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Marijuana Must Be Legalized

The opinion and story of a Colorado Attorney:  

It is 5:00 a.m. on a cold dark Colorado morning. Twenty-five SWAT team officers, clad in black helmets, body armor, wielding assault weapons, large clear shields, and heavy iron battering rams, surround a quiet residential home, shatter the front door, and throw flash-bang grenades and tear gas inside.

The team of 25 militarized cops stream into the house, screaming obscenities, shattering the terrified childrens’ sleep and jarring the scared parents awake. The SWAT team then literally destroys the home and the furniture within, slashing couches, overturning bookcases, throwing possessions all over the floor, carting the crying children off to Social Services or foster care, and throwing the parents to the ground at gunpoint, handcuffing them painfully before carting them off to the police station.

The SWAT team then locates its target: a couple dozen three-foot high cannabis plants in a modest indoor basement garden, and a pound or so of dried plant matter, some lights, some fertilizer, and a few books on how to grow marijuana.

This is not an extreme example. This scene literally happens every day in America, a nation that loudly professes that it is a “free” country, but that leads the globe in per capita incarceration of its own people, a rate that exceeds those of human rights leaders such as North Korea, China, and Iran, due mostly to the war on drugs.

And this scene embodies America’s war on marijuana. A government this large, this powerful, this intrusive, this belligerent, is necessary to fight this modern-day prohibition against a simple herb that approximately half of the American adult population has consumed at some point in their lives. There are so many reasons this must change:

1. Money

The war on marijuana costs us money. The direct costs to local, state, and federal governments are staggering and exceed a trillion dollars. Police, prosecutors, probation officers, judges, courts, jailers, prison guards, and defense lawyers form a massive prison-industrial complex that distracts limited resources away from our failing economy and other more important priorities. The indirect costs to the economy, though more difficult to quantify, are probably higher in the form of people removed from their families and their jobs, the opportunity costs of distracted police and jammed courts too busy to adjudicate important criminal and civil cases. We also lose out on the benefits of industrial hemp, which has no recreational effect but which could be an extremely useful crop for American farmers and industry.

And all of this money has been wasted — accomplishing, like so many other heavy-handed government programs, the precise opposite result of that which was intended. Even the U.S. government’s drug czar (it is appropriate that this government position is named after an imperial Russian tyrant), Gil Kerlikowski, admits that the 40-year experiment with drug prohibition has been an abject failure.

Decades of drug prohibition has not accomplished a single of its goals. Albert Einstein’s definitionof insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As our governments at all levels pour more lawyers, guns, and money into this militarized marijuana prohibition, people still obtain it — easily — and supply and demand is totally uninterrupted on a macro scale; one dealer falls, another pops up. Under Einstein’s definition, our government is literally insane.

2. Freedom

The war on marijuana is alien to the principles of a free nation founded on the principles of limited government and personal responsibility. The negative impact of marijuana prohibition laws far outstrip the negative impact of the substance itself, which is one of the few things on Earth that has no practical lethal dose, it is basically harmless.

Humans in all cultures have used the cannabis plant since the dawn of history for medicinal, spiritual, industrial, and recreational purposes; only in the 20th century did it occur to any government to prohibit it. Thomas Jefferson and other founders grew cannabis on their plantations. The Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper. Even Genesis 1:29confirms that God gave man every seed-bearing plant on the Earth. God giveth, government taketh.

The history of American marijuana prohibition and “reefer madness” shows that its practical and legal basis is a house of cards. An outgrowth of alcohol prohibition which arose in roughly the same era, marijuana prohibition was born out of racially-charged fears of Mexicans and blacks.

For the American government to prohibit the cannabis plant, that government must declare war on its own principles. Such a prohibition then contributes to overall erosion in the general population’s respect for the rule of law, because the aggressive enforcement of this law touches so many people and makes the law itself — not just marijuana laws, but all laws and law enforcement officials — a joke.

The body armor-clad government stormtroopers are necessary to prosecute the war on marijuana. That level of expensive and intrusive force is necessary if cannabis, widely used and widely accepted, is to be prohibited from our private homes and lives. But perhaps the best brief against prohibition is the fact that marijuana is widely available to prisoners in America’s prisons and jails. Prisons and jails are the most tightly regulated, highly government-controlled locations in the world. If the government cannot keep marijuana outside of these places, can anyone seriously argue prohibition is enforceable in the general population?

3. Safety

The war on marijuana, like alcohol prohibition before it, creates and fuels the criminal underclass, organized crime, and domestic and foreign drug cartels. It is basic Economics 101: where there is a demand, a supply will be created to meet it, period. Human demand for marijuana, like alcohol, has lasted thousands of years, and will never go away. Leading economists like Milton Friedman have long seen the drug war as an economically-bankrupt policy.

If marijuana were legalized and taxed, violent drug cartels would lose the principal source of their income. Marijuana ought to be treated like a more dangerous substance: alcohol, available at the corner liquor store, and taxed and regulated. How many Mexican drug cartels smuggle beer over the border? Ban it, and you would see many. Create a regulated legal market for it, and the drug cartels are not involved.

4. Children

It is literally easier for American schoolchildren to obtain marijuana than beer.

That is because the government has created the black market in marijuana, making it more accessible to children. There is no black market in beer. It is relatively cheap and easy to obtain, for adults, but difficult for children. Prohibition increases childrens’ attraction to marijuana; the “forbidden fruit” is always sweeter.

For all of these reasons and many more, Americans have now passed the critical 50 percentthreshold in support for legalization of marijuana. (These polls typically understate support, as many Americans are understandably reluctant to admit to using or supporting marijuana to an anonymous telephone surveyor.) Even conservative televangelist Pat Robertson recentlyacknowledged that marijuana ought to be legal.

It is long past time for politicians at all levels to end this bankrupt policy of Prohibition, and stop breaking down the doors of Americans who only want to possess a harmless plant in the comfort of their own homes.

 

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Black History Month Celebrates Madam CJ Walker

The mere fact that the world celebrates Black History Month shows everyone how far we’ve come in breaking down racial barriers. The idea is to show everyone how colour and lifestyle barriers were smashed and paved the black community to rightfully play their part and make their mark in the world. There many so many figures who deserve to be highly spoken of but right now we’re going to focus one seriously sassy and determined lady who made life work for her after the abolition of slavery.

Madam CJ Walker

Born in the Louisiana Delta in 1867, Madam CJ Walker – formerly Sarah Breedlove – was born to former slaves. Her introduction to life came two years after the civil war ended. Unfortunately CJ and her were orphaned at the age of 7 and forced to work the cotton fields in order to make ends meet. However, this only served to enforce her determination to overcome adversity. CJ Walker became the first black woman to become a self-made millionaire. Her story is so thrilling and unique that it has been the focus of studies at Harvard Business School. It was not an easy road for her at all but she persevered and has become an icon not only for Black History Month, but in life for everyone regardless of colour.

At the age of 14 CJ met her husband and they had a daughter together. Sadly her spouse passed away shortly after her daughter was born, so CJ moved to St Louis to work for her brothers who owned a successful barber shop. After moving to the city CJ was found to have scalp condition which meant she lost most of her hair. Trying various products she eventually found one made by Anne Malone, another black history month member. The product proved to be exactly with CJ required for her mane and she decided to move to Denver and sell Annie’s products. She moved back to St Louis, married again and started creating her own hair conditioner. Her product proved to be a huge success and she developed plenty of other serums that assisted with problem skins and scalps. She eventually started travelling all over the country giving demonstrations. This seriously brilliant black lady become a huge success and in 1908 she opened a school to train ladies to sell her wares, which now included vegetable shampoos and cosmetics.

