United States v. Marijuana

Posted on August 13, 2011


United States v. Marijuana: Dispatches from the Field: War Without End. Check it:

California was the first state to outlaw “loco weed.” At the time, 1913, Congress lacked the power to outlaw drugs or alcohol at the federal level. Alcohol prohibition, which lasted from 1919 to 1933, required an amendment to the Constitution, while drug laws were passed piecemeal, behind closed doors. But the nasty business we know as the War on Marijuana began in earnest in 1930 with the creation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a Division of the U. S. Treasury Department.
Its first director, the ruthlessly ambitious Harry J. Anslinger, made cannabis prohibition his personal mission in life. He fanned the flames of racism with statements like, “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races. . . . There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers,” baited Anslinger. “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.”

Although they used racism to whip up anti-marijuana public sentiment, in reality it was just a handy sales tool. The real motive – then and now – was corporate greed and corruption. Newspaper mogul Hearst had a corner on the timber and paper manufacturing market, which was threatened when new techniques and a more efficient hemp harvesting machine promised to undercut papermaking costs by more than half. Unlike trees, hemp was annually renewable and required fewer chemicals in the pulp-making process, so it was easier on the environment, as well. It had to be stopped.


Though advocates claimed hemp had the power to revitalize the failing U.S. economy, Hearst did such a bang-up job of demonizing it, his propaganda still passes for truth today. And advocates are still claiming it could revitalize the failing economy.


In the late Sixties and early Seventies, President Richard M. Nixon found a way to use the new and improved War on Drugs to target anti-war protesters, liberals and anyone else who got in his way. “You see,” he explained on a May 13, 1971 White House tape, “homosexuality, dope, immorality in general: These are the enemies of strong societies. That’s why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff. They’re trying to destroy us.”


To date, more than one trillion tax dollars have been spent on the so-called war on drugs. Over ten billion dollars a year is spent enforcing marijuana laws alone. This gravy train feeds millions of government employees — from cafeteria workers to bailiffs; from cops to prison guards; from clerks to prosecutors and judges; even legislators — all of whom collect government paychecks with benefits and retirement packages. And that’s just in the public sector.

During alcohol prohibition, organized crime flourished, and so did “law and order.”The same thing is happening today. An entire industry is growing up around the prosecution and incarceration of drug offenders, most of them non-violent users of medical or recreational drugs, even as the truly dangerous drug cartels get bigger. Among these prisoners are medical marijuana cultivators and dispensary owners who, when they were busted, were operating in full compliance with state law.

Once in court, prosecutors “for the People” determine the charges, some of which come with mandatory minimum sentences. Mandatory minimums, enacted by Congress in 1986 during the Reagan/Bush administration, were intended to stop trafficking by international drug cartels. But by taking sentencing control away from judges and putting it in the hands of prosecutors, they also stopped judges from judging. Thanks to mandatory minimums, a judge no longer decides whether the punishment fits the crime.

Most of us assume the function of a jury is to determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence. But did you know a juror is also responsible for judging the law itself? That’s right. The power to change a bad law is in the hands of one person. Any person. You, if you happen to be sitting on a jury. An individual juror has the power to say, This is a bad law; not guilty.
Just like that. Hung jury. Trial over.
We the People have the power to change the law, case by case, courtroom by courtroom.