So Rolling Stone is running a piece titled “Obamas War on Pot” with the subtitle of “In a shocking about-face, the administration has launched a government-wide crackdown on medical marijuana” . Like so many articles on drugs, it is so-so at best, relatively good when it relies on quoting documents, hard numbers and other “facts”, but often failing when they venture into realities they clearly have no experience of.
One thing IS clear, despite the “Ogden Memo of 2009” which essentially said the justice department would not waste resources on medical marijuana operating within state laws, the Federal agencies have launched a new crackdown over the past 6 months or so.
But despite the sensationalist title, it’s not until the very end of the article that they get to the important point: Obama likely has nothing to do with this.
I know many in the drug policy, harm reduction,medical marijuana field- some involved at the local or state level, others in DC. And while pretty much everyone’s confused, no one really thinks Obama is at fault.
The overwhelming consensus is that the reality is that Obama has far more pressing issues to deal with, and that many Bush era republicans, still in high places in various federal agencies, have launched their own war.
In recent months we have seen the IRS go after dispensaries- claiming that their business deductions, are invalid because marijuna is illegal federally. This despite the facts they have been accepting the tax returns, and happily cashing the (substantial) checks for years, without ever giving any notification they thought something was wrong.
We’ve seen arms of the justice department going after dispensaries landlords, threatening to confiscate the property, and all rent ever collected, in cases where a dispensary was located within 1000 feet of a school park, or other “drug free zone”.
We’ve seen the justice department threaten lawmakers who oversee or otherwise approve medical marijuna laws and dispensaries.
And of course we have seen the justice department exploiting the loopholes left by poorly crafted laws. Initially, most states that passed medical marijuana laws did so by voter iniative. Such iniatives, regardless of the topic- tend to be rather simplistic- hitting the main points, and hoping that with their passage it will send a message to state legislatures- and get them to do the job they should have done in the first place- namely- craft a well written law that responds to their constituents needs. Sadly, overwhemingly, the state legislatures have failed. So there are lots of loopholes- with the biggest one often being ambiguty as to just how people are supposed to be able to acquire this medicine.
Regardless- I think this is a sobering wake up call as the 2012 election rolls around. This highlights just how little power a president has to effect changes in laws, and even when he tries- how easily he is thwarted by the government at large. Anyone who thinks Ron Paul would fare any better, especially considerring his election would certainly mean complete control of congress going to the Republicans, and like multiple states sliding further to the right…well…prepare for a much bigger disappointment then those, all around the world, who had pegged such high hopes on Obama.
With latest polls putting support for medical marijuana creeping near 80%, and marijuana legalization/decriminilization hovering just over 50% one would think we could move forward. Numerous states have medical marijuana or even outright legalization on the ballot this year, with many more states having bills winding their way through the local governments.
But unless we strip power from the republicans in this next election, we will see a return to failed policies: escalation of the drug war, assaults on womens reproductive rights, assaults on the social safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, while at the same time increasing welfare to corporations, , a renewed assault on our environment, on workers rights, on gay rights, on science – both in the classroom and in policy.
I am tired of being dragged back to the middle ages, and being persecuted as a heretic. I am sick of politics being based on a morality from some twisted interpretation of the bible.
I am not religious, but I have read, and studied the bible (and every major, and some minor religious texts) for years. And this much I know- their god of the old testamnet…well…we would despise each other. But their Jesus- we would get along famously. And maybe that’s the root of the problem. They figure Jesus was so understanding and ull of love and forgiveness, that they don’t have to worry about what he tried to teach them. They just have to worry about the nasty old man, full of hate and vengeance- and do his bidding.