Obama Administration

Obama on Drugs

Should reformers dare to hope?

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Last week voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot initiative that eliminates criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana, replacing them with a $100 civil fine. Michigan, meanwhile, became the 13th state to allow the medical use of cannabis.

As Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project noted, the percentage of voters approving those initiatives (65 and 63, respectively) exceeded Barack Obama's share of the vote in each state. Furthermore, the results in Massachusetts and Michigan seem to reflect national opinion. For years polls have indicated that a large majority of Americans think that people should not go to jail for smoking pot and that patients who can benefit from marijuana should be able to obtain it legally.

Yet President-elect Barack Obama has retreated from his support for marijuana decriminalization, and his position on medical marijuana remains ambiguous. His reticence on these issues suggests he may disappoint those who hope the Obama administration will move drug policy in a less punitive, more tolerant direction.

One cause for that hope: Obama has been more candid about his own youthful drug use than any president in U.S. history. Although he portrays his pot smoking and cocaine snorting as behavior he regrets, it would be hard for him to justify harsh treatment of drug users when he himself escaped punishment for the same actions and clearly is better off than he would have been had he been arrested.

Given his experiences, it's not surprising that during his 2004 Senate campaign Obama told students at Northwestern University, "I think we need to…decriminalize our marijuana laws." But this year he backed away from that position. His campaign claimed he really meant "we are sending far too many first-time, nonviolent drug users to prison for very long periods of time," and "we should rethink those laws."

It's one thing to say decriminalization should be limited to simple possession of small quantities, or to say that it amounts to eliminating the possibility of arrest and jail, as opposed to repealing all penalties. It's another to say decriminalization means sending a low-level drug dealer to prison for one year instead of five.

That certainly would be an improvement, and Obama should get credit for his willingness to go that far. But it defies belief to claim this was the sort of "decriminalization" he had in mind when he addressed those college students four years ago (when he also described the war on drugs as "an utter failure").

Obama's position on medical marijuana is clearer but still fuzzy around the edges. He has promised to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration's raids on patients and the growers who supply them in states that allow medical use of marijuana. At the same time, he has said the Food and Drug Administration should decide whether marijuana qualifies as a medicine, which may mean he's open to reclassifying the drug so it can be prescribed by doctors throughout the country but may also imply a federal veto over state policy in this area.

The main danger with Obama is that his history of drug use, instead of making him more open to reform, will make him anxious to show he's tough on drugs. Something like that seems to have happened with Bill Clinton, who bragged about ever-escalating drug war budgets and threatened doctors who recommended marijuana to their patients with jail, trampling the First Amendment in his rush to prove his anti-drug bona fides.

"We are going to continue to find ways within the administration to fight legalization and the notion of legalization," a key Clinton drug policy adviser said in defense of this unconstitutional policy, which ultimately was overturned by a federal appeals court. "We're against the message that [California's medical marijuana initiative] sends to children."

Who was this zealous drug warrior, eager to forcibly suppress "the notion of legalization" in the name of protecting children? Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff.

© Copyright 2008 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

NEXT: Security, Not Equality

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  1. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he does.
    There is no reason to expect he will anymore than our previous drug using Presidents did.

  2. Barack Obama is the kind of president I’d love to sit down and smoke a J with. Although, I’d love to sit down and smoke a J with anyone. Anyone have a J?

  3. If he truly is the Man from Change he’ll start withdrawing the drug warriors. If he governs from the center as most have done, he won’t. He’s under enormous pressure, as the first half-black president, not to do anything stupid, to play it safe, regardless of his campaign promises.

  4. But will that experience translate into more sensible drug policies?

    Hahahahahahahahahaha! no, it never does. With Barack’s election, we’ve had three presidents in a row who’ve admitted to illegal drug use, and no sign of easing up on the drug war.

  5. As long as middle America views drug use as a moral failure while ignoring alcohol use, it ain’t gonna happen.

  6. Here’s something that the Pres can do with a stroke of the pen – pardon those who were convicted under federal law for intra-state drug activities or for prescribing pain medicine. No need to go to Congress, no need to seek judicial approval. He can go unilaterally, in an area where the Constitution actually provides for unilateral Presidential action.

    Is it too much to hope? Probably so.

