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  1. Balzafire
    The legalization of cannabis sounds like a great idea, but there are serious issues that raise disturbing questions about the chaos and suffering that will ultimately result. That's because in the world of legalization, things are not as they appear.

    On January 29, 2011 the top guns of the marijuana legalization movement will be meeting in Oakland, California in an extraordinary event organized by California NORML.

    Many of my longtime friends will be there to come up with a strategy for finally legalizing cannabis. It breaks my heart just to think about it.

    Several years back, Ed Rosenthal and I wrote a popular book called, "Why Marijuana Should be Legal." You'd think the prospect of legalization being so close to reality would fill me with good cheer, but it doesn't.

    The legalization of cannabis sounds like a great idea, but there are serious issues that raise disturbing questions about the chaos and suffering that will ultimately result. That's because in the world of legalization, things are not as they appear.

    For example, when people use the term, "legalization," they mean anything from schemes to benefit and exempt corporate enterprises to ill-conceived laws that lure people into thinking they are legal, when they are simply set up for massive arrests and prosecutions.

    Unlike many others in this movement, when I use the term, "legalization," I mean a law that makes it completely legal for everyone, without those nasty little rules that end up with people being convicted and punished for growing, possessing or selling a natural healing herb.

    Another serious concern is that moderates will prevail in the drafting of a legalization initiative for 2012. During the drafting of the Prop. 215 text for the initiative there were two groups, the moderates and the radicals. The moderates were better organized, but their initiative was very limited and would, as Dennis Peron joked, "only allow medical marijuana for patients in their last half hour of life."

    Peron's initiative was much more radical and specific. It provided a legal exemption to the laws on possession and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. It was short, sweet and without any limits. Then, out of the blue, we found out that the moderates had secretly filed their initiative, beating our group to the start line. Unfortunately for them, they paid by check. It was only because John Entwistle went to Sacramento, filed our version of the initiative and paid by money order that our version was adopted and became what we all know as Prop. 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

    I would be concerned that a moderate based initiative would open up a Pandora's Box of new tax crimes and add freakish rules and penalties for those who don't cross every "T" and dot every "I". Worse, I would fear a moderate initiative that ignores those who are currently rotting in jail for nonviolent cannabis violations. Worst of all, I am concerned that "legal" pot will be consistently inferior to "illegal" pot and that we'll still end up being on the wrong side of the law.

    Now let's talk about the 800 pound gorilla that everyone is ignoring. The DEA has made it clear that they will vigorously oppose legalization. That threat was recently backed up by the announcement that the DEA is now authorized to deploy National Guard units with Blackhawk gunships, which are further authorized to use lethal force on raids against medical marijuana patients. Such a raid was conducted just three weeks after the defeat of Prop. 19 in California, sending a clear message to anyone who was paying attention.

    Fortunately, there is a way to completely block the DEA from opposing legalization within California, but it would require courage and vision like we saw in the Prop. 215 campaign and that we will not see in any moderate based initiative.

    Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are moderates and I think the world of them. The folks who will be attending the NORML conference later this month are hard working and dedicated individuals whom I respect. However, I know how my moderate friends think and I can say with certainty that whatever initiative they adopt, it will not end the federal war on pot and thus it will not free us from violent drug raids and federal kangaroo trials.

    My moderate friends believe that taxing cannabis is a good thing and that it makes us safer and more "legitimate." I disagree and remind my friends that Al Capone was not convicted of selling booze, but of not paying enough taxes. I also remind them that the Feds can and will use tax returns against defendants in cannabis cases.

    People need to understand that legalizing the medical use of cannabis is very different from legalizing any non-medical use. That's because under the principles of federalism, as upheld in several recent court cases, including Gonzales v. Oregon, (2006), states have the authority to write their own medical laws. However, the Supreme Court has also ruled that Congress has the right to create and enforce its own laws on the non-medical use of cannabis.

    So now you understand that legalizing cannabis for everyone will precipitate the full force and fury of the DEA and National Guard, unless whatever initiative we draft includes an effective means of blocking the DEA and National Guard from taking any offensive actions. Any initiative that does not lawfully and effectively eliminate the threat of DEA and National Guard raids will only bring us more harm and suffering.

    My moderate friends would undoubtedly disagree with my assessment. They would argue that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are sympathetic to our cause. They will tell you that the Democrats are ready to embrace legalization as a way to win the youth vote in 2012. Yes, they will tell you this, even as their predictions of a turn out in the last election of the youth vote and the subsequant failure of that vote to materialize, is still fresh in our minds.

    Is there really a way for us to craft an initiative here in California that would actually prevent the Federal government from taking any actions against us if we legalize? Yes, there is, but I guarantee my moderate friends are not going to like it.

    Now remember, unless we can block Federal action, we are looking down the barrel of massive raids by violent drug police and the military, all perfectly legal under federal law and court decisions.

    Last Sunday, January 16th President Barack Obama lauded a referendum held in Southern Sudan on its independence as "an inspiration to the world." Our President then went on to declare, that the peaceful polling process and the high turnout were "a tribute to the determination of the people and leaders of south Sudan to forge a better future."

    President Barack Obama is to be congratulated for his official endorsement of the right of a people to secede from their government, even if it is carefully couched in words like "referendum" and "forging a better future." Hidden in those words is the reality that the South is seceding from the North and will soon form an independent country.

    Until now, the chilling reminder of 600,000 Americans slaughtered in a savage Civil War has discouraged any serious discussion of a state such as California from seceding. However, the new Obama Doctrine on secession changes all that. Now, a US President has gone on record, calling the Sudan vote to secede, "a tribute to the determination of the people and leaders of south Sudan to forge a better future."

    This new Obama Doctrine opens up an extraordinary window of opportunity to draft a voter initiative that amends the California state constitution to authorize an action that would lawfully, nonviolently and effectively block the enforcement of any federal laws in California. That's right, for the same effort, time, and money as would be required to legalize pot and precipitate federal retaliations, we could amend the state constitution to authorize independence and require our elected officials to take all appropriate actions to do so.

    In California, voter initiatives can make law, like in the case of Prop. 215, or they can amend the state constitution with the same rules applying to both types of initiatives. So instead of a legalization initiative that is fatally flawed in inherently dangerous, we now have an opportunity to follow the Obama Doctrine and hold a voter referendum on independence as "an inspiration to the world."

    Wait, I see that a few of my moderate friends have turned blue and are experiencing apoplectic shock, so let me back up for a moment.

    Contrary to the propaganda you were fed in school, everything you were told about secession is wrong. The notion that the US Constitution in any way prohibits the right of a state to secede is completely false. The right of a state to secede is specifically protected by the 9th and 10th Amendments which requires that all powers not specifically enumerated in the Constitution for the Federal government are retained by the States and the People. Thus, the Federal government could not legally oppose the rights of Southern states to secede, peacefully, but when the Confederates attacked Fort Sumner, it became an armed rebellion. Once the South foolishly attacked, they gave the North the Constitutional authority to put down the rebellion and the rest is ugly history.

    Some may argue that the Supreme Court settled the issue of secession in Texas v. White, (1869). In that case, the central issue was repayment for some bonds issued by Texas, during the Civil War. The Supreme Court decided to speculate on the issue of secession, noting that the US was formed to create, "a more perfect union," which the court interpreted as excluding the right to secede, because it was so "perfect". Of course any real analysis of such an absurd speculation would be forced to recognize that any union in which one party is forbidden to leave can only be described as slavery. But no such serious analysis ever occurred because this was purely speculation, which had no actual bearing on the case before the Supreme Court. The fact is that federal prosecutors specifically avoided charging anyone in the Civil War for any crime involving secession, because they were afraid they would lose.

    To further support this view, we have the July 22, 2010 decision by the World Court in the Hague that Kosovo's unilateral secession from Serbia in 2008 did not violate international law, "The court considers that general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declaration of independence," Judge Hisashi Owada, president of the ICJ, said in the clear majority ruling delivered in a cavernous hall at the Hague-based ICJ. "Accordingly it concludes that the declaration of independence of the 17th of February 2008 did not violate general international law."

