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May 01, 2000 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2000-05-01

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4 - The Michigan Daily Monday, May 1, 2000
students att he Editor in Chief JOSH WICKERHAM
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
4 M r t trti Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the
420 M ay nard Street mnoitv a/ the Dailvh editorial board. All other articles, letters and
An n Arbor, M I 48109 ca 'osdo not necessrily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Pot's shot
The smell of marijuana reform is in the air

Marches and marriages
Gay rights need to go national

T here is a war being fought inside
America's borders. More than 700,000
are captured every year, with over half a mil-
lion being taken out of the fight for years at
a time. All of this is being carried out by our
government on its own people with scare
tactics, propaganda, brute police force,
prison sentences and the inertia of ignorance
and silence. All of this means that thousands
of otherwise upstanding citizens are being
locked away for one reason: a plant.
America is up in arms over a little weed,
Cannabis, that got caught up in America's
"War on Drugs."
Many concerned citizens have chosen to
break the silence and speak out about a plant
that is not physically
addictive, has caused MOREW rF
zero deaths, grows in
almost any climate, pro-
vides fuel, food, clothing, Millennium
shelter and comfort to Ma
millions and has been wwwures-no
one of history's most use-
ful medicines. They have Personal Re
begun calling for a Amen
change in the laws, www.balih
because it is time for the
ignorance and fear to National Orga
subside, allowing a safe, Reform of Ma
natural medicine to reach wwwNO
the sick. First, let's take a
look at how we got in the The Drg Refor
current situation regard- New
ing Cannabis. wwwwdr
According to Jack
Herer, an activist and author of "The
Emperor Wears no Clothes," Cannabis pro-
hibition began to take shape in the 1930's
following a string of racist scare tactics led
by William Randolph Hearst, who intro-
duced the word "Marijuana" into major
news publications. It was known prior to
this time as hemp, a benign plant used as
medicine and source of fiber. Hearst used
his power to paint a stereotype of the lazy
Mexican migrant worker infiltrating
America. Also of concern was Cannabis use
among African Americans, which was;being
attributed to Jazz music and Jim Crow law
violations. With films like "Reefer
Madness" and headlines like "Marijuana-
assassin of youth" creating even more public
outrage, Congress hastily moved to outlaw
In 1937, Harry Anslinger, director of the
Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs, testified before Congress, saying,
"Marijuana is the most violence-causing
drug in the history of mankind." Anyone
who has ever smoked pot can refute that out-
right lie from first-hand experience.
The American Medical Association
(AMA) made the case that, in effect, federal
testimony in those hearings was based
entirely on tabloid sensationalism. The
AMA revealed that no real testimony had
been presented before Congress on behalf of

the medical establishment. And since 1937,
very little congressional energy has been
spent addressing this outrageous situation.
In 1976, Congress outlawed all research on
the therapeutic effects of marijuana.
Since then, coalitions - such as the
Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which
is funded largely by private interests and
supported by major media - have contin-
ued denouncing marijuana with scare tactics
and "Just say no" campaigns. The hypocrisy
of promoting alcohol and cigarette use while
condemning marijuana with the same tools
of advertising is reprehensible.
Unfortunately, companies, as well as prison
workers' unions and illegal drug test manu-
facturers, have a vested
)RMATION interest in maintaining
the perceived threat of
marijuana. Job security
Marijuana based on increased
-ch: prison populations and
I-wars.org paranoia about pot-
smoking workers means
ponsibility big business those prof-
:meit: iting in the "War on
t2O0O.net Drugs.'
For decades, a move-
ization for the ment to educate
rijuana Laws: Americans about the
kML.org benefits of Cannabis and
hemp has been building.
n Coordination In recent years, Alaska,
'ork: California, Maine,
net.org Oregon, and Washington
have passed legislation
allowing patients access to often-necessary
medical marijuana.
Local Libertarians have been pursuing an
initiative to legalize marijuana for medicinal
purposes in Ann Arbor as well. To get the
proposal - which would prevent city police
from arresting medicinal pot users - on the
November ballot, petitioners must collect
4,300 signatures.
An initiative is also under way to put the
issue to voters statewide. Called the Personal
Responsibility Amendment (PRA), this
would allow medical marijuana for anyone
with a prescription. It would also give any
Michigan resident over 21 the right to grow
and possess up to three ounces of cannabis,
provided it is within the confines of his or
her own home and kept away from minors.
To get this on the ballot in November, over
300,000 signatures must be collected. The
PRA is Michigan's chance to repeal unjust
Cannabis prohibition laws.
This Saturday, May 6, thousands will
flock to over eighty cities worldwide to pro-
mote awareness of the medical marijuana
movement with the Millennium Marijuana
March. Protests will be held locally in
Lansing, Flint, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and
Traverse City. Anyone outraged by the gov-
er nent's history of Cannabis prohibition
should get involved to show support for
troops on te front line of tis unjustwar.

