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Who will say, “I just want to smoke it”?


Editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey writes for the Seattle Times:

A few weeks ago, I smoked it for the first time in 20 years. It was a quiet happening. I lounged by a campfire, entranced by the flames. Bugs gathered on the firewood, spooked by the smoke and heat. Some jumped to safety and some jumped into the flames. I pondered this for quite a while.

Afterward I thought, Why is this illegal? To protect the children? No children were present. And I am 61 years old. Why should I be subject to the laws for children?

The public concern over children is overdone. In the current “liberal” regime of marijuana for use as medicine, dispensaries are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a school or playground. It is a stupid rule. Within two blocks of my house a 7-Eleven dispenses tobacco, wine and beer directly across the street from a park with play structures and ballfields. There is no problem for children. The 7-Eleven does not entice the children to buy cigarettes and beer. They buy Slurpees.

Is addiction the problem? I know addiction; I was addicted to cigarettes. Marijuana is not like that. The few people who continue to argue otherwise all seem to be in anti-drug work. They are making a living from prohibition, and they are seeing the worst cases. Their world is not representative and their view is not fair.

Hopefully state initiatives in Washington and Colorado can start this nation on a saner path regarding marijuana policy at the Federal level. Vote to legalize.

What Mormonism teaches me about religion

Apologies in advance for those I may offend.

I'm sharing this to talk about the issue of belief. When I look at Mormonism, I see the birth of every other religion, too. Because Mormonism originated in the U.S. - that also means it began in the not-too-distant past. Without the cover of a distant time, it's easier to ask about the origin of belief.

Revealed religious belief requires someone to accept the non-reality based stories of another person. When I hear the story of Joseph Smith and... Moroni (pardon, but I always think..what an appropriate name) I know that an entire religion came about because one guy claimed he saw a vision, an angel. Two other people claimed they were "witnesses." What this means is that they experienced the "same" vision or dream.

We know now that it's possible for charismatic people to influence the perceptions of others - to see things that aren't there - like the way Germans saw a superior "race" embodied in Hitler's political beliefs or the residents of Salem saw witchcraft among females.

I am honestly amazed that anyone would be incredulous enough to accept the beliefs of Mormonism - that anyone would take the stories that provide the foundation of the LDS belief literally. If someone is told these things are true as a child, however, I understand the belief would be as normal as being told that invisible germs make us sick. But upon reaching adulthood, surely we learn that things adults told us are not always true and we should examine those things to see if they do reflect reality.

Yet the belief is bound up in entire communities... in nearly an entire state, in a large population of people who reinforce that belief by enacting the rituals and approving of them - and by ostracizing those who don't participate. Buildings and monuments create a solid, engineered reality to shelter community belief.

Yet none of that matters, if your concern is with truth. If your concern is with belonging, however, it's dangerous to cut yourself off from your culture. Humans need one another to thrive and survive. Belief in some presence that compels us to reach out to others as we would have others reach out to us in times of need is a powerful motivator. Such belief creates community, and community reinforces belief.

When you are outside of that particular community and set of beliefs, however, religious understandings of the world seem bizarre and unsustainable for a mind that seeks to comprehend the world as it is, rather than as it we are told it is as children.

Of course, we all have beliefs that sustain us within our communities. We believe that all are created equal - even when we know all are not born into the same circumstances. All are created equal because we agree this idea treats others as we would hope to be treated ourselves.

We can accept this version of belief because it's mutual agreement and because its foundation is central to our reaction to community, and has been, even before we evolved our current consciousness of the world.

Isn't it enough to say that this golden rule, which exists across so many beliefs, is enough to sustain us? Do we need laws outside of those created by our institutions that were created to uphold this rule - isn't it enough to seek wisdom for how to live in this world without appealing to a power beyond reality?

This is what perplexes me about religion.

What Mormonism teaches me is how religion thrives.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

..speaks to the current Republican Party and religious right wing.

Marijuana Decriminalization on the Ballot in Grand Rapids, MI


City Commission this morning approved ballot language for a marijuana proposal that voters will consider in November. A city charter amendment sought by Decriminalize GR would make possession and use of marijuana a civil infraction enforced with a ticket, and prohibit Grand Rapids authorities from referring violations for criminal prosecution under state law...

Decriminalize GR last week submitted to the city clerk a petition with more than 10,000 signatures calling for the city charter amendment. The clerk’s office on Monday verified that the at least 6,565 of the signatures – the minimum 5 percent of registered city voters needed to get the proposal on the ballot – were valid.

If approved it would change the city’s laws to make being caught with marijuana a civil infraction punishable with only a $25 fine for the first offense. Fines would increase modestly for subsequent offenses.

Grand Rapids won’t be the only major city in Michigan voting on marijuana this November. After a lengthy two year legal battle the Coalition for Safer Detroit has an initiative that will finally be allowed to go before the voters in the city. If approved it will eliminate all local penalties for the possession of less than an ounce. Possession would still technically be illegal under state law.

Medical marijuana IS headed for Arkansas ballot (updated)

new link -

A measure that would legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas has qualified for the November ballot, according to the Associated Press.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care delivered more than a dozen boxes to the Secretary of State last month, which contained petitions with 67,885 signatures. The group’s first submission of signatures fell short after almost half of the entries were declared invalid and purged by the Secretary of State. But organizers managed to submit an additional 74,000 signatures, even though they needed fewer than 30,000.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act would allow up to 30 medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Arkansas and let patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. Cities and counties would be able to ban marijuana dispensaries under the law.

Only patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Tourette’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s Disease would be eligible to use medical marijuana.

original post:


A group of Arkansas drug reform activists submitted on Monday more than double the number of signatures needed to put their medical marijuana legalization initiative before the state’s voters in November.

The signatures represented the second round of petition gathering for campaigners with Arkansans for Compassionate Care, which saw its first submission of 65,413 signatures fall short after almost half of the entries were declared invalid and purged by the Secretary of State. Organizers told The Associated Press that they submitted an additional 74,000 signatures on Monday, even though they needed fewer than 30,000.

It’s not clear if voters in Arkansas, which trends deeply Republican, will approve the measure, but nationwide polling in recent years has found that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana for medical use.

...The American Nurses Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America and the AIDS Action Council have all said that marijuana is useful in treating symptoms of numerous diseases like multiple sclerosis, AIDS wasting syndrome and chronic nausea caused by chemotherapy, among others.

Medical Marijuana Rescheduling to Go Before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals


This issue of whether or not the Drug Enforcement Agency acted inappropriately when it denied a petition to move marijuana from schedule I will go before the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit. The court has agreed to hear the case brought by Americans for Safe Access against the Drug Enforcement Agency. From ASA:

Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 16th at 9:30am.

“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy,” continued Elford. “What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.”

ASA filed its lawsuit in January, challenging the July 2011 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denial of the CRC petition, which was filed in 2002. The DEA is the final arbiter on petitions to reclassify controlled substances, but other agencies are also involved in the review process. Patient advocates claim that marijuana is treated unlike any other controlled substance in that rescheduling petitions are encumbered by politics and therapeutic research is subjected to a unique and overly rigorous approval process.

BrBa S5/E3

that is all.

Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (Part 1)

Part 2:


Slavery By Another Name (the 1900s)


This is a long overlooked part of American history. After the assassination of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson's concern was to make sure white solidarity between North and South was reasserted - and Johnson, from Tennessee, cared little to nothing for the circumstances of those who had been held in slavery. Johnson opposed the freaking 14th amendment (states rights and all that.)

Radical Republicans of the Reconstruction Era wanted to thoroughly destroy the power structure that had made up the south before the Civil War. I agree. Ex-confederates should've never been allowed back into the Federal govt. They should've been executed as traitors, as the abolitionists wanted.

The sad irony, of course, is that it took another president by the name of Johnson to pass a civil rights act to undo what racists had undone over nearly a hundred years. He said Democrats had lost the south for a generation with his act. How repulsive that his prediction was correct.

Support House Bill 6134: The Truth in Trials Act

The link, below, has a letter option you can use to contact your representative to indicate support for HR 6134.

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has reintroduced legislation that aims to protect state-authorized medical marijuana patients and their providers from federal prosecution.

...Seventeen states -- Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- have enacted laws protecting medical marijuana patients and their providers from state prosecution. Yet in all of these states, patients and providers still face the risk of federal sanction -- even if their activities are fully compliant with state law.