  7. Clinton…threatened doctors who recommended marijuana to their patients with jail, trampling the First Amendment…

    Calling H&R Constitutional scholars: Does this pass muster? Is it a First Amendment issue if a doctor recommends something that is currently illegal? Honest curiosity.

  8. As long as middle America views drug use as a moral failure while ignoring alcohol use, it ain’t gonna happen.

    I think neo-Prohibition is more likely than any easing up on the “drug war”.

  9. You know how this goes. Sing along

    *Power Chords*
    Meet the new boss…

  10. At least he was willing to go on record saying he wants to get rid of the crack/coke sentencing disparity.

    Of course, the website that said that has now been taken down, but still…

  11. I think the best we can hope for from Obama is that he doesn’t ramp up the drug war. Scale it back? I seriously, seriously doubt it.

  12. I just don’t understand it. Who are the main anti-drug interests in this country? Why would Barack Obama (who seemed like the best chance in a while to move to a sensible drug policy) choose Biden and Emmanuel (who are clearly among the worst)?

    Somebody must have a clear and likely financial interest to persecute drug use. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.

    I’ve got no hope for change.

  13. clearly is better off than he would have been had he been arrested

    Or maybe not.

  14. …by which I mean only that an arrest would have prevented him from becoming our next tyrant-in-chief, a karmically dodgy role.

  15. Phalkor,

    It is called unions. The public employee unions are a huge part of the Democratic Party. Many of thier members are cops and prison guards who depend on the drug war for a living. Obama is no more likly to end the drug war than he is to tell Detroit to go into Chapter 11.

    If Jacob Sullum honestly thinks that Obama’s drug use, cocaine snorting or whatever the hell he did will in anyway inhibit him from tossing thousands of other people away to rot, I have to admire Sullum’s childlike hopes, even if I feel a little bit sorry for him. I suppose he also beleives that Obama will live quietly and modestly rather than as a millionaire out of his desire to spread the wealth around. Sullum must also believe that Al Gore is going to start worrying about his carbon footprint sometime soon.

  16. Somebody must have a clear and likely financial interest to persecute drug use. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.

    Cynical possibility done without any research into whether the following statements are true or not:

    1. Minorities voted for Obama in huge numbers

    2. A larger percent of minorities are involved in the illegal drug trade

    Therefore, well you can draw your own conclusion. But, it looks like a “clear and likely financial interest” to me.

  17. Obama clearly knows where his roots are and its pretty obvious he actually CARES for the people which is something you cant say for Dictator Bush. It will be interesting to see what happens once Obama is in office. I for one am looking forward to it.

    jess
    http://www.anolite.echoz.com

  18. Although I find John’s above comments perceptive–e.g., public unions and the prison-industrial complex make the Drug War go round, I think it goes a little bit overboard.

    A big part of this is ideological: the drugs are bad, mmmmkay? attitude explains a lot.

    But there’s a silver lining. Medical marijuana is a 75% positive issue in these United States.

    California has wink-wink-nudge-nudge legal-for-adults system going on. (Side-by-side with the actual suffering patients, natch.)

    The “demonstration effect” from California is huge. People are bad at reasoning with their minds. But if you put something very obvious before them, you best believe they will trust “their own lyin’ eyes.”

    Whatever his other faults, Obama will apply benign neglect to California and we will make serious moves, as a nation, towards MJ decrim.

    (Think of it like welfare reform:
    the need for it was clear by the 70s; the legislation came in ’96. With MJ, need is clear by 90s, legislation is forthcoming [after state advances] in 2010s…)

  19. Here’s something that the Pres can do with a stroke of the pen – pardon those who were convicted under federal law for intra-state drug activities or for prescribing pain medicine. No need to go to Congress, no need to seek judicial approval. He can go unilaterally, in an area where the Constitution actually provides for unilateral Presidential action.

    Is it too much to hope? Probably so.

    The pardon power was never intended as a tool for the formation or alteration of policy. I’d be shocked if he did what you suggest for that reason.

  20. Whatever his other faults, Obama will apply benign neglect to California and we will make serious moves, as a nation, towards MJ decrim.

    O Rly? I love how you just know this. What if he hands off drug policy to Joe “I created the drug czar position” Biden?

