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The Roots of Marijuana Prohibition – Harry Anslinger and the Marihuana Tax Act

 

To verify that that the foundation of cannabis prohibition was racial bias and bigotry, one need only to look at societal norms of that era and the statements of Harry J. Anslinger during his campaign against marijuana.

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A day in the life of a patient

A day in the life of a patient

It begins innocently enough, a doctors appointment. Since it’s a new doctor in a new state, I feel the need to explain my MMJ use, and looking at surgery, ask that I not be tested. Luckily, my doctor is well educated and was impressed with my decision to forgo pills when possible. So it’s going pretty well now, but I have to find said medicine, since my local pharmacy doesn’t carry my preferred naturals. It’s not an easy search either; no one will openly speak of cannabis, so when in a new area finding new contacts, you don’t have a lot of choices in medicines.

 

A girlfriend and I went searching, with our golden ticket, a contact!!! Five minutes into the ride, we are already complaining of pain, adjusting pillows, and wishing for a Valium for the anxiety; Only 1 more hour… one way. We start discussing how silly this all is, to get our hands on a natural plant. Worth more than gold, I believe, but impossible to locate! There’s planning discussion going on, planning for the case where we get pulled over. We have a joint, since it’s such a long trip, but we can’t smoke it for fear of being seen, so we wait. The tension is thick and we are are angry at the hypocriscy . When we finally reach our destination, our contact isn’t home, we take the break to smoke our joint, sit on the porch, drink in the southern charm dripping like the wisteria from the trees around us. Even a little hummingbird visited, enchanted by our skunky perfume. Side note: we happened to run into a young woman we knew. It’s that small a world! Now, you have to understand, to reach the oasis you have to climb more than 20 old rickety metal steps. If you happen to be handicapped, sorry, this isn’t your place. Our “dispensaries” are not up to any code, as usually being homes, most can’t be easily modified to suit clients. It’s common sense that the ones who need this the most are going to also have the most difficulty accessing it. But I digress. Our contact did not have what we were looking for this time. Not wasted, since now we all know each other and expectations have been established, but not the outcome I had hoped for. Now to make the trip home, which due to the hour will be even longer and spent in traffic, but there’s a hot tub waiting!

About 15 minutes into this drive, we received a frantic text from a fellow patient here in Georgia who was in the process of being raided. Talk about increasing the stress levels! We have to begin locating contacts who can offer any hope or help, spreading the word to other local activists, and continue to offer any support or advice we can in this dire situation. We did realize that one overlooked option we have as activists is that we can contact the judges responsible for allowing this to continue and end the warrants on cannabis patients. They are the only ones who can quickly end this war on people. They wield the sword, in it’s most powerful form, a pen, and could refuse to sign cannabis warrants. These judges have the authority to JUST SAY NO.

(Do you have a story to tell, testimony to give, a poem to share?  Please send all submissions to us at contactus@peachtreenorml.org)

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Harm Reduction – A Pleasant Surprise

One of the main planks in Peachtree NORML’s platform is Harm Reduction.  Georgia’s Draconian marijuana laws place a heavy burden on those charged with possession of marijuana.  An arrest creates a criminal record which follows an individual for a lifetime and can lead to the loss of jobs and educational benefits.  Fines and private probation fees add to the burden.  Factor in that the arrest leads to a suspension of one’s driver’s license, preventing one from getting back and forth to work, and the burden becomes heavier.  That is until July 1st, 2016.

Over the past few days, I was contacted by several folks asking me if Georgia Law had changed.  Some had received notices from the Department of Driver Services (DDS).  Others had gone to Drug Assessment classes and been told to check with DDS.  ALL HAD THEIR LICENSES REINSTATED.  Of course, this prompted me to try and contact DDS, a task about as easy as flapping your arms and flying.  After listening to a barrage of instructions about which prompt to select I heard “SB367” and hung up.

This past Legislative Session, while we were sending out emails and making phone calls about every piece of marijuana legislation we could find, a Bill that wasn’t even on our radar was passed.  Senators John Kennedy of the 18th, Butch Miller of the 49th, Mike Dugan of the 30th, Burt Jones of the 25th, Greg Kirk of the 13th, Hunter Hill of the 6th, and Representative Chuck Efstration of the 104th sponsored SB367, “A BILL to be entitled an Act to provide for comprehensive reform for offenders entering, proceeding through, and leaving the criminal justice system so as to promote an offender’s successful reentry into society, benefit the public, and enact reforms recommended by the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes”.  NORMLy when I see the words “reform for offenders” in a Bill I cringe, wondering what penalties or other requirements have been added to a law.  This time, I was elated to see the cringe, at least in part, was unnecessary.  As I read the Bill I saw that all wording relating to “possession of a controlled substance or marijuana” had been stricken.  The Bill passed and went into effect 1 July 2016.

To make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, I called my local Probate Court and asked the specific question “Is Georgia no longer suspending driver’s licenses for Possession of Marijuana?”  The answer was “No, they are not”.

HALLELUJA, AMEN!!!  Finally, some sensible legislation regarding Possession of Marijuana and a “giant leap” for Harm Reduction.  Not only are they not suspending, it seems they are reinstating the licenses of those who had them suspended for a possession charge.  If you fall into that category, I suggest visiting your nearest DDS service center or visiting their website at https://online.dds.ga.gov/dlstatus/default.aspx

I also suggest contacting the Legislators I mentioned above and thanking them for taking a step in the right direction.  While I’m not sure I’m happy with most of the rest of the Bill, that’s for another blog and I’ll take anything we can get that is positive for Harm Reduction.  You can find their contact information at http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx  

If you would care to read SB367 (an 84-page document) you can find it here http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20152016/162432.pdf    

I’m the eternal optimist.  I know that #pressingthefight and by #whenwearetalkingwearewinning, things will change.  I’m going to take this good news as an indication that a sea-change is coming in Georgia regarding sensible marijuana legislation.  Have a Hempy Day, y’all!

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Press Conference held at the Gold Dome- Support shown for SB 254

Sharon Ravert speaking in favor of SB 254. 1/20/16

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Full Video of January 20, 2016 Press Conference on Senate Bill 254

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Oregon shooting spotlights the need to refocus

[su_box title=”About Sharon Ravert, Executive Director of Peachtree NORML”]LadyBud Magazine, HighTimes Magazine and Main Street. She was recently nominated by Mass/Cann NORML for National Female Activist of the Year. Sharon has traveled the country speaking on various Read more

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A bipartisan group of Senators propose Mandatory Minimums Reform

As drug policy and criminal justice reform intersect in Washington D.C., the decades of work from many reform organization like NORML, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Law Enforcement against Prohibition and Drug Policy Alliance seem to be paying off. Read more

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