Unlike many, at his death, I knew very little of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s real achievements in life; even though I have practiced, unknowingly, his preaching for several years now.
If you are like me, I would suggest you read his ‘jail house letter.’ This is a letter written to the ministers in Alabama who saw his impatient demand for justice as an outsider causing problems for minorities and the poor in Birmingham and surrounding towns. He was advised to: “Give things time to change, to which he responded, “time changes nothing, it is the pressure exerted by ‘the recognizers’ within time that causes change” (paraphrased by me).
In the letter, he discussed the need for just laws. In order for a law to be ‘just,’ it must meet two criteria: it must be morally right and equally applied. Segregation laws failed the test. So have the laws enacted in the war on drugs. These immoral laws lead to injustice in society and disrespect for law in general.
In his letter, King goes on to say that, when a person ‘recognizes’ an injustice, he is then morally obligated to help eliminate the injustice. The recognition he speaks of is one beyond understanding the words themselves, it is a recognition within oneself that demands action.
Most of us agree with his argument: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere.” It rings loud and clear in every person’s heart. Their problem (much as the rich man’s difficulty in following Christ) is the action required beyond recognition …The obligation to ‘disobey the unjust laws’ (or give the money away).
It is here that I finally ‘recognized’ the injustice of the war on drugs, and my obligation, as a ‘recognizer,’ to disobey this law. It has been a difficult argument in the church I attend, as I stated before, but one that I am ‘obligated to follow.’ For those unable to follow this logic, I ask for forgiveness.
If you have read this far, then I hope that you will read a little more about a brave veteran, Robert Dorr. He, too, is a ‘recognizer,’ and a follower of Christ. When I learned of his decision to submit to authorities for his deliberate violation of the drug laws by growing and using cannabis for medical reasons, and then reporting it to local authorities, it was a no-brainer — I had to help.
In my own case, my violation is a misdemeanor. In his, a felony and his actions could subject him to prison. Why did he go one step further? Because, unlike me who took the lesser way out (I must go to the black market to secure my medication) Robert refused to bend, and instead did the logical thing. He grew the medicine himself instead of participating in the black market.
It is our hope that people, i.e. a jury, will see the injustice in convicting Robert of a crime. He is only guilty of his choice of medicine to treat his injuries. A medicine that he found worked better for him than the narcotics. Robert deserves justice, not conviction.
Our efforts will be for a jury “nullification.” In such cases, a juror sees the evidence but refuses to convict on the basis that no criminal act occurred.
If I can help him in his cause of making others ‘recognize’ the depth of injustice that the War on Drugs has inflicted on millions of people all over the world, then God has blessed me beyond measure. I suspect that, if you watch the news at all, you are beginning to see the tide of people whose lights are slowly coming on.
For this, I would like to especially thank WBTV for their ‘recognition’ of the public harm and their commitment of resources to this important public issue. That thanks, of course, extends doubly to this newspaper for their long time support in search of truth.
Perry Parks is president of the North Carolina Cannabis Patients Network. He lives in Rockingham.