By Doug Newman
Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies … those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. – C.S. Lewis
Fair Haven, a quaint little town of about 6000 residents somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, holds a very special place in my heart and life. Why? Because I grew up there.
It is also the home of my new hero: Eric Hafner. Hafner is real life example #4,479,563 or so of how America’s War on Drugs is incontrovertibly insane. Here are the Cliff Notes on his story.
In 2008, at age 16, the young Hafner had a “horrifying, traumatic” experience that brought on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. He declines to divulge details and this is his prerogative. And how he medicates himself would likewise be his prerogative if this were a free country.
In a free country, people would still suffer traumatic life experiences. However, their choice of medication would be entirely immune from the tentacles of state and federal control.
Doctors prescribed Xanax for Eric. However, he claimed that it “did little to mitigate ‘nightmares, flashbacks and depression,’ and left him feeling ‘like a zombie’ the next day.” However, he claims that marijuana allowed him to function normally.
End of story, right?
This is not a free country.
In 2010, Governor Corzine signed into law the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. This law allows patients who suffer from certain maladies such as AIDS and MS, to obtain marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries. Two years later, though, no dispensaries have opened their doors. And even if they had, PTSD is not among the conditions for which doctors are allowed to recommend marijuana.
On November 27 of last year, Hafner was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for a broken headlight in Locust, four miles from Fair Haven. The police officer said he smelled pot and proceeded to search the vehicle. The search turned up a pipe in Hafner’s sweatshirt and a gram of the forbidden weed in Hafner’s wallet.
Hafner faces up to six months in jail and $1000 in fines if found guilty.
Here comes the hero part.
Hafner states: “I’m not going to plead guilty to using my medicine.”
A guilty plea would carry with it probation and mandatory drug testing.
Hafner cites Article I of the New Jersey state Constitution in his defense. This article states, in part:
“All persons are by nature free and independent, and have certain natural and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”
Hafner goes on to say: “I’m not going to stop what I’m doing, so probation is not an option. I’d be sacrificing my own health and safety, and I’m not going to do that, and the government has no right to tell me to do that.”
Out here near Denver, Colorado, where I live now, a friend recently stated the following on Facebook.
“You know what really gets my knickers in a twist? Aurora. Charging me extra money to buy cold medicine. And my Driver’s License having to be swiped to buy Alka-Seltzer in PILL form. Really? Do I look like I’m gonna OD on Alka-Seltzer??? Unfortunately, my moral indignation lost out to the need to not feel like death walking backwards eating a cracker… but still. I’m pretty ticked.”
To this, I responded: “Yay drug war.”
P.W. chimed in: “No Doug….Yay nanny state.”
Me, again: “2 wings of the same bird of prey.”
I went on to say: “A government that will throw you in jail for possessing, selling, buying or using a plant that probably grows wild in your zip code will not be restrained in the stupid laws and regulations it imposes.”
The mindset that drives the right’s police state is the exact same totalitarian mindset that drives the left’s nanny state. A government that will imprison you for using a plant that was given to us in the eleventh verse of the Bible – and just may well grow wild in Fair Haven – will inevitably also tell us which kind of light bulbs to use and how fast our toilets can flush. And if you have your undies in a bunch over someone medicating themselves with marijuana, then you already believe that the state should nanomanage medical decisions. Don’t moan and groan at me about Obamacare!
The left is at least honest about its belief in big government. The right, on the other hand, is rhetorically pro-liberty, but all too often loves big government when it imprisons people for victimless offenses. (“Victimless crime” is an oxymoron. If there is no victim, there is no crime.) No matter how much evidence you present about the abject failure of the drug war, they simply will not cast off their smelly little politically correct orthodoxies about their menu of favorite unconstitutional federal programs.
All federal laws relating to what you ingest into your body are unconstitutional under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. And while the states may pass their own drug laws, state drug laws are just as odious as the Jim Crow laws of the old South.
But then the objection always arises: “There are prescription drugs for things like PTSD.” Go back and read the quote at the top of this article. Hafner says that Xanax didn’t work. Thousands of other people across the nation also say that marijuana worked where prescription drugs didn’t.
Many who scoff at the notion that cannabis has medicinal properties will insist that they are Christians. Jesus had very harsh words for people like this. “Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” – Luke 11:46, KJB
While no one has ever died simply from smoking marijuana, prescription drug fatalities now outnumber deaths from automobile accidents. And with prescription drugs, it is also the little things. You know, like the multitudinous side effects.
Moreover, it is perfectly legal to do irreparable damage to your body in so many ways.
And, yes, I hear the train a-coming: “The kid is just looking for an excuse to get stoned.”
Let’s see. Hafner gets his bake on, gets the munchies and veges out for a few hours to some pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd tunes. Who has he harmed?
And yet, there are millions of people who wouldn’t care if he were locked in some anal rape cage for years on end. For his own good, of course. 99.99 percent of the time, the legal penalties associated with marijuana possession do far more damage than the actual herb itself. Cruel and unusual, anyone?
And these millions just don’t care that the War on Drugs has, in the last three decades, turned the “land of the free” into the nation with the world’s highest incarceration rate.
And while Hafner faces six months in prison, and while this Oklahoma woman got ten years for a $31 marijuana sale, the children of the elites are not punished anywhere near as severely. Noelle Bush – one of those Bushes – got ten days for possession of crack cocaine. Hence, the War on Drugs is a lot like other wars. The elites sell it and the hoi polloi suffer as a result of it.
The War on Drugs is a war on all of us, whether we do illegal drugs or not. How so?
Imagine yourself suffering from unremitting pain and having exhausted all conventional medical remedies. You are down to one last option: that herb that you have, until now, ridiculed as the Devil’s Lettuce. Will thou, in this moment, still be as holy and pious as thou currently art?
Or will this life experience finally clue you in as to the tyrannical nature of drug prohibition? Will you finally realize that the real-world implications of your favorite social policy are no laughing matter? And when you find yourself in the cross hairs of the authorities, will you boldly and defiantly proclaim, like Eric Hafner: “I’m not going to plead guilty to using my medicine.”
It is always easy to sit there and say that the government should “do something”, as long as they do it to somebody else.
UPDATE: MOTION TO DISMISS State v. Hafner
Newt Gingrich’s PRO-medical marijuana letter to the editor, 1982
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