Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jul 1999
Date: 07/08/1999
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Author: Jim Rosenfield
Note: This PUB LTE also appeared in  Santa Monica Our Times

Your June 24 article about courageous medical marijuana activist Joe
Kidwell includes the question, "Since when is marijuana use a First
Amendment issue?" When millions of Americans have been intimidated
into silence on this issue, marijuana use, the primary target of the
drug War, is highly controversial and certainly political.

We have the right to discuss openly the public policies about our
bodies, our privacy, our minds and our chemistry.

In 1996, voters of California overwhelmingly.approved medical
marijuana, yet Kidwell has faced harassment, prosecution and official
intimidation for using, growing and speaking about it. Kidwell should
never have been brought to trial.

While the judge now accepts his right to use marijuana, he is
forbidding Kidwell to grow it, despite the fact that cultivation is
specifically permitted under the law. The judge's forbidding speech
about this topic shows that marijuana is a profoundly political issue.

This is a plain violation of the Constitutional right to free speech
in an area that badly needs discussion, The phenomenally expensive war
on drugs has totally failed to help any drug addicts or to make anyone

The resulting black markets have brought us massive organized crime,
mountains of official corruption and the world's largest prison
population. Murderers walk to make room for potheads.

Denying Kidwell's fight to speak on this topic amounts to clear
political repression and it must be stopped in Santa Monica.

Jim Rosenfield
Culver City