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"Our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects."
October 31, 2011 2:50 AM   Subscribe

The White House recently opened a website entitled We the People: Your Voice in Our Government, "[a tool which] provides you with a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country." They have issued a response to a petition to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
posted by troll (194 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world's largest source of drug abuse research - marijuana use is associated with addiction,
So are alcohol and tobacco…
respiratory disease,
tobacco…
and cognitive impairment.
alcohol…
We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms.
alcohol and tobacco. Yet alcohol and tobacco are legal and marijuana possession is a felony. Why?
posted by grouse at 2:58 AM on October 31, 2011 [59 favorites]


I feel like Obama is trolling us at this point, this shit is ridiculous. Along with the recent California bullshit, I just don't know what to say... It's as though he is trying to work out how to most seriously alienate everyone who voted for him in 2008 and lose by the biggest margin possible in the next election.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:01 AM on October 31, 2011 [34 favorites]


You remember that scene in the Simpsons where Mr. Burns' train gets stopped on the tracks? Over a couch? Weed.
posted by mannequito at 3:02 AM on October 31, 2011


By law, the drug czar must oppose any attempt to legalize the use (in any form) of illicit drugs:
(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 -- 1. is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and 2. has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;
[Via]
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:07 AM on October 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


Excellent! Obama has given us a new way to make the voter feel frustrated and impotent!
posted by crunchland at 3:18 AM on October 31, 2011 [17 favorites]


What a snivelling non-response. Rather than a President, you guys should just give absolute power to a brawny adventurer who solves problems with his battleaxe, and who doesn't give a fuck about weed, opium, dreamleaf, sparkleroot, or basilisk venom tinctures. Kull worked out great for Atlantis!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 3:20 AM on October 31, 2011 [18 favorites]


I'd even take a zombi-Teddy Roosevelt.
posted by snwod at 3:24 AM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well thank goodness people dont get addicted to cigarettes and liquor.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:26 AM on October 31, 2011 [18 favorites]


I was amused by the response to the petitions to remove "Under God" from the pledge and "In God We Trust" from the currency. Both because of the fact that such petitions were delivered at all (have these people met the American political system?), and because of the completely earnest "this is total bullshit, he's ignoring the voice of the people, he's definitely lost my vote now" reaction from /r/atheism.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:29 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fucking hate this idiot nation.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:33 AM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think people really love saying that he's lost their vote for x reason!!! Come on, you were looking for a reason, admit it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:34 AM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


I mean, it's legal to carry up to 15g of weed in fucking Iran.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:37 AM on October 31, 2011 [37 favorites]


Also, polling suggests support for legalization has only just now cracked 50%. In a more rational society, that would mean legislation now, but combine the relative softness of support for the "legalize it" crowd vs. the drug warriors along with the considerable lobbying weight behind industries that benefit from keeping things criminal (private prisons, militarized police, security state, etc.) and I can see why a president skittish about re-election wouldn't want to take this contentious wedge-issue on.

But given the trajectory of public opinion and its basis in the generational gap, it's looking like an inevitability within a few years, not unlike gay marriage.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:40 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Never has anyone done so little with the help of so many.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:46 AM on October 31, 2011 [54 favorites]


Obama is good at false-participation wherein stakeholders are involved only enough to give the illusion of a democratic process and then decisions are made by the usual 1%ers. All his internet things past his initial hyping and fundraising is a smokescreen.
posted by fuq at 3:49 AM on October 31, 2011 [38 favorites]


the young rope-rider: I think people really love saying that he's lost their vote for x reason!!! Come on, you were looking for a reason, admit it.

Ummmmm... there are about a million reasons to not vote for Obama; it'd be really tough to nail it down to just one. Unfortunately that's what happens when you actually have high expectations for a President who never ceases to disappoint. At least with the Republican candidates on offer, the electorate are being forewarned.
posted by gman at 3:50 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's as though he is trying to work out how to most seriously alienate everyone who voted for him in 2008 and lose by the biggest margin possible in the next election.

Fair odds that we'll never experience a worse Democrat president in our lifetimes. At least, with the alternatives, you know where they stand and how crooked they are right from the start.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:50 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]



Ummmmm... there are about a million reasons to not vote for Obama; it'd be really tough to nail it down to just one.

Exactly why I think it's funny (in a sad way) how people really enjoy stomping their feet about how NOW he's REALLY done it...often it's not even about a newly proposed law, or an executive order, or a policy shift, but over some shit that is essentially a press release about the policies he's had in place for years.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:55 AM on October 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


At least with the Republican candidates on offer, the electorate are being forewarned.

People were forewarned in 2008, too. Obama's record as a Senator was that of a moderate Democrat. I think there has been, and still is, a lot of projecting of expectations onto him that were never going to be fulfilled, given his voting record. He always has been, and always will be, a centrist (granted, one who's kept far more campaign promises than he's broken, but a centrist nonetheless). That people are outraged that the president isn't supporting the legalization of marijuana honestly surprises me. I'd love to have a president who supports legalization, but I am pretty damn far from surprised to see this response from a middle-of-the-road Democrat.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:03 AM on October 31, 2011 [60 favorites]


"Hi, my enlarged and exaggerated expectations of a President who laid out that he would be a centrist pro-war (anti-Iraq War) President who values compromise above all else have not been fulfilled. I am so disappointed."

Or what MStPT said.
posted by knapah at 4:05 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


What a fucknobbled blunderdork who hippocratisizes his offal oath! Surely President RomneyCainPerry will deliver to us the policies we deserve!
posted by peacay at 4:18 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


But it isn't just "hey what did you expect?" on this issue - he has done a 180 degree turn on his initial instructions to the Drug Czar / AG... wasn't it just a year or so ago when he asked that MJ be deprioritized as a law enforcement issue?
posted by Meatbomb at 4:19 AM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


a slunder blunder
posted by mannequito at 4:19 AM on October 31, 2011


Even if you and many others vote for the policies you deserve, the voting machines are there casually unsecured waiting to correct it for you.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:22 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama is good at false-participation wherein stakeholders are involved only enough to give the illusion of a democratic process...

To be fair, all he promised was hope. Not action.
posted by DU at 4:25 AM on October 31, 2011 [20 favorites]


I don't think that this is really new or surprising. Hasn't this been Obama's position on marijuana all along?
posted by octothorpe at 4:25 AM on October 31, 2011


Perhaps, but when has sticking to a long-held position been important to the Compromiser in Chief? I suspect the only way we'll see the decriminalization of marijuana is if the Republicans want it. Then, Obama will be all over it.
posted by crunchland at 4:33 AM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


What horse shit.
posted by empath at 4:36 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Even the smartest and most sensible-seeming politicians will try to dismiss any questions about it with some cop-out "drugs are bad m'kay" bullshit. Is it seriously just because they think they're going to immediately scare away old white voters?

I don't give a fucking ass fuck how bad or addictive they are. Why are we jailing people and putting FELONIES on their records, ruining their lives, for not hurting anyone. That is the question we need to keep asking. Not "why can't we legalize" because they're going to say it's 'cause drugs are bad for you and blah blah blah and I don't give a shit. We need to be more specific, ask why putting people through the prison system or disenfranchising/ruining their lives is the solution to this non-violent action and why no other options are ever seriously considered.

There is some conspiracy level shit going on here that no one is willing to talk about this. Why does no one talk about this?
posted by windbox at 4:38 AM on October 31, 2011 [21 favorites]


There is some conspiracy level shit going on here that no one is willing to talk about this. Why does no one talk about this?

TOO BUSY MAKING MONEY!!!!!!!
posted by fuq at 4:41 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why does no one talk about this? --- We'd tell you, but, well, you know...
posted by crunchland at 4:44 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think that this is really new or surprising. Hasn't this been Obama's position on marijuana all along?

Consistency from Obama isn't surprising to you?
posted by DU at 4:46 AM on October 31, 2011


Were the government more honest, it would have said something like "Marijuana is an Evil Drug. This is a matter of theology, and not refutable with facts. End of discussion."
posted by acb at 4:46 AM on October 31, 2011 [15 favorites]


If you people really thought that weed was ever a hill that Obama is going to die on, you need to, y'know, smoke less. A LOT less.
posted by unSane at 4:51 AM on October 31, 2011 [14 favorites]


Drug profits seized by the DEA are forfeit to the government.pdf That is a pretty powerful incentive to keep drugs illegal.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:52 AM on October 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


windbox: Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Aside from the "cui bono?" aspect, the media frames the drug debate as only important to dumb college kids and aging hippies, not a topic for real adults.
posted by dr_dank at 4:54 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Such fucking bullshit.

We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

It would sure go a hell of a long way towards solving the challenges associated with prohibition. We're shoveling money into an incinerator in order to, what? Fill our prisons? Set Mexico on fire? Derail hundreds of thousands of lives? And this craven status quo politi-speak is the best they can do? Unconscionable.
posted by kprincehouse at 5:00 AM on October 31, 2011 [32 favorites]


This thread taught me the word, "blunderdork."
posted by chillmost at 5:01 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


the legalization of marijuana is intrinsically related to not just the war-machine but the constitutionally allowed slavery of penitentiary labor. add the latin american movement to legalize coca trade and you're throwing indigenous land rights into the mix.

legalizing marijuana and coca would be the first step in undoing one of the biggest cogs of US imperialism and colonialism. the congressional-military-industrial complex doesn't take that lightly.
posted by liza at 5:03 AM on October 31, 2011 [23 favorites]


@carnot

i dunno, i want someone who won't take a hard line on necron immigration
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:10 AM on October 31, 2011


I don't even use the shit but reading that statement makes me want to sac-stamp various prevaricating assholes with a modern-day interpretation of a Bavarian folk dance. Fetch me my patent leather lederhosen!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:18 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't blame me, I voted for Kodo.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:19 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shit like this is what's killing the left. The right wing is allowed to be as batshit insane as it wants, while the left tries to mollify their batshit insane whims by taking more and more babysteps to the right. It's a nauseating game of mother-may-I.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 5:19 AM on October 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

I hate to sound cynical, but I think it's because the discussion is still being framed as a criminal issue rather than a social one. I mean, even if you honestly believed that marijuana was addictive and bad for your health (and I won't rehash the strong evidence for the medical benefits), to take the approach of tossing users into jail is a tremendous waste of resources that could be better spent on education and recovery.

