On Sunday, I’ll be hosting author and journalist Doug Fine at the Firedoglake Book Salon, as he fields your questions about the rapidly changing scene regarding cannabis legalization on the state level in the U.S.A. Since publication last summer of the paperback edition of his look at organic, outdoor medicinal cannabis cultivation in California’s Mendocino County, the political field on the legalization issue in various states is changing rapidly. Fine regards the passage of ballot initiatives calling for a legalization regime for recreational use in Washington state and Colorado as seminal. “It is no stretch to say that the Berlin Wall of the Drug War fell,” wrote Fine in the augmented paperback edition.
Because Fine’s book is one of the most important yet published on failings and stupidities of the War on Drugs, he has been in demand for public speaking engagements on legalization issues and their ramifications. He has taken a holistic approach toward how legalization, cultivation, marketing, product development and hemp-cannabis infrastructure might rationally work. In that, he is in the forefront.
He recently returned from Europe, where he gave talks as part of his Drug Peace Tour. Here he is, on November 13th, addressing the London, UK branch of NORML. It is over 80 minutes long, but well worth watching:
The New York Times reported Thursday that high level talks are going on within the Obama administration on how to deal with Washington and Colorado, both of whose voters helped bring Obama his second term, and both of which had more voters support legalizing recreational marijuana use than voted for the president. Obama is the third president in a row to have used marijuana in his younger days.
The NYT article, which uses so many anonymous White House sources it reeks of “trial balloon,” notes:
One option is for federal prosecutors to bring some cases against low-level marijuana users of the sort they until now have rarely bothered with, waiting for a defendant to make a motion to dismiss the case because the drug is now legal in that state. The department could then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps the state one.
Will those kids be well-heeled white ones, with parents willing to spend what it usually takes to get a diversion or some other tool used by the well off to keep a possession charge from ruining a young person’s career hopes? Or will those kids be of color and not well off, as are most victims of the war on drugs when played out against random or targeted users.
The main constituents of continued prohibition are the prison industrial complex, the war on drugs industrial complex, the Mexican drug cartels and big pharma, with the alcohol industry supportive in some ways. Apparently, the biggest supporter of a heavy crackdown in the administration isn’t the dimwitted DEA head, Michele Leonhart. It is VP Biden:
[T]he politician who coined the term “drug czar” – Joe Biden – continues to guide the administration’s hard-line drug policy. “The vice president has a special interest in this issue,” Sabet says. “As long as he is vice president, we’re very far off from legalization being a reality.”
I’ve never written an essay here before on the question of marijuana legalization. I’ve seldom commented on my own relationship with the drug.
I first tried it in early 1967, while serving in the US Army. At times, when I was young, I used it a lot, probably too much. When my kids were young, I would go for over a year sometimes without having any, only imbibing with my Washington state sculptor friends when visiting them there. During that same time, I was working in privatized corrections in Alaska. I saw then way too many examples of how drug enforcement is used racially in a negative way.
Obama’s administration is saddled with Gonzales v. Raich and a whole shitload of international treaties. But if there ever was a time for a president to cut a Gordian knot, this issue seems to be the prime candidate.
Let’s have this debate openly and honestly. Let the government prove that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin and should be treated as such. The very process will reveal the anachronism of the provision itself and the racial and cultural panic that created it. The very discussion will point to an inevitable, scientific conclusion that the current federal policy is based on nothing.
So do nothing, Mr president, with respect to these states and their legitimate decisions. Set the DEA’s priorities so that this trivial, medically useful, pleasure is not in any way a priority for law enforcement. Let the states figure this out, as they are on marriage equality.
Lead from behind. An entire generation is ahead of you.
In the spirit of being pissed off at this administration’s weighing whether or not “to bring some cases against low-level marijuana users of the sort they until now have rarely bothered with,” I’m going to light one up, something I haven’t done in a while.
The above ad, by Anti-Republican Crusaders, which they are encouraging people to distribute openly and widely, featuring actor George Clooney, is aimed at progressives who feel betrayed by Obama’s policies. As in other pushes to draw people who had once supported Obama back into the fold, it is – to borrow the term Obama has been using on the stump this past week – Sketchy.
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