Cato, Cannabis, Conference and Coalescing For Reforms

Joining my colleagues and friends Morgan Fox of Marijuana Policy Project, Paul Armentano of NORML and Norman Stamper of LEAP, I’m an honored contributor to a series of essays published by the Cato Institute’s Unbound series on the topic of cannabis law reform and the war on some drugs.
My essay examines 1) identifying concerns for reformers, 2) why cannabis law reform enjoys ever-increasing public support, 3) who supports continuing cannabis prohibition and 4) what are some steps to hasten reforms.
Many thanks to Cato’s Jason Kuznicki for inviting an array of contemporary essays from the perspectives of active reformers!
Allen St. Pierre, executive director, NORML, November 11, 2011:

With so many onerous institutional discriminations and restrictions—and the price of medical cannabis remaining inordinately high because of the existence of cannabis Prohibition—patients who genuinely need access to this low toxicity, naturally occurring herbal medicine would be far better served by ending cannabis Prohibition entirely than in trying to carve out special legal exemptions to the existing Prohibition.

The other essays in the series from Fox, Armentano and Stamper are found here.
Speaking of Cato, tomorrow they’re hosting what I hope is a news-making conference in Washington, D.C. that examines the growing tide of public wont and scientific research in support around the world for a different direction then ‘prohibition’ laws for currently illicit drugs like cannabis, instead favoring the emerging public health and criminal justice doctrine of ‘harm reduction’.
The line up of speakers and topics should not be ignored by the media and policymakers as Cato has assembled an impressive line-up:
Former President, Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, Jorge Castaneda
Speaker of the House of Deputies, Uruguay, Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou
Wall Street Journal, Editorial Board Member and Columnist, Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Columnist Glenn Greenwald
Law Professor and LEAP board member, Leigh Maddox
Drug Policy Alliance, Director, Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D
Daily Caller, Editor, Tucker Carlson

Video messages are expected from former President, Mexico, Vicente Fox and former US Secretary of State, George Schultz.
Looks like you can watch the conference at Cato Live!

19 thoughts

  1. Do these speakers have trillions of dollars ?
    Pharma., alcohol, oil & tobacco does .
    They win again .
    We lose .
    We’re talking mass genocide around the globe with over 60,000 dead in, Mexico alone . All this over a senseless drug ( Marijuana ) war fueled by their lust for money and greed . They know of no afterlife . Their thought is money and dominance over the World .They have lost their love of human life .

  2. One thing that I disagree with in this article is that it doesn’t have to be from the bottom up… If we get a president who will place an executive order for the descheduling of marijuana from the schedule of narcotics, then we have won 50% of the war (the federal side), then we can work it from the bottom up for local legalization…
    Gary Johnson has not only a) been a proponent for marijuana legalization since 1999 (while he was still governor of NM), and b) promised the immediate descheduling of marijuana, but he has also c) promised to pardon those incarcerated due to non-violent drug offenses.
    I 100% agree that we need more super rich people than George Soros funding our cause. Anyone? Please? It sickens me that I have to stand on the Soros side of the fence waving his flag… especially since I stand clearly on the other side of the fence burning that same flag when it comes to issues of the second Amendment…

  3. Keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll keep getting what we’re getting. No democrat or republican will stand for the people against the corporate powers which enslave us. If you want something different vote the Green party into office and watch how fast the world begins to resemble the best we can imagine. From ending the drug war (as well as the other culture wars we’ve been fighting since the birth of our nation) to ending our addiction to oil, and remodeling our educational system, to name but a few the Green party is the key to the change we demand. for he past century we’ve voted for only democrats or republicans and our nation has sunk deeper into the muck with each election. Break the chains of the two party system. break the chains that bind us.

  4. It is a nice line-up, but I think it falls short. I love the fact that it addresses cannabis in the Middle East, especially Afghanistan, where some of the world’s best cannabis comes from.
    However, I am disappointed NOT to see any names from the U.N. like Yury Fedotov or anyone else from the U.N. who can clear the way for legalization. We have this shit whereby countries that want to legalize can not because of international treaties and international law. What bullshit!
    Blurb from UNODC site on Fedotov:
    Mr. Yury Fedotov: appointed to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV) on 9 July 2010. He holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. . . . Mr. Fedotov is a career diplomat.
    Just get the U.N. on board. Then, let’s surf this wave.

  5. Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.
    Doesn’t science also prove that Cannabis laws are crimes against humanity?

  6. I read Allen St Pierre’s essay and it is great, I have a question on his point on people getting better organized via the internet etc. I already do not support candidates that are prohibitionists, where do you find ones that are for legalization? I have signed petitions that i assume are sent to my reps from NORML and other like minded organizations, have written emails directly to my reps, and get no response on this issue.
    The only thing I can see as proof positive on this are the cosponsors of HR 2306 which has grown to 19 as of today. I wonder if there is another way to find pro cannabis candidates. (if there are any in FL let me know)
    Just for the record, I am not a single issue voter, as I saw another poster a while back get admonished for saying Ron Paul is the answer, it is just that some of my favorite issues are interrelated to Cannabis reform,i.e. Jobs, Environment(Hemp) and Medicine, not to mention freedom.
    Thanks again to NORML and all its members.

  7. Had I, myself the resources – I would do this,
    but as I do not, I put it before you, my colleagues in this fight to legalize what should have already been…
    I ask that we compile a PRO / CON list of EVERY SINGLE possible item. Then rule out the ones that are not clear-cut enough, nor provable.
    The end result would be something like this:
    +$0 court costs
    +$0 incarceration costs
    +$0 tax dollars lost due to jail time
    +$0 tax dollars lost due to jobs lost solely due to urinalysis
    +the drug warzone in Mexico would lessen,
    just as the streets of Chicago were safer after the
    repeal of the prohibition of alchol
    (this space left unavoidably blank…)
    once the think tank crafted it,
    it could be done as a petition-
    now, yes, I realized it was tried and failed-
    but that was on
    marijuana’s own grounds
    if we were to SELL the concept
    as in
    like the new Sparklematic 2100
    Feature – it has new sparkles
    Advantage – your teeth will glimmer and shine
    Benefit – you will get the girl!
    I know it was corny, but you get the point)
    it doesn’t appear that the legalization of marijuana will not happen due to the:
    -will of the people
    -lack of evidence for its illegality
    -logical argument
    IF we can wrap it up in
    partaker or not-
    they will: (likely)
    -not face staff/benefits cuts in government offices
    (many police and military have had benefits cuts due to lack of funds) THIS would help THEM
    -Mexico will improve its standard of living
    (many Americans have family there, and it is THE REAL DRUG WAR ZONE)
    -taxes wouldn’t have to be raised as much
    not to split hairs,
    but we need to SELL the concept
    not merely expect this mess to change because of intellect
    American policy setters are largely greedy
    appeal to their greed
    as their intellect has appeared to be lacking…
    ignore the brainstorming and crudeness of this
    use your abilities
    and craft a PRO CON argument
    get publicity
    shit, I will sit down on any camera
    and debate the legalization with anyone.
    appeal to their greed
    what do the non-smokers get?
    so far, it seems as ONLY pot-heads (and their families would benefit)
    make it clear that the citizens of this country THEMSELVES will benefit – then our concepts have a chance of being realized.

  8. I truly do appreciate the great efforts that NORML and other like-minded organizations expend to help ‘coalesce reform’ of current drug laws. The international effort is also appreciated, because the War of Drugs like the War of Terror is a global issue, thanks in no small part to the undue influence of the USA and its Military Industrial Complex. The outcome of this conference will no doubt nudge some ‘fence-sitters’ off their ‘perches’, but realistically speaking is unlikely to actually affect true political reform and end the Drug War. Top-down change is unlikely because our political leadership holds proprietary commercial vested interests that are antithetical to the wishes of the governed.
    The old meme “All politics is local” still applies. Local governments and / or local LEOs that either see Medical Marijuana dispensaries as an ATM or have intrusive Right Wing Authoritarian / Fascist tendencies continue to get elected, in spite of a majority of constituents support for a specific agenda, in this case a liberalization of cannabis prohibition.
    Voters cannot rely upon any particular political party’s candidates for office, Democrat or Republican or Other, based solely upon their party affiliation. Right Wing Authoritarian / Fascistic tendencies of ‘our’ politicians know no party boundaries. That object lesson has been borne out by the results of the election of Obama to POTUS in 2008.
    Voters must extract concrete and definitive pro-cannabis policy platforms from these politicians Before they are elected to office and then Hold them to their explicit campaign promises, rather than accept nebulous campaign rhetoric as validation of Their intentions.
    If voters have the ability to recall politicians that don’t meet their standards of governance, then Use That Power. If that power doesn’t exist, then Validation Before Election is required, which admittedly takes greater Voter Participation rather than Apathy. If any elected politician reveals RWA tendencies, or doesn’t abide by a stated party platform plank Or campaign promise, then why should voters rely upon some vague or erroneous proposition that somehow such politicians will ‘change their spots’ and serve their constituents more completely in a subsequent term of office? Vote them Out Of Office, period!
    I get a bit tired of hearing about how any particular political candidate or other has no chance of winning election because of either lack of substantial campaign funding, or lack of ability to overcome whatever political roadblocks prevent their listing on the electoral ballot.
    This is the Internet Age, and there are reasonably well-connected alternative methods of communicating with and between constituents on important issues that transcend the need for mountains of campaign cash. Money doesn’t buy a single vote, but only influences lazy voters who will not think for themselves (who might even be too lazy to vote anyway).
    Every election ballot that I have ever seen has the provision available to ‘Write-In’ the candidate of the voter’s choice, even if that takes a few extra minutes and effort to do so. If your favored candidate isn’t on the ballot, then put him/her there yourself. That’s within your rights, so use it.
    Electronic voting machines have been used to fraudulently alter election results, and until their use is abolished there is an alternative that activist constituents can use — the paper Absentee Ballot, which is its own paper trail. Use this ballot, and mail it in Early — in fact, make a xerographic copy of that Absentee Ballot first, just in case.
    All of these methods can be used to overcome the undemocratic Corporatist influence on elections, both locally and nationally, as well as entrenched party dogma that limits the field of political candidates. If We The People are ever going to take back control of our government and country from the Kleptocratic Oligarchy, it’s going to take more effort and some little-used but quite legal tactics such as these.

  9. I looked on the CATO website and their list of targeted wasteful government programs they want to abolish, and nowhere on that list was the DEA. Interestingly enough, as much as the EPA is the most targeted by Republicans for cutting, the EPA actually appears to command a minute percentage of budgets. I wonder how much the DEA is costing us? and in addition, how much is it costing in human lives?

  10. organization is key! In order to push our agenda we need to align with other groups pushing similar agendas. The NRA is about individual rights and we can strengthen each other in numbers. The AARP (baby boomers) would be a great alignment. But the old saying of “Strike while the iron is hot” never rang more true than now, due to the state of the economy and lack of trust in Govt. Strength in numbers!

  11. Max@15 – AARP has not been a friend to us and the NRA has turned right wing showing no support for us either but other than that you’re right on point.

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