So Far, Not So Good

It has been painful from the outside looking in to watch President-elect Barack Obama begin to cobble together his cabinet officers and senior staff in regards to what prospects there are for substantive cannabis law reforms in this first term.
There are only a couple of key appointments left that may signal the political tea leafs for cannabis law reforms in Obama 1.0 — head of Drug Enforcement Administration (which serves under the Attorney General at the Department of Justice) and the Drug Czar (see below regarding rumored nominee).
Who among current Obama nominees are giving me some acid burn?
In order of importance:
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
For us regarding opposing drugs and any reforms, it is: harms criminal justice; children; the pharmaceutical process and the legalization stalking horse.” -R.E., 1997
As a longtime observer of Rahm’s ascendancy into the stratosphere of politics (Chicago Mayor Daley’ staff, President Clinton’s White House, Congress, and now back to the White as Chief of Staff) what has me most concerned about Rahm is that for so long he has been so consistent in opposing drug policy reforms, most especially cannabis law reforms. In the Clinton White House he played a major role in domestic policy making, with a strong nod to matters of criminal justice. He was effectively the White House’s point man with the Drug Czar. In my view, Rahm was not concerned with effective policy-making as much as image making, so as to help inoculate the President (and Democrats) from the historical albatross hanging from their necks during most national elections—fear of being viewed by the Republicans, and more importantly the general public, as being ‘weak on crime’.
To put it bluntly, Bill Clinton and Al Gore lied their way up and down the countryside running for the Oval office in the summer of 1992, promising liberal donors, gay activists and drug policy reformers that if elected, at a minimum, they would expand the federal government’s Compassionate Investigative New Drug Program (a.k.a. IND, run by the Public Health Service), which allowed for a small handful of federally-approved medical patients to receive up to 300 ‘joints’ per/month for a serious medical condition.
When Clinton and Gore took office in 1993, they immediately felt the political pressure from state politicians, major gay donors and activists, notably from California, who’d impressed upon Clinton the need for medical cannabis for AIDS and cancer patients.
However, and disappointingly, rather than expand the important research program, Rahm and Co. moved to dismantle it, and by late July 1994 Clinton had canceled the IND program, grandfathering the group of eight patients in the program a columnist at the Washington Post deemed the Acapulco Eight.
Taking a far more politically pragmatic path than a compassionate one, Rahm chose to ignore the science (and the Constitution I’d hastily add) and conflate the somewhat easy to distinguish and politically popular battle for patients to access medicinal cannabis with the decidedly unpopular ‘War on Some Drugs’.
In the spring of 1997, a writer and author who interviewed Rahm for a major Rolling Stone piece on the ‘Drug War’, after he’d walked the 3 blocks from Rahm’s White House office to NORML’s K St. office, kindly shared with me his three pages of shorthand notes. The writer, who’d spent a few days in DC interviewing all of the major players in drug enforcement and drug policy reform had wanted to get an interview with Rahm, because absent the President, there was likely no other person in the nation at the time who had more sway over which way the Executive branch implemented drug control strategies.
When I asked, “Well, how was the interview, where does Emanuel stand on the issue of marijuana?” The writer looked up from his notes and said, “NORML is so screwed. In Emanuel you have the prototypical liberal drug warrior: More government intervention, more laws, more arrests; less freedom and personal responsibility.”
What do these notes reveal from 1997?

When asked why did the Clinton Administration so actively oppose the 1996 ballot initiatives in California (and Arizona) to legalize medical access to cannabis, Rahm’s replies:
-We opposed the Arizona initiative because it had to with sentencing and harder drugs;
-We opposed the California initiative because it sent the wrong message to children and we believe that there is downward trend in use right now that these laws will hurt; send wrong message.
-This procedure should not be done by initiative. We have procedures whereby drugs are tested and approved. These initiatives don’t follow those procedures.
-We took an unpopular position on this. Our position is based on policy even if polls are going the other way.
When asked ‘what makes Clinton’s drug policy any better than George Bush. Sr.’s?’, Rahm’s replies:
-We have passed anti-meth legislation before meth has taken off nationally. Law enforcement are telling me that we got ahead of it.
-Our four points for control: drug testing, drug treatment, coerced abstinence works and if the states want the money for prisons they have to adopt what is proven successful.
-Some members of Congress want to defund the ONDCP, but General McCaffrey is different, brings energy and focus to the job.
-We [Clinton Administration] shifted resources from borders to domestic, community policing and drug free school efforts.
-There is nowhere near enough treatment space for the demand.
-This is about attitude and putting federal dollars to work.
When asked about medical marijuana community (doctors, patients, AIDS and drug policy reform organizations), Rahm slapped his head with his hand and said…
-“We oppose it [cannabis] because there is no doubt that the funding comes from those who advocate legalization. We thought this was the first of many battles and needed to fight.”
When asked about the high number of annual cannabis arrests in the US, Rahm said:
-“I’ve never heard of a police chief who says they waste their time on small time marijuana arrests. I would be surprised if very many people are being arrested for small marijuana possession.”
Further, “For us regarding opposing drugs and any reforms, it is: harms criminal justice; children; the pharmaceutical process and the legalization stalking horse.”
-“I think there is a sadder side to all of this that McCaffrey has spoken eloquently about how people who have used drugs in the past should not be disqualified or attack for their pasts.”
Regarding “marijuana”:
-“Yes, we believe it is a genuinely dangerous drug when it comes to kids. I’ll show you data after data that kids who go onto to harder drugs started off with marijuana.”
-“Laws signal acceptability or not. In this area we say its unlawful and we think that it helps parents say this is wrong.”

Whew. Well, there you have it, from NORML’s huge archives and directly from the writer’s notebook circa spring 1997. A couple of closing thoughts on Rahm and his views on cannabis…
Tactical and political savvy as Rahm clearly is, history proves the decisions President Clinton and he made regarding medical cannabis (and decriminalization) were demonstrably wrong. Rather than yield any quarter or embrace science, compassion and the Constitution in being so rigid and recalcitrant on the public health/criminal justice conundrum of medicinal cannabis, Rahm actually helped accelerate, not retard, the state-based strategy of reformers. From 1996-2000, the Clinton Administration failed to stop grassroots efforts to pass state initiatives or legislation in eight states that ‘legalized’ medical cannabis (Bush 2.0 and his Drug Czar John Walters have not faired much better opposing state medical marijuana laws, save for prevailing in the US Supreme Court twice, in 2001 and 2005. Though, despite the ‘high’ court’s adverse rulings in these cases, the number of medical cannabis dispensaries, cooperatives and even automated medical cannabis machines have steadily increased. If reformers lost at SCOTUS, functionally, what did we actually lose? My contention is not much as the court’s rulings don’t reflect the current political, public health and economic realities facing the respectable minority of Americans who, regardless of their state’s laws, currently employ cannabis as a therapeutic, often with their physician’s recommendation. Reminds one of prior SCOTUS rulings in our nation’s past regarding race, labor laws, women’s rights, internment of Japanese Americans, gay and lesbian equality and sexual reproduction laws where society (and often technology) is leagues ahead of legislation, and ensuing appellate court action–both of which move at a glacial rate (unless of course there is multi-billion dollar, taxpayer-funded ‘bailout’ to be performed, then federal legislative and court action is performed post haste).
Emanuel’s new boss, and admitted past cannabis consumer President-elect Obama has repeatedly indicated that he does not support the use of federal law enforcement to harass medical cannabis dispensaries in states that have approved medical marijuana laws; Obama historically supported decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis (until the end of the contentious Democratic primaries this spring where Obama ‘flipped-flopped’ on the issue, and now claims to oppose the decriminalization of cannabis) and believes that far too many young people are ensnared in an unwieldy and expensive criminal justice system.
Rahm is politically smart if nothing else, so I hope that he’ll follow his boss’ lead in the area of criminal justice reforms. Also, to his credit, after voting years against the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, in 2007, as member of Congress from Illinois, Rahm voted in favor of holding back federal funding from law enforcement (read DEA) to raid or harass medical marijuana cultivators and dispensaries.
Interestingly, and I don’t think a coincidence, from 2005 forward Illinois’ state legislature has held hearings on medical marijuana and prominent (and compelling) cases like medical marijuana patient Brenda Kratovil have been featured all over the major news media in the state. My supposition is that Rahm, in fact a smart, keenly attuned politician, only came to support clipping the DEA’s wings regarding medical marijuana raids on the west coast after paying close political attention to how citizens in his state—along with its editorial boards and prominent columnists—readily support seriously ill, dying or sense threatened medical patients with a physician’s recommendation to access cannabis.
However, I fear that Rahm will continue to advocate for a politically cautious (I’d say paranoid) path regarding cannabis law reforms; is prone to engage in the most oft-trotted out, and easily deflated, myths and canards about cannabis; and will be too centrist and deferential to law enforcement for political expediency sake.
I just hope his boss and can talk him out of it. If not his new boss, maybe he should listen to his old boss, Bill Clinton, who has acknowledged that he was wrong to oppose harm reduction tenets: cannabis decriminalization and needle exchange efforts.
Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder
Much has been written and fretted about in the last few days about Obama’s pick to be the nation’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder.
There are excellent and probing commentary penned regarding what prospects for criminal justice policy reforms the appointment of Holder portends.
My remarks to Reason’s excellent ‘Hit and Run’ Blog:
“NORML has serious concerns about the choice of Eric Holder as the next Attorney General because he has a long history of opposing drug policy reforms, perceiving cannabis smoking by adults as a public nuisance worthy of constant harrassment, promoting violent governmental intervention into the private lives of citizens who consume cannabis, supporting mandatory minimum sentencing and so-called civil forfeiture laws.
His attraction to the myth of ‘fixing broken windows’ and using law enforcement to crack down on petty crimes will swell an already overburdened, bloated, expensive and failed government prohibition against otherwise law-abiding citizens who choose to consume cannabis.”
Vice-President Joe Biden

The pick of Joe Biden to be Obama’s running mate was my first sign of digestive tumult regarding the prospect of ‘CHANGE’ for drug policy reform. Suffice of to say here, because it was already said here, that Biden represents the decade and type of ‘liberal’ politician in the 1980s, who, rather than oppose the Reagan-inspired War on Some Drugs, decided to become an enthusiastic supporter and legislative booster. Biden was at the center of creating the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), mandatory minimum sentencing, civil forfeiture laws, the Rave Act, funding for DARE in public schools and the ad campaigns for the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
When asked in Connecticut this past May of pain management, Biden exhorted that “There’s got to be a better answer than marijuana.”
With Biden (and Emanuel) loyally by his side, from a purely political point of view, Obama (like a fellow Baby Boomer-type Bill Clinton before him) has wisely guarded against right wing attacks that he may be ‘soft on drugs’.
ONDCP Transition Team Director Dr. Don Vereen
As amazingly as it seems to most who come to know that the ONDCP is a cabinet level office (Thanks Joe Biden!), all cabinet level offices need an official transition team. So who is heading up the ONDCP transitional team? One of the principals is Don Vereen, a former ONDCP deputy director from 1998-2001.

Is Vereen a reform-minded health care professional and ready to embrace ‘change’?
Unlikely in my view as Vereen told the Psychiatric News in 1999 that he believed that doctors who prescribe marijuana as irresponsible and actually advocated arresting medical patients caught with marijuana. Yikes!
Vereen, like Emanuel (and so many other selective prohibitionists), has adopted the same rote cited rationalizations why cannabis can’t be legally controlled and taxed like thousands of pharmaceuticals currently: marijuana can’t be thought of as a therapeutic treatment because it’s usually smoked and because dosages are difficult to control.
Also, Vereen was on the losing side this past Election Day in Michigan where, in his capacity as director of Community Based Public Health at Univ. of Michigan, he claimed that a medical marijuana initiative ‘sends the wrong message to children’.
These folks sure do stick to the same talking points….I hope Vereen doesn’t pull a Cheney here and conclude that he is the best person for the job.
Former Congressman James Ramstad for Drug Czar?
As one of my favorite policy writers and commentators Maia Szalavitz aptly points out in her November 21 Huffington Post article regarding Ramstad:

On paper, Jim Ramstad — who is rumored to be Obama’s choice for drug czar — looks like the ideal man for the job . He’s a recovering alcoholic himself and a Congressman who championed legislation recently passed to provide equal insurance coverage for addictions and other mental illnesses.
Unfortunately, Ramstad may be a drug warrior in recovering person’s clothing. There is one issue that has consistently separated those who put science and saving lives in front of politics. That is needle exchange programs for addicts to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood borne illnesses.
Even President Clinton now says he was “wrong” when he ignored the recommendations of every scientific and medical organization in the world that has examined the question — from the AMA to the World Health Organization — and refused to lift the federal ban on funding.
Needle exchanges have been shown repeatedly to reduce HIV and contrary to the claims of opponents, they help addicts get into treatment.
But Bill Clinton had a drug czar — Barry McCaffrey — who said that needle exchange “sent the wrong message,” and would make him seem soft on drugs. McCaffrey fought against it and Clinton now says he “regrets” caving in to drug war politics.
Ramstad also — again, against the evidence – opposes medical marijuana and supports federal policing and prosecution of providers and patients in the states that have made it legal. These states have not seen the rise in teen drug use that opponents like the Congressman predicted.
The opposite, in fact, happened — as is the case in countries that have decriminalized marijuana like Holland. The UK’s “downgrading” of cannabis offense to a lesser status was also accompanied by a drop in use.
There’s simply no evidence that allowing sick people to get needed medication conflicts with helping addicts. Obama has said he does not support these prosecutions — will Ramstad push him in the wrong direction here, too? In an economic crisis, do we really want to spend federal time and money locking up medical marijuana providers and sick people?
That’s not change, President Obama — that’s more of the same. Don’t make the mistake that Bill Clinton did and install a drug czar who will ignore science and push dogma.

Amen Maia!

0 thoughts

  1. I sent this to and to Ramstadt’s office. I hope many of you make noise and let them know where we stand.
    “The war on marijuana has to end, and the entire war on drugs needs to be abandoned. Ever since the first drug “czar” Harry J Anslinger in the 1930’s to the current “Pinocchio” Walters has the war on marijuana been driven by fear mongering, lies and special interest pandering. The idea of nominating Jim Ramstad is yet another step in the wrong direction. I suggest reading the blog at Huffington Post to that effect. Note the replies, I am not the only one who feels that marijuana must be legalized, controlled and taxed, as that is the only way to keep it from getting to children. Currently it is easier for high school kids to obtain marijuana then it is alcohol or tobacco, as those are regulated. Marijuana is distributed on the black market with no controls or taxation. Prohibition does not work, as is evidenced by the prohibition on alcohol with the 18th amendment to our Constitution, which was rescinded with the 21st.
    Marijuana is neither addictive, nor is it a gateway drug to hard drugs, which are addictive as are prescription meds, often seriously abused. Addiction is a medical condition which needs to be treated in a medical setting, not in overcrowded, expensive prisons. You wouldn’t go to a prison to have your appendix removed, now would you?
    The current average cost for imprisoning a person comes to roughly $80.00 to $ 100.00 per day. For the roughly 750,000 inmates nation wide for simple non violent marijuana possession that comes to an astounding 21.6 billion dollars to 27 billion dollars per year! Our country is about to go bankrupt with the war in Iraq, and the bail out here at home, coupled with an economy in an amazing down ward spiral. To continue this never ending and un-winnable war on drugs has got to stop, and it better stop now. To continue the ways of the past with the idiotic imprisonment of countless non violent human beings is outright stupidity. The US makes up slightly less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we are home to 25% of the world’s prison population, and over 1/3 of that are non violent drug users. We in the US have more people imprisoned than communist China, which has over four times our population! That is not a record we can be proud of, that is in fact a record we should be ashamed of, because it is testament to us either being a Nation of criminals or a police state. Neither of these is a desirable attribute for any country.
    Abandon the war on drugs, legalize, control and tax marijuana and use that tax revenue to treat and help those addicted to real drugs. Marijuana has medical value and it’s psychotropic effects are harmless and benign when compared to alcohol, a legal scourge.
    I am not alone and you might want to check these links:
    (notice the number of responses to this blog and compare the number to responses of other subjects)
    and here are some numbers from the election, namely Michigan and their medical marijuana ballot initiative.
    MEDICAL MARIJUANA (YES) 3,008,980 votes, 63%
    MEDICAL MARIJUANA (NO) 1,792,870 votes, 37%
    MEDICAL MARIJUANA (YES) = 83 counties (100%)
    MEDICAL MARIJUANA (NO) = 0 countiues (0%)
    BARACK OBAMA 48 Counties (57%) 2,875,308 votes
    JOHN MC CAIN 35 Counties (43%) 2,050,655 votes
    Respectfully submitted,
    Greg Williams
    PS.: I voted for Mr. Obama, in hopes that he will bring change to our Nation.”

  2. It doesn’t matter what the administration is. The way cannabis will be legalized is through hemp oil, the legitimate cure for cancer (and a variety of other diseases). Even if Harry Anslinger was President right now, it wouldn’t matter, because people care about their lives more than the law.

  3. So we have a president elect who has admitted he smoked marijuana (without any shame, denial, guilt, or excuse), and yet we as a society (not the many enlightened individuals on this site) still fear how destructive marijuana is. Just seems strange to me. “Don’t smoke weed Billy, or you will ruin your life and can never be…” Well that sentence surely doesn’t end with the words “leader of the free world” or “President.”
    You would think that after after Clinton who was found to have smoked, and Obama who has admitted to smoking, there would be an understanding that marijuana is not solely responsible for ruining peoples’ lives. What will it take for people to recognize that after case studies like these, and the research that’s out there, marijuana being illegal amounts to nothing more than A DENIAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to presumed innocence along with an unfounded presumption that it will deter the individual’s ability to be a productive member of society. They make arguments about how marijuana use leads to other crime and people wasting their lives, but nothing supports this.
    Aristotle, genius as he was, trumpeted the power of the “Truth,” but in my limited readings of his work it seems that he failed to recognize how weak “Truth” can be in the face or FEAR & IGNORANCE

  4. My God! Anakin Skywalker,I mean Barack Obama backed the wrong politician who could have predicted that?
    Enjoy the “Greater Depression” Now that’s change!

  5. I believe that this is an opportune time for NORML and other like-minded organizations to put on an all out blitz on our legislators and politicians. The current economic crisis government spending into focus, and Obama has already alluded to the fact that we are going to have to look at some funding cuts. What better time to raise the issue of how much money federal, state and local governments are spending to punish people who use marijuana. The message should be that not only is marijuana prohibition wrong, but that we can no longer afford to spend money on this futile policy. Better to tax and regulate and turn marijuana into a source of government revenue.

  6. On a somewhat related tangent, NORML should adopt the “Go Green” moniker. From a PR standpoint, I think this would work wonders in light of the current climate. I can envision it now ….

  7. I feel that under the current economic crisis, it would be foolish to continue serious funding for marijuana prohibition. Plus, the health industry is bankrupting the system, so medical marijuana is a great alternative. Sooner or later, the pharma industry is going to lose power. Power is shifting in DC.
    On a personal note, I used to work for the Minnesota Congressional Delegation. It blows my mind Obama would pick Mr. Ramstad for Drug Czar. Ramstad was never impressive. Let us hope the Obama Administration learns from the admitted Clinton mistakes.
    We have our work cut out for us…

  8. I think its BS that they say that if they look at kids who do hard drugs they started with pot. So what!
    Kids die in car wrecks all the time. Lets BAN drivers Ed! Studies show that kids who die in car wrecks started with drivers ed.

  9. Sounds like obama might be another clinton.promise
    to make a change on marijuana policies but when
    they get to the whitehouse lawn their pockets starts
    getting heavier with $$$$$ and their balls get light
    as feathers.

  10. I think the nomination of Bill Richardson for Commerce secretary opens the door for the reform we need. I hope.

  11. 1. “The US makes up slightly less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we are home to 25% of the world’s prison population, and over 1/3 of that are non violent drug users.” (–Greg Williams, #51)
    Where have we seen these numbers before? Yes, the U.S. squanders (“consumes”) over 20% of the oil, and other resources, and to defend its prerogative to do so, has to spend 50% of the world’s armament expenditures (as wealth increases arithmetically, the defensiveness of a society increases geometrically).
    2. I am sorry to see that neither Allen nor any respondent mentioned the central issue of tobacco imperialism. Through cigarette tax revenues, BIG TOBACKGO controls U. S. foreign policy and, through it, the “drug war” policy of all other nations (military power; economic sanctions, etc.), a major part of the tobacco-protection strategy being to suppress cannabis at any cost. While the fear that non-taxable grow-it-yourself cannabis might supplant addictive tobacco as smoking material of choice for experimentative youngsters is important, even more central, I believe, is the “danger” that enlightened non-overdose consumption methods– vaporizer, e-cigarette with cannabinol in the cartridge instead of nicotine, screened narrow single-toke utensil (25 mg. serving size)– will supplant the 500-mg. hot-burning joint and with it the 700-mg. hot-burning cigarette on which their industry profit margin is based, along with all other “conventional” overdose packagings of alcohol, junk food, automobile speed etc. on which U.S.-global corporate power is based. (“We have one-party corporate rule in America, with rigged elections and the illusion of choice.” — BJ M—-ck, #38)
    3. NORML and all supporters should adopt Rep. Franks’ slogan “Responsible Use” and equate it with the replacement of hot-burning joints with moderate 25-mg. single servings at minimum temperature– i.e. any citizen who shows this degree of good-faith concern for their own health and that of their children earns respect and immunity from prosecution. (Also it’s good handwork industry training for the children to participate in actually manufacturing the new generation of one-hitters.) Let’s see how the new advisors answer this suggestion, tendered to as suggested above.

  12. Jim Ramstad is from my home state, Minnesota. The sad fact that we have a ‘drug czar’ to continue the state’s propaganda is disheartening. But you know what? The amazing staff at NORML and people like you and me will be there every step of the way to debunk this propaganda and show people that there is more to the story than what you hear coming out of the propaganda machine.
    -David Carlson

  13. last person to leave the US, please turn the lights off. When the fascist bastards come to your house, shoot them in the face, before we loose the right to bear arms as well!!! What ever happened to “let freedom ring”? The people that pushed for our freedom from England a few hundred years ago would never think that the country they were founding would ever evolve to eliminate our freedom in such a way. George Washington was an avid smoker (want proof, just google his diary entries where he mentions eliminating the male from the female hemp plants, why else would one do that?) and I don’t think anybody can say it damaged his charachter, made him lazy or influenced his resolve. Perhaps we need another revolution!! see y’all in BC

  14. i have smoked for 40 years and it sure is odd how i havent progressed to the so called harder drugs. what a bunch of crock. am i just one out of millions who can handle this. do i need to go and have test run to see how amazing it is for me not to want crack, meth, coke, prescription drugs, pain killers, downers, uppers and whatever the hell is out there that the lawmakers says that i’ll be going to next. i’m shiverring in my pants. long live personnal choice if we ever get it.

  15. Mr.Obama: What if you would have been arrested back then when you were cosumming pot and charged? In my opinion your whole life and promising future would have been trashed just like the lives of all the pot consumers who endup criminalized.
    Did smoking pot made you a danger for the society? Did smoking pot handicaped you for reaching a status of outstanding citizen. Did smoking pot made you a drug addict and a criminal?
    Do you think it is fair for people who do the same things you did, to endup with there lives ruined?

  16. Vermonters, please remember that new minor political
    parties may be started in odd numbered years, and 2009 is coming soon! Please join the Marijuana Party in Vermont so we can get it legally formed as a new minor political party in 2009!
    Also, we all know that Mr. Obama is Black African, but he still has to show how “American” he is, and he may actually have to really show his birth certificate to the Supreme court of the United States, which might hear a request by retired attorney Leo C. Donofrio of New Jersey submitted December 5, 2008 and waiting a response from the Court; still waiting Dec. 6, 2008.
    Supreme Court News about President Elect Ombama’s birth certificate, waiting on ruling
    Now, what is SOoooooooooo important about a person being born in the U.S.A. a natural born citizen?
    It’s all about LOYALTY!
    We’ll see how LOYAL Barack Hussein Obama is to the Black AMERICAN PEOPLE who are descendants of slaves and who represent a huge portion of the people in prison in the United States, particularly a HUGE portion of the people in prison for drug and marijuana possession!
    IN THE U.S.A.
    Cris Ericson

  17. they would like us to think that gonja is indeed the root of all evil but we all know this is garbage. you cannot honestly expect me to believe that it is worse than alcohol or cigarettes. with all of the testing done these days you would think that even feeble minded politicians would acknowledge the fact that it does nothing to you. for me, i believe it to be highly therapeutic. i was incarcerated just the other day on a belief alone that i might have been smoking. thats all it took for them, just to think that i was doing something and low and behold where do i end up, in the slammer over a dyme bag that wasn’t even mine. association is enought to put you away for a term. boy do i feel like a dipshyt. this is a problem for officials of our country because when someone gets caught, thats when they turn to other ways to obtain pain relief their so scared to do it again so they experiment with new legal drugs (i.e. alcohol,cigarettes, pills,) because that is what they consider to be correct and right in our society. this happening to a person that is suffering from high anxiety and stress. with all of the intelligent people in this world today, and i use that term loosely, we can’t even agree on something so small as to the reformation of marijuana laws. yeah, id say we have a long way to go. you can call me stupid, you can call me crazy but the fact of the matter is that someone is pulling some major strings (i.e. pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists who don’t want to loose billions if this were indeed to come to truition) and like always its the American public who has to pay for the outright false accusations of political might because they don’t live their life as the majority does. they want all of us to be like them and to shut up and do what we are told. no injustice shall go unheard and in this case the govt. needs to listen to the majority. majority rules? not in America. i don’t want to be like that i have a very open mind and i will never loose that no matter how many times you may put me away. i will have to say that i quit for the time until i hear more about possible positive talks concerning reform. more like i should just move (:P) im stubborn like that. marijuana carries with it a very negative connotation and it wasn’t i nor many of you who thought this but the so called all knowing all seeing crap of the world. go ahead pop a pill its safer than gonja. no its not. let me ask you all something which is easier to get a big bottle of pills or a sack? i guess it depends on who you are. so does that make it good for younger kids to say no to gonja and yes to pills or other forms of so called acceptable ways of relaxation? i can tell you from a personal experience that pills are worse, having seen a family member die due to over medication. it was one of the saddest days of my life. i have never seen anyone OD on the green. and to think that this as well as many other cases could have been avoided if these bigoted so called professionals could open up their freakin eyes and see that its definately greener on the other side. i mean that in more ways than just one. this is more than just fighting to smoke. this is my life and i will never give up, never. this is about doing so much more not just for those looking for reform but for the overall outlook that is present when discussing this herb. My eyes and ears have shut for the time being but i will continue to find flaws in the way that our society views this incredible asset. this is so much larger than they would like us to believe. we want reform and we want it now! it seems like i ve said this for the last couple years and its not that we don’t care, thats obvious, but that they really don’t want to discuss this topic with us because they know we are right. sorry, but i am just tired of this BS.

  18. IMHO, our whole system is backwards. Our country wants to spend billions of dollars per year on this war on drugs, yet allow someone to lose all of their belongings because they can’t pay for chemo-therapy. We want government money to end hunger in Darfur, yet leave it up to volunteers and the public to supply our own homeless and starving with food. We want to help Iraqis rebuild their homes, yet leave the millions of hurricane victims to fight with FEMA and the insurance companies to get some type of shelter over their head. Our priorities aren’t exactly in the right place. If you want to make an impact on the world, you gotta take care of home FIRST! If you want to make an example, your own people should be prosperous first!
    And another thing, how exactly is it that the highest elected official in the land isn’t elected by the people at all? (read up on the electorial college if you don’t get what I’m saying)
    On the topic of being heard and taken seriously; I got an idea. Try reading a grammar book, taking some spelling classes, and overall; at least ACT educated! Of course you’re going to be ignored when you say something like “We needs a new pot laws becuz pot donnt’ maked you stoopid” Hah! There’s your proof right there that it does! I know that pot isn’t what makes people dumb, but it sure hurts a cause when everyone speaking out on the subject sounds and looks like a bunch of brain-fried, illiterate hillbillies.
    What needs to happen is more than a few bills passing through Congress; more than a handfull of lobbyists on Capitol Hill. No, what we need is another full-on revolution! Our system no longer works. It is out-dated. It is like trying to run Windows 3.1 on a brand new computer. The hardware (the people) are pristine, but the software (government) is highly outdated! What will be our equivalent of the Boston Tea Party? That, my fellow marijuana consumers, is what will bring about the CHANGE we are all searching for!
    That’s my two cents. Anything I should add? email me.

  19. Truly disappointing. I was under no illusions that Obama would “legalize” MJ, but at the minimum, I expected him to send a strong message (and favor legislation) that the federal government should not interfere with state’s medical MJ laws. If Obama flip-flops on Medical MJ, let the revolution begin.

