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…
med_mj_map_poster.gif
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. Holder’s a done deal. Concentrate fire on Ramstad. I had a chance to chat with Senator Feingold about the prospective nominees Friday evening, he’s going to make an effort to keep Ramstad out.

  2. Way to go America. Way to freaking go. We coulda had Dr. Paul but you just HAD to vote for McCain, who flubbed his way through the economic crisis with a highly inferior veep, and now we have a President who is surrounding himself with the Democrat equivalent of the Bush administration, and countless administrations before him. Oh, we’ll see change. Change that will only cost us more money! Not being in Iraq will save some change, but it’s not like we’re not gonna spend that money on some other backassward program. Way. to freaking. go.

  3. Clearly people overwhelming support Americans freedom of choice when it comes to cannabis. Why does the government refuse to allow individuals to make there own decisions.
    The bottom line is this its more then a issue of marijuana we are talking about here its or personal freedoms. I believe this is a serious issue of power its about the government making a statement we run the show!! Doesn’t sound like a government for the people by the people does it!!

  4. I’m going to be super pissed if there is no change in the marijuana law at the federal level! I demand change, and change in the form of legalization! Spare me any pathetic excuses or explanations. I have already told you that after legalization you are to control the international distribution of Afghan hash, and use the revenue from it to pay for the military protection of Afghanistan. There are plenty of green uses for the parts of the plant other than just the female flowers. I also told you before that nobody else wants to pay taxes except for cannabis consumers, in return for no longer turning otherwise law-abiding people into criminals. When you get your apparatchiks and nomenclatura in place you must modernize the laws.
    The Netherlands has just held a summit, and a majority of the local governments that allow coffeeshops also want to legalize the cultivation of cannabis to supply the coffeeshops within their jurisdiction. Some border areas want to eliminate them because of the foreign tourists who make problems, but in the heart of the country the city of Eindhoven wants to increase the number of coffeeshops allowed. Rotterdam has coffeeshops and has schools that drugtest students, as it is still illegal for minors. Amsterdam is closing some 40 shops because they are too close to schools, as they can’t be in the drugfree zones/school zones. They have lower rates of marijuana use than the US, too. Get rid of the international obstacles and objections!
    I don’t like having to repeat myself.

  5. Sorry to say it, but somebody has to….
    When is obamas target date again? It’s got to be nearing closer and closer… Only a matter of time now…

  6. We all need to harass our representatives the day the get into office and have all our friends, family and neighbors do the same, ABOUT EVERYTHING. We all need to learn ways to come together and bring others together. That will be hard though since everyone is so selfish they only care about “what affects me”, they fail to see the larger picture though which shows overall, it does affect them. Maybe we can prove this to people somehow.

  7. Not only that, we need to constantly keep the pressure on them, they are like children, cannot be trusted and need constant supervision.

  8. What about the industrial hemp issue…is there any chance of progress there? Obama wants to create jobs and find alternative fuels doesn’t he?
    I think that challenging Obama to call for a special commission in a very public way might let him know there is a strong voice in favor of “change”.
    I’ve heard former NM Gov Gary Johnson is thinking of running in 2012.

  9. I almost wish I had not read this composition (just depressing). The reality is what the reality is though and I like the rest of us have to buck up and band together. Cannabis reformers just are not organized to the extent needed to make themselves heard at the federal government level. I mean that LARG numbers need to be gathered together in dispute. Unfortunately many of us that want to make a difference don’t have the resources or time to implement something beyond a local new blip often showcased as a fringe piece. I don’t want to become a defeatist by giving up on our plight so I will keep trying in different ways to make us heard.

  10. We The People need to stand with a united front against these jerks who think, and are able to manipulate government policy, reform and money. The legalization and Safe Access of cannabis is top priority in my life. Not because I am a drug addict but because I have Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis i.e. Paralyzed Stomach, which results in chronic nausea and vomiting. I literally surf waves of nausea from mild to severe every hour of everyday. Marijuana is the safest most effective drug in controlling chronic nausea and vomiting. Reglen/Metoclopramide is what is most often prescribed for my condition. However my Dr told me not to take it on a regular basis for it causes Irreversible Parkinson like shakes and tremors. Sorry guys but I choose Marijuana, a non-toxic drug, over Reglen, a very toxic drug everytime, even in the face of imprisonment and forfieture of my rights as an American Citizen.

  11. It doesn’t look like you asked Emanuel, Holder, Biden, Vereen if their position has changed since Obama did say that he’d call off the DEA dogs from harassing medical marijuana users in states that have passed medical marijuana laws.
    I gathered that most of your information was from notes you took in 1997. What’s their stand today?
    And why no questions about industrial hemp? It’d be a good source for biofuels, foods, fibers plus the millions jobs that would be created were industrial hemp legalized. Wouldn’t all that fit in with Obama’s economic recovery plan?
    And why not ask, if Obama calls off the DEA dogs on medical marijuana users, would he show the same consideration to industrial hemp growers, handlers, processors, manufacturers and sellers of industrial hemp products?
    By only focusing on marijuana, you come across as a one issue advocate. That’s no much different than being a zealot for zygotes, or opposing gay rights.
    Hempsters need to start talking about the whole hemp plant. Sometimes you have to settle for half a loaf to eventually reach your primary objective.
    Unfortunately, the industrial hempsters are the biggest stick in the mud on the issue of the whole hemp plant.

  12. I think that it’s funny that people would act as though electing an institution man like Obama were some sort of a revolutionary act. It goes to show how conservative these times truly are. Looks like four to eight more years of $400 ounces and having to “smoke and hide,” as Tosh would say.
    And don’t forget: A Time Magazine poll six years ago indicated that four out of five Americans support legalizing medical marijuana. That still it’s not legal nationally, at least for medical uses (when backed largely by the medical community) is not democracy, it’s horseshit.

  13. Although i am begining to regret my vote for obama i cant help to think that McCain would have us off worse.

  14. ChronJohn: dude ron paul did not have a shot. i have been a ron paul supporter for a long time and he wasn’t taken serious. its a shame he doesn’t get more recognition because he does deserve it.
    anyway why are politicians so determined to be “tough on crime” when they should be “smart on crime”. in a nation obsessed with “going green” why not go green, go healthy and go free and legalize marijuana use by adults???
    marijuana doesn’t ruin lives, marijuana laws do!

  15. As I stated on a previous post on “The Hill”, if Obama and his administration are REALLY focused on saving the economy and sending “the right message” to “the children”, they will decriminalize not only Cannabis but ALL drugs, tax the sale of these drugs to adults 21 and over, put regulation in place similar to Cigarettes and alcohol, and pardon those in prison for non-violent drug offenses.
    After all, the REAL message you should send to children is that spending money on something that doesn’t work is foolish and crazy. . .which is exactly what the “War on Horticulture” has turned into (really, if something grows from the earth naturally, wouldn’t one argue that GOD put it there for a reason?)
    If a black man can be elected president in our lifetime, surely cannabis and other drugs will also be legalized for responsible consumption in our lifetime as well.

  16. Clinton had it easier to screw up, as it were. When elected there were no medical cannabis states (and on the gay rights subject no states with civil unions or marriage for gays and anti-discrimination laws protecting gays).
    Currently there is ever growing scientific, legal and medical consensus regarding cannabis and the many myths used to slander it and its users.
    I will be guardedly cautious and certainly do not foresee an overnight change but the trends are clear and unmistakable … cannabis prohibition, like govt support for homophobic bigotry, have only a short life ahead… in 20-30 years I really cannot see either having much political weight.
    Ah well…

  17. We’ll have to see how it goes. The Obama campaign said they would not continue to waste scarce law enforcement resources by allowing the DEA to continue harassing Californians over medical marijuana. Now we’ll see if Obama is just like every other politician. Don’t forget that during the 2000 campaign, Bush said that medical marijuana was an issue that should be left up to the states. I supported Obama’s campaign, but if he continues the same “mighty crush the weak” policies of Bush and Clinton, that will be a deal breaker for me. He will turn out to be just another weak politician afraid to do what he knows is the right thing.

