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October 10, 2011

"Obama: From First to Worst on Medical Marijuana"

MPP The title of this post is the headline of this commentary now appearing at the Huffington Post, which is authored by Rob Kampia, the Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.  Here are excerpts: 

During his run for the presidency, Barack Obama instilled hope in medical marijuana supporters by pledging to respect state laws on the matter.  And for the first two years of his term, he was generally faithful to his promise.  Yet suddenly, and with no logical explanation, over the past eight months he has become arguably the worst president in U.S. history regarding medical marijuana....

This past spring, Obama's U.S. attorneys in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington state issued letters to local and state government officials at carefully chosen times, for the purpose of killing medical marijuana reform measures or hampering implementation in each state....

On September 21, Obama's ATF issued an open letter saying that gun shops cannot sell guns to medical marijuana patients -- or people who are known to be addicted to drugs other than alcohol or tobacco, ironically enough....

But there may be a way forward through this mess: Since Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico set up state-licensing systems for medical marijuana businesses in recent years, literally zero such businesses in these three states have been raided by the feds.

(All the raids we hear about -- in California, Michigan, Montana, and Washington state -- do not involve any state-licensed businesses.  At best, some of the targeted businesses were licensed by local governments in California under a loosely worded provision of California state law.)

Technically, federal prosecutors can civilly or criminally target any marijuana businesses they want -- in any state -- until we change federal law. But, for the time being, the feds appear not to be targeting medical marijuana businesses with state licenses.

It's worth noting that my organization has successfully enacted new laws that include state licensing in Arizona, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont over the last two years.  (And D.C. and New Jersey have licensing systems, too.)

So we may have a way forward.  Unfortunately, the plan now assumes hostility from the former marijuana user in the White House who used to profess notions of hope, change, and compassion toward the less fortunate.  Shame on him.

This commentary reinforces my sense that the shrewd Republican 2012 candidate could get lots of (politically valuable) attention by just raising provocative questions about these latest anti-gun and anti-state moves by the Obama Justice Department in this area.  Such questions need not (yet) be in the form of a wholesale challenge to the war on drugs as articulated by Representative Ron Paul, but they could involve expressions of doubt about the focus on DOJ on these matters while violent crime rates continue to drop and economic frauds of all sorts continue to be of greater concern to the American people.

Of course, as detailed in this post from last year, House Republicans like Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith have been giving the Obama Administration (seemingly unjustified) grief about being soft on the drug war.  I suspect and fear that the latest Obama DOJ surge in the war on pot has been prompted by these big-criminal-justice-government Republican criticism.  In turn, I suspect and fear that even those eager to brandish an outsider reputation among the GOP candidates will have the guts to attack this facet of big government under the Obama Administration.  But, until a GOP candidate other than Ron Paul questions the big-government drug war, I will be persistently suspicious of anyone who asserts they truly support a smaller federal government across the board.

Some recent and older related posts on the modern politics of the drug war:

October 10, 2011 at 09:49 AM | Permalink


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The Republicans could well win this next election, and probably will given where the economy is, but they could always blow it by nominating a head case like Ron Paul. Congressman Paul has some good ideas, is a man of principle, and is certainly right that the federal government is vastly too spendthrift and indebted.

The problem is he takes things way too far. He'd legalize everything, and would have left Osama to do his thing.

The very last thing the Republicans need to do is nominate a legalize-everything candidate. Right now Obama is deservedly headed for Jimmy Carter's fate. If the Republicans have any political sense, they should at least not do anything to get in the way.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 10, 2011 3:13:21 PM

Ron Paul is a stalking horse for Drug Legalization because he allows proponents of the Drug War to make claims similar to the gentleman above. Other than his relative lack of media attention, why not use former Governor Gary Johnson as the prototype decriminalization/legalization candidate. For one, Gov. Johnson has actual executive experience and, while coming to many classically liberal positions through pragmatic reasoning, he cannot be as easily portrayed as an anarchistic Ayn Rand boogieman like Paul (much of this is a result of his time as a governor, where he was forced to take positions other than simply casting one no vote amongst 435).

Setting aside the question of whether Paul or Johnson is a better political face of the anti Drug War movement, the California US Attorneys' recent statements on who and how they would target provides Republicans another talking point on the issue. As this Reason Magazine Hit and Run blog post explains (http://reason.com/blog/2011/10/07/californias-us-attorneys-think) The focus is on commercialized marijuana growers. So not only is the Obama Administration trampling over federalism, its using anti-profit rhetoric to as a guise. Because its not the federal prohibition policy that's bad, but the fact that those people following the laws passed by the proper state legislative process might be making a buck.

Posted by: Kevin S | Oct 10, 2011 8:15:24 PM

Ron Paul is the candidate of Storm Front.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 10, 2011 9:50:39 PM

the latest twist obama on marijuana. can only mean one thing. the drug cartels must have a very strong lobby. why else go back to letting them profit from marijuana. giving marijuana money back to the illegal drug dealers, really makes him look stupid or bought. student

Posted by: richard wright | Oct 11, 2011 1:45:34 AM

Even though some may take advantage and abuse of its legality, some people actually need marijuana for medical purposes.

Posted by: Medical Marijuana Dispensary | Nov 5, 2011 4:07:43 PM

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