Marijuana

Mark Kleiman Concedes Obama Has the Power To Reclassify Marijuana but Claims It's Ignorant to Say So

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CNN

On Friday I noted that, contrary to what President Obama said in his recent CNN interview, the executive branch does have the power to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). For some reason, that observation irked UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman, who claims (rather inconsistently) that I am 1) ignorant of the facts, 2) willfully blind to the facts because they clash with my libertarian ideology, and 3) motivated to criticize Obama by financial gain rather than sincere conviction:

The discussion of "rescheduling" marijuana is confused because most of the people engaged in it don't know how the law works.

Jacob Sullum, always willing to let his ignorance be the measure of other people's knowledge, utterly unwilling to let mere facts get in the way of libertarian ideology, and eager to please his paymasters by slagging a Democratic President, illustrates my point in his response to the latest CNN Obama interview.

A few paragraphs down, Kleiman concedes that "yes, authority to reschedule cannabis lies with the Administration." So what I said was correct yet somehow also ignorant and unfactual.

Even if I had misrepresented the administration's authority under the Controlled Substances Act (which Kleiman admits I did not), in what sense would that illustrate my libertarian bias? No matter who is charged with saying which drugs people are not allowed to have, the CSA is not a libertarian statute by any stretch of the imagination.

But Kleiman says I am not really motivated by libertarianism anyway. Rather, I am in it for the money, "eager to please [my] paymasters by slagging a Democratic President." Exactly who are these "paymasters," and why do they hate Democrats in particular? Kleiman does not say, possibly because this is a generic ad hominem attack he uses against people he perceives as political opponents, whether or not he has any facts to back it up.

In any case, anyone who is even vaguely familar with my work knows it is absurd to suggest that I criticize Democrats while giving Republicans a pass. Two days before I criticized Obama for speaking as if he were powerless to reschedule marijuana, I defended him against an attack by a Republican senator who objected to his statement that marijuana is safer than alcohol. A couple of weeks before that, I took issue with another Republican senator who criticized Obama for allowing legalization to proceed in Colorado and Washington by refraining from arresting and prosecuting state-licensed marijuana suppliers.

More generally, while Obama is the president I have been "slagging" most since January 2009, I was never shy about slagging his Republican predecessor. Last week I linked to some of that criticism while arguing that Republicans who fault Obama for abusing executive power, if they want to be taken seriously, should not downplay similar sins committed by Republican presidents. In case it still is not clear, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party. But in Kleiman's mind, I am a partisan interested only in picking apart members of the other team.

Kleiman also suggests that if I really understood how the law works, I would have criticized the administration for impeding research by maintaining a monopoly on production of marijuana used in studies. Yeah, why have I never talked about that?

The one valid point Kleiman makes is that placing marijuana on a lower schedule would not automatically make it available by prescription, since any cannabis preparation would still have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But the practical impact of reclassifying marijuana is distinct from the question of whether it meets the criteria for Schedule I and whether the Obama administration has the power to move it, which is what I was talking about in the post that set Kleiman off, as people who actually read it may be surprised to learn.

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79 responses to “Mark Kleiman Concedes Obama Has the Power To Reclassify Marijuana but Claims It's Ignorant to Say So

  1. As I recall, the scheduling of a substance has two effects. (1) it allows for prescription of the substance at Schedule II or higher, but (2) it lowers the penalties for possession when a substance is moved from Schedule I to Schedule II or higher. That second effect would be immediate and beneficial.

    1. Cannabis has special penalty provisions that are much less than for other C-1 substances. It’d have to be rescheduled as at least C-4 for the penalties to lessen. And anyone can already legally prescribe cannabis to anyone else; do you know what “prescribe” means?

    2. Since coke and meth are schedule II, but have higher penalties, I don’t think that necessarily the case.

    1. Shooting the messenger won’t help.

      1. It will make me feel better.

        Also, groundhog stew.

    2. The polar vortex is a shadow catcher.

  2. It can’t be approved by the FDA so effectively Obama does not have the power to reschedule it? That doesn’t even count as pedantry because it’s not true. The executive has the power to reschedule marijuana, which is counter to what Obama claimed and exactly what Sullum called him on. What happens next with the FDA and testing for prescription use is irrelevant.

  3. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with the punches.

    http://www.Anon-VPN.com

  4. Update Tom Angell’s feelings are hurt because I was mean to poor widdle Jacob Sullum. And he insists that I mention that, if marijuana were downscheduled to Schedule III rather than Schedule II (a scheduling decision that wouldn’t make much sense, given that something more than 2 million people in the U.S. meet diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse or dependency at any one time), marijuana sellers would be able to deduct their business expenses in calculating their federal income taxes. Since that trivial impact on the cannabis problem isn’t the same as “identically zero impact,” Angell demands that I retract.

    OK. Rescheduling to the appropriate schedule would have identically zero impact, but excessive downscheduling could somewhat increase the after-tax incomes of marijuana retailers and perhaps lead to slightly lower retail cannabis prices in state-legal stores.

    Does Kleiman, acting like this, persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with him?

    1. He wouldn’t know since he’s never physically met someone who doesn’t agree with him.

    2. I heard that he likes to f….

      1. fuck over the California taxpayers paying his salary?

    3. How much are the illegal marijuana sellers paying in income taxes now?

      Idiot.

    4. He is a noble defender of The People against those who ruthlessly prey on them for profit, and he does so by putting their lackeys in their place. Is that how he justifies being a Grade A shithead to himself?

    5. It’s not that Kleiman was mean. It’s that he lied through hiss teeth,

      1. Mean? No, he was an obtuse asshole. He pitifully believed everything he said was true, especially the contradictory bits because those are the points that differentiate his opinion from those of a lackey to profiteers.

    6. Kleiman’s book on prison reform, When Brute Force Fails, was interesting, so I started following him on Twitter. Lasted a day. He’s a complete moron.

    7. “If marijuana were downscheduled to Schedule III rather than Schedule II (a scheduling decision that wouldn’t make much sense, given that something more than 2 million people in the U.S. meet diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse or dependency at any one time)…”.

      Kleiman has a point, there. Most people don’t know this, but the diagnostic criteria were written by the hand of God on stone tablets and handed, personally, to Barack Obama when he was up on Mount Sinai. They’re inviolable.

      “Does Kleiman, acting like this, persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with him?”

      He doesn’t seem to think his job is to persuade anyone. He seems to think his job is to make pronouncements, and we’re all supposed to accept them becasue of the sheer magnificence of his titles.

  5. “Marihuana,” by contrast, is placed by name in Schedule I. That placement tracks its treatment in the international conventions governing drug policy.

    Obama’s hands are tied by an international treaty signed by JFK implemented by Nixon.

    if marijuana were downscheduled to Schedule III rather than Schedule II (a scheduling decision that wouldn’t make much sense, given that something more than 2 million people in the U.S. meet diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse or dependency at any one time)

    There’s your “smart” progressive arguments against marijuana legalization. “The United Nations says NO!” “What about public health? There are over 2 million marijuana addicts!

    1. I am not sure what justification is going to be used to take away more freedoms: commerce clause or public health? Diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse or dependency? I’m sure those criteria are the same ones that have helped increase the number of binge drinkers in the country. So many puritans in the country trying run the lives of others.

    2. Obama’s hands are tied by an international treaty signed by JFK implemented by Nixon.

      Hey, remember when Ted Cruz was attacked by progressives for arguing that international treaties shouldn’t be used to take away sovereignty from American voters? They called him ‘paranoid’ and basically argued that this would never happen.

      Now a progressive is defending Obama by saying that he can’t change a sovereign American law because of an international convention on drugs. Man, what a paranoid asshole that Ted Cruz was!

