Hemp of Your Garment
On January 4, 2012, members of the Weber-Morgan [Counties, Utah] Narcotics Strike Force attempted to arrest Matthew David Stewart, 37, a former Army sergeant and Iraq war veteran. Holding a valid “knock and announce” warrant, they broke down Stewart’s door in a quiet neighborhood of Ogden, Utah and a shootout ensued. Stewart allegedly shot six police officers and killed one of them, Officer Jared Francom.
According to the warrant for Stewart’s arrest on murder and attempted murder charges that ensued, Stewart fired on Strike Force officers from a
concealed position at close range with a Beretta 9 mm semi-automatic pistol … Agent Grogan was struck in the face and went to the floor. Agent Derek Draper returned fire as he was fired upon … Agent Kasey Burrell [was hit] at least twice and [Stewart] mortally wounded Agent Jared Francom who was struck six times. … Stewart shot Sergeant Nate Hutchinson several times as he engaged the suspect and helped wounded officers evacuate … the suspect also shot Agent James Vanderwarf … Stewart advanced on officers as they were trying to evacuate … and continued firing at officers as they moved away from the home … the suspect shot Officer Rounkles twice as he entered the home … Stewart moved to the front door of the residence and continued shooting into the street and front yard at the already wounded agents and fellow agents … Police returned fire causing the suspect to retreat … and exit the northeast bedroom window into the backyard … entered a small storage shed.
The cause of all this carnage? Allegedly, home-grown marijuana.
Stewart was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was attempting to self-medicate with pot he grew himself, his father claims.We’ve tried prohibition before. On January 16, 1919, Utah was among five states that helped the Eighteenth Amendment cross the 36-state threshold on that day. Forty-six of then 48 states (all except Connecticut and Rhode Island) eventually ratified the amendment. The accompanying Volstead Act went into effect on January 17, 1920. A wave of crime never before seen in the United States ensued, spawning Al Capone, Bugs Moran, and a slew of other now-infamous organized crime bosses and enforcers.
The Twenty-First Amendment, ratified on December 5, 1933, repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. Prohibition is now regarded by historians as an epic mistake. The libertarian Cato Institute published a white paper in 1991 titled, “Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure”.
Colorado is one of the battleground states in this year’s Presidential election. Its nine electoral votes are currently in the “tossup” category. Colorado has a strong Libertarian streak; the Libertarian Party was founded in Colorado Springs in 1971.
In the 2008 election, candidate Barack Obama famously promised to have his Justice Department ease off on enforcement of marijuana laws, suggesting the decriminalization (but not legalization) of medical marijuana. At that time, Obama said:
What I’m not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism. We’ve got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with.
He has partially reneged on this promise, but just as his personal and political positions on same-sex marriage were at odds until recently, he seems to feel differently as a person about marijuana decriminalization or legalization than he does as President.
Candidate Mitt Romney argues for strict enforcement of marijuana laws:
People talk about medicinal marijuana. And you know, you hear that story that people who are sick need medicinal marijuana. But marijuana is the entry drug for people trying to get kids hooked on drugs. I don’t want medicinal marijuana; there are synthetic forms of marijuana that are available for people who need it for prescription. Don’t open the doorway to medicinal marijuana.
The Cato Institute isn’t fond of either Romney or Obama. They gave Romney a “C” grade on fiscal responsibility as governor. As Doug Bandow, a Cato scholar, puts it:
For Republicans, only a few human vices should not be fixed by the national government. Like smoking. But Uncle Sam should crusade against other drugs, battle the scourge of pornography, and make us all moral. Moreover, government is supposed to enrich business and other favored interest groups, only those which contributed to the GOP instead of the Democratic Party.
Therefore, political observers are carefully watching a ballot initiative in Colorado, “The Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative”, which would, unsurprisingly, legalize marijuana. A similar measure was defeated by an 18-point margin in 2006.
Gallup polling now shows a majority nationwide in favor of marijuana legalization. As with same-sex marriage, public opinion has undergone a sea change over the last 40 years. A December, 2011, Public Policy Polling survey of Colorado voters finds a plurality in favor of unconditional marijuana legalization (49 to 40 percent favoring) and a large majority in favor of medical marijuana use (68 percent to 25 percent).
Could marijuana legalization bring Democratic voters to the polls and give President Obama an electoral Rocky Mountain High?
- Reefer (prohibition) madness (steveprestegard.com)
- The Washingtonian on the Cato vs. Koch Conflict (volokh.com)
- Gary Johnson, Libertarian Candidate, Gives Marijuana Supporters an Alternative to Republicans (blogs.sfweekly.com)
- Obama, pot legalization to share Colorado ballot (politico.com)
- Obama’s War on Bongs: Capitol Hemp Edition (reason.com)
- Obama’s Chances In Key State Could Hinge On Marijuana (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mitt Romney’s Crazy Comments on Medical Marijuana (musicians4freedom.com)
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