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Rally to End Marijuana Prohibition Held at Georgia Capitol

(APN) ATLANTA -- About one hundred opponents of marijuana prohibition rallied at the State Capitol on Saturday, November 12, 2011, to help educate the public and to dispel old, worn out myths and misinformation about marijuana.  

Organizations represented at the rally included Georgia For Cannabis, Coalition for Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition (CAMP), Cannabis Reformers, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Georgia Chapter, and Group-Civil Disobedience.  The rally is the second annual November rally at the Capitol organized by Jonathon Weaver; the first took place in 2010.

Activists circulated a petition to ask US Representatives and Senators from Georgia to support HB 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.  Currently, the bill, introduced by US Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), has sixteen co-sponsors, none from Georgia.

When running for reelection in 2010, US Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said he would support legalizing marijuana in an interview with Atlanta Progressive News.  In a September 23, 2011, email, APN asked Johnson’s office whether the Congressman would join as a co-sponsor; spokesman Andy Phelan said he would find out, but a response has not yet been received.

Activists said the war on marijuana is a failure and the government wastes billions of dollars fighting drug cartels who thrive on marijuana prohibition each year.  

Recent polls show that for the first time in decades, a majority of the US population support full legalization of marijuana.

“50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal,” Gallup wrote in an October 17, 2011, release; a record high, Gallup noted.

An Angus Reid poll dated August 09, 2011, found that 55 percent of the US population supports full legalization, while only 40 percent oppose. 

"It's time that our elected officials finally address this staggering discord between public understanding of the harmlessness of cannabis as a drug, especially in comparison to alcohol or tobacco; and the relatively extreme social, personal, and monetary harms of it's prohibition," Tim Trout with Cannabis Reformers told APN. 

At the rally, Weaver told his story of why he became involved in marijuana policy reform.   "When I was fifteen years old I was paralyzed from the chest down by an auto immune disease called Transverse Myelitus in which my white blood cells attacked my spinal cord at the section of the spine called T3,” Weaver said.  

“THC [an active chemical in marijuana] has been proven in recent studies, to stimulate nerve cell growth.  I didn't know it at the time but the cannabis I was smoking was actually stimulating my nerve cells to regenerate around the damaged ones.  I was told that I would never walk again, but lo and behold in three months time I was up on crutches," Weaver said. 

"Today I am not able to smoke cannabis because I was arrested for possession and I have a court date for that charge.  My mother pointed out that she could tell that my legs are getting weaker as I am not smoking.  The arrest showed me that all the government wants is my money," Weaver said.  

Russ Belville, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML, came to Atlanta to speak at the rally. 

"What should be done and what will be done is the end to cannabis prohibition NOW.  I have been to the promised land - Portland, Oregon.  The State of Oregon passed medical marijuana in 1998 and I'm a Caregiver in the Portland Medical Marijuana Program," Belville said. 

Thousands of people in Oregon have Caregiver Cards and can grow and possess marijuana.  Legalizing medical cannabis has not changed Oregon, and Portland is like any other major city. 

"Lots of people are afraid of cannabis and that's why we are here today.  The first step is education because there has been forty years of misinformation and propaganda about cannabis and its users.  We can't lock up sick people who are trying to ease their pain and suffering.  It is a waste of our time and lots of money to lock up people who are just getting high," Belville said.  

"The pharmaceutical industry is preventing the legalization of marijuana because it would cut into their profits.  People who use marijuana for pain use one-half to one-third the pain killers that they have been prescribed.  If you are a company selling pain pills, you don't want people using one-half of the product you are selling," Belville explained. 

Cannabis does not cause the awful side effects like nausea, constipation, and sedation that Vicodin, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, and other opioid pain pills cause.  

"Prohibition does not stop a single person from using cannabis except the people who need it the most.  It is the people with cancer, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and Lou Gehrig's Disease who are suffering and can't get cannabis that are stopped from smoking," Belville states.  

"There is a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) action to get the government to reschedule natural plant-derived THC for the pharmaceutical companies.  It would allow pharmaceutical companies to grow marijuana plants and take the THC from the buds and put it into a pill then mark up the price and sell to you.  That will be legal, but if you grow the same plant and put it in a pipe and smoke it you go to prison," Belville said. 

"We have a right to choose our medicine, we have a right to choose our doctors to prescribe what will help us.  It's an inalienable right that we are able to treat ourselves.  I would not let any government entity or police officer tell you how you are going to treat your particular illness or cancer.   Don't stop using cannabis because they say it is illegal or immoral.  What is immoral is to allow people with illness to suffer, degrade, and die without treatment by using cannabis," Paul Cornwell of CAMP said.  

