13 11 2005

The latest update in Elaine Brown’s bid for the mayor’s office in Brunswick, Georgia, is that the local courts have ruled that she is not actually qualified to run for the office or vote in the election. The court decided that she had not lived in Brunswick long enough, even though she has been registered to vote there since last year, which has always been considered sufficient. The court declared that her voter registration and residency claims were invalid.

The court decided it? No, the judge decided it. That’s why the Republicans are angling for control of the courts—they can appoint people who will agree with them and who can’t be voted out when or if the Democrats start running things again, or if the Green Party does an amazing hulk number and springs out of its current near-nonentityness to be a major contender in American politics. Don’t believe all the Republican b.s. about “just being umpires” and “not legislating from the bench.” They’re lying through their teeth. They know that controlling the courts is the way to make reality be what they want it to be.

And speaking of the divorce between reality and our legal system, did you know that seventeen million people have been arrested on marihuana-related charges in the last forty years? That’s six percent of our current population—one out of every dozen and a half people. Moreover, HALF those arrests—eight and a half million—took place in the last ten years, and a million and a half of those took place in just the last two years—yes, three quarters of a million people were arrested on marihuana charges last year. That’s two thousand, one hundred and fourteen people every day, eighty-eight people arrested for marihuana every hour, one person arrested for (nine times out of ten) marihauana possession every forty-one seconds. Every FORTY-ONE SECONDS!

Marihuana arrests were just under half of all drug arrests, which totalled one and three quarter million—eighty percent for simple possession. That’s one drug arrest every TWENTY SECONDS!! This made so-called drug crimes the most common crimes in America, with “property crimes” coming in a somewhat close second at one and two thirds million arrests, drunk driving third at just under a million and a half, petty larceny at just over a million, and violent crime way down the list at about six hundred thousand arrests. Wanna take a bite out of crime? LEGALIZE MARIHUANA! Our police officers have better things to do than go around molesting potheads!

But seriously, marihuana arrests mess up peoples’ lives far more frequently than the herb itself. (Hey, it’s possible to have an unhealthy relationship with ANYTHING. Your addiction is not the fault of the object of your addiction.)

I have a friend who made the perhaps naïve mistake of growing marihuana on his land. He would give the marihuana to people who had a clear medical need for it. He made his living as a highly paid consultant—he didn’t need to take money. He’d been growing it for years without any problem, until a local sleazeball asked him for some pot, and he turned the guy down. No medical need. So the guy turned him in. Thank You! No good deed goes unpunished!

Fortunately for his ability to make a living, those who employ him for his consulting skills have not been deterred by the legal trouble he finds himself in—but the federal government has instituted land forfeiture proceedings against him. My buddy could have murdered or raped someone, or robbed a bank, and the government would have no legal basis to take his land away—but for growing marihuana, he may lose the home he has inhabited for his entire adult life.

Why are the marihuana penalties so severe? What is the government afraid of? Why are they arresting more and more people for something so private you have to test a person’s pee to know for sure whether they’re doing it or not? Yes, they are arresting more and more people—in the last ten years, the number of annual marihuana arrests has doubled, while the number of users, as far as anyone can tell, has remained about the same—which is a pretty good testament to marihauana’s efficacy and popularity, since the drug test screws have been getting turned tighter and tighter in the last decade.

I think that, to misuse a phrase from Bush Sr. , it’s “the vision thing.” The Bush-Cheney junta has even gone before the supreme court arguing that members of the Unaio Vegetal, a long-established Brazilian church that uses Amazonian Ayahuasca in much the same way as North America’s Native American Church uses peyote, should not be allowed to practice their religion in this country. I can understand their concern from their point of view—the more it’s seen as acceptable to use psychoactive substances in the practice of religion, the more psychoactive substances will be accepted for use. If the NAC and the Uniao Vegetal are here, can the Rastafarians be far behind? And the establishment of religions clause would make it hard for the government to favor one branch of an entheogenic religion over another. A thousand flowers would bloom. Psychoactive spirituality would sweep the nation, and the fearful dominators, both Republican and Democratic, would be out of a job. Gonzalez is there to see that that doesn’t happen. And so the war on drugs continues.

Like ayahuasca and peyote, but more gently, marihuana helps people move outside their habitual modes of thinking and find at new ways to solve problems. That’s why it’s called “getting high.” Like going up in a balloon, it changes the user’s perspective on life. I think it’s outrageous that politics is essentially closed to marihuana users, who are society’s most creative problem solvers. It’s like saying that only castrated people can have sex and then wondering why the birthrate is nosediving.

Well, this has gotten a long way from Republican judicial appointments, hasn’t it? Not really—those non-inhalers inhabiting the Federal Bench are just going to be increasingly clueless and irrelevant to the massive changes this planet is starting to go through. More on that after this next song—I don’t usually do dedications, but this one is going out from Dick and Karl to their buddy Scooter…..and they add, “don’t worry, we’ll take care of your wife while you’re away.” (plays “Sugaree,” by the Grateful Dead)




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