Posts Tagged ‘obama’
A couple weeks ago, Mitch Jesserich, the host of Letters & Politics, a Pacifica radio show, had author Paul Dickson as a guest. Dickson is an historical non-fiction author and was discussing the 1932 presidential election between incumbent Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt (FRR).
On the show, the author mentioned that during the election FDR espoused more conservative policy regarding the Great Depression. He was opposed to the government going into debt in order to employ people or provide relief and he discussed a system with much more limited power to the federal government than he ultimately practiced. Hoover on the other hand had made his money as a brilliant mine engineer and was well known as a philanthropist and doer of good works administering famine relief in post-war Europe and Russia. Dickson did not venture into why FDR became more popular than Hoover even though he was espousing a more conservative policy. Jesserich missed the chance to ask him that really intriguing question.
Luckily for you I have studied this. At the Democratic Convention held in Jun of ’32 a coalition of anti-Prohibitionists (alcohol) comprised of cruise ship lines, resorts, distilleries, unions and social activists forced legalization of alcohol onto the party platform. FDR, the party’s candidate was opposed to this action. However, as soon as the platform was adopted the Democratic party, which had been trailing behind the Republicans, immediately surged and FDR began to campaign on the issue. Hoover was an adamant Prohibitionist. Shortly after FDR won the election the 18th Amendment (which created Prohibition) was nullified by the 21st Amendment.
Of course people are expecting my analogy to the Obama Administration which won on the perception of pro-marijuana policy– just like in 1932 Obama would not have won without either the money or votes without the support of marijuana proponents. Just like Gore who lost because of Florida and Obama who was threatened in Ohio in ’08, Obama once again is facing the swing vote conundrum in these key battlegrounds.
You have all heard different aspects of my Obama argument before so I am not going to cover that. Instead I am interested in Jesserich and Dickson’s collective amnesia about why Hoover lost. What it came down to were these two options: compassion for the unfortunate (Hoover policies) or the liberation of alcohol (FDR’s platform). THEY CHOSE THE LATTER. Mitch, weren’t you interested in what carried FDR into the white house? Dickson don’t you think it was important to report why the Democratic party won in 1932?
We know that in almost every state where a medical marijuana initiative has passed, it has passed with a greater percentage than the president the state’s delegates went to. (Montana: 2004, Michigan: 2008). Marijuana will always be more popular than any politician and that is what makes them so mad. You know, Mirror Mirror on the Wall? There are more pot smokers than there are Jews, Mormons, Catholics and Atheists and more people smoked pot last week than went to church. Although less would admit they smoked pot and more would claim to have gone to church. Progressive politicians like Obama ignore this sentiment at their own peril.
by Doug Oakley, Contra Costa Times
After nearly 13 years in business, a San Pablo Avenue medical marijuana dispensary in Berkeley was set to close Monday evening under pressure from the federal government for being too close to two schools.
The 9,000 member Berkeley Patients Group has not yet found a suitable new location in Berkeley and plans to open a delivery service, dispensary management said Monday. Sixty nine employees of the dispensary will be out of work come Tuesday, but they will be paid through the end of the month.
“There’s a lot to take into account in trying to follow state and local laws in finding a place,” said Sean Luse, chief operating officer, as customers streamed in to the dispensary on its last day. “There’s a lot of fear out there in the community and that’s part of the challenge. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
The dispensary at 2747 San Pablo Ave. is across the street from a school called the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness and three blocks from a second school called Ecole Billingue de Berkeley. City and state laws require dispensaries to be at least 600 feet from any school. The dispensary was established before city guidelines on proximity to schools were put into law.
Luse said Berkeley Patients Group signed an agreement with building owner David Mayeri to vacate the current location May 1. That agreement was overseen by an Alameda County judge with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco looking on, Luse said.
Goldsberry, who helped found Berkeley Patients Group but is no longer involved, and who now is a consultant to dispensaries, said the current federal pressure under President Barack Obama is the worst it’s been since former California Attorney General Dan Lungren went after dispensaries in the late 1990s.
“This is the most difficult period that we’ve ever faced because we can see the end of prohibition,” Goldsberry said. “The department of justice wants to unsettle us, but for most of us it just reinvigorates the fight. We’re fighting a war on drugs.”
Debby Goldsberry said she thinks the medical marijuana movement will emerge stronger from the latest crackdown because people in the industry have learned better business practices and “are more focused on politics and social justice issues than ever before.”
Mary Davis, 60, of Berkeley, was at the dispensary Monday and is sad to see it close its doors.
“Berkeley Patients Group is like family to us,” said Davis, a nurse who uses marijuana to combat the constant pain that comes with severe osteoarthritis in both her knees. “So many of us need it to get by day to day and to just start our day. It’s going to be really hard for all of us.”
by Lauren Fox, US News & World Report
President Barack Obama touted a progressive attitude on medical marijuana on the campaign trail, but since taking office, Obama’s administration has hardened its stance and supporters of the drug are crying foul on the flip-flop.
“I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Obama said. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
But the numbers tell another story.
Since October 2009, Americans for Safe Access, a group committed to legalizing medical marijuana, estimates the Justice Department has carried out 170 raids on dispensaries and cultivation facilities in nine states.
“Every time a dispensary is shut down, there are literally hundreds of people waking up that day wondering where they will get their medication,” saysKris Hermes, the spokesperson for the Americans for Safe Access.
Hermes says he’s confident that the number of raids since the president took office is actually around 200.
“He’s broadened his attack,” Hermes says. “Until Obama was elected, George W. Bush had the most aggressive posture toward medical marijuana…he’s been even more aggressive than his predecessor.”
Americans for Safe Access estimates that during the entire eight years of the Bush administration, roughly 200 raids were carried out, something Hermes says the Obama administration has accomplished in less than four years.
