Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Four states and D.C. have legalized pot for recreational uses. But the puritanical National Football League refuses to lift the ban on marijuana.
Eugene Monroe, in a seven-year NFL career as an offensive forward, has had concussions, several shoulder injuries, ankle sprains and the terrible pounding of line play.
He uses medical cannabis to ease that chronic pain but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says “no” based on his own blind medical advisers. Monroe rightly castigates Goodell for that blindness. Here’s how serious Monroe is: he has contributed $10,000 for research on medical marijuana and urged other players to do likewise.
Meanwhile we have the absurd Alabama law of sentencing a 75-year-old disabled veteran to prison for life for growing three dozen marijuana plants. He, too, is using cannabis to ease chronic pain, not to sell it.
But since the vet, Lee Brooker, was convicted of a felony in Florida 20 years earlier, Alabama law required a life sentence. This is a violation of the Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment.
Ray Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, did not rule on the case but he called Brooker’s sentence “excessive and unjustified,” revealing “grave flaws” in Alabama’s sentencing law.
It sure does. But it is typical of repressive Southern laws on abortion, voting rights, gays and transgenders.
VOTING RIGHTS LOSE IN N.C.
A federal judge, of all people, recently upheld discrimination in a North Carolina voting law.
The regressive and restrictive law cuts out same-day voter registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, cuts back on early voting by a week, bars counting votes outside the voters’ home precincts and requires voter ID.
Judge Thomas Schroeder, a Republican appointee, admitted the law was discriminatory to black voters. Yet he concluded–incredibly–“voting is no longer a problem in North Carolina and the law does not exacerbate existing disorders.”
State lawmakers said the law was necessary to reduce voter fraud. Absurd. Voter fraud is infinitesimal. The law was really designed to reduce black voting. Blacks usually vote Democratic.
ENLIGHTENED SOUTHERN GOVERNOR
In sharp contrast, an enlightened Virginia governor issued an executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who have served their sentences.
Virginia had been one of just four states that kept felons from voting. (The others: Florida, Iowa and Kentucky.)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe wisely said in a statement: “I want you back in society. I want you feeling good about yourself. I want you voting, getting a job and paying taxes.”
Governor McAuliffe is a Democrat. He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005.
All Southern politicians aren’t bad.
RESTRICTIVE ABORTION LAWS
South Carolina has become the 17th state banning abortion after 19 weeks. It, like the other anti-abortion states, faces challenges in the federal courts.
But South Carolina is undaunted, requiring abortion clinics to get admitting privileges for doctors and banning a second-trimester procedure known as the evacuation method. Exceptions: rape and if a mother’s life is in danger and a physician determines she cannot survive.
Abortion is a mother’s choice but sadly the South Carolina primitives can only be deterred by the courts.
OKLAHOMA MAKES ABORTION A FELONY
Another Southern state is even worse: the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill recently making abortion a felony. Doctors convicted under the law would be stripped of their medical licenses.
State Senator Nathan Dahm, who sponsored the bill, declared that pregnancy begins with conception. But Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, wisely vetoed the measure.
Nevertheless, Southern crackers are relentless in their assault on Roe v. Wade.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)