Where the War on Pot Will Go to Die


Make no mistake: The war on pot is effectively over. A growing majority of Americans favor legalization of the stuff, almost half the states (and the District of Columbia) have medical marijuana, and Colorado's experience will pave the way for more states to follow (here's hoping Washington, whose consumer market gets cranked up in the summer, doesn't screw it up).

But where exactly will the war on pot go to die, I ask in a new Time column. My premise is that the insane actions taking place everywhere around us will finally become intolerable to citizens, cops, and lawmakers. Maybe the case of Jacob Lavoro, the 19-year-old Texas kid who faces a 99-year sentence for selling hash brownies, will do the trick. Or the recent comments by FBI James Comey about how drug testing procedures are keeping the nation from hiring the best computer geeks to protect against cyber-terrorism. To paraphrase John Kerry talking about Vietman (another doomed and destructive police action), who will be the last man to die—or waste years of his life in prison—for the mistake that is marijuana prohibition?


Look to California, which passed the nation's first medical marijuana ballot initiative way back in 1996 and saw 46.5% vote in favor of recreational pot in a 2010 proposition. In 2011, federal agents raided the operations of dispensary owner and medical grower Aaron Sandusky. This came after repeated promises by the Obama administration that it wouldn't go after medical pot providers who were operating within state law. And even though officials from the city of Upland, which had tipped off the feds, later admitted in court that Sandusky was operating properly within state law.

Sandusky refused on principle to cop a plea because he thought he was in the right. Tried in federal court, he was unable to offer a defense based on California state law, Sandusky ended up pulling a 10-year sentece. In March of this year, he lost his final appeal. If he's lucky and stays on good behavior, he'll be out in 2021. Does anyone think that pot—medical or recreational—will still be illegal by then?

As it happens, Sandusky is doing time in Texas' Big Spring Federal Correctional Institute, which is only a four-hour drive from Jacob Lavoro's hometown of Round Rock. As Lavoro ponders whatever deal prosecutors might offer him, he'd be smart to visit Sandusky and ask what life behind bars is like. Because while the war on pot is surely in its final stage, there will still be plenty of casualties before peace is declared.

Whole piece.

I talked about this on Wednesday night on CNN's Erin Burnett Outfront. Take a look:

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  1. I’m more interested in ending the war on comments.

    1. It’s just reasonable commonsense restrictions on comments.

  2. The Time comments blame pot prohibition on the private prison industry and holdovers from the Jefferson Davis administration.

  3. Mission Accomplished!

  4. I wonder when Rand Paul will do something legislatively to end the war on pot. So far, nothing. Well, actually he has signed onto legislation that would possibly hinder the legalization of pot.…..ized-weed/

    Even more importantly, I wonder when Nick will ever call him out on this. He certainly calls out liberals and conservatives all the time for their hypocrisy, just seems to have lost his tongue when it comes to any criticism about Rand Paul.

    1. Congratulations on your Balloon Juice fallacy.

    2. Rand is too busy holding his finger up to see which way the wind is blowing – so he can come up with a popular subject for his next grandstanding.

      As far as the Kochs (Nick and Reason), they are known to back down or remain very quiet on subjects which may anger their base. For example, the Kochs themselves were against the Iraq war, but most of their front groups and virtually 95% of the candidates (and the main party!) they pay for were the actual perps of this debacle.

      “Reason” would say that they would align with the folks who were against the War on Drugs as opposed to other Wars. But it’s not that way. Why?

      Simple. Their desires for:
      Ability to pollute (dereg)

      are more important than the core issues. How else could they stay deep in bed with the war monger? In fact, the war monger party would almost cease to exist without their money and astroturf groups.

      I’ll like someone to explain this….really.

  5. Seems like her argument is that beer is OK but liquor should be banned.

  6. Sandusky ended up pulling a 10-year sentence.

    And that was after he refused to plea when the prosecutor threatened him with 90 years!

    In March of this year, he lost his final appeal.

    One of the dangers of trying to challenge criminal law is that you must become a criminal first to gain standing. If you’re lucky enough to have your case heard, you’d still likely loose.

    Because while the war on pot is surely in its final stage, there will still be plenty of casualties before peace is declared.

    Indeed lots of casualties at both the state and federal level.

    On the one hand, you don’t want to get caught. You want to keep it underground for your own safety. On the other hand, it takes constant and growing overt flouting of laws and lives ruined to get them to change through legislative means after many generations.

