First, President Obama’s Kenyan half brother gets arrested — in Kenya — for holding, like, one joint. Then over the course of the last week the DEA busts a series of medical marijuana clinics across California. Then cops in Fontana — formerly a hub of the pig farming industry and now a dismal commuter suburb of LA — discover 1,800 pounds of weed being smuggled inside … wait for it … concrete lawn donkeys. “Drug mules,” geddit? (At least those pickup truck rampin’ Mexican cartels have a sense of humor, right?) The next thing you know, Obama’s bro is out on the streets again, all charges dropped. Coincidence, or…? Connect the dots, friend.
You know who doesn’t have a sense of humor? All the marijuana activists that were blowing up yesterday across the internet over the DEA raids on medical marijuana clinics that took place from South Lake Tahoe in Northern CA to Venice and Marina Del Rey down here in Los Angeles County. Do you know the reason why they are so itchy about these acts of Federal aggression? Because back in March and May of 2008 Obama said some evasive but still encouraging shit to two Oregon newspapers: Southern Oregon’s Mail Tribune and the The Willamette Weekly — an alt-weekly — about basing policy on science when it comes to medical marijuana. And we block-quote the Weekly:
Would you stop the DEA’s raids on Oregon medical marijuana growers?
I would because I think our federal agents have better things to do, like catching criminals and preventing terrorism. The way I want to approach the issue of medical marijuana is to base it on science, and if there is sound science that supports the use of medical marijuana and if it is controlled and prescribed in a way that other medicine is prescribed, then it’s something that I think we should consider.
Then, as if to confirm any suspicions that the casual reader might have about the Lollapalooza-types one might find staffing an Oregon alt-weekly, the interviewer asks Obama if he would get a tattoo were he placed “under duress.” That is certainly an imaginative question. But we digress …
As of January 28, Hopey’s man Eric “Lando” Holder is running the Justice Department, thus everyone from the libertarian burners at Reason to the up-against-the-wall muckrackers at Counterpunch to LA Times haberdashery columnist Patt Morrison (we kid we kid Morrison is oft very clever and funny) is like, “Lay off already!”
Get your summary of the day’s chatter after the jump.
Two days after President Obama’s inauguration, the DEA raided a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, California. Yesterday, on the same day Eric Holder took office as Obama’s attorney general, the DEA raided two Los Angeles dispensaries. Obama deserves a certain amount of transitional slack in delivering on his promise to respect state laws regarding the medical use of marijuana, but with drug warriors operating on auto pilot in this area he needs to step in soon and let them know the federal policy has changed.
Patt Morrison at the LA Times:
Back in 2001, barely six weeks after the attacks of 9/11, when all of the nation’s intelligence and law enforcement resources were supposedly being thrown at terrorism, the Bush Administration nonetheless found the time and manpower to raid a medical marijuana dispensary in a West Hollywood church. When the case came to a finale in court, I was there when federal judge A. Howard Matz handed down the lightest possible sentence he could to the dispensary operators — one of them a cancer patient himself — and said stingingly, “I think this entire prosecution was badly misguided.”
So here we go again. Unregulated and poorly regulated dispensaries are a real problem, as the state of California knows and has been trying to do something about. If that was the problem underlying today’s raids, at least the DEA could have let the local law know that it had a problem, and even brought the LAPD along on the raid.
But many of these dispensaries operate scrupulously, with the knowledge and blessing of city and county law enforcement officials — and now with the tacit permission of the President of the United States, who said he’ll defer to state law. And that, under Proposition 215, makes medical pot legal in California.
Now if only someone will cc all of this to the DEA.
Fred Gardener* at CounterPunch (this one has some good details about the South Lake Tahoe bust, so click it if yer curious):
Obama’s comment about using his political capital to achieve more important goals was said in a tone and accompanied by a smile that conveyed, “This is a reality that you and I both understand…” But it’s a self-fulfilling reality that involves two misleading assumptions. You and I and Barack Obama and Nelson of the Mail-Tribune know that the polls consistently show 75-80% of the American people wanting the marijuana laws to allow medical use. Relatively few voters woud be alienated if the new President directed the DEA to respect the relevant state laws –or if his Attorney General classified marijuana as something other than a Schedule-1 drug. Those steps would not be unpopular with the masses and taking them would only cost Obama “political capital” if he’s defining it as something other than “popular support.” So he must be referring to his political capital vis-à-vis the corporate elites and a Congress that does their bidding.
And why assume ending marijuana prohibition would be a less significant political achievement than reforming the healthcare system or getting US troops out of Iraq? Looking back at the changes effected in 1932, ending alcohol prohibition doesn’t seem trivial compared to the public works projects and economic reforms instituted by FDR in response to the depression.
It’s fun to make jokes about Arthur being a bunch of potheads, sure, and not to get all po-faced and NORML-y (or worse yet, trashily self-righteous and High-Timesy), but jail is no fun at all (just ask Arthur’s Do The Math columnist Dave Reeves) and yadda yadda lot of good people are getting roughed up by DEA goons and imprisoned over this bullshit. So there you go.
*Gardener is the editor of a sort of fascinating pro-marijuana medical journal — O’Shaughnessy’s: The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice — that offers an inside look at medical marijuana research, including input from hippie doctors as well as the big pharma lizards.