Posts tagged with “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.
Seemingly, 2011 would have good year for the federal government to be engaged in increasing employment and securing the financial system from further meltdown. Unfortunately, the government did neither of these. Astoundingly, federal bureaucrats instead re-energized the idiotic and failed war on drugs, especially medical marijuana.
DEA jackboots raid a house.
The year began dismally with a unanimous senate confirmation of Bush/Obama appointee Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. Any hope for cannabis rescheduling, or even research, are dashed by her choke hold on medical marijuana as administrator of this bloated agency. During confirmation hearing her anti-medical cannabis ravings were praised by powerful senators, such as Senate Judiciary Leader Jeff (“I love the DEA”) Sessions, R-Alabama. The bureaucrat Leonhart is now empowered to essentially single-handedly determine US doctrine on medical marijuana, predictably hard-line. Schedule I classification of marijuana has been very, very good to the agency and to the bloated pensions of thousands of needless, useless federal employees. This erroneous Schedule I classification for cannabis is the cause of life-crushing harshness of twenty million arrests during this senseless and on-going war on marijuana.
One possible bright ray of hope came with legislation offered by the retiring Barney Frank and presidential hopeful Ron Paul. H.R. 2306 would have repealed federal penalties for production, distribution, and possession of cannabis for medical use. This one piece of freedom-promoting legislation was quick quashed by a single powerful representative, Lamar Smith R-Texas. He simply refused to give the legislation a hearing and the desperately needed legislation died on the spot, tyranny in action.
Encouraged by this drug war zealotry, freedom-harming initiatives sprouted from seemingly every branch of the federal government.
- The ATF, perhaps trying divert attention from their appalling gun running to Mexican cartels fiasco, sought to deny second amendment gun rights to patients afforded relief by state legal medical marijuana.
- The IRS gutted the financial viability of cannabis dispensaries by denying ability to expense costs, as every other business is allowed.
- Congress, supposed infused by “small government” representatives voted in 2010, instead proposed new, big-government-at-its-worst intrusive legislation. Notable was the legislation, proposed again by the lamentable Lamar Smith R-TX that would criminalize American’s activities overseas, if they violated the Controlled Substances Act.
- Federal prosecutors across the country banded together to attack voter-approved state medical cannabis protections in the fifteen states with such legislation. By playing the federal Schedule I trump card, federal prosecutors have all they need to persecute, jail, fine, and seize assets from those working for medical cannabis freedom and building this new health care industry.
As George W. Bush would say, “they attack us because they hate our freedoms.” But the attackers in 2011 are our own taxpayer-supported federal bureaucrats. They attack fellow citizens benefiting medically from cannabis and the health care industry that was quickly growing, to protect and expand the rosy drug-warrior careers and pensions this failed war on Americans has provided these lordly bureaucrats.
Rescheduling cannabis and drastically downsizing the counterproductive war on drugs were easy steps that Barack Obama could have taken. He could have chosen a leader, such as Norm Stamper, rather than a drug war crazed self-server to head the DEA. Instead, as in so many ways, he has chosen to play out George W. Bush’ third term. Far more Americans support ending cannabis prohibition than support Obama’s reelection.
Sigh, 2012 does not look much better. Unless maybe Ron Paul were elected president.
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.
The US Constitution is being read by the new House of Representatives. This is probably a good idea. I just hope they are listening carefully, especially when they get to the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights. Most of the new crop of conservatives are nearly (even actually) religiously respectful of the 2nd Amendment. Tragically, though, the same group usually proves curiously disinterested in the other Bill of Rights amendments, most of which have been severely frittered away by the war on drugs.
US Representatives, please listen carefully to Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.
- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Remember, a constitutional amendment was necessary to federally outlaw alcohol. Another amendment rescinded this prohibition and removed federal criminal control over possession and use of alcohol. In the case of other drugs, however, the federal government has been able, with no constitutional amendment, to exert iron control over what substances the entire American citizenry can possess. One result of this war on drugs had bloated American prisons with the world’s highest number and proportion of prisoners. So much for land of the free. The unconstitutional war on drugs supports tens of billions of dollars yearly of federal expenditure in a totally non-productive, actually hugely counterproductive, enterprise. What the war on drugs has not done is make a hint of difference in the drug taking behavior of the American citizenry.
The war on drugs is constitutionally insupportable. Prohibition of the rights of citizens in the American states to drink alcohol or use other drugs as they see fit is not the business of the federal government. If the new house of representatives truly means to use the Constitution as a guide, the newly conservative congress could achieve its goals of:
- smaller government,
- expanding individual freedoms and
- saving tens of billions of dollars a year.
Congress, end these misguided and illegal federal prohibitions and then defund the bloated agencies that enforce them, such as the DEA.
As the 112th House of Representatives reads the Constitution, let them also read a little quotation by a truly great American president, Abraham Lincoln:
- Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
- Speech in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dec 18, 1840.
A tax-payer funded boondoggle is underway at the Jackson Country, Oregon sheriff’s office. The sheriff is adept at exploiting huge sources of federal money targeted at eradicating marijuana. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, a gravy train of (borrowed) federal dollars awaits local law enforcement willing to focus on marijuana eradication, an easy sell. Even hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were allocated to warp police incentives towards focusing on cannabis rather than crime.
