Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama Justice Department ends raids on medical marijuana facilities

Washington D.C.--There's a new sheriff in town. Once again, we're seeing valid and significant change that we would never have seen under a Republican president and/or a Congress dominated by them. As Attorney General Eric Holder stated yesterday, it's "now policy."

For those who are cynical about the incoming administration (only in office now a little over a month, a bit premature and telling of the cynics), this is good news and a real change as well as a move away from wasteful government spending for law enforcement programs that do more harm to our society than good.

Marijuana drug pigs had their "last hurrah" at the end of January before the Obama administration could do anything to stop it, just three days after the new president's inauguration. Thirteen states have
now legalized the licensing of production, distribution, and use of medical marijuana. It's not going to stop there, and the ranks of the police are turning against past drug interdiction policies.

The last two states to recently legalize medical marijuana were Michigan and Massachusetts in November of last year during the national and state elections. In Massachusetts, the police union initially lobbied against the legislation but have been coming around to the new reality. Nobody said change was easy to adjust to, but they're doing it in Massachusetts right now, and in several other states.

As part of Drug War policy, appointed "Drug Czars" who run the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) are supposed to lie--yes lie--about the properties, medical uses and beneficial or benign attributes of marijuana.
From Section 704 of the Reauthorization Act of 1998:
...[The Director of Drug Control Policy] ...(11) may serve as spokesperson of the Administration on drug issues; (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that-- (A) is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
(B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;...
Incredibly, federal drug control agents and officials can even use government funds to meddle in local and state elections to effect the outcomes of any marijuana legalisation proposition up for vote during elections, a clear violation of the Hatch Act, but we don't need no stinkin' badges anyway.

Remember that this was passed under a Republican controlled Congress at the time back in their salad days of 1998. The Clinton administration did little to oppose it, but they were trying to save themselves over a lie told under oath about a blowjob, it being a national priority and obsession of the GOP at the time. If you don't like the government meddling in your lives, and you want a government that does less of it in general, hitting rightist and reactionary advocates of these drug policies is a good place to start. The time is ripe since they're losing on all fronts.

Sitting on our laurels isn't going to be a smart move for anti-prohibition forces and the point will be to keep pushing (back) until significant victory and precedent are achieved. All this aside, this is a state's rights issue, period. The incoming Obama administration supports this contention and the legitimacy of medical marijuana for those with terminal illnesses who need it desperately, and this isn't even mentioning all the green uses (including the production of needed biomass, food, and energy) from the cannabis plant.
The Drug War is the finest and most obvious example of wasteful spending outside of the F-22 fighter and the failed "Star Wars" program, but in America, if it's broken, don't fix it.

But it really is a state rights issue. This is where I agree with Libertarians...but that's about it, and I'm hardly alone. For those who want to live in a police state, I advise relocation to Colombia or Russia, their authoritarian digs should be to your tastes. Our drug laws were originally crafted to legally harass people of color--Blacks and Hispanics in-particular. The support was bipartisan, but as is their wont, and when there are rights to be rolled back, the Republican Party tends to be leading the charge.

It's fitting that when we finally got a president of color, the walls began to fall regarding drug prohibition, ultimately race and class-based laws primarily for the purpose of arbitrary antidemocratic social control. Just over 75 years ago, the walls came down with alcohol prohibition in the face of an unprecedented economic crisis and sustained calls for its end. We live in similar times and in a much less "racialist" culture. There are other problems to address. Bluntly-put, we need the revenue. It's time to legalize and regulate (including taxation) of all psychoactive drugs, and a time to move towards treatment and away from the militarization of our police departments.

Cops Against Prohibition:

The Reauthorization Act of 1998:

AG Holder's statement yesterday in a Q&A: