In This Prohibition Saga, Obama Plays Hoover

The guest column below published in the MetroWestDailyNews is from former NORML board member and Lifetime Award recipient Richard Evans —
From MetroWestDailyNews:
It was a curious coincidence last month, that as PBS was broadcasting the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary, Prohibition, describing the Hoover Justice Department’s last-gasp crackdown on alcoholic beverages in the late 1920s, prosecutors in the Obama Justice Department were announcing a crackdown on medical marijuana in California, threatening to confiscate the property of people “involved in drug trafficking activity,” which is fedspeak for providing pot for sick people.
After nearly a decade under the Volstead Act, the utter futility of enforcing public abstinence from alcohol was evident to all but prohibition’s stakeholders – chiefly police, prosecutors and bootleggers. Despite the draconian penalties imposed by the 1926 Jones Act, which turned Volstead violations into felonies, booze remained generally available. Similarly, despite the draconian penalties of the Nixon-era Controlled Substances Act, and nearly a million arrests annually, marijuana has proven itself ineradicable, and, indeed, has become a part of our culture.
The warnings from U.S. Attorneys in California come on the heels of similar threats from their counterparts in Rhode Island, Vermont, Colorado and other states whose medical marijuana laws authorize secure, large-scale cultivation facilities, such as that contemplated in the anticipated ballot question in Massachusetts. If they make good on those threats, one can only imagine the perp walks outside the federal courthouse: plumbers, equipment suppliers, bookkeepers, state functionaries and investors in suits – all the “conspirators” it takes to bring an agricultural product safely to a large, regulated market of doctor-authorized patients.
This clash does not arise from the disparity between state and federal law. Under basic principles of federalism, both the states and the federal government may prohibit marijuana, but neither is required to. A state is under no legal compulsion to enforce federal law, and is indisputably within its rights to determine who should and should not be arrested for marijuana by state and local police.
Rather, the conflict arises from the disparity between how the two sides view reality. Sixteen states (and a majority of the voters, according to many polls) recognize that marijuana has significant medical value for some patients, and that its benefits outweigh its risks. Federal law, on the other hand, peremptorily rejects such claims as hokum, declaring that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and cannot be used safely under medical supervision.
That marijuana is dangerous and without medical value is the dogma at the heart of federal prohibition. To admit otherwise would be to confess that arresting nearly 20 million people, and spending $10 billion in the war against pot, has been a mistake of gargantuan proportions. Admitting that mistake is unthinkable. What must not be, cannot be, to paraphrase the familiar German expression.
Compassion for sick people aside, there are two other reasons to take note of medical marijuana: jobs and revenue. When the voters of Montana, population one million, legalized medical marijuana six years ago, some 1,400 new jobs were said to have been created, largely in the building trades, equipment supply and solar installations, until the feds cracked down earlier this year. The New York Times recently reported that in California, more than $100 million in new revenue has been collected from the industry by state and local tax collectors.
Everybody knows what politicians want when it comes to marijuana: to change the subject. Whether a candidate believes that states should be free to enact, implement and enforce their own medical marijuana laws, free of federal interference, would reveal much about his or her view of states’ rights generally, and provide useful differentiation from the other candidates.
Not since Prohibition has the federal government been so on the wrong side of history. Now, with the Justice Department crackdown on medical marijuana, presidential candidates and others who purport to be leaders can pick a side and defend it.
Richard M. Evans is an attorney practicing in Northampton.

59 thoughts

  1. The 2012 election will tell the tale. The Republicans traditionally support prohibition and the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Newt Gingrich, has indicated he would double down on the enforcement of prohibition laws if elected. President Obama, despite what he has said in the past, now says legalization is a topic worth debating. The millions of voters who use marijuana will find it in their best interests to support Obama. We must keep in mind that 2012 will be the tipping point in the long fight against the failed 19th century policy of prohibition, a policy that those who believe in liberty and personal freedom are honor and duty bound to oppose with every fiber of their being and every vote that they cast.

  2. Why do people act as if just because marijuana is illegal their kids won’t use marijuana ?
    All prohibition does is make it so that if and when they do want some marijuana it’s more likely for that person they get it from to be either a gang member or somebody who also sells hard drugs or both.
    Why must marijuana have to have medical benefits to be legal but the poison alcohol can just be legal ?
    Why do people try to blame marijuana as the gateway drug but not alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, energy drinks, caffeine, etc. and why don’t they look at the types of situations people are in, the people that they hang out with, or their personality traits for the cause.
    How come people don’t seem to care about the many side effects of prescription drugs but are scared of the natural plant cannabis ?
    Why don’t people understand that legalizing marijuana will reduce the drug cartels’ profits ?
    Why does society accept tobacco products but not the safer cannabis ?
    Why do people who hardly ever or never use cannabis act like they know so much about it ?
    Why do some people think that just because they don’t like or use something that nobody else should ?
    Why is it so bad for people to recreationally use marijuana because it makes them happy, relaxed, more aware and enlightened ?
    Marijuana should be legal before alcohol and tobacco because marijuana is far safer and better.
    Why don’t people give a F about freedom anymore ?
    If people don’t defend people’s simple civil liberties like cannabis freedom then it sets the precedent for more of their own freedoms to be taken away.