"What it’s going to take to change laws is perseverance, knowing the facts, act like responsible citizens, lobby, vote, get registered, and pick out the candidates who are in favor of medical marijuana," Cornwell said.  

"Georgia needs to implement the Medical Marijuana Necessities Act as soon as possible and relieve the suffering of medical patients.  Expand the scope of this study from cancer, chemotherapy, and glaucoma to include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and to other illness we know can be helped with medical cannabis," Cornwell said. 

Harry Petree, founder of Georgia For Cannabis, said about two years ago he had an infection in the disks of his back that rendered him bedridden.  During his convalescence, he says, "I learned the truth about cannabis and overcame the societal programming and lies I had always believed about marijuana.  Now, I know it is a natural plant which can heal you, feed you, and clothe you.  It is a survival plant," Petree said.  

GFC provided leaflets on "10 Things Everyone Should Know About Marijuana."  

Some of the information stated marijuana is not addictive, does not lead to hard drugs, does not cause violence; no one has died from using marijuana; and people have been using cannabis since Biblical times. 

The GFC leaflet also listed annual global deaths from alcohol [1.8 million], cigarettes [4.9 million], pharmaceuticals [3.5 million], and marijuana [0]. 

"With nearly a million taxpaying US citizens being arrested each year for non-violent cannabis possession, it's shocking how little attention this issue gets in the public forum.  As of 2009, the United States had a national incarceration rate of 743 prisoners per every 100,000 people in the total population: That's the highest incarceration rate of any country on the planet, Trout explained.

A medical professional carried this sign, "Which is worse for seriously ill patients?  Marijuana or Prison?”

To date, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project is currently supporting campaigns to establish medical marijuana programs in Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New York; and to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Vermont and Rhode Island.

MPP’s goal is for medical marijuana to be legal in at least twenty-five US states, that is, a majority of states, by 2016.

(END/2011)


Comments (15)

Carlos
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 03:44 am

Nice work Georgia.  I'm really starting to wonder how much lobbying money these politicians stand to lose by supporting legalization.  As far as the public goes (especially for Democrats), supporting legalization isn't nearly the liability it may have been in the past.  At the very least remove it from schedule 1.  To say mj has no medicinal value is actually laughable at this point.

ConservativeChristian
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 11:43 am
Hi, Carlos-
To answer your question about the lobbying money, go to the Georgia Secretary of State campaign disclosure site:
http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/campaign_disclosu...

Click on the link, "View Electronically Filed Campaign Disclosure Reports"

Scroll down a few lines to the box, "Search Criteria for All Candidate Contribution Reports"

In the box, "Enter the Contributors last name or entity name:" type in the word, "Correction" and submit (to see the campaign contributions from the private prison companies, the "Corrections" industry)

Then do it again (type in a new term) for "Beer" or "wine" or "beverage" (i.e., the alcohol industry).

Now you have an idea of how much money is flowing into our political process by groups that make money by sending ordinary Georgia citizens (our kids? our neighbors?) to prison over a little marijuana.
malcolmkyle
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 04:52 am

An appeal to all Prohibitionists:

Most of us are aware by now that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high, 'no matter what.' So why do you not prefer they acquire them in stores that check IDs and pay taxes? Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals, foreign terrorists and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future. If you remotely believe that people will one day quit using any of these 'at present' illegal drugs, then you are exhibiting a degree of naivety parallel only with those poor wretches who voluntarily drank the poisoned Kool-Aid in Jonestown.

Even if you cannot stand the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, or any government, can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and over a trillion dollars on this dangerous farce. Practically everybody is now aware that Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. So why do you wish to continue with it? Do you actually think you may have something to lose If we were to start basing drug policy on science & logic instead of ignorance, hate and lies? 

Maybe you're a police officer, a prison guard or a local politician. Possibly you're scared of losing employment, overtime-pay, the many kick-backs and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks? 

Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem. 

Prohibition Prevents Regulation : Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

Said this on 11-15-2011 At 07:36 am

If you live in the State of Vermont, please vote for Cris Ericson for U.S. Senator 2012 to End Marijuana Prohibition! http://USMJP.com

Meet Cris Ericson on Facebook at http://facebook.com/crisericson

malcolmkyle
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 08:30 am

An open letter to Gil Kerlikowske

Occasionally some unfortunate people end up with a job that makes other people dislike or even hate them; it’s no fun and actually not that easy to continue doing something that you know is doing great harm, a full seven days of the week. It must be extremely depressing for you. No doubt it's also very dangerous to your health and must even lead to you feeling extremely insecure - especially when thinking of all those angry citizens who have generally become cheesed off with the serious disruption you've caused to their once productive and peaceful lives.

