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Pot police target political dissidents
April 3, 2012 3:33 PM   Subscribe

"Dozens of federal agents on Monday raided the Oakland businesses and apartment of Richard Lee, the state's most prominent advocate for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, carting away loads of pot and belongings but not revealing the purpose of their investigation." ... Today, "[f]our of the six medical marijuana providers who are suing the U.S. government over last year's raids of pot businesses across Montana have been arrested on federal drug charges."
posted by mrgrimm (149 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This seems like like a State v. Federal case. Alas, Sovereign Immunity cockblocks just such a peaceful solution to this conflict.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:38 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


A good way to deal with this policy decision is at the ballot box. Vote out people who support failed drug wars that are decimating the country, or at least give the ruling party a fair warning that enough is enough.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:39 PM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


A good way to deal with this policy decision is at the ballot box. Vote out people who support failed drug wars that are decimating the country, or at least give the ruling party a fair warning that enough is enough.

GOV. GARY JOHNSON CALLS FEDERAL RAID ON MARIJUANA ADVOCATE’S HOME AN “OUTRAGE”

Calls Obama Crack-Down Harrassment

April 3, 2012, Washington, DC – Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, seeking the Libertarian Presidential nomination, today assailed the Obama Administration for ” a systematic crack-down on medical marijuana as allowed by state law”. Johnson said the Obama Administration’s action was contrary to the President’s assurances on the issue in 2008 and a memo released by his Justice Department two years ago.

Responding to searches conducted Monday by federal agents of the home and business of a long-time Oakland, CA, marijuana legalization advocate, Johnson called on the Obama Administration to “find better things to do with our tax dollars than raiding Richard Lee’s home in a selective enforcement of bad law.”

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:43 PM on April 3, 2012 [20 favorites]


Supremacy clause; how does it work?
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:44 PM on April 3, 2012


2bucksplus: "Supremacy clause; how does it work?"

Tenth Amendment, how does it work? According to the Supreme Court, it doesn't, at least when it's not politically expedient for the Court.
posted by wierdo at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ironically, if Romney did embrace legalization he might actually have more of a shot. As of now, I think he has zero chance of winning. And Ron Paul's legalization stance didn't hurt him very much with republican voters.

I doubt it would happen, of course.
posted by delmoi at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


A good way to deal with this policy decision is at the ballot box.
"In terms of legalization of drugs, I think, the battle, the war on drugs has been an utter failure and I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws but I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars, and I think that currently, we are not doing a good job."
-- Barack Obama, 2004

:/
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:47 PM on April 3, 2012 [50 favorites]


From the article: The armed and sometimes masked agents from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Marshals Service came with a battering ram, a sledgehammer, power saws and a locksmith.

Follow the money.
posted by China Grover at 3:49 PM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but what about the damage? Ballot boxes do not do justice. That isn't a thing they do. Executive and Legislative action might make things fairer, a better tomorrow, but what about what was done yesterday? Being done today? Medical marijuana providers, are having their businesses, their names ruined, and destroyed unlawfully. Yesterday's damage, uncompensated, may leave them unable to afford the future, no matter how fair it may be made by any action at the ballot box. Beyond the fact that these actions should be punished, people's lives are being ruined.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:49 PM on April 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


Havng been through Oaksterdam University, I may or may not be on a list now - though I'm not very worried about this, since I'm neither a consumer nor supplier, but took teh course out of curiosity. Legally the matter rests at Gonzalez v. Raich, which under the commerce clause grants the federal government authority to regulate the market for drugs of all sorts.

As for the ballot box, the last time there was a vote on legalizing pot in California, it lost, somewhat to my surprise; many stoners didn't bother to vote, some suppliers voted against it because the risk premium of keeping it illegal seemed more fiscally rewarding.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:50 PM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


The tax code as it relates to marijuana dispensaries is somewhat surprising.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I live 6 blocks from Oaksterdam University and all I can say is why the fuck isn't the DEA and federal government trying to end the extremely violent street dealing and blatant human trafficking going on in Oakland?

I've lived in the vicinity of Oaksterdam and the dispensaries for 4+ years and never once felt that they've been anything but positive for the neighborhood. They lobby to be taxed more and employ my neighbors! They bring shoppers and pedestrians to a neighborhood that usually only gets mentioned if there are riots or shootings. Meanwhile teenage girls are standing on International Blvd in the middle of the day and children die in gang crossfire.
posted by bradbane at 3:53 PM on April 3, 2012 [50 favorites]


Supremacy clause; how does it work?

The real question isn't if they can do what they are doing, they can. The question is why the government decided to back down on...

As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:53 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Vote out people who support failed drug wars that are decimating the country

Except in most races there are two viable candidates, both of whom try to outdo the other in their support to be tough on crime and put our kids first.
posted by tyllwin at 3:57 PM on April 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Havng been through Oaksterdam University, I may or may not be on a list now - though I'm not very worried about this, since I'm neither a consumer nor supplier, but took teh course out of curiosity.

It seems interesting. If you have a minute and feel like sharing, I'd love to hear more about what your experience entailed. The SFGate article intrigued me enough to curiously peruse the Oaksterdam calendar, and I'm about the farthest thing on MetaFilter from a legalization advocate.
posted by cribcage at 3:59 PM on April 3, 2012


Well, now to be selfish, I have to say that this isn't all bad. My Oaksterdam hoodie will be a collectible.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:01 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Medical marijuana providers, are having their businesses, their names ruined, and destroyed unlawfully.

Not to be all whatever, but we don't know that they aren't guilty of whatever the warrant was for.

I know, I know, but Gibson Guitars supporters said that the raid on the guitar manufacturer was politically motivated, too, and as it turns out - it totally wasn't.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:03 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except in most races there are two viable candidates, both of whom try to outdo the other in their support to be tough on crime and put our kids first.

Sometimes. Obama was clearly more lenient on this issue than his opponent. I don't think that will be at all clear this time around.

“You know, it’s really not a good use of Justice Department resources.” — responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire

“My attitude is if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana then that’s something I’m open to because there’s no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain. But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed.” — November 24, 2007 town hall meeting in Iowa

posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:04 PM on April 3, 2012


The ballot box don't mean diddly if the Prison Industrial Complex buys the legislative agenda that favors them.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:05 PM on April 3, 2012 [17 favorites]


I wish we could just legalize marijuana for recreational use and be done with it. The currently eroding detente of "medical" marijuana dispensaries is really silly. There's a shit-ton of profit being made growing and selling pot for recreational use in California, a lot of it under the cloak of medical use. It's not surprising that the federal government is going to try to rein it in a bit.

It's particularly galling to be raiding Oakland; that city is in desperately bad shape and the growing marijuana business is one of the few bits of good news in recent years. Related editorial: Oakland: Feds should target crime, not Oaksterdam.
posted by Nelson at 4:07 PM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, the capsule summary is 40% how to grow weed, 30% how to run a dispensary, 20% how weed affects health, and 10% weed and the law. Obviously the program is run by people who passionately advocate the availability and utility of weed, so it's a bit Hamburger University in that respect; on the other hand, it was very fair-minded in the sense of examining health risks as well as benefits, environemntal costs of large-scale cultivation, responsibilities as well as reward.

The legal section was the most interesting for me, and led to a decision to study law for its own sake. For example, I got to learn about the intricacies of Gonzales v. Raich from Robert Raich, who argued the case to the Supreme Court in behalf of his (now ex-) wife.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:09 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: “Not to be all whatever, but we don't know that they aren't guilty of whatever the warrant was for. I know, I know, but Gibson Guitars supporters said that the raid on the guitar manufacturer was politically motivated, too, and as it turns out - it totally wasn't.”

Yes, but in that case the Feds didn't refuse to say what they were investigating or why. That does seem like a rather odd wrinkle here.
posted by koeselitz at 4:09 PM on April 3, 2012


Related editorial:

Damn.

Right around the same time the feds were protecting us by tearing down a legally formed business, a gunman opened fire and killed several people in an East Oakland classroom at Oikos University.

It would be in the best interests of everyone if law enforcement efforts in Oakland focused on taking down the real bad guys - the ones shooting other people.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:13 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ballot boxes do not do justice.

They don't, I agree, but we have to start somewhere. Voting sends a message to the person in charge of causing this to happen, as much as the people around him who affect policy in other, less direct ways.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:16 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The cops and the criminals both love prohibition. Shooting the fish in the barrel, the Feds target the low hanging fruit, those who seek to legalize the plant, and believe in it as medicine. Meanwhile, the criminal cartels delight in the law enforcement efforts which drive things deeper underground, increasing the untaxed cash profits. Support LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
posted by sensi63 at 4:16 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't worry, soon these two categories of story, gunman opening fire killing people at Oikos, and events like a federal raid on a business, or arresting political dissent, these stories will soon overlap. I give it two years before an organic farmer, raw milk dairy, or medical marijuana grower gets raided by the federal government; bullets are exchanged; then every raid from then on, drug, agricultural, or otherwise, will be conducted by the military; then truly we will all, seriously, not know what the fuck to say. Actually, no. I think we'll probably just say something about ballot boxes. Ballot boxes. Ballot boxes. Ballot boxes.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Just got this email from Richard Lee.

Telstar,

On Monday, April 2, my school -- Oaksterdam University in Oakland -- was raided by the DEA, IRS, and US Marshals. Oaksterdam provides training to the medical cannabis industry, and is fully compliant with state and local law.

President Obama promised at the beginning of his administration to respect state medical marijuana laws. He has broken this promise time and time again -- and the consequences have been devastating.

This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I've been an activist far too long to become intimidated -- and with the majority of Americans and common sense on our side, I know this is a fight we can win.

With our government trillions in debt, why is our government using taxpayer dollars to come after me, Oaksterdam, and the thousands of patients who need medical marijuana just to get through the day?

Tell President Obama and the DEA: Enough is enough. Keep your campaign promise, and stop the raids on the medical cannabis industry!

Thanks for your support,

Richard Lee

posted by telstar at 4:20 PM on April 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


Right around the same time the feds were protecting us by tearing down a legally formed business, a gunman opened fire and killed several people in an East Oakland classroom at Oikos University. It would be in the best interests of everyone if law enforcement efforts in Oakland focused on taking down the real bad guys - the ones shooting other people.

In fairness, that shooting involved a guy with zero criminal record and a bunch of personal problems. You can't legislate or administrate that kind of thing away. 'Why doesn't X have higher priority than policy-I-disapprove-of' arguments are fallacious and serve only to confuse the issue.

It's also worth keeping in mind that a) nobody has been arrested as a result of the investigation, so far (bystanders don't count, sorry) and b) the administration of justice isn't perfectly hierarchical; opponents of a given policy sometimes launch raids opportunistically, since it's rather difficult for senior management to put the kibosh on one once its underway. This happens a lot within ICE, parts of which are staffed by xenophobes who loathe the administration's policies and go out of their way to undermine the leadership. You can't safely assume that Eric Holder signs off on these things, so to speak. Law enforcement is nowhere near as monolithic as people imagine it to be.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:25 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


In fairness, that shooting involved a guy with zero criminal record and a bunch of personal problems. You can't legislate or administrate that kind of thing away.

Yes but Oakland is on track for an annual body count in the 3 digits, and it's almost all drug dealers shooting each other and anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. The murder rate was already alarmingly high before that guy went postal.
posted by bradbane at 4:28 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


"In terms of legalization of drugs, I think, the battle, the war on drugs has been an utter failure and I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws but I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars, and I think that currently, we are not doing a good job."
-- Barack Obama, 2004


At this point, decriminalization would be a fuckin' gift. I don't hold out any hope for legalization anytime soon; at least decriminalization would put a stop to incarceration of tens of thousands of people who didn't do anything more than smoke/grow/sell pot.
posted by tzikeh at 4:29 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm so tired of the "say it in the ballot box" response to this issue. Like, really? What is the logical conclusion of that line of thinking? Find a 3rd party candidate who happens to agree with me that marijuana should be legalized and regulated, but has a whole host of other batshitcrazy beliefs that I can't stand? Don't vote at all? What magic is supposed to happen inside the ballot box that will somehow result in both a not batshitcrazy person being elected President, and my stance on this issue being represented? Sounds to me like that suggestion is one to just throw away my vote.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:29 PM on April 3, 2012 [22 favorites]


anigbrowl, I think the author was talking more about the greater problem of gun violence in Oakland, not one incident.

In Oakland, 2000 Victims of Gun Violence in 2011.

In fairness, that shooting involved a guy with zero criminal record and a bunch of personal problems. You can't legislate or administrate that kind of thing away. 'Why doesn't X have higher priority than policy-I-disapprove-of' arguments are fallacious and serve only to confuse the issue.

It isn't fallacious to ask why raiding businesses operating in line with state law has any priority whatsoever over a violent crime epidemic. Not fallacious, rhetorical, we all know how these issues are linked.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:36 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes but Oakland is on track for an annual body count in the 3 digits, and it's almost all drug dealers shooting each other and anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. The murder rate was already alarmingly high before that guy went postal.

As I live in Oakland, I am painfully aware of this. But if the IRS are investigating tax fraud, for example, that's a totally separate thing from Oakland's other policing issues. The government is multifaceted, it doesn't have single priority list.

I'm so tired of the "say it in the ballot box" response to this issue. Like, really?

As I pinted out above, people had a chance to vote on legalization abck in 2010 and rejected it. Not a politician, the specific policy. Now, it was a close run thing and I feel sure that within a few more election cycles there would be an electoral majority for legalization, but the fact is that a majority of Californians who voted on such a policy change were not in favor. Which sucks, but you can't blame politicians in this instance.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2012


From the article: The armed and sometimes masked agents from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Marshals Service came with a battering ram, a sledgehammer, power saws and a locksmith.
Follow the money.


Meanwhile, large banks and hedge funds -- which really did commit widespread fraud to the tune of millions if not billions -- aren't being raided, and are even being rewarded... by the same government which is violently busting small-and-medium businesses owners who won't shut up about legalizing marijuana.

Follow the money, indeed. As anigbrowl pointed out above, the IRS recently rigged the tax code to ensure that medical marijuana dispensaries can't afford to operate legally, despite having paid millions in good honest taxes during previous years. That's not about the money. It's about politics, and about punishing people who speak up on this issue.
posted by vorfeed at 4:43 PM on April 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


These busts, the massive arrest of illegal immigrants the last few days, must be election year.
posted by holdkris99 at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm so tired of the "say it in the ballot box" response to this issue. Like, really? What is the logical conclusion of that line of thinking?

2010 called. They have some election results for you.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:45 PM on April 3, 2012


Like, really? What is the logical conclusion of that line of thinking?

What are the alternatives you're proposing? Violent rebellion? Doing nothing? Really? Truly? I mean, when the corporations making guns and running prisons have bought out the politicians, what other ways do the people have to communicate that prohibition is slowly eating away at the country like a cancer, that don't involve being on the wrong end of a paramilitary force, or simply sitting at home and scrubbing one's brain to the tune of American Idol or the like?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:48 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what? Good. And I say this as someone who would legalize marijuana (and every other recreational drug) if I had the power.

Two years ago the vote for legalization failed in California due in no small part to the overwhelming resistance of the medical marijuana industry whose main priority was keeping a stranglehold on the recreational marijuana market. Because as much as it pains me to admit it, the DEA and all the other anti-pot crusaders are absolutely right when they say that most "medical marijuana" is funneled to people who use it for solely recreational use. And the industry knows damn well that's true, which is why they joined up with big booze to oppose legalization.

Marijuana absolutely does have a place as a medicine, but the medical marijuana industry is a barrier to sensible drug laws, and only serves to give prohibitionists more credibility.
posted by WhitenoisE at 4:53 PM on April 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


1. The government prosecutes a lot of financial fraud. It has been surprisingly effective at it, considering the budgetary limits that the house of representatives imposes.

2. As anigbrowl pointed out above, the IRS recently rigged the tax code No, I did not point that out and would not have tried to make such a point because the IRS doesn't write the tax code, Congress does. Section 280e was added to chapter 26 of the US code by Public Law 97-248, in 1982.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:54 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm so tired of the "say it in the ballot box" response to this issue.

OK - then why not Constitutional Amendment? Just imagine FOX news talking heads and even Pat Robertson saying its a bad idea.

I hear for $99 you can buy a SUPER PAC kit from Steven Colbert to get one started.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:57 PM on April 3, 2012


The real question isn't if they can do what they are doing, they can.
Sure, in the same sense that they can tap phones without warrants, they can assassinate people without trials, etc. That doesn't mean it's constitutional, just that it won't lead to any negative repercussions.

It *probably* won't lead to any negative repercussions, anyway. It would be amusing if, after realizing that there's no enumerated power that can make you buy healthy broccoli or pseudo-insurance, the Supreme Court also pointed out that no enumerated power can prevent you from buying unhealthy alcohol or marijuana. I wonder how bad the Republican whiplash would hurt if they had to suddenly resume arguing that the Eighteenth Amendment could have been accomplished with a simple law, but instead was put into the Constitution for funsies.
posted by roystgnr at 4:58 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ballot boxes do not do justice.
Blazecock Pileon: They don't, I agree, but we have to start somewhere. Voting sends a message to the person in charge of causing this to happen, as much as the people around him who affect policy in other, less direct ways
For the love of Pete- no, this does not work. A ballot box is a one-bit message between (R) and (D), and thus is incredibly inefficient in its bandwidth and ability to send a detailed or nuanced message to the politician. YOU may know you're voting for/against a politician because of the drug laws, you may even write letters... but s/he might choose to think your vote was because of their poorly conceived health care plan, or expanding military presence overseas, or response to financial crises, etc. You have one bit, and it's useless for sending a message. As lazaruslong points out, often the people who believe in that one wedge issue have some unholy marriage to a set of despicable beliefs in other areas that disqualifies them for most voters (and further pollutes that political stance as being "fringe").

anigbrowl would like us to believe that hey, we the voters don't even get it done when it comes to referendum, but that's disingenuous.
  • First, in the case you gave the vote was narrow, which should already be a signal to politicians (more than your one-bit vote) that the tides are turning. Look at gay marriage: it's frickin' clear as day where the country is going, yet some ostensibly left/center politicians, faced with this evidence of the political winds shifting, still get wishy-washy and mealy-mouthed about "marriage rights".
  • Second, even if it had passed it would be a state law, and this action today was about federal agencies. Seattle has similar "low priority" laws on the books with the police and city attorney, and that would do nothing to stop the Feds from busting a dispensary.
  • Third, is it really too much to expect more leadership and vision from a single elected individual than from the disorganized and fractured teeming masses of the body politic?
  • Fourth, why did Obama basically go back on his previous stances and campaign promises, as well as his statement to the DOJ?
  • Fifth, Obama in particular is presumably quite a smart person, so how is his compassion and sensibility basically null and void? He is smart enough to say 8 years ago that the drug war is a failure, and now while sitting in the White House in effectively full control of the agencies involved... he has nothing to say but "Go get 'em, boys!"?
The other "big lie" we hear is that such-and-such politician can't possibly vote their conscience because they'll lose at the ballot box.

Which is similarly ridiculous: if Obama came out as staunchly anti-drug war, and ordered the DEA et al to focus their efforts exclusively on the violence of the top people, of the cartels, while ordering the DOJ to take a "least priority" approach to possession and low-level sales... who would he lose? Tough-on-crime Republicans weren't going to vote for him because he's a black man in the White House. Libertarian R's might actually think better of him. And the Democrats will be in lockstep with him, because the only Democrats/lefts who hate Obama enough to even consider not voting for him are people like me that think he's basically a Republican- and a de facto end of the drug war by standing down the DEA et al from the Executive Branch would do much to ameliorate our sour opinion of the asshole.


The truth is politicians don't do anything about this because they're awful, cowardly people. And we can't change this, because the ballot box is a sham at this point with the growing use of questionable vote counting machines.
posted by hincandenza at 5:00 PM on April 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm curious what the warrants will say when unsealed. It might be that this is more complicated. Also what will the jury do with this case.
posted by humanfont at 5:00 PM on April 3, 2012


OK - then why not Constitutional Amendment? Just imagine FOX news talking heads and even Pat Robertson saying its a bad idea.

(AP) RICHMOND, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol because the government's war on drugs has failed.

Sorry, you need to find someone more conservative than Pat Robertson on this issue, like a Democratic Senator or President.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:00 PM on April 3, 2012 [16 favorites]


I think it's time to sue to reschedule Marijuana. Has anyone tried it recently?
posted by empath at 5:06 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced she filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration asking the agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, which will allow its use for treatment – prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists. Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) also signed the petition.

The petition will require the Federal Drug Administration to conduct a new scientific review and analysis of recent advances in Cannabis research since the last time the FDA reviewed the matter in 2006.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:11 PM on April 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


Second, even if it had passed it would be a state law,

Excatly. In fact, marijuana possession is decriminalized already in California (S.B. 1449 -decriminalizes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana). Now, it should be legal, and sale/distribution should also be at least decriminalized (its ridiculous to say you can have it but no one can give it to you?). But none of this stops the feds from doing whatever they want (given how broad they interpret their powers to be). State legalization would be a nice step but not a dramatic change from the status quo in California.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:14 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The closest I've come to pot in decades is smelling it from someone's vent fan while walking by their house at night. I'm not a pot smoker, and I almost certainly wouldn't be even with full legalization. So I don't have much of a dog in this fight.

