Why Pot Smokers Owe a Lot to the Progressive Era

While it may not be apparent to casual observers of the current drive to legalize marijuana in America, we are truly the beneficiaries of political reforms adopted during what is generally referred to as the Progressive Era.

This period of social activism and political reform in America is generally defined as beginning in 1890 and running through 1920.

The principal objective of the Progressive movement was eliminating corruption in government, and to accomplish that goal, proponents sought ways to take down the powerful and corrupt political bosses and to provide access to ordinary Americans in the political system – a concept called direct democracy, as contrasted to representative democracy.

On the national level, progressivism gained a strong voice in the White House with the election of Teddy Roosevelt as president in 1901. Other national proponents included Robert La Follette and Charles Evans Hughes on the Republican side, and William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson and Al Smith on the Democratic side.

It was during this period that the concept of direct primaries to nominate candidates for public office, direct election of US senators, and universal suffrage for women gained traction; and most important to our work, the procedures know as referendum and initiatives began to be adopted in several states.

To read the balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.

68 thoughts

  1. It is way beyond me, how they treat marihuana. Quit wasting valuable taxpayer money and ruining people’s chance at a normal life over something safer then fucking nasty cigarettes, that make your body physically hurt and make you an angry person. Many people drink alcohol but it messes with my stomach after just a couple sips so I went to smoking. Also,to say it makes you stupid is incorrect I am currently in college, I make straight A’s and I have a job. That bitch in processing at jail was giving me a hard time, I wanted to tell that bitch shit up, your hoe ass didn’t even go to college. I’ve been smoking for going on 3 years so it’s all in what kind of person you choose to be.Honestly, I respected cops but after that I have absolutely zero respect for them now. Half of them that are police officers do drugs anyway, my stepbrother is friends with a cop an he does all sorts of crazy shit (drug wise) and he told us quite a few others within the prison system also use drugs.

  2. @evening bud

    You didn’t like my analogy comparing pot prohibition to slavery. Okay, you don’think “pot criminals” haven’t been chained? They (some / many) have literally been chained and forced to work to support the Police State. You can try to refute that, but you’d be incorrect.

    Many “pot criminals” that haven’t been “caught” yet are chained mentally. Asking others for “permission” to ease the tension on your mental handcuffs doesn’t equate to freedom. It does equate to a permission state though. Screw that.

    I….own….myself. So…..do….you.

  3. @ Bob Constantine,

    Sorry I didn’t make myself clear in my previous post. I was referring to the idea of paying taxes for recreational pot, not being incarcerated.

    BTW, we both own ourselves, naturally; even that poor guy or gal who is in prison does. Slaves did not have that luxury, be they in the American South in the 1850s, ancient Rome or chained to the oar of an Ottoman galley.

  4. Reviewed @Oracle150401::19 about defining $lavery, adding here to remarks I made about the “partial” or 20% $lavery of a low-salary worker blowing $4000 a year for a pack (14 grams) of $igarettes, and @Eric K’s experience is important, the entire structure of $lavery in any $ociety is built on Punishment and the Threat of Punishment!

    In the old $lave $ystems the $lave got food and lodging, not very good, for doing whatever “they” told you to do. (Or as in Egypt famously before Moses, jewing what they told jew to do. Hence many spirituals where blacks compare themselves to oldtime jews.)

    Point was, if you didn’t Obey, they would Punish you. If you tried to run away they would Punish you extra hard, and if you tried to help a $lave escape… Death penalty. This is the parallel to modern times, extra hard Punishment for cannabis users who are deemed would-be escapees from $omeone’s corrupt $lave $ystemystem, extra extra hard time for “suppliers” who are seen as trying to help would-be escapees “escape” i.e. the cannabis spirit might help them grow more bossresistant, more rebellious etc.!

    Eric’s $pirit is strong, hopefully his Fingers are o.k. too! There is a colossal backlog of drug-test-resistant jobs to do, DIY-manufactured education toys, tool handles, etc. to be made now out of everywhere-free scrap wood and deadwood, and now hopefully soon the Great Tsunami of Hempcanes to be made into hoehandles, walksticks, tomato stakes, treehouse flooring, wovenbaskets, etc. displacing Koch Bros. Oilplastic from the market! Not to forget those Hempcanehandled CHOOMettes with a 5.5-mm-i.d. screened socket wrench piece stuck in tight at one end and 22″/55cm flexible drawtube and your customer’s mouth at the other. Give some away and $ell cheap at first, adverti$e voraciously, yeah, learn from Koch Bros.

    (Help draw world’s funniest Marley cartoon, Bob vapetoking from a flexdrawtube one-hitter with slogan, “More Marley, Menos Monoxide!” and upload your version/vision as a jpg-file to that wiki article “12 Ways to Make Pipes from Everyday Ob”.)

  5. BTW, we both own ourselves, naturally; even that poor guy or gal who is in prison does.

    I’m sorry to inform you those imprisoned for drug offenses lose many of the rights you enjoy…as do all persons sentenced to prison.

    Other rights you enjoy are “legally diminished” while incarcerated or on probation/federal supervised release.

    Prisoners retain a few rights while incarcerated…but can you imagine the effect of demanding your rights be recognized by a gang of “Correctional Officers” just itching to beat, taze, pepper spray, steal your minimal possessions, send you to SHU (Special Housing Unit) = (solitary confinement/hole) and just generally make your time in their prison just that much more difficult…could not that revenge based sadistic behavior fall under the definition of terrorism?

    Many people labor under the false belief/impression that books or films can convey the actual prison experience.

    All I can say is , I have experienced/witnessed incidents that would disabuse you of any notion that a modern day prisoner has any more “rights” than a Plantation Slave.

    If you don’t believe me, look at a prison from behind the wall…while looking out at the Free World…while bearing in mind the real possibility that you may lose your life behind that wall and never be free again.

    Sounds like Slavery to me?

    Prisons should be used to contain criminals.

    Prisons must not be used as a tool for control of free Americans who are still presumed innocent?

    Fear of incarceration is used as a constant public reminder that if one does not obey, they can always find a way to punish us…say…oh, I don’t know…for a cannabis “CRIME”!

    I was never a criminal.

    No person who has ever been…is now…or ever will be incarcerated for cannabis were not…are not… and will not be Criminals…and any honest/sane person knows I’m right.

    Immediate release is in order for all currently incarcerated cannabis hostages!

    They are being held against their will in cages for no actual crime…it’s time…to let my people go!…Home!

  6. Many “pot criminals” that haven’t been “caught” yet are chained mentally. – Bob Constantine

    You said the whole thing in one sentence, Bob!

    You just let the trick out of the bag and clearly stated the actual reason for The War on Drugs…which ,of course is a fearful War on American Citizens.



    purcha$e product$

    Con$ume Products

    constantly consume electronic heroin via assorted dependency causing devices




    ” We must free ourselves from mental Slavery” – Bob Marley

  7. @ Eric K. Johnson

    I stand corrected regarding prisoners and slaves, uh, I think.

    Anyhow, as I noted earlier, I was actually originally referring to Bob Constantine’s comparing slavery to paying taxes for recreational pot.

  8. PS: The “regular” ordinary Punishment for attempting to escape Nicotine $lavery is… withdrawal symptoms for not having another $igarette soon enough! Hardcore escapees who try substituting cannabis get the jail time…

  9. @ Eric K. Johnson

    I stand corrected regarding prisoners and slaves, uh, I think – Evening Bud

    My only goal is to put a ‘human face’ on those who are imprisoned for cannabis crimes.

    The only thing I can positively state is the fact that slaves didn’t pay taxes…because they didn’t receive pay…but if they had received any “pay”…their “masters” would have found a way to take it away…eh?

