“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
The time has come for the people of the United States to wake up to the reality of the dark values upon which our current drug policy and laws are based. We cannot, as a people, afford to continue to criminalize ourselves, our family members, and our neighbors.
Our goal with the The Medicinal Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Amendment is to begin healing our society by explicitly spelling out our rights. This is not only to provide medicine to patients – it is designed to protect us from campaigns of oppression.
It was made explicit, in the way Ohioans voted in 2015 – considering over 50% of Ohioans support full cannabis legalization, but only 36% voted for Responsible Ohio’s business scheme – that the people of Ohio are as concerned with the injustices produced under investor-friendly legalization models as they are with the injustices under prohibition.
It is understandable that the legalization movement is tired from fighting hard for decades and it may be tempting to take an “easier” path by letting those with deep pockets (whose pockets, perhaps, are fatter due to social and economic injustices perpetuated by the Drug War) take over some control. As GrassRoots Ohioans, we recognize public health and safety are important and that profit motives and restrictive/unscientific regulations serve as obstacles to those ends. In addition, giving moneyed interests advantage or special access to the cannabis industry only perpetuates the racial and economic inequities of the War on Drugs. What does it mean for the future advancement of low-income and minority Americans if policies that create this industry – already valued at $5.4 billion – lock them out of it? Is this the picture of justice or oppression repackaged?
We deserve policy based on facts and scientific evidence, rather than political convenience. The United States’ legacy of liberty is rooted in the idea of governance centered around the protection of fundamental human rights. Let us take this to the next step. The rights enumerated in the U.S. Bill of Rights were designed to protect us from tyrannical governance. Is that not what we are facing currently with the Drug War? We must stand together and tell the State that we do not support policy based on racism and political oppression.
GrassRoots Ohioans is building a long-term movement to promote drug policies that advance our values of social justice, Constitutional principles, and scientific evidence. We hope you will join our team!