05 June 2008

Guess Who's Begging

The envelope asks a question: "Why does the government consider these people criminals?" The question captions a photo of a happy dark-skinned family: Dad, Mom and three kids. Are they illegal immigrants? For that matter, who is the MPP? I'd have to open the envelope to find out.

It turns out that Dad is Ronnie Naulls, "a church-going family man" with "two successful careers -- one as a computer consultant and another in real estate." He had a third career, however, that got him in trouble with the federal government. His offense was to operate a medical marijuana clinic in California. For that, he's been jailed and his property's been confiscated.

The MPP is the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation. It's "the largest organization in the U.S. that's solely dedicated to ending the government's war on marijuana users." They claim progress in the form of growing public support for medicinal marijuana and in the fact that "Congress and the 50 states are no longer enacting new laws to increase marijuana-related penalties." But at the same time, "all across the country, police, prosecutors, and other prohibitionists continue to wage a failed war on drugs that disproportionately targets marijuana users."

MPP proposes to stop this by "providing substantial financial support to pass a ballot initiative to decriminalize marijuana in Massachusetts this November." That follows various victories won since the year 2000 in which MPP "has legalized or reduced the penalties for medical marijuana." That doesn't sound quite right, since state legislatures must have done the legalization and the reduction, while MPP's work, as you read on, boils down to "pressuring presidential candidates" and "searching for a lead sponsor" for a federal legalization bill. In short, it's a lobby, and since you as an individual can just as readily lobby your legsilator for whatever purpose you please, and you might make more of an impression as an individual in your own words, MPP is superfluous for any conscientious person.

On the other hand, membership in MPP brings a few perks. They're hoping for $25 memberships that will get you regular issues of the MPP newsletter, but give them $40 and you'll get one of four t-shirts with various quotes or slogans, or one of two DVDs. For more details, I refer you to www.MarijuanaPolicy.org, where you might see the shirt designs and you'll probably learn more about their lobbying work.

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