  10. The only thing I can positively state is the fact that slaves didn’t pay taxes–Eric K. Johnson

    Eric, I am not going to comment further on this subject purely out of deference to you, and others who’ve been incarcerated for various infractions involving pot. I have nothing but sympathy for you and those others, anger even, that you all have had to endure that sort of hell for that sort of “crime.” And I would never attempt to minimize the pain, fear and loneliness that you must’ve felt. (Like many others here, undoubtedly, it was only through the “grace of God” that I myself didn’t have to go through that, having dodged the proverbial bullet on a few occasions.)

    I will say, however, and with ALL due respect, that you will never convince me that prisoners in the U.S. penal system experienced anything close to what slaves throughout history have. I can give you many many examples, starting with ancient Rome. The brutality man is capable of inflicting upon another man or woman or child is quite disturbing. (Just to give one small example, the Romans often started off their games in the arena for the afternoon with a slaughter of slaves and “criminals,” either burning them to death for the enjoyment of the audience, or unleashing lions and other beasts upon them, until they were all eaten alive. I wonder what those slaves would’ve said about comparing their lot to that of prisoners in the American penal system.) I assure you, I can give you many more examples, and not just in Rome.

    But I do understand the point you are making, that is, putting a human face on those behind bars, and you are to be commended for that. As I said before, I myself have nothing but sympathy and anger in regard to your experiences.

    Best regards (I mean it).

  11. I’m glad they can only beat us but can’t eat us!

    I don’t think modern day slaves have it that bad…I guess it depends on who one asks?

    I was lonely, I suffered pain…but I was never afraid.

    I was respected buy nearly everyone.

    I treated everyone with respect and demanded the same in return…it’s the best way to do time…if one is able.

    I do take your point in regards to the levels of man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man.

    Humans are predacious by Nature…and some are viciously cunning.

    “Beware of those in whom the desire to punish is strong” – (close to what Nietzsche said?)

    I will not describe violence I have witnessed in their prisons…I don’t want to burden anyone else’s mind with the terrible visual images I will never forget.

    Just try to imagine a guy who has no understanding of mental illnesses viciously punishing someone for being so afflicted…it happens every day in some American Prison.

    I’m talking America 2015…right now.

    I guess we can agree being any kind of slave is wrong and must be stopped.

    Best Regards (I mean it too)

  12. I was respected buy nearly everyone.

    Calling Dr. Freud!

    By – buy

    I ran the clothing issued to inmates…hence the buy…Every person who was previously “assigned” to that much sought after position sold prison issue to inmates.

    After I elected to assume that sought after position… I never charged a penny for prison issued goods that prisoners had coming just for being in Prison.

    That’s the “Regular” way.

  13. …their is yet another prison and, that is the prison of drug testing. to be ‘free’ yet, not be able to do something for yourself that , you KNOW is right for you is prison in my opinion.i have been in ‘prison’ for 6 yrs ,one month and a half.i have been a 32 yr consumer. It is more hellish than a year ago with not a whole lotta light at the end of the tunnel so far. Where testing is concerned, even if cannabis is legalized here in fla which, I cannot see before I buy the farm, testing, as in the ‘free’ states still keeps those that wish to consume. hair testing has cut like a freshly sharpened knife where I work and I do not see it changing anytime soon. I never realized the benefit of cannabis personally until I could not consume even small amounts of it…my mind and body misses its benefits in a bad way…..

  14. Just read through the comments on this page and I am truly amazed and inspired by the comprehension and compassion that you, Evening Bud, compel from your posts. I have had the editor come into arguments to break up loaded words like “revolution” and whether it pertains to social or political circumstances, but I’ve never quite seen someone able to politely describe their connotation of a word, while simultaneously respecting someone else’s definition in the same post. Good job.

    This form of compassionate vocabulary is essential to marijuana legalization. Even the word “legalization” is classically misconstrued by average Americans who somehow think the word means “no rules, no punishment, no regulation,” when it in fact means quite the opposite, (albeit with education in lieu of punishment).
    Slavery, of course, is an historically charged word, whether we are speaking of institutionalized slavery or abduction or capture, which is a very real part of human history and even modern behavior. Clearly, we have to be careful of how we apply the word in reference to prison, because there are several levels to the word “prisoner,” as well.

    Crime is a debt measured by cultural perception. So is “rehabilitation,” which as one Supreme Court Justice recently said to Congress, has been “completely neglected.”

    After 45 years of Drug War, the latest drug enforcement budget Obama signed STILL spends more on drug enforcement and “interdiction” (another word I’ll leave in quotes) than we spend annually on drug treatment or education. We may have come a long way since the last Summit of the Americas in 2012, when the DEA was showing the Secret Service where the prostitutes were in Cartagena just to change the subject from using drug enforcement compliance as a requisite for U.S. Foreign “AID,” (boy, quoting ambiguous words is getting contagious,) …but really Mr. President, you just visited the house of Bob Marley last week then subsequently told Jamaica “descheduling marijuana would give the wrong impression for categorizing other drugs?” Really? And what impression is that? Cocaine is okay for anesthesia in our hospitals but if we catch it at customs coming from your country we’ll have to confiscate your assets? Nice ploy using Cuba to detract the media from American drug policy, but some of us can still read between the lines, no matter what ambiguous words or narratives are thrown at us.

    We all, within an American Democracy using what we hope is a “jury of our peers” (not to be confused with a DA appointed, law enforcement crony appointed Grand Jury), create a concept of what we choose to believe is a criminal. Then we make judgements upon these “criminals” based on the debts they incur, their potential to commit new acts of violence… Or… Let’s face it, one ‘s ability or willingness to afford an attorney or defend one’s self in court.
    But our “Justice” system is completely broken and twisted by too many years of emphasizing enforcement over treatment and interdiction over education… That last part, “interdiction ” includes the evil amendment in the Controlled Substances Act that allowed the executive agencies of our DOJ to use asset forfeitures on perceived “criminals” and alleged, “terrorists” without due process. Congress never had the Constitutional right to give this authority to the DOJ , but in 1970 they did. They let cops write our drug policy. Attorney General Holder deserves much credit for reversing these policies including asset forfeitures, but it’s up to us to MAKE Congress do their job and end the Police State, largely accomplished through voter initiatives, but ultimately from the will of the people being brave and finding their voice. At the end of prohibition, we are going to find that without lethal black markets and organized crime, crime itself will be a matter of perception and investigation that will require constant vigilance and elasticity within our Democracy… (Well, Plutocracy since the Federal Reserve Act)… But regardless we will all be forced to determine each other’s community service, to be responsible for our community’s education and rehabilitation, lest we fail to distinguish a “Democracy” with a police state from a “Communist” regime with a capitalist court system in place.

    It always makes me wonder if Nixon ‘s trip to China inspired the “Drug Czar” and the Controlled Substances Act.?

    At least I know that cannabis nourished my question of authority and inspired my study of the etymology of the words we use so callously use every day.
    “Legalize it.”

  15. @ Julian,

    Many thanks for the kind words. I am a bit of a history bug, am fascinated by the many diverse civilizations on our planet. In my opinion, we are, however, slowly but surely becoming one people; and that’s a good thing.

    I always enjoy reading your posts, Julian, am always amazed at the level of depth of your points.

    You are truly a brother for the cause.

  16. At least I know that cannabis nourished my question of authority – Julian

    That’s precisely why it’s so fearfully “illegal”?

    BTW …I am equally impressed by your independent comments and righteous content.

  17. “Prohibition is a Progressive policy.”

    WTF??? What is “progressive” about stealing taxes and unjustly arresting people?

    Try this instead:
    “Prohibition is a Regressive policy.”

Leave a Reply