Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Medical Marijuana’ Category

Where Was The Libertarian Party?

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Democracy, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Medical Marijuana, People in the news, Politics, Republican, US Government on November 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Election Day 2009 has come and gone. Relatively speaking, this election was as insignificant as any off-year election is, as opposed to a mid-term election, but it still could have been an important year for the Libertarian Party, if we had simply bothered to show up. There were six elections / ballot initiatives which could have possibly been affected by the Libertarian Party… if we actually had a long-term strategic plan. As it is, some things happened for which it is notable that the LP had no role in. In no particular order, let’s look at where we could have had real impacts this year.

Governor’s Race – New Jersey: New Jersey voters tossed out their incumbent Democratic Governor, Corizine, in favor of Republican Chris Christie. It may have happened because Corizine is very unpopular with the citizens of his government-corruption prone state .While Christie’s election is not necessarily a bad thing, what made this election notable was that it swung on independent voters. Christie won 49% of the vote, Corizine won 44% and independent candidate Chris Dagget walked away with 5% of the vote.

Governor’s Race – Virginia: Republican candidate, Bob McConnell, with 60% of the vote, easily won election over his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds. For over 35 years, Virginians have consistently voted into office Governors of the opposition party to that of a sitting President, so this win might have seemed inevitable. What made this race notable for the LP is that it was again the independent voters who made the difference. In 2008, Virginia bucked its own tradition of voting for Republican presidential candidates and, instead, voted for Democratic candidate Obama. In that case, Obama won because Virginia’s independent voters were pretty evenly split between Obama and McCain. This year, however, independent voters were 2 – 1 in favor of McConnell and we can see the results from that quite easily.

Mayor’s Race – New York: In this race, Independent candidate Michael Bloomberg won a very narrow victory against his Democratic opponent, the essentially unknown City Comptroller. The name of the Democratic candidate is not important. What is important is that even with spending approximately $100,000,000 (yes, 100 million) dollars of his own money, Bloomberg only won 51% of the total vote, only 5 points ahead of his Democratic opponent. This will be Bloomberg’s third term, which was only possible because he supported changes to New York City’s term limit law, which had limited mayors to only being able to be elected for two terms. A strong Libertarian presence could have raised the term-limit issue by speaking strongly for them.

House of Representatives Race – New York’s 23rd District: What can be said here that hasn’t already been said? In what was probably the most noteworthy race of 2009? For the first time in over 150 years, this district will not be represented by a Republican. The story is remarkable. The Republican Party chose Dede Scozzafava, an NRA-approved candidate who also was pro-choice and in favor of same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party chose an un-noteworthy sacrificial lamb, Bill Owens, because the New York state House has a one person majority and they didn’t want to risk losing that majority by running their state Representative in an “unwinnable” race. So what happened? The far-right stepped in and ran their own Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, against Scozzafava. Why? Because she wasn’t conservative enough to satisfy far-right extremists, like Sarah Palin and Dick Armey. I think that this race was probably the most important this year because for what it signifies. The extreme far-right conservatives are not interested in Republican Party loyalty, they put political ideology above all else. Hoffman had no knowledge of or concern for “his” district’s local issues, he didn’t even live in that district In a move reminiscent of the worst examples of the “rotten boroughs” in British politics before the 20th century, the national leaders in the far-right conservative movement found someone whose only “qualification” was the purity of his ideology. Don’t worry though, if Hoffman HAD won, he promised that he would move into the District he would then be representing. Scozzafava eventually pulled out of the race and put her support behind the Democratic candidate. The extreme conservatives didn’t simply put their own candidate in a roll to beat the Republican candidate; they chased a loyal Republican out of the Republican Party, itself. In the end, enough loyal Republicans still voted for her that Conservative Hoffman lost. The final tally? 49% to 45% to 6%. I told you, folks… they’re eating their own.

This race, more than any other, demonstrates the collectivist desires of the extreme far-right conservatives… Local issues are not important to them; they want nothing less than to fill Congress with extreme conservative political ideologues who will put the desires of the conservative movement above every other consideration. Ideological purity is their litmus test, and having elected officials who will do the bidding of political masters instead of serving the needs of their constituents is a model for a one-party state with a collectivist government. We have seen such systems before and, trust me; their loyalty is NOT to their constituents… it is to their party. The far-right conservative extremist movement is trying to lead America down a very dangerous road.

In addition to these for elections, there were two ballot initiates that need to also be included in our summary. The first of these was the vote to overturn the law which passed the Maine legislature that made same-sex marriage legal in Maine. Drawing an immense amount of support from OUTSIDE the state, the conservatives managed to overturn that law by garnering 53% of the public vote to repeal it. The other ballot initiative we need to make note of was the approval in Breckenridge, Colorado of a law which decriminalizes all personal possession of one-ounce or less of marijuana. State and federal laws are still in place but for the first time, a city has stood up and said “it isn’t worth the government fighting to enforce those laws”. And who was responsible for this victory? If you said the Libertarian Party, you would be completely wrong. The organization that was responsible for getting 71% of the voters to approve that law was the modestly named ‘Sensible Colorado’… 71 freaking percent of the voters approved this and the LP had no hand in (and, thus, get no credit for) this win. Both of these initiatives were about personal freedom, personal MORAL freedom. If we, as Libertarians, are not the ones who can stand up for the side of freedom, then who the hell needs us?

So, what lessons should the LP learn from these elections? A couple of things. One is that being an extreme far-right, conservative neo-Republican party will not win for us. Those people are not disaffected, they are simply scared. They have their own machine and we would simply get swallowed entirely by them… and good-bye to the Libertarian Party. Another lesson is that independents really do matter. They might not be enough to win an election on their own, but that can certainly swing an election. In these elections we can all see the importance of a liberal movement. If we can mobilize it, we can win. The moderates, independents and liberals who turned out in numbers sufficient to elect Obama last year are the unmotivated and disaffected pool of voters we can turn to. There is power there, strength that is simply waiting to be utilized.

The Republicans are feeling elated about winning the two governor’s races this year. They are patting themselves on the back by seeing importance on the wrong victories. While governors might be the Chief Executives in their state, they have no role in formulating national legislation. The two House elections this year, both of which were won by the Democratic candidates, are much more significant in the larger picture of current American politics. What this says about the 2010 election possibilities is fascinating.

Candidates in reliable Republican districts will now be facing primary challenges from the far-right if they are not seen as being ideologically pure enough. Why is that important? Remember center-left Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island? He had to spend most of what he had in his campaign war chest to beat a far-right Republican opponent for the Party’s nomination. After the primary fight, he didn’t have enough money left to effectively campaign for the Senate seat, itself, and he lost to the Democratic nominee. We can look for more of this in 2010 as big money from national figures fighting for their far-right agenda will flood into the coffers of Republican candidates who aren’t seen as being conservatively pure. Any primaries in which the far-right challenger looses will leave the winner with little or no money to campaign for the actual seat or office in question.

Since Obama’s election a year ago, he has turned this country’s very active liberal base into an unmotivated “lost generation” looking for someone to give them hope. THAT is where our future lies. WE need to be the ones who can break the American liberals out of their ennui, to rally and mobilized the untapped political power they represent. THEY are the people who can make or break elections. Those people are looking for leadership and hope. Now is the time to bring back Ed Clark’s Libertarian movement. Now is when we need his “low-tax liberals” to rise up again and take the Libertarian Party back from the neo-Republicans. In every one of the elections I have mentioned here, WE could have made a difference, we could have made ourselves known again to the general public, we could have been leaders… and, to be politically viable, our future rest with being able to harness the unfocused liberalism which Obama has let wither away. The conservative extremists are destroying the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is showing itself to be incapable of leadership. There are holes being torn in American politics and, as nature abhors a vacuum, those holes WILL be filled. What we have to ask ourselves is, can we the party that fills those holes?

Since 1984, the LP has driven itself to an extreme end of the American political spectrum, an end that is mostly allied with the extreme far-right. That is not what first attracted the general public to the idea of libertarianism. It was the combination of the ideas of fiscal responsibility AND liberal social policies that first put the LP on the lips of the American people. Both the Republicans and the Democrats parties are moving farther and deeper into their own ideological extremes. I believe that any two-party system is going to naturally gravitate between polar opposites. The reason that it is important for America to also have a centrist party is because there needs to be a party that can comfortably welcome people from the right, left and middle. What makes the Libertarian party important is not conservative or liberal politics; it is our view of the role and function of government. What we oppose is authoritarianism. Personally, I am pretty far to the left while the political figure I know and admire the most is pretty far to the right; I believe that some government is necessary and she is an anarchist. Where we find commonality is our shared belief that neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party are serving the American people. THAT is why we both share a belief in libertarian philosophy, and the day that we can get both my moderate right Republican father and my independent green (liberal AND vegetarian) sister to vote for our candidates is the day that we will know that we have arrived.

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

John Stossel Takes On the Bailouts

In Drug War, Economics, Immigration, Media, Medical Marijuana, Spending, Taxation, US Government on March 17, 2009 at 8:56 pm

This past Friday, 20/20 had a special report titled “Bailouts and Bull,” explaining why stimuli and bailouts will do nothing to jump-start the economy.

More than 300 economists earlier this year signed a petition declaring their view that “more government spending is [not] a way to improve economic performance” and that “[t]o improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, savings, investment and production.  Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.”

Eighteen of these economists were interviewed for Stossel’s special report.  Among those interviewed are two of my own professors, Dr. Howard Baetjer (back row, second from the viewers’ left) and Dr. Joe Pomykala (front row, on the viewers’ right), both of whom were lucky enough to get face-time.

I spoke to Prof. Baetjer this past Wednesday.  He explained that Stossel interviewed the eighteen economists both as a group and on a one-on-one basis.  Baetjer said he enjoyed the experience, and would love to do further televised interviews in the future.  In my own experience, I find Baetjer to be a very upbeat guy who is quite gifted at explaining economic concepts.

In watching the special, one can see that not everyone was lucky enough to have her or his interview used.  Baetjer, for example, said that when Walter Williams was interviewed, Williams allegedly said, “I don’t even know why we’re discussing the economics.  These bills are unconstitutional!”

For those that missed the 20/20 special, the Mises Economics Blog has made the entire episode available.

In addition to explaining that bailouts and “stimuli” are not the solution, the special report also (A) explains why privatising roads is an effective means of alleviating road congestion, (B) details how the federal government is oppressing medical marijuana retailers even in states that have legalised the medicine, (C) shows that universal pre-K is not a desirable government programme, (D) explains why building a fence between México and these United States is a huge waste of money, and (E) posits how a destitute person with no college degree can gain wealth in America.

—Alexander S. Peak

LFV Exclusive! Steve Kubby “Our Time Has Come”

In Activism, Barack Obama, Health, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Medical Marijuana, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, Science, Steve Kubby on November 7, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Our time has come
By Steve Kubby


This weekend, the leadership of the Republican Party will be assembling at a secret location in Virginia, to try to decide what to do with the shattered remains of their party.

Conspicuous in his absence, Congressman Ron Paul, who holds many of the answers his party is seeking, was never invited.  Dr. Paul believes the GOP lost because it has lost the trust of their constituents, many of whom chose to stay home rather than vote.

Ron Paul tells us that the Republicans are unwilling to deal with the basic issues that have derailed their party.  Those issues, like ending the wars, downsizing government, cutting taxes and more personal freedom, are fundamentally Libertarian issues and the leadership of the GOP to unwilling or unable to embraces such a Libertarian platform.

Some conservatives like Richard Viguerie, understand this and have made sincere efforts to absorb and promote Libertarian views, but as Viguerie admitted privately to me, the GOP leadership has led the party astray and refuses to be replaced.

So the stage is set for the Libertarian Party to receive a stream of refugees from the GOP.  These Recovering Republicans have already been washing up on our shores and even former GOP operatives like Bob Barr have found a new home with the LP.

Unfortunately, many of our new friends from the GOP have insisted that we tone down the Libertarian message and water down our platform to make it more appealing to mainstream voters.  That’s the same nonsense that destroyed the GOP.

The Recovering Republican view prevailed at the LP presidential convention and the majority of delegates backed two GOP refugees as their ticket.  The Libertarian wing of the party may have suffered a defeat, but the results of this election show that the Recovering  Republican wing of the party was a dismal failure at delivering the numbers or outcome they had promised.  Thus, instead of $30 million, they raised just over  $1 million.  Instead of 5% of the popular vote, they delivered no more than past campaigns.

In contrast, Obama succeeded because he used the Net to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, one hundred dollars at a time.  Using the lessons of Howard Dean, Obama broke away from conventional political fundraising and created his own ground game.  Is there any reason the LP cannot do the same?

Of course our GOP refugee friends have their own reasons why things didn’t go right for them, but they had their chance and the results are clear.  Now it is time for the LP to adopt a truly Libertarian platform, elect a seriously Libertarian Executive Committee and sponsor real Libertarians for office.

Liberty works.  It’s time for the LP to make a real commitment to real Liberty and give people what they want and deserve: Smaller Government, Less Taxes and more Personal Freedom.  If our party can just focus on these simple but powerful ideas, we can overtake the GOP and replace it with what people really want and need.

Our time has come.  Are we prepared to show real leadership and stand up for our Libertarian principles, without excuses or  watered down language? The choice is ours.

__________

Steve Kubby is a respected longtime libertarian activist, and one of the world’s leading experts on medical marijuana.  His newest project is a publicly-traded company, DYMC, which is developing cannabinoid medications; you can read more about that exciting project here.

Steve Kubby: Healing our world, one patient at a time

In Activism, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Health, Libertarian, Media, Medical Marijuana, People in the news, Politics, Press Release, Science, Steve Kubby, US Government on November 6, 2008 at 1:44 pm

The following was provided to LFV by Steve Kubby, and is being published with his permission.  Steve is a longtime libertarian and longtime medical marijuana activist.  He is also one of the world’s leading experts on medical marijuana.

Dear Friends,

Million of people die each year from diseases that could be largely prevented or minimized by cannabinoid medicines. The science is irrefutable.  We now have thousands of peer-reviewed, scientific studies that have emerged and clearly show how cannabinoids can be used to treat, reverse and even prevent many of our worst diseases.

What’s worse, we are only now beginning to understand how just deadly conventional prescription drugs actually are.  For example, one brave pioneer, Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, wrote an article for the July 26, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), volume 284, no. 4. She entitled her article, “Doctors and Their Drugs Could be the Number One Cause of Death in America, Causing Almost 500,000 Deaths Every Year.”

Watching people die needlessly is not an option, so my friends and I have formed a publicly traded company to research, develop and license new cannabinoid medicines that are safe, effective and far less expensive than the dangerous, toxic and synthetic pharmaceuticals in current use.

Unlike most publicly traded companies, we have a mission that goes beyond our bottom line.  That mission is to force governments to license cannabinoid medicines NOW, so we can start saving lives and helping to improve the quality of life for million of suffering patients.

So what can YOU do to help heal the world?  Simple, learn more about what cannabinoid medicines have to offer, then join us in demanding that these lifesaving, nontoxic medicines  be fast-tracked for emergency approval and use by patients.

Right now, we have or are developing cannabinoid lozenges and creams that can provide effective, safe and inexpensive treatments for a long list of diseases, including diseases that we are told are untreatable.  There is no excuse for any further delay in getting these lifesaving, non-smokable, lozenges and creams into the hands of patients who so desperately need relief.

We looked into forming a non-profit organization to accomplish our goals, but we decided upon a public company instead, so that we could provide our fellow patients with a unique opportunity to participate directly in the coming boom in cannabinoid medicines  Our publicly-traded company, DYMC, was recently featured on Money TV and is currently being broadcast to over 150 million television viewers.  If you haven’t taken the time to view this video, please do so, because in addition to describing what our company is doing, our Chief Science Officer, Dr. Melamede, provides valuable health information that could save or prolong your life. Links to this video are provided below.

If you’d like to get involved, please drop me a line at steve@kubby.com.  You may get an automatic response from my spam blocker asking if you are really a human.  If you do get such a response from me, just hit your reply button and the spam filter will clear you and your message to get through.

I look forward to working with you to heal our world, one patient at a time.

Let freedom grow,

Steve Kubby

MoneyTV Discusses Cannabinoid Medicines, part one
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrckW0XB634>

MoneyTV Discusses Cannabinoid Medicines, part two
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VyXuyGEyeg>

To view it on a cable tv station in your area, please see:
<http://www.moneytv.net/tvguide.htm>

To view a CNNMoney.com report about us see:
<http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/prnewswire/200810221425PR_NEWS_USPR_____LA40899.htm>

Steve Kubby: Placer County Republicans whine over Kubby Vindication

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug War, Health, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Medical Marijuana, People in the news, Politics, Republican, Steve Kubby on August 28, 2008 at 4:35 pm

The following was submitted to LFV by Steve Kubby.  The blogger notes at the end are part of what Steve sent us, and were not written by LFV.

Friends,

As most of you know, I had the court’s permission to move to Canada, I returned voluntarily to clear up an alleged probation violation, I was never extradited, and was I never convicted for “Narcotics production.”

Despite these facts, the Placer County Republicans continue to lie about me as well as their own criminal and dopey response to the passage of California’s historic Prop. 215.

It’s time the Placer County Republicans grow up and do what former Republican Congressman and now Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Bob Barr has done — declare that the drug war was a mistake and must end now.

–Steve Kubby

———————————–

http://blog.placer-cra.org/past/2008/8/23/auburn_journal_took_up_case/

Auburn Journal Took up Case of Celebrated Pothead
Posted by Aaron Park on August 23, 2008 at 06:32 PM

Remember Steven Kubby?

He was extradited from Canada to the USA when he ran to avoid prosecution for Narcotics production. (at least Rothe stuck around)

Before and after Rothe had his civil rights restored from his prior Drug Trafficking conviction – the Auburn Journal took up the cause of Stephen Kubby.

In 2003, Kubby’s felony conviction was reinstated as reported by the Auburn Journal

There was a follow-up story trumpeting Kubby’s plight as he applied for refugee status in Canada

And another in 2006 when his ‘stay’ in Canada was about to run out

And this is basically a commentary printed in the AJ taking Kubby’s side

And this year a follow-up story was run:

By Gus Thomson

Journal Staff Writer

A Mendocino County court has dismissed the remnants of a 1999 Placer County prosecution of medical marijuana proponent Steve Kubby.

The ruling – which sees Kubby’s misdemeanor convictions for possession of a magic mushroom stem and peyote buttons expunged under California law – came last week.

Full erasure of the conviction would take a governor’s pardon, but Kubby said Tuesday that the court decision to dismiss the case leaves him “fully vindicated and in possession, once again, of my inalienable, inseparable, non-transferable rights.”

Mendocino County Chief Probation Officer Wesley Forman issued a statement said that he had no objection to the dismissal by Judge David Nelson because Kubby had complied with the terms of his probation.

Kubby’s legal challenges started after a January 1999 raid on his Olympic Valley home in Placer County. The raid netted 265 marijuana plants from an indoor grow.

Kubby was a chief proponent of medicinal marijuana law Prop. 215 when it was passed by voters in 1996 and ran for governor as a Libertarian two years ago. He was also a candidate for Libertarian Party presidential nominee this year.

Kubby’s chief defense at the trial was that he and his wife had a doctor’s recommendation for medical use of marijuana and that his use kept a rare form of adrenal cancer at bay.

In one of the most contentious trials in Placer County legal history, a mistrial was declared after a jury leaning 11-1 for acquittal on possession-of-marijuana-for-sale charges remained deadlocked after
five days of deliberations and four months of testimony.

Kubby would eventually serve 20 days of a 120-day jail term in Placer County on the jury’s peyote and mescaline possession convictions, both misdemeanors.

Kubby, 61, now lives in Mendocino County. He said that he has fond memories of much of his life in the county but that he wouldn’t return as long as the district attorney who prosecuted the case – Brad Fenocchio – was still in office.

The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.
A more detailed story will appear in a future edition of the Journal.

Blogger’s Notes – I can hardly wait to see the full story. What I have read thus far looks pretty biased in favor of the pothead. While Rothe didn’t write any of the stories, he has a responsibility to make sure his paper isn’t used to pimp an agenda.

Even worse – a reporter by the name of Ryan McCarthy wrote some of the stories. McCarthy was a known pot user himself. Given how Rothe and the journal have reported on crime over the years – why should anyone be surprised?

Celebstoner: Tommy Chong not stoked about Biden selection

In Activism, Barack Obama, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Health, Law, Media, Medical Marijuana, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Science on August 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

http://www.celebstoner.com/news/celebstoner-news/tommy-chong-not-stoked-over-biden-selection.html>

Tommy Chong not stoked about Biden selection

Earlier this week, in an interview with the Washington Post, Tommy Chong was asked what the average citizen can do to further the cause of decriminalization. “Check out the people you’re voting for,” Chong replied. “For instance, Joseph Biden comes off as a liberal Democrat, but he’s the one who authored the bill that put me in jail. He wrote the law against shipping drug paraphernalia through the mail – which could be anything from a pipe to a clip or cigarette papers.”

Obamas running mate Joe Biden doesnt want anyone to have fun

Obama's running mate Joe Biden doesn't want anyone to have fun

Barack Obama’s V.P. selection Sen. Joe Bidenalso sponsored the Rave Act, which targets music events where drug use is allegedly prevalent.

About medical marijuana, Biden said iin 2007: “We have not devoted nearly enough science or time to deal with the pain management and chronic pain management that exists. There’s got to be a better answer than marijuana. There’s got to be a better answer than that. There’s got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem.”

Biden coined the term “drug czar” and has championed the Office for National Drug Control Policy.

On a more positive note, Biden introduced a bill that would eliminate the discrepancy between crack and cociane sentencing in federal cases. The curent ratio is 100:1. In other words, 500 grams of cocaine equals five grams of crack; possession of either is punishable by a five-year sentence

“I have long regarded Biden as an opponent of the cause for reasons like Tommy says, and more,” offers Drug Policy Alliance executive director Ethan Nadelmann, “but I was surprised when he was the one who introduced the 1:1 crack/powder reform bill this year, which leapfrogged the more modest reforms put forward by Sens. Kennedy, Hatch and others. I’m not sure whether to take it as a sign of a more general opening up on his part, or just a play for the African-American vote in the primaries. But at least Biden isn’t entirely bad news for drug policy.”

What do you think of Obama’s choice of Biden for his running mate?

Many thanks to Steve Kubby for sending this item to LFV!

High Times on libertarians: “Libertarians hate the government, and love a good fight. They are absolutely the best friends you can have”

In Drug War, Entertainment, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Medical Marijuana, Politics on August 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Did you know that Cheech Marin (of “Cheech and Chong” fame) was Steve Kubby’s college housemate?  Me either.

Following is the High Times article about Steve Kubby (in pdf format).  Written by Alexander Zaitchik as part of the “High Times Interview” series, it’s a definite must-read.

Kubby in High Times page 1

Kubby In High Times page 2

Kubby in High Times page 3

Kubby photo in High Times

Many thanks to Steve Kubby for passing this along to LFV!

Was “drug warrior” in Blackwater t-shirt really undercover DEA, or does the DEA assume we are all stupid?

In Crazy Claims, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Fraud, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Medical Marijuana, People in the news on August 5, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Kris Hermes at Medical Cannabis: Voices From the Frontline has further covered the recent raid on a California medical marijuana dispensary.  LFV readers will recall that we also covered the raid, complete with photos and pointed out that one of the heavily armed people involved in the raid was wearing a Blackwater t-shirt.  Here is an excerpt from Kris Hermes’ excellent article:

I was able to speak today with Tami Abdollah, the Los Angeles Times (LAT) reporter who wrote the article associated with the photo of the agent wearing a Blackwater t-shirt. First, Abdollah explained that at the time of the raid (when the photo was taken) she had asked about whether the agent in question was a Blackwater employee, but was not given a straight answer. After the raid, and after the story had been published by the LAT, Abdollah was contacted by Sarah Pullen, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles office of the DEA. Pullen requested that the face of the agent wearing the Blackwater t-shirt be blurred because he was an undercover agent and the photo might jeopardize his apparent anonymity. At the same time, Pullen assured Abdollah that the “undercover” agent was in fact an employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration and has never been an employee of Blackwater. Pullen also felt it necessary to explain to Abdollah that the request to blur the agent’s face and the fact that he was wearing a Blackwater t-shirt was completely coincidental. In a subsequent conversation with the DEA, Abdollah was told that the agent was not undercover for the raid, but does routinely engage in undercover operations.

You can read their entry in its entirety here.

This raises some interesting questions, not the least of which is why an agent who regularly works undercover would be involved in a very high-profile raid, especially during broad daylight when he is likely to be seen and photographed?  Why does their alleged “undercover” agent even look like a cop, since undercover work is “routine” for him?  And even if, for the sake of discussion, we believe the DEA’s explanation of why he was not wearing a DEA shirt, why on earth would anyone think that his wearing a Blackwater t-shirt would draw less attention to him, rather than more?  Why didn’t he wear a plain t-shirt, or a t-shirt depicting a band or something similar, if he just didn’t want to be seen, photographed, or recognized wearing a DEA shirt?

Since the DEA claimed he works undercover, they can also claim that his identity cannot be revealed for security reasons, and thus avoid any demands for proof that he is really with the DEA and not with Blackwater.

How very, very convenient.

Many thanks to Steve Kubby and Rebecca Saltzmann for bringing this to LFV’s attention!

Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass) wants marijuana possession legalized

In Activism, Big Brother, Congress, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democrats, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Law, Media, Medical Marijuana, Nanny State, People in the news, Politics, US Government on July 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm

From CNN:

(CNN) — The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

“The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government’s business,” Frank said on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think it is the government’s business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.”

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use — and not the abuse — of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession are rarely incarcerated. The agency and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have long opposed marijuana legalization, for medical purposes or otherwise.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the drug control office.

“Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science — it is not medicine and it is not safe,” the DEA states on its Web site. “Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers.”

Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, likened Frank’s proposal — co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas — to current laws dealing with alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is permitted, and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse alcohol or drive under its influence, he said.

“We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers,” he said.

St. Pierre said there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the United States, including himself, and hundreds of thousands are arrested each year for medical or personal use. iReport.com: Is it time to legalize pot?

There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965, he said, and 11 million since 1990, and “every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested.”

Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for “all violent crimes combined,” meaning police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

“Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform,” he said.

If HR 5843 were passed, the House would support marijuana smokers possessing up to 100 grams — about 3½ ounces — of cannabis without being arrested. It would also give its blessing to the “nonprofit transfer” of up to an ounce of marijuana.

The resolution would not address laws forbidding growing, importing or exporting marijuana, or selling it for profit. The resolution also would not speak to state laws regarding marijuana use.

Read the entire article on CNN.

Cop calls 911, thinks he’s dying from pot brownies

In Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Crazy Claims, Entertainment, Humor, Media, Medical Marijuana, Obituaries, People in the news, Shine on you crazy diamond on June 1, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Susan Hogarth: An Open Letter To Bob Barr

In Activism, Congress, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Presidential Candidates, War on May 17, 2008 at 7:30 pm

The following is reprinted with permission from the author.Susan Hogarth

An Open Letter to Bob Barr: Some Questions

By Susan Hogarth

Mr. Barr,

Thank you for joining the Libertarian Party in our efforts to bring greater freedom to Americans. In light of the very short time between your campaign announcement and the national convention, your antilibertarian congressional record and disinclination to fully repudiate it, and your refusal to answer a single email from me while you were serving as my regional representative on the Libertarian National Committee over the past year, I thought that I would circulate my questions to you publicly, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will get some straightforward answers from you. To others reading this open letter — I hope that you will take whatever opportunity is afforded you to ask at least one or two of these questions of Mr. Barr. No candidate should garner our nomination without having satisfied the majority of delegates that he will steadfastly champion both the Libertarian Party and the libertarian message.

I’ve separated my questions into categories.

Support for the Libertarian Party and the libertarian message:

  1. Why has the leadership PAC bearing your name continued to raise and distribute funds to support Republican congressional candidates in districts where a Libertarian either is or could be running even after you joined the LP’s governing board? Do you not consider recruiting and supporting Libertarian candidates to be an essential part of the LP leadership’s mission? Will your leadership PAC continue to support Republicans if you are selected as the LP’s presidential nominee?
  2. In a radio interview in Charlotte, NC this week, you indicated that Republicans should support you because your candidacy will bring out voters who are dejected by McCain, and will now vote for Republican candidates down-ballot. What will you do to promote Libertarian Party candidates down-ballot?
  3. You have said that there are parts of the LP’s platform that you disagree with. Can you be specific? What parts of the LP’s platform do you agree with?
  4. Why have you consistently sold yourself in interviews as ‘conservative’ rather than ‘libertarian’? Do you think that ‘libertarian’ and ‘conservative’ are the same thing?

Questions about some of your antilibertarian votes in congress:

  1. PATRIOT Act – you voted ‘for’ the Act. Would you vote the same way again? Do you think it was a mistake to trust the sunset provisions?
  2. Do you still support an anti-flag-desecration amendment to the constitution? How does this tie in with your ideas of federalism? How does it support individual liberty?
  3. DOMA – you have indicated that DOMA was an exercise in federalism (devolving power to the states), but this does not explain the part of DOMA that defines marriage federally as man-woman only. Do you stand by this definition? In your state, would you support a government definition of marriage as man-woman only?
  4. You voted for the Medicare Part D prescription drug boondoggle while in congress. Do you stand by this vote, or repudiate it?

Explanation for some of your current seemingly antilibertarian positions:

  1. You talk about reducing U.S. military bases overseas, but not necessarily closing them. How many foreign countries do you think the U.S. needs to have military personnel in?
  2. Would you support an immediate end to the Afghanistan occupation? How long, as President, would you tolerate U.S. troops continuing to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan?
  3. You have made some welcome movement toward the idea of legalizing medical marijuana in a few cases, and have pointed to the Drug War as an issue where there should be greater state control. Aside from the federalism issue, do you support prohibition of marijuana (for any use) at the state level? Would you stand with Libertarian state-level candidates as a champion of ending prohibition?
  4. You have indicated that you support the idea of federal government resources being routed to South America to support governments that are allies of the U.S. government’s Drug War. Why would you support this sort of interventionism in the name of prohibition abroad? How does this tie in with your idea of federalism?
  5. You have indicated that you support the idea of economic sanctions against Iran as a sort of diplomacy. Sanctions strengthen dictatorships and punish citizens of both nations. Why would you support this sort of interventionism abroad and at home?
  6. Why do you support instituting an entirely new FEDERAL tax on Americans (national sales tax)? Is this the type of ‘federalism’ (or devolution of government power to the states) we can expect from you (i.e. a federalism of convenience)?
  7. You wrote ” Until all governments are willing to take a unified front to confront this problem, it is the duty of the federal government to secure our borders from criminals, terrorists and those seeking to take advantage of the American taxpayer.” Most terrorists, criminals, and freeloaders do not declare themselves as such at the border. How do you propose to separate the vast majority of people who want to come to the U.S. to labor honestly from these undesirables? Do you favor open immigration for all people who wish to come to the U.S. and who are not terrorists, criminals, or freeloaders?

___________________________

Susan Hogarth is a longtime libertarian activist, and a current candidate for the Libertarian National Committee. Her blog is at http://colliething.com

Candidate Endorsement: Thomas Knapp for Congress

In Activism, Candidate Endorsement, Congress, Drug War, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Medical Marijuana, Politics, US Government on March 30, 2008 at 2:12 am

Thomas KnappThomas Knapp (to some better known as Kn@ppster) a longtime participant at Last Free Voice, has announced that he is running for the US House of Representatives in Missouri. Below is his “About” statement from his website; I would strongly suggest that others visit and read his issues sections (and bookmark it, since it’s still under construction).

Instead of one of those dry third-person candidate biographies, I’m just going to ramble a bit about who I am, where I’m from and why I deserve your support this November.

I was born on 10 November, 1966 (the 191st birthday of the United States Marine Corps) in Memphis, Tennessee. I spent most of my formative years in southwest Missouri, graduating from Lebanon High School in 1985 and living in the Lebanon and Springfield areas until 2000, when I moved to the St. Louis area.

I joined the US Marine Corps Reserve immediately out of high school and served as an infantry NCO in Southwest Asia in the 1991 Gulf War with my unit, Weapons Co., 3rd Bn, 24th Marines (the battalion is headquartered here in St. Louis). I left the Marine Corps as a Sergeant with an honorable discharge in 1995.

In civilian life, I worked at various factory and construction jobs until 2000, when I became a full-time writer, editor and political activist. I live in Greendale with my wife, Tamara, and our sons Daniel (9) and Liam (6). I also have a daughter, Caitlin (17), who lives with her mother in the Kansas City area.

I serve as the St. Louis County Libertarian Party’s Normandy Township committeeman, and as a federal appointee to my local Selective Service System board.

Why am I running for Congress in a district I don’t even live in?

The easy answer is that I stepped in to offer the 2nd District’s voters a Libertarian alternative when another candidate was unable to file his candidate paperwork due to a family emergency.

But I’d like to offer you a better answer than that.

I believe in America.

I believe in the values of individual freedom and unlimited opportunity that made this country great.

I believe that the Republican and Democratic parties have betrayed those values, and that in so doing they have failed in their duty to the American people and to the American Dream.

I believe that those values, and that dream, can be restored.

And I believe, as did Thomas Paine — author of the pamphlet which launched the American Revolution — that “those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

My candidacy is an attempt to make good on that obligation — and in November, I ask that you cast your vote with that same obligation in mind.

Yours in Liberty,
Tom Knapp
Libertarian for US House of Representatives

Though it is no secret that Tom and I have butted heads more than once, I have a great deal of respect for him, and I believe him to be a principled libertarian who understands how the political system works. Furthermore, Tom is very well known in the libertarian community as an activist and campaign organizer, and he is passionate about the issues. Last but certainly not least, he is an extraordinarily good writer and an excellent communicator, who is able to clearly explain libertarian principles even to the uninitiated.

I honestly believe that Tom Knapp will never act in contradiction to what he believes to be right, regardless of the consequences. I therefore believe that he will represent his constituents – and the Libertarian Party – with honor.

For those reasons, I offer my full endorsement of Thomas Knapp for US House of Representatives, Missouri Second District.

A Conversation With Mike Gravel

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Global Warming, History, Iraq War, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Second Amendment, Taxation, US Government on March 28, 2008 at 1:21 am

Mike GravelEarlier today, I had an opportunity to speak by telephone with Senator Mike Gravel, a presidential candidate who has switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party. Senator Gravel welcomed my questions, and I had a very positive impression of him. He is extremely well spoken, and quite passionate about many of the issues near and dear to the Libertarian Party.

My purpose, of course, was to ascertain why he decided to switch parties, and whether he truly holds Libertarian views as opposed to only conveniently holding libertarian views in order to get the LP nomination. I quickly discovered that his most basic belief, which he has provably held for over 30 years, is thoroughly libertarian: the right of the American people to bypass and even overturn Congress and the President, when those elected officials act in contradiction to the will of the people.

Senator Gravel believes that “the American people are not empowered to do anything, and this is wrong.” He therefore believes Americans should have the ability to directly make laws through federal ballot initiatives. At present, many states allow citizens to present laws directly through initiatives which, if supported widely enough, will be placed on the ballot to potentially become law; an example of this is Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California. Senator Gravel believes citizens should be able to do the same thing on the federal level, under his National Initiative For Democracy.

The government is a tool, the people can use it. But if the people have the direct power to use it, then you’re going to see the government as a real tool, not the tool you have when the special interests determine how the tool of government is handled, by the lobbyists, who pay for the campaigns, who manipulate you to vote for them. That’s the process that has to change.

When he says that the government has the duty to release information to the public, so they can make sound decisions, he is not blowing smoke, nor is he promoting something he hasn’t already done himself. During the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel released the Pentagon Papers, reading thousands of pages into the Congressional Record, so that Americans would finally know the truth behind that war; and his defiance, by informing Americans of information which was previously viewed as classified, was a pivotal moment in American history.

Under his National Initiative For Democracy we, as citizens, could end the war, end the federal income tax, or pass a federal law allowing Americans to carry guns openly; we could make any law we want, as long as there is sufficient citizen support for it. Senator Gravel says that “the real power in this country does not lie with the leadership, with Congress or with the President; it lies with you, the American citizen”. This program would in fact become an important part of the checks and balances system, which Senator Gravel believes should have been in force from the beginning, so citizens could more easily keep Congress and the President in check.

Of course, when he was running for President in the Democratic Party, the Democrats weren’t very happy with that idea. I asked the Senator whether they oppose it because it threatens their power, or if they oppose it because they believe the average American is unable to make sound legislative decisions. He immediately replied, “Both.” He went on to explain that “the average person in Congress believes they are more intelligent than the average American, and there are a few in Congress who are very intelligent; but at the same time the average American is smarter than the average Congressman, and perfectly capable of making sound decisions.”

His suspicion of the leading presidential candidates was made clear when he said, “Don’t trust anyone who says they have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers; I don’t have all the answers. But the American public knows what is best for them, and I trust them to make those decisions.”

Talking war with Senator Gravel, for someone my age who lived during Vietnam, is like getting into a time machine, and going back to the last destructive war this country faced, when he forced a filibuster to end the draft, and thus end the Vietnam war. Senator Gravel was a maverick, and he defied Congress again and again.

As you may recall, even before we sent troops to Iraq, he warned the American public that there were no WMDs in Iraq. I asked him why, in his opinion, President Bush lied about the presence of WMDs. “Oil. He wanted to get control of the oil, and it’s all just more American imperialism and the military-industrial complex.” He went a step further, and agreed that Bush and Cheney should not only be impeached, but that they should face trial for war crimes. “Americans must stop thinking we’re above the law,” he stated. He believes that the United States should stop getting involved in foreign conflicts altogether, and “stop being the world’s policeman”.

Senator Gravel is completely against the War on Drugs, which he categorizes as a failure. “We spend 50 to 85 billion dollars a year on a drug war that does no good to anybody other than criminalizing people who shouldn’t be criminals. We have 2.3 million people in jail right now, and half of them shouldn’t even be in jail …. if you want marijuana, why not go to a package store? A fifth of gin will do more damage to you, to your health, than will a pack of marijuana. As for the rest of the drugs, why not legalize them and regulate them? We put addicts in jail when they aren’t criminals, but there they learn to be better criminals, to steal and commit crime to feed their habit. It’s a public health problem, and we need to solve it as a public health problem, and save all this money we’re spending to keep people in jail for drugs, $30,000 a year for each of them.”

He is therefore in support of decriminalizing and regulating all drugs. “If you need to get some coke, go to a doctor and get a prescription. If you’re an addict, you’ll have to register so we can help you. But the way we do it now, we catch you with drugs, we throw you in jail, and you don’t get any help.”

With regard to whether legalizing all drugs would increase addiction, he states, “That’s what they told us about alcohol, during Prohibition. Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana. Should you go to jail for having marijuana, when you don’t go to jail for having whiskey and alcohol? It’s a stupid policy, it’s gutless, and it’s damaging our inner cities. Seventy percent of the people in jail are African-Americans, and most of it is for drugs. It’s gutless on the part of our leaders to not solve this, to not treat it as a public health problem rather than a criminal problem ….. For those who say we have a drug problem, yeah, we have a problem, and it’s with stupidity at the highest levels of our government.”

As for those in prison for drug offenses, he would educate nonviolent drug offenders – whether it’s a college degree or technical training – then grant them a full pardon so they can not only be released from prison, but also have the tools they need to immediately become fully productive members of society.

He is for Second Amendment rights, saying “I have a weapon, and I’ll fight to keep it.” Insofar as how openly Americans should be able to carry weapons, he referred me back to the federal ballot initiative, saying that the American people should decide that issue.

When I asked him about reducing the size of government as well as its spending, he agreed that it has gotten completely out of hand, and that severe cutbacks should be made. The first steps would be dismantling the IRS (which would no longer be needed with his national sales tax program), and the “War On Drugs” arm of the DEA (since all drugs would be legalized). He also believes that “if we empower the people to make laws, they will shrink the government.”

I could actually hear the thrill in his voice when one question pointed out that libertarians are, by and large, for open borders. He believes that we have so many illegal immigrants here because our own laws caused them to not have work available in their own country; he states that 1.3 million farming jobs were lost in Mexico when NAFTA was passed. For that reason, he believes repealing NAFTA would cure most of the illegal immigration, as more jobs are created in their home countries. As for those who are already here and don’t want to leave, he wants to simply “put them on the path to citizenship.” He believes that we should create completely open borders, similar to what is in place in Europe, whereby citizens could cross into or from Canada or Mexico, with no questions asked.

It is undeniable that the federal government is deeply in debt, and must raise revenue. Senator Gravel, however, is opposed to the income tax, since it over-taxes the poor and middle-class, and grossly undertaxes the wealthy. He therefore proposes dismantling the IRS altogether. He would replace the income tax with a 23% sales tax, and give a rebate each month to every American family to pay for necessities. Senator Gravel believes that this would allow the poor and middle class, who spend mostly on necessities such as food and housing, to have far more disposable income. He believes this program will create the same amount of federal revenue, but in a manner which is far more fair to the poor and working class.

“I don’t know whether it’s a step to end taxation, but at this point it is a good way to fund needed revenue. Right now we tax income and investments, and investment income is taxed at a lower rate than income. We don’t tax the wealthy, and that’s what’s wrong with our system.” He again reiterated that the American people could make the final decision regarding whether federal taxation should eventually end, through his ballot initiative program.

Senator Gravel believes that Social Security funds should be left alone, rather than used by the government for other purposes as is now the norm. At this point, most Americans have already paid into Social Security. He wants everyone’s Social Security funds invested in the free market, and he wants everyone to get an accounting of their money and interest earned, just as if they had invested it with a bank; and if they die before spending what they have invested and earned, he believes that the surplus in their Social Security account should go to their heirs.

As for private investments, he believes his sales tax program with refunds for necessities will give the average American the additional funds needed to save in an IRA or other investment vehicle, as additional retirement savings to supplement what they have already put into Social Security.

He is aware that many libertarians are against Universal Health Care, but believes his plan will meet libertarian standards. He came up with the idea of a Healthcare Security System 30 years ago. Senator Gravel pointed out that he knows the healthcare system “up front and personal”. One year, he ended up with over $150,000 in healthcare costs, and went bankrupt as a result.

He believes the Democratic health care plan, wherein businesses are forced to provide health insurance for their employees, is “the wrong way to go, because it is not the responsibility of businesses to provide healthcare; their job is to be competitive in the global marketplace.” So instead, he wants to enact a Universal Single Payor Voucher plan, similar to the plan which the Veterans Administration has in place. Every American would be given a health care voucher. The vouchers would have a very modest co-pay, and a very modest deductible. Americans would have their choice of hospitals, their choice of doctors, and a choice of five or six plans. There would be no exclusions for preexisting conditions.

He doesn’t think we need to raise taxes in order to provide health care for all Americans; we just need to make our healthcare system considerably more efficient than it is at present. He believes that if we computerize healthcare records, it will streamline the system, because he says 30% of healthcare cost is in paperwork. He intends to provide every American with basic healthcare services, and if they want more or different coverage, they can choose to buy additional or supplemental plans in the free market.

He is aware of Ron Paul’s belief that the Federal Reserve is responsible for the inflationary effects which are harmful to poor and middle-class Americans. Senator Gravel wants to reexamine the Federal Reserve, and study the gold standard with an eye toward a global monetary system, which will better protect the value of our money in a global marketplace.

Senator Gravel was pivotal in shepherding the Alaska Pipeline though Congress, but at this point he would oppose any effort to drill for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve. He states that instead, he wants us to end our dependence upon oil within five years. His goal would be to replace oil with alternative energy sources.

I asked Senator Gravel if there was any one moment – a light bulb moment, if you will – in which he realized that he was a libertarian. He stated, “Not really. It’s an awareness that goes back 30, 40 years, that the best way to to change things was from inside, within the power structure. Now, it’s time for a change. I am joining the Libertarian Party to become its presidential nominee. I can take the Libertarian Party to a level they’ve never been before. I am against war, I am against taxing income, I am against the war on drugs. I am for smaller government, open borders, and the ability of the American people to self-govern. I am a libertarian. I scored seven out of seven on Reason’s “Seven Ways To Win Votes” – I am for internet gambling, for medical marijuana (but I go much further than that, by decriminalizing all drugs) …. so I’m more libertarian than Ron Paul, because he scored lower. And I will work very hard as the Libertarian Party’s candidate, I will get the libertarians the national playing field they need to grow. And not just libertarians, either. I will raise the playing field for all third parties.”

All in all, Senator Gravel impressed me as sincere, intelligent, and passionate about libertarian issues. I did not at all get the impression that he is a pseudo-libertarian; I think he’s the real deal, because his actions even decades ago indicated that he is a libertarian. He left the Democratic Party because he realized that they are not receptive to his ballot initiative plan, and are not in agreement with his healthcare plan, his opposition to the War on Drugs, and many other issues. He has the presence, he has the speaking ability and dynamic personality, and he has the name recognition and contacts to place us on a more even playing field.

The Democrats’ loss may very well be our gain.

Senator Gravel suggested that those interested in more information about his views read his book “Citizen Power: A Mandate For Change”, which can be ordered online here. It is also available on Amazon.com, but their new book price is actually several dollars higher than the price on his website. Amazon’s description of the book is as follows.

As author of Citizen Power in 1971, Senator Mike Gravel determined that much of what he wrote then is apropos in America today; hence, the release of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change that reflects the accuracy of his evaluation of problems then, his current position on a number of issues facing America now, and the process that Americans can undertake to become empowered as lawmakers in partnership with their elected officials. Most chapters of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change present material from the original book, as well as new information and revised positions. The exceptions are Chapter 2: The National Initiative, and Chapter 7: The War on Drugs. All other chapters cover similar topics in both books, but with the senator’s fresh insights for today’s world. Each chapter ends with how the National Initiative, once enacted, could help solve the problems presented in that chapter. The Table of Contents is as follows: Chapter 1 – Now It’s the Citizen’s Turn Chapter 2 – The National Initiative Chapter 3 – America’s Failure in Education Chapter 4 – Tax Reform – The Fair Tax Chapter 5 – The Health Security System Chapter 6 – National Environmental & Energy Policy Chapter 7 – The War on Drugs Chapter 8 – Crime & Punishment Chapter 9 – The Shroud of Secrecy Chapter 10 – American Imperialism Chapter 11 – Global Governance Chapter 12 – Who Stole the American Dream?

All three customer reviews give the book five stars. There is a “look inside the book” feature, and based on that material and given that it was originally written in 1971, then updated recently, I don’t think there is any real question whether Senator Gravel is a libertarian. Based upon his statements in that book, it appears that he was a libertarian even before there was a Libertarian Party.

Here are the reviews:

It’s all about lawmaking!,

February 25, 2008
By Goodrich (Dearborn, MI USA) – See all my reviews

Those who still want Mike Gravel’s original Citizen Power, but can’t afford to pay over $200 for the few rare copies that are available, will be pleased with the new Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change. In some chapters, Senator Gravel has incorporated substantial excerpts from his original book and then updated his thoughts on each issue, often admitting that his position on a certain issue in the 1970s was naive and that he now views that issue with a mature mind. This is a refreshingly candid look at a presidential candidate’s positions on key issues facing the American people today. Most importantly, however, is Chapter 2 and supplemental appendices about the National Initiative, which Senator Gravel and some of the nation’s top constitutional scholars crafted to empower citizens as lawmakers; after all, lawmaking is the cornerstone of democracy. All subsequent chapters address how the National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D)would work to alleviate problems, such as healthcare and education.

From ending the war on drugs to restructuring the UN,

March 8, 2008

Senator Gravel has produced an engaging book! He presents complex and difficult issues facing the US and the world in understandable prose and proposes solutions that call for transformational change. In response to a legislative process controlled by corporations and special interests Gravel proposes the National Initiative on Democracy that would empower the people to legislate through direct democracy in national referendums on issues. In response to ineffective global governance Gravel calls for a restructuring of the UN including an end to veto powers for the permanent members of the Security Council. I was delighted to see his position on American exceptionalism. Granted that we are #1 in the world in the numbers of people in our prisons, on many key measures such as education, healthcare we are far from being the best in the world. I was most pleased by the optimism of Mike Gravel’s vision for the future of America in the world. He sees solutions to problems such as global warming, energy, and national security through greater cooperation with other countries. The beginning of his space policy statement on page 59 is particularly encouraging: “SPACE REPRESENTS A LIMITLESS FRONTIER for humankind. Laws modeled on the Law of the Sea need to be agreed upon to make energy, natural resources, and knowledge available in a manner that fosters greater cooperation, rather than greater competition, among all nations. In keeping with this spirit, space must not be militarized.”

Gravel’s Populist Manifesto,

March 19, 2008
By D. Douglas (California) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

An eloquent and lucid political manifesto by an increasingly refreshing, honest and prudent politician.
Citizen Power showcases a myriad of power-to-the-people proposals, and sways from your politics as usual demagoguery, while Gravel’s prose is filled with solemnity and earnestness, contrary to his political opponents.
The book’s motif is the National Initiative for Democracy, a populist program that will enable ordinary citizens to become legislatures, moreover eliminating large bureaucracies and big government lapdogs.
An emphasis is brought upon the military-industrial complex and its draconian, unproductive results. Suggesting the ultimate disintegration of the latter, if not grave consequences will ensue
Gravel’s proposals on education is most interesting, and offer an ingenious subsidiary, if utilized in orthodoxy, to our failing educational system.
The War on Drugs chapter was dismaying at least, and produced a sharp contempt for the activities our government continues to perpetuate.

I have probably forgotten important topics of this book, and my review is ultimately asymmetrical and lackluster. I can only recommend this fine book, so you can make your own judgments and discoveries.

Senator Gravel was kind enough to state that, if any of our readers have additional questions, I can phone him again to get those answers. Therefore, if you have any questions which aren’t answered here, post them and in about a week I will give him another call to get your answers for you.

Civil forfeiture robs elderly couple of life savings

In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Drug War, Health, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical Marijuana, Police State, Politics, Second Amendment, US Government on March 22, 2008 at 4:05 am

MoneyIf this doesn’t make you angry, I don’t know what will.

For 40 years, Meredith and Luther Ricks did everything the right way. They worked hard, saved carefully and raised a family in their modest Lima home. They were poised to enjoy their retirement years in peace. Despite their four decades of hard work, however, an absurdly unjust law has turned their hope for the American Dream into an outrageous nightmare at the hands of the Cleveland FBI.

Both of the Ricks spent their careers at the Ohio Steel Foundry, eschewing lavish spending to save for a comfortable retirement. Not trusting banks, Meredith and Luther kept their life savings in a safe inside the house.

Last summer, two violent intruders broke into the Rickses’ house. Luther and his son fought with the burglars. After his son was stabbed, Luther broke free, got his gun and saved the family by shooting one of the intruders and scaring the other off.

When Lima police arrived, the Ricks’ nightmare should have been over – but it was just beginning.

The police entered the house and discovered the family safe. Because a small amount of marijuana was inside the home – used by Luther to ease his painful arthritis, hip replacement and shingles – the officers decided to confiscate Meredith and Luther’s entire life savings, more than $400,000.

Shortly afterward, the FBI got involved – not to help the stricken family, but to claim the money for the federal government.

Such is the result of civil forfeiture laws, which represent one of the most profound assaults on our rights today.

You can read the rest of the illuminating and infuriating article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Decriminalization of marijuana continues

In Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Health, Law, Law Enforcement, Local Politics, Medical Marijuana, Politics on March 22, 2008 at 3:53 am

MarijuanaFrom Reason Magazine Hit and Run:

Yesterday I noted that the New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted to decriminalize possession of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana. (You can read more about that bill at the website of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.) NORML notes that the Vermont Senate approved a similar bill last month, with a one-ounce limit. If those bills succeed, New Hampshire and Vermont would join the 12 states that already have made possessing small quantities of marijuana a noncriminal violation, typically punishable by a modest fine.

Disturbing medical marijuana case involving an AIDS patient

In Activism, Big Brother, Children, Civil Liberties, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug War, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical Marijuana, Nanny State, Police State, Protest, Science on March 17, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Tom FaltynowiczTom Faltynowicz, a 43-year-old gay rancher in Meade County, South Dakota, was diagnosed with Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1990, and is currently facing criminal charges for possessing and growing marijuana for medicinal usage.

For those of you unaware of the specifics of that disease, a patient infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may or may not develop AIDS. Once infected with HIV, the disease damages the CD4 cells (T-Cells), and in fact uses those cells to replicate within the body; CD4 cells can be replaced through normal process in the early stages of the disease, but eventually the counts start to fall as the cells are overcome by the virus. A CD4 count between 700 and 1000 is considered normal in a non-HIV infected person; while a CD4 count of about 500 is considered normal when the virus is present. A CD4 count below 200 is indicative of AIDS, since it is at that point that the body loses its ability to fight off opportunistic infection.

Opportunistic infection is any infection which, under normal circumstances, the body could easily fight off. However, due to the lack of CD4 immune cells, AIDS patients are at very high risk of contracting diseases which they would never contract were it not for the virus destroying their immune system. Some diseases are so common in AIDS patients, and so uncommon in non-AIDS patients, that they are considered to be AIDS-defining diseases. Examples of AIDS-defining diseases include Pneumocystis Pneumonia (a fungal infection of the lungs) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma (once believed to be a rare form of cancer, now believed to be caused by Herpes Virus HHV8); these diseases are normally not seen in patients with a normal immune system. While there is viable treatment for many opportunistic diseases, they must be treated swiftly in an AIDS patient due to the patient’s body being unable to fight infection on its own.

Another important way of measuring HIV is by measuring the viral load. The viral load is the amount of HIV in the body. So while a CD4 count measures the amount of damage HIV has done, a viral load count will measure how much of the virus is actually in the body. In this way, doctors are able to measure whether drugs are working to halt the spread of the virus.

AIDS is a pandemic first identified in 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), due to Pneumocystis Pneumonia being identified in five homosexual men in Los Angeles. The disease did not take over worldwide as quickly as it is generally believed, though. AIDS has been identified in tissue samples of patients who died of unknown causes as early as 1959; one postmortem case identified the virus in a tissue sample from a 15-year-old boy who died in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1969, though it is still unknown how the boy may have contracted the virus. Some scientists suggest the virus could have first infected humans sometime during the end of the 19th Century, while other scientists suggest it first infected humans during the early 20th century, between 1915 and 1930. Regardless of whether it started during the late 19th Century or early 20th Century, it took many decades for it to even become prevalent enough to be noticed. Since the virus is slow to overtake its host, the window for inadvertent infection of others is years, rather than days or weeks as with most viruses.

