NORML conference opens with talks concerning marijuana legalization

Saturday, November 6, 2010 | 7:20 p.m. CDT
Richard Newton, speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, speaks at the Missouri NORML conference Friday, Nov. 5, 2010. Reason Magazine Senior Editor Richard Balko also spoke at the event.

COLUMBIA — The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws began its Fall 2010 State Conference on Friday with a low-key introduction to Saturday's planned events. 

The speakers Friday included Radley Balko, senior editor of Reason magazine, and Richard Newton, a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Balko, who will be the closing keynote speaker for the conference, spoke briefly about California's Proposition 19 to the sparse crowd gathered in Allen Auditorium in the Arts & Sciences Building at MU. If Proposition 19 had passed, it would have decriminalized several marijuana-related activities by allowing the government to control and tax the illegal drug. The ballot initiative failed by a margin of 7.8 percent.

Balko said that, if given the choice, he would legalize all drugs.

The stage was afterward ceded to Newton, a former U.S. Customs pilot, who said he changed his stance on marijuana legalization when he realized how little regulation enforcement provided.

He cited the example of the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s, which lasted only 13 years. "Prohibition doesn't work, and it's because we have free will," Newton said.

"Law is not always a good thing," Newton said. "Which is why it can change."

His organization's mission, he said, does not advocate drug use. Newton emphasized that drug prohibition is the problem, one that he said could be solved by regulating and taxing the sale of drugs.

NORML state coordinator Dan Viets said he thinks that some states will pass legalization measures during the 2012 election.

"The real battle is in the states," Viets said.

The conference will continue Saturday with a noon screening of the film "What If Cannabis Cured Cancer?" in Allen Auditorium at MU.

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malcolm kyle November 7, 2010 | 4:09 a.m.

Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of hypocrisy, incompetence, corruption and human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use, among all echelons of society, is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model - the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus the allure of this reliable and lucrative industry with it's enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

There is therefore an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. Anybody 'halfway bright', and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem, it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. If you are not capable of understanding this connection then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. So put away your pipe, lock yourself away in a small room with some tinned soup and water, and try to crawl back into reality A.S.A.P.

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