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November 13, 2012

Recent editorials and opinion pieces on state control on pot policy

Below is a round up of some recent editorials and commentaries that discuss the import and possible impact of the recent passage of marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington.  Most (though not all) of these pieces are supportive of state effort to experiment in this arena:

November 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I think we could just cut to the chase with a single headline reading, "People who favored pot legalization before the election continue to favor it." The problem, of course, is that this is not news.

The feds have had a very similar circumstance to deal with for years in the states that allow "medical" marijuana (a group much more numerous than the two that allow get-stoned marijuana). The basic policy, so far as I am able to discern, is that the feds have mostly a live-and-let-live attitude toward personal amount users in ALL states -- but if you want to smoke a joint on the steps of the federal building, yes, if you ask for trouble, you'll get it.

I would not expect any different approach now. Don't poke at the feds and they won't poke at you. Stick it in their face, and you can expect what you'd normally expect when you go about sticking things in people's faces. This is not revolutionary; it's just common sense.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 14, 2012 9:23:04 AM

Good one bill. Of course the govt should remember that works Both ways!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 14, 2012 11:58:35 AM

Federal involvment in drug prohibition is abusrd.

Should the feds. prosecute drunk driving charges? After all, alcohol moves in interstate commerce.

The drug war is stupid. Federal involvment in it is turbo-stupid.

Posted by: Harrison Payne | Nov 14, 2012 7:27:17 PM

"Don't poke at the feds and they won't poke at you."

We're either free and protected by law or we're not, Bill. Empowering federal agents to squash us or not -- depending on their mood -- seems like an odd way to go in a legitimate democracy.

Can't help but wonder, too, Bill, what you thought about an apparently right-wing conservative FBI agent -- apparently showing off for a girlfriend -- pressing on his own an inquiry (on a matter the FBI reportedly doesn't routinely investigate) and then continuing to press it even after superiors told him to back off.

Or how about this, are you OK with the notion the security state has reached the point that even the nation's top CIA official can't have a discreet affair without Big Brother -- in the guise of FBI agent Javert -- intruding until virtually everyone involved has been embarrassed, disgraced or destroyed?

Posted by: John K | Nov 15, 2012 11:22:10 AM

John K --

"We're either free and protected by law or we're not, Bill. Empowering federal agents to squash us or not -- depending on their mood -- seems like an odd way to go in a legitimate democracy."

It was legitimate democracy that produced the Congress (a liberal, Democratic Congress, I might add) that adopted the CSA. It is you who want an anti-democratic outcome by effectively repealing the CSA without a vote of Congress to do so.

"Can't help but wonder, too, Bill, what you thought about an apparently right-wing conservative FBI agent -- apparently showing off for a girlfriend -- pressing on his own an inquiry (on a matter the FBI reportedly doesn't routinely investigate) and then continuing to press it even after superiors told him to back off."

I never heard of the case. But there can be bad apples in any barrel, sure. This is news?

"Or how about this, are you OK with the notion the security state has reached the point that even the nation's top CIA official can't have a discreet affair without Big Brother -- in the guise of FBI agent Javert -- intruding until virtually everyone involved has been embarrassed, disgraced or destroyed?"

I'm thankful that the FBI is alert enough to find out that the head of the CIA has placed himself in a position to be blackmailed by a foreign power, you bet. You'd prefer that the vulnerability to blackmail remain his little secret???

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 15, 2012 11:44:32 AM

"I never heard of the case."

Really?

Posted by: John K | Nov 15, 2012 3:00:36 PM

No offense bill but i wouldn't bring up congress. Considering the number of so-called laws they passed without a legal quarum during said passage. Think there was 8 there when the current Adam Walsh law was passed.

Sorry i don't consider so-called house rules legal in this area.

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 15, 2012 8:30:40 PM

John K --

Yeah, really.

I take it that you are conceding the other two points I made? If not, you can always tell us, and then document, that it was NOT a liberal, Democratic Congress that enacted the CSA; and that you have no problems with the head of the CIA being vulnerable to blackmail by a foreign power while the FBI just snoozes through the whole thing.

