Whites Only After Dark

Not too many years ago several towns or communities were known as Sundown Towns where blacks were not welcome after dark. Mostly by reputation some were even known to post signs declaring the unwelcome visitors should leave by sundown or else. One such town was Vidor, TX. Racial intolerance was so prominent that in 1993 the federal government actually moved several black families into subsidized housing in Vidor which resulted in a Ku Klux Klan demonstration. It’s kind of reminiscent of the old western movies where one cowboy would declare that there is not enough room in this town for both of us and one would leave or a shoot out in the street would ensue.

The war against marijuana is also similar in that marijuana users are not welcome in society. Although their drug of choice is far safer than the legal alternatives, they are denied gainful employment and subjected to arrest and confiscation of property and in some cases even having their children removed from their custody. The heavy disparity associated with prosecution of marijuana crimes along racial and class lines makes it a racial issue as well.

As bad as that is, the fact that this war on a peaceful class of people is perpetuated by the federal government makes the situation much worse. We can’t just get out-of-town because the federal law is valid in all states and territories and also pushed on foreign governments as well, such as Columbia and Mexico. Violence and corruption are epic in those countries that are part of the supply line in America’s hunger for marijuana. Mostly I see that prohibition is ignored and unwelcome by marijuana users, but for those unlucky few that catch the eye of authorities, the punishment is horrible, hateful and unjustified.

The biggest problem I have with prohibitionists is the adamant insistence that the only places for us in society are unemployed, homeless, in jail or forced into rehab to correct our errant behavior. Any resistance to that must be met with the force of law, up to and including a lethal response. It can’t be that there is not enough room in this country for people like me. I am an American and it’s my country too.

Randy Johnson

Is Our Nation Broken?

Lately I have been saddened by the division in our Nation. I think it has always bothered me that we have a long history of division. Like when we hated on the Indians and all but annihilated them and enslaved a portion of our society that was predominately black and further punished them with segregation and Jim Crow laws, but I had hoped we had left some of that behind.  The most obvious division today is among the Haves and the Have Not’s and between those who want more government control and those who do not. Those we have elected to lead us have been putting on a pretty good show of fighting for the cause of their constituents, yet our government continues on its set course. That course being more control over its people and more information about their lives and more of their money. Obviously they are not content to just control their own citizens, but people all over the world as evidenced by the surveillance of foreigners and the constant intervention in other nations by our government. Should we be in a constant state of war without a defined enemy. The stated enemy is terrorism yet we refuse to acknowledge that it is a war with Islam where the Quran calls for the killing of non-Muslims. We also have the internal and external war on drugs where tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in a struggle to illegally provide the United States with drugs and hundreds of thousands of Americans are imprisoned and lose their property because their drug of choice is not alcohol or tobacco. These things are being used as an excuse to gather information on every citizen in this country and many abroad. Privacy in our communications, information searches, shopping habits and our medical history is gone and all that information along with our location is now available to our government. We have surrendered our individual sovereignty for the illusion of safety.

Lets consider some of the implications from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One provision is the smokers have been accessed a $3000 penalty or premium increase that cannot be subsidized with tax money. That $3000 is just an arbitrary number. What if it increases to $6000 or more and how hard would it be to say that anyone who uses an illegal drug should be charged more. You could always just not tell them but likely medical exams in the future will include toxicology exams since the government is picking up the tab. Laser powered molecular scanners will very likely find their way into medical diagnostics and drug use will be obvious, both legal and illegal. If you do not report your drug use you will be guilty of felony fraud.

The use of the Internal Revenue Service as the enforcement arm of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is also troublesome. Does anyone remember the abuse of power about awarding or withholding tax-free status to groups and individuals along party lines. The Internal Revenue Service has always been used by our elected leaders to reward those in their favor and punish those who are not. It is also being used to divide our nation. We are split between the Haves and the Have Not’s where according to CNN Money, 10% of the people pay 70% of all income taxes. Randi Rhodes once told me that it wouldn’t do any good to tax the poor because it is like squeezing blood from a turnip but I disagree. Those who do not pay income taxes ( about 47%) don’t have any skin in the game and they can vote for whatever benefits they want from government and not have to worry about how it is paid for. When we authorize our government to take away from a few to supplement others it is theft, even if it is backed by the rule of law. If everyone pays, then we could find the level of government benefits that we can agree on and pay as we go. This astronomical national debt thing has to stop if we are to leave any kind of decent future for our children and grand children.

If America wants to turn this around, it can be done, but we have to act in unison. Stop voting for lifetime politicians. Their allegiance is not to you but too their party. Demand term limits and run for office if you are dissatisfied with the selection of candidates. We need more ordinary citizens in office. Above all watch those that take office and let them know what you expect from them. Silence is seen as approval.

Randy Johnson

Who Will Win The War On Drugs

The present trend in the legalization of marijuana would seem to indicate that the Feds are losing the war against marijuana. With two states legalizing the drug for recreational purposes and twenty states, plus our nations Capitol, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes and the latest Gallup poll now showing 58% of Americans favor legalization you would think so. But I am not so sure. I still think the Feds have a few cards up their sleeves. Recently Reason Magazine reported that the NSA has been sharing information with local and federal law enforcement about illegal drug activity obtained through their advanced surveillance of our internet and phone usage and then telling the law enforcement authorities not to reveal the source. This alone is disturbing, but those we elected to protect our freedom through legislation don’t seem to believe we have the right to be left alone and have any privacy and there has been very little public outcry about it. Like I have said before, they view silence as approval and that only makes them more bold. There has not been much in the news about the new laser powered molecular scanners that can tell what you had for breakfast from 50 meters away but I am sure they are being improved and made more portable. Now the IRS will have access to all of our medical records because of the affordable health care act. Privacy is becoming a thing of the past and those we have elected to represent us increasingly see everyday Americans as a threat. Remember how the Department of Homeland Security has been stockpiling ammunition. I am not sure what the intentions of this administration are but so far they seem to tell us one thing and then do another, like when President Obama said that he would leave medical marijuana alone and then escalated the raids on state legal distributors. Soon the government may have what they need to enforce the war on drugs successfully but I don’t know if people will tolerate that level of oppression. I do know that the government has a long memory and they are not very forgiving. The Gallup poll showing 58% approval of legalization does give me hope though. No matter how much the Feds want to control our lives, they still have to get re-elected.

