Tammy S. Pinkerton
For decades, the public has clamored for the legalization of marijuana. It has medicinal benefits, is less harmful than alcohol, and nobody has ever died from an overdose from smoking the plant.
Despite marijuana being deemed a federal crime for over 80 years, and a public clamoring for the legalization over the last forty years or so, it has remained a federal crime to purchase, and use it.
Over the past decade or so, that is beginning to change on a state by state basis. Half the states have legalized marijuana recreationally, and or medicinally.
A couple years ago, Massachusetts added its name to the list of places where marijuana is now legal, and has opened retail stores. Initially, people stood in long lines, eager to smoke a joint, or chomp on a chocolate pot filled brownie, all legal.
At long last, Massachusetts would no longer be referred to as “Tax-a-chussettes”. Marijuana provided a solution.
There was no question about it, the tax collectors were smiling. At 400.00 for an ounce of medical marijuana, the extra revenue would fill the coffers. Legalizing marijuana would help a financially struggling state. The customers giggled all the way through munching on that brownie, that was no longer against the law. Everybody was happy.
What could possibly go wrong?
Skipping over the traditional arguments, that have been used by the opponents of legalization, such as it’s a gateway drug, bad for children, and nutritionally out of synch with good health, although more people will munch on donuts and pizza, than pot infused brownies, there is a real problem with legalizing marijuana, that is being ignored.
The way that marijuana is being legalized threatens our freedom and liberty as American citizens, and may actually lead to further erosion, of our basic human rights.
First, marijuana remains a federal crime. It continues to be considered a class one felony drug. Does this mean that people who live in a state where marijuana is legal, or visit a state where it is legal and use it recreationally, cannot work for the federal government? Or will they be fired from a federal job in a drug testing program, because they used marijuana, in a place where it was legal?
Does this mean that a person receiving food stamps or housing assistance who consumes marijuana cannot continue to receive that assistance, even though they live in a state where marijuana is legal, since those are federal monies, granted to states?
As soon as the first state legalized marijuana, the federal government should have removed it as a class one felony. It did not.
Building the conflict into the structure of the American judicial system keeps lawyers well funded with disputes. It provides a media driven by controversy, money making opportunity. The fact that it remains a class one felony gives sly provisions, for comparing it to heroin, or even murder. No difference between the two, right? We can lump all the illegalities together as major federal crimes. Notice on job applications- Have you ever been arrested for a federal offense?
If the government wants to take a citizens property, and or products, and that citizen uses marijuana, the citizen can be targeted in character attacks by calling the citizen a class one federal felon, giving fodder for takings. People can be targeted for political views, race, religion, gender, class, and marijuana as a class one felony, can fuel the character attacks. Far fetched? Perhaps, but there are many underhanded tactics using pardons, that can turn a minor crime into a major one. It really can be used as a “gateway drug.”
If marijuana is legal in one place but not another, our government can create asset forfeitures through the back door, and create these forfeitures using legal methods, further eroding basic civil rights.
Let me explain. If somebody uses marijuana in one state, and drives to another state and has a car accident, and it is determined that marijuana is in the blood stream, can the state where marijuana is illegal decide to confiscate the drivers car? Suspend the driver from driving? Force the driver into court grabbing their money and time?
The way that marijuana is being legalized today is building a system of legalized highway robbery into the law.
Today if an accident happens and alcohol is smelled on the breath, the driver becomes subject to a breathalyzer, and can be charged with drunk driving.
Alcohol is water soluble and leaves the body in 24 hours, but not so for marijuana. It is fat soluble and can remain in the body for 10 to 60 days with a urine test, and up to four years using a hair sample test.( more expensive, so used less)
Does everybody now involved in an accident from fender bender to major calamity have to pee in a cup to determine whether marijuana is in their blood? This gives police the ability to create gross violations of civil and human rights through money making grabs. All happening through legal processes.
Taken to an extreme, I suppose cities could fund entire police departments through building structural conflicts into the law.
Who has opposed the legalization of marijuana?
It has been those profiting from it being illegal. The drug manufacturers will soon focus on treatment for addiction to opiates, as a way of fighting back. Use marijuana medicinally, you must be sick and in need of treatment. Use it recreationally, you have a problem, and need treatment. The advertising has already started.
The drug cartels have made money with marijuana illegal, and losing revenue they will move deeper into pornography, and child trafficking, to compensate for the lost funds. The opponents of legalization stating that it’s bad for children might actually be right. Take the money away from those profiting from marijuana being illegal, and they may shift to buying and selling children. That is much worse.
The media will thrive on the back door conflicts, and the news generated from the back door conflicts because marijuana is halfway legal. A series of disputes arising … “Is it this, or is it that?” These gray areas are being built into the structure of marijuana laws.
The public will find themselves em-blazed in a series of conflicts further eroding liberty, not to mention draining their pocketbooks. Following legal costs in attorney fees and court costs and perhaps loss of job, the end result will be a pardon. “Everybody does it no big deal,” except for the person caught up in the legal trap.
These half measures are worse than it is totally illegal. Anybody who wants to smoke marijuana can. It is easy to find. It’s a plant. You can live in a place where it is illegal and find it just as easily as living in a place where it is legal. I doubt anybody who partook in consumption cared, whether it was legal or illegal, outside of the repercussions that would follow if caught.
Marijuana has reached mainstream America. Not everybody has tried it, but every adult between 20 and 70, knows somebody who has tried it at least once.
Four Presidents have been elected into office since the first state legalized marijuana, and 16 years have passed since then. All four presidents were baby boomers. They had grown up in a culture where marijuana had reached mainstream America, and understood usage, had transcended race, economics, and political ideology.
Two Presidents were Republicans, and two Democrats. All four brought marijuana legalization into campaign rhetoric. All claimed to represent “we the people”.
Half the states legalized marijuana. None of the presidents removed the class one felony status of marijuana. It didn’t require an act of congress to remove marijuana as a class one felony. Each of them could have done it with a pen stroke. None of them did. Why?
These half measures towards marijuana legalization don’t work. They create unnecessary conflicts between federal and state law. Removing marijuana as a class one felony, is the first step towards reducing these conflicts.