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Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

To add to the list of depressing news for the day, have a look at the sorry fate that the medical marijuana bill in Minnesota suffered.

Nonetheless, I think the wind is blowing in one direction in the US; and that is towards legalization. These are not the wishful words of an optimist but a mere appraisal of the expression of views we are seeing currently. Major newspapers are running pro-legalization opeds like never before, the public attitudes have never been more favorable and if you look at the age-breakup of the polls that are being conducted, it is obvious that change is coming.

I have an almost perfect success rate in previous predictions I have made on this blog, and I am confident that the two I am going to make now will come true.

1) In ten years from now, recreational marijuana use will be either fully legal or decriminalized in more than 35 American states; the federal government will no longer seek to interfere in state policy on this matter; most major US urban cities will be as pot-friendly as Amsterdam is today.

2) On the other hand, regulations against tobacco, unhealthy foods and fatty burgers will get more stringent. Vice taxes associated to those will increase substantially. In ten years from now, it will be hard to light up even in most private owned properties except a few narrowly defined areas. Trans-fat bans will be almost universal. Companies will have much less freedom than now about what they can sell you; this will be done to protect you from your bad choices.

In short, the pro-marijuana legalization winds that are blowing today have less to do with libertarian principles and more to do with what is currently considered ok. Here’s an old post by me on this theme.

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Reason has some exclusive footage from the aborted sentencing yesterday.

Meanwhile, if you are a reader who is not entirely familiar with the timeline and details of the Charlie Lynch case, I strongly recommend this excellent Reason summary.

To read my various posts on the case, click here.

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In response to questions from the court about how to proceed with the Lynch case given that government policy on this issue seems to have reversed, this is what the US Department of Justice wrote in a letter sent earlier today by Marshall Jarrett, Director.

Not only does the DoJ has no intention of intervening in the Lynch case, it also thinks that the prosecution and conviction of Lynch was entirely consistent with present department policies as well as recent statements made by the attorney general.

As I have noted several times before, one of Obama’s campaign promises was that the DEA will end its medical marijuana raids, a stance that was recently reaffirmed by US attorney general Eric Holder.

So what do you call someone who says one thing and does the opposite?

This is not merely a matter of abstract policy. It is a matter of lives ruined or saved. It is a matter of deciding what happens to real people. Like Charles Lynch who ran a medical marijuana dispensary in Morro Bay that helped relieve the pain of the sick and the dying.

In an earlier post on the topic of DEA raids I said that I would give Obama three months. If there was no sign of any real change in policy, I would call him out for what he would then have proved to be.

Lynch faces a minimum of five years in prison. If he gets the maximum sentence the law allows, he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Whatever sentence he gets will be for actions that are fully legal under California law. Whatever punishment the government hands him will be for deeds neither more nor less than what even those who believe recreational drug use is evil ought to recognise as a sincere service to those who had lost all other hope.

Sentencing in the Lynch case which was scheduled for March 23, 2009 was postponed because the judge requested information from the government regarding the new policy regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.

So what do you call a man who plays with words in order to give an illusion of change? Who is Barack Obama?

The evidence currently points to the fact that at least on the issue of marijuana policy, he is a liar. Of the worst possible sort.

Now that Obama and his government has made it unambiguously clear to the court that they approve of Lynch’s prosecution, there seems to be little reason why the court should wait. There have been many postponements of the sentencing so far, but there are unlikely to be any more.

Charlie Lynch will learn his fate on April 23 in Los Angeles.

(Previous posts on Charlie Lynch here)

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So says Eric Holder.

As I wrote in this post, ending the raids was one of Obama’s campaign promises, so one would reasonably expect him to reverse Bush policy on this issue.  Politicians though, have lied on such matters before and political appointees even more so; thus I will wait to see actual change on the ground before celebrating.

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Jacob Sullum writes:

Yesterday I wondered whether and when President Obama would follow through on his oft-repeated campaign promise to stop the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws by harassing patients and dispensaries. Today The Washington Times reports that Obama plans to suspend the DEA’s raids once he “nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers.” I don’t understand why Obama can’t simply tell the Bush administration holdovers to cut it out; they work for him now. But it’s encouraging that the White House is now on record with a promise to keep Obama’s promise. “The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro told the Times, “and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind.” It seems like Obama is dragging his feet, but it will be hard for him to wriggle out of his commitment now.

Hmm…

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Having praised Obama yesterday, I think it is all the more important to point out that so far, there are no signs he has reversed the policy of raiding medical marijuana units in states like California (where medical marijuana is legal).

As Jacob Sullum puts it:

“I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” Obama told the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune last March. How many more raids will it take before that counts as a lie?

Obama categorically said on the campaign trail — to the Tribune as well as to other questioners — that he would end these raids (the raids themselves are possible because of  a ridiculous state-federal law incompatibility on this issue). For many libertarian leaning people, that statement of Obama’s was one of the primary reasons they supported him. 

Yes, he deserves some slack. It takes a little while to change policy, and he has been in power for just a few weeks. He has  had a lot on his plate, with the economic crisis and appointment troubles, and it is understandable if he hasn’t been able to deal with this matter yet.

So I am going to give him three months. If these raids continue beyond that, I’ll call him out for what he will then have proved to be — a liar with ruined lives on his hands.

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Here’s the link. It’s a long poignant piece that points out the folly of the drug war by focussing on the outrageous case of Cheye Calvo.

The fact that pieces like these do appear in the mainstream media (Washington Post is regarded as one of the three most important US newspapers, along with NYT and WSJ) is a hopeful sign. That, and the fact that a majority of people in the US want marijuana decriminalized according to recent polls, suggests that the tide is turning.

In contrast, while I lived in India, I do not remember seeing a single pro-legalization article in any newspaper, magazine or television channel. However, attitudes can change fast, especially in this globalized world, and if the US ever decides to go the legalization route, I predict that much of the world will follow suit within ten years.

(Hat Tip: The Agitator)

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