Pubdate: Tue, 08 Jun 2010
Source: Bellingham Herald (WA)
Copyright: 2010 Bellingham Herald
Author: David Camp
Note: David Camp is the Whatcom County Coordinator for Sensible 
Washington, sponsor of State Initiative 1068, the "Marijuana Reform Act."


I'm sitting in a chill wind on the corner as people stream by on 
their way to or from the Bellingham Farmer's Market and it's 
threatening rain. I observe and am open to conversation but few stop 
to sign my petition. The rejection is starting to get to me and I 
gain a new-found respect for the young traveler making his way across 
an indifferent America.

I have had better luck in friendlier environments, like near the Food 
Co-op, or outside Uisce on St. Patrick's day. I have collected better 
than 400 signatures personally, and met a lot of very nice people.

And overwhelmingly the people I speak with agree with and support 
Initiative 1068, which removes all civil and criminal penalties in 
Washington state civil and criminal for adult cultivation, 
possession, use, transport, and sale of "marijuana" - as hemp 
(English) and cannabis sativa (Latin scientific name) is referred to 
in the prohibition statutes.

This prohibition of a plant - this attempted obliteration of a crop 
that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew and that clothed the 
Revolutionary Army, and provided the paper upon which the Declaration 
of Independence was drafted - is long overdue to end.

Prohibition didn't work for alcohol, which is actually toxic and 
addictive. Prohibition creates organized crime, turns the police into 
racketeers, and diminishes respect for the government. Prohibition is 
an experiment that has failed dismally.

We have spent more than $1 trillion enforcing prohibition since 
President Nixon declared the "War on Drugs" in 1970, and here is the 
result: drugs are as available as ever, more potent, cheaper, and 
both usage rates and addiction rates are unchanged. The federal 
government's response? More of the same. George Santayana called it - 
the federal government must be insane. I'd say "insane, stupid, and 
utterly corrupt. And, unfortunately, not exactly working for you 
unless your name is General Electric or Halliburton."

Fortunately, however, we live in an actual democracy in Washington 
state where the people, by common consent, can make and change laws. 
And the laws prohibiting cannabis can be changed this year.

Why should we do this? My question in response is "who benefits by 
continuing this prohibition of what once was the largest cash crop in America?"

Certainly not the thousands of non-violent, non-harmful people whose 
lives are ruined for daring to possess cannabis.

Certainly not the taxpayers of the state, whose money is wasted: we 
spend over $150 million per year enforcing cannabis prohibition in 
Washington alone. Consider what a boon not spending this money on 
non-productive prohibition enforcement would be to the education and 
health systems of the state. We could eliminate the waiting list for 
Basic Health; we could reduce, rather than increase, teacher-pupil 
ratios; we could actually reduce the state deficit by taxing retail 
sales of cannabis, which are currently part of the black economy and 
generate no tax revenues.

How many times does the experiment of prohibition have to fail before 
we figure out it doesn't work, it has never worked, and it creates 
more harm than the private, consensual behavior it criminalizes?

The Whatcom County Democrats endorsed I-1068 on May 20th; I expect 
that the Whatcom County Republicans should do the same since they 
endorsed Ron Paul in 2008 and Paul is on record for ending drug prohibition.

Any person who is for freedom and against unjust dominion should be 
outraged by the continuing war on the American people that is called 
the "War on Drugs" by its perpetrators. I believe this should be a 
unifying issue, assuming most people have common sense.

How far have we come as a nation from our origins where hemp was the 
largest industrial crop by tonnage and value, used for fabric, 
cordage, paper, medicine, lubricants, feed, windbreaks and hedges, 
and recreation? How did we get from there to here, where such a 
useful crop has been banned and criminalized by the United States 
Government? And how can we restore some sanity? Vote "yes" on I-1068.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart