Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

What Made Jimmy Carter Flip-Flop on Marijuana? And Could the Same Tactic Work on Voters?

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In the space of five months former Pres. Jimmy Carter has seemingly done a 180-degree turn on marijuana policy. During a December 2012 CNN panel, Carter endorsed Colorado and Washington's decision to liberalize their marijuana laws: 

Suzanne Malveaux: What do you make of the legalization of marijuana, and the states that have legalized marijuana?

Carter: I'm in favor of it. I think it's OK. I don't think it's going to happen in Georgia yet. But I think we can watch and see what happens in the state of Washington, for instance, around Seattle. And let the American government and the American people see does it cause a serious problem, or not. 

A few states in America are good to take the initiative and try something out. That's the way our country has developed over the last two hundred years, is by a few states being kind of experiment stations.

Last week, "at a meeting that included state legislators and regulators from Colorado and Washington, as well as most of the states targeted for legalization in 2016," Carter said something very different:  

Mr. Carter announced that he "opposed the legalization of marijuana" and predicted experiments with marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado would go badly.

"I do not favor legalization. We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco and excessive drinking. We have to prevent making marijuana smoking from becoming attractive to young people, which is, I'm sure, what the producers of marijuana … are going to try and do."

In a press release last issued last week, Project SAM (the anti-marijuana group launched by former Office of National Drug Control Policy staffer Kevin Sabet and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy) claimed that Carter has been "falsely characterized as supporting legalization by pro-marijuana lobbyists nationwide," and thus his conversion wasn't a conversion at all. That claim doesn't exactly square with Carter telling CNN's Malveaux (on video, I might add) that he's "in favor of" and "OK" with Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana, but it is consistent with Carter's description of his motivation, back when he was president, for decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level. "I always said nobody should be punished worse for smoking a [marijuana] cigarette than the cigarette would be for them if they smoked it."

Carter joining the ranks of Sabet and Kennedy (and by extension, folks like Mel Sembler, who is the biggest individual funder of the anti-marijuana movement) is thus not only unsurprising, but also a modest testament to the power of Project SAM's "third way" message, which appeals to technocrats, conservatives, and public health advocates, despite its ocassional inconsistency.

While a recent Reason-Rupe poll found that a plurality (35 percent) of Americans think there should be absolutely no punishment for marijuana use, another 20 percent believed that marijuana use should be punished with mandatory substance abuse counseling. What I'm wondering is if Project SAM can grow that 20 percent between now and 2016. They landed Jimmy Carter, after all. 

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  1. It doesn’t fucking matter what a majority of idiots emote. But the fuck out of my bussiness.

  2. Jimmy Carter has always been at war with pot legalization.

    1. +1 gram of chocolate.

    2. Carter is a confused old man who has been brain-dead longer than Terry Schiavo.

      It’s shameful that SAM has seen fit to manipulate this walking-corpse.

      Someone should remind ex-President Loser McFuckface that drunken Teddy (Rot in Hell) is part of the reason The American People fired his ass.

      1. Liberals never got over it. They’ve paraded him around in a see-I-told-you-so meme ever since.

        Unfortunately, 90% of what comes out of Carter’s mouth is a cautionary tale of why he was fired.

    3. Maybe he found out that the Department of Agriculture doesn’t yet have a marijuana farming subsidy program in place that can match the peanut program.

    4. “I do not favor legalization. We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco and excessive drinking.”

      I don’t think this sentence means what he think it means. Is he saying that now tobacco and excessive drinking are illegal?

  3. It’s a shame when Alzheimer’s starts to set in.

    1. I came here to say “senility?”

      1. Me too.

        1. WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE??

    2. Fucker probably can’t even remember as far back as last December.

  4. What was the strategy, precisely? To point out that there will be no mandatory counseling with full legalization?

    I was going to insult Jimmy’s intelligence, but then I realized that, being a dunce, he is probably a pretty good bellwether for “low information” voters.

  5. But I think we can watch and see what happens in the state of Washington, for instance, around Seattle.

    Apparently he had seen enough and noted that the Pacific Northwest lab rats were eating each other’s faces off. Or maybe the former president was tuned into AMC’s Sunday night lineup. Either way, experiment declared a failure.

  6. Carter joining the ranks of Sabet and Kennedy (and by extension, folks like Mel Sembler, who is the biggest individual funder of the anti-marijuana movement) is thus not only unsurprising, but also a modest testament to the power of Project SAM’s “third way” message, which appeals to technocrats, conservatives, and public health advocates

    I highly doubt the efficacy of this argument to conservatives. Generally, conservatives either 1) support decrim/legalization of marijuana for mostly the same reasons as libertarians, or 2) oppose it for hazy socio-religious reasons. I don’t see how Project SAM’s message appeals to either group — sounds to me like it would appeal more to moderates and center-left types than anything else.

