The “Voters Say ‘No’ To Pot Prohibition”

I have an op/ed today online at The’s influential Congress blog (“Where lawmakers come to blog”).

Read an excerpt from it below:

Voters say ‘No’ to pot prohibition

Voters in Colorado and Washington made history on Election Day. For the first time ever, a majority of voters decided at the ballot box to abolish cannabis prohibition.

… Predictably, the federal government – which continues to define cannabis as equally dangerous to heroin – is not amused. According to various media reports, the Justice Department is in the process of reviewing the nascent state laws. Meanwhile, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has already affirmed that the agency’s “enforcement of the [federal] Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.” That may be true. But in a matter of weeks, the local enforcement of marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington most definitely will change. And there is little that the federal government can do about it.

States are not mandated to criminalize marijuana or arrest adult cannabis consumers and now two states have elected not to. The federal government cannot compel them to do otherwise. State drug laws are not legally obligation to mirror the federal Controlled Substances Act and state law enforcement are not required to help the federal government enforce it. Yes, theoretically the Justice Department could choose to prosecute under federal law those individuals in Colorado and Washington who possess personal amounts of cannabis. But such a scenario is hardly plausible. Right now, the federal government lacks the manpower, political will, and public support to engage in such behavior. In fact, rather than triggering a federal backlash, it is far more likely that the passage of these two measures will be the impetus for the eventual dismantling of federal pot prohibition.

Like alcohol prohibition before it, the criminalization of cannabis is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. How did America’s ‘Nobel Experiment’ with alcohol prohibition come to an end? Simple. When a sufficient number of states – led by New York in 1923 – enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer complying with the government’s wishes to enforce an unpopular law, federal politicians eventually had no choice but to abandon the policy altogether.

… On Election Day, voters in Colorado and Washington turned their backs on cannabis prohibition. They are the first to do so. But they will not be the last. Inevitably, when voters in the other 48 states see that the sky has not fallen, they too will demand their lawmakers follow suit. As more states lead the way, federal politicians will eventually have no choice but to follow.

You can read the entire op/ed here. You can also post your feedback and comments to The Hill by going here. Congress is listening; tell them what’s on your mind.

39 thoughts

  1. How cool….only 40 years after i first smoked a nickel bag and found my pleasure of choice. Where was all this peace and love back then? Long strange trip indeed.

  2. In the future, cannabis prohibition will become just a horror story on America’s historic medieval policies on society and how it had almost evolved into a total destruction of humanity and liberty by the draconically minded and hateful ambitious politicians with the support of organized frantic psycho nannies.

  3. This whole thing doesn’t need to be a fight. Modifying the CSA in a fashion that protects states’ right to regulate marijuana and medical cannabis would suffice until cannabis is rescheduled, current proposed legislation would essentially do this. Under the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, if every state choses to regulate marijuana, it would essentially no longer be a scheduled.

    Support and awareness for this bill ought to be our primary focus at the federal level, while continuing to promote reform locally.

  4. This whole thing doesn’t need to be a fight. Modifying the CSA in a fashion that protects states’ right to regulate marijuana and medical cannabis would suffice until cannabis is rescheduled, current proposed legislation would essentially do this. Under the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, if every state choses to regulate marijuana, it would essentially no longer be a scheduled.

    Support and awareness for this bill ought to be our primary focus at the federal level, while continuing to promote reform locally.

  5. Alright Mr. President time to talk the walk
    Get up there and make an historical speech
    as to the “science” of the goodness of Cannabis
    You as anyone knows this in you’re heart and soul.

  6. Im betting that within four years from now it will be legal in as many states as medical mj is in bama we still have a long row to hoe. mostly with the over 60 voters most under 60 have either smoked it or they have friends or family that do so they know its pretty much harmless IMHO the best cannabis in the world cant impair a person as much as a six pack of beer ,and also with alchohol the more you drink the more intoxicated you become, cannabis is self limiting in that if you smoke more than a joint or two at at time your just wasting it not getting higher also if you smoke too frequintly you dont get very high at all, so less is more somtimes.

  7. I noticed on Cannabis Culture that Mr. Peña-Nieto, the incoming president of Mexico, wants to hold hemispheric talks on cannabis prohibition. You should invite the rest of the world to these talks for other countries that want to legalize and are held back by international treaty. True, regardless of whether the U.S. federal government approves of legalization in the states, why should Mexicans continue to die to enforce cannabis prohibition when cannabis is legally available en el Norte? Why shouldn’t Mexico legalize cannabis to avoid the deaths because of cannabis smuggling and have the gringos come to Mexico? Then the U.S. can piss away even more money trying to intercept Americans bringing it back instead of Mexicans, and I’m not just suggesting only border crossings. If Mexico legalizes, what is to prevent Americans from taking over the smuggling where the Mexicans leave off? The exchange rate and the cartels still finding money in it?

    Thank you for acting so quickly to schedule some kind of international meeting to clear the obstacle of cannabis prohibition by international treaty.

