A time for patriots to rebel

December 15, 2005

John Calvin Webster , North County Times

Today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. In a legendary act of defiance, Massachusetts patriots donned feathers, blankets and face paint, and boarded a cargo ship in Boston Harbor loaded with 342 trunks of dried and processed leaves from the Camellia sinensus plant ---- British East India tea. In an act of defiance that was repeated in five other ports, they dumped the entire shipment into the harbor and helped spawn the revolution that founded our nation.

The tea parties were political protests, symbolic gestures against a British-imposed tax on tea and the tyranny of a distant government.

Two hundred thirty-two years later, folks living in the "Land of the Free" are still struggling with the tyranny of government controls, and once again a plant is at the center of the controversy. This time the plant is marijuana, and specifically its medicinal use. In 1996 our state's voters had their own "California-style" tea party. They passed Proposition 215, which threw federal marijuana laws overboard. The message that the federal ban on medicinal marijuana was unacceptable could not have been clearer.

However, San Diego County supervisors, who appear to be living on the other side of an ocean of public sentiment, elected last week to defy the will of their constituents, and are seeking to have Prop. 215 overturned by suing the state. Their position is that federal laws banning all use of marijuana are correct and supersede state law, and that allowing sick and dying patients to follow state law and use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation sends the wrong message to children.

Witch hunts like this don't protect children, they burn lives. It's a vicious way to practice one's ideology ---- evasive, cruel and vindictive.

The supervisors' decision to sue the state is based on irrational fears, political expediency and the faulty intelligence from a war on drugs that America has waged against itself for more than 30 years. A war that we lost long ago.

Think I'm wrong? Watch the news this evening and count the drug ads. From toe fungus to erectile dysfunction, there isn't a problem that can't be solved by drugs. And it's not just on TV, it is everywhere we turn. We are bombarded with drug sales pitches day in and day out.

It is hard to imagine that America will ever be a drug-free society when one in 14 Americans is on anti-depressants and the hottest new job for college grads this year is a career as a pharmacist. Pharmaceutical companies are even hiring cheerleaders to push their products.

Drug manufacturers are major lobbyists and big political donors too. My congressman, Darrell Issa, doesn't want to talk about fixing the federal anti-marijuana laws, he wants to run seminars to explain the cornucopia of new Medicare drug plans available.

And then there are the true gateway drugs, alcohol and tobacco. In spite of limits on advertising, these two commodities are still heavily promoted to young adults. Between the Viagra and bikini-clad babes in beer ads, life looks pretty good on drugs. What message are our kids getting from all this?

San Diego County can't fix any drug problem by arresting medical marijuana users. The fact is, the supervisors' abstinence-or-else message will never reach the kids they fawn to protect. It will fade into the background noise of the pro-drug pitches that permeate daily life.

Our supervisors need to get on board with their constituents and stop the frivolous suit against Prop. 215. The time has come for citizens to sink the federal ban against medical marijuana ---- just like my ancestors sank the tea tax in 1773.

John Calvin Webster lives in Vista.

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