Witnessing the slavery and imperialism being carried out by government during the mid-nineteenth century, Henry David Thoreau was compelled to apply his transcendental philosophy to challenge the fallacies of the state. Civil Disobedience is one of the greatest American texts, and was a prime influence for Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
Civil disobedience is a familiar concept to those who realize that government does not possess a greater wisdom and justice than the individual simply because it is government. As Thoreau wrote, we have a duty to resist when the state is recognized as an agent of injustice.
This is sometimes even embraced by those working within the system. Rep. Allen Peake, a Georgia lawmaker, admitted that he defies unjust cannabis prohibition by bringing medical cannabis into Georgia from states where it is legal, such as Colorado. He recently delivered medical cannabis to a mother whose son suffers from seizures.
“I got a text this morning from the mother of a young child who I delivered product to,” said Peake. “And the heartfelt thanks from this mother, the difference in this child – the increase in cognitive ability, the reduction in seizures, has been worth every bit of risk that I’ve taken.”
Georgia residents have just begun their struggle to gain the freedom to treat their medical conditions with a plant that is proven to be effective for many ailments. The ability of medical cannabis to reduce or eliminate epileptic seizures—without harmful side effects—is astounding and is recognized by medical professionals. The biggest news at the last American Epilepsy Society conference was a landmark study showing that a cannabis extract vastly reduces seizures in children.
Yet this miracle treatment is denied to people in more than half of U.S. states and is still completely banned by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug with “no currently accepted medical use.”
In the face of such injustice, some are moving to states with legal medical cannabis, some continue suffering or rely on prescription pills, and some engage in civil disobedience. Allen Peake is a model of virtue among a cesspool of state corruption.
He routinely visits former Georgians who now live in Colorado so they can treat their conditions without the fear of being locked in a cage.
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“Listen, I made a commitment to these families when I got involved, that I was willing to do whatever it took to make sure they had access to a product from a reputable manufacturer. I’ve made good on that promise. If it involved civil disobedience, it’s been absolutely worth it,” said Peake.
Rep. Peake has also introduced a bill in the Georgia House of Representatives that would expand the number of diseases and conditions for which cannabis oil can be prescribed, and also calls for “a minimum of two and a maximum of six in-state manufacturers for the production of all medical cannabis within the state by Dec. 1, 2016.” More than 100 House members have signed the bill.
The proposed bill follows up on Georgia’s first step taken last year to decriminalize medical cannabis, called the Haleigh’s Hope Act. It gave limited protections to those who use or administer cannabis oil, such as desperate parents who witness their child having endless seizures.
An Atlanta mom is having to resort to the black market to get the only thing that works to stop her daughter's violent autistic episodes—medical cannabis. She showed a heartbreaking video to the local Channel 2 station of the father trying to restrain his 5-year-old daughter so she doesn’t severely bite herself. After trying 30 different supplements and medicines unsuccessfully, cannabis is the only thing that prevents the violent episodes and allows here daughter to engage in normal tasks. She buys cannabis on the black market and makes the oil extract at home.
Mike Buffington is editor of the Jackson County Herald, a self-professed conservative, and father to a 21-year-old son who has suffered seizures for 15 years. He wrote a column last month called I’m Growing Marijuana.
“My pot plant is really something of a civic protest against absurd state policies that prevent children who suffer from seizure disorders from getting help,” said Buffington.
He found a variety of cannabis that is low in psychoactive properties and high in seizure-fighting substances. He is going to plant the seed and use an indoor grow kit, hoping to gain a green thumb through his act of defiance. Buffington will post pictures of the progress.
“I’m making a political statement, but I’m trying to show that it’s just a plant. If it has the potential to help people, why not open the door and see what we can do with it?” said Buffington. “Obviously, if you’re going to do civil disobedience, you know what the penalties potentially are, and you’ve got to be willing to take those penalties.”
In his case, possessing one plant would be a misdemeanor. No cops have come knocking on his door yet. Law enforcement must be in a quandary here, as charging Buffington would showcase the absurdity of “just doing their job.”
These acts of civil disobedience are enraging state prosecutors, who are undoubtedly working to derail Rep. Peake’s proposed House bill to expand medical cannabis access. The governor has already made his opposition clear, and there will be resistance in the Senate. Cannabis prohibition is too profitable for law enforcement and prison industries to give up easily.
The tide against these agents of injustice may already be too great for them to resist. Civil disobedience is among us and growing. Thoreau would be proud.