Thursday, January 12, 2012

Musings: Changes Large and Small

A blast of chill air and a lopsided white moon in an even whiter sky greeted the dogs and me when we stepped outside for our walk this morning. Everything was drenched in thick dew and Waialeale, with her notched summit, was fully in view, though in outline, not detail. That would come later, when the sun rose red-gold, staining all in its path with like color and revealing every nook and cranny, crack and crevice, on the mountain's ancient blue face.

I was talking to a guy yesterday who said Kauai used to be much larger, about the size of the Big Island, and Waialeale once stood about 13,000 feet, but the weight of the magma near the top grew too heavy to hold and the summit collapsed, all at once, permanently submerging lower-lying lands up to an elevation of about 1,800 feet.

While the events in Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe's courtroom yesterday were not nearly so dramatic, it's still noteworthy that she actually ordered a guy to pay restitution for stealing medical marijuana. Seems he was caught on video ripping nine ounces of cannabis from a blue card holder who is a caregiver for two others. In addition to restitution of $3,150, based on a price of $350 per ounce, the man convicted of felony theft was also sentenced to five years probation and six months in jail, suspended.

So even though Hawaii's medical marijuana users still face discrimination in numerous other ways — registering with the Department of Safety, no insurance reimbursements, ridiculous six-month backlog for processing blue cards, no legal supply source, prohibitions against when and where it can be used, and most invasive of all, having to consent to let law enforcement inspect the place where it's grown to make sure the crop doesn't exceed what's allowed — at least the courts will stand up for patients and caregivers when they're robbed.

Or as one courtroom observer noted: "Wow! I just saw a court treat pot like medicine."

Meanwhile, citizens of Washington state and Colorado are going straight for legalization, via the taxed-like-alcohol model. Enough signatures apparently have been collected to qualify ballot measures in both states this year, according to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The group's spokesman, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, issued this statement:

“Our brief experiment with alcohol prohibition along with 40 years of a war on drugs has clearly shown that making a drug illegal does nothing to decrease its availability and may actually result in greater usage. It is also equally clear that marijuana prohibition greatly increases violent black market crime, police and political corruption, and the overcrowding of prisons with people who in most cases could have been productive members of society - all this at a cost of over $70 billion a year, money that could be put to much better use!”

Wow. Seventy billion. Kinda makes you stop and think, WTF?


Anonymous said...

I have never used an illegal drug of any kind ever. But I wholeheartedly think that legalizing pot would save the US economy, (whether 1 billion or 70 billion).

That does not even account for all the innocent lives that would be saved (from the associated crime)in this country and more importantly in Mexico if it were legalized.

Just my two cents....

Anonymous said...

Follow da kala. America needs pot prohibition to continue its scam on its own citizenry: for profit jails; kickbacks to law enforcement; campaign funds for elections; the militarization of a once democracy that at one time paid lip service to representation. All pretentsions are off: watch the politicans preen and scold and lie.

Anonymous said...

After several decades, what has the "war on drugs" accomplished? We have more addicts and more prisoners (and more money for the dealers, cops, prosecutors, defense attorneys, prison systems, etc.)

Kolea said...

The recreational use of pot should be legalized. But any politician in Hawaii who advocates for its legalization will be ridiculed in the media and attacked in front of voters. Any serious attempt to legalize, or even decriminalize it, would have to shy away from "the usual suspects" and mobilize non-smokers to give it credibility.

Unless or until "straight" people are mobilized to support legalization, you cannot expect the politicians to risk their careers on this. Build a movement, and they will come.