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Marijuana Rights Group Uniting Behind Kerry

 
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Lilli
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 3:57 am    Post subject: Marijuana Rights Group Uniting Behind Kerry Reply with quote

Quote:
Marijuana Rights Group Uniting Behind Kerry
Posted by CN Staff on August 20, 2004 at 08:26:45 PT
By Sandeep Kaushik, Globe Correspondent
Source: Boston Globe

Seattle -- More than 150,000 denizens of the Northwest will gather this weekend in a waterfront park for Hempfest, billed as the largest promarijuana gathering in the country, to listen to speeches from the biggest names in the national drug-law reform movement between band sets and bong hits.
But this year, attendees will hear an explicitly partisan message, too: Organizers are pushing pot smokers to help elect Senator John F. Kerry president.

The size of Hempfest indicates the potential power of the pro-pot vote, particularly in the Northwest, reformers said. Organizers think that registering even a few thousand Hempfest attendees could make the difference in a close election. ''It is essential for our crowd to understand that there is nothing more important they can do for drug policy reform than to go out and cast their ballots in the Democratic box in November," said Dominic Holden, 27, a spokesman for the festival.

The decision to break with the tradition of nonpartisanship that has guided the festival in its 12 previous incarnations was born out of the Bush administration's aggressive policies against marijuana, Hempfest organizers said. While many of the 1,200 volunteers working on the festival personally adhere to political views more in line with the Green Party or of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, this year they think the stakes are too high for their constituency to vote for third-party candidates and risk throwing the election to President Bush.

''When you look at what's happening on the front lines of the drug war under the Bush administration, the federal government has waged war against sick and dying people who use medical marijuana and those compassionate enough to help them," Holden said. ''We need to unite and get George Bush out of office. We need to vote for John Kerry."

Holden cited federal drug raids in recent years against medical marijuana collectives in California that operated in accordance with state law and the support of local officials as a motivating factor in the festival's decision to push an anti-Bush message, as well as White House drug czar John Walters's personal lobbying efforts last year against I-75, a Seattle voter initiative that called for authorities to make enforcement of marijuana laws their lowest priority. Despite Walters's opposition, I-75 passed last September with 58 percent support.

More than 20 outside groups have signed up to do voter outreach at the event, either staffing international booths or sending more than 100 canvassers through the crowd to promote voter registration. These include environmental, antiwar, and other activist groups, ranging from small groups to better-known entities such as the League of Women Voters.

The Kerry campaign also will have a presence at the event, with campaign volunteers staffing a booth and circulating among the crowd, organizers said.

Sam Rodriguez, director of Kerry's Washington state campaign, said there is nothing surprising about the fact that the Democratic coalition includes a broad range of ideological viewpoints, from very liberal to conservative. ''Members of one-issue organizations -- that's part of our democracy. We look at all Americans as potential John Kerry-John Edwards voters," he said. ''We are all united to defeat George W. Bush."

The festival has always had a political, conscious-raising component complementing the entertainment that helps draw crowds to the event. In between pot-friendly musical acts performing on multiple stages -- the headliners are the Kottonmouth Kings, Los Marijuanos, and Sir Mix-A-Lot -- every year Hempfest speakers urge attendees to register to vote to have more influence on efforts to liberalize drug laws. Tying that effort to the fortunes of a particular presidential candidate, however, is new.

Some national advocates of liberalizing drug laws slated to speak at Hempfest said they were supportive of Kerry over Bush but were wary of explicitly supporting the Democratic Party. While they agreed with organizers that the Bush administration has to be ousted, they also cited the support they have received from prominent libertarian-leaning Republicans.

''When it comes to the drug war, the Bush administration is a disaster," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes harm reduction and treatment as alternatives to the current punitive approach to drug use. While Kerry seems more sympathetic on topics like medical marijuana, needle exchange, and reforming mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, ''we know going in he will disappoint us," Nadelmann said.

Keith Stroup, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that, ''all of us recognize that there is no question that marijuana reform policies would be better served with someone else in office other than George Bush."

But he added that the movement is committed to reaching out to all political parties. ''It would be a terrible mistake to let the [marijuana reform] issue be perceived as a Democratic issue," he said.

The Kerry campaign and the festival organizers seemed wary of possibly tainting the campaign with countercultural associations that could turn off mainstream voters. The presence of Kerry volunteers at Hempfest, or the push by organizers to get smokers to the polls in November, should not be seen as an implicit endorsement of the Hempfest agenda by the Kerry campaign, Holden said.

''I wouldn't want to say that their agenda is our agenda," he said. ''With 150,000 politically aware people here, they would be fools not to come out and do voter registration."

Note: Bush administration's drug policies fuel Hempfest stance.

Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Author: Sandeep Kaushik, Globe Correspondent
Published: August 20, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Globe Newspaper Company
Contact: letter@globe.com
Website: http://www.boston.com/globe/

Related Articles & Web Sites:

NORML
http://www.norml.org/

Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org/

Seattle Hempfest
http://www.seattlehempfest.com/

Kerry: Get an Herbal, not a Fetal Position
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread19302.shtml

Why The Drug War Isn't An Issue - But Should Be
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread19236.shtml

This Is The Time To Hold Nothing Back
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread19232.shtml

Kerry: End Medical Marijuana Prosecution
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread18114.shtml

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Lord Help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that YOU and I together cannot handle.
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Lilli
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And yet a disturbing look at some of kerrys choices
This Is Kerry On Drugs

Quote:
Starve a peasant, feed a terrorist

Mike Krause and Dave Kopel
For those who oppose the federal government's disastrous war on drugs, there are many things to dislike about the Bush Administration, not the least of which is its shameless—and dangerous—use of the war on terror to prop up the failed drug war and the accompanying $18 billion dollar bureaucracy. And there is no indication that four more years of a Bush presidency will offer anything but more of the same.

But anyone who thinks a vote for John Kerry means a vote for a more liberalized approach to drug policy should think again. Candidate Kerry's choice for Homeland Security Advisor, Rand Beers, is a seasoned drug warrior who has already shown his loyalty to the well being of the drug war, no matter how many lives it destroys, or how many narco- terrorists are enriched along the way.

There are currently several drug-warriors serving in decision making posts within the Bush Department of Homeland Security; ex-DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson is now Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. And another ex-DEA chief Robert Bonner is Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

Beers' drug warrior credentials go way back. As he put it in a 2002 deposition, "I first began to work in the counter-narcotics area in 1988 when I was on the National Security Counsel staff."

More recently, before he quit his Bush White House position as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism and joined the Kerry camp, he served in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations' as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; the top cop and chief apologist for America's war on drugs in Latin America.

He is also one of the architects of "Plan Colombia," the multi-billion dollar militarization of the drug war in Colombia (which is now funded as part of the "Andean Counterdrug Initiative").

As Beers continued in his 2002 deposition, "There was a series of strategy developments dating back, in terms of my involvement, to a 1999 development of a regional strategy for the Andean region. I was involved in the development of that strategy, and I had bits and pieces to do with most of the further development from a variety of different positions."

The effects of Beers' proud achievement are worth looking at closely.

In 1996-'97, the Clinton Administration decertified Colombia as a "cooperating" nation in the drug war. To stave off trade sanctions against lawful industries and a loss of U.S. foreign aid, Colombia began U.S. backed coca-eradication efforts, including slashing and burning on the ground and aerial herbicide spraying of coca fields.

In 2000-'01, the U.S. cranked up financial aid to $1.3 billion and sent more CIA and Special Forcers "trainers" and civilian "contractors" to assist in further eradication and interdiction efforts. It has thus far been a smashing success…at destroying the livelihoods of subsistence farmers, which bizarrely enough, Beers considers a victory in the war on drugs.

In 2001, Colombian peasants claimed that the herbicides the U.S. was spraying made them sick; complaining of skin rashes and diarrhea. But Beers had his own theory as to why already poor Colombian farmers were complaining. "The individuals who are being affected by the spraying are being affected economically," he told reporters, "If the spraying is successful, it kills their incomes."

In its "Global Illicit Drug Trends, 2003" the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime credits U.S. eradication efforts with a 37 percent decline in Colombian coca cultivation between 2000 and 2002. The same report says this reduction came after a five-fold increase in Colombian coca production between 1993 and 1999.

At the same time as the 37 percent decline in Colombian coca cultivation, the UN report continues, "Combining the three source countries (Colombia, Bolivia and Peru) translates into an overall reduction of 22 percent of the area under cultivation between 1999 and 2002." In other words, a reduction of Colombian cultivation has led to increased cultivation in other areas.

In its 2003 narcotics control report on Peru, where the U.S. is also underwriting forced coca eradication, the U.S. State Department claims, "According to U.S. Embassy reporting, coca farmers received approximately $126 million from buyers for their coca leaf output in 2002. This total is only a fraction of the size of the total cocaine economy in Peru, which may equal 1.2 to 2.4 billion dollars or more annually (or 2 to 4 percent of Peru's GDP). Nearly all of the wealth derived from the cocaine economy accrues to narcotics traffickers and other criminal elements."

So while Beers was happily killing the crops (both licit and illicit) of Colombian farmers, narco-traffickers and the terrorists who feed off the drug trade continued to eat well, simply moving their operations elsewhere in response to eradication efforts.

The 2003 narcotics control report continues about Bolivia: "The successful reduction of coca cultivation in the Chapare (down 15 percent) was offset by a 26 percent increase in theYungas resulting in an overall increase of 17 percent…"

And in Peru: "Due to the potential for social unrest, forced eradication was limited to non-conflictive areas" which consisted of abandoned fields and parklands while "…the extensive presence of high-density coca cultivation in the Monzon and Apurimac/Ene river valleys remains a major concern."

In the odd world of the drug warrior, this too is considered a victory. In 2001, General Peter Pace, then Commander of the U.S. Southern Command (the U.S. military wing of the drug war) called Plan Colombia "successful" because drug producers are moving their operations elsewhere in Latin America.

We're just beginning to get a glimpse of the havoc this relocation of drug production can wreak on the civil and economic health of other Latin American countries, but Beers is ready to turn this, too, to political advantage.

In November of 2001 Beers took his "at any cost" defense of American narco-policy to a new level by attempting (and failing) to connect Colombian coca and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia's largest communist terrorist group, with al Qaida.

Beers gave a sworn deposition in a lawsuit filed by Ecuadorian subsistence farmers in U.S. Federal Court against DynCorp—a private contractor carrying out aerial eradication in Colombia. (Arias, et al. vs. DynCorp , et al.)

The Ecuadorians claimed that herbicide sprayed over Colombia had drifted across the border and damaged both their health and crops. Beers argued that the case shouldn't go to trial because the fumigation program is vital both to the national security of the U.S. and the war on terror in Colombia, claiming "It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan."

The FARC—accurately listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department—have become wealthy and powerful off the Colombian drug trade through protection rackets for coca growers and traffickers, the production and distribution of narcotics and control of local coca base markets. Beers' theory seemed to be that starving coca growers also cuts off funding for the FARC.

In a later supplemental declaration, Beers recanted the claim of FARC terrorists training in Afghanistan, "I wish to strike this sentence. At the time of my declaration, based on information available to me, I believed this statement to be true and correct. Based upon information made available to me subsequent to the filing of the declaration, I no longer believe this statement to be true and correct."

Exactly what "information" Beers had available at the time of his false statements is a source of some mystery. "There doesn't seem to be any evidence of FARC going to Afghanistan to train," a U.S. intelligence official told UPI. "We have never briefed anyone on that and frankly, I doubt anyone has ever alleged that in a briefing to the State Department or anyone else." According to a veteran congressional staffer: "My first reaction was that Rand must have misspoke... But when I saw it was a proffer signed under oath, I couldn't believe he would do that. I have no idea why he would say that." The "starve an Andean peasant to save an American cokehead" policy Beers defends has done nothing to protect the national security of the U.S., but rather is creating new political instability and terrorist alliances that can only serve to help along narco-terrorism in the Andean Ridge. In Peru, the communist terrorist group Shining Path, mostly crushed by Peru during brutal civil war in the 1990's is reportedly making a comeback. Beers himself, while still serving in the State Department told a 2002 Senate, "In 2001 the Shining Path had a slight resurgence in areas like the Huallaga and Apurimac Valleys, where cocaine is cultivated and processed, indicating the remnants of the group are probably financing operations with drug profits form security and taxation services." A February 8, 2002 Stratfor intelligence brief reported that, thanks to an expanding alliance with Colombian drug traffickers and the FARC, "Shining Path is trying to re-build its numbers and weaponry by working in the heroin trade. Peru is poised to become one of the world's heroin producers.

According to the 2002 State Department narcotics control report, "There have been multiple reports of border crossings by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) into Peru. In 2002 there was the first report of gunfire being exchanged between FARC forces and the Peruvian National Police.

The 2002 report continues, "Organized coca growers (cocaleros) in Peru staged a number of large protests during 2002, which intimidated the GOP into signing agreements to temporarily suspend coca eradication in certain regions, as well as to include cocalero representatives in discussions on revising Peru's counternarcotics law." It also describes a new Peruvian political movement, Llapanchicc, formed in the Apurimac River Valley cocoa growing region to defend indigenous farmers against forced eradication policies.

U.S. drug policy has managed to create the first Peruvian indigenous political movement with the defense of coca growing as its central plank.

Bolivia, which over the past decade vigorously eradicated coca with over $1 billion in support from the U.S., was considered the lone Latin American success story by American drug warriors.

Until 2002, that is, when the drug war changed the political face of Bolivia and Evo Morales, a Fidel Castro clone and the candidate from the Movement Towards Socialism (SAM) garnered 22 percent of the popular vote in the Presidential race with the backing of Bolivian coca growers, only 4 percent shy of the winner.

In 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled to the U.S. amidst violent protest. While the civil unrest that led to his leaving was partly due to income taxes and a natural gas export plan, it was also partly due to what columnist Robert Novak called, "The backlash to U.S.-sponsored coca eradication in Bolivia..."

In any event, what is undisputed is that coca cultivation is back on the rise in Bolivia, growing almost as quickly as anti-U.S. sentiment towards forced eradication policies. (Cultivation is up 17 percent in 2002 according to the 2003 State Dept. narcotics control report.)

If policy makers were tasked with making a plan to ensure widespread instability, corruption, lawlessness and a steady flow of illegal wealth for narco-terrorists, they would be hard pressed to come up with a policy more successful than that already in place in Latin America.

That American drug-warriors are already in place in the new Homeland Security department should be worrisome enough. After all, American style liberty and the bill of rights are generally viewed as pesky impediments to the drug war mission, and counter-terrorism as secondary to the well being of the bureaucracy.

But that the presidential challenger intends to place at the top of the Homeland Security bureaucracy a key architect and defender of a failed, cruel, destructive war on some of the poorest people on this planet is especially depressing. Those trying to decide who to vote for based on what the next four years of drug policy may bring will find themselves in much the same position as a Colombian subsistence farmer—somewhere between a rock and a hard place.




Mike Krause is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute. Rocky Mountain News columnist Dave Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute, an attorney and author of 10 books.

_________________
"Today I choose to be happy. Today nothing will bother me. Today I'll have a great day!"
Lord Help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that YOU and I together cannot handle.
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" I pass to you the torch that Christ once passed to me,others are still in the dark an need the light to see"
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Slide
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beers need to take a bath in the poison.
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Ferre
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2004 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our friend James Karl kind of shares my personal view on this:

Quote:
The marijuna activists in the Northeast who
organize for Kerry without a public guarantee from
him of action on behalf of total elimination of
prohibition of cannabis are nothing but turncoats to
the movement.
Kerry should support us if he wants us to support
him. Its just that simple. We cannot be sacrificial
lambs for another Democratic power orgy. If Kerry
doesn't know what to do, he is incompetent to lead. We
have told him many times. Look at the record.

Message to Kerry: Lead in the struggle for the
people's rights, or get out of the way!

b_jb2001

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Romadon
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2004 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Romadon wrote:

Ferre wrote:
Our friend James Karl kind of shares my personal view on this:

Quote:
The marijuana activists in the Northeast who
organize for Kerry without a public guarantee from
him of action on behalf of total elimination of
prohibition of cannabis are nothing but turncoats to
the movement.
Kerry should support us if he wants us to support
him. Its just that simple. We cannot be sacrificial
lambs for another Democratic power orgy. If Kerry
doesn't know what to do, he is incompetent to lead. We
have told him many times. Look at the record.

Message to Kerry: Lead in the struggle for the
people's rights, or get out of the way!

b_jb2001




Romadon wrote:
Pretty much how I feel too.

As far as I'm concerned and even though I may love him as a human being or respect his war record and all, Kerry to me is a Wafflehead (double minded is my interpretation of that word) and not good presidential material.

His attitude about Cannabis and the Counterculture have changed too much since the stance he took right after his service in the Vietnam War for my liking.

I would imagine he is feeling a lot of regret now due to all the flack he is recieving from his fellow soldiers and is probably hoping and wishing he could just make everyone forget it ever happened. To me this makes him a dangerous person and not to be trusted.

Please don't misunderstand me I'm not saying this makes him a bad person. In the same situation I might do the same thing but them I'm not running for President either and never what I want to even if I was qualified or able.

Their should be no question in Kerry's mind as to where he stands on these issues and he shouldn't be taking them so lightheartedly.


To put into nicer words what Brother Ferre and James Karl have already statied in the above quote, our friend and brother John Kerry should either shit or get off the pot.




I realize we Americans are stuck without any real choices especially without a 3rd party which to me would have to be Libertarian and I haven't even heard any real mention of a 3rd party so far this year which is also already too close to election time as far as I'm concerned anyway.


I say lets give the Nazi Party another round and then force them into doing what is right if they refuse to do so on their own.

From my experience in life a man's best friends can easily become his worst enemies but if we can turn our worst enemies into our best friends it would be a friendship that should endure forever.

If they have oppressed us so much already and we are able to forgive them then it shouldn't be that hard to forgive any mistakes they may make in the future.

It seems to me that these people are so in need of praise and adoration in the first place that they would gladly bend over backwards just knowing that they have our votes.

I suppose I'm living in Lah Lah Land or a Mother Goose Rhyme thinking or feeling that way though. Too many people in this country depend on or put their faith in Big Business and will even sacrifice members of their own families for the almighty dollar so if we can't change the heart of our economy and peoples attitudes towards jobs and money I guess I'm barking up the wrong tree no matter what.

Of coarse I also realize that if Cannabis and Hemp were to be legalized most of the problems with the world's economy could quickly be solved since much of Big Business would then be forced to get with the program or die.


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