But even that aside, I think the legalization of marijuana will eventually happen on a federal level, in much the same way gay marriage has been able to happen on a state level - as more and more people know someone who uses this plant with no detriment to their lives, more and more people are going to support its legalization. But support for that policy is not going to come from the White House, Democrat or Republican, 12 months before election day. I really, really, really wish it were so, but it's not going to happen.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:23 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Money indeed is why.

So much money to be made in prohibition! So many industries benefit! Cops! Courts! Prisons! Weapon and body armour manufacturers! Lawyers! All established and loyal campaign contributors! Why would politicians want to upset such a huge apple cart?

No, if you want to fix this problem, you must rip it out at the roots: lobbying and campaign finance reform.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:26 AM on October 31, 2011 [33 favorites]


I think the basic truth is that it's too tough politically for Obama right now. The right will make him look weak on crime, run ads about how some marijuana 'addict' killed a white girl and they'll run with that into the sunset.

This is a pretty weak response, but I think what's most disappointing isn't that he won't legalize marijuana but that he's so obviously chained to political realities.

I didn't (and a lot of my friends) didn't vote for Obama specifically for marijuana law, gay rights laws or to end the war - he presented himself as somebody that would transcend the process so greatly it was obvious he would pass legislation his supporters favored. It just becomes more and more clear that he doesn't have that ability or will as time goes on to fight for what his supporters want. Obama wants to be the pragmatist to end all pragmatists, and it's killing his campaign changes.

Fortunately, the Republicans are running Looney Tune candidates without a clear direction, either, so maybe that will work in his favor so we can get four more years with a frustrating, muddling pragmatist and not a vitriolic, frothing social conservative.
posted by glaucon at 5:27 AM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


74,169 people just facepalmed. myself included.

(this number has not been adjusted to include the other petitions on the same subject that didn't get enough signatures, or the people who supported the ideas behind these dingus petitions and didn't take the time to sign up and sign them because they were [correctly] skeptical that it would actually do jack shit or whatever.)

I really like the use of Science Facts to justify this, as if that will make the signers of this petition say "OH OKAY WELL IF THERE'S SCIENCE THEN IT MUST BE TRUE"
posted by ghostbikes at 5:37 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


we can get four more years with a frustrating, muddling pragmatist and not a vitriolic, frothing social conservative.

Oh man, I wish the Dems were running Carter. Instead, they are running a non-vitriolic, non-frothing Big Money conservative.
posted by DU at 5:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is it seriously just because they think they're going to immediately scare away old white voters?

Guess who votes?
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


Publicly Request the Resgnation of Gil Kerlikowske

(Author of the response to several marijuana petitions)

chuckle...
posted by mmrtnt at 5:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Because our politicians have lost the will to do anything substantive.
posted by odinsdream at 5:48 AM on October 31, 2011


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

1. It's an issue with SOME young voters.

2. Young voters notoriously don't turn out.

3. It's a massive turn-off for many older voters, who do turn out.

Right now, there's absolutely no upside for a politician to support this. That's the reality.
posted by unSane at 5:55 AM on October 31, 2011 [21 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

*blinks*

I would imagine that at least right now, it's because the continued undue corporate influence on Wall Street is actually a greater issue with young voters.

In fact, I'm curious how many petitions are being posted by the OWS movement, and would be more interested to see how THEY'RE responded to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Because our elections aren't an up-or-down single issue votes. Support of legalization alone isn't enough to get anyone elected. Except for a small fringe, the people who support legalization will take it as one of many issues they're judging the candidate on. Supporting the status quo is not a deal-breaker. For opponents of legalization, any support for it is an absolute deal-breaker. the math works out so that no one will support it except in very left areas.


So far as Obama specifically, and me specifically, his calculation that I will still prefer him to Herman Cain, or Rick Perry, or Michelle Bachman, is correct. But I think that it is at his own peril that he continues to erase differences between himself and Mitt Romney.
posted by tyllwin at 6:04 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is going to end up being a local issue. Once it gets the point that states and cities stop enforcing the law, the law will become unenforceable by the feds. We're near that point now in California.
posted by empath at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2011


I think people really love saying that he's lost their vote for x reason!!! Come on, you were looking for a reason, admit it.

I think it is possible to have a single issue which is substantial enough that it makes a voter finally change their mind. As a UK citizen this happened for me with our last Prime Minister when he elected to change a low level income tax band from 10% to 20%, and which would impact most on low earners. Brown had previously initiated and been invovled in a number of policies that I disagreed with but it was this policy, which seemed to undermine for me exactly what his party should be about, that made me feel I could not support his aprty any further.
posted by biffa at 6:23 AM on October 31, 2011


No, if you want to fix this problem, you must rip it out at the roots: lobbying and campaign finance reform.

I think you could plug just about any issue you wanted into that sentence and it would still be true.

I really wish that the various OWS type groups would make this their one and only demand. Without a major overhaul of campaign finance, nothing else will get fixed.
posted by VTX at 6:24 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


The dude spent two years of college smoking weed and doing blow and no one gave him any shit about it in 2008.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:28 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


C'mon folks, this isn't about what's right and wrong. It's about money.

The alcohol and tobacco lobbies are working very, very hard to keep weed illegal. We're talking about deep pockets here. People can grow herbs themselves; much less so cigs and liquor. Making puff legal would take a big bite out of the (currently legal) vice markets.

Much, much larger is the hit that would be taken by the folks who benefit HUGELY from illegality, namely those involved in law enforcement and incarceration. I've seen numbers regarding how many folks are doing hard time as a result of pretty low-level marijuana offenses, as well as how many assets are confiscated during busts. It's a mighty big pile.

There are a lot of reasons why I can't see these laws changing in the near future. Meanwhile, alcohol and tobacco continue to wreak their (perfectly legal) havoc on the populace. It's pathetic but perfectly consistent with a culture whose primary motivation is profit. Pot is anti-profit. Don't hold your breath waiting for legalization.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:29 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


So it’s official, whitehouse.gov petitions are nothing but mental masturbation. Pricks pretending to care.
posted by DreamerFi at 6:34 AM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


Let's say Bachmann offered you a deal. The deal is, she will make sure marijuana is legal but in return she gets a constitutional ban on gay marriage, DADT reinstated, and one war with a random brown-people country of her choice would you take it? Probably not. I don't think there are any real pro-marijuana single issue voters.

Obama was always against the legalization of marijuana, and you voted for him anyway. Why are you mad? Because he didn't change his mind? Did you think he was lying and was secretly pro-legalization?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:40 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


The dude spent two years of college smoking weed and doing blow and no one gave him any shit about it in 2008.

Yeah, so here's the thing about this that really makes me crazy angry. The Obama administration's public position on this is so transparently a lie. Does anyone with half a lick of sense actually think that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol? Marijuana is associated with emergency room visits? Okay, sure, I'm sure some people get high and injure themselves or get high and freak out and go to the ER. But how many more people do that with alcohol? Way way more.

And as everyone knows, Obama has smoked pot. He knows that all this scaremongering stuff is bullshit. But he's willing to lie about it, because that's what "political necessities demand".

Think about that. The current system is one that rewards lying. More than rewards. Requires. In order to have any shot at all at becoming "leader of the free world", you have to be willing to lie. Repeatedly. How could a system like that fail to be extremely distorted? And incapable of dealing with a lot of difficult realities.

And the other thing is, when people make arguments like, okay, well, but political necessities are constraining Obama, and we need to think about how this will play with deluded old white people, they are part of the problem. You know? Even people who know the truth reinforce the social expectation that you have to lie. They encourage Democrats to lie. They feed the story--which is already bloated, already "too big to fail"--that lying is the only possible approach to public communication around a whole host of issues. It's like, what do you expect to happen from that? It's a recipe for dysfunction.
posted by overglow at 6:43 AM on October 31, 2011 [38 favorites]


fuq: "are involved only enough to give the illusion of a democratic process and then decisions are made by the usual 1%ers"

Wasn't this the exact rationale behind the creation of our legislature? One chamber for the aristocrats, and one chamber for the lesser-aristocrats, to give the illusion of a populist system? In fact, I seem to remember that this was discussed quite openly at the constitutional conventions.

As I've mentioned many, many times here, the President does not have the authority to wish laws into existence. He has a limited amount of power through executive orders, but would need the support of both houses to overturn 30 years of drug legislation. Simply put, the support for doing that isn't even remotely there, and he'd burn a ton of political capital by attempting to do so.

Get the legislators in place to support your cause, and then you can start worrying about what the president thinks about it. Obama's "treat drug abuse as a medical problem" stance is still a pretty big step to the left of any other recent president.

The other thing people forget about this debate is that the government would certainly outlaw alcohol if it could.
posted by schmod at 6:45 AM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wow, you people raging against Obama are depressing. It's a shame that you really seem unable to see how much better he is than the Republican alternative. (And if you think that a third alternative is even remotely viable, at this point, you're nuts.)
posted by oddman at 6:46 AM on October 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wow, you people raging against Obama are depressing. It's a shame that you really seem unable to see how much better he is than the Republican alternative.

I don't think anybody said they were going to vote for the alternative.
posted by empath at 6:48 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a shame that you really seem unable to see how much better he is than the Republican alternative.

Having Obama as president is a lot better than being eaten by Cthulhu, it's true.
posted by waraw at 6:53 AM on October 31, 2011 [18 favorites]


Indeed. It's Michael Myers vs. Pinhead. I'll take Myers every day. No supernatural powers, no dark plan to conquer the universe, just garden variety homicidal mania. Myers/Torrance '12.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:54 AM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Obama knows he has the vote of every sensible Democrat, no matter what he does. Now his goal is to win over the moderate Republicans. It doesn't matter at all what we libs want--there's no political reason to serve us, since our vote is already sewn up.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:54 AM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


empath, there seems to be a lot of people on the more-Left side that are considering NOT voting for Obama. To send a message, or because they can't stomach it, or whatever.

I think this petition is misguided. I like the 'take it off Schedule 1' version a lot better. Opens the door to studies, funding, acceptance, maybe less pressure from DEA and FBI on the States.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


I remember when after the election the Obama administration rolled out a website that provided a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. I was really excited about it. I thought they were going to look at the results and address them, or at least communicate with us about why they weren't going to address them. And then nothing happened... I can't say I'm as interested this time around. It almost feels like the administration is trying to re-engage the base that they have largely dismissed for the last four years.
posted by diogenes at 7:06 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's say Bachmann offered you a deal. The deal is, she will make sure marijuana is legal but in return she gets a constitutional ban on gay marriage, DADT reinstated, and one war with a random brown-people country of her choice would you take it?

Counteroffer: She makes sure marijuana is legal and, in return, she gets to put Jesus' face on money.
posted by box at 7:07 AM on October 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

The voter turnout for young voters is abysmal. Politicians know this.
posted by Bonzai at 7:10 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Having Obama as president is a lot better than being eaten by Cthulhu, it's true.

Cthulhu 2012 : Why vote for the lesser evil?
posted by Bonzai at 7:12 AM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Digging a little deeper, I think this "new" tool is the evolution of the tool I remember from 2008. The only responses I see are to petitions that were created in September of 2011. Unless I'm missing something, it took them over three years to provide their first responses. Lame.
posted by diogenes at 7:15 AM on October 31, 2011


Myers/Torrance '12

I will not vote for a Veep that denies the existence of global warming. Opt for Bates instead. He's got a lot of credibility with the AARP crowd.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:16 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is seriously penny-ante outrage. Weed, on balance, is not the answer to much of anything.

Let's get some roads and bridges fixed and education of our children restored to professional status.
posted by Glomar response at 7:25 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine.

But we don't support it enough to remove it from Schedule I, where it is labeled as having "no currently accepted medical use".

To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

There has never been a documented human fatality from overdosing on tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabis in its natural form, however, the FDA-approved THC analogue Marinol (Schedule III, same as codeine) has been linked to four deaths.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:29 AM on October 31, 2011


Here's almost the exact same thread from two and a half years ago.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama knows he has the vote of every sensible Democrat, no matter what he does. Now his goal is to win over the moderate Republicans. It doesn't matter at all what we libs want--there's no political reason to serve us, since our vote is already sewn up.

This, unfortunately, is very true in the two-party system we have, especially with respect to this particular election where it appears the Republican nominee, barring some really strange shit, is going to be certifiably insane.
posted by odinsdream at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2011


Glomar response: Wow, this is seriously penny-ante outrage. Weed, on balance, is not the answer to much of anything.

Telling people what they can and can't do based on the amount of money the government and their business partners earn by keeping the substance illegal and not science, is a damn important issue to a lot of people. Not to mention the fuckin' hypocrisy of pretending they care about your well being.
posted by gman at 7:37 AM on October 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Obama/Democrats: The Fainting Goats of Change.

(with apologies to NPR for usurping their new tagline)
posted by webhund at 7:37 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


> So it’s official, whitehouse.gov petitions are nothing but mental masturbation. Pricks pretending to care.

So, are you "probation," or did you really just lift a comment from reddit?
posted by Rhaomi at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


And then nothing happened

Yes, absolutely nothing. This sort of hyperbole that wilfully ignores reality isn't helping anything.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:45 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was actually hoping it would be old white people that would push marijuana legalization in the U.S. through, once they realized (remembered?) its powerful medicinal benefits, namely suppressing nausea, encouraging appetite, killing those aches and pains that can make life for the elderly so miserable.

I think, if you're lucky, all it may take is a sympathetic Hollywood blockbuster about some aging boomer discovering weed's profound lifestyle benefits to turn the tide of public opinion (at least among grandparents). Stoned screenwriters, take note.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:46 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


sympathetic Hollywood blockbuster about some aging boomer discovering weed's profound lifestyle benefits

Have you been to the movies recently?
posted by unSane at 7:50 AM on October 31, 2011


stinkycheese: Saving Grace is such a film.

And for the record, I'm sick and tired of the fact that our sitting president is a self-confessed, lifelong drug addict, and is somehow able to support the BS mentioned in that official "response". Tobacco kills, Obama, and last time I checked, it was perfectly "legal". Making nature illegal is always such a great fucking idea anyway. We are the dumbest species on the face of this planet.
posted by dbiedny at 7:58 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does anyone with half a lick of sense actually think that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol?

If alcohol was still illegal right now, would it be made legal?
If cigarettes were illegal right now, would they be made legal?
posted by inigo2 at 8:00 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think everyone would be a lot more reasonable if we admitted that prohibition is simply class-culture mores (not everyone's!) written into law. Booze is legal because the dominant cultural group -- white people with money -- in the US drinks it, and prohibition of booze failed because that was still true. Cannabis was originally banned for racist reasons. Medical effects are irrelevant. Cocaine is in an interesting place because even though rich folks like to snort it, they can pretty much get away with it, as policing is structured to catch poor people.

Cannabis is a hot button issue precisely because it reflects the degree to which class manipulates culture. Its health effects are irrelevant, an excuse to prop up social divisions that criminalize certain groups to prevent them from agitating authorities and to drive the prison industry. It is absolutely relevant to the growing dissatisfaction with class differences in the US because even though it makes little difference in a quality of of life sense for recreational users, it is a blatant class-oppression tactic that originated as a racist one.

This brings khat to mind as well. This mild-ish stimulant was used almost entirely within African (particularly Yemeni and Somali) communities and left unregulated in the US until 1993. What happened in '93? The Battle of Mogadishu. Then khat turned into African crazy-speed that gave journalists the thinnest excuses necessary to portray Somali partisans in an extremely racist manner, and for the US and pals to continue the message of colonial dominion in the Somali diaspora.

Prohibition does not happen for nice, rational reasons, and we should stop letting the illusion that policy is driven by medical concerns even enter the debate. It's part of a system that extends beyond recreational drugs.
posted by mobunited at 8:06 AM on October 31, 2011 [23 favorites]


So it's yet another way the Obama administration can willfully ignore the will of the American people.
posted by gyc at 8:08 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to believe that if young voters came out in real numbers -- I mean 75 or 80 percent turnout, far better than what we saw in 2008, even -- that some of these things would change. At the moment, apathy, distraction, and lack of political consciousness keep the views of young people suppressed under the weight of old conservative bigots and evangelicals, who actually come out to vote in huge numbers. They comprise nothing like the majority of "the American people" they and their leaders always claim to represent. There's no reason an Asian immigrant college student or a marijuana-tolerant young web designer or a young black man in Brooklyn should not be the face of "the American people," because in fact we outnumber them, with "we" taken to be everyone but the right wing zealots and elderly defenders of turf and privilege.

We could, in other words, MAKE these motherfuckers legalize the perfectly safe herb many of us enjoy far more responsibly than the average "real American" enjoys his or her beer or Oxycontin. And a lot else would flow from establishing young people as an actual voting bloc that exerts its real muscle.

I keep waiting for Occupy Wall Street to speak a language of electoral reform and participation by young people. There are a lot of steps between voting for a rock star candidate and going back to your increasingly shitty life, made more bearable by the truly addictive drugs we call "media" these days (as if the Kardashians and C-Span were on the same level playing field) and actually forming a political movement with electoral clout. The young have a major collective interest in stopping the US's slide into oligarchy and radical inequality. I'm a huge OWS fan too, and a supporter. But dammit, if a few million 18-30 year olds had gotten off their asses and voted in 2010, we would not be in anything near the mess we are in now.

Stop hoping Obama can fix it alone, or believing he will *and* stop blaming him for not fixing what there was never any hope he could fix even if he did mean everything he said in 2008.

Get the fuck out there to the voting booth and make him do it. If you give up in apathy or throw away your protest vote on someone who cannot win or hand the election to a right wing maniac who you truly believe "is just the same" as a centrist corporate democrat in the long run, that's your choice, not Barack Obama's.
posted by spitbull at 8:12 AM on October 31, 2011 [19 favorites]


What Obama could do, however -- and I don't see why he won't -- is to say "I don't support legalization, but this is a state issue. We don't have infinite resources and there are more important crimes to spend our money fighting. We can't afford to routinely make marijuana a federal case." Which of his voters or contributors does he lose by that position?
posted by tyllwin at 8:21 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like Obama is trolling us at this point, this shit is ridiculous.

Wait, that's not a parody site? That's real?

The above response applies to the following 8 petitions

lol. The same stock answer applies to rescheduling vs. wholesale legalization?

We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions

Do they consider it "voluntary" if your other option is a prison sentence?

marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment

OK, let's follow the sources. Consider "respiratory disease" - I followed three links and got to the NIDA site. Here are the mentions of respiratory disease.

"Marijuana smokers show dysregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer;6 however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers.7 Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time."

OK.

"Nonetheless, marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers.8"

except there is no note #8. :|

Here it is. I'd think we obviously need a little more research here.

To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

How about vaporized? Eh? No comment there?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:22 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Because it's not.

As Ron Paul will attest, being able to click and yell a lot on the internet is not synonymous with the zeitgeist of the American youth. Young people, like most other voters, give a shit about the economy; they just have views on it in the vein of student loans and entry level employment as opposed to older voters concerned about mortgages and retirement accounts.

Meanwhile, the other reason no candidate will touch the "drug debate" is because it's not a "drug debate;" it's a "race and poverty debate" and you you can't have an actual debate about this subject without bringing up the intolerable disparity of the ratio of poor and black people in American prisons and how that could be addressed. And good luck waiting for a major candidate who will make their core platform about how many poor black men are in prison.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:24 AM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


We're at 50% national support now. More support, the policy changes. Its as simple as that.

Looking at the chart in this link, its going to happen.

This is a pretty weak response, but I think what's most disappointing isn't that he won't legalize marijuana but that he's so obviously chained to political realities.

Yes, because a president chained to unreality is so much more helpful.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:25 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.


Oh, iirc, that worked so well for Bill Richardson.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:28 AM on October 31, 2011


Medical effects are irrelevant.

I understand and agree with your overall point, but that's a heartless thing to say.

