Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jun 2015
Source: Seattle Weekly (WA)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Michael A. Stusser


Imaginative Approaches to Pot Laws.

It's no surprise that some of the people working to reform marijuana 
laws are a little out of the norm, shall we say. And with the era of 
Reefer Madness waning, it also makes sense that weed advocates and 
drug-policy reformers would begin to try new-some might even say 
wacky-approaches. Here are some personal favorites.

Hundreds of cities and municipalities in legal states have attempted 
to ban marijuana with various ordinances, but now there's one related 
to the smell itself. The city of Pendleton, Ore., recently banned the 
odor of weed within the city limits. To counter this ridiculous 
regulation, a man wrote the local paper, the East Oregonian, 
suggesting that if they are opposed to the aroma of ganja, they 
should also ban farts-as that dank cloud truly is offensive. "While 
farting may be legal in Oregon, many (including myself) are offended 
by the flatulent stench," wrote Peter Walters. "Too often, homeowners 
and businesses fail to contain farts to their property, forcing the 
rest of us to put up with the smell. Some habitual farters argue that 
they need to fart for medical reasons, but that doesn't mean my kids 
should have to smell their farts. The city council should stop 
looking the other way and pretending not to notice . . . I call on 
our city council to set aside all other work and address this problem."

Recreational cannabis and its sweet-or stinky-scent are fully legal 
in Oregon beginning July 1. If a person complains about a marijuana 
odor coming from a person's property in Pendleton, under the city 
ordinance, they can be fined $500. I suggest that he who smelt it may 
actually have dealt it.


My favorite political strategy in the legalization movement comes 
from South Dakota, where an activist has proposed several initiatives 
to ban alcohol and tobacco, to make state policies "consistent" with 
the penalties related to cannabis. Bob Newland, of Consistent South 
Dakota, is hoping to put a measure before voters in 2016 that would 
make it illegal to transfer tobacco or tobacco paraphernalia from one 
person or one business to another. The second initiative bans the 
sale of any alcoholic beverage containing one percent or more ethyl 
alcohol. Breaking either of these laws would be a Class 1 
misdemeanor, punishment of which is up to a year in jail and a $2,000 
fine-similar to the current laws for marijuana possession.

"I think South Dakota law at the very least should be consistent," 
Newland said at a press conference. "If you're going to put them in 
jail for a benign herb, they should be put in jail for alcohol and 
tobacco-the deadly drugs."

The organization still needs to collect 13,000 signatures to place 
this on next year's November ballot, though, according to the 
attorney general, the measure may be challenged in court on 
constitutional grounds. Regardless of whether it qualifies, it kinda 
makes ya think. Fair is fair.


What started as a nasty attempt to refuse gay couples service in 
Indiana has been turned on its head, sowing the seeds of a new 
religious organization: the First Church of Cannabis. The state's 
Religious Freedom Restoration Act was supposedly designed to protect 
religion from government infringement. (There's so much of that going 
around these days . . . ) Instead, in practice, it allowed business 
owners to refuse service to same-sex couples, such as a florist who 
wouldn't make flower arrangements for a gay wedding and an 
Italian-restaurant owner who felt he couldn't be a good Christian and 
deliver pizzas to homosexuals.

Seeing opportunity in a burning bush, Bill Levin decided his own 
fiery faith called upon him to fire up a fatty, and founded the First 
Church of Cannabis. As the new law requires the state government to 
have "a compelling interest" if it attempts to impose limits or 
curtail any religious practice, the Chronic Church is planning to 
hold services that will include the smoking of a particular holy herb 
to "light up" the sanctuary.

"This is what I live by, and I have more faith in this religion than 
any other," said Levin (who also goes by the name Minister of Love). 
"This is my lifestyle. This is millions of people's lifestyle."

Levin not only preaches the healing powers of the cannabis plant, but 
says consuming ganja can rid the body of the poisons in processed 
foods and sugary soft drinks. (No need to preach, brother-I'm a convert!)

The church's holy bionic is tax free, as last week, the IRS granted 
the organization tax-exempt status. Even without a Sunday School or 
hall to hold services, the First Hemp Temple has built quite a 
following since its founding. A GoFundMe campaign has already raised 
more than $15,000. Levin, known to the church as Grand Poobah, plans 
to hold the first official service on July 1, the day the state's new 
Religious Freedom Restoration Act takes effect.

And I thought I was the only one who smoked religiously . . .
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom