Drug War

Will Obama Pay a Political Price for His Medical Marijuana Crackdown?

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As the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles proudly proclaims that "all known marijuana stores in Santa Barbara County are now the subject of federal enforcement actions," one may wonder: Is this a winning political strategy for Barack Obama? Writing at The Huffington Post a few days ago, Chris Weigant said "it is a complete mystery why President Obama and his Justice Department chose, roughly halfway through his first term, to launch a crackdown on marijuana that goes further even than his Republican predecessor."

Well, it's not a complete mystery. It's plausible that Obama, embarrassed by the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries on his watch, worried about Republican accusations that he is "soft on drugs," a charge perenially hurled at Democrats, even when there is very little evidence to back it up. Given his comparatively candid discussion of his own drug use in his memoir Dreams From My Father, Obama might have thought himself especially vulnerable to such criticism. Hence he let the drug warriors in the Justice Department do what drug warriors do. Attorney General Eric Holder's ostensible underlings were never really on board with his promises of prosecutorial forbearance, so following through would have required an aggressive and conspicuous shift in policy. It was much easier to talk tolerance while practicing repression.

Will Obama pay a price for his broken promise to stop interfering with state policy in this area (not to mention his blatant dishonesty about that broken promise)? Weigant suggests that disappointed supporters will stay home on Election Day, but I'm not sure how big this "marijuana vote" is. When I interviewed Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, for my October cover story about Obama's drug policies, she told me:

I don't think this originated from the Obama administration. I think [Obama is] being complacent, following what the U.S. attorneys want him to do, and I think it's really up to someone who cares about this issue to push back. Because if we don't, this is a really horrible precedent, and we've got to show the president that we're still paying attention to this issue….There is a real political risk here, and this has to be brought to the president's attention.

Maybe. But given the remarkable ability of Obama's supporters to rationalize his continuation of his predecessor's policies, this seems like wishful thinking to me.

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69 responses to “Will Obama Pay a Political Price for His Medical Marijuana Crackdown?

    1. ditto

    2. Because teachers’ unions, that’s why.

  1. I don’t think this originated from the Obama administration.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Oh, the rationalizations of the beaten spouse. How pathetic.

    1. It’s not Obama’s fault, as it turns out Bush is still running things behind the scenes.

      1. Of course! It all makes sense now!

        1. Have you seen Bush? At all? That’s because he’s hiding in the White House. When Obama goes golfing, vacationing, creating fake people, popping out to celebrate his hands-on killing of supervillains, and other times away from the White House, Bush sneaks into the Oval Office and issues commands. The Secret Service does his bidding, as well.

          1. That’s preposterous. Everyone knows The Shrub at the ranch is a doppelganger. He never left the WH. Think Lazlo, Pro’L Dib.

            1. Hellooooo – GW Hologram, like Tupac, yo.

              1. Indeed, he appears to Obama as a giant holograph like the Emperor from Star Wars.

                “What is thy bidding, my master?”

                1. This Photoshop needs to be created.

            2. My statement stands that Bush is still in the White House. He lives in the tunnel between it and the OEOB. The FBI and Secret Service deliver his food and prostitutes. Oh, you thought the scandal in Colombia involved the agents getting whores for themselves? No, that was for Bush and Laura. Yeah, they’re “faithful” but enjoy threesomes.

              1. Oh, you thought the scandal in Colombia involved the agents getting whores for themselves? No, that was for Bush and Laura. Yeah, they’re “faithful” but enjoy threesomes.

                Brain bleach, I needs it.

                1. They also prevent Obama and the First Lady from having sex. This is why they both seem so frustrated and hot tempered all of the time.

                  1. They also prevent Obama and the First Lady from having sex. This is why they both seem so frustrated and hot tempered all of the time.

                    Across the pond, it’s been suggested that FLATUS Michelle is really a post-op tranny and the entire family is an elaborate hoax.

                    1. All I know is no sex. Barry’s hurtin’ man. Oh, and Bush keeps him supplied in opium. He’s a huge addict.

                    2. You fools. The real Barrack Obama is under the White House, kept prisoner and wearing an iron mask. The Barrack Obama you know is a robot, programmed by Bush and Dick Cheney(mostly Cheney) to continue their evil conservative rule!

                    3. Why complicate the truth with some whacked out theory?

      2. W’s been hiding under the Resolute Desk for three years now, crossing out the policies that Obama wrote and replacing them with “bomb Libya,” “Raid MJ Dispensaries,” and “Keep Those Fagz Out of Marriage.”

        1. That’s where W’s been this whole time!

      3. Bush was never running things.
        It was Darth Cheney in his Haliburton Hurricane Machine?.

        1. With his health? Cheney always was the public fall guy. Since then, Bush has grown more subtle. Obama really is a victim, frustrated by the fact that all of his executive orders and other pronouncements keep getting changed by Bush. His speeches have all been while Bush holds the Obama family at gun point.

          1. I have it on good authority The Shrub is secretly a wizard with reprogramming teleprompters and communicating with moisture vaporators in binary.

            1. Like all Yale graduates, he is a super genius.

              Yeah, this is all about Yale-Harvard and has nothing to do with America, money, power, or Colombian prostitutes.

          2. Yeah with his helth.

            Remember when Bush was the bumbling idiot and Darth Cheney the shrewd, heartless, corporate raider was really running the show?

            He still is.

            1. Nope, just a fall guy. Bush was the mastermind. Him and his former college roommate, Mike McLaden aka Osama bin Laden.

              1. McLaden bin Laden

                Mother of God. How could we have been so blind. It’s so obvious!

                1. *insert a “/” between McLaden & bin. Typing FAIL.

                2. I’ve always been surprised that the media never made the connection. There are pictures of them partying together at school.

        2. So wait, if Cheney is Palpatine, and Bush is Count Dooku, and Rumsfeld is General Grievous, does that make Obama Anakin or Mace Windu?

          1. The temptation to say Binks is huge, but I’m almost certain that would be racist, so I’m not saying it.

            1. “Yousa thinkin’ yousa people gonna die?”

            2. It would explain the tens of thousands of unsold Obama merchandise units.

          2. if Cheney is Palpatine, and Bush is Count Dooku, and Rumsfeld is General Grievous, does that make Obama Anakin or Mace Windu?

            “Soon I will have a new apprentice. one much younger and more powerful.”

          3. I’ll go with Obama being Jabba.

  2. “Given his comparatively candid discussion of his own drug use in his memoir Dreams From My Father”

    Perhaps his comparatively candid discussion of his own drug use was really just a composite drawn from all of the drug users he knew of.

    1. BTW, from Ann Althouse today:

      Half of what I say is meaningless,
      But I say it just to please you,
      Julia.

    2. Given that the factual content of that book appears to be continuously shrinking, I dunno that I would regard it as any kind of source for anything that Obama ever did, said, or thought.

      1. Epic Trolls from My Father

  3. “I don’t think this originated from the Obama administration. I think [Obama is] being complacent, following what the U.S. attorneys want him to do, and I think it’s really up to someone who cares about this issue to push back.”

    “If the Good Tsar knew about what his evil counsellors were doing, he would step in and stop it.”

    BARF.

    1. I read this more optimistically, that she was acknowledging that unless Obama realized there were political consequences he had no reason to expend energy being an executive. And he’s been known not to give a shit what his departments are doing.

  4. these kinetic military…i mean law enforcement actions have angered the left. but he promised mendeleev (that secret whisper) he’d have moar flexibility in his 2d term so we got that good ol hopey changy thing going again!

    1. So we will finally get to see teh real periodic table?

  5. To be fair, I doubt that much at all actually originates with Obama. He seems to have little energy, and less interest, in actually governing.

    1. Hosting celebrities and going on eleventeen vacations a year takes a lot out of you.

    2. I agree. He likes the adulation and prestige.

  6. I guess Jacob didn’t hear the news. Obama ended the War On Drugs. The crackdown on medical marijuana never happend. Please refresh you browser, delete temp files and clear your cache before looking up old news articles.

    1. See Mike Riggs:

      https://reason.com/blog/2012/04…..n-progress

    2. Too late – they went down the memory hole.

  7. Comrade Stalin is not aware of the starvation and genocide in the south.
    Once he if made aware of it, he will implement corrective actions.

    1. We are fond of describing any person with a full belly as a Kulak.

  8. …given the remarkable ability of Obama’s supporters to rationalize his continuation of his predecessor’s policies…

    It’s much worse than RED vs BLU in Team Fortress 2.

    1. Yeah, at least that one’s free, entertaining, and voluntary.

  9. The cult of Obama will never cease until the day people start attributing his hopey changey statements to political calculus rather than his contradictory governance.

    1. I’m just waiting for when they rewrite Obama as a tragic figure, a President who tried to bring America forward into the 21rst Century only to be held by 19th Century Regressives with their strange ideas about government.

      1. “The Obama Years — Resurgent Reaction and Lost Opportunities”

      2. Waiting for it?

        Hell, they’ve been using that as a counterpoint to “It’s Bush’s Fault” since the 2010 mid-terms.

  10. Will Obama Pay a Political Price for His Medical Marijuana Crackdown?

    I’m gonna take a stab in the dark here and go with “no”.

  11. OK, seriously, what does this administration stand to gain from cracking down on medical marijuana? Is there some pocket of MJ-control Dems that I’m not aware of?

    1. You are familiar with the DEA and the FDA, no?

      1. So this is a “Yes, Minister” kind of situation?

        1. The entire federal government is a “Yes, Minister” kind of situation. Life imitating art.

    2. Is there some pocket of MJ-control Dems that I’m not aware of?

      Not really.

      But it turns out that “legal dope” (even with the Medical facade) isn’t a big vote-getter, and “soft on drugs” might still cost you some old-people votes…

      The incentives are aligned in one direction.

  12. The answer is “no” because there are few people who are (1) swing voters and who would decide based on this issue, or (2) voters leaning strongly in one direction but who could be swung the other way base on this issue. Of voters in category 2, far more of them would swing against a “pro-drug” candidate than in favor.

    Very few people think of med mj as an important issue. Those who do are activists who are more heavily swayed by a bunch of other issues first. To the extent med mj is raised as an issue before everyone else who votes, far more of them react strongly negatively than positively.

    So even though people asked to vote on this one issue are in favor by heavy majority, that doesn’t help candidates taking the position in any but very unusual circumstances. Where it might help them would be in a closed Democratic primary in certain polities where the candidates don’t differ much on other issues.

  13. I’m still surprised Pelosi uttered the phrase “states’ rights” without immediately spitting on the ground.

  14. It shouldn’t hurt him if people are smart. Put yourselves in his shoes. Would any of you want to be the first black president to legalize pot in your first term? Hell no, because you know you would never be elected with the Right’s crazy lying tactics. It would look terrible to the older, voting groups, meaning he would lose and you’d have an even worse friend in the white house. But by all means stay home and have an even worse outcome in November.

  15. Too many people are willing to vote for only one issue – whoever has a “D” or a “R” after the name, and nothing else matters. Therefore nothing Obama does will hurt him too bad.

    But if enough tokers remember that voting for Obama is like a chicken voting for Col. Sanders, then perhaps it will have an effect.

  16. I hope the anti-prohibition voters and the medical mj patients do NOT stay home on election day, but instead come out in droves for the LP candidate, former two-term NM governor, Gary Johnson, who is pledged to ending the War on Drugs. Even if Johnson doesn’t win, a big vote total for him will put the winner on notice that the American people demand real change in a positive direction on this issue. The days when the US President could smirk or chortle, and then ignore or dismiss questions on this topic are over, and a good turnout for Mr. Johnson would underscore that fact and put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, at very least.

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