Exactly why I think it's funny (in a sad way) how people really enjoy stomping their feet about how NOW he's REALLY done it...often it's not even about a newly proposed law, or an executive order, or a policy shift, but over some shit that is essentially a press release about the policies he's had in place for years.

Did you miss the recent memo(s)?

Right now, there's absolutely no upside for a politician to support this. That's the reality.

That's ridiculous. The majority of the American people support legal medicinal marijuana. The majority of the American people support total marijuana legalization.

"A record-high 50% of Americans now say the use of marijuana should be made legal, up from 46% last year. Forty-six percent say marijuana use should remain illegal."

- Gallup Poll, 10/17/2011

Polls Show Marijuana Legalization More Popular Than President Obama

I can understand why some people might not think it's a big deal, but I think these latest steps are a huge political miscalculation, particularly with the state of unemployment. Look why the original Prohibition failed--the depression. Hey, marijuana can treat depression.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:33 AM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Marijuana is associated with emergency room visits? Okay, sure, I'm sure some people get high and injure themselves or get high and freak out and go to the ER. But how many more people do that with alcohol? Way way more.

I just want to say, there's also a statistical/model-y lie in their statement to. They almost certainly aren't considering it's individual affect. For example, I'm sure eating breakfast is associated with emergency room visits inasmuch as some people who go to the emergency room ate breakfast. But that's very different from saying eating breakfast makes people more likely to go to the emergency room.

He tested positive for pot in the emergency room? OK, but he was also on a three-day coke bender, drunk, talking on his cell phone, etc.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:36 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who I don't understand are all the liberals who get so bent out of shape at Obama for not legalizing pot nationally when California, the supposed bastion of liberal states, had a voter initiative on the ballot last go round that would have legalized recreational pot with a simple majority vote. Guess what? It didn't pass and it wasn't really close. Now would someone please explain how if we can't pass a legalization act here in California when all we stoners had to do was get off the couch and vote, what the fuck is Obama supposed to do and why is he to blame for pointing out the writing on the wall? Go ahead, get mad at him for stating the obvious; the majority of the voting public in this country is conservative at it's core.
(Said as someone who campaigned and voted for Obama first go round, not overly impressed with him so far, but will surely be voting for him again as my civic duty not to hand the presidency to the clown show on the right.)
posted by hangingbyathread at 8:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Here's one obvious conspiracy angle.

"Antidepressant use soars, study says: Is depression overdiagnosed?" - CBS News, 10/20/2011

In an anonymous survey, 66% of 350 clients at the Berkeley (Calif.) Patients Group, a medical marijuana dispensary, said that they use marijuana as a prescription drug substitute. Their reasons: Cannabis offered better symptom control with fewer side effects than did prescription drugs.

Two-thirds of a medical marijuana dispensary’s surveyed clients admitted to using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs.
Those with pain symptoms said that marijuana has less addiction potential than do opioids. Others said marijuana helped to reduce the dose of other medications.

"Instead of having a pain medication, an antianxiety medication, and a sleep medication, they are able to just use cannabis, and that controls all of those symptoms," said Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., the director of research and social services at the Berkeley center. Almost 50% of those surveyed said they use cannabis two or three times per day.

More than 75% of respondents said they used cannabis for psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and persistent insomnia. Unlike some psychiatric drugs, they said, marijuana didn’t leave them feeling like "zombies," Dr. Reiman reported at the American Psychiatric Association’s Institute on Psychiatric Services.


"Patients Substitute Marijuana for Prescription Drugs" - Internal Medicine News Digital Network, 10/31/2011

If your health-care ain't paying for it, marijuana is (probably?) a lot cheaper than Paxil.

Oh. Wait.

About 75% had health insurance that covered prescriptions. Even so, "they are still opting to utilize medical cannabis, which is not covered by insurance," Dr. Reiman said.

Even if your health-care is paying for Paxil, marijuana is still better.

"Mr. Obama, Big Pharma is on the phone."

There doesn't have to be an explicit conspiracy. The benefits of the current system involve too many big players--prison industry, DEA and gov. agencies, anti-drug education, the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol and tobacco industries--that big people just looking out for their own make their own de facto conspiracy.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:41 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Prohibition always opens the doors for unregulated, untaxable, untraceable money to flow like manna from Heaven. The potential downsides of the occasional bust, getting ratted out by a competitor, or being held up for tax evasion do not come close to discouraging or even balancing the sheer profitability of the bootlegging enterprise. People may die or go to jail for a while, but vast amounts of money will be made.

Lobbyists for non-legalization do not have your best health interests at heart, nor do the people who hire them. As long as there is extreme profitability in Prohibition, it will continue as long as addiction, need or desire exist.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2011


I have to say, I don't give two shits about whether pot is legalized or not, but I find the left's tendency to dogpile on the Obama administration for doing something entirely predictable, something which is in fact mandated by federal statute, to be immensely entertaining. I'm just not a good enough person to be able to overcome a huge dose of shadenfreude should Obama lose the next election to whichever assclown the GOP nominates in 2012 because of a circular firing squad amongst his smug and self-satisfied supporters. I mean, it may well be bad for the country on balance, but if that's the price to pay for getting to see the left implode under its own pomposity, it won't be an unmitigated evil.

Keep it up, guys. This is why you can't have nice things.
posted by valkyryn at 8:49 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


for reference, here are the 8 most popular petitions on wwws.whitehouse.gov right now:

8. Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents - 14,762 signatures
7. Restore democracy by ending corporate personhood - 15,926 signatures
6. Re-establish and maintain the separation between investment banks and commercial banks - 16,395 signatures
5. Grant voters the ability to vote for the President of the United States by dissolving the electoral college - 17,536 signatures
4. End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive "War on Drugs" - 19,286 signatures
3. Allow Industrial Hemp to be Grown in the U.S. Once Again - 20,990 signatures
2. Abolish the TSA, and use its monstrous budget to fund more sophisticated, less intrusive counter-terrorism intelligence - 28,885 signatures

and #1 ...

crack down on puppy mills - 30,460 signatures

What ya gonna do next, Mr. President? Start your own puppy mill? It couldn't hurt your ratings much.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obama hates puppies, guys, you heard it here first.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:59 AM on October 31, 2011


I have to say, I don't give two shits about whether pot is legalized or not, but I find the left's tendency to dogpile on the Obama administration for doing something entirely predictable, something which is in fact mandated by federal statute, to be immensely entertaining.

valkyryn, I would agree with you that there's nothing to be especially surprised or angry about here (the key word being "especially") were it not for the matter of the Obama DOJ's reversal of its previous position on enforcement of federal drug policy. I think there's something to be legitimately upset about there, because it seems like the first memo led to a situation that was as good as it could be for everyone on both sides: in light of the fact (seriously, fact, I don't know how anyone could believe otherwise) that supporting legalization isn't and won't be politically expedient for a while*, that initial de-escalation memo was sufficiently inconspicuous to prevent its being used as a vehicle for attack ads while still allowing those people who were benefitting from the availability of medical marijuana in their state to get on pretty much unmolested. I think people are understandably annoyed that, instead of quietly continuing on that road, the DOJ put effort into actively reversing its position so that it could go back to the ugliness of DEA raids on dispensaries for no discernible political reason.

* I see people get excoriated for believing this, as if by acknowledging the status quo they are somehow happy about it or supporting it, so I'm going to just request here that any responses don't take that tack because it's not really the case for me.
posted by invitapriore at 9:11 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I pretty strongly believe drug use in general, not necessarily distribution, is a social not a criminal issue and we as a country would be better off in a myriad of ways if we legalized marijuana and decriminalized almost all recreational drugs. This statement from the White House is depressingly cynical and has only reinforced that feeling of cynicism about the President and our country as a whole. Probably won't change my vote, by itself, but it hurts to see something which could really change a lot of lives, especially at the bottom of the 99%.
This is probably the only issue, other than equal rights (gay marriage), that I no longer understand the debate anymore because the evidence and arguments are so one-sided.


I bet Cracked is below many of the users here, but they ran a decent listicle attacking some common pro-legalization arguments.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-pro-marijuana-arguments-that-arent-helping/

I think it makes a powerful argument by showing that even without the most common "Legalize It" talking points set aside, there is still a resoundingly compelling argument for Decriminilization/Legalization. I'd like to see a thorough critique of drug prohibition make a compelling argument with a hand tied behind its back. Even backed by lies I don't think it can hold the weight of our prison population.
posted by PJLandis at 9:12 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems to me the President has not two, but three options.

Option 1 is legalization or decriminalization.

Option 2 is the one he has chosen, which is the continued expansion of the Drug War.

But Option 3 is certainly a possibility - inaction - where the Administration pointedly ignores medical marijuana while still keeping the FDA going, and when asked, points out that drug busts are certainly continuing but, considering the financial crisis, that the Federal government does not have the resources or time to engage in legal battles with individual States.

I don't think one adult person ever expected the President to legalize pot. What disappointed so many of us is that Mr. Obama has escalated the drug war (as he has escalated so many other wars) when he should be directing his attention and the country's resources to the key problem, the single most important problem facing America today, the problem of long-term, systematic unemployment.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:18 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


While I agree it would be political suicide for Obama to legalize MJ, he could do it in a backdoor manor that would have amusing political side effects.

Simply say that there's no compelling evidence to list it on the Federal register as dangerous and declare it a states rights issue.

The Republicans would be forced to either defend federalism or to let it go and a number of states would effectively legalize it.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:23 AM on October 31, 2011


Wow, this is seriously penny-ante outrage. Weed, on balance, is not the answer to much of anything.

Legalizing marijuana would eliminate a very large black market, reducing crime. It could also be a source of tax revenue.

People don't want legalization so they can smoke more. You can already buy as much weed as you want, cheaply and easily. The drug war has failed.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:35 AM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


Foci for Analysis, that is insane. Could you imagine if other federal agencies were legally required to oppose efforts to limit their purview? Conservatives would scream "big government!!!!1111one" until they were hoarse.
posted by dhens at 9:59 AM on October 31, 2011


Wow, this is seriously penny-ante outrage. Weed, on balance, is not the answer to much of anything.

Let's get some roads and bridges fixed and education of our children restored to professional status.


