After reading this report we come down very very firmly on the side of Donovan Gardner, the Democratic council president of Pemberton Township NJ who appears to have got himself into very hot water simply by providing others with a dose of pure cold hard reality.
I’d actually take this article verbatim and use it as an educational tool about the issues of cannabis and race in US society. It is a vignette worthy of Cheever in its ability through a range of voices and characters to explain why America is where it on the issue of cannabis prohibition
How dare he use historical facts to provide context!
Imagine the cheek of it !
The fact that “a retired township law enforcement officer has told this newspaper (Gardener’s) comments were “absolutely disgusting” tells us more than we need to know.
Here’s the introduction to the report which should be definitely be read in full as it provides a microcosm to the lack of knowledge about past cannabis prohibtion and also the lack of any desire to own up past history that got not just in the US but globally.
and as Gardner says
“Cannabis is a touchy subject matter to some, especially when one is not aware of its origin in American legal system,” the council president added. “My comment was and is not meant to prevent anyone from speaking or voting on any cannabis topics. If anyone got their feelings hurt, that was not my intent.”
Pemberton Council President Faces Backlash For Comments Following Video On Marijuana, But Says They’re Being Taken ‘Out Of Context, Sensationalized’
PEMBERTON—Donovan Gardner, the Democratic council president of Pemberton Township, is facing fierce backlash for what one retired township law enforcement officer has told this newspaper were “absolutely disgusting” comments Gardner made during an Oct. 25 special council meeting, immediately following his playing of an approximately six-minute video that opened with the statement, “How did marijuana get a bad rap? The answer is simple: racism.”
Gardner’s playing of the video that some attendees later contended amounted to “propaganda,” as well as the remarks the council president made after it ended, has even drawn flak from a fellow Democrat, Councilwoman Elisabeth McCartney, who in pointing to what transpired, maintained she “really wouldn’t say this is a fantastic meeting” and who ultimately acknowledged she was actually left “very disturbed.” What unfolded, she said, also left her a “little shaky.”
Gardner, however, stood by his comments to the very end of the council session, with Democratic Councilman Paul Detrick standing by the council president, claiming he “didn’t read” into the comments the way others did, though he acknowledged that he had not paid full attention to the shown clip, given he had heard it before, and if the remarks were meant to be what some thought they had insinuated, he would be “strongly against such a statement,” with the councilman trying to tie the apparent incendiary remarks to the video itself, and not the council president.
The council president, since the session concluded, when asked by this newspaper if he has any regret for the comments, responded, in part, “my comment after the video is being taken out of context and is being sensationalized since it was not directed at anyone, in particular, or (at a) group.”
The recording, played for the audience and councilmembers that had gathered to hear a proposal for a cannabis dispensary in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton (see separate story), featured statements such as, “In the early 1900s, an influx of Mexican immigrants came to the U.S. fleeing political unrest in their home country” and “the Spanish word” for marijuana, or marihuana, “started to be used more often” and became associated with “sensational headlines”; “In 1936, a propaganda film, ‘Reefer Madness’ was released” and portrayed “teenagers smoking weed for the first time” and thereby led to scenes of hallucinations, attempted rape and murder; the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed based on “fearmongering”; and Harry J. Anslinger, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics, became a “huge instigator of marijuana fearmongering” and “this is when racism and xenophobia really kicked in.”
The video continued that Anslinger “took the scientifically unsupported idea of marijuana as a violence-inducing drug and connected it to black and Hispanic people and created a perfect package of terror to sell to the American media and public, by emphasizing the Spanish word, ‘marihuana,’ instead of ‘cannabis,’” and that Anslinger allegedly also created a “strong association between the drug and the newly-arrived Mexican immigrants.”
It was also maintained in the piece that three years after passage of the tax law, it was found that “black people are three times more likely to be arrested for violating narcotic drug laws than whites” and “Mexicans are nine times more likely to be convicted.”
After pointing out that the tax law was ultimately repealed through the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, the piece highlighted that marijuana, however, has since been deemed a “Schedule 1 Drug” by the federal government, claiming it has been lumped in with ecstasy and LSD, or those that are “considered to have high potential for abuse and addiction with no medical use,” simply based on the “racist rhetoric.”
And “criminalization,” the video maintained, “still disproportionately effects minority groups in the U.S.” in which “black people are four times more likely to be arrested than white people, even though those groups consume marijuana at about the same rate.”
Before coming to an end, the video also featured remarks made by Jeff Sessions, while he was still attorney general under the President Donald J. Trump administration, with Sessions stating that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” before charging the former U.S. Senator turned Republican attorney general was “hell-bent on enforcing the rules” or the “racist rhetoric of the Anslinger era.”
With the piece maintaining we are “still seeing a lot of anti-immigration sentiment,” it also cut to a clip of Trump, with the former GOP president having declared of Mexican immigrants crossing the U.S. border illegally, “They are bringing drugs; they are bringing crime; they are rapists.” The piece then concluded with a claim “some politicians” are “sticking with fearmongering and the racist playbook.”
Gardner maintained, after the video ended, “there is another video” available that states “Harry Anslinger’s primary purpose to make it illegal” was over his “fearing that white women would smoke it to have sex with black men.”
“So, if you … support … or don’t want marijuana or cannabis, this is what you are supporting,” Gardner declared.
Perry Doyle, Jr., who recently retired from the Pemberton police force, and is also an alternate member of the township Planning Board, maintained Gardner’s remarks suggested “anyone who speaks up” against the cannabis proposal or “is against it, or heaven forbid, votes against it” is “in support of racism.”
“That was completely unnecessary, unprofessional and unethical on the part of the township, in my opinion,” Doyle asserted. “… And as someone who tried to fight so hard against that (racism) for 20 years, as a member of law enforcement in this town, I can honestly tell you with almost 100 percent certainty that the biggest example of racism that happened in my 20 years, happened in this room tonight. That should have never been done! There is no place, in a township as culturally diverse as Pemberton, for racism to ever come into a public meeting, and for people to be told that if you step up here and speak your mind against this application, you are considered a supporter of racism – as a resident, I am embarrassed by that! And I should not be the only one!”