board member of nhcommon, 
an advocacy group working to end cannabis prohibition in New Hampshire. 
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