    I’d like what you say to happen. That would be great. But I think you’re fucking dreaming.

  21. No sense in hoping for something that will never happen. As I have told friends of mine many times his “decriminalization” and “stopping raids” rhetoric was just that, rhetoric. He was merely saying it so as not to lose any votes. There hasn’t been a single president since the induction of the WOD, really not since the 1920’s, who has done anything but ramp up the WOD. More spending, more raids, more everything. I appreciate his candid attitude towards his youth about past drug use, however as Jacob pointed out it will most likely be a catalyst for a stronger drug policy, not a weaker one. Too bad really.

  22. Good luck.

    This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets.

    Got that? People who sell drugs to consenting adults are the moral equal to terrorists. I don’t know he includes Ayers in that.

  23. CK,

    I think that the Unions and the cops are what keeps the ideology going and keep people from really thinking about the issue. The police unions and organizations don’t just fight reform, they also make it politically unacceptable to even think about legalizing drugs.

    You are right, there is a definitely a monolythic ideology that drugs are poison and such. Part of the reason for that is the public sector unions and police organizations enforcing it.

  24. Ah, wait – he only spoke of the terrorists in Afghanistan, specifically excluding Ayers. My bad.
    Also, “…moral equal of terrorists”

  25. The financial incentive for prosecution of the war on drugs is the health of the state.

    Police, district attorneys, prison guards, legislators all materially benefit by perpetuating the irrational fear against drugs.

  26. If Clinton is any guide his enforcement policies will be harsher than Bush’s.

    And how about the coming war with the narco State formerly called Mexico?

    From Drug War To Real War

  27. John, I was thinking about my question above and there’s another answer. Pharmaceutical manufacturers.

    I’m not saying that pot is a panacea, but it sure does do what a ton of pharms do for much cheaper (because its a friggin plant).

    The drugs are bad, mmmmkay folks don’t seem to realize that pharms are have addled up the collective consciousness of the citezinry to a far greater degree than pot could.

    I agree about the California thing, though. Based on my one visit, it really does seem like mj is pretty much *winkwink legal in Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure we can never return to a “just say no” era where pot was equated with heroin.

  28. The alcohol industry also spends a lot of dough.

  29. phalkor,

    California’s MMJ policy is basically legalization. That is why I laughed at the decriminalization that was on the ballot this past election. If I remember correctly, Prop 215 states you can get MMJ for the obvious such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, etc. Then however it goes on to state or anything else you and your doctor decide you need it for. I don’t know about the pharm companies really caring about MMJ, I mean sure it would compete with them but they could just grow their own and sell it if it were legal. I do know for a fact though that the Tobacco and Alcohol industry is basically the main contributor to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. They contribute something like 80% of their total income. They are the ones more worried about legal weed, not the pharm companies, imho anyways.

  30. “The pardon power was never intended as a tool for the formation or alteration of policy.”

    Enforcing the Constitution, based on the President’s oath or affirmation to “preserve, protect and defend” it, is not the same as forming policy. So that’s not relevant to this particular situation.

    In the policymaking area, however, pardons have a role, as Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 74: “The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”

    Professor Kathleen Dean Moore’s study of pardons found many policy-related uses of the pardoning power by the President. Prof. Moore said that Presidents and governors, like the English kings before them, used pardons to ameliorate the excesses of the law, pointing the way to later reforms.

  31. Meet the new boss.
    Same as the old boss.

    It would require political courage to tell the assholes with a vested interest in the drug war* status quo to pack sand, we’re taking the sanity route from now on.

    Obama has not displayed any political courage to date. Political skills? Yes. Political balls? No.

    * Cops, D.A.s, the prison industrial complex, the rehab industry, the phamaceutical industry, the useless bureaucrats in ONDCP, FDA, the urine testing industry … Feel free to add your own favorites.

  32. If you accept the notion that the federal government has the right to reform its drug policy as opposed to recognzie the fact that federal drug policy is based on a ridiculous interpretation of the ICC then you accept the possibility of the expansion of the federal drug war. I?m sorry, but if they passed an Amendment for Prohibition then why not for pot and speed? Advocating or even not condemning the breaking or bending of the rules in order to achieve libertarian aims can come back to bite you in the ass.