T he "Millennium March," Washington
D.C.'s largest gay rights march in
seven years, took place this Sunday and
was attended by at least 200,000 people.
When it was being planned, its organizers
didn't know it would culminate a week
which saw events of incredible signifi-
cance to the gay rights movement. The
march capped a week that saw Vermont
become, the first state to extend all the
benefits it gives to married couples to
homosexual couples, a renewed push by
President Clinton to extend federal hate
crimes laws to cover sexual orientation
and the hearing by the Supreme Court of
arguments over whether the Boy Scouts
can exclude gays.
Vermont's extension of marriage bene-
fits to gay and lesbian couples is an
encouraging step towards granting homo-
sexuals the equal rights they deserve. This
small, mostly rural, state has taken the
lead in recognizing the validity of homo-
sexual relationships and will hopefully be
an example to the rest of the nation.

Most advances in gay rights are current-
ly coming from states and localities.
Congress has considered virtually no gay
rights bills over the past several years and
has even been reluctant to act on legislation
that would extend hate crimes laws to cover
sexual orientation. The importance of feder-
al hate crimes legislation is to make sure the
federal government can get involved in
cases in localities where crimes against*
homosexuals are routinely ignored. It also
sends the important message that our gov-
erment will not tolerate crimes based on
sexual orientation. The first hate crimes
laws were important victories in the civil
rights movement, protecting African
Americans and other racial minorities.
There can and should be similar protections
for the gay civil rights movement.
There have been significant strides in
the fight for gay rights recently. It is
extremely gratifying that, while much dis-
crimination still exists for gays, society is
moving toward equality amongst all peo-

Just did it
Nike gives up on 'U'

N ike's withdrawal from contract exten-
sion negotiations with the University
last week was a disappointing reaction to the
University's recent signing of the Workers'
Rights Consortium. The University is now
the third school, along with Brown
University and the University of Oregon, to
face retribution from Nike after joining the
WRC. The vindictive nature of Nike's reac-
tion to the WRC was made clear by Nike
founder and CEO Philip Knight's decision to
cease his personal contributions to the
University of Oregon, his alma mater, which
he has given more than $50 million to in the
past. Knight has said that Oregon's signing
of the WRC shredded "the bonds of trust,
which allowed me to give at a high level."
The working conditions, wages and treat-
ment of Nike's manufacturing employees
has long been a top concern of workers'
rights advocates. While Nike ceaselessly
claims to have the utmost respect for human
rights and to provide the best working condi-
tions in its industry, the immediate competi-
tion that has emerged among athletic appar-
el makers to replace Nike as the University's
official outfitter demonstrates that other
companies do not share Nike's fear of having
to conform to WRC provisions.
Nike's decision to end its relationship
with the University, its top-selling school, is
difficult to understand. While it disliked the
University's positions on workers' rights,
those positions were not mandates. Rather
than working to negotiate an agreement
acceptable to both sides, Nike merely decid-

ed to surrender its largest college contract to
a competitor. If Nike's actions were meant to
scare other schools away from signing the
WRC, the clamoring of other shoemakers
for a contract with the University make it
clear that Nike is replaceable. And by being
the only one of the major athletic shoe and
apparel makers to so stridently oppose the
WRC, Nike is only worsening its already tar@
nished public image in regards to the treat-
ment of its workers. Nike's voluntary ending
of its relationship with the University
deprives it of a valuable contract and does
little or nothing to harm the University.
The University's signing of the WRC set
an important example for other schools and
made clear its commitment to workers'
rights. It is unfortunate and hard to under-
stand why Nike is taking such a hard line
against the WRC. By doing so, it will only
lose business to more socially responsiblo
companies and reinforce its image as an
exploiter of third-wqrld workers.
The University will get along fine with
another athletic outfitter and should be glad
to be rid of a partner which so intensely
opposes negotiating on issues of workers'
rights. Whether through the WRC or some
other method, universities across the country
should be active in making sure that thei&
licensed products are not produced in sweat-
shops. The growing nuber of schools tak-
ing on this responsibility foretells serious
problems for Nike's business in the future if
it does not begin to address the complaints of
thos c cerned with workers' rights.

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