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Will Federal Government Doom Voters' Initiatives to Legalize Marijuana?

Senior U.S. White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans to reverse the recent voter decisions in Washington and Colorado that legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

From Santa Cruz Patch:

Voters in Washington and Colorado recently made American history by becoming the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21. 

By so doing, voters believed that they would be freeing up state law enforcement to deal with violent crimes, reallocate precious tax dollars for education and healthcare, collect valuable new tax revenue to boost the money-strapped state economies, and make a lot of people really happy.

This long-awaited, sane and civilized approach to regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco is finally coming to fruition, so everyone should be lighting up a spliff and celebrating, right?

Well, just about everyone, except for the grumpy folks on Capital Hill, who aren’t smoking any of those giggly flowers to celebrate, and, in fact, seem dead set on trying to rain on everyone’s parade.

President Obama recently said to ABC news correspondent Barbara Walters, “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.” 

However, President Obama said pretty much the same thing about medical marijuana patients in California, and then his administration pursued the closure of medical cannabis dispensaries in California more aggressively than any previous presidential administration in U.S. history.

It seems likely that the Obama Administration may try raiding cannabis farmer’s markets in Washington and Colorado, or possibly suing the states themselves, if they try and collect revenue from the sale of cannabis.

Senior federal government officials have stated that they are considering taking legal action to undermine the voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. 

According to New York Times reporter Charlie Savage, the federal government is considering several options.

One strategy being considered is to arrest several low-level cannabis users in Colorado and Washington, wait for the defendants to make a motion to dismiss the case because the plant is now legal in the state, and then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps state law.

Other strategies would include the Justice Department filing lawsuits against Washington and Colorado that would seek to prevent them from setting up systems to regulate and tax cannabis, or to cut off their federal grants, unless they comply with federal marijuana prohibition.

These heavy-handed maneuvers would clearly be a slap in the face to the democratic process, as not only did voters overwhelmingly approve these initiatives, but a recent Gallop poll revealed that the majority of Americans now believe that marijuana prohibition should end, and that the persecuted plant should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

If the federal government succeeds in gutting the new state laws, and undermining the democratic process in Washington and Colorado, they will essentially be serving the interests of foreign drug cartels--as, ironically, all this would do is prevent the states from reaping tax benefits.

President Obama told ABC that he doesn’t support broader legalization of marijuana “at this point,” despite the fact that we supposedly live in  democracy, the majority of American citizens support legalization, and the scientific evidence confirms that cannabis use doesn’t present any significant threat to pubic health.

The scientific evidence strongly suggests that cannabis not only reduces dangerous stress levels in the body, with few, if any, negative side-effects, but that it may help to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and brain damage.

“What we’re going to need to have is a conversation about this,” President Obama said.

A conversation? This response sounds a little like “we still need more research,” which the U.S. government  has been saying  now for years about medical marijuana, despite abundant research that’s overflowing with evidence for its many medical benefits and safety. 

Ironically, many of these studies emerged internationally, as--despite the U.S. federal government’s repeated calls for more research, they have, in fact, made deliberate attempts attempt to block any marijuana studies that don’t demonstrate negative effects, by maintaining a monopoly on the supply of research cannabis in the U.S.

President Obama said that the question is “how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

That doesn’t sound like a very tough question to me, if we lived in democracy, and respected state rights.

However, I realize that President Obama has a lot of campaign supporters that have publicly expressed their attempts to criminalize cannabis users--the alcohol industry, the prison-industrial complex, and the pharmaceutical industry--so I sympathize with his position.

President Obama, this is my heartfelt plea to you.

You were once a committed cannabis smoker yourself, and it didn’t harm you. You became president of the United States. 

Many young African Americans get caught up in the criminal-justice system, because of their use of cannabis, and are not so lucky. These people deserve a chance to live the American dream, just like you.

Please, for the good of the American people, end the injustice and legalize cannabis today.

You  have the power to end marijuana prohibition under the Controlled Substances Act. You can do it today, if you believed in heading to the democratic will of the people, with a single executive order. 

To learn more about about cannabis legalization see:

http://www.mpp.org/

http://norml.org/

http://ssdp.org/

http://www.drugpolicy.org/

If you enjoy my column, and want to learn more about psychedelic and cannabis culture, “like” my Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/pages/David-Jay-Brown/115740098445882?ref=ts

and follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/DavidJayBrown

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Alan E. Mason January 15, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Doornbos. As for your second hand smoke question, I stick with my original premise. Since there is no evidence of lung damage from cannabis smoke to users on the scale of tobacco smoke, this does not seem a valid reason for continuing a multi-billion dollar failed policy. If we shouldn't legalize cannabis because it MIGHT cause problems to children whose parents were irresponsible enough to smoke around them, then there are a whole lot of other activities that we need to make illegal right now. How many activities do parents engage in on a daily basis that MIGHT harm their children. Can't buy aspirin, little Johnny MIGHT get into the medicine cabinet and kill himself. Seriously, this is such a nanny state argument. And no I don't work for the tobacco industry. Where did that come from? Not sure what your point was there or what that had to do with what I said, or why you think I would want to compete with them. But yes, someone with time and a green thumb can grow some very nice cannabis in their back yard, just as millions are already doing legally in medical MJ states, in Colorado and Washington, and illegally in all the others. Maybe the tobacco industry will get into it, but there will still be a large number of those who chose to grow their own as they have been doing for decades. Its like micro-brewed beer or home grown veggies. A lot of consumers may not care about where there beer or food comes from, but a lot prefer to buy from a local producer.
Alan E. Mason January 15, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Doornbos - read the last paragraph of the abstract for the NIH study. "These data SUGGEST that SIGNIFICANT cannabis use during adolescence MAY be a contributory causal factor in the development of CERTAIN features of schizophrenia..." Putting aside the argument that legalizing would help keep cannabis away from children, by their very qualified statements the authors of the study made it clear that evidence that it DOES cause schizophrenia is not there. The other article also includes the word MAY. Also, when you have a minute, you might look up 'psychotic.' Its not the same as schizophrenic, that's why they're two different words.
Alan E. Mason January 25, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Please sign this petition @ We The People demanding that ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske and DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart be fired. We need to send a message that we aren't going to listen to their Reefer Madness crap anymore, and that they should let the people of WA and CO get about their business of moving into the 21st century. The threshold has been raised to to 100,000 signatures, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-dea-administrator-michelle-leonhart-and-ondcp-director-gil-kerlikowske-good-cause/zcLf3w1h
Lorie January 25, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Pro-Potheads should go hangout at some of those teen/young adults drug dependency rehab centers and gather those much needed signatures and let's see what they get. If anything, they might just at least listen to a different point of view from a different perspective, from a very young generation.
kathleen February 12, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I should add..all about politics..makes me wonder about what our Government has come to. Senator's and Governor's a like, have not been standing up for what they believe in. Only for what their side if the isles they are sitting on.

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