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June 30, 2013

"Marijuana's march toward mainstream confounds feds"

The title of this post is the headline of this very lengthy new AP article, which serves as the latest sign of the (high) times.  Here are excerpts:
[I]n just a few short years, public opinion has moved so dramatically toward general acceptance that even those who champion legalization are surprised at how quickly attitudes are changing and states are moving to approve the drug — for medical use and just for fun....

Richard Bonnie, a University of Virginia law professor who worked for a national commission that recommended decriminalizing marijuana in 1972, sees the public taking a big leap from prohibition to a more laissez-faire approach without full deliberation. "It’s a remarkable story historically," he says. "But as a matter of public policy, it’s a little worrisome. It’s intriguing, it’s interesting, it’s good that liberalization is occurring, but it is a little worrisome."

More than a little worrisome to those in the anti-drug movement. "We’re on this hundred-mile-an-hour freight train to legalizing a third addictive substance," says Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser in the Obama administration, lumping marijuana with tobacco and alcohol....

"By Election Day 2016, we expect to see at least seven states where marijuana is legal and being regulated like alcohol," says Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national legalization group.

Where California led the charge on medical marijuana, the next chapter in this story is being written in Colorado and Washington state. Policymakers there are struggling with all sorts of sticky issues revolving around one central question: How do you legally regulate the production, distribution, sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes when federal law bans all of the above?

How do you tax it? What quality control standards do you set? How do you protect children while giving grown-ups the go-ahead to light up? What about driving under the influence? Can growers take business tax deductions? Who can grow pot, and how much? Where can you use it? Can cities opt out? Can workers be fired for smoking marijuana when they’re off duty? What about taking pot out of state? The list goes on.

The overarching question has big national implications.  How do you do all of this without inviting the wrath of the federal government, which has been largely silent so far on how it will respond to a gaping conflict between U.S. and state law?

The Justice Department began reviewing the matter after last November’s election and repeatedly has promised to respond soon.  But seven months later, states still are on their own, left to parse every passing comment from the department and President Obama....

Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat who favors legalization, predicts Washington will take a hands-off approach, based on Obama’s comments about setting law enforcement priorities. "We would like to see that in writing," Polis says.  "But we believe, given the verbal assurances of the president, that we are moving forward in Colorado and Washington in implementing the will of the voters."...

Federal agents in recent years have raided storefront dispensaries in California and Washington, seizing cash and pot. In April, the Justice Department targeted 63 dispensaries in Santa Ana, Calif., and filed three asset forfeiture lawsuits against properties housing seven pot shops. Prosecutors also sent letters to property owners and operators of 56 other marijuana dispensaries warning that they could face similar lawsuits.

University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin says if the administration doesn’t act soon to sort out the federal-state conflict, it may be too late to do much. "At some point, it becomes so prevalent and so many citizens will be engaged in it that it’s hard to recriminalize something that’s become commonplace," he says....

There’s a political calculus for the president, or any other politician, in all of this. Younger people, who tend to vote more Democratic, are more supportive of legalizing marijuana, as are people in the West, where the libertarian streak runs strong. In Colorado, for example, last November more people voted for legalized pot (55 percent) than voted for Obama (51 percent), which could help explain why the president was silent on marijuana before the election.  "We’re going to get a cultural divide here pretty quickly," says Greg Strimple, a Republican pollster based in Boise, Idaho, who predicts Obama will duck the issue as long as possible.

Despite increasing public acceptance of marijuana, and growing interest in its potential therapeutic uses, politicians know there are complications that could come with commercializing an addictive substance, some of them already evident in medical marijuana states.  Opponents of pot are particularly worried that legalization will result in increased adolescent use as young people’s estimations of the drug’s dangers decline....

More than 30 pot growers and distributors, going all-out to present a buttoned-down image in suits and sensible pumps rather than ponytails and weed T-shirts, spent two days on Capitol Hill in June lobbying for equal treatment under tax and banking laws and seeking an end to federal property seizures.  "It’s truly unfortunate that the Justice Department can’t find a way to respect the will of the people," says Sean Luse of the 13-year-old Berkeley Patients Group in California, a multimillion-dollar pot collective whose landlord is facing the threat of property forfeiture....