    1. It is the nature of conservatism to oppose change because it is change. Drugs have been illegal for most or all of most people’s lives. So that’s how it is. It’s a traditional value now. Don’t rock the boat.

  7. You mean could some asshole give a majority of voters alzheimer’s?

  8. Who recently said Carter was a decent president? WHO?

    1. But homebrew!

      I mean, sure, if it was homebrew pot, well, off to the counseling labor camp with you.

    2. Shrike insists he was the most Libertarian President ever.

      Cause of airline deregulation.

      1. More libertarian than Obama?

        1. Did Obama legalize microbrew?

          I’m still holding out hope that Obama’s next head at NRC/Dept. energy will allow me to put an SMR in my backyard.

          1. No, but he allows it to continue.

      2. I suppose he could the most libertarian Prez of the post-WWII era but that is a pretty low bar.

    3. How much worse was he really than anyone else? I’ve never really understood the hate for Carter. He was ineffective and had bad timing, but he didn’t create any massive new federal programs and actually attempted to cut spending. And what he said in the past 10 years has nothing to do with what kind of a president he was.

      1. Jimmah is Michael Bloomberg’s schoolmarm maiden aunt.

        But you’re right – Carter was ineffective and that right there makes him better than most Presidents we’ve had. When it comes to government, doing nothing is usually better than doing something.

  9. We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco and excessive drinking.

    Hey, asshole! One of these things is not like the other two. Only MJ is illegal, and therefore only MJ is easy for TEH CHILDRUNZ to get their paws on. Convenience and liquor store clerks tend to card people trying to buy tobacco or alcohol, considering they could lose their livelyhoods if they get caught selling to underage buyers. the dealer on the street? Not so much. Get a clue you senile old shitstack.

    1. Now imagine him saying that with a cardigan sweater.

      Now you know why his ass was tossed out of office first chance we got.

      1. The more creepy thing to picture is him saying “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times” while wearing a cardigan and giving that creepy pedophile like smile that he tended to have.

        No wonder indeed. Nobody wants their creepy uncle as president.

        1. I think it might have had a bit more to do with the economy and his own party not supporting him.

  10. “marijuana use should be punished with mandatory substance abuse counseling”

    So is it punishment or counseling? In behavioral terms, something that doesn’t reduce the future frequency of a behavior isn’t punishment at all, regardless of intent. I guess that means it’s (ineffective) counseling then, because it’s unlikely to make a dent in future use of marijuana. Ineffective punishment is not punishment at all, but ineffective counseling still qualifies as counseling.

    Either way it’s pointless. The only way to make sense of this impulse to “counsel” marijuana users is that it “sends a message” that marijuana use is bad, so people who are basically indifferent can feel a little better about that.

    1. Counseling is just a fine that gets funneled to a private industry. The whole drug treatment industry is a big racket dependent on the courts for most of their customers.

      I don’t quite follow you on punishment. Perhaps we have a different understanding of what that word means. Seems to me it is still punishment, even if it doesn’t work to reduce overall incidence of what is being punished. Just not very effective punishment.

      1. “The whole drug treatment industry is a big racket dependent on the courts for most of their customers.”

        I agree with that.

        RE: my comments on punishment – I was speaking from a strict behaviorist perspective, in which both punishment and reinforcement are defined by their effects. Punishment decreases behavior and reinforcement increases it. If no change in the rate of behavior follows, then the behavior wasn’t punished or reinforced, even though an attempt was made. You can say you presented a or removed a stimulus, and that is it.

        I like defining these things by their effects because it allows you to account for unintended consequences. Like, you send someone to counseling or AA or whatever to eliminate their substance use. At counseling/AA this person meets other addicts who become his newest drinking or drug buddies. The experience of being in counseling/AA might be quite aversive to the person, but it doesn’t eliminate their substance use. In fact, it is inadvertently increased. So regardless that it was aversive, the intended punisher actually functioned as a reinforcer.

  11. And here I thought SAMs argument was going to be, “ZOMG!!11!! MARIJUANA WAX!!11! BUTANE!!!11! EXPLOSIONS!!11!! CHILDREN!!1!!” Because that could totally work.

  12. Small comfort to all the victims of paraquat.

    1. There weren’t any.Although Jimmy did think he was poisoning marijuana smokers at the time.

  13. Good: Airline deregulation. Home brewing. Only served four years.

    Bad: Started enforcing (by withholding federal dollars) Nixon’s 55 mph speed limit.

    In absolute terms, a horrible president. In relative terms……….what post WWII president was better?

    1. what post WWII president was better?

      Eisenhower.

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