    Countries without the exceptionalism clout of American exceptionalism will still have the yoke of international treaty prohibition even if the U.S. legalizes or just looks the other way and the international prohibition stays on paper. The U.S. can ignore what’s on the paper, but other countries are very susceptible to sanctions. Get Egypt in on the talks. The U.S. gives them the wheat products, grain, they need to feed their people. They can’t without it, so they need to get on board the cannabis legalization train, and lighten up on taking sides in the violence. Have Libya jump on board and get them some decent blond North African hash for their masses to calm them. Ditto to what I expanded on this topic before about it being traded in U.S. dollars and above ground follow the money opportunities and opportunities for better intelligence gathering, etc.

    Finally, Mexico and the U.S. can talk about “real” economic development instead of economic development consisting of money and arms the U.S. gives to Mexico to fight the drug war.

    Let’s get cannabis prohibition de-funded at the federal level: blame the sequestration or budget cutting.

    The Koch brothers and Romney’s ilk can not funnel enough money on their own into the stock market to implement mass production of innovations that create cleaner jobs/greener jobs. They need the other wealthy people.

    And …

    why should (other)wealthy people open up their wallets when the federal government still is of the mindset that they have money to waste on cannabis prohibition?




    Michele (Leonhart), hi! You’re going to implement the execution of your office’s policies to get the feds out of the states’ business, and some of how the U.S. cooperates with other organizations, domestic and foreign, on cannabis regulation. Put your thinking cap on. It’s that or transfers or furloughs, so retool/reinvent yourselves. Better have a staff meeting or something to get ideas.

  8. It’s about time, but I don’t see the DEA allowing liberty to return to our shores any time soon. They depend too heavily upon Prohibition funding.

    I hope I’m totally wrong.

  9. Judge orders tobacco firms to say they lied about smoking dangers

    By Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press
    WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements that say they lied about the dangers of smoking and that disclose smoking’s health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day.

    This was headline from story on
    Could someone in the government please tell all of America why it is known that tabacco kills 1200 people per day and it is legal???

    Then please tell the American people why pot that has never been linked to the death of anyone listed as a class 1 narcotic.

    Then plaese tell us how many people die per day from alcohol and tell us why it is also legal and pot is not….

    Please end this prohibition and stop making our law makers look so full of crap.

  10. In 1992 I was arrested with 2 quarter bags well I was charged with possession with intent which is a felony this destroyed my life trying to get a job,going to school to better myself,anytime my background was checked doors were slammed for me.I was 21 when I was arrested well I never got into any other trouble,in 2004 I got a full pardon with all my rights restore,got my right to bear arms which I have a gun permit now I am able to vote but guess what if anyone checks my background a felony’s there,it’s time to stop this injustice against the American people.I vote for people ready to stop this.

  11. The republicans were stunned that Romney lost…image how great it would have been had a Gary Johnson win stunned both major parties. Voting the progressive candidates, jury nullification, etc. are the tools we have. After all, government is just us…when we wield it.

  12. I think the victory is that federal law enforcement has not really said what they will do and Obama is silent. They must be waiting to see what happens otherwise I really do think they would have moved by now (at least with threats to stop people before they start). It is always hard to get a government agency to give up a large part of their responsibility/work load since they always measure success on the size of their budget. As distasteful as it seems (this really is a yuky one !) I think the way forward may be to convert the DEA into some kind of standards, inspection and tax collection body that overseas the production and sale of cannabis whilst chasing other drugs with renewed vigour. Maybe even give them and the FBI a small budget increase (funded from new tax revenue) just to shut them up.

  13. 1. It is not a hippie thing. It is a makes sense thing…
    2. Pot Prohibition is a greed company built by the CIA. There are several documented occasions where the head of the CIA George Bush Sr move pot thru their oil rigs…

  14. I am happy to see this day in my lifetime! I am worried about the laws though. They said that it would be treated as alcohol, specifically for driving laws. Washington has already enacted blood draws for those thought to be impaired. Colorado has different laws which do not require a person to be driving to get a DUI and one of the legislators recommended a 5 nano gram limit. This is concerning because there is no research that says what a reasonable level is, it mandates blood testing and THC is detectible in the blood stream for a while after consumption.

  15. I am a 7+ year medical cannabis patient from California who was visitng Colorado in Feb. I was unfortunatly caught with under 2 ounces. I am at this very moment siting here as a felon under a 7pm curfew, I cant use my medicine or alcohol because of UA’s. I am happy that this state has, although a little late for my conviction, led the way in voting cannabis legal, it’s about time. We all need to demand the federal gov’t to follow this and end prohibition, pardon all convictions and expunge all records of possesion. I am in the process of asking the court to reduce my sentence, and I encourage everyone in any similar situation to do this. I’m hopeing to get home for christmas and be with my son. Wish me luck and for this new law to help me. It bafals me every day how the healthiest drug available is treated as the most dangerous and the most dangerous drugs, alcohol and tobacco, are legal.

  16. John (Bonehead) Boehner doesn’t care! As far as he is concerned potheads can go to hell as long as he has his cigarettes and booze.

    Oh yeah, and as long as the rich stay rich…

  17. I don’t believe the pharma and lawyers will give up so easy. Pot cases enrich the lawyers, judges and courts not to mention of course the for profit penal system that makes money on the jailed. Look for a backlash once programs are implemented that sell cannabis to any adult citizen….

  18. Could we please define the attack on non violent tax paying pot smoking voters for what is really is? Which according to the english langauge is Treason supported by terrorism.

  19. Ok Illinois Legislatures and Governor Quinn, it is time that you join in on these legalizing issues for making marijuana legal for adults to use. No harm will come from your efforts. Get on the bandwagon. Illinois and stop fearing the propaganda. Industrial Hemp should be legalized for growth and processing as well in Illinois. You Legislatures have no idea of the amount of tax revenues you are missing out on by keeping both marijuana and Industrial Hemp Illegal here in Illinois.

  20. >Drug war pow

    I can’t see the public wanting to keep people like you in prison once things settle down a bit. It is still early days (the Vote only happened 3 weeks ago)- which is little consolation if you are in jail 8-(
    When the public sees the cost of keeping some one locked up for something that they now accept as normal and commonplace there will be a demand for some kind of amnesty or at least sentence reduction. There may even be the issue of compensation claims facing the authorities as well so I think opinion will soften quite rapidly. Unless things went really bad and some one was killed or something I don’t think it will be too long before you guys get out or legalisation will fail – there is no middle option.

    I agree that the alcohol and tobacco industries are the real pushers of dangerous drugs and dangerous lies. I know of much more harm from their activities than anything else that I can think of. As cannabis finds it’s place in society I think it will create a re-evaluation of all societies drug habbits with a focus on questioning which drugs really do the most harm and how. That’s what I really want.

    Good luck

  21. Marijuana, a type of Cannabis, does not belong in the same Schedule as Heroin, DMT, GHB, MDMA, Methaqualone, BZP, Cathinone, , aMT, LSD, Peyote and Psilocybin. Cannabis, Peyote and Psilocybin are the only natural plant based substances on the list, and are nothing like the other substances. All three can be and are used for healing, unlike the others. Even hemp, a harmless plant, is included with marijuana, denying farmers of a cash crop we have to import to make clothes and rope.

  22. Its not over yet. I thank you people of Washington & Colorado for your brains & bravery. I pray the citizens of ALL remaining states show they too can stand up & tell congress & the DEA, to stop treating we citizens as children & focus on the real criminals in our nation. READ THE RESEARCH NOT THE PROPAGANDA AND END THE MEXICAN CARTEL CONTROL OF OUR LAWS.

  23. Get active in the Legalization movement!!

    Write, Call, Email, Tweet and Facebook your Congressional people and tell them to vote for the “Respect States and Citizens Rights Act”

    Decriminalization is NOT the answer, it keeps the trade in the hands of the violent criminal element. Legalization brings it under the control of Government.

    You don’t have to fund a drug lord to get a beer, Do you?

    Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol!

    So proud to be living in my home state of Colorado!

  24. I am amazed at how poorly our elected officials have served us. It would be amazing if the our elected officials up on the hill would look at the proven facts about this plant and decriminalize it before more harmless Americans are put in jail. Laws based on 1930’s propaganda rather than facts should be corrected. If I were a politician I would want my grandchildren to trust me. The young are going to have a hard time convincing themselves what you are telling them the truth about real dangerous drugs when they realize you are not truthful about marijuana. It will be a substance most will be familiar with. Remember our grandchildren could be imprisoned by our governments failure to right this wrong. These currant laws are more harmful than pot. The most important thing we can do is to vote the politicians who want to imprison us out of office.

  25. Its only a matter of time my friends. My guess? 2020 its totally legal and we can all go to the corner store to grab a pack of joints.

  26. I wish people would quit using the term Hippies. I and 1 million other people are reg people that work and take care of our kids. I am tired of everyone refuring to us as hippies because we like Cannabis. If you were born in the Hippie Era then yes you are a Hippie, if not then hush there are a lot more of us that are not Hippies and are.

  27. Err, to me hippies are burnout/acid heads that bathe in patchouli. Flower children actually cared and shouldn’t be confused with “hippies”. Hippies: looser druggies, now we call them meth-heads.

  28. I agree with you Robert K. I grew up in the 1970s & 80s. What a time that was. I wasn’t considered a hippie. I was just a regular guy who liked to smoke weed. Don’t do it now though the job gives random drug tests. Bummer!!
    Seven years without cannibas. All I do is sit on the couch and eat potato chips and dip. grab a big glass of milk with some chocolate chip cookies and wait for the day that pot becomes legal in my state.

  29. I believe the government was right. Smoking pot will make you disfunctional and lazy. Maybe I should watch more of those camercials about eggs and hot butter ppsssssss… THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS. What a message I think I need therapy.

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