Voices | April 8-15

Shout out:

There’s lots of talk about COVID vaccine “passports” – or proof that someone has been fully vaccinated.

Your turn:

Are COVID passports a good idea?

Send your thoughts to voices@philadelphiaweekly.com.

Time to make D.C. a state

Right now, the hundreds of thousands of people living in the District of Columbia are being denied Congressional representation.

And this denial is no accident. D.C’s status as a district and its lack of voting power and representation are deeply rooted in racism. After the Civil War, white men in power didn’t want Black men to build power by voting, so D.C. – a place where the majority of the residents are people of color – became too much of a threat in their eyes. So Congress stripped D.C. of its ability to self-govern.

The District’s residents couldn’t participate in presidential elections at all until the 23rd Amendment was ratified in 1961 – just 60 years ago! And it took until 1970 for Congress to give D.C. a delegate in the House of Representatives, but she wasn’t empowered to vote on legislation. Now, in 2021, residents still can’t control their own laws or their budgets through the local representatives that they elect.  

We can change all of this by making Washington, D.C. the 51st state. It would finally give D.C. long overdue representation in the halls of Congress, allow its residents to self-govern, and begin to unravel the harmful, racist laws of our country’s past and present. 

I’m urging my senators to support making D.C. a state as soon as possible. 

Lorri Jenkins | Philadelphia

Puff, puff, and pass all of the cannabis bills in PA

The 2021 Cannabis Fest in Kutztown will take place on April 17 and 18. For years, the Green Party of Pennsylvania (gpofpa.org) has been proud to be a part of the growing movement to finally decriminalize growing, selling, buying and using nature’s sweet leaf. As a much-welcomed outdoor event, many Greens have already committed to convening there. For years, we have been proud to be a part of the growing movement to finally decriminalize growing, selling, buying, and using nature’s sweet leaf. Let’s take this opportunity to look at the timeline of cannabis use, the attitudes, and unjust racial implications of the war on weed. Plus, a glimpse at what is happening in both our state legislative houses.

From the not-so distant past, images of firing up a marijuana cigarette, a joint, a spliff, or a doobie meant an onslaught of images that revealed the dangers and temptations of the Devil’s Lettuce. Fearful visions of moral depravity were ingrained into our young minds as we hit tender milestones of development. If Reefer Madness had legs, it would have frog-marched our curious teen-selfs straight to the river Styx and fed us to Cerberus. If Nancy Regan was playing, many of us would have lost that DARE. 

Spoiler alert! As it turns out, simply smoking a doink did not lead most people to a road of ruin and river to the Underworld. That is, unless you were at an intersection due to your marginalized status, then you were three times as likely to end up demonized and incarcerated through racial profiling as the civil war-machine on drugs demolished entire generations of communities and families.  

Thankfully, we are collectively trying to leave the past mass incarceration where it belongs, but we need to be wary of which path to take. Legalization in Pennsylvania will ensure that we have one hand in the future and the other one stuck scraping a bowl with a pocket knife to conserve America’s sticky green gold. 

The Green Party stands for full decriminalization of cannabis. Decriminalization is the only path to ensure that everyone who needs access to the medical benefits and agricultural economic boosts are able to attain them. As it stands, for example, it can cost over $300 to get a medical marijuana card, but that’s not even the beginning of price-gouging market monopoly practices that PA and other states are engaging in. Here is another something: Grower/processors must first pay a non-refundable $10,000 application fee, then have a verifiable amount of no less than $2 million in capital and $500,000 of that must be in a financial institution. To get the initial certificate to grow, you need to pay $200,000. Plus, every year you must pay a $10,000 renewal fee. In other words, to even get that hand in the future, you need to be holding a silver spoon and have more money than any local weed dealer, plus good credit and no criminal record. These restrictions and extremely limiting financial hurdles make the market impenetrable by the same people who have diligently worked toward legalization and those who have supplied a lot of us with our dank stash. 

Without decriminalization, the most famous and literal “grassroots” movement becomes an industry for the elite to protect its hot-boxed frat boys from the ramifications of laws that have become inconvenient to the bourgeoisie. Without further development, not only is our prison system overrun with racist policies and broken promises, those same boys go on in life to getting kickbacks in their retirement funds through marajuana stocks pumped up by “woke” Wall Street. And those boys are first in line to pay the fees to grow the weed that swallowed the spider to catch the fly. 

Currently, there are a few pieces of legislation being passed around in the PA General Assembly. One bill that gets close to meeting the many issues surrounding decriminalization is being reintroduced this year by Rep. Jake Wheatey (D, District 19). The Criminal and Social Justice Reform Through a Legal Adult-Use Cannabis Marketplace or House Bill 2050 doesn’t meet all of our concerns, but it is a step forward. 

Another bill being carried over from the 2020 session is in the PA Senate co-sponsored by Sen. Sharif Street (D, District 3). Senate Bill 233 calls for incremental decriminalization by lowering fines and penalties for possession. Street is also working toward similar goals that HB 2050 proposes.

While important legislation is being written and reviewed, a fundamental problem is growing. This all costs too much for a plant that even my grandmother grew on her patio in the 1980s like some grandmothers raised chickens and sold eggs to their local grocers. The proceeds of this industry simply won’t go toward people who desperately need to supplement or build income. Nor will they aid cannabis users with one of the 17 recognized medical conditions that qualify you for a medical card. 

Another hold up in our state is coming from the representatives from both major parties trying to score wins in too many directions, but mostly wins for their own wallets. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of not seeing the big field and hiding behind a smoke-screen of corporate interest and old conservative views, as usual. This is something that is not true for Green Party candidates, who deny corporate funding and have the mission to fully realize the benefits to our society and social justice by decriminalizing all aspects of cannabis. They don’t call us the Green Party for nothing. And, you can put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Tina Olson, Green Party of Pa. 

We asked. You answered. 

We put the question to you: 

Who are you backing for Philly’s next district attorney? The responses came flooding in. Here’s a sampling from social media:

@VegaForDA – Time to end Krasner’s coup on public safety and public health! – @NDJinPhilly

Carlos bc he truly cares about Philly – he devoted his entire life to serving this city – never once turning a profiting from the worst moments in someone else’s life – never once for his own self promotion; he did it for his kids and for all our kids – for mothers, for neighbors – @sypderw13

No question, Carlos Vega because of his experience. – @alggnk11

Peruto because the Democrats have shown they are inept when it comes to stopping inner city crime. – @doreenb8

Anyone but Krasner. Because he is a clueless incompetent. #DumpKrasner – @_ThomasMalone_

Carlos Vega because the murder rate has tripled since the year before Krasner slithered into office. 277 homicides in 2016…we will hit that by Memorial Day at this point. He is more concerned being a criminal sympathizing sociopath than protecting decent people. – @DerosierBill 

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