by Andrew Von Sonn, J.D.
Czar: "an emperor or king having absolute authority" - Webster's Third International Dictionary, unabridged.
Drug Czar: A very weird concept for a place called the Land of the Free. Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Drug Czar. There's something not quite right here. Not that there isn't a certain honesty to it. When it comes to altering your consciousness, you need the King's permission.
The hypocrisy of this is, of course, not lost on millions of us serfs.
Which gets us to the subject of marijuana prohibition - a governmental policy which affects millions of us millions. Marijuana or hemp, a plant that has more valuable uses than any other plant on the planet, when ingested, alters people's consciousness. It is illegal while alcohol and tobacco are not. (Hey, how about coffee? Ever see someone without their morning coffee?) Alcohol and tobacco alter people's head space, which is what marijuana does and which is the reason marijuana is illegal. Let's note here, by the way, that exploring one's consciousness is something humans have been doing since forever.
So how does our government justify its position on marijuana?
William J. Bennet, my favorite Drug Czar to date, didn't mince words. After acknowledging that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol, he stated bluntly, with a very Czar-like last word, "We have enough problems with alcohol, thank you . . ."
Forget the Bill of Rights. Forget the Declaration of Independence. Big Brother is here. It's okay for you to slug down a pint or two of Jim Beam and smoke a pack of Luckies, but that hardy plant called marijuana, that Creation has placed on this planet so abundantly, cannot be smoked under penalty of law.
This position is not only profoundly ignorant and hypocritical, but it is unconstitutional as well. This is not complicated stuff. It is obvious to anyone willing to put some thought into it. A brief look at the Declaration of Independence spells it out:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted amongst Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness..."
Governments are instituted to secure our rights - Rights enunciated as self-evident truths. These "self-evident" truths - truths which leave no room for disagreement - are the bottom line. And they always exist. We wrote down and agreed to what was obvious.
Who are we?
We are equal beings, each with CREATOR-given inalienable Rights, that among these are "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness..." Our opportunity to exist and to explore this wonderful universe is a gift of our CREATOR - not of the United States or any other government.
The Drug Czar and his cohorts work for us. They are bound by the precepts of our most basic document.
Big Brother is a game played outside the rules. The laws against marijuana use, possession or cultivation are unconstitutional. The issue is not decriminalization. "Decriminalization" asks the government to please give We the People what we would like to have. "Unconstitutional" says you, government, are acting outside the rules. You are taking away our Liberty without authority. Cease and desist. Align your actions with our "self-evident" freedom.
Never forget that the Declaration of Independence spells out our basic contract with the government. When the government violates rules expressed in that document, we have a right to say NO.
This is a basic freedom of choice issue.
Two of our Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, deal directly with it. Obviously, "freedom" without freedom of choice is a charade. The first of these Amendments is the First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, which affirms the right of each of us to both believe and to practice our own concept of reality as long as we are not interfering with the Rights of others. This is not a hypothetical statement. It's the law. Governments twist and turn around this constantly, but it is the law. It is our basic right -- affirming the concept of individual liberty expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Created equal means created equal. Creator endowed, inalienable rights are Creator endowed, inalienable rights. Period! Your Right to choose marijuana as your mind altering substance of choice is your Right -- whether as a sacrament or as a way of life.
The Fifth Amendment, reaffirmed by the Fourteenth Amendment, acknowledges our right to due process and equal protection of the law, protecting our right to equal treatment and freedom of choice. As we are declared to be equal, then as long as we are not violating the Rights of others there can be no "Big Brother," no legitimate "King" telling us what we can or cannot do. Individual Liberty is what America is about. It's the America we grew up to believe in. Government cannot take away our Liberty "capriciously." The government has no legitimate authority to take away our Liberty without meeting a heavy burden. This is the law.
The equal protection clause and due process clause work together to tell us that it is simply constitutionally illogical for alcohol to be legal while marijuana is illegal. We all have the Right to be treated equally by the law. Where there is no logical, legal, justification for marijuana prohibition in the face of what alcohol is about, we have a violation of the due process and equal protection clauses, whether we are cultivating or possessing. The government cannot constitutionally take our liberty away because "we have too much of a problem with alcohol." To add to the absurdity of it, as most every knows, evidence shows alcohol to be the most dangerous and destructive drug, mentally, physically and emotionally, in America.
Pretty obvious stuff. Not complicated; and though most Americans are not schooled in our basic freedoms, most Americans know in their guts that the marijuana laws are simply wrong -- and wrong here means unconstitutional.
Everyone knows that alcohol is easily the number one problem drug in America. But we live with it. We don't want the government telling us whether or not we can get loaded on alcohol. We have powerful, wealthy dynasties built on alcohol. There is a lot of money being made on alcohol.
We live with tobacco with all its dreaded side effects because we don't want the government telling us whether or not we can smoke cigarettes.
A lot of people smoke marijuana. If they are caught by law enforcement, they are subject to going to jail. And if they grow it or are caught with a lot of it, they may go to jail for a long time.
Not only is this obviously unfair and hypocritical, but obviously unconstitutional as well. Big Brother is not allowed here. The Fourth of July is not just another holiday!
We in America share an agreement: that we are each explorers -- none of us with a perception of truth which may legitimately be forced upon another. We live in a Nation, a political/social system that was designed to protect the Right of each of us in our own exploration -- the Right of each of us to come to terms with existence in our own way.
What holds true for freedom of choice and marijuana holds equally true for other issues of personal preference. If you're not interfering with the Rights of others, then you've got every Right to go for your version of the adventure. Government is the servant, not the master. You could even say that those who would argue otherwise are un-American.