  3. OK . Federal Prohibition is the same as the short term
    prohibition of alcohol . Al Capone runs the entire old
    alcohol market [though presumed deceased] by testing a
    limit to DOJ ruling at what cartel and mafiana contacts
    he had to begin legal good quality and not “damaging” ,
    alcohol by seeing to his contacts and making rum ~ run
    his deal on cartel Carribean cane and sugar ferment en
    ways , the next contact on his list was the Italian @!!
    Accord mafiana who accepted him as running full product
    and not bothering the DOJ with supercede{ing} all Laws
    with reguard to amount of alcohol in beverage and then
    amount of grain ferment and mash product in production
    and thereby began the most effective good qual industry
    on the entire alcohol commodity . I WILL NOT recommend
    seeing how many DOJ new~Laws can be surpassed for then
    standard consumers or producers , though , how did the
    Capone Alcohol Industry win the entire commodity . . ,
    by ignoring ALL laws of DOJ and beginning daily checkin
    with the full Product Industry to see each day’s update
    and then when Alcohol Prohibition ended ., he runs it .
    Recreation isn’t listed among “legality” at newer NORML
    website .,. now it’s [m word] industry (with medicinal
    and more-or-less hemp) . , . Well , [M Word] is the way
    prohibition and “quieting” register as payment for the
    enforcement of drug.s and Republic Federal payment as a
    way to prevent talking with open minds about cannabis .
    Cannabis isn’t the enforcement word of prohibition .,.
    so why would the moniker of TV faux reporting say it if
    the means of “ma ri jua na” [repeated,,.] is the “grant
    money maker” and I remind money grants aren’t legal . .
    Who I wonder , supplies the money to prohibition report
    as most TV prohibit “reporters” are not welcome to be a
    proper egres to former activists and refer to legally ,
    smoked , cannabis .,. rather ‘m word’ , “m word” , etc.
    and take a lil payment on the side [like Radical Russ].
    You want revenue on State Taxes . The grass tax was the
    amount to pay Federal Minimum Payment and is enough tax
    amount to pay the Federal Minimum on U.S.C. 2007 ed The
    Grass Tax [written at one hundred dollars tax an ounce]
    paid the Federal Minimum on new Tax Act according to a
    private accord with Alan Greenspan care of Natl _\|/_ .
    With Federal Minimum Paid ., try more like 1 dollar per
    5 grams natural organic recreational cannabis . I know
    it as NORML Tax Act . Good luck with better information
    and less ignorant “quieting” of the true legal referral
    and begin more of a National Legality known as : Nation
    Legal _\|/_ 100 grams eco quarter pound legally smoked
    with designation 18345.6 OK[+] Thanks and Hooray . . .
    and Brandon . , . you make me smirk . Schizophrenia is
    a made up disorder about fear of forming a mutation of
    a third eye and brid split features known as the brid *
    mutation like a side show freak and is the B ARPA max~
    imum pay out for “Stoned on Drugs” Reefer freakishness.
    The brid mutation condition ‘schizophenela mutaphenia’
    does not occur in Homo sapiens and it’s maximum payout
    for putting kids who smoke a bowl at home or residence
    in mental health for Medicare fraud to pay a non-profit
    life choice to be cannabis or environmental activist by
    choice of pension planned Family Imposed Payment to the
    sense of living life on disability without much to show
    for it . A choice seeming deranged messianic to Republa
    function of accounting for all money copy as business .
    Sheesh . Thanks . I’m Green Smoke and Tea Party Kingdom
    advisor to self and Obama Concede to Not Republic tho ,
    a better way of Future Kingdom known as anachrosit . 🙂
    Thanks former activist .,. ignorant at will money~grub.
    Thas all . Please accept comment as written . Peace 😀

  4. The marijuana prohibition of the US represents of of the greatest crimes against humanity in history.
    Any politician that supports prohibition of marijuana and the draconian laws that it uses to kill and imprison people should be brought up on Crimes Against Humanity charges by Mexico, Columbia, the US, and any other country whose citizens are killed, imprisoned and otherwise terrorized by these outdated and barbaric laws that continue to defy the will of the people

  5. Is it really necessary to let your entire vote on a president go into whether or not they will let you get high? the country has many more problems than smokin’ some pot. i would highly recommend that you do not follow Msgt Vance’s suggestion as a vote solely based on pot doesnt seem to smart.

  6. @ C’mon guys – Yes! I will vote for almost anyone who is going to help legalize marijuana!
    And for a really good reason – thousands of people have their lives ruined by this totally unjust law every year and it needs to stop! If you or someone you care about was rotting in prison for a minor marijuana offense, perhaps you would understand.

  7. @C’mon guys this is an issue that spotlights the crony capitalism that is drowning this country… If you believe that a drug less harmful than alcohol should remain illegal then you are either a fool or you have been bought out by someone!

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