Is Marijuana Use a Civil Right?

As California voters gear up for the November 2nd vote on Proposition 19, which would make the recreational use of marijuana legal in the Golden State, the federal government has stated that even if the state law passes, the Drug Enforcement Agency will “vigorously enforce” the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. While both federal and state governments have been criminalizing the use of the cannabis plant for the greater part of the last century, there are a number of higher laws than either the state or federal mandate which have not been fully realized as legitimate arguments for the decriminalization of the cannabis plant. Start with the seed our country was planted with, the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Although the federal government has classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug for the last thirty years, the irrefutable scientific truth is that it was first classified as a plant, an agent of life that was once a very helpful crop for many making a life here in the United States. As a living organism, a bearer of bountiful fruits, a source of good industry, and an entity that has never been linked to a single known instance of human death, the plant known as cannabis sativa is most certainly and unmistakably a porter of Life, one of the unalienable Rights our Creator has endowed us with. Yet although our Creator and nature herself have given us the Liberty to cultivate this Life in the pursuit of our own Happiness, numerous laws have been established over the last century to keep American citizens, as well as the step-keeping citizens of other countries, from realizing this basic liberty, to grow, harvest, and consume our own forms of Life according to our own personal values.

Beyond the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects the American citizen against undue Search and Seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

And although our forefathers fought to protect against it, hundreds of thousands of Americans have been, and continue to be terrorized by their own government, no longer secure to be their own people, in their own homes, with their own effects.

Although Roe v. Wade was established to protect the privacy of pregnant women and what they do with their bodies, why are the same rights not offered to cannabis users regarding what they put into their bodies?

What of those who prefer natural, pain management for the price of a seed over the high insurance premiums necessary to pay for pharmaceuticals? When will they be able to heal themselves without intrusion by the government?

What of the farmers who are currently living off of government subsidies while growing corporate crops? Why are they barred from cultivating a plant which would offer an alternative source of food, fuel, textiles, medicine or any of the other 25,000 uses the cannabis plant offers? In an economy which bolsters the concept of a free market and fair trade, the members of our agricultural industry must be free to compete fairly in this changing world without the abolitionism of corporate monopolies depriving them of the world’s most versatile plant.

The First Amendment grants each American citizen the Freedom of Religion. What of those who smoke marijuana religiously in order to cope with the pressures of a society gone mad? When will they have the freedom to practice their rituals in the Church of their making without reprisal from the State? Even in recreational use, American’s must be free to re-create their consciousness in whatever way they see fit as they strive for human progress and exercise the fulfillment of their utmost potential.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The American people must continue to petition the Government for a redress of this grievance. The basis of this democracy was established of the people, by the people, and for the people, but far too many of our people are being bullied and imprisoned for a victimless crime which offers no personal threat to their own well-being other than incarceration by the State.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Based on a fear-mongering campaign developed by industrial interests that sought the abolition of industrial hemp, the U.S. government has summarily banned a form of Life through the manipulation of the governed. Under the guise of the “War on Drugs,”TM our state and federal governments have used this pretense to arrest and imprison almost a million Americans a year who are only guilty of demonstrating their God-granted Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness through the use of marijuana. About ninety percent of those whose freedoms have been stripped were for simple possession. For the majority of these “criminals,” the possession of this plant, this living entity which freely offers the pursuit of happiness, is the only crime they have ever committed. Far too many Americans have been stripped of their rights, their dignity, and the possibility for a prosperous green industry.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This prohibition has become destructive toward our promised rights and must be abolished. We as Americans must return to our roots of independence and allow our citizens access to their God-given rights once again. Americans must be free to opt for natural and effective medication. Americans must be free to grow and harvest crops to grow medicine, food, fiber, fuel, and any other industrial possibility that will meet their needs. Americans must no longer be imprisoned for possessing vegetation. Ending this prohibition will offer new forms of livelihood, health care, sustainability, and understanding.

We ask our government to lay down their arms and release the prisoners of this war. Millions of dollars are spent every year in the vain hope of eradicating this resource, money that could be spent on research, education, health care, and general social uplift. The prisoners must be freed. Not only those who sit behind bars due to keeping company with this plant, but all of the hands which have been bound as dirty forms of energy, toxic pollutants, unsustainable agricultural practices, and outrageous health care demands have ravaged our environment and our society.

I hope that California, just as they paved the way for medical marijuana initiatives in the nineties, will open the doors for citizens to reclaim their rights to their own bodies and whichever natural herb they wish to consume. Abolitionists should not be the only Americans who are granted the realization of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Decriminalization for personal use is a grand first step toward a vibrant revolution in American life. Just as the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper, so should the document now protect those who use the plant today.

Steve McAllister

Steve McAllister

Steve McAllister is an actor, musician, accomplished author, filmmaker, and the man behind Your Daily Groove at Modern Hippie Mag.  His most recent novel, The McAllister Code is available as an e-book at and will be available in paperback on 1/11/11. Find Steve on Twitter, @InkenSoul. Read his reviews and articles here.