Tom Diaz

Posts Tagged ‘Obama/Holder medical marijuana guidelines’

OBAMA/HOLDER WEED NATION TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION — WILL THE STATES BE ABLE TO CATCH UP?

In bad manners, Crime, Drugs, Marijuana Debate, Obama, politics on October 26, 2009 at 11:40 am
Marijuana Debate Waters Are Muddied By Obama--Holder Hands Off Weed Policy

Marijuana Debate Waters Are Muddied By Obama--Holder Hands Off Weed Policy

Yeah bring me champagne when I’m thirsty.

Bring me reefer when I want to get high.

Yeah bring me champagne when I’m thirsty.

Bring me reefer when I want to get high.

Muddy Waters Blues Song

The Obama administration’s new marijuana prosecution policy has effectively “legalized” the burgeoning “medical marijuana” drug distribution system.  The new Obama/Holder drug prosecution guidelines reward criminality and dump a major policy and law enforcement problem into the laps of states already reeling from the effects of the recession.  As The New York Times puts it today (“States Pressed Into New Role on Marijuana”):

Some legal scholars said the federal government, by deciding not to enforce its own laws (possession and the sale of marijuana remain federal crimes), has introduced an unpredictable variable into the drug regulation system.

Do not be confused.  The so-called “medical marijuana” system is not that Utopian system of legally produced, quality-monitored, tax-generating, legal distribution of licit drugs that potheads and organized Libertarians (there is so infrequently a difference, how is one to know?) enthuse about.

It is rather lipstick on a pig — the same old criminals are selling the same old contaminated illegal drug through a quasi-legal, bastardized system of outlets forced onto unwary or complaisant governments by a relentless and quintessentially dishonest campaign appealing to cheap “compassion.”

For an engaging look at what is really going on in Los Angeles — and by fair inference elsewhere in “medical marijuana” high country — please watch this short video featuring Los Angeles Special Assistant City Attorney David Berger.  Among other points Berger makes are these: (1) there is no way the “pot shops” (lipsticked-up “dispensaries”) could be moving the quantity of weed they sell if they were actually adhering to the current law’s cooperative grow requirements (ergo, the “medical” distributors are ipso facto breaking the law), and (2) forensic analysis of the weed being sold in L.A. demonstrates that it is laced with a pesticide not used in California but common in Mexico for use against fire ants (ergo, the pot is being imported from Mexico’s beloved drug cartels.)

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In practical effect, the Obama/Holder hands-off policy has evaded honest debate about whether a hit of BC bud is any worse than a bottle of Bud.

That is fair ground to engage and, clearly, many millions of Americans favor toke over brew.  But to engage in an honest dialogue, of course, would require the Administration to take a straightforward position, up or down, and that might be difficult for two reasons.

First, this early exchange from something called “Open for Questions ” on the transitional “Change.gov” website:

Open for Questions: Response

Monday, December 15, 2008 06:05pm EST / Posted by Dan McSwain

We’ve launched several features recently that are opening up the two-way dialogue between the Transition team and the Change.gov community.

Q: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?” S. Man, Denton

A: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

On the other hand, campaigner Obama admitted partaking of the sultry smoke stuff as a “confused” teenager (“Barack Obama, asked about drug history, admits he inhaled”).  Obama did not cop to a clever Bill Clintonesque Plea (“Did not have sex, did not inhale”), but owned straight up, getting down with the voting-age kids whose jeans reek of the forbidden weed:

For one thing, he said, “When I was a kid, I inhaled.”

“That was the point,” Obama told an audience of magazine editors.

One line of serious fact-based policy analysis I heard recently goes like this:  Obama’s getting elected in spit of this admission, and the pattern of marijuana use among young people (say those under 30), makes it virtually inevitable that our drug policy will change and marijuana will be truly legalized.

That may be so.  And if it is, let’s get the debate on the table.

But do not be fooled.  This is not what the Obama/Holder policy does.  It is simply a perverse form of “don’t look, don’t enforce” in the face of rampant criminality.  And, as The New York Times suggests in today’s article cited above, a patchwork of different state laws could result:

“The next step would be a particular state deciding to legalize marijuana entirely,” said Peter J. Cohen, a doctor and a lawyer who teaches public health law at Georgetown University. If federal prosecutors kept their distance even then, Dr. Cohen said, legalized marijuana would become a de facto reality.