Randy Johnson

Nullification Is Essential To Maintain Freedom

I’ve been hearing about jury nullification as a defense against prosecution for marijuana crimes. It is an interesting concept, where the jury just refuses to convict the defendant just because they disagree with the law or because they believe it should not be applied in a particular case. This was used extensively to stop the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act before the Civil War and the Volstead Act during the prohibition of alcohol. During prohibition, as many as 60% of the alcohol violations were nullified by juries. With greater than 50% of Americans now believing that marijuana prohibition should end, it is very likely you could get a member of your jury to vote for your acquittal. NJWeedman, Edward Forchion, a New Jersey medical marijuana patient, has used jury nullification as a way to avoid prosecution. Forchion is an outspoken critic of the war on marijuana and has some very good ideas about mounting an effective defense in court against prosecution. He spent 6 months in jail for exercising his freedom of speech when he made commercials that called for an end to marijuana prohibition, yet he still marches on as a warrior in the fight against prohibition.

The states that have moved to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use have also nullified Federal marijuana laws to a certain extent, by stopping the enforcement of those laws by local authorities. It has been an uphill battle where some local law enforcement have refused to honor the will of the voters in their state and enforce Federal marijuana laws anyway. Still progress is being made where a wave of acceptance for medical marijuana has swept the country and over 50% of Americans now believe marijuana prohibition should end, and that it should be regulated and taxed similar to alcohol.

Oath Keepers is an organization of active and former military, police and first responders that have vowed to uphold their oath to support and defend the Constitution of The United States, by refusing to obey unconstitutional orders such as, to disarm the American people, detain Americans as enemy combatants to be held without trial and to conduct warrantless searches. This also is a form of nullification that protects our freedoms and rights that are under attack by the Federal Government. Their motto is “Not On Our Watch”.

When those we elect to lead us, refuse to honor their oath to support and defend the Constitution, the responsibility falls on us to stand together and defend our rights and way of life. Our best defense against this assault on freedom, is to watch those we elect to represent us and hold them accountable by removing them from office when they fail to protect our rights. That system seems to have failed, where our two-party system yields more of the same, regardless of which party is in majority. Our rights of freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to be secure in our personal effects, and the right to self-defense are constantly being eroded by our government. Nullification can be a very powerful tool to prevent the loss of freedom if we just refuse to play their game.

Randy Johnson

MPP Takes On The NFL

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is being admonished by MarijuanaPolicy.org with a billboard outside of Mile High Stadium in Denver, CO, urging fans and players to celebrate with a safer alternative to alcohol, according to a story by Tully Corcoran at Fox Sports News. MPP called out Goodell for punishing players who use marijuana which is a safer alternative to alcohol. MPP’s press release included this statement. “For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The league would never punish a player simply for having a couple beers, so why does it penalize them for using a substance that is less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violence?  There is also a Change.org petition initiated by MPP and directed at Roger Goodell to change the NFL drug policy

The NFL has warned the Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks that NFL policy about marijuana has not changed, “Its Legal” will not be a valid excuse. Sadly the NFL is facing another problem with lawsuits brought against them because of concussions brought on by head trauma. Ironically marijuana may end up being a key tool to prevent permanent brain damage associated with head trauma.

It is a shame that the MPP’s ad at the Brickyard 500 race in Indianapolis, IN was pulled due to pressure from the Drug Free America Foundation. MPP needs our support in its publicity campaign, to gain acceptance for users of marijuana. These ads are not cheap, but I believe they are a vital tool to reach people who would not ordinarily listen to arguments about legalization and acceptance of marijuana in society, and what could be a better place to do that than sporting events where alcohol is advertised or served.

Randy Johnson

The House I live In

The House I live In” is a documentary about the war on drugs, from producers, Danny Glover, Brad Pitt, John Legend, and Russell Simmons and directed by Eugene Jarecki. It is a very informative, critical and honest assessment of the drug problem in America and shows different aspects of the war on drugs from a variety of viewpoints. This is a must see for anyone wanting to know more about the drug tragedy facing all Americans, especially the poor and people of color.

Randy Johnson

What Makes A Crime Criminal

We all know that crimes are committed by criminals and those that are caught are punished by society through the criminal justice system, with fines, probation, incarceration and in extreme circumstances by death. But what constitutes a crime? Must the action that constitutes the crime harm others, as in assault, rape or murder, or could it simply be an action that deprives others, their right to life, liberty or their pursuit of happiness. This should be a simple answer but it is not in our society. According to a documentary originally aired on Fox News by Jon Stossel, the United States Government now has over 125,000 pages of law governing everything from treason, to the type of light bulbs you can purchase and the type of toilet you can install and how much water your faucets can flow. These laws are used to enforce, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, the Firearm Owners Protection Act and thousands of other laws currently on the books at all levels of government that we are subject to. A Book by Harvey A. Silverglate titled Three Felonies a Day documents how people commit crimes, unknowingly just because there are so many laws governing so many different things that most people would never consider a crime, it becomes impossible to know for sure we are not doing anything illegal. It is very likely that anyone could be arrested for a crime any day of their lives. Laws are written so broadly that they may be interpreted by authorities to arrest anyone. With the use of domestic spying on all of us through our electronic communications, we are all in danger of coming under the scrutiny of authorities, who could make our life a living hell if they so choose. We’re all Criminals by C.M Sturges discusses how the vast array of laws we have, are meant to suppress and control us, not maintain safety and freedom.

Some laws we have are for another purpose though, they are meant to protect the interests of the ultra rich who have a strangle hold on those we elect to represent us. Companies such as Dupont , Monsanto, General Electric, Westinghouse, General Mills that are held and controlled by the elite in society, with names like Rothschild and Rockefeller that meet in secret locations to discuss and decide on world policy and direction. Remember the Monsanto Protection Act that ensures that it will be near impossible to challenge the use of genetically modified foods or seeds.

The war against marijuana is no different. Our government hides and ignores evidence that shows hemp and marijuana to be a benefit to society and a safer alternative to alcohol use, to protect businesses such as the pharmaceutical industry, the cotton industry, the pulp wood and timber industry, the drug testing industry, the drug rehab industry, the prison industry and the petrochemical industry. Lets not forget the DEA with its multibillion dollar tax funded budget which employs a multitude of drug enforcement officers who want to keep their jobs and that the war on drugs is the main justification for the militarization of our police forces and the main justification for paramilitary raids on civilian homes. The United States government is also using their advanced surveillance, secretly to initiate drug busts and directing police to cover up where the initial evidence for the investigation came from. Circumventing rights and freedom is just another tool in the pursuit of total control over the population. More laws governing everyday activity are incrementally employed , gradually reducing freedom and creating a population that will cower to the will of the government. Will we continue to say the loss of freedom and privacy is not that bad until it effects us, instead of someone else? Or will we rise up and demand that our rights and freedoms are honored by the people we elected and who swore an oath to uphold them, the members of Congress and the President of the United States?