Over 100 years down the line Madam CJ Walker still enters our lives every day and many of you don’t even know it. Black History Month is about celebrating and educating. Does “Avon calling” ring a bell for you? Surprised? How is that for an education?

Vida Denning enjoys writing on a wide variety of topics and found that she learned a lot about history when she worked at a serviced office Spain and so much about culture at her time in serviced offices Hong Kong.

 

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Tim Tebow’s 316 yards inspire ‘John 3:16’ searches


Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow prays after the Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime in the NFL AFC wild-card playoff football game in Denver on Sunday. (MARC PISCOTTY – REUTERS)The Denver Broncos’ playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night was unlikely enough, but Tim Tebow’s passing yardage — the Christian quarterback threw 316 yards — sent commentators over the edge. The Associated Press reported that he also averaged 31.6 yards per completion. The religious connotations to John 3:16, a famous Bible verse, were too much for many to chalk up to chance.

For the true believersit was no coincidence.

 

 

View Photo Gallery: The quarterback for the Denver Broncos has become a polarizing figure in football, in part because of his outward displays of Christian faith.

 

Tebow has said previously that the Bible verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” is his favorite. When he wore the Scripture verse on his eye black during the National Championship Game in 2009, the term “John 3:16” was reportedly Googled more than 90 million times.

The Bible verse quickly became the most searched Google term Monday.

The Christian athlete has faced repeated criticism during this NFL season for wearing his faith on his sleeve. Bill Maher criticized Tebow (and Jesus) in a controversial Tweet after a Denver loss, and “Saturday Night Live” mocked the quarterback in a skit in which Jesus suggested that the quarterback “take it down a notch.”

Some say that the religious significance of Sunday’s game went deeper than the stats. In a column this weekend for The Washington Post’s Outlook section, David Kuo and Patton Dodd set up the showdown between Tebow and Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this way:

 

“Tebow and Roethlisberger point to the essential aspects of evangelicalism, the ones that make it persist — its missionary, proclamatory character on the one hand, and its private, searching piety on the other. The former wants to appeal to the whole world, which is why Tebow’s family raised him not only to preach, but to persuade others with a winning demeanor. The latter wants a changed life; Roethlisberger, in evangelical parlance, rededicated his life to Jesus after a period of backsliding, because he knew no other way to break his pattern of misbehavior.”

 

The Broncos’ win Sunday means that, for a week at least, Tebow mania is here to stay.

 

More On Faith and Tebow:

Tebow: God’s plan is for me to be a ‘role model for kids through football’

Sally Jenkins: Bill Maher and Tim Tebow: Why are so many offended by the quarterback’s faith?

By   |  10:38 PM ET, 01/08/2012

 

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A True American Family: A Place Where it’s NOT All About Me

I just returned from my wife’s family reunion in New Harmony Utah.  No I’m not kidding; it’s a real name, and a real feeling.

Having been an only child, and one with older parents at that, this is a serious change from my day to day life.  Being able to have an internet business, and being a writer, one is afforded a degree of personal freedom that is unequalled.  I get to go where I want, do what I want any time I want to, and have my friends over or visit them when I want, but it’s all on my terms.  My life is quite organized.  When it’s time to shop the stops are all planned sequentially and the timing is such that the stores are usually quite empty.  Shopping in the morning (right after the commute dies down)  allows me to skip the traffic jams, not have to wait in long check-out lines, and generally avoid people.

This “planning” and organization went out the door the second we got to the airport.  The only two airports that grant access to New Harmony are Salt Lake City, about 4 hours away, and Las Vegas, about 3 hours away.

We chose the latter.  Despite the hedonistic appeal of the city to foreigners to gamble, drink, and purchase sex, Las Vegas is to me a quintessential arm pit.  After the obligatory visit to the Bellagio fountains, the city seems to run out of charm quickly, and have that replaced with street barkers handing out whore trading cards amid the rubble of a shabby tinsel town drowning in its own excrement.  There are other places to “party” and certainly other attractions around the area, but the “strip” doesn’t hold up well if you stray off a block or two, or have to behold it in daylight.

