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Obama ‘Firmly Opposes’ Marijuana Legalization As California Vote Looms

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The Obama administration said Tuesday that it “firmly opposes” the legalization of any illicit drugs as California voters head to the polls to consider legalizing marijuana this fall.The president and his drug czar re-emphasized their opposition to legalizing drugs in the first release of its National Drug Control Strategy this morning.


“Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them,” the document, prepared by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, says. “That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug.”


Is anyone surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, this is the same Gil Kerlikowske that has said repeatedly that legalization is not in his vocabulary, and publicly stated, “Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.” And this is the same administration that recently nominated Michele Leonhart to head the DEA — the same Michele Leonhart who overruled the DEA’s own administrative law judge in order to continue to block medical marijuana research, and publicly claimed that the rising death toll civilians attributable to the U.S./Mexican drug war “a signpost of the success” of U.S. prohibitionist policies.

Yet, given that national polls now indicate that an estimated one out of two Americans nationwide support legalization, and that a solid majorityof west coast voters and Californians back regulating the retail production and distribution of pot like alcohol, it seems politically counterproductive for the administration to maintain such a ‘flat Earth’ policy. So what could possibly be their reasoning?


It’s actually spelled out here, in the White House’s 2010 Drug Control Strategy:


We have many proven methods for reducing the demand for drugs. Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them. That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug.Legalizing drugs would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of use. Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects, and legalization would only exacerbate these problems.


There it is in black and white — in less than 100 words: The federal government’s entire justification for marijuana prohibition; their entire justification for a policy that has led to the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, that is responsible for allowing cops to terrorize families and kill their pets, that has stripped hundreds of thousands of young people of their ability to pursue higher education, and that is directly responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 civilians on the U.S./Mexico border. And that’s just for starters.

Yet the entire premise for maintaining the government’s policy — that keeping marijuana criminally prohibited “reduces [its] availability and lessens willingness to use [it]” — is demonstrably false. Under present prohibition, more than 1/3 of 8th graders, more than 2/3rds of 10th graders, and some 85 percent of 12th graders say that marijuana is “easy to get.” Even according to the stridently prohibitionist group CASA (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University), more teens say that they can get their hands on pot than booze, and one-quarter say that they can buy marijuana within the hour. That means, President Obama and Gil Kerlikowske, that 25 percent of teens can obtain marijuana as easily — and as quickly — as a Domino’s pizza!


This is your “proven” method for “reducing availability?” Don’t make us laugh.


By contrast, dozens of studies from around the globe have established, consistently, that marijuana liberalization will result in lower overall drug use. For example, no less than the World Health Organization concluded:


“Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly, and is simply not related to drug policy. … The U.S. … stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies. … The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the U.S., has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in national rates of illegal drug use.”


In fact, NORML has an entire white paper devoted to addressing this issue here.


Of course, the best option to truly reduce youth availability to cannabis is legalization and regulation. This strategy — the same one that we employ for the use of virtually every other product except cannabis — would impose common sense controls regarding who can legally produce marijuana, who can legally distribute marijuana, who can legally consume marijuana, and where adults can legally use marijuana and under what circumstances is such use legally permitted.


But we already know that this option isn’t in the administration’s vocabulary, now don’t we?


I’ve written time and time again that this administration ought to view marijuana legalization as a political opportunity, not a political liability. They obviously aren’t listening. Nevertheless, it is the voters who have led — and will continue to lead — on this issue, and it is the politicians who will follow. Could we expect it to be any other way?


After all it was the federal government that followed the states lead in 1937 — federally criminalizing pot, but only doing so after virtually every state in the nation had already done so. California, for instance, outlawed marijuana use in 1913 — nearly a quarter of a century before the Feds acted similarly. Likewise, it is going to be the states — and California in particular — that are going to usher in the era of re-legalization.


And it will be the Feds who eventually will have no other choice but to fall in line.

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We need to keep pushing hard for legalization and decriminalization. We cannot loose one inch of ground that we have voted for and gained over the last few years. The states have heard our voices and are slowing conforming. The Feds however pull the strings with funding to the states and will not willing let go of the power and money gained with the illegal drug trade to fund it organizations.

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It is an amazing fact that despite the testimonies and obvious benefits gained by the patients that the US government supplies cannabis to (yep, they grow it, roll it and send out 300 pre-rolled to a patient for a 28 day supply) - they still fail to realize (or at least agree with their own findings) that cannabis is medicinally beneficial.


Welj31 is absolutely correct - when each and every person who wants to have it legalized stands up at one time - there would be no stopping it. The over whelming majority of people do want to have it legalized and taxed - it is a matter of time and that could be cut shorter IF we were able to speak with one voice.

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To paraphrase: ["I can not equate the prohibition of MM to the enslaving of part of the human race"]


You're right, of course. Alcohol prohibition came and went while racial discrimination lingers like the oil beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico's shiny seas. I was all, "none of us are free if one of us is chained".

(Haven't we all died a little bit over the years as a result of these insane cannabis laws?)


What I was getting at though, was even if cannabis is rescheduled, that decree alone probably won't change people's mindset. I think we both agree on that. But I'm not so sure the numbers for legalization are there as you're projecting.


I've heard lots of comments (out there) from babyboomers mostly, that acknowledge the great times they had getting high in college, for example, but when it comes to legalization today, they're saying they don't believe it should be legalized - but lean towards decriminalization and MMJ.


"Polls show that more women oppose marijuana legalization (63 percent) than men (48 percent)"



Chaotic elections ahead should further polarize the electorate and anything can happen - things could continue, conservatively (for the next six years), but growing dissatisfaction with the results of the drug war that began with the Nixon administration should prevent any escalation at least, you hope. Admittedly though, I don't like hearing "zero tolerance" in Obama's law repeated over and over - or Arizona's end-around on immigration. It's a throwback to the Spanish Inquisition.


As far as the White House, I think their numbers are showing a majority against legalization so they're pandering to the right, avoiding the big wet dream of right wing pundits--declaring in a State of the Union speech, for example, that America should modify the war on drugs and legalize pot, grow hemp to help meet our energy needs (thus reducing our dependence on foreign oil), while stimulating the economy with new jobs and industries, creating new and better products, made here in America that conserve energy, are environmentally safe, promote good health, reduce sickness and other ills, and on and on.


The pundits would nail him to a Cross - an Obamacross - branding him a Nazi socialist/communist anti-Christ voodoo man yellow cake... from Africa, sent here on a mission to terrorize us. (The horror)


Well, OK, they do that already, but I'm just saying.... Nothing's changed.


Our man Flint: http://safeaccessnow.org/blog/?p=767


Few voters will have the opportunity to vote for a progressive political candidate that advocates ending the War on Drugs and the rescheduling of cannabis. So rather than support the lesser of two evils, give your support instead to those progressive candidates that support freeing cannabis and donate money to their campaign. Campaigns are like a horse race, you have to place your bet in order to win.


But so goes California, so goes the country. California being the "We're not going to try it, but we'll watch Mikey try it" state. It's the greatest reality-reality show on earth - as good as some of the best Cohen Brothers' movies!

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