But I think it's beyond stupid that I can sit here typing this with (literally, at this very moment) a glass of wine in my hand, while someone who uses pot to help a medical condition risks arrest. It's just plain dumb and a huge waste of my taxpayer money, as they say.

The cops and the criminals both love prohibition.

Definitely the feds, and maybe the big city cops with huge budgets and SWAT units and so on. But from what I'm told my local police department finds individual use busts to be a big waste of time (except as a way to add on extra charges to someone they are arresting for other issues, obviously). They love getting geared up in their paramilitary outfits and going after huge grow operations, and they bust meth houses with regularity, but I've heard enough stories to be pretty sure that they have no more interest in going after a regular Joe with a joint in his pocket or a medical marijuana card than I do.
posted by Forktine at 5:16 PM on April 3, 2012


I grew up in Mendocino county, probably one of the biggest medical marijuana (And before tha just marijuana.) producing areas of the U.S, and have had the changing politics of federal raids as a sort of backdrop to to just about everything else political, or economic, for most of my life. My dad had a patch. Most of my friends dad's also. Most of the big local business where started with pot money. Our gun nut, libertarian District Attorney had a well publicized grow operation. I still wake up with a knot in my stomach, from the sound of a helicopter flying to low.

Federal raids in California Have always felt very political to me, but the sort of politics behind them seem to shift from year to year. For the last 5 or so years the raids seem to have focused primarily on operations that were clearly breaking state law, and in particular on large scale, Mexican cartel run grows, and grows on public land. A lot of locals seemed pretty ok with federal law enforcment for the first time I can remember.

Last year the shift seems to have really changed. There have been lots of busts targeting small farms and dispensaries operating within state law. Mostly thoes who get media attention, and thoes working closley with local law enforcement, on trying to get some sort of official, regulation, and taxation in place. We where at the point where it seemed like a majority of growers where registering with the sheriffs office, paying a per plant fee, registering paperwork with dispensaries, in an attempt to keep stuff off the black market, and generaly starting to bring some sort of order, and consistency to the whole business. Next season I imagine, everything is right back underground.

Election year I guess.
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:19 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


What are the alternatives you're proposing? Violent rebellion? Doing nothing? Really? Truly? I mean, when the corporations making guns and running prisons have bought out the politicians, what other ways do the people have to communicate that prohibition is slowly eating away at the country like a cancer, that don't involve being on the wrong end of a paramilitary force, or simply sitting at home and scrubbing one's brain to the tune of American Idol or the like?
posted by Blazecock Pileon


I don't know the alternative. What I am saying is that changing my vote from a party or candidate that I agree with on 80% of issues in order to 'say it in the ballot box' on the 20% that marijuana occupies doesn't make sense to me. I would then be voting for someone that I agree with on marijuana, but not on, well, mostly everything else.

Violent rebellion vs doing nothing is a weird false dichotomy, as is being on the wrong end of a paramilitary force vs mindless American Idol brain atrophy. My whole point is that the dichotomy is the problem. It'd be really nice if, I dunno, the nation as a whole could just take a yes or no vote on marijuana decriminalization, so that we can get back to more important things. There's an alternative. But telling me that my only realistic option is to pick one issue every cycle and vote based on that, and be damned if the candidate that has my pet issue of the year on their platform ALSO wants to, I dunno, convert us to a barter economy and shut down all foreign aid forever, is pretty unrealistic as well.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:44 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Matter of fact, let's just take a straight up/down vote on all major social issues, once a year. Goddamn it. In 20 years when most of the racist / homophobic / weird old people die, we'll make some progress I imagine, if not right off the damn bat.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:47 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm so tired of the "say it in the ballot box" response to this issue. Like, really? What is the logical conclusion of that line of thinking? Find a 3rd party candidate... Don't vote at all? What magic is supposed to happen inside the ballot box that wil somehow result in both a not batshitcrazy person being elected President, and my stance on this issue being represented... throw away my vote.

If this is all you're getting for it, "throwing away your vote" is a good idea-- you throw worthless stuff away.

Don't vote, and tell people why you won't vote. Politicians see votes as approval of their agenda, not someone settling for the lesser asshole. If you don't vote, and the lesser asshole loses, he'll have to address why you, despite being involved in the process, stayed home.

This is a long game. Things are fucked, it's taken a long time for them to get this fucked and the point is to improve them but it can't be done by following carrots on sticks. Slowing down down the rot is short-sighted-- it needs to be reversed and the guy that suckered so many of us last time has demonstrated that he has no intention of doing it.

Expediency has gotten you shit. Think a couple moves ahead. Or even if you think it won't work, don't support a two-party system that shows you nothing but shades of contempt.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:54 PM on April 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Matter of fact, let's just take a straight up/down vote on all major social issues, once a year. Goddamn it. In 20 years when most of the racist / homophobic / weird old people die, we'll make some progress I imagine, if not right off the damn bat.

Legal medical pot already polls better than Mom or Apple Pie. 77% of Americans support it.

There is majority support among every age group and party. That neither party will make it an election issue is one of many speaking to the fundamental sickness of the two party system.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:59 PM on April 3, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm so tired of the "say it in the ballot box" response to this issue. Like, really? What is the logical conclusion of that line of thinking? Find a 3rd party candidate... Don't vote at all? What magic is supposed to happen inside the ballot box that wil somehow result in both a not batshitcrazy person being elected President, and my stance on this issue being represented... throw away my vote.

Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy for president on the Exactly Like Obama Except Where it Comes to Weed Party. What's my stance on immigration reform? Whatever Obama's is. What would I do about Iran attempting to manufacture nuclear weapons? Whatever Obama would do. What about weed? Legalize it. How would this work exactly? I envision it thusly: I get elected, but I still ask Obama to come to work everyday and do all the regular stuff he does now, give speeches, golf with Congresspeople, use his sexy deep voice on the news, but I hang out in the oval office playing playstation and just being vigilant as shit and as soon as somebody comes into the office talking about weed I am all like "You best legalize that shit Laser-beast!" And Obama has to do it because I am president. Also Willie Nelson will be there too.
posted by ND¢ at 6:16 PM on April 3, 2012 [28 favorites]


Mayor Curley, furiousxgeorge, I agree about the two-party dichotomy being false and unrewarding. This is the crux of my frustration.

ND¢, I can't really parse what point you are trying to make with that performance art. It'd be lovely if you articulated sans Homeric allegory.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:35 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yes, I will be voting. And yes, it will be for the Democrat, President Obama. He scares the piss outta me on some very serious issues. But the other viable "choice" scares the piss outta me on, well, everything. They are fucking crazy.

What kind of a choice is that? Not much of one. Hence my frustration. I can't say shit in the ballot box that will both matter and reflect my actual views.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:37 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another aspect of the party system that sucks is the primaries. 2008 was the first time in many years that my vote in the Presidential primary had any actual significance in picking a candidate, due to the fact that my state holds its primary late. And that was only possible because the primary election, which was supposed to be over by "Super Tuesday" in February, got away from the party machine. This grotesque nomination system has the effect of disenfranchising millions of voters, and allowing big money and party insiders to pick the nominee, which is probably what it is intended to do.
posted by thelonius at 6:57 PM on April 3, 2012


As anigbrowl pointed out above, the IRS recently rigged the tax code No, I did not point that out and would not have tried to make such a point because the IRS doesn't write the tax code, Congress does. Section 280e was added to chapter 26 of the US code by Public Law 97-248, in 1982.

Yes, and a tax-paying dispensary in a state where medical marijuana has been legal for over 14 years was recently told by the IRS that their business suddenly falls under this section. Sounds like rigging the tax code -- or the interpretation thereof -- to me.
posted by vorfeed at 7:02 PM on April 3, 2012


Expediency has gotten you shit.

I would just like to point out that Sarah Palin is not currently the vice-president of the US.
posted by empath at 7:06 PM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


To sue they'd have to have standing, which in this case pretty much cops to growing marijuana in violation of federal law, right?

Pretty shitty catch-22 they have there.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:11 PM on April 3, 2012


As I pinted out above, people had a chance to vote on legalization abck in 2010 and rejected it. Not a politician, the specific policy. Now, it was a close run thing and I feel sure that within a few more election cycles there would be an electoral majority for legalization, but the fact is that a majority of Californians who voted on such a policy change were not in favor. Which sucks, but you can't blame politicians in this instance.

A lot of those people probably go around with the opinion that voting doesn't matter.

Don't vote, and tell people why you won't vote. Politicians see votes as approval of their agenda, not someone settling for the lesser asshole. If you don't vote, and the lesser asshole loses, he'll have to address why you, despite being involved in the process, stayed home.

See, that's where it falls down. They won without your vote, you don't count. The loser doesn't have to address you either, because the race is over and the next election isn't for another 2-4-6 years, and who knows if he is going to run then?
posted by gjc at 7:22 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I still can't figure out why people vote for the so-called viable candidates. Any particular vote has practically zero chance of being a difference-maker in a state-wide election. Furthermore, typical voter turnout in a presidential election year over the last 40 years has only been about 55%. If even half of the non-voters voted for a third-party candidate, then that candidate would be in the running for national office.

People are, I think, too scared of the wrong lizard getting in. If we would all stop voting for lizards, maybe our government wouldn't be so ... well, you know.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:24 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. The government prosecutes a lot of financial fraud. It has been surprisingly effective at it, considering the budgetary limits that the house of representatives imposes.
They go after small time players and super-obvious cases like Bernie Madoff. If you look one of their biggest busts recently (the Galleon group) it was someone who was ripping off Goldman Sachs by getting insider information on their bond offerings. But GS and BoA's crooked deals went unpunished
I would just like to point out that Sarah Palin is not currently the vice-president of the US.
Except she was running against someone who said they were for medical marijuana and wouldn't interfere in state laws. So WTF? The problem with "vote for people who support X" is hugely problematic if they just change their mind after winning an election.
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on April 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Voting for president is more of a personality thing and less of a policy thing. If you want to change policy, you need to focus on congress. Bush didn't govern the way he campaigned, and neither did Clinton and neither has any other candidate.
posted by empath at 7:40 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, well I kind of like Sarah Palin as a person.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:43 PM on April 3, 2012


Voting for president is more of a personality thing and less of a policy thing.
The president has a huge impact on policy, way more then any individual congressperson. The problem is by a general election you're going to have some democrat, and some republican duking it out. There aren't a lot of options.