The DEA plays sugar daddy with federal money borrowed from the Chinese. In the case of Jackson County and surrounding counties such money provides for the funding of a permanent marijuana eradication task force, greatly expanding the providence of local law enforcement. In a state totally broke, in good part from expensive public employee pensions and benefits, the specter of generating more expensive and militant bureaucracy is alarming, especially when this eradication armada provides exactly no public benefit. With agreements between counties, Jackson County deputies can spend their days in SWAT gear eradicating marijuana crops in other counties, instead of providing police services in their own county. Such an agreement allows for paramilitary forces permanently porking on the public dole.
Instead of doing real police work, the sheriffs, deputies and personnel from multiple agencies play in the woods in SWAT costumes driving their machine-gun turreted assault vehicle. They commonly lease $1,000/hour helicopters. Instead of solving crimes with victims, marijuana eradicators accomplish nothing except for providing price support for the crops they don’t find. That, and building towards their own bloated pensions.
To better harness this flow of federal tax dollars into his SWAT bureaucracy, the Jackson County sheriff has actually hired has own PR flack, paid by tax payers, a former local news anchor adept at gaining favorable reporting of the multi-county task force. And it worked. Even though it is only mid-summer, already the sheriff and the flack has had a PR day. The local newspaper headlined, “Counties take aim at pot menace.”
All three local TV news stations were present and each was given the opportunity to do a customized story. The content of the stories reflected exactly the propaganda intent of the sheriff’s PR office. Unfortunately, these talking points to which the news organizations so blindingly conformed are false, actually propaganda lies with the goal of justifying plant eradication as a key law enforcement priority:
- Lie # 1: The marijuana grows are the work of Mexican drug cartels. This is a favorite if unsupported assertion and portrays the brave SWAT teams meeting a grave foreign threat. Each of the “news” organizations was quick to recite and repeat this cartel assertion. Actually there is no proof of any involvement of so-called cartels, except that some of the garden keepers were Hispanic. News flash, Hispanics do most of the agricultural work in the USA. Perhaps the sheriff should be searching out Mexican cartel involvement in spinach growing.
- Lie # 2: The grows represent a source of danger to hikers and people in the woods. This fallacy is always repeated. The reality is otherwise; no hikers have ever been killed when stumbling upon a marijuana grow. Statistically, Americans are far more likely to be shot to death by SWAT teams than marijuana gardeners.
- Lie # 3: Counties must band together in marijuana enforcement because eradication in one county forces into other counties. Of course this whack-a-mole syndrome is a fatal flaw to all drug enforcement, but the real reason for this marijuana eradication bureaucracy cartel is to protect and expand the job security, benefits and pensions of the participants.
- Lie # 4: Marijuana eradication is dangerous and requires SWAT style intervention. This is another totally bogus assertion, common in the war on drugs. In truth, eradication could be done with unskilled laborers and perhaps a couple of cops. Instead, large teams of highly paid cops don jack boots and automatic rifles. Oh, that’ s right, they get paid even more taxpayer dollars when clad in SWAT costumes.
- Lie # 5: The litter left by growers and harm to natural areas is a function of marijuana agriculture. Again, any such damage is a function of prohibition. When prohibition ends, pot will no longer need to be grown hidden away in the wilderness.
- Lie # 6: Marijuana is a menace. Actually, this plant provides powerful medical benefits, including pain relief, anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant action. It is among the safest of all medications, is non-toxic, has no lethal dose and has never killed anyone. It is a safer pain reliever than aspirin, which kills several hundred Americans each year. Indeed, it may become the aspirin of the 21st century, if its prohibition can be wrested away from the law enforcement special interests and its blatantly false Schedule I status changed.
The entire county PR effort tries to reinforce the idea that somehow cutting down medicinal plants, even in other counties, should be the highest priority for Jackson County’s chief law enforcement officer. Too bad the local media only breathlessly repeat the talking points of the sheriff’s PR flack, rather than doing any real reporting.
For example, in a state strapped by public employee pension costs, the reporters could examine the PERS retirement benefits for the sheriff, his PR flack, and team of eradication agents. The sheriff’s retirement check from Oregon taxpayers will be higher than $10,000, perhaps closer to $20,000 each month. The squads of eradication agents, along with the propaganda officer, will all get their own generous benefits, including health insurance for life, all on the tab of Oregon state taxpayers. Should not they actually do useful police work for the time they are actually employed?
In these end days of cannabis prohibition, so called ‘public servants’ are milking the system, wasting desperately needed resources and personally benefiting with tax-payer financed lavish retirements. Such excess is nauseating in a state facing a severe economic crisis and cutting desperately needed human services to the bone. Programs such as those helping Oregon’s aging citizens stay at home instead of nursing home are cut, while huge squads of cops waste borrowed dollars on extravagantly expensive eradication raids.
The war on drugs, especially on cannabis, has been an obscene failure, devastating the constitution and bloating the budget deficit as collateral damage.
