Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2009
Source: Toccoa Record, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Toccoa Record
Author: John Tressler


A little while back a pro marijuana reformer was sentenced to one
year in prison for advocating for legalization of marijuana.

While he did break the law in possessing marijuana, his first
amendment rights on this issue were stripped.

For the government, through a judge, to strip his rights for
advocating a position is a fundamental violation of freedom of speech.
If someone is convicted of writing a bad check (a crime with an
identifiable victim) then do we strip him/her away from calling a talk
show and arguing about an economic stimulus bill? Freedom of speech is
a fundamental right of all Americans.

I know that many Americans do not support legalization of marijuana
and that is their right to advocate against it but is it not also the
right of others to argue for it?

I want strong laws against pollution, but if someone is convicted of a
pollution offense I do not want the government to state that that
person cannot advocate for reducing pollution controls. Ideas should
be debated in the marketplace of ideas, not with government

The fact is, when it comes to marijuana, we are putting our very
constitutional rights at risk everyday.

If we have what a police officer perceives as too much money on our
person, it can be taken from us and the burden is on us and not the
government to show it wasn't drug proceeds. In fact, one doesn't have
to be convicted of a crime or even charged with a crime for this to

How is this allowed to happen? It is because the government treats
your seized money or property as some third party separate from you.

For example, police in a Houston, Texas, airport seized the money of a
woman in an airport who was not found with any drugs.

She had documented proof that the money she had was from an insurance
settlement and her life savings over 20 years as a hotel housekeeper
and hospital janitor.

She was never charged with a crime but she wasn't given the money
back. There are dozens, if not hundreds of cases similar to this. When
are we going to take our rights back? 
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