Congressman Steve Cohen Calls for End of Schedule I for Cannabis

By Don Fitch

Steve Cohen

Congressman Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen, US Congressman from Tennessee, has called out Attorney General Eric Holder to end the ludicrous Schedule I legal status for cannabis. The Tennessee democrat (TN-09) is one of several US congresspersons working against continued marijuana prohibition.
Congressman Cohen is absolutely right when he speaks about the evils of Schedule I status, the most restrictive and punitive, for cannabis and hemp. These negatives include:

• Asset Forfeiture: Schedule I means marijuana “crimes” are among the most serious federal offenses, enabling draconian stealing of personal assets by the government.

• IRS 280E: This rule may cripple most cannabis businesses by disallowing common business deductions because of the illegality (especially Schedule I) of the product.

• Mandatory Minimums: Long prison terms for any “crime” involving cannabis are supported by the pernicious Schedule I tag.

• Medical Marijuana Research: Total control (and nearly total restriction) is granted to the DEA and NIDA, who cling to the “no medical use” definition to disallow medical research.

• Hemp: Imported seeds for the first Kentucky hemp planting were delayed at the border by the DEA last summer, requiring the intervention of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. To survive, the new American hemp industry needs cannabis rescheduling. Continue reading

Cannabis Prohibition: Schedule I idiocy extended 20 years ago today.

20 years ago today, an unelected bureaucrat extended the restrictive Schedule I status of cannabis. On December 30, 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overlooked the evidence from every valid investigation of cannabis and decreed that it would remain on the DEA’s Schedule I, the most restricted status. Despite ample evidence for its medical value, the DEA left it in the only category declared without medical use.

In making his decision, the DEA administrator had the recent opinion of his own DEA law Judge Francis L. Young. Judge Young had investigated the scheduling of marijuana by the DEA. His extensive study reached remarkable conclusions:

  • The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.
  • Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.
  • It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Twenty years ago the DEA administrator acted in just such an unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious manner and refused to down-schedule marijuana, retaining total control of all medical research and quashing any industrial hemp applications. For this next 20 years, cannabis has retained its erroneous federal status as a dangerous drug without medical use.

Millions of Americans had their lives damaged, their property confiscated and their selves imprisoned by unjust laws based on this Schedule I falsehood. For the DEA as a bureaucracy, though, the ruse has been effective. The agency has grown cancerously as law-makers threw money at what they perceived a political asset, the war on drugs. Ten million marijuana arrests in those two decades fueled an enormous drug war industrial complex.

Cannabis remains Schedule I today. President Obama seems unwilling to lift a finger to change this great injustice. Indeed, Obama seems paralyzed in taking even the smallest steps for reform of this cruel and counterproductive policy. He has even failed to replace the current DEA administrator, leaving in place an authoritarian neo-con appointed by George Bush.

Either Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder could begin to right this historic evil by ordering the down regulation of cannabis and all cannabinoids. A Schedule V rating would free cannabis from the DEA boot on its neck. So too, it would free the American people from criminalization and repression by drug war bureaucrats and allow medical cannabis research to flourish.

By the way, a second drug war evil took place on this day. On December 30, 1996, President Bill Clinton authorized a federal attack on recent gains by medical marijuana proponents, specifically California’s Proposition 215, voted in a month and a half earlier. Already overseer of a hugely expanded Justice Department with big jumps in marijuana arrests, prosecutions and jailings, Bill Clinton now sought to specifically override the choice of California voters and prepared an attack on American medical rights that culminated in one of the most egregious modern attacks on the American Freedom of Speech.

Specifically, Clinton and henchmen Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey and representative Rahm Emanuel sought to deny the rights of physicians to speak of the possible utility of medical marijuana. Doctors were threatened with denial to pharmaceutical drugs if they counseled glaucoma victims about the eye pressure-lowering power of marijuana. They were told they might lose their right to practice medicine if they mentioned to the retching patients undergoing chemotherapy that some find nausea relief with cannabis.

Fortunately the courts saw the grievous unconstitutionality of such restrictions and ended this government thought control for doctors and their patients. Despite this setback, every government bureaucracy benefiting from the drug war has continued this attack on the medical rights of their fellow American citizens, rights about which medication they choose with their doctors.

Thanks to StopTheDrugWar.org ‘s Drug War Chronicle’s This Week in History for noting the dates of the above misdeeds.

Obama pioneers new medical marijuana policy!

Barack Obama in WashingtonAn Associated Press writer is publishing that a new federal policy on medical marijuana is being distributed Monday to federal prosecutors around the country. AP Newsbreak: New Medical Marijuana Policy Issued.

The policy change is apparently in line with statements made by the president as he ran for office and first outlined by Attorney General Eric Holder last February. In a reversal of the policies of all presidents to come before him, no  those needing and producing cannabis for medical need will need not fear federal prosecution. Incredibly, in the recent past, Americans whose only “crime” was growing plants suffered severe federal prosecution and lost decades of their lives to overcrowded prisons and forfeited their property to the government. Hopefully, this modern Inquisition is over.

Now it is time to remove cannabis from the false Schedule I classification that erroneously clings to the no-brainer notion that cannabis lacks medical value. Let science into this decision, not just DEA dogma.

Perhaps President Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize after all. Millions of Americans in medical need of cannabis will certainly feel new peace in their lives from this long-overdue humanitarian policy.

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.

Eric Holder keeps Obama’s promise! Just said “No!” Federal medical cannabis raids to end.

Eric Holder ends DEA raids on medical cannabis patients and facilities!

Buried near the end of a press conference covering arrests of the Sinaloa cartel, Eric Holder responded to a reporter’s question. He was asked if the DEA raids on California medical cannabis (marijuana) facilities just after President Obama took office would be the future policy, despite Obama’s campaign pledge to end the federal raids. The answer was refreshing and is a milestone in the endless War on Drugs.

Eric Holder just said “No.” He continued, “What the president said during the campaign, you’ll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we’ll be doing in law enforcement. He was my boss during the campaign. He is formally and technically and by law my boss now. What he said during the campaign is now American policy.”

The Attorney General’s simple statement, elicited only by one half of a two part question twenty five minutes into a press conference, was far more important than the subject of the press conference, drug cartel arrests. With the DEA (acting) administrator MIchele Leonhart at his side, we can be certain his policy was heard by the DEA.

The specter of federal arrests and prosecutions has always loomed  for state-certified cannabis patients and care-givers in those states with laws allowing medical use (and growth) of cannabis.

Ironically, Eric Holder’s actions in lessening federal prohibition of cannabis may do far more to reduce the power of the Mexican cartels than all the enforcement actions he announced yesterday. Even though all of the Sinaloa cartel arrests were for drugs other than cannabis, some of their profits come from supplying the American market for marijuana. To the extent that the Attorney General’s new policy will reduce that demand by allowing medical supply in states like California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico, the cartel’s profits will wane.

Congratulations to Barack Obama and Eric Holder for taking this small step towards medical freedom. No longer will medical consumers of cannabis, nor their state-licensed dispensaries, have to fear raids from squads of federal jack-boot thugs. With the end of this federal harassment, Americans have won back important freedoms long lost in the liberty-killing War on Drugs.

Thanks to Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim for spotting Holder’s remarkable statement.

The race issue Eric Holder cowardly does not talk about.

Eric Holder observes that as “we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”  When the new Attorney General starts talking race issues, a giant elephant enters the room. No, not the republican elephant trying to smear the new top cop at the Justice Department with spurious allegations about a pardon during the final days of the Clinton administration. No, Holder’s real elephant in the room is the disaster befallen America’s blacks from the ill-conceived and mis-directed War on Drugs.

Because Eric Holder was a principal architect of this decade’s long war on its own people, it is a topic he, rather cowardly, refuses to address. Meanwhile, black people especially, continued to have their lives smashed by their government and are disproportionately jailed in America’s “drug gulag.” As top prosecutor in Washington DC, he tried to increase punishment for minor drug possession.

The “war on (some) drugs” has been – and continues to be – disastrous for blacks in America. Although now a little dated, the year 2000 Human Rights Watch report Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs. It documents he harshness with which minor drug crimes are punished in the USA and how black Americans suffer disproportionate arrest and imprisonment. In 1954, 100,000 black America’s languished behind bars. Now that number is 900,000. Black lives, careers and families have been trashed by a vicious drug war that has had little or no effect on drug use.

President Obama has spoken about the need to abolish the crack sentencing disparity that has landed so many blacks behind bars wth felony convictions. But neither Obama or Holder have addressed the basic problem of a drug war that has declared many Americans, especially black Americans, to be the enemy.

So Eric Holder, as Attorney General, don’t be a coward. Reexamine your prosecuter’s zeal for imprisoning your fellow black American. Help stop the idiotic, and racist, War on Drugs.

Holder his feet to the fire. Eric Holder a drug reform disaster as Attorney General.

Tragically, Barack Obama’s Attorney General will very likely chart a more-of-the-same course on two of America’s greatest criminal justice problems, the fraudulent drug war and the related explosion of the American prison population. Barack Obama’s supporters had every right to hope that their winning candidate would provide a change of direction in America’s disastrous drug and incarceration policies.  But then came his cabinet announcements.

Bizarrely, conservative politicians in and out of congress alone oppose the nomination of Eric Holder as next Attorney General.  Holder’s nomination SHOULD be opposed by all those who love the Bill of Rights and who believe that America should be land of the free, not site of the world’s largest prison complex. Eric Holder, like all of Obama’s Clinton administration holdovers, was a hard core drug warrior, eager to smash the lives of young Americans with felonies, mandatory minimum sentences and fill newly-built prisons.

In just one generation the American prison population has quadrupled. During this same generation a succession of Attorneys General have used the “War on Drugs” as an easy escalator for riding huge expansions in the department. The drug war, especially the persecution of cannabis, has provided decades of high octane fuel for the Justice Department, along with the DEA, SWAT squads, prison industries and urine testers. More arrests are made for the “crime” of possession of cannabis alone, than for all the violent crimes, those with actual victims, put together.

Eric Holder, please note; Barack Obama please note: the Drug War verdict is in!  A July 2008 World Health Organization report found no relationship between severity and enforcement of drug laws and level of drug use by a country’s people. The USA, with its draconian approach (10 times more drug war inmates in USA that in all of Europe), actually still has the highest rates of illegal drug use out of 17 countries studied in new research. The entire war on drugs is a useless fraud. Actually far worse than just useless, in reality a horribly expensive and counterproductive betrayer of America’s key values, as embodied by our Bill of Rights. At this point the USA jails more of its citizens for violations of drug laws than Europe imprisons for all crimes. Europeans look on aghast as across the Atlantic former the land of the free locks away its citizens at a rate 6 times that of their own.

The quality of America’s Attorney General, for nearly all the last forty years at least, has been pathetic. Richard Nixon’s wretched John Mitchell was himself brought down by Watergate. During the long decades of the drug war, most of them have been enthusiastic proponents for jailing an ever larger proportion of the nation’s citizenry for victimless “crimes.” Clinton’s Janet Reno oversaw a massive expansion the Justice Department and corresponding swelling of the American prison population. When not scheming for ways to torture prisoners at Guantanamo or spy on American’s telephone calls, George W. Bush’s Hall of Shame Attorney’s General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales eagerly oversaw the jailing of America’s two millionth prisoner in 2003. Finally, Barack Obama is elected and people hoped for the promised change. Instead, the appointment of another Clinton administration drug war hardliner Holder for Attorney General dashes hopes for change in cannabis, drug and incarceration policy.

Michael Pollan, writing about cannabis in The Botany of Desire, put it very well. He envisions future historians looking back on this era, scratching their heads as to “why Americans would have been so willing to give up so many of their hard-won liberties in the fight against this plant.” From every indication, Eric Holder will be yet another Attorney General eager to separate Americans and their liberties, and continue, without thinking or blinking, the federal war against, “this plant,” medical cannabis.

Another new aspects that makes the prospect of the new Attorney General thoughtlessly cloning the cannabis policies of his predecessors all the more ludicrous has been the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptor system and the major role this discovery portends for cannabinoids in health care. Ever protective of cannabis’ Schedule 1 designation, the Justice Department has lead the nearly across the board resistance to the study of medical cannabinoids.  As a result, many of the rapid advances in understanding the scope, importance and medical potential of our endocannabinoid receptor system has taken place outside the USA. Now it looks quite likely things will continue on as before, with ideology trumping science still. But let’s hope for the best.

Cannabinoids 1988 – The Day the DEA told the truth

With 2008 just behind us, this post looks back not across last year, but farther back, 20 years. 1988 witnessed a remarkable event. On September 6 of that year the federal bureaucracy, the Drug Enforcement Administration, told the truth. This may be the only case of veracity by the DEA during its meteoric 35 year history.