And then of course during the primary you have a bunch of moral scolds whining about how you have to vote for a centrist candidate or they're totally lose to whatever crazy-pants lunatic the republicans nominate (because they are not bound by the same restrictions, of course)

What we need is a multiparty parliament, where you can vote for candidates who share your niche issues and get a few seats for them, like the german pirate party, or the sweedish version, both of which have been able to get some some representation. Same thing for greens and other major-issue groups.

This works much better for people who have one or two major issues, because then people who care strongly about issue X can get some representatives in congress.

It's likely you have a "pro weed" party, or a "break up the banks" party and other groups would need to negotiate directly with them to pass legislation.

The current system we have is seriously broken.
posted by delmoi at 7:50 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


don't support a two-party system

Utterly impossible unless the voting system is changed to something other than first-past-the-post so that more than two parties are electable. Everything else is just a waste of time.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:54 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


And then of course during the primary you have a bunch of moral scolds whining about how you have to vote for a centrist candidate or they're totally lose to whatever crazy-pants lunatic the republicans nominate (because they are not bound by the same restrictions, of course)

Romney is a centrist in American politics. I know that liberal democrats have this fantasy that most of the country is just slightly to the right of Chomsky, but we live in a very, very conservative country. That's not a creation of Fox News.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


If even half of the non-voters voted for a third-party candidate, then that candidate would be in the running for national office.

I'm offering this without a citation, but I believe I've read non-voters would vote not dissimilarly from those who do vote. At any rate, half of them aren't likely to be inclined to vote for a third party candidate, but too disillusioned to go to the polls.

What we need is a multiparty parliament, where you can vote for candidates who share your niche issues and get a few seats for them, like the german pirate party, or the sweedish version, both of which have been able to get some some representation. Same thing for greens and other major-issue groups.

This works much better for people who have one or two major issues, because then people who care strongly about issue X can get some representatives in congress.


I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here, but you have to be quite careful how you design your proportional representation and you need proportional representation for the single/few issue parties to get seats (unless their issues are tied to a specific geographic area). The threshhold for representation in Israel is arguably too low, which leads to tiny parties having disproportionate influence because they must be wooed to form a government.
posted by hoyland at 8:02 PM on April 3, 2012


I would just like to point out that Sarah Palin is not currently the vice-president of the US.
posted by empath at 7:06 PM on April 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


The above is a foolish comment. The guy in charge is the one we have to worry about, not a f*cking hypothetical Palin administration, and voting for him is the sole reason why we are still living under prohibition.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:09 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't say shit in the ballot box that will both matter and reflect my actual views.

I feel the same way. I expressed this frustration to a friend who asked me, "well, then, why don't you just vote your conscience? If you really believe you have no voice at the ballot box, at least you'll know you voted for someone you really believe in."

I've been mulling it over ever since. It strikes me as odd argument inasmuch as it asserts that even if one doesn't believe one's vote will make any sort of difference, there's still some value in the act of voting -- which is, after all, supposed to be an act that can at least potentially change things. So what is it that value? It seems to me that it turns voting into a purely private, secular ritual of reconciliation with one's own conscience. To me, that feels paradoxically empowering, and it occurs to me that this is sort of private ritual may be a lot closer to the spirit of what it means to vote in a democracy than voting strategically just to keep the other guy out of office.
posted by treepour at 8:18 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps with stepped up prosecution threats, growers and medical users will push politicians harder to change the federal laws.
posted by humanfont at 8:18 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney is a centrist in American politics.
Right, and so is Obama. So... why is it so important that Obama beat him?
posted by delmoi at 8:30 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Perhaps with stepped up prosecution threats, growers and medical users will push politicians harder to change the federal laws.
Think about all those people who voted against California's Prop 19 because they thought the current situation was fine, and voting to legalize weed might upset the applecart or something.

Also, Sarah Palin said she didn't think enforcing marijuana laws was a good use of law enforcement resources. She wasn't explicitly pro legalization or pro 'official' decriminalization, but she was not an anti-marijuana crusader.
posted by delmoi at 8:33 PM on April 3, 2012


This works much better for people who have one or two major issues, because then people who care strongly about issue X can get some representatives in congress. It's likely you have a "pro weed" party, or a "break up the banks" party and other groups would need to negotiate directly with them to pass legislation.

Like this?

[Romney]... why is it so important that Obama beat him?

Robert Bork.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:34 PM on April 3, 2012


Think about all those people who voted against California's Prop 19 because they thought the current situation was fine, and voting to legalize weed might upset the applecart or something.

...including some growers, sadly.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:36 PM on April 3, 2012


Mexico’s drug war has taken more lives in recent years than the war in Afghanistan – a startling figure for a country reeling from a drug war that doesn’t seem to dissipate.

The Attorney General’s Office in Mexico said 47,515 drug-related deaths occurred from December 2006, when the president deployed troops to drug hotspots to September 2010. In Afghanistan, there were 18,389 civilian and security deaths from January 2007 to November of last year.

'More will die': Mexico drug wars claim U.S. lives:

While U.S. officials have long been concerned about the mindless violence bred by Mexico’s bloody and brutal drug wars, they have a new reason to worry: Americans are increasingly getting caught in the deadly crossfire.

Some who have died were themselves working for the drug cartels. But more and more often, experts say, the casualties are U.S. law enforcement officers and innocent victims who died simply because they ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time.


28 February 2012 –
Escalating violence involving drug trafficking organizations in Central America has reached “alarming and unprecedented levels,” making it one of the most violent areas in the world, the United Nations anti-narcotics panel stressed in its annual report which was launched today.

“Drug trafficking organizations have increased their operations in the region, posing a serious threat to the security of the region,” says the report produced by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which identified Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua as key transit countries for smuggling drugs primarily destined for the United States.


At some point, Sarah Palin and the Supreme Court are no longer valid excuses to vote for people who support this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:46 PM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]



The above is a foolish comment. The guy in charge is the one we have to worry about, not a f*cking hypothetical Palin administration, and voting for him is the sole reason why we are still living under prohibition.


What.
posted by empath at 8:48 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm offering this without a citation, but I believe I've read non-voters would vote not dissimilarly from those who do vote. At any rate, half of them aren't likely to be inclined to vote for a third party candidate, but too disillusioned to go to the polls.

Sure. But that misses my point, which is that people who make a numbers argument are assuming that everything else in the system sits still. "I can't vote for a third party, because third parties never get enough votes to be in the conversation." Well, sure, but that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course, if you and all the other people unsatisfied with the two "viable" parties keep voting for those parties' candidates, then we will be stuck with them forever.

Looking at the voter turn-out numbers helps motivate me to vote for third parties, since it reminds me that our duly elected representatives typically only represent about a quarter of the people who are eligible to vote. There are more than enough people who aren't committed one way or the other to win elections in the U.S.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:28 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


empath: What.
Actually- he's kind of right. I've said this before, and the "but... but... he has to have no principles because otherwise PALIN, man!" folks will shout me down...

The DEA reports up through the executive, as does the DOJ. The President could unilaterally order the DEA to do zero enforcement of any medical marijuana dispensaries, or any low-level dealers, users, etc, and solely focus all efforts on curtailing the violence engaged in by larger operations (state and local law enforcement wouldn't necessarily follow suit, of course). There's nothing wrong with the President doing this, although Congress could opt to try impeaching the President on the grounds he's not faithfully executing his oath of office.

But they could impeach him over anything they wanted anyway; and if the President were a man of principles, of conscience, instead of a weaselly Harvard-education lawyer, this kind of action would really kick-start a national conversation about legalization. The fight would occur in the public space and media, with a highly articulate man in Obama able to convincingly argue "Look, the drug war is ridiculously expensive, it is racist, and does nothing but drive up the costs of drugs, enriching violent cartels and leading to open warfare in regions of North America. We need to legalize and regulate, so we reduce crime related to drugs, and can solve the problems of addiction as a medical issue". I think he'd have a fair amount of popular support for the principle, but even if he didn't... it's the right thing to do.


The much bigger solution is legalization and regulation, and licensed dispensaries of all drugs. But for now... Prohibition exists largely because the President is enforcing it.
posted by hincandenza at 9:31 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prohibition exists largely because the President is enforcing it.

And McCain wouldn't have?
posted by empath at 9:41 PM on April 3, 2012


Prohibition exists largely because the President is enforcing it.

He has little choice, since the US is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Narcotics and Psychotropic Drugs, which thus has constitutional force and can not be overturned by administrative fiat or even legislative action. If Obama shut down the DEA it would be automatic grounds for impeachment.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:16 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, this again? Can we quit with the Palin derail?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 PM on April 3, 2012


ND¢ has my vote.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:21 PM on April 3, 2012


I would also vote for him on that platform.
posted by empath at 10:24 PM on April 3, 2012


throw in some civil liberties and I'll donate.
posted by Shit Parade at 10:30 PM on April 3, 2012


Don't hold your breath for Republicans impeaching for not showing enough deference to the U.N.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:37 PM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not deference to the UN. Treaties ratified by the US stand on the same constitutional footing as the Bill of Rights and the rest. This is why the Senate is the single most powerful organ in the US body politic.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:56 PM on April 3, 2012


Marijuana absolutely does have a place as a medicine, but the medical marijuana industry is a barrier to sensible drug laws, and only serves to give prohibitionists more credibility.

I disagree. The primary argument of prohibition is that horrible things will happen if we ever allow marijuana to be sold openly, and medical marijuana dispensaries are proof that this is a lie. In another four years there'll be twenty-year-olds who have never known a California in which marijuana wasn't sold in stores. I don't think that gives prohibitionists "more credibility" -- quite the opposite, in fact.

He has little choice, since the US is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Narcotics and Psychotropic Drugs, which thus has constitutional force and can not be overturned by administrative fiat or even legislative action. If Obama shut down the DEA it would be automatic grounds for impeachment.

Simply not-raiding-dispensaries is nowhere near equivalent to "shutting down the DEA". If it were, then the Holder memo itself would have been "grounds for impeachment". I see little reason why this kind of de-facto legalization couldn't exist despite the Convention. Treaties like this are always riddled with exceptions, and the European Parliament has already admitted that the Convention is a failure:

The European Parliament, [...] 1. Contends that the policy of prohibiting drugs, based on the UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988, is the true cause of the increasing damage that the production of, trafficking in, and sale and use of illegal substances are inflicting on whole sectors of society, on the economy and on public institutions, eroding the health, freedom and life of individuals;

2. Strongly urges the Council and the EU Member States to take account of the positive results achieved in a number of countries by putting in place policies based on damage and risk reduction (particularly using substitution treatment), decriminalising the use of certain substances, partially decriminalising the sale of cannabis and its derivatives and making heroin available under medical supervision;

3. Calls on the Council and the EU Member States to take measures to make the fight against organised crime and trafficking in narcotics and psychotropic substances more effective, by establishing a system of legal control and regulation of the production, sale and use of currently illegal substances.

posted by vorfeed at 10:58 PM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes thank you I understand the legality of it but it is not something the Republicans would choose to impeach over. Republicans appointed a guy who wants to abolish the organization this treaty was signed under to be the ambassador to it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:03 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The European parliament is a meaningless talking shop with no legislative heft whatsoever. Its meaningless is one reason I choose not to live in the EU anymore - I'm for a federal Europe but the EUP is a fantastic demonstration of why the EU is stalled as a political experiment.

FxG, the UN is irrelevant. The conflict is between the executive and the Senate, if it comes to that. The fact that the treaty was organized through the UN is utterly beside the point, both legally and pragmatically. It's a straight separation of powers issue. You are naive to think that the Republicans would give a fuck where the treaty originated.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:29 PM on April 3, 2012


We should legalize it and be done with it. But they've got to do something about these dispenseries which are blight. Ban the dispenseries and just let people grow it out of sight in their backyard.
posted by savvysearch at 11:32 PM on April 3, 2012


It's an entirely political issue and you are naive to think otherwise. The Republicans will not put themselves into the political war of impeachment to defend a U.N convention.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:46 PM on April 3, 2012


The fact that the treaty was organized through the UN is utterly beside the point, both legally and pragmatically. It's a straight separation of powers issue.

Again, the treaty does not obligate the United States government to make dispensaries a particular law enforcement priority, any more than it requires Holland (where marijuana is "illegal, but not punishable") to crack down on coffee shops.
posted by vorfeed at 11:56 PM on April 3, 2012


Here, read about this U.N Convention: United Nations Convention Against Torture

Remember when Bush got impeached for all that torture? Nobody gives a fuck about the separation of powers issue or the legal force of the treaty, it's a political question of if impeachment will benefit the right people. Sending the message that Republicans want to punish Presidents who don't do what U.N. conventions say is not a winning message.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:57 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


They wouldn't be defending a UN convention. They'd be defending the Senate's power to ratify treaties from an executive power grab. If you think they'd be ideologically consistent when they had most slam-dunk impeachment case ever to come near the Hill you're dreaming.

Legalization is a global project. It might help to start looking at the actual legal foundations of the drug war, which transcend US party politics, notwithstanding that they have been shaped by it.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:59 PM on April 3, 2012


Also, you might like to consider that the Republicans have had exactly zero problem leveraging the treaty for political ends while in office.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:09 AM on April 4, 2012


They wouldn't be defending a UN convention. They'd be defending the Senate's power to ratify treaties from an executive power grab.

No, they would not. I don't know what fantasy world you are living in. They don't believe these treaties actually apply, I just pointed out the torture that most of the Republicans to this day will tell you was legal and that their Presidential candidates also support. There is no political gain for them in shooting themselves in the face.

It is a 100% political process, it has to sell to the public, not to the lawyers. They had a good case against Clinton too and all it did was make him more popular because the law is not the question here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:09 AM on April 4, 2012


The issue of decriminalization of cannabis will probably be a source of frustration for some time for advocates, smokers, and advocate smokers particularly in the central and southern part of the USA. But I think there is hope of sorts, albeit subject to the viscissitudes of whatever kind of democracy we live in (limited in light of the shaving of Con rights in the last few years). A couple of thoughts:

1. Having a few states with medical marijuana laws on the books as opposed to none is still far ahead what I thought we would have twenty years ago puffing away in my dorm room during the George H.W. Bush presidency.

2. The First Amendment and the ballot box are the keystones of our Constitution. At least in theory, you don't need to revolt every four years in blood, instead you vote. It's not perfect, third party issues will continue to arise and influence, but not topple the establishment, and with 300 million opinions and large swathe of geography, this is bound to be frustrating, but one still has the option of going out there and convincing as many people as possible of your opinion to change the law. This has and is being done. There are no asset forfeiture cases for using your First Amd right to advocate, convince and vote. Like all controversial issues, taking even a verbal advocacy position can subject one to risks of ostracization by employers, friends, neighbors, but the First Amendment and the right to advocate political change has never come without risk. It's an exhausting situation, and requires quite a percentage of people to insure changes, but changes can and do happen piecemeal locally, state and federally. It beats Syria. Again, with cannabis decrim, this has and continues to happen. We are much further than where we were. It's true: it's not enough just to get a few, a lot, or even a majority. To get the change you need more than a majority. You really, really need a substantial majority. An avalanche. I know many will cite the Gore/Bush case, but imagine Gore had 3 states more worth of votes, instead of the substantial 500K or mil or whatever. How about ten or twenty million votes? Even the SC can't gloss over that kind of difference. It's not enough to win in these issues. You need to really beat the other side metaphorically senseless. This takes time. Unless of course we are heading towards becoming Syria, which we might be.

3. For what its worth the Supreme Court case that really underlies the power of the feds to regulate any individual state actors in the cannabis business under the Interstate Commerce Clause is Wickard v. Filburn decided during the FDR admin where a guy privately growing wheat or some such on his land, solely for his own family's consumption was nevertheless blocked by federal law regulating prices of wheat. He argued (paraphrasing) forget state lines, this isn't interstate commerce, I don't even sell this wheat intra-state, it's just for my family. The Court said tough shit, because even if you don't sell it, if everybody in your state in the aggregate grew wheat in the aggregate and didn't sell it, it would still affect the interstate price of wheat. I heard Sotor-Mayor this weekend during transcripts of the health care trial reference this old SC "in the aggregate" saw this weekend. Not a lot of limitations on Congress under the Interstate Commerce Clause at this point. State rights don't mean a lot re: Commerce Clause. The SC has been enlarging it 75 years.

4. I always thought it kind of weird that they needed an amendment to create Prohibition of alcohol, and another amendment to undo the Prohibition, but not with cannabis and other drugs. Chalk that up to judge made ICC expansion.

5. For many years I thought Prohibition just kind of ended because everybody was tired of it. I didn't mechanically think about what the elements were that changed it. At least one part, I understand, was that the several states began passing laws decriminalizing booze in their states in spite of, and in direct conflict with federal law, which symptomized and began to sway the public and federal legislators. This was only one small element, but means something. A lot of people don't know states are always in suits with the feds on conflcits of law all the time. During the Prop 19 campaign, the L.A. Times editorials kept saying passing the law would be really bad because of the conflict of law (and not much explanation beyond that). This was of course an absurd bugaboo because CA and the Ninth Circuit for that matter have been in conflict with majority fed legislation since time immemorial (e.g. emissions standards). More people need to understand changing state law, even with conflict with federal law is a normal part of federalism, and under the Founding Fathers, probably a good, and eminently reasonable mechanical process to ultimately change fed law.

6. I'm lazy so I am not going to cite this, but I think it's not difficult to find -- actually I think it was L.A. Times again, something like 90% of drug arrests are done by state police. The simple fact is that for all the money thrown to the DEA, they simply do not, and never will have the wherewithal to effect a total clampdown. Their busts, or seizing of assets in CA the last few years have been high-profile, and ultimately symbolic. Richard Lee is getting a message, but he hasn't lost the war. The feds get the states to effect arrests via federal money access, but it sure wasn't enough to stop the L.A.P.D. from ignoring things they never would have under Ed Davis and Darryl Gates. Driving through West Hollywood the last few years, I could smell weed from the dispensaries from the middle of the street in my car with windows close -- not burning weed mind you -- just piles of cannabis uncombusted from dispensaries twenty yards away. Going to the dispenary was like going to CVS. It has been a wonderful thing. In and out.

7. Last, re: treaties. Constl'y the president can enter international treaties and treaties can indeed trump legislation, but again, this is a bit of a bugaboo. US compliance with international treaties and the UN is far from perfect, and while subject to dispute, with other South American countries creating their own decrim of drug quantities (see Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay), the times are changing. If the Patriot Act complies with UN treaties and the Geneva Convention, I'm a monkey's uncle. Geneva might is squirming, and so are many Americans. We signed an International Copyright Convention a few years ago and we aren't in near compliance with that either.

8. I really wish we would legalize all drugs. I used to think that was weird and scary, but I think it's the only way to really deal with this stuff. The L.A. Times mentioned that blacks and latinos in CA in some places were arrested for possession 13 times more than non-latin whites. In OK they put a woman for selling a 35$ bag of weed last year for twelve years. It's like 40K a year to house this woman or something to sit on her ass. That's over half a mill over twelve years. With asset forfeiture laws, police can seize assets, and the burden can be put on you to prove the money wasn't from drug commerce. The money doesn't go to an orphanage, it goes to the cops -- an obvious conflict of interest. All the lives lost in Mexico, all the money for the DEA, the judges, the attorneys, the court reporters, the corrections unions, the whole prison industrial complex (see Angola Prison which is basically just a big goddamned plantation). It's just fucking sick. This is a moral issue, even for recreational drugs. I just can't believe it wouldn't cost less to have some state run treatment facilities without court mandate, and even people gettting high sitting around on welfare!

9. Sorry for taking all this time. Thank you for your patience. Hope you got something out of this.
posted by CarsonDyle at 12:16 AM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


They don't believe these treaties actually apply, I just pointed out the torture that most of the Republicans to this day will tell you was legal

Since when are the Republicans the party of intellectual consistency?

They had a good case against Clinton too

what.

Why are you resistant to learning how the world functions? International drug control predates the existence of the UN. It predates the existence of the League of Nations. Start here.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:32 AM on April 4, 2012


Since when are the Republicans the party of intellectual consistency?

Since they didn't want to set their own politicians up for impeachment if they re-implemented Republican torture policy. Since it would open themselves up to political evisceration for their current legal opinions on the matter.

They had a good case against Clinton too

what.


He perjured himself. It was pretty clear.

Why are you resistant to learning how the world functions? International drug control predates the existence of the UN. It predates the existence of the League of Nations. Start here.


Hi, welcome again to the start of this conversation where I told you the legal question is not the deciding factor, the political ramifications are.

Nobody cares about the treaties, they will be enforced only when politically expedient. Learn about why Bush and his cronies did not pay for any of their crimes. There is no political payoff for it. Why are you so resistant to learning about the truth about how the world really works?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:55 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Remember that glorious day when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and a bunch of their friends occupied the British headquarters and sat down and refused to leave, and so ended British rule in America?

Neither do I.
posted by Goofyy at 1:34 AM on April 4, 2012


It's not deference to the UN. Treaties ratified by the US stand on the same constitutional footing as the Bill of Rights and the rest.

This is not what the supremacy clause means. It's certainly not saying that treaties are coequal to the Constitution, and any thoughts like that should have been put to rest by Marbury.

All that it means is that the federal Constitution beats state laws and constitutions, and that federal law beats state law and constitutions, and treaties beat state law and constitutions.

If Obama shut down the DEA it would be automatic grounds for impeachment.

Depending on how you think about it or what you mean by it, either there is no such thing as an automatic grounds for impeachment or everything is an automatic reason for impeachment. The House can impeach, or not, for whatever reasons it chooses, and their decision isn't reviewable by anyone (unless you count Senate dismissal).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:03 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's getting annoying to me about the drug laws in this country is there's no actual reason for it: "Reefer Madness" has been pretty thoroughly debunked, it hurts no one, has killed no one, etc.

Yeah, I get there are "reasons" for big companies to oppose it, but on a personal, individual level, I feel like it's become like being opposed to gay marriage: It doesn't actually hurt anyone, in fact, keeping this shit illegal is ONLY hurting people and helping no one, but it's kept that way because "I don't like it." or "I've been told not to like it".
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:14 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any particular vote has practically zero chance of being a difference-maker in a state-wide election.

During the 2000 election George W. Bush won* Florida by 537 votes, which decided the election. I believe the 2000s would have been very different if Gore would've won.
* Or "won," whatever floats your boat. Bush also won New Mexico by 363 votes.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2012


Depending on how you think about it or what you mean by it, either there is no such thing as an automatic grounds for impeachment or everything is an automatic reason for impeachment. The House can impeach, or not, for whatever reasons it chooses, and their decision isn't reviewable by anyone (unless you count Senate dismissal).

In the sense of 'open and shut'. 'automatic' was a poor word choice, but the executive branch blowing off a treaty obligation would be a lot more straightforward than the argument of what constituted a high crime or misdemeanor.The idea that the GOP would be troubled by their earlier indifference to the CAT is a joke.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:53 PM on April 4, 2012


Which sucks, but you can't blame politicians in this instance.

If Barack Obama comes and and publicly supported Proposition 19, it would have won. Easily. It would have hurt his funding and his re-electability probably, but not public opinion.

So, yeah, I can blame politicians.

What's getting annoying to me about the drug laws in this country is there's no actual reason for it

The prison industry has been the biggest growth industry of the past few decades.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:00 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idea that the GOP would be troubled by their earlier indifference to the CAT is a joke.

It's not earlier anigbrowl, it's ongoing. They are not going to their base and telling them the President cannot protect them from terrorism with their enhanced interrogation because a U.N. convention says so or that George Bush should have been impeached for setting up war tribunals that violated the Geneva Conventions.

Right now the Supreme Court just ruled that a search procedure the ABA believes violate the torture convention is a-okay in American prisons. Think the right wants to have their judges impeached?

Nobody gives a fuck if there is an open and shut legal case, you have to make a political case and this isn't a political case they want to make. If they were desperate to impeach for anything they could have done it for Libya when Obama went ahead even when even Eric Holder didn't buy the legal excuse.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:09 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's time to sue to reschedule Marijuana. Has anyone tried it recently?

I think that was a joke (either way, I favorited it), but if not, yeah, people have been trying forever. The first one took 22 years to be denied. The last one took 9 years, but only because the Obama Administration was compelled to do so by court order.

Now that they finally took (the wrong) action, the plaintiffs can appeal, which, according to my friend, is good news.

"For the first time in more than 15 years we will be able to present evidence in court to challenge the government's flawed position on medical marijuana." - ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford.

But when? Hard to find that info ...
posted by mrgrimm at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, ASA is leading the charge on re-scheduling via the courts (as you linked above), and there's a federal bill as well, HR 1983. There is essentially always at least one court case and federal legislation in the works on rescheduling, usually led by ASA.

Asking your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the bill is always something worth doing. There's a set of medical and non-medical marijuana bills in Congress at the moment.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:48 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


if Obama came out as staunchly anti-drug war, and ordered the DEA et al to focus their efforts exclusively on the violence of the top people, of the cartels, while ordering the DOJ to take a "least priority" approach to possession and low-level sales... who would he lose?

Not who(m)? What. He would lose lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of money.

Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy for president on the Exactly Like Obama Except Where it Comes to Weed Party.

You should also add "gay marriage" to the list of differences.

Think about all those people who voted against California's Prop 19 because they thought the current situation was fine, and voting to legalize weed might upset the applecart or something.

To be fair, Proposition 19 added a number of restrictions on patients that do not exist currently--cannot smoke cannabis outside; cannot smoke in the presence of children (ill defined "presence"), etc. If they just removed that shit and added in something allowing for testing of critical operators (pilots, bus drivers, etc.), I think it passes.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:31 PM on April 4, 2012


"President Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon Monday, and praised him for his courage to stand up to his country's drug cartels. But former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda tells host Michel Martin that his country's president has produced few results from a deadly war that has killed nearly 50,000 people.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:35 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Prohibition exists largely because the President is enforcing it.

He has little choice, since the US is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Narcotics and Psychotropic Drugs, which thus has constitutional force and can not be overturned by administrative fiat or even legislative action. If Obama shut down the DEA it would be automatic grounds for impeachment


With Eric Holder, Obama could reclassify cannabis as a Schedule II or Schedule III substance in about 30 minutes, all by themselves.

Here's the full text (PDF) of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. You should read it.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:39 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the CND is not what is upholding prohibition in the United States. The US could substantially modify our drug sentencing laws in any number of ways without the INCB raising an eyebrow, and even if they did complain, there's not a lot they could do about it. They rattle their swords over Insite in Canada, and coca leaves in Columbia, and heroin assisted treatment anywhere, but countries actually have a great deal of latitude about what they consider legal or illegal, and how they enforce their laws. See Portugal, for one example.

Of course, if the INCB could see clear to declaring that torture or the death penalty for drug use were maybe not such a good idea, I might like them better.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:00 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mrgrimm, this is not so. Cannabis is explcitly scheduled in the 1961 treaty (explanation) and article 25 on the 1988 convention forbids any derogation from the terms of the earlier ones. DHHS makes the final call; their current (June 2011) views are summarized here.

On the plus side, Oaksterdam University is back open for business today. I suspect it's primarily a tax investigation.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:12 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


OH GOD IT'S ANARCHY, EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT SINCE 1960 HAS BEEN IMPEACHED FOR NOT STRICTLY FOLLOWING UN DRUG LAW! ALLAH SAVE US!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:35 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cannabis is explcitly scheduled in the 1961 treaty (explanation) and article 25 on the 1988 convention forbids any derogation from the terms of the earlier ones.

From your own link:
"But where to from here? Many European countries are quietly going their own way and either not implementing their laws regarding the possession of illicit drugs, such as the Netherlands, or are clearly saying that more appropriate means need to be employed, such as Portugal."

In other words, the treaty is a paper tiger. If it "forbids" rescheduling then why has whole-marijuana tincture (Sativex) been approved for medical use in Canada and the UK, among other countries?

As for DHHS: it's hard not to notice that their argument is full of highly-convenient claims like "data from TEDS show that in 2008, 17.2 percent of all admissions were for primary marijuana abuse" and "only small clinical studies published in the current medical literature demonstrate that research with marijuana is being conducted in humans in the US under FDA approval". This is only true because NIDA refuses to allow marijuana studies, and because the state often forces marijuana users into "treatment" for their "addiction" after they're arrested. Half their argument also depends on marijuana being illegal and "widely trafficked" (as if cocaine and methamphetamine -- both Schedule II drugs -- are not!)

The Federal game is rigged, and everyone knows it. This is precisely why we need state-level legalization... and why the Feds are (literally) up in arms about it.
posted by vorfeed at 1:00 AM on April 5, 2012


In Pot We Trust (parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:32 AM on April 5, 2012


4 Americans [still] get pot from the federal goverment. (Don't worry, they will be dead soon.)

"For the past three decades, Uncle Sam has been providing a handful of patients with some of the highest grade marijuana around. The program grew out of a 1976 court settlement that created the country's first legal pot smoker.

Advocates for legalizing marijuana or treating it as a medicine say the program is a glaring contradiction in the nation's 40-year war on drugs — maintaining the federal ban on pot while at the same time supplying it."


The 1976 case referred to there is the case of Robert Randall. Fascinating but ultimately doomed to bureaucratic trivia.

But it does highlight the disingenuousness of the government's position. They have 35 years of research data from 14 long-term users and they can seriously contend there are no proven medical benefits? WTF.

From the 1976 case that dismissed charges against Robert Randall, Judge James Washington wrote:

"While blindness was shown by competent medical testimony to be the otherwise inevitable result of defendant's disease, no adverse effects from the smoking of marijuana have been demonstrated.... Medical evidence suggests that the medical prohibition is not well-founded."

Emphasis mine. We've known that for a LONG time now. Sheesh.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2012


OH GOD IT'S ANARCHY, EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT SINCE 1960 HAS BEEN IMPEACHED FOR NOT STRICTLY FOLLOWING UN DRUG LAW! ALLAH SAVE US!

Aren't you a bit old for such tantrums by now? If you want to be taken seriously then argue like a serious person instead of just repeating your unfounded conclusion. As I pointed out to you before, I've actually put on a suit and got up in front of legislative bodies to argue for medical marijuana clinic, with moderate success. What have you done in real life? Do you think acting like a 5 year old persuades anyone besides people who already agree with you? Grow the fuck up or go home.

But it does highlight the disingenuousness of the government's position. They have 35 years of research data from 14 long-term users and they can seriously contend there are no proven medical benefits? WTF.

Of course it's a political problem. So why haven't legalization advocates focused greater effort on getting allies in DHHS? It's an exercise in buck-passing and the buck stops with the HHS secretary whose name is above the public health determinations.

That's within the US. Outside the US the conventions still matter and hardly anyone ever talks about those. The INCB is far from a paper tiger, notwithstanding progress in Portugal. How long do you think that policy is going to hold up if that country's economy erodes further? Why did Britain move cannabis back up the drug schedule after initially moving it down? Why don't legalization advocates even bother to mention the existence of these treaties? When I attended Oaksterdam U., you'd think that the US was the only country that had ever had a drug policy and other countries had set up their own because they were jealous or something.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2012


Of course it's a political problem. So why haven't legalization advocates focused greater effort on getting allies in DHHS? It's an exercise in buck-passing and the buck stops with the HHS secretary whose name is above the public health determinations.

Legalization advocates don't focus greater effort on getting allies in DHHS because it's a waste of resources (again, the game is rigged) compared to focusing on state-level initiatives which can and do pass. The vast, vast majority of marijuana arrests happen on the state level, so getting the Feds to butt out is far less important than getting the local Sheriff to do so, and state and local laws can do that.

I believe that marijuana should be rescheduled, but I also believe that doing so will probably do less to protect marijuana users than passing medical marijuana laws does -- medical marijuana laws protect anyone who can convince a doctor to sign off on a recommendation (not a prescription), whereas rescheduling would protect only those with doctors willing to prescribe marijuana. Effective pain medication is already becoming de-facto illegal in America; the idea that merely rescheduling marijuana will solve the access and arrest problems is naive. In the current climate the government's rhetoric would simply switch from "marijuana has no accepted medical use" to "look, it's not our fault, doctors don't even want to prescribe it!" Wash, rinse, repeat.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana systems provide legal protection to around a million patients in sixteen states plus D.C., and all we have to do to make it happen nationwide is get people to vote and contact their Congressmen/women. I think that's a much better payoff for my donation dollars than hiring people to try to talk sense into DHHS... right after Pfizer and the DEA remind them that Marijuana Isn't Medicine™. We need to change the climate before any engagement on the Federal level will be successful, much less the international level.

Why did Britain move cannabis back up the drug schedule after initially moving it down?

Yellow journalism regarding schizophrenia and "ultra-powerful" pot, plus a swing toward conservatism in general.

The INCB is far from a paper tiger, notwithstanding progress in Portugal.

Again, it's not just Portugal -- nations around the world have chosen decriminalization or outright legalization of marijuana. Besides, if one of the world's superpowers and the most vocal supporter of the drug war worldwide moves in this direction, the UN and/or the Senate will have to put up or shut up... and then we'll find out whether this tiger is made of paper or not.
posted by vorfeed at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aren't you a bit old for such tantrums by now? If you want to be taken seriously then argue like a serious person instead of just repeating your unfounded conclusion. As I pointed out to you before, I've actually put on a suit and got up in front of legislative bodies to argue for medical marijuana clinic, with moderate success. What have you done in real life? Do you think acting like a 5 year old persuades anyone besides people who already agree with you? Grow the fuck up or go home.

There is no reason to take you seriously, you are simply repeating your legal conclusions over and over and ignoring the political context which is the only relevant question. Why waste more time making serious posts you are just going to ignore?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:10 PM on April 5, 2012


(Also I was drunk. :P )
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:10 PM on April 5, 2012


Legalization advocates don't focus greater effort on getting allies in DHHS because it's a waste of resources

Exactly. It's like Code Pink trying to make allies in the DOD.

I believe that marijuana should be rescheduled, but I also believe that doing so will probably do less to protect marijuana users than passing medical marijuana laws does -- medical marijuana laws protect anyone who can convince a doctor to sign off on a recommendation (not a prescription), whereas rescheduling would protect only those with doctors willing to prescribe marijuana.

Perhaps in the very short term, but not in the long term, imo. The DEA's only argument against marijuana is that it has no demonstrated health benefits. Reclassifying it changes all that.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana systems provide legal protection to around a million patients in sixteen states plus D.C., and all we have to do to make it happen nationwide is get people to vote and contact their Congressmen/women. I think that's a much better payoff for my donation dollars than hiring people to try to talk sense into DHHS

Totally agree. Not only is it the most effective use of your money, it's the most worthy. Regardless of how many people you think have bogus recs, a lot of people with serious medical conditions can get relief from cannabis.

It boggles my mind: why on Earth are some people mad that users who don't necessary need cannabis medically are receiving it under that guise? So what? Shouldn't we all be much more upset that people who do need a recognized, helpful medicine cannot get it? How many people really "need" Xanax or Ambien?

What's getting annoying to me about the drug laws in this country is there's no actual reason for it: "Reefer Madness" has been pretty thoroughly debunked, it hurts no one, has killed no one, etc.

You'd better not consider the ban on industrial hemp. Your head might explode.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:08 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps in the very short term, but not in the long term, imo. The DEA's only argument against marijuana is that it has no demonstrated health benefits. Reclassifying it changes all that.

Nah, that's far from the DEA's only argument against marijuana. Their main argument is DRUGS ARE BAD MMMMKAY (except the ones almost everyone takes on a weekly or daily basis), and they can easily use this against medical marijuana even after it's rescheduled. I agree that rescheduling is absolutely necessary in the long run, but until we can change the frame of the debate we'll always be fighting this Puritan nonsense. And that's why medical marijuana is so important -- it helps make open marijuana sales/use a normal and mainstream part of American culture, and that'll endure in the long run. Speakeasies had a huge influence on our drinking patterns, for instance... I'm really looking forward to the next twenty years or so!

It boggles my mind: why on Earth are some people mad that users who don't necessary need cannabis medically are receiving it under that guise?

See above!
posted by vorfeed at 8:09 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of changing the frame of the debate, here's a good story on the "I prefer marijuana over alcohol" billboard Colorado's Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol just put up... right above Mile High Liquors.
posted by vorfeed at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Lexica was on vacation Monday, Pirate had an afteroon catering gig. As I was preparing to make the coffee, Lexi rolled over to check her messages. A TXT alert she'd signed up for ages ago and forgotten said the Feds were raiding Oaksterdam University, get downtown.

She came out of the bedroom and said "Wanna stream?"

By the time I left to go to the Jobby-Job, Team Oaktown Live had broadcast ~5 hours of the raids "Live and Direct" to the internet. The stream was mirrored on several sites and Ustream says there were 11,900 unique viewers who tuned in to watch the Feds get confronted by an angry Oakland population that resented their presence and what they were doing.

Here are several highlights from PT 1 including the DEA rolling down the purple gates at the Oaksterdam Giftshop, an interview w/ Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center. Also, Oakland CM Rebecca Kaplan (seen here with Dale Sky Jones of Oaksterdam University) spoke about how Oakland didn't want this raid, wasn't consulted, and how the regulated dispensaries are not where the violence is happening in Oakland. Andrew DeAngelo, also of Harborside Health Center, gave an impassioned plea to the OPD to protect the community of Oakland and stand down from aiding the Feds.

Earlt 20th century Prohibition had video clips of law enforcement busting open barrels of beer and whiskey. Early 21st century prohibition has video of DEA and IRS agents hauling out the plants from Oaksterdam University. And the harvest class was right around the corner.

Oakland was pissed. People with walkers and wheelchairs were getting in front of the DEA cars, blocking their exit, almost getting run over. Cancer patients were showing their scars. LOTS of chants of "DEA GO AWAY!"

We've got further highlights to make, including the 3 arrests that day. It's a little bit janky, but the 3rd arrest, that of KPFA correspondent Jose Alacran Gutierrez, I clearly call out the Federal Marshal who began the shoving. That started the incident that ended in Jose at the bottom of a federal dogpile being arrested.

Also, a federal marshal was accused of assaulting indy journalist/livestreamer Bella Eiko in the scuffle. He declined to give a name or badge number. Though I did get my battery cable hooked up on his buddy's vest and almost got slammed in the SUV's door for it. Whole not of no badge #s, no names on the feds that day. The single identifier I saw on any fed was the shortest one of them all, had a patch on her vest read "Big Texas".

All this while a multi-death school shooting was going on not too far away in the city.

Lexi & I are kinda psyched that we were able to contribute to a big chunk of the historical record of that day not only going out live on the net, but now the raw footage is creative commons licensed for posterity.

Lexi was back at base control posting/tweeting links of relevance to the social stream. I'll let her describe her own experience of that day.

The world was indeed watching Oakland that day.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:30 AM on April 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


P.S. I didn't get anything to eat or a cup of coffee all day until I got home to change and run out to my catering gig. Luckily I had my camelback. Never expected it to go that long.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:32 AM on April 6, 2012


Awesome comment, Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey. It ought to be sidebarred.
posted by vorfeed at 12:03 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shame on the Oakland Police, why would they be beholden to the Feds and be out in force supporting actions against California and Oakland law? Totally sucks.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:55 PM on April 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Minor correction--Stephen DeAngelo, not Andrew DeAngelo, of Harborside)
posted by gingerbeer at 3:21 PM on April 6, 2012


Steve DeAngelo is the executive director of Harborside. Andrew DeAngelo is the general manager.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:52 PM on April 6, 2012


The Call: Sometimes painted as the Molly Hatchet of the Rhode Island medical marijuana movement, putting the axe to the state’s three proposed compassion centers before they had a chance to open, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha says he just wants to make sure everyone knows where his office stands on the issue so there will be “no surprises” when, and if, a dispensary opens up.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee put the licensing of three compassion centers that had gone through two lengthy Department of Health application processes on hold after receiving a letter from Neronha saying the centers could be subject to raids and their employees subject to prosecution.

Now lawmakers, working with Chafee, have reworked compassion center legislation but Neronha said nobody has discussed the proposed measure with him. He is making no promises about the acceptability of the new plan.

“We don’t have an issue with individuals who are sick, cancer patients who are really truly sick, and we don’t have an issue with their individual caregivers,” Neronha explained on a recent visit to The Call office. “What the department does take issue with are commercial, large-scale marijuana enterprises"
....without which the individuals who are sick cannot get their medicine.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:02 PM on April 7, 2012


“We don’t have an issue with individuals who are sick, cancer patients who are really truly sick, and we don’t have an issue with their individual caregivers,” Neronha explained on a recent visit to The Call office. “What the department does take issue with are commercial, large-scale marijuana enterprises"...without which the individuals who are sick cannot get their medicine.

Agreed. In practice, avoiding commercial dispensaries means restricting medical marijuana access to an insignificant few. Growing medical-grade marijuana involves a good amount of expense and expertise as well as significant risk. Not everyone can grow their own, or knows someone willing to do so; telling patients and their caregivers to grow it themselves is the "let them eat cake" of the medical marijuana movement.
posted by vorfeed at 4:00 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Suppose the government approved reclassification of marijuanna as a schedule 2. The DEA would approve a limited number of growers and importers who could only grow specific varieties. They might also choose to regulate hash and baked goods separately. This would do nothing to solve the larger problem of violence and crime caused by the larger recreational market. I think this would limit the therapeutic applications and hoped for social gains. There would be a lot of patients who would not be served by this solution.
posted by humanfont at 5:51 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


This would do nothing to solve the larger problem of violence and crime caused by the larger recreational market.

I gotta say, as an Oakland resident I kinda resent this remark.

Here in Oakland, we have meth, crack, cocaine, heroin, gun violence, gangs fighting over drug turf, and kids getting killed by stray bullets.

None of he gun violence that we have in Oakland is associated with the licensed, regulated cannabis market operating within state law, in conjunction with the City of Oakland. I can't remember the last time I heard about guns being drawn by the police at a cannabis dispensary here in Oakland.

On the other hand, we did have rifles and shotguns deployed in what seemed to be a manhunt in East Oakland. Kinda think it wasn't over weed.

Anyone bringing up the subject of gun violence and cannabis is gonna get big cries of "BULLSHIT" from Oaklanders, because even the underground market is not known for violence in these parts. The crack markets, the meth heads, the junkies, they'll fuck you up and people shoot up neighborhoods with big-ass guns over the right to the drug concession.

Cannabis in Oakland means employment, medicine, and (in the case of the dispensaries) tax dollars. There's ~100 people in Oakland suddenly unemployed this week. How big a chunk out of the local economic activity did the Fed raid take?

Worried about violence and the recreational cannabis market? In Oakland, that's a fucking joke of an idea, and a mildly irksome one given how much real violence and personal destruction the non-regulated drugs cause in the 510.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:02 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Worried about violence and the recreational cannabis market? In Oakland, that's a fucking joke of an idea, and a mildly irksome one given how much real violence and personal destruction the non-regulated drugs cause in the 510.

I'd agree with you about Oakland, but the fact is that the cartels in Mexico are very, very, very violent (don't click if you don't want to see disembodied heads), and they are making lots of money on marijuana, even in/through California.

I agree with humanfront that rescheduling doesn't address this... but I also agree with you that dispensaries do address this, by creating a legal alternative to cartel-sourced marijuana that's open to as many smokers as possible. We need more of that, no question.
posted by vorfeed at 12:18 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to be crystal clear: cartel violence is the fault of the drug war, much like the violence which surrounded alcohol during Prohibition. I don't much like blaming "the larger recreational market" for it, as if recreational users were the ones who decided it would be awesome if it were illegal for them to buy and/or grow marijuana. The market is not the problem -- the problem is that it's a black market, and that's nobody's fault but the government... a government which ignored its own recommendations in the 70s and has only gotten less reasonable since. But the violence in Mexico does exist, and we should make eliminating it a primary goal of our drug policy. Rescheduling alone would do little or nothing to address it, and that's a problem.
posted by vorfeed at 4:15 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


not sure if this is interesting or not ...

"Dear Citizens of the World

For far too long cannabis has been oppressed by big corporations, big pharma and governments when it could be benefiting all of mankind on many different levels. We have heard and we have watched your government lie and deceive you on all the dangers of cannabis. Show support by making your profile pictures green this April 20th on your social network profiles.

OpCannabis phase 1, initiated. We are Anonymous.....Expect us."

(via tokeofthetown)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:18 AM on April 9, 2012


Okay, finally got edited fo-real Youtube clips from the day's livestream:

-Mellody Gannon showing off her surgery scars shouting "MY meds, my cancer!" while holidng up a jar of weed.

-DEA rolls down the gates at the Oaksterdam GIft Shop, then snaps a photo for the scrapbook. You can really hear the presence of east coast natives who moved to Oakland in this clip.

-Interview with Dan Rush, UFCW Local 5, State DIr. of the Medical Cannabis & Hemp Division. Oaksterdam University is a union shop.

-Statements by Special Agent Arlette Lee (IRS), who, in her role as on-site Public Information Officer, had nothing to say, could not comment on anything, or give out any information about what was going on.

-One of the MANY community protest doobies being passed around.

-Pirate's editorial live from the raids

-US Marshal's deputy "BIG TEXAS" (that patch was the only personal identifieron her vest) mean-muggin' at Pirate Was it something I said?

-DEA agents who have locked themselves inside Coffeeshop Blue Sky break a window from inside. You can tell from the crowd's body language and the glass strewn all over the sidewalk, the blow came from inside the coffee shop where the Feds ad taken refuge from the big scary crowd of angry stoners and cancer patients.

-The arrest of Jose Gutierrez, from beginning to end. Jose is a correspondent with KPFA-FM in Berkeley. Once it kicks off, I call out the US Marshal who started the shoving match that ended up with Jose at the bottom of a Federal dogpile and under arrest.

The DEA agent with the mask and the rifle and the black elastic covering up his badge # (I presume) later mumbled off camera that the elastic was for a fallen comrade. All well and good when you're off duty or going to a memorial service. But when you're out in public on city streets with a FUCKING RIFLE, you're on fucking duty.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:29 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been an activist far too long to become intimidated

Unfortunately ...

"Richard Lee, whose bid to legalize marijuana in California brought him international attention, plans to give up ownership of his Oakland-based marijuana businesses after a federal raid this week seized many of their assets, including plants, bank accounts, records and computers.

'I've been doing this for a long time. Over 20 years.... I kind of feel like I've done my time," Lee said Thursday. "It's time for others to take over.'"

.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:30 AM on April 11, 2012


"A coalition of 11 [Colorado] medical marijuana patient and business advocacy organizations--including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union--today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney John Walsh in response to Walsh's call for the closure of 25 state-licensed medical marijuana businesses."

Dear Mr. Walsh,

As parents, patients, business owners, and Colorado citizens, we are concerned by the recent letters sent by your office demanding certain state-approved medical marijuana businesses cease operations.

Since the dawn of this new health care field, we have worked closely with Colorado state and local governments to safely regulate medical marijuana sales and production, and have made great efforts – and gone to great expense — to establish a thorough and safe regulatory structure. Because of this collaboration between stakeholders and state and local officials, Colorado has emerged as the model among states that legally recognize the medicinal value of marijuana.

We stand in unison with patients and governing bodies across Colorado in our active commitment to continue the careful implementation of a secure and community-minded system of regulation. Here is a partial list of our contributions to the Colorado community:

· We have provided vital medicine to 164,000+ sick and disabled Colorado citizens whose doctors have recommended medical marijuana to them.

· We helped author and endorse SB 12-154 to establish a responsible vendor program similar to what many Colorado jurisdictions currently require for alcohol sales.

· We are working with the Denver City Council to foster sensible regulations, including currently working on language to limit inappropriate advertisements, specifically public advertisements near schools and other sensitive areas.

· We worked with local papers, like the Colorado Springs Gazette, to establish community-conscious advertising with a proper healthcare focus.

· We employ over 5,000 Coloradans and provide them with a living wage so they can support their families. We also provide substantial support for ancillary businesses like electricians, carpenters, and engineers.

· Our businesses produce tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue with the first $2 million earmarked annually for programs critical to helping Colorado fight addiction and accompanying mental health issues. The Circle Program at Pueblo’s Colorado Mental Health Institute was on its last legs before this new tax supported it.

· We help create safer neighborhoods through the extensive use of security cameras and guards, by increased lighting in commercial areas, and by occupying otherwise vacant retail or warehouse space.

As committed members of the communities we live in, we believe in responsible regulation of this important, and growing, health care field. We also share your concern about teens accessing medical marijuana and have taken serious steps to reduce any redistribution. We welcome a thoughtful discussion about the potential areas for improvement in the current regulatory structure.

Sincerely,

Association of Cannabis Trades for Colorado (ACT4CO)
Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA)
Coloradans 4 Cannabis Patients Rights (C4CPR)
Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council (CSMCC)
Green Faith Ministry
In Harmony Wellness Services
Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of America (MMAPA)
Medical Marijuana Business Alliance (MMBA)
Sensible Colorado
Women’s Marijuana Movement
United Food and Commercial Workers Union: Local 7

posted by mrgrimm at 12:03 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


For those who asked "what can we do about the war on marijuana": Marijuana Policy Project is matching donations at 10-to-1 (up to $1,000,000) toward Colorado's Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol this week, between today and 4/20. If you start a recurring monthly donation this week it'll be matched at 120-to-1 for the year: a $10 monthly donation will secure $1200 towards the effort to legalize marijuana in Colorado, on top of your donation to MPP. If CO votes to legalize it'll send a powerful message to the Feds...
posted by vorfeed at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you start a recurring monthly donation this week it'll be matched at 120-to-1 for the year: a $10 monthly donation will secure $1200

That is awesome, but to help crush the stoner stereotype, I'm going to say, as your link notes, that's still a 10-to-1 match, not 120-1. ;)

posted by mrgrimm at 1:06 PM on April 16, 2012


That is awesome, but to help crush the stoner stereotype, I'm going to say, as your link notes, that's still a 10-to-1 match, not 120-1. ;)

The donation-matching only lasts for a week. If I pledge $10 monthly this week, and they donate $1200 next week, then they're treating the $10 donation which came out of my account as if I'd already given for the entire year (times twelve). Then they're multiplying that amount by ten, for a total multiplier of 120: "To make things even more exciting, any new monthly credit card donations that are started between today and 4/20 will be multiplied by 12 -- for the full value of a year-long pledge -- and then still trigger the 10-to-1 match for Colorado!"

Since you can cancel your monthly donation at any time, pledging a $10 monthly donation isn't the same as donating $120; thus, they're matching the money you actually paid at a rate of 120-to-1. This pays off for them because many people will end up donating long after the first year, of course, but matching $10 worth of actual money with $1200 is still twelve times more of an immediate outlay than matching the same $10 with $100.
posted by vorfeed at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Corrected! (I kinda understood that, but it seems a little sleazy to sign up for a monthly donation and then cancel it ... tho I guess I can't think of a good reason why not!)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:03 PM on April 16, 2012


"It's one thing when a 'tough on crime' Republican continues the 'war on drugs' just like he said he would. It's quite another when somebody who said 'Of course I inhaled–that’s the point,isn’t it?' and campaigned on putting science ahead of politics in general–and not devoting a lot of federal resources to persecuting medical marijuana in places it was locally legal, in specific–turns his back on his campaign promises and destroys the lives of innocent people."

The war that won't die—and why
posted by mrgrimm at 1:28 PM on April 24, 2012


"[Obama] calling for a debate on the drug war while immediately adding that legalization is 'not the answer' to the discussion he says he wants. Which is sort of like telling the family that they can have anything they like for dinner, so long as it is the leftover brisket sitting in the refrigerator."

Obama opens his mouth, and Mitt comes out
posted by mrgrimm at 1:29 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kudos, New Hampshire ... and kudos, GOP!

"Republican legislators nationwide should perk up their ears and take notice of what is happening in New Hampshire, where a Republican-sponsored medical marijuana bill has blazed a trail of surprising successes."

NH Republicans Pass Medical Marijuana in Spite of Democrat Governor’s Veto Threat

Fuck you, Democrat Governor. All we need is three more GOP supporters...
posted by mrgrimm at 2:35 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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