  6. The right will attack Obama’s attempt at rescheduling as an “unconstitutional power grab” that will lead to socialism and gays dancing in the streets wearing nothing but tight shorts. IOW, there is a political component to this so it won’t happen until after the midterms.

    1. Christfags! Bushpigs!

    2. You think after the mid-term elections is when he’s going to get bold and act on principle?

      1. Obama is pretty much a triangulating moderate (lacks principle you might say).

        He supported DOMA and DADT until he didn’t. He went for market-based reform in health care instead of single-payer. He is willing to cut taxes before raising other taxes. He is cutting the deficit ahead of schedule. He chooses a lot of GOPers for his cabinet (Gates, Hagle, LaHood).

        So pretty much no.

        1. Herr da hurr, obamacare creates a marketplace where you can buy insureance so it’s market based. Hurr da hurr.

          1. I hear Stalin cut the ribbon on Moscow’s first super market.

            Not just a market but a SUPER market.

        2. “He is cutting the deficit ahead of schedule.”

          Even if he was, the deficit adding programs he implemented (like ACA) will make that a moot point.

        3. He is willing to cut taxes before raising other taxes.

          His signature legislation contains innumerable tax increases on people and various industries.

          He approved increasing cigarette taxes.

          What taxes has he cut? Are you admitting now that the “Bush” tax cuts became the “Obama” tax cuts when he agreed to extend them?

          He is cutting the deficit ahead of schedule.

          What schedule is that? The one where he said he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term? Because he didn’t meet that deadline.

          Surely you aren’t counting the shift of borrowing into the 2014 fiscal year as an attempt to hide the fact that the 2013 fiscal year deficit was still in excess of $1TT as a real cut, are you?

          1. Obama cut the payroll tax, albeit it was only a temporary one but $300 billion nevertheless.

            1. Just because Sullum isn’t a partisan hack, doesn’t mean there aren’t any out there.

              And I don’t think you have to get paid to be a partisan hack; some people do that kind of thing for free.

              Nobody’s paying you, are they Shrike? You’re just doin’ it for free?

        4. Obama is pretty much a triangulating moderate (lacks principle you might say).

          Sure. So was George W. Bush. Their politics and actions were almost identical. I’m baffled as to why people like you would view them so differently.

    3. Palin’s Buttplug|2.2.14 @ 11:45AM|#
      “The right will attack Obama’s attempt at rescheduling as an “unconstitutional power grab”…”

      How does that shoe-polish taste, asshole?

  7. Even though Obama cannot take pot completely out of the CSA (and I don’t think he can), he can reschedule it all the way down to Schedule V:

    Schedule V substances are those that have the following findings:

    A.The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV
    B.The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
    C.Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.

    Which sounds about right. It does have a low potential for “abuse”, it does have a currently accepted medical use in the US (tens of thousands of “prescriptions” are written for medpot users every year), and even where abuse occurs, it has no physical dependence and limited psych dependence.

    Schedule V penalties? Well, I think it would still, technically, be a prescription drug. According to the DEA, Schedule V penalties are:

    First Offense: Not more than 1 yr. Fine not more than $100,000 if an individual, $250,000 if not an individual.

    Second Offense: Not more than 4 yrs. Fine not more than $200,000 if an individual, $500,000 if not an individual.

    Rescheduling is not even decriminalization at the federal level. But, considering it would put pot on the same legal footing as Lyrica and other lifetime lifestyle type drugs, it would be a big step in the right direction.

    1. No, the administration can remove a substance completely from the control schedules, as was done in stages with loperamide (which Sasha Shulgin chronicled the stages of thoroughly), which you may know as Imodium. The DEA can also exempt a particular preparation of a controlled substance from controls because it has had its “potential for abuse” reduced or eliminated due to its formulation, packaging, or conditions of marketing.

