Pot Prohibition Is the Cornerstone of a Police State

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The simple
truth about America’s marijuana prohibition: any law that allows
the easy incarceration of any citizen any time those in power want
to do it is the ultimate enemy of democracy. With 800,000 annual
arrests over an herb used by tens of millions of Americans, it is
the cornerstone of a police state.

The newly energized
movement to end prohibition in California – home to more than
10% of the nation – is one of the few healthy developments
in this otherwise horrific election.

To help pass
Proposition 19, go here and sign up to make phone calls in these
last crucial hours.

Part of the
battle has already been won. By all accounts the California campaign
has thrust the issue to a new level. The terms of repeal are not
perfect. But the acceptance of marijuana use has taken a giant leap
forward. When
joints are openly lit and smoked on national television
, it’s
clear that sooner rather than later, this travesty will fall.

The California
campaign has drawn the sides clearly. Demanding continued prohibition
first and foremost are the drug dealers who profit directly. As
Dan Okrent has shown in Last
Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
, organized crime
booms around such bans.

With them are
the prison builders and operators, plus the lawyers, judges, guards
and street cops who make their livings off the human agony of this
endless stream of meaningless arrests. To their credit, some of
these – especially cops who actually care about controlling
actual crime – have come out for legalization.

Then come the
alcohol and tobacco pushers who don’t want the competition from
a recreational substance that – like renewable energy –
can be raised and controlled locally. Ditto Big Pharma, which fears
marijuana as a superior anti-depressant with healing capabilities
far beyond a whole multi-billlion-dollar arsenal of prescription
drugs with deadly side effects. They fear an herbal medicine whose
warning labels will be limited to statements like: "Caution
– use of this healing herb may lead to excessive desire for
chocolate cup cakes."

it’s the politicians who cling to a prohibition that enhances their
power. One after the other they endorse more arrests and fiscal

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4, 2010

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