President Barack Obama, please step up to federal change on cannabis.

Young Barack Obama

Young Barack Obama

As reported here and elsewhere, voter mandated state legalization of cannabis possession in US states Washington and Colorado, has brought about enormous pressure to change federal policy. Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire well expresses the quizzical drug war actions of the Obama presidency. Pierce notes, “the results in Colorado and in Washington state – and, to a lesser extent, in Massachusetts – indicate that the political salience of the “war on drugs,” as applied to marijuana, at least, almost has completely evaporated.”

So far in his presidency, Obama has brushed aside numerous questions about drug policy and marijuana decriminalization with bemused disdain. One of his first presidential acts was to renominate GW Bush appointee and marijuana hardliner Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. He chose as his vice president long time drug war villain, Joe Biden. He has watched silently while the DEA, federal attorneys and other “public safety” agencies with self-serving anti-cannabis agendas dismantle thriving, tax-paying dispensary businesses in California and subjecting southern Oregon farms to brutal federal forfeiture.

Finally, powerful and respected voices are calling him out on this key budgetary, medical and personal freedom issue:

Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most intelligent and wealthy men, is a passionate advocate of drug law reform and ending prohibition of cannabis. He advises that the will Washington and Colorado voters should be respected. Sir Richard is disgusted by the fact that, “The U.S. currently spends no less than $51 billion — per year — on the war on drugs. That’s double what Apple profited last year. It’s a horribly depressing number.” President Obama, you are looking for ways to cut useless federal spending, Hello, they are staring you in the face.

Politically, its, like, WTF? The 2012 election showed the overwhelming importance of the youth vote (or lack of it, in the case of Republicans). President Obama, marijuana legalization got more votes than you did in Colorado. American voters now favor marijuana legalization, overwhelmingly in the case of medical cannabis. Any action you take now to free Americans from these vicious and destructive Schedule I penalties will be leading from behind, far behind current American public opinion.

You should thank your lucky stars that you were not caught and caged when you enjoyed pot as a youth. If you had been caught, the highest White House employment you could have hoped for would have been janitor, although you would probably have been denied entrance for even that. With the simple stroke of a pen, you as president could reschedule cannabis, away from the current draconian Schedule I, hopefully away from the DEA altogether. Never could so much justice be accomplished, so easily.

Will you instead, Mr. President unleash the dogs of war, drug war,  to crush state infrastructures and private citizens? Actually, with draconian Schedule I in place, along with hardliners in power at the DEA and as federal prosecutors, the misdirected, counterproductive federal war on cannabis will continue on its own, unless specially reined in. Writing in Salon, posted on Alternet, Alex Pareene nails it, “Here’s what I know: The DEA is full of people who went to go work for the DEA, and the Justice Department is full of prosecutors. Professional drug warriors, shockingly, are drug warriors. The Pentagon, similarly, is staffed with a lot of people who like dropping bombs and firing missiles, and every postwar president has ended up doing quite a bit of both once in office, no matter what they said they’d do before they were elected. The American state’s brutal machinery of death and prosecution is difficult to slow or stop “. On this issue President Obama seems every bit as sharp as he did in the first debate. But, now he could go the other way.

Act now, Mr. President, for harm reduction. Free young men and women, black, brown and white from the crushing personal and legal blow of a useless, tragically counterproductive marijuana arrest. Reduce the drug war prison Gulag. Help balance the budget by defunding the drug war and disbanding the DEA. Gain young voters for your political party. Enter the 21st century. Soften the fiscal cliff. Strike Schedule I from cannabis and end the idiotic war on marijuana.

Give “Drug Peace” a chance. Oh, never mind.

Rarely does this site quote from Forbes, as in Steve Forbes, but Doug Bandow has performed a great service with his current piece at Forbes.com, It’s Time To Declare Peace In The War Against Drugs.

The former special assistant to Ronald Reagan elegantly catalogs the malignacies of current drug policy. Concerning cannabis policy he writes,

  • “The Drug War also interferes with treatment of the sick and dying. Cannabis and other drugs can aid people suffering from a variety of maladies. Additional research would help determine how, in what form, and for what marijuana could be best used. Yet government effectively punishes vulnerable people in great pain, even agony.”

Author Bandow notes some of the ruinous wrongs ending the war on drugs would correct:

  • “Banning drugs raises their price, creates enormous profits for criminal entrepreneurs, thrusts even casual users into an illegal marketplace, encourages heavy users to commit property crimes to acquire higher-priced drugs, leaves violence the only means for dealers to resolve disputes, forces government to spend lavishly on enforcement, corrupts public officials and institutions, and undermines a free society. All of these effects are evident today and are reminiscent of Prohibition (of alcohol) in the early 20th Century.”