How you gonna get that tax money? Wait, I know, raise taxes on the upper tax bracket? Or tax marijuana?

The industrial hemp angle is not insignificant.

I mean, that's even worse than marijuana criminalization. Industrial hemp is completely non-psychoactive. The only reason it's illegal is because the cops claim people use it to hide psychoactive cannabis. What?

If you want to make your blood boil, watch the POV documentary Standing Silent Nation. BOIL.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:10 AM on October 31, 2011


Just going to comment briefly on the, "not safe and effective medicine" bit.

NO.

SHIT.

Mary Jane ain't used to cure anything. Its used when your dying of cancer (or, well, anything excruciating really) to stimulate hunger and relieve pain. The closest you get to actual medicinal use is when combined with chemo to really stimulate hunger. From what I can gather, its more applicable to palliative care where the only thing you're trying to cure is pain and discomfort.

It really makes me wonder sometimes, these are mostly old white people making the policies and old white people get painful cancers (as can anyone). Don't they want something that helps them die in a dignified manner from the painful cancer?

Goddamn bizarro land.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:13 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, fuck, seriously, are we arguing that taxing weed is going to solve the budget crisis and usher in a new golden age of industry via hemp, thereby crushing Big Paper?

I love how passionate people who want to smoke up get about medicinal uses.
posted by unSane at 10:19 AM on October 31, 2011


I call "stimulating hunger and relieving pain" fucking significant medical uses.

Unless you like it when sick people who cannot eat due to nausea get sicker and sicker, and when people in pain whose options are limited due to liver damage or ineffectiveness must then either choose the pain .... or opioids.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:23 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you come to Vancouver, BC, and walk around any given evening, you can SMELL the freedom. It smells skunky.
posted by LordSludge at 10:25 AM on October 31, 2011


Calling it predictable and federally mandated is weak sauce. The Defense of Marriage Act is federal law, yet the administration opposes it. Marijuana is illegal, but the reality is more federal crimes are committed than they can investigate or prosecute (but there is always prison space if they do) and it is well within the Obama Administration's authority to make it the lowest or even a non priority which is where it belongs.

Enforcing the law aside, there is no federal law that requires him to be dishonest about the dangers posed by Reefer Madness.
posted by PJLandis at 10:28 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


It really makes me wonder sometimes, these are mostly old white people making the policies and old white people get painful cancers (as can anyone). Don't they want something that helps them die in a dignified manner from the painful cancer?

My grandfather has always been farther to the left of any Democrat, but has been pretty clueless about marijuana in general. He didn't consider it a drug nor did he think it was dangerous - he had no opinion on the matter at all. However, during the last year of his life, as he fought against the cancer that spread from his stomach to the rest of his body, he found great relief in the marijuana that his wife put in his food.

This is why I was saying that decriminalization is going to happen from the bottom up. Just as with many other social issues, it's a matter of demystifying the subject. Gay rights gathered more steam with the heterosexual populace not because of any executive order, but because more people came out, and more straights began to see that their neighbors, cousins, teachers, bus drivers, and loads of other perfectly typical folks happened to be gay.

If marijuana is to be legalized/decriminalized, this is exactly the same path it has to take.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:33 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, fuck, seriously, are we arguing that taxing weed is going to solve the budget crisis and usher in a new golden age of industry via hemp, thereby crushing Big Paper?

I love how passionate people who want to smoke up get about medicinal uses.


Come on, man, you're being really crappy here, with all the straw manning and ad hominem bullshit. What people are claiming is that it is a potential source of tax revenue as well as a useful resource for industry. More importantly with regards to tax revenue is that the fact that a significant chunk of it is currently being spent on enforcing drug policy. These are not outrageous claims.

I assure you that people in favor of legalization are arguing their position for reasons other than the fact that they want to smoke. That would be dumb, because it's not really that difficult right now. So why don't we have a real argument instead of this nonsense?
posted by invitapriore at 10:36 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you people really thought that weed was ever a hill that Obama is going to die on, you need to, y'know, smoke less. A LOT less.

Well, duh, but when you've got a page which "...provides you with a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country" and you do just that, and get typical government bullshit in response...

He shouldn't have asked if he didn't want to hear the responses.
posted by no relation at 10:41 AM on October 31, 2011


What makes you think he didn't hear the responses? "No" is also an answer.
posted by unSane at 10:49 AM on October 31, 2011


It's as though he is trying to work out how to most seriously alienate everyone who voted for him in 2008 and lose by the biggest margin possible in the next election.

This is exactly what the plan was all along. Do you know what kind of endless, lucrative, worldwide speaking tour the guy can kick the day after election day 2012? He'd be a fool to stay for a second term, you simple rubes.
posted by telstar at 10:50 AM on October 31, 2011


I love how passionate people who want to smoke up get about medicinal uses.

I have no interest in smoking or otherwise ingesting marijuana.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:52 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not smoke pot, I just don't like it. But I'm pretty confident the majority of people in favor of legalization are in it to smoke pot, even if only occasionally.

And yeah, most everybody can find and smoke pot when they want to but they do it under threat of arrest. You haven't been handcuffed and processed before or you wouldn't pretend like its not a big deal. An arrest, beyond the obviously shitty aspects, becomes a criminal record which can prevent you from taking student loans, getting a job, and a host of other problems. That's even before we address the ridiculous racial disparity in arrests and prosecution.

Other than calling people who support legalization potheads or out-of-touch, can anyone make a good argument for keeping it illegal? Can anyone justify keeping one person even overnight for smoking pot?

On top of that the latest Gallup poll has upwards of %50 of Americans supporting legalization, not to mention the numerous states and cities that have effectively decriminalized marijuana. I can't think of another issue with greater support, or greater harm to more citizens, that is so completely ignored by anyone in power.
posted by PJLandis at 10:53 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mary Jane ain't used to cure anything.

Tell it to people with MS. Seriously. I have a friend. Come tell it to him. His HMO has prescribed him (non-subsidized) Marinol, which is much more expensive and much less efficacious. He buys marijuana illegally.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on October 31, 2011


> Oh, fuck, seriously, are we arguing that taxing weed is going to solve the budget crisis and usher in a new golden age of industry via hemp, thereby crushing Big Paper?

First, might I suggest you express yourself a little more politely?

Second, I shouldn't need to tell you that we're in an age where we can't even pay our teachers and police officers - and yet we manage to find an ever-increasing amount of money for the drug wars, to the tune of $40 billion a year in 2010, not counting the huge costs of keeping all the drug prisoners in jail. And most of that money is spent banning pot.

And pot is at least a $50 billion a year market. Between a quarter and a third of the sticker price of alcohol and tobacco are taxes.

So regulating cannabis so it can legally be consumed means at the bare minimum tens of billions of dollars to the government coffers. That's a lot of teachers.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:57 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


nicolas léonard sadi carnot: "What a snivelling non-response. Rather than a President, you guys should just give absolute power to a brawny adventurer who solves problems with his battleaxe, and who doesn't give a fuck about weed, opium, dreamleaf, sparkleroot, or basilisk venom tinctures. Kull worked out great for Atlantis!"

Yeah - he was the one we had in the early 20th century. I liked that guy. Good ol' Teddy - we need another Roosevelt, damnit.
posted by symbioid at 11:01 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty confident the majority of people in favor of legalization are in it to smoke pot, even if only occasionally.

I wouldn't be so quick to ascribe motivations to people you don't know. As mentioned, it's very easy to smoke pot in California. It's a $100 fine and if you're white, the cops might not even take your weed.

So illegal marijuana users have little need to legalize it. Nor do illegal dealers, whose margins and clients would disappear with legalization. But patients certainly have a reason, so that they can use their medicine at work and be protected.

I am unusual in that I know many criminal defense lawyers and people who work with medical marijuana law, but I can assure you that many of them are non users, or at least claim to be. The majority? I honestly can't say, but I would be very surprised if any of them list "so I can get high" as a reason why they are working for mm or legalization.

Anyone who says that the medical marijuana movement is a sham doesn't know much about it. There's a big part of the movement that is NOT pushing full legalization/decriminalization. They just want to protect medical access to a valuable treatment option for many patients.

I will never need to have an abortion, but I contribute to pro-choice movements. Because it's the right thing to do. President Obama is on the wrong side of history here.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:02 AM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


Last post. Medical Marijuana, if properly tested and prescribed is a no-brainer, but everyone who uses it as an excuse or makes false claims to get a prescription completely undermines the whole operation. Medical Marijuana (and Hemp), while great, would only touch the surface.

Its the wide-spread decriminalization that is so cancerous. Even where people aren't being arrested, like Philadelphia where it's been decriminalized, it remains a free pass for the police to violate fourth amendment rights. You pat down a suspect for guns, you find marijuana or a bowl, and then you search for anything else you can find. I've seen and heard that testimony almost daily for the past year.

Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Policy!!!
posted by PJLandis at 11:03 AM on October 31, 2011


> But I'm pretty confident the majority of people in favor of legalization are in it to smoke pot, even if only occasionally.

Many people on this thread have chimed in, pointing out they don't ever smoke pot.

And statistics seem to prove you wrong. Over half of all Americans support legalization. Only 7% of Americans smoke pot in any given year.

It might be a little strange to take people at their words and realize that, gee, perhaps people don't like tens of billions of their tax dollars wasted on this war, and wow, perhaps locking hundreds of thousands of people up for smoking a plant isn't actually fair - but that's actually what most people think these days.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:04 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love how passionate people who want to smoke up get about medicinal uses.

Say that to my ex-wife, who has multiple sclerosis. Look her in the eye and tell her medical marijuana is just a stalking-horse for stoners. Tell her it's not important. Tell her her quality of life is just a poltical football, and that it's OK for her to risk imprisonment and forfeiture of her assets in order to get a supply of a plant that helps her manage her pain, appetite, tremor, and mood. Tell her that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:04 AM on October 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


Just a quick response, Grimm, maybe I'm being presumptous but I think even if my assumption is true it doesn't really change the calculus involved. Marijuana prohibition is a cancerous policy that has long pasted its expiration date and I don't think it makes much of a difference why people oppose it.

