Clergy Join Push To Legalize Marijuana
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Clergy Join Push To Legalize Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on June 03, 2015 at 10:59:24 PT
By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune
Source: Chicago Tribune
Illinois -- The marijuana decriminalization bill that could soon go to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk has an array of supporters, including civil libertarians, prosecutors and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.Its supporters also include clergy. Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis are lobbying lawmakers in Illinois and in states across the Northeast as part of a push toward legalization, which they see as a moral cause encompassing issues such as race, fair housing and employment.
To that end, the group, called Clergy for a New Drug Policy, is pushing for legislation to tax and regulate cannabis, refer individuals charged with drug-related crimes to treatment, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and support medical marijuana."It's a primary change if something is decriminalized," said the Rev. Al Sharp, the Chicago pastor who launched the group this spring. "The goal is to change the culture of punishment in this country, which the war on drugs has contributed so thoroughly and so devastatingly to."Sharp considers himself just as much a policy wonk as he is a pastor. As the former head of nonprofit agencies such as Protestants for the Common Good and the Community Renewal Society, groups founded as alternatives to the religious right, he has made lobbying for public policies such as more education funding and better housing his ministry.These days, Sharp, who was ordained by the United Church of Christ, walks the corridors of state capitols preaching redemption.When legislators in Springfield recently approved a bill to remove criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession, replacing the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a sanction similar to a traffic ticket, Sharp and his fellow clergy claimed victory.If the bill is signed into law, Illinois will join 17 other states in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, a group that advocates the legal use of marijuana. Nearly half the country, including Illinois, already allows for the use of medical marijuana.The state-by-state decriminalization wave follows a push for tougher laws that began in 1971 when then-President Richard Nixon officially declared a "war on drugs." Mandatory minimum sentences went into effect in the late 1980s. A decade later, collateral consequences such as the disproportionate effect on African-Americans became clear. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, federal prison populations ballooned from nearly 25,000 in 1980 to more than 219,000 in 2013. Recidivism also escalated as criminal records prevented many ex-offenders from securing employment or housing.In 2002, the Unitarian Universalist Association became the first religious denomination to adopt a statement of conscience calling for an end to the nation's war on drugs and the legalization and regulation of marijuana. While no other denomination has called for such a radical policy change, many others, including the United Methodist Church, Union for Reform Judaism, Progressive National Baptist Convention and Episcopal Church, support the controlled use of marijuana for medical reasons."It's a bigger issue than just making marijuana legal," said the Rev. Tom Capo, pastor of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville. "My position is that it's more important for us to be healing these people."When word spread that state Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, might not support decriminalization, Capo called her office to make his case. While it's unclear if his call made an impact, Holmes was one of 37 senators who voted in favor of the bill."My hope is that we do reach a point to say that marijuana is no longer a controlled substance, and understand that, instead of putting people in prison, we need to offer them assistance, counseling drug rehab so they can put their lives back together," Capo said. "Putting them in prison does not stop people from using drugs. It just isolates them from the rest of the society."Sharp said he recognizes that Unitarian Universalists were ahead of their time."Part of my mission is to say to the Unitarians, 'I'm here to help you implement your own policy,' " he said. "Clergy are stepping up to that."While the precise language of Illinois' marijuana decriminalization bill is still a work in progress before it goes to Rauner's desk, it stipulates that low-level cannabis possession would no longer be a crime with fines of up to $2,500 and up to a year in a jail.Instead, those caught with 15 grams or less could pay a fine of up to $125, but cities like Chicago that already have fines in place for marijuana possession could keep their fee structures.Capo would like to see a treatment component added."I certainly realize there's going to be a lot of change in the way we deal with drugs in our society," Capo said. "For me this is a social justice issue."Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago TribunePublished: June 2, 2015Copyright: 2015 Chicago Tribune Company, LLCWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on June 09, 2015 at 17:58:58 PT
Comment 7
"Unleash its destructive power..."?He's speaking of cannabis. He's sure there is a real and awful reason that cannabis was made illegal. They must have had a good reason, and he doesn't know what it is... but it's a horrible and "Destructive power" of some sort. We'll find out what it is when we "Unleash" it, with legalization.He and they seem to have swallowed the prohibition propaganda and terrorization tactics, hook, line, and sinker.I don't know if I can believe there is any hope for this. sort of "Swallowed it whole whole" prohibitionist. They have neither ears to hear, nor eyes to see in this matter. It's like those conversations with people that like to start their sentences with "I don't care what you say". They really don't.
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Comment #9 posted by runruff on June 08, 2015 at 05:25:47 PT
Most lawyers are human rats.
If we should forget that judges are nothing but elevated lawyers, we might be giving them undo respect?
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on June 08, 2015 at 05:11:42 PT
The wicked Judge Anne Aiken makes bank.
Little Anne Aiken makes a fortune sending her pot defendants to rehab. It is what every provider of for profit services, every vendor and merchant would die for; the power to send you to jail if you do not buy their sevices and products.Little Anne Aiken (a misnomer cause she is a glutton and is built like a rain barrow) is mentally ill. Mental illness is rampant in the gov. because they make such fine useful Idiots and are disposable. 
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on June 08, 2015 at 00:00:48 PT
The Southern Baptist Convention
And Barrett Duke make me think the leadership is so out of touch with reality and stricken with a bad, bad case of self righteousness. It's a plant. It's an extraordinarily good plant, as a matter of fact. If they had any understanding or wisdom they'd be thanking God for it instead of passing hard judgment on their fellow man about it. A plant. Of the earth. Of creation. A gift. I also don't believe they have prayed for understanding and knowledge concerning cannabis and the ramifications of this deadly and devastating prohibition. What devil from hell makes them think they have the right to forbid others from using the plant, and to do it with such wicked force and drastic consequences?Marijuana dangers can't be ignored, critics"Schedule I status for marijuana -- and a continuing ban on even its medicinal use -- is warranted, said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission."Those who classified it as a Schedule I drug understood just how dangerous it is," Duke told Baptist Press in written comments. "To ignore this danger for the sake of those who might be helped is to likely unleash its destructive power well beyond any possible medicinal value it might have."The evidence of marijuana's harmful effects includes its status as the most prevalent drug involved in criminal activity, Duke said. In addition, more teenagers enroll in addiction treatment with a principal diagnosis of marijuana dependence than all other illegal substances put together, he said."