Asked why the Obama administration had been so aggressive in pursuing federal drug law violations involving medical marijuana, the DOJ told Whispers, “Sorry, we do not have statistics to support [that accusation].”
Pro-marijuana groups say Obama has expanded the attack on medical marijuana from DOJ to a wide array of other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, which has lead dozens of audits of medical marijuana businesses. The IRS has also aggressively penalized medical marijuana businesses for selling an illegal drug by requiring the businesses to pay federal taxes on gross income, not net income, eliminating the tax break most businesses receive from deducting payroll costs.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a memo in 2011that allows public housing agencies to evict tenants who use medical marijuana. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also issued a memo in September banning the commercial sale of firearms to medical marijuana patients.
There are 16 states and the District of Columbia that have their own medical marijuana laws.
And experts say U.S. attorneys’ threats against local and state officials who enact medical marijuana laws in their states have even slowed down the implementation of new laws in Arizona, Montana, Rhode Island, and Washington.
“It’s a weaselly threat, but it has scared a few governors,” says Bill Piper, the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, a group committed to finding alternatives to current drug laws. “The intensity and multi-agency assault is far worse than the Bush administration and the Clinton administration.”
Statements of the US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration regarding the massive increase in emergency room visits for energy drinks:
Trend data show a sharp increase in the number of emergency department (ED) visits involving energy drinks between 2005 (1,128 visits) and 2008 and 2009 (16,053 and 13,114 visits, respectively), representing about a tenfold increase between 2005 and 2009.
Although there are no recommended or “safe” levels that have been experimentally established for caffeine, most researchers and clinicians consider 100 to 200 mg of caffeine per day to be moderate intake for an adult. Pediatricians recommend that children and adolescents abstain from all stimulant-containing energy drinks.
In one study, bar patrons who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks were 3 times more likely to leave a bar highly intoxicated and were 4 times more likely to intend to drive while intoxicated than those who did not consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks.
Statements of US Attorney Melinda Haag, as to why the Justice Department was suddenly concerned with Berkeley Patients Group and other medical marijuana dispensaries:
(SF Weekly) ”When a dispensary comes to my attention that is close to a school, a park, a playground or children, that’s a line I’ve decided to draw.”
“There is a belief, backed by facts, that marijuana operations are often times the victims of criminal activity,” she added. “Armed robberies at dispensaries, armed robberies at grow operations, and people who are nearby are at risk [to wit: school children] as a result of that.”
Never mind that there haven’t been any such dangers at the dispensaries Haag is working to shut down. Never mind that some of these dispensaries are in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, where there are strip clubs, porn shops, massage parlors, taverns, liquor stores, and open-air heroin and crack markets are closer to the schools than any of the dispensaries. My God, won’t you just think of the children?!? We can’t let them get the wrong message that marijuana is somehow medical and not as harmful to them as we say! We must clamp down medical weed!
Recreational speed, however, is openly sold and marketed to teens in every convenience store in America. Take, for instance, Five Hour Extra-Strength Energy Shots, which contain twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Niacin, a chemical that aids in the conversion of food to energy, but which Americans already get far too much of in their diet. These drinks contain twenty times the RDA of Vitamin B6, a set of chemicals that aid in protein metabolism and cognitive development, but in a dose that’s half the upper intake levels (UL) of the vitamin above which health complications can occur. These energy shots also contain 83 times the RDA of Vitamin B12, useful in metabolism and red blood cell development and not harmful at any dose; however, only about 10 mcg of the drink’s 500 mcg of B12 can be absorbed by the body anyway.
The real boost in the Energy Shots is the “energy blend” that contains 2,000 mg of other chemicals including Taurine and “caffeine comparable to 12 ounces of the leading premium coffee”. That’s about 240 mg of caffeine, the same as a teen might get from a 44oz Super Big Gulp of Mountain Dew, but in a two ounce shot. It’s odd to me that a Justice Department so concerned about the teens and how much more potent marijuana is these days isn’t raising a stink about energy shots that are six times more potent than coffee and 22 times more potent than Mountain Dew. But now tragedy may force them to:
(Today) Fourteen-year-old Anais Fournier downed two 24-ounce energy drinks on one December day, while hanging out with her friends at the mall. The next day, the Maryland teenager went into cardiac arrest — and just six days later, she was dead.
The official cause of death, according to the teenager’s death certificate, was cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.
The day before she went into cardiac arrest, Anais’s family says she drank two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks, unwittingly guzzling 480 miligrams of caffeine — that’s nearly five times the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. To put it another way: By drinking just two large energy drinks, Anais drank as much caffeine as you’d find in about 14 cans of Coke.
The Justice Department might want to stick to persecuting medical marijuana businesses, because these energy drink businesses now have a lot of money and media savvy. Plus, it helps that their product is perfectly legal. Monster Energy Drink sells its product in regular 16 oz and “mega” 24oz sizes, yet indicates 8 oz as a “serving size”, as if the typical purchaser is going to share it with a friend or two or stash the half-drank can to go flat in the fridge for later. Their “energy blend” is 2,500 mg of caffeine, other chemicals, and guarana, which can have some pretty severe side effects when overdosed.
One fear we hear echoed by the people who oppose marijuana legalization is that it will be marketed to kids. Yet we rarely hear complaints about Monster’s obvious marketing of bands, extreme sports, models, and celebrities (ironically including Snoop Dogg) designed to appeal to teens. Red Bull makes Monster look like upstarts with their popular cartoon “gives you wings” TV ads, sponsorship of air races and “flugtag”. But when medical marijuana dispensaries try something as innocuous as sponsoring a canned food drive for the homeless, their donations are turned away.
by Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times
A man who was arrested after marijuana was found on a small plane he had been piloting through a no-fly zone set up during President Obama’s visit to Southern California last Thursday has been identified as Brian J. Choppin, 43, of Solvang.