Bandow must have not been responsible for Ronald Reagan’s drug policies. This ‘small-government’ president’s worst hypocrisy and mistake was to “run up the battle flag on the war on drugs.” See Why 1984 WAS like 1984.

During this “Just Say No” era, bloated bureaucracies such as the DEA had money thrown at them, the Bill of Rights was disemboweled with the drug war exception, mandatory minimums were enacted. A quintupling of the US prison population began, now burdening the USA with the world’s highest number (and percentage) of caged citizens. Many of them are totally non-violent and no risk to society, ordinary Americans entrapped by draconian laws.

In late 2011, incredibly, the USA is again on the path of ramping up the drug war yet again, especially against cannabis, a medically beneficent natural substance that should never have been illegal, much less Schedule I. As long as it is Schedule I, self-serving Feds have everything they need to promote and expand their jobs and pensions with a renewed war on marijuana. Evidence of this new heavy hand of prohibition is everywhere.

  • Obama’s pathetic renomination of Bush-appointee and arch-medical cannabis nemesis Michele Leonhart to head DEA. The president’s ill thought appointment, and her gag-inducing Senate confirmation, allows this national police force to reinvigorate its war against Americans benefiting from medical marijuana.
  • The California dispensary system, conforming with state law, is about to be broken. One of the few positive aspects of the California economy just now, the dispensary system efficiently provides Californians their medicine, while generating employment, innovation and local and state tax revenue. Now the IRS and threats of ruinous property forfeitures are being used to close down these employers and tax payers.
  • Another crushing blow to any drug peace, was the Senate’s idiotic rejection of Jim Webb’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306).  Crucial issues, such as grotesquely counterproductive laws, prosecutions, mandatory minimums and incarcerations could have been questioned in the light of day. Not going to happen.

It is preposterous that the USA, at this challenging point in its history can reinvigorate one of its most clearly failed policies, the federal war on marijuana. The country desperately needs to not be wasting its resources and attacking the rights, medical freedoms and lives of its citizens, but it is doing just that.

Bureaucrats successfully stifle medical cannabis research.

Last week, Dr. Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts, after a decade of trying to gain permission to grow or procure cannabis for research on its medical value, finally gave up. Unlike any other substance, the government maintains a total monopoly on growing and distributing cannabis for research purposes. Essentially the government allows no research on cannabis, especially investigations into its medical benefits, the focus of Dr. Craker’s research.

For more history of University of Massachusetts professor’s 9 year struggle, see the AP report here.  This dismal tale of bureaucratic injustice seemed more hopeful in 2007, when a federal judge ruled in Professor’s Craker’s favor and recommended the DEA grant the request. But then this judgment was overruled by the DEA‘s acting director Michele Leonhart in the waning days of the Bush administration. Obama’s response back-stabbed those who voted for change when he then nominated this DEA hack as director, a position which she now holds after unanimous Senate confirmation. Gag.

The government’s actions, and decades of stalling inaction, are crimes against humanity.  Dr. Craker says this is only the first battle and the struggle will continue for many decades. Problem is, those who need the new medications the most, the Baby Boomers, don’t have a lot of decades left to wait while bureaucracies stall research that would further undermine their palace of lies. Lies such as  the Schedule I assertion that cannabis has no medical value. Baby Boomers will be consumed by cancer, blinded by glaucoma, paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, racked by  Crohn’s disease and suffer other dire maladies for which cannabis medications show great promise while self-serving government bureaus continue to lie, to stall and to stifle research.  Such despicable behavior and horrendous consequences, especially when the anti-cancer promises of cannabinoids remain uninvestigated,  truly qualify as crimes against against humanity.

The Obama administration promised a science-based approach. Instead, Obama has allowed politics and bureaucracy to stifle what may well be one of the most productive veins of medical research this century. What if all the tens of billions of dollars wasted on cannabis prohibition and eradication were instead invested in researching medical benefits of cannabinoids? How many jobs could be created? How much suffering could be avoided?  For now, Dr. Craker has lost, along with the American people and scientific inquiry. The bureaucrat prohibitionists and their massive budgets have won. Thankfully, this vital cannabis medical research continues on in other countries.

Reverse Christmas present from Obama and Senate

President Obama and the US Senate have given the American people a reverse Christmas present with the confirmation of Michele Leonhart as DEA administrator.  For such an dishonest person to gain such an exalted role atop a fundamentally flawed organization says terrible things about American governance. The federal government should be defunding and dismantling this anti-American agency, not appointing apparatchiks to head it in the exactly wrong direction.

