Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “marijuana”

Treading on States’ Rights – Roger Ingalls

The election is finally over and all the uber-conservative nut-jobs are freaking out. “We’re going off a financial cliff. Obama is a communist alien from Mars. Henny Penney, the sky is falling.”

Since the election, people in all fifty states have signed petitions to secede their individual states from the Union. Again, most of this is coming from the fanatical right crazy-folk but I do believe there is an important message here. The Federal government is unjustly stepping on States’ rights.

Our system of government was setup to allow people in different regions of the country live by majority beliefs appropriate for their corner of the world as long as it did not conflict with the Constitution. This makes sense. Governance that’s good for Alaska may not be good for Florida. In addition, people who live together start to think alike – generally speaking – so they may have values that differ from others that live thousands of miles away.

Here’s my point. The Federal government has been heavily encroaching on States’ rights for the past 40 years. What we see is a country turning more and more divided because we are being forced to act more uniformly when culturally we are very different from state to state. People in Mississippi should not be forced to live like Californians if the majority of them don’t want to. It’s my belief that there would be less anger, less fanatical polarization if people were allowed to govern in a regionally appropriate way when democratically selected.

The next year will be interesting. I’m a liberal and an Obama fan but his big failing is mouthing the belief in State’s rights but then acting completely and thoroughly opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is good for the Feds to offer nationwide services as a competitive option to oligarchical industries, such as energy, banking and insurance since free market choices no longer exist. But it should be a choice. In this election, the people of Washington and Colorado voted to approve the legalization of recreational cannabis. Since 400 or so congressmen thought it was appropriate, in the 1970s, to broadly force their moral beliefs onto the entire nation and outlaw cannabis, it will be interesting to see how the President responds to the people’s choice in these two states.

If not in conflict with the Constitution, the will of the locals should be honored in a democracy. If not, let the secessions begin.

Post-Election Thoughts – Roger Ingalls

What could have been a very bummer election turned out to be pretty awesome. There were a few negatives but the dramatic leftward movement on some key issues caught me totally by surprise.

Before we hit the good stuff let’s get the minor bad things out of the way:

1)      California Prop 30 passed which increases the state sales tax and places a higher tax burden on the upper wage earners. This money is supposed to funnel to schools. I’m all for educating the kids but giving more money to the hooligans and cronies that populate the education system is sinful. These extortionists need pink slips, not greenbacks. Fix the dysfunctional system before pouring more money into it.

2)      Abolishment of the death penalty failed (Prop 34). A few years ago I wouldn’t have cared about the death penalty but hearing the news about the number of innocent people executed by the state of Texas opened my eyes. Governor Perry faced with overwhelming evidence of innocence; still allow executions to go ahead because he didn’t want to appear soft on crime. His self-image was more important than the life of another human. I can see this happening elsewhere, like California, given the current state of politics. If there is a possibility that an innocent person could pay the ultimate price than the death penalty must be abolished.

Onto the good stuff:

1)      President Obama was re-elected. I’m far from happy with the President’s performance but the alternative is unthinkable. In addition, it proves that his initial election was not a fluke and we are making racial progress.

2)      After years of defeats in more than 30 states, pro-gay marriage initiatives finally passed in 2012. Same-sex marriage passed in Maryland, Maine and possibly Washington pending a more detailed vote count. Also, Minnesota voted down a ban on gay marriage. Progress!

3)      California updated its draconian three strikes law. Now, the three strikes law can only impose a life sentence when the new felony conviction is serious or violent. Prop 36 also allows re-sentencing for previously closed cases along with a few other provisions. It’s socially fair and will save the state a lot of money.

4)      Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Finally, brave citizens of these two states said “enough” to the conservative agenda that consistently criminalizes human behavior. A plant that’s been used by humanity for 10,000 years was made illegal for dubious reasons approximately forty years ago. How the Federal government attacks CO and WA will be interesting. Big money from the pharmaceutical and prison industries pay politicians to protect their interest so the Fed may crack down hard on the states. The Obama administration has hit states hard on medical marijuana even though he campaigned otherwise in 2008, basically he lied to the younger generation to get their vote. Perhaps now that re-election worries are no longer warranted, he will honor his original commitment.

5)      Many younger voters took a liberal stance again in 2012, as they did in 2008. Also, the thirty-somethingers voted for the Democratic candidate for a third straight presidential election. Once a citizen votes two or three consecutive time for the same party, they usually vote that way for the rest of their life. This gives hope to the possibility that a future progressive movement can undo all the damage caused by Republicans over the past thirty years.