De facto reality?

Anyone who thinks drug traffickers will not seize on such a disparity of state law to set up illicit smuggling systems must be smoking something.  If Oregon, for example, completely legalizes marijuana, planes, trains, buses and backpacks will be flowing out to the rest of the United States.

This evasion is neither a good thing for policy-making nor for law enforcement.  Let’s look this pig right in the eye.

There are plenty of well-organized, well-funded advocates of outright legalization on the web.  Here, however, is a voice of experience strongly against legalization, taken from a May 22, 2009 “Freakonomics Quorum” in The New York Times, What Would Happen if Marijuana Were Decriminalized?:

Mike Braun recently retired from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as the Assistant Administrator and Chief of Operations.

In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that an adult’s possession of marijuana for personal consumption in the home was legal. Although the ruling applied only to persons 19 and over, teen consumption of the drug skyrocketed. A 1988 University of Alaska study found that the state’s 12- to 17-year-olds used marijuana at more than twice the national average for their age group. School equivalency test scores plummeted, as work place accidents, insurance rates and drugged-driving accidents went through the roof. Alaska’s residents voted to recriminalize possession of marijuana in 1990, demonstrating their belief that legalization and increased use was too high a price to pay.

In 1985, Stanford University conducted a study of airline pilots who each consumed a low grade marijuana cigarette before entering a flight simulator involving a stressful, yet recoverable scenario. The test resulted in numerous crashes. More alarming was the fact that the pilots again crashed the simulator in the same scenario a full 24 hours after last consuming marijuana, when they all showed no outward signs of intoxication, reported feeling “no residual effects” from the drug, and each also stated they had “no reservations” about flying! Part of the problem with marijuana is that Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gives the user his or her high, is absorbed into the fatty tissues of the body where it remains for at least several days, and can continue to have an adverse impact on one’s ability to act capably under stress days after the drug was last ingested.

If healthy pilots can’t respond effectively in the cockpit 24 hours after smoking a low-grade marijuana cigarette, do we really want our kids transported to and from school by a school bus driver who smoked one or two joints the night before? How do we ensure the cop on the beat, who’s carrying a badge and gun, hasn’t smoked marijuana 24 hours before entering onto duty once the drug is legal? And what about those pilots?

Marijuana legalization advocates love to say that we can tax the sale of the drug and generate revenue to cover all the costs associated with legalization, but a few more questions need to be asked.

Will the taxes pay for the significant increases in health and casualty insurance the experts tell us will be levied if marijuana is legalized? Is the government going to hand out free marijuana to those who can’t afford it? If so, who pays for that? Is it O.K. with you if the government or corporate America opens a marijuana distribution center in your neighborhood, or should they only establish them in the economically depressed areas of town? Which government agency will be responsible for rigorous testing to ensure that marijuana sold in the marketplace meets the strictest of consumer standards and is free of pesticides and drugs such as LSD and PCP? Which government agency is going to be responsible for taxing your next-door neighbor when he starts growing marijuana in his back yard, adjacent to your prized roses, of course? What happens when the taxes on marijuana become so excessive from covering all the ancillary costs of legalization that the vast majority of users simply grow the product themselves? Then who will pay for all of this?

I can’t help but ask a couple final questions. What’s the legal age limit we attach to marijuana use? Is it 18; is it 21? And what do we do about the predatory narcotics traffickers who shift every “ounce” of their undivided and merciless attention to those under the authorized age limit once the drug is legalized? Folks, all we need to do is educate ourselves, ask the tough questions, and apply common sense and logic when making a decision on this issue. Most hard-working taxpayers with kids like me will come up with the same answer, which is no to legalization.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Inhaling Was The Point of a Confused Teenager -- But What Does He Think Today About This Drug for Other Confused Teenagers?

Inhaling Was The Point of a Confused Teenager -- But What Does He Think Today About This Drug for Other Confused Teenagers?

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