I think most people see recreational users as the least entitled or respectable, and even arguing from that perspective I find the policy to be woeful and insulting to the intelligence of the country. Not even the laziest, good for nothing, devoted pot smoker, deserves a day in jail, or even a fine, or an ounce of less 4th amendment protection.
posted by PJLandis at 11:13 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think people are taking my first sentence out of context. I was making an impassioned plea to end Marijuana prohibition because it is a bad policy with little or no redeeming value to society.


I'm done, but nothing other than trying to deny people equal rights (ala the Defense of Marriage Act) gets me so passionately angry. I find it so goddamn cowardly that the President attacks DOMA, but tells the press he is unsure if people deserve to be treated equally under the law because of their sexuality. I wouldn't be surprised if he was unsure about the legality of interracial marriage.
posted by PJLandis at 11:20 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guess he hasn't read any fair balance statements on legalized prescription drugs.
posted by stormpooper at 11:26 AM on October 31, 2011


Oops "Its the wide-spread decriminalization that is so cancerous"
I meant criminilization. Prohibition bad, legalization good.
posted by PJLandis at 11:29 AM on October 31, 2011


Tell her that.

I fully support legalization of medical marijuana and have made TV programs reflecting that.

I also support general decriminalization.
posted by unSane at 11:38 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fully support legalization of medical marijuana and have made TV programs reflecting that.

I also support general decriminalization.


Then why the cranky bullshit? Who fucking cares if [some percent] of people working for decriminalization/legalization use it recreationally and not medicinally? It doesn't change the fact that the war on drugs is a failure and huge waste of resources, and it's way past time to change how we handle this.
posted by rtha at 11:47 AM on October 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Who fucking cares if [some percent] of people working for decriminalization/legalization use it recreationally and not medicinally?

Because medicinal use is thereby perceived as a stalking horse for decriminalization and becomes *less* likely. Whether you like it or not, legalization advocates are generally regarded as DFHs and medical use as a bandwagon on which they've gleefully jumped. The two things need to be separated out. One is not a wedge for the other.
posted by unSane at 11:53 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, how many people here think that it's OK for the government to insist that you to wear a bicycle helmet, but it's out of line for the government to tell you you can't smoke pot?
posted by crunchland at 11:56 AM on October 31, 2011


Because medicinal use is thereby perceived as a stalking horse for decriminalization and becomes *less* likely.

The plan is and always was full legalization. Medical marijuana was just step one.

And currently 50% of americans support full legalization. It'll only go higher.
posted by empath at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2011


I also think you have to imagine what legalization would look like. I can tell you that. It would look like Big Pharma meets Big Tobacco with strict controls on how strong your shit can be and a public record of your usage which The Man can use as He sees fit.
posted by unSane at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2011


Just out of curiosity, how many people here think that it's OK for the government to insist that you to wear a bicycle helmet, but it's out of line for the government to tell you you can't smoke pot?

Stupid argument. People are shooting each other on street corners for the right to bike-ride without a helmet.
posted by empath at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


(aren't)
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on October 31, 2011


I also think you have to imagine what legalization would look like. I can tell you that. It would look like Big Pharma meets Big Tobacco with strict controls on how strong your shit can be and a public record of your usage which The Man can use as He sees fit.

I don't smoke pot, don't like pot. Don't care how pot gets sold, as long as we aren't putting people in jail for it anymore.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because medicinal use is thereby perceived as a stalking horse for decriminalization and becomes *less* likely.

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, and is also decriminalized (at least in theory). The numbers for full legalization keep rising.
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on October 31, 2011


Obamas position shouldnt shock anyone. I do think when hes elected to a second term (lets be honest, the republican circus doesnt have a chance) that some change will come with regards to cannnabis. If you really thought anything different, you are niave.

Medical marijuana is a real thing. Pharma hates it, due to the ease of procurement. The government hates it because it undermines war on drugs. Prisons hate it because it cuts into the for profit prison system.

Out of all the drugs ive been scripted, marijuana helps the most with the fewest side effects. Granted i dont smoke at/before work, as it really wouldnt be the proper place. Really, cannabis should just be legal. Nothing stops anyone from getting it, and it only hurts people caught with it.
posted by handbanana at 12:05 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no interest in smoking or otherwise ingesting marijuana.

Well, speaking hypothetically of course, nothing in the current bullshit regime of enforcement prevents me one from actually doing so. In fact, the point is that marijuana is so easily available illegally that the entire premise of the drug war -- that it will reduce usage -- is obviously flawed. Once that premise is removed, the only case becomes that while people will continue to use it whenever they want, some of those people (mostly minorities) will have their lives ruined for doing so when there is no evidence that it is any worse for your health or functionality, used responsibly, than beer.

Get on the right side of history. Eventually it will be legal, widely used as medicine and for social and recreational purposes, and a legitimate crop. Whenever that does happen, those who supported its criminalization will look as stupid as people who supported alcohol prohibition in the 20s and 30s.
posted by spitbull at 12:15 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Because medicinal use is thereby perceived as a stalking horse for decriminalization and becomes *less* likely. Whether you like it or not, legalization advocates are generally regarded as DFHs and medical use as a bandwagon on which they've gleefully jumped. The two things need to be separated out. One is not a wedge for the other.

That seems like a reasonable concern to me, but I would put it to you that public perception of the pro-legalization contingent as just a bunch of people who want to smoke more likely has little do with the actions of the people who are in it for exactly that reason. It's a very easy and effective strategy for anti-legalization propaganda, and no amount of pure intentions on the part of the pro-legalization side is going to change that.

Also:

I also think you have to imagine what legalization would look like. I can tell you that. It would look like Big Pharma meets Big Tobacco with strict controls on how strong your shit can be and a public record of your usage which The Man can use as He sees fit.

I think you're probably right about this, but it still sounds better than the current regimen.
posted by invitapriore at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I fucking hate this idiot nation.

That reminded me of this for some reason.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on October 31, 2011


Wow, I just found out methamphetamine is Schedule II. Hilarity!
posted by en forme de poire at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2011


I also think you have to imagine what legalization would look like. I can tell you that. It would look like Big Pharma meets Big Tobacco with strict controls on how strong your shit can be and a public record of your usage which The Man can use as He sees fit.

Will I be able to grow my own in a window planter?

This big-business FUD about marijuana legalization is a very red herring, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I just found out methamphetamine is Schedule II. Hilarity! posted by en forme de poire at 12:24 PM on 10/31

So is cocaine!<
posted by handbanana at 12:26 PM on October 31, 2011


those who supported its criminalization will look as stupid as people who supported alcohol prohibition in the 20s and 30s.

more stupid.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:27 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I just found out methamphetamine is Schedule II. Hilarity! posted by en forme de poire at 12:24 PM on 10/31

So is cocaine!


so is PCP! (or at least most forms of it)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2011


The people who supported alcohol prohibition in the 20s were well-meaning fools who had no idea what was going to happen.

The people who support drug prohibition today have had generations of the terrible failure of the War on Drugs to look back on. There is no excuse for their behavior.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:30 PM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Will I be able to grow my own in a window planter?

Not if the MGAA* has anything to do with it.

*Marijuana Growers Association of America, who will press for stiffer penalties for folk possessing non-genetically marked bootleg weed
posted by unSane at 12:34 PM on October 31, 2011


Good point, although those well meaning fools were fully aware of the foolishness they were embracing.

Haven't seen it mentioned much in this thread, but surely we all understand that marijuana was largely *made* illegal in the US for racist reasons, as a drug preferred by African Americans.

And its illegality seems to me to remain primarily a means for disciplining minority communities.

Anyone who does not understand the entire *point* of the "war on drugs" as institutionalizing racism does not know very much about American history.
posted by spitbull at 12:35 PM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


So let's summarize what we've discovered in the thread.

The Administration's basic position is that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin (Schedule I) and more dangerous than cocaine, meth or PCP (Schedule II).

And this is despite the fact that this President and the last sixteen years' worth of Presidents have admitted (or more or less admitted in the case of Bush, his cocaine and pot use are an open secret that he never denied) to using it in their youths.

Or to put it even more specifically, a hundred thousand Black Americans are in jail now for selling the plant that this Black President enjoyed in his youth.

And the Administration is so committed to not relenting on this in the slightest that their chosen spokesman on this matter happens to be a man who is legally prevented from discussing any other alternative.

For shame.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:39 PM on October 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


Will I be able to grow my own in a window planter?

Not if the MGAA* has anything to do with it.


Like how the alcohol industry has made it so no one can brew their own beer or make their own wine?
posted by rtha at 12:48 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am suddenly daydreaming about the powerful new Big Marijuana lobby we will probably eventually all learn to hate.
posted by spitbull at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I understand and agree with your overall point, but that's a heartless thing to say.

It's true, I'm afraid. The medical argument doesn't work because cannabis is not prohibited for any reason related to medical benefits (which I believe in, via indirect anecdote) or pathologies. Cannabis is illegal because it used to be associated with black people and later, antiauthoritarian people of other ethnicities. It's part of the larger, half-conscious project to entrench class differences -- originally through racism, and now more generally. It exists to put poor people in prison to keep them weak and rich people stronger than them. Sure, it's a small tool in the class-war arsenal. It's not the worst thing ever. But they use lots of tools, don't you know?
posted by mobunited at 1:23 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am suddenly daydreaming about the powerful new Big Marijuana lobby we will probably eventually all learn to hate.

USPTO Plant Patents

A USPTO database search for the term "marijuana" returns 1,212 patents; however, it returns no results for "APT/6 AND marijuana" (APT/6 is the plant patent category).

I've heard anecdotally that Big Pharma was snatching up patents for marijuana strains. Is that incorrect?
posted by troll at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2011


That people are outraged that the president isn't supporting the legalization of marijuana honestly surprises me. I'd love to have a president who supports legalization, but I am pretty damn far from surprised to see this response from a middle-of-the-road Democrat.
He actually supported decriminalization when he was running for state senate. He also came into the white house saying he was going to respect state laws, which could have lead to legalization via states.