Passage of the Truth in Trials Act would codify legal protections for defendants caught between state and federal laws, ensuring that they can cite state law as a legal defense in federal trials.

HR 6134 is now before the House Committee on the Judiciary.


here's some information

The U.S. has more people in prison for nonviolent crime (generally drug related) than any other nation in the world. You can help change this appalling statistic with your vote.

The following world political and business leaders (including Jimmy Carter), medical and law enforcement professionals as well as humanitarians have endorsed legal marijuana via an end to the drug war.


Studies here and in The Netherlands found no link to teen drug abuse and legal or decriminalized regulated marijuana

A working paper published Monday (PDF) claims that, despite the insistence of numerous U.S. officials, legalizing medical marijuana had no distinguishable effect on teen drug abuse rates in the surrounding communities.

Drawing upon data from 13 states from 1993 – 2009, professors from Montana State University, the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado Denver found that medical marijuana actually had a negative impact on the consumption of cocaine, the use of which declined 1.9 percent in areas that had legalized medical marijuana. It had no statistically significant impact on teen marijuana use.


Cost Savings (for the drug war, in general): $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government.


Joe Klein, via Time Magazine, had this to say (also in the link, above): The U.S. is, by far, the most "criminal" country in the world, with 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners. We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related. That is an awful lot of money, most of it nonfederal, that could be spent on better schools or infrastructure — or simply returned to the public.

A 2011 Senate subcommittee report found that the drug war has failed - unless you're a private military contractor.

The McCaskill report indicates that U.S. taxpayers have shelled out over $3 billion for work and equipment related to the drug war in Latin America from 2005-2009, and most of that money went to private contractors.

McCaskill launched the inquiry after looking into counternarcotics efforts underway in Afghanistan. However, neither the Department of Defense nor the State Dept. were able to provide adequate documentation on their contracts and in many cases could not even identify firms that were given millions in tax dollars.

Five major defense contractors received the bulk of drug war contract spending: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, DynCorp, ARINC and ITT. Out of all the firms, DynCorp benefitted most, winning $1.1 billion.


Prof. and lawyer Arnold Trebach, on the DEA rescheduling hearings of 1988 with Judge Francis Young, noted marijuana is the most extensively analyzed psychotropic substance in the history of mankind - and that DEA committee recommended removing marijuana from the "illegal" schedule I designation.


Nixon's self-selected head of an investigative committee recommended complete decriminalization more than 30 years ago - and yet no federal level official, to this day, will take the advice of those who have studied this issue more than anyone else in this nation.


From the final comments:

The Commission feels that the criminalization of possession of marihuana for personal is socially self-defeating as a means of achieving this objective. We have attempted to balance individual freedom on one hand and the obligation of the state to consider the wider social good on the other. We believe our recommended scheme will permit society to exercise its control and influence in ways most useful and efficient, meanwhile reserving to the individual American his sense of privacy, his sense of individuality, and, within the context of ail interacting and interdependent society, his options to select his own life style, values, goals and opportunities.

The Commission sincerely hopes that the tone of cautious restraint sounded in this Report will be perpetuated in the debate which will follow it. For those who feel we have not proceeded far enough, we are reminded of Thomas Jefferson's advice to George Washington that "Delay is preferable to error." For those who argue we have gone too far, we note Roscoe Pound's statement, "The law must be stable, but it must not stand still."

We have carefully analyzed the interrelationship between marihuana the drug, marihuana use as a behavior, and marihuana as a social problem. Recognizing the extensive degree of misinformation about marihuana as a drug, we have tried to demythologize it. Viewing the use of marihuana in its wider social context, we have tried to desymbolize it.

Considering the range of social concerns in contemporary America, marihuana does not, in our considered judgment, rank very high. We would deemphasize marihuana as a problem. The existing social and legal policy is out of proportion to the individual and social harm engendered by the use of the drug. To replace it, we have attempted to design a suitable social policy, which we believe is fair, cautious and attuned to the social realities of our time.

This recommendation, of course, was ignored. It is up to the American people to bring our national laws into the realm of reality by creating change at the state level. Special interests (i.e. military contractors, federal bureaucracies) are what keeps marijuana illegal.

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