The uncharacteristic truthfulness from the DEA came from one of its own administrative law judges, Francis L. Young, in his report and recommendations to the agency on the prospect of reducing cannabis’ Schedule 1 status.  Such extreme status supports governmental torments inflicted upon Americans nearly equal to the tortures of the Inquisition for mere possession of plant material used by humans over the last 12,000 years. Instead of tools of physical torture, the new Drug War brought torments such as the family and soul-killing horrors of mandatory minimum sentences and asset forfeitures.

Zero-tolerance zealotry inflamed Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, along with authoritarian senators, such Joe Biden and John Ashcroft, and Torquemada-like prosecutors such as Eric Holder and Rudy Giuliani in the 1980s. Their ire was written into harsh new drug laws and sentencing scheduling. New legislation began allowing drug war bureaucrats to make war against a sub-set of Americans

  • These laws allowed the DEA and even local police to take Americans’ property away from them and give it, in part, to police agencies.
  • The same laws encouraged police to take Americans’ liberty away from them and give it to the mushrooming prison/industrial complex.

Cannabis sativa, of all drugs, was the center of this ever-growing drug war. Crack cocaine got the headlines, but as always, marijuana users suffered the most arrests. “Just say no” campaigns and DARE programs, along with beer and cigarette company planned and financed drug-free America campaign, institutionalized lying about cannabis. This drug has none of the violence promotion of alcohol, or the addictiveness or lethality of cigarettes, and even then showed strong medical utility. Nonetheless, it was denounced by the DEA and essentially the entire US government, as without medical value and dangerously addictive, fully supportive of its harsh schedule 1 status.

Into this maelstrom came a voice of calm from DEA law judge Francis L. Young. His investigation into the correctness of Schedule 1 for cannabis resulted in a set of talking points remarkable in their clarity and a direct challenge to the plant’s draconian rating:

  • The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.
  • Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.
  • It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Such findings caused Judge Young to reject the agency’s claim for Schedule 1 status for cannabis. What was the result of truth being told to power? Essentially nothing.

The DEA continued, of course, to be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious and stubbornly clung to the draconian scheduling of cannabis that accounted for (and still accounts for) so much that agency’s total activity. Like any bureaucracy, the DEA is protective of its turf, and persecuting cannabis makes up huge portion of the agency’s reason for existing.

Since Judge Young’s honest but futile ruling, over 10 million Americans have suffered arrest and the resulting damage to their lives and families for possession of a relatively harmless and medically beneficial plant substance.

Californians voted in 1996 to exempt medical cannabis users from prosecution. Clinton administration drug warrior Rahm Emanuel participated in the attempted persecution of physicians who might advise patient’s of cannabis medical benefit. Emanuel actually said “We’re against the message that the initiative sends to children.” Apparently young people might be damaged by being made aware of the medical benefits of a plant? Attempts by Emanuel and the Clinton administration at muting physicians suffered defeat at the hands of the US Supreme Court when such heavy-handedness was declared as a violation of free speech.

During the ensuing 20 years since Judge Young’s refreshing candor, essentially nothing has changed at the federal level. During this time, the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptor system has redefined our understanding of the workings of the human body. Cannabis remains as Schedule 1, despite 20 years of research, performed mostly outside the USA, showing huge medical value as an anti-inflammatory, neuro-protectant and pain relievers. Instead, over 800,000 Americans suffer arrests each year, more than one cannabis arrest each minute. Although these mass arrests seem to have no effect on use of cannabis, it does serve as a colossal jobs program for urine testers, snitches, cops, DEA agents, drug counselors and jailers.

After 20 years since Judge Young told the truth, many Americans hoped the election of Barack Obama might signal a new direction. Perhaps the drug war might be reconsidered by better minds? Perhaps the incarcerated nation with over 2 million of its citizens behind bars might be reexamined/ Perhaps decades of lies and tens of millions of arrests for possession of a beneficial plant might end? But now things do not look hopeful. Barack Obama, for some reason, has placed in key positions, including Attorney General, the worst of the drug war zealots of the Clinton administration. Probably none of them have heard of the DEA law judge and his findings of the relative harmlessness of cannabis and the great injustice in demonizing the plant in draconian legal code as Schedule 1. Nor would they care. After all, it sends the wrong message to children.