6)      Women, in huge numbers, voted to re-elect President Obama. This should send a strong message to the Republican Party that their attempts to keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen will not work. And certainly the party’s politicians that make statements like “legitimate or justifiable rape” need to be removed from office.

2012, positively progressive!

Conniving Rats – Roger Ingalls

*WARNING: ANGRY POST*

To avoid dissension within the ranks; I rarely speak negatively about President Obama. But there comes a time when you just have to say what’s on your mind. Now, is that time.

Whenever the Obama Administration asks Americans for input on policy via social media sponsored by Facebook or through the We the People website, the number one issue proposed by citizens is the legalization of medical cannabis.

During the Facebook interviews, the President never addresses the medical issue but instead condescendingly laughs before moving on. And recently, the administration released a negative response to the peoples’ popular cannabis petition posted on the White House’s We the People site.

The response referenced the usual FDA and Institute of Health naysayers that employ ex-pharma executives and lobbyist. These organizations have more foxes in the hen house than there are hens! Instead of snickering at the peoples’ requests, the President should be laughing at these government groups because they truly are jokes – they’re big business puppets.

Beyond the lies spattered throughout the release, the most troublesome aspect was the carefully worded phase “smoked marijuana” with the word “smoke” in italic.

This cleverly worded phrase is a setup. The release is setting the stage for big pharma to step in and take an organic medicine and turn it into a processed drug that can generate large revenues while making it illegal for small existing businesses to provide a natural low cost product. It will also prevent people from growing their own organic medicine. In this release, the Obama administration is saying that organic cannabis (that is commonly smoked) is bad but marijuana processed by big business is worth investigating.

It’s no accident that the President has taken this position. Big pharma is one of the three biggest contributors to political campaigns.

Just once, I’d like a politician to stand up and speak honestly. Perhaps something like this: “My fellow Americans, I’m sorry. I cannot push for the legalization of medical cannabis. Even though this organic and safe medicine would obsolete 30 to 50% of today’s expensive and dangerous pharmaceuticals, I can not make cannabis legal. I sold my soul to the biggest bidder and you, my deceived friends, are not the highest bidder. My bed belongs to big pharma. Again, I’m sorry but you are irrelevant.”

Come November 2012 I may change my tune but today, President Obama and Big Pharma are conniving rats.

Support your local Occupy Movement; it’s a voice that politicians and big business fear.

Fear Creates Relevance.

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

From Killing Weeds to Killer Weed—A Mighty Brave Step (Roger Ingalls)

Sniff-sniff-sniff, is that the pungent kushie smell of progress? This cannot be true, my eyes and ears must be deceiving me.

afghani-kush cannabis

“I want to target the pot market, there’s no good reason we haven’t.” Do you have any idea who said this? It was Jim Hagedorn, the CEO of Scotts Miracle-Gro Co.  He made this statement a few days ago during an interview with The Wall Street Journal. SMG (NYSE) is a $3 Billion publicly traded lawn care company that generates 60 to 70% of its revenue from sales to Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of suburban lawns and the chemicals that are put on them. I believe all lawns — not used for physical activities — should be converted to edible gardens. However, I must applaud Mr. Hagedorn for his boldness in making this statement. Nutrient providers and grow equipment manufacturers do not explicitly say that their products are used for medical cannabis out of fear of drawing attention from the Feds. The federal government regulates interstate commerce, and business activity related to marijuana is federally illegal no matter what an individual state’s laws may be. So, Mr. Hagedorn deserves some kudos for his remarks.

No doubt, it is in SMG’s best financial interest to get into this business. The overall marijuana market is currently two to three times larger than the $8 Billion lawn and garden industry. In addition, the lawn industry will fade in the coming decades due to water shortages and climate concerns related to global warming — lawns are environmentally damaging and expensive. SMG is a smart company and the writing is clearly on the wall.

Could endorsement by a respected public company be the tipping point for widespread acceptance of medical cannabis and perhaps recreational use? If so, think of the benefits to society:

-Ending the 40 year failed War on Drugs would save tax payers $54B a year (Fed and combined States expenses).

-Legalization would eliminate criminal activity associated with prohibition.

-Generate sales tax revenues in the billions of dollars.

-Create thousands of new jobs.

-Reduce non-violent incarcerations by 25% making room for violent criminals.

-Increase availability of affordable medicine with less side-effects.

