Post originally published on Peachtree NORML.
At the Georgia Republican Assembly Convention on 8/12/2017 David Baker, the Executive Director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia, used a portion of a 1993 quote from the then Executive Director of NORML, Richard Cowan. Mr. Baker quoted Cowan as saying “The key to it (marijuana legalization) is medical access”. Baker’s comments were videoed by AllOnGeorgia’s Jonathan Giles, who wrote about them. Jonathan reached out to me and asked for a comment or two, which I happily obliged him with. You can watch the video and read his commentary by clicking here. I highly suggest you do. It’s what we are fighting here in Georgia.
What Richard Cowan said in 1993 was, “The key to it is medical access, because once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically under medical supervision, the scam is going to be blown”. Cowan’s statement is an indictment of the DEA classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, having a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. Prior to 1937 and The Marihuana Tax Act, Cannabis, marijuana’s real name, was widely used in the preparation of medicines. The American Medical Association condemned its pending Prohibition in a letter to the Ways and Means Committee that enacted the legislation. The AMA letter stated, in part, “Since the medicinal use of cannabis has not caused and is not causing addiction, the prevention of the use of the drug for medicinal purposes can accomplish no good end whatsoever. How far it may serve to deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value, it is impossible to foresee”. Keeping cannabis away from us by prohibiting it was a scam. That is Cowan’s point.
David Baker and his Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia have taken the first six words of a 29-word statement and used them to imply that legal medical access to marijuana is a part of some nefarious scheme by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Nothing is further from the truth. One of NORML’s missions is to unveil the truths about the roots of cannabis prohibition. To educate our society about the corporate greed, willful ignorance, propaganda and government corruption that was involved in the 1930s, and is still involved to this day.
The science of cannabis proves that it is safer than either cigarettes or alcohol. It proves that cannabis is a beneficial plant. The evidence is out there for anyone to find. David Baker is uninformed at best and willfully deceptive at worst. In today’s information age, ignorance is a choice.
Whose Faith and Freedom are you talking about when you spew your deceptive venom, Mr. Baker? Faith? I am the son of a Baptist preacher, a Godly man who served his Lord to the end of his days. I was born into the Fold and I am washed in the Blood. I know a thing or two about Faith and the Teachings of Christ. What I hear in your Prohibitionist rhetoric seems far removed from those teachings. It is certainly not the Faith of those hundreds of thousands in this Nation who are currently being helped, just as Mr. Cowan predicted, by marijuana. They have faith, alright. They have faith in the fact that marijuana is doing for them what Big Pharma can’t in a safe, effective manner.
Freedom? I am also a 20-year Veteran of the U.S. Air Force. My father survived the Ardennes Forest in WWII. I know what Freedom looks like. This ain’t it!! What you advocate would keep cannabis away from those Veterans whom it would benefit. Those Veterans who did the Government’s bidding and fought for YOUR Freedom, sir. NORML advocates Freedom. The Freedom of adults in this great land, which was founded on individual rights and freedoms, to make their own choices concerning the use of this plant. Whose Freedom do you advocate for, Mr. Baker? That of your shrinking, narrow-minded ilk that refuses to see the benefits of full legalization?
For you and your organization to take it a step further and vilify Representative Allen Peake, a true Georgia hero, for his efforts to obtain safe access to cannabinoid medicine for legal Georgia patients is unconscionable. Now there is a man who is putting his Faith to work. Shame on you, Mr. Baker. If you had half of Allen’s Compassion, a principle taught by Christ, you wouldn’t be doing this.
As the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, I challenge you to PROVE IT, David Baker. PROVE to the citizens of Georgia that marijuana is dangerous and should remain illegal here. PROVE to us that the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana will lead to an increase in crime, or poverty, or any other social ill in Georgia. Prove that your rhetoric is not just atavistic fear-mongering, akin to that of Harry J. Anslinger.
How about it, Dave? Let’s get someone from NORML on a stage with you for a public debate on the issue. Let’s invite the Press. Let’s have an audience Q&A after the debate. It’ll be the Fight of the Century.
Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, the Georgia State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws.