Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hemp Group Clouded Rights Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hemp Group Clouded Rights Issue

Article excerpt

The Fourth of July came and went this year without the

corresponding bang of fireworks. For some people it just wasn't

the same. For anyone feeling the day was too flat, it is time

for a lesson on perspective. For many people Independence Day is

just a picnic and pyrotechnics, maybe even a parade depending on

where you live. Reflecting on the issues of liberty and the

price paid by patriots to birth our nation seems too sentimental

to some.

This weekend at the SeaWalk Pavilion there is evidence of how

radical our Constitution and the Bill of Rights remain. The

Hempfest, coordinated by the Cannabis Action Network (CAN),

arrives in Jacksonville Beach today via a judicial ruling on the

group's First Amendment right to assemble and exercise its

freedom of speech.

Although no one in Jacksonville Beach's city government sought

to persecute this group, the leaders of CAN employed their

typical tactics. With a large chip on their shoulder, they

rushed to the media wailing about the abridgment of their

constitutional rights.

Well, it just didn't happen like that.

They wanted to hold a festival. Before applying for a special

events permit, or working through things in any fashion at the

lower levels, CAN was having its day in court. The judge issued

a 15-page legal opinion that included a disturbing message for

those charged with running a city: Any group can exercise its

right to assemble in your town, whenever it wants, and even if

you fear that rioting and mayhem may follow, you must tolerate

the gathering of even the most intolerant groups.

CAN is a body of believers for a repeal of the laws prohibiting

the growth of hemp, whose by-product is marijuana. The group

also advocates the medical use of marijuana. Many people will

automatically dismiss CAN's battle cry regarding hemp as a cloak

concealing its real purpose: the legalization of recreational

drug use. …

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