(The following article was sent to me by Bruce Cain in about 2008 – I found it today while going through some old mail. It deserves to be re-visited…SK)
The MERP Model for Re-Legalizing Marijuana
This is a recent interview that I (Bruce Cain, Editor of http://www.newagecitizen.com) did with Krystal Cole of “Neurosoup.”
It is the most exhaustive discussion of the MERP model for Marijuana Re-Legalization to date.
1) Do you believe cannabis should be legalized for all adults in the United States? Why?
A resounding yes! Of course Cannabis should be Re-Legalized for all adults. As for why, let?s start with the some of the stronger common arguments:
(1) Cannabis is one of the safest therapeutic agents on the planet. It is also one of mankind?s old medicinal plants despite being politically placed into the most dangerous ?Class 1? category.
(2) 70 years of prohibition have had little or no effect in stopping use.
(3) It has many therapeutic and palliative properties for people suffering from AIDS/HIV; Glaucoma; MS; etc.
(4) There are no recorded fatal overdoses from the use of Cannabis. That alone should be sufficient. But my personal arguments for Re-Legalizing go much deeper. I think it was Judge Brandeis who once said the most important right, was the right to be left alone. Consensual adult activities should not be the domain of any la w provided those acts do not violate the safety and liberties of other citizens. It?s like the Las Vegas commercials that spew this mantra that ?what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.? What you do within the confines of your own property, given the earlier provisos, is not the business of the state: whether that be local law enforcement or federal drug agencies.
It is so important that we push back against each attempt to chip away our liberties. I will even go one better. I think that all consensual activities should be made legal as a counter weight to all the liberties we have been forced to relinquish in the wake of 911. That way if the state?s intrusive powers uncover a bag of Marijuana, there will be nothing they can do about it. We have to start thinking in terms of ?creative resistance.? My utopian vision is to be sitting on my porch, sharing a joint with a friend, and not having to worry about a police car driving by to ruin our afternoon. And if a police car did drive by I would want to feel comfortable sharing a few tokes with that officer. I want to see a world where people can start feeling good about each other once again.
Before going to the next question let me say something about laws in general. Pythagoras developed the scientific method in order to objectively judge the results of any scientific inquiry. To this end he developed theorems in order to provide a method, a structure, for scientific inquiry. It is really this framework, for scientific inquiry, that has propelled science forward ever since.
As we restructure our legal system I believe there are two important theorems that should receive primary consideration:
(1) The Golden Rule and
(2) The Golden Mean. The Golden Rule is straight forward: ?Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.? The Golden Mean has a number of meanings but basically insists on proportionality in all things. Applying this to our Cannabis laws requires asking 2 questions:
(1) would I feel comfortable accepting the current penalties that are being applied to other Marijuana offenders and
(2) Are the penalties proportional to penalties for other drugs: are the penalties in proportion to the danger they pose to society?
2) What steps do we need to take, as a country, to decriminalize cannabis?
Ultimately I would fully implement the MERP model for ?regulating? Marijuana. But let me first describe the prerequisite change the needs to take place prior to implementing MERP.
The Achilles heal to ?Marijuana Prohibition? is the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. We need to force our representatives to take Cannabis completely off the schedule. Once that is done the federal government will no longer have an excuse to meddle in the drug policies of individual states. The raids on Medical Marijuana dispensaries would immediately cease. But, at a grass roots level, people have got to stop being so damn complacent. Con front your representatives when they come to town. Organize with local, state and national groups. Insist that the national groups get behind the MERP model for Re-Legalization.
And what is MERP you ask? It is a short way of saying the ?Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy (MRP) Project.? But that is a big mouthful of syllables. So I like to refer to this model as MERP in order to condense the concept down to a single syllable.
The MERP Model can be succinctly described as follows ?
The MERP model of Marijuana Re-Legalization would minimally allow non-commercial cultivation, by adults above the age of 18, to be done without any form of government taxation, regulation or other interference.? The ?moneyed? drug reform organizations (e.g., those supported by Soros, Sperling and Lewis) contend that this is far too radical. But it really is not significantly different than the way we allow US citizens to produce beer and wine within there homes. Home beer and wine production is neither taxed nor significantly regulated.
And many activists need to be weaned from this false notion that the government should get to tax everything. If they don?t tax your tomatoes or your beer, why should they be allowed to tax your Cannabis? The MERP Model does not preclude commercial licensing. But it forbids the government from interfering with personal cultivation as specified above. In doing this we have, in effect, a mechanism to check government greed. At about $100 per ounce a lot of people would not bother growing their own. But if the government charged $400 per ounce most people would be turning on the grow lamps.
