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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ted Hightide writes Candidate Elizabeth Warren on marijuana legalization

I just posted this to Elizabeth Warren's FB wall. She's the Democrat challenging Sen. Scott Brown in a hotly-contested race this coming autumn in Massachusetts. Thank you, Mike Cann, for the inspiration!

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Dear Dr. Warren:

I would like to support you wholeheartedly in your campaign for United States Senate -- as a campaign worker, and donor. Unfortunately, I cannot do that without understanding your position on cannabis prohibition.

In particular, you were recently asked whether you support efforts in Massachusetts to re-legalize the medical use of cannabis. According to the State House News Service you "dodged the question," and then voiced support for continuing cannabis prohibition.

For all his many faults, Senator Scott Brown doesn't mince his words. He was elected in large part because his Democratic opponent, then Middlesex County DA Martha Coakley, appeared unaggressive in meeting the public and disclosing her views.

It didn't help that Ms. Coakley is also an ardent prohibitionist. When questioned in debate whether her views on maintaining the full illegality of a plant substance that grows freely in our climate were out-of-step with voters who decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of cannabis by a 2-1 majority in 2008 -- she invoked the children. The current Attorney General apparently believes that minors are unable to purchase cannabis now, and thus, prohibition somehow protects the tiny tots. She appears unaware that it can be bought easily nearly anywhere in the state, and that the sellers don't "card" their customers. Ms. Coakley doesn't seem to realize that these sellers often won't stop at vending illegal cannabis, and will supply prescription painkillers and other dangerous drugs to their clients, regardless of their age.

Her fanciful view of the world is not one I'd like my senator to harbor. I'd like her to see reality, squarely in focus, just the way I prefer it for myself.

The facts are these: most Massachusetts voters polled favor medical marijuana. Two-thirds favored decriminalization in 2008. Cannabis is easy to obtain and highly tolerated by the public, as evidenced by the clouds of smoke hovering above the 50,000 people who gathered on Boston Common last September 18 at the annual Marijuana Freedom Rally. It is medically useful, utterly non-toxic when smoked or eaten in typical preparations, and even as a recreational drug it is physically less damaging to the human body than alcohol.

And the comparison to alcohol is even closer: cannabis prohibition has produced the same kinds of criminality and social disruption in our communities that alcohol prohibition brought to America in the 1920s. It's as though we've learned nothing.

So which side are you on? Do you support the intent of H.R. 2306, the Paul - Frank Bill, that would permit the states individually to regulate cannabis, as they do now for alcohol? Do you at least recognize that, just as the government has no place in the relationship between a woman and her doctor when it comes to issues of fertility, the government should not prevent doctors from prescribing cannabis to their patients?

Incidentally, in 2009, Rep. Michael Capuano's position was exactly that: a doctor should be permitted to prescribe medicine that she believes works, including medical marijuana. It was due to this view that I voted for him in the Democratic primary that preceded the general election for the seat your opponent now holds.

(And I wish Mr. Capuano had won that primary. He'd have run a tough campaign for the office, and he'd probably be our senator right now.)

I await your clarifications. I apologize for not identifying myself by my full, legal name in this post, but my positions on cannabis would put me at odds with those who might employ me at some stage in my life. Rest assured, though my name is a pseudonym, I'm a resident of the Commonwealth since 1978, an active Democrat -- and I live in, and love the Town.

And I am happy to help your campaign -- under my full, legal name -- if you are willing to clarify your position on cannabis.

Sincerely,

Ted Hightide

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