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Mind Pilot

Registered: 02/09/09
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Obama Administration 'Firmly Opposed' to Pot Legalization: Here's Why
    #416502 - 05/12/10 05:40 PM (6 years, 5 months ago)

So this is your administration on drugs. Any questions?


Obama drug plan 'firmly opposes' legalization as California vote looms
    via The Hill

    The Obama administration said Tuesday that it "firmly opposes" the legalization of any illicit drugs as California voters head to the polls to consider legalizing marijuana this fall.

    The president and his drug czar re-emphasized their opposition to legalizing drugs in the first release of its National Drug Control Strategy this morning.

    "Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them," the document, prepared by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, says. "That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug."

Is anyone surprised? You shouldn't be. After all, this is the same Gil Kerlikowske that has said repeatedly that legalization is not in his vocabulary, and publicly stated, "Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit." And this is the same administration that recently nominated Michele Leonhart to head the DEA -- the same Michele Leonhart who overruled the DEA's own administrative law judge in order to continue to block medical marijuana research, and publicly claimed that the rising death toll civilians attributable to the U.S./Mexican drug war "a signpost of the success" of U.S. prohibitionist policies.

Yet, given that national polls now indicate that an estimated one out of two Americans nationwide support legalization, and that a solid majority of west coast voters and Californians back regulating the retail production and distribution of pot like alcohol, it seems politically counterproductive for the administration to maintain such a 'flat Earth' policy. So what could possibly be their reasoning?

It's actually spelled out here, in the White House's 2010 Drug Control Strategy:


We have many proven methods for reducing the demand for drugs. Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them. That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug. Legalizing drugs would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of use. Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects, and legalization would only exacerbate these problems.

There it is in black and white -- in less than 100 words: The federal government's entire justification for marijuana prohibition; their entire justification for a policy that has led to the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, that is responsible for allowing cops to terrorize families and kill their pets, that has stripped hundreds of thousands of young people of their ability to pursue higher education, and that is directly responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 civilians on the U.S./Mexico border. And that's just for starters.

Yet the entire premise for maintaining the government's policy -- that keeping marijuana criminally prohibited "reduces [its] availability and lessens willingness to use [it]" -- is demonstrably false. Under present prohibition, more than 1/3 of 8th graders, more than 2/3rds of 10th graders, and some 85 percent of 12th graders say that marijuana is "easy to get." Even according to the stridently prohibitionist group CASA (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University), more teens say that they can get their hands on pot than booze, and one-quarter say that they can buy marijuana within the hour. That means, President Obama and Gil Kerlikowske, that 25 percent of teens can obtain marijuana as easily -- and as quickly -- as a Domino's pizza!

This is your "proven" method for "reducing availability?" Don't make us laugh.

By contrast, dozens of studies from around the globe have established, consistently, that marijuana liberalization will result in lower overall drug use. For example, no less than the World Health Organization concluded:


"Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly, and is simply not related to drug policy. ... The U.S. ... stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies. ... The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the U.S., has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in national rates of illegal drug use."

In fact, NORML has an entire white paper devoted to addressing this issue here.

Of course, the best option to truly reduce youth availability to cannabis is legalization and regulation. This strategy -- the same one that we employ for the use of virtually every other product except cannabis -- would impose common sense controls regarding who can legally produce marijuana, who can legally distribute marijuana, who can legally consume marijuana, and where adults can legally use marijuana and under what circumstances is such use legally permitted.

But we already know that this option isn't in the administration's vocabulary, now don't we?

I've written time and time again that this administration ought to view marijuana legalization as a political opportunity, not a political liability. They obviously aren't listening. Nevertheless, it is the voters who have led -- and will continue to lead -- on this issue, and it is the politicians who will follow. Could we expect it to be any other way?

After all it was the federal government that followed the states lead in 1937 -- federally criminalizing pot, but only doing so after virtually every state in the nation had already done so. California, for instance, outlawed marijuana use in 1913 -- nearly a quarter of a century before the Feds acted similarly. Likewise, it is going to be the states -- and California in particular -- that are going to usher in the era of re-legalization.

And it will be the Feds who eventually will have no other choice but to fall in line.


:guns: Don't Mistake My Kindness For Weakness :guns:

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Re: Obama Administration 'Firmly Opposed' to Pot Legalization: Here's Why [Re: SpaceMonkey]
    #416503 - 05/12/10 05:42 PM (6 years, 5 months ago)

If you're looking to President Barack Obama for a consistent drug policy, it's unclear if you'll get one. On one hand, the president seemed to tacitly acknowledge the theories of "harm reduction" proponents, who argue that it's better to control negative consequences of illicit drug use through legalization and strict regulatory control, when he ended the government's ban on using federal funds for needle-exchange programs to reduce the spread of HIV and when the Justice Department was ordered to stand down on prosecuting legal medical marijuana patients. Of course, these moves are far from "legalizing" anything, but they are nudges in the direction of regulatory solutions rather than law enforcement ones. And they take the critical first step in acknowledging that people still use drugs despite a massively expensive "war" on them.
But in his newly released federal drug control strategy, Obama underlined that his administration "firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug."

That much could have been guessed by his appointment of Gil Kerlikowske in February as the nation's drug czar. Kerlikowske, the former Seattle police chief, has said "marijuana is a dangerous drug with no medical benefit." He also told a gathering of police chiefs in California that marijuana legalization for any purpose is a "nonstarter" in the Obama administration.
But still, the latter comments were made privately, not at a press conference. Which implies that Obama doesn't want them widely publicized. And yet, the new drug control strategy states its position on weed quite clearly: "Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects, and legalization would only exacerbate these problems."

It's enough to make you reach for a bong to sort it all out. Worse, while the new drug policy emphasizes treatment and prevention of addiction (and increases spending on drug and alcohol prevention programs by 13 percent and treatment programs by 3.7 percent), the federal government still allots twice as much money on law enforcement than treatment.

It's easy to chalk up the schizophrenia to politics. The president -- who has admitted smoking pot in his younger years  -- has bitten off quite a bit to chew in his first years, including health care reform, Wall Street overhauls, immigration policy and other big ticket items. He's taken a beating over them, too. He may well have calculated that being hands off when it comes to allowing the DEA to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers was as far as he could go without being labeled as soft on drugs in addition to being painted by his opponents as an illegal-alien-loving free-market-hating socialist.

The true test of his bearings will be when and if California voters choose to legalize pot in November. Kerlikowske dodged the question of how the federal government would react if pot became legal there when asked recently by The Hill newspaper. But Arizona's experience with its tough new immigration laws may provide a clue: Among the federal reactions, the Justice Department looked for ways to subvert the state law.

That may well be the case in California too. Kerlikowske allowed the possibility of litigation to iron out the differences between state and federal law.

"You can envision a lot of different things," he said.

You can say that again.

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