Long Beach police said Wednesday that Choppin was booked on suspicion of possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of the drug, both felonies. He has been released on bail.
Police said they are preparing a criminal case to submit to the Los Angeles County district attorney before the end of next week. Choppin could face up to three years in prison on the possession allegation and up to four years on the transportation count.
Authorities said Choppin, who was flying a four-seat Cessna, violated restricted airspace during the president’s visit. He was forced to land the single-engine plane at Long Beach Airport after being intercepted by two U.S. Air Force F-16 jet fighters.
Law enforcement officials met the aircraft and found what they described as a large amount of marijuana on board. They declined to disclose the exact amount because of their ongoing criminal investigation.
Federal officials determined that Choppin’s flight did not present a threat to the president and turned him over to Long Beach authorities.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots who use an airplane to transport illegal drugs can face the permanent revocation of their licenses.
Courtesy of Courier Mail
A SINGLE-ENGINE plane crammed full of illegal drugs was intercepted by federal fighter jets today after it strayed into the airspace of Marine One — while President Barack Obama was on board — near Los Angeles International Airport.
The incident ended when the pair of F-16 fighter jets successfully escorted the plane to the ground. Local law enforcement boarded the plane and found it be part of a marijuana smuggling operation.
Sources said that authorities found more than 20 pounds (10 kilograms) of marijuana aboard the aircraft.
The President was never in danger, sources told NBC.
“Two F-16 fighters scrambled out of March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, to respond to a temporary flight restriction violation by a Cessna 182 aircraft over Los Angeles,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a statement Thursday.
“After intercepting the aircraft, the F-16s followed it until it landed without incident at approximately 12:30pm MST, where the plane was met by local law enforcement.”
Mr Obama was returning to the Los Angeles airport for a flight to San Francisco when the plane was intercepted.
Mr Obama had been in Los Angeles for a fundraising concert featuring the Foo Fighters.
by Phillip Smith, Drug War Chronicle
The Obama administration this week released its Fiscal Year 2013 National Drug Control Budget, and it wants to spend nearly $26 billion on federal anti-drug programs. Despite all the talk about the staggering federal debt problem and current budget deficits, the administration found nothing to cut here. Instead, the proposed budget increases federal anti-drug funding by 1.6% over fiscal year 2012.
The proposed budget is remarkable for how closely it hews to previous years, especially in regard to the allocation of resources for demand reduction (treatment and prevention) versus those for supply reduction (domestic and international law enforcement and interdiction). The roughly 40:60 ratio that has been in place for years has shifted, but only incrementally. The 2013 budget allocates 41.2% for treatment and prevention and 58.2% for law enforcement.
“This is very much the same drug budget we’ve been seeing for years,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The Obama drug budget is the Bush drug budget, which was the Clinton drug budget. Little has changed.”
“It’s really just more of the same,” said Sean Dunagan, a former DEA intelligence analyst whose last assignment in northeastern Mexico between 2008 and 2010, a when prohibition-related violence there was soaring, helped change his perspective. Dunagan quit the DEA and is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
“There are very minor adjustments in how the drug spending is allocated and bit more money for treatment, but there’s a significant increase in interdiction, as well as a $61 million increase for domestic law enforcement,” Dunagan noted. “They’re trying to argue that they’re abandoning the drug war and shifting the focus, but the numbers don’t really back that up.”
The proposed budget also demonstrates the breadth of the federal drug spending largesse among the bureaucratic fiefdoms in Washington. Departments that catch a ride on the drug war gravy train include Agriculture, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Veterans’ Affairs, as well as the federal judiciary, District of Columbia courts, the Small Business Administration, and, of course, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP — the drug czar’s office).
“It’s just the same old programs being funded through the same old stove-pipes,” said Eric Sterling, executive director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. “In a way, it’s ironic. When Congress passed the legislation creating the drug czar’s office in 1988, the idea was for the drug czar to look at all the federal anti-drug spending and come in and say he was going to take the funds from one program and shift them to a more effective program. I think many in Congress hoped he would shift resources from law enforcement to treatment and prevention because there was evidence that those sorts of programs were more effective and a better use of resources. That didn’t happen,” he said.
“The people who run the bureaucratic fiefdoms at Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, State and Treasury have outmuscled the drug czar, and now the drug czar’s budget announcements are reduced to public relations and spin,” Sterling continued. “They take some $15 or $20 million program and bullet-point it as significant, but that’s almost nothing when it comes to federal drug dollars.”
The Justice Department alone would get $7.85 billion, up almost $400 million from FY 2012, with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the DEA among those Justice components seeing funding increases. BOP spending would increase by about 8%, while the DEA budget would increase from $2.35 million to $2.38 million. On the other hand, the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which lost its congressional patron with the death of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), has been zeroed out.
“The hundreds of millions of dollar increases in funding requested for the Federal Bureau of Prisons is particularly outrageous,” said Sterling. “There are too many people doing too much time they don’t need to be doing. Obama has the power to save hundreds of millions of dollars by commuting excessively long sentences. He could reduce the deficit and increase the amount of justice in America.
“He could tell the BOP he was ordering a cap on the federal prison population that now has a sentenced population of 198,000, Sterling continued, on a roll. “He could order them that whenever a new prisoner arrives, they have to send him the names of prisoners who may have served enough time for their crimes for him to consider for immediate release from prison. He could ask all the federal judges to send him the names of people they have sentenced to longer terms than they think are just. If he had the heart to reach out to those prisoners who are serving decades for minor roles and their suffering families, if he had the brains to put in place the means to achieve those cost-serving measures, and if he had the guts to actually use the constitutional power he has to do it, that would be great.”
“That increase in incarceration spending really jumps out at me, too” said Dunagan. “To make their claim that they’re not going to be locking up small-time dealers and users is pretty disingenuous.”
