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Across the Green Rainbow: Marijuana reform and the LGBT community

With help from the LGBT community, marijuana legalization efforts are moving forward.

By Norm Kent

greenrainbowGay men and women love pot. We know that. We’ve been smoking for years, recreationally and medically.

We know how many of our friends used cannabis to offset the wasting syndrome of AIDS. When we turn out to vote in states conducting medical marijuana initiatives, we vote overwhelmingly to make cannabis available to patients.

Florida recently conducted a statewide medical initiative, which needed 60% to become law. It drew “only” 58%, but not in LGBT hotbeds. Key West voters supported cannabis with 72% of the vote. In Wilton Manors, a suburb adjacent to Fort Lauderdale, which has one of the highest percentages of same-sex couples in the nation, voters also supported medicalizing pot with more than 70% of the vote.

Gay or straight, here’s my message to all of you cannabis consumers: Hang on. Wait. Medical marijuana is not yet legal everywhere. Yes, in 23 states it is. The last time I looked America still has 50 states. We have a ways to go, and the LGBT community can lead the way.

AIDS taught gay men we have to do a lot of things by ourselves. Governments don’t listen. People are apathetic. We have to make noise. It works. Politicians read polls, see stats and respond to voting communities. Make those fuckers squirm.

Whether or not your state is voting, you can demand politicians come out of the closet on the issue of green medicine. Find out their stance and lock in their commitment. Ask law enforcement agencies to adopt rules and regulations governing the lawful distribution and sale of medical marijuana in your state. Get support from doctors, professors and your local departments of health that police should not arrest people using pot as medicine.

In most states, cops can still arrest and jail you for possession of even the tiniest amounts of cannabis. While you may assert a defense of medical necessity in court, it will only happen after you’ve been arrested and prosecuted. It’s up to a jury to determine if your defense is valid. What if you had your local city commission pass a resolution censuring and condemning police for arresting cannabis consumers? What if you asked lawmakers to reduce the penalties?

There’s still much you can do to save yourself and your friends. Congress has yet to reschedule cannabis. It’s still considered a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use – even though the federal government has its own limited program prescribing it as medication. Let’s go to court for sick people using marijuana as medicine and demand access judicially if we can’t get it legislatively. Find some lawyers with a backbone. Maybe that attorney can tell the judge you need that cannabis for the muscle spasms the car crash caused. The best way to protect your rights is to use them.

The bottom line is your advocacy is still required. In most states, the laws remain stacked against marijuana users. Getting high means you can become a victim of the drug war. Don’t let it happen to you, your friends or your families. Stand up, light up and start a flame that burns out American injustice.

Read the full article in Freedom Leaf magazine digital edition here

Norm Kent is the former chair and president of NORML. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he runs a consulting firm for people interested in medical marijuana dispensaries, and publishes the South Florida Gay News. Kent can be reached at 954-763-1900.