  8. The one valid point Kleiman makes is that placing marijuana on a lower schedule would not automatically make it available by precription, since any cannabis preparation would still have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

    I could have sworn that the FDA, like the DEA, is an agency of the executive branch that takes orders from the President. This is no objection, in other words, at all.

    I, for one, would be interested to read about these “international conventions” that supposedly tie the President’s hands. Are they actually treaties ratified by Congress? If not, they have no legal effect on our domestic laws. If so, would they be violated by reclassing pot off of Schedule 1? Again, if so, does this effectively strip the President of authority to do so?

    I don’t know, but it would be interesting to learn.

    1. Yes, they are treaties ratified by the Senate. And no, they would not be violated by changing pot’s control schedule. They are supposed to limit the substances in question to medical, veterinary, or research use.

  9. Usually, academics are reluctant to engage with partisans because academics have academic standards to live up to in their public comments, but partisans can say whatever they want for their cause with impunity.

    Sullum not being a Republican is even more beside the point, here. I don’t remember seeing an academic go after an alleged partisan like that before. It’s as if the academic were the one with no standards! Kleiman’s behavior here is an embarrassment to the UCLA School of Public Affairs.

    It isn’t just that Kleiman is wrong about Sullum, either. I think Kleiman’s behavior would be embarrassing even if Sullum were a Republican partisan. The Dean of the School of Public Affairs should take a look at this before Kleiman becomes an even greater source of embarrassment.

    I remember David Suzuki, once, talking about having crossed the line from academic to activist. Former academics really should renounce the title once they cross that line. Otherwise, it’s political advocacy masquerading as scholarship, and with so much of that going around, it’s no wonder so many average people have become so dubious of what academics say today on a wide range of topics.

    If Kleiman doesn’t want to be an academic anymore, there isn’t anything wrong with that, but if he’s going to keep working for UCLA and calling himself an academic, he shouldn’t be surprised if people expect him to abide by academic standards.

    1. I bet if you spent a day in his office you would not be able to distinguish he and his cohorts from the punditry of MSNBC.

      1. Perhaps, but his public comments are held to a higher standard.

        His job is to publish and his name and work to be associated with UCLA.

        If UCLA is happy to have their reputation associated with this kind of response to Sullum, then shame on UCLA.

      2. The pundits are probably better behaved.

    2. ‘he shouldn’t be surprised if people *laugh in his face*.’

      Fixed.

    3. Kleiman’s behavior here is should bean embarrassment to the UCLA School of Public Affairs.

      Progressives have no standards of just conduct and are incapable of embarrassment when they think they are discrediting their opponents.

  10. After the disasterous effects of it’s policies and abuses, the most disconcerting aspect of authoritarianism to me is the bizarre nature of its face.

    The leaders spout utter nonsense and lies while their defenders excrete fallacy, deception, distraction and slander. This administration has the overpowering stench of a banana republic dictatorship.

    It may be articulated better, but put in a nutshell, Kleiman’s defense of his messiah is on par with our very own shreek’s unbridled sycophancy.

    1. No way is Obama Kleiman’s messiah. Rather, it’s Kleiman saying to Sullum, “I know more about this than you do, but rather than my accusing you of slipshod research, I’m going to say you sold out.”

      Of course, I know more than both of them. But I sold out, so I’m not telling any of you.

  11. “Mark Kleiman, who claims I am 1) ignorant of the facts, 2) ) willfully blind to the facts …”

    How can you be both ignorant, AND ‘willfully blind’? this seems to me an ‘either/or’ situation. You can’t have both.

    The third one…. the “he’s being PAID to argue these awful things! = ergo, you cant trust him!” – Whats that called again? Its a common fallacy – where you claim your opponent *doesn’t even really believe what they’re saying, but they’re being PAID to do so…” – the implication that if you are paid, then you aren’t really speaking *your own* mind, but rather only acting as a puppet for shadowy interests in the background. (fallacy of agency? – meh)

    [* The idea that anyone might be paid because they ALREADY DO believe these things, and express themselves extremely well, such that they subsequently become hired by groups supporting said causes… No, that idea is completely LUDICROUS!

    Calling other people “paid shills” seems to be a knee-jerk defense mechanism of the Left – they cry, “MONEY!!! MONEY BAD!!” as though the only way to earn an honest dollar in the free market is to have Tenure at some shitty public school. It gets even stupider when you actually follow that logic to the core, which is…. those EVIL CORPORTISTS WHO WANT TO… Legalize marijuana… because…… profit? derp.

    No, anyone recall what this ‘fallacy’ of ‘attributing an opponents’ argument to the influence of a third party’ is?

    1. “anyone recall what this ‘fallacy’ of ‘attributing an opponents’ argument to the influence of a third party’ is?”

      Look at “appeal to motive” or “circumstantial ad hominem”.

      Anyone else notice that the responses to Kleiman by anonymous commenters in this thread are (so far) more “academic” than Kleiman’s response to Sullum?

      UCLA should be ashamed.

      1. Yes, I do notice that.

        Reading the comments, it appears that a number of the people debating this are ‘public health’-bureaucrat/experts, and the most disturbing thing for some of them is the idea that the broader infrastructure of ‘classification and regulation’ be undermined in any way…

        … Kleiman seems to be fixed on this idea that the HORROR of things like Tobacco, Alcohol and Coffee is that they’ve been *latched onto* by private interests, and due to their ‘lobbying power’ continue to increase their Market Power to the point where Agencies no longer have any ability to directly curtail the consumption of these items.

        Or, shorter = he DESPISES the idea of ‘markets’ for anything, most specifically things that ‘may have some public health effect’.

        He repeatedly cites ‘use’ statistics like ‘abuse’ statistics… such that the very numbers showing widespread use of MJ are exactly what justify *its restriction*. If it were less ‘illegal’, then how would public officials be able to CONTROL IT!?

        That’s really what this guy hates= anyone *advocating* a market-solution as opposed to CONTROL by academic elites. Its a turf-battle.

      2. BTW=

        Appeal to Motive FTW!

        It seems to be the prog-liberal default Weapon of Choice.

        Epi has pointed out a million times = INTENTIONS are all that matter for many progs, so Step 1 in many arguments = assail the opponent’s intentions: they are likely something awful like CORPORATE PROFITS… not “freedom”*

        (you’re supposed to groan cynically when anyone says that word)

        They seem to love to put ‘freedom’ in scare-quotes because it is a perfect symbolic way to show the audience that you aren’t falling for this ‘superficial appeal to human rights and freedom’ stuff because, duh, Liberals already OWN that stuff. Even when they’re advocating keeping certain drugs *illegal*, its because they’re protecting the ‘freedoms’ of millions of people from being exposed to the deleterious health-effects of these corporate-marketed poisons…or something.

        They do get nastier and nastier about it though. When they’re in power and defending their territory, they become like rabid mongooses (mongeese?) lashing out at the throats of anything gesturing in their general direction.

      3. “Anyone else notice that the responses to Kleiman by anonymous commenters in this thread are (so far) more “academic” than Kleiman’s response to Sullum?”

        Now I feel bad for trying to bring sheep into the mix.

        1. It had to happen eventually.

  12. Duh Jacob, you’re obviously just writing about this because… KOCH!!!!

    1. I bet his Koch paymasters are preparing to buy the Doritos brand from Frito-Lay.

  13. Projection: Kleiman has it.

  14. UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman

    Currently working for Janet Napolitano; if he likes his job, he needs to tow the fucking lion.

    1. “UCLA drug policy expert Mark Kleiman”

      You’d think an “expert” would know that the drug can be rescheduled as Sullum claims, wouldn’t you?
      Perhaps he less an “expert” than a prohibitionist.

    2. “Currently working for Janet Napolitano; if he likes his job, he needs to tow the fucking lion.”

