Marijuana and Cannabis News
Obama's been in the White House for three and a half years now, and searching for his actual position on marijuana is still roughly like searching for Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. There are plenty of rumors that the guy has some actual beliefs on the subject, with no shortage of opinions as to what those might actually be, but nobody can actually prove anything.
Nobody, that is, except the dispensary operators and collective managers who've been raided during Obama's term -- even after both Obama himself (as a candidate in 2008), his Administration (the so-called Ogden Memo, 2009) and Attorney General Eric Holder (in 2009) all said the prosecution of individuals who are obeying their states' medical marijuana laws "wouldn't be a priority."
Beyond the obvious problems with such political doublespeak -- I mean, "not a priority," what the actual fuck does that mean anyway -- that they're still going to bust patients, just that they won't "prioritize" busting patients? -- the biggest hurdle in dealing with the President's medical marijuana policy is that his Administration seems to be making it up as it goes along.
If actions speak louder than words, what we have to go on are hundreds of "enforcement actions" by the feds in medical marijuana states -- worse, according to most observers, than even the execrable George W. Bush while he was in office.
After all, since October 2009, the Department of Justice has conducted more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids in at least nine medical marijuana states, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, according to patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.
What are we to believe?
If there's any sign at all of progress in this sad spectacle -- which is far from amusing, given the fact that safe access for a lot of very ill patients is in dire jeopardy in all the medical marijuana states -- it's that now the feds at least feel the need to claim their raids were based on violations of state law, rather than federal law, to give at least the appearance of some sort of loose adherence to the Administration's stated policy of not going after state-compliant operators.
Beyond medical marijuana policy is Obama's past stated support (as state senator from Illinois) for cannabis decriminalization; he hasn't said anything about that in awhile, although even Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske apparently got the memo to mouth meaningless platitudes about "treatment over incarceration" even while continuing with the enforcement-bloated budgets which are the same-old, same-old for the past several administrations.
So what's with the supposed GQ "Exclusive: In His Second Term, Obama Will Pivot to the Drug War"?
"According to ongoing discussions with Obama aides and associates, if the president wins a second term, he plans to tackle another American war that has so far been successful only in perpetuating more misery: the four decades of The Drug War," writes GQ reporter Marc Ambinder.
|Obama smoked so much marijuana while attending Punahou School in Hawaii that he and his buddies called themselves the "Choom Gang." To "choom" is a verb that means to smoke marijuana.|
But does Ambinder really have anything new to tell us, or is it the same old prevarication and postponement that we've been getting from this Administration? After all, even Armbinder only made it to the second paragraph before cautioning:
"Don't expect miracles. There is very little the president can do by himself. And pot-smokers shouldn't expect the president to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana."
Now, first of all, the President actually could do something "by himself" -- his Administration could reschedule marijuana to a less restrictive classification than the current Schedule I, which it shares with heroin and LSD, while such substances as methamphetamine and cocaine are down on Schedule II, officially "less dangerous than marijuana" according to the federal government. Rescheduling drugs can be done administratively without Congressional action.
Besides that, Marc, there's another big problem with your article.
"Pot-smokers" are damn tired of settling for less than non-criminal status. Marijuana users are very, very weary of waiting to be treated as equal citizens in this republic, and you'll excuse us if we have a hell of a time respecting leaders who can't seem to sprout the cojones to tell it like it is -- especially when we know they, themselves, have "intercepted" a few joints.
"Sounds exciting, but don't be fooled by the big headline because the piece itself contains zero details about what the administration allegedly has in mind," pro-legalization group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) posted on their blog Monday. "Obama -- as candidate and as president -- and his drug czar have already repeatedly talked about scaling back the war on drugs. But it's all been talk."
"Sure, maybe the president himself could do more to forcefully champion this debate, but absent any real policy action it's not going to make a difference in the real medical problem of substance abuse, and it's not going to impress anyone," spokesman Tom Angell of LEAP told The Huffington Post.
Now, as amusing as tales of teenage "Choom Gang" antics and "joint interceptions" are, we're going to need a little more than that if candidate Obama wants our vote.
You know, like actually taking a damn stand in favor of safe access for medical marijuana patients in the 17 states and the District of Columbia where medicinal cannabis is legal. Like publicly supporting -- as President, not as Illinois state senator -- at least the decriminalization of the herb, or better yet, its outright legalization.
We're certainly going to need to see something a little more impressive than antics like the wiping of factual information from the National Cancer Institute's site, just because it acknowledged the medicinal benefits of marijuana (in this case, the demonstrated ability of cannabis to shrink cancerous tumors).
That information only stayed up a few days before it was scrubbed from the site. Furious politicking went into quickly removing that summary of information regarding the potential tumor-fighitng effects of cannabis. Not an impressive display for those of us who value actual scientific and medical information over chicken-hearted political game-playing.
So, now that "sources close to the White House" are telling The Huffington Post and other media outlets that the Administration is "looking at ways" to allow drug defendants to "reenter society," that's supposed to make us forget 170 SWAT-style raids on medical facilities?
Sorry, Obama Administration. It's going to take a little more than that.
We keep hearing that marijuana policy reform is a "second term" issue, and that it's just too hot a topic to touch before November's election. But it doesn't take a political analyst to see that, with nationwide support between 70 and 80 percent for medical marijuana, the idea is not that politically risky.
It's called "leadership," Mr. President -- we're past ready for some. And we're not talking about the Wimpy method, either: "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." We want to know what you'll do for us Now. Talk is cheap, and things have been too damn cheap for too damn long.
If the President doesn't show some backbone on the issue -- and despite the fact that anyone who knows a damn thing about politics knows Mitt Romney would likely be even worse -- there may not BE a second term for the Obama Administration.