It's been a quiet weekend in town so we're going to pick up the narrative on the DPA conference again today. The very first person I met there was Joe White of Change the Climate. Regular readers will remember that Change the Climate is responsible for all those controversial billboards and bus stop posters being displayed all over the country.
I was glad to connect with Joe, he's a neighbor being only 20 miles up the road, and it turned out - as is so often true in this little valley - we have many friends in common. Joe is not only a tireless activist against this war but also operates his own business and is raising three sons. He tells me one of his inspirations in joining the movement was when his young son came to him and asked,"Dad, why do grownups lie about marijuana?"
It was his concern for their safety that lead him to start the Change the Climate project. This poster/billboard idea is brilliant. I think it's the one of most effective campaigns bringing the legalization meme to the non-consuming public today. The website also has a good section on how to talk to your children about drugs and hosts a small but lively discussion forum. And while you're still working on your Christmas list, the on-line store has some intriguing and unique gifts for the open-minded on your list.
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While I'm the subject of the 'L' word, there's another organization that I omitted in my earlier count of those willing to use it. The Marijuana Policy Project have been champions of this cause for many years and were also represented at the conference. Unfortunately, I didn't meet any of the members this time around, nor I did manage to get to any of the sessions that they participated in, although I would have liked to. My only complaint about the whole conference remains that there were too many good sessions to choose from and you couldn't attend them all.
EYES ON THE WORLD
The drug war has been pretty quiet in this country as well on this holiday weekend. Even my usual sources of information seem to all be on break at the same time so we've had to venture far afield to find the news for you today.
I've been meaning to check out the Cannabis Culture site for a long time. It's big, like an old trunk in the attic full of unexpected treasures and I haven't managed to negotiate the whole thing yet but I recommend it to anyone interested in the international politics of this war. There's hours of entertainment and information including large sections on growing, an ongoing column by a pioneer of the movement, Ed Rosenthal, archived programming from Pot-TV and a large and active forum with ongoing discussions on all things cannabis. Today's drug war news comes from the political section there.
Montreal police busted the opening of Chez Marijane, a new BYOB (Bring Your Own Bud) cannabis cafe. They arrested two people, out of the dozens who had come to celebrate the occassion. It seems the remaining patrons, held down the fort. According to the owner:
"To tell you the truth, I'm surprised," St-Onge said when reached on his cell phone at the police station where he was helping the two men, aged 26 and 51. "It's a waste of their time, a waste of money. But it's simple possession and it's illegal." One of the men arrested has multiple sclerosis, he added.
The cafe does not sell pot but people can bring their own to smoke, said St-Onge, who called the day a success despite the arrests.
"Only about two or three people left because of the police, the rest are still there."
Before police arrived, customers and cafe volunteers sipped coffee, passed joints and revelled in having a place they could congregate to smoke dope.
Nearby business owners think the cafe makes a good neighbor.
"Look at all the bars around here," said Yves Martel, owner of a nearby art gallery, as he waved his arm towards the street. "I'm more worried about the people who come out of them drunk, aggressive and vomiting all over the sidewalk.
"I've got no problem with (Chez Marijane) being there."
I love the Canadian's courage in the fight for sane drug policy. The summer of flux in the law is now over and cannabis is again illegal to possess, yet the cafes that opened in that time frame and are clearly still opening in defiance of the latest court decision, are relentessly asserting their right to operate.
A proposed federal bill that would decriminalize marijuana for small-time users caught with less than 15 grams died when Parliament shut down this month. The bill is expected to be reintroduced later.
The only way the non-consuming public is going to accept consumers is if they see us doing it and thus realize that we are regular responsible citizens, just like them. Thanks to these courageous trail blazers for risking arrest to do just that. I do have one problem with this story though.
Police said two children, aged between two and five, were present when they entered. Quebec's child-protection agency was informed.
I don't think children should be allowed in the smoking room, no matter what is being consumed.
They cover US news on the Cannabis Culture's forum as well, and a couple of related pieces on police presence in the schools came up. The good news is that the officers involved in the Goose Creek fiasco are facing potential charges. I'm not posting the link because it puts you into one of those irritating registration loops that won't close. From the Charleston Post.
BY HERB FRAZIER
The Post and Courier
Solicitor Ralph Hoisington said Friday that he will decide next week whether Goose Creek police broke any laws Nov. 5 when officers raided Stratford High School with guns drawn during a search for drugs.
The solicitor said he will make that decision after reviewing a 200-page report prepared by the State Law Enforcement Division that he received this week.
"If there was no legal justification for the police action, then what was done could be considered an assault and battery," Hoisington said.
"I will try to get some definitive resolution of it next week," said Hoisington, adding that he will share the SLED report with the U.S. Justice Department.
During the raid, which was recorded on the school's surveillance camera, 14 officers isolated 107 students in a main hallway and briefly restrained 12 to 14 students with plastic handcuffs as others cringed when three officers drew their weapons.
They're spinning this one hard, trying to find a soft way to get these overzealous cops off the hook.
Three days after the raid, Hoisington asked SLED to prepare a report. The report, which does not offer a conclusion, includes interviews with about 30 teachers and students. It also includes the video recording from the school's surveillance camera and a video recording made by a Goose Creek police officer, Hoisington said.
Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler, speaks of the fine line between justifiable action or not and hopes this investigation will not result in an actionable offense, however,
Heitzler said that a criminal charge against one or more of his officers is a "daunting possibility."
Having seen the tapes, I think they should be charged. There is no reason for teenagers to have been treated so brutally by grown men with guns.
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And in a little publicized story, the bad news is that a similar sweep was conducted in a little West Virginia school under the guise of police training for a potential hostage situation. They learned the lesson of Goose Creek too well to call it a drug sweep, yet that's what they were sweeping for.
Police searched between 21 and 25 rooms, Board said, and students in those rooms were asked to leave their belongings in the rooms while they waited in the hallway.
"No person was searched," Board said, and students' lockers were not included in the police sweep.
The dogs alerted to five backpacks and two vehicles, said Board, though a later search found no drugs in the book bags or in one of the vehicles.
What is happening in this country when we allow cops and dogs to invade our children's privacy as some pre-emptive measure to stop drug use? Does anyone actually believe this will stop kids from doing drugs? It might stop them from bringing them to school for a while, and it will certainly dissaude them from asking an adult for help if they get into trouble with an addiction.
Board said the school-wide lockdown was a precautionary measure to protect students while the police dogs were being led through rooms and hallways.
The sweep was not prompted by any previous incident, he said.
The police dogs and their handlers came from Athens County, Ohio, Belpre Police Department, Marietta Police Department, Vienna Police Department, Meigs County, Ohio, and the Parkersburg Police Department. The Parkersburg S.W.A.T. team, Detective Bureau, Evidence Technician and Tactical Patrol Unit helped with the sweep.
That's a lot of money to fund a virtual terrorist act against a bunch of kids that resulted in one adult citation for possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana. I find this story more disturbing than Goose Creek, they admit there was no prior reason to suspect drug activity and the transparent attempt to cloak a drug raid under the guise of some higher mission is beyond the pale.
Principal Ralph Board said of the incident, "We thought it was important to send a message to students and the community that we are trying to have the safest environment possible here."
I find invading student's less than comforting and this comment rings rather ominously in my ears as well.
This is the first random sweep at PHS this year, Board said.
Is this to mean he might find more non-reasons to stage a second attempt? I hope this story gets some bigger legs in the next week.
Last word goes to George Orwell, eerie predictor of our present state of neo-liberal/ neo-con surreality, with this quote I found on another thread at the CC site.
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."