In three hours we went from 2,001 feet to 5,800 and that was among the least of the changes.  The skank of the bowels of Vegas yielded to the amazing desert and Zion Park.  The painted rocks and canyons were an absolutely stunning contrast to the city behind, and we quickly lost the hurried frustrated feeling and began to succumb to “vacation mode.”

Upon arrival at our hotel, we were greeted by a few family members (only about 10) milling around the grassy area by the swimming pool, next to the lobby.  It was not clear at the time, but this was to become the family conference room for the next few days.  There were Pace’s flown in from Florida, Denver, Portland, and Chicago.  My wife came from a family of 5 kids, and the families descended on this tiny “Little House on the Prairie” community with the eagerness of a cloud of locusts on a ripe corn field.  After serious deliberation it was decided that the cloud would migrate towards a local Mexican cafeteria.  Every place we descend upon immediately becomes Pace Place.  The kids range from 2 years old to 21, the eldest being my daughter who actually gave up another huge family reunion with her mother’s (we divorced a few years ago) side of the family.  The entourage of the Robert Leslie Pace “posterity” numbered 21 folks for this event, so getting everybody to agree on anything is nothing short of a miracle, but it gets done.

We held golf tournaments, the great 5K “Pace Race” the morning of the reunion, had the reunion itself, visited local aunts, parents, grandparents, and cousins, had a family softball game, field trip to Kolob canyon with another fairly long jaunt, and visited the family ranch and graveyard, all with absolutely minimal planning and discussion.  There was barely any dissent, actually none among the family, and a minimal amount from the resident “only child.”  Things didn’t go according to plan, because there basically wasn’t one.  Dinner, save for the structured events, seemed to simply occur.  The plans for breakfast got botched the first day, but we all got fed.  Nobody seemed to keep track of which kids were riding with whom, to what destination, but in the end everybody arrived safe and happy.  The girls all got along great.  My 21 year old daughter became the “pied piper” of the younger cousins, a role identical to that she would assume when she returned home and drove up to Pine Mountain Lake to be with her Mom’s family of 20 or so.

The weekend ended with an impromptu Fourth of July parade, the time actually not set until the passing thunder storm could be assessed, and a carnival on the baseball field at the end of the street.  It wasn’t clear who paid for all the prizes for the kids, but it’s a pretty small community (population 190 as of 2000) and they take care of each other.

On the way back in the plane there was a young adult that thought it would be a great idea if he plopped his head in the window to watch the landing, and make sure that nobody else could.  It seemed odd to observe the “it’s all about me” attitude that can be the mantra of so many.  It is my sincere hope that the feeling of community and family love that has been my experience this weekend, can linger a bit in my day to day life and help me to live it a bit more skillfully.

Thank you Mary for sharing your beautiful family with me.

 

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You will not BELIEVE I carried this on an airplane – 10 times!

I tend to be a creature of habit.  When I travel, lots of little items end up in my shaving kit.  I noticed last night that one of them had leaked, and resolved to empty the thing out and wash it thoroughly.  What I found in there was scary:  one  5” nail file, two pairs of razor pointed scissors, a box of matches, a flashlight, and 3 oversized  tubes that could have held enough plastic explosives to … well you get the idea.

This by itself is not so scary.  What is scary is that I always have this shaving kit in my carry-on in case they “misplace” my checked-in luggage.   This same shave kit has made it through security at the following airports at least once in the last year:  San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Los Cabos, San Jose and Ft. Meyers Florida.

I have no editorial comment to share on this one; it kind of speaks for itself.  The last time I got on a plane from SFO to Denver there was a gun in my backpack, but that’s a story for Friday’s blog.  You don’t want to miss that one.  

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