I Don’t Use Pot, but I’m Becoming a Member of the Democratic Party’s Hemp & Cannabis Caucus

This one goes out to members of the Democratic State Central Committee (that is, Assembly District Delegates and ex officio members who can attend the annual California Democratic Party convention: you have about nine hours, as I write, to make an important decision.

Will you become a charter member of the state party’s proposed Hemp and Cannabis Democratic Caucus?

You pretty much have to decide by midnight tonight (though if you see this tomorrow morning, you can give it a try.)  If you want to do it, you have to sign two pieces of paper — I include the titles of both of them just below — and either fax them to a number I’ll give you or send them to the person behind this effort as an e-mail attachment.  That’s all.

Hemp and Cannabis Caucus charter membership papers

Vern doesn’t like text heavy graphics, so if he leaves this up you’ll know that he thinks it’s important.

Vern wrote about this earlier this week, so if you didn’t see it, go check it out.  (It has the numbers you’ll need to fax your completed forms or the e-mail address to which you’ll to send your scans.)  Vern, however — still technically a Republican because we couldn’t find him a unionized exorcist last fall — cannot become a member of this Caucus, because he’s not a California Democratic Party convention delegate.  I am one — and so I’m going to be one of the 35 required to get this caucus underway.

And … I don’t smoke (or otherwise ingest) pot.  Haven’t done so for over 20 years, not even once.

I probably would, I admit, if it were legal, for one simple reason: by the time I stopped, around age 31, it had become a very effective sleep aid for me — much like getting drunk, but without the hangover and the empty calories.  As a long-term unipolar depressive (not manic — no one around here has ever seen me move fast enough to exhibit mania), insomnia is one of the symptoms one struggles with.  I have, but only rarely take, pills for that — “rarely” because I don’t want to risk either habituation or addiction.  I know from experience, though, that pot has the right effect on me without the side effects — not surprisingly, given that we’ve co-adapted to it for millennia.  So, yeah, I might use it occasionally for that purpose — or, on days or nights at home, to help withstand the drudgery of housework or to replace the pretty damn good tequila that I have around when I really want to get buzzed.  As with alcohol, I would only use it when I knew quite confidently that I wouldn’t have to drive.

Why don’t I use it, then?  After all, I could pretty easily get a prescription.  (Depression, after all.)

That’s easy.  I don’t use it because it’s illegal — and I try awfully hard not to break the law.  (Law-breaking in our society is a privilege generally reserved for people who are in power rather than those criticizing those in power.  Those in power can safely go nuts and get away with it; I can’t rely on that.)

Despite that, I expect that I probably could get away with it — but that would be a matter of privilege: white, middle-aged, middle-class, educated, professional privilege.  And that strikes me as unfair.  My brown, young, student-and-early-career-aged daughters — whom I warn not to smoke it while it remains illegal — would not likely get the same deference from the police.  So, if they can’t do it, I can do it either.  Instead, the ones over 21 can get sloppy drunk.  (No, this does not make a lot of sense to me.)

But there’s a stronger reason that I don’t smoke pot — I don’t want it to get in the way of my credibility as an anti-Prohibition activist.  I don’t want it to seem like I’m pushing legalization just because I personally want to get stoned.  To me, that’s a relatively minor reason to support it.

I support legalizing legalization of hemp farming primarily for environmental and economic reasons.  Hemp grows like a weed — in fact, it may well be the weed that people are talking about when they say that something else grows like a week.  It’s useful in nutrition; its oil is useful in alternative energy systems; its fiber is useful in producing products like paper, for which we otherwise fell forests.

Industrial hemp — which doesn’t get one high, and which you may recognize from such high-tech products as “rope” — is so useful and has such a low barrier to entry that sometimes I suspect that the problem that the powers that be have with legalization is not that hemp farming would lead to more use of marijuana but that marijuana farming would lead to more use of hemp.  (What you can grow in your own backyard for free, you can’t be charged for by some wealthy corporation.)  This is one reason why the Founding Fathers — look it up — farmed lots of hemp.

As for legalization of marijuana, I’m all for compassionate care (the notion that marijuana is on Schedule I, reserved for the most dangerous drugs with no documented medicinal uses, is absolutely obscene), but that’s not my main reason for it either.  I favor legalization because its prohibition ruins lives.

It not only ruins the lives of kids and youth who are low-hanging fruit for the police to pick off, turning otherwise law-abiding youngsters like Barack Obama and Al Gore into “felons who haven’t yet been caught” — but it puts marijuana production into the hands of criminals, who charge an extra premium for taking the risk of arrest.  (Sadly, they often avoid arrest by corrupting the police force.)  Making marijuana illegal, and specifically stopping the home cultivation of marijuana, is like shoving money into the pockets of drug cartels.  They are the ones who would be hurt worst by marijuana legalization, because they’re the ones getting rich of its illegal production and distribution right now.

I like the idea of undercutting those sorts of criminal enterprises.  I’m just old-fashioned that way.

So yes, as a non-user who tells my kids not to use it either — something that we parents would likely be more successful at once the “forbidden fruit” aspect of the drug was taken away — I am absolutely and unequivocally eager to join the Hemp and Cannabis Democratic Caucus as a charter member.  It’s an honor to be part of speaking up for sanity in our drug policy — for fewer good people in prison, fewer lives ruined, greater prosperity, and a better environment.

Is it good politics?  I don’t much care — and I hope that the California Republican Party might match our efforts (a refrain you seem to hear from me a lot lately) by creating its own caucus.  It’s the right policy.

If you’re a member of the California Democratic Party, I hope that you’ll join me in joining.  I’d say that it’s about time — but actually, it’s way past time that we did this.  Check out Vern’s story for the pitch all of the details you’ll need today.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)