Pubdate: Wed, 01 Jun 2011 Source: Burlington Free Press (VT) Copyright: 2011 Burlington Free Press Contact: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/632 Author: Albert Petrarca LEGAL WEED NOT LOCKHEED The "Peoples' Republic of Burlington" stands at a crossroads. Two issues now before it exemplify distinctly different paths of economic, political and environmental development: Legal weed or Lockheed? We can either adopt and adapt to an emerging eco-sustainable cannabis and hemp economy capable of employing the unemployed, saving Vermont farms and generating desperately needed revenue to avoid drastic cuts in human services or resign ourselves to a no-growth, morally dubious dependency in a thinly-disguised scheme by corporate capitalism to "green-wash" its policies of global conquest, market domination and biospheric destruction. It now appears that a tri-partisan consensus among the city's elite, led by Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss, has opted to succumb to a "shock doctrine" neo-liberalism and perpetual war agenda by blessing the Lockheed climate partnership and the deployment of the Lockheed-built F-35s. Personality and governing style sans vision are the principle characteristics of Burlington's political culture. The people, however, just might feel differently. From Contois Auditorium to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., our so-called democratic institutions have either been gutted or hijacked by big business. If we are to transition from a corporatocracy to a participatory ecological civilization, then Burlington, along with the rest of the country, must create and act on our own version of the Arab Spring. Prohibition has failed in every meaningful respect. Though medical marijuana and de-criminalization are important reforms worthy of our complete support, both are far from what's needed to actualize the full job -- creating justice-serving and planet-enhancing potential that will only result with the legalization, regulation and taxation of all cannabis and hemp products. Last November, though it narrowly-failed to win the entire state of California by only 3.5 percent of the vote, the legalization initiative passed overwhelmingly in places such as L.A. and the Bay Area. The national trajectory of the cannabis reform movement bends toward legalization. It's now obvious that voters will no longer wait on politicians who front for Big Pharma and Big Alcohol (among others) to bring about needed sanity to our drug policy. In Montpelier, an already inadequate and mean-spirited dispensary bill was further compromised. Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Democratic leadership continue to cynically game decriminalization at the expense of real people's lives and suffering. Last September, Burlington's city council thwarted democracy by blocking Councilor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak's attempt to place legalization before the voters in the form of a ballot referendum. What's needed is a strategic shift that circumvents the political class and empowers the people. There's every reason to believe that if enough volunteers can collect a sufficient amount of signatures to supercede city council and place legalization, regulation and taxation directly on the November ballot that it would easily pass by 50 percent plus one. This bottom-up electoral victory would be a public declaration against prohibition and the laws that support it. Beginning the very next day, a people-to-people jury nullification campaign would start to politically enforce what was won at the polls. In a legal act of non-cooperation, Vermonters would pledge to refuse to convict arrestees for cannabis and hemp-related local, state or federal charges. Jury nullification has been used before in our history to challenge unjust laws. It's the last check that ordinary citizens have to counter the abuses of corporate and state power. Burlington's success could then be replicated in towns and villages across Vermont thereby creating a statewide "cannabis conviction-free zone." Vote "yes" in November at the ballot box. Vote "no" the next day in the courtroom. Let us add our voices to the rising tide of resistance we're witnessing around the world. We can declare our independence from this costly racist and classist drug war while pivoting to a more just, peaceful and sustainable future. Legal weed not Lockheed. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.