Violence in Mexico escalates

Drug cartels in Mexico are becoming increasingly violent. Murder rates linked with the drug trade have spiked, especially near the U.S. border.

It seems that drug-related murders are at an all-time high south of the border. The number of people killed last year by drug traffickers was more than 6,500, which triples the numbers for 2007. So far this year the number killed has reached 2,000 and it’s on pace to set a rather gruesome record. So how does our government view these increases in violent and malicious killings? Sadly, they see it as good news. I’m not even kidding. Last year, DEA administrator Michele Leonhart told the citizens of the United States the following:

“Our view is that the violence we have been seeing is a signpost of the success our very courageous Mexican counterparts are having. The cartels are acting out like caged animals, because they are caged animals.”

Let me run that by you again, because I know your brain is wrestling with the stupidity of that statement. She said that the violence in Mexico is a signpost of success! So according to this logic, I suppose that this year will be the most successful year ever.

Let me tell you why the violence is escalating. It sure as hell is not from super-tough drug enforcement agents cracking down on dealers and traffickers. No sir. They have been doing that for the better part of the last century. The cartel violence is growing because they are being threatened by legalization efforts. Isn’t it obvious? Who are they killing? Rival traffickers: check. American ambassadors: check. Journalists who might report their activities or present evidence in favor of legalization: check. The cartels are directly funded by Americans who buy their pot because it’s illegal in this country. So what’s happened as of late that has made these traffickers such “caged animals”? Well, with the dispensaries booming in medical states like California and Colorado, people don’t have to buy mystery-weed anymore. They can go to a place that can tell them the exact strain of bud and guarantee its freshness, purity and species (indica vs sativa). When you can get much better cannabis at a fair price, of course you’re not going to be buying any Mexican schwag.

Then of course there’s the decriminalization legislation that Mexico passed last year. And to top it all off, by the end of the year California might allow folks to grow it themselves, as long as it’s in a 5’x5′ plot in their yard. Americans growing their own cannabis would be very bad for the cartel “businesses.” And of course if they can’t sell drugs, they can’t buy guns and grenades and rocket launchers, and they won’t be able to kill people anymore. Am I the only one seeing this connection? Surely you can at least agree that it’s pretty disgusting for the DEA to be celebrating the spike in the murder rate. Where are these people’s souls?

Medical Marijuana story in the spotlight

A screenshot of CNN's homepage last night. Marijuana stories have been coming steadily closer to center stage as of late.

Hello all. I just was on cnn.com and I saw that the front-and-center feature story was about medical marijuana users at risk of termination by employers, and I just wanted to share the screenshot with you . We have an awful lot of momentum right now in the national media, and I’m very excited about what this year could bring for the movement. Here’s a link to the CNN story. Keep talking about legalization!

Happy Spring Break!

I’ve just arrived in Southlake, TX for spring break. I’m wearing shorts, so I’m very excited. Probably not going to have a whole lot of action on the blog this week, save for one excellent post. That’s because sometime this week I’m going to go meet Larry Talley, member of LEAP and cowriter of the winning change.org idea! Look for more on that later in the week (and hopefully we’ll have some video!).

Since it’s spring break, I thought I’d give you a little something to listen to while you relax. I crafted this in my high school journalism class with Garage Band (we had a lot of free time). I call it “High Five”… enjoy 🙂

If you like it, you can download it by right-clicking here and choosing “Save file as…”

An exciting election year for cannabis

If you haven’t yet heard, there are a couple of exciting news items in the cannabis world this week.

First off, South Dakotans will decide whether to become the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana. They were the only state to ever have a medical marijuana bill measure not pass when it made the ballot in 2006. This time around, the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion collected more than twice the necessary number of signatures to qualify their proposal for a spot on the ballot, a sign that voters in South Dakota are much more open to the idea of medical marijuana than they were four years ago. If passed, the measure would create a system where qualifying patients would be issued ID cards and be allowed to have up to one ounce of dried “useable” marijuana and either a designated caregiver to grow the plants for them or up to six plants they grow themselves. Caregivers would only be allowed to help a maximum of 5 medical marijuana patients, which will probably mean no-go on dispensaries. The measure would require a written recommendation by a doctor who you see for other things besides getting a written recommendation for medical marijuana. It also provides access to minors, so long as they have parental consent, they are thoroughly educated on the risks and benefits of medical marijuana and the parent or guardian agrees to be their designated caretaker. While much more restrictive than California’s medical marijuana regulations, it is similar to many other states’ proposals. Read the full text of the proposed measure here.

The more exciting news that’s absolutely flooding my twitter feed: A group of Californian proponents of legalization have collected far more than the necessary signatures to put a state-wide legalization measure on the ballot in November. This legislation would legalize up to an ounce of dried marijuana for personal use by adults under 21. It would place heavy penalties for sale to minors, and possession on school grounds would remain illegal. It would, however, allow for the personal growth of marijuana in a 25 square foot area of one’s yard. Awesome. View a pdf of the proposed legislation here.

Sadly, it seems some cannabis users are actually opposed to the measure. One of the most revered names in the cannabis culture (he even has a high quality strain named after him), Jack Herer, is trying to convince people to vote against the measure. Herer doesn’t agree with the proposed taxes put in place on marijuana, one of the bill’s main selling points. Herer had a different proposal in mind, but couldn’t find enough support for his version to get it on the ballot. Other concerns include the section in the bill that would make smoking in the presence of minors illegal. Opponents of the measure argue that this unfairly discriminates against parents, and point out that there are no laws preventing parents from drinking alcohol in the presence of minors.

Marijuana growers in the “green triangle” of Humboldt County are also not too keen on the measure, saying that a legal market will raise supply and drop the price of their crop, endangering their local economy. I have to say that this seems very selfish to me. To oppose this legislation is to send more responsible adults through the criminal justice system for possession of a small amount of weed. And why? So you can keep selling your pot for huge prices on the black market? To the growers in Humboldt County, I say you need to see the bigger picture here. It’s the first step to real drug reform change, and you want to knock it down for selfish reasons? You all grow some of the finest marijuana in the world, so you have no excuse to not get creative with this new legal environment. Give yourselves a brand, advertise your high standards, showcase your world-class product and sell in smaller quantities to individuals. You could market so many edibles, like dispensaries are already doing. And since paraphernalia will be legal, more people will be willing to buy huge conspicuous pipes and bongs. You people could have the ultimate marijuana tourist destination in the world; you could outdo Amsterdam with some honest effort. So please, my west-coast brothers, don’t shoot down a good start. We need to take this one step at a time, and we need every inch that we can get.

If you’re a Californian, you can pledge your vote for legalization on Facebook. Come November, the nation’s eyes will be on California. Please don’t let this opportunity lie around for another four years. The time for change is now!

How to deal with police encounters

Today at our weekly NORML chapter meeting, we watched a video called “Flex Your Rights”. It is brand new; it came out this past Monday in fact. It outlined exactly how to deal with police, and included 10 rules to always remember during a police encounter. This is very important stuff, and I wish I’d seen this video a year ago… but that’s another story. Make sure you know your rights because these tips may save you a lot of money, time and legal trouble. Now I know that many cops are out there to try and keep us safe, and many are very nice people. I happen to know a few personally. But it’s no secret that there are also bad cops out there, and even the nicest cop on the force will use your mistakes against you. Don’t give them a chance. Read on for the rules.

Rule #1: Always be calm and cool

Nothing surprising there. Always keep a polite tone with an officer. Even if you’re having the worst day of your life, you can’t let your frustration show. Never talk back, raise your voice, or make any sudden or aggressive motions. Many cops carry tasers now, and there’s nothing better than having an excuse to play with a brand new toy. Keep careful control of your words and your tone. A bad attitude can be the difference between a warning and a beating.

Rule #2: You have the right to remain silent, so use it

The fifth amendment states that no one shall be made to witness against himself. This means that if a policeman asks you questions, to have the right to leave them unanswered. Cops are not obligated to tell you the truth. A common phrase you’ll hear from law enforcement is, “You can make this easy on yourself, or very difficult.” They usually will give you two options: Rat yourself out, or be charged with a much bigger crime. DO NOT LISTEN. There’s no deal that a cop will make with you. They will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law in any case, as that is their job. They want you to make it easy on them. So politely say, “I’m going to remain silent, I’d like to see a lawyer.” Be firm verbally, but do not physically resist. When you repeatedly ask for a lawyer to be present, cops usually will be more careful concerning your rights.

