This article is not about Michael Phelps and his bong rip heard ’round the globe. This article is not about legalizing marijuana all around. No matter if I support it or not, this has little to do with that.
There are 14 states with legal marijuana laws. There is at least one known federal marijuana program, with some citizens still receiving their doses via mail from their generous Uncle Samuel. Even though the news would rather focus on a single mother of octuplets, the issue of federal encroachment on state law is critical. The fact a particular group of citizens can vote for their rights, and then be arrested for enacting those rights cannot be more frightening.
Well, first, I think it’s a good idea to clear up some misconceptions. I’m not going to talk about the obvious medicinal benefits, as most people have likely heard of those. You’ve probably been informed of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson growing hemp. Probably heard of the British fleets using hemp rope during their voyages. You’ve heard about the Native Americans usage of hemp in the same fashion as tobacco. You know the history: how Native American society was somewhat inherently peaceful, a bartering economy, where much was shared, and there were “no laws and ordinances, sheriffs and constables, judges and juries, or courts or jails—the apparatus of authority in European societies— … yet boundaries of acceptable behavior were firmly set. … He who stole another’s food or acted invalorously in war was ‘shamed’ [from] his people … until he had atoned for his actions and demonstrated to their satisfaction that he had morally purified himself.”
Blah blah blah, right? (This opens up an interesting insight into our Euro-centric American belief system towards marijuana—the idea of Native Americans using marijuana, and their distorted image as barbaric ingrates in need of conquering… but anyway).
You have pharmaceutical companies stamped GOOD TA GO! by the FDA when the majority of their drugs tend to cause major side affects such as vein plaque, heart failure, liver failure, stroke symptomatic paralysis, death (can’t forget that one), and other permanent dispositions. The cost/gross ratio for growing and distributing hemp versus a bottle prescription of pills… the favor heavily leans towards those on the pharmaceutical side. Basically, legal marijuana caregivers make less money, provide a less dangerous drug, yet have a more attractive draw, and a more visible lurid history.
Under George W. Bush laws were added to the government funded Medicare program which barred it from negotiating lower prices. One can argue that there have been drug kingpins selling dope on the streets making half a billion dollars in a year. Well, one of the Pfizer’s company drugs called Lyrica made 702 million dollars in fourth quarter sales alone.
I repeat; this article is not about the legalization of marijuana.
Then what the hell is it about? It’s about the government becoming a creature in and of itself, acting in its own favor on the mass level. How it begins with something seemingly small, like marijuana, and blossoms into the ugly truth. It’s about the First Amendment stating “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …” Yet the government passing a secondary law called the Sedition Act of 1798 which “made it a crime to say or write anything ‘false scandalous and malicious’ against the government, Congress, or the President”. Can you guess which law was more frequently enforced?
The date need not matter as the Patriot Act is the Sedition Act in a little black dress. It’s a different night and injustice has gotta look a bit more sexy. See, the federal government has studied marijuana for decades, and the government understands its excellent medicinal properties, but has decided to raid dispensaries operating within law. This is in the government’s favor, especially with pharmaceutical companies spending 200 million lobbying for favorable laws. Yes, there are caregivers working under shady or false pretenses, much similar to the sticky fingered, tax evading CEO, COO, and CFO of major pharmaceutical businesses.
See, this article is not about legalizing marijuana.
It is not about gay marriage.
This article is not about abortion. But the government’s reaction to legal marijuana is along the same lines. You can pass the state law, but still face federal charges or federal oversight at the whim of an almost… ALMOST, arbitrary entity in terms of having the ability to vote for ones own fate within their state. Years after slavery was abolished, the Fugitive Slave Act passed, which meant any individual African-American can be accused of being a runaway slave and brought back to a respective master. The Fugitive Slave Act was enforced vehemently, whereas the Abolishment Act was loosely adhered to. I use the past as framework—because our country is much like a person: easily stuck in its ways. And although the Acts, the laws, this article, may not be about slavery, or freedom of speech (heh), while it may not be about abortion or the right to choose, it very much is about what happens after our vote is cast.
Ismail, M. Asif. “Pushing Prescriptions -.” The Center for Public Integrity. 7 July 2005. 11 Feb. 2009
Perrone, Matthew. “Condition raises questions – and boosts drug company profits – LA Daily News.” Home – LA Daily News. 8 Feb. 2009. 11 Feb. 2009
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States : 1492-Present. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association