While not physically occurring in the United States and seeming a million miles away culturally, the arrest today of President Barack Obama’s half brother George Obama on marijuana possession charges in Kenya is yet another stark reminder to the world (and our new President) of the absurdity of marijuana prohibition.
On this day in 1838, the Tennessee Legislature passed the nation’s first Prohibition law.
The statute made it a misdemeanor for residents to sell alcoholic beverages in taverns and stores. Tennessee had been admitted to the Union in 1796 as the 16th state. Under the new law, any person convicted of selling “spirituous liquors” could be fined at the “discretion of the court.” Such fines would help fund public education.
Currently, over 25,000 public policy questions have been submitted to Obama’s website. Dozens of these questions pertain to cannabis law reform. Right now, the leading vote-getter among these (with 2,000 votes) is:
While having not seen the entire product, if the trailer of NatlGeo journalist Lisa Ling’s commentary is an indicator, I’m greatly looking forward to viewing Marijuana Nation on National Geographic at 10PM (eastern/pacific), Tuesday, December 2.
There was an attitude of our citizens at that time that the government couldn’t really tell us that we couldn’t drink, we were Americans! It was fun to go to the speak-easy. It was a “forbidden fruit” that lead some people to drink alcohol just because we weren’t suppose to.
Today there is a whole universe of information on the subject of marijuana that is brand-new since the Shafer Commission last studied marijuana in the 1970’s. The information then available lead Nixon’s own handpicked commission come to a surprising conclusion: they recommended no legal penalties for adults possessing up 100 grams of marijuana.
The numbers of Americans arrested for marijuana offenses now are so huge, perhaps the only way to get a grip on the humanity of this prohibition-driven social disaster, is to think of just a few of the people who have paid the ultimate price since I joined NORML’s Board of Directors in 2004, those who actually lost their lives in the enforcement of cannabis prohibition.
Now, proponents of prohibition and the status quo may view the above example (which typifies a daily news feed re ‘cannabis’, ‘marijuana’ and ‘hemp’) as examples of successes in the government’s war against some drugs. But, however, one can also be tasked to empty an ocean with a spoon…