      This.

      1. He could just shut the fuck up instead of towing the lion AND getting his facts wrong while doing it.

  15. He went for market-based reform in health care instead of single-payer.

    D-
    MUST TRY HARDER

    1. Hell, he even tried for “stealth” single-payer (the”public option”) but couldn’t get his own party to vote it through.

  16. All I’ve got to say is that if all you fuckers here are only here because your paymaster demands it, I want to know where the hell my check is because I’ve been doing this shit for free.

    1. You didn’t get your orphan labor? You got ripped off.

  17. “a scheduling decision that wouldn’t make much sense, given that something more than 2 million people in the U.S. meet diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse or dependency at any one time”

    Sure. Nobody who uses approved, higher-scheduled, legal drugs approved by the FDA ever becomes addicted to them! There is not a single man or woman in the USA who meets the diagnostic criteria for OxyContin abuse or dependence at any one time, is there?

    What a jackass.

  18. I want to know where the hell my check is because I’ve been doing this shit for free.

    No kidding; it sure would be nice if I could find a way to monetize my internet addiction.

  19. Jacob Sullum, always willing to let his ignorance be the measure of other people’s knowledge, utterly unwilling to let mere facts get in the way of libertarian ideology, and eager to please his paymasters by slagging a Democratic President, illustrates my point in his response to the latest CNN Obama interview.

    I’m amazed at how progressives don’t seem capable of making a rational argument without hurling insults.

    It’s somewhat pathetic.

    1. “Jacob Sullum, always willing to let his ignorance be the measure of other people’s knowledge, utterly unwilling to let mere facts get in the way of libertarian ideology, and eager to please his paymasters by slagging a Democratic President”

      Plus, I stand in awe of this display of academic dispassion & objective scholarship. Perhaps one of his students could start off a paper by writing:

      “Professor Kleiman, always willing to let his ignorance be the measure of other people’s knowledge, utterly unwilling to let mere facts get in the way of liberal ideology, and eager to please his paymasters by slagging a voice of dissent.”

      I’m sure the good professor would award the student an A for such an engaging argument.

      1. You just don’t understand the genius of his argument because you’re not an academic and you’re anti-science.

        1. Actually, I am an academic (humanities) and it’s comments like Kleiman’s that make me embarrassed to be in academia. If people like Kleiman conducted research in the same way they comment on politics, they’d be laughed out of the profession.

    2. As fine an example of proggy projection as you could ask for;

      Jacob Sullum mark Kleiman, always willing to let his ignorance be the measure of other people’s knowledge, utterly unwilling to let mere facts get in the way of libertarian authoritarian ideology, and eager to please his paymasters by slagging a Democratic President libertarian commentator, illustrates my point in his response to the latest CNN Obama interview jacob Sullum article.

      1. ^THIS.

        Really. Mark Kleiman’s performance on CNN reminded me of a polemicist like Ann Coulter, not a scholarly academic.

      2. Left wing academics see a lot of paid shills because of projection.

    3. “I’m amazed at how progressives don’t seem capable of making a rational argument without hurling insults.”

      !

    4. When you have neither facts, nor logic, nor principle on your side, what is left to you other than gratuitous insult?

  20. Oh yeah, Reason, you missed somebody’s birthday:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u8Jjth81_Q

  21. I can’t believe I’m the first one to point out that the header on his blog is

    The Reality-Based Community
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  22. eager to criticize Democrats because it is in my financial interest to do so

    In fairness if reason did not put Dem’s feet under the fire over their complete unwillingness to implement changes that the left and libertarians are supposed to agree on I probably would not have donated last drive.

    1. Corning, Josh, admitted moneybags behind reason’s right wing agenda.

  23. “I’m gonna write executive orders in my sleep to go around Congress and get what I want!!!…. but I can’t do anything about the weed.”

    Hypocratize much, Mr. President?

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