Rule #3: DON’T EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER CONSENT TO SEARCHES, EVER.

Just don’t ever do it. If there’s only one rule you take away from this whole post, please let it be this one. The 4th amendment to our constitution states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” This means that cops need either probable cause or a warrant to search you. Yes, that includes your car. Yes, that includes your pockets. Yes, THAT INCLUDES YOUR DORM ROOM. When in doubt, ask for a warrant. If they insist, ask for a lawyer. You should say, clearly and calmly, “I’m sorry, but I don’t consent to searches.” This may not actually stop a search, since you are unarmed and there is most likely more than one cop trying to search you. But if you are searched without consent, your lawyer will have a much easier time getting your charges dropped in court.

Rule #4: Don’t get tricked!

As I stated earlier, it’s not illegal for a cop to lie to you. They will offer you all sorts of deals to turn yourself or others in. Do not listen. Use your fifth amendment right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer. Give them a clear impression that you know your rights and will use them to your full advantage. Also keep in mind that you can’t be questioned or searched unless you’re being detained or arrested, which brings us to the fifth rule:

Rule #5: Ask to leave

When you are stopped by the police, they need a legitimate reason in order to keep you. If a policeman ever asks you to sit down, to identify yourself, or to search you or your belongings, it’s a good idea to ask, “Am I being detained, or am I free to go?” You may want to ask this a couple times, because a cop will try to dodge this question. If there’s no pressing reason to detain you, then a cop must allow you to leave.

Rule #6: Don’t expose yourself

If you have bumper stickers of weed leaves or guns, or if you keep your piece out in plain sight, you’re obviously asking for trouble. Don’t broadcast yourself in any way. Blend in. A cop who pulls you over and sees pot leaf stickers all over your bumper isn’t going to give you any room for error. At all. Police encounters are dangerous enough without you flaunting yourself.

Rule #7: Don’t run away and don’t hide or throw anything

I know how easy it is to panic when you see a cop. Personally, I get this sensation that my stomach is falling whenever I see a cop come near. It’s hard to keep your nerve when approached by a cop on the street, but if you try to run or hide something quickly, that’s probable cause to tackle and cuff you. Always remain calm and remember your rights. Don’t consent to searches, and don’t give the police a reason to use force against you. Resisting arrest is a citation that is almost always tacked on to others, which will cost you more. It also makes your lawyer’s job much harder in court, because judges and juries are never sympathetic to people who resist arrest.

Rule #8: Never touch a cop

Cops are trained to react without thinking. They have a very dangerous job, and they are always on their guard. Never for any reason should you make physical contact with a cop. Things will most likely get violent, and they can easily claim that you were attacking them. Simple, but important.

Rule #9: Report misconduct and be a good witness

If a cop violates your rights, don’t get angry and don’t physically resist. Instead, state that you haven’t consented to any searches and that you wish to speak to a lawyer. After that, shut your mouth and listen. Try to remember everything that is said and every move the police make. Remember what the cops look like, their names (they always wear name tags) and their license plate number if possible. Never ask for a cop’s badge number. If a cop knows that you’re going to file a complaint, they have much less incentive to treat you nicely. After the incident is over, look around. Talk to any witnesses who may have seen what happened so you can verbally go over the entire incident. Write it down if possible. If you were injured, have someone take a picture of the injury at its worst, as soon as possible. Report misconduct as soon as you are able. Remember, cops are fired when there are too many complaints filed against them. It’s also not good for a police department if  the press gets wind of the misconduct.

Rule #10: YOU DON’T HAVE TO LET THEM IN!

This is just as important as rule number three. If the police knock on your door, you should never invite them inside. If you really feel you must talk to them, step outside and close the door behind you. You can also talk to them through the closed door, or better yet, totally ignore them until they go away. If they don’t have a warrant, there is no reason to invite them into your house unless you are in danger. They can’t force their way in without a warrant, and if they do it’ll be a cinch for your lawyer to get your charges dropped in court.

I don’t need to give you any personal anecdotes for you to realize how important it is to know your rights. No warrant, no search. Remain silent. Ask to leave. Ask for a lawyer. Don’t answer any questions without a lawyer present. It might save you big time one day, even if you’ve done nothing wrong.