  18. they gay people are heard because they protest on the streets and make themselves heard.
    about time we do the same.

  19. The Obama Transition has established a website to recieve input from us. http://www.change.gov Now is the time to speak-up for the policy changes that represent the views of Marijuana Voters. If the Transition officials hear from a few of us, we will be ignored. If we speak in large numbers, our voices will be heard. Please take a few minutes to share with President-elect reform ideas about Marijuana issues. I hear from elected officials constantly that voters do not voice concern about Drug Policy Reform. Join me in providing feedback at http://www.change.gov

  20. Well, in Tom Daschle for Head of Health and Human Services, we have someone who endorsed Bush’s domestic surveillance program conducted by the National Security Agency and also published a book about universal health care in February 2008 in addition to serving on the U.S.Senate committee Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry from 1994-98. Bill Richardson, former New Mexico Governor who supported medical marijuana in his home state, is now tapped for the heading the Department of Commerce. I’m not sure how much influence on drug policy Richardson can have in that postion, unless he some say in regulating taxation in states that have legal dispensaries. Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona has vetoed much of the legislation the Republican-controlled AZ State Congress has attempted to pass. Staunch Repulican conservative McCain supporter Secretary of State Jan Brewer will take over as acting Governor of Arizona, if Napoliatano accepts the Homeland Security position in Obama’s cabinet. Brewer for Governor/McCain for Senator will lead the GOP ballot in AZ in 2010. Any ballot initiative for medical marijuana in Arizona may be up against a strong conservative Republican voter turnout at the polls in 2010.

  21. Am very glad that I found this site. If there is anything that I can do,please contact me Am not able to donate moneys. I am a disable vet. so I do have time. I have been smoking since I came back from Nam (thats 5/67) Before I got out of the Army, I had to see a psychiatrist, He ask me to under the influence the next time I saw him.Need-less to you what happen. He wrote in my records I did, BUT

  22. In an early test of their commitment to evidence based policy analysis it is clear that our incoming administration is already off track. What we are apparently going to get rather than change, which would by definition signal a move toward objectivity and rationality in policy making, is more of the same political concern with “message.” Recall that for the past eight years the departing administration was able to remain “on message” remarkably well while transforming us from a prosperous nation at peace to a broke nation at war.
    As a social scientist I find cannabis prohibition to be an exemplar of policy sans rationality. As a father of two sons I am deeply worried that decisions they make around marijuana, which are ultimately their own decisions regardless of my preferences, could cost them things like financial aid for higher education and their physical freedom. When we discuss drugs and alcohol together our framing of risk focuses on physiology until it comes to cannabis, when the risks that are directly related to prohibition come to the forefront in our reasoned conversations.
    In terms of cannabis prohibition the only change we will get from the Obama administration is short changed.

  23. We will eventually win! Whether through congress, or state by state like MA an MI just did (which it looks to be the latter). The public is slowing learning the truth about marijuana laws and how they “the laws” are more harmful to our society than the substance in itself!
    We will vote, state by state, and WIN with OVERWHELMING support to first decriminalize and then LEGALIZE this “less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes” substance!!! WE THE PEOPLE WILL DECIDE!!! PETITION YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, PUT IT ON THE BALLOTS, VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!