Are those your positions? They are so far as I can see from anything you've said in you two comments. I'll be happy to hear otherwise.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 16, 2012 8:41:24 AM

Special Agent Humphries (Javert as I view him) reportedly continued pressing the matter (including contacting Republican members of Congress) AFTER his superiors had ruled out blackmail or other national security threats stemming from the general's dalliances.

The notion congressional liberals were fully on board with the CSA as passed is absurd. Liberal members of congress feared/fear crime-issue demagoguery from the right. It helps explain why more recently they went along with the misnamed Patriot Act and a number of other tough, strong, severe, grim, draconian (pick your adjective) Republican bills that have turned America into the incarceration capital of the world. It's the Willie Horton legacy...the Republican gift to the nation that keeps on giving.

Of course all this means Democrats have been weak, cowardly and ineffectual. It doesn't mean they gleefully voted for all the martinet, totalitarian, draconian crap Congress has been cranking out for 40 years...including the CSA. In fact, my recollection is that some Democrats in Congress at the time called for liberalization of pot restrictions (not elevating pot to a Schedule 1 substance as the body ended up doing). Ultimately their proposals for liberalization of pot laws gave way to the Nixon Administration and like-minded Republicans bent on cracking down on "pot-smoking hippies."

But again, please, let's not pretend Democrats who went along with Republican provisions eminating from Nixon's culture-war did so cheerfully.

Posted by: John K | Nov 16, 2012 11:55:36 AM

John K --

"Special Agent Humphries (Javert as I view him) reportedly continued pressing the matter (including contacting Republican members of Congress) AFTER his superiors had ruled out blackmail or other national security threats stemming from the general's dalliances."

It is not the presence of blackmail, but the potential for it, that justifies the FBI's interest. In addition, I have read that voluminous classified material was found in a search of the mistress's house. Petraeus himself, by resigning, implicity acknowledged that his behavior compromised his position. Was he wrong about this?

"The notion congressional liberals were fully on board with the CSA as passed is absurd. Liberal members of congress feared/fear crime-issue demagoguery from the right. It helps explain why more recently they went along with the misnamed Patriot Act and a number of other tough, strong, severe, grim, draconian (pick your adjective) Republican bills that have turned America into the incarceration capital of the world. It's the Willie Horton legacy...the Republican gift to the nation that keeps on giving."

The notion that the hefty Democratic majority that passed the CSA isn't responsible for its own action is beyond absurd. And what Willie Horton has to do with this is a mystery, but, just so you'll know, Willie was brought up by Al Gore in his primary challenge to Dukakis. I will have to agree, though, that Big Al's gift to the nation -- the Internet, which he invented -- does keep on giving.

"Of course all this means Democrats have been weak, cowardly and ineffectual."

Like when they were weak, cowardly and ineffectual when they rammed through Obamacare on the false assertion (as found by SCOTUS) that it did not create a new tax? Were they cowed by Republican opposition? Right.

Was it Republican opposition that persuaded California voters themselves -- not politicians -- to turn down Prop 19 at the same time Democrats were sweeping the state? Do tell!

"But again, please, let's not pretend Democrats who went along with Republican provisions eminating from Nixon's culture-war did so cheerfully."

You're behind the times, John. Nixon was long dead and Obama was sitting in his chair when the Dems took over the House and (with a fillibuster-proof majority) the Senate in 2008. They had it all to themselves. Did any one of them -- Harry, Barry or Scary -- make any attempt at all to repeal the CSA? To take a single drug off Schedule I? To reduce even marginally the penalties for pot?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 16, 2012 4:24:37 PM

"It is not the presence of blackmail, but the potential for it, that justifies the FBI's interest."

Apparently Humphries was less interested in furthering the FBI's interests than acting on interests of his own. The FBI reportedly directed Humphries to back off. Agent Humphries nonetheless pressed his inquiry and ultimately went outside the bureau to politicize it.

By doing that, Humphries embarrassed the Bureau and helped drive a talented, accomplished man out of government. On the other hand, he performed an important service by confirming suspicions government agents can/do violate Americans' rights at will by (among other things) reading their emails without bothering to obtaining a warrant.

"In addition, I have read that voluminous classified material was found in a search of the mistress's house."

This sounds like one of those things federal agents sometimes assert as true even in the presence of more plausible/probable alternative explanations. While in the Air Force I had a top secret security clearance. So I understand that lots of (maybe most) classified information ends up in the public domain. And I'd be shocked and disappointed in her skills as a journalist if the general's biographer hadn't dug up lots of info that once might have been "classified." From what I've read it appears what agents seized was akin to news reporters notes/files containing info gathered in interviews.

