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John Sinclair Speaks At Rally.

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US MA: Edu: Column: It Ain't Fair, John Sinclair

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URL: http://www.mapinc.or...1/n257/a07.html

Newshawk: http://www.youtube.c...eature=youtu.be

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Tue, 19 Apr 2011

Source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian (U of MA, Edu)

Copyright: 2011 Daily Collegian

Contact:male2('editorial','dailycollegian.com'); editorial@dailycollegian.com

Website: http://www.dailycollegian.com

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1401

Author: Emily McGovern

Note: Emily McGovern is a Collegian columnist.

Cited: Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition http://masscann.org/

Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.or...e/John+Sinclair




This past Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to the annual celebration known as "Extravaganja," an event organized by the University of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. As in past years, the event showcased local musicians, guest speakers and vendors in the Amherst town common. In the rain on Saturday and the sunshine on Sunday, an enormous crowd formed to show their support of the CRC's views on marijuana legality and to smoke without worry.


The featured speaker at Extravaganja was John Sinclair, who became famous after being arrested in 1969 for attempting to sell two joints to undercover policemen and was sentenced to ten years in prison. His official website explains that "Sinclair was released from Jackson Prison when the 29-month campaign to gain his freedom climaxed in the mammoth 'John Sinclair Freedom Rally' at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 10, 1971, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder, Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, Bobby Seale and others performed and spoke at the eight-hour long event in front of 15 thousand people."


Perhaps most helpful in Sinclair's premature release from prison was John Lennon's song "John Sinclair," which protested the grounds for his arrest. He asked, "Was he jailed for what he done / Or representing everyone? / Free John now, if we can / From the clutches of the man."


Lennon's lyrics comment on the fact that Sinclair did what countless others have; the only difference is that he was unlucky enough to be caught. His actions were hardly deviant from our social norms, yet he was given a wildly disproportionate punishment that enraged thousands of people.


Sinclair's imprisonment only further encouraged him to protest the laws against marijuana, and he became a well-known activist through his speeches, poetry, and books.


He expressed his appreciation for the UMass CRC, saying, "I am impressed with the UMass group and how the school has the sense to accept that this is a part of campus life. Massachusetts has made some great strides toward decriminalization, but the struggle is far from over. In the end, all we really want to do is get high and treat our medical illness and we don't want to be interfered with by the police."


I couldn't have said it better myself. When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted for decriminalization, I was extremely pleased in knowing that some progress was being made in the country's outlook on drug use and personal choice. But I couldn't help feeling annoyed that it had taken so long, and that there were still so many peoples' minds to change about its legalization.


Of course it is understandable that people have reservations about legalization, since it would be such a significant change. However, all these hypothetical problems have solutions.


As with any drug, the use of it should be up to the individual. Any health issues that could ensue can be prevented by the user instead of the law. I think it's safe to say that everyone is aware of the effects of drugs ( and if they aren't, legalization would make them even clearer with warning labels ), so each person should be able to make the decision of how much to smoke on their own.


Legalization would only encourage personal choice and responsibility for one's own body, not unhealthy practices. Just as we cannot justify banning unhealthy foods or cigarettes, the government cannot justify making health choices for us.


As soon as the user breaks the law by endangering another person, it is perfectly permissible to hold them responsible for their actions, whether under the influence or not. But it is completely possible to use this drug without harming anyone.


The bottom line is that the legality of drugs is an issue of personal choice. What we do with our own bodies should be up to no one but ourselves. The government should never be given this much control over our lives to decide whether or not our health choices are legal.


We should all support the policies of the CRC and John Sinclair's activism, because they are working hard to ensure that the people get to personally make the choices that define them.

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake

Edited by greenbuddha
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