To order the video or see more about these rules and the Flex Your Rights program, visit http://www.flexyourrights.org. Be safe!

Busy busy day…

Sorry about the lack of a post today, but I’ve been running around campus like a crazy man most of the week. Today I had the pleasure of getting the heck outside on a gorgeous day. I was interviewed by two journalism students about the change.org contest and about legalization efforts on a national level and local level. Look for the video to be posted in a few weeks. I also had a lovely 7+ mile bike ride. Lovely except for the part where I accidentally panicked and pulled hard on my brakes… even though only the front one works. Totally dove over the handlebars and banged up my knee. I’ll be limping around tomorrow but I’ll try to throw up something both decent and relevant. Until then, you should take this survey regarding medical marijuana by the New York Daily News. Peace to all.

We should care about hemp

During World War II, the U.S. government encouraged Americans to grow hemp for the war effort.

Last week the University of Missouri’s Missouri Student Association hosted a debate called “Heads vs. Feds,” a debate tour focusing on the legalization of marijuana. Steve Hager, long-time editor of High Times magazine, spoke on behalf of the legalization of marijuana, while former DEA agent Bob Stutman took on the prohibitionist side of the argument. It was an interesting debate, and there wasn’t much mentioned that I’d never heard before. However, there were a few things that Bob Stutman said that really stuck with me.

First, Bob said that he doesn’t believe anyone belongs in prison for possession or use of any drug. This was huge for me to hear. He got a lot of applause for this statement, to which he joked, “I bet none of you thought you’d be applauding the Narc tonight!” I think this is a pretty significant step forward in prohibitionist thinking, and though I know Bob doesn’t speak for the DEA, I hope that he’s not alone in that belief as far as prohibitionists go.

Second, Bob said something that really got me thinking concerning industrial hemp. He said that most of us didn’t want pot legalized because we need it for medicine or we want farmers to be able to produce hemp. “Most of you want pot legalized because it’s your drug of choice,” he told us. Hard to argue with. But his next statement fell like a brick in my lap: “None of you really care about hemp.”

I thought about that statement for a while. I thought about all the legalization discussions and efforts I’ve seen in the past. The focus is usually on one of two things: either that marijuana is not as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco and everyone should be able to use it, or that there are many people suffering with conditions that could be made better by marijuana. Bob has a point; it seems that not many of us really care too much about hemp. Which is sad, I think, because the cannabis plant has so many more uses than for use as a drug. I’m going to lay out a few of the primary reasons hemp should be the backbone of our country’s agricultural economy, because even if you’re on the fence about legalizing weed, everyone should care about hemp.

1. Hemp is green (no, really)

Everyone knows that plants are on the opposite end of the respiratory cycle from animals. Animals breathe in oxygen (O2) and release carbon dioxide (CO2) while plants take in CO2 and release O2. Dense jungles such as the Amazon are responsible for most of the oxygen produced on the planet, and they also filter many greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere. However, new plant growth requires much more CO2 than mature forest plant life, and a single hemp plant would filter out more CO2 from the atmosphere than a single mature tree. Growing and processing hemp actually will have a reversing effect on the carbon cycle, and can slow the rapid atmospheric increase of CO2. Read more info here.

2. How is it better than fossil based fuels? Let us count the ways…

Over 80% of all the greenhouse-related emissions in the United States come from CO2. These emissions come from burning fossil-based fuels to generate electricity or to power transportation. Here’s a couple graphs that illustrate where all these greenhouse gases come from:

Coal produces the most carbon emissions per unit of energy obtained, followed by petroleum and then natural gas.

Though only about half of electricity produced in the U.S. comes from coal, over four fifths of electricity-related carbon emissions are from burning coal.

We can see that for the non-fossil fuel chunk of the graphs on the left, there is no corresponding carbon emission output. That’s because burning non-fossil fuels doesn’t release carbon gases. These fuels are plant-based biofuels, and hemp is one of the easiest plants to convert to biodiesel fuel. When Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine, he intended it to be fueled primarily by plant and vegetable oils. His own engine was actually powered by peanut oil. Why are we allowing ourselves to be dependent on non-renewable sources of energy from foreign countries when we could grow all the fuel we need right here in this country? Hemp-derived biofuel would be cheap, renewable, non-toxic, and best of all, would produce absolutely zero carbon gases. Our mission should be to increase the non-fossil fuel uses across the board in this country, and hemp is the cheapest and most efficient way to do that. For more on hemp vs. petroleum, check out this link.