"Petraeus himself, by resigning, implicitly acknowledged that his behavior compromised his position. Was he wrong about this?"

We can speculate about why he quit and what it means. Apparently he wasn't forced out. Some think he should have stayed put. Certainly lots of great leaders in history have chosen other options. So what? It's just speculation. How do the general's reasons for quitting mitigate/justify/excuse the actions of a hot-shot, rogue agent ignoring superiors, showing off for a woman and/or furthering partisan political interests?

"The notion that the hefty Democratic majority that passed the CSA isn't responsible for its own action is beyond absurd. And what Willie Horton has to do with this is a mystery..."

Democrats who acquiesced were indeed responsible for their votes. I didn't say they weren't. I said they went along under duress. I mentioned Willie Horton as a key example of the unrivaled capabilities of Republicans skilled and experienced at stoking the crime-issue campfire.

Posted by: John K | Nov 17, 2012 10:55:55 AM

That Al Gore failed to defeat Dukakis with Willie Horton ads simply underscores the point Republicans are far better at demagoguery than Democrats.

Posted by: John K | Nov 17, 2012 4:27:18 PM

John K --

"That Al Gore failed to defeat Dukakis with Willie Horton ads simply underscores the point Republicans are far better at demagoguery than Democrats."

What it actually underscores is that the country correctly believed that George H. W. Bush, a war hero at age 17, would make a better President than Dukakis, whose photograph in a tank -- to try to make him appear like a soldier or something -- was one of the most ridiculous images I have ever seen a campaign put out.

P.S. I notice you took a pass on a number of questions I asked. I'll repeat only one, however.

You said that Democratic politicians were weak, cowardly and ineffectual in caving in to pass the CSA. Was it Republican huckstering that persuaded California voters themselves -- not politicians -- to turn down Prop 19 at the same time Democrats were sweeping the state in 2010? That would certainly be strange, wouldn't it? Republicans can scare off Democratic voters from endorsing pot, but can't scare them off from electing Democrats!!! Does that strike you as a little odd?

And then just 11 days ago, while Democrats were again enjoying a banner day in the Golden State, the electorate refused to end the DP, even though the fat cat abolitionists outspent the retentionists by an astonishing 20-1. Was that also Republican intimidation? How strange that Republicans can "intimidate" voters about an issue, but cannot intimidate them about something presumably much closer to their Republican hearts, to wit, getting elected?

Hey, look, let me throw out something for you just to consider, if you can put down the pro-crime ideology for just a minute. What you might consider is that the California electorate voted as it did on the dope and DP propositions because -- ready now? -- it doesn't want more drug use and thinks some particularly gruesome killers have earned their way to the death chamber.

Think that might be possible?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 17, 2012 10:01:00 PM

What it actually underscores is that the country correctly believed that George H. W. Bush, a war hero at age 17, would make a better President than Dukakis,..."

Maybe. Yet I still remember the Willie Horton ads. I don't remember ads featuring Bush's laudible war record.

"... (Dukakis) photograph in a tank -- to try to make him appear like a soldier or something -- was one of the most ridiculous images I have ever seen a campaign put out."

Granted.

"Was it Republican huckstering that persuaded California voters themselves -- not politicians -- to turn down Prop 19 at the same time Democrats were sweeping the state in 2010?"

No. However, if I remember accurately, a lot of anti-initiative money was spent by organizations that benefit from existing pot laws (law-enforcement and guard unions, prison owners and so forth)

"That would certainly be strange, wouldn't it? Republicans can scare off Democratic voters from endorsing pot, but can't scare them off from electing Democrats!!! Does that strike you as a little odd?"

It's not a matter of scaring off voters. The tough-on-crime/pot legalization issue is one of several mostly bogus wedge issues Republicans have stoked/depended on in recent decades in order to sneak their magical-marketplace/trickle down economic ideas past folks whose interests are harmed by those ideas.

Happily in this last go-round their wedge issues (along with a heavy dose of Southern Strategy racism) failed them.

Posted by: John K | Nov 18, 2012 10:34:02 AM

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