I really think this is one of the best ideas I have ever come up with. It is so elegant in its simplicity. And it is also part of the ?New Agenda for America.? Benjamin Franklin selflessly gave the world ?lightening rods? and refused to profit by imposing a copyright on the invention. Had it not been for the lightening rod, large building structures, such as ?skyscrapers,? would have been impossible. This is due to the associated hazard of fires from lightening strikes. I would like to give the world the MERP model with very similar intentions.
One thing MERP would also do is act as a Gatekeeper Drug: keeping more and more people away from dealers that also sell hard drugs. I am quite sure it would destroy the revenue streams for local drug dealers and terrorist organizations alike.
Here are a few additional links for a broader discussion of MERP and the reasons we really need to end Marijuana Prohibition:
Drug Policy The MERP Project The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy (MRP) Project http://www.newagecitizen.com/ReLegalization01.htm http://www.newagecitizen.com/editorial_on_the_marijuana_re.htm
Why Lou Dobbs Should Support Marijuana Legalization http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VKf5YfQb7s&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Enewagecitizen%2Ecom%2F
How Continuing the Drug War could make Nuclear Terrorism a Reality by Bruce W. Cain http://www.newagecitizen.com/Editorials/v8n1NuclearTerrorism.htm
3) How much of an effect would legalizing cannabis have on narco-terrorism?
Under the MERP model it would be quite significant. Virtually all profits in Marijuana sales ? by terrorist organization and drug gangs alike ? would instantly evaporate the very day the MERP is implemented. It should first be understood that over 50% of terrorist revenue comes from the sale of illicit drugs. Currently, Cannabis probably only accounts for 20% of the global illicit drug market. But in a 500 Billion annual global illicit drug market that is still significant. We could probably rob the Mexican drug cartels of 20 billion a year just by Re-Legalizing. And if nothing else it would keep the money in the US economy creating more jobs for US workers. But I think the effect would create a unique form of synergy. As people have more access to cheap, high quality Cannabis ? as under the MERP model — they would be less likely to encounter drug dealers that sell harder drugs such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamine etc. But while it may be hard to quantify I’m quite sure the net effect would, in any case, be positive. Another synergistic effect might be that people become more comfortable with non-alcoholic drugs and it could pave the way for Re-Legalization of other soft plant-based entheogens such as peyote, and psilocybin.
Legal psilocybin in Amsterdam has not resulted in any significant social problems. Entheogens may also have been purposely prohibited because they have a tendency to deprogram people from state propaganda: ever the more reason to make them available to responsible adults. Of course the MERP model would have a much more pronounced effect than current strategies (e.g., Medical Marijuana initiatives) for 2 important reasons:
(1) It completely takes the profit out of the Marijuana market and
(2) it constitutes a permanent and structural change at the very core of our legal system.
4) How would the federal prison population be affected by the legalization of cannabis?
Well, the most significant effect of legalization, under the MERP Model, would be 840,000 fewer arrests a year. And that IS very significant. There would be some reduction in federal prisons but most drug convictions end up with some form of probation. We are now up to arresting 840,000 Cannabis users annually. Over 80% of these arrests involve simple possession. I actually think the lions share of these never go to prison and most that do end up in state facilities.
The problem is that once you get ?tagged? by the criminal justice system it takes years to get out from under that shadow. They force you into ?drug classes? and urine tests and all sorts of totally unnecessary bullshit. It reminds me of the Inquisitions where some citizens were forced to say they were witches, when in fact they were not. And of course they also rob you blind through the entire process. I have been fortunate to have avoided this personally, but I am aware of the disproportionate penalties and costs that go along with a simple arrest for transporting Cannabis. And once your record is blemished they will be on you like flies on shit, for the rest of your life.
I realize I’ve gone off on a tangent here. But there should be no greater penalty for transporting Cannabis than for transporting a case of beer from your local party store. And like I said: once Cannabis is Re-Legalized all of this could go away forever. Of course it isn’t great news if you are an attorney, a judge, or a city that will do anything to raise revenue. Re-Legalization is probably not exactly great for a Medical Marijuana ?gardeners? who are often making between $25 to $35 an hour either. And actually the Medical Marijuana dispensaries have created a rather ironic situation.