The pick by Barack Obama of Leonhart was a total refutation of the president’s campaign slogan, “Change you can believe in.” Instead, Obama picked George W. Bush’s choice for DEA administrator. Doing so, Obama stabbed in the back millions of reformers who had hoped for changes to America’s cruel and counter-productive drug war. When renominated by Obama, Leonhart’s offenses were many, including refusal to allow research on medical marijuana and in general playing a completely obfuscatory role in accommodating the changes made by voters in 15 states with medical cannabis laws.

Thanks, Obama, for nothing. You will never get my vote again.

Reformers proposed some real questions for her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Instead, senators supposedly “examining” her credentials threw her only pathetic softball questions. Not once was confronted for her obstructive, pedantic mismanagement of the agency, nor the tragic 40 years of draconian  Schedule I for marijuana so coveted by DEA thugs. Instead, the likes of Jeff Sessions began his “questioning” with the adoration, “I love the DEA.”  He followed by setting up for her opportunity to demonize cannabis.  Not one senator challenged this tripe.

Thanks Senate Judiciary Committee, for nothing. E, tu Al Franken?

Finally, the full Senate unanimously supported and passed her nomination today. This horrendously compromised administrator will now be in position to decide on yet another petition to reschedule cannabis, eight years in the works and  one of the defining issues to the time, critical to both criminal justice and health policy.  Guess what her response will be? The 40 years false scheduling and demonization of cannabis will continue well into the 21st century.

Look for dangerous and devious attacks on the rights of medical cannabis users over the next decade by this pathetic excuse for an American, now in a position of immense power, ready and able to forward the DEA’s “harm enhancement” strategy.

Thanks US Senate, for nothing. I love my country but detest my government.

USA tortures Canadian with solitary confinement for promoting cannabis.

Demonstrating a new moral low, the USA has scored a new political prisoner, Canadian entrepreneur Marc Emery. Almost immediately this outspoken voice ending cannabis prohibition suffered solitary confinement. This is a form of torture; as anyone who has suffered this social and sensory deprivation can testify. The Instanbul Statement, a definitive international declaration, calls on

  • States to limit the use of solitary confinement to very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible, and only as a last resort.

How terribly twisted, then, that in 2010 in the United States of America, a citizen of Canada languishes in solitary confinement at Sea-Tac, in the state of Washington. The world’s largest jailing nation, the USA, gained one more prisoner to its 2,300,000 total when the federal government vindictively snagged this Vancouver BC, Canada entrepreneur.  Within days this political prisoner was plunged into solitary confinement. Not for a short a time as possible, but apparently as long a time as possible. And not as a last resort, but as a first resort.

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Marc Emery’s story is quite well known and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say his powerful entrepreneurial and philanthropic energies showed how prodigious cannabis consumption can correspond with enormous work accomplishment. He ran afoul of the DEA when his passions led him to work expose cannabis prohibitionist lies. When the ultimate prohibitionists, the DEA, finally arrested Marc Emery for selling seeds, Bush appointee Michele Leonhart gloatingly referenced his efforts at marijuana legalization. How tragic that Obama re-appointee (gag) Michele Leonhart may be responsible for Emery’s descent into the torture of sensory deprivation. He is one of the planet’s best people; she is one of the worst.

The War on Drugs has tragically wounded the USA. The land of the free, home of the brave now instead runs a massive prison gulag, boosting the careers and bloated pensions of drug war bureaucrats, cops, prosecutors, prison builders, jail guards and piss testers, while imprisoning more of its own people (by far) than any other country. As Senator Jim Webb has stated.

  • “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.”

As if being the world’s most prolific incarceration nation were not bad enough, the American prison system routinely makes use of solitary confinement, a condition in which tens of thousands of people are languishing at this very moment across the USA. Solitary confinement cells maximize the profits of prison builders, of course, a key industry in the four decade’s old war on drugs. The fact that this deprivation technique drives people insane does not seem to be much of a consideration. Neither the American people nor the current neo-con Supreme Court care much about the condition of prisoners.  Both would care more if they could see the monetary costs and building dangers of such a system. One day, most of these people will walk out of prison and rejoin society.

Marc will do better than most in this deprivation regimen and hopefully will soon be out of solitary if not confinement. If he is required to serve his whole five years, then American taxpayers will have to borrow another quarter million dollars from China to pay for this Canadian’s imprisonment costs. Does not the USA have better things to do with its money, (borrowed and repayable by grandchildren), than to legally kidnap and and imprison citizens of Canada for selling seeds?

Hopefully, much sooner than that, Marc Emery will return to his wonderful wife Jodie Emery and his country of Canada. And hopefully, the USA will return to senses. The war on drugs wastes money, wastes minds, wastes lives and is totally anathema to the true American values of freedom, life and liberty. Free Marc Emery!