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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Marijuana debate to take place in Wichita, Kansas

Pro-marijuana legalization-activists will get a chance to question candidates for governor, Saturday, July 5 at the Sedgwick County Park, Shelter #4. The day’s events will include a debate and cookout. The meet will run from 12 pm - 5:00 pm and the debate will start at 2 pm. Four governor candidates have been invited to debate the issue and present their stands on marijuana.
Back in my high school days, 30 years ago, my friends and I really thought that marijuana would be legal by the time we turned 30. The prevailing ideology was liberalism and society seemed to be moving in a more progressive and sane direction. We imagined that we would be living under a more enlightened and advanced society where throwing people in jail for something as petty as marijuana possession would be a thing of the past. We were dead wrong.
Thirty years ago, most marijuana use was among younger people and hippie types who had a certain look to them. Today the users have become more mainstream. Now many older people use it and most of its users look like anyone else.
Then came the election of 1980—and the most backward and reactionary forces in the country came together to back Ronald Reagan for president. Once elected he pushed back abortion rights, labor union rights, and he put this country on a cold war/imperialist direction. Reagan came down hard on all drugs including marijuana.
Reagan, with the help of his wife Nancy, convinced many parents that smoking or possessing small amounts of marijuana contribute to big-time-drug dealers and the murderous activities they used to conduct their business. In the 1980s this country had a crack cocaine epidemic and it was used to scare a lot of people away from legalizing marijuana.
In the last few years there have been plenty of efforts to finally legalize marijuana in some places and decriminalize it in others.
As a young high school student I really liked to smoke marijuana. Today I don’t like it as well as I used to. For most of my life I have felt that punishing drug users with jail time made no sense. It becomes a matter of personal freedom. Why do government officials get to decide what I can put in my own body? I can see the government having the right to regulate products that are sold to us, but if a person has something they want to use, it should be a matter of personal choice. Our government and many of our leaders struggle to keep poor people from getting badly needed medical care. Why should these same leaders stop those of us who want to use some type of self medication? 
The history of marijuana prohibition has been fraught with racism and hypocrisy.  La Cucaracha, is a song about a pot smoking cockroach. It is evidence that marijuana smoking was prevalent among Mexican workers before the drug was banned here in the US.
Marijuana has become a part of US culture. There are songs about it. Many of our nations’ artists and writers have been influenced by it. From Cheech & Chong to David Peel and The Lower East Side marijuana is everywhere. Some celebrities, such as Louis Armstrong, used to smoked marijuana discretely.
It is my hope that marijuana will be legalized nation-wide and eventually the war on drugs will die out and get buried.

-សតិវ អតុ

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