The irony is that medical users are still basically paying street prices for the medicine: about $12 to $18 per gram. For patients like Angel Raich, who requires 7 grams per day ? a quarter ounce ? such prices would cost her over $35,000 per year. Since many medical marijuana users are both unemployed and sick, it is difficult for me to imagine how they could even afford the medicine at these prices.
Re-Legalization would allow either patient, or caregiver, to cooperate in the cultivation. Best of all this Cannabis would only cost about $20, pre ounce, to grow under lamps and would be virtually free if it were grown outside.
The current Marijuana laws really make you ask an important question: ?What kind of society goes so far out of its way to criminalize its members, when what they have done should not even be a crime in the first place?? I don?t have the space to entertain that question here. But Naomi Klein does a good job of it in her current book, ?Shock Doctrine.? I definitely recommend reading this book or at least ?Googling? for more information on ?Shock Doctrine.?
5) Are you thinking of running in the 2008 presidential election as a write in candidate? Why?
I am only doing this to promote the ?New Agenda for America.? I have no illusion about moving into the Whitehouse in 2009. Instead what I want to do, through this “faux candidacy,” is motivate people to ask the Democratic and Republican candidates which planks of the ?New Agenda for America? they would support. The MERP model for Marijuana Re-Legalization is currently the 3rd plank of the agenda.
Here are all of the major planks:
NEW AGENDA FOR AMERICA: Preliminary Planks Help Influence the 2008 Presidency [More info: http://www.newagecitizen.com and click on topic]
(1) Universal Health Care for All American Citizens
(2) A 20-year moratorium on all immigration into the United States
(3) Legal Marijuana for all Adults and Medical Patients
(4) An immediate reversal to the Offshoring and In shoring of American Jobs
(5) A strict enforcement on issues of Separation of Church and State
(6) An immediate move from so-called Free Trade Agreements to Bilateral Trade agreements
(7) A major R&D project to bring energy independence to the United States and the World through recycling, reuse, ending hyper-consumerism and investing in the development of sustainable energy sources (e.g., solar, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal)
(8) No further ownership of US Assets (businesses, homes, ports, stock exchanges) by foreign governments or individuals!
(9) Replace the Federal Reserve with a People’s Reserve which allows public oversight
I could be wrong but these are all things that I believe American citizens want today. They are also required in order to stop the colonization of the United States by foreign elites: a trend that has been accelerating in recent decades. But do you think any of the corporate donors, funding both parties, would allow any of the current candidates to endorse ANY of these policy planks? Unfortunately, I think the answer is a resounding ?No Way.?
Ron Paul might endorse some of them; however, I am skeptical of his libertarian religiosity. I ran against John Dingle for US Congress in 1996 as a libertarian, so I do know what I am talking about here. Having said that I still think he is the best candidate out there right now. I am promoting the ?New Agenda for America (NAA), because I think the current economic model is soon going to cause this society to crash and burn. I fear that there could be a world depression or possibly a world war in the coming decade. I believe the NAA could stave off the ?buy off? of the United States of America by foreign elites and offer American citizens a softer landing as this current ?business cycle? crashes, like a lead zeppelin, in the next few years. I?m afraid we may be on the cusp of a Second American Revolution and I would prefer that it be a peaceful revolution if at all possible.
But what would be the first thing I would do if I became President of the United States? At my inauguration I would tell the American people that Marijuana Prohibition is over. Until the MERP model is fully implemented by Congress I would set up a department to solely issue pardons for every non-violent Cannabis arrest. Too bad that just isn’t going to happen, isn’t it?
Finally, let me say that I do intend to go a little further than treating my candidacy as a joke. I will be setting up a signup at my website for people that might be interested in voting for me: http://www.newagecitizen And for those that would like to watch excerpts from my television appearances and political speeches you can look through my ?Video Biography? at the following link: Bruce Cain’s “Drug Policy Video Biography” http://www.newagecitizen.com/Videos.htm In a three-way runoff (e.g., Clinton, Giuliani, Cain) it would take about 40 million votes to win.
Just before the election I would send an email out to each person alerting them to how many have signed up to vote for me. Then they can make their own informed decision as to which direction we want to take the once-great republic. We need to keep in mind that the average longevity for a nation-state is about 250 years. I don?t know about you but, as we have just past the 200 year anniversary for this republic, I?m thinking that I?d like to beat those odds by at least a few hundred years.
Bruce Cain’s latest interview/podcast on the MERP model for Marijuana Re-Legalization:
Bruce W. Cain Discusses the MERP Mode with “Sense and Sensimilla” http://senseandsensi.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=270029