Pentagon spending on interdiction and other anti-drug activities would decline somewhat, with the budget proposing $1.725 billion for 2013, a decline of $200 million from the 2012 budget. But interdiction spending goes up elsewhere, as Dunagan noted.
And State Department drug spending would take a hit. Spending would decline by just more than $100 million to $687 million, but most of that decrease would come from reduced funding for alternative development assistance, while State’s other drug-related program, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (“drugs and thugs”), would see only a $6 million decrease.
While funding for prevention and treatment would increase by 4.6% under the proposed budget, some treatment and grant programs are seeing cuts, while criminal justice system-based approaches are getting more money.
“I’m concerned that the budget seems to be emphasizing drug courts and criminal justice-based drug treatment,” said Piper. “They’re cutting SAMSHA, which funds a lot of treatment, but increasing spending for prison-based treatment.”
The $364 million earmarked for SAMSHA’s treatment programs is a $61 million reduction from FY 2012, while drug courts saw a $17 million increase to $52 million and BOP drug treatment programs saw a $16 million increase to $109 million.
The new drug budget also resurrects the drug czar’s widely criticized National Youth Media Campaign, dropped last year when Congress failed to fund it.
“I’m also disappointed that they put back in funding for the drug czar’s failed youth media campaign, which Congress eliminated last year,” said Piper. “It’s only $20 million, and you can hardly do a national media campaign with that, but still.”
This is only the administration’s budget proposal, of course, and Congress will have plenty of opportunities to try to cut (or increase) portions of it. Still, the proposed budget is a window on the thinking of administration that has talked the talk about how we are no longer in a war on drugs, but has taken only stumblingly tiny steps toward walking the walk. And drug reformers aren’t liking what they’re seeing.
“LEAP thinks this is misguided,” said Dunagan. “The only thing that’s different is the rhetoric used to spin it, and even that is a sort of tacit acknowledgment by the administration that people don’t really like the drug war, but substantively, there’s very little different from the past.”
“Between the drug budgets and his war on medical marijuana, we’re very disappointed in Obama,” said DPA’s Piper.
“We should be disappointed in the Obama administration,” said Sterling. “There was supposed to be change. This was the University of Chicago law professor, the Harvard-trained lawyer, who was going to bring in his own people and make real change. I’m very disappointed in his drug policies and criminal justice policies. My disappointment with his policy failures don’t have anything to do with the economic crisis or the geostrategic situation he inherited.
by Tom Dickinson, Rolling Stone Magazine
Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration’s high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multiagency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana. With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush’s record for medical-marijuana busts. “There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana,” says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “He’s gone from first to worst.”
The federal crackdown imperils the medical care of the estimated 730,000 patients nationwide – many of them seriously ill or dying – who rely on state-sanctioned marijuana recommended by their doctors. In addition, drug experts warn, the White House’s war on law-abiding providers of medical marijuana will only drum up business for real criminals. “The administration is going after legal dispensaries and state and local authorities in ways that are going to push this stuff back underground again,” says Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a former Republican senator who has urged the DEA to legalize medical marijuana, pulls no punches in describing the state of affairs produced by Obama’s efforts to circumvent state law: “Utter chaos.”
In its first two years, the Obama administration took a refreshingly sane approach to medical marijuana. Shortly after Obama took office, a senior drug-enforcement official pledged to Rolling Stone that the question of whether marijuana is medicine would now be determined by science, “not ideology.” In March 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized that the Justice Department would only target medical-marijuana providers “who violate both federal and state law.” The next morning, a headline in The New York Times read OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO STOP RAIDS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSERS. While all forms of marijuana would remain strictly illegal under federal law – the DEA ranks cannabis as a Schedule I drug, on par with heroin – the feds would respect state protections for providers of medical pot. Framing the Obama administration’s new approach, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske famously declared, “We’re not at war with people in this country.”
That original hands-off policy was codified in a Justice Department memo written in October 2009 by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden. The so-called “Ogden memo” advised federal law-enforcement officials that the “rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources” meant that medical-marijuana patients and their “caregivers” who operate in “clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law” could be left alone.
At the same time, Ogden was concerned that the feds not “be made a fool of” by illegal drug traffickers. In that vein, his memo advised U.S. attorneys to focus on going after pot dispensaries that posed as medicinal but were actively engaged in criminal acts, such as selling to minors, possession of illegal firearms or money-laundering. The idea, as Holder put it, was to raid only those hardcore traffickers who “use medical-marijuana laws as a shield.”
The Ogden memo sent a clear message to the states: The feds will only intervene if you allow pot dispensaries to operate as a front for criminal activity. States from New Mexico to Maine moved quickly to license and regulate dispensaries through their state health departments – giving medical marijuana unprecedented legitimacy. In California, which had allowed “caregivers” to operate dispensaries, medical pot blossomed into a $1.3 billion enterprise – shielded from federal blowback by the Ogden memo.
The administration’s recognition of medical cannabis reached its high-water mark in July 2010, when the Department of Veterans Affairs validated it as a legitimate course of treatment for soldiers returning from the front lines. But it didn’t take long for the fragile federal detente to begin to collapse. The reversal began at the Drug Enforcement Agency with Michele Leonhart, a holdover from the Bush administration who was renominated by Obama to head the DEA. An anti-medical-marijuana hard-liner, Leonhart had been rebuked in 2008 by House Judiciary chairman John Conyers for targeting dispensaries with tactics “typically reserved for the worst drug traffickers and kingpins.” Her views on the larger drug war are so perverse, in fact, that last year she cited the slaughter of nearly 1,000 Mexican children by the drug cartels as a counterintuitive “sign of success in the fight against drugs.”