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Comment #6 posted by observer on June 05, 2015 at 11:04:55 PT
Baptists and Bootlegges
Main line Baptists, ever the expansive supporters of the police state and especially disdainful of marijuana, will fight attempts to not jail adults for pot. They do now. Mainline Baptists are a US prohibitionist favorite. Their associations always support jailing more people for pot, and Baptist mainline denominations love it when government law enforcement (accent on the "force" part) kill people using pot as excuse, steal from people using pot as excuse, and destroy people using pot laws as excuse. If mainline Baptists don't cheer-lead government to kill, steal, and destroy (Jn10:10) people using pot as excuse, who will main-line, politically-oriented Baptist denominations turn to for a politically expedient scapegoat?
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Comment #5 posted by John Tyler on June 04, 2015 at 18:00:06 PT
re #2 so special
To have a true spiritual experience where your soul, or life force, transcends your body, and enters a higher level of reality, and you merge with eternity, and achieve a bliss consciousness, and realize the mind's true liberation, and grasp peace, love, and understanding, that is special.  
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on June 04, 2015 at 09:52:37 PT:
Seeing as the impetus for prohibition
came partly from the religious sector, it's only right that this happens. America's Hundred Years War On Drugs
Centennial of the 1st Congressional Anti-Drug Law
Prohibiting Opium in the Philippines - Mar. 3rd 1905 - 2005 the article:The movement toward prohibition was not precipitated by any crisis in narcotics use or abuse; indeed, drug use was on the decline by the early 1900s. Nor was it fueled by any widespread public demand for narcotics control; newspapers of the day record far greater interest in alcohol prohibition.  Rather, it was initiated by a small but committed band of prohibitionist Protestant missionaries in response to America's colonial venture in the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. The sins of those preachers in the past must now be expiated. 
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Comment #3 posted by Universer on June 04, 2015 at 09:51:02 PT
OT: US Legalization DOES Hurt Mexican Cartels
Gosh darn it, it just makes everything bloody better."America’s Quality Pot Is Changing the Drug War"
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Comment #2 posted by Garry Minor on June 04, 2015 at 04:58:36 PT:
Cannabis Ingredient Of Holy Anointing Oil, Chrism 1936 a Polish Anthropologist named Sula Benet discovered that in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament the word "kaneh bosm"(קְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם) was translated as "calamus" or fragrant cane by the Greeks when they first rendered the Books in the 3rd century B.C., then propagated as such in all future translations from the original Greek without review, including Martin Luthers. During that same time period Hebrew slowly ceased to be used as a spoken language. It wasn't until the late 1800's that a man named Eliezer Ben-Yehuda revived it once again. Benet concluded through years of substantial research and etymological comparison that the correct translation of "kaneh bosm" should be "cannabis." In 1980 the Hebrew Institute of Jerusalem confirmed her claim that indeed "kaneh bosm" is cannabis. Ben-Yehuda's 1964 Hebrew-English dictionary confirms this fact, page 140. The Biblical “Canon,” from the Greek “Kanon,” meaning; "to measure, to rule, straight, upright," is also derived from the Hebrew word "kaneh"(קְנֵה). In fact we now know that all early religions used cannabis and, or, other psychotropic plants as sacraments. Calamus was used by ancient peoples and still today as an aphrodisiac and stimulant ...... In Exodus 30:23 GOD instructs Moses to use 250 shekels of "kaneh bosm" in the oil for anointing all Priests, and later Kings and Prophets, for all generations to come, including that of Jesus and even today as the title Christ/Messiah means literally; "covered in oil, Anointed." "Kaneh" is also listed as an incense tree in Song of Songs 4:14. The error was repeated in Isaiah 43:24, Jeremiah 6:20, and Ezekiel 27:19, where "kaneh, kaneh bosm" are translated as calamus or sweet cane. There are 141 references to the anointing and 145 to burning incense in the standard Bible.Much has been learned regarding the role of cannabis and human development since Benet discovered the error over seventy years ago, and with these revelations along with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi Library, certain Apocrypha, and a closer examination of the Bible, we find that in order to be called worthy of the title "Christian" one has to be anointed with the very Holy Oil as described in the original Hebrew text of Exodus. Johns water baptism is incomplete and any other oil counterfeit. Jesus came to free the restricted Holy Oil and make Anointed Priests of all those with ears to hear his message, baptizing with fire and the Holy Spirit, the “Chrism.” The Anointing is symbolic of being baptized in the “Holy Spirit.” It is synonymous with the Laying on of hands and also called the Seal, Unction, and Counselor. It is "the Way." Under the old covenant Priests were ordained to stand between God and the people, Jesus died so that all believers could become Anointed Priests before the Lord. A chosen people, a royal Priesthood, a Holy nation. Ex 40:12-16, 1 Peter 2:4-10, Rev 1:6, 5:10, 20:6A few examples. Read, the Book!!!1 Samuel 16:13;
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.For the rest of the story; Cannabis, Christ and the Word of God Diffusion And Folk Uses Of Hemp: Dr. Sula Benet
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on June 03, 2015 at 12:24:12 PT
One the very first page, for Christ sake!
How did it take forty years for them to get it !
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