I’ve always welcomed it when former prohibitionist politicians see the light, change sides and become freedom fighters wanting to end the injustice of prohibition. Many of these reformed prohibitionists even spent some of their time targeting me and putting me in prison, like former Mayor of Vancouver Philip Owen, and former US District Attorney John McKay.
When Mr. Owen was mayor he vowed in the New York Times that my organization was “going to be toast by September” of 1998, and to that end he did what he could to cancel my business licenses, have me arrested, and have over $1 million in my business assets seized between 1996 and 1998. John McKay was the prosecuting District Attorney for Western Washington responsible for bringing me to a Seattle court for conspiracy convictions on cross-border seed sales. My 1,590-day punishment is about one month from completion.
Philip Owen had an epiphany, thanks to constant visits by American activist Ethan Nadelmann and other drug policy reform experts, and by 2002 began advocating for the legalization of all drugs and an end to the drug war. In the few times I saw Mr. Owen after I was arrested for extradition in July 2005, he was very gracious and sympathetic and supportive, quite a difference from those early years in 1996-1998 when he had me raided four times and arrested about eight times!
John McKay got fired by the US Attorney-General in 2006 for refusing to follow orders (‘described as being for performance-related issues related to “policy, priorities and management”‘, according to Wikipedia) and by 2010 McKay was advocating the legalization of marijuana, while his protege Todd Greenberg at the US Attorney’s office continued to seek my extradition. Then John McKay was an official sponsor of the Washington state Initiative 502 that passed by referendum in November 2012, legalizing marijuana (my wife Jodie and I were included as official endorsers of I-502, and she has spoken alongside him at the Washington state legislature and at a press conference in Vancouver).
All good things. However, what I cannot abide is those former politicians who are now in paid executive positions with these new Canadian legal licensed medical marijuana providers.
Former British Columbia Premier Mike Harcourt is now chairman for a medical weed business, True Leaf Medicine. Former Chief of Police for West Vancouver (2004-2008) Kash Heed – also the former head of Vancouver police ‘Growbusters’ unit (2000-2003) and former MLA (2009-2013) – is now a security consultant for medical marijuana licensed companies. In fairness to Kash Heed, he has been advocating the legalization of marijuana since 2010, but it’s a certainty that Mr. Heed has busted hundreds of growers, users, sellers, and distributors of pot in his time as a policeman.
Mike Harcourt’s hypocrisy is more egregious. Mr. Harcourt has yet to apologize for his years of supervising, as Premier of British Columbia, the prohibition apparatus that existed when he was the head of the government. He has only very recently advocated for the legalization of marijuana, but claims the new medical marijuana system will end prohibition, which simply isn’t true.
The great mystery of our movement to me is this bizarre disconnect between these individuals as our oppressors when they are policemen or politicians, and then after they have wreaked their oppression and heartbreaking prohibition insanity on the citizens, once out of office, they become sane and rational citizens all advocating the righteous cause of legalization. Other people who once oppressed pot users while in office include former BC Attorney-General Geoff Plant, who from 2001 to 2005 certainly supervised the prosecution of thousands of pot people, only to begin advocating that marijuana be legalized after leaving office in 2009. It’s also true with the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of former police officers who couldn’t wait to bust another pot head while they earned a pay check as cops, but once ‘retired’, see the light and advocate the humane rap of legalization as members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Of the thousands of members of LEAP, the only active on-duty police officer that I know of is the incredibly brave and upright David Bratzer of the Victoria, BC police department. Bratzer’s job is made very difficult because he has Chief Constable Jamie Graham as his boss. I know Jamie Graham well enough; he was Chief of the Vancouver police in the time that VPD was collaborating with DEA in their case against me, and after he was fired by Vancouver city hall, he made a point to tell me personally that he was proud to do anything he could to put me away and give me the punishment I richly deserved. Jamie Graham is a total prohibitionist police brute of the highest order, and I admire David Bratzer immensely for being a well-spoken member of LEAP while working for Graham.
So that makes David Bratzer kind of one in a million. Justin Trudeau is an even rarer example, because as leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, currently in office, he is advocating legalization as soon as he becomes Prime Minister (next October is the target). No Canadian political leader in Parliament has ever advocated legalizing marijuana. So that makes two heroic men standing up for righteous legalization while actually in office! Amazing.
Most people who run for office actually say they want to do the right thing, help people, and speak truth to power, but then when they get there, they becomes weasely cowards, petty political animals, boorish, childish, unintelligent. Why? What happens to them?
Well, it seems those politicians don’t know how or why they became such vacant, gutless cowards when they get into office! According to a new book, “The Tragedy of the Commons – Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy“, politicians have no idea who runs Canada. Certainly not them, they insist!
When the author of the book, Alison Loat, was interviewed on The West Block on Global News on April 27, 2014 (I have a printed transcript, lest you think Yazoo Medium has splurged for my own satellite dish), here’s what was said:
Host: “Now Alison, polls show Canadians are not very happy about the state of their democracy but your book shows, in fact, neither are the politicians.”
Loat: “It wasn’t specifically that they were talking about, but more the sense that there were forces or individuals who were constraining and making them act in a certain way that they felt uncomfortable about. They pointed their finger not at the opposition but at their own party. They often referred to the party in a hazy kind of Wizard of Oz like world.”