Randy Johnson

We Can’t Have Freedom Without The Rule Of Law

I know I have been ragging on the police a lot here lately and it has been taking a toll on me. Reading and writing about people who’s lives have been severely harmed at the hand of police such as Ramarley Graham and his family, have left me depressed and angry about the misdeeds done in the name of law enforcement by a few errant policemen. It is very likely that I do not have all the facts and maybe I am wrong in my assessment, but anytime a person looses their life as a result of this war or drugs it bothers me. For a man to die over a dime bag of marijuana is a horrible tragedy, and I can find no justification for it. But I also love this country and I want the Constitution to continue to be the guiding principle in the way our country is run. I want the freedoms and rights that we have to endure and be passed on to future generations. That freedom and those rights cannot be preserved without the rule of law. Law enforcement is just as crucial to preserving our Constitution and freedom as a standing army. Without it our society would descend into chaos and the strongest, the richest or the boldest would reign supreme and the weak would be at their mercy. Rape, robbery, murder would be rampant and we would all live in fear. The brave men and women in law enforcement have a very thankless job. Countless times every day, they put their lives on the line to preserve the rule of law and fulfill their vow to serve and protect. For that we owe them a debt of gratitude that they may never see. Most of their encounters with the public are not on good terms. They see people on some of the worst days of their lives and often their intervention is unwelcome and sometimes violent. No one wants a traffic citation and no one wants to be arrested and people’s reactions are sometimes hard to predict. Police never know what will happen on the next encounter with the public so they must remain vigilant, ready to make split second decisions concerning life and death, not only their own, but the public as well. I am grateful for those who stand in harm’s way, and risk their lives to enrich mine. At times I tend to lose sight of that and I will forever believe the war on drugs is the wrong approach to a social and medical problem. I will forever believe that paramilitary raids on people’s homes over marijuana is a bad idea. I will forever believe that marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol, but the job of the police is not to judge which laws are good or bad, but to enforce the laws passes by our elected officials. There are many people in law enforcement who want an end to the war on drugs and have become outspoken critics of it. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an organization of just such people. Judges, attorneys, and policemen from all across the country have united to oppose the war on drugs. They actively lobby Congress and give testimony in public venues to educate people about the failures and fallacies in the war on drugs and that gives me hope for a better future. The vast majority of men and women in law enforcement are good honest people who believe in the rule of law and hold themselves to a very high standard, but that is not news worthy, so the media focuses on the mistakes and misdeeds of the few. God Bless those who choose to serve this country and preserve our way of life. My beef is with Congress and the President, not with law enforcement.

Randy Johnson

Stop Killing People For Using Marijuana

I keep finding stories about people killed over marijuana possession. Eighteen year old Ramarley Graham was shot to death by officer Richard Haste in his Grandmother’s bathroom while allegedly trying to flush a dime bag of marijuana down the toilet after New York City police saw him make the purchase and followed him to his residence. A video shows Graham walking to the residence and entering with police running up to the door a few seconds later, where they unsuccessfully try to kick the door in. They moved around to the rear of the residence and finally gained entrance by breaking in. Also in the home at the time were his Grandmother, Patricia Hartley and six-year-old brother. Several stories have evolved from the initial event such as that Graham had a gun that was never found and that Graham had struggled with the police which turns out not to be the case according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The indictment of the officer involved in the shooting has been dropped because the Grand Jury was not informed that fellow officers had told Haste that Graham was armed. Graham’s Grandmother was treated badly after her grandson was shot The grandmother, 58 years of age and 85 pounds, was forced into a chair and her arm twisted while police called her a f—ing liar for covering for her grandson, and hauled her in for questioning for 7 hours, while she was denied heart medicine and medical treatment and officers delayed her lawyer from seeing her for 90 minutes.

Since police have acknowledged watching the hand to hand drug buy, I am certain they knew it was not a large quantity of drugs. It was obviously a personal use, small time drug buy which brings us to the question of why it was so important to break into a home and shoot someone over a small amount of marijuana. Is it so important for society to eliminate drug use that they will do so at all cost, even killing people? While I do fault the police, for this tragic over use of authority, they should not stand alone in fault here. Also culpable are the Police Commissioner, and all the elected officials from the mayor all the way up to Congress and President Obama who played a role in directing police to pursue small time drug buyers and users with such aggression. The police in this case were likely just following a directive that came from someone far above their pay grade. That does not excuse their behavior but it does shed a little light on a much larger problem that starts with Congress and The Office of The President and filters down to the poor and people of color that are preferred targets in this war on drugs. While the Office of the President no longer calls this a war on drugs, the tactics have not changed where police are urged to aggressively pursue drug crimes through Congress making military weapons and equipment available to local police departments for free or drastically reduced prices and offering grants for police to train for and interdict drug use. More and more our fourth amendment rights are circumvented or ignored while judges rule that the end justifies the means in this war on drugs.

But what about the people caught up in this horrible, hateful and unjust war. The victims like Ramarley Graham, or his Grandmother or his younger brother. Was it just to kill this man just because he liked marijuana. At his age purchasing alcohol would have been just as illegal, but it is very unlikely he would have been shot over a six-pack. Did his grandmother deserve the abuse she received after watching her grandson being killed by police. The saddest part of this story is that it is just not that uncommon. It breaks my heart to think that society supports this kind of treatment of our fellow Americans at the hands of those we trust to serve and protect us, from our local police all the way up to The President, but that is exactly what is happening. Without public outcry in defense of those abused by our justice system, our leaders see silence as approval. When we vote them back into office after supporting this kind of behavior, they think we approve. We are all guilty of what happened to Ramarley Graham and others like him when we don’t rise up in defense of those abused by the justice system. There is no justification for ruining people’s lives and killing them because of marijuana. Call your Mayor, your Congressman and Senator, and call The White House and tell them you want this to stop, unless you approve.

Randy Johnson

http://reason.com/blog/2012/02/06/surveillance-footage-shows-nypd-breaking

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/24/bronx-council-member-blames-racial-profi

http://reason.com/blog/2013/02/01/ramarley-grahams-family-suing-over-killi

Censorship Sucks At Nascar Brickyard 400 Event

An ad promoting marijuana as a safer alternative to alcohol from the Marijuana Policy Project, was aired outside the Brickyard 400 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The ad was scheduled to air 72 times but was pulled early because of pressure from the Drug Free America Foundation. It seems ironic to me that with the massive amount of alcohol served at Nascar events and the propensity for alcohol related advertising at Nascar events and alcohol related sponsors of race car teams associated with Nascar and the history of Nascar being associated with alcohol prohibition, that a pro marijuana ad would be deemed unsuitable at a family oriented event.

In an article form NYDailyNews, Calvina Fay stated,“This campaign falsely claims marijuana is safer than alcohol and promotes  illicit drug use in a state where marijuana is illegal,” Calvina Fay, executive  director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs, said  in a statement. “It is irresponsible marketing and I commend Grazie Media for  their swift action towards the removal of this ad,” concluded Fay.

And in rebuttal, Mason Tvert from Marijuana Policy Project, that produced the ad and purchased the air time from Grazie Media replied, 

Tvert told the Daily News that Fay’s claim that marijuana is more harmful  than alcohol “absolutely absurd.”

“We are absolutely baffled by the claim that marijuana is not safer than  alcohol, which accompanied the announcement of the ad being pulled,” Tvert said.  “If Save Our Society From Drugs truly wishes to ‘save our society from drugs,’  why on earth would they want to prevent people from learning that alcohol use is  far more toxic and likely to contribute to violent behavior than marijuana? It  is clear this organization is more concerned about maintaining marijuana  prohibition than it is about maintaining public health and safety. We are sorry  to see Grazie Media abandon its agreement with a client when confronted by such  reefer madness.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/pro-pot-nascar-ad-pulled-brickyard-400-article-1.1410215#ixzz2aFnHuhtN

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/pro-pot-nascar-ad-pulled-brickyard-400-article-1.1410215#ixzz2aFm3CuNm

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/26/marijuana-ad-to-air-at-nascar-races

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/07/26/marijuana-ad-nascar-indianapolis/2591313/

Randy Johnson

White House Drug Policy Is Hipocritical At Best

The Obama administration’s new drug policy is full of hypocrisy. First of all the basic premise is that any one who uses drugs must be ill and fixed by society whether they like it or not. Individual users will be tried in drug courts where mandatory rehabilitation will be the preferred choice of punishment with incarceration as the backup plan. The supply chain will still face the same punishment of paramilitary raids, incarceration and confiscation of property even if they are following state law as is the case for medical marijuana in the 18 states and Washington DC where medical marijuana is legal as well as Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legalized for recreational purposes. The will of the voting public is ignored. The White House still steadfastly refuses to consider that marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol and separated from the harder drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, and LSD, even though statistics and medical science shows that marijuana is far safer than alcohol or tobacco. Whenever the government discusses the harms from drugs to society, it is always drugs in aggregate or meth or one the harder drugs but never marijuana alone, because they know preaching about how harmful marijuana is to society is unbelievable. Most all of society knows that the reported harm to society from marijuana has been grossly overstated.  Lacking in the view of White House policy is that alcohol is statistically the worst drug in America. Granted tobacco kills more people each year, but alcohol has the added stigma of social destruction in the form of violent crime and traffic fatalities that are not associated with the other drugs to such a great degree. A Department of Justice report on violence related emergency room visits shows that alcohol is the most violence related drug in America by a wide margin where the report states, “Almost all of the alcohol/drug citations on the hospital records reflected alcohol involvement. Drugs were cited on the hospital record in less than 1% of all violence-related injuries treated”.

. Yet marijuana is demonized as a horrible menace to society by keeping it listed as a schedule one drug, on par with heroin, codeine and morphine even though it is not usually associated with addiction. Marijuana users have been stripped of their second amendment rights without trial or representation even though violence is not normally associated with its use. According to a study about traffic fatalities, states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes have seen a 9% reduction in traffic fatalities. The study did not confirm the reason for the reduction in fatalities but speculated that it may be caused by people substituting marijuana for alcohol. In contrast, alcohol kills more Americans every year than all illegal drugs combined and the number of people killed by marijuana could easily be counted on one hand. Evidence that would show marijuana to be beneficial as medicine is ignored even though a plethora of evidence showing marijuana to be an effective medicine is currently available and the Federal government owns patents on medical marijuana that detail how marijuana can be an effective treatment for various ailments such as wasting, seizures and cancer. Evidence showing marijuana as a safer libation than alcohol is ignored as if it were non-existent and the harm to society from alcohol is ignored. President Obama even has a brewery in the basement of the White House where he has his own beer brewed. If people were to choose to grow their own marijuana to forego the black market, they risk loosing their home, their children, their money and their freedom. That’s quite a risk for choosing to use a safer drug than the one Obama brews in the White House. Recently the Justice Department caught HSBC in a money laundering scheme with the Mexican and Columbian drug cartels. HSBC had been laundering billions of dollars for the cartels over a 15 year period and were caught red-handed. Instead of confiscating the money and prosecuting the bank executives that were responsible, the Justice Department took 30 billion dollars and let HSBC punish the responsible banking executives by deferring their bonuses for five years. They didn’t lose their bonuses, they were just put in an interest bearing account for five years as their punishment. Nobody went to jail and the justice Department did the same thing that HSBC did, they took money to look the other way. The disparity of justice is staggering where the poor and people of color are disproportionately searched, arrested and incarcerated  than the wealthy and white population. We still have people serving life sentences for possession of marijuana, and people loosing millions of dollars in property and their freedom for sales of marijuana that are legal under state law and President Obama, “an admitted pot head” is brewing a more dangerous drug in the basement of the White House. People are still having their children removed from their custody for simple possession or use of marijuana. Federal law still requires that any businesses with a contract with the government to drug test as a condition of employment and the required test doesn’t even show if the person is impaired, only that they have used recently as a way to punish people who would not otherwise be caught by denying them employment. I believe the federal government is protecting businesses such as the drug testing industry, the drug rehab industry, the prison industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol industry, the cotton industry, the timber industry, the petrochemical industry and many others from the competition or loss they would incur if free people were allowed to choose a safer alternative to alcohol. We have the largest per capita prison population on earth as a result of this failed war on drugs with special emphasis on marijuana. Our constitutional rights against illegal searches have been circumvented and we are denied the right to pursue freedom and happiness and make decisions about our own health and safety. Hateful, hurtful, hypocrisy and a total disregard for personal freedom is what I see. End the war against Americans who choose a safer drug than alcohol. Come on Barry, was marijuana use a just cause for the government ruining people’s lives when you were Chooming with your friends, riding around totally absorbed, doing roof hits and intercepts? Was it so detrimental to your life that it kept you from reaching your goal of being President and chief hypocrite in the war against marijuana?

Randy Johnson

Whats Wrong With Paramilitary Raids

The war on drugs has led this nation to a point where citizens should have a real fear of encounters with police. All too often innocent people are shot in their own homes in a violent raid at the hands of paramilitary police looking for drugs. All too often these raids are at the wrong address. The police typically enter the home in the wee hours of the morning when people are asleep. When startled awake by police, breaking down your door and yelling, while storming through your house with flash bang grenades, assault weapons and lights, the victims of these invasions are in real danger. For one thing the police are likely scared and are looking for anything that may be perceived as a threat and ready to respond with deadly force to make sure they are not harmed. But people do not always react the way you would expect them to, especially when startled, scared, and half awake. Many people have firearms in their homes for self-defense, others may have a bat or a golf club and we all have the right to defend our homes. But anything in your hand, like a phone, or just having your hands where the police cannot see them is likely to cause them to panic and start shooting. The justification for this type of raid seems to be that the suspect may try to destroy evidence. In my line of thinking, if they have enough evidence for a paramilitary raid on someone’s home, then why are they worried about further evidence? This type of raid puts the whole family at risk. Typically the family dog is shot, the family is herded into one room in their underwear and held at gunpoint while the house is torn apart. Sometimes family members, even children are shot by mistake.  Wouldn’t it be safer to arrest the person at work or in a traffic stop, and then go search their house without the violence of a home invasion that endangers everyone involved. More and more we are treated as though we were the enemy of America instead of citizens. I think it is a pretty heavy hand in fighting a war against people who rarely ever fight back. In fact, I can’t remember a violent protest against marijuana prohibition, ever. The only violence I have seen would be from the crime syndicates who supply the drugs because our government won’t allow a legal source. Most of that violence is infighting between drug gangs that are fighting for turf to protect their market or settle disputes. All the other violence in the war on drugs is directed towards the users at the hand of law enforcement. It’s a very one-sided war, where drug users are not even allowed to own guns or ammunition by Federal Law. A right I might add, that was stripped from them without trial, representation or justification over a decade after the government declared war on them.

Police are almost never held accountable for mistakes in these raids. Accidental shootings are said to be justified if the police say they perceived a threat, even when they get the wrong house. Police have lost respect for our privacy and our rights against illegal searches and the Supreme Court has ruled that dogs may authorize searches. Some people have tried fighting back, by video taping the police’s actions as evidence of abuse, but this often brings wrath from law enforcement. People are arrested and phones or cameras are confiscated even though the Supreme Court has ruled that police can have no expectation of privacy in public law enforcement and video taping of police is legal. Congress seems to support these paramilitary raids by making military equipment and weapons available to local police either free or heavily discounted and offering grants for police departments to train for and conduct these raids. The Cato Institute tracks these raids and even has an interactive map highlighting errors made by law enforcement where innocent people are targeted by these raids and where needless deaths and injuries have occurred.

No Knock Raid preformed by Lindy (caution graphic images)

It all seems to swing on the premise that we as a society must eliminate drug use. Is it really that important to have the illusion of a drug free society that no one actually wants anyway? We all use drugs in one form or another. Anyone who claims otherwise in just not being honest. We use drugs to feel better. Most of the drugs we take are not curative, but only designed to alleviate some symptom and anyone who still believes alcohol is not a drug is delusional. We take drugs as a social catalyst, to relax, to correct sexual dysfunction, for restless legs, depression, pain relief, weight loss, to stay awake and for energy just to name a few reasons. It’s almost impossible to turn on a television without seeing an ad for some drug or a law firm wanting to represent people to sue a drug manufacturer for some unwanted side effect of a drug. Just because people use a drug, doesn’t mean they are sick or criminal, any more than you would consider that for those who use alcohol. We’re just people trying to get through life the best way we know how. What is so horrible about using marijuana that would justify a war against us?

Randy Johnson

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

http://reason.com/archives/2013/07/03/commit-any-felonies-lately

http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/27/shot-four-times-by-undercover-deputy-and

http://reason.com/blog/2012/12/17/attorney-leaks-dash-cam-video-of-police

http://reason.com/blog/2012/01/06/one-cop-dead-five-injured-in-would-be-ro

http://www.wmctv.com/story/20568356/mpd-officer

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/police-militarization-an-interview-with-radley-balko

http://reason.com/blog/2013/03/04/the-dhss-latest-toy-we-have-gunports-so

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/05/55432.htm

http://reason.com/blog/2013/05/16/45-million-settlement-for-family-of-unar

http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/our-opinion/columnists-blogs/bart-hinkle/hinkle-commit-any-felonies-lately/article_58344fc1-7d4f-584a-8d16-36a1b1f2cdc0.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/questions-arise-after-a-19-year-old-suspect-is-killed-in-frederick-raid/2013/06/14/de47aa2a-b809-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/autopsy-report-gives-details-in-death-of-man-with-down-syndrome-at-md-theater/2013/03/27/43848e64-971a-11e2-b68f-dc5c4b47e519_story.html

http://reason.com/blog/2013/06/14/constitutionally-illiterate-michael-bloo

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/11/cops-shoot-man-in-bed-shooting-ruled-jus

If Obama Wants To Combat Racism He Should Start With The War On Drugs

The Justice Departments insistence on pursuing an investigation into George Zimmerman on the basis of a racial hate crime is misguided. The jurors who struggled with the verdict about the guilt of Mr. Zimmerman claimed they did not believe race was an issue in the actions of George Zimmerman and the double jeopardy clause in the fifth amendment of our Constitution should allow their verdict to stand. If the Justice Department wants to combat racial intolerance, they should start with the war on drugs, where people of color and the poor are far more likely to be searched, arrested and incarcerated than whites or wealthy Americans.

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/15/obama-wants-you-to-respect-the-Zimmerman

http://reason.com/archives/2013/07/17/4-reasons-to-reject-federal-charges-agai

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/18/judge-napolitano-on-double-jeopardy

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/us/justice-department-to-restart-hate-crime-investigation-in-trayvon-martins-death.html?ref=us&_r=0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/16/george-zimmerman-juror-b37_n_3608057.html?ref=topbar

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/16/justice/tale-of-two-trials/index.html

http://www.aclu.org/billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased-arrests

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/12/dc-cops-criticised-for-black-ew

Randy Johnson

NSA Surveillace Is Unacceptable

There are a large number of our elected officials in Congress and The President who believe that they are justified in maintaining the surveillance of our electronic communications and internet searches along with our banking records and medical records. Their justification seems to swing on the premise that they are protecting us from terrorist threats. My question is what is going to protect us from them?

A majority of them seem to believe that continuing the blatantly racist and useless war against marijuana is a good idea. I’m not saying that marijuana should not be regulated, but the Federal Government has a long history of favoring rich industry in its actions and that is what I believe is the primary motivation for continuing their failed marijuana policy. I want the Federal Government out of the business of ruining people’s lives over marijuana. Let states decide how marijuana should be regulated.

There is sufficient evidence now showing that marijuana is far safer than alcohol or tobacco and it has a very promising place in future medicine, yet those we have elected to lead us regularly ignore and suppress any evidence showing marijuana to be beneficial to society. Their action only serves to protect industries that would be negatively effected by legal marijuana and hemp. Most Americans would benefit from a well-regulated marijuana and hemp market when considering how useful the marijuana plant can be. Hemp for instance is one of the best plants to make biofuel and petrochemical products and is carbon neutral. It can also be made into building products such as beams and sheathing to replace lumber and is a fine source of fiber for paper. It can also be made into clothing and hemp seeds have all the essential oils and nutrients for human health and have been used for human and animal food for thousands of years. The medicinal uses of marijuana alone should be enough of a reason to change the restrictions on marijuana use in the Controlled Substances Act, but Congress and the President seem bent on protecting the pharmaceutical industry and others. States that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes have seen a 9% reduction in traffic fatalities, likely due to people substituting marijuana for alcohol. If marijuana was available for recreational use those traffic fatality reduction statistics would likely be even more dramatic.

