420 reasons to legalize

Erik Jorgensen, Editor-at-Large

Writing about marijuana in a college newspaper is too passé to be cliché. Here in northern California it’s not news to write about medical marijuana dispensaries; Oak Leaf’s advertisers say it all.

Then a couple weeks ago State Senator Leland Yee got arrested on corruption charges for influencing marijuana legislation, among other things, which opened a can of worms. I’m not just pro-Legalization of cannabis; I’m anti- prohibitionist politician-parodies and privately-prison profiteers.

Yee took bribes to pass a reeferendum requiring a token on-site doctor at medical marijuana dispensaries, weeding out competition from smaller mom-and-pot shops. FBI narcs approached Yee posing as budding ganjapreneurs from Arizona with high hopes of growing into “the ‘Anheuser-Busch’ of medical marijuana” in California. Yee accepted about $20,00 into his Secretary of State campaign fund, telling undercover agents he could help with ballot initiatives in that role.

Now the smoke has cleared, Yee’s prohibitionism smells as dubious as a bag of catnip. When Yee legislated against firearms but got caught brokering a $2.5 million arms deal between FBI agents and terrorist groups, he profiteered from the same black market he legislated to maintain. Yee’s both-guns-blazing buzzkill against violent videogames would’ve created a demand for pirated videogames, but he has undermined his own motives.

If you have ever listened to an herbophile talk, eventually you’ll hear their paranoid delusion of a corporate conspiracy against cannabis by big businesses. Cannabis is the Latin name for plants like hemp, higher in useful fiber, and marijuana, with higher levels of active ingredient THC. Marijuana, they’ll say, is collateral damage in the War on Hemp waged by lobbyists for petroleum companies, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, cotton, the private prison industry and I forget what else. You might wonder what they’ve been smoking until Yee disproved their paranoia by providing proof of a plot.

Even worse, his “reverse-Robin Hood” sold out boot-strappy Californians for such a small contribution into his campaign fund. Not only is Yee corrupt, he doesn’t understand the value of a buck. I’m not sure which is worse.

Alcohol Prohibition did little but organize crime and corrupt police and politicians. The 21st Amendment generated tax revenue and created jobs. Last year Sonoma County’s wineries makers corked $1.2 billion while craft breweries bottled up another $123 million. Local marijuana growers trim their money trees by the sackful – but the federal government won’t let them pay taxes on it.

Marijuana is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule 1 substance with zero medical value. The FDA only approves research intended to prove marijuana’s harmfulness. Cherry-picked scientific “methodology” is worse than worthless; it is misleading government propaganda.

The White House is eager to move America forward into the 18th century, when George Washington and our founding fathers grew hemp. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at an April 4, 2013 congressional budget hearing. “We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled,”

Colorado and Washington both puff-puff passed full legalization of recreational marijuana this year. Just last week Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession of 10 grams or less – barely enough for a joint, but a clear sign of marijuana’s increasingly lower legal priority among courts, police and the general public.

Twenty-one states now allow medical marijuana. Utah became the newest by passing “Charlee’s Law” March 13, 2014, named after the 6-year-old girl who died two days later. The new law allows concentrated CBD oil to be imported from Colorado to relieve severe epileptic seizures in children. While it doesn’t allow local cultivation, it’s a baby step in the right direction. Next thing you know, Utah will legalize dancing.

Mormon president Brigham Young had Utah pioneers growing hemp around Salt Lake City by 1853. The High Priest wrote in his Journal of Discourses that Utah was perfect for growing hemp, “It is better for each of us to raise about ten acres of wheat, and then devote the rest of our time to flax and hemp.” I guess that makes him the Johnny Appleseed of cannabis in Utah.

While I don’t usually agree with Mormon doctrine, Genesis 1:29 tells us, “God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.” If a Creator intelligently designed cannabis, what does that reveal about Prohibitionists like Yee?