3. Eco-friendly source of plastic

Almost all of today’s plastics are manufactured from petroleum, the same non-renewable resource we are burning to make electricity and fuel. The thing is, hemp can not only be a renewable source of plastic, but a stronger one. Henry Ford himself invented a car using a soybean and hemp based plastic for building materials and fueled by plant oils. The result was a car so durable that it didn’t even dent when Ford took an axe to it.

Henry Ford taking an axe to his soybean and hemp car. "the axe bounced, and there was no dent…"

Read all about the future possibilities of hemp plastics here.

4. Save the trees, grow hemp!

For many years a top concern among environmentalists has been deforestation. About 4 billion trees are cut down each year just to make paper, which represents about 35% of all the trees harvested each year. Instead of cutting down all those trees that take decades to regrow, why not make a majority of our paper from hemp that can be regrown in a year? Ben Franklin owned a paper mill that produced hemp paper. Thomas Jefferson drafted our Constitution on hemp paper. Paper from plants like hemp and flax last centuries longer than wood-based paper. An acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper as 4 acres of trees. With forests slowly being leveled all over the world, it’s time to find a real solution more effective than any recycling program: manufacturing hemp paper instead of wood paper. More hemp paper facts here.

I could really go on and on about the uses of hemp all day long, but these are to me the most pressing reasons to grow hemp. I’ve already outlined the reasons conservatives should join the legalization battle. Today I extend my hand to environmentalists. To the champions of climate change reversal efforts: We have a solution! To the advocates for cleaner and renewable energy efforts: We have a solution! To those worried about our country’s dependence on arbitrary foreign oil prices: We have a solution! And to my friend the Lorax who speaks for the trees: We have a solution! Hemp for victory!

A History of U.S. Marijuana Laws

Laws in the U.S. have flip-flopped over time from originally requiring the growth of the cannabis plant to the total ban of it nationwide.

There are many arguments on why marijuana should or shouldn’t be illegal. But in order to gain a full understanding of this very broad and complex issue, let’s first take a look at why this plant is illegal today.

The very first recorded law regarding the cannabis plant actually dates back to colonial Virginia. Surprised? Wait, it gets better. This law stated that you had to grow Indian hempseed. This was such a vital crop for food, rope, fiber, paper, oil, and other uses that during shortage times in 18th century Virginia, you actually could be jailed for NOT growing hemp. So what changed everyone’s tune?

It wasn’t until the dawn of the 20th century that Americans began to hear about Mexican “loco weed,” that is, hemp cultivated a special way for use as a recreational drug. The drug was all but unheard of in mainstream America, and of course people fear that which they do not understand. The plant was associated with Mexican immigrants and bandits who came to the States during the 1910 Mexican Revolution. The drug was hastily added to some state narcotics bans, with Utah being the first state to ban its use in 1915. The Montana Standard reported one state legislator’s argument for the prohibition of marijuana: “When some beet field peon takes a few traces of this stuff… he thinks he has just been elected president of Mexico, so he starts out to execute all his political enemies.” Similarly, a state senator in Texas had this to say about marijuana: “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy.” I think you can see the pattern here. By 1931 there were 22 states that had banned the substance.

In New England, of course, there were considerably less Mexican immigrants. There was plenty of evil, however, because jazz had made its way from the bayous of New Orleans to the streets of Harlem. Many media outlets editorialized the evils of jazz during the 1930s. The evil, the jazz, the dancing, the fun, all of it was supposedly the fault of marijuana. To tackle the drug problems of America, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed in 1930. Harry J. Anslinger was appointed to run it. Here are a few quotes from Anslinger, just to give you a little snapshot of his views and philosophy regarding marijuana:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

Yep. Worst part is, he wasn’t alone. Anslinger had some help in the propaganda department from William Randolph Hearst, the king of  yellow journalism who many blame for single-handedly luring the U.S. into the Spanish-American war. Here’s a few excerpts from some Hearst-owned papers in the 30s:

“Marihuana makes fiends of boys in thirty days — Hashish goads users to bloodlust.”

