Will Pot Become Legal?

Weed would remain illegal under federal law, but good luck to the feds trying to enforce that ban if a state abandons it.

Judging from recent history, any young person who aspires to be president should be aware that certain attributes seem to be critical. You have to be male. You have to have an Ivy League degree. You have to have been a governor or senator. And, don't forget, you have to have smoked marijuana.

That is something all the presidents in the past 20 years have in common. Bill Clinton admitted it, while claiming he didn't inhale. George W. Bush refused to deny getting stoned, saying, "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."

Barack Obama said, "When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point." Presumably, Mitt Romney never did, and who knows? Maybe he'd be ahead in the polls if he had -- though, he might note, it's never too late.

Logicians will quarrel with my reasoning, arguing that drug use did not propel these men to high office. That's true. But it obviously didn't hinder them.

For decades, champions of the drug war have trumpeted the dire risks of marijuana. But millions of Americans have used and even enjoyed it -- nearly 100 million, in fact. Most of them have gone on to lead responsible, well-adjusted lives.

If anything related to pot would have kept them from being elected to office, it would be the laws against it. An arrest or a conviction could derail a political career before it even got started. Yet these presidents went on putting people in jail for something they got away with.

Their fellow citizens, however, are increasingly skeptical about the drug war. Last year, Gallup found that 50 percent of Americans now favor legalizing cannabis, with only 46 percent opposed.

The sentiment may lead to action. On Nov. 6, residents of Colorado, Oregon and Washington will vote on ballot measures to allow the regulated production, sale, and use of pot.

In Colorado, which already has a large network of medical marijuana dispensaries, familiarity has bred acceptance. One of the most noteworthy headlines of 2011 came on a news release from Public Policy Polling: "Colorado favors gay marriage, marijuana use, loves Tebow." Affection for the Denver quarterback may have ebbed since he went to the New York Jets, but the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 is leading in the polls.

Weed would remain illegal under federal law, but good luck to the feds trying to enforce that ban if a state abandons it. As the Drug Policy Alliance notes, medical marijuana has gotten established over the objections of Washington.

Critics raise the usual alarms. Obama's Office of National Drug Control Policy charges that "political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction."

But very few people portray marijuana as harmless. The claim, grounded in fact and experience, is that it is far less harmful than the effort to stamp it out.

Marijuana prohibition means the arrest of some 750,000 people every year for simple possession -- double the number 20 years ago. It means spending an estimated $7.7 billion on enforcement. It means the enrichment of urban gangs and Mexican drug cartels that depend on the illegal trade. And the whole effort has been a complete failure.

Nor does a permissive approach necessarily undermine efforts to protect kids. For high school kids, dope is just slightly harder to get than Skittles. In the Netherlands, which permits regulated sales through "coffee shops," adolescents are far less likely to try pot than here.

Marijuana use, it's true, can be damaging. A recent study found that people who begin using it heavily as teens and continue as adults can reduce their IQ. It can cause dependency. Like any mind-altering substance, it may foster dangerous behavior.

But the same things are true of alcohol, a drug that inflicts far more damage to users and the rest of us than marijuana could ever do. We accept those risks as the price of personal freedom -- while focusing law enforcement on combating abuse, not use. A similar respect for individual prerogative ought to govern in the realm of cannabis.

Young people should realize that, despite the example of Obama and his predecessors, smoking pot doesn't mean you'll grow up to be president. But be warned: It is one of the risks you take.

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  • ||

    "I know - I'll pretend I'm Jamaican, man!"

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Worked for this guy.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    But the same things are true of alcohol, a drug that inflicts far more damage to users and the rest of us than marijuana could ever do.

    You're right! We should ban this stuff post-haste.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Weed would remain illegal under federal law, but good luck to the feds trying to enforce that ban if a state abandons it.

    They're being (for them) low-key about enforcing federal MJ legislation on medical MJ outlets because it's somewhat bad publicity.

    That won't be the case in enforcing it on recreational use. There will be NO bad press about federal LE swooping in to enforce federal laws in Colorado or Washington on pot smokers, thus it will be MUCH more rampant. And if you think Colorado, Washington or local governments will do anything but help them out, then you're utterly retarded.

    When other states see how futile it is, how much money they lose, and how much their authority suffers, they will give up on efforts to legalise. The movement will decay and fail, and it will be like it is now.

    So mote it be.

  • ||

    I agree, I am pretty sure that local pigs will helps out the feds. After all, pigs aren't about the law, it is about their authority.

    But I don't think an already overworked federal judiciary is going to take to kindly to a bunch of dime bag possession cases.

  • sarcasmic||

    On the other hand, they don't work for free.

    Departments will have to justify paying their officers to go after people who are not breaking state law.

    Most likely the feds will go after big growers and retailers who have assets to steal, and leave the little guy alone.

  • wareagle||

    it's not about authority; the Drug War is first and foremost about money. It has been a huge cash bonanza to local depts across the country. They're no different than any other welfare queen when it comes to giving up free stuff.

  • ||

    Maybe the locals will, maybe they wont.

    By accident I ran into some feds from out of state this weekend. They are doing undercover work in the local area looking for pot growers. I could have told them where to look but I didnt. I laughed when they complained that the local cops are 'getting in their way'.
    For a few rural parishes that I am aware of, pot growing is huge income and the local cops know it.
    In addition to that I think there is competition between the locals and the feds.

    Local cops, at least around here, are more worried about Meth. That is some destructive, poisonous shit.

  • Loki||

    Local cops, at least around here, are more worried about Meth. That is some destructive, poisonous shit.

    Destructive poisonous shit that perhaps people wouldn't use as much if they had access to a legal and less dangerous mind altering substance. Something like, say, marijuana.

    Also, if Law and Order and other cop shows taught me anything it's that cops are often territorial and really dislike it when the feds show up to shit in their sandbox.

  • ||

    Destructive poisonous shit that perhaps people wouldn't use as much if they had access to a legal and less dangerous mind altering substance.

    Riiiiiiight. Makes perfect sense since the high from meth and marijuana are so similar (being completely different classes and types of drugs). Hell, that's why nobody smokes marijuana when there's legal alcohol in every corner store!

    Seriously, do you guys actually buy into your own bullshit? I don't mind when you peddle it outside the Wal Marts to get morons to sign the referendum petitions, but goddamn. If you're actually against drug regulation, it shouldn't matter one bit how relatively harmful one drug is compared to another. And if you're just a hypocrite pot head who wants your buzz legalized, you can't possibly be stupid enough to actually think that meth users are going to jump on your bandwagon just because it's legal.

  • BLeeBoy||

    PM, Which are you ... a cop or a meth addict?

  • ||

    Neither. Which are you, disingenuous, or brain dead?

  • Why do I bother posting?||

    He's not arguing that marijuana is the same as meth, or that meth addicts will start using marijuana instead if it's legal.

    What he is arguing, if you pay attention, is that a natural consequence of banning a substance that creates a "high" makes it harder for people to get "high" (whatever that might be) and therefore experiment more into alternatives. Meth simply didn't exist before the Drug War started, and I would suspect that there is more than just a correlation there.

  • doyle640@gmail.com||

    Tell that to alcoholics. They seem very unaffected by the fact that alcohol is legal.

  • SIV||

    The DEA doesn't have the personnel . I see a new task for the TSA. Federal weed enforcement.

  • DEA||

    What I've never understood, and perhaps some here does, is WHY the federal government is putting itself into the position of supporting yet another unpopular position. Of all the things it does, keeping pot illegal seems like the most boneheaded of them all. It's a drain on public resources, it shifts money to pharmaceutical and prison industries, and the feds look like assholes when they seize a pot shop compliant with state law.

    The only answer I can come up with it they've painted themselves into a corner and cannot admit they might be wrong about the whole thing. Nevermind the first president to unschedule it is going to lock up a huge voting demographic. How many prohibitionists can there be among the plebs?

  • Hyperion||

    it shifts money to pharmaceutical and prison industries

    You just answered your own question about why they continue with prohibition.

  • R C Dean||

    They're being (for them) low-key about enforcing federal MJ legislation on medical MJ outlets because it's somewhat bad publicity.

    Really? I thought I saw recently that they did a sweep in California and shut down dozens at a stroke.

  • Zeb||

    IU'm a bit more optimistic. I'm sure the feds will try to fuck with growers and large distributors, but it will still be a million times better than the status quo. And it will be very interesting to see how it plays out. These are popular initiatives and I don't see the local police helping the feds on this being a political winner in states which legalize.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't see the local police helping the feds on this being a political winner in states which legalize.

    We'll see. It sure looks like the locla po-po have been enthusiastic buttboys for the feds in shutting down medpot, though.

  • RedSox420||

    Oh I disagree, the Feds give local state police forces their old weapons which the police could never afford. Without that help the police would still have pump action 12 gauges and revolvers to fight the bad guys. . I am in Arizona, and a MMJ card holder. They are going after the patients just for holding the card. Maricopa Country Attorney wants to make holding the card illegal and in conflict with federal laws. Its US Attorneys who are ordering the raids and property seizures.
    MedPot will remain illegal as long as Big Pharma is ruling the roost.

  • DJF||

    “””””That is something all the presidents in the past 20 years have in common.”””

    So Reason is coming out against the use of marijuana by showing that lying, warmongering, ponzi scheme, statists use marijuana?

    “Don’t smoke dope or you too could become President”

  • Crimson Alliance||

    Pot will become legal while all sodas will get banned. I have forseen it.

  • ||

    Now they're thinking about banning toy guns-AND THEY'RE GONNA KEEP THE FUCKING REAL ONES!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Steve Chapman on Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

    I initially read that as bailout initiatives and I began to unmellow on the spot.

  • BigT||

    Broken clock coincidence.

  • wareagle||

    two generations of convincing people that drugs are evil has had an effect. Most folks cannot comprehend that 1) there are choices other than prohibition and addiction and 2) alcohol causes far more trouble but it's not just legal, but socially acceptable.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ask drug warrior to give just one reason to keep drugs illegal that could not be used as an excuse to ban alcohol.

    Tends to shut them right the fuck up.

    Doesn't change their mind, but it does shut them up.

  • Zeb||

    Although sometimes you get the answer that alcohol is bad enough and we don't need another thing like alcohol. A lot of them (see also: MADD) would just as soon ban alcohol too if it were politically feasible.

  • doyle640@gmail.com||

    I'm all for making pot legal, but certain drugs, like Heroin and Meth are just death sentences once your hooked. They are just in a different class and really should never be legal.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Yes, but if pot is legal then negroes will think they're as good as white men and white women will be doing the Hoochie Coochie for them.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And not only socially acceptable, but socially acceptable even for those for whom it is ostensibly illegal. Watch any TV where there are characters between 18 and 21, and you'll see casual drinking as if it were completely legal. The two that come to mind are (please don't hurt me, for, like many of you, I have a wife who watches some of the worst shit ever produced) Glee which just this last week featured various recent high school grads boozing it up for virtually the entire episode, and Gossip Girl where virtually every character is under 21 and almost always drinking.

  • Rich||

    But millions of Americans have used and even enjoyed it -- nearly 100 million, in fact. Most of them have gone on to lead responsible, well-adjusted lives.

    "Responsible, well-adjusted", you say? All those druggies are why the country is going to pot!

    / Yet another statist "reason" to ban marijuana

  • ||

    speaking for myself, and those few in my agency that i have discussed this with, there is no way we will thwart the will of the People of the State of WA when it comes down to state legalized MJ. We are not sworn to enforce federal law, i've never enforced a federal law in my lifetime, and for us - our loyalty lies with the people of WA state.

    We've already seen this with med mj (in my dept), where we have a bright line policy that we do not forward MJ cases to the feds if they meet state guidelines (as confusing as they have been) for medical MJ. the law was written so poorly (it's gotten a little better), that we had to come down with an edict on high to clarify that the benefit of the doubt goes with the medical MJ possessor. iow, to paraphrase andrew zimmern, if it looks legit, let it go. i know of one agency that takes a different approach. i am just speaking of my own.

    the cynics and the no-nothings, the type that would refer to LEO's as "pigs" are the same ilk that said that this country could "never elect a black man" (e.g. Obama), and who speak of Amerikkkka over at DU, just from a different locale in the political spectrum.

    also note that in WA, citizen initiative per our constitution is the highest form of law. iow, it outranks law passed by the legislature.

  • ||

    i don't recall any examples where there was a conflict between federal and state law in my lifetime. note this is distinguishable between a situations where state has no law against X and the feds have a law against X. in THOSE situations, local law enforcement to some extent (depending on the X) can and does help the feds.

    this is distinguishable because it will be where state law specifically AUTHORIZES X and federal law prohibits X. note the stark contrast between the scenarios, lest somebody draw a typical bogus analogy.

    granted, WA's legalization MJ law has some serious kinds. the DUI aspects of it (where it sets the limits for THC etc. for driving) from what little i have read, are quite problematic.

    MJ is also unique vs. many other illegal drugs, in that a very substantial percentage of LEO's have smoked it. our agency allows people with past usage history (within certain limits) to work for us, and ... well.. we have a lot of cougars and huskies. i'll leave it at that

  • LibertyMark||

    Thanks for your posts, I generally find them informative and even-handed.

    However, your statement that local cops can and do help the Feds in cases where the state has no law, but the feds do, completely undermines your point.

    Local cops have a state-constitutional duty to enforce state laws. How can any federal law have any relevance?

    It seems like a criminal misuse of state tax dollars to enforce a law that you have no duty or mandate to enforce.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Thanks for your posts, I generally find them informative and even-handed.

    Seriously?

    He does okay sometimes, but his authority boner is fucking huge, and he lets it hang out all too often.

  • Zeb||

    I think of him this way: If all cops were more like Dunphy, we'd be doing pretty well. I certainly disagree with him on a number of points, but I think he adds a valuable point of view.

  • LibertyMark||

    Yes, but I think he argues in good faith. I'll civilly discuss disagreements with anyone who I think is arguing in good faith.

    Note, I said generally.

