Thursday, July 2, 2009

taxing cannabis vs. religious freedom

Hi Alun,

I'm replying to you directly because as a non-European contributor to the Eurodrug list I am reluctant to post too much of my personal philosophy, which may or may not be relevant or interesting to others. Anyone who may care to is welcome to read further at my blog:

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Personally, I agree with much of what you write. You bring up some very interesting questions that I don't pretend to know "The Answers" to -- for anyone but myself. What I am attempting to do is to articulate a legal defense for total Cannabis freedom, regardless of taxation or any other conditions for ending prohibition.

As I understand it, in the context of U.S. law, "religious freedom" was stated vaguely by design, in order to allow for the broadest possible interpretation.

How the courts of various countries reconcile "religion" in relation to our 'freedom to farm' Cannabis depends on things that I'm sure I don't fully comprehend. I guess my point is that, regarding Cannabis laws in the US and other countries, "religious freedom" seems to be inconsistent with the realities we face as a species facing foreseeable extinction.

Because prohibition is so obviously counter-productive to its own stated objectives, I find it impossible to respect anything other than total Cannabis freedom. What seems (to me) to be needed, obviates government taxation of profits from my labor.

Your statement that "...the Human Rights Article that
grants for every man, the freedom to hold or to change his
(or her) religion or belief .... to practice it alone
or with others." ...which is not exactly "religious freedom""

is confusing to me. I only speak for myself, ofcourse. That's why the ministry I started is an individual one. I certainly don't presume to "know" what religious freedom means to anyone else. For myself, religious freedom includes the freedom to farm. This seems to be specifically referenced in legal provisions associated with "every herb." The Biblical quote serves as a cross-over between widely accepted religious doctrine and relevant legal provisions.

If "the freedom to hold or to change his
(or her) religion or belief .... to practice it alone
or with others" isn't religious freedom, then how else would it be defined? As I understand it, what "legitimizes" any spiritual path is baseline philosophy known as "The Golden Rule" -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

If someone is an "atheist" and chooses to reject "religion" that's their choice and I totally respect that choice. I don't know what rights the courts would convey to a person who doesn't acknowledge a spiritual relationship with Cannabis, but I feel I ought to be protected by the law if I am sincere about how I feel about it.

For myself, I'm spiritually thankful to whatever energy or process or "God" created such a wonderful plant, without having to define it. If there is legal purchase in this then I ought to be legally protected from prosecution for growing and selling any Cannabis products.

Here's an interesting essay that you may be interested in:

"Can Engaging with a Radical Religion Help Save Progressives from Self-Indulgence?"
By Robert Jensen, Soft Skull Press. Posted July 3, 2009

"But back to taxation - do we agree that profits from the SALE of legalised cannabis ought be taxable?"

Perhaps I'm the wrong person to ask. I was convicted as a "tax protester" in 1996 because I think being forced to pay taxes on personal income is a Constitutional violation of individual choice.

On the other hand, excise taxes paid on goods and services ARE an individual choice, and require no "free accounting."

Taxation of profits is essentially "involuntary servitude" (i.e. wage slavery) administrated in the most inefficient, bureaucratic and expensive way possible. To make Cannabis agriculture, manufacture and trade conditional on taxation eliminates a "god-given" right.

Willing compliance with taxation is understandable, considering that it's the system we were all born into, and brought up to think of as "how things work" -- but we were all born into prohibition too, and we know that doesn't work. And neither is income taxation, so why construct a system around Cannabis agriculture that will burden it with taxes?

As lies, absurdities and injustices characteristic of drug prohibition become more apparent, they provide an opportunity for a broader awakening.
Unjust and inefficient income taxation is being imposed by the same predatory machine that has been waging the "drug war" against us. If it was working, maybe I'd support it, but the system is not working.

For the first time in human history our species is aware that we're heading for extinction. There is an immediate urgency for finding solutions that have never existed before.

The priority is to figure out how to support the healing of our planet. Giving money to a criminally negligent, dysfunctional U.S. bureaucracy seems like madness, so I find it impossible to advocate for half-measures.

The "religious freedom" argument seems to provide the most direct, lawful alternative by making the distinction between drugs and herbs. Taxation of any environmentally unique and essential natural resource seems to me unlawful, unnecessarily complicated and inefficient in a time of global emergency.

I absolutely agree that "it does not matter what a person's religion or belief is, they have the same Right to hold or to change it, and to practice it, and any interference from the authorities seems to be to be illegal..."

Best wishes,