  20. I was pretty sure we were screwed before, but now it is almost definite. Is there really a difference between Democrats and Republicans? I believe they disagree just for the hell of it. Americans must hate freedom.

  21. I guess some people assume that there’s no difference between liberal and libertarian. Just because Obama’s a lefty doesn’t mean he’s pro-individual freedom. Ask Uncle Joe S. about that. There are going to be a lot of Obama voters feeling snookered in the next few years.

  22. We are endowed with “inalienable rights” of life liberty and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS”. Marijuana laws violate the 1776 Constitution. No legal logic can alter this nor will the semantics of Drug warriors change this criminal violation of the US Constitution.
    Here in California Inland Empire antimarijuana is actively enforced whereas the Clean Water Act enforcement is ignored by The DA when the USDA Forest Service contaminates[lead,copper.ecoli] the Lytle Creek Watershed of 900,000 San Bernardino residents. Oy VEH!

  23. I’ve personally read all 77 comments on the page and feel I should add my piece. If ever there were a time to declare “United we stand” now’s the time. I must be honest to say that I want the best for my kids and don’t want them to be pot smokers, nor do I want them to be crack-heads or heroin users. I must make clear however that as a believer in industrialized hemp as a source of parchment, clothing, bio-fuel, food and many other uses, that to continue on this path is self-destructive. I’ve always heard that the only way to destroy America is from the inside out. It seems to me that those of us who are fighting to make the legalization of Hemp and Marijuana a reality are fighting the good fight for freedom and the pursuit of liberty… Lose not now your resolve, to fight this corrupted system of government. My fellow Americans you are making our fore fathers very proud. Keep your manners and show the misguided peoples of this nation that we are indeed NOT what those few have portrayed us pot smokers to be. This land is my home, my country, my heritage and my pride. I view the national flag with respect and honor. I will march to my death should our president call us to arms. I love my family and friends and try also to love my neighbor as myself. I am an American citizen born with certain inalienable rights. Give us liberty or give us death, that is our motto, let us pray that our congress has not already made up its mind as to our regard. God bless you and keep you all safe in our effort to promote freedom and the pursuit of happiness…We the people…

  24. I must be honest to say that I want the best for my kids and don’t want them to be pot smokers, nor do I want them to be crack-heads or heroin users. I must make clear however that as a believer in industrialized hemp as a source of parchment, clothing, bio-fuel, food and many other uses, that to continue on this path is self-destructive. I’ve always heard that the only way to destroy America is from the inside out. It seems to me that those of us who are fighting to make the legalization of Hemp and Marijuana a reality are fighting the good fight for freedom and the pursuit of liberty… Lose not now your resolve, to fight this corrupted system of government. My fellow Americans you are making our fore fathers very proud. Keep your manners and show the misguided peoples of this nation that we are indeed NOT what those few have portrayed us pot smokers to be. This land is my home, my country, my heritage and my pride.
    Drug Intervention

  25. i think the goverment are drug dealer they sell drug and if they legalize it they will lose money it just stupid the number 1 quest legalise marijuana dam i vote for ombama but if they dont legalise it ima run for presdent and my campainge is im make weed legal vote for me

  26. its a nice blog and good informative,There are only a couple of key appointments left that may signal the political tea leafs for cannabis law reforms in Obama 1.0 — head of Drug Enforcement Administration (which serves under the Attorney General at the Department of Justice) and the Drug Czar (see below regarding rumored nominee).
    Drug Intervention

  27. Regarding comments on marijuana sending a wrong message to kids……..recently i passed the Amhsr. – Busch plant in , Fairfield , California & just past it on left of freeway 80 is a large billboard advertising , Coors beer . Talk about sending a wrong message to
    kids !!! Coors & Budweiser owes all parents of kids a sincere apology for promoting alcohol.This sends a worse message to kids .
    The drug companies also owe an apolgy for advertising their drugs which like alcohol can kill or cause irreversible harm to the human body . Marijuana does none of these things .marijuana = 0 calories

  28. Well, prop 19 did not pass in California this month, so that sucks. I do however, like the fact that Arnulfo the California Governor lowered the position with cannabis to an infraction

  29. No matter how many bills are passed, these kind of activities keep on happening. Catch the big fish if you really want to solve the problem.

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