Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Holy Rollers! Boy Uses Bible As Rolling Papers

A 16-year-old boy who used a page from his Bible as a rolling paper for a marijuana joint was charged with drug possession, an Erie County sheriff deputy's report said.

The boy's mother called deputies at about 11:35 p.m. Tuesday, asking them to meet her at a car wash on Ohio 101.

The mother said she saw her son smoking in his bedroom and found a small bag of marijuana in his night stand, the report said.

The mother told deputies her son "was smoking a marijuana cigarette using a page from his Bible," the report said.

Now that truly is a religious experience: a holy roller. Better than a medical necessity defense- it is a first amendment defense of religious freedom. Shades of the Ethiopian Coptic Church.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pot and The Right to Pursue Happiness

By Norm Kent

During his tenure as the Fort Lauderdale Police Chief, the late Ron Cochran was one day asked how he relieved the stress of his tension-filled job: “Like everyone else” he quipped, “I smoke a joint.”

“Only kidding”, he quickly added to the reporter.

Well, I’m not kidding. And neither are twenty million Americans every day. They use marijuana medicinally and recreationally, but the bottom line, is ‘Weeds’ is more than a TV show on HBO. It is a way of life for good and decent people who openly inhale without apology.

Marijuana may be the second-largest cash crop in America. But we will never know until all the farmers who grow can openly distribute it. I can guarantee you this. When the day comes that the weed can be legally grown, openly marketed, and its revenue streams can be lawfully traced, we will have a new growth industry in America that rivals corn. Hemp has multiple uses. Heck, it was used as rope for our paratroopers in World War II. If it worked for George Bush, it can work for you.

In our free marketplace, where there is a demand there shall be a supply. When the late William F. Buckley recommended legalizing marijuana twenty years ago, he framed it in economic terms: “A profit of 2,000 percent is a powerful engine to try to stop in a free society.” When financial gurus were called into California last year to seek out new ways to generate income streams to prevent the imminent bankruptcy of the state, it’s no surprise that one of the recommendations postured to state legislators was the legalization and taxation of marijuana growth and distribution. Why fight what you cannot stop? Why not employ a tempered truce instead of a useless war?

The crusade to ban marijuana is unquestionably harmful. You criminalize an innocent portion of the population. You turn politicians into hypocrites. You lay the foundation for corruption in law enforcement. You deny the reality that an informed public can make educated decisions about substance abuse. You ignore the scientific truths that marijuana has historically had socially redeeming qualities and medical value.

In support of its pogrom against decency, we watch helplessly as our Government denies students scholarships and mothers welfare. Law enforcement conducts invasive aerial dragnets and unconstitutional searches which trespass on fundamental American privacy rights. We provide for courts to sanction feudal-like forfeitures of personal property for carrying some weed in your car or growing it on your own. And we justify it in the name of a law that should be off the books anyway.

The routine police pronouncements of major pot seizures involving millions of dollars and thousands of plants are reminiscent of Vietnamese war body counts, where the Government sold a bill of goods to the public while our generals promised ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. That same fraud today inaccurately suggests that drugs are evil, and criminality evolves from the use, misuse, and abuse of those drugs. The real abuse however, comes from the enforcement mechanisms our government has improperly created and wrongfully maintained. Now the government has become the criminal, and its judicial system ratifies injustice.

I am not content, though, with saying pot should be legalized because the Government’s activities are a far more criminal than they are just. I am not content with saying taxing weed today is our way of balancing budgets tomorrow. I am for legalizing marijuana because it is responsible and just legislation that preserves the dignity of the human being while maximizing individual liberty.

Pot users don’t smoke reefer anymore because they want to rebel, turn on, tune in or drop out.

Pot smokers don’t get high because marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, though it is.

Pot smokers don’t light up because they want to dis their parents, challenge their government, or need to make a political statement.

Pot smokers smoke in the privacy of their own home, or in their backyards, or on their porches at night, simply to enhance their spirit and enjoy their lives. Some use it to relieve pain, ease stress, and tame diseases which were not of their own making. For some it is recreation, others medication. What matters is that the choice is theirs, the right ours.

Our government protects many rights, and our country was born with a bill of them. The first of these is a right to pursue happiness, one our courts have somehow forgotten to guard or jealously protect.

As NORML gathers in California this weekend, let us reaffirm the principle that ‘Yes We Cannabis’ because it is perfectly normal to consume marijuana. And after 30 years we have shown there are responsible users, from Presidents to police chiefs to your neighbors next door.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Obama Follies: Can Anyone Here Play This Game?