  33. ck,

    In any political system coalitions rule the government; that means leaders have to spread benefits out to the members of that coalition. As that is the case it isn’t a terrible idea to ask who benefits from a government action like the WoD. Note that these benefits not even be monetary in nature.

  34. Obama clearly knows where his roots are

    Hawaii?

    Obama strikes me as a remarkably detached man, which may not be a bad thing at all in a President. I don’t think he feels particularly rooted or connected at all to any community, with the possible exception of the liberal academics with whom he seems to have the most natural affinity.

    On a related topic, H&R will run a post on Obama’s broken campaign pledge not to consort with lobbyists, and the remarkably tiny fig leaf provided by the rules for allowing them on to his transition team, yes?

  35. The pardon power was never intended as a tool for the formation or alteration of policy. I’d be shocked if he did what you suggest for that reason.

    Jimmy Carter. Draft dodgers. Now what were you saying again?

  36. I?m sorry, but if they passed an Amendment for Prohibition then why not for pot and speed?

    A question I have never gotten a good answer to.

  37. Drugs will never be legalized because they are the classic example of the best of bad options. People don’t like the least worst option. They like to think there is some magic sollution to every problem. Drugs suck and destroy a lot of lives. I think sometimes Libertarians too easily discount that fact. The drug war sucks to of course. The cure of prohibition is worse than the disease of drugs. Either choice is a bad choice. The problem is that prohibition can be sold as an “easy sollution” even though it is not. We can stop the scourge of drugs if we just spend some more money and send a few more people to jail. That is an easy feel good sollution, even though it is a fantasy. The reality is that you will never stop drug use and there are no good sollutions. But since people don’t like reality and don’t like taking the least bad of a set of bad options, they opt for fantasy and prohibition.

  38. Great photo! The only thing that would make it better was if he was holding a glass a scotch!

  39. Sorry, John. My glass of bourbon and I say drugs are sometimes a delightful choice.

  40. CN,

    Yes they are. But sadly there are some people who are degenerates who use them as an excuse to be even bigger degenerates.

  41. John,

    If we banned all things that degenerates use as an excuse to be bigger degenerates, there wouldn’t be a thing left you could do.

    Look at what a simple libertarianish discussion board has done to Leftini.

  42. I?m sorry, but if they passed an Amendment for Prohibition then why not for pot and speed?

    A question I have never gotten a good answer to.

    Part of the problem, as was brought up in the documentary In Pot We Trust, is that no one alive today remembers a time when marijuana was legal. The prohibition started and ended in the same generation. People today have always had marijuana illegal, they don’t remember a time when it wasn’t which makes legislation a difficult task. Another part of the problem is the governments failure at doing their job. As Redman once pointed out “I used to say, yeah lets legalize pot! If we did that I could smoke pot all day. Then I realized…I already smoke pot all day. It aint hard to find.” And that basically sums it up.

  43. RCD and Kaiser,

    It also has to do with Prohibition itself. The nannies learned to quietly take away freedoms with insanely misapplied laws, rather than trying to openly legislate away freedoms via Constitutional Amendments.

    The real mystery to me is how Prohibition passed anyway. Since when does a document whose specific purpose is to enumerate rights the government must respect get used as a vehicle to strip rights away? Headuptheassism must have been fucking rampant.

  44. * Cops, D.A.s, the prison industrial complex, the rehab industry, the phamaceutical industry, the useless bureaucrats in ONDCP, FDA, the urine testing industry … Feel free to add your own favorites…….
    OK
    the paper industry, as hemp makes great paper
    the cloth industry, as hemp makes canvas snd sails
    the plastics indusrty, as asn english car company is making hemp plastic panel cars
    the health food industy, as hempseed is a great source of omegas and protiens
    etc etc etc. that is why it is not legal, so many more expensive more polluting industries are against the cheap effecient alternative.

  45. J Sub D,

    Very true. I am not a prohibitionist. I think they should be legal. I am just saying that the degenerates and the need to make a tough choice are the reasons why so many people buy into prohibition.

  46. If only we could all be Redman and afford 300-400 dollar ounces while still smoking as much as you wish…

  47. Got that? People who sell drugs to consenting adults are the moral equal to terrorists.

    That seems a bit disingenuous (c.f., Mexico’s current situation…4000 dead in the last 12 months, killed by people who sell drugs to consenting adults). The reason these people are equated with terrorists is that they flaunt the law, use violence to further their ends, etc…

    Change the law, and you might end up with people who sell drugs to consenting adults that are less easily equated with terrorists, but in the real world, we are not talking about industrious entrepreneurs making the world a better place.

  48. I think the drug war will go away the same way prohibition did: The government will decide they’d rather tax it and use it as yet another revenue source than ban it spend billions enforcing that ban.

  49. Expect BATFE’s acronym to be even more complicated.

  50. BACTFEM, possibly? “Bureau of Alcohol, Cocaine, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and Marijuana”?

  51. Change the law, and you might end up with people who sell drugs to consenting adults that are less easily equated with terrorists, but in the real world, we are not talking about industrious entrepreneurs making the world a better place.

    Yeah. Damn those brewers and distillers, anyway, employing thousands, paying taxes, generating profits for investors! No way they are industrious entrepeneurs making the world a better place!

  52. And how about the coming war with the narco State formerly called Mexico?

    From Drug War To Real War

    Holy shit, I knew things were bad in Mexico, but not that bad. Thanks for the info.

  53. Call me an idealist, but I think there’s a chance Obama will do what’s right for his people and decriminalize pot. I’m sure his chief advisor, Bill Ayers, has explained what the WOD has done to their beloved hood. Also, as a smoker, hopefully Obama doesn’t harbor as many of the nanny tendencies as your run of the mill leftist.

  54. James Ard,
    While we’re at it, why don’t we assume that in the next four years the lion will lay down by the lamb?

  55. And that Michelob light will be magically transformed into Sam Adams Boston Lager.

  56. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Some Harmful Ingestible Things.

  57. With Barack’s election, we’ve had three presidents in a row who’ve admitted to illegal drug use, and no sign of easing up on the drug war.

    All three became parents and have that parental desire to protect their children – even from the things they themselves had done and obviously survived. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

  58. Now that I think of it, Obama might be the president to end the drug war, because he’ll need every place to cut costs and obtain tax revenues he can get.

  59. “Now that I think of it, Obama might be the president to end the drug war, because he’ll need every place to cut costs and obtain tax revenues he can get.”

    Drudge today had a link saying that the US may lose its AAA rating. There is just no money to do healthcare and the bag of goodies liberals want without going bankrupt. There is a real cruel irony to that. Liberals finally get to take power just in time for the money to run out.

  60. Forgive my ignorance, but what is the AAA rating?

  61. RC Dean,

    NM means that if the law is changed the drug dealers WOULD be like what you are saying, but in the current illegal state, a large portion ARE bad guys for other reasons.

  62. Economist, I believe he’s talking about bond ratings.

  63. The High Priesthood of the Obama is considering whether stories of his alleged drug use should be included in our Holy Scriptures.

  64. Ska,
    Thanks. It makes sense, now.

  65. Economist,

    I mean the ratings of US treasury bonds. If they ever slipped below AAA the interest rates on them would go up, which would raise the interest costs of servicing them and make it even harder to pay for things. It could end in a spiral into default. That cannot happen. The international community wouldn’t let it happen. So what will happen is that there will be some real spending austerity by necessity not choice.

  66. John,
    How do you mean “the international community wouldn’t let it happen”?

  67. “John,
    How do you mean “the international community wouldn’t let it happen”?”

    If the US defaulted on its notes, the Chinese, Europeans and pretty much the entire industrialized world would be fucked. If the US credit rating was even close to falling, the international community would step in and tell the President something has to be done. Unless the President were just a lunatic intent on burning the whole place down, he would listen and do something.

  68. He’s under enormous pressure, as the first half-black president, not to do anything stupid, to play it safe, regardless of his campaign promises.

    Which is why he’ll likely keep trying to “stimulate” the economy with credit/currency expansion.

  69. NM means that if the law is changed the drug dealers WOULD be like what you are saying, but in the current illegal state, a large portion ARE bad guys for other reasons.

    That, I can go along with. I thought he might be saying that the pot ‘n’ coke industry would be just as bad “in the real world” after legalization.

