Freedom of the press. I am being charged as a drug kingpin because an author I gave a book advance to used the money to cultivate medical marijuana. That's like Random House giving an author an advance, the author buys a gun and shoots someone, and the president of Random House is held responsible for the crime. I have owned a publishing company since 1967. As publisher, my books have appeared five times on the New York Times Bestseller List. If publishers are legally responsible for the actions of authors whenever those authors are spending money from publishers, that's not just a chilling effect on the First Amendment, that's pouring liquid nitrogen on it. If the press does not protest about my case loud and clear, the president of Random House may be next. Of course, long before that happens, Random House will have stopped giving out advances to any writer who even might put the president in jeopardy. Chilling? Antarctica.
Medical Marijuana. There are only two issues in American life in which the politicians pay no attention to public opinion polls: campaign reform and medical marijuana. No matter how long and hard the government may rant about medical marijuana being "a cruel hoax" (McCaffrey) or "medical quackery of the worst kind" (Bob Barr), voters in areas as diverse as California, Arizona, and the District of Columbia, overwhelming support a sick person's right to this ancient and benign herb. At the moment, I am something of the poster boy of medical marijuana. By enforcing my death, my case is probably the most egregious example of how far the government will go to keep marijuana away from those who medically need it.
The War on Drugs. Since George W.'s silent admission that he used cocaine, there has been a flurry of press reaction to the War on Drugs. A surprising majority of the coverage acknowledges that the War on Drugs is "another Vietnam." These recent journalists are following in the reasoned footsteps of other members of the press who have already reached the same conclusion: Walter Cronkite, William F. Buckley, Jr., Hugh Downs, Bill Moyers, Larry King, John Stossel, Geraldo Rivera, the editorial page of the New York Times, and many others. My case, and confiscating birdseed at the Canadian border, are two of the more absurd extremes drug warriors will go to violate the rights of American adults to choose which drugs to use.
States' rights. Three Supreme Court decisions at the close of its last session highlight a movement toward, as the Court put it, the "dual sovereignty" of the federal and state governments. A growing number of people feel the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution have been overridden by an ever-eager federal bureaucracy that has grabbed a disproportionate amount of power by overemphasizing the Supremacy Clause and over-broadening the Commerce Clause. The fact that six western states--representing 20 percent of the nation's population--have voted to permit medical marijuana seems to have no impact whatsoever on the federal government. Indeed, the feds have intensified their efforts to suppress medical marijuana in the states that have had the gall to challenge Gaul--my case being a prime example.
Democracy. Similar to states' rights is voters' rights. Does it matter that we cast a ballot? Does majority rule? In the area in which the U.S. Congress has complete autonomy, the District of Columbia, it appears the answer to both questions is no. The passage of the medical marijuana imitative by 69 percent of the popular vote will most likely be defeated by Congressional fiat. Again, medical marijuana becomes the battleground for "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
It's time the press brought back basic reporting skills in covering the War on Drugs. When cocaine addiction reached the white upper middle class (reporters and their bosses) in the mid-1980s and an even more menacing "crack epidemic" was the Drug War boogey man of the hour, the media powers-that-be determined that the War on Drugs should be reported as one would report any other "good" war, as was, for example, World War II. This meant government press releases were treated as sacrosanct, those fighting the war were always right and always heroes, and anyone opposing the war as a crackpot or a traitor. Now, the "goodness" of the War on Drugs is being questioned from all sides. Some who have investigated it thoroughly, myself included, consider the War on Drugs the worst American violation of civil and human rights since slavery. This is a war on adult citizens' right to make a free choice. All the press needs to do is basic, objective reporting and routine fact-checking--as I did--to discover the reality of this war. My case is the perfect place to separate fact from governmental fiction, reality from rhetoric, and truth from wartime propaganda.