It is unclear exactly how the virus started, but it seems clear that it crossed species from primates (which can carry a disease known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) into humans, likely when humans came into contact with the bodily fluids of monkeys, possibly during consumption, hunting or butchering the animals (monkey meat is a delicacy in some areas of the world, and is regularly eaten in some areas of Africa). The virus spread due to a number of factors, including vaccines given with unclean needles in developing countries. While AIDS is now generally viewed as a disease of gay men and intravenous drug users, the truth is far more chilling, since the virus is not contained only within a particular population. Many women and children are infected with the virus, and in some areas of the world, particularly Africa where infected patients do not have access to proper health care, the number of deaths has become catastrophic.

At this time, there is no cure for HIV, or for AIDS, nor is there a vaccine to prevent transmission. However, scientists have designed a number of drugs inhibit the virus’s replication. To understand how these drugs work, a short primer on the virus is necessary.

HIV takes over CD4 cells, changing their molecular structure by inserting its own ribonucleic acid (RNA). The virus itself, which is too small to be seen except with an electron microscope, consists of an outer envelope containing the virus and the proteins and enzymes necessary for replication; the envelope has about 72 spikes on its surface. When the virus bumps into a cell coated by the CD4 protein, the spikes stick into the cell and fuse, at which time the inner contents of the HIV envelope is released into the CD4 cell.

Once inside the cell, the HIV enzyme called reverse transciptase converts the viral RNA into DNA, which is compatible with human genetic material. This DNA is transported to the cell’s nucleus, where it is spliced into the human DNA by the HIV enzyme called integrase. Once it is spliced into the human DNA, the HIV DNA is known as provirus. The provirus may lie dormant within a cell for quite some time. However, when the cell becomes activated, it treats HIV genes in almost the same way as human genes. First it uses human enzymes to convert HIV genes into messenger RNA. The messenger RNA is transported outside the cell nucleus, and is used as a blueprint for producing new HIV proteins and enzymes, much in the same way as the human body normally produce replacement cells.

Complete copies of HIV genetic material is contained among the strands of messenger RNA produced by the cell. These copies combine with newly made HIV proteins and enzymes to form new viral particles, which are then released from the cell. The enzyme protease plays a vital role of the HIV life cycle, as it chops up long strands of protein into smaller pieces, which are then used to construct mature viral cores. At that point the newly matured HIV particles are ready to infect another cell, and begin the replication process all over again. In this way the virus quickly spreads through the human body, and causes its host to become infectious. HIV is passed to others through bodily fluids; some fluids contain more of the virus than others.

Contrary to popular belief, people do not die of HIV, or of AIDS. They die of the opportunistic infections which accompany the complete loss of their immune system. Patients therefore must take a strong cocktail of medications to stop the virus from replicating and destroying their immune system. Some common drugs prescribed for AIDS patients, to stop the virus from replicating, include reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which prevent the viral RNA from being converted into human DNA; protease inhibitors, which prevent the virus from creating new mature viral cores; and integrase inhibitors, which prevent the viral DNA from being spliced into the human DNA within the cells.

Unfortunately, with those life-saving treatments for the virus come life-threatening side effects, from lethal liver damage to an overwhelming nausea which results in starvation and dehydration; when this occurs, it only worsens those same symptoms which can be caused by the virus itself. Over the years many drugs have been discovered to combat the side effects (those same side effects are found in many other medical conditions as well), and to increase the quality of life for those who are infected with the virus; some of those drugs and treatments are pharmaceutical in nature, and some are natural.

One of the non-pharmaceutical drugs, which has proven very helpful in battling the anxiety, overwhelming nausea and physical wasting which comes with the virus and its treatment, is marijuana. So effective is marijuana that scientists have even made a pharmaceutical version of the drug, used in chemotherapy patients as well as AIDS patients, which contains synthetic THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). However, many patients believe that the natural THC in marijuana works better than the synthetic version in Marinol, and science supports this belief. In studies of marijuana usage for medicinal usage, it was found that other chemicals found in marijuana have additional medicinal effects which complement the effects of THC. Furthermore Marinol is extremely expensive (Tom’s Marinol costs about $2200 per month, so severe is his nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms), and thus the drug is far beyond the financial reach of most patients; and for that reason they cultivate and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. While the black market cost of marijuana can be high, the plant can be cultivated at home from seeds, at very little cost to the patient.

In some states, it is legal for patients with a valid medical prescription to possess certain amounts of dried and cultivated marijuana for personal medicinal use. However, even in those states, the US Government – which has declared that marijuana is an illicit and therefore illegal drug – refuses to permit patients to use the cultivated form of THC. Patients are regularly arrested for merely possessing the substance which allows them to live a more normal life, and which in cases of extreme wasting seen in AIDS, is actually life-saving. This occurs nationwide, including in the states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use.

I do not advocate the casual use of marijuana (or any other drug, prescription or otherwise) to get “high”. I do strongly advocate the right of physicians and patients to determine the best course of treatment, and I believe the government has no right to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship when the patient is not being placed in untoward danger.

Enter Tom Faltynowicz. When Tom was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, he was given “maybe a few years” to live. Eighteen years later, he is in a fight for his life, but it’s a fight of a very different kind.

In September 2007, law enforcement officials in his native Meade County received an anonymous call, stating that Tom had between 75 and 100 marijuana plants growing behind a metal building on his property. It is believed that the anonymous call came from Tom’s daughter, who was angry with him because he had recently stated his disapproval of her relationship with a particular man.

When Meade County Investigator Michael Walker and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent John Griswold arrived at Tom’s home the next day, there were not 75 to 100 plants on the property, or even anywhere near that many; in fact, there were no plants out in the open at all. However, when asked by those officers about the accusation, Tom immediately admitted to growing marijuana to treat his medical condition. He even invited the officers into his home, so they can see where he was growing it, and he was completely cooperative at all times, even according to the police report regarding the incident. All told, the officers found five plants, and about four ounces of dried marijuana. There was never an allegation that the marijuana was being used for anything but his medical condition, and never an allegation that he was selling the marijuana. It remains undisputed that Tom was using the marijuana to treat AIDS, and the side effects of the many potent medications he takes to fight the virus.

Tom takes a total of four antiretroviral drugs to combat the HIV infection: Combivir (a combination of Retrovir and Epivir), Sustiva, and Viread. Each of these drugs, by themselves, come with potentially fatal side effects. All of these drugs can cause severe nausea, and can result in extreme anxiety as an additional side effect. In addition, Tom has been prescribed Marinol, the synthetic THC drug to combat nausea and vomiting, so there is no question that he suffers the side effects which are treated by marijuana, and there is no question that his side effects are severe based upon his dosage. However, Tom says that the marijuana is far more effective than the Marinol, since Marinol makes him so tired that he cannot function; and his physician is aware of and supports his use of marijuana to treat his symptoms.

Tom, though he has no prior criminal record with the exception of two prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana – both of which occurred after he was diagnosed with AIDS – pled guilty to felony possession of marijuana. He faces a maximum of two years in prison, and a maximum fine of $4000; he could also be given probation. His sentencing date has been set for April 21st, before the Honorable Jerome Eckrich, Circuit Judge. Tom’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Traub, will speak at the sentencing hearing. The State Attorney has already said that he will not object to anything Dr. Traub might say. It appears that no one is interested in punishing Tom Faltynowicz; at the same time, under the law, his possession of marijuana – regardless of the reason why he possessed it – is a felony in the state of South Dakota.

Tom, however, is an exception to the reason that law was written. It was written to stop people from abusing the drug to get high, and to stop them from selling or otherwise providing it to others for the same illicit purpose. It is extremely doubtful the legislature was aware of the medicinal effects of marijuana when that law was passed, and it’s extremely doubtful the legislature ever intended to punish patients with a deadly disease. It’s even possible that the medicinal effects of marijuana were unknown to them when that law was passed, since it is hardly a new law. Nevertheless, since the law exists, it will be enforced, even against people like Tom who are using marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes.

This raises a number of questions. Even if Tom is merely placed on probation, and even if he stopped smoking marijuana altogether, using Marinol to control his symptoms would result in violation of probation, since he would test positive for THC during required drug tests. If he fails a drug test while on probation, he will be incarcerated.

If he is incarcerated, he will not only not have access to the drug which he needs to survive without excessive suffering due to overwhelming nausea, vomiting, physical wasting, and extreme fatigue; but the South Dakota Department of Corrections will be forced to pay for the extremely expensive antiretroviral drugs which fight the virus as well as the Marinol, at a cost of thousands of dollars per month to the taxpayers, in addition to the increased cost of incarceration for a man with an infectious deadly disease. As you should understand after my explanation of how those drugs work, and how the virus works, missing even one dose of his antiretroviral drugs could be catastrophic for his health, since it would allow the virus to replicate until the drug was again built up to a therapeutic dosage. Yet in a prison environment there is no guarantee that he will receive his life-sustaining medications at all, much less receive them on the schedule those drugs demand.

