I have discussed the use of marijuana with my family and friends recently, especially since California is considering legalizing and taxing the sale of the plant. There are some organizations, such as NORML, which are working to reform the laws around marijuana and decriminalize it for medicinal, recreational and industrial (hemp) use.
This is pertinent to me, due to the fact that I was caught last month with stems of marijuana in my glove box. As a result, I had to appear before a magistrate (judge) and I plead guilty, since I did in fact possess marijuana. While sitting in the court room (of about 40 people to see the judge….I was second to last) I wrote a comment to the judge and read it after receiving my sentence. Here is what I read:
I ask that the court re-evaluate the category of marijuana as a controlled substance for three reasons:
1) Given the declining economy, states are facing budget cuts and looking for new sources of income. For example, in California, the state is considering growing and taxing marijuana in order to bring more revenue into the state budget.
2) Industrial hemp can be used for many uses including fibers, fabric, rope and paper among others. Hemp does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Many naval journeys would not have been possible in the last few centuries without the use of hemp in the sails and ropes. I would ask that if marijuana remains a controlled substance, that you reconsider the category of hemp for its utility.
3) I contend that the risk of marijuana use is equal to the risk of alcohol use and should be treated in the same manner.
The judge told me she was only able to uphold the laws as they are currently written and that I should take my appeal to the legislature. Unfortunately, it is easier sometimes to go before a judge and talk to them directly, rather than appearing on the floor of Congress. Though, perhaps not, seeing as you have to break the law you wish to change, in order to see a judge about it. Depending on your sentence, you may not have another chance to participate in society and use this method again. I guess this is why people lobby, though this also seems ineffective, since you need a lot of money or a lot of people saying the same thing, for a politician to listen (mostly because they are after votes). Additionally, and tangentially, but just as important, what exactly the ships were doing while sailing around the world with hemp sails and ropes is another discussion altogether. Some were likely trading and taking goods to and fro, while others were engaged in warfare of some kind. The legality of these activities can be explored in another blog post. Until then, I’m going to eat some dinner and then go to a “House of Privilege” exhibit here at JMU.