As Colorado and Washington state press on, California’s experience with medical marijuana offers a window into potential pitfalls that can come with wider availability of pot. Dispensaries for medical marijuana have proliferated in the state. Regulation has been lax, leading some overwhelmed communities to complain about too-easy access from illegal storefront pot shops and related problems such as loitering and unsavory characters. That prompted cities around the state to say enough already and ban dispensaries....

So how bad, or good, is pot?  There are studies that set off medical alarm bells but also studies that support the safer-than-alcohol crowd and suggest promising therapeutic uses.

J. Michael Bostwick, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, set out to sort through more than 100 sometimes conflicting studies after his teenage son became addicted to pot. In a 22-page article for Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2012, he laid out the contradictions in U.S. policy and declared that "little about cannabis is straightforward."...

For all of the talk that smoking pot is no big deal, Bostwick says, he determined that "it was a very big deal. There were addiction issues. There were psychosis issues. But there was also this very large body of literature suggesting that it could potentially have very valuable pharmaceutical applications but the research was stymied" by federal barriers.

For a more focused and even more interesting extended tale about marijuana becoming mainstream, be sure to check out this fascinating New York Times magazine article titled "How to Invest in Dope."

June 30, 2013 at 07:26 PM | Permalink

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Comments

One advantage of rounding up, trying, and executing the lawyer hierarchy is that it can be done every 10 years. That way, we do not have to wait for the natural deaths of these vile atavistic traitors. After a few rounds, even the lawyer dumbass may get the message.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 30, 2013 10:25:03 PM

S.C. you forgot your special meds again. You know the ones in the small bottle with the pink cap. Remember: Twice a day. Now be good!

Posted by: doctor | Jul 1, 2013 12:22:52 AM

Doctor. Your profession, the most regulated and destroyed of all activities. Your scripts are considered a joke, a prank. The lawyer is making you explain them to minority members with high school diplomas.

Eradication of this cult hierarchy will unleash your profession,

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 1, 2013 7:02:20 AM

S.C. you want the lawyers killed and don't like doctors. Time for you to buy a one-way ticket to a desert island in the Pacific and bury yourself in the sand.

Posted by: anon2 | Jul 1, 2013 12:42:14 PM

Anon2: I do not want the lawyer killed. I want the lawyer hierarchy arrested (around 15,000 foppish elites), given an hour's fair trial, and executed immediately for its insurrection against the constitution. As far as I know, there is no member of the hierarchy participating here.

I have frequently argued that if the public is oppressed by this elite, the lawyer is doubly so, and the street judge triply so. So lawyers and judges would benefit even more than the public from the eradication of these internal traitors. There would half the number of lawyers, as a regulated utility. They would have salaries 4 times larger than today, no unemployment, and 10 times the public esteem for the great value added of the rule of law.

The hierarchy will crush all dissent from lawyers and judges, no matter how rich, powerful, smart, or caring about our country. There is no recourse for the destroyed lawyer/judge dissenter. That is why all lawyers on this site are maintaining their radio silence. They all know exactly what I am talking about, how self evident my points are, yet none may speak. They are all deathly afraid of the hierarchy, the way a monk would be deathly afraid of an Inquisitor. I am to the lawyer hierarchy what a French patriot was to the Inquisitor during the French Revolution, the one seeking its beheading, and the end of the Inquisition 2.0. If you can think of another way to end this oppression, I am very interested in hearing about it. Elections are irrelevant to the rent seeking business model of the Inquisition 2.0.

I love the lawyer. I love the rule of law. The rule of law is an essential utility service or product. It adds massive value to our economy and is not rent seeking. Turn it off, and you have Fallujah, where no one can do anything but spend all one's time on survival. If the rule of law were electricity it would be on one an hour a day for the rich in the US, and 2 minutes a day for the poor.

There is no love greater than the love great enough to correct.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 2, 2013 12:04:21 AM

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