So what should you do? .. Simply, and humbly, hang your head in abject shame. Come clean and admit you have unwittingly become part & parcel of one of the most insidious and counter-productive government policies in the history of mankind. Then start praying that you get to keep those pathetic and shrunken testicles.

ConservativeChristian
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 11:16 am

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child or grandchild thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.
   If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes. Let's put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. It's time to let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.
 

ConservativeChristian
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 11:39 am

Who is trying to influence our lawmakers to keep putting ordinary Georgians in jail over a little marijuana?
The alcohol industry doesn't want the competition.
The private prison industry wants the prisoners.
So how much money are the private prisons and the alcohol industry giving to our lawmakers?

Go to the Georgia Secretary of State campaign disclosure site:
http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/campaign_disclosu...

Click on the link, "View Electronically Filed Campaign Disclosure Reports"

Scroll down a few lines to the box, "Search Criteria for All Candidate Contribution Reports"

In the box, "Enter the Contributors last name or entity name:" type in the word, "Correction" and submit (to see the campaign contributions from the private prison companies, the "Corrections" industry)

Then do it again (type in a new term) for "Beer" or "wine" or "beverage" (i.e., the alcohol industry).

Now you have an idea of how much money is flowing into our political process by groups that make money by sending ordinary Georgia citizens (our kids? our neighbors?) over a little marijuana.

ConservativeChristian
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 11:40 am

That should have said, "sending ordinary Georgia citizens to prison" over a little marijuana.

Jeff
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 02:07 pm

Little known fact.  Cannabis is the #1 cash crop in the US, and #3 in GA.  And it's UNTAXED & UNREGULATED!  How much sense does this make in a country that struggles to feed and employ its own?

Estimates are $10B spent annually SOLELY on Marijuana prohibition, while an estimated $22B would be generated through legalization and taxation similar to Alcohol (which is far more dangerous).  That's a $32BILLION difference.

It's high time our government wakes up and listens to the people! 

October Approval Rating data:
Congress 9% (CBS/NY Times)
Pres. Obama 46% (CBS/NY Times)
Marijuana legalization **50%** (Gallup Poll)

Educate yourself, educate your neighbor, make a difference!

Amy
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 02:17 pm

Nice to find out about this rally 3 days later. Clearly, there needs to be more effort to spread the word about these events.

Jeff
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 02:36 pm

I *TOTALLY* agree Amy.  If there were more organization and a better platform for informing people perhaps more could get done.

I am new to this cause in GA as well, and had the same frustration. The best way I've found in staying informed is joining Georgia NORML and Georgia for Cannabis on Facebook.  Hope to see you online.

jway
Said this on 11-15-2011 At 06:20 pm

We have a right to expect that our laws are based on logic and we have a right to expect that our laws create more good than harm. The federal marijuana prohibition FAILS on both these counts. Banning adult marijuana sales makes children LESS safe!

We have allowed the federal government to experiment with this policy of prohibition for more than FORTY years and it has NEVER worked! Instead of protecting children from marijuana, the prohibition makes marijuana MORE accessible to children by creating large profits for drug dealers where otherwise there would be NONE.

Just look at how hard it is to buy illegal alcohol and how easy it is to buy illegal marijuana and you see firsthand the effectiveness of alcohol legalization and the ineffectiveness of marijuana prohibition! WE are responsible for the safety of our children and WE have to insist that the federal government ENDS the ineffective marijuana prohibition and instead regulates and taxes marijuana just as it currently does with beer and wine.

 

Said this on 11-15-2011 At 06:45 pm

Thanks from ' Georgia for Cannabis ' to all those who showed their Support at the Rally, and to the Bands the took time out to play, you All Rocked. We are looking forward to many more events comming soon so check out the websight and see you there. Together We Can Overgrow.             Thanks Again, Dean, Georgia for Cannabis, Atlanta.

Said this on 11-15-2011 At 10:42 pm

Thanks to Gloria for covering the Rally and I just to let everyone know that an April 20th, 2012 Rally on the Capitol is already in the works!

Viva La Revolution,

-Jonathon R. Weaver-

"V"-the masked medical professional
Said this on 11-16-2011 At 12:00 am

Peace, love and THC to all the patriots who attended saturdays Cannabis Reform Rally. Remember there is:

                      " Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith"

Cudos to you Gloria for spreading the news!

 

 

 

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