Pubdate: Wed, 01 Jun 2011
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2011 Burlington Free Press
Author: Albert Petrarca


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. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.