The Russ Belville Show

Certainly, many of the people getting their medical marijuana recommendation in California are doing so to treat Arrest Anxiety Syndrome – who wouldn’t take the opportunity to avoid arrest, incarceration, and seizure of their assets for the “crime” of choosing to get wasted on a drug whose advertisements don’t fund Super Bowl telecasts and is far safer to use?  But Pazienza seems to think that’s the case in the other 16 medical marijuana states, where, in fact, it takes a whole lot of medical documentation to qualify under an extremely limited set of medical conditions.

Part of the reason medical use is limited in sixteen other states and forbidden in the rest is people like Pazienza who seem to understand the need to end prohibition but mock the people who are fighting for that “important, necessary or admirable work”.  Pazienza demands that legalization proponents abandon the larger societal points regarding the devastation of prohibition and base their arguments on a single selfish right to get high without government interference.

OK, Chez, you got me – I like to smoke pot and I don’t want to be put in a cage over it.  You’re right, my motivation is extremely personal.  Kind of like how a black man marching with Dr. King in the early 1960’s probably had a very personal motivation to not be firehosed, attacked by police dogs, or lynched by rednecks.  Kind of like how a gay man protesting in the 1980’s probably had a very personal motivation to not die from HIV while a president ignored an epidemic.  Kind of like how a student protesting with Occupy in the 2010’s probably has a very personal motivation to just be in the center of some public civil disobedience for the fun of it.  Regardless of the personal motivations, they do not make the societal cause any less just or those fighting for it any less noble.

Whether you’re the twirling hippy at the hempfest for the high or the suit-and-tie activist at the hempfest for the chance to organize voters, standing up to fight injustice still carries the same personal consequences.  Because I like to get high on marijuana and proclaim so openly and fight for the same right a beer drinker has, I will be discriminated against in hiring, housing, and many other aspects of daily life.  Few corporate employers are going to look past my dirty pee test because I’m cognizant of the greater devastation of global cannabis prohibition; to them, I’m just a guy who breaks the law and their “drug-free workplace” policy.

Marijuana prohibition in America has contributed to the torturous murders of over 50,000 Mexicans and the terrorization of Latin America.  It has denied to our farmers our heritage crop of hemp that could ease many of the environmental and energy problems of this nation.  It has contributed to the suffering of millions by denying them “the safest therapeutically active substance known to man”.  It has enriched criminals, gangs, and terrorists and imprisoned mothers and fathers whose only crime was choosing marijuana over martinis, Marlboros, or Midol.  All these things are true even if the tattooed, pierced, dreadlocked kid protesting at the marijuana march for a solution to it all just wants to get high.

The right to one’s own consciousness and self is the most personal of civil rights.  This isn’t about getting high, it’s about who has the jurisdiction over my brain and body.  If a woman has the right to do with her uterus as she pleases, why is it any less a right for me to do with my brain and lungs what I choose?  Whether that woman uses a “morning after” birth control pill because of an honest mistake and desire to prevent an unwelcome pregnancy or because she’s a careless nymphomaniac with six abortions in her past is irrelevant; we recognize her right to control her own body.  So whether I’m fighting for my civil right to be as stoned as a beer drinker because I’m trying to commit police resources toward actual crimes or because I simply prefer a marijuana buzz, it is irrelevant – I’m fighting for a just cause.

One final thought, Chez.  You seem like a reasonable guy, so try to understand that what you’re railing against is a “tip of the iceberg”.  There are 26 million people in America who will consume marijuana this year, about 17 million of them this month, with about 2.5 million of them consumers like me who use marijuana almost every day.  The “movement” you see is that tip of the iceberg that have nothing to lose by being “out of the closet” for ending marijuana prohibition – either the “alternative” crowd with artistic or low-wage jobs  that don’t care about pot smoking or the “professional activists” like me whose jobs are about ending prohibition.  You don’t see the part of the “movement” who can lose their careers, kids, assets, businesses, friends, and family for espousing an end to prohibition, because they are forced into silence for self-preservation.  I think if you could see them, you’d be less likely to dismiss their concerns over the Prohibition War as just a bunch of stoners “pushing for the legalization of pot because it makes you feel good.”

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  • Mountain-lover

    It seems like the author of the article just doesn’t get it. Marijuana / hemp are extremely usefull plants but those uses will never be utilized until it’s legal, that’s why most people now are just simply pointing out the benefits known. I personally believe that extreme harms of prohibition are what we should be underlining, that’s how the people of the civil rights movement got their message in the mainstream.
    Hopefully some real dicousions on the topic will get the mainstream seriousness it deserves, cause if it’s too late we may never see true liberation and equalization because of the powers that be.
    That’s why we all need to unite and come out of the closet for one plant, and one purpose. Then March to the capital, march from shing sea to shing sea to end this injustice and restore peace and equality for every man and woman who does no harm to others. Activate our base, forget our diverences, let’s do this NOW for the planet and ourselves!

    • Oliver Steinberg

      I came in on this after two years but I sure do agree with Russ that there is a contemptuous and belittling and mocking attitude expressed by all kinds of commentators, who do not see ending prohibition as a human rights issue, who do not understand that they live in a police state today and a totalitarian society tomorrow precisely because the war on drugs has created the template for government surveillance, control, and criminalizing of personal, private behavior.

      This may be because of the impression that the spokesmen for reform are Cheech-and-Chong caricatures—however, the fact that they so eagerly make that assumption shows that their bias is operating—thay have chosen NOT to listen to NORML, MPP, LEAP, DPA, and dozen of other serious voices.
      “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.” We need people to speak out. I don’t ask anyone to do what I’m not willing to do myself. I am retired; I can write and speak freely. Anyone else who can “come out of the closet” should do so, for the sake of those who still live in fear. Those who must keep their heads down should provide silent support with their votes, donations, and spiritual solidarity with the resistance. Mass incarceration isn’t a joke. Police terrorism isn’t a joke. Discrimination in employment, education, housing, and health care isn’t a joke.
      Yes, some advocates may exaggerate the virtues of hemp; some may downplay legitimate objections to irresponsible patterns of cannabis consumption. And some are cranks, crackpots, malcontents, and maladjusted persons who are not good advertisements for cannabis reform or any other social justice cause. I’ve probably been in that category sometimes myself. All we can do–and what we must do–is to persevere. I appreciate Russ ripping this supercilious blogger a new orifice to match his enormous pre-existing one.

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  • jack smith

    well, regardless of the two arguments, and i am for ending prohibition, the younger crowd who can legally vote, are, and will remain, basically a one issue voter. no amount of talking to them will change their minds, it feels like talking to a conspiricy radical. i do believe, that unless pot was up for the vote, a great deal of them would not vote at all. yes, i want weed legalized fully, but i do see one issue (and i vote on many), that is the single most important issue in this election. Who will appoint the next two supreme court justices? you better vote obama, to get democratic justices appointed, cus the alternative is romney and his republican choices. we have to protect the courts in the united states, period. cus one thing u can count on is, the full legalization of pot will depend on the supreme court of the united states.  check it out, follow the court cases, we just cant allow this court to go to the right! i am not that happy with obama either, but i just cant stand seeing our supreme court go to hell, it is close enough already, with a 5 to 4 republican advantage – please, vote, and please think long and hard before you do. there is more than one issue at stake. protect our courts and you protect your civil rights, it is indisputable.  thanks and peace.

    • Mountain Lover

       I have to say Jack no one person will legalize cannabis, you are going to need help if you want to legalize the plant and the use of the plant anytime soon.

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