In January 2011, weeks after Leonhart was confirmed, her agency updated a paper called “The DEA Position on Marijuana.” With subject headings like THE FALLACY OF MARIJUANA FOR MEDICINAL USE and SMOKED MARIJUANA IS NOT MEDICINE, the paper simply regurgitated the Bush administration’s ideological stance, in an attempt to walk back the Ogden memo. Sounding like Glenn Beck, the DEA even blamed “George Soros” and “a few billionaires, not broad grassroots support” for sustaining the medical-marijuana movement – even though polls show that 70 percent of Americans approve of medical pot.
by Stephanie Condon, CBS News
President Obama’s live, online chat Monday afternoon was intended to focus on issues raised during last week’s State of the Union address — but his online audience seems to be much more interested in marijuana policy.
Following Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address, the White House invited voters to submit questions to the president via YouTube. The president plans on answering some of those questions during a 45-minute “hangout” session on on Google’s social networking site Google Plus. In the “hangout” session, Mr. Obama will chat from the West Wing with some of the voters who submitted questions.
According to the White House’s YouTube page, 133,216 questions were submitted for the discussion. YouTube visitors could give the questions a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating, and more than 1.6 million votes were cast.
Sorting the questions by popularity reveals that 18 of the 20 most popular questions, according to YouTube, have something to do with marijuana policy, including the legalization of marijuana use, the cost of the war on drugs and other related issues.
Questions about marijuana policy have dominated multiple online engagement efforts from the Obama White House. In fact, the second-most popular question for today’s “hangout” comes from a retired police officer with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) — just as it did in Mr. Obama’s 2011 YouTube chat.
Tom Angell, media relations director for LEAP, says that his organization took simple steps to mobilize support for this year’s video question.
“We recorded the video, put it up online… sent the link to our supporters on Faceook and Twitter, and from there people took it into their own hands,” Angell told Hotsheet. “All told, the whole thing consisted of three Facebook posts and three tweets — that’s it.”
Angell said he’s surprised he hasn’t witnessed similar mobilization efforts from other advocacy groups.
“It only takes a few thousand votes from supporters to get something to the top in these competitions,” he said. “I’m sure PETA has a much bigger email list than we have.”
That said, he thinks marijuana policy questions resonate more for a couple of different reasons. For one thing, young people tend to support marijuana legalization more than other age groups and are also more familiar with social media use.
Secondly, drug policy certainly isn’t the top issue on voters’ minds, Angell said, but it is “the number one concern which is not being addressed at all in any serious way by policy makers.”
In the 2011 YouTube discussion, Mr. Obama said he is not in favor of drug legalization. However, acknowledging that the “war on drugs” has not been effective, he said he thinks of drugs as “more of a public health problem.” In a 2010 online discussion, he ignored the question. In 2009, Mr. Obama seemed to laugh off the question after stating his opposition to marijuana legalization.
Though most of the popular questions submitted for today’s discussion related to marijuana policy, the top question is about copyright infringement – another hot topic on the Internet. The top question asks the president, “Why are you personally supporting the extradition UK Citizen Richard O’Dwyer for solely linking to copyright infringing works using an Extradition Treaty designed to combat terrorism and to bring terrorists to Judgement in the USA?”
Angell said LEAP was “somewhat pleased” with the president’s answer last year. “He basically said legalization is an entirely legitimate topic,” Angell said, in what was perhaps the “first time a sitting president has said we can talk about this.”
Courtesy of The Smoking Gun
After recently telling an interviewer that he would like to discuss the legalization of marijuana with President Barack Obama, the rapper Snoop Dogg was arrested this weekend for pot possession.
The performer (real name: Calvin Broadus) was busted by Texas cops Saturday after several joints were found on his tour bus. The weed was discovered by a drug-sniffing dog during a routine inspection at a border patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, the same town whereWillie Nelson was popped in November 2010.
Like Nelson, Snoop Dogg claimed ownership of the marijuana found on his bus, which was searched by the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office. The 40-year-old rapper, cited for misdemeanor pot possession, was not booked or made to pose for a mug shot like Nelson.
Prior to a concert last week in Washington, D.C. Snoop Dogg told a radio interviewer, “Before I even said ‘Hi’ to President Obama, I would change the aroma of the room…And then we could start conversing after we had that aroma change. You know what I’m talking about?”
Obama, however, does not support the legalization of pot.
by Lucia Graves, The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — Medical marijuana activists have a message for President Obama: Defend us from the federal government’s crackdown, or else.
Steve DeAngelo, the pigtailed co-founder and executive director of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, Calif., said that for him, it’s a simple question of who will get his vote for president.
“I will be voting in the Republican primary in California, and I will be voting for one of the candidates who supports our position on medical cannabis. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other medical cannabis patients join me,” he told The Huffington Post. “There’s a real opening here for Republicans.”
The president as a candidate promised to maintain a hands-off approach toward pot clinics adhering to state law. At a 2007 town hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., Obama said raiding patients who use marijuana for medicinal purposes “makes no sense.” At another town hall in Nashua, N.H., he said the Justice Department’s prosecution of medical marijuana users was “not a good use of our resources.” Yet the number of Justice Department raids on marijuana dispensaries has continued to rise.
In an interview with HuffPost about the debut of the show “Weed Wars,” which documents the daily struggles of running the largest medical marijuana dispensary on the West Coast, Steve DeAngelo and his brother Andrew discussed how their experiences at Harborside will influence what they do at the polls.
“Look, we are one-issue voters,” Steve DeAngelo said. “I’m not going to vote for anyone who thinks I’m a criminal and wants to put me in prison. I will vote for any one of the presidential candidates who will defend the rights of medical cannabis patients. If that person ends up being a Republican, I will vote for them. If they end up being a Democrat, I will vote for them.”
Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries were forced to close their doors after U.S. attorneys announced a crackdown on the medical cannabis industry in the Golden State. The IRS, meanwhile, has declared California pot clinics can no longer deduct salaries, rent or other operating expenses on their tax returns, rendering business unviable for many dispensaries. Now those clinics are looking for a candidate who can help them at the federal level.
In June, Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) teamed up with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to introduce legislation removing marijuana from the list of federally regulated substances. But with Paul currently polling in third place and both members retiring from the House of Representatives, the federal bill faces an uncertain path forward.
“We will vote for whoever is going to defend us,” said Steve DeAngelo. “I don’t know how serious the Republicans are about this issue yet,” he cautioned. “We’re not going to be naïve about this, but there are millions of medical cannabis patients who are looking for the right place to put their vote … The president ignores us at his own peril.”
Andrew DeAngelo says he’d like to take it a step farther, mobilizing patients to “vote Republican, if that’s what it takes to get movement on our issue, to get the Feds off our back and to stop raiding places to stop doing these crazy things. We can’t get a bank account to pay our employes or our taxes with,” he said. “Can you imagine going to the bank and having them say, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t do business with you because you’re a cannabis patient’? That’s outrageous.”
Fifty percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according to a recent Gallup poll, with support for legalization among Americans under the age of 30 as high as 62 percent. Gallup has found that Americans are especially likely to favor legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and 70 percent favor making it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana to reduce pain and suffering, according to a survey last year. Those numbers suggest state and national marijuana policy could hold significant sway in swing states, like Colorado, that value their medical marijuana.
“Obama risks many people, in California especially, sitting on their hands in the election,” said David Goldman, a core leadership group member with the San Francisco chapter of Americans for Safe Access. “But I would never vote for a Republican,” he added. “The Republican party is beyond hopeless.”
It is amazing what one person can do, especially if that person is willing to make a big sacrifice. Take for instance Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire last December because he could no longer tolerate being humiliated by the police. He set off the Arab Spring, which is still reverberates today.
Bouazizi and the Tunisian people who took to the streets after he died were partially motivated by the news made public by Wikileaks detailing the corruption in the Tunisian government and its relationship with the United States. That is what one man, Julian Assange, can do.
Whoever gave Assange the documents, perhaps Bradley Manning, well that is what one man can do.
The Arab Spring came back to haunt the power brokers in the United States. Hillary went on her I’m Sorry Tour, apologizing to all the governments in the Mideast that their secret agreements with the U.S. had become public. And then, using the exact opposite techniques of the single man theory, we got the general assemblies of the Occupy movement, where there was no single here but a collective of brave people.
Although the Occupy movement has been ridiculed quite a bit, it has served its purpose. Before the movement began, the news narrative focused on the deficit and taxes. Do the rich pay too much tax? They are job-senders overseas after all. (Just think, the president of GE, which has shipped 30,000 jobs overseas in the last year, was put in charge of Obama’s job development council… what, from Macow?) Now the narrative has changed. It is about foreclosed mortgages, crooked bankers, the lack of jobs and the jobless. It is about real America not about the dream American portrait painted by bankers. With the fall of Europe to the Euro bankers and Goldman Sachs, the U.S. stands at the brink.
The perilous state of the United States is why the Republican candidates, now essentially down to three, are such a relief. We need a good comedy show, one that takes us away from our humdrum lives and places us in a fairytale world. The heck with reality! The interesting thing about this race is that everything that all of the candidates say about each other is true, so the fact that one guy lied about his divorce and was convicted of unethical practices, the next cost America untold numbers of jobs as his hedge fund closed companies, and the other condones racism and would get rid of social security, the EPA, OSHA, the Clean Water Act and any laws protecting consumers or workers. What a bunch of jokers! And you know I don’t like Obama either. January 3rd will be an amusing day when a few thousand diehard evangelical Christians knock out at least one candidate hoping for an Epiphany miracle.
Bouazizi, Assange and Manning have created a new narrative around the United States and the World. Gingrich, Romney and Paul are not part of this narrative, the world has moved on and each is flawed. Yes, its amazing what one person, or a what a whole group of people, can do. It’s called evolution, but none of these candidates would believe in it until they are out in the cold. Well, not quite out in the cold, they will have their wealth to keep them warm.
Weed Wars, the new four-part series on the Discover Channel debuted on Dec. 1st and will run through Dec. 22nd. So set your Tune in tonight at 10 PM – I’ve been told by cast members that episode #2 has some tense moments.This documentary follows daily life in the world’s largest marijuana retail shop. Harborside Medical Center, which services patients in San Francisco’s East Bay, provides medicine to 1,000 patients a day and has cash-flow of about $25,000,000 a year, and growing.
Here it is folks, marijuana being bought and sold shown on national TV just like it was “PawnStars.” It’s so outrageously blatant that it’s like a gauntlet thrown directly at the federal attorneys. That’s why this show presents a Hobson’s choice to the feds, who have been trying to restrict California dispensaries. The feds can ignore or prosecute. Both are losing positions. If they ignore Harborside it will stoke the fire of entrepreneurship the same way that NBC’s “Marijuana Inc.” did a year ago.Many recently unemployed will follow the lead and make a decision to join the marijuana industry, regardless of whether their state has medical exemptions to the laws. There are already dispensaries in non-medical states such as New York and Wisconsin. This will fuel the trend, making federal control more problematic.The other choice, to indict and prosecute, is also perilous. In my federal trial eight years ago, we were very close to a juror rebellion. Actually it occurred, but after the verdict was delivered. This time the government is not likely to be so lucky. The defense team will be honed by years of trial, the public is better informed and jurors will take marijuana’s medical qualities and Harborside’s upright position with the state into account. The feds are more than likely to lose and if they do, the fed’s breath will no longer intimidate the dispensaries. New ones will spring up.If Harborside should lose, the situation is even worse. One thousand customers a day will be looking for medicine. Will they be forced to go back to street or home dealers who provide virtually no choice of medicines? Is this what city and state governments want in their community?
Harborside is run by Steve DeAngelo, who has an independent background and sophisticated political analysis developed by close association with the Yippies! People associated with the movement tend to be very self-sufficient, insightful, and determined, even when they are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. As a result, in most encounters with the law, they usually gain the upper hand.
I suppose most people would say they wouldn’t like to be in Steve’s position. I wouldn’t relish being in Attorney General Holder’s. He doesn’t realize the ideological zeal of medical marijuana adherents, their frustration with the Democratic Party and with the Obama Administration in particular. So that surge of internet donations he received in 2008 won’t be floating in from potheads this time. Their votes will be reluctant rather than enthusiastic. And now there’s a trend that can be stated as “I pledge not to vote for any candidate that wants to put me in jail, even for a short time.” The rock is about to meet the hard place.
So apparently there is some high level bullshit running rampant through the US Department of Justice, and no one over there has a straight fucking answer for the medical cannabis community…even when asked by a member of congress. The constant inability for the leaders at the USDOJ, and Attorney General Eric Holder particularly, to express a clear and definitive stand on medical cannabis is alarming and dangerous. Yesterday, Attorney general Holder was asked by Colorado Representative Jared Polis to further clarify the position of the USDOJ where medical cannabis was concerned, and instead of taking his time under oath in front of congress to answer the million dollar question, Eric Holder decided to continue the word charades game of “low enforcement priority” and “limited resources,” even though what has been proven to be true in REALITY is anything but. The “limited resources” seem quite plentiful in California, and even Washington State, over the last few months, and the enforcement priority seems pretty fucking high.
So Attorney General Eric Holder needs to grow a fucking sack of nuts, man up, and do his fucking job to provide “clear and unambiguous” direction as to how this industry should and can exist in harmony with the Feds. For them to keep dancing around the subject and not giving clear answers, even under the oath of Congress, is both cowardice and childish. We are all adults here. You can talk directly too us like grown ups. We are capable of understanding policies on medical cannabis as they relate to Federal enforcement. There is obviously a right and a wrong way to do it, as the Department continues to allude to, that will and will not trigger enforcement; but their enforcement policies and continued harassment of patients and providers simply does not coincide with their stated and written policy. They continue to mislead the American people with confusing and unclear policy statements that encourage people to invest in medical cannabis businesses, only to have the same Department send forfeiture threats, kick doors in, and haul people off to prison who beleived they were complying with these stupid policy statements. It is immoral and unjust, and it needs to stop.
There are over a million people in California alone who depend on the medical cannabis industry in one way or another. For this Country’s top cop to continue to kick the can down the road and not make clear and definitive statements to protect these citizens is unconscionable. It is amazing to me that none of these officials are willing to have an adult conversation, sit down at a table with state official in states with MMJ programs, and fucking work it out already. Eric Holder is in charge of JUSTICE in this country, yet he continues to fail to define clearly what the rules are for medical cannabis programs. He continues, since 2009, to make these absurd and foggy statements about “low enforcement priorities,” while his monkeys seemingly run the zoo and do whatever they want in their respective areas of the Country. It is bullshit and it must stop.
I call on Eric Holder and President Obama to grow a sack of nuts and come to the table to have a real and meaningful discussion on how medical cannabis can exist without issue where it has been deemed legal for patients to use. I demand that these folks quit bullshitting the American people and local and state governments, and set clear policy so that the millions of people who depend on this industry can quit cowering in fear and shortening their life expectancy from the stress of wondering if your door will be kicked in today or not. We are good, tax-paying American citizens and we deserve the respect to be looked in the eye and told exactly what the parameters are. For Eric Holder to continue to dance around this is bullshit, and he knows it.
It has been 2.5 years since Eric Holder made his first wishy-washy “low-enforcement priority” statements in March of 2009. The administration has had plenty of time to develop sound and clear policy and they need to come clean with the American people about what is, and is not, okay in the realm of medical cannabis. Patients and providers of cannabis medicines should not have to live in fear or uncertainty because our Attorney General cannot seem to make a coherent and believable statement. We are better than this. It is no longer okay to treat our community as criminals one day, and then make statements in front of congress the next day that try to make it seem as if it ais all good. It clearly is not. Your US Attorneys on medical cannabis states continue to enforce Federal law, regardless of “resources” or “clear and unambiguous compliance with state law.” They continue to lock people up, take their stuff, and shudder their businesses, while Eric Holder sits in front of congress and lies through his teeth about what this administration’s policies really are. It is a damn shame and it must stop. Get a backbone already and lay down a clear policy on how states can implement medical cannabis in a manner that will not have your thugs kicking in their doors and seizing their property.
The medical cannabis community wants to be good stewards of our communities. We want to play by the rules. We want to contribute. We want to be a valuable asset to our communities in a manner that is safe and in compliance. but as long as USDOJ Officials continue to speak in tongues about this shit and refuse to answer a question in an honest and forward manner, we will continue to see our community treated as outlaws and criminals and we will continue to see enforcement actions that do not meet the smell test of what these stated policies reflect; because while they do not clearly spell out a direct policy for medical cannabis programs, they do allude to their being a “right way” of doing things, even though they do not say what that is. So we continue to see people invest their life savings into businesses that serve patients, only to get caught in some sideways enforcement that is justified only by the unclarity of these statements, and our communities, the people involved, and the patients served are put uneccisarily in harm’s way. This is unacceptable and must be resolved.
Resolution is easy…GROW A SACK OF NUTS….have a grown up discussion with law enforcement, public officials, and the medical cannabis community, and draw clear and unambiguous boundaries for the industry to follow to avoid enforcement and promote public safety. It is no longer okay for the US Attorney to go on C-Span and spout off about how medical cannabis is a low enforcement priority while raiding people and throwing them in prison for being in clear and unambiguous compliance with state law. Stop the madness and get to work. More word games are not what we need. We need clear leadership and understanding of what is expected of the medical cannabis community.