  24. I SUFFER FROM TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA, ONE OF THE WORST KNOW ILLNESSES KNOW TO MAN I.E. PAIN.
    I’VE BEEN ON EVERY MED AND THE ONLY THING THAT HAS EVER REALLY HELPED IS ALL NATURAL AND HAS KEPT ME FROM SUICIDE. EVERYTHING HAS IT’S PURPOSE LET US NOT BE SO IGNORANT AND POMPOSE. FDA APPROVED MED’S SOMETIMES ARE FAR WORSE FOR YOU DUE TO THE CORRUPT PHARMICUDICAL COMPAINIES WHO GET AWAY WITH PASSING THING’S THROUGH A SYSTEM MORE CONCERNED WITH PROFIT EVEN WHEN IT KILL’S PEOPLE. I COULD NAME MANY…SOMEONE OUGHT TO CHECK OUT THE CYBERONIC’S VAGUS NERVE STIMULATOR FOR BI-POLAR OR DEPRESSION. NO WAY IT SHOULD HAVE PASSED AND CLINICAL STUDIES WERE B.S. THEY KNEW IT AND PASSED IT AND THERE IS STILL QUESTION’S AS TO THE LAST MINUTE CHANGE OF MIND FROM THE MAN WHO PASSED IT WHO SAID HE WOULD NEVER APPROVE IT THEN PASSED IT OVER DISAGREEMENT WITH THE REST OF THE STAFF WORKING IN THE MEDICAL DEVISE DEPT. ANYONE WHO WERE TO INVESTIGATE THIS WOULD BE BLOWN AWAY! TOM FITTON SITE “JUDICIAL WATCH.ORG”, HAS THE LATEST ON OUR SPECIAL NEW COUNSEL. PLEASE CHECK THIS OUT! WE R IN TROUBLE IN MORE WAYS THEN ONE.
    THANKS FOR UR EAR!

  25. If Mr. Obama is reading this…
    I’m sorry that I voted for you thinking you would really bring change to the Cannibus Culture in America.
    I am scared for our country if you turn a blind eye to the revolution.
    George Washington said to dedicate one acre of your land to hemp… What was that all about??
    If you were wise you would have Ron Paul as one of your cabinet members.
    If you say “Yes We Can” for CHANGE… then when it comes to reform of marijuana laws you should say… “YES WE CAN” and really make a Change for your country.
    Rahm Emanuel is the DEVIL… do not take his advice.
    Listen to your people… we are your people and we want REAL CHANGE FOR CANIBUS CONSUMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. I don’t think we’ll be any worse off than under Bush, but it’s highly disappointing that we’re not gaining ground.
    I have been urging all activists I know to contact Obama’s transition team at http://www.change.gov to express how we feel. Maybe if enough of us do that, we can at least minimize the damage Obama is doing by appointing people like Emanuel and Holder.

  27. I did NOT vote for Obama! Don’t blame me!
    Being a Vermonter,
    I already knew there was something wrong
    with the Democrats
    because former Vermont Governor Howard Dean
    was against legalizing marijuana.
    Vermont Democrat
    U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Peter Welch
    has NOT signed on to H.R. 5843
    to make marijuana legal for adults to use responsibly!
    I ran against him,
    without any support from NORML,
    and received 7,800 votes for U.S. House,
    almost 3%,
    which is more votes than I ever received in any past election.
    I had the entire text of H.R. 5843
    printed in the Candidate Information Voter Guide, which under state law is required to be distributed to Vermont voters,
    and the Vermont Secretary of State,
    Deborah Markowitz,
    only distributed it to less than 1/4 the total number of registered voters,
    and she distributed it after 20% of the votes were already in
    from absentee voters voting early!
    It took a Republican Governor,
    James Doulgas aka Jim Douglas,
    to get a medical marijuana law passed in Vermont;
    not that he signed it,
    but that he let it pass into law as well as an amendment improving it.
    Remember, supposedly,
    real Republicans are against unlimited government, supposedly….
    So, for all of you who supported Obama,
    don’t cry to me!
    Please vote for me in 2010,
    and please send campaign contriibutions this time!
    http://crisericson.com
    2010 VOTE CRIS ERICSON & MAKE MARIJUANA LEGAL
    ps. during most of the campaign, MySpace blocked my MySpace
    http://myspace.com/usmarijuanaparty
    and to add insult to injury,
    they had an advertisement at the top of
    http://myspace.com/usmarijuanaparty
    for
    http://mysoapbox.vpt.org
    which promoted three candidates for governor,
    while fraudulently concealing that there were
    actually 7 candidates,
    of which I was one.
    I was on the ballot for Governor and for U.S. Representative to Congress.
    So, while my URL was blocked,
    and while no one could join http://myspace.com/usmarijuanaparty
    simultaneously,
    they ran an advertisement for my opponents which
    was advertised at the top of
    http://myspace.com/usmarijuanaparty
    for
    http://mysoapbox.vpt.org
    promoting 3 candidates for governor while fraudulently concealing that there were a toal of 7 candidates.
    The Secretary of State of Vermont is listed on
    http://mysoapbox.vpt.org
    as a COALITION MEMBER
    and I allege this is an allegedly illegal and unregistered political action committee,
    and I allege
    it is totally illegal for the Vermont Secretary of State to join a political action committee that promotes 3 candidates while fraudulently concealing that there are a total of 7 candidates.
    http://mysoapbox.vpt.org
    Cris Ericson
    879 Church Street
    Chester, Vermont 05143-9375
    http://crisericson.com
    2010 VOTE CRIS ERICSON

