Most Americans think of Mother's Day as a day of rest for our nation's moms. This year, however, I'm excited to be part of a new movement that is capitalizing on the holiday to encourage mothers nationwide to take a stand for ending federal marijuana prohibition and the devastating consequences it has brought to our families, our communities, and our nation.
For the past several years, I've been an active voice in the pro-legalization movement. I was initially greeted with skepticism by the movement's left-leaning activists and tokenized as the "pro-pot Republican mom." Over the years, I've devoted too many column inches to lamenting the fact that more conservative women wouldn't join me in this cause. Just last July, in a column I wrote for the Colorado Daily, my lead read: "As a Republican mother committed to legalizing marijuana, political life can be lonely. But while many in my party whisper about the Drug War's insanity, we should shout it from the rooftop: the time to legalize is now."
Fortunately, on this Mother's Day, I'm anything but alone.
While the national media frequently highlights polls showing that nearly half of all Americans now support ending the federal war against marijuana--nearly doubling the support demonstrated just two decades ago--reporters miss the bigger story all too often.
Women have been the key to this jump. Within hours of the aforementioned column's publication, I was inundated with supportive e-mails and calls--and not just from liberals. Republican moms and dads from across the nation responded positively. After the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker, a fellow Republican mom, penned an October column highlighting Colorado's pro-pot mom movement, messages from likeminded moms took over my inbox. And after a series of national news appearances where I made the case for legalization late last year, the emails grew into the thousands.
The tide has turned.
This Thursday, I will have my daughters by my side as I help launch a new organization called the Women's Marijuana Movement. We'll be speaking to our fellow moms--and dads--knowing that if we convince just one in 10 of them to rethink this issue, we will succeed.
Joining me will be other mother-daughter teams, including Mari and Ashlee Clauss. My fellow Republican, Mari, has spent most of her adult life fighting back against lupus and other chronic conditions. Ashlee, my fellow diabetic, has such a serious form of the disease that she was forced to be home schooled due to a series of hospital stays left her unable to manage a traditional school schedule. As medical marijuana patients, they see medical marijuana as one small part of their overall health treatment strategy--one that has freed from a lifetime of dependency on conventional narcotic medications.
But Thursday isn't just about medical marijuana. Or even about Republican moms. Participants will span the ideological spectrum, each speaking of their own moment of awakening--when they chose to stop blindly accepting government talking points proclaiming the alleged harms posed by marijuana use.
For younger moms, we reflect on our college days, comparing the impact of marijuana versus alcohol on our lives as students. Impartial analysis reveals that alcohol had a far more harmful impact on our bodies, our relationships, and our safety than pot ever could. Every year we hear more tragic stories of college kids dying from alcohol overdoses, whereas there has never been a single marijuana overdose death in history. In a perfect world, my kids would never experiment with marijuana or alcohol, but as a realist, I also fear the pain alcohol could cause in their later lives far more than I fear any detrimental consequences of marijuana use.
As organizers, we question aloud how we could ever defend to our children the fact that America spends $30,000 a year to put non-violent drug offenders behind bars at the same time we issue a $45,000 bill to each baby born today as his or her share of the national debt. One of several small business owners who take part in the event, I'm downright angry that this insane tax burden will inevitably mean more hours spent away from my children.
In 2010, we must rethink every budget line item. Anything less is generational child abuse. Across ideologies, we resent government bureaucrats insisting on parenting our children. We need to reclaim responsibility. Just as pot prohibition failed to stop our generations from using marijuana, it is failing to stop today's students too, with an estimated half of all high school seniors admitting to past or current marijuana use.
Anti-marijuana extremists will inevitably slander us as bad moms or pot-smoking hippies, but we will remain undeterred. Our stance isn't just about endorsing the behavior of 95 million Americans who have used pot, and it's not even about endorsing the medical use of marijuana by the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients across the nation. This is about something so much greater.
We are coming together to reclaim our country. For our children. For our pocketbooks. And for the long forgotten American ideal that in the absence of harm to others, government should not interfere in our personal lives.
While we face challenges ahead, we also have some pretty amazing role models--the thousands of women who organized to end alcohol prohibition. As I wrote in 2009: "In 1929, it was the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform successfully leading the charge to end America's decade-long experiment with alcohol prohibition. While many of these same activists fought just years earlier to forbid booze, they quickly witnessed prohibition's devastating consequences, including increased violence....Just four years into the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform's repeal efforts, prohibition was over."
California voters will be asked to support legalization on this November's ballot. Polling promises a close contest, with supporters appearing to hold a slight edge. Regardless of the outcome, other states, such as Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, will be following suit. In 2006, when Colorado voters were asked to support legalization for adult recreational use, more than 41 percent said yes--a total greater than that received by the GOP's gubernatorial candidate.
The bottom line: We need only convince one more person in every ten to end the nightmare of marijuana prohibition. We will show our faces proudly and publicly, inspired by the countless couragous Americans who have gone before us, including those who organized the Boston Tea Party.
Seeing this as own little tea party moment, we'll hope to make our voices heard above the chaos of kids running around and cell phones ringing with calls from clients who will just have to wait until tomorrow.
And here is what we'll say. Marijuana prohibition has failed. Our nation is beyond broke. Let's make the future better for our kids.
May 5, 2010
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A Mother's Day Pro-Marijuana Tea Party