“By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms…. Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him….”

“Users of marijuana become STIMULATED as they inhale the drug and are LIKELY TO DO ANYTHING. Most crimes of violence in this section, especially in country districts are laid to users of that drug.”

“Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim’s life in Los Angeles?… THREE-FOURTHS OF THE CRIMES of violence in this country today are committed by DOPE SLAVES — that is a matter of cold record.”

Anslinger got further lobbying muscle from DuPont chemical company who had recently patented nylon and wanted to remove hemp from the competition. He also had support from pharmaceutical companies who were unable to pinpoint a dosage of hemp and also knew that it would be hard to sell to people when it is so easy and cheap to grow domestically. Aslinger compiled the best and scariest of Hearst’s newspaper stories and brought his plan, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, to Congress.

The hearings for this act were very short lived; in fact, only two days of discussion took place. The lone voice against prohibition was Dr. William C. Woodward, Legislative Council of the American Medical Association (AMA). See the full text from his part of the hearing here. Basically he opens by pointing out that the AMA had been misquoted and misrepresented as being for marijuana prohibition, and that since there was hardly any knowledge about the nature of the drug and its properties, the AMA recommended the drug be further studied before any action was to be taken on its prohibition. He also points out that the name of the plant is ‘cannabis’ and the word ‘marijuana’ was completely made up to demonize the plant and associate it with Mexican immigrants.

Every other witness spoke in favor of passing the bill. Anslinger of course spoke in favor of the Act, and the full transcript can be read here. Also see the transcript of Anslinger’s written statement. I’ll give you the best bits:

“Some people will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and may commit violent crimes. Other people will laugh uncontrollably. It is impossible to say what the effect will be on any individual.”

“Since the economic depression the number of marihuana smokers has increased by vagrant youths coming into contact with older psychopaths.”

“Those who are habitually accustomed to use of the drug are said to develop a delirious rage after its administration, during which they are temporarily, at least, irresponsible and liable to commit violent crimes. The prolonged use of this narcotic is said to produce mental deterioration. It apparently releases inhibitions of an antisocial nature whichh dwell within the individual.”

also interesting:

“The addict pays anywhere from 10 to 25 cents per cigarette. It will be sold by the cigarette. In illicit traffic the bulk price would be around $20 per pound. Legitimately, the bulk is around $2 per pound.”

To sum it up, the bill was based on racism and untrue propaganda, backed by companies that had a monetary interest in hemp’s demise, and championed by an ambitious man who was looking for a career boost. It was introduced on August 2nd and passed on October 1st, a blisteringly fast rate for legislation to clear Congress, especially legislation of this caliber. And of course, the American public were kept totally out of the whole process.

Further reading:

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm

http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal/

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/vlr/vlrtoc.htm

Wal-Mart: Don't even go there

A Battle Creek, MI Wal-mart fired one of it's employees recently for using medical marijuana.

As if we needed any more reasons to boycott Wal-Mart. A Wal-Mart in Battle Creek, Michigan recently fired one of its associates of the year for using medical marijuana. Joe Casias, who was chosen for associate of the year in 2008, has survived sinus cancer and is currently living with an inoperable brain tumor. He was following all state laws regarding his medication and never went to work high or medicated while at work. The drug reform community, of course, is up in arms about this nonsense.

Change.org immediately created a petition calling for Wal-Mart to reverse its decision. Change.org has had success with online petitions in the past, including a petition that ultimately caused CBS to reverse its decision to ban a NORML ad in Times Square.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is also issuing a call-to-action and asking its members and Americans in general to boycott Wal-Mart.

Now, boycotting Wal-Mart in this town is going to be a difficult thing to follow through on. There are three Wal-Mart stores in Columbia, and it’s hard to go a week without making a Wal-Mart run. My challenge: No shopping at Wal-Mart until they reverse their decision. We have three Gerbes grocery stores here in town, and two (going on three) Hy-Vee stores. You should be able to find alternative places to shop. In a capitalist system, boycotts are one of the most effective ways to make your voice heard. Money talks.