  7. How are you all even commenting at all?

    1. How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

      1. From Lowertown, you head up Avenue of the Americas and then hang a left on West 57th Street

        1. How do I get to Lowertown then ?

  8. The War on the true dangers of Marijuana is just getting started:

    150+ Scientific Studies Showing the Dangers of Marijuana


    1. “Make no mistake: The war on pot is effectively over.”

      Please someone tell the SWAT teams across the US.

      They seem to be using the “surge” technique to snatch victory from the ars of defeat.

  9. Ends? I want to know when the War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg, Pennsylvania will be formed.

  10. Welcome Brave New World. Enjoy your Soma. I will opt-out and remain a coherent, rational part of the universe.

    1. On what planet in which alternate universe are the fans of cannabis compliant with governmental fiat and easily controlled?

      Anyone who thinks that the re-legalization of cannabis is being promoted by the powers that be or that Mr. Obama is a friend of freedom is in desperate need of a check up from the neck up.

      Don’t let me leave out the people who can’t differentiate between fiction and real life. Skip the check up and go directly to the lobotomy ward.

  11. According to the Bible, three profound changes occurred at the beginning of our world; Creation, The Fall of man, and The Flood. During each of these events God took time out from all that was going on at the time to instruct, and even command man to eat a diet consisting of a green seed-bearing herb. It was to be used as meat. Genesis 1:29, 3:18 and 9:3. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31.

    Consider what the New Testament says about you who continue to keep God’s green herb out of the hands of the people. 1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
    3 ? and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

    A Bible with a complete cross reference will link the word “meat” in 1 Timothy 4:3 back to the word “meat” in Genesis 1:29, – the green seed-bearing herb.

    “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil?” Isaiah 5:20

  12. In Colorado , they’ve turned the licensing in to bureaucratic roulette where even when you jump thru hundreds of thousands of dollars of hoops ,eg , installing a 45 camera security system in a mostly empty space , only to then be rejected , along with hundreds of other established medical providers , a retail license .

    They are maintaining prohibition thru insurmountable regulation .

    1. Obviously the licensing process needs a lot of work, but since possession / growing was legalized when the election was certified and the opening of retail stores at the beginning of the year, the whole thing has been rather uneventful.

      Based on everything I was “taught” about weed when I was young, I wholly expected the streets to be filled with wild-eyed thugs raping our non-thug women and looting our homes and businesses.

      1. It is just plain absurd how many people think that everything should be perfect from the get go. They’re on both side of the table as well.

        We’re talking about regulating an industry that those people tasked with promulgating the regulation have never seen, are almost universally against the re-legalization of cannabis, and just the thought causes a not insignificant percentage of the citizenry to start foaming at the mouth.

        If you think that Colorado is screwing the pooch, I think that you must not have kept up with what’s going on with re-legalization in the State of Washington.

        Quite frankly I’ve been overwhelmed with great respect for the job Colorado authorities have done. Not because they’re perfect, just the fact that they’re doing the job that they’re paid to do even though they’re personally aggrieved by the voters decision. Isn’t that what should be expected of our public authorities? Theoretically yes. In actual practice, it’s pretty effin’ rare. San Francisco, Oakland, Maine and Colorado are the only government entities that haven’t fought the idea and tried to monkey wrench any semblance of a plan using every trick in the book.

  13. I wonder if, twenty years from now, the last drug warrior will be found, hiding in a cave, from where he undertakes night-time drug-war raids in the mistaken belief that the war hasn’t ended?

  14. The fastest way to end prohibition is through our courts. Exercise ‘jury nullification.’ Whether they realize it or not, jurors control the courts. Real change can begin with one single juror…the one person who has the guts to say, “No, this is not a crime.”

    I have used cannabis for 46 years. The only bad experience I had was spending 5 years in Federal Prison for a pot offense. Other than that, all things hunky-dory…

  15. It’s gotta be tough to be an editor of Reason and not clearly see that progressive, liberal…and, yes, democratic folks have driven the moves to decrim and medical MJ.

    Now that we’ve spent 40 years on it and are finally getting somewhere – let stoner video gaming rightie jump on the cause and claim they were for it all along.

    Funny stuff. It’s sad that many can’t make unpopular decisions when it matters.

  16. Like we need more people voting, driving and in generally stumbling around acting, let’s be honest here, stupid.
    Our Sergeant-Schultz-in-chief, being a prime example.

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