  28. Even with a liberal win this time around I’m STILL thinking of moving to Canada…or at least, Oregon
    p.s. For God’s sake proofread your posts NoFreedom

  29. Too Bad, they just can’t put decriminalization to a vote, by the people, for the people, as in the state of Mass. where they voted it in by a landslide, even with the DEA’s efforts to convince the it’s “Evil, Wicked, Mean, and Nasty! Don’t step on the grass Sam, and it will hook your Sue, and Johnny, don’t be such an Ass Sam, it will ruin our fair county, You’re so full of bull Sam, ..All will pay who disagree with me!!!!” I guess it will never be legal in my lifetime, I thought 35 years ago, it would have been a done deal, long ago. What a shame, as I am an otherwise law abiding citizen, basically a straight person almost! ME

  30. Frankly, I don’t ever expect anything better from the federal government. There are too many conflicting interests in a country that gets bigger and more diverse every day. These conflicts are slowly strangling federal action in many areas (e.g. same-sex marriage, etc.), leaving the states, counties, and municipalities as the arena in which change will have to take place.
    In my opinion, the way to fight this is not to concentrate at the federal level. Instead, keep working at the state and lower levels. Eventually, the federal government will appear ‘naked’ (emperor has no clothes) once enough states have pulled the rug out from under them.

  31. I’m a faithful reader and, for the most part, a faithful follower of the NORML group and its teachings but I was a bit distraught with the last blog. It’s almost like you think the only issue our new president is going to face is pot reform. I’m all about legalization for consenting adults but as a consenting ADULT I also realize that there are much more important issues pertaining to the upcoming executive switch and cabinet positions. Regardless of Mr.Obama’s position on weed he has to pick a diverse group of individuals for his cabinet. I think the first step in weed legalization is not putting it on a pedestal. You are the same negative news media you fight against.
    PS Thank GOD Ron P. isn’t president!!!

  32. Come on, people! When are you going to wake up and realize that this false left/right paradigm is a sham, a flim-flam? We have one-party corporate rule in America, with rigged elections and the illusion of choice. Go to the dictionary and look up the definitions of both plutocracy and fascism. Then tell me with a strait face that there is not some element of these systems inherent in our own form of “government”.
    It’s time to get rid of all the parasites and predators that exist in Washington. Obama is going to bring about the continuation and escalation of the Bush/Cheney war doctrine, and Obama is going to further the shredding of the Constitution and both individual liberty and privacy. Obama=Bush=McCain i.e. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery.
    If you want to get even a small idea about the political reality in America, do yourself a favor and go to google video and watch “conspiracy of silence”. These blood-suckers in Washington are more sick and twisted and depraved than you can possibly imagine.

  33. Everybody act surprised now.
    Instead of a revolution, we got a “black” pResident. We got change, alright…change of power from one set of criminals to another. They do this to us every time.
    An NPR “medical minute” show called “Here’s to Your Health” last week bathered on about how marijuana (or “pot”) causes paranoia, schitzophrenia, and depression…upper respiratory diseases and possibly cancer…and it might also be a “gateway drug”.
    You know, like booze and cigarettes.
    Last night on the local news there was a segment on marijuana, blurbed as “is it all that bad?” Turns out, according to the report, it could lead to herion use in teenagers. It’s even worse than we thought. Nevermind that legalization would be the quickest way of keeping it out of the hands of teens. Don’t even mention that. I’ll bet their ratings for that segment went up due to the way it was advertised…”is it all that bad?”…sounds like a pro-pot spot.
    Maybe some people thought Obama was going to fire up a big fatty and pass it around, but I knew better. There won’t be any change so long as the sheople continue to buy into the two-party paradigm, which I guess will be forever.
    O well, keep pluggin’, NORML!

