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Firedoglake Book Salon Preview: After Legalization: Understanding The Future Of Marijuana Policy, by Jon Walker

4:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

On Sunday, I will host Jon Walker, author of the first book to look a decade and a half into a future where cannabis use will be governed by sets of local, state and national regimes that will be quite different from what we now experience or observe. It will be the second time I’ve been able to host discussion here about how government agencies deal with the most irrational element of the generations-old “war on drugs.” Back in December, I hosted author Doug Fine, whose book Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution had just come out in paperback. Fine spent an entire growing season following a single plant from clone to use by a medical marijuana patient. His observations about how one major local polity – California’s Mendocino County – was then (2011) dealing with that county’s most important agricultural product in the face of its legality in the state, but severe illegality in the eyes of the Federal government are fascinating.

Jon Walker’s After Legalization: Understanding The Future Of Marijuana Policy combines detailed knowledge of the past and present stories and issues surrounding cannabis in the United States with a solidly based set of predictions about what the stories and issues will be like in 2030. In the introduction, Walker writes:

This book is written from the perspective of someone in the year 2030 describing what America looks like after federal marijuana legalization has been in place for a few years. It is intended to answer the two big “how” questions: how marijuana will be treated as a legal product, and how this change will come about. I will show in a very tangible way what legalization will mean for regular people and give a detailed explanation for why things may turn out that way.

Later, in his conclusions, Walker writes:

My goal was not just to list what the regulatory issues will be, but also to indicate what political and economic forces are most likely to shape them. I want people to understand who the relevant players will likely be, where the minor legal fights should take place, and what political dynamics will drive the debate. In this way, one can anticipate which leverage points will shape the future.

The author goes about this in a set of chapters titled:

Chapter 1 – Where to Buy

Chapter 2 – What to Buy: Brands, Selection, and Big Marijuana

Chapter 3 – Price

Chapter 4 – Taxes

Chapter 5 – Home Growing

Chapter 6 – Where You Can Smoke

Chapter 7 – Who Is Smoking

Chapter 8 – Impact on Public Health

Chapter 9 – What Becomes of Medical Marijuana

Chapter 10 – Criminal Justice

Chapter 11 – Industrial Hemp

Chapter 12 – How and Why It Happened

There are footnotes and 23 pages of endnotes.

Nobody can predict the future. Walker’s setting of 2030 as the period he envisions makes a lot of sense, though. Near the end of the book, he relates how we get from 2014 to 2030, step by step.

I found the book to be a very accessible and quick read. Walker’s humor showed every bit as much as it does in some of his essays at Firedoglake‘s Just Say Now niche, where he serves as senior policy analyst and editor.

Walker’s look at the future needs to be widely read, particularly by policy makers, law enforcement professionals and politicians. He addresses part of why this is important:

Given marijuana policy reform’s broad popular support and the fact that it has remained weirdly taboo among politicians, the ballot initiative is crucial. In 2013, 52 percent of the country supported marijuana legalization, but only 17 members of the House of Representatives—that is, only 3.9 percent of the chamber—sponsored HR 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013.147 This imbalance is a real problem.

It certainly is.

Come join us Sunday at 2:00 pm, Pacific Time, for a lively two hours with the author who has made Just Say Now a vital component of our national battle toward sanity in drug policy reform. I’m looking forward to it.

Discussion over at Book Salon

FDL Book Salon Preview: Too High to Fail Author Doug Fine Addresses London UK NORML Meeting

5:41 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

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.

I loved Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution so much, I soon read the author’s two other books, Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man and farewell, My Subaru:  An Epic Adventure in Local Living.

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:

Read the rest of this entry →

As Obama Prepares to Do Battle Against Washington and Colorado, Here’s the Pointy End of His Spear

12:22 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Need I say more?  No?

Well, I will anyway.

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.

Andrew Sullivan, proposing open debate rather than knot-cutting, concluded an essay on this today:

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.

Will you join me?

I’m Disillusioned by the People Who Are Disillusioned by the People Who Are Disillusioned With Obama

9:11 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

George Clooney in ad by Anti-Republican Crusaders

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.

Has anyone yet caught Clooney openly and ardently defending the NDAA and its onerous indefinite detention provisions, that Obama is now defending to the hilt?

Or the secret kill list?

The secret kill list article:

kill list

Or the position of his Justice Department that the banksters are unprosecutable?

Or Obama’s stepped up program against medical marijuana clinics and users of medical marijuana, many of whom are Veterans and extremely ill?

Or his full-speed-ahead support of Shell Oil’s Arctic offshore drilling?

Or his rubber stamping of Department of Energy policy regarding nuclear power in the post-Fukushima world?

Or his scuttling of the Copenhagen climate conference?

Or his intentional torture of Bradley Manning?

Or his unprecedented war on whistleblowers?

Of course they haven’t

Clooney and his ilk cannot defend those policies, so he and the others avoid them or plead ignorance, like Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz did above.

They are wearing blinders.

And –  yes, Romney is the worse of two evils.

Unfortunately, my spiritual beliefs preclude me from voting for war criminals, so nothing Clooney says will influence me.  Perhaps others.

Meanwhile, I’m content working hard to convince people NOT to vote for Mitt Romney.

And getting ready to vote for some progressive ballot initiatives (local Alaska ones).

And some Democrats.

Just not the war criminal one.