Have you seen some of those recent chase videos where the driver of the reckless and weaving car fleeing police turns out to be a 10 year old kid?

I am beginning to get the feeling that the Obama Administration has about as steady a hand on the wheel of national security that these kids have over the cars they are pilfering.

As I was getting ready to write a memorial column about 9/11, a breaking news flash comes across CNN that as the Presidential motorcade is crossing the Potomac River, the Coast Guard is firing ten rounds at a suspicious vessel in the restricted waters nearby.

As the day unfolds, we find out that it was a pre-planned training exercise which the Coast Guard maybe just forgot to tell anyone about. In fact, the Coast Guard postured that to ensure “its readiness posture” they conduct training scenarios on a daily basis. Really? They customarily shoot off rounds and volleys of live ammunition as a Presidential Motorcade is driving by?

In the back of my mind, there is the memory last April, of the US Air Force One Jet flying over the Hudson accompanied by fighter pilots, which turned out to be a government sponsored promotional photo shoot. All it did was trigger thousands of people to evacuate their offices as memories of 9-11 resurfaced. I can see it now: the next time a 747 lands in the Hudson, citizens are going to think it’s a movie crew.

I remember a Jimmy Breslin book about the hapless New York Mets, who finished the season 40-120. It was called “Can’t Anybody Here Play this Game?” I am beginning to think it is about the Obama Administration, whose first American achievement was “vetting” Cabinet members, half of whom it seemed cheated on their taxes, had illegal housemaids, or skeletons in their closet. Can you imagine what the media would have done if it was a Republican administration trying to get away with this stuff?

The week started with Americans hearing how we are losing the war in Afghanistan and the candidate who said he was bringing troops home said 45,000 more would be going there, as we heard of our bloodiest losses in years. But the real news from the Afghan front came not on the battlefields. Instead, we heard of nude and lewd parties running rampant in the embassy living quarters, courtesy of the security guards we are paying to be there. And in a shrewd tax saving effort, we are now assigning American personnel to to watch over the embassy's security guards. So we are going to watch the watchers. This is no Abu Ghraib, but is it far behind?

We said for years Ronald Reagan was a Teflon president, with nothing sticking to him, but Obama is living like a kid on a water slide. Nine months into the new administration, all we have is an expansion of the old war, with no hope in sight of it ending. The only thing in sight is American soldiers targeted by insurgents while getting killed far away from home.

It is about time that liberals and progressives start holding Mr. Obama to task. The latest outrages are coming on the marijuana front. While the Obama Administration announced early on they were going to stop raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California, those raids have continued as if President Bush was still in power. His new director of anti drug policy has not modified his stance on pot reform, but remained intransigent, and very little in the way of progressive reform has been delivered, despite early promises.

I am one of the President’s supporters, and I am still confident progressive changes are around the corner. But the corner is beginning to seem like William Westmoreland’s Vietnam War Proclamation that ‘we see the light at the end of the tunnel’. Yeah, and that light is a 15 watt bulb. Heck, some us are still ‘waiting for Godot.’

A government has to move forward on many fronts at once, and it is impossible to expect improvements immediately. It is possible to expect, however, that the new leaders are making their mark, setting their goals, and leading the way to a new direction. I cannot think of a single Cabinet member that has made a marked difference in anything anywhere. Except maybe they got there because they survived that vetting process I joked about earlier.

I remain faithful to the truths that the President espouses, but as my credit cards get cancelled, my credit lines eliminated, I am wondering why only the banks got bailouts. I am wondering why we are giving more credit to the institutions that robbed us instead of the individuals who helped us build our communities. I am wondering how one year after we gave banks millions of dollars that Bank of America executives are still getting trillion dollar payoffs for leaving the disasters they created and coddled, manufactured and mishandled, played out and perpetuated.

I am wondering just wondering when the American dream became the American nightmare, and when the economic crisis will end. I am not sure we have seen the worst. What happens when the airlines come and ask for the bailouts auto dealers did? What happens when commercial properties start crashing the way residences did, and stores like Macy’s and Sears shut their doors? What happens if food prices start to rise?

We are so busy fighting alligators every day I am concerned that we have lost sight of the greater battle to drain the swamp. And there is nothing about a government throwing dollars at every problem which suggests to me that things will change soon. I run an office of five persons and our Blue Cross costs annually are greater than the annual working wage of most Americans. It almosts pays to get sick and not work, just to get value for dollar. But then there are no jobs out there anyway.

