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Ask Your Gov. Why Pot is Illegal in Your State

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Nearly eight months ago I posted the following essay to NORML’s blog, entitled: “Want To Know Why Pot Is Still Illegal? Ask Your Governor.”

Marijuana law reformers, myself included, have spilled volumes of ink commenting on the numerous reasons and
vested interests responsible for the continued prohibition of cannabis. But while these lengthy writings may be worthwhile intellectual exercises, I fear that they overlook the obvious.

That’s why, right now, I’d like to give you seven specific reasons why the use of cannabis by adults — including seriously ill patients — remains a crime in America. Ready? Here they are:

Governor Donald Carcieri (R-Rhode Island), Governor James Douglas (R-Vermont), Governor Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii), Governor John Lynch (D-New Hampshire), Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota), Governor Jodi Rell (R-Connecticut), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California)

Each of these Governors have single-handedly opted to kill marijuana law reform legislation in their states — either by the stroke of a pen (Carcieri, Lingle, Rell, Schwarzenegger) or by applying enough legislative pressure to abruptly halt ‘pro-pot’ proposals from ever reaching their desk.

Why am I reposting this now? Simple, because the more things change the more they stay the same.

On Friday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed legislation that would have allowed terminally ill patients the legal right to possess and use (but not grow) medicinal cannabis. That’s right, I said ‘terminal.’ Apparently Gov. Pawlenty — who cynically remarked “While I am sympathetic to those dealing with end-of-life illnesses and accompanying pain, I stand with law enforcement in opposition to this legislation” — would prefer to have patients at death’s door rely on the medical judgment of a prison warden rather than that of their physician.

But Gov. Pawlenty is hardly the only state governor up to the same old tricks.

In New Hampshire, lawmakers are trying to work out a last-minute compromise with Gov. John Lynch, who has threatened to veto any measure that allows for seriously ill patients to grow or use medical cannabis in their homes. And in Connecticut, Gov. Jodi Rell’s veto threat of legislation that sought to prevent minor marijuana offenders from being saddled with lifetime criminal records certainly did proponents no favors.

In Hawaii and Rhode Island, legislation pertaining to the medical use of cannabis is now on both state’s governors’ desks. If past is precedent, can vetoes be far behind?

And what about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who earlier this month announced, “[I]t’s time for a debate” regarding taxing and regulating the sale of cannabis for adults. We expect to learn more about the Governor’s position in mere minutes, as he will be elaborating on his stance in today’s chat — which you can access here.

Want to know why pot remains illegal in America? You can start by asking your governor — again.


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