Anyway, I think part of the problem is that the response is just disrespectful. The Drug Czar is just giving off bromides about how smoking marijuana is harmful to people's health, which is true of a lot of things. It was really weak sauce. There wasn't even any kind of attempt to compare marijuana to anything else in terms of social harm. There wasn't an attempt to make a real argument so it came across as more insulting then anything else.

People don't want the typical political B.S we hear all the time on TV. Makes me wonder why Obama is doing this. He seems to simply be pissing people off with it.
Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.
I think part of it is that the drug issue was such a hysteria in, say, the 1980s. I was just a kid in the 80s and got all the anti-drug propaganda. So in a sense the amount of social transgression it takes to say 'drugs are good' is pretty high. One thing politicians don't want to be seen as is transgressive on any issue. Just look at the way that Obama is 'leading from behind' on Gay issues.

On the other hand, I think these citizen petitions that Obama is doing, which invariably end up with marijuana among the top issues
I think the basic truth is that it's too tough politically for Obama right now. The right will make him look weak on crime, run ads about how some marijuana 'addict' killed a white girl and they'll run with that into the sunset.
That's probably what he thinks. Another issue is immigration. Obama actually increased deportations to record levels. But why? Hispanics, in general, hate it. And teabaggers aren't even going to find out about it because Fox News isn't going to tell them and even if they did they would still hate Obama. He's inflicting massive hardships on people out of some misguided ideas about politics that aren't even going to work out anyway!
I don't think anybody said they were going to vote for the alternative.
The question is whether or not they'll stay home or vote 3rd party. We could see a 3rd party run either from the right (say Ron Paul) or the Left (someone associated with Occupy Wallstreet, perhaps?)
http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-pro-marijuana-arguments-that-arent-helping/
I think, in terms of pure political terms the medical marijuana tactic is pretty smart. Yeah lots of people smoke it 'medically' who don't have real problems, but at the same time there are some people with serious diseases who. The "it's not worse then alcohol and tobacco" argument provide important context for people.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on October 31, 2011


The prevarication on the side of prohibition is not countered by those who do the same for the other side of the issue.

Most importantly, legalization advocates need honestly to admit that legalization would dramatically increase consumption, and impose widespread costs and harms that have to be set off against the harms avoided thereby.

The increase in consumption is clear. To smoke marijuana now you have to be willing to commit a federal crime, commit a state crime in most places and circumstances, have property seized, forfeit access to many forms of employment and public licensing (unless willing to commit fraud or perjury), forget about running for public office, risk the loss of custody or visitation of your children to the state or to your ex-spouse, risk eviction from your housing (other than a detached house you own), etc. etc.

The millions, if not tens of millions, of people who would start using pot if it were legalized would not be improving their health thereby -- maybe net of a few who more than proportionately reduced their drinking. While there'd be no OD's, there would certainly be more of the negative public and private consequences of intoxication.

The case that has to be made for marijuana legalization is not FREEDOM! but, rather, a far more difficult case of balance of harms. Millions of people will be permitted to cause harm to themselves who aren't now doing so. Some meaningful fraction of their friends, families, employers, co-workers, and perfect strangers will be harmed as well. But, against this, all the people who go to jail for supplying current users won't go to jail any more, and the taxpayer outlay on policing marijuana can be reduced to the outlays required to regulate it like alcohol.
posted by MattD at 2:16 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


the amount of social transgression it takes to say 'drugs are good' is pretty high

Well, this is a country where a former Surgeon General got the boot just for suggesting that masturbation was actually a good thing.

America: FUN IS BAD AND BAD IS WRONG AND WRONG IS ILLEGAL SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP

It's amazing how guilty Americans are made to feel about pleasure. Pursuing happiness means pursuing power and money, but god forbid you pursue pleasure.

Sometimes this place makes me want to scream.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2011 [13 favorites]


MattD, I think you'll find that in the countries where drug policies are lax, the rate of consumption has not gone up nearly at all. And in some age groups the amount of cannabis smokers has dropped. Please do your research before suggesting tens of millions of people will start smoking pot if it's legalized.
posted by trogdole at 2:42 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


So "science" -- in particular, science which comes out of an explicitly political organization which won't approve studies which might prove marijuana's efficacy as a medicine -- says marijuana is "not a benign drug", and that's why we have to spend billions of dollars to arrest people? At best that's a non-sequitur; at worst (especially given Obama's sudden flip-flop with regards to Federal attacks on medical marijuana) it's a cynical and vicious lie.

As for arguments which "aren't helping" a la Cracked: I've been a legalization activist since 1992, and if you'd told me back then that Colorado would be voting on full legalization in 2012 I'd have laughed right in your face. The medical marijuana argument is helping -- that's blatantly obvious given actual poll numbers, actual donations, actual signatures, and actual op-eds and documentaries and books. Thanks to medical marijuana, millions of people have seen what happens when marijuana is widely and legally available to adults, and the answer is "not much". Fears like "millions of people will be permitted to cause harm to themselves who aren't now doing so" simply have not come to pass, even in states like California, where marijuana has been de-facto legal for any adult who wants it for over a decade.

Arguments like MattD's have been disproved by what's happened in states like Colorado and California and in cities with decriminalization, much less Portugal and elsewhere. There is no evidence that ending Prohibition (of anything) significantly changes use patterns -- this didn't happen with alcohol despite tremendous amounts of advertising and widespread social acceptance, and it's not going to happen with weed. Even Prohibitionists admit that "fear of arrest, fear of imprisonment, the cost of cannabis or its availability do not appear to exert much effect on the prevalence of cannabis use".
posted by vorfeed at 2:43 PM on October 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


The millions, if not tens of millions, of people who would start using pot if it were legalized would not be improving their health thereby -- maybe net of a few who more than proportionately reduced their drinking. While there'd be no OD's, there would certainly be more of the negative public and private consequences of intoxication.

Millions already use marijuana regularly, and the "problems" of which you warn in such dire terms really aren't there statistically. While marijuana may not improve health, the arguments above point to the reality that its physical costs have been hard to quantify because they are very mild. Dependence and long-term cognitive effects are a bit less clear.

But the fact is that the costs of *legal* alcohol are quite definitely there, and they are off the damn charts. To the extent that 1) users of alcohol might shift to the less damaging option if it were legal, and 2) that resources liberated from fighting the "war on drugs" could be spent properly on fighting *addiction* as such, and to the extent that the basic freedoms enshrined in the US constitution would seem to suggest that we grant a broad class of rights to all citizens to eat what they want and drink what they want and suffer the consequences thereof (because a war on obesity, frankly, would save more lives than if all psychoactive drugs disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow) as a matter of national principle, one being slowly chipped away by the nanny state. (This is an issue where I'm more conservative than most Tea Party types, I'll grant.)

The hypocrisy is the issue, as always with the conservative forces in our society. If you believe all the shit they say about pot, then *why are alchohol or tobacco legal?*

This phony war on drugs has killed tens of thousands, if not more, in the US and abroad. It has ruined the lives of tens of thousands more, and their communities and families.

It's bullshit.
posted by spitbull at 2:49 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


So is cocaine!

To be fair, though, cocaine is mostly used as an anaesthetic. In contrast, it seems like methamphetamine is prescribed for pretty much what you would think: it improves concentration and causes you to lose weight. I have to imagine it is not exactly in fashion to write scrips for meth these days, but still.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:07 PM on October 31, 2011


I am suddenly daydreaming about the powerful new Big Marijuana lobby we will probably eventually all learn to hate.

lol. Has anyone written that book yet? (Er, excepting Aldous Huxley, that is ...) If not, I'm going to take it. That's hilarious.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:10 PM on October 31, 2011


forget about running for public office

Clinton, Bush, Obama.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:11 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder: if we don't have sovereignty over our own consciousness, our own minds, then what sovereignty do we have?
posted by allseeingabstract at 5:58 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone please, PLEASE, PLEASE explain to me why no public officials will touch the drug debate when it is so very clearly one of the single biggest issues with young voters.

Why couldn't young voters win more than two states for McGovern in 1972, against a opponent who had been sending them away to die for the last four years, if not actively killing them?

Meanwhile, some of the older (and not-so-old) people who are opposed to pot legalization are REALLY opposed. Often totally, irrationally, untouchably so, like a lot of the people who refuse to accept gay marriage. Have you seen how otherwise sensible people can react to needle exchange proposals? You can say it's a cheap compassionate life-saving measure to keep people alive long enough to have a reason to get clean and that nobody ever started shooting up because they found out that they would be able to get clean needles from the government and that nobody quit because they couldn't, but they hear GOVERNMENT CONDONES DRUGS and that's it, no more conversation. Sometimes the culprit is a near-total lack of critical thinking skills. Sometimes they remember that somebody they knew who had a massive drug problem started out with weed and don't feel comfortable with the idea of making it available to their kids. Maybe they smoked it themselves and still don't want to make it any easier for their kids to do it; if they're not worried about junkies or sending the wrong message, they're usually worried about their kids. They don't know functional adults who smoke in secret because those people don't want to risk their jobs or, in certain states, imprisonment. How this can improve in states that continue to maintain harsh penalties for possession is unclear. And then there's still, for enough people to make a difference, the old association of all illegal drugs with crime and people having sex with your daughter and other races out of control and all those other half-submerged Silent Majority fears that got that sour ex-loser Nixon elected on a "Law and Order" platform.

I don't think you need any kind of commercial or law enforcement conspiracy at this point. I think, sadly, that the only thing that will change this situation is the slow death of all the people who lived through and hated the social changes of the '60s. Of course their kids will still be around, but some of them have different ideas.
posted by Adventurer at 6:23 PM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


> The benefits of the current system involve too many big players

I buy the "don't need a conspiracy with so many aligned interests," but many of these interests only hold sway at a state and local level. Why is the federal executive reversing on "don't waste money on cannabis enforcement"? The DEA doesn't make campaign contributions. Contractors benefit by building state prisons.

Are the banks laundering enough drug money that they want to maintain the prohibition status-quo?
posted by morganw at 7:15 PM on October 31, 2011


You can contact the ONDCP at mediainquiry@ondcp.eop.gov or calling (202) 395-6618.
posted by JackarypQQ at 7:31 PM on October 31, 2011


Most importantly, legalization advocates need honestly to admit that legalization would dramatically increase consumption, and impose widespread costs and harms that have to be set off against the harms avoided thereby.