That is not too much to fucking ask, so get to work and quit trying to give us the proverbial reach around. We are not falling for it. We demand respect and if that is too much to ask then let your boss, President Obama, know we will not be there to support him in any way whatsoever in his quest to be a worse medical cannabis President than the asshole that came before him. We fell for the hopeful bullshit and massive platitudes in the last election. This time we expect results…plain and simple. As his appointed top cop it is up to you to provide those results and lay down a fair and clear policy for us to exist in harmony without fear of arrest and prosecution. That is not too much to ask. We will be waiting.
Below is the exchange between Eric Holder and CO Rep. Jared Polis…(BTW, Jared Polis is my new hero)…..
So now there are three Republicans running for president with a better stance on state medical marijuana laws than President Obama:
(MSNBC.com) ”If states want to legalize medical marijuana, I think that’s a state’s right,” Cain said while campaigning in Iowa. “Because one of my overriding approaches to looking at all of these issues — most of them belong at the state, because when you do something federally … you try to force one-size-fits-all.”
That sentiment wouldn’t necessarily make Cain the only Republican candidate who’s sympathetic to marijuana rights. Texas Rep. Ron Paul supports the availability of medical marijuana, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson supports the drug’s overall legalization.
When it comes to medical pot, an April 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 61 percent of Republicans favored legalization, while 37 percent of Republicans opposed that. Self-described conservatives even split in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, 54-44 percent.
When you think about it, Cain’s marijuana support is a natural fit
marijuana enjoys more than 75% support nationwide and majority support in any demographic group you care to choose. Support for outright legalization is up to 50% nationwide and is rising over the past three polls in every demographic group except “self-described liberals”.
Of course, Obama said a lot of “states rights” type rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008 as well. We see how that turned out.
It’s obvious that Obama hates his job and wants to get his ass handed to him by Mitt Romney in 2012. Only a politician who wanted to lose his next election would shoot himself in the foot as many times as he has. Let’s go over just how badly this man wants to get out of his current gig as commander-in-chief of the dying empire:
- First, he takes office with a shitload of momentum behind him, and uses it to push through his bizarre healthcare plan which is going to take our tax dollars and hand them over to health insurance companies.
- Next, instead of closing Guantanamo (as promised during the campaign), he rolls over to the Republicans and keeps it open.
- Also, instead of pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan (never promised, but hoped for by the majority of his supporters), he simply moved 50,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. I wonder how many soldiers regrettably thought to themselves “It can’t possibly get any worse than this” while patrolling the dusty streets of Baghdad only to find themselves picking up dismembered body parts on the streets of Kabul three months later?
- Oh yeah, and then he actually sent us into a third war in Libya. America, fuck yeah.
Other items on his list of monumental failures include: rolling back EPA regulations, extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich in some insane horse trading with the right-wing fascists in Congress, imprisoning people who leak documents showing all the nasty shit our government has been up to, and just outright killing other American citizens without a trial.
So what’s latest on this list? Perhaps you’ve heard, but the Federales just announced that they aim to take down medical marijuana in the Golden State. Perhaps Obama thinks that nothing will give the U.S. economy the shot in the arm it needs more than shutting down hundreds of legitimate businesses throughout the state that employ tens of thousands of people. Or, more likely, his goal is to piss off yet another group of his supporters, thus assuring his self destruction in the 2012 election.
Of course, I suppose the silver lining in Obama’s latest move is that it gives a much-needed boost to my fledgling campaign for the presidency. After all, shutting down the dispensaries in California will disillusion hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters and drive them into the tender embrace of the Ed Rosenthal for President campaign. This may come across as crass opportunism, but I pledge right here and right now to allow the dispensaries in California to stay open. I’ll go one step further (I know this is going to be a huge shock to you all, and, by the way, kudos to you for making it this far into the blog post!) and vow that as president I will END MARIJUANA PROHIBITION!
So, thank you, Mr. President, for coming to my assistance and providing me with yet another reason to run for the presidency of this great nation. Your unwillingness to act rationally and in a sane manner may end up forcing me to run in the upcoming election.
By Russell Goldman
Politics, not capitalism, is to blame for the economic crisis and Occupy Wall Street protesters should target Washington rather than businesses that create jobs, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said in a speech today in Ames, Iowa.
The economy is flailing because politicians are worried only about protecting their friends, said Bachmann, who compared that sort of cronyism to so-called “banana republics.”
“A vocal minority called Occupy Wall Street believes that the problem we face is capitalism or free markets. It’s not. The problem is government doing what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is cronyism capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends,” Bachmann told students at Iowa State University.
“For your sake and your future, America, and Occupy Wall Street in particular, needs to wake up and stop blaming job creators for the failures created by selfish politicians who wink at their political donors,” she said.
Politicians, she said, made too many backroom deals with friends and donors that undermine the free market.
“The problem is politicians who wink at political donors and through the force of law put their competitors out of business. Politicians assure their friends that with government’s financial backing, their businesses will never fail,” she said.
That sort of cronyism ” happens every day, and it has to stop,” she said. “After all, we’re not a Banana Republic; we’re the United States of America and we need to act like it.
Bachmann also used the event to draw a distinction between her proposed tax plan and those of her competitors, particularly Herman Cain, who supports a flat tax, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who wants to give taxpayers a choice between the current system or a flat tax.
Bachmann, who supports a “fairer, flatter” system, does not support a single flat tax, but does support “abolishing” the current tax code.
“To accomplish a fairer, flatter and simpler tax system will take a complete reform of the tax system. It means abolishing what we currently have and starting over again.”