Instead of wasting billions of dollars each year in its war on cannabis, the Obama administration should focus divert this funding to research in the exploding medical marijuana industry and to exploring the uses of hemp as food, fuel and fiber. The anti-carcinogenic properties of cannabis alone more than justify such an investment. Meanwhile, local Oregon sheriffs should stop milking the federal government of borrowed funds for expensive and useless marijuana eradication boondoggles.
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
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!
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
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!
A month ago, the US Supreme Court declared that corporations are essentially people and have the free speech rights of persons, especially to influence elections with vast amounts of money. During this time actual people supporting the end of the prohibition and persecution of cannabis have seen their free speech rights denied.
- A NORML ad on the economic benefits of cannabis prohibition repeal and taxation was rejected by CBS corporation. Check out the ad here. Decide for yourself if it is immoral.
- A YouTube event to allow participants a chance to ask President Obama a question via video was censored. Video inquiries regarding the end of cannabis prohibition were the most common, yet they were ignored by YouTube. The free speech was trounced of all those submitting questions about marijuana. The President was denied the opportunity to even learn of the true interests of the audience addressing him.
Paul Armentano covered the CBS ad rejection in an AlterNet article. CBS and/or the ad buyer, Neutron media suggested the ad was rejected on “moral” issues. Armentano points out that unjust cannabis prohibition laws have resulted in 20 million needless arrests since 1965.
- Each arrest is a soul-killing, criminal record-establishing, family-smashing, career-destroying, big-government travesty. The prohibition of marijuana and the legal persecution and incarceration of those breaking this unjust law ranks high among America’s worst, least effective and most destructive policies. For a citizen’s group like NORML seeking to right this wrong to be denied the opportunity to buy ad space from a company supported, in great part, by alcohol ads, is ludicrous. The claim that it was doing so on “moral” grounds, is particularly nauseating.
Even more troubling than this rejection by old media such as CBS was the stab in the back reformers took from new media resource, YouTube. Unable to communicate the benefits of ending cannabis prohibition to the president directly, patriots have been effective at using Web-based events to bring this vital issue to Barack Obama’s attention.
In the YouTube question opportunities, people could make short YouTube videos addressing the president. Many did, with the largest number of questions again asking the president to end cannabis prohibition. President Obama, as it turned out, never got any such questions nor was made aware of their rank as question number 1. Instead, YouTube organizers took it upon themselves deny their participant’s free speech by ignoring such questions, along with hiding this #1 audience interest from the Chief Executive. WTF?
YouTube’s owner, Google, if it participated in such censoring, violated its own basic creed, To Do No Evil. The censoring of people speaking knowledge to power by YouTube was a corporate action of true social evil. Such actions delay the day the bloated cancer of America’s war on its own people, marijuana consumers, comes to an end.
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.
On the same day President Barack Obama received word of his Nobel Peace Prize, over 2,000 Americans were arrested for the “crime” of possessing plant residue. Obama reports he was humbled by word of the prize. The operative emotion for those arrested for cannabis “crimes” was closer to humiliation, with degradation, fury, fear and disgust thrown in.
The disgust was for their American government, supposedly dedicated to freedom and personal liberty, but instead warped by a malignant war on drugs. The drug war became a war by tax-payer funded interests against the personal liberty and freedom of American citizens who broke those arbitrary laws, especially those free thinkers who willfully ignored ignorant and draconian penalties against the medical plant, cannabis.
The fear was in being torn from family life and thrown into a cage with miscreants, knowing that they face absurdly harsh laws against cannabis. Depending on the whim of prosecutors eager to build reputations, prosecutions and incarcerations, they might be facing the possibility of years of your life ripped away, their families hammered by severe, even mandatory, sentencing.
In the 10 months of the Obama presidency, well over half a million Americans have had their lives and families needlessly devastated by cruel enforcement of these ignorant and misguided laws and penalties. The war on drugs has transformed the American prison system into a gargantuan gulag, incarcerating well over 2 million Americans, jailing far more of its people than any other nation on earth, including China with five times the population. As Senator Jim Webb, who probably should have received the prize instead, points out,
- “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.”
Each of these imprisoned American citizens is every day getting worse in every way. Most will eventually be released back into society. The current system is harm-enhancement at its worst and endangers every American.
President Obama, you could easily have been one of those casualties, as you too broke the law with cannabis, but you escaped the hell that befalls two thousand of your fellow Americans each day. The absent damage from the arrest that you avoided allowed the USA to gain a remarkable man as our president. And even to win a Nobel Peace Prize! You now have the power and obligation to spare these daily 2,000 good Americans violating bad laws from life-damaging and family-wounding government persecution. You avoided the harm a marijuana arrest would have inflicted upon you. Act to prevent this needless, arbitrary arrest horror from closing the presidential or Nobel aspirations of thousand of (mostly) young Americans each day.
Yes, President Obama, let the Nobel Peace Prize inspire you to actually deserve it. Well, end the government’s war upon its own citizens. You could start very easily by directing the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule V. Perhaps next year you might win the Nobel Prize for Medicine by helping free this remarkably medically useful plant medication from Schedule I persecution.