Mr. Hagedorn didn’t make his remarks about pot because he wants to improve society, his motivations are purely profit driven (based on additional comments). However, it was risky considering the Fed’s current position on cannabis. If SMG does make that first bold move toward supporting the medical marijuana industry and it accelerates federal legalization, it would put them in the drivers seat and create a lot of customer loyalty. It’s a mighty brave step but a prudent business decision.

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Ganja Grannies Get the Pokey

Say it isn’t so grandma! Did you get thrown in the pokey for growing marijuana?

Last Friday, two senior grandmothers—one 72 years old and the other 65—were busted for growing cannabis in their home. With bail set at $100,000, they are still behind bars. Are women of this age going to jump bail and high-tail it across the border? I don’t think so. Set bail at a reasonable level and let these ladies go home.

At what point do we just make this stuff legal again? Twenty-six million Americans smoke marijuana frequently and a whopping 100 million Americans admit to smoking pot at some point in their life—that’s one third of the US population. More people use cannabis on a regular basis than drink green tea.

Cannabis has been part of humanity as far back as man has been documenting history. How long has it been used, 10,000 years, 50,000 years? No one really knows but man and cannabis have probably evolved together for quite some time.

Why, after thousands of years of use, was cannabis made illegal 80 years ago? Two reasons: Big Business and racism. Dupont introduced synthetic material which had to compete with the sturdy hemp fabrics. To eliminate his competition, Mr. Dupont pushed his political friends in Washington to make the cannabis plant illegal. In addition, Hearst Paper Manufacturing produced paper goods based on timber that came from Hearst’s vast land holdings—Hearst wanted to eliminate paper made from hemp. Hearst Publishing used their media to promote horror stories about marijuana, “The Crazy Mexican Weed”. During the Great Depression, Mexicans were racially targeted for taking jobs from whites and the marijuana law was a key tool for deportation. Corporate greed and racism were the driving forces behind criminalization.

Isn’t it time to stop criminalizing benign human behavior? Clearly, a significant portion of the population does not believe that the use of cannabis is a crime. Adults of all ages smoke pot and now we even have grandmothers grow it. It’s safer than alcohol, safer than cigarettes and has medicinal value; what else does this plant need to do…back flips?

It’s time to stop the madness. Do we really need a multi-billion dollar prison industry to lock-up people for doing something that’s been legal for eons? Let people be people.

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

California Leadership: Real Health Care Reform

Is the adage, “As California goes, so goes the Nation” still true? Obviously, there’s a lot of truth in that saying, just look at these trends: anti-smoking laws, car emissions and mileage standards, civil rights and medical cannabis. These were considered radical in their day but are now widely accepted ideas. And don’t forget California’s pop culture: skateboarding, drag racing, valley girls, car-hops, and plastic boobs.

This year California will have the opportunity to spread her leadership wings again by passing Senate Bill 810, Single Payer Universal Health Care.

You may be asking: why do we need a State health care program when we just passed a Federal Health Care Reform package? Well, the Federal reform does have some good elements but it is a watered down piece of crap. By the time the conservatives and lobbyists got through with it, the insurance companies were laughing all the way to the bank. The old dog Republican leaders are still screaming repeal but that’s just positioning propaganda for the lemming followship. These leaders know it’s a sweet honey-hole for the ones that grease their palms.

Can California afford Single Payer Universal Health Care? The short answer is yes. The State is the seventh largest world economy.

Let’s compare the economic power of California with two countries that have great universal health care, Canada and the United Kingdom. California has 37 million people and a GDP of ~$2.0 Trillion. Canada has 34 million people and a GDP of ~$1.6 Trillion while the UK has 67 million people and a GDP of ~$2.3 Trillion. Revenue per capita for California, Canada and the UK is $54K, $46K and $37K respectively. These numbers easily show that California is, by far, richer than many countries that offer universal health care.

The United States is the only modern industrialized country that does not have universal health care. Compared to other countries, the US health care system is ranked 37th, pathetic considering we are the richest country is the world. Big Business should not be allowed to profit from healthcare insurance while having the power to also deny the protection. It’s like the fox guarding the hen house. For profit health insurance is a moronic notion.

Excessive “Hollywood antics” are now prevalent in politics but Californians are wise to this over-the-top acting. They are not fooled by Sarah Palin “death panel” rhetoric and understand that separating the financial component from the actual medical care is beneficial. Life, death and health decisions will be made by doctors and not by Wall Street’s paper-pushing financial executives.

California will lead the nation by passing SB 810.

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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