President Obama, a federal judge urges you to end Schedule I for marijuana.

The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug for the past decades has been a disaster of immense proportions, and a massive American injustice. This evil taints the lives of millions of American citizens unjustly arrested and prosecuted. The draconian scheduling evokes punitive mandatory minimums and helped turn the land of the free into the world’s biggest jailer.

The Schedule I rating of cannabis is based on absolute lies. Schedule I drugs are supposed to be highly addictive and damaging and have no medical value. Because cannabis has immense medical value, now proven beyond doubt, and is one of the safest and least harmful drugs, its Schedule I classification is abhorrent and cruel, useful only to the bureaucratic benefit of drug warriors.

Few evils could be as easily eradicated as those caused by the deceitful Schedule I classification. Although the DEA should not have its bloody hands nor jack boots upon cannabis at all, the reality is that the DEA administrator is currently being legally forced to consider a petition (filed 8 years ago) to down-schedule marijuana. All that would be required to make this desperately needed change is a phone call from President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder.

Actually, the administrator’s decision will probably be made only after her Senate reconfirmation.  The fact that President Obama renominated a Bush appointee for DEA director is shameful. The fact that such a DEA bureaucrat holds the power to a decision of such importance to the country is nauseating. Michelle Leonhart should be grilled by the senators on this issue. Her confirmation should be rejected if she is reluctant to reclassify marijuana. Of course, given the authoritarian, neo-con, drug-war-monger make up of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the opposite is more likely.

Down-scheduling cannabis would provide an immense array of benefits to the USA and its people. Legal problems with the plant would be removed from the worst, most draconian penalties, their present status. Gestapo-like drug war tactics such as SWAT raids, asset forfeitures and mandatory minimum jail terms would no longer be supportable by less then Schedule I classification. Hemp agriculture would be jump-started in the USA if farmers did not have to worry about drug war thugs destroying their crops and bludgeoning their lives.

The federal government could begin catching up with its citizens and states on better drug policy and health care alternatives. Such a change would accommodate the increasing demand by the American people for access to cannabis-based medicine and a safer alternative to alcohol.  In nearly every case, when state voters have been given the option, they have elected to end prohibition of medical marijuana. In California, voters may soon elect end state prohibition of marijuana altogether. Already the state leads the country and the world in providing innovative forms of cannabis medication.

Federal Judge George H. Wu

Federal Judge George H. Wu

Adding to the voices pleading for down-scheduling, Mr. President, add now a federal judge in California, on the front lines of trying to implement discredited federal marijuana policy with conflicting mandates from the state and its citizens. Federal Judge George H. Wu is still presiding over the lamentable case of Charles C. Lynch, covered in an earlier post. As reported in Drug War Rant and Salem-News,

  • The sentencing order states that Lynch was “caught in the middle of shifting positions” on the issue and that, “Much of the problems could be ameliorated…by the reclassification of marijuana from schedule I”

Actually many of this country’s most pressing problems could be ended by the reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I. Additionally, dozens of new solutions to problems of health, fuel, food, housing and prosperity would be accomplished by the liberation of cannabis so easily attainable by a simple down-regulation. While Schedule II would be preferable, it is still far to harsh and restrictive. Pure THC in the pill form Marinol was down scheduled to Schedule III, so cannabis, far less potent, should be scheduled no higher than this. Actually, the least restrictive category, Schedule V would best fit cannabis/hemp, although even this classification keeps it somewhat under the thumb of DEA bureaucrats. Still, the worst legal harshness and research roadblocks would be gone.

It would be tragic were the Obama administration end with marijuana still at Schedule I. Such a sad circumstance would be a huge victory for bureaucracy over reason, and would mark the America’s neo-con decline into prohibition, persecution, retribution and incarceration. Please Mr. President, do the right thing. Instruct your DEA administrator to down-schedule cannabis!

Barack Obama’s 1st 100 Days: Drug Policy grade = D

As Barack Obama’s 1st 100 Days in office looms, many are assigning grades. In several aspects of his presidency he get high grades. But this blog is about drug policy. Obama’s drug policy grade = D. Not exactly the change we had hoped for.

Just a couple of bright spots elevate Obama’s grade:

  • The other main hopeful sign is the appointment of a drug czar with a very different and refreshing mindset from any we have had before. Of course, that is a pretty low bar. Gil Kerlikowske, expected to be confirmed as drug czar next month is more friendly to some harm reduction approaches to drug use.

Despite great hope, many of Obama’s appointments and policies are big drug policy reform disappointments. Hope for change dimmed with each of these appointments:

  1. Joe Biden. The vice president is one of the very worst drug war mongers in congress, with a history of supporting authoritarian drug war policies since the Reagan administration. Biden virtually invented the Drug Czar office. He has enthusiastically supported the bare-knuckle enforcement of draconian laws that has done much to quintuple the American prison population into the largest gulag on the planet. See No, Joe Biden, we don’t “know we needed tough laws.”
  2. Rahm Emanuel. Chief of Staff. Pugnacious anti-cannabis zealot. Helped engineer the short-lived policy in the Clinton administration to penalize California doctors who recommended cannabis after Prop 215 legalized its medical use in California in 1996. Luckily the courts would have none of the federal censoring of free speech of physicians. See Rahm Emanuel: Free Speech Hall of Shame.
  3. Eric Holder. A prosecutor with an icy heart, he encouraged the mandatory imprisonment of black youths for minor drug crimes when he served in Washington DC as US Attorney for Bill Clinton. Some of his comments about not persecuting medical cannabis dispensaries in California were encouraging. Other actions, though, show a darkly authoritarian streak.
  4. A telling non-appointment, DEA head. 100 days in office and no new DEA director. 100 days into his presidency, Barack Obama has left control and direction of the DEA in the hands of the lying Bush apparatchiks. They should have been frog-marched from the building by US marshals in the first hours of the new administration. The White House dog is firmly in place for weeks now, but these same thugs are still paid to commit drug war on their fellow Americans.

In addition to these appointments, other actions bring down Obama’s drug policy score:

  • In response to solicited ideas from citizens on how to improve government and the country, Barack Obama twice downplayed the obvious public support for changing marijuana laws. Looking for economic ideas, he dissed the popularity of the questions and said their is no place for cannabis reform in his economy. In reality, cannabis and drug policy could save the American economy tens of billions of dollars a year and provide for whole new areas of innovation that would grow the economy, such as basic materials, food, fuel and medications from hemp.
  • Although Obama promised during the campaign that federal laws would not be enforced against state legal medical marijuana operations, he has equivocated on the issue. The latest bad news was the apparent direction given to federal prosecutors in the case of Charles C. Lynch, the California medical dispensary operator who will be sentenced June 11. The trial judge had asked the justice department for direction in sentencing; by the demeanor of federal prosecutors in court last week a hard-line approach is apparently being taken by the attorney general.
  • Inclusion of the Byrne grants into the stimulus package. These so-called Justice Assistance Grants ramrod through more of the same get-tough drug war policies that have created our prison gulag. Instead of creating positive social capital, as in education or health, they create negative social capital, more Americans behind bars, more felons and ex-felons, more SWAT teams eager to war on their communities. One of George W. Bush’s best policies was to discourage this wasteful spending.
  • Michigan v. Jackson. Just last week, the Obama Solicitor General urged the supreme court to decide in a way that the AP report on the move describes it as “another stark example of the White House seeking to limit rather than expand rights.” The Obama administration policy on this case is nearly exactly what could have been expected from his predecessor Bush administration and attorney general Alberto Gonzales. As it turns out, the behest for initiating the Obama directive came from Bush-appointee neocon supreme court justice Sam Alito. Nauseating!

Although Barack Obama gets only a D grade in drug policy reform, most former drug war presidents fare worse.

  • George W. Bush also gets a D in drug policy. He did hideous things, like appoint mad-dog John Walters as head of the NODCP, the Drug Czar, given free reign and hundred of millions of taxpayer dollars to wage his personal war on cannabis. All to very little effect, thankfully. But George W. Bush pretty much ignored the drug issue. He had other wars to fight. In one of his few acts of controlling wasteful spending, he discouraged the Byrne grants which Obama has embraced.
  • The Bill Clinton administration also get a D, a D – actually, as the growth of the Justice Department, drug war arrests,  prosecutions and incarcerations rose at their highest rate.
  • The George W. H. Bush administration also gets a D-, probably should be an F. Focused on the war on drugs with specials from the White House where he fondled a bag of crack cocaine supposedly purchased near his residence. Expanded drug war by Invading Panama and arresting its leader.
  • Ronald Reagan gets an F. After espousing that big government is part of the problem with America, Reagan pushed through authoritarian, intrusive drug war policies that still have supposedly “freedom loving” Americans lining up to urinate into bottles, just to get or keep a job.

Barack Obama, raise 1st 100 days drug policy grade! Appoint a new DEA director now. Let his name be Norm Stamper.

Eric Holder, be bolder. If you can overturn Senator Steven’s conviction, you can stop a travesty in the case of Charles Lynch.

Attorney General Holder has taken action to throw out the recent conviction of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens. Apparently Justice Department prosecutors acted improperly. Defense did have not access to documents. The judge criticized the prosecution and had been awaiting clarification from the Justice Department.

Another Judge on another case also awaiting clarification from the Justice Department. That would be George H. Wu, the district court judge who just oversaw the federal conviction of California medical cannabis provider Charles C. Lynch.

