The Vermont Cynic

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As April 20 approaches, thousands of people will publicly smoke marijuana.

It is time for this annual display of civil disobedience to become a sustained political movement for social and economic justice. Marijuana is not illegal for health or moral pureness; it has been prohibited for political and economic purposes. This law is used to protect the profits of companies that love to advocate for free-markets while simultaneously using the state’s police powers to prevent competition from emerging.

The hemp industry is an estimated $1 trillion market and it would also change the nature of production in the economy. Hemp can be used to produce paper, fuel and fabrics, which would disrupt existing industries by introducing competition. 

When the marginalization of the medical marijuana industry prevents marijuana’s healing qualities from being explored, in order to ensure pharmaceutical, alcohol and tobacco profits, then something apart from human health is the priority. When the criminalization of cannabis has justified the militarization of the police force, wasting billions of dollars in taxpayer money and terrorizing our communities, we should know that we can allocate our resources better. When the war on weed has caused drug cartels to emerge around the world and imprisoned millions of people, we need to declare this war over.

The prohibition of pot enriches the special interest groups that fund our politicians’ election. Thus, the views of the majority of the population that support legalization are not being represented. To follow this law is an act of uncivil obedience — you are facilitating injustice through your compliance. Indeed, an unjust law is no law at all. You do not have to smoke marijuana to protest this law. You just have to be part of a peaceful public gathering.

Every day that passes with the marijuana ban is an injustice committed in our name. As democratic citizens, we have the responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable, for they receive their legitimacy from our consent, and if we do not consent to their laws, they are not legitimate. The Declaration of Independence, the autonomy of India and the civil rights movement were a result of the public engaging in civil disobedience. 

So when April 20 fades away, do not put your bowls away — because when the sun shines April 21, it is the beginning of a social movement proclaiming peace with pot.

 

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
Blazing the route for democracy