    So, take some deep breaths and focus on the new reality that for California to pass an amendment to their state constitution authorizing independence is a lawful exercise of Constitutional and International law, as well as the recently articulated Obama Doctrine on Self Determination and Secession.

    I see my moderate friends are very frustrated with me right now. They cannot understand how I could seriously believe that mainstream voters in California would ever support such a stupid idea. Indeed, just advocating such nonsense is enough to erode any remaining credibility I might have ever had with moderates.

    How dare anyone suggest leaving the USA? Sure, the US government has the highest incarceration rate in the world and heavily armed police who are authorized to kick in your door, shoot your dog and drag you off to prison, but is that any reason to secede?

    Mainstream voters are fed up with the reckless spending and frightening debts being created by the USA. Congressional approval ratings are below 20% and death threats against our representatives are at an all time high. The potential for collapse, hyperinflation, civil turnoil and increased surveillance by Big Brother is a very real concern for everyone, including mainstream voters.

    But, once again we must ask, is this any reason to secede? Perhaps not, but consider this, independence would mean no longer having to pay federal income tax or a long list of other federal taxes on everything we consume. Would mainstream voters be interested in the biggest tax break in their lifetime? You bet they would.

    My friends on the right are probably even more frustrated with me. Don't I realize that California is even worse than the USA? The government here is bankrupt and a veritable cesspool of blue state thinking that is out of goose step with the rest of the country Better a state like Texas or Nevada secede, but not all those nuts, fruits and flakes in grainola crazed California.

    But again, I disagree. California has always been the leader in crazy new ideas that are mainstream fifteen years later. The time has come again for California to show the same kind of bold leadership and visionary thinking that has blessed this Golden State.

    In fact, California began as the California Republic back in June 15, 1846, when William B. Ide, President, of the California Republic wrote a proclamation that included these words:

    ‎"Government to be prosperous and happyfying in its tendency must originate with its people who are friendly to its existence... its Citizens are its Guardians, its officers are its Servants, and its Glory their reward."

    Happyfying? Yes, that was President Ide's vision for the California Republic and it still rings true today. But the new California Republic had no sooner won a happyfying independence from Mexico when it was invaded by the US army and forced to submit to American occupation and sovereignty. Any honest account of California history must recognize that the US Army was only authorized by Congress to engage in a war against Mexico for control of California.

    Once the citizens of California declared themselves a Republic, the Americans should have turned around or come to the assistance of the new Republic. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but the official flag of the California Republic still lives on and is officially recognized by every government in the world, including the USA.

    In the world of trade and commerce, in which California is now the eight largest economy in the world, the Golden State has what is known as "branding." People around the world not only recognize the uniqueness of California, they seek it out.

    Yes, the state government here is bankrupt and despised, but the people are prosperous, industrious and still know how to have fun. The people of the California Republic could unleash a tsunami of prosperity if freed from the shackles of the United States. That would benefit everyone, including what remains of the USA.

    By now my Libertarian friends are equally frustrated with me. Don't I know about "Nullification"? That was what the Colonies did when King George sent over laws they didn't like. In theory, California could avoid secession and simply opt for an initiative that would authorize the state to officially nullify Federal laws on cannabis.

    The problem with nullification is that it still recognizes the authority and supremacy of the Federal government, which ultimately places the debate in the hands of a very conservative Supreme Court that would not be favorable to anything that diminishes the reach of the federal government.

    Like it or not, the time has come for the legalization movement to take a careful look at what it hopes to achieve and what path gets us there with the least threat of violence and the greatest prospect for a happyfying new lease on life.

    Passing an amendment to the California constitution to declare independence is our best shot at a peaceful end to prohibition. Furthermore, it would serve as a model for other states to follow if the USA doesn't mend its ways.

    Anything less than Independence for the California Republic will only cause far more harm than good.

    by Steve Kubby
    January 20, 2011


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