Guns, pot and liberty

While some politicians have
sullied the meaning of the word “change,” there is change in the atmosphere and
it is for the best.

After years of attack by myriad
anti-firearms laws, advocates of a person’s right to keep and bear arms were
supported by the U.S. Supreme Court. In striking down a Chicago anti-gun law,
the court ruled, in June, that the Second Amendment does apply to individuals,
that they do have a constitutionally guaranteed right to possess firearms for
self defense.

One thing that didn’t change
was the status of marijuana in the country. A proposal to legalize the
possession of up to an ounce of pot went down to defeat in California. The
referendum failed by a 53-47 percent margin.

Though Prop 19 was defeated,
the mere fact that is was on the ballot is seen as a victory in the sense that
many more people—more than just those who use marijuana—are now considering
re-legalizing. (Note that all drugs were legal until the Harrison narcotics Act
of 1914.)

Proponents of Prop 19 have said
they will bring it up again in 2012 and expect passage then. The 2010 vote came
down based on age, primarily, they said. By 2012, 1,000,000 more young voters
are expected to be going to the polls.

What may be even more
significant is that attitudes toward marijuana in general are changing.
Millions of people, especially those who don’t use drugs, are beginning to
recognize the failure, waste and unconstitutionality of the war on some drugs—those
drugs not supported by Big Pharma or the tobacco, liquor, wine and beer industries.

The federal government has no
constitutional authority to prohibit drug possession, sale or use. Even during
the first era of prohibition—that of alcohol—the government had to wait until
the passage of the 18th Amendment, which was ultimately repealed,
ending prohibition.

No such amendment was ever
enacted regarding the current crop of illicit drugs. But the current drug war
has had the same effect as alcohol prohibition—increased violence and stronger
substances. It’s been said that crack cocaine is the bathtub gin of the drug
war, something that wouldn’t even exist had there been no prohibition in the
first place.

The drug war is destroying
lives in other ways, too, a fact recognized even by religious broadcaster Pat
Robertson of the 700 Club. He told an audience of the Christian Broadcasting Network that
marijuana laws are too strong and that prison sentences are too long for kids
who have “taken a couple puffs of marijuana…We've got to take a look at what
we're considering crimes and that's one of 'em...Criminalizing marijuana,
criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing is
costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people."

He did not come out in favor of
re-legalization or even decriminalization, but when a member of the religious
right acknowledges that drug laws are too harsh, it’s time for more people to
wake up.

People may debate whether
or not there is value to using substances such as marijuana, but there can be
no argument that people have a right to ingest or inhale whatever they want so
long as they do not violate the rights of others in the process. That right is
just as natural as the right to self defense, and—based on the 9th
Amendment—just as guaranteed.

For the sake of liberty,
we support the Supreme Court’s ruling in June and hope the federal and state
governments end the war on drugs that is no more than a war on the peoples’

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