So as Jimmy Breslin once wrote of the 1962 NY Mets, I ask, 'Can anyone here play this game?'

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rest In Peace: A 9-11 Tribute

On this day of loss and remembrance, where so many of us lost so much; where those of us born and raised in New York saw our heart and soul torn asunder, one piece comes to mind above and beyond all others.

Written by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, it speaks for itself and will forever be imprinted in my mind.

by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

I am a World Trade Center tower, standing tall in the clear blue sky, feeling a violent blow in my side, and
I am a towering inferno of pain and suffering imploding upon myself and collapsing to the ground.
May I rest in peace.

I am a terrified passenger on a hijacked airplane not knowing where we are going or that I am riding on fuel tanks that will be instruments of death, and
I am a worker arriving at my office not knowing that in just a moment my future will be obliterated.
May I rest in peace.

I am a pigeon in the plaza between the two towers eating crumbs from someone's breakfast when fire rains down on me from the skies, and
I am a bed of flowers admired daily by thousands of tourists now buried under five stories of rubble.
May I rest in peace.

I am a firefighter sent into dark corridors of smoke and debris on a mission of mercy only to have it collapse around me, and
I am a rescue worker risking my life to save lives who is very aware that I may not make it out alive.
May I rest in peace.

I am a survivor who has fled down the stairs and out of the building to safety who knows that nothing will ever be the same in my soul again, and
I am a doctor in a hospital treating patients burned from head to toe who knows that these horrible images will remain in my mind forever.
May I know peace.

I am a tourist in Times Square looking up at the giant TV screens thinking I'm seeing a disaster movie as I watch the Twin Towers crash to the ground, and
I am a New York woman sending e-mails to friends and family letting them know that I am safe.
May I know peace.

I am a piece of paper that was on someone's desk this morning and now I'm debris scattered by the wind across lower Manhattan, and
I am a stone in the graveyard at Trinity Church covered with soot from the buildings that once stood proudly above me, death meeting death.
May I rest in peace.

I am a dog sniffing in the rubble for signs of life, doing my best to be of service, and
I am a blood donor waiting in line to make a simple but very needed contribution for the victims.
May I know peace.

I am a resident in an apartment in downtown New York who has been forced to evacuate my home, and
I am a resident in an apartment uptown who has walked 100 blocks home in a stream of other refugees.
May I know peace.

I am a family member who has just learned that someone I love has died, and
I am a pastor who must comfort someone who has suffered a heart-breaking loss.
May I know peace.

I am a loyal American who feels violated and vows to stand behind any military action it takes to wipe terrorists off the face of the earth, and
I am a loyal American who feels violated and worries that people who look and sound like me are all going to be blamed for this tragedy.
May I know peace.

I am a frightened city dweller who wonders whether I'll ever feel safe in a skyscraper again, and
I am a pilot who wonders whether there will ever be a way to make the skies truly safe.
May I know peace.

I am the owner of a small store with five employees that has been put out of business by this tragedy, and
I am an executive in a multinational corporation who is concerned about the cost of doing business in a terrorized world.
May I know peace.

I am a visitor to New York City who purchases postcards of the World Trade Center Twin Towers that are no more, and
I am a television reporter trying to put into words the terrible things I have seen.
May I know peace.

I am a boy in New Jersey waiting for a father who will never come home, and
I am a boy in a faraway country rejoicing in the streets of my village because someone has hurt the hated Americans.
May I know peace.

I am a general talking into the microphones about how we must stop the terrorist cowards who have perpetrated this heinous crime, and
I am an intelligence officer trying to discern how such a thing could have happened on American soil, and
I am a city official trying to find ways to alleviate the suffering of my people.
May I know peace.

I am a terrorist whose hatred for America knows no limit and I am willing to die to prove it, and
I am a terrorist sympathizer standing with all the enemies of American capitalism and imperialism, and
I am a master strategist for a terrorist group who planned this abomination.
My heart is not yet capable of openness, tolerance, and loving.
May I know peace.

I am a citizen of the world glued to my television set, fighting back my rage and despair at these horrible events, and
I am a person of faith struggling to forgive the unforgivable, praying for the consolation of those who have lost loved ones, calling upon the merciful beneficence of God/Lord/Allah/Spirit/Higher Power.
May I know peace.

I am a child of God who believes that we are all children of God and we are all part of one another.
May we all know peace.