Sunday, June 12, 2005

Come on your honor… everyone’s doing it!

Famous pot smokers aside. Last week, in a second bid to subvert the will of voters in ten states, the Bush Administration got the US Supreme Court to rule that the Feds can prosecute the sick for marijuana crimes when they are legally proscribed cannabis in states that have medical marijuana laws – and they have wasted no time in getting it done. We already know about the high costs of prohibition (especially in the North Country). We’d like to know where the states rights conservatives stand on this one, but we’re aware that the media is in their pocket so it was no surprise that the story quickly faded from public and the tough questions were never asked – or at least never answered.

It will have an impact in Vermont though, and in New York where a half-hearted reform of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws last year means that the battle over our last war — the War on Drugs (remember that one?), which has imprisoned millions of Americans and filled North Country jails and prisons with our non-violent neighbors, is far from over. A recent edition of public radio’s To the Point makes a good one – The War on Drugs has become the War on Pot. It only makes sense; people on the political left seem to smoke more pot after all.

A little history:

Draconian: From the Greek King Draco, whose laws were so severe they were said to be written in blood.

Marijuana Act of 1937 – First federal law to limit access to Marijuana via a tax (the original tax stamps like those that used to appear on cigarettes and booze) were recently auctioned off by the Treasury Department. Marijuana was outlawed first in the west (particularly) California and Louisiana.

In Cali (now said to be home to America’s most potent pot) the impetus was the need to eliminate immigrant Mexican labor during the depression – since they were pretty much the only folks around smoking the weed, passing laws outlawing it and then arrested and deporting them was a great way to free up jobs for Okies and other white working poor.

In Louisiana, it was jazz musicians and racism that inspired the right-wing prosecutors to outlaw pot and wage a war against the evils it inspired – mainly that Negro music and it’s decadent dancing, which it was said led to white slavery, black on white rape, and you name it.


John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for more than 45 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John's Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on North Country Public Radio and on WSLP Lake Placid.

He is also on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and edits The New York History Blog. He is the author of two books of regional history.




3 Responses

  1. Matt Funiciello says: