I went to the Sarasota City Commission meeting in the hopes of addressing the one year moratorium on medical marijuana on the agenda the other day. Unfortunately, I’d found out it was on the agenda fairly late, and had already made other plans, so I couldn’t stay to say my piece. Probably just as well. I wouldn’t have won any points with the commissioners by calling them cowards.
As it was, only Virginia Hoffman, whose ill husband could certainly benefit from this natural resource, was the only one to speak out against the moratorium. As it is, the City Commission decided on a moratorium for only nine months, and depending on when they start the clock, it may not effect the citizens of Sarasota all that much. The tragedy is that we have to be having this conversation at all.
For three quarters of a century, we have suffered through this fear-based prohibition, and it is disheartening that in my hometown, a place that prides itself on quality of life, they want to extend the prohibition even longer. Over half of the states in the union have already come to the staggering reality that nature has benefits, and that education, research, healing, and compassion are better than fear-mongering, ignorance, disease management, and greed. It is sad that we have to go through this process of asking permission from each and every governmental organization in order to accept the what nature had heretofore offered abundantly, but at least the process is in motion.
While the upcoming vote for Amendment 2 in Florida will all medical marijuana, those voting for or against should realize that common sense, rationality, and reason will eventually win the day, and all of these oppressive governmental restrictions will melt away. After all, cannabis wasn’t always illegal.
The following is an excerpt from my book The Rucksack Letters., which I wrote while travelling the country between 2001-2002.
In 1937, when the Marijuana Tax Act was made law, the Senate had two hearings on the subject, totaling one hour, at which time the American Medical Association representative, Dr. William C. Woodward, proclaimed that there was no evidence that marijuana was dangerous. The law passed anyway. The House of Representatives had 90 seconds of debate and jumped on the bandwagon as well. President Roosevelt signed it, and on October 1, 1937, America banned one of the most useful resources to ever grace our soil.
There are people who use this plant in religious ceremonies to achieve spiritual harmony, to pray for peace and love for their community and world. There are people in pain who use this drug as a relief from their suffering. These people have spent far too many nights in jail as bureaucrats and lawyers study the sections of the constitution they have highlighted to best meet their own needs.
The greatest argument I’ve heard against legalizing marijuana is the possibility that people will abuse it. A great statesman once answered this type of argument with the profound statement, “Duh!” Of course, people will abuse it as surely as others will exploit it, just as every one of our natural resources is abused and exploited today. Why has Florida been in a draught for as long as I can remember? Surely, it wasn’t just because I came into this world and showered too often. It’s because we can’t handle what we’ve been given responsibly. I know that I’m not the only one who flushed the toilet for a nose-blown tissue.
It often seems that we have never managed our resources well from water to fossil fuels to forests. If we can touch it, we can screw it up. But we’re getting better. We’re using low-flow faucets. We’re watering our lawns only in the morning and at dusk. We put milk bottles in our toilets to decrease the water flushed. We’re getting there. We can be responsible with what we’re given if we can overcome our fears that we can’t.
We’ve made some mistakes. We will make more. We’ve made sacrifices. We’ll have to make more. Americans must have the freedom to make their own decisions, meet their own failures, and learn from them in the pursuit of their own happiness for the happiness of all. Isn’t that why our forefathers wrote the constitution the way that they did, for it to be ever changing as we discover new things and learn how to create a more perfect union?
The government has taken it upon itself to act as our guardian and parent, which in a sense can be appreciated. But eventually, parents have to give their children the ability to make their own decisions, fall on their own faces, and brush themselves off to try again.
America’s children are asking for more freedom so that we may take a step closer to realizing the American Dream. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. All noble causes that are veiled through expanding shrouds of money, woven by men who have it and can no longer hear the cries of those who don’t.