  34. If I can find a silver lining in all of this I would say, “At least we’re used to the this sorta crap.”
    Maybe… Hope on a rope?

  35. i believe that there shouldn’t be any plants that are illegal. people who have lost faith in the medicsl system should be able to make their own meds. check out phoenixtearso.ca a cure foe cancer? opposition comes from factions making money from off of the ill when in fact, we could be curing them. gateway drug? I tried other drugs because of being lied to about marijuana. the clincher…I don’t believe that i would have done some things i did do if not for the lie, and the loss of trust in our own government.

  36. Where is the land of the free?
    I really wanted to beleive we would see a change with Obama. When he started out he was for marijuana reform! To get his job, I guess he had to be educated to play along – big paharmaceutical, insurance companies and the AMA (all robbing us blind, BTW) don’t want legal marijuana. So much for the home of the brave.
    Other than seeing a few more non-white faces on the Network newscasts, it seems like electing this unusal man simply means more of the same old same old. I am so disapointed.

  37. Here we go again. Another politician who will say or do anything to get into office. I hope Mr. Obama realizes that people voted for change. 4 years is not long enough to implement massive change, but he’s out the door in 4 years if people don’t like what he’s doing. So far, I do not like it one bit. Clinton Era 3.0 is here.

  38. …and i thought Barack Obama was smarter than this.
    I guess I was wrong,along with a lot of other goobers who voted for him.
    We may end up profoundly regretting having voted for Obama.

  39. WOW, I had my suspicions and and misgivings from the beginning of the campaigns! They never let true “change” minded candidates have a “real” shot at ever becoming elected to high offices because they have a foul and bloody death grip on control and power. Poor America! Their poisons (medicines, food, drinks, AIR!”entertainment”) have served to soften and weaken the backbones of all of us. It at times feels like an insurmountable task, the shaking off of the chains of brainwashed submission. I fear for us, but at the same time and somewhat miraculously, I believe in “us” as well. The Revolution is upon us, it has been seeping under doorways and crowding into our awareness slowly but surely for decades and now it looms over us, falling in slivers and chunks into our lives.We must strike! Our greatest weapons are unity, kindness,tolerance, awareness and action. It is our time, it is our destiny and it is our right and responsibility. The Revolution is NOW! Peace & blessings one and all, may Higher Consciousness prevail.

  40. Now the question is, will we se NORML do some big things to try to counter this developing problem? Or will you just talk about it in news releases? How about some bold, in-your-face political action, NORML? Are you activists or reporters?

  41. If you currently look on “Hulu.com” Obama has created a video page called “The Obama Presidency”…Hulu offers a discussion page and currently Marijuana Reform is up there as a top issue…if enough people go there and post,he may make a statement regarding it…
    just a thought

  42. Praise God we have each other. It is looking dismal right now but I am confident we will see some amazing advancements toward legalization during the next four years. I just encourage everyone not to give up, don’t get bitter, don’t go nutty and do something to harm the cause. Remember, with God all things are possible and remember also that “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” 1tim4:4.

  43. I am sincerely disappointed by this news. I didn’t know that Rahm Emmanuel had such a close-minded and politically selfish view of cannabis law reform. I’m also disappointed in Obama (who I voted for and who I still believe wholeheartedly was a far superior choice to McCain) for selecting/considering these politicians. These viewpoints that Emmanuel, Biden, Holder, and Ramstead posses are counterproductive to human development. How can we waste so much money pursuing sick people and small amounts of marijuana when we are in the middle of a major economic crisis? That just makes it worse. I really hope Barack Obama sees through these selfish, misguided politics. Is there anything we can do to prevent Ramstead, at least?

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