Obama, Cigarettes and Cannabis

President-Elect Barack Obama has promised not to smoke cigarettes in the White House. Does not smoking in the house mean smoking in the entryways of the White House? Out in the Rose Garden?

Cigarettes are not just the most lethal drug confronting America, they are also the most addictive. The power of cigarette’s grip on human behavior its remarkably demonstrated by our next president. Barack Obama is literally the alpha male of human competence and self control. Master campaigner, victorious debater, now triumphantly poised to assume the most important job on the planet!

Yet still, of all people, the President-elect is not able to summon the will to not smoke tobacco cigarettes. As much as he would like to quit, as much as Michelle and the girls want him to quit, he will presumably duck out of the White House, furtively avoiding his family and to the chagrin of his Secret Service detail, light up a cigarette. Statistically, the smoke will cost him 11 1/2 minutes of his life, and each pack of 20 cigarettes will cost him 3 1/2 hours from his life.

Like most people who become addicted to cigarettes, Obama began as a teenager. Recent evidence shows that just a few cigarettes smoked by an adolescent can set up a lifelong addiction. Tobacco cigarettes were not the only drug smoked (and inhaled), “That was the point” by young Barack Obama:

  • One drug, cannabis with cannabinoids, he used and inhaled. Later, Obama stopped using cannabis when he chose to do so.
  • The other drug, tobacco cigarettes with nicotine, he also used and inhaled. Later, Obama could not totally stop using when he chose to do so.

Receptor discrimination?

When the young Obama smoked a tobacco cigarette, the main drug he inhaled was nicotine. Nicotine activates trans membrane receptors in cells, specifically the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR ). In less 10 seconds after taking a puff of tobacco smoke, nicotine molecules crossed his blood-brain barrier and fit like tiny keys into a locks normally activated by the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Nictoine causes the receptors to activate, change shape and initiate a chemical cascade. Young Barack would have felt modest elevation of energy and mood from AChR receptor activation.

When the young Obama smoked a cannabis “joint,” the main drug he inhaled was THC, short for Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol. THC activates trans membrane receptors in cells, specifically the cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. In less than 10 seconds after taking a puff of cannabis smoke, THC molecules crossed his blood-brain barrier and fit like tiny keys into a locks normally activated by the neurotransmitter, anandamide. THC causes the CB1 (and CB2) receptors to activate, change shape and initiate a chemical cascade. Young Barack would have felt mild euphoria from CB1 receptor activation.

Nicotine is a powerful insecticide. THC is a powerful neuroprotective antioxidant, anti inflammatory and analgesic. Tobacco smoking is highly carcinogenic. No smoke inhalation is a good thing (nor is it necessary with the advent of vaporizers, but cannabis smoking is apparently not carcinogenic. Indeed, THC exhibits several capabilities for preventing, even shrinking tumors.

Tobacco use kills over 1,200 Americans each day. Cannabis use kills 0 Americans each day.

Legal Sanctions

The contrast in legal sanctions for young Barack’s smoking activities are the most startling. If Barack had been caught underage with cigarettes, the punishment, if any, would have been minor. Certainly nothing that would jeopardize his career and future presidential run.

Had Barack been caught and arrested for possesstion of cannabis, though, his future would have immediately dimmed. If given a felony conviction and jailed, as would be possible because of cannabis’  misguided, draconian Schedule 1 listing, Barack would likely now be unemployed. Luckily, because Barack avoided arrest, the “justice” system missed its opportunity to crush the life and career of our next president.

Tragically, Obama’s choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder, holds neocon, authoritarian views on exactly this issue. When part of the Clinton Administration, serving as US Attorney for Washington D.C., he pushed for mandatory jail time for young people caught with cannabis in that city.

Hopefully, as Barack Obama puffs on his occasional cigarette outside the White House, he will think of the vast 2,000,000+ prisoner gulag stretched out across America before him. Far too many of these prisoners languish in jail because they were snared by the dishonest, cruel and self-serving laws against a plant. More Americans are arrested for cannabis possession than all violent crimes combined.

As you take your smoke, please think, Mr. President, of all these American lives being crushed and crippled by such torments as mandatory minimums.  Eric Holder gleefully fed young cannabis prisoners to this incarceration industry and as AG may force many more American lives and families down into the grinder.  All for contact with a substance with true medical value, as opposed to the tobacco cigarettes from which Mr. President, huddled outside the White House, draws another nicotine puff.