Tom has said that he will not stop using marijuana, because it allows him to live a relatively normal life. Without it, his body is wracked with pain, nausea, and vomiting; he is unable to eat or drink, and thus his body becomes even more weakened, even more unable to fight the virus, and even more prone to the many opportunistic illnesses, any one of which could easily end his life. This is especially true if he is confined in a jail or prison facility, given that there are large numbers of inmates living in close approximation.

To incarcerate Tom Faltynowicz would therefore place his life at severe risk, and as such would clearly constitute cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. Furthermore, it would serve no purpose to incarcerate him, since his crime is merely possession of a drug which allows him to live with his disease and to continue take the cruel medications which literally keep him alive. He poses no threat to anyone and he is not selling or otherwise distributing the marijuana, nor has it even been suggested that he is selling or distributing the marijuana. Rehabilitation is also not a valid cause for his incarceration, since he merely uses the drug for medicinal purposes, and thus he is not in need of rehabilitation.

Society would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz. The interests of justice would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz.

As such, justice demands that the court show mercy by giving Tom Faltynowicz a suspended sentence, no probation, and whatever fine the court sees fit, as long as it is within Tom’s ability to pay said fine.  The courts should also order the return of Tom’s property; police seized property such as lights, and not just marijuana and implements for its use.  Those lights  should be returned.

Nolan Chart chooses Jesse Ventura as Ron Paul’s successor

In Barack Obama, Candidate Endorsement, Celebrities, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Republican on March 13, 2008 at 12:46 am

Could Jesse Ventura win the White House as a Libertarian nominee? I’d say no way, but Jeff Wrobel at Nolan Chart believes he can.

In the spirit of Dr. Paul’s request, it is time to choose his successor. It’s time to choose a candidate who can avoid the pitfalls of the Ron Paul candidacy. As discussed in a previous NolanChart article, Paul’s followers should sponsor a moderate libertarian celebrity for president. In the following mathematical model, I will prove that if Paul’s supporters place Jesse Ventura on the ballot, he will be the next president of the United States.

First: an introduction for those unfamiliar with Jesse Ventura. He’s 56 years old and is a former Navy Seal. He became famous as Jesse “The Body” Ventura in the World Wrestling Federation. He used his success there to become an actor. His most famous role was as a member of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s crack commando team in the movie Predator, where he uttered his most memorable line: “I ain’t got time to bleed.” In 1998 he ran (as Jesse “The Mind” Ventura) against very well-known candidates, Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Hubert Humphrey III, for governor of Minnesota — and Ventura won!

Jesse Ventura could be placed at about the center of the Libertarian quadrant of the Nolan Chart. He describes himself as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”. Like most libertarians he supports a smaller government in general, lower taxes, gay rights, medicinal marijuana, instant-runoff voting, opposes helmet and seatbelt laws, opposes the use of the National Guard overseas, and opposed the teachers union. In a few areas he disagrees with pure libertarians; for instance, he approves of well-funded government-run lower education and government-run public transportation.

Ventura can avoid most of the troubles that befell Ron Paul. First, Ventura is taken somewhat seriously by the media since he has actually served in a high public executive office (as both a mayor and governor) and has considerable media experience with his own radio and TV talk shows. Second, and most importantly, he is not as radical a libertarian as Ron Paul, so he’ll appeal more to liberals, centrists, and conservatives. Third, he is not nearly as old as Ron Paul, has an imposing 6′ 4″ frame, and (no disrespect to the very honorable Dr. Paul) has a fair deal of charisma.

You can read the entire article, including his mathematical predictions, here.

Medical marijuana vending machines

In Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Medical Marijuana on February 9, 2008 at 12:43 am

McMarijuana Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments that marijuana is said to alleviate can get their pot with a dose of convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will dole out the drug around the clock. ”Convenient access, lower prices, safety, anonymity,” inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh said, extolling the benefits of the machine.But federal drug agents say the invention may need unplugging.“Somebody owns (it), it’s on a property and somebody fills it,” said DEA Special Agent Jose Martinez. “Once we find out where it’s at, we’ll look into it and see if they’re violating laws.”

However, the vending machines only allow purchase by those with a valid marijuana prescription, and there are multiple safeguards in place, including fingerprint identification.

Are the feds overreacting?

Read the entire article here.

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

Legal or not, medical marijuana patients can still be fired

In Congress, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Health, Law, Medical Marijuana on January 26, 2008 at 4:41 am

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Workers who are legally prescribed marijuana to treat illness can still be fired from their jobs, following a ruling Thursday from the California Supreme Court.

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Medical marijuana user Angel Raich, 41, had her pot confiscated while her case was appealed.

The 5-2 decision upheld the job termination of Gary Ross, who flunked a company drug test shortly after being hired at a telecommunications firm.

A state referendum that allows people to use medical marijuana with a physician’s recommendation are immune from some state criminal drug possession charges. But the state high court said such legal protection only goes so far.

“Nothing in the text or history of the Compassionate Use Act suggests the voters intended the measure to address the respective rights and duties of employers and employees,” wrote Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. “Under California law, an employer may require pre-employment drug tests, and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions.”

The court agreed with RagingWire Telecommunications’ contention it had a right to fire Ross because any marijuana use is illegal under separate U.S. law. The company said its work across state borders could put it in legal jeopardy from federal labor standards involving the conduct and production of its work force.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said the Bush administration can prohibit the backyard cultivation of pot for personal use, because such use has broader social and financial implications.

A federal appeals court last March said medical marijuana users can be subject to arrest and confiscation of the material, under federal anti-drug laws.

The issue is being closely watched because of the obvious conflict between state and federal laws over the use of medical marijuana. Various courts have said the federal Controlled Substances Act does not violate state autonomy.

The latest case involves Ross’ back problems stemming from injuries sustained when he served in the U.S. Air Force. He received a physician’s recommendation to use pot in 1999 and presented a card certifying his use of the narcotic when he took the employment drug test in 2001.

Ross said his condition does “not affect his ability to do the essential functions of the job” his former employer hired him to do, according to his original complaint.

The Sacramento-based company said its no-tolerance policy applies to all workers, since potential “abuse of drugs and alcohol” could lead to “increased absenteeism, diminished productivity, greater health costs, increased safety problems, and potential liability to third parties,” according to the company’s lawyers.

Ross’ job performance was not at issue in the case.

The state supreme court said the law allowing use of marijuana for some patients is “modest” in scope, limiting the rights of some patients.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2005 for the Bush administration giving it broad authority to crack down on illegal drug use was criticized by patient rights groups and the movement to legalize marijuana.

“Congress’ power to regulate purely activities that are part of an economic ‘class of activities’ that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce is firmly established,” wrote Justice John Paul Stevens.

Under federal law, the Controlled Substances Act prevents the cultivation and possession of marijuana, even by people who claim personal “medicinal” use. The federal government has argued its overall anti-drug campaign would be undermined even by limited patient exceptions.

That high court case involved a separate lawsuit from a pot patient from Oakland, California, who has a variety of medical conditions, including a brain tumor. Angel Raich had her pot confiscated and was not allowed to use it while her case was appealed.

The Drug Enforcement Administration began raids in 2001 against patients using the drug and their caregivers in California.

Along with California, 11 other states have passed laws permitting marijuana use by patients with a doctor’s approval: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Arizona also has a similar law, but no formal program in place to administer prescription marijuana.

California’s Compassionate Use Act permits patients with a doctor’s approval to grow, smoke or acquire the drug for “medical needs.”

Users include television host Montel Williams, who has multiple sclerosis.

Posted in Courts & Justice System, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Law, STFU, War On Drugs, doctors, health, illness and disease, injured veterans, libertarianism, medical marijuana | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Loretta Nall Needs Your Help

In Drug War, Libertarian, Medical Marijuana, Personal Responsibility on July 3, 2007 at 11:50 am

Loretta Nall has been a tireless advocate on a quest to reform the senseless, draconian drug laws in the US, assisting many defenseless victims along the way. Now she is facing personal financial difficulties of her own and is humbly asking others to return the favor.

Here is the situation. I do non-profit work from private grants and right now I am in between grant checks. There won’t be another one until September or October. While I have been and still am looking for work to supplement my family’s income I have found it virtually impossible to get anyone in the small town where I live to hire me because of my advocacy and my background as a radical drug policy reformer. That is one of the consequences of doing this kind of work in small town Alabama. Traveling to another town is not possible due to having only one vehicle operational. And the power steering went out on it last week.

Two weeks ago my husband had major back surgery. While we are fortunate enough to have major medical coverage we could not afford supplemental coverage that takes care of things like food and the power bill should my husband be out of work for any extended period of time. When you bring home less than $200 a week after taxes and insurance for four people to live on you literally cannot afford the extra supplemental stuff. Since he has been at this job less than a year he did not have enough sick time built up to be paid while he is out. And what was suppossed to be two weeks off for recovery has turned into six weeks off due to complications. This is just the beginning of the third week.

We are literally broke! I have five one dollar bills to my name. The power bill is due and the cupboards are near bare. We try to grow as much of our own food as possible to get through these lean times and it helps, but not quite enough.

And like a truly principled person, she refuses to accept food stamps even though she could have qualified for them long ago. So, what do you say, fellow libertarians? Please consider stepping up and chipping in whatever you can to a most worthy cause. I’ve just made my own modest donation.

UPDATE:  Loretta reports that the response has been overwhelmingly positive!