In the book Wizard of Oz, which is an allegory on human affairs, The Wizard of Oz was an unseen man behind the curtain controlling all that happened in Oz. His power was greatly diminished once it was revealed he was the power behind events. His power was only revealed and diminished when the helpless characters in Oz dig deep to find their Courage, Heart and Brains to challenge the prevailing order.
Loat and Michael MacMillan conducted interviews with 80 former Members of Parliament of all parties, including many former cabinet ministers and a former prime minister. They paint a picture of most people getting into politics to change things; they see themselves as outsiders entering politics to make things better, according to the authors.
Once they arrived in Ottawa, however, the MP’s said they were told how to behave, how to vote, how to speak, how to “perform” in question period, and were stripped of any personal power or input.
“What MP’s talked to us about was not entirely what we thought,” MacMillan said, adding that the politicians spent time “describing concerns they had with their own political parties, and specifically with the leadership of their own political parties.”
“If MP’s are feeling so uncomfortable in political parties, should we be surprised that so few citizens are involved in these organizations anymore?” Loat said. (CBC Radio on May 2, 2014)
Since our lost leaders, our elected reps, admit they don’t know who’s giving them orders, it’s up to us to figure it out. Who’s pulling the string? Organized crime and the police? The prison industry? The asset seizure industry? The court and legal industry? The Conservative corporate medical weed industry? The drug testing industry? Big Pharma? The booze industry? The war industry? Emily Murphy’s statue on Parliament Hill? Our demented Prime Minister and his cabal in the PMO’s office?
Here’s what Tom Flanagan, former personal and political advisor to Prime Minister Harper, wrote in his new book, “Persona Non Grata” (Latin by the way for “Person Who No longer Exists”, a commentary in itself about his banishment from political inner circles today) about Stephen Harper:
“There is a dark, almost Nixonian side to the man. Harper can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia, at other times falling into a week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.”
Flanagan now says marijuana should be legalized, but even in his book he admits he is one of the powerful who parroted the oppressor line: “As an omnibus bill, C-10 also contained a number of other punitive measures, most notably a mandatory minimum sentence for possession of six or more marijuana plants. I now blush to admit that, as Stephen Harper’s Chief of Staff and campaign manager during the years 20001-2005, I was marginally involved in this populist rush toward even more draconian legislation.”
Just look at Flanagan’s own language regarding Harper and jail for six plants: “Draconian, vindictive, white-hot rage, incapacitating depression.”
When families are terrorized and traumatized in a pot raid by police*, when people lose their homes and assets in forfeiture over plants in the house (or bongs in the store*, or seeds in the store*), when families endure the torture of incarceration*, when someone has their future rerouted because of a pot conviction, when sick people suffer needlessly because of prohibition, when governments refuse to permit research of this plant, when innocent people are killed, and pets killed by police for fun in raids, when the police are handed police-state capabilities of surveillance*, infiltration, swat-team-like raids* over plants and seeds, it is because MP’s and cabinet ministers and premiers and police chiefs followed orders and voted or acted to effect a marijuana inquisition. (*happened to me, in fact)
Power, history shows us, alters perception. Power allows these people to live in a reality that is alien to the rest of us. They vote for and act on this inquisition and say they are following orders.
Marijuana prohibition has become one of the most destructive and corrupting forces in human history. A time in Canada’s future is approaching when there will necessarily be a series of trials indicting all these cops, politicians, bureaucrats and various other lackeys of the oppressor class to determine how and why they pulled off this moral duplicity and criminal injustice called prohibition. There should be a “Truth and Reconciliation” series in Canadian courts examining the colossal injustice and moral failing of Canadian governments at every level over this policy of prohibition.
The book by Alison Lout, now just out, tells a sad tale of our lost democracy from the people who witnessed and participated in its vanishing. These are the people who presided over the theft, the former members of Parliament who watched it all from a front-row seat. None of these former MP’s were so offended by the destruction of Canada’s democracy that they said anything about it at the time – so much like True Leaf Medicine shill Mike Harcourt when he was Premier, or like Kash Heed when he headed Vancouver’s Drug Squad or was Chief of Police in West Vancouver, or like Bill Clinton, who locked up far more people than Nixon but spoke against weed prohibition only after leaving the presidency. Barrack Obama, who was in favour of legalizing marijuana while campaigning for office in 2004, has overseen the arrest of as many people as Bush or Clinton for cannabis while he has been President.
This bizarre moral schizophrenia is why we can have polls showing the majority of Conservative voters backing the end of marijuana prohibition while still publicly supporting the Harper Inquisition against the Devil’s Harvest. MP’s, by their own admission, are nothing more than well-paid errand boys and girls, no more influential than the page boys and girls that deliver messages across the floor of the House of Commons.
But errand boys and girls for whom? These MP’s have no idea who’s giving the orders; could be anybody, or any organization. They don’t even think it’s the leader of their own party. Our Members of Parliament say Canada is totally controlled by invisible “forces”.
Though a huge majority of Canadians want marijuana legalized, truly legalized, almost no Parliamentarian ever speaks on behalf of legalization. Certainly not any of the NDP and Conservative MP’s, and very few Liberals. Nor has any Parliamentarian spoken up in 45 years with any gravitas about it.
So with that I have to say: Hats off to you, Justin Trudeau. Let’s legalize it.