The last spaces of freedom
As November 4 draws near I’m seized with ambivalence. No, not over Meg or Jerry, I’m probably going to skip that one, since I won’t be responsible for either the greedy cheerleader or the tired old reformer.
No, rather, I’m personally torn over Prop 19.
As someone who desperately loves the concept of individual freedom and respects my countrymen, I feel I have to vote “yes” on Prop 19. Not only is the issue of personal sovereignty at stake, so are states’ rights. By voting “yes” on Prop 19 I’ll be helping to seize some of the rights stolen by the Feds under “interstate commerce” powers.
“Freedom” isn’t what it used to be. Government is powerless to give us freedom, which is endowed within each of us by our creator, and can only take freedom away. In 21st Century U.S., there are very few jobs making or doing things, and those are generally relegated to the underclass and pay very poorly. Lacking the opportunity for useful work, the educated make a living by administering things. As a result, lawmakers make ever more laws, and their sucklings the regulators create volumes of nit picking regulations which expand the power the legislature gave them into every space, infiltrating like the filaments of a fungus. A hundred and fifty years ago a lack of government regulations meant the poor were preyed on by money lenders and purveyors of contaminated food. Buildings collapsed and burnt down.
Today, as a result of a relentless drive to employ ever more overseers to watch an ever growing list of things, it is nearly impossible to draw a free breath. Dying from bad food and rushing destitute from a burning boarding house have been surpassed as catastrophes by the relentless drain of the regulator’s filaments. Few drug addicts are as addicted to their poison as a bureaucrat is to purview, because purview is the delivery system for the real drugs of addiction: money and power over others.
Currently, cannabis, and those who grow, market, and use it, are outlaws. Not criminals, exactly, but outlaws, shunned by “decent folk” and scowled at by cops. Shunning and scowling are a cheap price for the freedom afforded by being “betwixt laws.” It is a narrow space between the prison cell and the prison of regulation. You simply can not be more free in America than that.
It’s a hard place to stay. Constant fear of the prison cell can make the prison of regulation seem, from the outside, safer. It’s only when you pay your money and get your permit that your realize that the purgatory of the regulated life is simply the hell of the prison cell in slow motion, a life sentence with no hope of escape but death, and no hope of reprieve from oversight.
Once cannabis is “legalized” it slips into the world of government regulation, and corporate exploitation.
Medical cannabis providers have already expanded the market from simple dried blossoms (“buds”) to a variety of elixirs, tinctures, teas and foods. How long will it take for a liquor producer makes cannabis beer and whisky?
Further, legalization will hit the poor the hardest. Some rural areas in California are inhabited only because the hard up and hardy can grow pot and make a living. When they have to compete with corporate producers, they’ll be driven out of business, forced to either move or start making meth.
And, they will have to compete with corporate producers; government is already making sure of that. Bills entered by Calderone and other in the state legislature, and ordinances proposed by cities like Rancho Cordova push production out of the hands of individuals and into the world of business. No longer will pot be a “home business” because it will be so fettered, or infiltrated, by permits, fees, record keeping and oversight. A person growing a patch of honest outside organic weed won’t be able to compete. The legalization of medical marijuana has pushed the price down to where it was 25 years ago. Corporate pot can be made stronger and cheaper, just like corporate booze.
This inevitable scenario will come about because of the unsavory reason for legalization. Very few now on the “legalize it” bandwagon are there because they love liberty; they love money, and so when it is “legalized” it will be through revenue generating systems. I recognize the irony of my criticism of this, since I have been calling for the Sierra County Board of Supervisors to be proactive in this, but if Prop 19 passes, they’ll have to do something, since the law gives that power to the counties, one of the few good things about it. (I join those who think the state is “throwing a bone” to the counties on pot since we’ve been screwed on just about every other revenue source.)
Cannabis is simply one issue, if an emblematic one, for the dilemma of American “freedom”. Unfortunately, you get the freedom you deserve.
I’ll no doubt vote to “legalize”. It will mean the end of having a cop go through your back seat by the side of the road because he “smelled marijuana” in the car. It will mean the reduction, but not the end, of cops in body armor with automatic weapons kicking in people’s doors in the middle of the night. It will mean a reduction in the legal theft called “forfeiture”.
Prop 19 has already given me one benefit: a reason to vote against Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, who co-chairs the “no on 19” organization.
There is one other compelling reason, though, for me to vote for legalization on November 4th. It will bring us one step closer to American grown hemp, for fiber, fuel, feed, and food. It’s unreasonable that America should be denied one of nature’s most useful crops just so cops and lawyers and prison guards can make a living. They grow it in Russia, they grow it in China, in Canada; indeed, every other industrial nation EXCEPT the land of the free grows hemp.
Willie Nelson on Hemp and the Family Farm