Even if all this were not true, allowing adults to celebrate with a libation different from alcohol should not be illegal as long as it caused no more harm to society than alcohol. Alcohol causes far more harm to society than all illegal drugs combined and the harm from marijuana is a miniscule part of that harm to society. When the overwhelming racial bias in the prosecution of the war on drugs is factored in, I believe our freedom is in serious jeopardy. Until our government has a long history of protecting our freedom, instead of selling us out for profit, I for one want the surveillance stopped.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/prism-collection-documents/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/house-committee-holds-hearing-on-nsa-surveillance-programs/2013/07/17/ffc3056c-eee3-11e2-9008-61e94a7ea20d_story.html

http://www.aclu.org/billions-dollars-wasted-racially-biased-arrests

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/16/marijuana-legalization-kids-parents/2519339/

http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Other/ALC_INT.HTM

http://reason.com/blog/2013/02/08/a-group-of-drug-war-profiteers-are-askin

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6630507.PN.&OS=PN/6630507&RS=PN/6630507

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/VRITHED.PDF

http://www.jackherer.com/

http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php

http://ftp.iza.org/dp6112.pdf

Randy Johnson

We Have Rights Our Government Refuses To Honor And Obligations We Have Neglected

Recently I have noticed that a large percentage of people I have talked to, did not know who Edward Snowden is. Most would add that news is depressing and they try to avoid it. Even my wife has told me the same thing. She avoids news because it is depressing. But we all suffer from information overload. In our society, we are constantly bombarded with new and often unimportant information mixed with information that we need, so it is not in our best interest to ignore it. We take it all in and filter what we believe is relevant or important and ignore the rest. We also live in a society where communication is almost as easy as looking at a watch and entertainment is as close as our phone. We can play interactive games, text, watch movies and surf the internet virtually anywhere, yet we have become disconnected from the things I believe are most important. Keeping watch over those we elected to lead us and protect our freedom.

Those we elected to represent us in government have failed to protect our rights and to uphold their oath of office. They refuse to acknowledge our second amendment as a right and treat it more as a privilege that can be legislated away incrementally, locally as well as at the federal level. All Constitutional rights and natural rights should be the same in any state or territory in our union. It is the job of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution of The United States of America as the supreme law of the land and protect our freedom, yet those in office are constantly looking for ways to circumvent the Constitution. Greed and corruption are rampant and it has become business as usual for Congress to pass laws favoring one business over another to create wealth and reward campaign contributions. A revolving door system of bureaucrat’s go back and forth from the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, the same can be said for companies like Monsanto and Cargill and the Department of Agriculture and the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies. Lobbyists from the richest and most powerful industries meet in private with members of Congress and the President and form federal policy and law without the voice of the people. If and when our rights, get in the way of this profit machine, government lawyers look for ways around the Constitution and our freedom suffers. Our fourth amendment rights against unlawful searches has also been attacked. Our elected leaders have allowed and likely encouraged the NSA, FBI, DHS, CIA and who knows what other government agency to view and record all of our phone, text, email, banking records and now the IRS will have access to all of our medical records. Even the Supreme Court which is supposed to be the last line of defense against unconstitutional laws passed by legislature, unanimously decided that dogs can authorize searches.

We have failed as well, in our obligations as citizens of society and to our government. We must work if we can and support our government by paying taxes, obey the laws and be willing to serve as jurors in the judicial process. We also are obligated to watch over those we elect to lead us and hold them accountable when they fail to uphold the Constitution. We are also obligated to come to our country’s defense if needed in time of war or any other national calamity. Regardless of whether we agree with one another, we have to live in this country together and find a way to get along. Yet we continue to push our elected officials to pass laws to keep us safe or to keep us from being offended. That leads them to pass laws that restrict freedom in almost all cases. Free people are no longer allowed to act on their freedom for fear of offending someone or getting sued. Communities are passing laws preventing all kinds of things such as smoking, gardening, clothes lines and lemonade stands. Our children were put on a diet by Federal mandate and one child was expelled from school for chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. Reason and common sense have given way to panic and hysteria where knee jerk reactions from our leaders further our loss of freedom. Discipline among our children has been lost and the judicial system has become the backup plan and we have the largest per capita prison population of any nation on earth. What happened to the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”?

Randy Johnson

Is Congress Above The Law

The war against marijuana is more about what is good and beneficial to people and society about marijuana and protecting existing industries from competition than the health risks or damage to society from its use.
Consider hemp, which is one of the best feed stocks for biofuel or ethanol production. We could grow enough hemp to rival our petroleum production and it is carbon neutral. Hemp can also be used to make fabric for clothing and does not require the vast amount of chemicals used in cotton production. Over 50% of all agricultural chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer are used in cotton production. Hemp can also be made into sulfur free charcoal to be used to fire coal-fired power plants, and again it is carbon neutral. It can be made into building materials such as sheathing to replace plywood and beams to replace lumber, saving our forests that actually capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Henry Ford once made a car from hemp based plastic that was said to be stronger than steel when struck with a hammer and it ran on biofuel made from hemp. Hemp seeds contain all of the essential oils and nutrients that are necessary for human health and have been used as food for people and livestock for thousands of years. Hemp was so vital to the development of our nation that up until a hundred years ago we had laws mandating that farmers grow hemp and it was even legal tender for a time in our nations history.
As far as smoked marijuana or marijuana edibles, marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. It has been found to be effective in treating pain, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, wasting, post traumatic stress, cancer and more, yet our government steadfastly ignores all of this evidence, even though they hold a patent on marijuana that describes in detail how marijuana is efficacious in treating cancer. Could they be protecting the pharmaceutical industry? States that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, have seen a 9% reduction in traffic fatalities. The study did not determine the reason for this drop in traffic fatalities but speculated that it may be because people may have been substituting marijuana for alcohol. If that turns out to be the case, recreational marijuana may have an even greater effect on reducing traffic fatalities. Marijuana is far safer for individuals and society, than alcohol or tobacco from a health viewpoint and does not have the strong association with violence that alcohol has.
Based on what is currently known about marijuana, the arguments our government uses to support marijuana prohibition are baseless and just plain wrong. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that our government is protecting certain businesses from competition or loss from legal marijuana and hemp. But then again, why would you expect anything else from the corrupt government we have that believes they are above the law, the Constitution and the will of the people?
http://www.jackherer.com/
http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php
http://ftp.iza.org/dp6112.pdf
https://itsmycountrytoo.org/laws-built-on-lies/
http://reason.com/blog/2013/02/08/a-group-of-drug-war-profiteers-are-askin
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6630507.PN.&OS=PN/6630507&RS=PN/6630507
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/VRITHED.PDF
Randy Johnson

Marijuana Is Not For Children Or Maybe It Is

Recently there were several stories in the news of children ingesting edible marijuana products, some requiring medical treatment. The articles generally called this poisoning, yet the treatment indicated the patients were watched and after several hours of rest, they were released and were fine with no further complications. Poisoning is a pretty strong term for marijuana ingestion as it would likely be impossible to produce a life threatening condition by ingesting marijuana. DEA Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, once declared after hearing extensive testimony from doctors and patients on the efficacy of marijuana as medicine that;

15. In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death.

16. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.” http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php

While marijuana may not harm a child by an incidental or accidental ingestion, its effect on the developing brain is not well understood and children should not have access to marijuana. Just like parents should not allow children to consume alcohol and tobacco, the use of marijuana needs to be restricted to adults. Children lack the maturity and experience to deal with intoxicating substances and the health risks to children’s developing brains is just too great a risk. Parents or grandparents that use marijuana, with children in the home should be cognizant that edible marijuana products are a strong temptation for children and their access should be restricted. You wouldn’t want your child raiding your liquor cabinet or smoking your cigarettes and the same precautions should apply to your marijuana as well.

http://healthyliving.msn.com/pregnancy-parenting/kids-health/kids-poisoned-by-medical-marijuana-study-finds-1

Often marijuana prohibition advocates use the argument that marijuana needs to remain illegal to protect the children. An article by William Cooke from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, titled ” Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children – an argument for drug legalization”, highlights the errors in that argument. Among his observations are that marijuana use among children is actually lower in Holland where people can use marijuana without being arrested, because the people selling the marijuana are legitimate business people who want to preserve their business and therefore will not break the law and sell to minors. While there will always be people who will help minors gain access to marijuana just like people give alcohol and cigarettes to children. Children as a general rule cannot purchase alcohol or tobacco from the store. Legal outlets have a strong incentive to check ages of young customers to protect their business. The article also discusses the racial beginnings of anti-marijuana laws and the racial bias in todays enforcement where an inordinate number of Black and Latino families are torn apart by racial profiling and incarceration in the war on drugs. Also the article discusses the fact that most drug related violence and gangs that harm children would go away if drugs were legalized. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a fine organization of law enforcement officers, judges and others in the criminal justice system that advocate for an end to the failed war on drugs. This article at http://www.leap.cc/ is an excellent read. http://copssaylegalize.blogspot.com/2009/12/wont-somebody-please-think-of-children.html
Update:
As a desperate attempt to save their child who was experiencing epileptic seizures, sometimes up to 250 a day where he would stop breathing until the seizure was over, these parents decided to try medical marijuana to help their child. They had tried 17 different medications and treatments that didn’t work and one doctor recommended medical marijuana. A group of brothers who own a medical marijuana store in Colorado have been growing a special strain of marijuana that is very low in THC especially for him and he has been seizure free now for 9 months. These conservative, Christian parents believe marijuana has saved their child’s life.
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/medical-marijuana-can-help-sick-kids-some-worry-about-risks-6C10506407

Happy Independence Day

July 4th marks the birth of our nation. Brave men risked their lives, their fortunes and the lives of their families in an act of treason by sending our Declaration of Independence to King George III and declaring that they would no longer tolerate the acts of tyranny perpetuated by royal dictate from a king that did not recognize their rights. It listed several basic human rights that had been violated and declared that some of our rights were ordained by God and therefore could not be taken away by men. They declared that all men are created equal and that when governments become hostile to basic human rights, and after long suffrage, men have the right and obligation to throw off those bonds and form their own government and that those who govern do so by the consent of the governed. Their actions set the stage for what would become the greatest nation on earth, an economic and military superpower and a beacon for freedom and democracy. We have every right to be proud of America and all that it stands for.

It is worth noting though, that not all Americans share the same reverence for this holiday celebrating our freedom, because not all of them received their freedom as a result of the birth of our nation. The American Indians certainly have no reason to celebrate the birth of a nation that destroyed their way of life and stole the land that had been passed down to them through countless generations. The blacks in this country generally celebrate their independence on Emancipation Proclamation Day, when slavery was abolished. Even then they had to wait and suffer before they were allowed to vote and faced decades of persecution and discrimination because of racial prejudice and hatred. Women’s right to vote came years later. Although our Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal, it has taken us 237 years to get to where we are today and still people are struggling for equal treatment and freedom under the law.

The Edward Snowden affair highlights what the founders of our nation were fighting, a government that has lost its way and become openly hostile to the rights of its citizens. In direct violation of our 4th amendment rights of privacy and guarantees against illegal searches, our government has decided it is ok to spy on us and believes we have no right to even know about it, much less question their motives or ask how they justify such actions. Congress swore an oath to support and defend our Constitution, yet they have become openly hostile to protecting our rights and the rule of law that they are obligated to uphold. Another battle in the assault on our 4th amendment rights is the war against marijuana where now the Supreme court says that dogs may authorize searches and paramilitary raids on homes and helicopter and drone surveillance have become all too common, just for choosing a drug that is not alcohol. A drug that is safer for the individual and society than alcohol, yet those who use marijuana are still treated as enemies of the United States. They are persecuted and prosecuted at every opportunity and people of color are still arrested and incarcerated at a grossly disproportionate rate.

We are still one of the most free nations on earth but we seem to be going in the wrong direction and loosing freedom to a government bent on gaining knowledge of all parts of our lives and control of all of our actions. More and more we are being treated as though we are the enemy, yet we are The United States of America, and those that govern us are supposed to represent us and govern by our consent. I just hope it is not too late to preserve our nation and the freedom that so many of our brave men and women have fought for. We still have a long way to go before we are all free. Lets keep our eyes on the prize.
http://reason.com/archives/2013/07/03/the-surveillance-state-isnt-coming-its-h
http://reason.com/archives/2013/07/03/stossel-shrugged

I hope you all have a happy Independence Day.
Randy Johnson

Is It Sinful To Have Fun

As my children reached the age where they were no longer entertained by Legos and toy cars and more interested in video games, I looked for ways to engage them outdoors where fresh air and exercise would more likely be available. We would go camping, fishing and my love for riding motorcycles was one of the things that I wanted to share with my children. The first bike they got was a Honda Mini Trail 50 that I thought would be the safest way to teach them to ride. On his first attempt my eldest son ran into a tree but quickly became able to avoid obstacles and avoid injury. Both boys loved the experience, so I bought them each a bike and one for myself, so I could keep up with them. I always stressed that they should always wear a helmet, long pants and never ride alone. Our riding was always off-road, which meant loading the bikes in the truck or on a trailer and transporting them an hour or so away. Because of this, we would often include a camping trip with the motorcycle riding and that somewhat limited their riding. We had a large vacant lot down the street from our house and I had an agreement with the land owner to allow my sons to ride there, and in return I would keep the property mowed and we would pick up trash as well. It seemed like a reasonable and safe way for my sons to be able to ride not far from the house when we could not schedule a trip to the river or the lake where we would ride trails. They were instructed to push the bikes the half block to the vacant lot as riding down the street or the ally would have been illegal. However it never really worked out. Almost every time they attempted to ride, someone would call the police and when the police arrived my children would be threatened with arrest and impoundment of the motorcycles. I discussed this with the police on a couple of occasions and assured them that we had permission to ride where they were riding and each time the police concluded that as long as they had permission it would be ok, but the harassment never ended. I even went to talk to the district attorney and the local judge to try to find what ordinance we were breaking and never got an answer and both refered me back to the police who simply stated that they could not ride in the city because they had no license and the bikes were not street legal. The police had an exception for themselves though. They had 4 wheelers that they would ride at public gatherings such as parades and large gatherings such as the annual Relay for Life cancer fundraiser. The only thing that made any sense to me about the police not allowing my children to ride on the lot was that someone had complained and they felt obligated to stop the offense. I was never able to find out which ordinance we were breaking and other off-road vehicles such as riding mowers, golf carts and tractors were never a problem. Is it just that some people can’t stand to see others having fun?

Society seems bent on forbidding things that people enjoy, not because of public safety, but because they associate enjoyment with sinful behavior. I believe this is why the legalization of marijuana has had such an uphill climb. Some people see the use of marijuana as morally wrong. Like people who use marijuana are broken and must be repaired by society, usually through punishment such as fines, probation or incarceration. Now that our government has finally conceded that calling this a war against marijuana is counter productive and alienates the public, they have slightly altered their tactics. Now many courts are offering the chance for rehabilitation instead of incarceration. The financial penalty still applies as the defendant must still pay court costs and the cost of rehabilitation, plus the loss of wages while undergoing the rehabilitation. And if the defendant does not complete the rehabilitation or fails any of the mandatory drug tests, they are right back to incarceration. The only thing is, most marijuana users do not agree that they actually need or want to be rehabilitated. There is nothing morally different from marijuana use than drinking wine or beer. What if everyone caught with alcohol were treated this way? Why are we not allowed to choose a safer alternative to alcohol and why must the punishment be so severe? Even in places where marijuana is decriminalized or where the punishment is less severe, the prosecuting attorney often stacks charges, such as intent to distribute and paraphernalia charges to increase the penalty. If the person has a firearm, the charges automatically escalate to felony weapons charges in addition to the marijuana charges, even though marijuana has a much lower association with violence than alcohol. Just because someone chooses to use marijuana does not mean they are a threat to themselves or society, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. Millions of people use marijuana and alcohol every day without problems. Why can’t people in society, simply live and let live? Don’t you have enough problems of your own?

Randy Johnson

This article from reason magazine highlights how governments and society ban all sorts of relatively benign behavior because of Puritanical beliefs, most of which are not based on facts.

http://reason.com/archives/2013/06/26/the-government-bans-fun-not-danger/1

Marijuana Paraphernalia Now A Felony In Florida

Drug haters keep looking for ways to end marijuana use or just punish marijuana users. Now Florida has made the second offense for possession of marijuana paraphernalia a felony. Marijuana users can now be severely punished even if they do not have any marijuana. A felony conviction would take away their right to vote, eliminating their voice from the political process. Consider that Florida is a 3 strikes law state and that if a person had a bong, a couple of pipes and a one hitter but no pot they might receive a life sentence. While I realize this scenario is very unlikely, this is still an extremely draconian law designed only to punish people for a crime that they didn’t get caught doing or to further punish people for a crime past the sentencing that is dictated by law. Its like punishing beer drinkers for having an ice chest or a bottle opener. The hatred of marijuana and marijuana users is not based on science or facts but driven by emotion, and that emotion is hatred.

When the argument that marijuana is of great harm to society is used, it must be accompanied with the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug which leads to the use of harder drugs because there is just not enough evidence that shows marijuana causes harm to its users or to society. Granted many lives are lost or otherwise damaged by drug abuse in aggregate, but the damage to individuals or society from marijuana use alone is negligible. There is very little evidence that the gateway theory has any merit. Almost all studies that consider the gateway theory, say that the gateway effect is likely caused by marijuana being illegal and sold on the black market along with other illegal drugs, not because marijuana use makes people desire other drugs. Statistically, most marijuana users never go on to use other drugs. No one even considers that alcohol is just as likely to be a gateway to drug abuse as anything else. I believe the real reason people insist on continuing the failed prohibition of marijuana, is that they can’t stand the idea that people are getting high. No one really wants a drug free society. That would eliminate alcohol as well as all medicinal products. Making marijuana paraphernalia a felony is just a desperate way to punish people for marijuana use, even when they don’t have any. Similar to the way the federal government attempts to punish marijuana users with denied employment by mandating drug testing. Prohibiting marijuana allows them to live in an imaginary world where no one ever alters their consciousness with anything other than alcohol. They would likely prohibit alcohol as well if they could, but that would be a hard sell, considering the number of people who enjoy alcohol and the large sums of money our government receives in taxes from alcohol sales and the money funneled into political campaigns from the alcohol lobby.

We are losing the constitutional protections of the fourth amendment against illegal searches largely due to the war on drugs. Now a search can be authorized by a dog. Soon molecular scanners may replace the dogs and our government seems to think that all electronic communication from phone and email communications to banking and health records are theirs for the taking. Soon nothing will be beyond the prying eyes of Uncle Sam, not even our DNA and the war against marijuana is on the front lines of this assault on the fourth amendment. Millions of people use marijuana on a regular basis and evidence shows that it is a much safer alternative to alcohol use. In fact, states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes have seen a 9% reduction in traffic fatalities. The reasons for the reduction in traffic fatalities is not clear but it seems to be caused by people substituting alcohol use for that of marijuana. Why not let people choose a safer alternative to alcohol? Legalize marijuana.

Randy Johnson

http://peacersvp.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/insane-bong-pipe-ban-signed-by-fl-gov-rick-scott-2x-felony/

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=49236

http://news.ufl.edu/2006/01/10/three-strikes-law/

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=277001.docx&DocumentType=Amendments&BillNumber=0049&Session=2013

http://www.dailypaul.com/283832/insane-bill-banning-bongs-pipes-heading-to-governor-in-fl

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Gateway_Theory#sthash.uSKxAlCw.dpbs

http://ftp.iza.org/dp6112.pdf

http://www.criminallawyerillinois.com/2010/11/19/penalties-for-possession-of-drug-paraphernalia-under-illinois-law/