  • Harvard||

    Based on his past posts I'm doubtful the guy's a cop at all. If he is, he's a hobby cop pulling cats out of trees in some backwater village under 3000 in population. He's a wannabee of the highest magnatude and I'd bet a weeks pay on it. When the need for brownshirts arises puds like Dumbphrey will goose step to the front of the line.

  • Hyperion||

    Dunphy, I am not sure why some here are so hard on you. Because they don't like cops overall, I am sure, and I can relate to that. I could never be a cop or a bureaucrat because I couldn't be part of the problem. Doing things that are wrong because it's part of my job would just be unacceptable to me. But really, I just think you want to be one of us, Libertarian that is. Because you know that we are right.

    Are you a member of LEAP?

  • LibertyMark||

    Calling all cops pigs is collectivist broad-brush painting. I thought this is something libertarians try to avoid.

  • Loki||

    this is distinguishable because it will be where state law specifically AUTHORIZES X and federal law prohibits X.

    It's good that some law enforcement agencies see it this way, but I'm not hopeful that all will. Especially if there's federal funding involved. I could see a scenario playing out where the feds say "help up out on some pot cases even though it's legal in your state and we'll give you some money". Some agencies will hopefully tell the feds to go pound sand, but unfortunately I can see some that are cash strapped going ahead and working with the feds anyway. The ones that are most likely to be cash strapped are more likely to be inner-city/ urban departments with a lot more poor people, which won't exactly help police/ inner city community relationships.

  • robc||

    note the stark contrast

    None at all?

    If a state has no law against X, then it has authorized X. No need for a specific law authorizing it.

    Unless you are one of those "that which is not allowed is forbidden" motherfuckers.

  • Ballz||

    "are the same ilk that said that this country could "never elect a black man" "

    I've seen him dribble but can he shoot?
    50% Caucasian, 50% African, 100% a$$hole

  • Ballz||

    but he's OUR a$$hole!

  • BigT||

    Dunphy: also note that in WA, citizen initiative per our constitution is the highest form of law. iow, it outranks law passed by the legislature.

    CA - Prop 8.

    Would you enforce a clearly unjust unconstitutional citizen initiative?

  • ||

    I've always wondered how a constitutional amendment can be rejected on the grounds it is unconstitutional. Constitutional amendments tend to be unconstitutional by definition.

  • sarcasmic||

    the cynics and the no-nothings, the type that would refer to LEO's as "pigs" are the same ilk that said that this country could "never elect a black man"

    I see. People who hate cops are racist.

    You've stooped to a new low, pork breath.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Booyah!

  • R C Dean||

    the type that would refer to LEO's as "pigs" are the same ilk that said that this country could "never elect a black man"

    Which is really weird, because cops have the lowest reputation among blacks and latinos, two of the black President's core support blocks. Unless "ilk" means something other than what I think it means.

  • entropy||

    I believe it is a large and poorly pronounced mammal.

  • jway||

    American taxpayers are being forced to pay $40 Billion a year for a prohibition that causes 10,000 brutal murders 800,000 needless arrests each year, but which doesn't even stop CHILDREN getting marijuana.

    After seventy-five years of prohibition, it's obvious that the federal marijuana prohibition causes FAR more harm than good and must END! Drug Dealers Don't Card, Supermarkets Do.

  • VoluntaryistGrunger||

    The notion that cannabis is harmful is propaganda. The only thing harmful about it is the smoke itself if you smoke it and these days that's not necessary as there are an array of vaporizers on the market that one can use instead. But when it's extracted into an essential oil, colloquially known as cannabis oil or hemp oil, it's one of the most medicinal substances in existence if not the most (probably the latter.) There are several video documentaries avaiable for free that I recommend for those who are skeptical of this claim. One is only 10 minutes long, called 'Cured: A Cannabis Story'. It's of a man documenting his use of cannabis oil externally on a melanoma skin tumor. He shows day by day how the oil eliminated it. And the other which is much longer and documents an assortment of people who ingested the oil for a variety of serious ailments is called Run From The Cure. Check out this information. For this reason the prohibition of cannabis is not merely a violation of civil liberty by the government but in effect an act of genocide against humanity.

  • Rawrface||

    I think it's time we start legalizing Marijuana everywhere. Stop living in fear and start thinking about how great the future will be! LEGALIZE IT!

    Why don't we just start legalizing it everywhere? Why are so many people still stuck in this FEAR stage...? Stop worrying, start hoping. LEGALIZE IT!

    If you live in a state where Marijuana isn't legal yet and still want the same type of highs, I suggest checking out uIntoxicate.com. It has amazingly detailed legal highs reviews and where to get them without getting ripped off!
    Also! I'm starting up a new forum dedicated to my fellows stoners. Come on over and join the high conversations! We're quite new, but VERY welcoming.

    CHECK IT: http://uintoxicate.com/
    STONER FORUMS: http://www.stonersofthestates.com/forum/

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