  70. John,
    Okay. So assuming the president wasn’t a lunatic intending on burning the place down, what would he do, exactly?

  71. “John,
    Okay. So assuming the president wasn’t a lunatic intending on burning the place down, what would he do, exactly?”

    Cut spending and balance the budget. It is the only thing you can do. If you can’t borrow anymore, you have to either find more money or spend less.

  72. Drudge today had a link saying that the US may lose its AAA rating. There is just no money to do healthcare and the bag of goodies liberals want without going bankrupt. There is a real cruel irony to that. Liberals finally get to take power just in time for the money to run out.

    About. Freaking. Time.

  73. Well, he might have meant something in between what you interpreted it as and what I interpreted it as. But I took in the real world to refer to the current world, where many drug dealers ARE bad guys, as opposed to if we legalized it, which (as we probably agree) would make good guys far more competitive in the market.

  74. Oh and raise taxes through the roof. But there is a limit to how much he can do that because if you raise taxes too much, you run into the Laffer curve and don’t get any revenue. He would have to raise taxes where the money is, the vaunted middle class that is so convinced that the Chosen One won’t raise their taxes.

  75. “The vaunted middle class that is so convinced that the Chosen One won’t raise their taxes.”
    Hey! I’m middle class, and I called him on that bullshit almost as soon as it came out.

  76. I am middle class to. But my middle and upper middle class neighbors were all Obama voters. They don’t think they will have their taxes raised. Good luck with that. I hope it works out well for them.

  77. That seems a bit disingenuous (c.f., Mexico’s current situation…4000 dead in the last 12 months, killed by people who sell drugs to consenting adults). The reason these people are equated with terrorists is that they flaunt the law, use violence to further their ends, etc…

    Mexican drug dealers don’t sell on our streets. Their drugs might, but that’s not the same thing. However, your second point is correct. Al Capone didn’t have seven guys killed over territories to sell legal alcohol. The basic event for a drug dealer is a voluntary transaction. The basic event for a terrorist is murdering innocent people. To compare those two is far more disingenuous than my comment.

  78. To more seriously address the point, as others have pointed out upthread, many drug dealers are not nice people. As others have also said, remove the illegality, as this disappears as well.

  79. The only reason drug dealers kill each other is that you can’t go to the cops. What drug cartels and mafias are is a police department for people who can’t call the cops. If I am selling drugs and someone robs me, it is not like I can go down to city hall and file a complaint. The only way I can do business is to pay someone a cut of my take in return for them protecting me. In the end, organized crime is just one or another variation of a protection racket.

  80. it would be hard for him to justify harsh treatment of drug users when he himself escaped punishment for the same actions

    By that reasoning, he can’t go after associates of Osama bin Laden, since he himself is a close associate of a terrorist.

  81. You’d think at some point people would notice creating a black market that funnels money to the most ruthless elements of society not only doesn’t keep anyone from using drugs, it leaves a lot of bodies in the streets and makes a lot of evil men very rich.

    Cocaine has a 10,000% profit margin from paste in a Colombian field to the streets of America; if it were sold like tobacco or alcohol, it would be only as profitable as competition allowed. No drug dealers in gold chains and Escalades, no addicts blowing their inheritances on a drug problem – and no narcoterrorists in South America and Afghanistan. This is a policy that functions extremely well at only one thing: making drug dealers rich and impoverishing users.

    Oil producers can only dream of profit margins like these.

  82. This is a policy that functions extremely well at only one thing: making drug dealers rich and impoverishing users.

    It has also functioned quite well to destroy most of our due process rights.

  83. He would have to raise taxes where the money is, the vaunted middle class that is so convinced that the Chosen One won’t raise their taxes.

    During the election cycle as far as the media and the common zeitgeist was concerned, the PLAN, that fairy dust entity created during an election year to draw votes, had more credibility as a measure of the man than his actual legislative record with any reference to that record by opposition (where else was it being reported?) considered ‘negative’ campaigning.

    Expect symbolic actions that are in fact commemorative additions of legislative achievements from previous years (Voting Rights Act, Clean Air Act, Disabilities blah, blah). Oh, this may sound cynical now, but by 2012 it will only sound naively optimistic in face of what actually occurs.

  84. RC Dean, LibDem,

    But I took in the real world to refer to the current world, where many drug dealers ARE bad guys, as opposed to if we legalized it, which (as we probably agree) would make good guys far more competitive in the market.

    That is essentially my point.

    It was suggested that equating terrorists and the violent thugs that control the illegal drug trade currently was somehow an unfair conflation between bad guys (terrorists) and good guys (“people who sell drugs to consenting adults”).

    In fact those networks of people selling drugs to consenting adults are, due to the current legal regime, very similar to the terrorists in terms of the means and methods (sometimes even the same individuals).

  85. bleh, left out a key phrase.


    Expect symbolic actions that are in fact commemorative additions of legislative achievements from previous years (Voting Rights Act, Clean Air Act, Disabilities blah, blah)
    instead of anything like drug reform that may be unpopular with key blocks of bested interests, .

  86. vested, Vested, VESTED

  87. At least we’re finally in a position to disillusion leftists.

  88. !!! Keep Dope Alive !!!

  89. Barack Obama is the kind of president I’d love to sit down and smoke a J with.

    Barack Obama is the kind of president I’d love to sit down and snort a line with.

  90. At least we’re finally in a position to disillusion leftists.

    Anyone who still believes the leftist nostrums by the time they hit, oh, say, age 30, is immune to disillusionment.

  91. The number one reason besides all the money and special interest industries that profit off the war on drugs that it will not end.

    Politicians REFUSE to admit the are ever wrong. What will they do suddenly say oh our bad we screwed millions of people and jailed them needlessly ruining their lives, stripped the public of it’s rights by doing so and also managed to kill many innocent no violent “criminals.”

    Yeah that will happen, keep hittin the crack pipe and dreaming.

    As for Obama being a smoker and past (maybe) drug user and changing the nanny state I again say to keep hittin the crack pipe. Politicians unless you never noticed have a tendency to do the very things they forbid the rest of society to do themselves.

    It didn’t take a fuckin Econ PHD to figure out that spending WAY more $$$$ than you have will eventually catch up to you. Especially when your whole economy is setup on some make believe system of value and winners and losers in business and individuals with home mortgages are being decided by the politicians.

    We are so screwed we won’t even have any balls to take to a home we also no longer have. Unless of course you have a Fed. backed mortgage than you are fine with you new fixed lower rate and revalued home price spread out over a new length of time.

    Everyone paying their mortgage on time should hold back a few months on payments and lets see what that does. If we are just paying Our Fair Share to society in taxes then we should get our fair share in return now that government has gotten into the winner and loser choosing business.

  92. This prohibiton could end like the last.

    Lack of tax revenue on income in 1931, behold, no more Volstead Act.

    Estimated sales tax revenue on California Med. Marijuana, $100 million.

    There’s not that many clinics and they don’t all pay taxes.

    Spread the word . . . .

  93. Has anyone noticed what today’s Wikipedia Article of the Day is? I like it.

  94. “…writes Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, it would be hard for him to justify harsh treatment of drug users when he himself escaped punishment for the same actions and clearly is better off than he would have been had he been arrested.”

    Right, just like Bill Clinton went out of his way to get rid of “hostile enviroment” sexual harassment standards, and prevent plaintiff attorneys in sexual harassment suits from digging into the defendants past sexual history.

    What?? Oh, yeah, nevermind.

  95. There’s just too much money involved in the drug war. Even if we were to tax the estimated $500 billion/year drug trade it would not come close to property forfeitures. And then add in all the jobs created; judges, lawyers, law enforcement, correctional facilities (both private and public), construction companies (prison builders)… the list goes on and on. The drug war is rooted far too deeply in our economy.

    Why did they send Tommy Chong to jail for selling bongs on the internet and not give him probation? Not because of some idealogical position. They needed to fill a space in a private correctional facility that the US government has a contract with.

  96. One more little tidbit. Most of the inmates in the NJ State Correctional System are there for either having drugs, selling drugs, doing something illegal to get money to buy drugs or doing something while under the influence of drugs. I just checked. 2006 – 62% non-violent offenders, NJ State Prison. 26,746 total inmates. 80% black and hispanic.

    http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/offstats.html

    NJ is a fairly liberal state.

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