What the Fourth?

This year, 2017, it is especially significant to assess the meaning of July Fourth and the reason for celebrating it: The Declaration of Independence. I have written briefly on this before and I just read a very good blog in Prohibtd referencing Supreme Court Decisions and opinions on the most important phrase of the entire document. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It is also self evident that cannabis is implicit in the essential meaning of each of these  principles: health, freedom to choose one’s medicine and alter one’s consciousness, the right of fulfillment through recreation and inspiration. Further, its prohibition is simply a denial of our constitutional “right to be left alone” in our personal life.

This is made worse by the use of nuisance law to persecute cannabis growers, where a search warrant is not required, merely a complaint. As a nuisance, one is denied a day in court, denied appeal, denied knowledge of one’s accuser. The “nuisance may be summarily abated, solely at the discretion of the enforcement officer” which actually means the crop may be completely cut down, and “asset forfeiture” is used to cover the cost of the enforcement action. That is, the Sheriff has a financial incentive to raid cannabis farms. This sounds like Nottingham Forest and the evil King John. The farmers are “Robin and his Merry Band of Outlaws”, growing cannabis to heal and inspire the people, and share the wealth.

A few weeks ago I used a variation of another defining concept of our Republic: That Cannabis of the People, by the People and for the People shall not perish from the State. We are sorely pressured to merely survive the transition to “legal cannabis”. As the new regulations are revealed and the reconciliation of the two state laws is finalized, the details and the taxes and fees may nickel and dime us to death. People are asking me if I think it is all a conspiracy to wipe out the small craft farmer so that big pharma or big tobacco, who have the financial resources, can wait it out until we are all gone and then take over. Now the news is that the black market has shriveled up to nothing, with every one sitting on weight.

Is our whole way of life based on trust and community about to disappear? The proposed rules would prohibit giving away samples, or starts or seeds. Giving stuff away has been an essential part of our counter culture. Sharing information, tips, little secret recipes, and so on, is how we grew and survived in a hostile world. Family farm operations won’t be able to employ their children under 21 years of age. How will they be able to pay wages? The State also wants to prohibit selling cannabis related merchandise, such as T shirts and mugs, because children might see them. Of course, beer and whiskey shirts and hats are OK, and in many states you can still legally buy a gun easier than a joint.

I’m sorry to sound so negative, but how are we fulfilling the promise of our founding principles, when the richest of the rich are intent on taking as much from the poor as they can possibly imagine? It has always been a flawed democracy as symbolized by the Liberty Bell, which cracked the first time it was rung. Why did it crack? Because the Constitution denied the vote to women and to non-property owners, while African Americans were classified as three fifths of a human. This in spite of the Declaration’s affirmation that all men (!) are created equal.

The other day I interviewed three military Veterans for an episode of Smokin’ with Swami. They have organized a group of veterans in Marin County to educate their fellow GIs about cannabis use for various conditions. They are unable get it or recommendations from the VA doctors, even though it is the best medicine in many cases for PTSD, pain and opioid addiction, all common issues with Vets. Here the Government is denying its injured soldiers and sailors the very medicine which is best for them, denying them the inalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

One man used cannabis to come off of opioid addiction after his leg was amputated just below the knee. He said the opioids prescribed by his doctor didn’t even kill the pain. Another soldier said he used cannabis to deal with the intense anxiety which sometimes overcame him in the morning.  Other veterans have told me that they can’t get to sleep without a good joint or an edible.

What kind of government lies to its citizens about a natural medicine which can heal cancer, alleviate concussion and arthritis, and has innumerable beneficial uses? No one has ever died just from an “overdose” of cannabis, but tens of thousands have died and suffered because they couldn’t get cannabis. Millions have gone to jail for minor possession of an herb which anyone can grow, thus denying them health, freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness. What the Fourth?!?

Are you 21 or older?