When 64 percent of the voters in Miami Beach in a straw ballot said they would support medical marijuana last week, it was no surprise.
Pot smokers may not wear rainbow flags, but they have finally come out of the closet.
For forty years, since early in the 1970’s, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been fighting to change repressive and regressive laws against the responsible use of cannabis by consenting adults.
The truth is that the ‘war on drugs’ was never a war on drugs. It was a war on good and decent people, whose only crime was smoking a joint at the end of the day.
Most Americans have always known that the horror stories about pot consumption were delusional hallucinations thrown upon us by cowardly politicians who were afraid to be seen as ‘soft on dope.’ Today, though, cannabis consumers realize they can trust their own experiences more than the government’s forked tongues.
In 20 states where citizens have been asked if they want pot to be decriminalized, they have resoundingly said ‘yes.’ Current Gallop polls in fact have showed that a majority of nearly 60 percent of Americans want pot legalized.
It isn’t because we are all stoners, though many of us are. It is because we as Americans are fed up and disgusted with the lies and laws our legislators have passed and prosecuted. Over four decades, we have empowered our government to enact draconian measures that have compromised our civil liberties and sacrificed common sense. We are fighting back, against spying, surveillance and stupidity.
While we were too complacent or silent, our leaders have ratified statutes allowing for our sons and daughters to be jailed, our cars to be seized, and our scholarships to be forfeited. In certain places, moms and dads can still lose custody of their kids because they are caught smoking pot. It is an outrage and injustice Americans can no longer endure or countenance.
Today, from Miami Beach to Maine, from Seattle to South Florida, we are saying ‘Free the Leaf.’ It’s not just to get high. There are valid medical and curative reasons to support normalizing marijuana.
Thousands of Americans who were living with HIV learned years ago that medical cannabis inhibited a ‘wasting away’ syndrome and enhanced their appetite. Others, like Elvy Mussika, a grandmother from Hollywood, Florida, found out smoking marijuana alleviated her blinding glaucoma. She now actually gets pot monthly from the DEA, cultivated at a government-controlled grow house in Mississippi.
Scientists in Israel have discovered cannabis can control muscular spasticity and arthritic conditions amongst the elderly. One housewife in Manatee County, Cathy Jordan, has grown and used cannabis for a quarter of a century to combat Lou Gehrig’s disease. Acknowledging her use is a ‘life-saving condition,’ an enlightened prosecutor has declined to prosecute her.
Those of us who smoked joints watching Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960’s are now in our 60’s. We have seen pharmaceutical companies overdose us with a sea of prescription pills that have led to unanticipated consequences and multi-million dollar class action lawsuits. None of us has ever died from weed, but we have all been victims of the war against it.
As we approach an age of decriminalization and even legalization, let me just say ‘welcome.’ If you support reform now, and you have not before, thanks for joining a good cause.
In Florida, an effort has been launched to place medical marijuana on next year’s ballot as a constitutional amendment. If the signature requirements are met, you will get to vote on it. Like every other state where people vote on cannabis, it will pass overwhelmingly, with bipartisan support in both red and blue counties. Pot has only one party.
Support those communities that want to legalize and medicalize cannabis, and you will be on the right side of history, part of a community wrongfully denied a voice and now, finally, after all these years, rightfully being recognized.
Norm Kent, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NORML, and the publisher of South Florida Gay News.