As mentioned before in an earlier blog post, during the federal trial Judge Wu  enforced the edict that nothing could be said about the legality of medical marijuana in California. The state laws legalizing medical cannabis under which Mr. Lynch operated faithfully could not be mentioned. Nor was mention of the dispensary’s grand opening with the mayor allowed, and not the great help the medication helped some of the residents of Morro Bay.

Outraged jurors, who felt forced to convict given the few facts available to them, condemned their own verdict and enforced ignorance imposed by the court. As reported in the New Times, Juror Mariclare Costello wrote,

  • “I had to find Mr. Lynch guilty of breaking the federal law. Mr. Lynch is in the impossible position of being caught between two valid and contradictory laws. Common sense has been abandoned. Justice is questionable at best. To compound this lack of justice with further punishment is untenable.”

Actually there is nothing valid about the federal cannabis laws. Constitutionally, the federal government has no such powers; An amendment was required to prohibit alcohol. There is no amendment against cannabis. Drug laws, if they exist, should be state laws.

  • The federal government certainly has no business overriding state laws and specifically denying the will of voters. It certainly should not be tormenting and probably caging good Americans like Charles Lynch. No matter, he will probably be sentenced on April 20.

Eric Holder, in light of prosecutor misdeeds, is overthrowing Senator Steven’s conviction. As he put it, “I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

Well good, because if “the interest of justice” is actually foremost in Eric Holder’s mind he should be equally as quick to avoid a travesty by dismissing the indictment of Charles Lynch.

Charles C. Lynch medical cannabis sentencing delayed. Judge Wu to study the issue.

Perversely persecuted medical cannabis figure Charles Lynch escaped the federal slammer today, at least temporarily. After his federal prosecution and conviction for distributing cannabis, he is facing a ‘mountain of time,’ potentially decades in the federal pen. There he would join the other 53% of federal prisoners behind bars for drug “crimes.”

Today U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu postponed sentencing. Like all judges for sentencing federal drug crimes, his hands are essentially tied. In the case of mandatory minimum sentences, the judge becomes just an operational pawn for applying the draconian minimum sentences dreamed up by self-righteous legislators.

Charles Lynch has become a poster boy for the cruelty and idiocy of the federal persecution of cannabis, especially when protected by voter-mandated state medical laws. His story was well told by John Stossel and  Al Roker. The case has taken on a special poignancy with the arrival of the Obama administration and federal policy regarding state endorsed medical cannabis operations.

Still, it is encouraging Judge Wu has been tracking the recent changes on medical cannabis policy issuing from the Attorney General Eric Holder. Less encouraging is his statement “he did not believe that any change in policy would affect the conviction of Charles Lynch, 47.” The LA Times NOW account adds that Judge Wu “said he wanted to consider any new information about the policy before imposing sentence.”

Well gee, the new, current policy from Attorney General Eric Holder dictates that dispensary operators conforming to state laws, as Lynch was, will not be targeted by the Feds. Therefore, Lynch’s case would not have ever transpired under current law. No jack-booted squads dressed in uniforms of brutality  — face-masks shields, and automatic rifles — would have smashed down his door and thrown him to the ground. He would not have been transported from his home and put into a cage. Seems like that might be relevant.

In the federal trial of Charles C. Lynch, Judge Wu enforced the edict that nothing could be said about medical marijuana. The state laws under which Mr. Lynch operated faithfully could not be mentioned, nor the dispensaries Grand Opening with the mayor, nor the great help the medication helped some of the  residents of Morro Bay.

How could a federal judge not feel shame in participating in, indeed enforcing, such as sham? Hopefully, Judge Wu heard the outraged complaints of a jury who, denied the basic facts, felt no choice but to convict. Now they feel outrage and shame, and they should rightfully feel scorn for a judge who forced their participation in this miscarriage of justice.

Judge Wu, after your additional study of the changes taking place in the justice department and in California, and the day of sentencing comes, do the right thing. Any sentence beyond time served would be an obvious and hideous violation of right and wrong, a perversion of American ideals. To say nothing of violation of 8th and several other amendments, of the Bill of Rights. Do your duty for American justice, Judge Wu and free Charles C. Lynch.

Speak up for the judiciary about idiotic mandatory minimum sentences. Insist on real justice rather than conforming to rote sentencing schedules.

Speak out as an American for the great injustice done Mr. Lynch and millions of other Americans ensnared by arbitrary and cruel drug laws, especially those on cannabis, with its great medical usefulness. Insist that cannabis be rescheduled down from Schedule 1.

Speak up for freedom and say that there is no way you would sentence a community resource and public servant like Charles C. Lynch to a day in federal prison.