I don't believe this is true. A more chilled out and mellow population would be more tolerant, more open to differences, calmer, less frightened, less angry... from everything I have read and seen the physical health effects are pretty negligible, and the psychological effects are a net positive.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:32 PM on October 31, 2011


I have to imagine it is not exactly in fashion to write scrips for meth these days, but still.

ADD medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are Schedule II drugs. All our government requires is that I see my doctor for a new prescription every time I need one, rather than be written a prescription that allows for refills. That's it.
posted by palomar at 8:45 PM on October 31, 2011


Honduras Becomes Cocaine Transit Hub
The Obama administration continues to support the illegal coup government as well as the elite thugs with ties to the drug trade

posted by telstar at 10:37 PM on October 31, 2011


It doesn't matter at all what we libs want--there's no political reason to serve us, since our vote is already sewn up

That sure worked well for Al Gore, didn't it? "I'll appoint Holy Joe Lieberman and spend my entire campaign distancing myself from Bill Clinton because he likes to fuck women he's not married to, and not talk about my environmental concerns! What will the left do, not vote for me?!"

Yes, because a president chained to unreality is so much more helpful.

Worked out pretty well for Reagan and Bush Jr. And their base, who have reframed the political landscape in the US so far to the right that Nixon and Teddy Roosevelt would be run out of the Republican Party, and Teddy would probably be run out of the Democratic one with folks such as yourself unleashing a torrent of snide invective at his unrealistic, unelectable plans for national parks.

Anyway, I wish my back yard would legalise and put a bunch of gangs out of work. But we won't because the fuckwads in the White House would rattle the trade sabre until we fall back in line, alas.
posted by rodgerd at 2:41 AM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:18 AM on November 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


from everything I have read and seen the physical health effects are pretty negligible, and the psychological effects are a net positive.

"If ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle."

Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening

That's too true. Compare what people are asking for in these top 8 petitions vs. what the Obama administration is working for.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:27 AM on November 1, 2011


Yes, Obama, we hardly knew you
posted by growabrain at 12:30 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reefer Madness
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on November 1, 2011


While this somewhat vapid response is really annoying, two things I'd like to mention:

1. Last night, I was watching a couple of early West Wing episodes where the White House staffers, having played it safe for too long, sink into despondency and the Chief of Staff galvanises them into action and has them throw away all the unwritten rules and quit playing it safe for the sake of re-election. Guess what the first - and very very daring for the year 2000 - new plan of action is? A plan to reverse the 2 : 1 funding ratio for narcotics law enforcement to treatment. I know that ten years is a long time in politics, but really. That was only ten years ago, and now you guys actually have someone in the White House saying that, for real. Instead of on a TV drama.

2. If America - never mind whether Obama or anyone else sponsored it - legalised marijuana, it would be flat-out unbelievable. Even now. Take a look here. Compare. Think.

Yes, be disappointed by the paradoxes of drug laws. Be frustrated that no human being can ever deliver in an impossible political climate. But if you'd really rather not have Obama, I'd quite like him as UK Prime Minister. Now.
posted by paperpete at 1:20 PM on November 1, 2011


paperpete, not legalizing marijuana is understandable, if bullshit.

Going back on a campaign promise and his own administration's prior policy for no apparent reason, in order to arrest people who are trying to play by the rules in states where marijuana is legal for medical use... that's not understandable. It's just bullshit.
posted by vorfeed at 1:46 PM on November 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear President Obama:

We write to express our concern with the recent activity by the Department of Justice against legitimate medical cannabis dispensaries in California that are operating legally under state law. As you know, in October of 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder issued formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that have enacted laws authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The guidelines were spelled out in a memo to United States Attorneys from then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, saying in part that the Attorneys should not focus federal resources in their state “on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

Despite this guidance and further clarification from current Deputy Attorney General James Cole that it would not be “an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or their caregivers,” the Justice Department has continued an active role in enforcing federal laws against individuals acting in accordance with California state law. Last week, California’s four U.S. attorneys held a press conference to speak about the letters their offices had sent out to dozens of landlords and property owners who rent buildings or land where dispensaries provide safe and legal access to medical cannabis, notifying them that they are violating federal drug laws.

The U.S. attorney letters state that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.” The letters warn that the dispensaries must shut down within 45 days or the landlords and property owners will face criminal charges and confiscation of their property – both “real and personal” – even if they are operating legally under the state’s medical cannabis law. The actions mandated in these letters and echoed at the ensuing press conference directly interfere with California’s 15 year old medical cannabis law by eliminating safe access to medication for the state’s thousands of medical cannabis patients.

We are also aware that these threats by the Justice Department against property owners in California come after many months of federal interference in other medical cannabis states. This year alone has seen aggressive SWAT-style federal raids in at least seven medical marijuana states, as well as threats of criminal prosecution by U.S. attorneys against local and state public officials. It is our strong position that local and state governments must be allowed to develop, implement and enforce their own public health laws with regard to medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis has been and continues to be recommended by physicians to alleviate a number of serious illnesses and medical conditions that have not responded to other medications and treatments. During your presidential campaign, you repeatedly pledged to end federal raids against the individuals and collectives authorized by state law to use or provide medical cannabis, giving hope to patients who legitimately use medical cannabis to treat their conditions that their long struggle to safely access their medicine was finally over. By pursuing the same harsh policies that have been in place for years, we fear that the federal government will push legitimate patients back into the uncertainty and danger of the illicit market.

For these reasons, it is more urgent now than ever to reschedule marijuana as a legitimate controlled substance for medicinal purposes. Classifying marijuana as a Schedule II or III drug will have the effect of harmonizing federal law with the laws of several states, such as California. No longer should the federal government’s laws supersede the wishes of local citizens who have decided that their fellow neighbors ought to have the right to legitimately use medical marijuana. As we have seen for years, seriously ill patients will attempt to obtain their medication however they can and it is unconscionable for the DOJ to use its limited resources to endanger the lives of patients who are simply seeking to ease their suffering.

We respectfully request that your administration reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II or III drug administratively, or publicly support the adoption of legislation that would change federal statute to achieve this same goal. One such proposal, H.R. 1983, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which was introduced by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) earlier this year, would do just this. Changing federal marijuana policy through legitimate administrative channels or Congressional action will give countless patients and their physicians the respect they deserve and will clear up any ambiguity as to what the legitimate role of the federal government is in this arena.

Sincerely, Sam Farr, Pete Stark, Steve Cohen, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Dana Rohrabacher, Mike Thompson, Jared Polis, Bob Filner


- Congress Asks Obama to Reclassify Weed & Slams Fed Crackdown
posted by mrgrimm at 4:13 PM on November 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


It is so. weird. to see Barbara Lee and Dana Rohrabacher signed on together on a letter like this.
posted by rtha at 8:30 AM on November 2, 2011


It is so. weird. to see Barbara Lee and Dana Rohrabacher signed on together on a letter like this.

Polis, on the other hand, hails from Boulder, so not exactly any surprises there.

Also, the man's site features a little video avatar of him explaining what to click on and then saying "Beam me up, Scotty" and then he gets beamed up.
posted by brennen at 8:50 AM on November 6, 2011


Reefer Madness: Federal authorities appear to have done everything possible to undermine state and local regulation of medical marijuana. The president needs ensure that this doesn’t happen.
posted by homunculus at 1:07 PM on November 7, 2011


H.R. 2306: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011
posted by mrgrimm at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2011


and form to contact your representative to support HR 2306 ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:45 PM on November 7, 2011


and form to contact your representative to support HR 2306 ...

I wish our Representatives paid more attention to those letters. All I ever get from Rep. Lujan is the exact same disjointed form letter:

Paragraph A: This describes the bill you emailed me about. Note that it does not include any implication that I will support it.

Paragraph B: This describes our state's policy on medical marijuana.

Paragraph C: This is a paragraph about "drug treatment programs" and "the epidemic of drug abuse"... which is a non sequitur at best, and insulting at worst (what does that have to do with medical marijuana?)

Paragraph D: This is a generic "thank you for your opinion" paragraph which, again, leaves no impression that your actual opinion was even noted, much less properly understood.

It beats the mistaken "thank you for your support of the drug war" letter I got from Bush The Elder (which I still treasure!), but not by much. "Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening" would be an improvement at all levels of government.
posted by vorfeed at 2:47 PM on November 7, 2011


The criminal justice system "destroys the lives of individuals that proponents of the drug war are trying to help," Greenwald said. "What is it that we do to those we are trying to help? We take them and we charge them with crimes. We turn them into felons which in this climate renders them unemployable. We put them into cages for many years, and keep them away from their children and their families."

Yeah, I know, I know. We have to keep destroying lives because to do otherwise is difficult politics.

Write it on Obama's tombstone.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


'Smash and Grab': Property Seized During Dispensary Raids Boosts Law Enforcement Budgets
posted by homunculus at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's the real problem, and why Abraham and Winslow Norton got busted:

"Despite being completely legal in California, the dispensary was not legal to the federal government. This despite the fact that the two brothers paid all of their state and federal taxes, took salaries rather than percentages of profit from the business, and were completely legal within California’s laws and were well-liked in the community.

Everyone, according to the Norton’s attorney, liked them. The Sheriff’s department regularly inspected the place, as per the law, county officials loved the tax revenue and employment the boys provided, local charities were gladly supported by the brothers, and more.

For this, the feds decided to raid their business, confiscate their home and cars, clean out their bank accounts, and book them on 23 felony counts (each)."


...

"Law enforcement also seized two bank accounts, two IRAs, a 2005 Mercedes Benz, a 2006 ML500 Mercedes Benz, a residence located in Lafayette, and a commercial building on San Pablo Avenue in Albany."

- IRAs Seized as Part of Marijuana Investigation, DEA

It's kind of a fucked-up enabling relationship between California and federal law. CA law lets people make businesses selling marijuana, and then federal law swoops in and steals all the profits ... distributing some of them back to local law enforcement, of course.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


2 Governors Asking U.S. to Ease Rules on Marijuana to Allow for Its Medical Use
posted by homunculus at 7:40 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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