Hemp Initiative Would Clear Up Current Muddle 

Hemp Initiative Would Clear Up Current Muddle 
Posted by FoM on July 05, 2000 at 09:26:30 PT
By Mike Doogan, Daily News Columnist
Source: Anchorage Daily News
Here's what the hempologists say. Hemp is a miracle plant. It has many uses, among them clothing, canvas, rope, paper and industrial oil. It used to be legal in the United States. So did its close relative, marijuana. Both were outlawed during the Reefer Madness insanity of the 1950s. Both are still illegal because of the War on Drugs hypocrisy of today. There is no good reason that hemp and marijuana should be illegal. 
This is a very, very simplified version of their rap. It has thousands of details. In Alaska, it has even more. A 1975 state Supreme Court ruling said possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use is legal. But in 1990, voters passed an initiative to recriminalize it. But in 1998, voters passed an initiative making medical use legal. So is personal use of marijuana in Alaska legal? Don't ask me. Ask a lawyer. Or a judge. Or a jury. Into the middle of this muddle stepped Al Anders. Anders is a burly, gap-toothed, rolled-up-sleeves kind of guy who first encountered the Libertarian philosophy in 1980. "I was saved," he said. "I found my religion." From then until now he has spent a lot of time circulating petitions and trying to sign people up for the Libertarian Party. He saw a big chunk of the country, including Alaska. Three years ago, he said, he decided to move here for good. "Many people come up here for the scenery, for the climate," he said. "And I'm one of those, except I came up here for the political climate. It's a freer place than the Lower 48." But not quite free enough. So Anders revived a petition that hadn't gotten enough signatures a few years earlier, and he set out to legalize hemp in Alaska. He circulated petitions. So did volunteers and some paid workers. They got enough signatures to put Ballot Measure No. 5 before voters in November. Here, according to the state's summary, is what the ballot measure would do: "This bill would eliminate civil and criminal sanctions for the use of marijuana and other hemp products for persons 18 years or older. Doctors would be allowed to prescribe marijuana, and it would be regulated like an alcoholic beverage. Amnesty would be given to those convicted in the past of marijuana crimes. The bill allows for laws limiting marijuana use in some cases to protect public safety. It directs the state to challenge federal laws that conflict with the terms of the bill. It creates an advisory panel to study restitution for persons convicted in the past of marijuana crimes." That would clear up the current muddle, all right. Along with a cluster of other hempologists, Anders works out of a Spenard storefront these days, trying to get it passed. They aren't alone. "I've just been a longtime supporter of legalization, based on my own experience that it is a fairly harmless drug," Tim Hinterberger said. "Our government and others have looked into this over and over, and the consensus is that marijuana is harmless." You could dismiss Anders and the others as political malcontents or potheads. Hinterberger is tougher to shrug off. A tall, elegant fellow with a well-barbered beard, Hinterberger is a professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at UAA. He says simply that in claiming marijuana is a dangerous drug, "our government is not following the scientific consensus." There's a certain windmill-tilting aspect to the legalization campaign. No matter what Alaska does, marijuana would still be illegal under federal law. But it's not hard to figure out how to vote. I can't see any reason to keep putting people in jail for something that is, the statistics tell us, far less damaging to society than alcohol or tobacco. Can you? Mike Doogan's opinion column appears each Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. His telephone number is 257-4350, and his e-mail address is: mdoogan Published July 4, 2000Copyright  2000 The Anchorage Daily News Related Articles & Web Site:99HEMP Text of Initiative 99HEMP Issues's Rope Not Dope Hemp Initiative 2000 Hemp Archives:
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Comment #1 posted by Kanabys on July 06, 2000 at 08:38:22 PT
I like this Anders guy!!
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